Fort Bragg Rolls Out the Red Carpet (with me in it)

I thought you might be interested in my experience visiting Fort Bragg, Monday March 26th. It was a day trip for me but I was on my own for three hours while a friend fulfilled a contract.

My first stop was Headlands Coffee where I ate cookies and drank coffee while flipping through a book catalogue. There was time after to window shop. The bookstore had a used copy of Season of the Witch in their window. I considered buying a second one to lend out. Maybe after lunch.

Since it had been awhile since I was in Fort Bragg I thought I’d check out the mini mall in the old Union Lumber Company building. Final destination here was the Mendocino Cookie Company but first, a tour of the shops, slowing down to glance at the historical photos plastering the walls.

As I turned the last corner before the Cookie Company, someone vacuuming the carpet quickly turned off the machine and says to me “Let me ask you something” and proceeded to make accusations about me hanging out and not being there to buy anything. The phrase “You can’t hang out here” was repeated several times. My only response was “I’m heading to Mendocino Cookie Company. I’m a tourist.” He didn’t believe me. “Just remember, you can’t hang out here.”

I ate enough cookies earlier so I bought a Cappuccino to drink while making some notes in my catalog. I still had some time to cruise Main before lunch. On the way out I stop at the shared rest room. Someone was using it. So I’m waiting in the hall when the homeless patrol guy walks up to me and says sarcastically, “Still being a tourist?” I needed to find out what the problem was.

I go into serious conversation mode. “Look, what is the problem? Tell me what it is I’m doing and I won’t do it.” I hold up my cappuccino cup. “Look, I’m a customer.” Hallway police: “You can’t hang out here.” “What is hanging out?” “You can’t be here for over an hour hanging out.” Finally, a piece of information. “When you stopped me on the way to the Cookie Company I hadn’t been here for more than a half hour looking at the pictures on the wall so I was well within this range. Aren’t we supposed to look at the pictures?”

He acted like he never heard me but he didn’t ask me to leave either, which I was planning to do after the pit stop. Struggling to make sense of his behavior I do an analysis of my appearance – clean shave, clean clothes, no stuff except an Air Mac computer on my shoulder and a convention tote bag for a few papers. My best guess is, it must be the army raincoat. I grab the lapel of my coat in a final desperate attempt to break through to this guy. “Its been raining. I’m from Clearlake so I had no idea what the weather was going to be like here. THAT’s why I’m wearing THIS (pointing to the coat) which makes me look like a homeless person.”

I feel satisfied that I’ve solved the mystery but he just shakes his head and stalks off. During the whole encounter someone who was obviously the building’s manager passed by twice showing a new employee what had to be done to shut down the building at the end of the day. Nothing I described seemed out of the ordinary to him. I pop in and out of the rest room and leave – probably forever.

I meet my lunch date at the pizza pub across the street. I talk about the new Fort Bragg hospitality. I say “Fort Bragg” because there had to be significant public involvement to bring in all the historical artifacts to the mini mall. During my brief stay I spent $53.35. Obviously chump change for a classy place like Fort Bragg. I forget all about going back for the book on the way out of town.

I feel I should help your businesses keep lowlifes like me out of town by publicizing my recent visit. So who am I? I am 64, educated, and retired, currently on a mere $14,229 per year but I own my own place. I travel a lot on a budget within 150 miles of home. Someone still working would have to gross another thousand to clear this amount. Add another thousand to beat the hanging out threshold and we get a minimum gross income of $16,229 to keep Fort Bragg from jerking the welcome mat out from under you. I still don’t know what nuance I projected to throw retail personnel into homeless alert mode so probably no one else would either.

Feel free to use my picture of exactly what I was wearing and carrying for a poster captioned: “If you look like this, keep moving.” I’ll send it to you. I want to help.

Farewell to Theater

Traditional big-box theater in America is at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to reforming its structure. Even though the relevant numbers have been crunched as tweaks, gimmicks, and roll backs have been accepted, there still is the implicit resolve among the old school that “Beyond this point we can go no farther.”  This barrier to change affects how the content of plays speaks to the non well-off (which is increasing) and under 60 theater goers.

After 50 or so issues of American Theater Magazine it is clear that your group has highlighted all attempts at tech, finance, and education innovations without changing theater itself. Your roots go to the past and significant change is in constant negotiations with several generations of what has worked in the past. When writing about how theater is done in other countries, I have nothing but good things to say. But other countries do not share our past. In any event, Americans may not be able to duplicate their success.

Since it all comes down to money, I would like to offer my two cents about why reform is limited when working from the top down. An approach of creating from the bottom up would look very different than trying to pinch pennies out of multi million dollar budgets. I include the 99 seat theater class that appears to be bargain versions of that same form and substance.

Don’t get me wrong. I saved several valuable articles that the magazine has printed that would also be valuable to those thinking (and working) outside the three-walled box. More of those type of articles have not appeared for some time. Maybe you’ve said all you have to say on what we both have in common.

But serious core reform seems to be hampered by what remaining traditional sponsors and aging subscribers expect, even as building and operation costs escalate and attention spans plummet. Because this is not where I’m going, maybe theater isn’t my end all be all. Maybe I should be traveling the multimedia road. Of course, TCG incorporates multimedia while refusing to yield the center. But a true multimedia approach has no structural bias. It is a true bottom up, continually changing experience.

I’ve been part of other genres that refused to yield the center when their time had passed. Cable public access TV refused to make a full transition to internet multimedia platforms so is withering away without a replacement. Public poetry readings rarely have more people in the audience than readers waiting their turn to bore, I mean read. Meanwhile the slam poets on Button Poetry are getting between a hundred thousand and a million views. These changes are not a passing fad.

It would not surprise me to see several structures and genres working in an ever changing flux together. Those who have been big fish in the traditional theater pond and ignore this change are going to find that their pond will be getting smaller and smaller until it is just a mud hole.

This head in the sand attitude about structure spills over into content offerings as well. For content cannot be isolated from current events and the broader experiences of the public. Likewise, current events cannot be separated from the real people that make up the public. The public is not always well informed and often overstocked on fear, anger, and class bias. But they are the public. Who is your audience?

I couldn’t help notice that several of your magazine issues have been obsessed with thinly disguised shock and disbelief about Trump being President. Since the Orange One never attempted to fool anyone about who or what he was during his campaign, I can only conclude that the motivations of a large segment of the voters are irrelevant to the official theater establishment. I know many people personally who voted for him and why. No, I wasn’t one of them. But I am not out of touch either.

In an effort to seem more broad minded, the rather forced ‘Enter Stage Right” article was printed. What was called “conservative theater” was mostly a reaction against things in the status quo that weren’t working. Bernie Sanders offered an equal popular solution against things in the status quo that weren’t working but he was shut down by the DNC, not the forces of Trump. The non ideologues who were so done with the status quo saw themselves stuck with Trump. I see the same fallacy of false alternatives in American Theater.

The irony is the “99 seat theater” class has aped the big theater gang instead of breaking away on a separate course. My recent experience was last years “Nittany Theater” contest which bent and twisted the terms of a small grant to do pretty much whatever the Hell they felt like doing. The writers who were sucked in by the advertised noble theme of the contest were just nobodies in some insipid Summer Stock’s ruse to get some free publicity. The message is, small is sometimes even smaller.

The bottom line is I will not be renewing American Theater since I would be reading more obituaries of people I never heard of than inspiring innovations in the performance arts. I’ll be finding my way to the future in other places.

Good Gun Laws, Bad Gun Regulations

There are rules for owning guns in California. Some of these rules are for firearms in general. Some regulations are for specific categories of firearms, such as handguns or assault rifles. It is improper to apply the law for a category of firearms by creating regulations for all firearms not in that legal category.

Even when regulations are properly applied to a category of firearms it is possible to be so restrictive or vague that the original intent of the law is ignored. Both of these situations apply to me. In particular, there appears to be so much flexibility and discretion in the area of residency that requirements can be fabricated out of thin air without any connection to the law.

Problem Number One. Like many rural Californians, I live on a bad road with no mail delivery at my residence. My California Commercial Drivers License shows my PO Box on my license. The DMV refuses to put a physical address on my license if I do not receive mail there. However, if I ask for a printout of my driving record, after showing my drivers license, I will receive a document with a California State stamp that lists both my physical and mailing addresses. This not good enough to buy a shotgun.

Problem Number Two. I don’t have a currently registered vehicle. This is partly due to expense and partly from having to barricade my driveway for security reasons. I ride a bike, take the bus, and occasionally rent cars. This should not make me a bad person.

Problem Number Three. Most utilities in California are private companies. The addresses on those bills apparently are worthless for documentation purposes. In the city of Clearlake there is a private garbage company, a private phone company, a private power company, a private cable company, and two out of the three water companies are private. Many people are on wells. My water comes from the one Special District in Clearlake but the content on its bill does not meet either the gun stores’ or the Bureau of Firearms’ standards.

Problem Number Four. I bought my first lot where I live now when I was still living in San Jose. Over time I bought five more contiguous lots, performed two separate multiple lot mergers, and moved onto the property in 2002. None of this paper work shows a current physical address. My current property tax bill does show a physical address but it is not accepted by gun store clerks. Since they want to sell guns I assume they are acting on Bureau of Firearms instructions.

Assuming that the Bureau of Firearms is behind this erroneous interpretation of otherwise reasonable laws, I am asking that the Attorney General over ride this mistake by issuing a correct interpretation. I believe this interpretation should take note that 1) Someone should not have to live in a residence that can receive mail in order to buy a shotgun. 2) Someone should not have to own a registered vehicle in order to be qualified to buy a shotgun. 3) Someone should not have to get service from non existent government utilities to buy a shotgun. 4) Someone should not have to convince the rare government utility to change their billing practices so I can buy a shotgun.  And 5), someone should be able to substitute a tax bill for a deed if the deed only shows plot numbers and not an address.

I’ve been background checked to be a security supervisor, a transit bus operator, a census worker, and a school teacher. I’ve been finger printed and drug tested more times than I can count. I am a property owner, earned two college degrees, and am active in community affairs. My record is spotless. I am a responsible person. But the Bureau of Firearms says I cannot buy a shotgun unless I meet their impossible conditions.

There is nothing in existing law that suggests that the Bureau of Firearms has made reasonable interpretations. Yes, I contacted the Bureau and they blew me off. Enforcing existing firearm laws should not stray from the original intent of those laws. I am not advocating any change in the law, so unless there is some agenda I am not aware of, I expect common sense procedural changes to be made that will allow a poor, retired rural person to buy a shotgun.

Walking the Plank for a New Pirate Platform


For the second time the California Pirate Party has crashed and burned. This is in spite of (maybe because of) many high level techies at the helm. There never seemed to be a commitment to reach out to the average person’s main concerns. Concise and compelling outreach materials would have been a good place to start. Other obsessive structural minutia just soaks up the energy of would be grass roots activists with nothing to show for it.  Which brings me to the surviving National Pirate Party’s planned platform.

After a decade in existence, the national pirate is beginning to revisit forming a political platform. Not that I’m complaining about the delay. Full blown platforms are internal documents that don’t interest your typical voter. Eventually something should be cobbled together since writers occasionally drift over to check out  political happenings on the fringe. Unfortunately, writers don’t write the platforms. These electoral shopping lists tend to be the bastard offspring of tedious committees. But they don’t have to be.

I would like to offer a criteria for writing a pirate platform that would be compelling enough to distribute for outreach. This populist broadside should navigate through waters that are foggy even to the founders. But even when the destination is clear there could be options. Why not consider alternate possibilities in the platform, as long as each has a strong following among pirates? Be advised that some non techies possess knowledge and experience that could be effectively incorporated into this goal.

Criteria one:

The pirate party needs a tag line in the platform and other documents. The “pirate party” name is a good hook (Arrr) but there needs to be a tag afterwards to keep people from blowing by.

Our title with tag should read thus: “United States Pirate Party – Freedom of Information.” Instantly a reader knows we’re not about themed birthday parties.

Criteria two:

The mission statement, below the tag line (the major goals in one sentence): “The voyage of the Pirate Party is to achieve government transparency, open records, copyright reform, and a free internet.”

Criteria three:

Use existing sources for compatible platform planks first. The original direction for the platform committee is Rick Falkvinge’s, the Pirates’ international founder’s, “wheel” of related concepts. Its not a wheel. Its a convoluted schematic mess. Here’s what I think can be saved from the wheel. “Transparency, ticks (exchange of tools and ideas), resilience (decentralization and sustainability), swarm economics.” Everything else here, ignore and don’t show to anyone. Please.

The other official source to mine is the “values” in “”. This is more useful than the wheel but it too is a source to be extracted and condensed from. Personally, I found eight values that could be developed in articles that would be linked within the platform itself. This linking may be a new idea in itself that would attract attention and comment.

Criteria four:

Other sources for platform ideas: Books and articles by Rick Falkvinge and Cory Doctorow. This is problematic since few people on a committee will have the same knowledge base when it comes to books. Strangely, a bigger obstacle will be developing the expertise for the clickable “Resilience” on the wheel and the “egalitarian” and “active practice” values from the pirate blog. These refer to skills and practices developed in intentional communities – a long and difficult process. The lessons learned here are frustrating, emotional, gritty, and grimy. “Communities” magazine at “” is a good first stop to catch up.

Criteria five:

I saved the toughest rule for last. No matter how much study, discussing, and writing we do, limit the number of platform planks to five and only five. This is the limit of most people’s attention span. Also the more positions you take, the easier it is to incur contradictions and confusion in a single document. There will be a tendency to turn planks into sub lists of positions and sentiments. To resist this, planks should be limited to 200 words each, preferable less, an average “Letter-to-the Editor” length. Make every line pop. Include in the plank, names of current specific movements and legislation which can be changed or pulled when events have moved on.

Here is the challenge: A platform of less than 1,000 words, not counting the mission statement, that will change the world, assuming it will change us first. Let’s see what I can do in a first draft. Recently, I bought the domain, “”, which doesn’t seem to step on the toes of official party stuff or the Bay Area Facebook page. The “North” part gives me a little push into Wine Country and I never get into Silicon Valley anyway. This new site is hooked into my online domains. Here goes.

1. Copyright and Open Records Reform: 

Copyrights should be a reward for hard work. They should not be a barrier to the creativity of others or the expansion of knowledge in society. Copyrights have been extended for greater lengths of time for no reason other than monopoly privilege. We advocate reducing the shelf life of valid copyrights and formulating clear rules to better define what is fair use of copyrights for education, research, and public comment purposes. Using copyright status for legal bullying in the fair use domain should be grounds for the suspension or revocation of a copyright. Likewise, government records,, outside narrowly defined categories, belong to the people. An informed citizenry requires full disclosure in order to evaluate their employees. Only judges not affiliated with the records holder, should be allowed to make exceptions. The effective veto of “national security” must be proven.

  2. Corporation Reform:

Corporations are created by public entities therefore they should serve a public purpose. A series of Court decisions between 1886 and Citizens United have transformed this business tool into legal people with rights even flesh and blood people do not have. We support Move to Amend’s 28th Amendment’s declaration that corporations are not people and money is not speech. This will start a process to increase corporate responsibility in the environment, in their exporting of factory jobs overseas, and in buying our democratic elections through front groups. We oppose other corporate structural monopolies from the Federal Reserve’s control of the money system to the corporate attack on net neutrality.

3. Electoral Reform:

All citizens should have an equal vote. This vote should not be filtered by the Electoral College which was created by our Constitution to do just that. Even at the congressional level, our winner-take-all-system of representation districts, favoring two parties not even mentioned in the Constitution, guarantees their dominance and the marginalization of all other views. Those two self anointed parties take turns gerrymandering districts to increase the importance of money by diluting the vote. After citizens overcome these electoral traps they still have to run a gauntlet of voter suppression qualifications. While there is weak popular representation in the House of Representatives this is erased in the Senate whose membership is not based on population or coherent physical boundaries. We believe only a series of Constitutional Amendments or writing a new Constitution will remedy this injustice by creating proportional representation, multi member districts, online voting, and an upper House based on rational bio regions that would result in new solutions from silenced voices.

4. Constitutional Reform:

There are structural and process problems in the Country and many States that cannot be solved by legislation. Only a different form of government can solve these problems.Power has been centralized and national agendas are almost entirely determined by those closely connected to that power. Citizens not in that elite group who demand other agendas be pursued are considered whiners and trouble makers. That’s me. That’s you. Rather than build strong communities with healthy prosperous people our government has promoted Wall Street casinos and military adventures. Instead of creating a level playing field where all players can succeed, our institutions have rewarded monopolies and squandered our natural resources for short term gain. We believe we should be governed by a different model. This model would be bottom up not left right. This likely means that new franchised citizens will choose a greater role for government in critical areas, such as health care and natural resources, where monopoly privilege has failed to deliver. A bottom up, direct participation Constitution would also mean the end of expanding surveillance, executive orders, secret agreements, whistleblower prosecution, and reversing the contempt for civil liberties in favor of the police state.

5. Land Reform:

Land is not capital or a commodity. No real estate developer or speculator created land and no one is making any more. Developers can take credit for most building and some infrastructure value only. These groups, as well as local and State governments, existing property owners, and our culture in general primarily values land for its individual “property value”, ignoring the contribution of the surrounding community. The result is the abstract metes and bounds definition of own-able land units and dimensionless boundaries. Only zoning, special districts, most building codes, and some exclusive covenants prevent the ground under our feet from being a context free absurdity. But even these ham handed patches come at a high cost. That cost is weak community bonds, exaggerated individualism, and a reduced commitment to localism and sustainability.

Treating residential or business lots as make believe micro fiefdoms are a barrier to future sustainable initiatives. We believe land should be transferred as larger coherent entities that contract with co owners for exclusive uses. Examples are co ops and condos with well defined covenants. All separate properties should either have a natural boundary (creek or ridge) or public alleys and road right of ways.

Well that’s version 1.0. Notice there are no links. Total word count with the mission statement is about 850 words – one piece of paper. There will be in the next version after I get some feedback. I think calling these “the Five Planks” ties in well with the pirate theme in print but when speakers are trying to seize the high ground before groups I would stick with “Five Reforms.”

Route 12, 4pm

On September 6th the Lake Transit Board finalized substantial cuts in bus service to Lake County residents. Some cuts were on runs that few people use. However, at least two routes that were cut either jeopardize public safety or eliminate service to Social Services for the entire afternoon for most County residents.

Were all of these cuts necessary in hard times? My answer based on some experience and a lot of number crunching is “no”. Specifically, I redesigned three routes in my own report so the necessary savings could be made while compromising the fewest number of people. This report was sent to all elected representatives on the Board but was not mentioned in the analysis of public comment.

During the September meeting the Lake Transit General Manager, Mark Wall, glossed over a couple problems by combining them with issues that were resolved. This confusion was around cutting the 4pm Route 12 to Social Services. Although it was not brought up by the General Manager, the last appointment at social services is at 4:30pm. After conferring with disabled riders and IHSS workers I confirmed there is almost no allowance for being late. You would have to make another appointment.

My report mentioned that late appointments could “leave” by Route 10 if Social Services did not mind people waiting outside for an extra half hour after all the employees left. I assume this is what Wall was referring to when he said Social Services did not see a problem. He did not elaborate. The problem of arriving will remain.

In spite of scheduled connection glitches cited in my report, Wall deferred to Wanda Gray, the Operations Manager, who said people could take Route 10 to Social Services in the afternoon. This only works for Clearlake residents. Route 10 cannot connect with late regionals. My report showed clearly that it is impossible for riders in Middletown, Cobb, and Kelseyville to get to Social Services for an afternoon appointment. Northshore and Lakeport will have to take the Route 1 that leaves one hour earlier and spend more time waiting at  Social Services.

Here is how the drill works. All you (or a Board member) need to check this scenario is a bus schedule. Currently, late afternoon Social Services appointments is served by the 2:10pm Lakeport Route 4 and the 2:30 Sutter Hospital Route 1. The 2:10 will arrive at Walmart at 3:10 after the 3pm Route 10 has left. Wait for the next bus? The 4pm Route 10 will get you to Social Services at 4:38, too late for the last appointment of the day. The 2:30 Route 1 also gets you to Social Services, via Route 10, at 4:38. But at least there is an earlier 1:30 Route 1 where someone can connect with the  last planned Route 12 at 3pm. This is barely doable for functional people.

People in Kelseyville, Middletown, or Cobb do not even have this option since there is no possible way to leave in the afternoon and make an afternoon appointment. Kelseyville would have to take the 11am Route 4. Middletown would have to take the 10:21am Route 3. And Cobb would have to take the 10:53am Route 2 to transfer to the Route 4, leaving Kelseyville at 11:27.

Many people want to dismiss the issue by just saying people can ask for a morning appointment instead of the first available time. Yes they can….and wait longer for an appointment. Though several cuts are unnecessary, cutting the 4pm Route 12 almost seems intended to cause the maximum amount of suffering for the most people while saving the least amount of money.

Lake Transit Route Cuts from Hell

The recently proposed transit route cuts are substantially different than what was proposed at the June Transit Authority meeting. Possibly the amount of cuts are the same but a low use route was restored at the expense of additional cuts on North Shore, the City of Clearlake, Lakeport, and Middletown. Middletown may have broke even on the route exchange.

Originally, a little used Saturday route and an early run was cut in Clearlake. North Shore was to give up two mid day runs each way. But the biggest planned cut was the complete elimination of Route 2 which connects Kits Korner to Cobb and on to Twin Pines Casino. The reason for Route 2 taking the big hit was because ridership never returned after the fire. Even before the fire, when I got on the bus at Anderson Springs there was never anyone else on the bus until Cobb.

Due to permanently losing a funding source, the Transit Authority had to cut about a hundred total route hours. I indicated to the authority’s general manager, Mark Wall, that although his original proposal based on ridership was rational, cuts could be reduced by making changes in the routes themselves. Specifically, cutting the unused parts of Routes 2 and 4A while rerouting Route 4 thru its original journey. But when I saw the official list of bus runs to be cut, as part of notice for Public Hearing on August 9th, I was shocked.

Additional cuts to those proposed were demanded from Route 1 and all three Clearlake local runs. Note that a majority of the bus trips are within Clearlake. These reductions were offset by restoring 7 of the planned 8 run cuts on Route 2 that would be made if the Route 2 were axed.  This sudden change from a rational to an irrational plan would only make sense if considerable pressure were brought to bare from a County supervisor. I assume that the North Shore and Clearlake sups didn’t call up Wall to demand more transit cuts in their District.

Beyond simply giving low ridership areas a break at the expense of higher use runs, while consequently increasing the cost per passenger trip in the system, there are public safety and financing liabilities that are created by this negative reversal. Most of this collateral damage is for Clearlake’s residents while one cut threatens the eligibility for a grant that could end service for the whole county to Napa.

The flagship of bad ideas has to be cutting the Westbound 7pm Route 1 from Clearlake. This particular run is designed to connect to the last Route 3 coming in from Calistoga. These four trips a day to Napa County and back are made possible by a 350,000 dollar grant. This grant has two strings attached. The first one is there cannot be any reduction in the 4 runs to and from Napa using this grant or we lose the whole grant. The second condition is the Route 3 runs using this money have to connect with a specific Lake County route. The 6pm bus from Napa County has to connect with that 7pm Route 1. Suddenly we plan to cut it to appease someone. What’s wrong with this picture?

Public safety suggests we should not be forcing the disabled, women, and the elderly to make hazardous trips on foot if its not absolutely necessary. But three of the last minute deletions do exactly that. The new 8pm Route 11 cut in the Highlands will force passengers coming in on the 6:30 Route 4 to make their way home at night on foot across a long distance of hills, no sidewalks, and dirt roads while being menaced by psyco tweekers and packs of feral dogs. I know this about the Highlands from being a taxi driver in Clearlake.

The most vulnerable won’t even have Dail-a-Ride to fall back on. Cutting the last two local runs across the city allows Lake Transit to legally whack off two hours a night of Dial-a-Ride service, even though Route 1 and Route 4 regionals are still coming in. Cost savings: Ten hours per week. Some grumpy people will say, “ What a bunch of whiners. Take an earlier bus.” For many people this is the earlier bus. When we lost our night time reverse commute grant people who used to take the 8:30 Route 4 from Lakeport now have to take the 6:30 Route 4 or brave the howling wilderness. This new 8pm Route 11 cut means that both night inter county Route 4 runs are now decapitated. Could this  be population control by transit?

Unbelievably, it gets even stranger. After the original planned reduction of Route 12’s lightly used Saturday and 6:27am runs, the new plan calls for adding the 4, 5, and 6pm Route 12’s to the chopping block. Cutting the weekday 4pm and 5pm Route 12’s to Lower Lake means what? Think! Think! It means that moms pushing baby carriages and non dial-a-ride disabled will be struggling down Highway 53 to make their 4:30 appointments at Social Services, in the hot sun and pouring rain. Did the Republican Central Committee suggest this cut?

Do I have a solution? As a matter of fact I do. Given the fact that we have to come up with a hundred hours of cuts, I have crunched out a plan that is not only better than this train wreck but is an improvement over Mark Walls original “cuts only” proposal. Adding back the new run cuts that are egregious monstrosities and doing a once over on 7 of the County’s routes gives us about 70 hours of cuts with roughly 30 to go. These remaining cuts will have to come from cuts and “changes” to Routes 2, 4, and 4A. My cuts are from segments of Routes 2 and 4A that riders don’t use while preserving segments where people are getting on and off a bus.

Adding up the net bare bones net cuts from these three routes I come up with another 34 hours and 40 minutes, for a total of over 104 route hours of cuts. Since this is over the required 100 route hours of needed cuts I’ve come up with four hours of options.

Summarizing these changes:  4A as a stand alone route would be eliminated with pieces of the route added to the Route 4 and Route 2. Route 2 would shift, running between Cobb and Clearlake Riviera. Route 4 would detour to service Konocti Vista and Finley for non Ukiah “Express” runs. Routes 2 and 4 might want to exchange bus number routes between Clearlake and Kits Korner for the non express Route 4 runs. As a bonus, since we have a little slop, we could continue the Route 4 non expresses on Saturday to Konocti Vista and Finley for an additional 40 minutes of route hours and bump out to Cal Packing and up East Finley six days for an extra three route hours per week. Both options would reduce total route cuts to 101 hours.

The bump out of the Route 4 would not be an option for the one run each way for the Hance School detour. The 2:10 Eastbound would now be the 2pm and the Eastbound Route 4 would not turn into Route 7 until 3pm straight up. I also suggest leaving off the Mendocino College detour in Ukiah off the Saturday schedule. Most drivers skip it anyway or go off route.

As for servicing Konocti Vista and Finley, there are 3 current, non cut runs, Monday thru Friday to and from this 4A segment. There are 3 non cut Route 4’s running each way that aren’t Ukiah expresses. Some combination of Running round trip Route 4’s from Walmart to Kits Korner and Running a Route 4 to Kits, doing the shorty Route 2, and continuing on as the Route 4 to Lakeport can be worked out for the non Ukiah expresses.

So that’s the informed opinion of a member of the public. I’m requesting that the Lake Transit Board reject the hastily assembled political proposal that is clearly against the public interest. Furthermore, I suggest the Board direct Mark Wall to inform the intruding supervisor that he may represent his district but a supervisor works for the County – the whole County.

Culture 3.0

Culture isn’t what it used to be. Thank goodness. But it isn’t like the old archaic forms of expression aren’t putting up a battle. But they are soon to be history and are only able to maintain the illusion that they are still relevant by the loyalty of old money and old bodies. Without the tiresome habits of network TV watchers, MFA program promises, broadcast radio, producers of tedious monstrosities called “the full length play”, record company contract serfs, art gallery wine and cheese parties,  chapbook poetry writers, and formula special effects vehicles we call movies.

They all pretend not to notice the future digging the graves for past genres, even as they jump into the hole to help them. These are the people who cannot change, so of course, pretend nothing has changed. As long as there are enough gurgling incontinent season ticket buyers and nostalgic sponsors, it pays to milk the game to the end while emerging culture can be snubbed as a side show staged by impudent upstarts.

But its not like cultural investors haven’t hedged their bets by buying into the new technology. They’re just not conveying the mantle of culture to the unworthy till an institution can dominate it. That doesn’t mean the originators and developers will not have made their mark over a 30 year period. It just means they will be coopted by the same opportunists who threw up roadblocks to progress until they could dominate the new forms.

Its hard work pretending not to notice what is staring you in the face. No one goes out anymore to listen to poets read out of notebooks except their friends and other poets waiting their turn. Its boring listening to talking podiums read what you can read for yourself at home off the internet, while smoking or drinking whatever you want in the comfort of easy chairs and consumer electronics. The loyalists sneered at the performance movement called slam poetry while that movement itself is being pressured for even more cultural change to stay relevant on the edge.

This change is not a distant glow and low rumbling, open to interpretation about what it is and when it will arrive. No, change has been screaming and yelling on the front porch, pounding its fists on the door to be let in for quite some time. The ruse of being unaware of this unwanted visitor is belied by the barring of the door and directing the old school to enter thru the back door, as if it were the new front door. As if the reaper wasn’t forcing a game change fast enough by himself, the price of this exercise in futility keeps skyrocketing. Its like, demand falls off so you double the price for customers who are getting poorer and poorer.

Alright, I have a personal agenda and contempt for tribal snobs. In addition to kicking slam poetry up a notch and replacing both studio movies and network TV with an expanding (and cheap) internet scene and satellite TV, I have a long standing grudge against full length play based theater and all the class pretense that goes along with it. Yes, I know there used to be a counter theater. But that was then. This is now. Sitting through a full length isolated-from-current-issues-play is cultural waterboarding plus tasers.

Live theater as we know it is dead. As soon as life support becomes too expensive for the survivors to maintain this pointless illusion, the plug will be pulled. Make no mistake about it. Video and internet productions increasingly outstrip the four-wall rituals we call theater. So is there no hope for live theater? Yes there is. But first, we must assume the American Theater phantasm is only perpetuated by brain eating pundit zombies, academic whores producing MFA programs, sponsor sell-outs, and class traitors. Having eliminated this part of the problem the solution is obvious.

Remember, the average person, and many above average people, are perfectly happy with sitting at home in their 1500 dollar easy chairs, in their underwear, drinking their favorite cold beer at store prices, watching their gas plasmas with killer sound systems on broad band cable and satellite TV, as the internet belches forth millions of classic, free, or low cost offerings that they can talk about, or not, on hundreds of culturally related sites. The soon to be extinct cultural gatekeepers think this is irrelevant. This comment is based on long and painful personal experience.

I propose a new model for live performance that will not be based on a dying past. The model is split between salons and venues. The salons are close knit associations of compatible artists and writers who perform and interact with their peers. Participation is by invitation only. The purpose of a salon is not primarily entertainment. It is cultural interaction between peers. This should be the first exposure of new work, not institutional endorsement after admission by gatekeepers.

The model for public theatre venues is more aggressive. It assumes that plays should be fringe festival length – not over one hour. Other cultural forms will have to fill the evening out – music, stand up, skits, or group raps or slams. If serious food is not next door, an appealing menu must be part of the venue. The nite out will be one stop or not at all. Real time streaming to the web and chat will be a must for the under 50 crowd.

Ideally, the food/alcohol component of the venue will also serve as an after event discussion forum. Think: absurdism, surrealism, true performance slam forms, That is, if we are serious about getting people out for live cultural events. These after hours soirees will be the democratic replacement for self serving theatre boards and grant fed institutions.

This is what is necessary to hold on to the live community part of cultural expression. Most forms of expression, globally and locally, will be on the internet or satellite. That is a given. The big question that few people are asking is “are we going to do what is necessary to keep the face to face part of cultural alive and relevant.”

Ballot Strategies for Pirate Party

I would like to offer some strategies to help the Pirate Party get ballot qualification in California.  Do I have any special expertise in this area? No. I just want to start the process of developing a comprehensive plan to achieve this goal. We do have a January 3rd, 2018 deadline to qualify for the June 2018 ballot. One way to start a process is to get something on the table. So here are my “Top 10” ideas for consideration and ridicule. And yes, I would be willing to work on all of them.

Become a leader among political bodies attempting to qualify for the ballot. By producing events and statements that encompass all reachers for the brass ring you will not only attract attention to the general concept of examining unheard of political groups but you will give the Pirate Party instant recognition for being bigger than themselves.

I assume every internet geek knows the value of Search Engine Optimization. If no one competent wants this thankless job we will have to pay an outsider. And everything we send out, no matter how inappropriate, should contain the Secretary of State online registration link.

Send out regular press releases and feeds responding to current events and statements by pundits. Normally these will be ignored. But there are slow news days and news stories where the writers are pressed to get “another view.” There may be occasions where we will be asked for an on air response. These should sound clear, compelling, and spontaneous. We may need to practice the spontaneous part. Pirate Party Toastmasters anyone?

Produce videos and podcasts on our core issues, preferably with people we admire and containing footage from ambushed public officials. Offer a regular “Pirate Spot” column to radio stations. Reagan did this between political gigs. Make “public input” statements at public meetings for the purpose of getting the video, with the officials and staff as your backdrop. I do this.

Make voice over parodies of public meetings. Some of these go virile. Since they are public officials in a public meeting there are no permission issues.

Create your own speakers bureau for service clubs and high school civics classes. You will gain greater acceptance if your list includes speakers from a broad spectrum of political parties and bodies. Did I mention a Pirate Party Toastmasters? Members of service clubs are usually active politically and will talk you up, for better or worse.

Parades and festivals. There are often places for tables at parades. I’ve actually seen pirate ships in parades. One or two well made floats could be shared around the State.

Sponsor contests. These generate publicity before and after the event, due to having a winner. Examples: Geo Cacheing (Treasure Hunt?), Song Parodies, and for strictly colleges only – a marathon Barnacle Bill the Sailor lyric contest. A Yale University contest racked up over 90 lyrics. Probably the least offensive entry, not the winner, will be quoted by the press.

Petition for various Ballot Initiatives (maybe two or three at a time) where you incidentally register people to vote,  casually bringing up “other” options. A ballot issue will often pull in people easier than a “Register to Vote” sign.

Sponsor Candidates Nights (if you’re not running). I did several of these. It will be a political crowd that shows up. Pirate Party organizer will be part of your intro and qualifications. Did I mention you should always have voter reg cards with you, even when you go to the John?

Now for the youth vote. You know, the people who will be dancing on our graves. Most are not registered. Sponsor a band event with local youth bands, maybe thru Pirate Punks if they’re still around. Youth bands usually work for the door, assuming a low minimum. We spring for the venue, which is often lower for non profits. At the reg table, have something to eat.

Those are my ideas. I hope I’ve inspired a flood of others. I know, it looks like thousands of hours. But that may be what it takes.

What Has Five Bodies But No Head?

The last election was not the first time many people felt they did not have a real choice. Of course, “not having a choice”, or rather only having highly filtered choices, is what our system is all about. Occasionally, a minor rebellion to create some serious alternative is beaten back with the programmed responses:  “You’ll be wasting your vote.” “Voting for the lesser of two evils is the responsible thing to do.”  “We have a better chance to change one of the parties from within.” The result of this strategy is to discourage the entrance of new players in the game to begin with.

Obviously there are structural barriers in our system that prevent break outs from below. New parties end up wasting all their “none of the above” political capital on transient candidates who will be moving on long before the first barricade has been breached. Motivated more by rage, righteousness, and indignation than substance, the upstart party then slides into oblivion.

What if a new mindset, disguised as a political party, promoted the heretical idea that this established process needed to be changed first before any challenge on issues can succeed. Agenda Item #1. They would not claim ownership of this goal since it is a premise that all excluded political entities could embrace. It would be a cooperative venture, for if it prevailed, they would all win by having the artificial barriers abolished.

The first filter is access to the voting ballot. The one and only voting ballot, where precious time and money has to be spent for voters to see you. For electoral purposes, you are not even considered a political party until you clear this hurdle. If you file papers indicating you are currently trying to achieve the exalted status of a “ballot qualified political party” you are awarded the provisional title of a “political body.”

In California there are five political bodies attempting to gain ballot status for the June 2018 election. The former Unified Progressive Party dropped out and has decided to work as a caucus within the Democratic Party, where they have had some early success. For the record, the functioning political bodies are California Pirate Party, American Solidarity Party, California National Party, Constitution Party, and the People for Justice.

Some of these bodies have one or more issues in common. So you could say they are in competition with each other. But there are good reasons why they should be working together or at least becoming knowledgeable about what each other is about. The strongest bond they have in common is being effectively shut out of normal political discourse and participation. They are all burdened by restrictions imposed by the two-party monopoly, even though new ideas tend to originate from outsiders. All political bodies should be presenting a common front to roll back this affront to democracy.

The first objection we hear from the average citizen is “we have to have some standards or the ballot will become too cluttered or confusing. This will not encourage democratic participation.” Before the backlash against “foreign ideologies” in the early 20th Century there was no problem. This was because what made a ballot official was not who printed it but the fact that one person turned in one ballot on a specific day with at least one person listed who filed for an office. Why do all ballots have to have a preselected subset of people running? Groups printed and circulated their own ballots which was less ballot restrictive. With the introduction of machines in counting votes, standardization was cited as the reason we have limited ballots.

The irony today is, machines, that is computers and computer programs, have made the restricted ballot obsolete. Secure ID technology has arrived, making voting online practical and inclusive. For people who have limited access, there will be voting stations where they can use official computers, the way we go to testing centers now to take standardized tests on computers. The disabled will still get assistance to vote the way they do now.

The only technology problems with online voting are the same tech problems we have with the present system. Those problems revolve around proprietary software and hardware owned by corporate contractors. Many of these contractors have a vested interest in the outcome of elections. Many anomalies have been noticed in proprietary voting equipment with the most “backdoors.” With state of the art encryption there are no compelling arguments against open source voting software. The popular fraud solution of “paper voting trails” is grossly inadequate.

On the core issue of information security, accessibility, and proliferation the Pirate Party will simply have to take the lead. They are the geeks of the political body front. For other issues they may have to step back and support other political bodies. So how will the disenfranchised political bodies support each other in the competitive world of limited independent voters and even more limited attention spans? They will cooperate in punching through the second filter. This is the filter of entertainment. If it is not entertaining today’s voter will tune you out. The power elite have more money, which is the third filter. They can buy more professional productions, media whores, and ditto time on TV. Knowledge presented in a compelling way will reduce this advantage.

To be brutally honest, none of the five functioning political bodies in California are making a compelling presentation to convince dubious voters to reregister. When approaching people who know little or nothing about you, to not just sign a petition but fill out a personal official document, you are going to have to sell sell sell. That means a schtick, a repertoire of answers, and an environment of entertainment. Most people have to be bought, entertained, or at least intrigued to gain their attention. Since no billionaires or celebrities have appeared, the political bodies are going to have to cooperate with each other to create an energetic scene.

Its hard to imagine anything else working. Just as the insiders stage phony debates, the outsiders are going to have to stage their own outsider debates, produce multi political body videos around common issues, and sponsor spectacles as a gift to the public.The concept of supporting a political body must become mainstream and fun. Mailing lists and social media are still relevant but no excluded wannabe will attract established media attention by themselves. That requires a coalition of wannabes, creating events that have the feel of “fairs.” Any registration defector from the electoral con game is a victory, even if your body doesn’t get all of them.

Lost Dogs and Trump Supporters

A week ago I lost my dog. Lost, sounds like I misplaced her somewhere. Actually I became certain she was stolen. My personal experience has been that if she got tangled in her lead line she would slip her collar and escape. After running around for an hour she would come home. That didn’t happen this time.

This time the whole thirty foot lead line was missing off the dog run and Ruby was nowhere to be found. At first I decided that she must have gotten her lead line tangled in the surrounding brush on my knoll. Dragging a chain, she couldn’t have gone more than a hundred yards without getting hopelessly tangled. I just had to spend a couple hours circling out from my property calling her name until I found her. I did this and still no Ruby. To me the only other reasonable possibility was, she was stolen.

Even though she was a popular color of pit bull she was a spayed aging female. In addition to this glitch in the theft theory nothing else on the property was stolen or disturbed. It looked like someone took the only safe, non alarmed route to the hill top and bee lined it to Ruby and unhooked her lead line. This event would require prior knowledge or advance surveillance of my activities. This further narrowed down the possibilities in my mind.

After thrashing thru the brush for two days my mind started imagining suspects. A long time friend who was forced to give up Ruby, a few neighbors who seen me walking her on the backside of my knoll, and a crazy looking guy on an illegal ATV who roared thru the neighborhood everynight probing everyone’s access roads. I fantasized that he noted my comings and goings from all points. The motive: He had a market for fresh meat to train fighting pit bulls to tear dogs apart. This is the stuff that goes on in normal minds at wits end.

People started responding to Facebook notices of Ruby’s disappearance. A volunteer dog finder spread the word further. Several photos turned up of dogs similar to Ruby but not Ruby. I continued to walk the neighborhood, putting up lost dog notices as I went. They included a reward and pictures photoshopped by my girlfriend. I was loosing hope and felt like I was just going thru the motions because I had no power to do anything else. There was a short list of suspects in my mind.

How would government or an organization that has government’s ear handle this problem? Based on recent events, they would tap the phones and search cell phones and personal records of everyone in the area and who fit the profile of all hypothetical suspects. That is, as long as at some time or some place at least one person who fit one of the profiles committed a dog napping. Remember, at this point there was no actual proof Ruby was stolen. Then they would put a bunch of pins on a map and respond with devastating force, destroying all possible suspects along with neighbors who made the bad choice to live near a future target who may someday commit a hypothetical crime by one unsubstantiated method or another.

On day seven I checked the kennel again and put up my last signs on the fringe of my neighborhood. Then I went to the coffee shop and speculated about whether tactical nuclear weapons should be an option. After a couple hours my phone rang. “We have your dog.” Ruby’s journey over the last week was nothing like anything I deduced must have happened based on the facts. Apparently my facts weren’t all the facts. Even though I had first hand information I did not have most of the information about canines or people.

Ruby was glad to see me but also had been enjoying bed and breakfast treatment with a family who was still grieving over the recent death of their dog. They refused the reward and gave me the collar and leash from their dog to lead Ruby home. It made me sorry I had fantasized about reducing these five square blocks of doublewides to smoking twisted wreckage. I was certain the dog thief was there somewhere and would strike again and again and again until someone put a stop to them. Sure, a few thousand innocent people would die but that’s the price we pay, actually they pay, for dog freedom.

So what does this have to do with Trump voters? They seem like lost dog owners too. In fact they sound like people who have lost several dogs. They have a little first hand information and have been given an analysis of who is to blame by people who have not lost dogs. Many of these analysts have benefited magnificently in the past by advising owners who lost metaphorical dogs. I can relate. Aren’t you glad I don’t have access to 20 aircraft carrier groups and cruise missiles?