SKELETON IN THE CLOSET
Almost everyone has what the Germans call a "Corpse in the Cellar" and what we Yanks call a "Skeleton in the Closet."
However, it is rare when you have a whole city making its way to the Confessional.
This was the case with The City of San Francisco (or at least the School Board of the city of San Francisco.)
You see, the San Francisco School Board had noticed that some 44 San Francisco public schools were named after white guys who were old and not exactly liberal; a hanging offence in San Francisco.
Take John Muir. Naturalist, Preservationist, Founder of the Sierra Club and all around good fellow; what could he possibly do wrong? Plenty, it seems.
According to the School Board, Muir noticed that the Indians didn't bathe as frequently as possible. Also, Muir's writings attracted people to the Sierra and led to overcrowding. Muir also noted that Blacks had rather thick lips. Mind you, he didn't object to thick lips, he merely commented on their possession.
The work of the School Board was vastly simplified by making slave ownership an automatic cut. This eliminated George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and just about everybody who lived where it was sunny.
One could see the logic in eliminating Washington and the rest, but the School Board wants to grind off Abe Lincoln's name from the High School! What gives?
Seems that Honest Abe had ordered the execution of some 38 Native Americans in Minnesota during the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862.
While that was somewhat bad, it could have been worse. The local military planned on the execution of 308 Indians in revenge for the Indian slaying of around a thousand settlers during The Great Sioux Uprising .
Lincoln pointed out that you couldn't just kill people in war time; they had to have committed a war crime (Admittedly this would be a hard concept to get across to the 45th President; Trump preferring the "eye for an eye method.")
So, Lincoln narrowed down the number to the guilty 38. ("Yes, Virginia, Native Americans are capable of atrocities"} and they were hanged at Mankato, Minnesota.
My terrified pioneer ancestors were left to fight the Native Americans from their sod shanty; the men doing the shooting and the ladies doing the reloading. The children were instructed to lie flat on the floor and not to stand up no matter how interesting things became.
Naturally, five year old Victoria, being five years old, asked "Why?"
"Because the Indians will be coming ." Said her father.
"Then can we play with the Indian Children?" Victoria inquired enthusiastically.
(Now neighbors, since you are reading this issue of THUNDERBEAR, it is obvious that my ancestors were successful in fighting off the Lakota. Others were not so fortunate.)
Governor Ramsey of Minnesota told Lincoln that he could virtually guarantee the electoral votes of Minnesota for Lincoln if he would execute the 308.
Lincoln nobly replied that" he could not hang men to trade for votes."
So, as you can see, there was once upon a time when a Republican was the Good Guy.
NURSE SUBIRA AND PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
One of the nice things about a hospital stay is that you get a chance to meet the medical United Nations; that is, enterprising people from the really exotic parts of the Third World who have chosen to move to America. If they speak passible English and possess a nursing or medical degree, then they can pass through the Golden Door into the Promised Land of the United States and never fear the minions of ICE.
This famously distressed former President Trump, but very few Norwegians or other light skins want to move to the United States to do medical chores for you and me. Until fairly recently, our main source of foreign-born medical personnel was the Philippines, which was understandable as we share a history and English is their second language (and they could use the money).
However, word of our medical personnel shortage has spread worldwide with demand for doctors from India and nurses and other medical personnel from Africa and the Caribbean.
This allows the hospital patient no end of fun trying to guess the country of origin of the medical staff attending to him or her. Without too much difficulty, you should be able to detect the Caribbean lilt that identifies a medical practitioner from Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, or another of the former British sugar islands.
Africa is a bit more complex. First, there is West Africa; the former British colonies of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, as well as the American Black Republic of Liberia, which of course speak English. (The Cameroons are currently fighting a civil war to see whether the English or French language will come out on top.)
Then there is East Africa; another source of medical personnel. This is the fabled Horn of Africa; there you find striking people with dark skin and aquiline features. They hail from countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and parts of Kenya.
These countries do not always play well together and the hospital patient should take care guessing the nationality of his caregiver.
However, I felt on firm ground in identifying Nurse Subira as Ethiopian and congratulated her on her choice of ancestry.
She smiled broadly and asked "How did you know I was Ethiopian?
That was easy. Her aquiline nose, thin lips and high cheekbones put her in the Horn of Africa and she wore a gold cross: Ethiopia is the only Christian nation on the Horn of Africa. Elementary, Watson.
"Have you been to Ethiopia?" she asked.
"Not yet, but I like the food." I replied.
This led to a discussion of "Injera", the soft, fluffy national bread of Ethiopia. It is baked round like a medium size pizza, about an inch thick, and forms the plate for whatever entrée you order in an Ethiopian restaurant.
"Then you must like spicy food?" she laughed.
"I do indeed!"
I am not sure why hot countries like hot food, but they do. That preference has led to some interesting dining for the rest of us. It is said that the British empire was created so the Brits could get decent grub as opposed to the tasteless slop of dear old England.
We talked of favorite dishes as Nurse Subira checked my vitals; temperature, oxygen level and blood pressure; all O.K. and then harnessed me up to the electrocardiogram. I was beginning to run out of Ethiopian small talk.
Then I remembered an Ethiopian factoid: "You must be very proud of the Dam," I asked.
Now asking an Ethiopian if they were proud of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a bit like asking an American if they were proud of the Statue of Liberty.
Nearly 500 feet tall and around a mile in length, The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD for short) is not the biggest dam in the world, but it is the biggest dam in Africa and is designed to yank Ethiopia out of the Middle Ages. The Ethiopians regard GERD as their salvation from poverty. When fully functional, the GERD will produce 6,000 Megawatts of hydroelectricity: 6,000 Megawatts is roughly half the electrical needs of the state of California. The 6,000 Megawatts should satisfy Ethiopia's electrical needs for the immediate future and leave a healthy surplus for export to neighboring countries. The GERD harnesses the Blue Nile which rises in Ethiopia at Lake Tana and provides 85% of the total flow of the Nile. (The other 15% is provided by White Nile, which rises somewhat mysteriously, somewhere in the Lake Victoria Basin. Where, exactly, is sort of up for grabs, geographically speaking.
The Blue Nile and the White Nile merge at the city of Khartoum to form the River Nile, which, as you know, is the world's longest river at 4,404 miles. (Patriotic Brazilians beg to differ, believing they can squeeze out a few more miles to add to the Amazon's official length of 4,345 miles, and make that river the longest as well as the largest.)
As noted, the Ethiopians are immensely proud of their Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, mainly because they did it all by themselves., from the financing to the construcion. It took 19 years and cost 6.4 billion dollars. The main purpose of the dam is hydro power, but there is some provision for irrigation, and a commercial fishery which should provide 7,000 tons of protein per annum. The dam and reservoir are expected to be quite a tourist attraction with a world class sport fishery, mainly Nile Perch and Tiger fish. Looks like a winner!
So, could anything go wrong?
Well, how about that Master of Disaster, Donald J. Trump as a for instance?
It seems that President Trump is best friends with President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi of Egypt. Indeed ,Trump says President Al-Siisi is his " favorite dictator." (And when you consider the competition from North Korea's Kim Jong-Un, you should be impressed!)
"President Al-Sisi wants to bomb our dam and President Trump is going to let him!" Said Nurse Subira, angrily. "President Trump is a wicked, evil man! He wants to destroy Ethiopia!"
I felt that Subira was exaggerating. I agreed that Trump was a wicked, evil man. However, he was currently involved in destroying the United States, so it was unlikely that he has evil to spare for Ethiopia. It was true that Egypt had a right to be concerned about getting a fair share of the flow of the Nile. If they didn't get enough water to irrigate their crops, Egypt was .doomed. However, Ethiopia destroying Egypt was simply illogical. It would be pointless.
On the other hand, we are talking Middle East logic. (Which escalates to "Scary" pretty darn quickly.
I told Subira that it highly unlikely that the" Leader of the Free World" and one of its Chief dictators were plotting to blow up the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Subira responded the way a modern young person would respond; she whipped out her cell phone.
She punched in some data and triumphantly held up the results to my doubting eyes.
There, before God and everybody, was President Trump and the President of Egypt having some sort of a Conference. The subject of the Conference was the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. They were against it.
President Trump allowed as how Egypt just might have to bomb the dam. The President of Egypt obviously enjoyed the fascistic green lighting on the part of Trump regarding the destruction of the dam.
Now neither President Trump nor President Al Sisi is the sharpest tool in the fire cache when it comes to dams and hydropower.
Sort of reminds one of a story told by a guide at Hoover Dam. The guide had just finished telling the story of how hydropower is generated and were there any questions?
A lady raised her hand: "Is the water any good for irrigation after they take the electricity out?" she asked innocently.
Presidents Trump and Al Sisi must have been in the same tour group and equally inattentive. One can run water through turbines "forever" and it will not "wear out" and you can still use it to grow bumper crops of cotton, rice, corn, millet, sorghum and the usual cornucopia of stuff that comes out of the Central Valley of California.
This does not mean that the water of the Nile cannot be wasted. Humans are capable of amazing feats of stupidity, particularly if you figure John J. Trump into the equation.
"Actually, we are doing the Egyptians a favor by building the GERD" proclaimed Subira.
"The Nile is a very muddy river; the GERD will capture all the silt and store it in the GERD's reservoir in Ethiopia. This will extend the life of Egypt's Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser Reservoir. Everyone will benefit! Everything was going well until Trump decided to, he had to meddle with the Nile! Who gave Trump the right to screw up the world to impress his friends?
The short answer to that existential question would be because Trump could. What's the point of being a terroristic megalomaniac if you can't scare the bejabbers out of the neighbors from time to time? Now it has occurred to a number of people, starting with Nancy Pelosi, that we seriously had to get rid of the Orange Menace before he starts a nuclear war just for the hell of it. Impeachment was conducted.
Subira pointed out that Trump would not have to go nuclear to cause incredible mischief. All he would have to do is to provide Egypt with a MOAB ("Mother of All Bombs") This would be a handy dandy GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast. (MOAB)
This monster will provide total destruction for approximately one mile in all directions, which is about the dimensions of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
At last count, we had 15 MOABs in our inventory. We suggest that President Biden might like to do a head count of MOABS and make sure every one of the 15 is accounted for, so that everyone would sleep better.
SHOULD THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT LEGALIZE MARIJUANA?
It has occurred to me, as it has to others that the Native American peoples -- the Indians, Inuit (Eskimos ), Aleuts, and Hawaiians -- as well as the State and National Parks, seem to be perennially underfunded.
Now it is true that there are wealthy native Americans, as it is true there are wealthy park systems, such as those in the State of California (The names of native Hawaiian millionaires escapes me, but there must be scores of them considering the amount of hotel development in the islands) but in the main, both Native American people and American Parks seem to have a constant case of the shorts when it comes to that old everyday evil, the Long Green, that folks in the mainstream seem to possess in greater or lesser abundance.
I do not know why these two groups are underfunded. Many sociologists and anthropologists speculate about the reason.
It can be authoritatively stated that in both cases it is not due to lack of love.
More books are written about the Native Americans than about all the Finns, Poles, Irish, Bulgarians, and Malays put together. What is even more interesting is that all the books and all the TV, and all the movies produced after 1959 are all immensely favorable to the Native American. Every tow-headed suburban kid wants to play Cochise or Sitting Bull rather than Colonel Custer.
Recently, I have met far more people who claimed to be descendants of those who met the Mayflower than those arrived on that ship. It can be said that Native Americans are our most officially beloved ethnic group.
This is also true of parks on both the State and Federal level. Everyone loves parks; probably even the Mafia loves parks. A politician who seeks to oppose the establishment of a particular park must speak at great length on his general love of parks and his support for more and better ones lest he be snowed under at the polls as an environmental Neanderthal. Forests are felled to provide paper for thousands of books on Nature and parks and how we must protect them and even enlarge them.
If it is not lack of love that bedevils the Native Americans and the State and National Parks, then what is the problem?
One philosopher remarked that what the poor lack most of all is money.
This is only partially correct. What the poor really lack is total control over a well-paying job or an inexhaustible natural resource in great demand by the majority: The AMA being an example of the former, the Arab oil sheiks an example of the latter.
The money (If not the love) usually follows.
With the exception of the coal Navajos and Crow and the oil Inuit, few Native Americans, tribal groups have much in the way of natural resources. Such jobs as exist are as seasonal and marginal as those of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Appalachia.
Like the Native Americans, the parks have very few if any exploitable resources. Indeed, the parks' overall economic worthlessness was (and is) one of their selling points to a skeptical and parsimonious Congress.
Thunderbear pondered the problem of poverty for some time and came up with an ursinely simple solution for the economic problems of Native Americans and the parks:
Place the growing, processing and marketing of Marijuana totally in the hands of the Native Americans and split the profits with the Land and Water Conservation fund.
If a pun can be pardoned, Marijuana is what is known as a growth industry, meaning that there does not seem to be an end to the demand for the product. It is going to be a legal industry in a very short time.; even among the Federales (This article wa
s written 20 years ago), It would be a pity to allow such a boon to fall into the hands of our beloved cigarette companies without some consideration of alternatives.
One of the alternatives would be total control of the Marijuana industry, by the Native peoples, a monopoly in great demand by perhaps 20 million of the population.
A number of spokespersons for these 20 million have wondered if some of the profits from Marijuana could not be diverted to a worthy project; I can think of no more worthy a project than park lands. (Speaking as a non-native American and as one of the dwindling numbers of permanent NPS personnel who has never tried, nor intends to try the "Killer Weed," I offer this modest proposal without prospect of monetary or euphoric benefit, but merely as a public service -- Editor)
Marijuana is one of the world's hardiest plants. It can be grown in every state of the union, including Alaska. Indeed, specific steps to keep it from growing must be taken, as every Midwesterner knows.
There is no Indian reservation so barren, so eroded, so small, so dry that it does not contain a few acres that would support a tribal Cannabis crop.
The few paltry acres left to the Native Hawaiians after their land was taken for sugar cane and pineapples would produce two bumper crops of Marijuana a year.
A tax on such legal marijuana could go directly into the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Our ready and able Department of Agriculture, fresh from breeding tobacco plants resistant to everything but Judgement Day, could easily breed stock for all the Jamaican Red, Panama Gold Thai, Maui Wowee, etc. that dopers prattle about. The Aleuts and Point Barrow Inuit can grow the plants in greenhouses, as natural gas is readily available.
Thus, for the first time since the discovery of tobacco, New World People would control a renewable natural resource that Old World people desperately crave.
An amusing, romantic, but impractical proposal, you say?
Eighty percent of our present Marijuana consumption is currently being grown by North American Indians: except that they are called Mexicans (at least the Mexican government calls them Mexicans).
Another 10 to 15 percent comes from the golden isles of Hawaii, where, according to the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, it is the biggest crop in the state, surpassing sugar by an estimated $100 million in 1977.
All THUNDERBEAR proposes is that we move the Marijuana from the Mexican cartels to the U.S. Indian and the Native Hawaiian, eliminate the organized crime middleman and allow a fair share of the profits for state and federal parks.
It is a modest proposal: Think about it.
IMPEACHING DONALD JOHN TRUMP
Actually, impeaching the 45th President is pretty much a slam dunk. After all, it's not like we haven't had some practice.
However, like snowflakes, each Impeachment is a little different.
Let's take a look at the latest attempt to impeach the Orange Menace.
This is what the House sent on to the Senate:
(President Trump's action was not nice; in fact, it was downright ornery, and this time we've got a witness; He is none other than the House Minority Speaker, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, and a fine broth of a lad he is!)
Kevin virtually defined the word "Loyal" and supported the President through thick and thin for four years; no position or idea was too groveling.
However, there are limits. It seems that Kevin Mc Cathy's office was beginning to resemble a set from "A TALE OF TWO CITIES" what with broken glass, people pounding on doors and so on.
Hanging out with Congress could get you seriously killed.
So, on January 6, Kevin called up President Trump and begged him to call off his mob .
President Trump blithely pointed out to Kevin that it was not his mob.
Kevin shot back hotly that it was indeed the President's Mob.
"Well now, Kevin," President replied smoothly "I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are!"
The reaction to Donald and his Friends continued
"BUT HOW DO I GET MY MAIL ON TIME?"
Now this may not be a problem for you. If this is the case, just skip this article. Donald Trump would.
You see, mail failure was one of the numerous side effects of the Trump Administration, or at least the last days of the Trump administration.
It seems that Donald J. Trump did not trust the post man .
Not that it mattered.
Democrats are known to statistically prefer to vote by mail. Democrats are evil.
Serves ‘em right if their votes weren't counted.
Indeed, it might be a good idea to investigate a socialistic organization such as the Post Office and cut some of Its funding.
This was apparently done and true to an agency that has been defunded, the Post Office proved to be unable to meet many of its goals.
One of the goals is servicing the "Dead Letter Department".
We are all guilty. We get in a hurry and fail to put in the state or the ZIP code or whether its North Zilch Street or South Zilch Street.
Never fear! In normal, non-Trump times, you have no worries! The Post Office has a Sherlock Holmes type in every office who enjoys the challenge of the Dead Letter Box.
These were no normal times, however. It takes time to do detective work on misaddressed and time is a luxury the Post Office does not have (Plus it was all YOUR fault for being careless in the first place!)
So, the Post Office slaps a yellow RETURN TO SENDER sticker on the letter and you can start all over again. (Hopefully, you saved the RETURN ADDRESS.) In my case, someone wanted to buy a copy of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THUNDERBEAR and sent me a check for the same, or at least tried to. Their letter bounced back "RETURN TO SENDER." So, my customer tried e-mail and I asked him to run the address past me.
He had made one minor error in the Zip code, transposing a number; no big deal in a pre-Trump Post office, but deadly when The Donald is lurking about.
We shall call my customer "Mr. Jorum Jones" to preserve his privacy.
I immediately saw what the problem was and sent Mr. Jones an e mail:
Jorum decided that further comment was necessary. (He definitely is not one of Trump's base.)
(As it turned out, the voters of the Great State of Georgia DID manage to get things right!
JOHN MUIR AND THE SAMURAI
When you are interpreting an historical figure at an historical park, it is always handy to have somebody on the staff who actually KNEW the historical figure.
Such was the case of Margaret (Peg) Plummer and John Muir. Peg Plummer was the granddaughter of John Muir's best friend, John Swett. Peg and John Swett often visited the Muir mansion as they were literally next door neighbors. They were both hyper-successful fruit ranchers, Muir specializing in tokay grapes, Queen Ann Cherries, and Bartlett Pears. They agreed on most everything. They were, for example, both devout Republicans, which was sort of expected of extensive property owners of that time and place, one also must remember that in those days, the GOP was still remembered as the Party of Lincoln; Savior of the Union and Liberator of Slaves. (Trump would come later.).
"Did they agree on everything?" Well, not quite everything according to Peg. There was the matter of what today would be called "Human Resources". That is, their workers. There was a new batch of agricultural workers coming into the Alhambra Valley and John Swett wanted to try them out. They were the Japanese.
John Muir preferred the loyal, hard working Chinese; a known quantity. Treat them fairly and pay them well and you got an honest day's work out of them. It was a simple as that.
John Swett had heard that the Japanese were more innovative and creative, requiring less supervision. Anyways, he was bound to try them out.
Now does the above imply that John Swett and John Muir were racists? Perish the thought!
Linnie Marsh Wolfe, who wrote a Pulitzer prize winning biography of Muir in 1946, was unable to find much evidence of racism on Muir's part. (Not that she looked all that hard: like many biographers, she was a quite a fan of her subject.) The best she could come up with bigotry on the part of John Muir was a deep seated dislike of the Irish. (Muir was after all, a Scot.)
One day, according to Peg Plummer, her grandfather invited John Muir over to the Swett Ranch to meet Sam, the new Japanese foreman of the Swett Ranch.
Sam seemed to know his way around a California fruit ranch, but Muir questioned whether a Japanese could manage a Chinese work crew (The two countries had recently been at war; China lost).
Sam turned out to be a smiling, robust, capable man, with a ready smile and a firm handshake.
John Swett was sure that his friend John Muir would be impressed.
"That man is not who you think he is" Muir said, blue eyes flashing " "Get rid of him, or, mark my words, there will be trouble."
Now according to Peg Plummer, her grandfather was not about to let anyone tell him how to run his fruit ranch, not even the great John Muir.
"What do you mean?" John Swett inquired of his friend.
For one thing, he doesn't walk like a field hand and he doesn't act like a field hand" Peg reported Muir as saying.
"Of course, he doesn't! He's a foreman!" Replied Swett.
Muir remained stubbornly opposed to Sam. "I have no idea what are his motives, but I know he means trouble!"
Trouble was soon in coming.
One problem, not the fault of the Chinese laborers, was gambling. Lonely, bored and far from home, the Chinese were taken advantage by Chinese criminal gangs known as the Triads who would fleece them of their earnings and then charge usurious rates for loans.
This meant that the Chinese laborer was essentially working for the Triad and not his employer. This was not a good situation, so John Swett ordered his Foreman Sam to get rid of any Triad gamblers on the property. Sam said he would do so.
The trouble was that Sam took "getting rid of" quite literally as he asked Swett where he should bury the Triad gambler.
The Swett family had developed quite a fondness for Sam even to the point of hiring a lawyer and getting him acquitted on a self-defense charge. (In addition to being a Triad gambler, the bad guy was also a hatchet man -- and John Swett found the hatchet, clinching the self-defense case.)
Perversely, Sam developed a great admiration of John Muir and Muir's love of Nature. He tirelessly hiked the San Francisco Bay area with his box camera, photographing everything in sight.
One day, Sam came to John Swett and Peg with tears in his eyes "My work is finished Here and I must return to Japan. I will miss you all."
A few months later. The Swetts received a letter. It was a photo of Sam riding a white stallion, he was wearing the uniform of a colonel in the Japanese Army.
And John Muir? Apparently, he had no comment.
THE SAFETY MESSAGEYes, neighbors, it's time for the Safety Message. This is the all-important message that authorizes you to read THUNDERBEAR on government time without waiting for your lunch break (which is the case with the California State Parks).
The Federal Land Management agencies realize that Safety is Job #1, surpassing even Diversity as a Goal to be Achieved.
Agency managers are aware that THUNDERBEAR sadly does not come with a table of contents, and thus readers must wade through attacks on Management, former President Trump and other digressions in order to find the all-important Safety Message.
So here it is! Your patience is rewarded!
I recently received a letter from an illustrious American soldier which deserves recycling, for several reasons; number one because it warns of a clear and present danger to the welfare of the nation (of which you are a member) and secondly, it refutes the idea that every general officer supports a scoundrel like Trump.
General Eaton goes on to say that as a fellow veteran that I have enough common sense not to allow Republicans to recapture either or both the House or the Senate. Such a melancholy outcome could lead to a RETURN OF TRUMP in '24.
To prevent that from happening, General Eaton suggests that you contribute whatever you can to:
PJ Ryan can be reached at: