Doc Yale

DocYale.Com is back!
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The Treehouse    photo by Svetla

After nearly two years, docyale.com is back. Reassembled and reinvigorated, docyale.com editorial staff will be adding stuff - serious stuff, silly stuff, maybe even some useful stuff - at an as yet undisclosed pace.

Where did we go?

In mid 2017, the main contributors, Doc Yale and the SOB (Son Of a Biologist) shifted attention to the Trump the Swamp card deck. Doc Yale accepted full-time employment shortly thereafter, and the SOB became ever more obsessed with treehouse building. 

Why are we back?

Mainly because Doc Yale's employment situation has changed. No, he wasn't fired. (Why would you even think that?) The SOB still works a few days a week, but treehousing gets put on hold during Winter in Mendocino County. And although we spend most of our time in the dirt and looking for lost garden tools (Doc), snuggling with cats (SOB), playing pinochle (both) something in the universe has changed*, allowing us to do more of the things we want. 

* Bernie Sanders running for president 2020

Trump the Swamp
Fun and Educational Playing Cards
American Exceptionalism
The Unspoken Myth Behind the Ideology
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1 Quote misattributed to Sinclair Lewis. Original Trump photo by Gage Skidmore.

 

Gary McVicker

 

Author’s Introduction: Although I can’t claim to truly understand the phenomenon myself, I am nevertheless fascinated by myth and how it works in human society. Myth has served as the social and cultural foundation for tribes, cults, civilizations, nations, and institutions throughout human history. We are drawn to myth; it unites us with common identity and determines what we stand for, but it also disguises what often lies behind its curtain. It empowers and enriches the few over the many, and can even impart a sense of human superiority over the natural world, or superiority of one group over another.

 Myth is communicated through stories and symbolism designed to evoke awe, fear, anger, or pride - the stuff of solidarity. Frequently, there are “enemies” and “threats” involved. We bond together out of fear of “them” or ‘it.” Myth persists beyond truth, empathy, objectivity and reason; these, in fact, are its enemies.

 Today, we are surrounded by myth. Advertising, politics and religion all pursue similar strategies designed to have us accept what each wants us to believe. Most of it is rather harmless, and some is quite beneficial. But when religion, political ideology, and ethnicity are joined together under a common identity of nationalism, we potentially have a very dangerous condition, especially when that identity is pitted against an “enemy of state,” either external of internal. It is my opinion that myth is primarily why we find our country so deeply divided today. Because of myth, and the way it has been used politically, we no longer seem capable of constructive dialogue and idea sharing, as required of us in this democracy.

 I believe that one ideology in particular has purposely sought its own patriotic identity by wrapping itself in the flag, touting a very limited interpretation of the Constitution, and blurring the line between government and religion, all with the purpose of gaining a commanding control over our government. This ideology is founded on the most fundamental tenants of Capitalism and the Free Market. It seeks a willing and needy workforce, one that works cheaply and is independent of government entitlements. It seeks access to cheap and abundant natural resources; hence the incessant attack on federal public lands, which, according to it, should be in private ownership. Many of the functions of government should also transfer to the private sector, including public education and prisons. Ironically, it would still fund those “private” functions with tax dollars. All of these goals and more are represented as being “truly American.”

“Government is the problem, not the solution.” Thus, many of the laws, regulations, and government oversight that were successfully used for most of the 20th Century have been repealed or replaced to allow the Free Market to properly function. Yet, as recently as 2007, history has told us many times over that relying on the judgements of individuals who have an eye only on short-term corporate profits does not work well for the good of the larger society or the environment; in fact, quite the opposite.

 Over the last forty years, our laws and institutions of governance have been eroded and compromised to the point of becoming almost ineffectual in pursuit of this ideology. Our political institutions have become so dominated by big money and corporations that, as citizens, we feel helpless. We have heard and been led to believe so many lies and conspiracy theories about our government that many of us no longer know what truth is, or where to find it. Even the media is now under attack as being untruthful and non-patriotic. All of this and more comes at a time in human history when truth concerning human relationships toward each other, and with the natural world, are more important than ever. We are living in the heyday of political mythmakers, and the greatest of them all now occupies the White House.

Senator Patrick Moynihan said not that many years ago, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” We now have “alternative facts?”

Having watched all of this unfold over those same forty years, and out of my own frustration at where it has led us, I wrote the following paper a few years ago, well before the election, or the campaigns leading up to it. In reading it now, it seems prophetic. Only a few statements have been added to make it more current. It is only one point of view, but perhaps one that has not been presented thus far. Myth, after all, is very hard to see through. That is by design. (March, 2017)

The fundamental but unspoken myth is that the United States of America is an exceptional nation founded and built by free enterprising, white Christian males. This myth can be expanded to include related myths such as:“God is a White Man”; “America as the ‘Shining City on the Hill”: “White Superiority”; “Man’s Dominion over Nature”; “Government is the Enemy of Freedom”; and “Fear of ‘One World Government”.

Those who use these myths to their political/ideological advantage profess that:

  • Wealth is a measure of individual exceptionalism.
  • Exceptionalism should have the greater voice in public policy, with wealth being a form of free speech.
  • Exceptionalism thrives in the free market, not in government
  • Exceptionalism however does exist in our military, which therefore is not thought of as part of “government.”
  • Exceptionalism is curtailed by excessive law, regulation and taxation, and by redistributing the personal wealth it creates to less exceptional people.
  • Government action aimed at serving the larger social interest doesn’t encourage individual initiative, but discourages it and creates a sense of entitlement. But no such entitlement is acknowledged for the extensive subsidies and tax benefits extended to corporations and the wealthy.
  • Government serving the interests of individual exceptionalism serves the greater good (trickle down).
  • Government acting to serve the larger interests of society doesn’t promote freedom, but diminishes it. Self-interest works (Ayn Rand).
  • The free market is self-regulating, if left alone by government to act on its own.
  • The individual is best served by family, not by government or community.

Promoting the myths to serve the ideology:

Although seldom openly stated, the above myths are widely held as true in American society.  The historical linkage between Christianity and capitalism is well documented, as is the origin of that connection in Europe. Its genesis for what was to become the United States was imbedded in the views of the first colonists, who saw the land as something to be wrested away from the Indians so that they could be put to God’s higher and better use.Today, these myths are used with purpose: To establish a firm political hold on the country to support as much unfettered capitalismas possibly. The building of these myths for that purpose began in response to the New Deal in the 1930’s, and was again boosted in response to the environmental laws passed in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Capitalism thrives on cheap labor and abundantly available ‘natural resources.” Along the way, “IN GOD WE TRUST” was adopted as the national motto, and “UNDER GOD” added to the Pledge of Allegiance. Today in the United States, there are places where it is openly advocated from the pulpit that true Christian faith, coupled with risk taking in business ventures, will inevitably lead to monetary wealth. Government is seen as an unnecessary hindrance to that equation. Some even believe that government will be rendered unnecessary by the Second Coming. The cultural and social linkage between capitalism and Christianity is broad and well established in various white populations of the United States, as is the idea that American exceptionalism is God’s gift to a free and enterprising people. One member of the U.S. Supreme Court openly declares that “we are a Christian nation.” Militarism is also configured into this belief system, even though we were warned of the consequences of a “military industrial complex” by President Eisenhower in the late 1950’s.

Developing and mobilizing an electorate supportive of these myths, and their related beliefs and tenants, have been made relatively easy by this history, and the ongoing crossing of the line between government and religion in right wing politics:

  • Symbolize the ideology with the flag, the bible (God’s will) anda gun; then characterize any alternative as un-American and, indeed, socialist or even communist in nature.
  • Profess that government, except on a very limited basis “as provided for by the Constitution,” is a threat to our “freedom.”
  • Represent these positions with anger and refuse to debate them publically with people of opposing views; doing so causes them to unravel in the face of objectivity, knowledge and reason.
  • Once in office, work to make government ineffectual and transfer its functions to the private sector as much as possible.
  • Finally, allow the national debt to grow to such proportions that it will inevitably lead to defunding many of the unwanted government functions.

The Results of more than 30 years of pursuing the ideology are:

  • Election of people who hold disdain for government, and who act accordingly once in office.
  • Decline in government performance often due to political placement of personnel who don’t respect the agency’ role, coupled with incessant public attacks on the “excesses of government.”
  • Diminishment of those laws and/or institutions of government thought to impede free enterprise, and the enlargement of others thought of as defending the national interests.
  • Growing national debt due to limiting taxation while increasing costs of military armament and foreign adventurism, including significant off-budget spending.
  • Corporations writing their own regulations and enjoying other, non-publically disclosed privileges within the processes of government.
  • Unwillingness of corporations and the wealthy to invest in repair of the nation’s infrastructure.
  • Erosion of public confidence in the institutions of government.
  • Deep, intransigent political divisions.
  • A breakdown of the division between church and state.
  • Redrawing homogenous White voting districts favoring the ideology.
  • Efforts to disenfranchise the minority vote.
  • Great and growing disparity in wealth distribution.
  • Lack of civic dialogue concerning many issues.
  • Big money controlling elections and public policy.
  • The poor (often minorities)stereotyped as lazy and criminal.
  • Racial profiling in law enforcementand an intolerant judicial system.
  • A greater sense of hopelessness among the nation’s poor and lower income people.
  • Elitism and authoritarianism.
  • Denying science or information thought to threaten free enterprise and/or religious beliefs.
  • A recent near global economic collapse as a result of removing certain legislated controls (i.e. Glass-Stiegel Act) over the financial markets.
  • Growing dependency on social services whileCongress cuts related funds.
  • Using taxes to rescue financial institutions that have become too powerful to fail.
  • Corporations gaining the same standing as citizens, including religious preference, which allows personal interpretations of biblical law to supersede national law.
  • Unchallenged corporate welfare.

Status:

Wrapping an ideology in the flag and rationalizing it with narrowly drawn, self-serving interpretations of the Bible and/or the Constitution can lead to an electorate dangerously akin to religious fanaticism; in this case, one driven by nationalism and misguided ideals of “freedom”and “free enterprise.” Fear of “them” is incorporated in the message as a way to heighten loyalty to the core values purportedly being defended.This is the process of myth building, a process designed to serve the interests of a few who desire power over the many.

History is full of examples, many that still influence human culture and society today. It is a process for separating, not uniting us, and for gaining blind loyalty to a power system, be it political, religious, or corporate.

With several decades of an ever growing network of information designed to serve this ideology already behind us, coupled with a no holds barred political agenda to gain control of both state and federal governments, an electorate has been created that may be incapable of seeing issues other than through a mentality of fear and distrust. There is little or no sense of inclusion. Both national and international issues are presented with a patriotic flare of “us versus them.” International matters are to be addressed through a show of unilateral military strength when necessary, not through negotiation and international cooperation, while solutions to national issues include the sealing of our borders, incarcerating offenders under increasingly rigid law enforcement, and denying social services (both governmental and private) which, in the view of this electorate, do not comport with religious doctrine and/or the rules of free enterprise (it’s up to the individual, not society, to succeed or fail).

There are even ongoing efforts to rewrite science and history textbooks according to the underlying myths mentioned at the beginning of this paper. At least one member of the Supreme Court holds that the Constitution is a “dead document, implying that national laws pertaining to matters such as education, civil rights and environmental protection should be left to the states. This same thinking is carried to the nation’s public lands: that they should be transferred to the states and, from there, privatized to the degree possible.Paradoxically, these agendas are being pursued under the auspices of a more limited government, while blaming the other side for increased national debt. The consequence of all this is evident in the breakdown of our nation’s capacity to govern. There is reason for concern that our system of government, itself, is at risk.

Gun advocacy must also be considered in the context of this ideological enterprise. Once again, fear and misinformation play key roles, with hoarding of both weapons and ammunition growing by leaps and bounds the result. We now have a highly armed citizenry that continues to be driven and influenced by political and gun rights propaganda designed to anger and mobilize. There is even reason to believe that members of White supremacy groups use the military to receive training, which then is taught to other members of their cults. Add to this potentially deadly scenario the growing intolerance and fear of Islam and the risks become even more palpable.

 More than a generation has been indoctrinated by the propaganda that has developed around this ideology. The success of the myth and the strategies used for promoting it are evident by the capturing of two of the three branches of our nation’s system of government, itself designed to avoid ideological dominance, but instead to serve a represented and inclusive democracy. A charismatic leader to further advance this ideology will almost certainly be presented to the nation as a candidate to secure the third branch.

The people behind this ideology have fostered an electorate driven by White-Christian centric, fear based patriotism, but behind the guise of patriotism lies the cloistered politics of greed and self-interest. Behind the scenes, the real agenda is to align government with the interests of business, which now includes the nation’s banking and financial systems.  Neither that agenda, nor the politics of fear that have been fostered within American society to support it, are capable of addressing the most critical questions facing the nation today, some of which affect the whole of humanity. Indeed, the ideology does not even allow such questions to be asked.

Gary McVicker is a former Natural Resource Manager, a landscape photographer. a writer,  and a naturalist.  .

American Fascist
Wisdom from a Former VP

“The really dangerous American fascist... is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power... They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

Henry A. Wallace, Vice-President of the United States (1941-1945) - quoted in the New York Times, April 9, 1944”



Democracy Trumped - The First 10 Days
King of Tiny Hands (graphic by the SOB)

Doc Yale read a lot of articles about the shenanigans of the Donald and the choir of trumpeters this morning.  And it seems that it may be time to compare our fears about the administration versus the reality we have seen. 

Three articles stood out in my mind.  One a piece by Garrison Keillor that reflected his Midwestern—cynical but upbeat—analysis:  the Donald is just as bad as we feared, he is not a nice guy or even in control of his brain—but we will live through it.  The second was an article from Time suggesting that the republicans are starting to turn on the Donald and it will just be a matter of time till they hobble him or turn him out to pasture.  The third, and most draconian, was a post by Yonaton Zunger, a writer I haven’t encountered before, titled Trial Balloon for a Coup.  The latter post seemed to be the most insightful and thus, looking at the title the most ominous. 

Roughly a month ago DY posted his analysis  and fears for the Trump administration (Democracy Trumped – December 23, 2016).  He stated:

“the most shocking/startling/unnerving realization of this election—that the institutions that have been an article of faith for many people for decades may not be permanent.  They include:

  • Free speech and a free press
  • A legal system based on law and equality under the law
  • Government of the people, by the people, and for the people (including future generations)”

And all the bluster and actions of the last month, and particularly of the last 10 days have confirmed that these fears are both well founded and central to the threats from the Donald and his trumpeters.  Let’s consider each of these.

Free speech and a free press.  The sad remnants of a free press in the country are being mercilously attacked as anyone even vaguely aware of the news can see. Steve Bannon, Donald’s ‘Trumpeter in Chief’ has openly said that they should just shut up and listen.  QED

A legal system based on law and equality under the law.   From my perspective this is the most troubling symptom of the Trump regime we are seeing.  Mr. Zunger, writing about the recent executive order restricting immigration wrote:

“the most frightening escalation last night was that the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) made it fairly clear that they did not feel bound to obey any court orders. CBP (Customs and Border Protection) continued to deny all access to counsel, detain people, and deport them in direct contravention to the court’s order, citing “upper management,” and the DHS made a formal (but confusing) statement that they would continue to follow the President’s orders. Significant in today’s updates is any lack of suggestion that the courts’ authority played a role in the decision.

That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.

Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information.”

This is the most terrifying event.  If the agencies do not feel compelled to obey a court order and instead follow the dictates of the president and his minions then anything is possible.  Over the years Doc Yale has listened to many a radical even avowed revolutionary advocate exclaim “what they’re doing is unconstitutional” – thus betraying a core belief in a system of law.  But if the courts cannot function as a check on the executive (or congress) then our constitution means nothing.

The third issue,  Government of the people, by the people, and for the people (including future generations) has been clearly trumped by our new president.  But we will save discussion of that for later. 

 The solution:  RESIST!

Grizzlies, Guns and Betsy DeVos
Why we need guns in schools to protect kids from grizzlies
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In schools last 4 years: Humans: about 110, Grizzlies: 0

Doc Yale didn’t really plan to have more than one post on education this week but the news coming out of the swamp and the dire need for more clarity on critical issues facing the nation have stimulated him to post a little more on the subject.

 

Yesterday, Betsy DeVos, the Donald’s pick for Secretary of Education was quizzed about the need for guns in schools.  Her response was:

“I will refer back to Sen. Enzi and the school he was talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies."

Now, admittedly Ms. DeVos has never held a job in her life, never worked at any level in government, and never had any experience as a teacher, PTA member, educator or any other involvement with schools.  In fact, neither she nor any of her children have ever attended public schools (for fear of bears?).  So we can’t really fault her for not knowing anything about education.  But you would think that she would at least have an opinion and some knowledge about guns in schools.  After all her brother, Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater , is a great killer, a  Prince in the Mercenary Armies, someone who knows about guns and their uses. 

And what is more disturbing is that the Republican chair of the committee limited the Democratic senators to five minutes of questioning Ms. DeVos.  This inevitably cut into time for follow up questions which this statement called for.  Let us suggest a few:

Ms. DeVos, how many incidents have there been in the last ten years of grizzly bears attacking kids in school?

                                                or

Given your concern about grizzley bears in school playgrounds, how many and what caliber guns should be available in schools?

                                                or

How many states in the country have populations of grizzly bears, and should we be concerned about such bears crossing state lines to raid public schools?’

Ms. DeVos will need to brush up on these subjects and perhaps learn a little about public education while she is at it.  It sounds like the learning curve may be pretty steep.

 

On Education, Martin Luther King and the Fate of Our Country
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Martin Luther King Jr.
Civil Rights Activist, Minister
Biography.com

On Education, Martin Luther King,  and the Fate of the Country

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King did so much for this country and our people that it is hard to know where to start a tribute.  I have chosen to focus on Dr. King as an educator.  For this Martin Luther King holiday weekend it is timely to both recognize Dr. King for his contribution to education and to reflect on the demise of real education in this country.  Dr. King is often not labeled as an educator but that is really perhaps the most important contribution he made.  He was an educator in his masterful orations, in his writing, and of course in his actions.  He was not only educating his white oppressors and their government about black people and their aspirations but he was also enlightening his own followers about their potential and the potential of the movement as a whole. And he was educating both his supporters and opponents about the power and potential effectiveness of non-violent protest.  Intelligence plus character put into action—that was his life and the inspiration for so many. 

So why has education become so decrepit in this country.  There are a multitude of reasons, of course, but lets list a few.  First, is that the people of this country have less and less respect for education.  Less than a century and a half ago small communities in the American West organized and built schoolhouses for their kids and imported teachers from the East because they wanted their kids to be literate.  Unfortunately, over the years a  lot of primary school education has devolved into a babysitting service.

A measure of the value current society places is reflected in the pay that our teachers get and the dollars that are devoted to public education.  Why does our society value lawyers more than teachers and pay them $100 to $250 an hour (or more) while most of our primary school teachers are lucky to be drawing $50 an hour.  In many situations young children spend more time and are more influenced by their teachers than their parents.  Don’t we want them to be the best and reward them accordingly and ensure that class sizes are small enough that they can get the attention they need when they need it. 

And consider what has happened to higher education.  Most states in this country had set up public colleges and universities where qualified students could get a four year college education for free. A student such as Doc Yale could take a full load of classes and pay for his living expenses with summer work and part time employment during the school year—and still have time and coins for fun—sitting around in coffee houses or beer joints to chatter with other students and with professors.  And a student could leave college with a degree and little or no debt.  Now students are leaving public colleges and universities  after draining whatever meager savings their parents had and still owing $50,000 or more.  I guess we don’t believe higher education is important. 

But a central question is “what is education for?”.  Wendell Berry has said it better than I ever could so I will quote him:

“The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It's proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible.

Which brings us back to the state of affairs in this country.  There is a move to privatize our school system. This has been manifested in the move toward charter schools, which DY will concede may have had some positive potential when the movement started.  However, as it has played out it has become a way to draw resources (=$$$) away from the public school system and toward those who are geographically located or financially able to go to a charter school. 

And we now have a President Elect who has masterfully played upon the ignorance (lack of education)  of many American voters who cannot see through his truth-twisting and denial of not just science (think climate change) but of policies based on information rather than ideology.    And now he has nominated a Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos who has a long and consistent record of using her money and name to oppose the institution of public schools.  To her the idea that everyone, regardless of race, color or economic status, should have an opportunity to get an education is a threat to her billionaire class. 

Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. “ Martin Luther King knew this and this is why education, real education not just training to be robots for the ruling classes, is such a threat to the one percenters.   

Tohono O'odham, the Donald and the Wall
-- more borderline insanity from DT
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The Tahono O'odham Reservation (from Al Jazeera America)

The ignorance and arrogance of the Donald is no better illustrated than in learning of the response of the Tohono O’odham Nation to building a wall along the border of their reservation. 

A little background about the Tohono O’odham.  Historically the O’odham inhabited an enormouos area of land in the southwest, extending south to Sonora, Mexico, north to Central Arizona (just north of Phoenix), west to the Gulf of California, and east to the San Pedro River.  This land base was known as the Papagueria and it had been home to the O’odham for thousands of years.  From the early 18th Century through to the present, this land was occupied by foreign governments.  With the independence of Mexico, O’Odham fell under Mexican rule.  Then, in 1853, through the Treaty of La Mesilla, O’odham land was divided in half between the US and Mexico. 

So this nation is has members on both side of the border that move back and forth freely.  Doc Yale visited the reservation six years ago and heard the Tribal leaders’ concerns about the number of illegals that were coming through their reservations. What had once been a trickle of immigrants measured in hundreds per month had become a flood.   Their people had always been quite hospitable to those from the south—but now the number of people crossing were putting a strain on their resources.  There was a plea that they needed assistance—but no call for a barrier.  Their people lived on both sides of the border and had been freely crossing for years and there was no way they wanted to halt this. 

One can only imagine the reaction of these people when small-handed little Donald proposed a wall along the entire US / Mexico border.  And the further reaction when the Donald won the election.  This is Tohono O’odham Nation Vice Chairman Verlon Jose.

A young Tohono O’odham girl smiles and shows
off a peacock feather. The Tohono O’odham Community
Action is working to create a healthy, sustainable and
culturally-vital community for the Tohono O’odham
Nation’s 28,000 members. Photo by Cheryl Francisco.

"Over my dead body will a wall be built. I don’t wish to die, but I wish to work together with people so we can truly protect the homeland of this place they call the United States of America, not only for my people, not only for our Tohono O’odham Nation members, but for the American people."  November 17, 2016

Aside from the legalities of the US government building a wall on treaty land, this case illustrates the absurdity of trying to stop immigration or movement of people with physical barriers.  As anyone who has even passing familiarity with borderlands knows all borders are permeable—and border people cross back and forth with regularity—legally or not.

So let’s sum up the ignorance and arrogance of DT relative to his proposed wall.

On ignorance, I don’t think DT has any idea of the nature of the Mexican border or probably any other border.  He travels via limousine and charter plane from one plush hotel to another.  I doubt he has ever been camped out in the desert and seen pickups loaded to the hilt with immigrants heading north as the sun is setting—or visited the Cabeza Prieta wildlife refuge (another 50 miles of border) where hundreds of immigrants died along ”El Camino del Diablo” for lack of water trying to get to the springs at the western edge of the refuge.  Doc Yale has seen both and it is memorable.  And DT has never thought enough about history to understand why walls don’t work.  Think about the Berlin Wall.  And the Donald likely has no concept of the ties between Mexican nationals and their relatives across the border.  They too, like the O’odham cross back and forth across the border regularly.

And, of course the epitomy of arrogance is the attitude  of DT that he doesn’t care.  So people die  trying to cross the border.  So what if a people like the Tohono O’odham, who have inhabited the region for thousands of years, have their nation cut in half because of an arbitrary political boundary created less than 200 years ago. 

I doubt that the wall building will ever gets to the Tohona O’odham reservation because the border wall is such a dumb idea to begin with.  But it ever gets to that stage, I hope that we will see a protest to rival that against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Reasons to Respect and Support Donald Trump as POTUS























The Meaning of Trump
A street level (slang) definition of "trump"

The Meaning of Trump

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The Donald Breaking Wind

Out of curiosity I consulted my “Slang Dictionary”[1] to see what the street-level definition of “trump” was.  To my surprise it was a “breaking of wind” and I presume all of you know what that is. 

The complete citation (p403)  is:

Trump a breaking of wind. Df. ARS MUSICA, BLOW THE HORN, TOOT (sense 6), TRILL.  For synonyms see GURK. [British slang, late 1700s]

If you’re still confused,  the definition of “gurk” is ‘to release intestinal gas audibly’ (p176). 

So, I guess starting January 20 we should all endeavor to avoid being down-wind of our president.

[1] Slang and Eupheism –A dictionary of oaths, curses, insults, sexual slang and metaphor, racial slurs, drug talk Homosexual llingo, and related matters by Richard A. Spears. 1981. Jonathan David Publishers, 448pp.

Opa - On Government
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21st Century Temple of Worship

The following is another excerpt from Doc Yale’s Novel Monte.  The novel is set in the future but is neither a utopian nor a dystopian story—but rather a story of a small community that managed to survive the many catastrophes that we can see coming—global warming and biological disruption,  governmental disintegration, economic collapse,  human  plagues, social disorder.  The character Opa is an ancient one who has lived through all of these catastrophes and thus has some perspective on the changes.  Monte is his great grandson who is pretty oblivious to history but is starting to get curious about some of his past.  The novel features some of Opa’s journal entrys of which this is one.

Opa’s Journal (On Government)

Monte wants to know what the government was like—but how can I explain it.  He has so little background—I don’t think he even knows what money is—and how do you explain government without talking about money and taxes—and power—if there’s a difference.  But I will try.  I have one advantage—with so few distractions these days—no radio, telephone, television, computers—some kids can be pretty good listeners—if they think you have something to say.  Most of the valley people think I am either demented or senile or both—maybe I am—some old fossil body without mind from a foreign age of no particular interest. 

I have no idea why I have lived so long—it certainly isn’t what they used to think of as a healthy lifestyle.  I’ve pretty much eaten drunk and smoked whatever I wanted. But maybe that isn’t as important as other things.  I have tried to avoid being places where I could be shot at or beaten-up and robbed, I have enough fear of heights that I’ll never fall off a cliff.  I’ve avoided areas and people with the plague.  Maybe fear is the key to longevity.  It’s a pretty primitive instinct. 

But how to describe government to a bright mind with no context. Government used to be a religion—but no one called it that—but what else was it.  I grew up as all others did at the time with the absolute belief that governments would always be there.  Governments had been around for thousands of years and would always be there in the future.  Who could have guessed how rapidly they would fall apart.  Of course they are still around in some form—but I doubt they’ll survive much longer.  Hard to tell now since we get so little news of the outer world.  Maybe the government of England or Iceland or Tonga is still intact. 

Oh, we were critical of governments including our own.  But for most people there were good governments and bad ones.  Communism was bad—Capitalism was good—or visa-versa depending on your view.  Or to some of us both of them were bad.  But underneath that we never questioned that some form of government would always be there. 

What were governments really?—and did we need them?  Were we just slaves to the government?  Of course we were.  Governments were just organized gangs.  They told you if you gave them your money, they would protect you and provide for you.  But they did not ask—they just took it in taxes—taxes everywhere – on what you bought, on your shack, on your income.  They were the best organized gang – they had offices everywhere, they had rules--rules they called laws—and a whole covey of people to enforce these rules and rob you while they were doing it—they called them lawyers.  I miss a lot of things from the old days—but I don’t miss lawyers.  The government was the most ruthless and powerful of the gangs. Whenever one of the non-government gangs got too powerful they just took over the government or visaversa.  The result was the same—an even more powerful gang.  The government could tell you what drugs you could take and which you couldn’t, who or what you could sleep with, where you could live and so on.  And worse of all, if you didn’t pay them they would come and kick you out of your home and take everything you owned—or even lock you up.

 The government these days, the revenooers they call them, is not as organized or sophisticated as the old government.  They no longer make any pretense of providing services.  There used to be an old joke line that went “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”  No one really believed it then and they certainly don’t now. 

Democracy Trumped
First in a continuing series of rants against Donald Trump
New York City police officers guard Trump Tower,
President-elect Donald Trump�s Manhattan home. (Richard Drew / AP)

Doc Yale has been just as disillusioned as the rest of the crowd at the election of the Donald.  And so much has been written about the consequences of that event that it seems like there may not be much to add.  But to DY�s way of thinking it would be a big mistake to stop talking/writing/ranting about it and just let the trumpeters go their selfish way.  Therefore this blog will try to keep up a regular rant until the man is impeached or at least forced to go hide in one of his hotels for fear of the public or the police or the men in white coats.

In the days following the election, DY, like all the other dismayed news junkies, read more analyses of the election and its consequences than he really wanted to.  Two articles stood out as extremes at the time.  One was an opinion piece in the Washington Post by Garrison Keillor on November 9 entitled �Trump voters will not like what happens next.�  The other was an article by Chris Hedges entitled �It�s Worse Than You Think� in Truthdig on November 11. 

DY�s initial reaction to Mr. Keillors article was that it was kind of upbeat. This is epitomized by a paragraph in the middle noting that:

 ï¿½We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long , brisk walk and smell the roses.�

The implication was that trumpism would be a passing fad of four years at most and that the undeplorables could sit out and smell the flowers while the trumpistas would have to deal with the problems of the world.

 Chris Hedges view, not surprisingly, was more draconian.  His conclusion:

 ï¿½The long and ruthless assault on the working class, the legal system, electoral politics, the mass media, social services, the ecosystem, education and civil liberties..has disemboweled the country.  It has left the nation a decayed wreck.  We celebrate ignorance.  We have replaced political discourse, news, culture and intellectual inquiry with celebrity worship and spectacle. �

Both writers pointed to the fact that Trump supporters are likely to be disappointed (Keillor) or betrayed (Hedges). 

Which brings DY to what he considers the most shocking/startling/unnerving realization of this election�that the institutions that have been an article of faith for many people for decades may not be permanent.  They include:

  • Free speech and a free press
  • A legal system based on law and equality under the law
  • Government of the people, by the people, and for the people (including future generations)

Now most thoughtful people realize that these institutions are far from perfect�but there was a faith that society could have them as ideals and that such a society could and would move to improve them.  Suddenly, these assumptions seem to no longer be there.  Pundits talk not about �the next election� in four years but rather about �if there will be another election�.  The ingrained optimism that our system with checks and balances could outlive and outmaneuver a crazy man is no longer there. 

 Keillor concludes �The past year of politics has taught us absolutely nothing.  Zilch. Zero. Nada.  The future is scary.�

Bitters
For Before, After or During the Meal

After the Meal is Over – or Even Before – the Bitter Approach 

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A bottle of Angostura Bitters

Those who, like Doc Yale, enjoy holiday feasts with family and friends—periodically find a moment when our body tells us to stop.  You are full, yet there are four courses to go—you haven’t tried Auntie Mary’s yams much less Olivia’s sweet potato pie.  Fret not—there is a solution—gentian or, as it is more commonly called “bitters”. 

Years ago, DY was visiting his brother in Germany.  One evening we were working our way through a delicious multi-cours meal hosted by one of his friends when we both hit the wall.  I’m not sure I can keep going I confessed to him privately.  “No problem” he said—the Germans have a solution as usual.  He then proceeded to give me a small bottle of Unterberg bitters.  Just swallow it down in one gulp he directed which I proceeded to do.  (For the uninitiated this is a little like taking a swig of hard liquor for the first time).  But minutes later, my stomach was feeling better, and digestion as well as feasting was resumed. 

 Since that time I have studied and experimented with the various forms of bitters—with quite pleasant results.  My initial exposure to bitters was as a strange little bottle which my dad used when making “old fashioneds” a popular cocktail at one time.  Just a few drops would add an orangish tinge to the drinks.  The bitters were “angostura bitters” which are the most popular and widely available bitters in this country. 

Angostura Bitters were first formulated in 18324 by a German physician, Dr. J.G.B. Siegert, who had emigrated to Venezuela to help Simon Bolvar in his fight against the Spanish throne.  Like many physicians of that day he was a scientist with a keen enquiring mind.  He noted that many soldiers were suffering from internal stomach disorders.  In response he developed a blend of herbs which he called “Amargo Aromatico” or aromatic bitters.  The effectiveness of these bitters was quickly recognized, and being in the port city of Angostura, word spread quickly.  Within a decade, the bitters were being commercialized and by 1850 Dr. Siegert resigned his commission in the Venezuelan army to concentrate on his bitter business.

Another formulation of bitters is Peychaud’s bitters which is closely associated with New Orleans and can be difficult to find elsewhere.  The Sazerac cocktail, formulated by Antoine Peychaud was originally made with cognac, absinthe and bitters and was first served in 1830 in New Orleans.  It is rumored to be the first cocktail—named as such.  Peychaud served his drinks in cocquetiers, French for egg cups, and speculation is that the word came from anglicizing the French word.

Although manufacturers of the various bitters do not reveal their formulations—the main ingredient in the traditional bitters, including the three already mentioned, is gentian, an herb derived from one of several species of Gentiana but primarily Gentiana lutea.[1]  Gentian in various tinctures and other forms is readily available in health good stores.

DY’s guru for alternative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, highly recommends gentian.  He writes “Gentian…is a bitter root and an excellent digestive remedy…Angostura bitters, a popular ingredient of cocktails is essentially a tincture of gentian root and has good medicinal properties.  For sluggish digestion, poor appetite, or flatulence, try taking a teaspoon of Angostura Bitters before or after meals…Gentian root is quite harmless and quite effective.”[2]

So eat drink and be merry this holiday season but come prepared.  Of make your grandmother happy and help her digestion with a “medicinal cocktail” such as a Manhatten or Old Fashioned.

Manhatten

  • 2 oz rye or bourbon whiskey
  • ½ oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice.  Strain into a cocktail glass.

 As Drinkboy, our bar guru says “Making a Manhatten without bitters is like making a soup without salt.  Sure, you can do it, but why?”[3]

 Old Fashioned

  • ½ orange slice
  • 1 cube sugar
  • 2 dashes Angustura Bitters
  • 2 oz rye or bourbon whiskey

Muddle orange, sugar, bitters together until the sugar is mostly dissolved.  Fill glass with ice, then add the shiskey.  Garnish with an additional orange slice.  Serve with a swizzle stick and/or straw

But beware!  As Drinkboy admonishes “When properly made, this cocktail can represent the pinnacle of the bartenders trade.  When done improperly, wich is more often the case, it can be a disaster of mediocrity.

[1] In recent years a great variety of bitters have been developed, primarily to enhance the flavor of cocktails and other drinks.  They do not necessarily contain gentian nor have its digestive properties. DY is particularly interested in learning to make Ruculino or bitters from arugula.

[2] Andrew Weil, Natural Health, Natural Medicine—A comprehensive manual for wellness and self-care. Pp 238-239.

[3] www.drinkboy.com

 

Ode to the Harlequin Duck
A most beautiful and unusual bird
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Harlequin Duck

EO Wilson, one of the great thinkers of our lifetime has described biophilia as The urge to affiliate with other forms of life.”  And the recognition that we are part of a “web of life” that includes all the other forms of life is a philosophy that seems to be sadly lacking in our modern world. 

However, such recognition does not require that we cannot have favorite species and others that we consider pests at best or more seriously enemies.  Dogs don’t love fleas and humans don’t rejoice when encountering ticks, Bermuda grass, chiggers, poison oak  or any other of the pestilent species with which we cohabit the earth.

But, Doc Yale believes that humans do well when they recognize that they have a few favorite species.  For a lot of people, including DY one of them is their pet/companion.  In his case, he thinks it would be a depauperate world if humans were deprived of their canine or feline companions. But DY has a number of wild companions that have enriched his life and continue to do so—bighorn sheep, blue grouse, golden trout, and many more about which he will be writing in this column.. 

One of them is the Harlequin Duck.  The wild Harlequin Duck (not to be confused with the Welch Harlequin duck—an unrelated domesticated species) is native to the coasts of North America and the Russian Far East as well as Iceland.  While most ducks migrate north and south, the Harlequin is unique in that it migrates east and west.  It is a sea duck, spending winters along the coasts then moving inland to breed and nest in clear, coldwater, mountain streams—trout streams if you will.  Doc Yale first saw a Harlequin in such a stream in Montana.  And the most startling thing about seeing a duck in such a circumstance is their beauty.    

Unfortunately, the Harlequin is also one of those birds that is declining in numbers for the same reasons as many other species—pollution, habitat loss, and neglect.  The species is for the most part not hunted so it is off the radar of those agencies charged with conserving game species.  And its inland habitat is so dispersed that good estimates of breeding populations are difficult to enumerate.

A number of years ago, the Society for the Preservation of the Harlequin Duck was formed—an exclusive club committed to conservation of the species as well as fellowship with similar thinking members.  Membership is by invitation only, and Doc Yale, who shares Groucho Marx’s philosophy that “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member” has made a rare exception for such an enlightened group. 

George Orwell, Christmas (Plum) Pudding, and Fruitcake

George Orwell, the patron saint of oxymorons (think “war is peace”, “freedom is slavery”, “ignorance is strength”) was not, to my knowledge ever exposed to the modern fruitcake—that inedible concoction that is recycled as a gift at Christmas year after year.  But if he had, I suspect he might have managed to insert an additional oxymoron into his celebrated novel 1984 –“fruitcake is plum pudding”.  And wheras they share some ingredients they are about as similar as say “war and peace”.  We do know from history that George was fond of plum pudding as can be seen in these unpublished notes of his.

Now, the Brits are notorious for their unexemplary cooking and Doc Yale is not one to disagree.  He once acquired a recipe from Margaret Thatcher and made it – afterward wondering why someone would advertise such a bland, tasteless dish.  George himself, in his unpublished essay “British  Cookery” opens with a quote from Voltaire, who wrote that Britain has “a hundred religions and only one sauce.”

But there are exceptions to every rule, and we should thank the Brits for plum pudding.  Doc Yale is not overly fond of super sweet, super rich desserts but will admit that there is a time for everything under the sun.  He made this dessert for Christmas a few years ago and one of the visitors at the table, a young man in his 20’s, who was working for him at the time, talked about it every time he saw him for what seemed like the whole next year. 

There are, of course, no plums in “plum pudding”.  This is due to the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for “raisons”.  For the working class of the British Isles the pudding had the great merit of not needing to be cooked in an oven, something most lower class households did not have.   And the traditional recipes were made with suet instead of butter which was far more expensive.  But DY agrees with Mr. Orwell that the pudding is best if made with butter. 

Colm Toibon  described how his Irish working class family pirated the recipe from the “one percenters”  living in the neighborhood castle.  Wheras the normal Irish recipe used suet, the castle recipe used butter. He describes the difference.  “Christmas pudding with suet could be dark in color and somewhat bitter, even greasy; with butter, it was sweetly textured, some of it melting on your tongue while the rest—the nuts and raisons and candiet fruit—remained firm and chewy.  Even now, thinking about it I want some.”[1]

This following recipe is modified from an old Betty Crocker cookbook; the main modification is substitution of butter for suet.

Plum Pudding

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp mace
  • 1.5 cup raisons
  • 1.5 cup currants
  • ¾ cup citron
  • ½ cup candied orange or candied lemon
  • 1.5 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 cup butter (1/2 lb)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs

Blend first six ingredients.  Mix in fruits, walnuts, crumbs.  Mix remaining ingredients; blend in.  Pour into well greased two quart mold.  Steam six hours.  Serve hot with hard sauce. 

DY is a little ambivalent about serving with hard sauce.  Christmas pudding is typically made days to weeks ahead and then doused with brandy (or rum or whiskey) and then brought out and reheated prior to serving.  Hard sauce is intended to be served over something hot.  If you are not serving it hot then don’t use the hard sauce.  Traditional hard sauce is also made up with the same ingredients in the pudding (lots of butter and sugar, and often some brandy (or other liquor)).  It is thus a little redundant and probably unnecessary as you and your guests will be unlikely to be needing extra sugar, butter or liquor at this point to satisfy their required daily caloric intake.  

[1] Christmas Pudding by Colm Toibon, The New Yorker, November 22, 2010, p113

On Money
Excerpt from Doc Yale's Novel "Monte"
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21st Century Objects of Worship

This is an excerpt from Doc Yale’s Novel  Monte.  The novel is set in the future but is neither a utopian nor a dystopian story—but rather a story of a small community that managed to survive the many catastrophes that we can see coming—global warming and biological disruption,  governmental disintegration, economic collapse,  human  plagues, social disorder.  The character Opa is an ancient one who has lived through all of these catastrophes and thus has some perspective on the changes.  Monte is his great grandson who is pretty oblivious to history but is starting to get curious about some of his past.  The novel features some of Opa’s journal entrys of which this is one.

Opa’s Journal (On Money)

Monte is asking me a lot of questions lately, and every time I try to explain to Monte about the gangs of the olden days I end up having to talk about money and banks.  Yet it is so hard to explain and I have had to go back and read and think about it. 

The conundrum is that I grew up in a society that worshipped money yet that money was not real.  You say that to Monte and his eyes glaze over with that look that says ‘you’ve been smoking too much again Opa.’

But it is true.  These days we have reverted to using gold and silver pieces or coins as money and this works pretty well for trading.  Neither is particularly useful for any practical purpose but as long as people recognize it as valuable it is as good as clam shells, or totem poles, or bear claws. 

It was the creation of banks that changed all of that.  As I understand, jewelers were the first bankers.  Since they had safes or some way to protect the gold they worked with, some people liked to bring their gold or silver to them for protection.  In turn, the jeweler would give them a piece of paper acknowledging that they had done so and that they could reclaim so many ounces or shekels. 

Some greedheads, however, realizing that the jewelers had all this gold stored would go to them and ask them to lend some to them—to buy a horse, to provision a ship, or so on, something that would make them wealthier.  And some of the jewelers started doing this, but being shrewd and realizing that they were taking some risk, they insisted that the borrower return more gold than they had received. This also worked.   

At some point, however, they realized that they did not have to actually provide the borrower with the gold.  They simply had to give them a slip of paper that said that it was redeemable for the amount of gold they were supposedly lending. 

The big breakthrough in banking came when the jewelers realized that they could issue more of these papers than they actually had gold in their safe.  As long as all the people with one of these pieces of paper didn’t all come in and ask for their gold at the same time, the jeweler could sit back and reel in the money from interest without providing much of anything for the community.  These jewelers eventually became known as bankers and they no longer needed to make or sell jewelry.  And their businesses came to be known as “banks”. 

The next big stage in the evolution of money came when the gang which came to be called “the government” —the original revenooers--realized that they could get in the banking business.  They were big enough and powerful enough and rich enough that they could corner much of the market.  They formalized this by printing their own form of loan notes—which came to be known as money.  In the beginning these notes said that they could be redeemed for a certain amount of gold or silver—and the government gangs actually had vaults with some of these metals.  But like the jewelers they issued more notes than there was in their vaults.  But as long as the people accepted, and as time went on, worshipped, these pieces of paper the system worked well for the government gang.  If the government gang needed more money, they simply had to turn on the presses and create a little more.

As the government gang became more confident they realized, like the jewelers of old,  that they didn’t really need to keep so much gold and silver in their vaults—in fact their notes no longer certified that the gang would redeem them for gold or silver.  They were simply pieces of paper that said “In God we Trust”.

From this stage, the future evolution of money was pretty simple.  With the advances in computers and communication, one no longer needed the paper money or paper line of credit but could carry around a little piece of plastic which allowed someone to tap into the banks for more credit.  Coins and paper money virtually disappeared from the marketplace.  But the vulnerability of the banks was still there—there was, after all, a lot more money out there than there was gold or silver.

The collapse of the monetary and banking system was one of the first signs of the great turning.  At the time I sort of enjoyed it, shadenfreuden if you will.  The bankers were some of the worst gangsters – right up there with lawyers and politicians so I was happy to see them go under.

 And when the banking system went under so did most of the commerce and government. 

The most interesting stories, however, were of those who were overnight transformed from robber barons to paupers.  When the money system collapsed the ability of the rich to boss around their slaves also collapsed.  Servants would no longer come to clean their houses, make their dinners, drive their cars, or even sleep with them.  Some of the rich had put away enough coins that they could barter them  and their possessions away.  But the biggest shock was to realize that that little pieces of plastic or paper that used to allow them to go anywhere, buy anything, and so on was as valuable as fresh cow pie.

I’ll try to explain all this to Monte—but I’m not too optimistic.  I can still hardly comprehend it myself

Phillip Kerr, Donald Trump, and Bernie Gunther
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Trump's America

If you are concerned about where Donald Trump is leading this country; and

If you see parallels between the rise of Adolph Hitler and Donald; and

If you like well written mysteries or detective novels, especially ones set in an environment that is foreign to you; and

If you have not read any of Phillip Kerr’s “Bernie Gunther” novels then you better get to the library or bookstore and pick up some of these books.

Phillip Kerr has created the character of Bernie Gunther, a hard-boiled detective working in Berlin during the rise of Hitler’s regime.  One of the reasons I like reading about detectives is that their job is to be observers not ideologues.  Bernie is as cynical as any other PI having seen the worst of society—but he is not a racist/fascist/ fanatic which was becoming the fashion at that time.  And he finds the rising fascism abhorrent and at times has to pay the price of not hiding his feelings.

The best introduction to Bernie Gunther is what has been called the “Berlin Noir Trilogy[1] which consists of three novels March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem.  (The trilogy has been republished by Penguin Books in one volume.)

The parallels between what Bernie is observing in Berlin and what we are starting to see manifested in this country are too compelling to ignore.  My fondest hope is that I am totally wrong and that the people of this country will reject the new know-nothing, fascist, racist steamroller that seems to be hitting the pavement.   

[1] I wish to thank Jerry Karp of Village Books in Ukiah, CA for introducing me to these books.

The Egg - Part I
The Prairie Oyster

“Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.” Italian Proverb

The above Italian proverb which seems to mirror the Latin ‘bird in hand…” proverb at least  takes us away from the stupid musings of philosophers as to which came first.  Biologists, of which Doc Yale is one, do not fret about such trivialities.  But he does have strong opinions about eggs and chickens.  And this site will have a lot more about both. But first we should shed a little larded opinion on the eating of both. 

Doc Yale is an omnivore like most all of his ancestors.  And while he respects those who choose to be vegetarians, vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians, or eaters of kosher or halal food, he wishes that they would be as tolerant of his dietary choices as he is of theirs.

And he understands and sympathizes with those who object to the commodification of animals as it occurs in factory chicken farms or cattle feedlots.  However, he is hard pressed to understand how keeping a small flock of chickens in the back yard and stealing eggs from them on a regular basis is either hard on the earth or cruel to animals.

So in this and future posts we will explore the variety of ways in which eggs (and chickens) enrich our lives—from raw eggs to omelets and all inbetween.  But it makes sense to start with the raw egg.  My wife’s grandfather was reputed to start every day with a raw egg and a shot of cognac.  Only on reading up on this subject did I learn that it is a noted cure for hangover right up there with menudo. And as he had a  reputation as a serious imbiber it also makes sense.  

The gastronomic saint MFK Fisher refers to this  concoction as a “prairie oyster” and writes: “The combinantion of one fresh raw unbeaten egg, one douse of Worcestershire sauce, one souse of whiskey or brandy, and one optional dibble of Tabasco-or-Evangeline-or salsa-piquante… represents to many a jaded rounder the next morning’s Las Resort.  Not so to me.  I often make one for myself before I must do something I dislike: go the dentist say…”   

So this holiday season if you wake up with a case of binders on your head and realize that there is no menudo at hand, try a Prairie Oyster.  Or if you must go to the mall with your spouse for that dreadful Christmas shopping—fortify  yourself with one (or two). 

 

[1] The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher, Vintage Books, 1976. P239

El Nacional
A Drink for the Dismal Season
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El Nacional - photo by Stuart Mullenberg

As we move into the dismal (holiday) season it is nice to have a few new and different drinks available for imbibing.  El Nacional  is one of those that we prepare for Christmas time cheer.  And I thank my sister-in-law, Hermien, for turning us on to this drink.  I post it now, because a few of the ingredients are hard to find if you live, like we do, far from supermarket liquor stores.   

El Nacional is not to be confused with with the Hotel Nacional Cocktail which was named after the Havana Bar that hosted a notorious set of celebrities back in its heyday.  In fact there is no overlap in ingredients.  We do not know the origin of the name “El Nacional” but will give credit to Seattle Bartender Casey Robison who has featured this drink in Barrio and had it written up in Imbibe.   

We make it up in large batches mixing:  

  • 16 oz. Mezcal, or Tequila
  • 16 oz. Campari
  • 8 oz. Amaro Averna
  • 8 oz. dry Vermouth
  • 2 oz  chocolate bitters

Of the ingredients, chocolate bitters is the hardest for us in rural northern California to find.  The nearest store to carry such is two hours from home. Amaro Averna may also be hard to find.  Casey Robison combines the ingredients in a mixing glass then strains into a chilled glass, drips good scotch on the drink’s surface and serves with a lemon peel twist and garnish.

We are a little more plebian.  We use tequila instead of mescal and pour our pre-made El Nacional over ice—with or without garnish. And we skip the scotch unless we happen to have some Laphroaig or similar quality stuff on hand.

How (Political) Shit Happens
Using Donald as an Example

Doc Yale has never liked nor understood the phrase "Shit Happens" nor had any desire to put a bumper sticker to such effect on his mule.  But he is trying to understand the phenomena and the chart below helped him clarify it, at least in the political arena.

In the beginning the Donald had a Plan

You know:

  • Replace Obamacare
  • Privatize Medicare, Schools, (          ) , (      ) fill in the blanks
  • Cutting taxes on the wealthy
  • Draining the swamp

And then came the Assumptions

  • Everyone hates Obamacare and Medicare
  • The private sector is better at delivering medicine, education, etc.
  • Cutting taxes on the wealthy will allow money to trickle down to those less deserving  and will boost the economy
  • Once the swamp was drained the creatures there would disperse

And the Assumptions were without any factual basis

Data, facts and information are no substitute for ideology

And darkness was on the face of the Citizens

At least 99% of them once they got a whiff.

And they spoke amongst themselves saying: “It is a crock of Shit, and it stinketh.”

And some saying it with less diplomacy.

And the Citizens went unto their legislators and sayeth: “It is a container of excrement and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it.”

Only of course to those legislators who pretended to be serving the citizens.

And the Legislators went to their corporate masters and sayeth “It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide by its strength.”

Said gently, of course, so as to not endanger future campaign contributions.

And the Corporados spoke among themselves, saying one to another:

It contains that which aids plant growth and therefore must also aid growth of corporate wealth (and the Economy)

And corporate wealth is what life is all about.

And the Corporados went unto the Donald and sayeth to him: This new Plan will actively promote the growth and efficiency of the country.

Down on their knees, of course for the entire 20 second briefing.

And the Donald looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good.

 

And the Plan became policy.

 

And this is how “Shit Happens