Monday, June 27, 2016

Grid Down! Now what?




[Nyerges is the author of “How to Survive Anywhere” and other books. He has taught foraging and survival skills classes since 1974. He can be reached at www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com]

There are any number of possible reasons why the electrical grid could go out, anything from an accident, to sun spots, to terrorism.  How would that affect our life?

Even 50 years ago, temporary blackouts were not all that disruptive to everyday life. Indeed, to children, they were exciting times when you got to use lanterns and candles at night. Phones still worked, since most phones were simple rotary style.

In my household, we still had hand-cranked coffee grinders, wheat sifters, mixers (for batter), and can-openers. We had very few electric food processing devices, and we got by just fine.  We had no electric yard tools then, all manual rakes, brooms, clippers, edgers, lawn-mowers. None of the insane blowers and weed-whackers. All our tools were manual too: hammers, saws, pliers, levels, etc. 

Today, you can get an electric model of just about anything, and computer chips are everywhere.  The up-and-coming generation knows nothing else, which is perhaps one of our greatest dangers. 

Most folks, even if they grew up in the city, understands that there should be a backup for when the power goes out.  But too many young folks know no other way of life but the all-electric driven lifestyle, controlled and powered by the all-powerful, all-seeing I-God (oops, meant I-pod), with all of its minions through it’s spider-like Web.  There is even the chief high priest of this new world, ready and waiting to answer your every question: Rev. Google!

If the grid goes down, for whatever reason, the world of Eagle Rock and beyond will be a very different place, maybe temporarily, maybe long-term.  There really no way to predict what would happen, but there are various ways to prepare ourselves, mentally and physically.

Just walk through your home and look at everything that is controlled by electricity. What would your day be like if there was no power?  Some things would be hard, or impossible, to replace without electricity. But many other electrical functions could easily be handled with manual tools, or “old-fashioned” technology.

Lights are easy.  My mother always had a good supply of candles, lanterns, and flashlights, and whenever there was a blackout, the house was fully lit! 

You should never be unable to process your meals if the power goes out.  Go to any kitchen supply shop and make sure you have manual can openers, juicers, coffee grinders, egg beaters (hey, a fork works fine!), grinders, slicers, etc. Whatever it is you do in your kitchen, you should be able to do without power.

A refrigerator won’t work without electricity, so unless you have some solar panels on your roof, you’ll want to store plenty of non-refrigerated food. This means pickled, dried, and canned.   This is also one of the big pluses in having a backyard and neighborhood garden, as well as backyard chickens.  Your food is fresh, and local, and not dependent on transportation systems. 

Home heating and cooling is a big topic, and if all houses were built with thicker, more insulated walls, and white heat-reflecting roofs, and big overhangs, etc., much of the cost of heating and cooling would be unnecessary.  I spent considerable time discussing this topic in my “Extreme Simplicity” and “Self-Sufficient Home” books, both of which can be reasonably obtained on Amazon. 

I spent a year and a half back in the late ‘70s as a squatter, and practiced a lot of the ecological-living methods that are becoming very popular today. We recycled everything, cooked on a wood stove, grew a lot of our food, recycled all household water, and even used (for a part of the time) a compost toilet.   Had the grid gone done during that time, it would have been just an inconvenience.  I wrote a book about that experience, called “Squatter in Los Angeles,” which is available as a Kindle book, or download from the Store at www.Schoolofself-Reliance.com.

During my time as a squatter, I had the advantage of living in a house that had been built with thick walls, a flat south-facing roof, and large overhangs.  Due to its position in a wind path, and its good construction, we never used any heaters or coolers. Well, we didn’t have any anyway, but that’s beside the point. The roof, once painted white with a liquid rubber roofing product, made the place about 15 degrees cooler in summer.

I grew much of my own food, sent the bath water out into the garden, and even experimented with a composting toilet.   I raised some ducks, grew corn, bean, squash, and tomatoes.  I used a wood stove that a neighbor let me borrow, and I fertilized with the wood ash. 

I learned on the job how to live better for less, and discovered that I could live well by looking to the past. We did have a used refrigerator, though it barely worked, so we learned to buy most of our food in a form that didn’t require refrigeration.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for most people in a grid-down world will be that the infrastructure around them will not work, or will change rapidly into something that does work. There will be barter, and things will get very localized.  How could you ever prepare for such an eventuality? One way to prepare is to always read American Survival Guide, as well as staying alert to local and world events that could impact your way of life.

You should also learn pioneer and survival skills, and  get to know any of the various groups who practice one or more of the many survival skills. Find them on-line, or at Meetup.  And there is no shortage of Youtube videos and books to help you along this learning path. 

Let me know if you have questions.


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Survival Value of Coins



We’re all so busy, rushing around from place to place in our modern world that we forget things have not always been like this, and – if history is any clue – things will not always be like this either.

Money makes our day-to-day life go forward, and most of us handle most of our transactions these days electronically, or with plastic.  (Does anyone write checks anymore?)

With even a simple blackout, most businesses are unable to function.  They couldn’t take your money if they wanted to, because their registers are all requiring electricity.
With a severe blackout, credit cards would be useless, though some merchant (and fellow traders) might accept paper currency.  At least for awhile, regular coinage would be accepted, because somehow tangible coinage in the hand will be regarded as more “real” than a check or paper money. 

If we were to fall into some long term breakdown (caused by natural forces, or man-made causes, or some combination), life would still go on and people will need some medium of exchange.  And they will find some medium.  In the short term, coinage will work, even the “junk metal” modern coinage, so it’s a good idea to have rolls of halfs, quarters, even dollars on hand.

In longer term situations, people might demand silver, meaning, pre-64 coinage from the U.S.  Copper and silver bullion pieces might work too, if you had the foresight to purchase these when they were readily available.

Gold is always touted as the survival metal, and yes it has stood the test of time because of its true rarity, and its incorruptibility, and its intrinsic actual value.  Nevertheless, look at the current price of gold.  Even if gold is “only” a thousand dollar an ounce when you read this, how many of your daily purchases approach a thousand dollars?  Not many. Even if you had 1/10 ounce coins, how many of your daily purchases are around a hundred dollars?  Granted, some will be.  But the 1/10 ounce gold coin is very small, and easy to lose.  It is probably a good idea to have some, because you can pack a lot of value into a little piece, but it’s not likely to be a coin of daily exchange in a survival scenario.  Gold does better in “normal” times when you can readily sell it on the open market for cash. 

But because so many of use these days more and more use plastic and electronics for paying bills, there is less and less hard currency in circulation. That means that if we were to experience some sort of currency collapse, coinage would disappear somewhat quickly. What then would people use for trade?

Again, we look to the past for clues.  Anyone who lived through WWII, or any of the other “small wars” all over the world, knows that basic commodities that everyone uses go into short supply.  Food, coffee, medicine, toilet paper, fuel, etc.  The items of everyday use become the items that everyone wants and needs, and these become tradable when the dollar dies.  Tradable items might also include sewing kits, first aid supplies, beer and alcohol, seeds, and maybe ammo.  Ammo makes a good trade item because it has different sizes that you barter about, but in the real world, most people want to keep their ammo, so other consumables will be highly sought as trade.
Use your imagination, and experience.

SOME ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FOR COIN-LOVERS
I have always enjoyed coins.  Not necessarily collecting, but learning about them, admiring them, learning their history, taking time with them, getting to know them, cleaning them, putting them into their right place in your collector’s book. 

Coins have rich intrinsic stories, and learning each coin’s history clue excites real collectors. Yes, perhaps some people make money with coins, and that was part of my early interest in coin collecting as a hobby.  You aren’t collecting buttons or bottle caps, but something that has a universally-acknowledged value. At the very least, coins are never worth nothing, and do not fall below their face value.

Like most collectors, I started with pennies, because pennies were cheap and you could buy rolls for 50 cents, and search through them for ones to fill the spaces in your book.  You learned real quick which ones were hard to get and rare: 1909SVDB, 1914D, 1931S, and perhaps a few others. Zinc pennies from the war were always interesting, and it reminded you that wars affect the availability of metals.  Indian head pennies were somewhat uncommon, and not necessarily valuable, but I always saved each one I ever found.

Coins are great conversation pieces, domestic or foreign. Everyone deals with coins all the time, so everyone is interested in at least a few coins.  Buffalo nickels are universally admired, and have long been used to adorn hat bands and belts.

Everyone likes the real silver dollars that were so long a part of American coinage, and visitors to Las Vegas back in the day would bring home silver dollars to give away or to collect.  Though only 90% silver, those beefy dollars reminded us that there was intrinsic metallic value in the coins.  They are still highly prized and only go up in value as silver rises.

Some years ago, I operated a farmers market and would get change for the farmers each week at the bank.  One farmer would consistently ask me to purchase rolls of half-dollar coins for him. More often than not, the bank didn’t have them, even though they are still produced.  Because they are not commonly used, most banks simply don’t stock them.

I asked the farmer why he wanted an “odd” size coin. He told me that the main reason is that people remember him from spending 50 cent pieces because they are not common.  He told me that people would often smile seeing them, and somehow that exchange of a half-dollar cemented friendships. He also said that occasionally he still finds silver coins.

I found that amazing, so I began to try it.  When receiving a half-dollar coin, people will feel it, hold it, look at it, and often smile, even laugh. “I haven’t seen one of those for awhile,” they’d laugh. 

I have had an occasion where someone thought they had received a dollar coin, and tried to give me change as if I’d paid double. In another case, as a joke, I told asked the person behind the counter if they would accept “Hawaiian money” as I placed the Kennedy half-dollars on the counter. “Oh, no, we can’t accept that,” said the worried clerk.   I didn’t think I’d have to explain that Hawaii was part of the U.S., and that I’d just made a joke, but the clerk was a new immigrant to the U.S. who had never seen a half-dollar, and didn’t know that Hawaii was part of the U.S.  To my amazement, I had to take back the half-dollars and pay with other money.

There was a coffee shop that I used to frequent, and I had begun paying with half-dollars.
After a few days, I came again to the shop and the proprietor asked me, “You were here two nights ago, right?”  ”Yes,” I said, “how did you know?”  “Because I found half-dollars in the cash register,” the proprietor told me. 

But another aspect that I found even more interesting is that because half-dollars are not commonly circulated, you occasionally may find silver coins in the rolls you get from the bank.  One Christmas, I actually got several Franklin halfs and 1964 Kennedy halfs, which are 90% silver. I assumed that some boy stole his father’s coin collection and spent the money, and the merchant who received it just took it to the bank with all the other change.

Though 1964 was the last year that there was a 90% silver Kennedy half, there was 40% silver in the halfs from 1965 through 1969.   This meant they were worth more than face value.  If  you know the spot price of silver, you can simply do the math to see how much just the silver is worth in, say, a 1966 Kennedy half.  Certainly more than 50 cents.  But I’d collected so many of these 40% silver coins that when I needed money to pay for a trip to Mexico a few years ago, I sold them all for over 10 times what I paid for them, and paid for the trip.  That wasn’t a bad investment.

Coins (and paper currency too) tell the history of a country, its politics, its ebb and flow of culture. I once had a Nazi silver coin that I’d purchased at a coin show, but I found its “atmosphere” unpleasant and quickly got rid of it.  I am still a bit amazed that Chinese currency retains the face of Mao, who was responsible for the deaths of perhaps 100 million Chinese. But he retains a bit of a mixed reputation among Chinese.

Sure, you can say it’s only pieces of metal, but they are so much more. They are living pieces of history, bringing the past alive, and giving you great conversation pieces.  And, equally important, if you’re ever broke, you can just sell your coins, or barter with them when the valueless Federal Reserve Notes are no longer accepted.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Learning About Mushrooms




LEARNING ABOUT MUSHROOMS

Recently, when my “Foraging Oregon” book was released, one person criticized that it  did not include mushrooms in the book because “mushrooms are part of foraging.”  Obviously, the person didn’t actually read the book, and so he missed my reasons for not including mushrooms in the book. Yes, some mushrooms are easily identified, like chicken of the woods, yet there are many lesser-known related species in the “safe” groups can cause sickness if not processed right.

Mycology was the science that obsessed me the most, before botany, and back in the early ‘70s, mycologists were few and far between.  Besides getting every book on the subject, I also joined the Los Angeles Mycological Association, and spent many weekends in fields and wild areas looking for mushrooms, and learning how to identify them. 

Though I’ve written over a dozen books on wild foods and self-reliance, I’ve never written a book exclusively on mushrooms. The reason is because there are many specialists out there who’ve already written some excellent mycology books.  I admit, I shared some basics of mycology in my “Testing Your Outdoor Survival Skills” book, and I’ve used my mushroom quiz for the basis of many lectures.

My publisher of the Falcon Guides wanted me to include a few mushrooms in my “Foraging California” book, partly because all of the other books in that foraging series included a few mushrooms.  But I decided not to include even a few “simple” mushrooms, in part because there are really far too many members of each genus than are ever included in any book, and so amateurs really have no practical way of knowing these “look-alikes” even exist. I still read about experts who ate the wrong mushroom, and died, usually slow and painfully. 

Consider that there are many more good botanists than mycologists because you can go out any day (more or less) and study the flowering plants and trees, and you can get to know them well.  But mushrooms don’t last so long. They appear seemingly at random, and they disappear.  There are therefore not as many good mycologists as botanists because it takes a lot more time and dedication to study the mostly ephemeral mushrooms. 

Also, even the best mycology books do not include all the possible mushrooms that you might find in an area.  At one time or another, I believe I have possessed every notable book published on mycology.  Each contains verbal descriptions, and one or two photos. Some contain technical keys for differentiating the mushroom you found with every other mushroom.  But if the mushroom in your hand is not found in the book in which you are now looking, you might be tempted to conclude that what’s in your hand must be this one or that one in the book. Maybe, maybe not. No harm done if you’re just trying to identify the mushroom, and if you don’t intend to eat it. But it’s an entirely different ball game if you intend to eat the wild mushroom.
We’ve all heard the old rule: there are old mushroom hunters, and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old and bold mushroom hunters.  Sad, but true.

When I was just starting out learning mycology, I insisted on eating every mushrooms that the old experts identified to me as being edible. Some were good, some were not. I had at least a few unpleasant vomiting sessions.  I no longer care to try every “edible” mushroom.

In other words, there are a LOT of mushrooms out there, and not all of them are described in books.  If you want to eat wild mushroom, learn mycology first (the study of mushrooms) and then learn mycophagy second (the study of how to eat wild mushrooms).  Learn by taking a class where you will see the actual mushrooms, hopefully in the field at least some of the time. Join a local mushroom society where you can go on field trips. Then, use internet sites, and videos, and books as the back up to your direct field experience.

BOOKS

And yes, there are some really good books out there.
Here are just a few of the books that I highly recommend for those of you who choose to pursue the science of mycology, without losing your life:

“California Mushrooms: The Comprehensive Identification Guide,” by Desjardin, Wood, and Stevens (Timber Press, 2015).  This new book is expensive, hard-cover, all color photos, up-to-date, and useful well beyond just California.  You get a good comprehensive overview of the world of mycology, with all the types of fungi broken into their categories with keys to help you identify the mushroom in hand. Well worth the money. This over-sized book is over 550 pages.

“Mushrooms Demystified,” by David Arora (Ten Speed Press, 1986).  David Arora is perhaps the man when it comes to mycology. A thick book with 2000 species, over 800 photos, mostly black and white but many in color.  If this is the only book you had, you’d do well, and you’d learn that patience is part of studying mycology.  Nearly 1000 pages.

“The Great Encyclopedia of Mushrooms” by Lamaison and Polese (Konemann, 2005). This is an English version of a German original, really more of a coffee table book that is a very good introduction to mycology.  A very good pictorial overview, and if you master this, you’re ready for one of the other books.

“The Mushroom Manual” by Pearson (Naturegraph, 2014)  Both amateurs and professionals will enjoy this book.  It does not purport to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about mushrooms.  It does, however, give the reader an excellent overview of fungi. It includes the “foolproof four” that anyone can identify and eat, the fatal five (deadly mushrooms), the nine basic groups, and mushroom identification keys. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Searching for Meaning in the Death and Resurrection Story (with thanks to Musashi)



[Nyerges is the author of “How to Survive Anywhere,” “Extreme Simplicity,” “Foraging California,” and other books. He can be reached at www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com, or Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041.]

I grew up with the basic theme of the savior and his death and resurrection, defying the odds of a materialistic society. Jesus is the most widely-written about topic of all time: What are the facts, what do they mean, what does it mean to me, what does it mean to the future.

I felt very much in a seeking mode this Good Friday, and decided to sit in a church where I would sit in my childhood during the 3 hours of the passion of the Christ.  To my chagrin, the churches I visited had no services, so I spent quiet time in my own inner church.

To me, the true essence of religion consists of ways of living, survival tools, if you will, that would help us survive if we’d only follow those guidelines.

After my “How To Survive Anywhere” book was published, a few acquaintances criticized me for the inclusion of what they perceived to be “non-survival” issues in the last chapter, which I called “What is Survival?”  For example, I included USC basketball coach Wooden’s famous pyramid of success, including such “old fashioned” principles as the Ten Commandments.

My perspective is that we can all master Boy Scout skills, and we should.  In addition, we should all strive to become better human beings, and become an asset to our family, community and nation.  This requires discipline, patience, and study.

I am not a pessimist.  It has long seemed that our society has lost its grounding, lost its ability to think, and sinks deeper and deeper into sectarianism, greed, and lust.  On the other hand, there are countless guidelines and reference points that show the way to anyone awake enough who desires a way through the fog that our society has created. 

The Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments, for example.  These are excellent practical survival guidelines that, if followed, provide us with emotional and spiritual stability and a sense of what to do and not to do.

So my perspective is that the higher ideals that we should learn, and live, are in fact, real “survival tools.”  Let me know what you think.

There are other guidelines as well, coming from all corners of the globe. 

For example, I recently obtained a copy of Miyamoto Musashi’s A Book of Five Rings.  Musashi was perhaps the most renowned of all Japanese Samurai.  An undefeated warrior, as well as a poet and artist, he wrote his book in 1645 while living in a cave during the last year of his life. 

He divides his lessons into the Ground book, the Water book, the Fire book, the Wind book, and the Book of the Void.  The Way of which Musashi writes is the Way of Strategy, and all of his books are chiefly concerned with Timing.  In the Ground book, provides 9 guidelines, adding “This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy.”

1.      Do not think dishonestly.
2.      The Way is in training.
3.      Become acquainted with every art.
4.      Know the Ways of all professions.
5.      Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
6.      Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.
7.      Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
8.      Pay attention even to trifles.
9.      Do nothing which is of no use.

These are excellent guidelines to study and to apply to any profession.  And because my state of mind was very much into seeing beyond dogma and division, I saw Musashi’s 9 guidelines as a very meaningful Good Friday message.  Yes, we are nailed to the cross of our bodies and our culture, and only by following the spirit of such guidelines as the Golden Rule, the 10 Commandments, and Musashi’s 9 guidelines, are we to resurrect from our own morass of animality and materialism. 

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Death Seminars




[an excerpt from “Til Death Do Us Part?” which is available from Kindle, or from the Store at www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com.]

Dolores and I were active students of metaphysics, mostly through our association with WTI’s Spiritual Studies classes.  We spent a lot of time studying Harold Percival’s “Thinking and Destiny,” and other books such as Fromme’s “Art of Loving” and Hayakawa’s “Language in Thought and Action.” 

By the early 1990s, we began to conduct weekly study sessions and classes in our home, mostly readings from “Thinking and Destiny” on Sunday afternoons. 

One night, we offered a class called “What Happens After Death.”  About 10 people showed up for this one, which was a large gathering for our small meeting room. 

We began by telling everyone that this was not some sort of religious exercise, nor was anyone required to “agree with” or “believe” anything we were telling them. Rather, we simply asked that they consider the scenario that we’d be sharing as a possibility, and that we would not consider “arguments” or “debates” about it.  In other words, something does “happen” to us after our body dies.  This “something” can range from “nothing” to reincarnation to “going to hell” and many other possibilities. 

We were students of Harold Percival’s “Thinking and Destiny” book, and we explained that for this class, we’d be sharing his version of what happens after we die.  Obviously, Dolores and I considered this version to be not only acceptable, but possible and plausible. 

A brief explanation about Percival is required.  He claimed in the preface to his monumental “Thinking and Destiny” book that he “came to” the information that he shares by means of what he calls “Real Thinking

Upon body death, according to Percival, we “automatically” go through a series of steps, which he initially describes as a brief overview on pages 240 to 253.  He describes a specific order of 12 events, which includes a life-review, a judgement, a heaven-state, etc.  

After our brief explanation, we asked each participant to lie on our floor. 

“Now you have just died,” we announced, and we covered each person with a sheet to further simulate the death experience.  We then read through the after-death stages, one by one, slowly, in the darkened room, asked each participant to work hard to fully feel the experience.

Talking through this process took about 45 minutes.

Then, we got through the entire cycle, and explained that these steps could actually take several hundred years of earth time.  Then it would be time for being reborn into a suitable and appropriate family, in the place on earth that we’ve earned for ourselves.

We turned on the lights, and removed the sheets, and let everyone take a few minutes to get their eyes adjusted to the light.  Slowly, each person opened their eyes and slowly got up, and sat down in a chair.

We began to share significant experiences that each person had.  A few folks were very quiet and would not talk at all, but others were very talkative.  Some were even in tears.

We closed the class by telling everyone that they had not died tonight, and that everyone now has a “new opportunity” to still “do the right things” since they were still alive in a body.

We shared some freshly-made coffee-elixir and healthful cookies, and we discussed a few of the upcoming classes and poetry readings that we’d be having in the coming weeks.  But no one seemed interested in our announcements.  Most everyone was strongly affected by the experience, and they wanted to ask more questions, which we tried to answer.  As usual, we didn’t feel like the most perfect examples in the world, but we knew that “the future” is all the result of each and every choice that we make, second by second, and the consequences of those choices.  To make the wisest possible choices every second of one’s entire life required a unique sort of sobriety and focus which itself required a unique lifestyle regimen to maintain – and, of course, those details were the subjects of our on-going classes.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Open Letter to Trump



Dear Mr. Trump:

I have been thinking of writing to you for some time, and I’ve finally gotten around to it.

I didn’t know much about you in the past, though your name was occasionally in the news.  I watched and like your Apprentice show, because it forced people to quickly make a plan, and quickly implement a plan to get some business going. In general, I liked the show because I saw young entrepreneurs working creatively to make a buck.  I kept a lot of my ideas to myself as I watched the show, such as “it seems that it doesn’t really matter HOW you make a buck, as long as you make the most.” I mean, sometimes the “winner” wasn’t really a winner in my eyes, but they always made the most money, which was the tangible and measurable factor by which you gauged “success.”  

Sometimes I agreed with your reasons for “firing” one of the contestants, especially when you thought they used less than ideal or socially acceptable means to earn their day’s money. 

Overall, the show seemed like an aggressive business boot camp where you do or die, make money or go home.

It was very entertaining, and it made me realize that American business and creativity are not dead.  (Though, to be honest, I much prefer the recent “Shark Tank,” where existing small business people vie for investment money.)

Somewhere in there, I recall seeing on TV how you sold Merv Griffin an old apartment building.  Merv was happy, and you got the price you wanted, but in talking about it, I was a bit perplexed that you had to call Merv Griffin names and belittle his character, because you wanted it known that you won and he lost.  I recall wondering, why couldn’t you both have “won”?  You got rid of something you didn’t want, and Merv got something he wanted. Win-win.  But no, you had to demean Merv, for reasons I never knew. Surely a “big businessman” doesn’t resort to such tactics.

Now we see you more often than during the Apprentice in your bid for the presidency.  Let me explain why I am ashamed at what I now see you doing.

Yes, you say you want to make America great again. That’s all fine and dandy.

I was brought up in the world of William Buckley’s Firing Line on Sunday afternoons, where he would debate complex matters with people he disagreed with, always with a smile, always sticking to the issues, never ever stooping to such puerility as calling each other names, as boys do in the bathroom or out on the school yard.

I do not understand why you stoop to 3rd grade bully tactics when talking to and with people who should be, at least on a certain level of abstraction, your colleagues and potential partners.  To bring up Carly Fiorone’s face and to suggest that she is not good looking was a low blow, and unnecessary. Come on, Donald, have you ever looked in a mirror lately?  Everyone ages and beauty is fleeting. The presidency is not a beauty contest.  You have nit-picked every other running mate, in one way or another, in personal attacks that are not worthy of a presidential candidate, and definitely unbecoming and undesirable in an actual president, and nearly always in ways that have nothing at all to do with their ability to run the country.

 I cannot remember another President in my lifetime who ever publicly stooped to such personal attacks. Probably the closest thing was Ronald Reagan saying he was going to whip Jimmy Carter’s ass.  But he never again, to my knowledge, stooped to a gutter level in his interactions with, or his speaking about, Carter or others.

The fact that you continue to do so means that this is a very natural state of mind for you. It is also painfully obvious that you have no one in your inner circle (that you listen to) who tells you the great harm you are doing by this continued childish name-calling. You hurt yourself, at least it seems so. You hurt the Republican party, which to date, has been used to a campaign with at least outward civility. And you hurt the office of the presidency.

Believe me, I am no fan of Hillary in this extraordinary campaign year.  She has out-Nixoned Nixon already, and amazingly, her supporters are legion, who seem not to care about her deep character flaws.

Nevertheless, Mr. Trump, don’t you understand that civility and yes, even politeness and tactfulness, are the hallmarks of a real leader?  I fear that all your money is going to your head, and you believe that  you have so much money, that you can say whatever you want.  Yes, you can, but you bring down our revered institutions each time you belittle another candidate in your childish tirades. Can’t you stick to the real issues upon which a presidency will be involved? 

Your quick and ridiculing and belittling comments are unworthy of a chief of state who will also need to interact other world leaders, whose co-operation is better than their anger.  You will not be able to “fire” other world leaders who do not see things your way.

Yes, I know there are the frustrated masses who like you because you are not politically-correct and because you “speak your mind.”  These are good things, to a point.  Being candid and honest is generally a good thing.  But your “letting it all hang out” is not a good thing.  It is the political version of the Oregon Bhagwan’s free-for-all orgies where anything could and did happen, and eventually the towns organized to eliminate the Bhagwan guru and his followers.  Some people like your style now, and I tremble to say that they like the style which has no substance, and they are swayed by the apparent free-style which has gone out of the bounds of presidential decency. 

Perhaps someone will arise who can be a real uniter, someone who Democrats and Republicans and Independents can unite behind for the good of the country. Perhaps it is time for the rise of a meaningful third party, since the available options are looking increasingly bleak. 

It would be better for the country, and the presidency, Mr. Trump, if you dropped out of the race and went back to your very entertaining Apprentice show, and your many business enterprises which you enjoy so much.  You have not demonstrated the ability to negotiate on a political level, and to bring people together in a common win-win agreement.  At least if you go back to the Apprentice and to your business enterprises, you will be able to call those under your control whatever you wish without international consequences.



Monday, March 07, 2016

An Excerpt from "Ancient Writing on Rocks"



How Did They Get Here, Revisited: BOATS

[This is a section from Nyerges' "Ancient Writing on the Rocks," which describes a site in the Angeles National Forest with two rocks whose inscriptions can be translated into a Western European language, in a style of writing that died out about 1500 years ago. The book is available on Kindle, or as a pdf from the Store at SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com.


 Remember, there was a challenge when this first appeared in the local newspaper. I was asked, “How did (they) get all the way over here?”

Of course, my answer was “boats.” (How else?!!)

Trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic travel almost certainly occurred, bringing various travelers to North and South America in the pre-Columbian days.

Even one of the biggest skeptics of diffusionism, Eric Lurio, author of “A Fractured History of the Discovery of America,” admits that oceanic voyages to North America occurred.  Lurio did his research, and seems to know of every theory of contact with the Old and New World, and generally only discusses the aspects of these theories which help to debunk each one. For example, although the average 3rd grader will look at the giant Olmec heads from Mexico and tell you they look African, Lurio will tell you that certain features we regard as “African” aren’t actually that rare south of the Rio Grande.  Really?  Should we wonder why?  Most of Lurio’s arguments are not objectively scientific, but rather involved lots of fun and ridicule.

To be fair, Lurio’s premise is that just getting to America doesn’t constitute a “discovery” – he lists his 3 “rules” which he regards as the basis for a discovery by his definition, and based on those rules, Columbus wins.

Nevertheless, he admits that folks sailed all the way across the Atlantic to the L’Anse Aux Meadow in Newfoundland around 986 A.D., but he dismisses any evidence that folks may have sailed further south.  The Kensington Stone, the Newport Tower, Saint Brendan, and Madoc are all regarded as hoaxes, frauds, or fairy tales.

But when it comes  to sweet potatoes, he recognizes that they are native to North America and somehow became popular with Polynesians before 1492.  “Just how the Polynesians got them is a mystery,” writes Lurio.  “Either an Amerindian must have gotten to Polynesia, or a Polynesian must have gotten to America,” he admits.

On page 49 of his book, he describes artifacts that were found in 1975 at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in  Washington  which have continued to perplex archaeologists.  At the site, called Ozette, there was apparently a massive landslide around 1495 to 1500 which buried everything, and even such perishable things as baskets were preserved.

Archaeologists found a few dozen smelted iron knives blades and pieces of bamboo in the excavation.  According to Lurio, the current theory is that “some poor Japanese sailors got caught in a storm and were blown out to sea.  They drifted along the Kirusiro, or Japanese current, for six months or so before being shipwrecked on the American west coast.  It’s been estimated that there were two or three such shipwrecks per century…

“Transpacific contact happened.  But it was nothing like what its advocates say.  The plain fact is that except for the Arctic – where the Pacific is only 56 miles across and there was plenty of contact, trans-Pacific contact was limited to tiny incidents that, with the exception of the Polynesian discovery of the sweet potato and maybe some 5,000-year-old pottery designs, left absolutely no impact on either the Asians or the Amerindians.  So this cannot qualify as a ‘discovery’ of America.”

Indeed!  I was never arguing about “discovery” here, just that ancient people could and did travel the oceans, and that ample evidence shows that they could, and did, get here to the west coast of the U.S.

That’s what Thor Heyerdahl spent his life trying to prove, and he did it with little reed boats.

Back in the days of Julius Caesar, battles were fought on the Mediterranean using huge ships, not small reed boats like Heyerdahl.  Two Roman era ships recovered in Lake Nemi were about 230 and 240 feet long, with 37-foot-long oars, putting to rest the debate whether or not the Romans actually could have built ships as big as they described in their writings. Clearly, these were vessels capable of sailing the open sea.  [See also Julius Caesar’s descriptions of Celtic boats in Book 3 of his De Bello Gallico (Gallic Wars), written in 56 B.C.E.]

To buttress the idea that people from afar have been to North America, one should read the following books:

“Pale Ink” by Henriette Mertz.  Mertz examines two ancient Chinese books, one from 2200 BC and the other from 500 AD, which describe two voyages of exploration. Mertz shows how the geographical data closely match certain areas on the west coast of America. A fascinating read.  How’d they get to America?  Boats, of course.

“The Zuni Enigma” by Nancy Yaw Davis.  [This is the description on Amazon] “Did a group of thirteenth-century Japanese journey to the American Southwest, there to merge with the people, language, and religion of the Zuni tribe? For many years, anthropologists have understood the Zuni in the American Southwest to occupy a special place in Native American culture and ethnography. Their language, religion, and blood type are startlingly different from all other tribes. Most puzzling, the Zuni appear to have much in common with the people of Japan. In a book with groundbreaking implications, Dr. Nancy Yaw Davis examines the evidence underscoring the Zuni enigma, and suggests the circumstances that may have led Japanese on a religious quest--searching for the legendary "middle world" of Buddhism--across the Pacific and to the American Southwest more than seven hundred years ago.” 
And how would these Japanese have gotten across the Pacific?  Boats, of course.

Maya Genesis” by Graeme Kearsley. [This is the description on Amazon]  “The prime theme of this work is a comparison of the iconography of the remarkable Mayan civilization of central and south America, with that of India. It goes on to delineate the similarities between the mythologies of the Mayan people and those of the Mediterranean, China and Japan, Polynesia and ancient Egypt, amongst others. These similarities cannot be labeled coincidental. Did these mythologies erupt spontaneously from the collective unconscious of mankind, or is the more prosaic explanation to be found in the study of oceanic trading routes and sea-borne migrations? Presents a convincing and deeply-researched case that the mythology and iconography of Mesoamerica were widely and deeply influenced by those of India -- and the Ganges Delta in particular.”
How would people from India have gotten to the Maya lands in the distant past?  Boats, of course.

 “1421: The Year China Discovered America” by Gavin Menzies.  This one is all about boats! [This is the description on Amazon]  “On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China to "proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas." When the fleet returned home in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in the long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. And they colonized America before the Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world.”
Yes, a controversial book, but well worth reading.

In Gloria Farley’s book, “In Plain View,” she devotes an entire chapter to New World inscription that appear to show Old World boats. Farley tells you her opinion on who drew the inscriptions, and where they came from.
                       
Clearly, ancient people were well aware of boats and they traveled far and wide upon the waters.