Gaza – Stop the Bleeding

On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an attack on Israel from Gaza. With unspeakable and nightmarish brutality they killed roughly 1,200 people, including women and children.

The government of Israel responded with a massive and indiscriminate bombing campaign. Hospitals, water treatment plants, apartment complexes and other civilian infrastructure in Gaza have all become rubble. At this writing, the Palestinian death toll approaches 30,000 (mostly women and children); and over a million people face a humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah.

Here in the USA, these events have driven such a deep rift into coalitions of Progressive Democrats that it seems they were designed to do so.

Those sympathetic to the Palestinians see Israel as a colonial state that expelled their recent ancestors from their homes and took their land. They call out the desecration of holy places, and see Israel’s dehumanization of Palestinians as genocide.

Those sympathetic to Israel remember the Holocaust of the mid-twentieth century, leading to the establishment of the nation of Israel as a safe homeland for Jewish people. Horrible memories are triggered when that nation is attacked, and they feel that Israel is surrounded by nations who are determined to exterminate them just as the Nazis did.

At a fundamental level, both sides are right. This presents a challenge for President Biden and other world leaders. Both sides have legitimate humanitarian and security concerns, and it’s difficult to satisfy one side without inflaming the other.

But in many ways, both sides are wrong. Each camp is dominated by extremists who are preying on fear of “the other” to promote a campaign of demonization and annihilation. So anti-Semitism is whipped up on one side, and Islamophobia on the other.

There are voices in Israel calling for the “elimination” of the Palestinian people. There are voices in the Palestinian territories (and elsewhere in the Arab world) calling for the “elimination” of the state of Israel. There are voices on each side calling for control of “all land, from the river to the sea.”

These voices must be rejected and marginalized. It’s time for cooler heads to prevail.

Ordinary Palestinian families in Gaza are not Hamas. Ordinary Israeli families are not Likud extremists.

Most people on both sides want to get along and to peacefully go on with their lives. They are fed up with the fringe elements among them who sabotage reconciliation.

What side am I on? I’m on the side of the young Israelis celebrating at a rave party. I’m on the side of the little Palestinian girl trapped in a car, pleading to be rescued. I’m on the side of all good-hearted people in the region who wish to accommodate each other and live peacefully as neighbors.

The shooting, bombing and bleeding must stop; and all hostages and prisoners must be allowed to return to their families.

Israel has a right to exist, but it must abandon its illegal occupation and settlements, and return to its pre-1967 borders. Palestine also has a right to exist, and to have a secure homeland it can call its own. People of good will on both sides must resume work on such a two-state solution.

Finally, American support for war crimes must not be tolerated. Israel may be a US ally, but unless/until the Netanyahu regime behaves in a civilized manner, the US checkbook must be closed.

High Water in La Crosse – 2023 Mississippi River Flood

Every once in a while, there are massive piles of snow in the Great North Woods that melt quickly enough to raise the river levels downstream. Watersheds from the Dakotas, through Minnesota to northern Wisconsin all send their water through La Crosse and we get a big flood every 10-20 years. This year was one of those years.

The “normal” river level in La Crosse is 6 feet. (“Zero” is 626 feet above sea level.) Flood stage is at 12 feet, and the highest level recorded was just under 19 feet in 1965. Yesterday the gauge nudged 16 feet, the third-highest level in history (highest since 2001).

An image of “A Simpler Time” during dryer times.

A popular photo subject at the riverside is the sculpture called “A Simpler Time”, portraying a boy, girl and a dog waving to river boats. I’m including an image of that artwork from dryer times to illustrate the “normal” level of the river.

“Good Copy” – Zendik Farm TV Coverage

Most new visitors to this site come for this post on my experiences at Zendik Farm, an intentional community of artists and assorted craftspeople I was part of from 1978 until 1991. The farm presented itself as a living laboratory for a way of living based on a feeling of reverence for the Earth.

Part of our strategy was to get journalists’ attention by being “good copy”. So when we arrived in the San Diego area, local TV crews saw us as good copy and took turns doing stories on our unusual lifestyle.

Meanwhile, my family was a bit apprehensive about my living situation. Knowing that they watched a lot of TV news, I assembled our recent TV coverage onto a VHS tape and mailed it to them. (That’s how it was done in the late 1980’s.) They wrote back that it relieved a lot of their concerns.

On a recent visit to my family, I found that tape. 35 years greatly exceeds the life expectancy of a home VHS tape, so the picture quality is marginal and there are a lot of glitches. But it effectively documents where I was living and the cause I was pursuing during a significant period of my life.

Even though Zendik Farm disbanded in 2013, it continues to attract interest. So in an effort to preserve the historical record, I posted the videos to YouTube and you can view them here… Read on

Let’s Nationalize the Railroads

Our highways are not owned by trucking companies. Our skies are not owned by the airlines. These public assets are part of “The Commons,” and are managed by officials accountable to We The People.

Why should railroads be any different? Why should private corporations control these vital corridors, often in violation of the public interest?

When corporate bosses demand that decrepit trains keep moving, private rail inspectors end up sacrificing public safety at the altar of profit.

Even though passenger traffic has priority by law, Amtrak riders often find their trains parked on sidings waiting for coal trains to pass.

It’s time for rail corridors to be transferred to public control, and for traffic management and safety inspections to be overseen by responsible public servants.

The railroads that we know still have a role to play. Just as trucks and planes are privately owned, existing carriers would continue to own locomotives and rolling stock. They would own their switching yards, employ train crews, and do rail construction and maintenance under government contract.

But the main line track must become part of our national infrastructure. The railroads should be fairly compensated for their investment in the tracks and other infrastructure, but this is not insurmountable.

Railroads are a vital component of our national transportation system, and their importance is growing. Private corporations have repeatedly violated the public trust, so railroads must come under the same public oversight that applies to highways and skyways.

The Rhythm of History

They say that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes.

I think of that as veterans are fighting to be taken care of for the sicknesses they’re suffering from exposure to toxic burn pits..

..just as earlier veterans had to fight to be taken care of for the sicknesses they suffered from exposure to depleted uranium..

..just as veterans of my generation had to fight to be taken care of for the sicknesses they suffered from exposure to Agent Orange..

..just as veterans of my parents’ generation had to fight to be taken care of for the sicknesses they suffered from exposure to nuclear bomb tests.

History is telling us that “Sign up and you’ll be taken care of” is an empty promise.

High School Football in the Age of Post-Game Praying

A time portal opened and handed me this column from the future, dated November 1, 2022:

Now that high school football season is winding down, it’s time to reflect on the new and unusual action on the field after games ended. This was the first season under the Supreme Court’s blessing of post-game prayer festivals, and our Friday night tradition has inaugurated a wide variety of holy parades.

There was no question that on the first game of the season Christian evangelicals would present an over-the-top display of religious piety. But since all religions are created “equal,” it didn’t take long for other religious traditions to claim their part in the court-sanctioned prayer festival.

It started with a high school on a Wisconsin Indian reservation, where the coach and players play drums and burn herbs in a traditional Native ceremony.

The following week a Muslim coach in Dearborn, Michigan arranged to end games with a Call to Prayer, and many of the coaches and players unfurl their prayer rugs and bow toward Mecca.

A school on a South Dakota reservation now ends games with a pipe circle. Meanwhile in south Florida, a Rastafarian coach has pipe circles of his own. The team doesn’t win many games, since it’s mainly a group of stoners who quickly adopted Rastafarianism once they joined the team.

But when it comes to making a circus out of post-game “ceremonies”, there’s no out-staging California. In Orange County, an assistant coach organized a Satanic ritual, based on having signed up to Satanism as a joke while in college.

In Marin County, a coach legally filed paperwork to create a religion that worships the music of Jerry Garcia. After games, a life-sized “Jerry Bear” is placed at the center of the field. The sound system plays a random Grateful Dead song while coaches, players and cheerleaders spin-dance on the field.

A school in Santa Monica developed a ritual that incorporates elements of Buddhism, Scientology, and New Age spirituality. It mainly involved participants sitting in a circle and humming “Ohm”.

Every case of post-game “praying” seemed to originate from a tiny fraction of the local population: a small but organized group seizing the opportunity to evangelize at a large public event, courtesy of the US Supreme Court.

Everyone else was there to watch local kids play football, and they’re finding the post-game circus tiresome. A cherished community institution has become an extension of somebody’s church. Those who don’t belong to the church feel less of a part of the community, and they are hurt by that.

Attendance at games plummeted. The only remaining spectators are parents of the players, and those who don’t join the post-game ceremony quickly flee the stadium at the closing whistle.

Everybody seems to blame evangelicals and their Republican allies for ruining their Friday night football traditions. The only question is whether their disgust will be expressed at the ballot box in a few days.


In the subways of Ukraine
People have come to sleep again
Because the bombing makes their buildings shake
The fear and stress are keeping them awake
But there’s hope in the clever tactics and persistence
Of the resistance
For they define defiance.

There is an island with a fort
Defending a strategic port
The Russian navy said “surrender now
“We’ll bomb you and take over anyhow”
The radio crackled, the reply said “Russian warship,
“Go fuck yourself.”
So says the voice of defiance.

And out in the public squares
The Russian soldiers everywhere
Face grandmas and old men who rant and curse
“This is our country, now go back to yours.”
“Put these seeds in your pocket so that sunflowers grow from your hide
“When you die”
Ominous words of defiance.

The local women can be seen
Filling bottles with gasoline.
So when the Russian tanks come rolling by
A rain of fire will fall from the sky
Till the tanks turn around and go back to from where they came
They’ll see the flames
From weapons of defiance

The Russian army look like fools
Stuck in the mud and out of fuel
Their tanks are wandering the highway
Looking for signs so they can find their way
But the signs said, “Go fuck yourself, go fuck yourself again, go fuck yourself..
..Back to Russia”
Reading the signs of defiance.

Wherever evil stalks the land
Defiant heroes make their stand
With such a paranoid pathetic clown
Taunting and mockery will bring him down
So let’s call that punk tyrant a repulsive piece of shit
And then let’s spit
Into his face with defiance.

Crescent Sunset

Just after sunset on November 6, 2021, our lenses captured the thinnest crescent moon I had ever witnessed.

(Click to embiggen)

Solving the Battle of the Fish Hatchery

It has been interesting to observe the debate over rezoning and repurposing the old Fish Hatchery building in Riverside park.

An architectural and historical jewel prominently located in La Crosse’s flagship park became vacant, so the city sought proposals to rehab the building and give it new life. But when an idea was brought forward, some people reacted as if the world were ending.

Granted, the developers may have botched their sales job by using the words “wedding receptions” and “beer garden” to describe a “meeting and event space.” La Crosse has several event spaces, and this project aims to find its own niche among them.

The opposition has deployed the usual alarms about loud music and alcohol, as if beer will automatically bring herds of frat boys stampeding through the International Friendship Gardens. If residents of the nearby apartment complex are to be believed, they may never sleep again.

These may be legitimate concerns, but they don’t mesh with what I am not hearing from the opposition. I hear no complaints about Riverfest or Moon Tunes, where amplified music fills the park and alcohol is widely available.

And what about Irish Fest or Octoberfest, just a few blocks away? Those events feature an abundance of alcohol and loud music, but I hear no complaints from those who portray wedding receptions in the Fish Hatchery building as the end of civilization.

What I most want to hear from the opposition is a better idea. Unfortunately, amid all the Nimbyism and heckling, I hear no suggestions to solve the problem at hand: How do we pay for the expensive work that this building needs, and create a place that adds value to the park and the city?

An idea to solve this problem is on the table. Suggestions to refine this proposal and make it more acceptable would be helpful. Those opposed to this idea are welcome to submit ideas of their own. But shouting “NO” like a spoiled toddler is not helpful. That’s how you get banished to a corner and ignored.

The Long and Winding Road – Following the Beatles Trail

I started this post in 2019, but now it’s 2021. Yes, it’s taken this long to get back to it,  and then get it sent out for your reading enjoyment. Hope you like it.

As of 2019, it’s been 55 years since the Beatles arrived on our continent to forever change the history of rock n’ roll. As I remember that year 1964, I’d found out that they were going to be on the Ed Sullivan show. My family was more interested in watching the Walt Disney show than Ed Sullivan. So I convinced my neighbor-friends, Patty & Linda, to watch the show. Huddled together in one of their bedrooms we watched the show, screaming with all the other girls across the country, who were also watching. Afterwards we spent months fighting over who would be Paul when we pretended to be the Beatles.

Although I spent most of my early life listening to and playing classical music, I quickly developed a love for the Fab Four and all their wonderful and sometimes quirky music. Knowing that most of my family originally came from the British Isles reinforced my love even more. I hoped that someday I’d get to go to their homeland and visit the places that were important in their lives, and places where they performed.

Read on