Out of control police riot. This looks like the St. Charles county SWAT team. What are they doing there? I looked up the county web site, and Ferguson is not in St. Charles. St. Charles demographics: over 90% white.
Another police car I spotted in a vid was Maryland Heights. This is a mostly white suburb. So these white communities have sent their cops into that area. It looks as if they are operating with impunity, ignoring the Governor and the State police.
They sure don't want the press seeing what they are doing. But how can they get away with it? Anyone with a smart phone can take a video and upload it in seconds and it will be all over the Internet. Look at the information I can get sitting here in my office in Hawaii.
Puna has enjoyed its "15 minutes of fame." Mary's electricity is back on, and a semblance of normality is returning to Puna. But that would be Puna normal, which is not like Hilo normal, let alone Mainland normal.
To this I add my observation that the pose of independence out there is spurious, because it's all based on cheap gas, and, for many, large helpings of denial about the actual situation. True everywhere, of course, but so blatantly true down there.
Puna is the absolute model of the kind of destruction that climate change is bringing. As Naomi Klein says:
You know, The Shock Doctrine, my last book, ends with climate change. It ends with a vision of a dystopic future where you have weak infrastructure colliding with heavy weather, as we saw with Hurricane Katrina. And rather than working to prevent future disasters by having lower emissions, you have all these attempts to take advantage of that crisis.
Look how fast the politicians came in to get those photo ops for the press! I suppose the attention is important, but there will be no long-lasting positive benefits coming out of this. The public money is not available to fix things up anyway. And the big money people are not interested in Puna and never will be.
Terry has been working hard, putting things back together around here. I can't help much, because I can't do heavy work. I lifted a big sack of cinder on Saturday and was very tired the next day from the exertion. Bummer. Heavy lifting is just out, and I should have known better.
We're kind of stubborn, not wanting to hire housecleaners and yard workers, because we have seen how indolent retirees can get when they don't do their own work. I'm lazy enough as it is! But I also get annoyed with the trivia and make-work of people who might just as well look after their own stuff.
Repaired fence with fern that fell on it straightened up.
Path with broken limbs removed
Orchid house in order but in dire need of weeding and with avocado tree branch leaning on it.
Tree trimmed. We will leave it this way until after the breadfruit harvest.
We harvested a big breadfruit, which I cooked and treated like potato, and I made a salad that was excellent, with mayonnaise, relish, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, red bell pepper and onion. This tree provides a lot of calories, as does the avocado tree. I think we will have to remove the limb that fell on the shade house from the avocado tree, though. Maybe we can prop it up.
The times they are a changing. Climate change deniers, take note!
A lot of rich people have places here and the locals speak of these successful men in reverent tones. Friend Mary informs me that the lakes in Michigan where she just was have similar houses right on the shoreline. The amount of speedboat racing, water skiing, jet-ski and motorized traffic on the lake make this a great recreational area.
Robert, my brother in law's friend, said, as he drove us around in his speedboat, that they used to have excellent fishing and hunting here not so long ago, but he did not seem to make the connection between these activities and the loss of wildlife. Not casting the first stone, you understand, because I think I'm as big an environmental sinner as anyone, although hunting wildlife and depriving them of habitat are not my thing. This, after all, is a man's world. These men would not even know who they were if they could not hunt, fish, drive big rigs, dirtbikes, motorcycles and motorboats, and so on. Any protest, especially from women, is futile and regarded as an assault on masculinity around them there parts.
If I didn't travel as much as I do I would not grasp the scale of destruction. One person sitting in one place can't be aware of how much is being lost. But, as I asked Robert, "Where are the birds? Where are the fish?" He ignored my question of course. But it sure was fun being out on the water on that boat! Seize the day!
Payette was quite a contrast to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, where they are so careful to protect the environment. This all could be done at Payette too, although much has been lost and will never return.
McCabins on the Lake:
Maybe it is time to get more serious about environmentalism. Terry contributes to the Sierra Club and a couple of other similar organizations. My fantasy of public works and parks preserving the natural world is just that, because private interests own virtually all of the assets today, the ratio being seven to one, according to Pikkety. Perhaps we affluent people are the problem. That's a scary thought. Mary always says it is too many people in the world, but I think a huge problem is overconsumption by us consumers in the rich countries, which also sets the tone for the aspirations of people in developing countries. It really is a weak argument to say they should do without things we enjoy.
Many years ago I visited the Czech Republic, where the environment had been destroyed by dirty industry. The Moldau was filthy. As we came back into Germany, it was only then that I noticed the birds around and thought,"We did not see any birds in Czech!" I wonder what it's like now, if they have been able to clean up and restore things. We are aware of the filthy air and drabness in China, but a lot of pretty places, like McCall, are a lot more damaged than they seem to be on the surface.
And this specimen of wildlife does not like it. Some kind of squirrel, I believe, that I spotted in McCall.
Well, I feel so ambivalent about all this! We just ordered one of those counter top ice machines from Wal-Mart! That is really low of us to help further enrich the Walton family. However, Amazon wanted a lot more for the same machine, and Costco does not carry this line of small, cheap ice makers at all.
Puna folks are not renowned for their common sense, alas. They are more lovable than wise. But they are good at hanging in there when things get tough. Big problems are absentee ownership and lots of poorly maintained properties overgrown with invasive species of plants and often full of junked cars and other such trash. The towering albezias caused most of the damage. There are some nice properties and neighborhoods down there, but lots of it is (to be blunt) a rural slum. And the infrastructure is minimal everywhere. Puna folks need to come to Hilo for basic services, often traveling miles over dirt roads and the two lane highways out of the subdivisions. They complain constantly about the traffic jams their vehicles create. They really really need their own services, but all they have is their cars, relatively cheap gas, and the chance to spend hours of their lives driving around. I suppose we should be grateful for the WalMart and other big box stores on the other side of Hilo from us, but it seems that people always come into town anyway, because it's so boring to live out there in the middle of nowhere and they need some stimulation. Well, they are getting all the stimulation they need right now! This is not even to mention the people who work in the resort areas and in town here, people like my yoga teacher who has no electricity which means no water and being unable even to flush her toilet. To be fair, this area has never before in recorded history been directly hit by a tropical storm. This is certainly due to climate change, so we can expect more of this. The mountains prevent direct hits from a hurricane on the Big Island, but a tropical storm like this in an area not prepared for it has caused a tremendous amount of damage. When we were looking for real estate here originally we toyed with the idea of living down in Puna, but we felt it was too risky. And now we have a worst case scenario to show that we were right. Not that Hilo is all that safe, of course! But at least we are close to the airport, doctors, government services and so on. It is downright unsafe to live in Puna now, I think. Just the stress is a killer, especially for elders, and a lot of people came to live there in the 70's and are now old. Also many retirees have been lured down there by the chance to live cheaply in Paradise. But it's no bargain when things like this happen.
Well, busy day ahead. So much going on, everywhere. What ever happened to those lazy summer days?
People are helping each other as best they can, but the disaster is huge, and it's only now, when the news crews have left and the excitement has died down, that we understand what a long slog to recovery it will be for this island, in particular for Puna. So many of us have been living high on the food chain, so to speak, and, as long as my metaphors are so bad, I might as well say that the chickens have come home to roost.
Puna residents have only the most minimal services, and now what feeble infrastructure they do possess is in awful shape. They have tended to think of themselves as tough and independent rather than isolated and underserved. They are a pretty resilient bunch, I would say, but bouncing back from this blow will not be easy.
Terry has got the front yard looking OK again, but we will have to trim branches away from the breadfruit. Then we will look at the backyard. We bought a fig tree as a promise to the future that we will stay here and continue to thrive.
Tomorrow will be a day with visitors from the Mainland (!), and Mary will be showing up, too, from Puna, to take a shower and maybe do a load of wash. No electricity for her for a couple of weeks more, it would appear. She was off island during the storm, as were we. She came home to a disaster: a freezer full of spoiled meat and a closet that her cat peed in. We have a generator, but she does not want to take it, because there is so much theft now. Lots of prowlers at night. There have always been strange people wandering around the area, and much poverty, but now it's getting scary.
People have lived in reasonable harmony down there, many of them for years, but something about this disaster is different. Resources are scarcer than ever, and people are getting more frightened and losing patience. I hope everyone can stay calm and together. I'm worried enough about all of this, and I'm not even down there in the worst of it.
It does help that U.S. Senator Schatz and U.S. Congresswoman Hanabusa are in Puna now, helping out. Yes, it's politics, but some indication that public officials care is very important. I will donate money to United Way through the local bank. In truth, once the electricity is back on everywhere, things will be a lot better.
Be that as it may we are going down to Pahoa in Puna to Paulo's Bistro on Saturday night. Downtown Pahoa has electricity. But thinking about how people live down there, and how iffy the situation is, has always worried me, and now this. I keep asking myself, "What would really help?" Things don't seem to be getting better here or anywhere.
ISIS now controls Fallujah and Mosel and (evidently) large portions of Baghdad and is moving into the oil fields to the south. Erbil, which the big oil people thought was perfectly safe and the centerpiece of American success in Iraq, will probably be overrun. These ISIS people are totally evil, murderous creeps, crazy religious fanatics who are the enemies of every value people like me hold dear. As Cockburn says, we backed them up in Syria against Assad, but we oppose them in Iraq. Not because they are horrible, mind you, but because they threaten our economic interests in the area. Our foreign policy is just a joke at this point. Hillary Clinton is right about that, if for the wrong reasons.
In the meantime, here at home, people are switching off, and who can blame them, especially when you consider the garbage the mainstream media offer the masses for consumption?
More on our road trip: We drove through miles and miles of cattle ranches in Idaho, seemingly endless vistas of hamburger on the hoof. In Washington, I saw the biggest monocrop situation I have ever seen: rolling fields of wheat, now being harvested. This is where most of our food comes from, this kind of agriculture, and it's a massive operation. As we approached Ellensberg, Washington, we saw the huge fire near there. It was brutally hot. And parched, extremely so, even for this normally dry area.
Our breadfruit tree is in front. It lost branches from the middle.
Most of the damage was in the back, which seems strange, because it would seem to be more sheltered than the oceanside.
A lot of pots and hanging orchids got knocked down. The orchids were all OK, though, since they were firmly potted.
An avocado branch fell on the shade house.
Fence blown over.
We did a lot of cleaning up yesterday. It really isn't that bad, considering our exposed location and the number of trees and plants we have. The worst damage was from albesias in Puna and from storm surge in Kapoho.The albesias blocked roads and knocked over power poles. Houses in Kalapana were pushed off their lots and buried under rubble. The National Guard and relief organizations are doing a fine job, but still the problem down there remains: it's isolated, lacking in services, and growing at a very fast pace--and prone to every kind of natural disaster. And planting huge towering trees on lava or building your house on a beach are not wise things to do.It's so seductive: your own Paradise, until something like this happens. It is the clearest example of the situation we are all in: we live at the mercy of Mother Nature and flaut her rules at our peril.
How can we find the balance, I wonder? We all depend on the amenities of civilization. But we are proliferating everywhere and producing enormous amounts of trash and using up non-renewable resources at an accelerating pace. I was frankly appalled at how careless people were in Idaho about recyling, for instance. But who am I to judge? I can conserve until the cows come home, but still I use up my brownie points with all the air travel I do. Every time I go to get my blood taken the technician uses a new needle and tube. Today I will benefit from all the brand new equipment that my endodontist will use to fix my tooth. I am 75 and have all but two of my teeth, thanks to modern dentistry. Modern meds keep me healthy and productive and able to consume. If I, one person, clean up my act, what difference would it make?
I do see some hope in these small movements in the direction of simpler and more natural living, but I fear that poverty drives much of this. For example, alternative medicine is popular among people who can't afford regular medical care.
Oh, Facebook is driving me crazy. I want it mostly for family matters, but I will get message after message about donating to this and saving that. As if I did not have my own ideas and sources on these matters! And a lot of messages I really want to get don't show up on my feed because somebody killed a whale or something or committed some injustice or other. (only kidding, just an example!) I have blocked or hidden a lot of this stuff, but still there is enough of it to clutter things up. Twitter remains an excellent resource, particularly for up to date news.
Which is why I blog and follow other blogs. It's the only way to get the control I want in cyberspace and to read and comment on things of interest to me. There are so many valuable blogs on my sidebar and I go through all of them, the personal ones at least, twice a week. They are full of insights from people who can write about the world from their own angle without censorship.
I do not understand all this stuff about Robin Williams and his supposed comic genius. I saw that first appearance on Carson's show, and as far as I'm concerned he was channeling Jonathan Winters. And yet Williams is touted as a great original. And then there was the gagging sentimentality of Dead Poets' Society, which could have been a Disney production. And what is funnier than a man dressed up as a woman, as in Mrs. Doubtfire? How original. I thought he was pretty funny, sometimes, and he had his creepy side, which was very good, actually and which he made full use of in One Hour Photo.
Oh well, it is sad when someone who might possibly have a few good years left kills himself. I've known several suicides, and except for the one who had terminal cancer, I think it was a mistake for them to end their lives. Of course I can't really see into the mind of a depressive and have no idea of how painful that could be. What I wonder about is chronic pain, physical and mental, causing addictions that drive people to suicide. Well it is scary when someone who seems so successful ends his own life. But he was not god, and he really did not try anything risky, like even Louis C.K. or Sarah Silverman, who can be obnoxious but are really out there like the master of them all, Lenny Bruce.
More tomorrow on the fires in Washington and what is turning out to be the Summer of Hate in so many places. But now I have to do some yard work before it gets too hot.