Vermont Diary


Has Bean Has Travelled

I am copying all Vermont Views Columnists, plus friends of the magazine, and issuing a challenge and invitation on behalf of the FOODISH column to write up your own favorite winter season dish — plus an anecdote of why you chose it.

Likely we will have a big Scandinavian contribution this year from friends of friends of family, and I wonder if we could all follow a format and tail your recipe with some anecdote, however long, of why you like this dish? Here is a sample entry for format reasons plus my own anecdote:—

Notes (Prep time plus cook time.)



Plating notes


As a young man I found myself in a delightful old farmhouse in Sussex, England, one summer, one which had bagged figs in the tree in the garden, and over which there were contrails such as there were in WWII — and  which had a Rayburn stove, and for transport I had a pre WWI sit up and beg type one gear black bicycle, with which I could sport around, visit Blake's house nearby, also the Roman town of Chichester, and the castle town of Arundel.

This was my first experience of cooking for myself and for another, a titled older lady who I was 'keeping an eye on.'

Now and again visitors would appear — Lady Goodwood in her Bentley, with attendants, driver, et ca, a lady who owned substantial chunks of Africa at the time, to whom I served tea and to her question of 'who I was' I said 'Innes' which I think she took as being Viscount Innes, such as are responses this way in England, and which was received equitably without demurrer. 

Then came the wife of the Bishop of Puerto Rico — himself was at a conference in Canterbury, and she, bored, came to visit. To visit and incidentally to assess my cooking skills, including baked beans which I had made some from a can, which is the buried subject of this thread. 

She went off to town and bought all sorts of things, including beans which she cooked on the stove top for best part of the day, before immersing them into a large oven pan, and adding things I hardly know the names of, but including sweet peppers, chilies, considerable amounts of mustard, fresh tomatoes, bacon, 'exotic' herbs' and as I say, other things unknown to me by shape, name or previous contact thereof. This all went into the oven of the AGGA the next day to then emerge 6 hours later to the reprise, "those are baked beans."

And they were extraordinary, and probably sparked my interest in cooking things which didn't come in cans or from factories.

Twelve Good Men

I am not a big fan of Marshall McLuan and ‘the medium is the message’ which is more than a bit simplistic, but now and then, especially now, when 12 men sit on a jury and decide whether to admit to a lifetime position influencing the law for men and women…

O! There is that word. Where are women 100 years after the franchise, back in 1918?

It is hardly necessary to descend into the verities of whether this was a hard drinking college boy [though he never ‘passed out’] or if he was a bully, or even if some women found his attentions unwelcome.

Where actually are the women on the jury, or for the past 100 years? Here they are:—

1777: Women lose the right to vote in the state of New York.

1780: Women lose the right to vote in Massachusetts.

1784: Women lose the right to vote in New Hampshire.

1787: The U.S. Constitutional Convention places voting qualifications in the hands of the states. Women in all states except New Jersey lose the right to vote.

1790: The U.S. state of New Jersey grants the vote to "all free inhabitants," including women.

1807: Women lose the right to vote in New Jersey, the last state to revoke the right.

1838: Kentucky passes the first statewide woman suffrage law allowing female heads of household in rural areas to vote in elections deciding on taxes and local boards for the new county "common school" system.

1848: The Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, is held in Seneca Falls, New York. Women's suffrage is proposed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and agreed to after an impassioned argument from Frederick Douglass.

1850: The first national woman's rights convention, in Worcester, Massachusetts, attracts more than 1,000 participants from 11 states.

1853: On the occasion of the World's Fair in New York City, suffragists hold a meeting in the Broadway Tabernacle.

1861–1865: The American Civil War. Most suffragists focus on the war effort, and suffrage activity is minimal.

1866: The American Equal Rights Association, working for suffrage for both women and African Americans, is formed at the initiative of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

1867: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone address a subcommittee of the New York State Constitutional Convention requesting that the revised constitution include woman suffrage. Their efforts fail.

1867: Kansas holds a state referendum on whether to enfranchise women and/or black males. Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton traverse the state speaking in favor of women's suffrage. Both women's and black male suffrage is voted down.

1868: The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, introducing the word "male" into the Constitution for the first time, in Section 2 of the amendment.

1869: The territory of Wyoming is the first to grant unrestricted suffrage to women.

1869: The suffrage movement splits into the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association. The NWSA is formed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony after their accusing abolitionist and Republican supporters of emphasizing black civil rights at the expense of women's rights. The AWSA is formed by Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and it protests the confrontational tactics of the NWSA and ties itself closely to the Republican Party while concentrating solely on securing the vote for women state by state.Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the first president of the National Woman Suffrage Association.Julia Ward Howe was the first president of the American Woman Suffrage Association.

1870: The Utah Territory grants suffrage to women.

1870: The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is adopted. The amendment holds that neither the United States nor any State can deny the right to vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude," leaving open the right of States to deny the right to vote on account of sex. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton oppose the amendment. Many of their former allies in the abolitionist movement, including Lucy Stone, support the amendment.

1871: Victoria Woodhull speaks to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, arguing that women have the right to vote under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but the committee does not agree.

1871: The Anti-Suffrage Society is formed.

1872: A suffrage proposal before the Dakota Territory legislature loses by one vote.

1872: Susan B. Anthony registers and votes in Rochester, New York, arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives her that right. However, she is arrested a few days later. Victoria Woodhull was the first female to run for President of the United States, nominated by the Equal Rights Party, with a platform supporting women's suffrage and equal rights.

1873: The trial of Susan B. Anthony is held. She is denied a trial by jury and loses her case. She never pays the $100 fine for voting.

1873: There is a suffrage demonstration at the Centennial of the Boston Tea Party.

1874: In the case of Minor v. Happersett, the Supreme Court rules that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not grant women the right to vote.

1874: There is a referendum in Michigan on women's suffrage, but women's suffrage loses.

1875: Women in Michigan and Minnesota win the right to vote in school elections.

1878: A federal amendment to grant women the right to vote is introduced for the first time by Senator A.A. Sargeant of California.

1880: New York state grants school suffrage to women.

1882: The U.S. House and Senate both appoint committees on women's suffrage, which both report favorably.

1883: Women in the Washington territory are granted full voting rights.

1884: The U.S. House of Representatives debates women's suffrage.

1886: The suffrage amendment is defeated two to one in the U.S. Senate.

1887: The Edmunds-Tucker act takes the vote away from women in Utah in order to suppress the Mormon vote in the Utah territory.

1887: The Supreme Court strikes down the law that enfranchised women in the Washington territory.

1887: In Kansas, women win the right to vote in municipal elections.

1887: Rhode Island becomes the first eastern state to vote on a women's suffrage referendum, but it does not pass.

1888–1889: Wyoming had already granted women voting and suffrage since 1869-70; now they insist that they maintain suffrage if Wyoming joins the Union.

1890: The National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association merge to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Its first president is Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The focus turns to working at the state level. Wyoming renewed general women's suffrage, becoming the first state to allow women to vote.

1890: A suffrage campaign loses in South Dakota.

1893: After a campaign led by Carrie Chapman Catt, Colorado men vote for women's suffrage.

1894: Despite 600,000 signatures, a petition for women's suffrage is ignored in New York.

1895: The New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage begins.

1895: The National American Woman Suffrage Association dissociates itself from Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible, a critique of Christianity.

1896: Women's suffrage returns to Utah upon gaining statehood.

1896: The National American Woman Suffrage Association hires Ida Husted Harper to launch an expensive suffrage campaign in California, which ultimately fails.

1896: Idaho grants women suffrage.

1897: The National American Woman Suffrage Association begins publishing the National Suffrage Bulletin, edited by Carrie Chapman Catt.

1900: Carrie Chapman Catt becomes the new leader of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

1902: Women from 10 nations meet in Washington, D.C. to plan an international effort for suffrage. Clara Barton is among the speakers.

1902: The men of New Hampshire vote down a women's suffrage referendum.

1904: The National American Woman Suffrage Association adopts a Declaration of Principles.

1904: Because Carrie Chapman Catt must attend to her dying husband, Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw takes over as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

1906: Elizabeth Cady Stanton's daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, returns from England and forms the Equality League of Self Supporting Women with a membership based on professional and industrial working women. It initiates the practice of holding suffrage parades.

1910: Emma Smith DeVoe organizes a grassroots campaign in Washington State, where women win suffrage.

1910: Harriet Stanton Blatch's Equality League changes its name to the Women's Political Union.

1910: Emulating the grassroots tactics of labor activists, the Women's Political Union organizes America's first large-scale suffrage parade, which is held in New York City.

1910: Washington grants women the right to vote.

1911: California grants women suffrage.

1911: In New York City, 3,000 people march for women's suffrage.

1912: Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party includes women's suffrage in its platform.

1912: Abigail Scott Duniway dissuades members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from involving themselves in Oregon's grassroots suffrage campaign; Oregon women win the vote.

1912: Arizona grants women suffrage.

1912: Kansas grants women suffrage.

1912: Alaska's territorial legislature grants women suffrage.

1913: Alice Paul becomes the leader of the Congressional Union (CU), a militant branch of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

1913: Alice Paul organizes the Woman's Suffrage Procession, a parade in Washington, D.C. on the eve of Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. It is the largest suffrage parade to date. The parade is attacked by a mob, and hundreds of women are injured but no arrests are made.

1913: The Alaskan Territory grants women suffrage.

1913: Illinois grants municipal and presidential but not state suffrage to women.

1913: Kate Gordon organizes the Southern States Woman Suffrage Conference, where suffragists plan to lobby state legislatures for laws that will enfranchise white women only.

1913: The Senate votes on a women's suffrage amendment, but it does not pass.

1914: Nevada grants women suffrage.

1914: Montana grants women suffrage.

1914: The Congressional Union alienates leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association by campaigning against pro-suffrage Democrats in the congressional elections.

1915: Carrie Chapman Catt replaces Anna Howard Shaw as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, partly due to the constant turmoil on the National Board caused by Shaw's lack of administrative expertise.

1916: Alice Paul and others break away from the National American Woman Suffrage Association and form the National Woman's Party.

1916: Woodrow Wilson promises that the Democratic Party Platform will endorse women's suffrage.

1916: Montana elects suffragist Jeannette Rankin to the House of Representatives.[2] She is the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress.

1917: Beginning in January, the National Woman's Party posts silent "Sentinels of Liberty," also known as the Silent Sentinels, at the White House. The National Woman's Party is the first group to picket the White House. In June, the arrests begin. Nearly 500 women are arrested, and 168 serve jail time.

November 14, 1917: The "Night of Terror" occurs at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia, in which suffragist prisoners are beaten and abused.

1917: The U.S. enters W.W.I. Under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, the National American Woman Suffrage Association aligns itself with the war effort in order to gain support for women's suffrage.

1917: Arkansas grants women the right to vote in primary, but not general elections.

1917: Rhode Island grants women presidential suffrage.

1917: The New York state constitution grants women suffrage. New York is the first Eastern state to fully enfranchise women.

1917: The Oklahoma state constitution grants women suffrage.

1917: The South Dakota state constitution grants women suffrage.

1918: The jailed suffragists are released from prison. An appellate court rules all the arrests were illegal.

1918: The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which eventually granted women suffrage, passes the U.S. House with exactly a two-thirds vote but loses by two votes in the Senate. Jeannette Rankin opens debate on it in the House, and President Wilson addresses the Senate in support of it.

1918: President Wilson declares his support for women's suffrage.

1919: Michigan grants women full suffrage.

1919: Oklahoma grants women full suffrage.

1919: South Dakota grants women full suffrage.

1919: The National American Woman Suffrage Association holds its convention in St. Louis, where Carrie Chapman Catt rallies to transform the association into the League of Women Voters.

1919: In January, the National Women's Party lights and guards a "Watchfire for Freedom." It is maintained until the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passes the U.S. Senate on June 4.

1920: The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, stating, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

1920: In the case of Hawke v. Smith, anti-suffragists file suit against the Ohio legislature, but the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of Ohio's ratification process.

1924: Native American women played a vital role in this change, but are still unable to reap the benefits until four years later on June 24, 1924 when the American government grants citizenship to Native Americans through the Indian Citizenship Act. However, many states nonetheless make laws and policies which prohibit Native Americans from voting, and many are effectively barred from voting until 1948.

1952: The race restrictions of the 1790 Naturalization Law are repealed by the McCarran-Walter Act, giving first generation Japanese Americans, including women, citizenship and voting rights.

1964: The Twenty-fourth Amendment is ratified by two-thirds of the states, formally abolishing poll taxes and literacy tests which were heavily used against African-American and poor white women and men.

1965: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 strenuously prohibits racial discrimination in voting, resulting in greatly-increased voting by African American women and men.

1966: Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections strikes down poll taxes at all levels of government.

1984: Mississippi becomes the last state in the union to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment.

2018: A group of 12 men hear stories of drunkeness, bullying and debauched sexist behavior about a Supreme Court nominee, apparently without a qualm.


I am saving punnets. Both the heavy cardboard and light wood varieties, and I am saving egg cartons [cardboard] and cardboard rolls. I am saving them just as I have put aside wood slivers from the cordwood pile, plus slightly larger bits of starter wood — things that will dry quickly and get the woodstove going later this year or on Jan 15th and the first blizzard of the new year.

Who knows when we will have to close our windows, and two weeks later light the stove — It’s a good one, glass fronted but practical rather than ornamental with a two-burner top — my choice of cooking medium throughout the seven months of winter. You always think the white stuff could start mid October for a few days, maybe even November 25th, but could be September 30th.

We Vermonters are not talking out loud about that of course, no, we are saying we will have Fall-like weather all the way to Christmas and no snow ‘til January. We will not have a foot of snow on Halloween like a few years ago, people will be able to walk on the sidewalks instead of the road, and family members will want to come visit for Thanksgiving instead of catching serious colds as can happen in California or even Connecticut where it is 50 and 15 degrees warmer, respectively.

What you should have done is split 3 months of kindling in the Fall, but no, you relied on the resources mentioned above, plus the local weekly newspaper, and the stack of New York Times book reviews that you sometimes binge read, tut-tutting at the latest nonsense, yet reluctant to commit to the fire unread.

And that’s when some January morning you discover there is no more kindling, or even slightly larger pieces of wood, but great logs to split and its freezing rain out there, and you should have brought more logs in from the garden which is now under two feet of snow plus the snowplow has made the curb three and a half feet of solid ice, 7 feet across. You did keep some wood in the garage, but how it shrinks! How you were lazy in the Fall in using that instead of going an extra fifty feet to the garden. Mall-split slivers of the great logs don’t light so well as the small well dried pieces and even the cats are looking at you reprehensively, since if you could get the woodstove going they could lie under it in their cardboard boxes and get some rest.

We will know better when the birds leave. That will be the irrefutable sign of things to come. Even in the town, even in the age of prognost, of great big computer weather projections, we will pragmatically prefer the signs of the times nature provides. Otherwise we would all be living in Brooklyn or one of the buroughs, I almost wrote burrows, where there is no nature as such — and half Vermont’s population is now from elsewhere, particularly there.

These are the people who remark in our well-walked neighborhood that they love the smell of woodsmoke, and the younger couples dream of having their own place with its own stove, possibly with a few acres, and likely they can if they bring some money with them, since you can’t really earn enough here, and with the collapse of traditional volunteerism, living out of town poses more risk if you need the cops, ambulance or fire department.

These are thoughts of the Fall, and after a Mississippi summer, people are going to welcome it, even with the metaphorical social implications in an aging community mentioned above. But it need not be so. It was always the spirit of this place if you had a surplus to share with others who had not — and this creates real community rather than rentier groups of clever talkers-to-the-editor. Well, we have those too, but we also have the real thing, and there is nothing like a group of senior volunteers to tell you straight what’s what, and often in colorful language about the life of our times, and rather better at it than the New York Times Book Review.

Don’t free Tibet, yet

Reports from the Himalayas on Tibetans are varied, but rarely edifying..  George Schaller recognized by many as the world's preeminent field biologist, in reports from the fringes of Tibetan tribes outside the orb of the Chinese, offered that the women could be smelled from 30 feet away because of the rancid yak butter in their hair; their children frost and wind burned with constant runny noses and filthy from head to foot, and the men anodyne shepards, these groups having escaped the attention away from the influence of the organized state to a ‘natural’ one.

Then there is Peter Caddy, co-founder of the Findhorn Foundation in Northern Scotland, describing Tibet as a ‘death –culture.’

What then to make of the ‘Free Tibet’ bumper sticker?

Research indicates that on the eve of the Chinese invasion of the country in  1949/1950 life expectancy averaged 33 years. If you were a woman this would be lower since there was no western medicine to ameliorate birthing difficulties, and the reader may imagine average age at which children are orphaned. Best would be about 17 years, but likely averaged 8.

This year the average life-span of Tibetans has exactly doubled to 66 years.

True, Chinese promoted occupations for women that they did not have before, such as in Medicine, Education and Social Administration, and they did it in a sexist way much the same as here in the West.

And true, the Chinese were doing this to Tibetans, for  ‘their own good,’ without an option and same as the invader always claims.

Even so, after 600 years of Buddhist rule secular and spiritual, where you could still get your hand chopped off in the market place for stealing a potato or an apple in 1949 — whatsay you to doubling your life span?

Let us by all means free Tibet and all autonomous regions to govern themselves. But hopefully not to return to a male patriarchy unengagied with social benefit for 600 years — which is like the Chinese system, also not optional. How many women have you see around the Dalai Lama recently, and are any of them allowed to speak? In fact, who does speaks of this vast increment in health and consequent life-span?

So don’t free Tibet yet. Let’s have better re-balancing in temporal and spiritual health as a necessary condition.

The American Way

It is well known that up to about age 21 young males have difficulty mastering their emotions, especially from studies of road rage, whereas females seem to have completed that frontal lobe development and be fine at 16 years old — and that’s why for drivers licences in New Jersey the commercial sector have a price: The average rate to insure Jersey teens -- $6,200 -- is second only to Louisiana, where it costs $7,900 — cheapest Vermont quotes are about $450.

I wonder if you had to have insurance for a gun if that would be comparable? What I am saying is that if you had to have gun insurance let the commercial sector, insurance companies, decide what the premium should be.

If insurance companies set the rate for gun ownership/rage, how much would it be? More for a semi-automatic machine gun than for a car? This is an entirely American solution to gun rage based on unsentimental and apolitical insurance company estimates, so why not federally require insurance for weapon ownership and then get out of the way?

Veterans don’t keep so many guns about, besides they have been trained how to use them after being tested for being unstable. I imagine the insurance company might require one of those tests too.

What I am saying is that if a 19 year old wants to have a AR15 firing 1 round per second he should be taxed similarly to 19 year old male habits with cars. Remember, the original grant was to have a musket firing rate 2 balls minute within the context of a well organized group.

The bottom line here is that if an insurance company will be not give you a 3rd party damage rate, why should we the people give you a gun? It might cost you 6 grand to get the licence, but that will sort out the men from the anxious boys, no?

Finally the survey question: given that The NRA say they have 4.5 million members, and 99% of them are regular law abiding citizens, which is all very well but unfortunately means that the remaining 1% or 45,000 people may well be psychopaths.

The question is — how many emotionally stable young males do you know who you would have no qualms about having a machine gun?

Like a Dan Shore Report

It’s been a rough year down in the soup kitchen, three of our staff people have died. We have been flooded in our basement, the walls fell in in our cool room, and most recently in the cold weather an inexplicable lack of meat for two weeks.  A direct supply link to a supermarket has gone astray, and Foodbank have no meat-protein to offer us — and the weather ‘brutal’. We carry on with what we have.

A tedious thing to go through is being thanked for what we do. No one actually knows what that is since we never see any press nor politicians, even at the town level, and at the personal level one wonders why people thank us? Don’t they contribute anything of themselves such as to make what we do exceptional? Apparently not.

Apparently volunteerism is in severe decline in our aging community and what used to make the fire departments work for 100 years no longer pertains. Though the work of volunteers actually makes life in and out of our town possible at a certain level of quality and assurance.

There you are, the Dan Shore annual look at ‘if things are better than last year’. For a dozen years he didn’t think so, until he hated making the assessment.

This writing is not to seek money or promote a cause. It is more about a sense of things being driven increasingly into a shade for volunteer workers, and their clients. It is a sense of a declining social ethic about contribution — and it used to be around here that if you had it you would share it — instead of increasing social rhetoric about how things are, which, I can tell you, does not peel any carrots, and neither does it have anyone meet their less fortunate neighbors and treat them like citizens for as much as an hour at a time.

Women, you can’t get there from here

In this note I have used a ripe term or two to begin, and yet both apt, contextually and literally.

In a recent response to the continuous assaults upon women, Maclean Gander writing an article for The Commons newspaper had the balls to speak of his own early confusing experience of sexual intrusion — for which he was kicked in the nuts in response by a letter to the editor by Sandy Golden.

What I encourage the reader to do is to continue reading here, so that they might examine a proposition I first encountered 35 years ago by the cultural anthropologist William Irwin Thompson.

I say this because no man will ever appreciate sufficiently what a woman can claim as her on-going cultural state, still only represented in the 20 percentile in Congress and the Senate 100 years after they gained the franchise to vote. I recently saw a picture of a Presidential group of 17 men and 1 woman deciding on woman’s issues.

When I have asked women what would be a fair way of deciding upon children and their mothers in our society, they have all agreed that a democratic 50% of opportunity to decide was fair. Even though after 100 years they have attained just 20%, and we witness treatment of women as we now do.

Here is the challenge: Thompson said that women should control the fate of children and young mothers. That’s it. He means women should control 100% of it, since they are at least 90% the principal parent, said Thompson.

Sandy Golden is entirely correct in her estimate of Mac Gander’s article as not solving sufficiently what is really a disgusting on-going façade of gender cultural equanimity — but she is short in her reckoning of what needs to happen to make it so.

One cannot continue to blame men sympathetic or otherwise to women, if women will not understand their estate and take responsibility for it by seizing this power concomitant with their responsibility; a power truly their own.

For The Birds

Having driven down to New Haven to set my wife on a train for a ‘girls’ road trip holiday down to the Carolinas by car, train, train, car again, I retreated from the 92 degree coastal heat and pollution already at palpably evil level by 10:00am to a remarkable 62 back here in Vermont at noon.

Next day I attended the community kitchen at 6:30 and on coming home noticed that my wife today would be traveling through an area around the Chesapeake Bay where severe thunderstorms and tornados were forecast.

I also noticed that the cats were attendant on the wood-stove, cool this past couple months. In fact a flashlight and careful listening did reveal there was something in it, and being a rational person I deduced it was either a bird which had fallen down the chimney, a mouse or giant vampire rat that had done the same, or a Northern White Gator just waiting for someone to open the door so it could snap a bit before easing itself under the fridge.

As I said, we Vermonters are sober, sensible people, so I waited an hour and a half before rationally concluding that it was in fact a bird, and concocting a plan of how to get it out and not let it loose in a house with three cats.

The three now angrily banned upstairs while I test-fitted the tall garbage bag with draw strings in front of the woodstove so I could open the stove through the bag, and the bird would, grateful for fresh air, drop into the bag, and voila! Bob’s your uncle!

It went off perfectly, I bagged the stove, opened the door of stove, bird came out in two seconds and in two seconds more was flying around the kitchen — hitting one window, then across the room to crash against the window on the other side of the house, then residing puzzled on the draining board. It let me get up close with the garbage bag, used like gloves I got it, put it outside on the porch rail.

It cheeped a bit for five minutes, seemed okay and safe, and I went to do something, on return it was gone.

What is the moral of this tale? It has no presidents in it! Whatever this episode might mean to me was gained locally, and with engaged body mind and soul as included factors.

It is just a Vermont Diary entry, and likely more qualified by where one did not put one’s attention, so that ‘just’ is worth a mild emphasis.

Change of Season

It’s been a rough first quarter in many ways down at the community kitchen, Loaves and Fishes. Two long-time members of our group have passed — and some equipment is going the same way.

At 6:30 Friday morning I discovered there was no hot water. Attendance numbers have been at about 350 meals recently, 700 a week, and one dishwashing machine can’t cope with that volume, or quickly enough so most of it is usually done by hand. On Friday we served 368 meals — despite the additional little problem of flames coming out of one of the gas keys on the oven, again.

It may seem like a minor thing but it’s like working with a 1,000lb bomb which is now 80 years old. Recent fundraising has raised most of the money for replacement. The gas and hot water got fixed that morning, and if only the Victorian drainage system would behave, we would be on a better, drier footing.

Meanwhile just before service FoodBank called to say there was a lot of meat we could have, but it has to be now — so we stowed all we could and shared with other groups what we couldn’t.

We lose a few people to other locations in the summer, temporally with vacations, or for the whole time, but the CSA is opening up, and we get fresh greens again.

We still need a few thousand dollars to basically update our hardware to standard. Anyone wishing to donate please drop me a line and I will connect you with our treasurer.

The British Aren’t Coming — Alas

Following a tongue-in cheek April Fools article about Vermont seceding back to England, there has been such a lot of correspondence that I evolved this Baker’s Dozen of Things Which Would Change. It has changed from jokes or whimsical ideas to real ones which look like they would work — they are not all in place in UK, but they work someplace in Europe.

1.Universal health care, not sickness-insurance, paid for by socialized 15% of personal income, and managed by trustees of the contributors.

2.Education: look, if you can’t read to a functional level, or make change out of a buck, recognize major countries on the map, or know whose sides Patrick Henry was on in the right order, then you shouldn’t get a high school diploma — but the state needs intelligent workers so why continue to pay 10 grand a year for duh?!

3.Establishment of the Bernie Dome [illustrated] somewhere midstate, say Dummerston, which would be an exposition center and educational facility for existing and emerging science and technology projects in Vermont for tourists and those who might relocate businesses here, plus natural science studies — on a much larger scale than the goodish I91 Welcome Center in Guilford, and as show-piece for all of Vermont, plus large scale new stuff [see Zero Energy Housing below]

4.Tax-free Marmite! Americans detest this British yeast-extract, but seriously, how about a Commendable Food Program in schools administered by Brit Jamie Oliver who recently took on, to its shame, the entire state of California for a program that not only promotes healthy food, but does not subsidize unhealthy ones at the wholesale level [high fructose corn syrup, massive fats, sugar and salt content, eg] or sell its unhealthy commercial product right there in the cantina of the school?

5.Vermont Prisoners will no longer be incarcerated in Alabama, in off-shore boats, or wherever is cheapest, but will remain in state, unless they prefer a place where Vermonters can’t visit them, and can take out a loan to stay there. Even so, something is wrong with Vermont incarceration which cost 1.5 times as much as other states, including for a low risk woman’s prison.

6.Prisoners to earn an honest wage for their work which will pay 50% of their upkeep [food, lodging, security] as part a Futures Program, see note 10. Prisoners may choose to opt out of this program and join chain gangs down in ‘Bama, if they wish.

7.Vermont will adopt a new constitution called A Bill of Wrongs. Unlike the US Constitution which tells you what you can do, the Vermont Constitution, like the British one, will not presume to rule over anything ‘natural’ which after all, is granted by Government and can be taken away by government, and is in fact unnatural— instead it will tell you what you cannot do, such as kill thy neighbor or scratch his SUV ‘by accident’. The basis of the Vermont Constitution will proceed that way.

8.Prescription for Mary-Jane and other substances will become available on the same medical basis as the current prescriptive and use laws for opiates, codeine, and other significant mood alteration and diminished social responsibility drugs.

9.Women, being 95% responsible, in our time, for raising children, shall be 100% responsible for governing their well being, including of young mothers, children’s education, health considerations for both, including being responsible for determining funding distribution until age 18.

10.The prison population will construct and deploy no less than 5,000 zero-energy modular [expandable] houses per year, along already existing German models, which cost should not exceed a typical 12 year mortgage. This includes low and high tech infrastructural technologies, and mostly deployed to new eco villages in our almost unpopulated state. Unemployed people after 6 months will be offered the same deal of working in this program and guaranteed work and fair pay, and employed to a needed level of requirement by the program and their ability to meet that requirement, or try their luck in Alabama or whoever would take them. This would replace welfare and ‘ragged people’, except for specific medical exemptions that the person could do nothing socially worthwhile.

11.Corporate taxes shall be set at 10% payable to state of Vermont, with no exceptions nor discounts. Individual taxes shall be set at 12.5% with only  one permissible deduction, mortgage interest, which for traditional houses will be 75% of paid interest, and for Vermont Zero-Energy Housing, at 90%. Dividend interest earned by out of state residents shall be taxed at 6.5% deducted at the time of payment.

12.Paid and voluntary security forces in the state will be incremented by a service program which will teach participants to not only shoot straight, but by trained personnel such as may be considered ‘a well-ordered militia’, not by Uncle Joe in the woods after a bottle of Wild Turkey, trying to shoot the bottle afterwards. Additionally participants in this force will also train for emergency deployments, mainly in state, as a first deployment force against disaster, and additionally to surrounding states and accessible countries in dire need. Attack aircraft programs will be discontinued, and evolution of disaster relief training and technologies including their transport encouraged.

13. A tax on all out of state traffic shall be accessed at the borders of the state as a $15 entry fee,  to fund roadways, bridges, policing and other emergency responders — with the exception of those people living elsewhere who work in the state, who can swipe or insert their handy new Vermonty chip card, and pay nothing. The other 35% of Vermont traffic can pay its due share, and if $15 is too much or too little, adjust this entry tax directly against real cost.

Evidently this is neither a left or right polemic but it iis a Vermonty one, and I think now we all know what happens if we do nothing. Nuff said., except to say, who disagrees, and what would you say better?

Spiritual Theft in the Year of the Monkey

It’s been a difficult year to publish this magazine. Many columnists have been angry, enthusiastic and despairing per lunar phase, and writing upon election themes the whole time, and at too considerable a length.

2016 as the Year of the Monkey seems to have fooled even the New York Times who in an article dated as late as October 13th 2016 confidently wrote about what it was going to be like with a female president.

It is as if we as individual citizens had no nous, no power, no other orientation than to give it all up to one pole of the duo — that politicians could do something for us for which our own souls played no part. They stole people’s power, like sly wizards whether of the Bernie, Hillary or The Donald, kind.

Promises made were not only difficult or impossible to achieve, but could sensibly only be achieved by consensus in local communities, and enacted from our very souls — World Affairs have indeed become soul-sized.

Journalists believed everything politicians said, and wrote about it the whole year long, since after all, the news is more entertainment than anything old fashioned like intelligent criticism to inform individual action and the human heart, right?

To give Americans a break, Brits were equally drunk on their enthusiasms, and having got Scottish secession issues completely wrong, nevermind the massive intelligence gathering capability, legal and covert, of the economically sixth biggest power in the world, in 2016 they confidently got Brexit wrong.

Bringing it all back home a recent front cover editorial in the free paper local paper “The Commons” written by a sub-editor opined and led by a pull-quote why the journalist writing the article [his degrees and experience mentioned] should not extend his understanding to the 57,000,000 people who voted in a way he didn’t like. Not exactly a liberal sentiment, is it?

Journalism, if you are going to do it at all, is not about changing opinions to what you personally like, that’s propaganda — though the whole country went for it, forgetting that little thing which can actually make a difference. “Me”.

Can the reader be trusted to make up their own mind? What is lacking is personal contribution and wanting big daddy [with apologies to Hillary] to do it for us. We seem to want a strong leader as much as the Russians do.

If you as a Vermonter became convinced to think that way, whether to the left or right, someone made a Monkey of you. “Polity” means something other than “politics” and if the future of democracy is to be a bio-regional devolved management which admits us by our lights, better get over that 2016 embarrassing investment in Orwellian Great Leaders.

Then re-orient and get on with the real thing which is right in front of our noses. As Kennedy almost put it, “what have you done for your country recently?” That would be a form or basis of nation building very credible at home and abroad, uncheatable, and direct, and very Vermonty. 

Quality of Life

No ovens at the community kitchen Loaves and Fishes this week. Same as last week when we entertained two state senators, a Bernie Representative, the town manager and 20 others who had jurisdiction on the fate of the hungry and homeless. Under a program organized by Sandglass Theater, all these visitors mixed with our clientele with same food, same line, same tables — on Tuesday and Friday on twin colloquia with topics of food security and homelessness… first time in 10 years we had seen any of these folks — and we had one of our two ovens out.

Both local newspapers declined to show up, so I will have to report to you myself.

Our oven is estimated to be 80 years old. True, there were flames coming out of the front, but we got that fixed at expense of current situation where both ovens were gonzo.

We trucked our stuff over to the Senior Center and cooked it there — we have done same for them, but dammit, this is playing light with people’s welfare, no?

I worked for some months with an organizer of these meetings, and described our venue as ‘ground zero for hunger,’ which I am not sure was understood as other than rhetoric, but there really is no more ‘down’ to descend to.

My late friend who I will call Melinda B was Executive Director of the Drop-In center in Brattleboro, and said to me after the visit of a wannabe State Governor that a social worker had said to this fella that they were concerned with people freezing that year.

He turned to an aide and said that ‘we should look into fuel aide,’ whereas the social worker said, ‘Fuel aide for the homeless? We are afraid of them freezing to DEATH,” she emphasized.

At Loaves and Fishes we want to maintain a family feeling, giving our clients a nonintrusive ‘tribe,’ to relate with, a sense of belonging to this community as regular citizens even for a few hours a week.

That’s what it’s about, and even if not always absolute conditions of life and death, certainly it has to do with quality of life, and much of that offsets suicidal tendencies, especially in this season.

Very much these days in our society has to do with a sense of quality of life, eh? When even the well-off wail and the government spends four years on which toilet you can go into.

Words or Deeds

Racism: The guy who comes down our street with his dog talks with me, maybe because of his dog who I spoil rotten with dog cookies, but we have come to talk over the past years, and he was a teacher and now on a diversionary board for ‘troubled-youth’ keeping them out of prison, and we often talk about that, since I have done similar. But he does talk about the election too, and how after 8 years of Obama racism seems worse to him, rather than better. And I suppose we could check that out statistically or something, or we could notice his expert opinion, since he’s black.

Sexism: Following along this trend, the question about electing a woman, is if she will also ‘raise awareness’ of the fact of being female, and will that actual further the cause of females, or shall we see as with Obama and blacks, people coming out of the woodwork to even more openly denigrate females? I think you are more likely to catch my gist if you are a black person.

Nationalism: Orwell remarked in 1944 about the flood of refugee Jews in London, and a rising anti-Semitism with the usual petty scandals such as jumping queues, and so on, but also a pale resentment in the press by those who resent anti-Jewish sentiment. He said it was sad that so many whited sepulchers are writing to The Times resenting anti-Semitism and we must assume the writers have never felt anti-Semitic. Better, he said, if someone who had actually felt anti-Semitic wrote of a change of mind, since then we might learn something.

Realism: From the soup  [or community] kitchen where I work at food security ground zero, I have noticed from the past 18 months collections of people in the community who discuss the homeless and hungry. Rather than paraphrase these speeches from groups of 200 people or more, I merely note that we have no new pans in our kitchen as a result of those conversation, nor anyone from these concerned groups showing up to actually cook in or wash them. Raising awareness of an issue does not necessarily mean anything will happen in terms of the people’s willingness to do other than talk, it does not indicate willingness to actually do work.

Ourselves: The truth is that world affairs are now soul-sized. We cannot have more without than we can admit to ourselves within including democracy, and this could evoke an attitude of service and love for others— a service not to concepts or leaders, but to serve with others as a collective means of attaining a certain form of intelligence, love and light. And some say this is why we are here incarnated as a group in the first place. Displacing that and whining and projecting it onto politicians is unfair, since evidently they cannot lead where people will not commit to go.

As above, if you are a black person, or an aboriginal in your own country, or female, you will understand this more readily. And to these folks, I defer.

Out of the closet

I came under some fire earlier this week for putting up a columnist’s dramatic [though factually true] piece on the plight of Greek refugees. Later in the week there is a widespread furor over the latest outburst by a presidential candidate on the topic of sexual abuse.

The publishing question is whether to vent these subjects of keep them in the closet? Several million women this week have thought the former to be the better course — the best disinfectant being light and air. I don’t want to address that more, but did write to the columnist about the resentment she received in writing what she did, and me for publishing it.

This is what she wrote in reply:—

“Your response clearly demonstrates your comprehension that what is happening to these refugees is horrendous and indeed this emotion filled and dramatic account is written for the express purpose of seeing this from a refugee's point of view.

Indeed when I taught at the University of Connecticut and saw a total lack of empathy in my students who read of terrible things happening on the other side of the world I cut out newspaper articles and said to my students, "Imagine you are one of the persons in this photograph and write what is happening and what you feel."

This specific exercise enabled even a very rich, proud and insulated boy whose family lived in an exclusive community in Greenwich to identify with the perspective of a stranger. That is my intention writing this piece. Simply how would you feel if this were you?”

Fortunately I do not cover the news in the magazine as much as topics which relate to quality of life — much news seems nothing more than shadenfreude entertainment where a peep-show reveals misfortune of others, and the ‘news’ program even celebrates their orientation.

Readers over 45 do not derive their values much from news sources and have slowed down enough to have digested just what qualities that actually produces — and resolved that what aids us lies elsewhere.

Out of time

At around 3 Thursday afternoon my wife told me that she saw on Facebook that my friend Merritt Brown had passed away that morning.

Last night I determined to get in one or two group photography trips and thought of going either to Putney Mountain or The Retreat Ice Pond or down Northfield way where there is an enormous corn-field with swamp and birds beside the Connecticut River.

The odd thing is, instead off all the above, I had done something unusual, gone out early to photograph a place I had perhaps over-photographed — but it was the last place Merritt and I visited together — along with Jeff Lewis.  Merritt had died that very hour.

I even remarked earlier today that in a bird sanctuary how odd not to see nor hear any birds as if the foggy surrounds also rendered the place out-of-time.

He was probably the best landscape photographer in New England, though certainly a most modest man, and we had gone on a half dozen group photo trips I had organized together.

How strange to think of him not being around for more invitations, and I never did get him up to the Retreat ice-pond beyond the ski-jump, and was looking forward to a just-snowed Fall visit.

We did go up Black Mountain last year though, and I’m not sure he had been there before [nor previously to the Hogle where I was this morning] .

I’m just typing now, not quite knowing what to say.

This morning I had not checked my camera as usual, and the battery was showing low when I got there, so I only took a few photos, and then put it away in order to be present in a different way.  Later I wrote, feeling somewhat strange:—

“The last time I was at the Hogle all the vegetation had been cut down so that the funky boardwalk was exposed in its meander. This morning it was more mysterious — and my conceit with this photo was that it was the opening sequence in a film, and soon an actor would emerge walking slowly toward the camera.”

Lots of words to it

A few days ago I joined 199 other people and began discussing Facebook at the invitation of the company. People have all sorts of businesses and differing concerns, but it seems like a wide-open discussion with criticism for and against various features.

Meanwhile the magazine has increased its numbers of readers — and while quantification is not everything in a magazine that has to do with quality, it is nevertheless encouraging.

A few new columns are in the works, and also series of articles by people who want to write more than one essay, but not a continuous regular column.

While page-clicks give you quantities of people reading any article, Facebook offers you a demographic on who is doing the reading, and this is who you are in the aggregate:—

Location: 80% from 50 miles radius of Brattleboro, 20% from NY City and Connecticut

Gender: 54% female

Education: 80% with at least an undergraduate degree

Age: 52

There is a popular Facebook group called ‘Be honest, what books are on your bedside table’ and since my birthday July 8th I have read:—

Gone to Earth by Mary Webb, and author almost unknown in the USA, but a ‘female Thomas Hardy’ writing in the same English vein as Austen and Eliot.

Landmarks by Robert MacFarlane, which has to do with our increasingly lost lexicon for natural things

Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place by Philip Marsden, and gratifyingly set mostly in my native Cornwall, and ending in the Scilly Isles

Which is where the first chapter of WaterLog, a swimmer’s journey through Britain begins, written by one of the original founders of Friends of the Earth, Roger Deakin.

Since that title mentions a little-known spa in the North of England repleat with lido, and also that Iris Murdock set a title there, I am also reading The Philosopher’s Pupil.

Finally, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan is a wonderful anthropology of food, with sometimes less wonderful witness to what we consume as industrial food, contrasted with local, fresh and organic.

Finally, two long audios — All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren and a WWII novel about two French women is the subject of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.

Even more finally, the last two chapters of a new biography of Charlotte Bronte, A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman.

Birthday Boy

Up at 4:45: Strong black coffee then sitting quietly for an hour as usual. Then to the CSA to pick up greens for the soup kitchen where it is 80 degrees with the ovens off at 6:30am. I have 8 trays of mostly meat protein going at 7:30 and by the time anyone else gets in nine-ish its to hand over the shift— I take out defrost for next Tuesday’s meal for 40 kids, 70 adults, and 80 take-outs, and go home.

Better than yesterday when it said 88 with humidity index at 100 [with ovens = off]. You have to look to your fellow workers average age high 60s at this heat and humidity level, if they have a red face; and someone did come in and fall over by cornering too fast in a one person accident. She was okay which is good since she has had a hip replacement. Later she brought me some McVities Dark for my birthday.

Way down there on the background national level, I should note as Dan Shore noted every year what significant things changed for better or for worse. Dan had got into this annual report and always apologized that things really weren’t much better. This year not even Saint Bernie Sanders has made climate change a plank in his agenda. I’ll just say that so that if you are from elsewhere you will get a gleam about how US politics actually works in the world’s greatest polluting state, absolutely and per pop, and how government goes about its business with the people, since if it don’t get you 5% of any constituency, it’s off the menu.

In Europe the Brexit farce continues and it would take a heart of stone not to laugh. In the UK alone, politicians of both parties have self-imploded, and got rid of 30 years of stale rhetoric and ‘plunge in’ brinkmanship politics, such as one might dream of eliminating, and maybe we will get back the liberals such as we had in 1920, when to be liberal meant to have an education and non-partisan. Tony Blair, same age as me, has been censured by Parliament for starting an unnecessary war, and basically as daft as a Bush.

Funniest thing happened on my new cell phone when I got a message from Scott at  Greenfield Toyota thanking me for my visit, and how did his staff do? I didn’t have the heart to message him back and tell him that I have not visited Greenfield Toyota, and maybe his staff need to attend to details?

That’s how it is sometimes and seriously too with Pluto opposite the sun — you have to find your own deep calm and mission, or instead you can be hyper-reactive and go shoot cops as some guy did today with a handy weapon which both sides of the US government recently said you can have as many of as you want.

That’s no tone to end a day with. But it becomes more true that affairs are now soul sized, and that many folk, most folk, are unhappy with mere political leadership and orientations, while religious leadership also seems inert.  Folks want another option to give their lives some view and meaning which they can assess for themselves while retaining their feet on the ground. Not much of that sort of thing in the news — that is still full of the woes of the fag-end of the Piscian era, and must be dealt with before any Aquarian beneficence can shine through on a collective level.

Eat raspberries with ice-cream after dinner.

SHOCK of the Present

I sometimes feel like a latter-day Alaister Cooke explaining Americans to Englishmen, and vice-versa. Here we are called to explain how the 5th largest economy in the world has opted out of the European Union, and that it was a surprise to politicians everywhere, left and right.

Of course, when all the pundits, academics, media and the politicians get it wrong they could be fairly accused of not being in touch with what people want — and in America this is true in respect of Bernie Sanders who has shocked everyone by being tuned into what especially people aspire to in their country and saying it out loud. By ‘everyone’ we mean of course pundits, academic experts, the media and the politicians who have seemed clueless, and unfit to lead in ideas, research, news or actual government.

The British vote to exit Europe was supported by two main factors, people over 55 coming out in unprecedented numbers, and ‘the regions’ being other than London’s conurbation.

People over 55 have observed what effect being in the EU had during their adult lifetimes, and resolved that it was very little in any economic sense or in terms of values, especially to those with less income, that is to say, 80% of people. The regions have always been antithetical to bigger political and economic entities, preferring to press the other way into bioregional devolution from central power, as another ‘surprise to government’ occurred in the Scottish referendum on succession.

Objectively the $500 million dollars Britain invests every week into the EU comes back a few years later after all the applications forms are done and processed as $200 million of mostly regional development help — but that is a net loss of $300 million a week to support other countries. And it was the regions who universally wanted out of this system, hence it was a vote to keep the money in the first place and serve themselves.

Somehow the UK government missed this factor or sought to override it, and in terms of being connected with people’s aspirations proved themselves no more witty than British government over the colonies, as they were. In short, central government has learned nothing in 400 years.

I do not say that what devolutionary people want is necessarily rational, well balanced, nor deeply thought out, but I think it is fair to say that Government’s policy suffers the same criticism by continuing the status quo. It is after all only 2% of Britain’s GNP.

Best thing for Prime Minister Cameron and successors to do is to not ‘save’ that investment, but invest it county by county, and region by region, as if to actually ask people in the counties once every year, “you get $500 million dollars this week, how would you like to spend it?”

That the US Government has been broken by partisanship these past dozen years is hardly a matter of dispute, and no one thinks that that is exactly the right forward model to represent an entire continent, whereas in our state, Vermont, we are outvoted by single cities by a factor of 15 to 1 and thus invoking the infamous phrase ‘tyranny of the majority.’

Who here, for example, wants to be ruled by the sensibilities of LA or New York City? I think that is how Brits have felt these past 35 years of experiment in the nebulous European Union. Why this fact should be ‘surprising’ is unclear.

US Politics for Forns from Yurp [part deux]

I tried to write an explanation of the American election process to an intelligent correspondent in London, she does have a PhD. Now I have another PhD in Holland who asks similar questions.

The plain facts are that ‘Superdelegates’ determine who the American people will be able to vote for in the national election, and that superdelegates are not elected.

Superdelegates are chosen by a political party, themselves not elected, and decide often a year before any other candidate even enters the race for that party who they will vote for.

To say this system is profoundly undemocratic is to use too many words. It is undemocratic.

Even the saint of the liberal left, Elizabeth Warren, with prospective cabinet posts or even the vice-presidency in view, is a superdelegate, even though ‘she does not like superdelegates’ she can in effect vote for her own prospects. Even though she doesn’t like it, she does not resign her superdelegacy. That is how strong the system is, or perhaps Elizabeth Warren is.

I didn’t offer to make sense of the American system, merely report it.

In effect, it is only the will of the people at the national election which will determine the next presidency, and there can be no two candidates from the same side as it were — Bernie Sanders is proscribed from running against Hillary Clinton, for example, even though in consistent poles conducting over the past six months and across the continent, he is likely to fair better contra-Trump than is Clinton for the Liberal cause.

Albeit, the expectation is that he will now give up and throw in his lot with Clinton, even though We, The People, have expressed ourselves democratically in these poles that he is the better chance to beat Trump.

Get it?

Ticks and Tourism

Seems like the word is out.  Southern Vermont is maybe the best place to acquire Lyme Disease than anywhere else in New England or anywhere else come to that, by wondering around the Green Mountains or even the lower valleys.

Just after the civil war Vermont was 80% unforested, but now Southern Vermont is 90% forested, and a stroll in the woods can contact the stroller with winter resistant ticks even ‘off-season’ in February, for example. My own stroll up the West River old railroad track achieved 1 tick attached to my person, two to my pants, and two in my shirt.

Tourism is down in Vermont, they say, because of this and because dogs bathing in Lake Champlain die. The dogs die because of excess run-off ‘product’ in the water. Basically this means effluent or huge quantities of raw shit and fertilizer and antibiotics breading nasty microbes dumped into Champlain, ever since 1960, and complicit with the state’s permit. But ticks are different.

Evidently I am not writing a chamber of commerce style ‘visit us’ message here, and it is rare to meet anyone much who goes into the woods and off the trail around Brattleboro, except they are on bikes.

As above, 140 years ago at the end of the civil war Southern Vermont was 80% unwooded, and contained a vast sheep population which kept it so. The cleared ground permitted a relatively massive amount of ground feeding birds which eat such things as ticks and other chiggers.

I can tell you that 100 feet into the woods there is no bird movement nor bird song these days in these dead woods. And Thoreau would be amazed though not amused. I can also say that I have hardly met a tourist even 100 yards off or on any local trail.

And I think tourists know this, and stick to the hardtop which sensibly leads them to clean all-paved resorts mid-state, entirely passing us by.

Over  the mountain

We received an invitation to visit the joint libraries of some friends, two literature professors, Laura Stevenson and the late Franklin Reeve, up there above Wilmington, Saturday morning, and bring a book bag, since it was Laura’s intend to disperse some 2,500 books into the community — no charge, but no dealers, take a dozen of whatever you like.

The air was spectacularly clear and dry, best day of the year so far, and up there it was so quiet you could hear a distant peak breathing.

I acquired the following:—

Johnson’s Dictionary

A handsome book on the Hudson River painters

A Cornish romance set in Elizabethan times, and

The Badianus Manuscript (Codex Barberini, Latin 241) from the Vatican Library, being An Aztec herbal of 1552, printed in Baltimore in 1940.

I also picked up some CDs;

Jacqueline du Pre’s 5 Beethoven cello sonatas, Barenboim conducting

Vivaldi’s 6 cello sonatas, Pieter Wispelwey

A Gershwin collection, &

A 21 hour audio recording of All the King’s Men [how topical!] by Robert Penn Warren

On the way back we stopped at Hogback Mountain and I could see some 60 miles into Massachusetts clear to Wachusett Mountain, more than half way to Boston.

Then we cut across country to South Newfane and the magic ended — lots of shacks and trailers, and burned shacks and falling-down houses, some lived in some not.

This is still a frontier of sorts in Northern Appalachia where there is both luxury and poverty in the poorest county in a poor state.

Walker’s Farm was open and we bought potting soil, talking of that — The books remind us of other things, to encourage becoming grounded not anyplace but this place.

Is the experiment with Republics now over?

On Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday speculation on the future of the monarchy is all over the media, and it is mostly ho-hum character-based stuff until I heard an academic on the BBC ask for less rhetoric and more fact comparing Monarchies and Republics.

Four of the Five monarchies in Europe are the most egalitarian and progressive countries in the world, he said.  No one could think the United States more egalitarian than any of these — and they are popular too, there is hardly any sentiment to remove these northern European institutions in Britain or in Scandinavia.

On the other hand, yesterday morning I received a call from a friend in Tennessee who spoke of a large campus there which intends to re-institute segregation — not as a wish of White people, but as a wish by Black people. He said that even though the general population was 12% Blacks, the college has 35% blacks, but still wants a White-Free Zone.

Of course this may be seen to be regressive and in the long term even counter-productive, still and yet it is a measure of how some Blacks in TN actually feel, as well as a desire that they determine something about their own environment.

Comparatively, recent pronouncements in the Candidates races have been so racist it is difficult for Europeans to determine what candidates actually said from comedians who satire them — nothing seems too far ‘over the top.’

Therefore, concluded our academic, Monarchies are renewing themselves along with the times, but shall we conclude that the experiment with Republics is now failed?

Weird Wyoming — A letter to England

After ‘Weird-Wyoming’ where Sanders won the majority of the vote, but none of the delegates, a friend from England asked if I could ‘splain the American electoral process — since it wasn’t evident how, despite massive media coverage, anything worked.

“State and local governments run the primary elections, while caucuses are private events that are directly run by the political parties themselves. A state's primary election or caucus is usually an indirect election: instead of voters directly selecting a particular person running for President, they determine the number of delegates each party's national convention will receive from their respective state. These delegates then in turn select their party's presidential nominee.”

In the UK this was called the ‘Baronial System’ in the 1400s and a stolid feature of middle-feudalism, and in the US it is not clear to me how the precedent was established by:—

Delegates to the national convention were usually selected at state conventions whose own delegates were chosen by district conventions. Sometimes they were dominated by intrigue between political bosses who controlled delegates; the national convention was far from democratic or transparent. Progressive Era reformers looked to the primary election as a way to measure popular opinion of candidates, as opposed to the opinion of the bosses. In 1910, Oregon became the first state to establish a presidential preference primary, which requires delegates to the National Convention to support the winner of the primary at the convention.

This Anomaly remains, and includes:—

The impetus for national adoption of the binding primary election was the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention. Vice President Hubert Humphrey secured the nomination despite not winning a single primary under his own name.


The term "superdelegate" itself was used originally as a criticism of unpledged delegates. Political commentator Susan Estrich argued in 1981 that these delegates, who at the time were predominantly white and male, had more power than other delegates because of their greater freedom to vote as they wish. The Democratic Party in particular has faced accusations that it conducts its nominating process in an undemocratic way, because superdelegates are generally chosen without regard to their preferences in the presidential race and are not obligated to support the candidate chosen by the voters.

Therefore it is found in my investigation that a person may become president after not winning any state’s majority vote who prefer them to other candidates.

In other words, this was same as the electoral basis to Parliament in England circa 1400-1800, including ‘rotten boroughs’ etc.  It is difficult to find the reason why the system exists at all in the US without going back to the conflicted Hamilton and Madison, who wrote the Federalist Papers against political factions, and ended up being the core leaders in this partisanship.

Starting with the 1796 election, Congressional party or a state legislature party caucus selected the party's presidential candidates — and that is to say, without obligation to what is normally termed democracy, or the selection by a majority of voters.

In summary: citizens vote only for delegates who are not obliged in any way to represent their wishes. This is called ‘democratic’ only inasmuch as voting goes on. The current issue has arisen around Bernie Sanders, even where he has a huge predominance of votes representing wishes of citizens, ‘barons and bosses’ even in his own state have decided otherwise even before any candidate spoke a word to We the People.

The net result is that Americans never select the ‘issues’ they wish pursued, neither do they select the president who pledges to pursue them.


This is a note sent to columnists and frequent contributors to the magazine — I am not a secretive person, although understand privacy, so might as well share with readers, methought.

As those of you know who have been with the magazine a long time I put out a quarterly newsletter to columnists and frequent contributors about every 15 months, or 5 quarters — the learned term for this periodicity is not known to me, ‘quintish?’


Sometimes these messages are general, which is to say boring, but otherwise they are full of topical goings on, which is to say, even more boring, but often relate to copyright, libel and similar things upon which we may all choke whether about lawyers or paucity of readers.


I know I have buried the lead, but the main topic this time is Election Season, which is a two year period here in the US, or continuous, as it were. It is likely though not certain that contributors to and readers of the magazine will be a tad to the left of Donald Trump — even so, if you spell his name Drumpf then this is a bit contentious to those who are more middling and will not read another word after that one, and same as to lawyers. I say this equitably, and mean no offence to anyone, especially since I am the seeming hypocrite who recently essayed on ‘General von Trump.’ Mine is acceptable satire, name-calling or changing otherwise is not, and not just as a ‘house style’, but in law.


On a similar libelous note, if you contribute an unprovenanced photo with no attribution then I do not understand if there is a © copyright ‘issue’ with it, and saying ‘found it on the internet’ is no defense for me or you.


New Topic: My studies reveal that people will generally read about 650-750 words from a screen, so that if you send in 2,000+ words and don’t get to the point before word 1,000, which I suggest is a maximum, you will not be read to any degree of comprehension. I know that is pathetic attention span, and also know that several of you could well be writing for print product as in the New Yorker Magazine with 5,000 word essays. Even so, it seems worth pointing out should you wish to retain your reader’s attention.


Certainly we may go long, but in digestible pieces for the reader to take in — my breaking an article into 2 x 1,000 word essays is not quite the same as if you design the two halves yourself.


Finally of all, as President Clinton used to say, the magazine is stable in circulation and doing fine! Readers appreciate and applaud it for its focus on a quality of life orientation rather than news, and from mature reader comment which averages 52 years of age, it is presumptively the opposite of hype and propaganda that people appreciate, and such an approach is, they say, rara avis, and thank you! Thank us! Of course, people do not read the magazine because I publish it but because you write it! You write in a bio-regional cultural magazine, with supplementary notes of planetary focus, such as the positively causal and parochial ‘as here so we are everywhere’ statement of human consciousness, plus a little charred & oakened fruit from your well digested wisdom becoming your age, with additional hint of rat at back of throat, as they would say in fancy wine journals.


Stand by for more paternal publishing and unfortunately legal sermonizing in less than 600 words, though I had to sweat it, and more on that sometime later in 2017.

PC, euphemisms, including death and toilets

I have recently been taken to task for the title of a popular column ‘Passages’ where my correspondent insists this only means death rather than a passage of literature, say of Shakespeare or from the Bible, but not of any living person.

There were two big Victorian taboos which we still evidently struggle with, one about bodily functions, and the second about their cessation.

Let’s stay with living bodies for the moment and the contortions we go through about wiping our backsides. In England mention of such things has been taboo for 100 years, even the place where we do them, such as to refer to the place as the ‘water closet’ but never so directly! That became the W. C.

In America we have substituted the toilet for ‘bathroom’ which often contains no bath, and employ ‘bathroom tissue’ which even savvy Europeans do not immediately understand, since what has a bath to do with a toilet?

We actually say toilet paper, but such words cannot be printed above supermarket isles, lest they… what?

As to ‘passages’ referring only to death ‘issues’ one can understand a need to soften such an event in an immediate and public pronouncement, but in plain-speak someone is dead if you are referring to end of life, otherwise try Google-ing passages and see what comes up. 

And ‘issues’ is a verb which euphemistically we use otherwise since we can’t allow ourselves to say that we mean ‘problems’ itself a euphemism since we might be considered ‘judgmental’ which is a terrible crime these days, but actually intending a diminished judgment or lack of trustworthy performance, right?

Couple pointers for President Trump

First one, frankly, is about these generals. My father came home from 6 years in WWII with 3 medals. These were called ‘theatre medals’ and were for Northern Convoys [to Murmansk, Russia], another for Pacific Theatre round about the Philippines trawling for mines, and thirdly, so I understand, for suffering the attentions of forward Australian women on Bondai Beach, Australia.

But these generals, Donald, they got a chest-full of stuff and most of em look too young to have been even in Vietnam. I don’t mind a medal or two, but let those in actual combat have em, right? My father was sunk twice, BTW, and you got no medals for that in the Royal Navy in 1943.

The other thing, can I call you Don? is about David, the NSA, and Homeland Security.

David, or someone like him from Indian call centers, has made some 400+ calls to my house about my Windows operating system, except I don’t actually use that product, and am on a ‘do not call’ list, and here’s the dang thing of it all — if monitoring phone systems can’t pick up on this obviously profitable scam from overseas, what confidence should we have that NSA or Homeland are picking up on any dang thing at all? How about a bit of show and tell, Don?

Answer me these things First Person Donald since they are both significant; the first is about some people acting superior to others in an ostentatious way but don’t deserve it — whether it’s money or straight out authority, and the second is about the competency of publicly funded multi-billion dollar agencies who do squat about actual tangible basic homeland security that would be evident to We, The People.

Catching my drift? Do these two things first Donny boy, then I got a couple more things about what are both honorable and secure from the citizen’s point of view.

It’s not a long list, about a dozen really, and to tell you the truth I stole eight of them from Jefferson who perceived not the immediate republic, more the potential one, and one which any Republican or Democrat too might like to see actually deployed in the body politic.

Flight Path Options

That’s the half joking topic of conversations around town if General von Trump gets in — which way to flee? Australia is OK but you have to be a millionaire, and of other English speaking countries England is closed even to an English persons’ foreign spouse! So, it’s Canada people are talking about.

The other possibility than getting out of the country, is to stay put, and put Vermont out of the country. People actually like this idea but also say it is impractical. It might be useful going forward to get used to the general realm of ideas associated with it.

A brief look at Secessionist movements in the US reveals this:—

A 2008 Zogby International poll found that 22% of Americans believed that "any state or region has the right to peaceably secede and become an independent republic." A 2014 Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 23.9% of Americans supported their state seceding from the union if necessary; 53.3% opposed the idea. Republicans were somewhat more supportive than Democrats. Respondents cited issues like gridlock, governmental overreach, the Affordable Care Act and a loss of faith in the federal government as reasons for secession.

The Declaration of Independence says this:—

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

In Vermont there is an active movement to secede:—

Vermont: The Second Vermont Republic, founded in 2003, is a loose network of several groups that describes itself as "a nonviolent citizens' network and think tank opposed to the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S. government, and committed to the peaceful return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic and more broadly the dissolution of the Union." Its "primary objective is to extricate Vermont peacefully from the United States as soon as possible." They have worked closely with the Middlebury Institute created from a meeting sponsored in Vermont in 2004. On October 28, 2005, activists held the Vermont Independence Conference, "the first statewide convention on secession in the United States since North Carolina voted to secede from the Union on May 20, 1861". They also participated in the 2006 and 2007 Middlebury-organized national secessionist meetings that brought delegates from over a dozen groups.

A Concluding Note: It is not necessary to go along with any of these groups to feel a need for self-determination, and the questions are — what bases should there be to make a decision, within the state and without it?

Featuring the numbers 7, 40, 911, 12, respectively.

At 7am dropped off soup to the soup kitchen and on the way there saw a Buick with no lights on doing at least 40 on Main Street.

Later on the way to the Coop I saw a lady keel over near the Latchis — stopped the car, saw she was bleeding copiously from the face and had an egg-sized bump on her forehead. My wife called 911 who arrived from the FD and from Rescue proper in just a few minutes.

Then I gave a guy who had asked a ride to the hospital.

On the way home back on Main by the Post Office I stopped to let an elderly gent with a walking stick cross the road at a marked crossing and he was half way across when a big SUV with NY plates almost ran him over. I blew my horn which may have had some effect on the result — though the SUV carried straight on, oblivious.

Anyway, spectator adrenalin still going, it was good to get home and away from the sleepwalkers. Something of a 12th house day, as we say.

It’s not snowing yet, but I am going to do some cooking and finish listening to Archer Mayor’s audio recorded book “Second Mouse” [available from The Brooks when I don’t have it] which will seem far less … you know. A little no’theasta is coming in, but this was all before the snow.

Paint, peeling

I understand why Garrison Keeler says ‘it has been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone’, that is to say, quiet but not always insignificant, though usually. To stay on that parochial subject a moment, some years ago it was thought he would move here to Brattleboro, maybe broadcasting the ‘home’ show from the Latchis Theater, rather than from the twin-cities or from the towers of Manhattan.

I do like his show, albeit, as one critic said, ‘be it ever so white’ and our national interest in Norwegian farmers is somewhat over-estimated.

I wonder why there is not a more sustained exploration of non-white non-Norwegian farmer culture on National Radio? I emphasize ‘national.’  There is nothing wrong with Norwegian farmers that I know of, except if that’s the only thing reported and all people are indeed interested in Norwegian farmers, you’d think this would go over well wouldn’t you, considering our sustained and mutual interest in Norwegian bachelor farmers, and except considering I just addressed more than half the nation who are not represented on ‘national’ radio, like presumably the white folks who really dig this stuff.

Anyway — here in Lake Brattleboro it has been a quiet week. The paint is peeling off the walls of the cop-shop, the fire department too, and that is as much excitement as there was to be had, according to the newspapers. Except it’s going to cost $14million to fix it, they say, to a town of 12,000, less than half of whom pay town taxes.

The closing Nuke down the street with millions of decommissioning dollars, doesn’t seem to recognize the first response town of Brattleboro has had in their support in disbursement of their monies, or is that to do with the State of Vermont who are leaving us to fend ourselves?

I like the cops and the firefighters and even a fair amount of Norwegian bachelor farmers, but come on, where is there any dialogue about the poorest county in Vermont, a state itself pretty poor?

There has never been much middle ground here between halves and have-nots, and I suppose we are as romantic a prospect to outsiders as you can afford — labor is cheap, for example.

One sign of how well things are is that we as an aging population see our kids get out of here as soon as they can.

There are possibilities in our community to claim a culture not evident elsewhere, even so, you must consider from your 22-year old self if you buy into it or no — and as well as the exodus of young people, volunteers are also in decline in all the decisive compartments; like Fire department, like soup-kitchens.

It is not free to live here and enjoy the resources. You have to do something more than write letters to the newspaper.

The British aren’t coming

I asked my daughter born in the Highlands of Scotland if she could become POTUS since she has an American mother — despite having a British father?

The answer is obscure, and rather than cite Mr. Trump here instead is Lawrence Tribe the Harvard law professor and constitutional scholar, who believes the “natural born” provision has outlived its original intent considering that the redcoats are no longer coming. [captioned, incidentally, is Brit Idris Elba not Lawrence tribe]

“The worry that George III might come over and exert undue British influence is no longer a threat, the clause in the Constitution. It really needs to be removed.”

I note that the following US lawmakers were also not born in the USA


Senator Michael Bennet Democrat of Colorado


Representative Don Beyer Jr., Democrat of Virginia


Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas


Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado


Representative Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois


Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut


Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii*


Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California*


Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York


Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona


Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina


Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida*


Representative David Rouzer, Republican of North Carolina


Representative Raul Ruiz, Democrat of California*


Representative Albio Sires, Democrat of New Jersey*


Representative Norma J. Torres, Democrat of California*


Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland

* Denotes citizenship by naturalization.

Weeding out the truth about It

Local representative Jeanette White has come out in favor of legalizing It, since, she says, she can’t see any way to stop It. It is not such a problem as heroin in our state, though she doesn’t mention legalizing that too — but let’s stay with It for the moment and take a little survey about social, not private, use of It.

The school bus driver smokes one before setting out to collect your kids on a particularly icy morning to deliver them to school — okay with you?

The fire chief after a long night goes home and on his own time wants to relax and has a joint — okay with you?

After dinner the town manager smokes some Mary-Jane from a tin in his kitchen, and it will be a tough day ahead, big financial presentation to Selectboard tonight involving millions of dollars on the new fire/police station — okay with you?

A person in a foodservice had a toke or two at lunch, will relaxed inhibitions effect hygiene for customers? — okay with you?

The substitute teacher at the High School knows its going to be a hell-day with 12th grade, and to calm herself down has a pipe of It before the class — okay with you?

A driver smokes a joint because he is tense about a medical outcome and before heading north to the hospital at Dartmouth in February, on I91 has a single-car accident after sliding off the road by going too fast. The driver tells his insurance company the damage was due to black-ice, not that they were going too fast. The insurance company declines to pay because of marijuana use — okay with you?

Back to the top, a school bus driver...

A shrink wrote in the papers relatively recently that marijuana is much stronger than it used to be, and, medical usage apart, there are concerns about the discrimination of those taking It. There was no substantive response.

I have asked what you really think about people who are stoned acting in the public sphere. Any of those examples above okay with you? Just the school teacher, right?

A strange accounting

Another good old end of year wrap-up? Not. No great achievements, high notes, or significant whatevers mentioned. Instead a bit more down to earth and here-and-now, in the Brattle-hood.

First thing was I went to buy Brussels sprouts this morning and they were the sorriest  looking things you ever saw; ‘rescue sprouts’ I thought. Okay after de-leafing but, bunch of work.

At home, a knock at the door, and a neighbor offering me really good looking ones from her garden.

Then there was another neighbor visiting just as I was chopping up the last piece of kindling from his attic  — therefore, kindling from 1850 — with another big bag of the same stuff.

Back in the kitchen I am trying out some salt-pork for the soup kitchen, never cooked with it before.  And it happens, after you render it, to go very well with Brussels sprouts.

I know this is all less exciting than reporting on deaths-by-police in 2015 in the USA, all 1,130 of them. Thank heavens The Guardian UK are keeping track, since the FBI admit they don’t have a clue.

But enough of that — there is nothing I can do to effect the death-toll, but I can cook, and to adapt a title from a columnist, Cooking is Love in Action. There is always a strange accounting to combating what ails us, whether to emphasize and combat the real but negative habits of society, or to work the other side, and do things which bring people together respectful of their incarnations and our host planet.

Best seems like an intelligent sense of both — and this, thanks for reading this far — is likely the greatest ode to salt-pork yet written in the known universe.

Come to think of it

Discussing climate change with green architect Keith Dewey this week I proposed that anyone seeking to hold national office and determine environment factors for the rest of us, should take a simple test based on cause and effect in nature [or science].

I mean, if immigrants need to quote chunks from the bible as was recently suggested by a presidential candidate, how about politicians needing to quote chunks from 9th grade science?

Come to think of it, men who wish to pronounce on female reproductive systems should be required to attend STORK 101

People who blame Mexicans, Moslems or Moroccans for practically everything, should take the Psychology course PROJECTION 101

As for running the economy, senators, congress-persons, aspirants for the presidency, should prove they can run a LEMONADE STAND [at a profit, with no bail-out]

These are all generally referred to in educational realms as ‘competency testing’.

Notes from underground.

It was a strange realization today that Vermont Health Connect was being administered out of India.

Strange in two ways — the first was that the person we spoke with had to be asked twice what she said every time she spoke for 45 minutes, having not enough English pronunciation to make herself understood.

The second thing being why Vermont did not choose to employ Vermonters to do the job instead of outsourcing our healthcare to another country at least if this is a minimum wage job, some Vermonter might be able to afford it.

I doubt there will be any response to this plaint from any source, other than that people from India are cheaper to employ, and cheap is the same ‘ol Black, no?

This happened before — when I was getting calls to vote for Peter Shumlin for Governor, they were coming from Alabama, and I could pretty much understand the speech on many occasions, but also wondered why Vermonters should have their politics outsourced to the third world?

You catching my drift?

It was a sober day. Except at the library when someone who attends the soup kitchen breathed fumes over me at 11:30am but had no conversation really — just sought acquaintance in public— at least this was understandable.

Then there was Adolf Trunk, the politician, braying out his ‘racial’ ignorance to the nation and getting absolutely top spot for it in all national and international media.

My letter about feeding the hungry did show up in The Commons in local media this week, saying that we expect little from all the column inches devoted to hunger and homeless to actually have practical effect at our kitchen where we actually feed ‘them’.  Or say when.

But this was not at all what my day was like, this was mere contact with ‘society’, and it might rain later.

Hunger’s Ground-Zero in Our Town

The Commons weekly newspaper’s letters page was flooded this week with the plight of the homeless and hungry. This is a good attention — and I am happy to inform any reader of the state of ground-zero hungry in Brattleboro.

In the four years I have been working at one of the two community kitchens in town we have seen two politicians attend us, both at election time, then not seen them again. We have never seen a select-board person, nor a journalist. We did once have a professor from SIT who stood around with a clipboard until I asked her how she herself would like that?

Anyway, this is the real deal about who actually does what. Cooks show up at 7 am. Support staff typically around 9. We obtain food from Foodbank to which all local supermarkets contribute, The Coop, Hannafords, Price Chopper and Aldi’s.

We do not always know what we will get in advance, so the meal plan is on about a 10 day sched. when it is not on an hour to hour sched.

Bridget’s Kitchen is our sister organization providing a similar service, but at Loaves and Fishes we also provide for a day-care center of about 30-some kids, their families and their teachers, and with take outs the daily demand is about 175 meals.

This number is not going south but seems to be increasing, un-dramatically but certainly by about 5% a year in round numbers.

Thing is, when you write so much in the newspaper about hungry people, nothing much happens at our end – not more food, nor more equipment, nor more volunteers. Did I mention that average volunteer age is high sixties? And since there are few media reports on folks who can put in 15 hours a week, you should know we receive no pay either.

You will then appreciate that our 7am conversations in the kitchen do not reside on fantasy scenarios of things radically changing for the better, our exchanges are not in the least cynical, and err on the side of sensible expectation.

We all show up to give people as healthy a meal as we can, and also as a reprieve to them from being a 2nd class citizen on the street, to someone who can feel of themselves they are part of our society — at least for an hour.

This is not nothing.

This entirely unofficial communication from our kitchen is to encourage not as much talk about hunger or ‘action plans’, but acknowledgement to what is already being done in our community, which was not so much mentioned in the letters column. I mention this not as much to seek sympathy, or even funding, though if you feel moved, should prefer the latter — but to explain the circumstances and orientation of those we serve and the basis from which we do so.

On Aggression

Someone wrote that Konrad Lorenz’s title was the most important book of the C20th — the century of world wars and genocides. Essentially Lorenz said that in nature’s kingdom aggression was by no means unhealthy, in fact the opposite and entirely necessary. When animals engaged in ritual displays over territory, it prevented over feeding of any one locale, with reef fish and with deer for instance.

Switching to ex World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov, he asked in a leader in the Financial Times, ‘what legitimate outlet does American youth have for its aggression?’ Apart from Halloween and the football team, there were few answers.

Both Lorenz and Kasparov were warning that if the ‘ritual’ aspect of aggression was removed, actual conflict takes place. Our culture seems ever shocked by fact, but rarely shocked enough to do anything about it.

Rather than talk about events in France directly, if we keep it at home, last night a statistic for the year went over 1,000 — that is, of people killed by the police in the US. A contrast with the UK with 1 death occasioned by police, and with France at about ten times more killed than the recent shootings in Paris.

A great majority of these people killed by police are black, putting the question to the ‘Do Black Lives Matter’ slogan, answering it by ‘not as to worth mentioning,’ by American media. My report comes from The Guardian UK.

To employ the normal euphemism, more than 10% of these police deaths are ‘questionable’ which is about the same number killed by terrorists in France.

Something wonderful just happened

This is not about politics, this is about a fellow who, in the middle of a TV debate which resembled a last-five scenario from Survivor, rescued the whole mess from the mercies of CNN.

He did it by being, by letting his humanity come before anything else. He simply said, ‘never mind the e-mails, what about the policies?’

It was immediately evident that the press hated him for saying this because, they have been concentrating on the e-mails and other trivia for months, and because the ‘Survivor’ panel of journalists tried to bring about divisiveness among the applicants for office.

What Sanders did was not male gallantry — it was obvious that he would have done the same if the e-mails were from a man. He threw away a large political advantage in half a dozen words. He didn’t achieve it with any sophistry of speech or cleverness.

He achieved it by being a decent human being. Nevermind what your politics are, this is the first statesman-like action I have witnessed in any of the campaigns so far.

Takes the air out of those who mumble about fellow travelers, and makes you glad you are a fellow Vermonter.



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Phil Innes

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