This week’s quotes from the new normal in this crazy-ass country.
"I guess they think that they did something wrong, which they did not. If somebody's breaking into your house, you're more than welcome to shoot them in Santa Rosa County. We prefer that you do, actually. So whoever that was, you're not in trouble. Come see us. We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday. And if you take that, you'll shoot a lot better and hopefully you'll save the taxpayers money."
– Florida’s Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson
“We’re in a war with bureaucrats who have forced vaccine mandates on us, mask mandates on us, and you know what — they are pushing this wokeness confusion down our throats. And by the way, we should try Anthony Fauci and put him in front of a firing squad. I’m not advocating we kill Anthony Fauci until he’s convicted of his crimes through a court.”
– John Bennett, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party and a current GOP congressional candidate
When I’m drumming, people come up to me all the time and ask the important questions such as “How are drumsticks made?” and “Where do drum heads come from?” and “Are cymbals made of some sort of metal?” This is while I’m drumming, so they are usually shouting in my ear. Why can’t they pick the ballads for these questions, I ask myself.
Anyway, here’s to putting all your questions to bed.
Pro Mark Drumsticks:
In a post on March 11, I wrote about reversing desertification and revitalizing grasslands in and around Tucson. This is just a small part of working with, rather than against, nature. It’s a movement called permaculture, a system that integrates land, resources, people and the environment through mutually beneficial synergies.
According to the Permaculture Research Institute, We have abused the land and laid waste to systems we never need have disturbed had we attended to our home gardens and settlements. If we need to state a set of ethics on natural systems, then let it be thus:
– Implacable and uncompromising opposition to further disturbance of any remaining natural forests, where most species are still in balance;
– Vigorous rehabilitation of degraded and damaged natural systems to stable states;
– Establishment of plant systems for our own use on the least amount of land we can use for our existence; and
– Establishment of plant and animal refuges for rare or threatened species.
Check out this short film narrated by Bill Mollison (who coined the term permaculture) and David Homgren that reveals how permaculture began from one simple question about agriculture and developed into a sustainable design system that embraces the laws of nature.
In Tucson we have an amazing resource in Native Seeds/SEARCH (SEARCH is Southwest Arid Lands Research Clearinghouse), a nonprofit seed conservation organization whose mission is to conserve and promote the arid-adapted crop diversity of the Southwest in support of sustainable farming and food security. Their priority today is no longer in just collecting rare seeds, but in exploring the rich and varied potential of these plants to provide nutrition and livelihoods to today’s farmers, gardeners, and consumers.
I also ran across this article in the Guardian that addresses a movement in New Mexico to build food and seed sovereignty on tribal lands amidst staggering global biodiversity losses created by the modern agricultural system and growing food insecurities caused by climate crisis.
For the past decade Aaron Lowden, an Indigenous seed keeper and farmer, has worked to restore traditional crops and farming practices in the Acoma Pueblo. Lowden says, “The industrialized food system has failed us. We need to restore our food system and that ecological knowledge that has supported us since the beginning. Farming is not a hobby, it is the basis of our culture and our survival.” As program director for Ancestral Lands, a non-profit that supports land stewardship in Indigenous communities, he reintroduced traditional Acoma crops into the community and created a bank of 57 arid-adapted seeds native to the region.
Strange story of the week (for me, anyway) - Scientists Are Building a “Black Box” to Record the End of Civilization. In the article it says Scientists, so sure that the world is slowly, but surely coming to an end, have started constructing a black box to record our own extinction if someone or something was to come and visit this doomed planet in the future. So, I wonder what’s on Netflix tonight?
In 1970, a couple years before I graduated from high school, Aunt Bee turned sixty-eight, the age I am now. I don’t recall a time in my youth when I didn’t think she was ancient, and she always wore granny dresses along with her Mamie Eisenhower pearls. Inspired now to grow my hair out a bit, I can’t decide between the Aunt Bee or the Wayne Cochran. Input appreciated.
In Kansas news, Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita and the House leadership, in order to avoid giving Democratic Governor Laura Kelly a political win, decided to penalize Kansans by voting 48-74 against bringing a full food tax repeal bill to the floor. One of the reasons she was fighting for the repeal is that, under Democratic leadership, Kansas has a $3.1B surplus.
Above is Kansas Governor Laura Kelly at a press conference on April 15 as she vetoed four bills sent to her desk by the Republican-majority held legislature Friday, including two anti-LGBTQ+ measures, the Parents’ Bill of Rights and the Fairness in Women’s Sports Acts. The said, “[…] this bill didn’t come from the experts at our schools, our athletes, or the Kansas State High School Activities Association. It came from politicians trying to score political points.” Yay, Laura!
According to Towards Data Science While Republicans often claim that they are the more fiscally responsible party, Taylor White’s research suggests otherwise. Compared to Democratic presidents, Republicans are estimated to add between 0.75% and 1.2% more to the deficit (as a percent of GDP) each year they are in office. This result controls for economic conditions, and explains 75% of the variation in the annual changes to deficits.
And PolitiFact reports that Reagan took the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion. Bush 41 took it to $300 billion. Clinton got it to zero. Bush 43 took it from zero to $1.2 trillion. Obama halved it to $600 billion. Trump took it back to a trillion.
I know, you’re so surprised! It’s like a little gift that the Democrats could use to bolster the party. Would someone please pass this on to a social influencer? Like Huda Kattan…she has over 50m followers. Or Amanda Cerny who has 24m followers. They both seem primed for politics…
OK, maybe not. Just. Vote. Blue.
Speaking of liberals, have you met my sista from anudda mudda, Mitzi Cowell? Not only have we played music together for over thirty years we share a similar view of democracy. So, to fight the good fight, Mitzi just started using Substack to publish under the moniker Theoria: Musings of a Rogue Democratic Theorist. Her first post is titled Reclaiming Liberal Democracy.
Here’s a taste for your reading pleasure and I hope you subscribe:
The left has been critiquing liberalism for a long time, and from every possible angle, and these critiques are healthy discourse. Democracy will never be perfect – it's an asymptote that we can only bring our institutions closer and closer to for a “more perfect” union – social critique is a necessary part of the democratic project, and exposing and disentangling the deep systemic injustices and assumptions within modern liberalism is a never-ending project. The fact that we can argue endlessly about our varied and nuanced ways of describing a more ideal society is one of the beautiful (albeit annoying) things about living in a democratic society – we're free to think and talk about how to make it better. And... we need to remember what we've got, and how far we've come, and how far we can still go if we keep democracy alive.
Bill Arthrell, who started his adult life with bullets and spent the rest of it relentlessly preaching peace, died last week in an Oklahoma car crash. He was 72. Who the heck is Bill Arthrell you ask? As an undergraduate student at Kent State University in 1970, Arthrell was active in the anti-war movement on campus. He was present at the shootings in May of 1970 but his antiwar demonstration the month before seems much more profound.
A short story of activism:
Bill said he was going to napalm a dog.
Bill said he was going to napalm a dog “For your amusement and edification.” Everyone was invited, and there was no admission charge. Bill said he was going to napalm the dog in front of the student union building on April 22, 1970 at noon.
Noon came, and hundreds gathered to protest Bill’s announced napalming of an innocent dog. They were intent on stopping Bill by any means necessary. Police were out in force. The County Prosecutor kept watch. An animal welfare officer, dressed in official animal welfare officer uniform, waited, with collar and leash in hand, to take the dog into protective custody. A little old lady handed out flyers for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Bill, dressed in a suit and tie, arrived at noon.
Bill addressed the crowd. Scientifically, objectively, clinically, he described napalm and it’s effects on flesh. The crowd directed its anger at Bill.
Bill asked the crowd “How many of you have come here today to see me napalm a dog?”
The crowd booed.
Bill asked the crowd “How many of you are willing to take action to stop me from napalming the dog?”
The crowd growled and shook their fists.
“I have some news for you. There is no napalm. There is no dog. You’ve come to stop me from committing a very immoral act. Good for you. But realize, it’s not happening to just one dog, it’s happening to tens of thousands of people compliments of the U.S. military, and we don’t seem to hear their screams. And just because it’s on the other side of the world doesn’t make it any less real or any less painful. So please, take your wonderful morality and apply it to the war in Vietnam and not just to this protest here today. Thank you for your morality.”
There was silence. Then applause. Bill walked quietly through the crowd back to his dorm room.
Without violence, without argument or shouted slogans, with only a creative mind, an eye for guerrilla theater, and a sense of humor, Bill made his point and got others to look at and see things in a way they hadn’t before.
Twelve days later, May 4th, 1970, two hundred yards to the east of where Bill had spoken, students gathered and acted on their morality, protesting the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. That afternoon, 13 students shed their blood, shot by the National Guard. 4 died.
Bill was among the demonstrators there on May 4th, 1970, protesting the war and the National Guard’s presence at Kent State University. He was not shot, but the trauma scarred him for life.
Bill’s most recent cause was freedom for the people of Ukraine. He traveled there several times, working with refugees from the war in the Donbas, and serving as an election monitor. Bill Arthrell died in a car accident earlier this year.
Live in power, rest In peace.