Wednesday, October 31, 2018


The convention of our culture is that women relate to children better than men do.  Yet often this is upside down.  One of the ways authorities go wrong when they try to contact boys is that they use women, but even for small kids, as small as toddlers, women may be the kind of adults that are most feared and most dangerous, merely because they have had so much control.  They are expected to be the source of food, warmth, comfort, and the rest of what a small child needs, and yet a woman who cannot take care of herself cannot protect even her own children.

In our culture women are often the interface between authority and forced compliance: teachers, nurses, social workers, foster parents, esp for the primary grade ages tend to be women.  Paid as little as possible, forced to get results that are hard or even impossible, given little support or guidance, women often become harsh.  Small children can mean they are able to use force, maybe because they themselves are out of control.

Boys who are noncompliant, even if they are ill, are easy to intimidate with words and -- even more so -- easy to jerk around, slap, or push.  Compliant sons, even toddlers, can be made into servants.  "Go get me the whiskey!  Go get me a blanket!"  The roles become reversed.  Or there can be blaming:  "You stole my money!  You told my secrets!  You let them know I was here, even though you knew I was hiding."  These are probably not sweet suburban moms, though you never know.

Via unauthorized guerrilla vids I've seen 300 pound "grannies" herding little kids quickly into cars in Vietnam.  E. drove one of the common motorbikes closely past them while a photographer rode pillion and kept hands free to use the camera.
This is an actor re-enacting the testimony of a man in Norway.  Clearly and especially in the days when women stayed home alone with children and no other adult -- perhaps with lingering postpartum depression -- children are vulnerable to temper, depressed neglect, and other malfunctions of love.  Consequences are built into the child's brain and make devastating trouble later in life.  Conditions of poverty may mean that children witness things they would not normally know about and even get pulled into what goes on.

"Yellow Silk", a poetic. woman-supporting magazine got into majjor controversy among readers in the Seventies when they published a story about using a vibrator, an openly approved and advertised practice for adult women, when her small child found her.  She used the vibrator on the child.  To many it was beyond the limits of responsible behavior, but for a woman raised in the sexual revolution, accepting the previously male idea of satisfying any "need," and accustomed to hook-up culture, where was the harm?  Luckily, the kid was not much impressed.  

Much abuse of grown females with immature males is much more malicious and just as sexual, like prostitution and exhibitionism.  Incest is a turn-on for some and a war-time assaultive trauma for others.  Female jailors with immature prisoners are an opportunity to pass on treatment they have received from men.

Quoting:  "The Smash Street boys think they are often judged.  Formal judges do indeed judge them.  So do the normals.  These boys scare you."  They cannot form the words they need in order to explain.  Adults who can understand and translate must speak for them.  Yet the boy, with his mixed motives, may see sexual intimacy as a kind of love that will give him a chance to escape.  

In a nearby town the straight-out-of-college upper class young woman who had been hired to teach English and direct plays, chose a drama about adolescent realization of sex.  She was a product of the sexual revolution with few personal boundaries and when she became involved a sexy high school boy, it was probably hardest on the boy, though she lost her job and her career.  The larger culture would tolerate no such event.  It was part of being a professional to resist chancer boys.  Yet the media plays up the developed boy who accepts the child of his teacher while he waits for her to get out of jail.

This confusion among moralities, including those that show up in language, became a source of passionate argument when the Amsterdam group of Cinematheque, the older boys, came up with a script about a man confronting a needy woman.  It was an occasion to try out many effects: color changes, repeats, overlays, and other vid strategies to show emotion.  The image was simply a man speaking poetry about why he responded to a woman in need.  

Among the boys some felt there should never be females in any work the boys did.  Others felt women should be shown as the danger they are, their malicious intent to tear them apart.  Female nurses took their blood, sweat, saliva and semen and made them take meds that made them vomit, nauseated.  It was female nurses who came to force catheters up their urethras.  

Romantic contact was beyond the experience of most.  But others loved their mothers, even trusted sisters, or had made common-cause friendships with whores.  Some were attracted to the whole notion of femaleness: the 4-inch heels, the fishnet hose, the bulging bosom, the wildly arranged hair, the swish and the flirting.  They objected to the use in the script of the word "cunt" and said it was disrespectful.  But not any of the boys knew the medical words for private parts of women.

Right now the whole concept of gender has been on a runaway, sex is considered negotiable, much less what it means, what is allowed, how others should react.  And yet one of the Cinematheque older boys who was struggling with HIV/AIDS had been with a woman long enough to have a child.  Now the three of them were infected and faced with the burden of surviving.  The boy took responsibility and when he brought the toddler to the group, they all played with him and loved him.  The public is waaaaaay behind in understanding the realities, much less dealing with them.  Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: Launch of an Economist Intelligence Unit Benchmarking Index.  This five minute testimony by a man who works with abused children is horrifying but honest.  He says that quickly increasing is the number of children -- infants, toddlers and pre-pubescent kids.  They are NOT being attacked in back alleys, but in their homes by those who have access.


Hope I can eventually segue to sound.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


THE WORLD IS TOO SMALL.  YOU GET OFF.  Make more room for me.

Though most of the killings and other deadly atrocities that crowd our newspapers and media posts daily are about shocking and personal events, the underlying problem is rarely addressed.  We are feeling crowded and our reaction is to eliminate people we don't like.  That's why so many of the killers are losers anyway -- they don't know how to be part of the world, to "have a place."  And they don't know what to do except to blame someone.  But also, some people offer to make a place "just their size" by killing themselves.

All the rest is a matter of deluded ideas about who should be sent off the planet.  Some think it is a matter of morality -- kill all the bad people.  Others feel that poverty can be solved if we would just get rid of all the poor people.  Or dark people.  Or people from some other place.  "Go back where you came from!" they say to the American indigenous people.

After all, that's the way we treat pet animals: if there are too many in the streets being a nuisance, we kill a lot of them.  Unwanted animals.  Even our kids become unwanted animals because so many people think their own survival depends on having a lot of money or status or property.  It doesn't occur to them that survival might be based on respect or helpfulness or even simple friendship, in spite of all the stories about how other people might be angels in disguise -- or just a pleasure to have around.

It's an animal thing.  When there are too many of some kind for the ecology they inhabit, either natural consequences knock the numbers back -- like the cat virus that infects the feral felines of Valier -- or fights to the death between males limit insemination to the rights of survivors.  Limiting females, like forced sterilization, is even more direct.  Humans are as animal as any others, but with added differences.  Most of the time.  Good and bad.

Even if there is plenty of space, as in Montana, too many people can amount to shortages.  Since our small towns are shrinking, this is hard to understand, because it means shrinking the supply lines for food and materials.  One bakery informed our mom-and-pop grocery store that they would no longer supply bread to Valier because there weren't enough sales to make the mileage pay off.  On a macro-scale, we're told that the rare elements that make smart phones work are running out and are not necessarily dug up in friendly territory.  So prices go up.  Small rivalries can end in shootings.  Large rivalries find that famine is more effective -- more deaths directly from less food.

A new way of looking at the situation is coming out of genomic research.  It hasn't become conscious yet though so many of us are pondering the collapse of former seemingly invulnerable empires (Rome) and hatred coalitions (KKK) we thought were gone.  But the truly salient ideas have nothing to do with any of that.  The ability of computers to accumulate and find patterns (algorithms) in huge amounts of data is combining with new access to fossil genomic information and mineral isotopes to make a guess at what gene (tiny bits of molecule) might add up to which hominins became humans, where and even, maybe, why.  Clearly, most hominins have the ability to compensate for climate differences or even food types, but some genes enable better survival at high altitudes, like Bolivians or people on Mt. Everest.  And so on.

Evolution is powered by mutation: constant changing.  Every slightly better advantage in ability to use oxygen, or digest milk or devise shelter can mean growth in the number of relatives.  We are stupid about this.

In fact, it turns out that genes can control or influence ability to speak, to reach out, or to develop empathy for people who are different.  Many people say THIS is where mutation is taking us in the future and its lack is killing us right now.  We are making sure there is a shortage of housing, too much cheap killer food, steady crime rates.  A recent analysis reveals that the trouble in the US is NOT due to overcrowding directly, but is the ability of international corporations to sequester their money away from taxation which is the lifeblood of social tissue: the source of our infrastructure, our health care, our homes and identities.  We didn't KNOW we were doing that, even though we were complicit in making the rules and pretending that a business could be a person.

But all this has to be governed by the mutating of the earth itself: the climate, the geological ferment, the atmospheric supply, the temperature.  So far, no one has done a genomic analysis of the people who died in the recent heat waves of India.  No one knows which genome will help people survive the murderous air in China.  But if we had the data we could find out.

We probably know most of the genomic elements of drug addiction right now.  Even obsessive gambling or excess anxiety can be detected chemically and treated with pills -- to some degree.  We can detect and eliminate before birth some deadly mutations, but people don't realize that all genes are interrelated and taking out one may enable others to become active.  Many are about timing -- "if/then" directions that we might not expect.

The purpose of death is to determine who will survive by demonstration.  Killing rivals may simply cause the likelihood of the death of the killer.  It is a deformation, unpredictable.  So are mutations.  Or they might not mean anything.

From:  "The stable isotope data indicates that early dispersals of our archaic ancestors were part of a range expansion rather than a result of novel adaptations to new environmental contexts outside Africa."

"The paper, by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Michigan suggests investigations into what it means to be human should shift from attempts to uncover the earliest material traces of 'art', 'language', or technological 'complexity' towards understanding what makes our species ecologically unique. In contrast to our ancestors and contemporary relatives, our species not only colonized a diversity of challenging environments, including deserts, tropical rainforests, high altitude settings, and the palaeoarctic, but also specialized in its adaptation to some of these extremes."

Destroying all competition can seem like survival, but in the long run, we are eliminating the evidence of what is human and how this last kind of hominin can persist.

Monday, October 29, 2018


Casting around for a source of business to replace sexwork, the Cinematheque group thought about something they knew very well: marijuana.  They had been sophisticated consumers for years, depending on the weed in cigarettes to ease both physical pain and emotional stress.  Now they considered being producers.  The Netherlands was a country that legalized marijuana long before Canada.  The group thought about sending a small group of older boys to try growing marijuana indoors because of the number of empty warehouses and abandoned factory floors.  Netherlands is a shipping town, which is one source of its tolerance, but it meant that the shifting needs of commerce didn't quite match the existing buildings.

But one of the most common afflictions of the infected was lung stress.  The cold damp of a land that was only prevented from being underwater by constant attention to dikes was not helpful.  The group had a hot tub, which helped, but it meant that if someone tried to conserve energy by turning it off a night, some people had to wait for it to heat up again in the morning before they could move, even then with pain.  Qi, the half-Chinese boy who was smart as the big boys but vulnerable to his not-quite-healed lungs was disgusted at having to stay behind.

Under the warehouses were long passages meant to carry pipes and wires for electricity, water, and so on.  Some had imagination and fancied that they were an underground world left from WWII when a strong resistance to Naziism did their work.  Since they had come from Paris, others thought of the catacombs.  The city is honeycombed underground by the mining of "plaster of Paris," a limestone bed of huge proportions. When a major cemetery was decommissioned due to the need for land, the bones had to go someplace, but since people didn't quite have the stomach to burn them, the underground tunnels were converted to ossuaries where human bones are kept.  They have become so famous that they are a tourist attraction.  

The boys knew this.  They were also aware of the catacombs that were the refuge of early persecuted Christians who held Mass in a space so full of bats that both chalice and platen were kept covered with linen napkins to keep debris out.  it was the kind of Gothic Halloween spooky place that appealed to youngsters forced to embrace the gruesome and neglected.  They organized a performance down in those tunnels.  Conor, who had worked hard to get well enough to join a dance group in LA, came back to visit and was a little affronted by being asked to make plaster skulls for stage decoration, but he did it.  Online research for images and stories proved to be a rich resource.

A friend of the group in the Netherlands was Aad de Gids, an eloquent poet and existentialist philosopher who worked as a psychiatric nurse.  He was part of an international circle of poets (Paul Toth, Dom Gabrielli) on Facebook which Tim et al joined for a while.  It was a much more intellectual version of the taste for the visionary horror that is so much a part of our world.  Aad persists on Facebook.  Back then the Cinematheque group had grown to enjoy putting vids and essays in that space.  Until everything suddenly disappeared with no warning or backup.  Aad and others protested loudly with no effect.

Since the blackout happened just as the idea of a "vlog" (a blog with video) had just become technologically possible, suspicion grew that a commercial enterprise had pulled strings to close out Cinematheque's version.  But also the ghost of propriety offended made the group suspicious that they were again victims of Aunt Grundy's dislike of the unsavory.  

Another person connected to this poetry group was Dr. Rachel Bardhan, a English woman of means, who had an anthropological degree and sympathy for boys of any kind.  She was also indignant at the wiping of the group from Facebook but had the ability to do something about it.  At that point she devised "Real Stories Gallery", a website based in India where she had connections, and its accompanying Real Stories Gallery Foundation, praised by Bishop Tutu for its beliefs and actions against suffering.

This virtual "place" was a constantly changing repository and exhibit space for the world of boys.  Do not go there if you are easily shocked.  Boys who lived on the streets only through being abused know things you don't want to know, though you may drive past them in your comfortable cars.  Their first task is often to solidify looming and undefined emotional reactions into realities, names and places that can be more conventionally seen.

Persisting for a decade, the complex supported a number of enterprises that reached out to youngsters around the world.  Remarkably, quite young children in Third World places somehow had smart phones and made contact from around the planet.  For a few years even authoritarian countries didn't imagine such a phenomenon and therefore left them alone.  As boys matured and got hold of understanding, they sometimes became online mentors.  All children were sent small GoPro video cameras they could hide and carry undetected. Kids who couldn't read or speak English could make images. The enterprise was multi-lingual.

One boy had the unimaginable task of bonding with and supporting an African boy in a dangerous place.  The boy became bold and sent video he made of rebels attacking women.  Though he had been carefully hidden on a rooftop, he was eventually found out and hacked to bits with a machete.  The group was horrified.  At least he was properly mourned by his mentor and the other boys.  It was a high price to pay for helping someone -- bearing their death.  It can't be done alone, even by the old and wise.

But sometimes, esp. with a little care from others, poor children can escape from cracked concrete and putrid slime, -- can walk on a pristine beach or through rustling woods.  Happiness is not a matter of materialism, wanting to buy things.  It is possible, with a little help, to just "be" in the world.  It's good for lungs. Especially with others who care.

We are in a time of tension between community and individual, heightened by the technological extension of the world through electronics.  Communities split and shatter under our hands, even families fall apart or produce children they can not raise or even love.  At the other extreme individuals enter the horror, submerging their humanity in rage, destruction, blaming.  

This has happened before.  Netherlands has fought hard to be an open port, even after the irony of losing a major colony, New York City.  The most important product of all is ideas, which can travel across continents and oceans via smart phone.  What if Anne Frank, captive in her attic, could have put her diary online?

Sunday, October 28, 2018


  • Oct 24, 2018 

UM Environmental Studies associate professor Rosalyn LaPier won two national book awards from the Western History Association for her book, Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers, and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet.

University of Montana Environmental Studies associate professor Rosalyn LaPier won two national book awards from the Western History Association (WHA) at their annual awards banquet in San Antonio, Texas, on Oct. 19 for her book, Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers, and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet.

Laurie Arnold, Director of Native American Studies at Gonzaga University and an award committee chair, stated, “The committee unanimously concluded that LaPier’s book represented everything that the Fixico Award was designed to celebrate: LaPier is an Indigenous historian and scholar; Invisible Realities is oriented from her perspectives as a community member and a scholar, and it is built from a 20-year collaboration with her grandmother and aunt. At its most essential, it’s a book about learning through story. One committee member described it as a subtle discussion of age, education and knowledge transmission. This book provides a model of what meaningful collaboration within communities and between scholars and community members can be.”

Invisible Reality won both the John C. Ewers Book Award which recognizes “the best published book” on the ethnohistory of North American Indians of Canada, Mexico or the U.S., and the Donald Fixico Book Award which recognizes “innovative work in the field of American Indian and Canadian First Nations History that centers Indigenous epistemologies and perspectives.”

Elaine Marie Nelson, Executive Director of the WHA, noted that LaPier earned the “distinction of becoming the first Native woman to receive a book award as a stand-alone author.”

Nelson stated LaPier became the “first Native woman to receive a book award from the Western History Association” when she previously won the 2016 Robert G. Athearn Book Award for City Indian: Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893-1934, co-authored by David R.M. Beck.  Dr. LaPier is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet tribe and Métis.
Invisible Reality was also a finalist for the High Country Book Awards held in Billings on Oct. 20.


"It’s not what having a college degree does for you. It’s what *not* having a college degree does to you. Without one, you spend extra time thinking about what people with one have that you don’t: the keys to some fabulous kingdom. It messes with your mind."  Virginia Heffernan

In this essay Virginia Heffernan #page88 analyzes Trump's major character distortion through the facts of his TV show, "The Apprentice."  In this way she manages to sidestep something deeper: the yearning of the crook to be legitimate without know what "legitimate" means.  Trump longs to be a "genius," so he simply announces that he is one.  And all the other folks out there who think that someone "smart" is getting ahead of them through college leverage comes right along, waving their tiki torches.

They figure it is because those Others are Jewish, which means to them scholarly, rich, and possessing arcane semi-magical formulas.  It's an old European obsession which is why it is centered on whiteness.  These same guys don't take on Asians because they can't figure out tech stuff so it's too scary.  They're afraid to take on the big dark powerful people of Africa without a gun, so they say to each other that dark means dumb.  And they still haven't figured out that indigenous people are real, not just in movies.

Heffernan's excellent analysis of our current national hate obsessions is worth reading, esp. if you live in a relatively rural place rather than a major city.  For the generation that was raising a family after WWII, possibly while trying to escape the hard labor of ranching or farming, exclusion from national dialogue, and awareness of the idea that some people had found the key to success, which is a protection against all bad things -- for that generation college was the answer.  Not only could a person gain entry to a "profession" which would mean status and high income, but also girls could find there the kind of man they ought to marry, because if you marry a success and raise his children, you've succeeded as yourself.

This is the pattern of my cousins.  It's not mine.  Theirs has worked out variously but mine has worked out in a way that scares them.  Late in life I inherited enough money to write full time.  It wasn't much but it was enough, because I had a kind of education that my cousins cannot "get."  Maybe their children will be able to when they are older.  I don't know how many have gone to college or what kind of college it was.  I don't know that whole generation.

Most people think of college as state universities and those are fine, predictable and respectable.  Junior colleges and others of the sort concentrate on parts rather than the whole.  Being an auto-didact, one who educates himself, is very rewarding, but helped very much by the kind of broad liberal view of the world that sorts it for absorption.  These kinds of education are not likely to provide it.

Much is being made of "legacy" students at high prestige schools where admissions give privilege to the children of previous students or children of rich people who give the school a lot of money.  A feedback loop develops that creates a class of people in a closed world, considering themselves elite and fulfilling that with power.  Yesterday a student of Northwestern University, my undergrad alma mater, where I received with gratitude a particular kind of education, called.  What I learned was humanities-based, centered on method acting, and asked always, "What would it be like to be the person before me? How would I see the world?"  The goal was to understand from the "spine" a person -- or even an animal -- so authentically that an audience could grasp who they were.

The teacher who gave us this view was not appreciated.  The caller wanted me to say wonderful things about what a success I was because of NU.  First, he would not consider me a success.  By his accent, he was Asian, probably the first generation born in the US.  In what I suspect has a Confucian origin, the idea of success is to make money and honor one's family.  My estranged poverty would appall him.  When I began to talk about how NU has sold out to international corporations and how what remained of the theatre department I so loved was now pandering to places like Qatar for the sake of money, he announced he would call back at a better time.  

I don't know how to tell him about the reframed world that is the result of the other kind of education I got across town at the U of Chicago.  I was far from being a legacy student and could not quite understand what some of these people were saying.  Many were old men, just leaving after a lifetime of exploration.  They themselves were having to work hard to understand the new vision of the world provided by a science that could read the cosmos, trace history through geology written in stone before there was life, accept the many hominin versions before life got to the current version, and discern how language can tear our complacency apart.  Only now that the world begins another cycle of war/domination can we appreciate that this new way of thinking might be a way out of starving children and destroying homes.  Not just us, but also "them".

We need to challenge the obstinate persistence of universities that have abandoned their original purpose, which is hard when the Trumpians never knew what the original purpose was anyway.  They see education only as named buildings, endowments, and privileged access to sin, though their idea of sin is fraternity-based -- drinking, abusing women, violence of many kinds but not as soldiers. 

So Heffernan has correctly and simply identified Trump's obsession without saying anything about mafia, which was how his father made the millions that Trump has spent his life wasting and losing through bad decisions.  Now the family name is being pried off the buildings he never really owned anyway.

College educations got a lot of American people off the farm and out of the small towns.  So there they all are now, crowded into mega-cities with gig economies instead of careers, wondering what it would be like to live like the lilies, quietly at grandpa's and grandma's out in the country.  We knew what country was then.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Books are the dominating form of narration in our society in terms of prestige.  We think books will make you famous though the mystique that made religions claim they were based on books is over -- whether scrolls kept and memorized over time, pamphlets approved by a committee of experts, purported biographies, or found golden plaques now buried in the desert.  Books are now cheap, rarely memorized, written in, pages torn out, hollowed out to hide things, and finally pulped.  But people keep writing them.  Finding volumes that "changed their life." Hoarding them in stacks and on shelves.

Authors are assumed to be brilliant, rich, and admired.  Film, video, online print are all still considered temporary in some sense: tinsel.  But a new form of story conveyance has developed to accommodate and sort pieces whether of testimony, demonstration, epistle, or image, moving or not.  Music is prominent and vital in them.  Today the two most potent forces powering the people's computerized narrative are music vids and porn.  Both are young people's art forms, natural as breathing.

Shatzkin, an expert on producing and selling books, used to concern himself with bookstores, publishers and the integument jobs: editors, warehousemen, clerks, advertisers, inventory experts.  As the readers and the producers changed through the decades, he watched and thought about it.  Most recently he notes that "books" are cheap and fast to make, in best-seller volume or one-by-one.  You can write one on your keyboard, add illustration off the internet, and print copies on your kitchen table.

But the best ones are extremely expensive to buy again if they are specialized or technical and if you know they exist at all.  There are no "dirty books" accessed by an initiated clerk drawing them from under the counter in Paris.  You can see it all on a "tablet" -- maybe your neighbors, even family making a few bucks, confident no one will mind their appendicitis surgery scars, not are that they are kids.

Shatzkin suggests that books have gone from being well-made objects to enjoy, value and keep, to reread again and again, until now they are doors opening into a special world, a context where people share ideas, vocabulary, proposals, and projected futures.  Mostly written as ebooks because things are moving so quickly that today's book may be irrelevant tomorrow, one can merely delete the obsolete without burdening the bookshelves.  The model may be science or technology, hurtling along like yesterday's locomotive and tomorrow's rocket shoot.  

Convocation conventions are passé, conversations are on Skype, all locations are in the City of On-Line.  You can buy anything there.  But people will look you up on a search engine and make records of you on a web-crawler. Some have taken advantage of all this to seem more wicked and deprived than they are. Then there is the fun of "unmasking" them.

So why couldn't the boys in Paris, uninvited, unacknowledged, unappreciated boys at risk, join forces to create material?  Don't people want to know reality?  At first the boys themselves were divided.  Invisibility had kept them safe.  They were used to being ghosts, shadows, whispering.

Tim's way of working was loosely based on books but struggling to escape by opening windows to all arts that would translate, including dance.  He began with a title that captured an aspect of life, then began to montage with short pieces.  This made it easy to slide in pieces by any one of them that sort of fit the title.  "The Fallen and the Flight."   More like portfolios than books.  The boys were participants but Tim had the final say because he had control of the money.  They, of course, could also post on social media, but weren't as good at safeguards offered by being part of a community.

Books have always been part of sexwork.  Sexwork is partly biological, but mostly work of the imagination.  The art of it is learning what is a channel to assumptions and how to exploit them, creating an alternative reality that might only endure for an hour or might extend through a weekend.  Sex is in the brain, a truism so obvious that everyone ignores it, even while doing telephone sex where only the voice connects two people.  Books are also in the brain.

Sexwork is a means more than a goal.  Maybe some people want to exploit the niche and become known for it, and that's perfectly possible.  There are famous true whores besides those who pretend in order to seem more exciting.  But for young boys sexwork is a feat of survival undermined by their own sense of humiliation, of having no one to care for them otherwise.  Still they manage to make marks on whatever surface they find with whatever means are at hand.  Someone like Banksy reframes graffiti into social comment and a force for change in a fossilized world of art sales, simply by turning assumptions on their heads, by using innocent images and revealing destruction. 

Beyond that, every face is a book.  Every new day is a clean page.  Lakoff manages to enliven that principle into a life-force, a near-religion.  Metaphor is how our brains work and every sexworker uses metaphor, even the ones that are very low on the hierarchy, merely sucking off someone cheap and in a hurry.  At the high end of concubines and king's favorites, metaphors become palaces and it's possible to marry a president in a country that is not supposed to have kings.

Boys wishing to join the group in Paris used to provide portfolios in the conventional sense.  Quality was various but not usually surprising.  Tim went by his gut rather than any art school standard.  He valued potential and saw it where no one else did, partly because of a lifetime of working with atypical kids in what were meant to be typical classrooms, expecting little.  The boys, treated this  expectant and optimistic way, expanded, grew talents, saw the world as for the first time, and otherwise justified every investment in them. They began to find meaning.

Some didn't.  Some died.  In the 19th century tuberculosis murdered far too many important and valued young people. Keats, Thoreau, Emerson, Poe, Chopin, Kafka, Chekov,  In the 21st century tuberculosis is the leading cause of death in people with HIV/AIDS, in spite of all the remarkable drugs.  The realm of those who address, investigate, survive, and push for a cure is expanding, sharing ideas, and creating a new world.  But can be bound by hard covers etched with images of poverty.

Friday, October 26, 2018


"On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) acknowledged that voter suppression efforts by Republicans are significant enough to swing key Senate races in Arizona and North Dakota.

In Arizona, where Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is virtually tied with Republican Martha McSally, outdated voter databases which do not automatically update new home addresses could mean up to 300,000 Arizonans will be unable to vote on Election Day, according to the ACLU’s Dale Ho.

In North Dakota, a new and strict voter ID law requires a home address to vote. However, over five percent of the state’s population is Native American, and Native Americans living on reservations typically do not have traditional home addresses. Because the state’s population is only 800,000, every vote is crucial.

Students at Texas State were surprised to learn that the polling station on campus closed after only three days, when normally polling locations are open for two weeks during early voting periods.

Students have contacted election officials to re-open the polling location. When Democratic official Debbie Ingalsbe contacted Republican official Wally Kinney to ask about the Texas State polling location, Kinney responded, “If Debbie is bringing it forward, it probably means that it is going to favor Democrats, so maybe I should not be in favor of this.”
Dodge City, Kansas, which is 60 percent Latino, was recently told that its one polling location would be moved beyond city limits — over a mile away from the nearest bus stop.

Further complicating matters, newly registered voters in Dodge City were mailed a document directing them to the former polling location.

Dodge City is home to 27,000 residents, most of them Latino, and as many as 13,000 voters are expected to vote at this one polling location. The average polling location in Kansas sees about 1,200 voters.  

The Republican nominee for Kansas Governor, Kris Kobach, has been a vocal proponent of strict voter ID laws, even heading President Donald Trump’s short-lived Voter Fraud Commission.

Maybe all this stuff sounds crooked as hell, entirely unprecedented, to people in Washington, D.C.  Here in Montana we all know the history of loading drunks onto trains and taking them to vote as told to in some designated place.  In those days it wasn't the people who were crucial as much as where the powerful people built their county seats.  Except, oh, wait . . . there were Indians but they weren't allowed to vote because they weren't legal human beings.

I follow Rachel Maddow very closely but sometimes I consider her kinda naive.  This week's bombs shook us up a bit but probably not as much as the formidable efficiency of law and order.  They aren't done yet, of course.  The troubling part is that the President of the USA appears to be on the side of the bomber, as well as the proliferation of violent groups who not only target nonviolent groups and individuals that Trump dislikes and acts out assaulting, but also takes pride in their viciousness and vid themselves for bragging purposes.

Rachel worries about Trump's determination to make himself immune to all correction or discipline or good will, and his willingness to try to make himself the head of the military, his own personal military.  When you consider his closeness to Erik Prince, who wants to subcontract his own private military in Afghanistan. and his son-in-law's buddybuddy relationship with the Saudi prince who allegedly has his critics sawn in pieces, he sounds pretty tough.  But when you think about the possibility that he may muss up his hairdo or even --- horrors -- get hurt, the crawly unseemliness of pulling in people to sin on his behalf gets pretty intense.  Rachel apologized for even mentioning this mingling of military with authoritarian hatred.  But she left a third force out.

Two cities I've read about so far have not just tried to limit voting to people like themselves, but have also tried to bar people who were "not Christian" from living in their town or using their library.  They don't seem to realize that most of the immigrants in the caravan ARE Christian, though maybe not Protestant.  The most numerous religion on the planet is Muslim, not Christian. Maybe they do realize it.  Plainly the people with this exclusive attitude are or are becoming the minority.  And that's the problem: they don't like it one bit.

Yet humans' greatest survival strength is adapting to new conditions and not inviting unnecessary violence.  A great many people in this country are doing exactly that.  Most folks around here have no idea of the level of hatred.  Even in cities there's not much awareness of people building the real tomorrow.  I used to say that was a good thing, because then the monsters won't spot them and try to kill them.  But now I wonder.  Sometimes I think it's time to stand up and fight back -- not necessarily violently.  I remember the men on the Portland, OR, commuter train -- of all places -- murdered for doing the right thing. They were innocent of possible outcomes.

But then I think about a woman I sat next to in the Valier clinic a few years ago.  Her face was bruised, her arm was broken.  They lived up the street.  The cops got after them (she collaborated in her abuse because she was alcoholic and dependent on her abuser) so they moved to another small town that was more tolerant, more tough-guy.  It was the day after the Fourth of July.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Ian Marquand came to my consciousness in Montana thirty years ago as a TV reporter.  I thought at once that here was a true humanist, a keen intellect with a wide interest in what happens and why.  Reporting was an excellent thing for him to do.  Billings TV, ever alert to how to shoot itself in the foot, pushed him out of his job.  They think they're Denver.

This evening I ran across a piece about Ian, a bit of video, and didn't recognize him in spite of his distinguished nose until he began to speak.  He's gray.  A little heavier.  I'm curious to know what else is different.  But it turns out curiously difficult to discover.  He's on Facebook where I refuse to go because it is evil.  He's on Linked In, which I joined in 2014 but can't access because it insists that I'm not human or I'd have two telephones.  Not much on Google.  

He's on the advisory committee for the Mansfield Center, which is a good thing.  He has two formal jobs, one as a public relations consultant in private practice, and the other as Executive Officer for the Montana Board of Medical Examiners ( MT Dept. of Labor & Industry) in Helena, MT.  He is a University of Montana graduate, long enough ago that he probably got a proper education.  He has a YouTube channel but, curiously, is not on it in front of the camera.  He likes Asia and kids, which are promising subjects.

After considering overnight, I've decided to focus on his Montana Board of Medical Examiners role, composed as follows:  Thirteen individuals are appointed by the Governor to serve on the Board of Medical Examiners.  Under Montana law, the Board is made up of:

  • Five Physicians having the degree of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) including one member with experience in emergency medicine.
  • One Physician having the degree of Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.)
  • One licensed Podiatrist.
  • One licensed Nutritionist.
  • One licensed Physician Assistant.
  • One licensed Acupuncturist.
  • One volunteer Emergency Care Provider.
  • Two members of the general public who are not medical practitioners.

There is no provision for Nurse-Practitioners.

I have a number of concerns about medicine in Montana.  None of them are about feet or acupuncture.  I'll number the others:

1.  Lack of transparency or plan of action for plagues like opiods, TB,  AIDS which are still of major concern to the population as a whole.  Would it not be a good idea to include a public health expert?

2.  The number one problem in Montana is also its best feature: vast space and severe weather.  As an old woman with a dubious pickup, living singly and not in happy communication with neighbors, I constantly run into docs etc. who insist that I present myself at their offices, even when roads are closed or ought to be.  I must decide whether to use the ambulance, which is volunteer and understaffed because there are not enough young people.

3.  The above is accompanied by sparse and aging population.  Wealth is unevenly distributed.  But the providers of care and their families want to live in population centers with decent pay.  As in many other contexts, like education and grocery stores, the tendency is toward consolidation.  Hospitals enrol docs from farther and farther away and consolidate so that the governing boards are less and less local.  My doc just sold his practice to his previous hospital which has bought his present hospital, both of which have been subsumed by a Northwest mega-network of hospitals run by a Mormon business.

4.  Much care is needed by older people with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart/lung problems.  Modern care for these people means constant blood testing and reliable compliance on their part, which may mean monitoring. The assumption by docs is that patients will be on a regular schedule, coming in -- not asking for advice by telephone.  In fact, I'm finding that Montana care givers are singularly reluctant to come to the phone and are suspicious of email.  In Oregon I was used to docs who never ended the day without phone contact with those who needed it.  

5.  Money in a time when docs must go into nearly lifelong debt to get through medical school means that the whole system runs on the insurance that guarantees income.  That means the insurance world, a business for profit, controls much of what happens.  A concept called "best practices" imposes a code that defines afflictions and their reimbursement.  A covert agreement with the pharmacy industry means that a code prescribes a med, regardless of price.  This by-passes the doctor and may be controlled by a nurse practitioner.

6.  Group practices employ "specialists" that control the "business" to increase profit.  Since health care until now has always been guided by compassion and personal relationship, this reduces the special status  that once justified religious bodies running hospitals to being just another shop.  Puzzling or difficult cases -- mouthy patients -- are discouraged because they cost money to the practice, but because the cases are sent to bigger centers farther away, they end up costing the patients immense amounts, maybe bankruptcy or just non-treatment leading to death.

7.  Google and other search engines list and provide judgment based on client satisfaction, making a doctor vulnerable to soreheads and shake-down artists.  A medical doctor should not be focused on what makes the patient "feel good."  There's another profession for that.

8.  Montana, Google says, does not provide to the public any info about lawsuits, insurance for malpractice, dismissals for whatever.  Other states do.  This omission makes Montana attractive to medical people who've had difficulties in other practices.  Some of them are perfectly well-qualified but are stigmatized by nonconformity like sexual identity or because they are immigrants.  This sort of thing is vulnerable to political maneuvering and one more source of control over doctors by non-medical people intent on profit.

These observations are based on my life experience, which includes a summer as a hospital chaplain at a major regional center and ward clerk in a Montana hospital that had become a target of state regulation because of one doctor, an aging Doctor of Osteopathy with a cranky retro attitude.  He was much loved by some, esp. those who considered themselves peers -- i.e. prestigious white men with prosperous businesses.  When ousted, he moved one county away and began again.  In my little village that same hospital supervises a once-a-week clinic served by the most recent or least prestigious medical person.  These persons spread over a wide range of qualifications and skills.  They are most often female.

Montana people are often fatalists.  If it's difficult to get oneself to a doc or hospital, it's also difficult for regulators and monitors to get to the locations across hundreds of miles of prairie and over major mountain ranges.  We just do the best we can and die if we have to.

I wonder what Ian Marquand thinks of that?  Does he have a filing cabinet somewhere full of essays, thoughts on the subject?  I'll send this to him and see what he says. 

11/1:  Marquand says nothing.

5:30 PM  After adding this note, Ian's response came in as email rather than a comment. He is not interested in philosophical discussion. OK.