Monday, March 25, 2019


Many of the people I know -- not just here in this town but through other contacts all over the world -- did not want to know what Trump et al were up to and still do not want to know.  They only need one of the three monkeys -- the one with the bag over its head.  They got rid of the cooperatives because they were too much work and they sold the town waterworks (that was in Missoula) because it's smart to let other people do the work.

Now they confirm that Trump, as he boasts, could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it simply through denial.

We SAW what Mueller was documenting, possibly with videos but certainly with sound recordings and photographs.  We SAW that Trump was in Putin's pocket.  We SAW that his hairdo, even though cleverly devised is now growing almost too thin even for that and is sometimes dyed strange colors.  We SAW how demonic his "angry face" is.  We heard how his staff is afraid to tell him bad news because he storms and blames.  Now we pretend we didn't.

Did all this drive the conscientious opposition underground?  To some degree, I think the answer is yes, but they didn't have to struggle to do it with the people who didn't want to know, who didn't think anything would REALLY happen because all that political stuff is fake.  For many years "politics" has been delegated to a class invented by money whose "price" is being labeled not wicked but sordid.  Not just in Washington DC.  And not suddenly.

I started out on the rez teaching, which was gerrymandered to prevent outrage, so that some students who could not meet standards for graduation were allowed to go through the ceremony, receive an empty box and a handshake, and then stand with the others for the gifts meant to congratulate achievement.  There was little difference from the true graduates except the lack of education.  This has progressed until a recent story was about several -- SEVERAL -- valedictorians of their class who had gone to college -- not Harvard but a state college -- and found that they couldn't do the work because they had not been taught necessary things.

In the Sixties I heard a state professor say in the face of criticism, that it didn't matter whether his "Indian" students learned anything because they would never get jobs doing anything but teaching other "Indians."  People assumed because I (white) was teaching on a rez, I must be unqualified elsewhere.  They might have been right, but plenty of "Indian" students just learned anyway.  All the while schools elsewhere were being "normed" down, they were "norming" up. 

But here in town (300 people) we had a mayor who won but couldn't remember the words to the Pledge of Allegiance.  He was totally dependent on the clerk, who already had enough work to do.  Finally he rather transparently moved his office into the Boy Scout room, saying he was willing to "share" and some people woke up.  He moved elsewhere.  

In other small towns across Montana the athletic program far outweighs the learning curriculum and the superintendent is well aware that only if the kids "take state" has he got a job.  Not only that, but a cloud of monetary peripherals depend upon it:  photos of the teams, expensive uniforms, highly technical helmets that don't prevent concussions, a floor for the gym that costs a fortune to maintain, hours and days of stressful bus travel to games across a vast state in weather that's sometimes as dangerous as outer space.

In Portland, OR, I've worked for the county and the city, in situations of high ris in the 70's, like animal control law enforcement or leaving City Hall after work into police roundups of drug dealing gangs who held the bus at gunpoint.  Behind the scenes were accidents and missteps that were covered up.  Little money- draining schemes and stress-produced violence or self-harm.

They tell me I'm too idealistic and out of date, so I went to seminary and became a minister.  Another curtain. Skating on sentimentality and out-of-date beliefs, the ordained were siphoning money and sleeping around just like everyone else.  If there were ever a hard choice, they slipped out of it.  Or were sent on their way.  I loved a few of them.  Not the ones who made drunken confessions at national conferences, male or female.  Usually about sex.

Trump is in their eyes despicable and corrupted in a laughable way, but they recognize him and his fragile alliance with Putin.

For twenty years I've had the privilege of living alone in a remote place so I could read and write without interference.  This is because of the great good of Social Security (which Trump wants to cut) and a pension from the City of Portland so long as their investment scheme works.  What I've discovered is that the world as we know it is arbitrary and often imaginary. I could see it coming and had hoped I would die before it got here.

But there are people re-envisioning some new way, which is sometimes a very old way.  One of the hardest parts is building in the Internet into the rules of democracy, partly because it is fragile and hackable.  But without it I would not be so vividly aware through lectures, documents, messages, of a horizon that few people I know can see past.  Even in the most scholarly circles, it is necessary to rebuild the brain.  I can't DO it, but I can understand the necessity.  And I have read the steps to it.

Trump is a chump.  He fantasizes that he was judged and set free.  Neither happened.  He's the same Adderall addict he ever was.  (I looked up Adderall on Google and found it just now changed to sound safer than the earlier version.)

Sunday, March 24, 2019


To read this post, one might do well to start with this article linked below.  It will also introduce the reader to "The Tyee," a word that those of us who had Mildred Colbert, Chinook elder, for a 4th grade teacher will know is another term for a leader.

Lopez asks, "What comes after capitalism?  What comes after democracy?"  I ask, "What comes before we leave capitalism and democracy?"  Both of us are talking about sequence, cause and result, process, the flow of events and the lives they shape.  I'll tell you the answer to my question.  It is now. 

I do think that we will find the new eco-social patterns that will save us, but we don't know their names, though we might know the concepts somehow right now.  But I also think that the climate change, famine, environmental disasters, limits of material resources, blackouts and internet failures, resurgent microbes -- all these things will persist and kill us in great numbers.  We saw this coming.  I used to have nightmares about it, but not now.  Now I just live in circumstances that are modest, beneath notice except for this blog.  I'll slip away quietly.

Though I have no descendants in the direct sense of children, I have enormous respect for demographics.  The kids I taught in the 7th grade in 1961 have carried the Blackfeet rez (which includes more than Blackfeet in addition to Blackfeet of every kind and degree with the BIA on their back) through fifty years and the whole area is better than it was.  (One must take into account that I do not get excited that Browning, the capital, is no longer a town.  I don't care what you call it -- it's organic.)  

Those 7th graders were identified as future leaders and the designators were right, mostly because the kids were part of conscientious families.  They were the parents of the first Head Start kids and that movement has been a key to progress.  Head Start was a valuable institution, but it also paved the way for many other experiments like Immersion School or Catholic school.  (I always remember the kid who came to an early school so full of hope and love that he had put on that morning the only clothes he could find, which happened to be his grandmother's.  Luckily, she wore jeans and sweatshirts.)  These were the kids who made their parents stop smoking.  Now those same kids, after decades of service on the rez, are retiring.  Charlie Farmer is in the paper because he's retiring!  Whaaat!  I still remember him vividly as a kid full of beans and ideas.

All the time this community has been growing and worrying -- it's drugs that they feel are a problem at the moment -- a world of research and thought that reaches around the world has been revealing a planet of exploding knowledge.  One silly guy will say, "Well, we've made all the discoveries, been every place, taken history as far as it can go, founded all the nations, etc."  And a good proportion of the rest will roll on the floor laughing.

Life is a process and no sooner do we think we've got it all nailed, than it changes.  Have to start all over again.  I'm reading Quamman (horizontal gene transfer) and Porges (the third vagus nerve complex of the autonomic nervous system.)  Most of the pretentious atheists or apologists never escape the Christian system which they claim is Judaic, while they demonize Islam which is a direct derivative.  They ignore Asians and make the autochthonous Americans into fantasies.  When they say they value all religions, they usually mean they have collected the bells and whistles of many places and stashed them in their bookcases.  But the people who are coming out of biology, medicine, close study of the land -- they sound to me like 19th century Transcendentalists in terms of their wonder, their acceptance of all things being related.  A new religion?

No, because the way we think of religion is as established, bureaucratic, monetized, architectural, political power-mongers, wearing grandmother's clothes.  They say "sacredness" but they really mean, "We get to draw the lines."  Myself, for one thing, I would "love" to see the social lines on sex redrawn, since they have become so embedded in hypocrisy, ownership, stigma, pharma and so on.  But I would never expect any lines about love (limerence, attachment, response) to be successfully drawn.  It blows where it listeth.

I'm saving articles about the new ways to organize land, since the ocean is redrawing the coast again (I said, again).  One way is to organize around city/states.  (Again.)  I would like to see Valier reorganized complexly to include water service area, service area for gas and power lines, same for phone and internet, and to supply rational transportation.  Another way is to organize according to the carrying capacity of each eco-system, particularly in terms of water available.  But who says who can live where?  Before destiny intervenes.

Sometimes the people vote to leave Europe -- sometimes the sea just takes it.


Saturday, March 23, 2019


For the past days Spring has smiled on us with sunshine.  When it does that, the morning sun forms a big square on the yellow kitchen floor where the kittens (I call them the Sparrows) do their early tumbling.  I'm going to imitate Mueller by being domestic, picking up the debris, reshelving books, washing dishes, and trying out my new vacuum cleaner wand that sucks up sideways so a person can stick it in on tops of books to remove dust.  Also, I have this cute little gimmick called a Wonder Washer, which is really just a bucket with an agitator in the bottom, about the right size to do kitchen laundry like dishcloths or maybe the socks that fascinate the Sparrows so much because they are the right size to drag everywhere and because they're smelly.

I'm going around the house taking down the winter curtains, checking now and then to see whether the snow has melted enough for me to get into what I call the "Bunkhouse," which is really a storage shed.  The rooftop snow everywhere is about gone, so I'll see if there have been disastrous leaks. Of course I'll also check every now and then to see if Barr has released anything.  (I still haven't recovered a straight face after Colbert referred to him as the frog who swallowed John Goodman.)  

The bull tomcats in the nabe have been so determined to get into this house at night that they broke the cat flap!  Not the hinge, but the little plastic flap!  I made a temp fix with duct tape -- big strips of the stuff across the hole.  In the gaps the occasional baleful eye of a frustrated tomcat peers in at us.  A new catdoor is in the mail.

Conferring as injury veterans, some of us discussed the fact that pain killers as strong as opioids are simply off the market.  All docs and pharm folks are afraid of the paperwork necessary and the threatened consequences of misuse.  We're shifting to vibrators (They don't have to look like private parts.) and gizmos with faint electric pulses.  But opioids have a place and simply bureaucratizing them is no solution.

The discussion about the Mueller report varies from the sophistication of Seth Abramson, who has written two books, "Proof of Collusion" and "Proof of Conspiracy" (in case you need an overview) and those who fall for the TV series interpretations in which one brilliant man saves everyone.  No one is talking about China, Mafia, world-wide money webs.  No one is realizing that no matter what the report says, what we know so far has destroyed every henchman whether or not they are sitting in the slammer yet.  (Safer place for some.)  There's still a flurry of Brexit in the background.  The nations who were once the salvation of the world -- it was only a little while ago in the years that I was a child -- are now ridiculous, helpless, and looking at famine.  FAMINE.  (Like Ireland!)  Their citizens can't get their meds or even clean water.

How desperate was Putin to think that using Trump as a pawn would work?  A side show cannot save a circus.

I won't think about that for a while.  Now the sun is growing dusky and they say snow will be back, though it will be rain in the afternoons.  Curry's  Market was selling oxalis plants (four leaf clovers) just the right size for the kitchen windowsill next to the bits of geranium that always break off.  I put the ends in tumblers and soon they'll have roots for pots outside.

All winter I've been pitching empty cardboard boxes into the space between the two banks of filing cabinets in the garage.  Now I'm making the boxes flat and piling them so I can begin to empty and remove some cabinets.  It's clearer now which things I saved just in case, so can be taken away, and which things are important to keep. 

The world has changed.  The real work of redesigning and refitting our culture is already underway.  OUT with the electoral college.  OUT with electronic voting.  OUT with gerrymandering.  OUT with poll taxes.    But there are still mysteries.  I understand Trump, a hollow tin man.  But what accounts for the Repubs?  They have destroyed their party.  Many of them will soon be dead.  At least Nunes has left us his cow.

Friday, March 22, 2019


First, let me establish that most of the pain is gone and I mostly have use of my left arm after a bad dislocation.  Second, I'll tell you that I have never had physical therapy, knew nothing about it, and disobeyed my emergency room care givers orders.  A Physician Assistant-Certified young man who has lived everywhere in a military context, he wrote me off as an old woman with resources instead of an overeducated solitary.  He assigned me to go to a physical therapy business associated with the Great Falls Clinic Orthopedics in Great Falls.  I live 80 miles away in Valier.  I used to go to the eye doc at that clinic until my eye doctor died.  Other eye docs left to be independent. 

Thankfully, the full force of this winter had not struck when I fell.  A woman I knew slightly, a former mayor of Valier, drove me down to Conrad.  There are three county seats big enough to have more resources than Valier and all are about thirty miles away: Cut Bank, Shelby, and Conrad.  I trade in all three.  

I worked for the hospital in Shelby for six months, just before the place exploded over politics and most of the docs left for Great Falls where they organized their own clinic.  Essentially, the political issues were changes in medicine over the years, state enforcement of supervision, MD's vs. DO's, and the general difficulties of small hospitals in remote places.  Valier pays for a clinic run by the Shelby hospital once a week.  

Last fall one of the docs who had left Shelby for Great Falls set up an adjunct clinic in Conrad.  I moved to his care but soon he sold his practice.  When I fell, I essentially had no regular doctor.  This meant I had no access to the prescriptions I need because of being diabetic.  Two women MD's had told me bluntly that if I weren't more respectful and obedient to them, they would refuse to write prescriptions.  Next week I will go back to the care of a female doc I first knew at the Valier Clinic.  Her only fault is being too far away.

My pharmacy is in Conrad.  In prep for the doc next week, I gathered up the prescription bottles I had left and put them side-by-side.  They did not agree in amounts of the pills or in dosage timing.  In fact, all but the most recent called for Metformin 800er (extended release).  The same pharmacy filled them all.  They tell me now there is no such pill as Metformin in that amount.  One label tells me to take 2 pills once a day, another says take the two pills morning and evening with meals.

All assume that I live my life like theirs or at least like some stereotypical magazine.  For twenty years I've lived on a bare bones salary in an old house so I could write without having to sell, which would eat up half my time and energy.  I blog, which most people consider not really writing.  It just sounds funny to them -- they need prizes and publication and reviews.  They believe that writing is some mysterious thing they can't do.

The truth is that I don't eat meals per se -- that is, I try to keep the balance we all learned after WWII (the food pyramid) in spite of daily challenges to everything we learned.  (Butter, coffee, contaminated bagged greens) I try to go by the latest and most reliable science.  I put everything compatible in a bowl and eat it walking around.  it's not a pill cue.

I asked the emergency PA-C who took care of me for a prescription for Tylenol 3 (with a bit of codeine) and he was happy to do it, but I didn't know then that it can't be sent in the mail.  I didn't want to ask the woman who had taken off from work to add the extra time for the pharmacy so I never filled the prescription.  Finally, desperate for relief from a steady month of aching on aspirin and Advil, I ransacked my supplies.  The newest bottle of Advil wouldn't open (childproof).  Finally, I found a little stash left over from a tooth extraction decades ago.  You're not supposed to keep them.

Shortly after I came back from emergency care I was happy to discover that the grocery store would deliver and the post office brought my mail if my meds arrived that way (we normally go to the PO).  For the rest, I gritted my teeth.

Yesterday the roads were clear after weeks of being closed by feet of snow and profoundly cold blizzards.  I felt I might be able to drive to Cut Bank, at least on the low traffic roads here.  I could and I did.  In one place water was crossing the road but a car ahead of me showed it was shallow, so I drove through.  I had the addresses of two physical therapists and had talked to one helper on the phone. 

The Cut Bank therapists will not accept me as a patient without being referred by a doctor, preferably signed up with theirs.  Physical therapy is a subsidiary controlled by doctors, like prescriptions.  Doctors, like writers, don't like using up time and energy on managing a practice so they hire people to maximize their profit and they make rules.  Doctors, like writers, sub-contract peripherals.  So my choice is to dump my known and liked doc, who hasn't seen my shoulder, in order to accept an unknown doc and commit to that practice.  

Also, if I went to the nearer Cut Bank people, my insurance would be reduced.  Luckily, not long ago the Shelby hospital bought the Emergency Clinic in Conrad, so I'm covered there.  Only one Medicare insurance provider serves Montana.  Last year, no one did.  I have no idea who paid the bills but I only bought meds.

The fantasy about Valier is that it's a pretty little town where the neighbors take care of each other.  The truth is everyone works, is raising kids who have demanding after-school schedules, or is as old as me, driving a vehicle as old as mine.  During the day the streets are empty: we have become a bedroom community.  Not only has the medical profession failed to keep up with many developments simply because no salesman pushes them, but also they have no awareness of the changes in the culture.  The reality of life on the frontier is beginning to look like the 19th century.

Thursday, March 21, 2019


It hadn't been a good day for hitch-hiking.  The road was in country and traffic was light.  Now it was getting late.  He was not a country boy -- he'd just been dropped off here.  The driver wouldn't let him out where he wanted to be.

He wasn't only hitch-hiking when he started down the road.  He was an experienced guy so he knew what the possibilities were.  Maybe he might make a little money if the driver liked him.  Or the other end of the gamble was that the driver might hurt him, even kill him.  In a way his whole life had been that bet.  He felt it was out of his hands.  So when the big red pickup pulled over and waited, he ran to get there, slipping off his backpack so he could climb in quickly.  That's what he always did.

First he ran up on the driver's side to make sure the driver wasn't a highway patrol in disguise, but was rocked by what he saw.  The pickup was driven by a bear, a big black bear.  "Hop in!" the bear said, smiling genially which exposed his teeth.  

The momentum was upon him.  He tried not to think as he ran around the back (NEVER run around the front!) and climbed in.  He pretended he'd just had a headjump.  To be fair, it had happened before when he was into drugs.  Never any longer was he surprised by what his brain did.  Being a sophisticated kid, he explained to people that he was a postmodern thinker, a bit surreal and a bit political. These ideas went over big if he were in a university town.

The sun was almost down so it was kinda dark in the cab.  There was something on the seat beside the bear.  "Careful where you sling that backpack," said the bear.  "That's my son beside you.  His mom had to be somewhere else so I'm taking care of him."  The boy was startled, but the bear said, "Sure, I'm a male bear and it's not a usual thing, but -- you know -- things are different these days.  Species roles, gender roles -- all that stuff."  The backpack went on the floor.

The little bear was about the size of one-year-old child.  He looked up at the boy with bright eyes and his clever little nose went to sniffing.  Nostrils pumping, he waved his little snout around, then settled like the needle of a compass on the boy's shirt pocket.  "It's a chocolate bar," explained the boy.  "Is it okay to give it to him?"

"Why don't you split it with him and then he won't eat as much?  He'll be pleased to eat it with you."  The little bear made whines and whuffles to show agreement.

"He doesn't talk?"

"Not yet."

The cub ate his candy, sighed with satisfaction and climbed into the boy's arms.  It only took a few minutes for the boy to understand how to make a cradle of his arms.  It was oddly comforting.  In fact, something like a blush went through his whole body as the cub tumbled into sleep.

"So . . ." ventured the big bear, leaning his hairy left elbow out the window into the warm night where the trees were sighing with their new leaves.  "Are you running away?"  A handful of late-to-settle birds sped past on their slipstream.

"That was long ago.  I've been taking care of myself for a long time."  The big bear saw that the ragged boy was underweight, but -- since he was a bear -- he didn't mind that boy smelled unwashed.  The boy remembered the only way he knew to make money.  "Want to have a little fun?"

The bear shook his head.  "Don't come on to me, kid.  I've been where you are."  There was a curve in the road and he turned the steering wheel with his big paws.  "Remember that you're holding my baby."

The boy went stiff.  "You have no idea where I've been.  You don't know what it's like."  Suddenly, the boy felt as though he were the one who was a cub, but not held by anyone, only cold and bruised.

The pickup met and passed a car and in the headlights the bear could see the glitter of the boy's eyes, not quite weeping.  He shook his shaggy head.  "I did the usual forbidden things that people with no standards pay money to do to you.  Then I fell into a carnival and thought I had it pretty good.  I'd dance and make obscene gestures and everyone laughed.  Then one day came the iron collar and the chain."

The boy didn't know what to say.  "I've heard of dancing bears."

"They made me fight a panda."

"Well . . . pandas are . . .  well, at least it was a bear."

"But it wasn't.  I was just a little bear then and the panda was a big man in a costume who had one of those shocker things and he hurt me."

They rode in silence for quite a while.  There was very little traffic and they were going along a valley highway so they could see the lights of houses nestled in the hills.

The big bear shook his head hard.  "I longed for a home where I could be safe.  I didn't need much -- a cave."

"But you escaped!  How did you escape??"

"It was a fire and we were close to a lake and I swam across it.  When I climbed out much later, everything had changed."

After some moments of silence, the boy kissed the top of the cub's head.  It was all too real to him.  Tears rolled down his face.  The cub woke up enough to lick them off.

The big bear smiled.  "You better come home with me tonight, son.  Everything can change."


Interviewing Dr Stephen Porges is like getting a drink from a fire hose because he so urgently wants to tell so many good things that you really need to know.  I mean, I'm delighted to know that when the reptiles evolutionarily split out among snakes, crocs and turtles, we came from the turtles -- it's more fun than knowing about my inner fish, but even that info was not at the top of my list.  Now it's closer. There are traces of all these creatures in us.

It was even more interesting to know that C.Sue Carter is Dr. Porges' wife and that she was the researcher who worked on the prairie voles, who are faithful, versus the mountain voles, who are not, and figured out what the DNA indicators were.  Knowing that she is now the head of the Kinsey Center is even more of an indicator that I am indeed tracing paths crucial to "embodied" thought as opposed to Cartesian logic and rationality.  BUT this embodied thought is actually WHOLE body thought, showing how bodies work.  The opposition is not necessary. It was invented in the first place.  instead of reviewing all of the human systems up to the discovery of what the Vagal Nerve does, which is the subject of several YouTube vids, I want to pick up here three specific mechanisms discussed by Dr. Porges.  There are many others, but I just wanted to mark these.

Here's the url of the vid I'm drawing on.


At some point in the day the five tiny kittens who live in my closet wake up and begin to explore, peeping all the while. The mother cat uses throat talk, a constant stream of sounds that are a little bit high and have a lilt to them, like a human talking "baby talk."  Dr. Porges calls this "prosody." This is the pattern of emphasis, spacing, high/low, rhythm and so on that distinguishes various languages.  

In voles this stream is ultrasonic.  I can hear the cat and understand that she is making "baby talk" that is meant to be reassuring and encouraging.  Adult humans who are around babies or animal babies or even just pets will speak in their own version of this song that conveys safety and the intention of being protective.

The pitch of the voice is important.  Low sounds can be menacing -- think of the growl of a tiger or the movie music for the shark. My neighbor and others among young men in the town love low sounds and will install in their cars special units that play very loud bass music, almost more felt than heard.  They love it because adults or other vulnerable people have a physical reaction to it (not safe watch out!) and it blocks out all authority voices.  It prevents thought and interferes with the progress of others creating something.


"Vagal" is the name of this social relationship system that is linked to the face and heart. It is the myelinated part of the third system.  When all the signs saying "you're safe, be cool" are contradicted by sensing danger,  the competing drives to be strongly protective on one hand -- with the vagal brake preventing the child from harm -- can get aroused out of balance to the point when violence is overwhelming but not focused on the actual danger. The violence can hurt or kill the child.  Mother cats can kill their babies.  Stepfathers can beat children to death.  Here's a more technical and slightly old-fashioned version, since the first paragraph doesn't include this third social communication system of Dr. Porges.

Polyvagal Theory
The perception of real or imagined threat activates the SNS (sympathetic nervous system) and depresses PNS (parasympathetic nervous system), or vagal, influence. These coordinated physical reactions increase metabolic output in response to environmental demands. Once threat is removed, the vagus becomes dominant and vagal tone increases, initiating the visceral organs’ return to homeostasis during which recovery, growth and repair resume. Stress, then, is any real or imagined stimulus that disrupts homeostasis and leads to the withdrawal of PNS/vagal tone and the initiation of a rapid SNS response. (This description is a little bit old-fashioned in using the term "tone".)

In his influential book, The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotion, Attachment, Communication and Self Regulation, Stephen Porges examined the phylogenic evolution of the human nervous system and the role of vagal tone in the development of social behavior. His polyvagal theory is predicated on the assumption that the human autonomic nervous system (ANS) is derived from 3 phylogenic stages of neurological development."

This misguided destruction may not be intentional or even conscious.  Afterwards the killer may appear stunned, removed.  Sometimes this is blamed on drinking or drugs.  Dr. Porges suggests that the blocking of violence began in evolution when humans had to shut off their reaction to the physical invasion of babies.  No longer were they neatly confined in eggs and put outside.  Necessary nurturing demanded the mechanism of the third vagus to brake frustration.  Killing children is a reversion to the reptile state.  Our culture keeps feeling more reptilian.


Dr. Porgas suggests that the ultimate goal of mammals is safety (this includes people).  Not so different is my own assertion that the goal is survival.  In this time when people are using fear and danger to drive their goals -- of control, the paralysis of individual thought, the encouragement of reptilian violence -- we realize that our culture has not been up to the task -- startled, caught between patterns, not able to change fast enough.  This research about humans searching each other's faces for empathy seems to me like the beginning of a new way that begins in a new understanding of ourselves and each other.

What is our source of safety?  Dr. Porgas was asked what he felt was the most secure place for humans, meaning FELT safety.  He said, "the arms of an appropriate entity."  We all feel he meant ultimately the arms of a loved one.  But he also meant remembered and imagined relationships of embrace and even embeddedness in a sacred universe.  My UU minister used to call it "being enfolded."  As in wings.

Personally, I think Bob Scriver gave the best hugs of anyone ever.  For a decade I would go and ask for a hug, knowing it was there.  Even now, imagining those hugs is a reassurance that makes me smile.  Today, if I need a hug really badly, the best ones are from older indigenous woman -- squashy, enfolding, and in some cases smoky.  But some hugs are dangerous and some huggers are toxic.  Keep your Vagus system alert.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Brenton Tarrant sounds like a name made up by a wannabe Bronte sister for an anti-hero in a tragic novel.  Sometimes life imitates art.  Tarrant's claim is that "races are real things".  I will argue here that "races" are fictions that follow incoherent forces in reality, becoming lethally powerful.

Races are not nationalities, because a citizen is defined as a claimed inhabitant of a circumscribed area.  Some want appearance to be the same as the location, but American "whites" don't look like the people who really come from America. Or what "race" would say you say Idrus Elba is?  He doesn't look like historical Brits, but he's as wealthy, accomplished, tailored, well-spoken and handsome as any contemporary Brit. (Is Elba the same as Alba? White? How funny.)

Races are not physiological since they can easily mix-and-match their characteristics in babies, even those who have never had contact before, and will eventually fuzz out.  But the Austen notion that marriage is crucial attaches to race, because to her the point of marriage is to guarantee the prosperity of one's life.  In her time race was socioeconomic rather than physical, so the consequences of having physical characteristics that are obvious are not directly caused by skin color or kind of hair but that those characteristics have become markers of one's status in the culture.  They're like clothes: not fashionable.  Evilly, low status is permission for others to abuse and oppress without anyone blaming the oppressor.

Low status is matched with wickedness because if that's the only way a person can survive, that's what they must do.  The Bronte sisters write about being poor but countering with education, so that no matter how much they are tempted to compromise or sin, they don't.  There is a long Euro tradition of people who were once important and powerful, who have fallen upon hard times, and who compensate by emphasizing their educations, their fine manners, their knowledge and virtue.  This thread is in my own Scots family who hoped that a new start on the American prairies as homesteaders would make them safe. "At least we have books," they said, and the neighbors were impressed.  

On the rez in the Sixties there were always a few debauched old alcoholics who would croak, "At least I'm white."  Those who believed in race would half-listen.  The drunks never left the rez because no one else cared -- they were mostly white in a white world.  It's only the mixing, the cross-overs, the events through history, the intensity of sex prejudice. that make race mean anything.  There is a history of Germans passing as Scots. (Elizabeth II is German. Uncomfortably.)  

A war kicks up race as hatred, so part of the reason my mostly-Scots grandmother was happier in Canada during WWI was that she was afraid of what the US neighbors would do to her if they knew she was part German.  In the Sixties on the rez a family of German tourists asked us why "Indians" were so hostile to them in the cafĂ© at lunch. They LOVED Indians! But many of the Indian men around them were veterans of WWII.  Like my white brother-in-law veteran,  they hated everything German.

And yet a strand of German idealist philosophy is the near worship of indigenous people and their ways.  Groups meet to try to duplicate the culture of American indigenous people and make meticulously accurate "artifakes."  Extreme hatred and extreme love often have relationship in their intensity, their emotionalism, their black/white stance.  They grab "race" as a rationale for both extremes.

But this is only for those who can live in their heads because their environment doesn't challenge them to change.  People who work together look at performance, the same way as artists and musicians do.  But performance is an individual measure and, alas, race prejudice is about groups, the community, proving belonging to one team by hating the other one.  Hardships push people into groups in order to resist together.  Then love and curiosity blur the boundaries.

Refusal of change, valuing permanance, was once admired as strength and significance. But no more -- ask the Pope.  Some things have changed very much and even more remain to change.  Wanting to be one race, one belief, only and forever, is an excellent cover for corruption and evil. "Do you want to make us look bad?  That's treasonous!"  Appearance overcomes the reality.

Despite the efforts of PBS, Austen and the Brontes have nothing to say about mass murder in the name of "white" superiority. In their stories such monsters would be struck by lightning and fall over the Dover Cliffs.  Today our community is every living thing on this planet.  The "category boxes" matter very little in a world of horizontal DNA exchange, the interpenetration of all the consequences.

This blog is partly reacting to the blog post below.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Race is due to ecosystem impact, formed in a place relatively isolated and pressing people to adapt.  What color they are, the shape of their nose, the foods they prefer, the furniture they sit on, the way the mothers shape the ideas of the world for their children -- all of that has nothing to do with race as a unique physical quality.  It has everything to do with culture, which has nothing to do with anatomy. Culture is an invisible mental and emotional system in which humans live.   Culture has no color.
"Jul 12, 2017 - Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. ... The word "culture" derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin "colere," which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture."

Trump has a very specific culture which is based on immigrant scrambling for money, regardless of ethics, but he yearns to be truly "cultured" in terms of respected European values as described in the paragraph above.  He doesn't have the temperament, the education, or the family that would allow him to be respected in the disguised terms of European royalty -- not even as much as past dynasties like Bush, Kennedy, Nixon (oh, sorry, Nixon's descendants became peripheral.), and to a minor degree Clinton.  (Horizontal legacy?)  At least these families had an understanding of what culture is.

Money and force (mafia-style second hand surrogate punishers and gate-keepers) are not enough to make one become a member of an existing and respected old culture or to create a new culture.  Even before Trump's mind was diminished by dementia or senility or disease or drug-use, he was not able and would not have recognized a more sophisticated omni-culture or theory of the whole.

The passage that starts here is so good that I couldn't resist copying some of it, though redacting.  If you want more of it, go to:
The Center for Advance Research on Language Acquisition   (  goes a step further, defining culture as shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding that are learned by socialization. Thus, it can be seen as the growth of a group identity fostered by social patterns unique to the group. 

"Culture encompasses religion, food, what we wear, how we wear it, our language, marriage, music, what we believe is right or wrong, how we sit at the table, how we greet visitors, how we behave with loved ones, and a million other things,"

"The term "Western culture" has come to define the culture of European countries as well as those that have been heavily influenced by European immigration, such as the United States. Western culture has its roots in the Classical Period of the Greco-Roman era and the rise of Christianity in the 14th century.  Other drivers of Western culture include Latin, Celtic, Germanic and Hellenic ethnic and linguistic groups."

The sources cited here above are self-congratulatory retro-thought rather than diagnostic identification of what exists.  Some paleontologists are beginning to emphasize the invasion of the steppe horseback peoples much, much earlier. This tilts the argument towards genomic qualities, physical propensities.  It is characteristic of "white" culture to project their nature onto everyone else without justification.

Eastern culture
"Eastern culture generally refers to the societal norms of countries in Far East Asia (including China, Japan, Vietnam, North Korea and South Korea) and the Indian subcontinent. Like the West, Eastern culture was heavily influenced by religion during its early development, but it was also heavily influenced by the growth and harvesting of rice. . . In general, in Eastern culture there is less of a distinction between secular society and religious philosophy than there is in the West."

Latin culture
"Many of the Spanish-speaking nations are considered part of the Latin culture, while the geographic region is widespread. Latin America is typically defined as those parts of the Central America, South America and Mexico where Spanish or Portuguese are the dominant languages. . . ."

Middle Eastern culture
"The countries of the Middle East have some but not all things in common. This is not a surprise, since the area consists of approximately 20 countries, according to PBS. The Arabic language is one thing that is common throughout the region; however, the wide variety of dialect can sometimes make communication difficult. Religion is another cultural area that the countries of the Middle East have in common. The Middle East is the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam."

So why are they from the beginning opposed to each other and warring over dominance?  Does it come from a diminishing ecology or has Europe seized the labels for their own uses?

African culture
"The continent of Africa is essential to all cultures. . . . Africa is home to a number of tribes, ethnic and social groups. One of the key features of this culture is the large number of ethnic groups throughout the 54 countries on the continent.  . . .Currently, Africa is divided into two cultural groups: North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. This is because Northwest Africa has strong ties to Middle East, while Sub-Saharan Africa shares historical, physical and social characteristics that are very different from North Africa. . . The harsh environment has been a large factor in the development of Sub-Saharan Africa culture, as there are a number of languages, cuisines, art and musical styles that have sprung up among the far-flung populations."

Cultures of the Americas
This information exists, though most Americans only know "Indians" from the movies and believe that Hispanics are not the same as other peoples indigenous to these connected continents.  Like Africa there are many countries and languages, all varying according to their ecology:  "fish Indians," "horse Indians," "desert Indians," "jungle Indians", and the Peoples of the Far North.  Someone needs to work on this, create a hunger to know about it.  Why should Manhattan island rule the world?  

When people of the small towns in the US call themselves "white supremacists" or even "Americans as they were and should be", they are ignoring history and denying the facts, which is that they are trying to replicate a dominance in Europe they never had -- in short, a fantasy, possibly hatched in the horseback hearts of steppe-dwelling hordes.  What is the new culture we should be building in which the ecology is a whole planet?