Sierra Voices Open Dialog

House rules: Use your real name and keep it civil.  Contribute your thoughts to the comment section below. The subject matter is up to you.

I set up this open dialog thread after noticing some very heartfelt comments following an article I posted concerning global climate change. The comments there soon evolved into a very valuable dialog, far beyond the immediate issue of climate change.

I have copied some of those comments here … to “seed” the ongoing discussion for those who might want to continue the dialog unrelated to climate change here.

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3 Responses to “Sierra Voices Open Dialog”
  1. depelton says:

    Ed Peritz says:
    July 15, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Thinking about this exchange while lying in bed yesterday, a perfect example supporting your less confrontational approach, Greg, popped back into my mind. As my neighbor was driving me to the Maher VA hospital–he’s a rancher type, right wing, they keep some corrals on the south part of my property–we were chatting and climate change came up. He didn’t feel that man had anything to do with it, but it was cyclical. What I call the dangerous, thin ice argument; appears safe, but can’t bear the weight of scrutiny and thus if relied on, you’ll drown.

    The discussion was calm, between friends. (I posted some of this on JP’s blog.) I posed the question I always ask to deniers to which I never get a satisfactory answer. How can a once pristine, in balance ecosystem, existing prior to the Industrial Revolution, not be affected by 250 years or so of a steady infusion of various gases/molecular combinations which change that pristine balance. Isn’t it like an aquarium; if the proper balance of ph/chemicals isn’t maintaned, the fish die.

    His response was, “Yeah, I never looked at it that way.” Then we went onto another topic, but that was a possible beginning of a dialogue. Just the same, and he is a dependable friend and neighbor-coming in my bedroom door the other day right behind the E.M.T.s, he’ll vote Republican the rest of his life.

    And of course I wasn’t just talking about Prius cars. Included are the monster yachts, extravagant-after-me-the-deluge lifestyles, endless accumulation of gas guzzling, ATVs with the concommitant seeming entitlement to chew up every bit of terrain in sight.

    I remember when I lived in Oceanside, a few blocks east of PCH. It was a day honoring something–just before Veterans Day–in late Oct. and the entire 1st Marine Division, my old division, was to parade down PCH, mustering at 100 yds. from my house. (A couple days latter I was leaving to return to Nam and Cambodia, Thailand, too.) I put a Vietnam 1st Div. 3rd Battalion, Lima Co. Reunion T-Shirt on and walked down to watch. I got sick to my stomach; on the other side of the street leading to PCH, were countless private Hummers. It’s ego, a state of mind that can’t be reasoned with.
    I was totally disgusted and still am because a statement is being made. At any rate, I was pulled into the parade, behind the Commanding General of Camp Pendleton, with about two dozen other Vietnam vets, to march in the parade. Even then I had to drop out after a couple of blocks.

    Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent so much time with people who are now hard right and I’m the Apostate that I know what’s under their skin and that they’ll sucker punch an opponent in a heartbeat, because that’s how most fights are won–the first shot to the head. Mao, Ho Chi Minh knew it and so do political strategists and plotters like Rove
    I never had any use for the hard left and still don’t–SDS and even not so hard–but among the deniers are the christian evangelicals, and there is absolutely no reasoning with them.
    Idiot America and other books like it, help me understand why the right doesn’t even want a dialogue.
    Just my experiences and opinions, of course. But the divisions I see in society are ugly and vast.


    Ed Peritz says:
    July 15, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks Don for the encouraging words. Fact is, I’m really stupid with computers, can’t even put a workable link into a blog comment box such as this. Much rather read my histories of all kinds than computer manuals. And with my leukemia, my 4th cancer, I start falling asleep soon after I start to read, thus need prescribe amphetimines to stay awake/alert til the afternoon, but now they’re not even working, thus reducing my days to just a few hours. I do enjoy the debates, but generally leave the climate debate to those with a deeper science back ground. I just ask my question that no one can answer. But when Todd J tells me how dumb I am–in different words–I understand just how impervious the right is to fact, knowledge, reason and everything Idiot America talks about. And reading the comments supporting the right wing bloggers up here only re-enforces the truth of Pearce’s contentions. It really is a waste of time to engage them. I have a saying, “Everybody thinks they are smart.” It just ain’t so, and even Rebane and Steele, when they venture into disiplines outside their specilties, to me, sound pretty stupid, despite their pomposity. But I have had articles published and a novel and have lots to say, so I’d probably enjoy doing a blog–but then when I’m talking I’m not learning something new and my bookshelves are filled with an eclectic bunch of unread volumns.


    depelton says:
    July 16, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Your candor and willingness to be your complete self here are remarkable and rare, and I honor that. I hope everyone who drops by here honors that (but don’t count on it … as I’m sure you don’t).

    In fact, your remarks here reflect the kind of blog I had originally intended to build here myself, with some candid personal reflections, mixed with whatever bits caught my fancy from day-to-day, but somewhere along the line since our retirement to Nevada County five years ago (and our encounter with local politics) I got wary of revealing too much about our personal life.

    So be it. We’ll do what we can.

    A member of our family recently remarked on how the partisan rancor that pervades our national dialog has seeped into their family dialog! She noticed recently that comments from her son — while discussing a political topic at the dinner table — sounded very much like the sort of trash the talking heads throw at each other.

    This seems weirdly unsurprising, but it took her to point it out to me.

    I’ve experienced something like that too with a formerly close family member, and I find it very painful. It makes me want to retreat into writing poetry, or go back to my youthful passion for music … and hang all the politics. At least my family would still be intact.

    In any case, Ed, your responses here are so rich that it’s hard to know what to pick out to respond to first, and I like that.

    I hope you keep coming back.

    By the way, here’s one of probably many things we have in common: my bookshelves too (and many a pile of books sitting on the floor because there’s no room left on my bookshelves) are “filled with an eclectic bunch of unread volumes.”

    I don’t know precisely when the downward curve of my actuarially-predicted mortality intersected the upward curve of my passionate book-buying habit, but — at age 70 — I’m sure it’s been many decades since I had few enough books to complete reading in the nominal time left to me (of course, no one knows whether that will be counted in minutes, days or years).

    So I sometimes stare at them and wish I had been a faster reader, or better disciplined, and feel a bit melancholy for my family who will have to box them up and give them to the Friends of the Library after I’m gone.

    Jane finally bought me a Kindle, so now they pile up digitally, which at least gives me hope of keeping them off the floor … thus allowing me to keep my promise to her that I will keep them off the floor!


    Ed Peritz says:
    July 16, 2012 at 10:03 am


    I’ve already put your blog on my favorites list, so I’ll be checking in daily. I know I can learn here and you have clearly expressed you value my contributions. I appreciate the vote of confidence and recognition of my rather off center style and perspective, a product of a collage of life experience’s of radical opposites and probably vastly dissimilar to most Blog owners and contributers in this area. Perhaps that is why when I ask questions on JP’s blog, almost always they are ignored. Since I retired to G.V. in 2005–an early retirement package offered while I was on medical leave with cancer #3, then had a near fatal reaction to the chemotherapy, followed by another cancer diagnosis, which after multiple tests and biopsies of tongue and throat, finally proved negative. With the housing market at its peak, and the disgusting bungalow near the beach I had bought and beautified, I cashed out and moved here.

    It has been a hard nut to crack, Nevada Co., and as you remark, I don’t count on anything, honor, respect of the most basic kind from suppossedly like-minded souls, and many times have decided my time is better spent reading than even posting on progressive blogs, much less the rightwing tripe typers.

    I just speak my mind and if personal experience helps prove or illustrate a point, I don’t hesitate to enrich the post with the purity of a primary source. Many friends, when living back in Port Chester, N.Y., a suburb of NYC, encouraged me to write a book. I did and started a second while undergoing chemo for Cancer #3, half memoir, half adventure, but finally hit a wall due to the effects of the chemo, and the project went dormant.

    I buy most of my books from a clearing house in CT. (Edward R. Hamilton Book Seller; also on the web, but forget exact address.) The prices are, for most books, much cheaper than anywhere else–except Amazon–but I can buy 10 books at a time and only pay $3.50 for shipping. Plus, the catalogs are a different experience; I like looking through them and I buy books for so little, even if I never get to them, I haven’t lost much. I have about a dozen books I double ordered, so am always looking to give away. I think Idiot America cost $4.95 or so. My interests range from the Zulus and Islandwhana to the Warring States period in Japanese history ending in the victory of Tokogowa Ieyasu and the 250 years of relative peace; from 20thC Russian history to Rome, Hannibal, China, Buddha, our founding. Civil War, Watergate, the myth of Reagan winning the Cold war, etc. So I’m always jumping around in my reading. When I finish a book and go to the shelves, sofa or floor to pick another, it’s like browsing at Barnes and Nobel.

    My big regret now is I can’t travel anymore. It was kidda fun being hauled in by the KGB while in the USSR in 1972, but that’s a story for another day.


    gregoryzaller says:
    July 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    I sympathize with all of the comments here. I recently had the experience of tenants falling into a destructive spiral tearing apart my house and their lives and children’s lives, terrorizing the neighborhood and blaming it on their circumstances (this reminds me of the Right!). I managed to make it through without loosing my compassion for them, including in the end when they began vandalizing and stealing from the house in retaliation for me evicting them. They are now homeless and I am restoring it. It was a home for folks in recovery loosely modeled after except for some mistakes I wish I hadn’t made. I’m going to try again, somewhat the wiser. The problem of drug addiction and mental illness need to be addressed and if not me, then who will do it?

    It is also the same with the GHG denialists. They have an untenable and wacky position but I believe there is a way to reach them and gain their commitment to change and we need to try as hard as it takes (name calling is counterproductive). The left also needs to change, almost as much as the right.

    We could talk about plans but even the most radical would too little given the gravity of the problem. The first step is to build the will to do something about it. This means the left and the right need to talk and come to grips with the seriousness of what humans are doing to the planet ASAP. It is a waste of time to talk about what to do when there iinsufficient will to do it at this point.


    Ed Peritz says:
    July 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Greg, even though our meeting was brief, the clarity of your being a compassionate and dedicated man, working toward selfless goals, was unmistakable. I’m familiar with how problematic being a landlord can be, and have also–when living in a room of a much older, female friend of my deceased step-mother–nearly came to blows with a homless, mentally ill and a hell-of-a-lot-bigger-than-me-guy, whom she allowed to use the loft in the garage as “home.” That particular situation was triggered when he began a tirade full of screaming and threatening profanity at this extremely disabled women. I came running from my room as I knew he was totally unpredictable. Her compassion for all living souls, regardless of species is why she offered him shelter in the first place.

    Unfortunately, despite our empathy for others’ plight, we learn, as she did eventually, that sometimes dialog and good works are unproductive. I was no longer living there when this dishonorably discharged, ex-Marine knocked my 70 year old disabled friend down onto the cement pad of her garage. I agree that the problems you mention need more attention; all I am illustrating with this story is some problems may not be solvable.

    Hopefully the truth of climate change, GHG and other human contributions to this looming planet Krypton fate with take root in the vast pool of moderate independents, creating the ever expanding ripple of acceptance, demonstrated not by argumentation, but by observable climatic events that can not be denied or explained away with unreadable charts or ALEC sponsered disinformation.

    As a late 19th century English statesman opined: “There are three kinds of lies: lies; damn lies; and statistics.” Maybe the scorched fields of the midwest will make some stongholds of doubters rethink their positions. Let’s hope so.

    And, BTW, even if not due to man, changes are happening that still threaten millions. Why the obstinacy of forseeing proplems and providing preventive, protective measures?


    Ed Peritz says:
    July 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Oh, and Anna, the KGB story, do you really think people would be interested in my encounter with those chumps so long ago? And where would be the correct place to post such old news? That particular incident occured in the Georgian SSR. Lots of stories from that summer.


    RL Crabb says:
    July 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Perhaps the left would have fewer problems with the right in the climate change debate if they would take a more pragmatic approach to the solutions. As I see it, the biggest hurdle is convincing the electorate that they need to endure widespread suffering and expensive lifestyle changes to achieve the goal. If it becomes a question of saving the planet or feeding your family, people will naturally take the path that will affect them closer to home and their wallets. If the solutions become too much to endure, there will be a backlash at the ballot box.
    One way to avoid this (and I grid myself for the collective hiss that will no doubt follow) is to endorse the gradual change from oil and coal to natural gas, which will drastically reduce greenhouse flatulence. Yes, that would involve fracking, which is not a new technology but has become the latest boogieman for the left. Is there risk? Of course, but there is risk in every solution. Energy providers need to be held to the strictest standards in the process, but to take it off the table as a transitional solution while cleaner technologies are being developed and deployed is just as dangerous. We are being asked to endure higher and higher taxes and fees at every level of government and at some point people will say ‘enough!’ There are serious concerns about how CARB will use the money it receives from cap and trade, as well as their avoiding public scrutiny and the Brown Act.

    And Ed, as for navigating and maintaining a blog, if a screwball who calls himself the Village Idiot can do it, ANYONE can. The hardest part is getting it set up. So far I’ve managed to keep the namecalling at a minimum while accomodating comments from both ends of the spectrum. (Yes, there are exceptions, but we’re dealing with human beings. Nobody’s perfect.)


    Anna Haynes says:
    July 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    RL, please read Bill McKibben’s piece Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math (“Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is”)

    Take a look at the math.

    (The crap is already hitting the fan, and the longer we – through our government – wait to act, the more wrenching the transition will need to be, to have any hope of success. And there’s stuff we could be doing now that would actually make money for most of us – see “fee and dividend” at )


    RL Crabb says:
    July 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    In all probability, it will be the Republican Congress you’ll need to convince unless Obama and the Dems can pull a gold-plated rabbit out of their hat in September. It’s the economy, Anna.


    RL Crabb says:
    July 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Here’s to pragmatism…


    Ed Peritz says:
    July 23, 2012 at 11:02 am

    RL, if I may address you such w/o knowing you, I apologize for my belated response to the last few lines of your 7/18 post. I always try to respond to comments or questions directed to me, but circumstances of late have delayed this reply.

    BTW, have saved the article you posted by link from NYT, a habit of mine whereby I have so many newspaper OPEDs I’ve cut out and dated and now files on my computers to be referenced when needed.

    I don’t even know if this is the proper place for this reply, but this is where it will be. Don said “my candor and willingness to be my complete self were remarakable and rare,” which, I suppose, is nothing more than a function of learning from experience that being evasive or incomplete with answers tends to create false impressions or incorrect conclusions to those listening. And in some regards it is just short of lying. The truth is, there is no way I could operate a blog. I haven’t the energy to answer, contribute, run, write consistently, etc. Nearly bit the dust on 7/2/12, collapsing again sometime in the night when using the facilities, legs not working, in and out of consciousness, until finally able too pull myself to my knees and use my cane as a crutch and struggle back to bed. Called 911; blood pressure was 70/50 and off to E.R., once again, I went.

    Multi Health problems–a extremely complicated case I’m called–with S.N. Cancer Center never even have heard of the leukemia I now have, diagnosed at about the five year remission period of being cancer free from cancer #3, B-Cell lymphoma, which precipitated my early retirement and move to G.V. in 2005. This leukemia, while not in the fatal stage at this point, is certainly kicking my butt and shortening my days, requiring prescribed amphetimines just to stay awake w/o falling asleep as soon as I start to read. Still, much of the time, I’m back in bed by noon; often before that. Not complaining, just those are the facts. Was given only a couple months to live after finally be correctly diagnosed with my first cancer after returning from Vietnam in 1969. Was refused, incorrectly, health care by the VA, but accepted on welfare by Greenwich, CT hospital–I had no money, no insurance, no family to help. Finally a doctor called a doctor he knew at the West Haven VA, CT Hospital, partnered with Yale-New Haven and I was admitted, in critical condition, operated on, given a prognosis of “I’m sorry,” but beat all the odds. Now, I’ve slowed down considerably with cancer #4, and I haven’t even discussed the four, non-related operations, I’ve had since my retirement.

    Besides all that, I am a co-owner of a List serve regarding a world wide, major health issue, now being recognized as the finest of its kind on the entire web. I spend much time there answering questions and helping people from all over the world.

    But I sure wish I had more pep. RL, I don’t really know where you stand politically, but I’ve commented on other blogs I was raised in a very conservative, Republican, well-to-do in my earliest years family, but once free to study and express my conclusions w/o igniting a conflagration, realized all the “stuff” jammed down by brain was not supportable. And when I returned to finish my degree while stll undergoing chemo, graduating in history with high honors, then debate some of the right wing bloggers up here, I’m just appauled at their sense of their own importance and irrefutable knowledge, despite a demostrable lack of any experience with historiography methodology.

    I recently wrote my de facto broters, millionaires, in Texas, about what the heck is the TX Board of Ed doing. I’ve rec’d no reply and today, Leonard Pitts, delves even farther into the travesty of Texas, in their elimination of the requirement for development of critical thinking skills. I lived there before moving on to CA, so am all to familiar with the ruling mentality.

    Anyway, bluntness always trumps evasiveness, so there it is.
    Ed P


    RL Crabb says:
    July 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Ed. Sorry to hear about your ongoing difficulties. As for my political leanings, I mostly find myself in the middle of the road, dodging traffic from both directions. I’m a firm believer in the fine art of compromise, a disappearing trait in our hyper-partisan nation.

  2. depelton says:

    Ed: It sounds like you are being amazingly “productive” while fighting a life-threatening illness. I have trouble even imagining what that must be like (except you are describing it vividly).

    I had good care in SNMH Cancer Center when I got surgical treatment for prostate cancer, then radiation later after a relapse.

    My memory of the radiation regimen is oddly pleasant. I listened to music on my iPod — classical, gospel, or whatever I could find that was upbeat — while lying on my back and staring at the peaceful mural-sized rustic photo on the ceiling over the accelerator as it clicked and hummed. I have to admit, though, that for the first few days I was very nervous with that massive machine moving around over me.

  3. Ed Peritz says:

    This is a good idea, Don, kinda like an open mike at a club. Sorry it has take me so long to recognize the benefits of this added feature, but my health situation deteriorated dangerously, but after 4 E.R. trips–some by ambulance–then being released w/o a correct diagnosis, I just continued to deteriorate. Only when Skyping early in the a.m. with my sister from the Boston area, and she said I was incoherent, did I end up in the hospital, but only with her persistence and calling my various doctors until I was finally admitted. Turns out I was critically ill with pneumonia and most likely, lung cancer, too. Even my oncologist stated firmly, he felt I had lung cancer. So I had the biopsy and once again I dodged a bullet. No cancer! Just pneumonia. But I’m still on oxygen; this pneumonia can be a real beast.

    Was going to start writing on a topic of greater interest than my health, but then an old friend called and we talked until my eyes were settling down for the night, so my energy and inspiration did a quick vamanos. Perhaps tomorrow if I’m free of bossy nurses telling me what to do.

    I like this “Sierra Voices” and not having the lung cancer frees me to spend some time on a project or two. Now I’ll be able to deliver two full blasts of hot air at any target I choose.

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