Years ago, when I lived in Bozeman, Montana, something was going on at the federal level regarding Social Security that inspired me to organize a meeting, and to publicize that meeting on radio. I was quite the activist. It was nerve wracking, as I had no idea what the turnout would be. The subject of the meeting was the viability of the Social Security Trust Fund, and of Social Security itself. I was not receiving benefits, but since I was a wonk, I was steeped in numbers regarding the Trust Fund. I did not understand at that time that that Trust Fund was nothing more than a plot device crafted to create the illusion that benefits were threatened, and to convince young people that Social Security would not be there for them when they retired. Overall, the big picture was a movement behind corrupt senators like our then entrenched Baucus and Burns that Wall Street should be in charge of our retirements, and that the concept of “defined benefit” needed to be replaced by “defined contribution”. (If you do not understand either of those terms, now is the time to get up to speed. They are critical.)
The group I used was called “Wonderlust,” and the meeting was a huge success, even drawing a wonk from Washington to act as monitor and inspiring a huge turnout with older people asking and demanding answers to intelligent questions. What a relief! I feared a cricket fest. But to this day I regret my own lack of understanding of the nature of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all of our “entitlements”.
It’s tree-planting season. My annual order of 24 native seedlings arrived today via Fed Ex from the State nursery in Missoula, Montana. Minimum order is 24 “plugs” or bareroot stock, grown for “conservation” purposes and sold throughout the state. This year, I selected P-pine (Ponderosa). Last year it was juniper, and western larch the year before. I treat this as a ritual of Spring, that for me goes way back to the mid-1980s. The serious woman at the nursery – maybe a tree scientist — I ordered from this year wasn’t thrilled about my selection because the seeds were gathered at a much lower elevation, and from a site West of the Continental Divide, somewhere in the Blackfoot River watershed. I’m planting East of the divide in much poorer dirt, in a more hostile setting with less annual precipitation (drought prone) and generally lower humidity. After a robust discussion she agreed to send my 24 Ponderosa pine.
These little beauties are now in 1-gallon pots. It didn’t take long at all.
Wildness, wilderness and roadless areas are all words that we use to describe lands that remain as nature intended, untrammeled by man’s unquenchable thirst for comfort, convenience and attachment to shiny objects. Fragments of Montana, Idaho, Alaska and smaller parcels scattered about the Lower 48 are all that remain of the once vast wild landscape that existed before Europeans occupied (colonized) and exploited anything and everything that could be converted into gold, silver of fiat money. It was all wilderness once. Lately I’ve been reflecting on experiences and events that have influenced my life in the Northern Rockies. Yes, I’m a transplant, originally from “The East.” College in Denver, and then migrating to Missoula, Montana in the winter of 1974-75. I wrote the following piece for a group I helped to found in 1987 in Swan Lake, Montana, The Friends of the Wild Swan. wildswan.org
After 35 years of grassroots wilderness and forest-ecosystem activism, it’s worth reflecting on one of Friends of the Wild Swan’s most important accomplishments: wildlands protection. In 1987, the social, cultural and political climate surrounding the wilderness/roadless-areas debate was highly contentious, to put it mildly. All across western Montana, and in the Swan Valley in particular, public outrage and resentment was growing rapidly against the rapid expansion of clearcut logging on Plum Creek’s (“checkerboard”) corporate holdings, and indiscriminate clearcutting on publicly-owned forest land managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
This piece was something I wrote in 2005. A lot has changed, but the general process and trend has not. Today’s enclosure laws and regulations give to oligarchs and take from commoners. The mode of production is today, as it has ever been: colonialism.
Plight of the Commons
“By the law of nature these things are common to all mankind, the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea,” proclaimed the Roman Emperor Justinian. Justinian’s code, the original protection of the public trust, or commons, become the law of the land in 528 A.D. Over the centuries that have followed this precept has become widely known as the Public Trust Doctrine.
Today, the commons face unprecedented new threats from an American 21st Century Emperor and the expansion of so-called neo-conservatism, or privatization. From a neo-conservative perspective, laissez-faire individualism and free-market (corporate) economics, the conceptual building blocks of a bold return to medieval feudalism, offer efficiency, smaller-sized government, and greater individual choice. Public tradeoffs or costs (public losses) are seldom discussed.
This article, brought to us courtesy of Big Swede, is about Noam Chomsky.
Author Noam Chomsky predicted a grim future in an interview with The New Statesman: “We’re approaching the most dangerous point in human history. … It looks like the grim cloud of fascism is spreading over the whole world inexorable. That was in February 1939.”
He is talking about the rise of Nazism. He needs to get up to speed. I saw fascism in full-dress parade in the Covid scam, an attack on civil liberties that was unlike any before, open, shameless, and brazen. People were locked in their houses, warned to stay six feet apart, forced to wear pointless and useless masks just for humiliation sake. Toilet paper disappeared … no accident. We could not attend public events, including attending church. Where was Uncle Nummy during this human disaster? Supporting it. All of it. Then this:
“People who refuse to accept vaccines, I think the right response for them is not to force them to, but rather to insist that they be isolated. If people decide, ‘I am willing to be a danger to the community by refusing to vaccinate,’ they should say then, ‘Well, I also have the decency to isolate myself. I don’t want a vaccine, but I don’t have the right to run around harming people.’ That should be a convention,” said Chomsky.
Ask what they would do for groceries, he said “Well, that’s actually their problem.” How’s that for glum and oppressive.
“I love dandelions. They make me feel like sunshine itself, and you will always see some creature resting on an open bloom, if you have a little patience to wait. This vital source for all emerging pollinators is a blast of uplifting yellow to brighten even the greyest of days. It stands tall and proud, unlike all the others opening and swaying in the breeze. The odd one out.”
This past weekend was the convergence of holidays spanning three Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It seems this occurs . . . every 33 years. (Uh oh, there is the 33 — once again.) April 15, 2022 was Good Friday, and also the first day of Passover, concordantly marking the time of Ramadan.
Amidst this concurrence of religious faiths, there have been seeds of doom and gloom wafting over the media airwaves. One alleged incident of doom this week occurred in the NYC subway. And what do you know? It was infused with the cryptic 33 (see here and here). Imagine that. Do you also see the 33 coding in this reported incident of gloom on April 16, 2022 at Columbiana Centre in Columbia, S.C.?
If the conniving, 33-obsessed controllers can ride the 33 this week (ostensibly, a time signaling religious faith and renewal), then, hey, why can’t we?! Perhaps there is an occulted hint in exploiting the vibrational template of 33, but for beneficent aims (?). While I surmise that occulted numbers — such as the 33 — can be utilized to manifest imprints of doom and gloom, I suggest that ordinary, well-intentioned individuals (including an ‘odd one out’ — such as myself) may also be able to access the natural vibration (an inherent, universal energetic template) of the 33, with which to harness and manifest intentions of bloom, as well as reckoning, restitution, and reciprocity.
I have on the wall a few feet away from me here the above photo taken in the 1980s, the subject of the encircled part a man I will call Clem. The main photo was taken in Yellowstone National Park on the Blacktail Deer “trail”. He and I spent the whole day breaking trail, and as I worked to keep up with him I saw this: A lone man by a lone tree. I thought it apropos of Clem, as he lived alone, had no girl friend, but many men in his life, his city buddies. (Clem was not gay, by the way.) The lower left photo I keep there to remind me of Clem at his best, the two of us in the mountains. He would leave his smokes and liquor behind. As one mutual friend described him, Clem was a “mountain gem and a city slut.” He drank too much. Way too much.
I gave this enlarged photo to Clem, and he hung it on his wall. People went through his belongings after he committed suicide in 1998, and the photo was returned to me. The reason I bring this up is that while grieving over his loss, I took the photo apart and wrote on it every trip we made, every hike and incident I could remember. In so doing I realized that I had been many places and done many things in the wild. Three years before Clem’s suicide, I had met my future wife, and the journeys would continue. She and I hiked and backpacked the mountains of Montana and Wyoming. Eventually, beginning in 2010, we would add Alaska, the Alps of France, Switzerland, Italy, Patagonia, the Galápagos, New Zealand, the Andes and Himalayas. Though our backpacking days are over, we ain’t done yet.
Change is coming to what I think is Montana’s most alluring “island” mountain range, the Crazy Mountains. It’s about to become the latest in a long, tortured history of celebrity destinations dotting the American West. As the success of Big Sky ski resort, the Yellowstone Club, and Moonlight Basin (northwest of Yellowstone National Park) have demonstrated, there is plenty more opportunity here in Southwest Montana if you’ve got deep pockets and high-level political connections in Washington, D.C.
Hikers and hunters have been battling the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to maintain access to public lands for decades. Local ranchers have been illegally posting “no trespassing” signs to keep hunters and hikers out of their backyard, and off their private land. But the ownership pattern is complicated in a “checkerboard” of private and public sections (640 acres, or 1 square mile, per section) that originated when the railroad was given title to every other section. Under the Union Pacific Act of 1862, Congress granted every other section along the railroad – in one square mile blocks — to Union Pacific and retained the alternate sections as federal government lands.
I have never watched anything by Ken Burns, the famous documentary film maker. Now that he has tackled Benjamin Franklin, I am even less interested. In 2017 MM wrote a paper called Benjamin Franklin: Premier British Spook, which fit in nicely with my own thinking on the American Revolution. It is a British template, one that the Americans would later use on Cuba. The idea is to take a people infected with revolutionary fervor, and let them have their silly revolution,
In the end, however, it will still be British or American agents in charge, masquerading as patriots and heroes. Thus did we have our Founding Fathers, perhaps all of them compromised, or those not, those who were true believers, marginalized or cashiered.
I’ve been reading Jordan Peterson, and finished his book Twelve Rules for Life. It was enough of JP for me, as at my age, there was not much new for me in it. As we age, we become wiser, learn from mistakes, even become more sympathetic to others and to different ideas. For instance, at age 38, having abandoned the Catholic faith, I was angry at the Church for having brainwashed me as it did, and thought people who were devoted to the faith to be of a lesser mind than me. Later I would read The Varieties of Religious Experience by the American intellectual/psychologist William James, and took on a new outlook. While religion would never appeal to me, those who experience religious enlightenment are experiencing real phenomena, and are made better and happier people in the process. (Oddly, I no longer have this book. It was a keeper, and I do not know what happened to it.)
I now look at my Catholic upbringing as a means of 1) brainwashing me, to ensure I stayed Catholic all my life, but also 2) as a means of protecting me, since teachers viewed most of us kids as having little enlightenment and intellectual ability. Life was going to be hard for us. Having a rudder, even if one based on superstition and falsehood, would not hurt. It would prevent thinking, but also prevent despair. Stupidity is a great insulator. Continue reading “The trivium, quadrivium, and blah blah blah”→