Roaming Charges: The Hotter They Come

Source: NOAA.

When asked in interviews about how we managed to work together over so many years, Alexander Cockburn liked to say:  “Jeffrey and I live on the same coast, separated only by different weather systems.” And it’s true, though perhaps less true than it was 20 or even 15 years ago. It’s also true that Alexander and I spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the weather: was the Mattole on the rise, was there snow in the passes, was the Pacific too warm to harvest mussels, were the Siskiyous burning again?

Cockburn, notoriously, remained a climate change apostate to the end. There was no deathbed conversion from Alex. We parried over it for years, usually good-naturedly. I’ve never been a very good evangelist. I’m much too pessimistic to effectively spread the “good news” of the approaching Apocalypse.

Even so, Alex despised the oil and coal companies as much as any of Bill McKibben’s acolytes and more fiercely than most. You wouldn’t see Alex pimping fracking for natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to a green future the way the Sierra Club and other Big Green groups did or advertise nuclear power as the path to climate salvation the way Bhaskar Sunkara, the laptop Jacobin, just did in the Guardian. But Alex loved old cars and open roads and despised conformity of any kind.

Still the last few years may have softened his resolve, as his lovely rivers–the ones he waded in to harass, usually futilely, salmon and steelhead–the Mattole, the Eel, the Trinity and the Klamath steadily dry up. And as the ranchers on the Lost Coast, who won his affection over the pot-growing newcomers, are forced to sell off their cattle and sheep because even in early June wasn’t enough water, grass or hay to get them through the summer. Increasingly, Petrolia and Oregon City are now united under the same summer sky, a sky often obscured by smoke from fires that ignite in June and rage until the rains of November put them out.

My thoughts kept returning to Cockburn this week as the “heat dome” clamped tight its seal on the Pacific Northwest from Mount Shasta to Ft. Smith inside the Arctic Circle and temperatures spiked to incendiary levels never seen before in the region–or in very many other places on the continent.

I doubt even many meteorologists believed their own forecasts at first. Looking at the iPhone weather app, it seemed like we were being set up for a kind of “duck-and-cover” climate drill. Oh look, honey, they say it might be 111F next week. Should we buy a couple more fans, maybe see if we could book a room at the coast until it blows over? Yes, there were warning signals, but that didn’t mean it was likely to happen. Nothing remotely like this has happened before. Why now? In June? C’mon, what were the real odds? How do you prepare yourself for something you’ve never experienced?

As the days clicked by and the temperatures notched up from the mid-80s to the low 90s and from the low-90s to mid-90s, a startling thing happened. Instead of the forecasts being revised downward, the prognostications became more dire, suggesting that the heat would surge to an unimaginable 116F in the Portland area, a full 10 degrees hotter than it had ever been before on any date. I kept rebooting my iPhone thinking it was surely a mistake, that somehow Portland’s data had got mixed with Tucson’s or Tonopah’s. What would 116F possibly feel like?

I recalled the hottest days I’d experience, which occurred during a three day float down the Green and Colorado Rivers, through  Labyrinth and Cataract Canyons in mid-July, when the temperature hit 106F for a few hours. But there was the river, cool and swift, the shadows cast by the canyon walls, the late sunrises and early sunsets. And even in those forgiving conditions, we all nearly wilted from sunstroke.

When we moved to Oregon more than three decades ago, people used to joke that Portland had two seasons: the rainy season and August. Hyperbole meant to scare away the Californians, but it wasn’t stretching the truth by much. The weather here could, and often did, drizzle until July the Fourth. I spent my soggy days and chilly nights at the Waterfront Blues Festival over the years, which is held on Independence Day weekend.

But something happened, as Joseph Heller wrote. Something happened about a decade ago. The gears on the weather system shifted. That once precious thing called summer arrived earlier and departed later. Those lingering spring rains, the fog and cool marine layers dissipated. The rivers, once flush with snow melt into July, began to dwindle and dry up in late May. Normally shielded by clouds, the super-volcanoes of the Cascade Range–Hood, Adams, St. Helens and Jefferson–began to reveal themselves in May and what you saw was disturbing for those of us who knew them, who had climbed their flanks, crossed their glaciers and waded their frigid streams, milky white from snowmelt. Each morning there was less snow on the peaks and more bare patches of basalt, ash and scree. It’s like watching glacial retreat in real time. Then the Gorge burned down in 2017. Then last summer the western slopes of the Cascades went up in flames, from Mt. Hood to Mt. Jefferson, and chased us from our house, 40 miles away from where the fires started.

So the “heat dome” shouldn’t have caught any of use by surprise. The new normal is yesterday’s abnormal. The surprises and anomalies come and go, but only in one direction. The hotter they come, the hotter the records fall. It’s time to stop calling the PNW heat wave “unprecedented” and start calling it the precedent for a future that has already arrived.

What was it like here over the last week? Oppressive. The grass turned brown overnight. Even the sun-loving plants–tomatoes, peppers, oregano, geraniums–began to wilt. Our cat Greymalkin refused to leave the house, to the delight of any birds left in the neighborhood. The temperatures inside our house eventually topped 90F with the AC fully cranked. By Sunday, I had retreated to the basement, hauling as many plants with me as I could. It was hard to sleep and harder to concentrate. I got a trollish email yesterday saying that I’d been “brainwashed” by climate hysterics. I wish. Frankly, my brain seemed dried, fried, baked, sautéed and roasted. But definitely not washed.

Still all things considered, we were fortunate. We had a roof over our heads, AC to blunt some of the sting from the heat, the power–despite a few ominous flickers–stayed on, the water kept running. Thousands over others, up and down the coast, didn’t have these advantages. Many slept on the hard streets of Portland and Seattle, where the heat index topped 120F. Just a few thousand feet from our house as the ravens fly, there’s a camp on the canyon floor with nearly 200 houseless people. I dropped a couple of cases of water at the trailhead to the camp on Monday morning, my only venture out into the inferno.

I got texts from friends in Portland who were living without AC–long considered an extravagance in the PNW–saying the temperature inside their apartments had topped 100F. My friend Gerardo stopped by the house on Saturday. He runs a little landscaping company. Gerardo is originally from Oaxaca and is used to the heat. He said one of his workers had just passed out and he was feeling woozy himself. It was only 101F on Saturday. It would be 10 to 15 degrees hotter on Monday and Tuesday, when Gerardo said he planned to work, if he could. He couldn’t afford to take the days off. (It was later reported that a farmworker had collapsed and died in a field near St. Paul, Oregon, 20 miles to the south of us around the very time Gerardo nearly fainted).

Don’t let anyone fool you. Climate changes hits everyone, but it hits many people harder than others. The consequences of climate change are a class issue, just as the forces driving climate change are fueled by an economic system that sacrifices almost anything in the path of its pursuit of profits.

In the end, it was Greymalkin the cat who told me the heat dome had loosened its grip. After disappearing into some dark recess of the house for three days, suddenly at 7PM on Tuesday night, she was at the back door, demanding to be let out. I tentatively slide open the door and was caressed by the first cool wind in days. A weak low pressure front rising off the Pacific had finally breached the Coast Range and plunged into the Willamette valley. The temperature fell from 115F to 90F in less than an hour. 92 in the shade never felt so damn cool.


+ The Pacific Northwest, from Red Bluff to Bellingham (and large parts of Canada we know and care nothing about) just got ransacked by an insurrectionary Heat Dome. Nancy Pelosi naming a Select Committee to investigate the causes will be the surest sign Congress intends to do nothing about it. Of course, Pelosi not appointing a Select Committee to investigate the causes of the insurrectionary Heat Dome will also be a sign that Congress intends to do nothing about it.

+ I set up a nerf basketball hoop for the grandkids last week. By Sunday afternoon, it had melted like one of Dali’s clocks. I guess it’s soccer fields for them…

+ The heat waves, (if that’s what you want to call them), droughts, fires and hurricanes are happening at only 1.1 degree of warming. What’s it going to be like when the planet hits 2 degrees and then 3, which is exactly where we’re headed…Will Bezos & Musk be terraforming Mars by then?

+ Portland’s high temperature was 40 degrees above normal, 4.5 standard deviations from the mean, making it the most severe heatwave ever recorded in North America, the kind of event only expected to happen every 400 years. But these kinds of wild fluctuations usually happen in fall and spring,  almost never in summer. Portand’s deviation from the norm would be like Dallas hitting 134F or Madrid hitting 124F. (H/t Robert Rohde, Berkeley Earth).

+ Admittedly, Portland isn’t as hip as it used to be, but at 116F it’s still one-degree cooler than Salem (117F), which my late friend Larry Tuttle used to call “the city of unresolved architecture”…

+ DC’s highest ever temperature was 106F. So at 116F, Portland is now officially hotter than Hell.

+ Many states have never recorded temps as high as Portland hit on Monday, including…

• Hawaii: 98
• Mass. 107
• New York: 108
• Florida: 109
• Maryland 109
• NJ: 110
• North Carolina: 110
• Virginia: 110
• Pennsylvania: 111

+ Satellites recorded temperatures as high 122F in Washington state yesterday. (It was 118F at The Dalles) Today’s high of 95F will feel like a descending cold front. Glad I didn’t stow away my parka for the summer…

+ It hit 70F on the summit of Mount Rainier (14,411 feet above sea level), where the normal high temperature is 30F.

+ On Sunday afternoon, Lytton, British Columbia, broke the record  for the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada with a measurement of 46.6 C (116F). Then it broke that record again on Monday. And again on Tuesday with a high of 49.6C (121F), shattering the old heat record set 84-years ago by 4.6C (8F)!

+ Here’s a map made by climate scientist Brian Brettschneider, showing all the places in Canada and the US that have ever been as hot or hotter than Lytton, BC.

+ On Thursday, a wildfire tore through the native village of Lytton, burning 90 percent of the town.

+ The fire that burned Lytton to the ground was probably ignited by lightning, lightning which may have been created by the dense heat and smoke from other fires. Over a 15 hour period this week, the fire clouds sparked 710,117 lightning strikes in BC and Alberta.

+ As we “grieve” the death of Rumsfeld, it’s time to rephrase one of the Bush team’s most cynical equations–though in this case we replace fantasy with reality. The smoking gun from climate change is a mushroom cloud: the pyrocumulus smoke plume of the Lava Fire on the northern flank of Mt. Shasta.

+ A new fire (Salt Fire) erupted Weds. afternoon south of Shasta this time, near Lakehead. I direct your attention to the lack of lake at Lakehead…(That’s the I-5 bridge over Lake Shasta. I walked under that bridge two weeks ago. The waterline was at least 200 feet below the end of the boat ramp. Lower now.)

+ The central valley town of Teviston, California is now without running water. It won’t be the only one…

+ The wildlife refuges of the Klamath Basin and Sacramento Valley–Klamath, Tule Lake, Sacramento, Delevan, Sutter and Colusa–are also drying up, with grave consequences for migratory birds, including an epidemic of avian botulism.

+ A new study found that umpires in Major League Baseball call pitches less accurately when temperatures are above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. (And K-Zone just goes offline due to PG&E power surges…)

+ Meanwhile, the Atlantic has already brewed up 5 tropical storms, including Hurricane Elsa, and the hurricane season just started …

+ The 104°F (40°C) reading at Ft. Smith near Wood Buffalo National Park in the North West Territories is the warmest temperature ever measured north of 60°N latitude.

+ Exxon’s lobbyists brag openly about about gutting Biden’s climate agenda and their smugness is truly grating. But is it really that much of an achievement to undercut policies Biden never intended to fully implement in the first place?

+ As nuclear talks were taking in place in Vienna, Biden was dropping 500 lbs bombs for no particular reason on (allegedly) Iranian-backed militias while they slept in tents in the Syrian and Iraqi deserts–a violation of international law, US law, the US Constitution, and common human decency (if there is such a thing, any more).

+ The US “liberated” Iraq from a tyranny, set up a new government supposedly modeled on democratic principles, legal frameworks, human rights and national sovereignty, the laws of which (not to mention airspace) the US violates at will.

+ Doddering old war-monger, “as they say”…

+ Biden doesn’t care if there’s congressional authorization for troops to be in Syria or to launch airstrikes against Syria and Iraq. He just uses Article 2 of the Constitution, as a unilateral right to wage war on anyone he wants, anywhere he wants…until someone stops him.

+ “We condemn the US air attack that targeted a site last night on the Iraqi-Syrian border, which represents a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security,” said Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

+ Bill Barr reportedly claimed that Trump’s election fix claims are “bullshit.” But so were nearly every one of Biden’s campaign promises, from $2000 checks, to $15 minimum wage, to canceling student debt, to reuniting separated migrant families, to climate change, & public option. I don’t know which bullshit is worse. But both amount to a kind of election fraud.

+ By presenting perjured testimony from a convicted pedophile, the prosecutors in the US case against Assange now have dirty hands. The case should be dismissed. But since Assange is being prosecuted for showing just how dirty the hands of the US government are, they will likely blame him for this latest revelation of their misdeeds and redouble their efforts to keep him locked up for the rest of his life. If they can do this without an actual trial (or if he dies in prison), so much the better for them.

+ The major papers were flush with headlines this week warning about how the US military is only “days away” from completing its “pullout” from Afghanistan, somehow overlooking the fact they’re leaving in situ 650 troops, thousands of contractors, special ops, and CIA operatives, while bombers and drones patrol the skies overhead. A similar “bootprint” in Syria was used to justify Biden’s recent airstrikes…

+ Over to you, Dante: Donald Rumsfeld is dead at 88.

+ Winslow Wheeler, former Senate and House staff member on national security issues and a CounterPunch contributor, suggests another fate for the shade of Rumsfeld: “Hell is too good for him.  Force him to listen to and watch an endless loop of Nancy Pelosi press conferences.”

+ Donald Rumsfeld fancied himself a dark genius, the McNamara of the neo-cons. But he was really a rather conventional thinker with a plodding, sententious rhetorical style that some mistook for sagacity. In reality, Rumseld had mastered one parlor trick, which was his ability to seduce that most credulous of species, the national security reporter. (CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr once referred to Rumsfeld as a “big flirty pussycat.”) Rumsfeld made many of them believe that the knowns were unknown and the unknowns were known. In swallowing his deceptions, the press helped him kill, maim and torture 100,000s of innocent people. They’ll try to rewrite his story and their part in it, but history will speak for itself and the more they try to suppress it the more fiercely it will reassert itself.

+ Doug? Steve? Did you bring your lists to work today, so we can get started plotting the invasion of Iraq? Clock’s a ticking…

+ Doug: “Sir, is torture a good thing or a bad thing?”

+ Steve: “Do you think PETA will complain if we use dogs?”

+ On December 2, 2002, Donald Rumsfeld signed a torture memo authorizing 20-hour interrogations, stripping of clothing, exploitation of phobias, and binding detainee in stress positions for up to 4 hours. At the bottom of the memo, Rumsfeld scrawled: “However, I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours.”

+ From a compilation of quotes by American politicians on Iraq’s alleged WMDs that I put together for my book, Grand Theft Pentagon, here are four leaden nuggets from Rumsfeld:

March 30, 2003: “We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad.”

April 25, 2003: “There are people who in large measure have information that we need . . . so that we can track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country.”

May 4, 2003: “I never believed that we’d just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country.”

May 27, 2003: “They may have had time to destroy them, and I don’t know the answer.”

+ Will Obama speak at Rumsfeld’s funeral, the man he allowed to escape prosecution so he could commit many of the same crimes with similar impunity?

+ Biden, of course, was marched in lockstep with Rumsfeld on Iraq and like Rumsfeld wanted to topple Saddam long before 9/11. In 1998, Biden argued fiercely that Saddam should be taken out, telling former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter during a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing:

The primary policy is to keep sanctions in place to deny Saddam the billions of dollars that would allow him to really crank up his program, which neither you nor I believe he’s ever going to abandon as long as he’s in place. You and I believe, and many of us believe here, as long as Saddam is at the helm, there is no reasonable prospect you or any other inspector is ever going to be able to guarantee that we have rooted out, root and branch, the entirety of Saddam’s program relative to weapons of mass destruction. You and I both know, and all of us here really know, and it’s a thing we have to face, that the only way, the only way we’re going to get rid of Saddam Hussein is we’re going to end up having to start it alone — start it alone — and it’s going to require guys like you in uniform to be back on foot in the desert taking this son of a — taking Saddam down. You know it and I know it.

+ I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve forgotten much (if not most) of what I’ve written thus I’m grateful to Sally Denton–one of the best investigative reporters around–for quoting something I wrote many years ago about Rumsfeld, when he was out-negotiated over a Bechtel pipeline project in Iraq. “Saddam may have been born in a hut and he may have a peculiar fascination for romance novels, but he was more than an intellectual match for the plodding Rumsfeld.” She quotes this passage from Grand Theft Pentagon in her groundbreaking book on Bechtel, The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World.

+ In two decisions rendered on Thursday, the Supreme Court restricted the ability of California to regulate the corrosive influence of dark money in politics and gutted voting rights in Arizona. In other words, the court made it easier to buy an election and harder to actually vote in one.

+ Don’t worry Krysten Sinema is on the case. Hello, Krysten? Hello? Krysten are you there? “Sorry, wrong number.”

+ Krysten Sinema is the Democrats’ Lauren Boebert. Every party needs one, if only for the laughs. Too bad the joke’s on the people who voted for her and thought she was going to bring her old “Green Party USA” policies to the US Senate…

+ Apparently, Sinema’s office is an oppressive and “demoralizing” place to work. But that hasn’t stopper the Arizona senator from planning a “weekend of wine and fun” with lobbyists (including Exxon’s?) for $5000 per head in Sonoma, California.

+ The dazzling US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for pot and may now miss the Olympic Games. These appalling marijuana regulations, which continue to penalize athletes, students and workers in the private sector, stand like Confederate monuments to the drug war…Maybe Clarence Thomas can fix that. Yes, Clarence Thomas.

+ Kashana Cauley: “As a person who used to run the 100, if you can do it in 10.8 seconds after smoking weed you should automatically get all the gold medals.”

+ Who cares? If so, it’s the best thing I’ve ever heard about Ginni Thomas, especially if she becomes a catalyst for eradicating these racist, punitive and absurd federal marijuana laws. Name it the Ginni Thomas Legalization Act.

+ Either Clarence Thomas is beginning to make more sense or the rest of the court is making less. My read on Thomas is that he doesn’t like anyone on the court and doesn’t want to associate with any of them socially or in opinions. He’d rather be in his RV in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Branson, Missouri. So he’s going to spend the rest of his tenure instructing his clerks to write furious dissents, against every thing and every one.

+ By ruling that St. Louis cops can be tried for pinning a man to the pavement until he died, the Supreme Court has opened a small fissure in the monolith of police impunity. Let’s hope it spreads…

+ There’s a little bit less of Florida every day, but that hasn’t stopped the Florida legislature from mandating that the state continue to purchase power from fossil fuel plants….

+ As a state, Florida has become one big cruise ship, awaiting the next system failure…

+ A consultant engineer warned there was evidence of “major structural damage” below the pool deck of a Miami condo building in an October 2018 report, nearly three years before it collapsed.

+ How long before a bill banning Critical Construction Theory is introduced in the Florida legislature?

+ The media keeps referring to those buried in the condo collapse as “missing,” as if they were abducted by aliens and not killed in the ruins of a shoddily maintained and constructed building whose owners knew was unsafe.

+ Instead of calling in an Israeli search-and-rescue team, the Florida “authorities” should have summoned one from Gaza–they’re the world experts at pulling people out of the rubble from crumbled apartment buildings. Israel’s expertise is in demolition…

+ Hilarious. This looks like a list of keywords from a day’s worth of CounterPunch stories, except they left out “white genocide!” Who will tell George Ciccariello-Maher?

+ Speaking of verboten topics in US education: Stutthof was the last Nazi concentration camp to be liberated. Its lethal operations were put to an end on 9 May 1945 at the hands of the Red Army. Meanwhile, the last internee at the Manzanar Concentration Camp in California wasn’t released until November 21, 1945, three months after the bombing of Nagasaki and the surrender of Imperial Japan. Tule Lake, where detainees who resisted their incarceration were held in brutal conditions, wasn’t closed until until March 20, 1946! No force came to liberate the Japanese-Americans illegally rounded-up and detained in our camps, not even the ACLU, whose president, Roger Baldwin, was pals with Biden’s role model FDR.

+ In Missouri, it’s regressed from “where is the clitoris” to “what’s a vagina“? To keep men from being further embarrassed, once they outlaw Critical Race Theory, they’ll proceed to vanquish anatomy classes… “I have a feeling that a lot of us in the room and on this committee are probably a little embarrassed at our lack of knowledge on the female reproductive system,” said Sen. Greg Razer…

+ By rushing to Ohio to try to intervene against Nina Turner, Jim Clyburn seems intent on demonstrating just how frightened and weak the Democratic old guard is. It would be great if Pelosi would do the same, if only to reveal that there is no real power behind the curtain.

+ Cuban scientists announced that the Abdala vaccine has a 92.28% efficacy rating, placing it within percentage points of the world’s top two—patent-protected Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Imagine what they could do freed from the cruel sanctions and embargo, which Biden cynically refuses to relax?

+ The WHO confirmed this week that China has eradicated malaria. What will their punishment be? Sanctions, embargo, drone strikes?

+ Former Trump Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue got a sweetheart deal (some may use the blunter term “bribe”) when Archer-Daniels Midland, one of the largest Ag companies in the world, sold Perdue’s company land that was worth millions for just $250,000, a fraction of its value. The deal was made in 2017, at a time when the company stood to profit from the decisions of an indulgent Ag secretary.

+ Mark Meadows: “You said you were going to march with them to the Capitol. How would we do that? We can’t organize that. We can’t.”

Trump: “I didn’t mean it literally.”

+ RIP Mike Gravel who, along with Mark Hatfield and Gene McCarthy, was one of the earliest voices of political sanity during the Vietnam War. As the Post and the NYT were facing prosecution and the hunt was on for Daniel Ellsberg, Gravel had the Pentagon Papers entered into the Congressional Record, so that they wouldn’t be elided from the official history of the Republic, as some are now trying to do with the country’s history of genocide, slavery, government-enforced racial and sexual discrimination and imperialistic wars that have left millions dead from central America to Southeast Asia, the Persian Gulf to the Hindu Kush…

+ I remember similar protests outside the Naval Observatory, where Al and Tipper lived, with signs that read: “Al Gore Read Your Book!” The problem with Gore’s book, of course, is that it placed almost all the blame on the developing world and offered only neoliberal “cures” for the global environmental crisis caused by transnational capitalism. Even so, go kids!

+ More than 100,000 Indigenous children were placed in an estimated 375 boarding schools throughout the U.S. from the late 1800s through the 1960s, most operating on the belief that “to save the child” they had to “kill the Indian within.”

+ Randy Moore, Biden’s pick to run the Forest Service is a well-known timber beast, a pro-logging, anti-wilderness zealot, who tenure as Regional Forester for the California Region has been proved disastrous for the region’s forests and forest-dependent species.

+ After giving a book talk in Venice Beach, I was invited to a party at a film producer’s house in Ocean Park. They had bank. There was a Hockney and a Warhol on the walls. I said to the producer, how cool to live on the very same block Richard Diebenkorn painted, so obsessively. Who? she asked. I got out my iPhone and showed her one of the Ocean Park series, a not-totally abstracted view looking right down the street of her $5 million bungalow to the Pacific. “I don’t think so,” she said. “That looks nothing like our neighborhood.” Then she wandered off with her glass of golden Sancerre and a fatal flip of her hair that let me know she’d let the wrong writer in.

+ As I noted in in my column last week Eddie Van Halen named his Coldwater Canyon recording studio, 5150, not for the street address but for the California Code allowing psychiatric detentions, extra-constitutional civic commitments from which many are never fully liberated. Now comes news from Florida that undreds of students in Palm Beach County, mostly black and Hispanic, are needlessly being pushed out of school and involuntarily placed in psychiatric facilities for the most trivial and inappropriate reasons. One third grade girl drew a rocket that someone thought looked like a penis. She was handcuffed, removed from school and sent for a psychiatric evaluation. No word on what happened to the teacher who saw a penis in a rocket.

+ I first saw Umberto D. in college in ’78 and it moved me profoundly. But this time it hit me at an even deeper level, perhaps because I’m now nearly Umberto’s age and we’re living in a society which shows a similar indifference to the old and destitute. I wrote an appreciation of the film for CounterPunch +. Hopefully, you’ll check it out, along with Dave Lindorff’s very useful piece on the privatization fo Medicare, which, like De Sica’s film, also speaks to the dire situation facing an aging population in a time of predatory capitalism. CounterPunch + is a steal at $25 a year.

All Aboard Rummy

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Taking Children: a History of American Terror
Laura Briggs
(University of California)

Alf Evers: Life of an American Genius
Ed Sanders
(Meads Mountain Press)

Universal Tonality: the Life and Music of William Parker
Cisco Bradley

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Merci Miles: Live at Vienne
Miles Davis

Zappa ’88: the Last US Show
Frank Zappa

On a Friday Evening
Bill Evans
(Craft Records)

Container Culture

“We live in a world where the funeral matters more than the dead, the wedding more than love and the physical rather than the intellect. We live in the container culture, which despises the content.” (Eduardo Galeano)

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3