In a September interview with the Pentagon’s news agency last fall, Iris Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Arctic and Global Resiliences said Chinese leaders have “been trying to insert themselves into the Arctic.”
“So, we’re being very mindful about their activity and in wanting to ensure that our interests are protected in the region,” Ferguson said.
China seems to be very interested in what goes on here in the Great Land, although they have nowhere near the sea-lift capacity to land troops here, and so won’t find out one thing that aren’t betting on, that being a few hundred thousand heavily armed Alaskan civilians – but they sure as hell seem to want to know what assets we have up here. That’s disconcerting as hell.
I was never big on the Carpenters, but they sure sold a lot of records back in the day. Karen Carpenter’s sad 1983 death from anorexia nervosa received a lot of publicity, and for a few years instances of anorexia, especially among teenage girls, spiked. Some call this a ‘social contagion,’ when a few highly-publicized events, usually among celebrities, lead to a spike in instances of an emotional/mental disorder.
Back to the music, though. Karen and Richard Carpenter did have a light, easy style that was relaxing and thoughtful. While I was more of a head-banger – back in these days I was much more into Led Zeppelin, Foghat, Van Halen and the like – I’ve developed more of an appreciation of gentler music as I’ve gotten older. I do kind of like their song Rainy Days and Mondays, from their 1971 album, Carpenters. Here’s the official video, which presents kind of a touching photographic tribute to Karen to go along with her rich, butter-smooth voice. Enjoy.
Before we move on to the cube, let’s begin with the CW2 Square. The cube is best tackled in another step. Draw the square and label one axis Poorer to Richer. Label the other axis Darker to Lighter. Darker, for brevity, includes African-Americans, Hispanics and so on. Lighter refers to those of European ancestry. The two opposed meta-groups are the poorer and darker versus the richer and lighter, or whiter if you wish to be blunt. The richer/whiter have the power of their wealth, but counterbalancing that advantage is the fact that the poorer/darker have succeeded in wresting control of much of government power. This is so, even if most of their elected leaders are anything but poor or dark.
Note that these are really, really broad categories. In 1980 I may have been more optimistic that the racial angle would be far less significant than the wealth angle, but after a few decades of ever-more-strident race-baiting by the Left, I’m no longer so sanguine. But let’s move on to the cube, which is the part I really find interesting:
Now, let’s add the third dimension and shoot another axis out from the square to form the CW2 Cube. Label the third axis Urban versus Rural, or City versus Country if you prefer. This axis gives a geographical dimension to the meta-terrain, but there will be no convenient dividing line between the opposed sides as there was during the first civil war. It has frequently been observed that today’s red-blue political map is better understood at the county than at the state level. Even blue states like Illinois, California and New York are rural-red outside of their blue urban cores. Obviously, these urban cores are heavily populated but geographically small, with all that means to the electoral process today and to a possible civil war later.
So the opposing corners of the CW2 Cube can be seen as the poorer, darker cities versus the richer, whiter rural areas. Again, don’t quibble about outliers. Yes, there are a few rich, conservative African-Americans living in Wyoming, many poor white liberal Democrats in rural West Virginia, some rich conservatives in San Francisco and every other exceptional case imaginable.
Here’s the cube (click to embiggen):
Now look at how that falls out. Wealth, sure, color, sure, but also – and I think that now, in 2023, the bigger divide – is urban/rural. Too many in the big cities have started viewing us crazy rednecks who own lots of guns and live out in the woods as a threat, and too many of us crazy rednecks are increasingly distrustful of the big cities and their denizens – not to mention resentful when they wag their fingers at us and try to tell us how to live. Mr. Bracken continues:
Most of us live in the mushy, mongrel middle, far from the tips of the two opposite corners. But the centers of gravity of Civil War Two shall be as I have described: the relatively richer, whiter and more rural against the poorer, darker and urban. One can also propose many more axes of conflict than can fit on a cube, such as the religious versus the non-believers, socialists versus capitalists, statists versus individualists and so on. However, after you reflect upon the CW2 Cube, I think you will find that most of these extra axes can be overlaid parallel to one of the three already posited.
Bear in mind that this was written in 2010. Almost every aggravating factor that Mr. Bracken describes has gotten worse, not better, since then. The corners of the cubes have mostly drawn farther away from each other. The people in those segments are increasingly polarized against each other.
We always say “it can’t happen here.” I’m still thinking a hot civil war unlikely, although I’m thinking the odds of such a thing are increasing. But people in Bosnia in the Nineties thought the same thing:
After the fact, a common sentiment heard from urbane, secular Bosnians living in the Olympic City of Sarajevo expressed complete disbelief that a brutal, bloody civil war could have come to their modern European city and tear their lives apart.
But it did.
A parting suggestion to students of modern civil war is to read “Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia’s War” by the British journalist Ed Vulliamy. It’s currently collecting dust at your local public library, waiting only to be read.
Forewarned is forearmed.
It is indeed.
Mrs. Animal and I are indeed fortunate to have our rural home in the great Alaskan Susitna Valley. We know all our neighbors well. Almost all of them are hunters. Almost all of them are armed. We’re far enough away from any major city – even Anchorage – that the “troubles” won’t impinge us directly. But they will hit us indirectly, as we are dependent on the Forty-Eight for so many things, from manufactured goods to fresh fruit. Not to mention that our children and grandchildren are all down there, although not in major cities.
A second civil war would be catastrophic. It would be fought not on distant fields, not by massive armies maneuvering against each other in open country. It will be fought in the streets, in the towns, amongst us in ways no other war has touched us since the Revolution, and if similar conflicts are any indication – see not only Bosnia but also the Spanish Civil War – it will result in hatreds that will last generations. A second civil war would be the end of the United States as we know it, and it’s unlikely anything that arises out of the ashes will have any respect for individual rights and liberties.
I’d like to say the more we know, the better able we are to avoid all this. Problem is, too many folks either don’t want to know – or don’t care. As Yeats said:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
I’d rather not see that happen here. But I am aware of the possibility that my druthers may not be taken into account.
With the Alaska Legislature session quickly heading toward the 121-day mark, the House and Senate chambers are yet to pass a state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It’s a looming deadline set to expire in less than a week.
In April the state House passed a budget featuring a $2,700 Permanent Fund Dividend payment for qualifying Alaskans, based in part on the so-called 50-50 plan, which splits a transfer from the permanent fund — one half for dividends and the other half for services.
According to Sen. Bert Stedman, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, the House’s budget as it stands would create an $800 million deficit.
“The last thing we want to do is go out with a big bomb saying ‘Well here’s your great big check but you may not get one in five years,’” House Minority Rep. Alyse Galvin said during a press conference Wednesday. “We don’t want to go down that path because it’s just so irresponsible. We’re not looking at just get re-elected, we’re looking at the future of Alaska.”
You can see Alaska’s 2022 budget here. A quick glance through that budget shows a lot of distributed interests that are probably legitimate items on which the state should spend taxpayer money; some, however, are not. I think we could probably get along without spending a cool million on the “Clean Water Capitalization Grant Subsidy”, never mind almost six million on the “Drinking Water Capitalization Grant Subsidy.” Although, I admit, I’m not terribly familiar with either of those programs, except that nobody from Juneau has ever come around our place inquiring as to how pure our well water is.
A lot of Alaskans are concerned as well as to what the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) payout will look like. And that’s a valid concern; it’s a program that is required by state statute. It’s not as big an issue for Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. than it may be for some lower-income folks, I admit, although we sure aren’t turning it down.
I haven’t gone through any of the issues in the proposed 2023 budget in any detail. I probably will go through the final budget when it’s published. Alaska’s fiscal woes concern plenty of folks here in the Great Land, but they’re pretty small beans compared to the fiscal lunacy in the Imperial City. So we watch, we read, and when November comes, we vote accordingly.
An indubitable sign of spring only Monday past, as our juncos have returned. Dark-Eyed Juncos are somewhat migratory; they stay rather late in the fall and are usually the first migratory birds to return in spring.
It’s interesting. In all the years I lived in the city, I paid only nominal attention to the turn of the seasons. Since returning to a rural lifestyle, I’ve become much more aware of the great circle the year makes, not just with the weather but with the creatures around us. Soon the robins will return, then the swallows, the sandhill cranes will be overhead on their way to Arctic nesting grounds, and we’ll be in the full bloom of our short, mild, beautiful Alaskan summer.
OK, plenty of folks have been saying that it’s time for the political Right to start playing hardball, me among them. (This is relevant, I promise.) Too many in the GOP seem to be worried more about continued invites to Georgetown cocktail parties than adhering to what are supposed to be ‘conservative’ principals – much less, you know, promoting actual liberty.
If they want some inspiration, they should tune in to the 1975 Nazereth tune Hair of the Dog. The refrain includes:
Now you’re messin’ with a A son of a bitch. Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch.
The Right could learn a thing or two from that. I think they need a few more sons of bitches in the Imperial City – and yes, I think that was part of Donald Trump’s appeal. Here, then, is that tune. Enjoy.
Bears are just one of the wildlife-related things we deal with, living in rural Alaska, of course. We had a black hanging around for a while last summer, and while I stood watch a few times while Mrs. Animal was working in the greenhouse, I never got a good clear look at him – or else he’d have been in the freezer. Black bear is downright good eating, and the season is open up here year ’round, with an annual bag limit of three. And there’s a reason we keep a chest freezer that’s big enough to double as a crypt for a Pharaoh of old. So, maybe this year.
Something a little different this week; you’ve all seen here, in previous installments, my fond memory of the great Johnny Carson. Well, in this show, he had as his guest on the Tonight Show another great, Ann-Margret.
In this episode she puts on, as a preview for an upcoming performance, a musical number that will knock your socks off – among other things. (Also, it must have been chilly on that stage.) Unforgettable is something of an understatement here. Enjoy.
Granted, Alaska is all about aviation. The Great Land wouldn’t be what it is without aviation, although most of what makes the state work isn’t big airliners but the smaller civil aviation types, including the famed bush pilots. But I never would have thought of taking a big airliner and turning it into housing. Excerpt:
Jon Kotwicki, the owner of FLY8MA Flight Training in Big Lake, purchased the airliner as part of a housing project for students who attend the training facility. The 727 will join a DC-6 and DC-9 already parked at his property, and has big plans in store for it.
“That is our flight school that we are building there off of Hawk Lane and Big Lake,” Kotwicki said. “[The planes] will serve as student housing for students who are coming to do flight training with us from afar as well as an Airbnb.”
I guess it makes a certain amount of sense; go to flight school, live in an airplane. I guess we’ll see how it works out. Now then:
I never was a huge fan of Billy Joel. He was good enough, but I just never really got into his style of music. But most artists good enough to get album deals usually have at least one good song in them, and boy, howdy, did Billy Joel have at least one great song in him.
That song, of course, was Piano Man. It’s a wonderful, iconic tune that put Billy Joel on the map, and whatever I think of his general style, he deserved the fame this song brought him. Here, then, is that tune; enjoy.
As of Monday, spring is here! Not just in the Great Land, mind you, but all over the Northern Hemisphere. Fishing plans for this year include some river and lake fishing for trout and (when the runs start) salmon, and hopefully some ocean fishing for halibut and maybe rockfish and ling cod. Fish is good for you!
I have friends who live in places like Florida and Arizona, and that’s great – every cat its own rat. But I’ve always preferred living where there are seasons. I think they define the year. Granted here in Alaska, we joke that the four seasons are “Ice Out, Mosquito, Road Work and Winter” but we still love it here. And, I will admit, we look forward to the return of the sun.
One of America’s most lasting and iconic rock & roll bands is Fleetwood Mac, having had a long and varied career as a group until the sad passing of Christine McVie a while back. They got an awful lot of radio play back in the Seventies and Eighties when I was a young fellow, and their 1977 album Rumours is still one of the best-selling albums of all time.
In 1982 they released the studio album Mirage, which took a generally softer tone than their previous album, 1979’s Tusk. Also in 1982, I went looking for a hunting dog, and ended up buying a beautiful little tricolor English Springer Spaniel pup who would be my closest hunting companion for almost eighteen years; a better dog never lived. Due to the pup’s tricolored coat and feathered ears and legs, I named her after a song from Mirage that was popular at the time; both song and puppy were Gypsy. I’m still of the opinion that this song (among others) really cemented the notion that Stevie Nicks, while an accomplished performer, was primarily a gifted songwriter.
Fleetwood Mac released an official music video for that song that I always thought was well-done. See for yourselves:
Yesterday was the day for my quinquennial exhaust port inspection, which I attend to pretty scrupulously on that five-year schedule. Why? Because I have a pretty troubling family history of cancer. Both my father and brother were treated for colon cancer, both my maternal uncles had cancer, and one of my sisters died of breast cancer that developed into everything cancer. It’s a hell of a thing, but if I was to offer any of you True Believers some advice – and I suspect a fair number of you, like me, are males (in the traditional sense) in middle age or older, then see to getting screened at your doctor’s advice.
Just as attending to your required maintenance can help you get a half-million miles out of your car or truck, attending to your body’s required maintenance can increase the mileage you see before finally shuffling off this mortal coil.
But boy howdy, is the prep unpleasant. Worth the trouble – but unpleasant. Today is recovery day, and I’m taking it easy. Other than cranking out the usual content for all you True Believers, of course.
This won’t end well. Real-estate prices are unreasonable, but there are ways around it if you’re a bit flexible. Two of our four kids live in a small town in eastern Iowa for this reason – they can afford to buy houses there. Our other two live in a suburb of Denver and can barely afford an apartment. Not everyone can pick up and just move, though.
In 1984, two Scots named Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson met in Argyle and founded Capercallie, a band named after the great Scottish grouse and dedicated to traditional Gaelic tunes as well as some more modern stuff.
Most of their stuff is in the latter (sort of) genre, and one tune of theirs in particular I like is from their 1995 album To the Moon. That tune, in the traditional Gaelic, is Fear-Allabain (which translates, more or less, into “Scottish Man.” Here it is – enjoy!
This isn’t a surprise. Alaska is generally rated as one of the top two most gun-friendly states in the Union, the other being Arizona (for now). The common statement made about the two states is “…if you like target shooting and competition, go to Arizona; if you like to hunt, go to Alaska.” I can see the thought behind that. Here in the Great Land, even the hippies have guns, and the most common motivation out here in the hinterlands seems to be keeping the freezer stocked and keeping critters away from your vegetable patch and the chickens.
I don’t really have a good feel for where this is going, though, in part because I haven’t done a lot of reading about it. The “pistol brace” thing isn’t something I’ve ever looked into, as it just doesn’t effect me, but with this moving forward, I can see I’m going to have to do some more reading. All of these things are tied in, of course, to the changing landscape that is the Second Amendment today, and I do know this case has the potential to yank the reins hard on the BATFE – and that’s a good thing.
I’m still on my classical music binge, so before I return to my usual old rock & roll cultural edification I’d like to bring one more (for now) bit I really enjoy. This is a 2016 performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no.1, by the Israel Philharmonic. This performance features the lovely and truly talented Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili and the immortal conductor Zubin Mehta – on his 80th birthday. Enjoy.
This gave me a chuckle. The business environment in California (see yesterday’s post) has gotten so bad that Jerry Garcia’s Grateful Dead cannabis brand is pulling out of California. Relevant statement from the story:
Eli Melrod, the CEO and co-founder of Solful dispensary chain, said the brand’s exit from California was a sign that it’s a struggle for even good cannabis brands to make money in the state.
Hell, it’s a struggle for anyone to make money in California! The state Assembly has been working like hell to make it as difficult as possible to make money in California, and now it’s gotten to the point where you can’t even make a profit selling dope. This is just rich.
The early Eighties were the glory days of girl bands, and in those years there were few better examples of that genre than the Go-Go’s. They are, in fact, still around – in 2020 through 2022 they were on a reunion tour, although they are obviously a little longer in the tooth than they were in their heyday (but then, who among us ain’t?)
One of their better known tunes is the 1981 song Our Lips are Sealed, from the album Beauty and the Beat. The video here is typical of the time, just pretty girls doing pretty things with sun and water. Enjoy!