3rd Monday in June 2020: Still Reading The Uninhabitable Earth

Self is reading fast as none of the arguments are new.

  • “We think of climate change as slow, but it is unnervingly fast.” — p. 198

There is a big, big elephant in the room, which is the impact of Greta Thunberg, who is never mentioned. (She shows up, finally, on p. 257)

  • “Any number of dead is a tragedy, but more than 10,000 die each day, globally, from the small–particulate pollution produced by burning carbon.” — p. 203

Never in a million years, at the time this book was published (2019) could anyone have imagined that a pandemic and the need to find a vaccine would soon eclipse climate change in urgency.


Back from picking up prescriptions (which always require a doctor’s visit: $162). She catches a Gavin Newsom presser. He’s addressing the ongoing need for masks. This morning, self asked the doctor if he had a test. He did, but it cost $150. He reassured her that all of the patients he’d tested had tested negative.

“Do they all live in the area?” she asked.

“Some of them,” he said.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

The Sea, Our Mother

Self has many thoughts about the sea because … well, she comes from one of the 7,100 islands of the Philippines.

When she visited Venice, some years back, she encountered the Maritime Museum (off San Marco Plaza), and first encountered the Venetian expression “married to the sea.”

In the writings about the sea, the sea is referred to as feminine. Also, mercurial.

Perhaps this is why she chose to write her novel. It’s about the sea, of course. And she’s been reading about seafarers ever since.

Two years ago, she was teaching in Mendocino. One of her favorite hangouts was Gallery Bookshop, corner of Albion and Kasten in Mendocino Village (the most fabulous bookstore, with its own resident cat). She found a book written by a retired US Admiral.

She just started reading it (thank you, Corona Virus). Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans

The Introductory Chapter is called The Sea Is One:

It is worth remembering that each of us is, essentially, largely made of water. When a human baby is born, it is composed of roughly 70 percent water. It has always fascinated me that roughly the same proportion of the globe is covered by water — just over 70 percent. Both our planet and our bodies are dominated by the liquid world, and anyone who has sailed extensively at sea will understand instinctively the primordial tug of the oceans upon each of us when we look upon the sea.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

A Wee Bit of Humor

There were a few Galvin children who did not develop schizophrenia, Michael being one of them. When his mother was in her 80s, he agreed to assume some of the responsibility for her day-to-day care.

Hidden Valley Road, p. 288:

He soon learned that however frail she might have been, Mimi was still in charge. He would offer her Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner, knowing how much she loved it, and she would refuse, saying she’d had it the night before. He’d make spaghetti instead, and she’d say there was too much of it.

“It got a little confounding,” Michael said. “I almost dumped it on her head.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Thirty-Sixth Hole

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family is an extraordinary book. And she didn’t even pick it up because it was an Oprah Book Club selection. She was just working off a list. In between tearing through science fiction, she decided to read nonfiction.

She’s on Chapter 20, in which Margaret, the older Galvin girl, is whisked off, at just shy of 14, to live with a family she barely knows, a family of enormous wealth, who started off on the same economic plane as the Galvins but found luck, such enormous luck.

DSCN0250

Sam Gary was “a natural risk-taker. For years, he had been known around Denver as Dry Hole Sam … In the mid-1960s, when everyone in the oil exploration business was drilling in Wyoming, Sam started drilling just north of the state line in the southeastern corner of Montana. Sam drilled thirty-five dry holes.” — p. 158

  • On June 29, 1967, one of the new wells — Sam’s thirty-sixth try — struck oil in Bell Creek Field in Montana. Sam set up four-hundred new wells, hanging on to 30 percent ownership.

Sam Gary was “about the same age as” Margaret’s father. By the time Margaret moves in with the Garys, they have a house in Denver with a housekeeper, a cook, and various other servants. They own a condo in the main drag of Vail and spend every weekend on their hundred-acre ranch in Montana, just up against Flathead Lake.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Read more books.

 

The Youngest Son

As her sons start to come apart (inexorably, with no let-up), the father, who internalizes everything, and never talks about the disintegration of the family, suffers a stroke and is hospitalized for six months. At this time, the mother has her youngest son, Peter, committed. He was in hockey camp and started to act out. He was sent to Brady Hospital, “a private psychiatric hospital in Colorado Springs.” (How long, self wonders, did it take for Robert Kolker to collect these masses of material? Because the research is incredible, the kind of thing that she can easily see someone spending 20 years compiling.)

  • In early September, Mimi finally visited and saw Peter wearing only underpants, strapped to a bed with no sheets on it. The whole room reeked of urine …

The mother pulled him out immediately (During all this travail, her husband was still in the hospital: he was “paralyzed on the right side of his body”). She puts Peter in the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver. Doctor’s note: when patient became “more provocative” (whatever that means), his “family thought that was his normal level of functioning.”

p. 134: When boy # 6, Joe, visits boy # 10, Peter, he was “able to tell the patient’s therapist that at times in the past he has had symptomatology similar to Peter’s.”

At this point, five boys have shown signs of personality disturbance. Self knows from the reviews that there’s one more boy who gets diagnosed schizophrenic. Which one? This shell game is agonizing for self, imagine the feelings of the parents (well, the feelings of the mother, because the father was pretty much out of it after his stroke).

So, drugs. There were a lot of drugs around. Four boys “into LSD” and one “into black beauties and other uppers.” The youngest child “smoked pot at age five.” The mother was deeply, observantly Catholic. She cared. Nevertheless, this is what happened to her. And on p. 135, a panel of doctors sat down and told Mimi that in their findings, she was the cause of her son’s disintegration. (Maybe she was, who knows. The jury’s still  out. But she was cut off from her own parents, and her grandparents, though concerned, felt helpless)

Stay safe, dear blog readers.

HIDDEN VALLEY ROAD, pp. 47 – 48

Kolker’s a very good writer. He has to be, to get the reader through this story. Self has been reading with a sense of growing horror.

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Peter, the tenth son, was born on November 15, 1960. This time, Mimi had a long stay in the hospital afterward with a severe prolapse, along with a blood clot in her left leg. Now there were fewer jokes about how Mimi ought to wear garlic to bed to fend off her husband at night. Her doctor gravely told her that her childbearing years were behind her. Fifteen years of more or less continuous pregnancy, labor, and delivery would seem to be enough for anyone. But Mimi did not seem interested in listening, even when others pleaded with her.

“Really, dear, you should give poor ‘Major Galvin’ a turn at the hospital,” Mimi’s paternal grandfather, Lindsey Blayney, wrote to her. “But, seriously, I am concerned about you.”

* * *

In 1961, mere months after giving birth to Peter, Mimi became pregnant for the eleventh time.

Seriously, she was hospitalized for a long time, and almost the first thing she does after getting home is get pregnant again? So they were Catholic, didn’t believe in birth control etc., but — seriously? Apart from the health problems, who was going to be financially responsible for all these children?

When Mimi’s grandfather received a Christmas card from Mimi showing her 10 children arrayed along a winding staircase, she and her husband at the head, she carrying her eleventh, he said he found the photo “startling.” I’d say!

What is wrong with the husband also? It’s not just his wife’s responsibility!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. And read more books.

Domestic Abuse and the Police: Why Victims Don’t Report

9-1-1 call by Nicole Brown Simpson, 1989: the Aftermath

  • Simpson, according to police officer Ron Shipp, (who knew O. J. Simpson pretty well, who’d been dropping by Simpson’s house about once a month, to use his tennis court, sit in his pool, etc) “was very upset because he thought that he was going to lose Hertz and his image was going to be tarnished.” So the officer “went to his supervisors at the West L. A. station and asked that the case against Simpson be dropped . . .” and then Shipp “returned to Nicole to implore her to leave O. J.’s precious image intact.”

Toobin is very clear on this point:

  • In a trial that resounded on talk with conspiracies within the LAPD, this was, in reality, the only conspiracy: the one to help O. J. Simpson escape prosecution for beating his wife in 1989. Small wonder, then, that in the week before her death, Nicole called a battered women’s shelter, not the police, to report that her ex-husband was stalking her.

The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson, p. 267

In effect, Toobin’s book is the justice that the O. J. Simpson trial, and the attending circus orchestrated by the defending lawyers, never afforded Nicole Brown Simpson and her fellow murder victim Ron Goldman.

She should have hired a lawyer. Why didn’t she? Gaslighting by O.J. perhaps? She was not the smartest, self will grant you. She was terrorized. Maybe she thought a lawyer wouldn’t believe her?

Self would still have called a lawyer. Five years later, Nicole Brown Simpson was dead. DEAD. DEAD.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Jury Selection, O. J. Simpson Trial

The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson, p. 188

In ordinary circumstances, government lawyers do little to prepare for jury selection in a criminal trial. Prosecutors’ offices almost never have the funds to hire jury consultants …

Simpson’s lead defense lawyer, on the other hand, hired the best jury consultant in Los Angeles.

Here’s what self is wondering: how could a second-tier celebrity like O. J. Simpson afford a team of lawyers as high-powered as these? Shapiro worked with a team of hand-picked lawyers. He also drew up a list of expert witnesses that included the jury specialist, the psychologist etc etc

Self sincerely hopes Toobin includes a section on how much the lawyers were paid. They got Simpson his freedom, self wonders what the price tag was? What exactly is the price tag of a great defensive team?

Self would love to read a book about the Harvey Weinstein trial. Because Weinstein presumably went with the very best lawyers, too. But the outcome for him was so very different from Simpson’s.

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: THE RUN OF HIS LIFE

p. 155:

That night I took the red-eye home to New York (The in-flight movie was Naked Gun 33 1/3, starring, among others, O. J. Simpson)

There is a rich vein of irony running through The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson. Toobin mines this for all it’s worth.

This book: classic with a capital ‘C.’

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Suicide Note, 6/15/94

p. 97, The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson

The suicide note in its entirety, including mis-spellings:

To whom it may concern:

First everyone understand nothing to do with Nicole’s murder. I loved her, always have and always will. If we had a problem it’s because I loved her so much. Recitly we came to the understanding that for now we were’nt right for each other at least for now. Dispite our love we were different and that’s why we mutually agreed to go our spaerate ways.

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