Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Important! If you are 60 years or older and live in Sierra County, please take the time to fill out this survey to assist Area 4 Agency on Aging in planning what services will be available for seniors in the coming years.

This weekend is the Mountain Star Quilters Fall Quilt Show Saturday, October 3, from 10:00am-5:00pm and Sunday, October 4, from 10:00 am-4:00pm at the Downieville Community Hall, don’t miss it, and be sure to get your raffle tickets for this years beautiful Raffle Quilt.

Latest news on the Western Sierra Medical Clinic in Downieville is the winter hours. They will be open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m to 5 p.m. for appointments and I think Urgent Care. They will be completely closed on Friday through Sunday. No one in the office no service at all in Sierra County. So make you have emergency plans for the winter. Downieville Ambulance will transport you to the appropriate emergency room. Do not wait if you believe you need immediate medical care, in the winter we can not count on a helicopter transport during bad weather.

I really like DeVita’s Know Nothing column this week and strangely, I agree with everything he wrote, except for the Firearms thing, I don’t think we all need guns. Be sure to read it, I wonder about all those things too, it seems like life should be so simple and if we could all just get along…..

And I really like Robert Koehler column this week on rain dancing and I am sure Downieville’s resident Physicist Dr. Thomas Schumann will enjoy it as well. Take time to read it. (especially you Jenny Varn). Laura Finley and Tom Hastings and James Haught have equally interesting columns, Be Encouraged had a family visit, Gabby talks about social media, Dianne thinks about Popedom and of course the Cats, Others and local news and events.

The photo is a little startling and bug eyed this week thanks to Paul Guffin and his trusty camera.

Mountain Messenger (Dignity Reigns) 9/30/15

In a moment of deception and treachery I convinced Editor Don Russell to lean back and put his hands behind his head again so that I could get a photo of him in a relaxed pose. I do not believe Don realized my motivation in assuming this pose, much to my dismay it revealed his shirt had come unbuttoned and exposed a portion of his abdomen, better known as belly. I’m truly sorry this happened and beg for Don’s forgiveness in posting this picture, I really had no choice as I would never done this deliberately, please ignore the deception and treachery comment above. Milly would never have loaned me her camera to take this picture.

Don Russell takes a moment of relaxation on a Wednesday....

9/30/15 Don Russell takes a moment of relaxation on a Wednesday….

Send anything you need published to Milly, the CEO and most important person in the office, at or you may call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to Don, (and suggest he give a raise to Milly). For a subscription: send in as below or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Write to Don Russell at and tell him you subscribed because you read about it on Sierra County Prospect…..

mess subcrip (1)

Enlightenment Still Works 9/30/15

The Enlightenment Keeps on Winning
By James A. Haught

James Haught

James Haught

If you study history, you’ll see episodes that changed civilization.

For example, in Ancient Greece, for the first time, bright thinkers sought natural explanations for the world around them instead of believing that phenomena were caused by gods and spirits. This started the science-versus-religion clash that still roils 25 centuries later.

Here’s another landmark: Around three centuries ago, major thinkers began advocating democracy, human rights and personal freedoms. Their period became known as The Enlightenment. It launched the long-running liberals-versus-conservatives conflict still driving much of today’s politics.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) wrote that life can be “nasty, brutish and short” unless people bind themselves into a “social contract” under a government that protects them. Hobbes implied that kings don’t rule by divine right, and that ultimate authority lies with the citizenry. Bishops tried to have Hobbes executed as an atheist, but Hobbes burned his papers and sometimes hid in exile.

John Locke (1632-1704) denied that kings are chosen by God, and recommended the separation of church and state to prevent faith-based wars and massacres. An early advocate of democracy, Locke argued that government must rest on consent from the governed.

Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) proposed a democratic republic with powers split among executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Voltaire (1694-1778), a witty French writer, was thrown in prison for mocking a regent — then emerged to become a lifelong crusader against abuses by ruling nobles and clerics.

America’s founders — Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, etc. — were brilliant radicals who absorbed Enlightenment ideas and incorporated them into the first modern democracy. Less-known founder George Mason insisted on a Bill of Rights to protect each person from government and the tyranny of the majority.

The Enlightenment’s premise that every individual deserves personal freedoms also spawned The Rights of Man and the Citizen in France, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, and other moral codes.

The Enlightenment not only produced modern democracy, it also laid the foundation of liberal political values still winning victories today. For three centuries, by fits and starts, Western progress has been mostly a chronicle of progressives defeating conservative resistance. Reformers repeatedly toppled old privileges, hierarchies and establishments. Look at the historical record:

Conservatives tried to retain slavery, but they lost.

They tried to block voting by women, but they lost.

They tried to prevent couples from using birth control, but they lost.

They tried to obstruct Social Security pensions for oldsters, but they lost.

They tried to outlaw labor unions, but they lost.

They tried to prevent unemployment compensation for the jobless, but they lost.

They tried to keep stores closed on the Sabbath, but they lost.

They banned alcohol during Prohibition, but they eventually lost.

They tried to sustain racial segregation, but they lost.

They supported government-mandated prayer in school, but they lost.

They tried to continue throwing gays in prison, but they lost.

They tried to defeat Medicare and Medicaid, but they lost.

They tried to halt the sexual revolution, but they lost.

They opposed food stamps for the poor, but they lost.

They fought against equal human rights laws, but they lost.

They tried to censor sexy magazines, books and movies, but they lost.

They sought to jail girls and doctors who end pregnancies, but they lost.

They tried to block liquor clubs and lotteries, but they lost.

They tried to prevent expansion of health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, but they lost.

They tried to halt same-sex marriage, but they lost.

On and on, through recurring cultural battles, progressive principles that began in The Enlightenment have prevailed. For three centuries, liberals generally have won, conservatives lost.

What will be the next front in the culture war? Legal marijuana? Pistol registration? Free college? Whatever comes, it’s probably safe to predict the eventual winner.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” However, some University of Michigan scholars recently concluded that the notion of “the right side of history” is a myth — there’s no guarantee that future events will extend past democratic breakthroughs. Terrible reversals could occur.

Nonetheless, the transformation loosed by The Enlightenment is a fact. I hope the progressive pattern keeps rolling forever.

James Haught, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is editor emeritus of West Virginia’s largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Being Called Violent 9/30/15

What is nonviolence anyhow?

by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

What is it, this nonviolence? Who gets to define it? A kindergarten teacher is nonviolent when she puts a vase of fresh flowers on her desk and smiles at her little students, right? A young man who publicly refuses to be drafted during an invasion of another country is nonviolent, certainly. How about an old man who writes a letter to the editor arguing for peace on Earth? And really, how about a rich man who makes money entirely by playing the stock market from his home computer? That’s nonviolent, eh? How about the police who pulls over the black motorist to check him out solely because he feels like it, and never pulls his gun nor does he even touch the motorist, only detains him for some questions and a computer check? Hey, the cop might have been armed but he never used violence, so that was nonviolent, right? Hmmm…

What about the little girl who is grabbed by the man and she kicks him in the groin to escape? Certainly we can’t fault that, and who is going to accuse her of violence? For that matter, how about a nonviolent protester who is grabbed and smacked by the cops? Can’t that protester defend himself without being called violent?

Perhaps our concept needs modification. There are several ways to do that. One, include a modifier–best way to modify, eh? So, for example, religious nonviolence, or philosophical nonviolence, or technical nonviolence, or strategic nonviolence, or structural nonviolence. All of these modifiers might need further explanation, but at least we are starting down the path toward meaningful definition.

To agree to learn more about nonviolence, check out this Pace e Bene campaign pledge. And read about strategic nonviolence at the ICNC or Einstein Institution websites. Strategic nonviolence is the sort that has–what? let’s see hands–a strategy. Yes. So if I am a pacifist and I sit in blockade of a military convoy one day by myself in a fairly spontaneous act, that is not strategic nonviolence, it is nonviolent civil resistance. Nonviolent civil resistance can include strategic nonviolence but it can also include more ad hoc actions that are not part of a strategy to achieve any named goal. This is not to say that a strategy cannot follow an inspired first action of nonviolent resistance–there are certainly historical cases of that—but also thousands of examples of spontaneous one-offs.

While some seem to modify pacifism into subsets of nonviolent positions–e.g., offensive pacifism, political pacifism, absolute pacifism, nuclear pacifism–it is most helpful to remember that pacifism at its roots is about nonparticipation, a religious or philosophical decision to not directly participate in some sort of violence.

It may be helpful to shift from attempting to narrow a definition of nonviolence and instead use nonviolent as a modifier for another noun, resistance. Nonviolent resistance begins to help us narrow the concept from a generally rosy disposition to interfering directly with violence and doing so by nonviolent means. Therefore nonviolent resistance would rule out committing or threatening to commit acts of violence, even in self-defense or defense of others. Nonviolent resistance means something more and more specific and can take in some forms of pacifism, especially, when that pacifism might involve either breaking the law (such as refusing to comply with conscription laws) or when the acts of a pacifist coincide with an element of a strategic nonviolent resistance campaign, such as refusing to purchase any product made or sold by a corporation involved in producing weapons (e.g. the GE boycott that had us all purchasing other brands of consumer goods until GE no longer produced nuclear weapons).

Perception is reality in many cases. Officer Friendly may have a sidearm because it’s part of his uniform and is regarded as a tool of his profession. Only pacifists would object. But a SWAT team in milspec gear, lined up with faceless shields and even balaclavas in padded kevlar toting automatic weapons–that is a violent image that transmits a stench of unfeeling brutality to all who are either in targeted populations or who fear for the nonviolent victims of those militarized regimented anonymous attackers. Similarly, a rural granddad of any ethnic background with a gun rack may look violent only to a pacifist but is otherwise unremarkable, yet a Tea Party gathering featuring scowling open carry white males, or a line of armed militant African American community defenders all look quite violent to a large number of us. Both are going to be widely judged to be engaged in a show of violence and would never be classified by many as engaged in nonviolent resistance, even when no one fires a shot.

Filters are helpful. Can the act of nonviolent resistance also achieve reconciliation? Arguably, the more it can do so, the more it approaches pure nonviolence. This can involve focus on universally highly valued victims (join us in protecting the children) or, as peace scholar Janjira Sombutpoonsiri finds, it may involve fraternization or humor.

Definitions are tricky. Thinking about them and seeking consensus on their meanings in real life is helpful but complex. Asking ourselves to think critically instead of ideologically is a tough challenge but in our pluralistic low context culture it is a good step to take on the journey of common understanding.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

How To Dance 9/30/15

Remembering How to Dance

By Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler

Robert Koehler

“Native Americans have to concede that rain dances don’t work.”

Yeah, snort. How funny can you get? It’s the New Rules segment of “Real Time with Bill Maher” and the host has just tossed his gag tomahawk at the First People. A picture fills the screen: Indians in full regalia, dancing. The caption below it says, “Tribal Thumpers.” He pauses, straight-faced, eyeballs rolling in sarcasm. There’s a trickle of laughter amid the awkward silence, then Maher turns away from the camera, presumably toward the crew back stage, and calls out in his fake shame-on-me voice, “Are you making fun of Indians, Bill?”

The moment lasts about 20 seconds, then he’s on to the next put down joke.

So why am I still thinking about it a week later? Indeed, it has a hold of me like an insane car alarm that won’t shut up. What’s reverberating in my head isn’t some moral offense at a politically incorrect joke, which I could, I think, shrug off. What I can’t let go of is the arrogant American ignorance fueling this gag. It wasn’t funny. It was just stupid — but stupid in a way that celebrates and perpetuates pretty much everything that’s wrong with a popular brand of lack of respect.

The humor in the joke was, of course, that it brought a “civilized,” technologically advanced perspective — our perspective, as smart-phone wielding American spectator-consumers — to bear on the delusional rituals of savages. Patronizing chuckle. They think some dumb dance is going to make it rain. Not only is this cheap, bully humor, perpetuating a sense of feel-good superiority, it’s cluelessly Newtonian in a quantum world. The losers here are the ones trapped in linear thinking, who assume they understand a viewpoint about which they, in fact, know nothing.

“Regular Americans” have to concede that using up the planet’s resources doesn’t work. Perpetuating an economy based on war and environmental destruction doesn’t work. Invading Third World countries doesn’t work. Filling the ocean with plastic trash doesn’t work. Destroying everything we value doesn’t work.

We have work to do together.

This coming together is not a simplistic sort of acceptance or tolerance of other worldviews, e.g., the technologically advanced West benignly welcoming the primitives among us into the community of nations. The West — the planet’s colonizers — has to do something far more profound. It has to arrest its sense of superiority and let go of much of what it thinks it knows, in particular that we live in a linear, mechanical, cause-and-effect universe, full of separate objects — “facts” — that are disconnected, inert and awaiting our exploitation. We have to start relearning the nature of things.

Quantum physics, the cutting edge of Western science, has known for a while now that we don’t live in a mechanical universe. The universe is energy — spirit.

As physicist David Peat writes in his book Blackfoot Physics: “[S]cientists who have been struggling at the leading edge of their topics have created ideas that resonate with those of Indigenous science. For example, Quantum theory stresses the irreducible link between observer and observed and the basic holism of all phenomena. So too, Native Science holds that there is no separation between individual and society, between matter and spirit, between each one of us and the whole of nature.”

Such words start to deconstruct Maher’s joke. Maybe a rain dance isn’t meant to be an action as linear as turning on a faucet, but rather a joyous, intense means of participation with the universe. Perhaps there is no dividing line between human beings and the rest of the universe, and what they do, if that action emerges from their depths, has a quality as natural as thunder or rain.

“The assumption of the laws (of science) is that we’re a non-living universe,” biophysicist Beverly Rubik said at an event called the Language of Spirit Conference, in Albuquerque, that I attended a few years ago. “We ought to start over. We have a science that starts with deadness. It’s time to re-envision science — in a living universe.”

Perhaps we have to break open language itself in order to begin to become, again, knowingly part of a living universe. Rupert Ross, in Returning to the Teachings, at one point discusses the differences between noun-focused Western languages and verb-driven indigenous tongues.

“It has to do,” Ross writes, “with the difference between standing behind the triple-pane window of your cliffside mansion and watching the sun go down over a quieting ocean — and watching instead the first beginnings of a sunrise over that same ocean, but from flat on your belly on a wet surfboard three hundred miles out from shore, as the ocean beneath you awakens.

“In the cliffside mansion, there is a conviction of separation, stability, and control. On the surfboard, there is the conviction of intimate and inescapable exposure to unfathomable powers which, while they might let you ride them, will never let you gain control over them.”

Let’s recall how to live with helpless awe, how to subordinate our knowing to our awareness of the unfathomable. Most of all, let us remember how to dance with it.

Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

Grass Isn’t Greener 9/30/15

The Grass Isn’t Greener

By Laura Finley

Laura Finley

Laura Finley

The old adage “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” refers to the common belief that things must be better elsewhere. While sometimes that is true, in reality the belief that somewhere else is preferable can result in dissatisfaction with what one has and can dissuade initiatives to improve one’s own situation. I see this mentality played out in many ways, but one that has bothered me a lot in recent years is the way that community and campus groups—both of which I am integrally involved—seem to always believe that the “experts” from outside are an improvement on the ones they have among their ranks.

Campuses and community organizations often pay these so-called experts exorbitant fees to impart their words of wit. Honoraria of up to $10,000 is not uncommon at universities who bring in renowned speakers to discuss important topics. Likewise, community groups who are often struggling to fund their daily work, have been known to cough up significant sums to speakers or trainers. Typically, these sessions are one-time only, and, as amazing as some of these presenters are, data is clear that one-off presentations are unlikely to be impactful beyond the very short term. Bullying and sexual violence seem to be the two topics in which campuses and community organizations insist on relying on a grass is greener mentality.

Further, bringing in a national speaker to talk about a local problem often fails to inspire attendees to see how they can take action in their communities. It suggests that there is actually nothing going on locally so organizers had to look outside of the region to find an appropriate presenter. This is hardly the message we want to send to students, social service providers, and other community organizations.

Oftentimes campus groups or community organizations hire outsiders in order to draw down a budget or grant funds, out of fear they will lose them in future if excesses remain at the end of the year. One has to wonder, however, how else those funds could have been devoted should organizers instead have employed a community “expert” who would likely present for free or a very minimal fee? Instead of hiring a sexual assault speaker at several thousand dollars, a university could utilize one of the many faculty members on every campus that has expertise in these areas. I know I have long offered my services at my campus and in my community, only to learn sometimes that an outsider was hired already. Those funds that would have been saved by using me, for free, could instead provide scholarships to survivors or seed money to student groups to engage in prevention campaigns with their peers, for example.

Similarly, instead of hiring a bullying “expert,” a non-profit organization could look at what exists in their community already and couple with that group to engage in a collaborative initiative that would reach more people, be more sustainable, less duplicative, and inevitably more impactful. For instance, where I live in South Florida, The Humanity Project has been offering high quality, free, arts-based bullying prevention programs in schools and the community for ten years. For more information about this wonderful group, see

Sometimes, there’s absolutely no need to search for greener grass, especially when your own backyard is lush and plentiful.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Cows on the Hwy 9/30/15

As Megan Parker and her mother Jill Tajiha discovered in addition to watching out for Bear, Deer, Mountain Lion, Squirrel, Raccoons, Coyotes, Cats and Dogs watch out for the Cows.

Yesterday morning Megan Parker and her wonderful mommy ran into this bovine. On Highway 49 at Ramshorn.

9/30/15 On their morning comment Megan Parker and her wonderful mommy ran into this bovine. On Highway 49 at Ramshorn.

District Attorney Cases 9/30/15

Sierra County District Attorney
Lawrence R. Allen
District Attorney / Public Administrator
530.289.3269 530.993.4617

SIERRA COUNTY CASES Week ending September 25, 2015

David Money (33) Reno. Sentencing for felony stolen vehicle conviction. Three years probation, 180 days jail.

Timothy Herrera (35) San Bernadino. Two counts of failure to appear. Three years probation, fine $940.

Jeffrey Kelley (49) Loyalton. After a contested preliminary hearing, Kelley was ordered to stand trial on two felony counts of driving under the influence causing injury to another.

Nathan Wainscoat (21) Paradise. After a contested preliminary hearing, Wainscoat was ordered to stand trial for felony marijuana cultivation.

Douglas Stevens (38) Camptonville. Cultivation of marijuana in violation of the Sierra County Code (no permited structure on the property where the weed was growing). One year probation, fine $650, and he forfeited his crop.

Jeffrey Wikoff (66) Loyalton. Cultivation of marijuana in violation of the Sierra County Code (too many plants). Fine $650.

Robert Moberly (59) Rancho Cordova. Felon in possession of a firearm. Sentencing is set for October 7.

Theodore Howell (52) Downieville. Driving under the influence. Three years probation, 8 days jail, fine $2497, attend alcohol classes.

Eric Welsh (41) Browns Valley. Driving while suspended. Three years probation, fine $1469.

Mark Pacheco (29) Reno. Illegal use of leg hold trap in attempt to trap bobcats. Fine $1685.

Casey McFarland (39) Downieville. Felon in possession of a stun gun. One year probation, 18 days jail, fine $1075.

Brandon Hellebrant (32) Reno. Unlawful campfire. Fine $5585.

Dining at the Eatery 9/30/15

Dianne Ponders THE Visit 9/30/15

Dianne Severance

Dianne Severance

The visit of Pope Francis to the United States was an important part of our history and for all worshipers, Catholics or other Christians. I watched in awe at the pope’s humility, holiness and humanity, as I am sure millions of others did.

But the visit engendered many questions too. I have no answers for them, but I would like to share my thoughts.

Why, when the Pope espoused so strongly the concept of marriage and family, are not Roman Catholic priests allowed to marry? By not marrying the priests are not setting an example of holy families to all who believe. And in a less holy note, priests who sexually abused youngsters might not have done so if they had been allowed to express their human sexuality.

Another question: Why are women not allowed in the priesthood, when the Catholic Church reveres Mary, mother of Jesus, or as the priests say, Mother of God. Will there ever be a time when women are considered equal in the church in all matters of faith and function. It is time to phase out the notion that only old men can lead the church. Look to the Protestant denominations to see the successes women have had as priests or ministers.

Yet another question: When Holy Communion is administered, why don’t all members of the congregation receive wine as well as the bread. In the Bible, Jesus tells his disciples to drink the wine “all of it in remembrance of me.” If the Catholic Church considers its parishioners its disciples, the wine should be given as freely as the bread (or wafer).

I also wonder why there is so much pageantry — albeit impressive — that costs so much when the price of one solid gold chalice might feed a soup kitchen full of people for several months. The cost of vestments, huge churches and all the other trappings would alleviate the plight of the poor.

All of of the above points were raised by Pope Francis’ homilies and speeches. He urged us all to help the poor, defend the weak and witness our faith through action.

As much as I admire the pope and all the good work the Catholic
Church does, I cannot accept that people are still unequal in so many ways within the church. The pope asked all those who heard to pray for him. I will pray for him, the Roman Catholic Church and the Christian church at large that somehow God will help us overcome the very human weaknesses in our bodies of worship.

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