Wednesday, June 15, 2016

As More Is Reported...

[Caveat: Who knows whether the reporting is truthful or accurate? Reporting on the American tradition of mass murder is typically/traditionally sketchy at best, and it is always, always driven by narrative...]

So the Orlando killer, they now say, was a conflicted gay man who regularly went to a gay bar in Orlando two hours away from his home on the east Florida, where on Sunday during Pride Week he slaughtered dozens of patrons and wounded dozens more just after last call. Speculation is that he knew any number of those he shot; at any rate, quite a few survivors have come forth and said they knew him. Oh yeah. They knew him all right, and from what's been reported, it seems they did not like him at all.

But he was a regular nonetheless. It's a four hour round trip between Port St. Lucie and Orlando. They say he drank heavily at the bar, and he would get raging drunk while he was there, so the drive home must have been challenging to say the least. Or did he spend the night in Orlando? Did he spend the night with anyone he met at the bar? Or...?

Some observers and commenters have been skeptical about this whole self-loathing gay theory, not so much because it's not plausible as there seems to be so little evidence that he was actually a gay man, and not simply someone who was... curious -- apparently lethally so.

They want evidence that he ever had sexual relations -- or even a casual encounter -- with another man. So far, there's been none.

All that's been reported is that he was married twice. He was very abusive to his first wife, and she left him within a few months. His second wife apparently did not suffer that way. He fathered children. He frequented the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. He used gay-oriented online chats. There is a report that he asked a fellow student at the police academy out on a date but the fellow declined.

And fairly consistently the reports suggest that nobody liked him, not at his job (as a security guard at the local courthouse) and not at the gay bar.

They didn't like him because he was volatile, mercurial and filled with anger. Among other things no doubt.

In other words, he was a frightening character that many people wanted to stay well away from.

He was reported to the FBI by his co-workers because of some of the things he said about being involved with terrorist groups. The FBI interviewed him several times over a period of over a year and determined there was nothing  actionable about what he had said or done.

He went to the Pulse bar in Orlando on Latin Night, the culmination of a week of gay pride celebration in Orlando. Somehow he got past the uniformed off-duty policeman working security at the door, got past him with his guns and ammunition. Reports suggest that he had a few drinks, chatted with some folks, and then... started shooting. He somehow shot more than 100 people before retreating to a restroom where he holed up with hostages and started an hours-long "negotiation" with authorities, using his cell phone for communication.

Ultimately, the "negotiations" failed, and the authorities decided to blast their way into the restroom where he was holed up, but that failed the first time they tried. They sent in a robot bobcat (IIRC) to knock a hole in the wall. The wall was breeched, and the hostages, according to reports, escaped. The killer emerged after the hostages and engaged in a gunfight with the police. He was killed in the gun battle.

End of incident.

During the "negotiations" the killer apparently said he had explosives and was prepared to blow himself and the hostages up, and that was the excuse given for taking aggressive action.

He is also said to have declared his loyalty to a number of Muslim terrorist groups.

He was born in New York, the son of Afghani parents who emigrated to the US after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. From appearances at any rate, his parents were/are very well off, and one would assume he grew up comfort or even luxury. From reports, it appears he was not religious.

Reports suggest he had fairly severe mental health issues, specifically "bi-polar disorder." Given his age and behavior, he may have had incipient or full-blown schizophrenic issues. Anger management was apparently not his forte.

The question then arises, how was he able to get and keep a security officer job with one of the nation's premiere mercenary contractors (G4S -- ask Jeremy Scahill about it) for nearly 10 years, despite his apparent record behavioral and psychological issues? How was he able to get all the clearances and gun permits and so forth? This is odd, it seems to me, unless it is somehow typical.

This was a man who should not have been allowed around any weapon at all, and yet he was a long-time employee of one of the top mercenary outfits, working as an armed guard at a fricking courthouse, even though he was recognized as a... potential danger to himself or others by his own co-workers who reported him to the FBI. The FBI that investigated and claimed to find nothing "actionable."

Well, I'm sure the conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this one.

Something isn't right.

By doG no.


Monday, June 13, 2016

The Massacres Will Continue Until Morale Improves and Everyone Gets With the Program

Jeeze.

Yet another mass killing, this time -- they say -- with the largest number of casualties of any single incident of mass murder in the nation's history.

Well, actually, no. If we're measuring massacre casualties accurately, we have to go way back into American history and start with the New England immigrants, Pilgrims they were, who came here and started killing right off the bat. If we want to go back further, we need to go back to the Spanish adventurers in the Southwest who killed Natives with abandon -- though many of their accounts may be false.

It was not unusual for hundreds -- even in one case, thousands -- of Natives to be killed at one go. So no, the Orlando Massacre is by no means the largest number of mass-murder casualties in the nation's or its colonial history. Not even close. Some are beginning to say that it is the largest mass murder toll since Wounded Knee, but even that might not be accurate.

Still, it's a shocking and terrible thing and deeply traumatic to Orlando and the gay community. It has shaken the Hispanic community as well since almost all the casualties were Latin men, it being Latin Night at the venue.

Ultimately, this mass killing has shaken the nation, but... well, there have been so many of these incidents over the years, so very many mass shootings at various sites -- schools, shopping centers, movie theatres, churches, bars and clubs, etc., etc. It's an American tradition by now.

The victims of these incidents are almost always ordinary folk, people going about their ordinary business or recreation, bothering no one, at least not intentionally. The routine is that some "lone wolf" with issues targets a particular site where random people gather and starts shooting more or less randomly until the shooter is dispatched by the overwhelming firepower of authorities -- or surrenders or escapes to be captured later.

What never happens in these incidents is that the High and the Mighty are targeted and slaughtered one by one and in batches. Never.

The targets are always perfectly ordinary people doing perfectly ordinary things with others of their kind.

The pattern is almost always the same: the shooter with his weapons and ammunition goes to a site where he knows people will gather, he makes his way in with little or no difficulty, he sets himself up and starts shooting while watching his targets panic and cower or run in fear. He kills and wounds however many he can before police or others intervene. He may or may not be killed on the spot, with or without a gunfight. But shooter does essentially the same things no matter when or where the incident takes place. No matter the motivation.

This is the exact pattern followed in nearly every mass murder incident in the nation's recent history. I'm so old, I remember what's considered to be the first of these incidents, at the University of Texas in 1966.  It was a shocking and appalling incident, unprecedented, bloody and awful. It was considered an aberration at the time, a gross anomaly, but it set the pattern that nearly all incidents of the type have followed ever since.

And so it was in Orlando.

So it was in San Bernardino, too.

Despite the fact that these two recent incidents are widely considered to be Islamist "terrorist" incidents, they follow the precise pattern of mass killings that has become the tradition in the USofA.

There's long been a suspicion that these incidents are not really random. The pattern is too similar, the victims too ordinary, the chosen sites too commonplace, the response too nearly identical. (More thoughts and prayers, please.) Most obviously, these incidents induce panic and fear in general population.

In addition, these incidents all depend on ease of access to firearms. Our political class absolutely refuses to restrict access to firearms, citing the Sacred Second -- the only provision in the Bill of t that politicians and their sponsors seem to recognize and care about.

Panic and fear. More panic and fear. Futile calls for gun control. Official disinterest. More gun sales. And still more panic and fear as there is no place safe from the lone wolf killers seeded among us. No place at all.

Except that if you are rich enough or important enough, you will never be a victim of one of these lone wolf killers seeded among us. Nope, not a chance.

Isn't that interesting?

However, Gabby Giffords, an elected member of Congress was a victim -- who survived a mass shooting in Arizona. Interestingly, after she was shot, the usual calls for gun control were issued, and Congress in its wisdom and majesty refused to  do anything. Not their problem. Even though one of their own was a victim. It didn't matter. Too bad so sad. Tough luck, Gabby. At least she survived.

What's going on? Why is it impossible to do anything to control access to the weapons that make these incidents possible? Not just possible but certain?

The lack of action is often blamed on the NRA and its lobbying prowess. That's a traditional response. It's their fault. Blame it on the boogy-man.

But what happens is that Congress and state legislatures and local authorities refuse to act. They cite the constitution and court decisions which they claim prevent them from acting, but those excuses fall flat. The simplest explanation is that they are satisfied with the way things are even if, from time to time, one of their own is shot by a mass murderer. They gain some kind of benefit from keeping the Rabble endlessly fearful of attackers. It's almost as if they believe the survival of the Nation depends on keeping the masses constantly fearful and filled with dread.

The fact that some of the international terror groups like to congratulate the killers or take responsibility for encouraging them should be a red flag. There's something very odd going on. The Powers That Be seem pleased enough, as whatever is going on doesn't affect them directly at all. But it does help keep the riff-raff in line.

I have no way to know what the motivation of the Orlando killer was. Speculation has focused on some mental issues (possibly untreated bipolar disorder)  and inchoate rage at gay men. That may be. I don't know. His supposed ISIS affiliation would be interesting if true, but there's no sign yet that it  is (though it will be flogged forever). The fact that he was able to get into the club with his weapons and ammunition, past a fully armed and uniformed off-duty cop who was working security for the club, is evocative of something, but I don't know what. From reports, he started shooting soon after he entered the club, he shot and killed or wounded over 100 patrons, and then he retreated to a restroom where he barricaded himself with a number of hostages and started making phone calls. He was in contact with police for hours. During that time, there was no help for the wounded. How many bled out while the shooter was barricaded in the restroom is anybody's guess. But it was probably a significant number.

Eventually, the police forced an opening in the wall of the restroom where the killer was barricaded. According to reports, the hostages then escaped, and the killer emerged. There was, they say, a shootout and the killer was killed. End of story.

But was at 5am after a long and grisly night. It's right to ask how many of those who died were victims of friendly fire or neglect. And was there really a shoot out? Who can say and will we ever know for sure?

These mysteries and many more will compound over time. An official story will be promulgated and we will go on. Till the next time, and the next and the next and the next.

The massacres will continue until morale improves...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hillary?? Hillary. Hillary! (We're supposed to say Yay!)

The way I understand it, Hillary was not to have serious/significant primary opposition. She was to be granted the Democratic Party Presidential Nomination by Right, on a Silken Pillow, after a not-too-strenuous primary season that would be abbreviated thanks to all the other primary candidates dropping out by mid-March if not sooner.

It would be a cakewalk for her compared to the brawl on the Other Side.

Bernie was either not to run at all, or if he did run, his numbers would be so low (cf: O'Malley -- who?) that he would see the writing on the wall and disappear back to the nether reaches of the People's Republic of Vermont and the Senate where he came from.

Didn't work out quite that way. Not quite that way at all.

I voted for Bernie here in New Mexico, and my county's Democrats went for Bernie over Hillary ... two votes. I don't know whether anybody will call for a recount. Interestingly, the more rural counties tended to favor Bernie while the more urban counties were Hillary strongholds. Hmmm.

Same thing seemed to happen in California.

Hillary won New Mexico's Democratic Primary by a small margin, less than 7,000 votes state wide out of 215,000 or so cast (turnout was pitiful.) In California, the margin was greater, but still.

Bernie was not supposed to do so well. He wasn't really supposed to run at all. He's a crabby old man, after all, and who wants that in the White House? Yuk.

Not just old and crabby, but a fricking Socialist to boot. Eeek! Run away!

But no. He piled up victory after victory defying expectations and the polls, and toward the end his rallies seemed to get bigger not smaller.

Herself had the Machine and Wall Street and the Dem Party backing; Bernie only had the frustrations of the masses backing his campaign -- and that little birdie, of course.

It was remarkable in every way that Bernie could come as close as he did to the nomination given the political disabilities he started with. I'm sure he was as astonished as Hillary was.

The depth of anger and despair at the shenannigans of the high and the mighty is much greater than Our Rulers ever imagined. As Bernie's numbers grew and grew, the Overclass got more and more alarmed ... and pissed off.

Don't let's fool ourselves. There will be hell to pay for this mini-rebellion. Hell, I say.

I've never had a great deal of regard for the Bernie campaign, for the simple reason that you can't conduct a genuine revolution from the Left from within the Palace. Ain't -- ever -- gonna happen. That Palace is so locked down and securitized, and the Left is so marginalized, even to the point of complete absence, that there cannot be a Leftish rebellion/revolution from within. It's designed that way. It works to prevent the Left from acquiring power and implementing policies and programs on behalf of the People. It's always been that way, even during the supposed hey-days of the supposed Left in government (FDR, LBJ, etc.)

Nothing that Bernie proposed was radical or particularly Socialist. In fact, to Old Farts like me, a lot of it was pretty familiar. What he proposed was basically a restoration of the social and economic trendlines of the pre-1980 era. Ie: Before Reagan dismantled all that.

While I wouldn't object, the problem with his program was that it was locked in the past. And we can't go back, much as we might like to. We can't pick up in 1980 and go forth as if the intervening eras never happened, but that was what I was feeling Bernie was offering in his stump speechs and campaign.

We need something new. And that is not what Bernie was offering. He offered a kind of reversion to Better Days -- which is nice to hear -- and specific relief to suffering segments of the population, but there wasn't enough in that program to attract the Dems in sufficient numbers to gain the nomination -- something I don't think he ever in his wildest dreams thought he could do anyway. It was a campaign of ideas to be sure, but not ones that he thought would get him the nomination.

Hillary's campaign has been predicated on motto "No you can't," Many people are comforted by what  they and others are prevented from doing. If the Left is prevented from acting and the Rightists are confined to a narrow set of actions, then the status quo is mostly preserved; the only real political movement under those circumstances is ever-further rightward, and that's always pleasing to the NeoLibCon Masters of the Universe.

Those are the people Hillary serves. Everyone knows it. Bernie, on the other hand, does not serve them, not directly, but because he has been inside the Belly of the Beast for as long as he has, he doesn't -- and can't -- separate himself entirely from them. He is, as part of the government, their creature just as much as anybody else inside the gates.

That was the other problem I had with Bernie's campaign. He was asserting a kind of fantasy of what you can do from "within" as it were. You can, it's true, get a lot done when you're in charge of the government or even just have a seat at the table. But what you can get done will always be restricted and constrained by the nature of the institutions you are within or part of. That means that you cannot ultimately do anything that the institutional framework (of government in this case) does not enable or foster. In our country, the institutional framework of government is abusive and preventional. It is set up to and operates efficiently to foster and excuse some of the worst actions and abuses we've seen over the course of our long history, and to prevent the People from doing much of anything about it.

The government of the United States serves an elite coterie, not the People. It is institutionally and functionally unable to serve the People without the permission of that coterie. That permission is rarely granted, and when it is, it is often enough temporary and subject to alteration or revocation at any minute. The People have very little or no say in what is allowed, and the only times they have a say is when they object so loudly or rebel so strenuously that the High and Mighty cannot ignore them anymore.

Bernie, even if he had been nominated and elected to the Presidency would have been able to do almost nothing that he proposed/promised unless the PTB agreed and granted permission. That would be unlikely to say the least. So the stalemate-gridlock of the past several years would have continued or worsened.

Hillary, on the other hand, as an annointed representative of those High an Mighty Ones, would be able to do their bidding with relative ease ("Getting things done") and probably would be able to sell it as "Good For You!" even though it's crap.

That's what I think is the next part of her audition: can she sell a Shit Sandwich to the ravening masses and keep them in line the while?

We'll see.

It depends on a number of factors: how much worse things will get for the majority before the election in November, how bad for most Hillary's NeoLibCon policies will be -- assuming they are recognized in the first place; how deceptive her campaign will be in selling this horseshit.

We'll see.

As for Trump, I'm more and more convinced he's a ratfuck. My god in heaven what a political disaster.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Out And About

It's The Season in Santa Fe -- it's The Season pretty much everywhere in New Mexico where tourists flock -- and we try to avoid the crowds as much as possible. Well, it's nice that folks want to come to this rugged corner of the country to see and do rugged or fancy tourist things and all, but the transition from relatively calm and tranquil to super-charged hyper-tourism is sudden -- happening within moments over Memorial Day weekend -- and it is guaranteed to discombobulate.

Ms. Ché and I have been up in Santa Fe and Taos repeatedly this Season, though, and we'll be going several more times before The Season ends, crowds or no crowds. I'm grateful in some ways that I can do it, since I'd been too ill to even think of it within the last few months. Now my various conditions seem to be controlled with medications, and I can get around well enough and for long enough to actually enjoy being out and about.

This weekend we took a group of Cherokee from Albuquerque to the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe to tour the exhibit on Lloyd Kiva New, the co-founder of the Institute of American Indian Arts -- where Ms Ché has been a student for a year now. The tour was led by Aysen New, Lloyd New's widow, a remarkable woman and presence in her own right, who has maintained her late husband's legacy with wit and wisdom and whose tenacity has ensured he will not be forgotten.

There are three museum exhibits currently on view in Santa Fe which detail the life and legacy of Lloyd Kiva New. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, and the New Mexico Museum of Art are all simultaneously hosting Lloyd Kiva New exhibits through the summer and into the fall. In addition, there is an exhibit at the Institute of American Indian Arts -- the institution he co-founded -- and one of the galleries on the Santa Fe Plaza is offering a number of items created in Lloyd Kiva New's studio in Scottsdale, or created from materials and fabrics he made, for sale to collectors.

There is also a book, "The Sound of Drums," widely available at these exhibits. The book is an edited version of Lloyd New's memoirs which he composed and wrote late in his life. It's beautifully written in an almost magical realist style, by a man who clearly loved his work and lived his life to the full.

Another book, "Celebrating Difference" is also available, though not quite as widely, which uses an interview and essay technique to document the history and legacy of the Institute of American Indian Arts through 2012, the year of this volume's publication.

Next weekend, we'll provide another perspective on Lloyd Kiva New from one of his associates who knew and worked with him in Scottsdale and later came to Santa Fe as an educational consultant and worked with him throughout his tenure at IAIA and afterwards.

I'll report on that in another post later on.

It's been a long time since I've done anything like this. There was a time when we would routinely host receptions, seminars, workshops and what have you as part of our work in theater and the arts in California, but we pretty much gave that up when our theater company closed in 1996. We went off and did other things -- to make money in a word. Theater and the arts are not really money making propositions -- except for the very few at the top, and for them, prominence is precarious. We were able to make enough doing other things to retire in relative comfort, and now that we've settled in to retirement, Ms. Ché and I are both becoming more and more involved as donors, collectors, scholars and participants, in the local/regional arts communities. It's the way these things were no doubt meant to be.

Because of Ms Ché's Native American heritage -- specifically Cherokee -- we've focused most of our attention on Native American creative arts since we moved to New Mexico, but it's not our only interest and focus. Indeed, later this month and then again in October, we intend to focus on one of the major motors for New Mexico's early prominence in the arts, Mabel Dodge Luhan.

Ms. Ché attended a writer's workshop conducted by Jimmy Santiago Baca at her house, Los Gallos, in Taos two years ago. Ever since, she's been taken with Mabel and the stories of her life and work in New Mexico. Her house in Taos has also become a warm and welcoming destination for us. We took Ms Ché's cousin and her husband there on our brief day-trip to Taos when they came to visit just before the Memorial Day tourist inundations. Because it is an important site to us, we felt it was a worthwhile site for them to see and experience as well.

In May an exhibit on Mabel's life, work and cultural influence opened at the Harwood Museum in Taos. The exhibit was co-curated by Ma-Lin Wilson-Powell and Dr. Lois Rudnik, Mabel's chief biographer for many years. We haven't had the opportunity and time to see it yet, but plan to participate in some of the activities surrounding it later this month -- may even get up to D. H. Lawrence's ranch.

When the exhibit moves to the Albuquerque Museum in October, we will no doubt be involved in some of its activities as well. There are plays and even an opera connected with the exhibit, so we have an interest (!).

So our summer and fall schedules are filling up. Ms Ché is returning to IAIA as a student in August. She received the Fall 2016 Truman Capote Literary Scholarship, so it's likely she'll be... busy (in a good way) with her literary work and will likely be promoting the creative writing program at IAIA as well.

She and I are also involved in the development of a new performing arts facility on the IAIA campus. But that's a whole other story for another time.

Meanwhile, the increasingly dreary business of the American Political Classes struggles on. What a deplorable mess -- also another story for another time.

NOTE: Will add links as time allows. UPDATE: Links have been added!


Friday, May 27, 2016

The Anti-Trump Riot in Albuquerque

We got home from our day with visitors in Santa Fe the day before yesterday, turned on the TV to find out what was going on with The Voice (Ms. Ché's favorite won), only to witness several interruptions due to the ongoing protests inside and outside the Albuquerque Convention Center where Trump was holding forth the way he does before a crowd of frothing supporters.

People were outside driving around in cars and trucks waving Mexican flags of all things, and surely that was riotous. Tear gas was being deployed. Horse police were moving the crowd of protesters away from the Convention Center, and resistant women were being kicked and hauled out of the rally by police and private security to the cheers of the mob inside.

Oh it was a melée.

A good deal of the reporting on the Albuquerque Anti-Trump Riot later turned out to be false or inaccurate, but that's how it goes, doesn't it? My initial impression from the selection of video I saw was that that there was no riot (of course), and that those who were protesting most vigorously were not Bernie supporters (as they were initially being characterized) but were most probably part of Albuquerque's substantial anarchist community.

This is what they do, and they are good at it. It's not so much "riot" as it is confrontation with Power, and it can be very effective -- because in this country, Power is typically so out of touch with The People that almost any hostile confrontation will produce results. You can't always anticipate what they will be, but you can be almost certain that something will happen to delegitimize Power's authority.

So, that's why these things typically happen, and it seems to me from observations over years that the folks in Albuquerque who engage in this kind of disruptive confrontation know what they are doing and are pretty darned sophisticated about it.

There were people strategically placed inside the convention hall disrupting Himself's speechifying, doing it in a way that would incite Trump to behave badly, and I think they were partially successful in that -- though I saw very little of the confrontations, and it could be that Trump and his partisans bested the protesters inside.

Based on what I saw and read, the outdoor protests were both more confrontational and ultimately more effective --because they not only made their Anti-Trump points, they also pointed to the failures (once again) in the APD's response.

I read that APD was actually behaving much better in response to the "riot" than they have in previous confrontations with protesters. In a sense, that's true I suppose, but in other ways, you've got to wonder. The report I read in the Albuquerque Journal went on and on about how the protesters threw rocks and "urine bombs" (right, sure) and "molotov cocktail-like" devices (what the hell is that supposed to mean?) and how the police and their horses had been injured, and how awful it was and how This Must Not Stand! -- heads (of protesters) must roll. Pictures of likely suspects were shown (two young Hispanic males, ohhh scary).

OK.

The police, it turns out, did not use tear gas -- as was erroneously initially reported they did. No, they used smoke grenades. Oh. Never mind then. And yes these grenades were thrown or kicked back at police, a fairly standard response these days.

The horse police were deployed, yes, but not particularly effectively, partly because people are becoming less afraid of the horse police and are very sympathetic to the plight of their mounts.

One horse apparently fell. Not severely injured, but still. I've seen this happen in other confrontations, the officer on the horse unable to handle it carefully enough to prevent a fall on the pavement. This is one reason horse police should not be used on pavement, but who listens to me? Heh. The case can be made that horse police should not be used at all, but I've seen enough confrontations where the presence of horses defuse what might otherwise become an ugly situation, so I wouldn't go so far as to say, "no horses." At least not yet.

At least there seems to have been a recognition that the crowd of protesters was not on the whole -- maybe not even in part -- a Bernie crowd. It was apparently made up of mostly young, mostly male, mostly Hispanic activists who were protesting (rightly I believe) Trump discriminatory statements (which could turn into policies) toward Hispanics, Muslims and other "undesirables" whom he has a penchant for calling "criminals."

You know what? Protesting that kind of crap is necessary, and to be effective, the protests have to be disruptive and impolite.

Trump won no points except among his feverish supporters who would follow him no matter what he said over any cliff he wanted them to. He could not have come to New Mexico thinking he could get away with his anti-Hispanic schpiel. This ain't Texas. Thank you very much.

So this might be part of why the Anti-Trump "riot" in Albuquerque did not get the obsessive wall-to-wall coverage that the Nevada Democratic Convention did -- wherein the Bernie supporters were widely and falsely accused of violence. The Anti-Trump Riot in Albuquerque did indeed become disruptive and at times violent toward Power and Authority. There was one report I saw that claimed the high windows over the doors to the Convention Center were "cracked" by rocks thrown! Yeek.

Just remember, the point is to delegitimize authority and disrupt business as usual. I'd say that goal was accomplished. How much further this can go I don't know.

But it's completely different than what went on in Nevada.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Relations Come to Visit from Way Out West

We've had a few folks over to visit since we moved to New Mexico full-time some four-five years ago. Not a lot, to be sure, but enough to keep things interesting for them and for us.

The past few days, we've been hosting/enjoying the company of Ms. Ché's cousin and her husband from Carson City, Nevada. It's opened our eyes somewhat to our own place in this Land of Enchantment, and it's also reminded us of how much of interest there is to explore, and how the time just flies.

The only places we've been with these most recent visitors are Taos and Santa Fe, showing some of the sights, eating, walking around yakking. One of the things I'm grateful for is that I can walk and actually keep up most of the time. A year or so ago I couldn't have done that due to sciatica, and a few months ago, I wouldn't have wanted to due to the pain and aggravation of RA. Thanks be, I can get around pretty well for a gimpy old geezer, and medication has been effective enough keep me from having massive amounts of pain even after a full day of clamoring about.

We started by going up to Taos the day before yesterday. There was a time I hated going to Taos, because I felt I couldn't breathe there. Well, that time has passed and I actually enjoy it quite a bit now  -- as long as it isn't too full of tourists. And movie stars. And war criminals like Donald Rumsfeld.

We went out to the Rio Grand Gorge Bridge first... It's one of Ms Ché's favorite sights in New Mexico, and we hadn't been there for a while, and we had not actually gone out on the bridge previously.

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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge outside of Taos, NM. Clickage will embiggen. (Wikimedia Commons)

Well, we did this time and -- oh my. The Rio Grande River flows about 600 feet below in a deep-deep cleft in the plateau under Taos Mountain on which the town of Taos and the Pueblo are situated some ten miles away or so.

You hardly expect the gorge is there until you come upon it, and then it takes your breath away. It's much smaller and less varied than the Grand Canyon, but because you're so close to it -- in fact, you can walk right over it on the Bridge -- it feels almost as stunning and in some ways is more exciting.

Vertigo is a definite hazard -- as is suicide. How many people have thrown themselves from the bridge in the fifty or so years it's been there is something I don't know, but it must be quite a few given the number of padlocks memorializing the dead which have been attached the bridge along its entire length. In fact, when the bridge was renovated a few years ago, it was suggested that barriers be put up to keep people from jumping off. That wasn't done, but suicide hotlines were installed at each of the viewing platforms to help talk down some of the potential jumpers.

The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed every minute there. But we had to leave to go visit the Pueblo. Ms. Ché and I had never been to the Pueblo of Taos, the international heritage site of the room blocks beneath the sacred mountain, the oldest continuously occupied village in North America.

Of course we were familiar with it from pictures and stories from way back, but being there and hearing the stories from our very-well-spoken and informed guide was the experience of a lifetime. We stayed only a couple of hours, but those hours were rich and full, not just with sight-seeing but with a definite sense of shared heritage and humanity.

One thing I was particularly struck by were the ruins of the original San Geronimo church beside the Pueblo. I knew the story of what had happened there in 1847, but seeing it for myself, surrounded as it is by the graves of countless Indians massacred by US militia in revenge for the assassination of Charles Bent, appointed governor of the recently conquered New Mexico Territory, was a moving experience.

(Curteich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone) Vintage postcard depicting the ruins of an old Indian Mission, Taos Pueblo. The back of the postcard has this caption: "The Mission of San Geronimo, built in 1635 by the Franciscan Fathers, was constantly in service under this order until destroyed in 1847 by Col. Sterling Price, who shelled it during the Taos Indian uprising and massacre."
Perhaps 150 were killed in the bombardment of the church -- mostly old men and women and children who'd taken refuge there when the troops came to the Pueblo on a "punitive expedition" after Bent's killing. Another 200 or so rebels and Taosenos were killed in the foothills of Taos Mountan where they'd run off to escape what would certainly be a massacre. Another dozen or so were captured and hanged in the Taos Plaza pour encouragé les autres. It was a bloody mess that still (of course) resonates on the Pueblo, and those who know the history of what happened are taken aback by the violence and horror of it all. But then, Donald Rumsfeld had a vacation time share in Taos, and I imagine he relished the history of what happened in 1847.

We were planning to go to the Taos Art Museum and the Harwood, but time flew the way it does, and after we had a few snacks and looked around the Pueblo for a while, we headed back to town and a brief visit to the Mable Dodge Luhan house where Ms Ché had attended a writers workshop a couple of years ago and then drove back to Santa Fe for dinner at Harry's Roadhouse.

It was more than a full day.

Yesterday, we "did" Santa Fe, starting at the campus of IAIA where Ms. Ché is an Honored Elder and a full-time student. We ran into and yakked for quite a while with some of her friends and with a fellow from Haskell there for a educational conference. He was fascinated with the campus and the whole framework of the IAIA concept and experience. It struck him as very different from the Haskell experience. But their histories are very different, too.

We then went to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture where I was able to introduce our guests to the director, Della Warrior -- who had previously been president of IAIA. We talked a bit about some of the challenges of mounting the current Lloyd Kiva New exhibit and how the Cherokee Nation essentially ignored it -- despite the fact that New, a co-founder of the Institute of American Indian Art, was a very prominent and at one time very well-known Cherokee.

The exhibits at MIAC were almost overwhelming for our guests, and basically we only had time to see about half of what they show -- we skipped the Turquoise, Water and Sky exhibit  altogether.

We had to get to the New Mexico Museum of Art downtown, to check out their exhibits. Then it was off to the Dan Namingha Gallery and then the Allan Houser Gallery where we yakked for quite a while with David Rettig, the general factotum of the Gallery and the Allan Houser art park -- and the keeper of the legacy of the artist.

Finally, it was off for some ice cream and then... home.

Today, our guests are off to Bandalier Monument and then they say they'll be coming by our place in the afternoon. So. What fun.

What we've all discovered is that there is way too much to see and do in New Mexico in a brief visit of a few days. It would take much more time....

We've been exploring New Mexico for over 30 years, and we've barely scratched the surface ourselves.




Tuesday, May 24, 2016

World Woman -- Ms. Ché Gets Her DNA Test Results

This is really something, as in "we had no idea."

Ms Ché and I have had our DNA tested through Ancestry.com. For years I think their DNA tests were considered borderline fraud since so often the results were at significant variance with documented family history or seemed wildly wrong for other reasons. Their answers to questions about the tests sometimes didn't provide useful information. And the tests were expensive.

Well, they seem to have refined their efforts quite a bit and they've been much better about providing information rather than deflecting, and so, when the price dropped somewhat, we went ahead with the test. 

Mine came back rather quickly, simple as it was -- comparatively speaking.

I'm mainly British (from my mother), Irish (from my father), and there is a smattering of Scandinavian, Eastern European and Iberian -- Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, etc.

Except for the missing German, it seemed OK. Ancestry DNA tends to explain the absence of German ancestry in my DNA with the claim that 1) my father's grandparents were not ethnic Germans at all (possibly); or the German is masked by and is found within the British and/or Scandinavian elements.

Could be.

Ms Ché's test results took longer.

But then, her ancestral DNA is a lot more complicated than mine. In fact, it spans the globe.

What she knew prior to the DNA test was that her father was from the Philippines and her mother was full-blood Cherokee (Yes, they exist!) from Oklahoma.

That seems straightforward enough, but turns out it's not straightforward at all.

From her parents, Ms. Ché inherited 37% Native American and 37% East Asian (which includes Filipino) DNA. But there's a complication: 16% of her DNA is Polynesian. Eh? How does that work? 6% is African. Oh? Interesting. Then there's Central Asian at 3%. And curiously, a trace percentage is Finnish/Northern Russian.

We're thinking the African DNA came through her mother. Some Cherokees had black slaves, and after Emancipation, many stayed among the Cherokee in Oklahoma. They are called Freedmen and are considered tribal members to this day. One of Ms Ché's ancestors was therefore probably a Freedman or descendant of one.

The Polynesian DNA probably came through her father. Filipinos and Polynesians are distinct, but they are ancestrally closely related. It's possible that Spanish or Anglo colonialists brought Polynesians from the Pacific Islands to work in pineapple or other plantations in the Philippines. But if her father knew of a Polynesian ancestor, he never said. On the other hand, it's possible that we're seeing a genetic echo of the ancestral relationship between Polynesians and Filipinos, something that has long been alluded to.

The Central Asian and Finnish/Russian components are relatively slight, but the fact that they are there at all is a head scratcher. Where did they come from? We don't know, and looking into it is a project for the future. Because the percentage is low, whoever contributed these elements probably did so a long time ago. How long ago, and with whom... is mysterious. It could have been anywhere along the line, on any branch.

Ms Ché saw it as possibly a genetic echo of the Asian and Far North origins of Native American peoples. That would be interesting if true. Central Asia has been identified as one of the loci from which ancestral Native Americans made their way into the Americas. They also went west into Europe. But there were other areas of the Asian continent from which Native American ancestors originated, including the Far North, home today to globe-spanning Inuit and related peoples. Could that be where the trace percent of Finnish/Northern Russian DNA comes from? Interesting if it were, but I'm not sure how we'd find out.

So that's what came through on the DNA tests we both took. They raise more questions than they answer to be truthful. I ask "where's the German?" in my ancestry -- for none is identified specifically or more generally in my DNA. In Ms. Ché's case we're asking how the minor and trace elements from so many different ethnic sources came to be found in her DNA.








Sunday, May 22, 2016

DNA Results, COPD, RA, and Other Things, Oh My

Well, one of Ms Ché's cousins and her husband are coming to visit from Nevada tomorrow, and we're preparing to show them the sights. Some of them, anyway. They've been all around the world, but have never been to New Mexico, and they want a fix of "vibrant art." This is the place, right?

It's gonna be a whirlwind, as it's only two-three days, and we're planning adventures to Taos to see the Mabel Dodge Luhan house and take in the exhibit on her at the Harwood, then to the Fechin house where the Taos Art Museum is located, then out to the Pueblo. Next day, Santa Fe. The Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, several galleries (we couldn't possibly do more than a few of them) and then out to eat at Harry's Roadhouse (a must-stop-in for all out of town visitors though if it is as crowded as it can get, we'll happily go out to La Plancha in El Dorado.)

Then finally the next day, if we can swing it, out to our place, and the Route 66 tour into Albuquerque and possibly beyond. We live near what I believe is the longest stretch of the Old Route 66 still in use -- at least it's the longest stretch of it in New Mexico -- and while it isn't particularly touristy, it's actually a nice drive, and  when the weather is good, the Mother Road is always a treat.

I'm wondering how much of this I can actually do, however. One of the problems associated with RA -- rheumatoid arthritis -- is fatigue. Fatigue is also a factor in recovery from pneumonia. I've tried to do some work outdoors, catching up a little bit on spring-time chores I wasn't able to do before, and I've found I become fatigued in only a few minutes. Twenty minutes is about the longest I can go at a stretch. Each of these days of adventure next week are going to be long... We'll see how much of it I can do...

Ms. Ché and I did the Ancestry.com DNA test. Until fairly recently, it was considered a borderline fraud, in part because DNA tests are not yet able to state with certainty the specific ancestry of testees. The results obtained give general possibilities at best. Because Ancestry really didn't clarify how non-specific the results were, they got a lot of complaints from people who did the test and got results that appeared to have nothing at all to do with their actual (documented) ancestry.

I got my results back. We're still waiting for Ms Ché's.

Mine were interesting, and I think they are fairly accurate, though they require interpretation to understand.

The surprise was that I show no German ancestry, nor do my cousins who have also taken the test.

It's taken me a while to fathom that because my paternal (their maternal) grandmother's parents emigrated from (what would become) Germany in the 1850s. There's no doubt about it. We know where they came from, we have documentary evidence, yadda yadda, but there is no German ancestry identifiable in our DNA. How can that be?

Well. Could be they weren't ethnic Germans. That's the easiest explanation. It's one that fits some of the stories I've heard that suggest they were descendants of Jewish conversos. Of course, wouldn't you know, my DNA shows no "European Jewish" ancestry, either.

It does show what I take to be an overabundance of British ancestry (67%). That's much higher than I figure it should be because I only inherited British ancestry from my mother (who was essentially of British ancestry all the way down, though her people had come to America starting soon after the Mayflower -- and there are hints that she had at least one ancestor on the Mayflower itself.)

My father, on the other hand, was half Irish and half German. Well, that's what he thought. So I should be a quarter Irish, a quarter German, and half British.

The test showed my DNA was 25% Irish, no German, 67% British, 7% Eastern European, and less than one percent each Scandinavian and Iberian.

Oh. What happened to the German?

It turns out Ancestry DNA doesn't even have a German category. The closest thing it has is "Central European," and if you dig around enough in their articles about the test, they state that the test cannot distinguish between British, German, and Scandinavian ancestry with any certainty. A test report may come back, as mine did, with an overabundance of British DNA, but no Central European ancestry. The "missing German" ancestry may well be folded in with the extra-British DNA. In fact, that's probably where it is.

My cousins, on the other hand, show an excess of Scandinavian ancestry in their DNA, and once again, that may be where the "missing German" is.

The 7% Eastern European ancestry indicated in my DNA is likely from my German great grandparents, and it may be a hint of their Jewish ancestry, but I don't know. As there are no specifically Jewish markers, I'll have to let that rumor rest for a while. There are records in Germany, so maybe one day I'll probe them more deeply and find out, but for now I'll let that ride.

The tiny bit of Scandinavian ancestry indicated in my DNA is probably from my Irish-German father. His Irish ancestors claimed to be "Irish" -- ie: Celts -- but that's likely a crock, as practically everyone in Ireland has some Scandinavian ancestry from the Viking and Norman invasions. Particularly so for red-heads like me whose red-head is a variation on blond, as opposed to the red-heads who may be Celt whose red-headedness is a variation on black hair.

The tiny bit of "Iberian" -- which could be Spanish, Portuguese, French or Italian -- ancestry I attribute to my mother's father. His last name (Olive) is possibly French, possibly Scottish. Could be both given the way the French and the Scots were intertwined at one time (ie: during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots and before).

My mother's father's mother was from Colonial New England stock -- going back as far as I could trace in America and then in England as far back as I wanted to go. My mother's father's father's line stubbed out in Virginia with my mother's father's grandfather who was born c. 1798. That's all I could find out. There was no record before that.

My suspicion is that the original Olive immigrants came from Scotland or Northern Ireland at about that time, settled in Western Virginia, then moved to Kentucky, then, finally to Indiana as the Indians were expelled and the West opened to settlement.

My mother's mother's people were British from the dawn of time.

I had thought my mother was at least partially Irish -- she seemed to think so herself, but she didn't really know, because she didn't know much of anything about her biological father. Then years ago, I saw a film version of D. H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers," and I was stunned that one of the very British characters was the spitting image of my mother, both visually and more importantly behaviorally. Wait I thought, was my mother actually British?

Indeed, that's what I found -- at least on her mother's side as well as on her father's mother's side, and probably significantly on her father's father's side too.

Huh. Who'd a thunk? What still intrigues me is that I recognized my mother's character in a movie of a novel by British author D. H. Lawrence, based in part on his own experience and family. Well, how about that?

Oh yes, COPD. Part of the treatment I'm undergoing is for COPD, which I never really thought I had, but apparently I do, thanks to repeated bouts of pneumonia and scarring from emphysema which is a result of smoking. I stopped smoking twenty years ago, and I thought I was doing pretty good at healing my lungs from the Devil Tobacco, but apparently several things have conspired to set me back. One of them is rheumatoid arthritis. Turns out that lung inflammation (like joint inflammation) is a consequence of RA, and lung inflammation can and does make RA patients susceptible to pneumonia.

Ay!

My doctor told me that the prednisone I take for RA symptoms is an immunosuppressant which may be exacerbating my tendency to get pneumonia, but others say that prednisone actually suppresses the inflammation which makes it less likely that I will get pneumonia. So. Who knows?

We'll see what the rheumatologist has to say about that...

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UPDATE: Ms Ché just got her DNA results back, and it is astonishing, practically a book in the making. No time to go into details, but the upshot is that her DNA spans the globe. Literally,


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Political History

The attacks on Sanders over the Nevada State Democratic Convention debacle are only going to intensify. We can expect redoubling of these attacks if the Sanders campaign doesn't collapse before the California and other primaries on June 7.

The point is to de-legitimize the Sanders campaign and Sanders himself so as to remove any possibility of them having influence and/or power over the Democratic Party, its chosen and anointed candidate, and ultimately any influence over the People.

Bernie has dared to propose an alternative -- a very modest alternative -- to the status-quo, powers-that-be, NeoLibCon paradigm that rules globally throughout the Overlord Class. As the Baroness Thatcher was ever so fond of putting it:

THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE

You Hippies can get in line, sit down and shut up. Now.

Because you don't matter, you have no power, you will never have any power, nobody cares what you think, nobody ever will. 

Yet Bernie keeps winning primaries, and every time he does, he shames Mrs. Clinton and her flacks just a little bit more. So they have their knives out for the kill.

For some reason, known only to the community of ratfuckers who seem to be behind much of the happenings of late, the Nevada Democratic Convention became ground zero for both ratfucking and Swiftboating of Bernie Sanders and his campaign -- probably because it is now or never for Mrs. Clinton. According to the polls (and who can have confidence in them), she's not meeting expectations against Trump, and she could very well lose in the General. This would not be acceptable to TPTB, but as they saw in the R primary, the powers of TPTB and their ability to control events aren't what they used to be.

There are ways, of course, to ensure that Mrs Clinton wins in the Fall, but those ways are not the preferred means of acquiring or holding on to political power. They will be used if necessary, of course, but it would mean triggering a chain of events that could not be controlled.

For some time, I've thought that the Trump campaign was a classic ratfuck of the Rs. It probably started that way, but when Trump found that he touched a chord among disaffected Republicans, one that he didn't expect to find, he ran with it, and now he is sitting on a remarkable power - base and can call the shots.

Their PTB seem to be flummoxed. Trump is one of them, after all -- well, to the extent any billionaire who wants to be among the High and the Mighty can be. There has been no way to "stop" him, not so far. But as I've said, we've been down this path in the past with celebrities taking on the political establishment -- and winning. They may wind up doing the bidding of a faction of the Establishment, but the upshot of their political activity is the disruption and/or dismantlement of established power structures and the substitution of others.

When Ronald Reagan did it, it was called a "Revolution." It's more like a coup or a counter-revolution, but that's for another discussion. The point is that established power structures were disrupted and some of them were dismantled. The Progressive Era came to a final end. We are living with the consequences, for good and for ill.

Trump could do the same thing if got into office, but just what he would do and how is unknown. That's what frightens the PTB. He has no faction backing him within the government (unlike Reagan), and he seems to have no Establishment backing in the public sector either. He's a lone wolf and thus dangerous.

On the other hand, Hillary seems to have all the support in the world, including (apparently) among Republicans, except that she does not have leftist support -- which she and her people seem to be doing everything in their power to alienate.

It would seem odd if it weren't part of the NeoLibCon political playbook: to disable and irrelevate the Left has been a fundamental part of the NeoLibCon program from the get-go. Bernie, therefore, has to be destroyed. It's too late for him to yield. He must be destroyed utterly and his supporters must be dismissed.

So, I see what's going on with a sad sense of deja vu. It doesn't have to be this way. It shouldn't be this way. But there is no alternative is there?

When it happened to Howard Dean, it was literally breathtaking. I'd never seen anything quite like the immediate and coordinated pile-on after the so-called Dean Scream. It was successful, but it didn't help Kerry in the General. Not a bit, not after the Swiftboating he was subjected to.

Meanwhile, Dean recovered quickly and used his electoral infrastructure to become chair of the Democratic National Committee -- something he probably couldn't have done if Kerry had been elected president in 2004.

Dean used that position to get Democrats actually elected (something the PTB was not keen on). He was so successful, he was dismissed the moment Obama was elected to the presidency.

Democratic electoral fortunes have been on a downward spiral ever since -- I believe by design..

Sanders is unlikely to use his political infrastructure in the same way.

But something will come of his candidacy, and it looks like it's got the Establishment scared out of their wits.

They can be nasty when they're frightened.

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A little musical history to lift the mood?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Re: Medical Costs with Medicare Advantage

I haven't really got a handle on what all the tests and treatments I've had cost -- along with an ever-growing list of medications -- but it is a good deal more than I anticipated with a Medicare Advantage plan.

I've seen my co-pays go up 50% to 100% over the few years I've had the plan. As long as I'm not using it for medical care, it doesn't really matter how much the co-pays are, but once you start using it, some of the costs can be surprising, even shocking.

And yet, it seems like a lot of costs are very low, such as doctor visits with a $5 co-pay. Labs ordered by the doctor are no charge. Many medications have a very low co-pay -- $4 or so. But many others do not. I paid $100 co-pay for 10 days of antibiotic treatment for pneumonia, after paying $14 for a 5 day antibiotic treatment that didn't work. I have eight different prescription drugs to take indefinitely. Co-pays range from $4 a month to $45, so I'm paying a total of about $160 a month in medication co-pays. I know that some of these meds retail for a great deal more.

Once I get to see specialists, their visits will run $50 each, but pulmonary treatment -- which I may need due to chronic lung inflammation -- will be no charge except for medications, much as it appears RA treatment will be.

Medical imaging, such as CT scans, have a $300 co-pay. Hospital stays are $325 per day for the first 3 days. Beyond that, no charge.

There is a $3,400 cap on annual out of pocket costs for members -- which for me is manageable, but I know that for many seniors it's way more than they can reasonably afford. And yet, if they don't qualify for Medicaid and they don't have Advantage coverage or some other Medicare supplement, they'd be looking at potentially much higher costs.

Medicare is good, but it doesn't cover everything. Far from it.

Medicare Advantage has its good points -- and its surprises. One of the surprises is just how high some of the co-pays are. On the other hand, the cap on out-of-pocket costs keeps medical expenses within some bounds.

Ms. Ché has medical coverage through the Indian Health Service which means that for most services and medications she pays nothing. However, she used her Medicare Part D drug coverage to pick up insulin injection pens at the local pharmacy (since the IHS pharmacy in Albuquerque didn't carry them) and she was charged a $380 co-pay -- which was her annual deductible plus the regular co-pay for the pens. Come to find out later, though, that the pharmacy at the First Nations clinic she use carries the pens and they are provided to Natives at no charge. They had been prescribed at the clinic and were on hold for her pickup, but she didn't know that because no one told her. That's been one of the issues with the clinic -- inadequate communications. On the other hand, she's been able to see specialists for various medical issues, and she has undergone a number of tests and other procedures that ordinarily would cost thousands and she has had to pay only a very small charge. Right now, for example, she has a bill for $32 for a number of tests she had a couple of months ago.

In the end, they are both more complex than they need to be.

But at least it's something.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Banishing the Left -- So Called

An interesting phenomenon during these hectic Primary Wars (if that's what they are) is the ongoing attempt to banish the "left" as represented by Bernie's and some of Trump's policies which might be seen as meeting the needs the People.

Yes, some of Trump's policies (to the extent he is actually broaching policies) are considered leftist, even to the left of Hillary, approaching Bernie territory. Particularly when it comes to trade and employment and even now and then things like universal health care and so on.

Well, can't have that.

Bernie has been campaigning on what I would call "New" New Deal/"Greater" Great Society principles. They're practically antiques by now. Historic at any rate. They're not particularly leftist, or they are only considered to be "left" in the United States where rightist politics is so entrenched and NeoLibCon ideology is so triumphant anything that benefits people is seen as essentially communist, anti-American to the core, and deeply antithetical to the interests of the Ruling Class, Our Benevolent Overlords.

Hillary has been running on a theme of "No you can't!" from the get-go, and she seems to be doing well enough with it to capture not only the Democratic nomination but potentially the Presidency itself.

"No you can't!" It's gobsmacking. Is that what people really want? Or do they even hear it? Areha they even hearing her nay-saying? If they are, why do they accept it?

She's also running on a theme of "Go away you ingrates."

Yes well, that'll get her far.

On the other hand, Trump is running a similar sort of negative campaign focused on hate and fear of The Other. It's politically smart. You should never underestimate Americans' susceptibility to be duped by hate and fear. It's been a constant since the arrival of the first Europeans however long ago that was. So much of what's been wrong about the United States has been based in hate and fear of The Other. So much of what has been right about the US has been based in conquering hate and fear of The Other.

Stirring up passions of hate and fear has been a winning strategy for Trump in the Republican primaries, whereas "No you can't!" has paid off pretty well for Hillary on the Democratic side, though she's been sliding in the polls as Bernie's message of "Yes we can!" catches on. Trouble is there's no time left for him to catch up enough delegates for the Democratic nomination -- not that he ever could have got the nomination to begin with.

He couldn't. He absolutely couldn't. Our Rulers would not have allowed it. Under any circumstances. At all. Look what's happened in other countries where supposed Leftists have been elected; they've been kneecapped, removed by coup or other means, coopted, irrelevated, yadda yadda.

The point is that the dominant global political paradigm does not allow for the existence of effective and functioning leftist politicians, policies, parties, etc. The dominant paradigm posits Baroness Thatcher's principle: "There is no alternative."

Even as modest and mild a leftist as Bernie has been, he wouldn't be allowed anywhere near the levers of power, ever.

Meanwhile Trump is able to throw quasi-leftist bones out every now and again, bones on a string of course, a string he promptly reels back in, so he's allowed that.

That's truly as far left as the political class is allowed to go, however. Tease.

And effectively, the Left is banished from consideration, legitimacy, presence, or power.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Survival Notes... As It Were

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a strange stringy soup of one health crisis after another. It's a bizarre feeling, especially when I've got friends who insist that if I hadn't drank and smoked and whored around when I was young and believed myself to be invulnerable, I wouldn't be in this condition now.

Well, may-be, but I'm not convinced. It is something that certain preacher-men like to retail to their impressionable flocks, though -- as they drink and smoke and whore around the way they do.

I'm not in as bad shape now as I was a week or so ago, so there's that. I had a CT scan -- without the iodine dye which I'm deathly allergic to -- last Tuesday, and the extensive report came back very quickly:

There are two masses in my right lung that look like "chronic inflammation" and evidence of "moderate emphysema" in both lungs. I knew about the emphysema from a CT scan five years ago when I was suspected of having TB -- because of my pneumonia symptoms and because the flow chart showed I'd been to Mexico (except I hadn't, I'd been to New Mexico). It apparently hasn't gotten worse. Yay. I haven't smoked in almost 20 years, so at least I haven't been adding more tobacco smoke to my lungs. In fact, I can't stand to be around tobacco smoke any more.

I'm somewhat puzzled and intrigued by those "masses" however, It's possible they've been there all those years, too. But as I researched the chronic inflammation aspect, it turned out that that is actually a potential consequence of rheumatoid arthritis and/or other autoimmune conditions, as is indeed pneumonia. Oh.

So it's quite possible that the double whammy -- RA and pneumonia -- that I went through for the past couple of months was all of a piece, not separate illnesses that just happened to strike at the same time. And it's likely I will continue to be vulnerable...

OK. Getting used to this.

Or at least learning. Interestingly, my PCP suggested that the interim treatment for RA (prednisone) was contributing to the persistence of pneumonia as prednisone acts as an immunosuppressant. Interesting because a routine treatment for lung inflammation due to autoimmune conditions is... prednisone.

I guess finding the balance is the issue.

I asked for and received a prescription for "low-dose" prednisone, and it seems to be working out reasonably well. I no longer have pneumonia symptoms (yay!) and whatever pulmonary inflammation there is seems to be under control. The doctor prescribed inhalers -- which are complex to use, whoa -- for breathing difficulties, and now, in addition to follow up with a rheumatologist, I'll be seeing a pulmonolgist, too.

So. Moving right along...

But I loathe being ill.

Bleah...

Monday, May 9, 2016

When You Lie Down With Dogs

Is it time for hysterics and panic yet?

Seems that the elevation of Trump to be the Republican Nominee Presumptive has unleashed a veritable shitstorm of panic and dread on both sides of the political aisle -- because it seems the Party Apparatchiks and Nomenklatura of both the Dems and the Rs fear their chosen one, Mrs. Clinton, will not be able to withstand Trump's withering attacks and his rosy-orange public persona. And he might fucking get elected.

Really? I mean really?

Are they that freaked out by their own creation, or is this all just a game to stampede the masses into voting against their best interests (again) in order to stock the larders of the Highest of the Mighty and stoke the flames of Fear, Panic, and Dread just one more time before the inevitable Collapse?

Somehow, there's an element of unbelievability about all this hoo-hah over Himself, simply because Trump is one of the Oligarchs Who Rule the World, or at least he plays one on TV. He's been around for decades, Asshole of the Western World, repeatedly bankrupted Real Estate Mogul, finagler, deal maker/breaker, bully, freak, yadda yadda. Everybody knows him, everybody. He's like Schwartzenegger only worse.

Electing him to any office, let alone the Emperorship -- er, Presidency -- of the United States of America, (LLP), is absurdity on stilts. Yet here we are, with the distinct possibility of a President Trump in our future... who would have thought????

Of course we've been down this path before, haven't we? Sure we have. Schwartzenegger captured the governorship of California away from Gray Davis in one of the most ill-conceived political actions in my lifetime (and there have been many) when Davis was recalled mere months after an overwhelming electoral victory when he dared -- dared, I tell you! -- to let the vehicle registration fee rise substantially in order to help fund government operations. The nerve!

Schwartzenegger stood for election because he was convinced by some of California's Big Money Boys that he could do better than Davis, and that he was needed in the Capitol to fix what ailed the State of California. Of course that meant looting on behalf of his sponsors, but who cared? He was certainly decorative if not particularly functional.

Who cared that his reign was a failure -- a failure that led to much hardship and suffering, let it be known. Nobody liked Gray Davis, and he made some people's skin crawl, so having Schwartzenegger in the Corner Office was better all around. No?

No. But there are still those who think the presence of a Movie Star in office makes perfect sense.

After all, there was Reagan, wasn't there?

I'm old enough to remember when he was elected governor of California the first time, to the complete shock and dismay of the Establishment at the time. They couldn't believe it, oh no. The impossible had happened, though, and on January 1, 1967, Reagan was inaugurated according to Nancy's astrologer's prescriptions, and the dismantlement of Progressive California began.

Jerry Brown's father, Pat Brown, was stunned. Well, nearly everyone was stunned. Except for those who had voted for Reagan, those for whom the Status Quo had become intolerable.

Which happened to be a majority.

How could it be????

Well, it was easy to fathom, but nobody wanted to fathom it: racism and anti-student-privilege rose to the forefront of public consciousness thanks to progressive efforts at expanding civil rights, urban riots, and widespread student rebellion. Reagan promised to end these problems (once and for all?) and take care of all the other annoyances well-off (and would be well-off) white people in California were complaining about.

So it was.

Perhaps the greatest legacies of the Reagan Era in California were the destruction of public education (through the brilliant tactics of making higher education expensive and administering to death the academics of primary and secondary education) and the termination of public mental health services, leading to untold levels of homelessness and suffering.

That's what happened, and progressive California has not recovered.

It's possible Progressivism will never recover.

But that's another issue for another day.

What we're seeing now is a rerun of sorts, the elevation of a rich, wild, semi-buffoon to the highest office simply because it's possible to do so. Our system has some built in resistance mechanisms against too blatant capture by populists and/or oligarchs, but in the case of popular entertainment figures who sell themselves the way Trump has (a man of the people, no doubt) there is little or no functional systemic resistance. Too often they get elected and there is nothing -- or rather nothing legal -- the Establishment can do about it but yield.

That's what happened in California with both Reagan and Schwartzenegger, and if things turn out the way they've been going, it's what will happen with Trump. Washington has a far more illiberal governing system than California, and yet it yielded to Reagan when he was elected President (pretty much with relief, never having accepted Carter, the peanut farmer) just as it will most likely yield to Trump -- no matter how crazy -- when and if the time comes.

So long as he maintains a rightist populism and keeps the masses tame and entertained, what's the problem, right?

Clinton is in a total bind. She is no populist, and she is unlikely to become one during the remainder of the campaign. She is a rigid, no-nonsense elitist, the definition of the Establishment, and she and her surrogates have been going out of their way to court disaffected Republicans while hurling invective at Bernie Sanders supporters and ignoring or dismissing their interests.

You would think that this would be political malpractice on a massive scale, but apparently those who advise the Clinton campaign insist it's a winning strategy. I don't see it myself, but what do I know?

They've even taken a leaf out of Baroness Thatcher's playbook, touting the notion that "there is no alternative" to electing Clinton in the fall.

Perhaps.

But "No you can't" is hardly a slogan I can get behind.

The institutional resistance could not prevent the Bush-Cheney regime from causing havoc. In fact, the institutions of government largely enabled the Bush-Cheney regime. I suspect those institutions would be even less effective against Trump. As long as he kept the masses distracted and entertained...

Much has been made of the apparent collapse of the Republican Party Establishment in the wake of the Trumpist Rebellion. There is a lesson there which apparently cannot be learned by the Establishment or the rebels on the (so-called) Left.

Of course, when the Rs lay down with dogs...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Can the Democrats Pull This Out of the Fire? Do They Want To? Do They Care?

The election that I really wasn't much interested in this cycle is starting to look more promising. The question is for what, though?

It's clear enough that the Bernie phenomenon has put the fear of the Devil into the Hillary camp. That wasn't supposed to happen. Bernie's entrance and presence into the primaries was supposed to be nothing more than a footnote. Similar to O'Malley's. These two would be allowed to bookend Herself, but not at all to threaten her Victory. (There were other Democrats in the primaries for a bit, but I've forgotten who they were already, not being all that much interested in the Pageant at the outset.)

Well, Bernie surprised everyone, including himself. It seemed like no one knew beforehand that there was such a deep reservoir of resentment toward the Democratic establishment -- partly because no one "who mattered" was paying attention. Ah, power politics and how it works!

No, the People had been dismissed long before by the Powers That Be in both of the major political parties, and literally nothing the People had to say about much of anything was something the PTB believed they had to listen to. "Governing Contrary" to the public interest and the will of the People was ingrained in the System. There was -- and would be -- no alternative.

"No you can't." No, you CAN'T! NO, YOU CAN'T!!!!

That was Hillary's opening gambit, and she's pretty much stayed with it ever since. And it's honest. Honest for her, certainly. But an honest reflection of the attitude of the Establishment -- regardless of party -- toward the Rabble everywhere, expressed as directly and openly as you could want.

No. You. Can't.

It goes to the heart of the political system, its beliefs and its workings, and there is and can be no alternative for the Rabble. None. Ever.

This is the Neo-LibCon statement world-wide to anyone and everyone who wants something better. "You can't have it. You will never have it. There is no alternative."

Yes, well. Bernie upset that applecart. So did Trump. This wasn't supposed to happen.

More and more, I'm suspecting Trump is a ratfuck. His campaign was never intended to be real. Instead, it was supposed to be little more than a sop to the Other Side's Rabble, while preventing the emergence of a popular (not populist) Republican candidate in order to grease the skids for a Hillary Victory.

Yeah, it looked from the outset that both Party's establishments had chosen Hillary to be the next President, and they believed it would be a piece of cake to get her in. The rest would be Show Business.

But a spanner or two has been thrown in the works.

A lot of Hillary Haters simply cannot understand her appeal. Why, they wonder, would anybody vote for her given her obvious and notorious Evil?

To me, this is just silly. Her Evil is no worse or better than any other presidential contender's. The idea that she is somehow Uniquely Evil -- because she's a Clinton or something -- is ridiculous. She is what she is, and she's reached the level she has in US and Global politics because she's useful to the Powers she serves. She's also a known -- and generally respected -- quantity globally. She may not be all that popular when you get down to it, but she's popular enough at home and abroad.

People vote for her because they know her. That's the simplest way to explain it. There's a little bit of nostalgia involved, but it's mostly because they know her story very well, those old enough to remember the Clinton presidency followed it like a soap opera, and many expressed deep and abiding sympathy for Hillary that they've carried to this day.

So a "coronation" was not out of the question at all. It should have been easy, but it wasn't, an it may get even rougher. I have little doubt she can sustain herself no matter the onslaught, but it's not clear that her path to Victory is still open wide. It may turn into a real contest, and that would be something.

Let's be blunt. There was no way in Hell Bernie would be allowed to defeat Herself in the overall primary contest. None. Those who rule us have many, many ways to ensure that upstarts like Bernie are kept well away from the levers of power, oh yes. This is basic to the theories of Neo-LibCon primacy. Nothing and no one an ever be allowed to interfere with their rule, and anyone who seriously tries to shall be crushed with extreme prejudice.

But I don't think Bernie ever intended to be a serious challenge to the PTB or Hillary.

His intent was little more than to move her and her sponsors leftwards, on the premise that it would be better for everyone (including Hillary and her sponsors) to do so. Continuing the rigorous path of TINA and LibCon rule would be a disaster.

It was not difficult at all for Hillary and her sponsors to move slightly left in response to Bernie's hectoring, but oh my. He tapped such a reservoir of resentment on the part of the Rabble.

Just as Trump did on the other side.

And now what wasn't supposed to be looks possible.

Hillary could go down to defeat.

Oh. My.

Even Trump didn't expect that.

Flop sweat, panic and desperation is growing over the events of the last few months, and Our Rulers appear to be entering Defcon 4, preparing the bunkers, and holding their breath.

Uncharted waters ahead.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Illness and Dealing With The System (UPDATED)

I have a Medicare Advantage Plan through Presbyterian Health Care in Albuquerque. Until yesterday, it seemed to be fine. I got care by competent professionals when I needed it, and though the clinic is 35-40 miles away, it's not too inconvenient. Co-pays -- so far -- have been reasonable.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm currently being treated for rheumatoid arthritis and pneumonia. Rheumatoid arthritis can be very painful and debilitating, whereas pneumonia can be lethal, especially for an elder like myownself.

Treatment for RA has consisted of diclofenac twice a day and high-dose prednisone for five days, with a follow up by a rheumatology specialist. That follow up has not happened. I was supposed to receive a call from Rheumatology setting up an appointment, but none came. The prednisone treatment ended April 18, and for the next week or so, the pain I'd previously experienced was more or less controlled. But yesterday, actually the day before, the pain started returning, and it became so bad I could barely stand it. It was at times worse than before I started treatment.

I had been given a five day course of antibiotic treatment for pneumonia, half the time-period of previous treatments. It seemed to control the symptoms, but then not. At all. It did not seem to me that Azithromycin was an effective treatment as I still had a severe cough, chest pain and compression, and difficulty breathing.

So I contacted my primary care physician reporting that I was experiencing returned or persistent symptoms of both RA and pneumonia and requesting advice.

The response I got was... odd. "Were you able to set up an appointment with the Rheumatologist?"

The answer, of course, is No. I replied that I had never received a call from Rheumatology and I had no contact info.

Shortly, I received a text telling me that Rheumatology had called me and left a message for me to call them back to set up an appointment. Apparently I hadn't received the message for some reason. Contact information was provided and I was encouraged to give them a call to set up an appointment.

This I did promptly.

Hm. I spoke to a very nice person who said that in essence there are are no appointments available until November at the earliest. The doctor who I was told to contact is not accepting new patients at all, and the only rheumatologist on staff who is accepting new patients won't have an appointment opening before November. I explained that I'd been informed by my primary care physician that someone had tried to contact me to set up an appointment with the doctor who isn't taking new patients but that I had not gotten the message. "Let me check," she said. A few minutes later, she said there was no record of anyone from rheumatology trying to contact me and no record of an attempt to set an appointment time. Interesting.

I asked if it was possible that someone had tried to contact me but called the wrong number (I get calls periodically from doctors offices and dentists for other people, sometimes because the caller has misdialed) and she that they only have the one number for me, and there is no record of anyone from rheumatology trying to contact me at any time.

I explained that the nurse told me there was, so it was something of a mystery. She said she would look into what happened and get back to me, because it certainly seemed odd to her, too.

I then texted the nurse who had told me that someone had tried to reach me from rheumatology with the information that they have no record of it, and I had checked through my voicemail messages for the last month, and there was no message from rheumatology.

Meanwhile, the pain was becoming excruciating while we've tried to get this resolved. As it happens I have a few prednisone tablets from the first prescription when I was told I was taking them wrong, and I took one last night -- because in a pinch, one tablet will control the pain for about 24 hours. Doctor told me not to take it that way, but I have no other pain relief option when the RA pain comes on the way it has, and as the issue with rheumatology follow up seems to be a mess for the time being, as they try to sort out what happened with my non-appointment, I used what was at hand.

We'll see what happens. At least the pain was controlled overnight, and that is a major relief.

Meanwhile, I still have pneumonia symptoms which I've reported and asked for advice on, but so far, there's been no response to that request. At all.

The system apparently isn't set up to answer two questions in one message or to respond to more than one issue at a time.

I'm learning, I guess. But if I didn't have the prednisone, I would be in serious agony with no relief at all, and the persistence of pneumonia symptoms after treatment ought to be something of a red flag -- but apparently it isn't.

UPDATE: Despite systemic resistance, I was able to set up two appointments to deal with immediate issues. The first, yesterday, followed up on pneumonia symptoms. Turned out my condition was worse -- gee, ya think? -- and I needed and was prescribed a stronger antibiotic along with more prednisone in case the chest pain becomes severe.

The next appointment is Monday for the rheumatioid arthritis. Since there apparently is no rheumatologist who is accepting patients within a reasonable time frame (at least none that I know of), it will be up to me and my primary care physician to find an appropriate treatment for as long as it takes to get in to see a specialist -- which apparently is going to be months.

Prednisone does work. Even, it would appear, in low dose, which I've tried since getting prednisone for chest pain yesterday.

My co-pay for the stronger antibiotic is quite high (close to $100). It may be that the earlier ineffective treatment -- which had a very low co-pay ($4.00 or something like that) was intended to keep my costs reasonable. I don't know. But it didn't work, and at first, the staff at the clinic ignored my repeated requests for relief. Then something happened, perhaps when I called up again yesterday morning, and things changed.

The system may be resistant but apparently it's not entirely non-responsive.






Leo the Incurable Romantic

Leo was my mother's step-father. He died before I was born, and I've never seen a picture of him, so I didn't know him and I have no personal knowledge of what he looked like. But since I've been on this journey of genealogical discovery, I feel like I've learned a great deal about him, enough, perhaps, to have a fairly good idea of what he was like.

I have little doubt that he was an incurable romantic.

He was second-generation American. He and his parents were born in the United States; his grandparents were born in Germany. That surprised me, for I thought he was Welsh or even Irish, but according to the records, he was German. He was born and reared in Indianapolis, and as far as I know he was a friend of my mother's biological father. That's what I was told by my mother, and the records I've found indicate they both worked for Indianapolis's streetcar company, and at least for a time they were neighbors.

Leo was a machinist for the streetcar company, whereas Larry (aka "Riley"), my mother's biological father, worked mostly as a conductor. When he worked. Leo was a member of the Sons of Pythias, and seems to have parlayed that and his own rather sunny personality into a much better life than Larry the Rebel was able to do for himself and his many offspring.

Larry would be killed in a railyard incident in St. Louis just before Christmas of 1916. He left behind a widow and young daughter in St. Louis and another widow and young daughter in Indianapolis. There were a number of other women and children, but those two households were primary at the time of Larry's death. The yard boss in St Louis married Larry's St. Louis widow Marie and adopted her daughter Helen, and they lived in St. Louis for the rest of their lives.

Larry's Indianapolis widow Edna would be married by Leo, and Leo, Edna and her daughter Virginia -- my mother -- would move to California in 1917 to start a new life. Leo never legally adopted my mother, but he treated her as his daughter and she used his last name as her own until she married.

Leo and Edna had no children together of their own.

In California, Leo started out as an auto mechanic for the Ed Reubel Dodge dealership in Santa Maria. He worked his way up to service manager, and he and his little family had a nice little California bungalow a few blocks away from the dealership. The house is still there and it still looks cozy and cheerful though it's now part of a multi-unit compound.

Sometime after 1930, Leo pulled up stakes and bought an auto court and filling station on the Redwood Highway in Willits called "U-Auto-Stop" where he and Edna moved. By this time my mother Virginia was married to her first husband, and shortly she would give birth to a daughter, Patricia, my (half) sister. They continued to live in Santa Maria where my mother's husband, Polk, worked as a mechanic and at other jobs for Ed Reubel.

In 1939, Leo sold the "U-Auto-Stop" and at first, I didn't know what had happened to them. Turns out he and Edna moved to Reno where he became the Secretary-Treasurer of a mining company. After some further search, I found out it was called the Jungo Mine, and it was located outside of Jungo, NV, the site of a very famous gold mine that had been extensively featured in Life Magazine. That mine was called the Jumbo Mine.

I found some ads for the Jungo Mine offering penny shares to all and sundry with extravagant promises of riches to come. Sacks of ore were being taken out of the Jungo Mine, some of them assaying at $12 and $15, so the ad copy said, and this translated to a remarkable return on a penny investment. "Get in now!"

Whether or not this mine actually ever operated, I don't know. There were lots of diggings around Jungo following the Jumbo strike in 1936, but whether any of them proved worthwhile is unknown to me. The ads I found for the Jungo Mine seem to have been placed only in 1940 -- I found none before or after -- and by 1941, Leo and Edna were living in Vallejo, CA.

Leo took a job as a machinist at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard -- where all those Liberty Ships were built to win the War -- and Edna took sick with the cancer that would shortly kill her. She died in October, 1941. Leo continued to work at Mare Island until his own death in 1945.

My mother spoke rather highly of Leo, when she spoke of him at all -- which wasn't often. Except that, when it came to her mother's death, she became hard and unforgiving. Suddenly her attitude toward Leo changed, and she blamed Leo for her mother's death at age 52. According to her, Leo and Edna had adopted Christian Science, and that meant Edna got no medical attention during her illness and according to my mother, she died in agony. There were hints in the story she told me that they had turned to Christian Science because they couldn't afford traditional medical treatment, and the fact that they couldn't afford it was due to Leo's profligacy.

That could be, but my mother didn't say anything to me about Reno or the mine or Vallejo. Her stories of her mother and stepfather stopped in Willits, which is where I thought Edna had died. But it wasn't so.

She lived at least briefly in Vallejo and died at the Solano County Hospital where she was taken when it was too late.

At the time, my mother was living with her husband and daughter on an orchard-ranch in Yolo County owned a Japanese-American family. Her husband, Polk, she said, was working as an oil-jobber, but according to records I found, he was a service station attendant. It's possible he was both. She divorced Polk in 1941 or 42 -- due to his infidelity, she said. She and my sister stayed on the ranch until some time after the Japanese family was sent away to the camps. Then they moved into town, Sacramento, just across the river from the ranch. Polk was also in Sacramento at the time, and he stayed there through the War and afterwards. In fact, he's buried in Sacramento, which surprised the heck out of me as he died in Walnut Creek where he lived with his second wife for thirty years or more working for Chevron, eventually becoming a vice president for sales.

But his new wife Jean was from Sacramento, and after Polk died she moved back to Sacramento where she lived the rest of her life.

This is getting far afield of Leo, however.

Leo's romanticism comes through in the path he follows from Indiana to California, from California to Nevada, and from Nevada back to California -- when it seems that his hopes in the mine were dashed.

In the end, I see his story as a romantic tragedy.

Leaving Indiana in 1917 and making a new life in California with my mother and her mother was in itself a romantic gesture, a supremely romantic gesture, it seems to me.

My mother's mother Edna had come from a rather well-off matriarchy headed by her mother Ida. Ida was a widow-woman who had apparently inherited quite a lot of property from her parents and her husband, land and buildings in the path of Indianapolis's growth during the 19th and early 20th centuries. She lived off the income and proceeds of sales of this property and provided a home for her sisters and son and daughter, and soon would be providing a home for her granddaughter when Edna gave birth to my mother Virginia in 1911. The house where they lived on N. Sherman Drive is still standing, and it seems like a rather modest place, though it's deceptively large. It's next door to a fire station which was built in 1915 on the site of Ida's former home, the place she'd shared with her husband and children. Though I've never seen a picture of that house, my impression is that it was an old two story farm house that was built when that section of Indianapolis was rural. It apparently burned in 1912 or 1913, and Ida sold the lot to the city -- for a fire station. The household moved next door to a house Ida also owned at the time.

These places on N. Sherman Dr were half a block from the Michigan Avenue streetcar line where Larry, my mother's biological father, worked -- when he worked -- as a conductor.

Larry was quite a ladies' man.

He'd been married in 1896 and had three children with his wife Maud, but they were divorced around 1907 and his children were farmed out. His daughter Florence went to live with his brother Frank and Frank's wife Edna, and for all anyone knew, Florence was Frank and Edna's daughter for ever more. Larry's sons, George and David, went to live with Larry's parents where they stayed until they reached majority.

Larry fathered other children, three of whom I found records of. One, Virgil, was born the same year as my mother (1911) to a woman (girl, really; she was 17) who never claimed to be married to Larry. My mother's mother Edna did claim to be married to Larry, though I could find no proof of it. According to what I did find, she claimed to be married to him in January or February of 1910. But she did not live with him as man and wife -- ever, so far as I could find out -- and she did not use his last name until after my mother Virginia's birth.

Larry's other child, Helen, was born to Marie, his wife in St. Louis. I did find records of their marriage, though he married her under what appears to have been an assumed name. My mother always claimed that he was a bigamist, and the scandalous discovery was made at his funeral when his "other family" was revealed. My mother remembered attending his funeral, and she recalled feeling sorry for his daughter Helen who was then two years old (my mother was five.)

She recalled the funeral taking place in Indianapolis, but it didn't. It was in St. Louis on the 23rd of December, 1916, and Larry was buried in Friedens Cemetery in Bellfontaine Neighbors just north of St. Louis.

I suspect my mother simply didn't remember the train trip of several hours from Indianapolis to St. Louis to attend his funeral.

My mother said she had few memories of her father, but I suspect she had none. Not only was he a ladies man, he was a somewhat notorious petty criminal, accused of numerous robberies and burglaries from the time he was a young teenager. In March of 1912, he was chased through the streets of downtown Indianapolis by a "merchant policeman" who was firing his gun at the fleeing Larry -- who he accused of burglarizing a drugstore.

Larry was apprehended by regular police -- who knew him -- and taken to the stationhouse where he denied everything. The proprietor of the drugstore averred that nothing had been taken from the premises. Larry was arraigned and the case was bound over to the grand jury but I found no disposition. He may have gone to trial, but maybe not.

Larry's father David was a prominent Civil War veteran who held a number of patronage positions in Indiana state government. He was the legislative parliamentarian, later the state land clerk, and he served in a number of other capacities. He had six sons, three of whom became prominent in Indiana in their own right. Larry, the second youngest, on the other hand, became notorious.

It seems that Larry's father got him out of one scrape with the law after another, but the 1912 incident may have been the last straw. By sometime in 1913, Larry had moved to St. Louis where his older brother Harold had long lived and worked as a printer and Linotype operator for the St. Louis Globe Dispatch. (As a side-note, David, the pater familias, had published a newspaper in Lebanon, Indiana, before moving to Indianapolis and taking up positions with the state government.)

After Larry died in St. Louis, Leo -- his friend in Indianapolis -- took it upon himself to "make an honest woman" out of Edna and to take care of and protect Edna's daughter Virgina. They moved to California to start a new life -- a project which appears to have gone very well.

The family's life was very different and better in California than it could possibly have been in Indiana. Indianapolis was rough and gritty and dirty, and whether she wanted to be or not, Edna was caught up in scandal brought on by Larry's misbehavior.

Given the "moral" standards of the era, Edna was sullied, and there was nothing she could do about it -- though she tried. Leaving was her best option, and the fact that Leo was there and ready, willing, and able to take the risk of building a new life in California with Edna and Virginia was a godsend.

It's too bad that Leo's romantic vision culminated with his mining adventure in Nevada -- which apparently came to nothing and left him broke, his wife ill, and his stepdaughter hating him.

It's a very common story in some ways, but on another plane, it may be unique to this particular group of people at this particular time in American history. I knew little about it because it all took place before I was born, and my mother was not necessarily forthcoming. She harbored great resentment -- indeed hatred -- towards Leo, blaming him and his incurable romantic vision for her mother's death. She could not and did not forgive him. I have little doubt he carried his own sense of guilt and failure to his own death a few years later (I believe he died of a heart attack -- or perhaps of a broken heart).

I didn't know Leo or Edna -- let alone Larry. I've never even seen a picture of any of them. But they had an influence on my life through my mother. Finding out about them -- who they were, where they came from, what they did -- is an adventure for me, something I could not have done to this extent prior to the advent of the internet.

Now that I've found living cousins I'm learning a whole lot about my father's family I never knew before, too. It's all quite a wonder.