Category Archives: news and politics

This is NOT a Bomb Either

this is not a bomb either

I’ve written before, about how few Americans are capable of making anything for themselves anymore, but the story of MacArthur High School freshman Ahmed Mohamed, who was detained at school, and eventually arrested, because he brought the digital clock he built from a kit, to school, blew my mind. First, it blew my mind that there’s still a 9th grader out there who would rather build an electronic kit than slaughter virtual aliens while driving recklessly through cyberspace.


Second, it blows my mind that teachers were alarmed, rather than delighted by this. A decent science teacher would have asked Ahmed how he built his clock, and how it works, and then ask him if he’d be willing to put the clock on the wall, where they would use it to tell time for the rest of the semester. You never know, another kid might find himself staring at that clock, counting down the minutes till the end of class, and think:”I wonder if I could build a clock like that.” At worst, it sells educational electronic kits, at best, it launches technical careers.


Finally, it blows my mind the most to imagine the cognitive dissonance between Ahmed who saw an electronic kit and thought, “That looks cool! I want to build that clock”, and teachers and cops who thought, “Why would anyone want to build a clock? Why doesn’t he just look at his phone if he wants to know what time it is?” Clearly the defeat of human creativity is complete. We have become such passive, conformist consumers that we now consider building your own clock a form of dangerously deviant behavior. It’s a brave new world.

brave new world1

I’m sure the entire experience traumatized Ahmed in ways that even a trip to the White House and a personal visit with President Obama won’t entirely erase. The kid likes circuit-boards, but now he thinks that he is freakishly weird for liking circuit-boards. This will become a defining moment of his life, and he will probably always feel self-conscious and nervous about how people might react to him, a Middle-Eastern man, buying electronic components, for instance. His innocence is lost.

innocence lost1

I sympathize. I loved circuit-boards as a kid, and I still do. I loved taking radios apart, and I assembled a few electronic kits, but not many of my projects from that era ever worked as well as Ahmed’s clock. As a kid, I didn’t quite get the hang of soldering electronic components.

bad soldering

In the past decade, however, I have rediscovered my inner nerd, mastered my soldering technique and built myself a small collection of electronic musical instruments and audio gear, including a Theremin, a suitcase full of circuit-bent toys, an all tube guitar amplifier, and a stereo tube pre-amp. This past Summer. I built my most ambitious project yet:


WARNING: This is going to get nerdy!

talk nerdy
This is a highly idiosyncratic, if not completely original, modular, analog synthesizer of my own design. I call it, The Geosafari Synthesizer because I mounted all of the circuitry inside the plastic housing of Geosafari, an electronic, educational game popular in the eighties.


I found this Geosafari game at our local thrift store and bought it for $1, In it, I saw the perfect housing for my synthesizer. I recycled the rectangular red and green LEDs from the game, and remounted them in the original holes. On the left, the LEDS display the clock speed, and step number of the sequencer. On the right Red LEDs indicate “power on” to each of three primary oscillators, and one noise generator, and a green LED indicates decay time of the envelope generator.


The circuitry fits into the space originally occupied by the Geosafari game cards.


I was also able to utilize the battery compartment, for battery, and extra patch-cord storage, and the built in speaker still works too. I even recycled a transistor and a capacitor from the original Geosafari circuit-board. Other than that, I completely replaced the guts of this Geosafari game.


Here’s what went inside, to replace the original electronics: Two “Atari Punk Consoles” this famous circuit originally devised by Forrest Mimms, has a lot of musical potential, and two of them together more than doubles the fun. With a flip of a switch, they can be heterodyned. Heterodyned oscillators effect each other in interesting ways that can’t be recreated by mixing them through an audio mixer.


Beneath them, I included a white noise generator. I got the white noise gen schematic from an old website that suggested we build these devices to prevent malignant forces from using low-frequency radio waves to reprogram our brains. If it does that too, I’ll consider it a bonus. Rounding out the signal generating circuits, I included a simple 555 based, audio frequency oscillator, just to have one very straightforward oscillator without the built-in frequency divider.

white noise plan

In the middle section of the control panel, you’ll find all of the signal modifiers, starting at the top with a voltage controlled filter. I built the filter from a schematic I found online. The filter is a critical section of any analog synthesizer, and I like the way this 741 based filter sounds. This was the first resonant filter amplifier circuit I’ve ever built, and I chose this schematic for it’s simplicity, and easy availability of parts. It does what a filter is supposed to do.

filter schematic

Beneath the filter, I have a simple, one-stage envelope generator. I had planned to skip the envelope generator, because a standard four-stage ADSR envelope was just too complicated. Then I found this nifty little circuit from the folks at How could I resist adding this simple one-stage decay envelope to my synth. It only took three transistors and a capacitor, all of which I had on hand, so I built it on the edge of the filter circuit board, and added the controls to the control panel.

synthesizer architecture

Beneath the envelope generator, I included a Low-Frequency Oscillator, to add modulation to the filter, the amplifier, or any of the oscillators. I got the Low-Frequency Oscillator circuit from a youtube video. The guy was using this particular circuit to make an LED gradually light-up, then gradually fade out, and repeat the process at a steady rate, that you could increase or decrease by turning a knob. He used the circuit to add lights to his X-wing fighter, Millennium Falcon, and USS Enterprise scale models. I attached the LEDs to photoresistors, with shrink tubing, and used the same circuit to control the oscillators and filter on this synthesizer.

uss enterprise model

Below the LFO, a simple Voltage Controlled Amplifier allows me to modulate the volume of the signal with the LFO. In the future, I hope to add some accessories to this synthesizer, like a keyboard, and a light-sensitive gestural controller, which I could also use to control volume, through the VCA.

geosafari guts

Consuming the entire left third of the control panel, a ten-step voltage controlled sequencer allows me to cycle any of the on-board oscillators, or any voltage-controlled analog synthesizer, through a musical pattern of up to ten steps. I can change the speed of the pattern, the frequency range of the pattern, and the number of steps in the pattern from 2-10. The two columns of five knobs at the far left allow me to change the pitch of each individual step.


I found a youtube video that showed me how to convert a commonly available, and very inexpensive electronic kit, the Velleman brand LED chase-light kit into a pretty cool sequencer, so I decided to build one myself. As it turned out, not all inexpensive electronic chase-light kits are created equal. Mine turned out to be a different kit altogether, but with a little research, I was able to figure our how to make it into a working sequencer as well.

chase light

How does it sound? Take a listen! In this video I took it for a test flight.

By next spring, you might hear it in some new music.

What the Gyppo Ale Mill Controversy Says About SoHum

gyppo ale mill

In the latest evidence of the moral bankruptcy of my community, a standing room only crowd turned out to pressure the Redway Community Services District into permitting a new brew-pub to suck water from Redway’s already overtaxed water system. If there’s anything this community needs less than another industrial scale water waster, it’s more beer, and encouragement to drink it.

beer five at once

We have a huge problem with alcohol abuse here in Southern Humboldt, and you don’t need statistics to see it. It hits you in the face everywhere you go. Homeless alcoholics litter our streets from one end of town to the other, but the people with homes drink even more. Just attend one of the many non-profit fundraisers, and watch how fast people suck down those $6 beers. Try showing up, sober, at around 10:30pm. See if you can find one person who’s not too drunk to talk to. Most community events around here feel like a college frat party, except that half of the drunks are old enough to have kids in college, or grandkids.

drunk-girl old-man

Read the papers. Without DUIs, alcohol related traffic fatalities, disorderly conduct arrests and editorial complaints about public drunkenness, our local papers would have to investigate our corrupt county government just to fill the pages. Can you imagine that?. Linda Stansberrry reports, in her recent story in the NCJ, that people die of drug and alcohol related causes here in Humboldt County at THREE TIMES the state average. We’re so drunk here in Humboldt that even our statistics are staggering.

staggering home

Do we care? Fuck no! I guess we like it when our neighbors and our kids die, or when our kids run people over and leave them to bleed to death on the street. That’s just part of growing up, right? Funerals give us another excuse to get sauced, and there’s too damn many of us around here anyway. Let’s build a new brew pub so our kids can get drunk and run people over a little closer to home.


Here in SoHum, all we care about is getting drunk and making money. That’s why we think the marijuana industry should look like the wine industry. So, when the Redway Community Services District raised concerns about how this proposed new brew pub might negatively effect the small town’s water supply, greedy drunks came out in force to express their outrage, in an all out effort to ram the project through.

Bloody Ram

No one expressed concern about how this new brew pub, proposed for the Meadows Business Park, might lead to more traffic fatalities, especially since the proposed location lies halfway between SoHums two most densely populated residential areas, but not within easy walking distance of either.

Drunk_Driving getting people home

The out-of-the-way location, in an industrial park, will not attract tourists, or promote shopping in downtown Garberville. Instead, the proposed new brew pub would cater to locals who like to drink and drive, and it would encourage us all to drink and drive more. How is this good for us as a community?

no conjdition to drive

Thankfully, the Redway Community Services District stood up to the pressure, and the brewmongers went home angry, and got drunk. We may be famous for our cannabis, but the cannabis industry supports a destructive alcoholic lifestyle. Cannabis has the capacity to alter consciousness, but in SoHum’s dope yuppies, greed, and the thirst for alcohol, clouds their thinking so completely that even the best cannabis doesn’t reach them. They grow weed, but they think like alcoholics.

scotty kisses bottle

No, weed is not wine. Weed is nothing like wine, but SoHum’s dope yuppies think like alcoholics everywhere. Alcoholism is the disease that spawned our unsustainable culture of violence and environmental destruction to begin with, and alcoholism shapes our culture to this day. That’s why we inhabit such a cruel, heartless society, and face a looming environmental crisis. Alcoholism destroys lives. It destroys families. It destroys communities, including ours, and it is destroying the world.

alcoholism the diseaese

Cannabis is the solution, but SoHum’s alcoholic dope yuppies are just part of the problem.

cannabis is the solution

Free the Weed, Screw the Economy

weed economy

In the current debate over how to regulate cannabis in a legal environment, I hear an inordinate amount of concern about the possible economic effects of disrupting the current black-market. I mean, we didn’t mind when Amazon drove brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business. We didn’t care when itunes destroyed the record industry. “That’s progress,” and “You’ve got to stay ahead of the curve if you want to compete.” we said. It seems to me, that this whole internet revolution, that turned our economy upside-down, and ruined a whole lot of honest hard-working people’s lives in the process, remains hugely popular, despite the casualties.

record store

But I guess it’s a different story when it comes to drug dealers and the legalization of marijuana. That’s what they’re telling us, right? They are telling us that we need to regulate marijuana very carefully so that the price remains high enough to preserve the drug-gangster lifestyle. The recently passed CA state medical marijuana regulations will dramatically slow the development of new, legal, cannabis related business opportunities. Instead, they create a whole bunch of totally unnecessary, regulatory jobs for people who do nothing, except consume tax dollars and keep marijuana expensive. It’s appalling!


For decades, we’ve paid exorbitant black-market prices for pot. We’ve lost jobs, been denied jobs, paid fines and legal fees, and spent time in jail, as veterans of the War on Drugs. We’ve paid excessive taxes, suffered indescribable social injustice, and lost civil rights, to pay for the cruel, misguided, and completely unnecessary, War on Drugs. The War on Drugs has claimed millions of casualties. We’ve been through hell in the War on Drugs. We’ve paid enough for marijuana. After what we’ve been through, no one should ever have to pay for marijuana, ever again. Never.


We really shouldn’t worry so much about the effect the collapse of the marijuana black-market will have on our local economy. I know that the prospect of shrinkage in our local economy frightens people, but we should embrace it. What good does the economy do, if it destroys the environment, works us to death, and makes the things we need ridiculously expensive? The truth is, the marijuana economy does a lot more harm than good, and we’d be better off without it than you think.

better off than you think

It is important to remember that he economy is not one of those “more is better” kind of things. If you haven’t read my book, On the Money, Economics for the 99%, you owe it to yourself to do so. In it, I explain, in detail, how the economy works against you, and why making the economy larger, inevitably makes your life worse,. Consider this example:

consider this

Imagine a businessman, running his own small business, but business is slow. He’s just scraping by, economically. He goes to work at 9:00am, where he has a few orders to fill, and the phone rings once in a while. He makes a few calls himself, to drum up some new business. His customers like him because he gives them excellent service, and he’s built a personal relationship with most of them, but business is slow all around, so they don’t have much work to send his way. By 3pm he’s got his work squared away for the day, so he decides to knock off early. Of course he’s got his phone on, in case he gets a new order, but he’s out the door at 3pm.

Department of Lexicography:

Since it is such a lovely afternoon, he decides to take a walk in the park, and stop at the library on the way home. He arrives home around 5pm, with a stack of library books, and cooks his own dinner. Nothing fancy, but he makes it the way he likes it. After dinner, he doesn’t go out to a nightclub, because he can’t afford it. Instead, he picks up his old guitar, which he enjoys playing, when he has the time and energy. Since it was an easy day at work, he has some time and energy, so he has a good time playing the guitar, forgets about his money problems for a while, and maybe even teaches himself a new song. Then he relaxes a bit, reads one of the books he checked-out of the library, until he gets too tired to read, and then goes to bed.

lets go to bed

The next day, he wakes up, makes his own breakfast, and goes back to work, hoping he’ll have a little more business. Let’s imagine that on this particular day, he gets a big contract. I mean, an enormous new contract. Suddenly, this businessman is swamped with work, but his money problems are over.

no more money problems

He realizes he needs help. That means he needs to put up a sign, place some want ads, answer calls, conduct interviews, file paperwork, set up accounts, buy a time-clock, and train new workers. Then he needs to order more stock, buy new machines, and put an addition on his shop. So he gets right to work, and by the time he finishes working for the day, it’s already 9:00pm. He goes home, exhausted, orders a pizza, and falls asleep in front of the TV. He feels a little queezy after that pizza, but he chalks it up to the excitement of this life changing day.

just another day

The next morning, he gets up early, grabs a breakfast sandwich and coffee, which he consumes at his desk. It’s not great, but he ignores his disappointment because he’s got more important things to think about. Instead of lunch, he grabs a candy bar from a vending machine, and again, eats it at his desk, between interviews. His phone never stops ringing, and instead of knocking off at 3pm, he doesn’t get out of the office until 9. When he gets home, he orders another pizza, and eats it in front of the tube.

eating pizza in front of the TV

After a few weeks of this, he realizes that he’s drinking four cups of coffee a day instead of one, because he constantly feels run-down, but the caffeine makes it hard for him to get to sleep at night, so he has a few beers with his pizza. After a few months, he realizes he’s gaining weight, so he joins a gym, and orders some home exercise equipment he saw advertised on TV, but he’s too exhausted to exercise or go to the gym, and instead, decides that he needs to improve his diet.

gaining weight

He starts looking for restaurants that serve healthier food. Turns out they charge more money for it too, but he happily pays it. Instead of drinking four cups of drip coffee, he has a vente double cappuccino. He stops drinking beer, and becomes a fine wine enthusiast. Still, the money comes in faster than he can spend it. He commissions a master luthier to build him the guitar of his dreams. When it arrives, he realizes that he no longer has callouses on his fingertips, and he doesn’t have time to play it.

custom guitar

He still feels run-down, and has a vague sense that he’s not taking very good care of himself, so he buys himself a brand new luxury car with all of the amenities. This makes his employees jealous, because they cannot afford such extravagant wheels. They now feel exploited, and so they start asking for raises. They no longer see him as the hardest working member of the team, but as the boss who gets rich off of their hard work.

wealth asshole

Do you see a pattern here? Obviously this successful man deserves the money he’s making. He’s sacrificing his life for it. Clearly, we should view this successful businessman as a role model for the kind of job creator and consumer who drives economic growth That doesn’t mean he’s doing himself, or anyone else, any favors. In fact, he’s killing himself, and he’s killing himself, in part, because it’s the only relief he now sees from a life of too much work.

kill yourself working

That’s what economic growth does to us. For the economy to grow, we have to work more, and spend more, every year. Believe it or not, we’ve got better things to do. You might not remember what they are, because you’ve been a slave for so long, but really, you’ve got better things to do than feed your one lifetime to the goddamn economy.

better things to do

Too much money and too much work are much worse for people than too little. The black-market marijuana industry may have solved our money problems, but it has ruined the quality of our lives, weakened our community, and it continues to consume people, littering our streets with more of their broken husks every day. We don’t owe drug dealers anything, and we owe the economy even less. We deserve better, and it’s time we demanded it.

we deserve better

Welcome, Willcommen, Bienvenida, to SoHum

welcome languages

As the days grow shorter, and the pervasive aroma of ripening cannabis flowers fills the air, young travelers from all over the world descend on Southern Humboldt to remind us how provincial we are by comparison. What we lack in culture, class and common courtesy, we make up for with money and marijuana. Believe me, if it weren’t for the money and the weed, these adventurous world travelers wouldn’t waste one minute of their precious time on us, but here they come, again.

here they come again

Sure, lots of interesting people come from all over the world to see the giant redwoods, but only marijuana and money brings interesting people here to see us, mainly in search of boring work. I’d think the opportunity to have a crew of people from far flung places like France, Brazil and New Zealand, sharing their diverse backgrounds, as well as their travel stories, as they trim your weed, must be one of the best things about the life of a Humboldt Dope Yuppie. Of course, I don’t think like a Dope Yuppie.

too much weed

Dope Yuppies don’t care about cultural exchange. Still, trimmigrants often advertise their cultural diversity to entice would-be employers. “Two Germans looking for work.” one sign I saw recently read. “For hire: Spanish couple, from Amsterdam…” began the classified ad I heard on KMUD.

get a job in marijuana fields

They have no idea. Ideally the ad should read: “White woman, under 30, with two breasts, seeks employment. Willing to work, ogling tolerated.” Face it. No guy, who has been stuck on a hill in the middle of the forest all by himself for the last six months wants to hear another guy tell him about how hot the women in Berlin are, or about the club scene in Brazil, or even about farming on a Kibbutz in Israel. He knows that he is not getting off of that hill until all of that weed gets clipped. He wants to see pounds of marketable product, and tits. That’s it.

woman with weed

Growers generally don’t maintain facilities for these seasonal workers, and at the time when growers need them, every square foot of indoor space is usually full of freshly harvested cannabis. Often, trimmigrants sleep on the floor of the drying shed, in the crawl space beneath the hanging herb, usually just a few feet away from a folding chair in which they will spend almost every waking minute of their entire two week, or month long stay. That is the life of a trimmigrant.

trimming pot

Yes, people from all over, come here, to one of the most beautiful places in the whole world, to spend 16 hours a day locked in a windowless room full of weed, operating a pair of scissors under unchanging artificial light. The work is not difficult, but it is extremely dull, and it demands long hours. If you can tolerate the boredom, muscle cramps and eye-strain, don’t mind watching a few weeks of your life evaporate, and don’t have a life to lead that you can’t just disappear from for a month or so, trimming weed can seem like a decent gig. A good trimmer can earn $1000 or more per week, and sometimes they even get paid.

not getting paid

Local merchants should celebrate this influx of foreign tourists. I’ve seen these kids eat at all of the local restaurants and cafes. I see them buy groceries and beer, and I’m sure they’d even pay for a place to camp, if they could find a reasonably priced campground. They spend money, but a lot of them come from places where they just naturally expect to be treated like human beings by the businesses they patronize. I guess that’s kind of a European thing, but, you know, we could give it a shot.

give it a shot

I haven’t seen much by way of hospitality extended to these people who have come such a long way to visit our little community. I mean, we put out porta-potties and throw a barbeque for the bikers when they come here to get drunk and loud at the Harley Run. I’ll bet we could get trimmigrants to spend more money here, if we treated them like we were glad to see them, and offered them things they needed and wanted.

give them what they want

They couldn’t be any scummier than the bikers; there’s more of them, and they stay longer. Really, these are some the nicest, most interesting people you are likely to meet in Humboldt County at any time of year. We should all make the most of our time with them while they are here. In that spirit, I say: “Welcome to SoHum. How may I be of service?” and “Wir sprechen Deutsch”

wir sprechen deutsch

(not really, but I’ll do my best to dredge up what I can remember from watching Hogan’s Heroes)

hogans heroes

Choice and Change in Humboldt County


People talk about homelessness as though it were a choice. How many times have you heard someone say, “If that’s how they choose to live…” when talking about homeless people? What a ludicrous idea! Homelessness happens to people. They don’t aspire to it. They don’t plan it, and few are well prepared for it when it happens to them. People don’t choose homelessness. Homelessness is what happens to people who run out of options.


On the other hand, people do choose to become middle-class. The aspiration to become middle-class is so pervasive that it has acquired a nickname. We call it the American Dream. Yes, people choose to become middle-class. They aspire to join the middle-class. They work to achieve middle-class status, and even after they’ve established themselves within the middle-class, they never quite feel middle-class enough.

not middle class enough

A lot of people choose to live a middle-class lifestyle, and it’s a choice most people make without giving it a lot of thought. It’s an expensive choice. The middle-class lifestyle consumes people’s lives as greedily as it consumes the earth’s resources. The middle-class lifestyle doesn’t happen by accident. It takes dedication and lifelong commitment to join the ranks of the middle-class.

chance of middle class

At the same time, the middle-class lifestyle has a very poor record of making people happy. As anyone raised in a middle-class home can tell you, the middle-class lifestyle ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Still, people throw themselves at the middle-class, like proverbial lemmings over a cliff. Even real lemmings aren’t that stupid. What gives?

another way to go

You see, most people don’t choose a middle-class lifestyle because it looks particularly attractive. Most people choose to become middle-class because the prospect of homelessness frightens them so much. In this way, the middle-class are a lot like Christians, who abstain from earthly pleasures, not so much because they dream of someday flying through the clouds playing a harp, but because they fear the fires of Hell.

hell fear

This kind of fear grows into resentment. In the same way that deeply frustrated Christians vent their resentment at gay people and women seeking abortions, the middle-class vent their resentment at the poor and homeless. In both cases it’s a gross display of stupidity, gullibility and cowardice aimed at the most vulnerable. Like Christians, the middle-class have been frightened into believing a fairy tale that controls their lives and makes them resentful of non-believers.


No one forces them to become middle-class. I’m sure they feel a lot of pressure from family and friends, not to mention the media, and society at large. Even the government tries to enforce a middle-class lifestyle through policy, sanction, and ordinance. However, the decision to pursue a middle-class lifestyle remains a personal choice, and one that can only be realized through dedication and hard work. Still, it’s a choice most people make without much serious thought.

choice consequences quote

We know that most of the serious crises we face today, like global climate change, habitat loss and the extinction crisis, result directly from too many people choosing a conventional American middle-class lifestyle. From a scientific perspective, it seems clear that the single biggest threat to our long-term survival, is our global infatuation with becoming middle-class. If we actually thought about it, we’d realize what a destructive, high-maintenance, low-satisfaction lifestyle the middle-class have chosen. Few of us would eagerly repeat their mistakes. But instead of thinking, we blindly perpetuate a culture of fear and oppression that serves only the super-rich, while it pushes us all relentlessly towards extinction.

extinction c n h

Who do we blame for this? Invariably, we blame the poor. We blame the poor for not pulling their weight. We blame the poor for frightening children, driving off tourists, blocking sidewalks, and especially for not going away. Then, when they finally crack, under the pressure of poverty, lack of sleep, poor diet, constant harassment and social isolation, we blame their poverty on mental illness. How does this make sense?

no logic exists

If you ask me, I say, “Blame the middle-class.” Blame the sniveling cowards who turned their backs on humanity and stuck their tongues deep into the rectum of the super-rich, just for the chance to spend the future, today. Blame the middle-class for their greed, stupidity, and cowardice. Blame them for their choices, because the choices were all theirs to make.

thats so middle class

Whether it was their lack of imagination, their gullibility, or their infatuation with bright shiny objects that lead middle-class people to make the dreadful decisions that define their lives and shape our world, ultimately, blaming people doesn’t solve the problem. To solve this problem, people have to learn to live differently.

learn to live differently

I realize that you’ve heard this before. “Create a sustainable lifestyle” has been a mantra of environmental organizations for decades, environmental groups that rely mainly on the middle-class
for their support. Still, if we manage to survive this century as a species, it won’t be because we developed some new clean energy source, it will be because we learned to live differently.


Do you remember that part of our Humboldt County heritage? You’ve seen the experimental houses, the strawbale, cobb, ferro-cement, and wattle-and-daub buildings, the yurts, tepees, wikiups, and benders, the domes, tree-houses, house-trees, and the thousands of funky, idiosyncratic little wooden dwellings that grace our Humboldt County hillsides. Those houses exist because a lot of people came to Humboldt County to experiment with different ways of living, not to become middle-class yuppies by growing dope.

funky tree home humboldt

We’ve seen how these experiments pay off economically. The Solar Living Center in Hopland, and the Schottz energy lab in Arcata come to mind immediately, as examples of how a modest cultural experiment can catalyze change and create real economic opportunities.

solar living center

We have a long history of experimental, owner-built housing in Humboldt County. We need housing now more than ever, and we need housing that works for people, rather than vice-versa. We need to learn to live differently, and few things reflect the way we live more than the homes we live in.

tiny home-tile

Here in Humboldt County, we have the opportunity to take a humane approach to our housing shortage, and open a door to the future, or not. People need a place to live. We can continue to deny our neighbors the dignity of privacy and a place to escape the elements, or we can create the kind of cultural incubator that solves problems, sets trends, and creates the economic opportunities of the future.


Class War against the poor will never succeed, and the middle-class will never be happy with what they have. We need to find another way to live, and if we want to know what that looks like, we need to allow the people who need it the most, an opportunity to build it for themselves.

build it yourself1

Humboldt County’s Nuclear Caviar

nuclear caviar

We have a long history of shortsightedness here in Humboldt County. I suspect that we’re as eager to throw our long-term assets away for a fast buck as we ever were, and the impending legalization of marijuana gives us another opportunity to do just that.

chase the fast buck

Right now, the black-market cannabis industry holds this county hostage, politically and economically. The illegal marijuana industry has already brought enough social problems to Humboldt County, problems ranging from poverty and homelessness to hard drug abuse, violent crime and murder. Feeding this disease, and fueling the destruction it causes, the misguided War on Drugs has turned a harmless, easy to grow weed into expensive contraband. Now that the tides have turned on the War on Drugs, politicians and drug dealers will try to convince you that marijuana is nuclear caviar.


Nuclear, meaning that they will tell you that marijuana is so dangerous that it requires as much government oversight, control and regulation as a nuclear power plant. Caviar, because they intend to concoct some scheme to control cannabis production, to keep the price of cannabis artificially inflated, so that good pot remains an expensive luxury that working people can ill-afford.

luxury marijuana

Cannabis is not nuclear caviar. Cannabis is a giant fucking ripoff. Until now, the price of cannabis has been highway robbery at the point of a cop’s gun. If the CA legislature passes the current passel of pending cannabis legislation, they will simply turn iron-fisted prohibition into a state sponsored racket. It will still be highway robbery at the point of a cop’s gun, and pot will remain a giant fucking ripoff. For now.


Still, dramatic changes, already underway in the cannabis industry, will continue. The marijuana industry of today looks nothing like the marijuana industry of 20 years ago. Humboldt County will probably produce more marijuana, this year alone, than it did in the entire two decades between 1980 and 1999, and the cannabis industry of the future will look nothing like the cannabis industry of today.

the future

The cannabis market will become more competitive, production will expand and automation will increase. Profit margins will shrink, leading to rapid consolidation. That means lots of people lose their jobs or go out of business. That’s how legal industries work. The cannabis industry is rapidly becoming a legal industry, full of businessmen who know how to run a business, and aren’t afraid to make tough decisions.


That is a dramatic change from the cannabis industry we all know and love. We like pot growers to be spendthrift fools who have no idea how much money they really make, buy everything retail, and drip money as they walk down the street. More than the cannabis itself, our local economy relies on the stupidity and shortsightedness of black-market dope growers who’s lack of business acumen lured them into this line of work to begin with. The black market takes money out of the hands of hard-working people, who might otherwise save it, and puts it into the hands of the people most likely to squander it. That’s how prohibition boosts the economy, and that’s what we see here in Humboldt County.

spendthrift economy

The fact is, no matter how legalization plays out, most of the people who benefit from the marijuana industry in Humboldt County today, will eventually get squeezed out. Will it happen in three years, or will it take five? That depends on a lot of things, but it will happen, regardless. A lot of people around here will have to find something else to do, and the sooner, the better.

find something better to do

The War on Drugs is a cruel racist policy. Mostly, the War on Drugs provides a legal framework for the violent control of minority communities, but here in Humboldt, we see another racist aspect to the War on Drugs. Here, the War on Drugs provided a relatively low-risk avenue to affluence for privileged white kids with no particular skills, talent or ambition. Hey, I’m a privileged, white, college drop-out myself. I certainly understand the attraction, but it’s still racist. It’s still wrong, and it’s still a huge fucking ripoff, but rest assured; that side of the War on Drugs, will evaporate too. The marijuana industry will no longer be dominated by white middle-class dilettantes looking for a low-stress, way to support their high-consumption lifestyle.


When you think about it, these are the people who make Humboldt County attractive and interesting, at least to me, the artists, performers and musicians, the idealistic art history, English and ancient language majors and the disillusioned scientists and engineers who decided they didn’t want to build weapons systems or devise new, environmentally destructive, products. For people like this, growing pot was a way to finance their art or their writing or their political activism, or their other interesting hobbies, without distracting too much from them. The cannabis industry of the future will have no place for these people.

no room for you damob

Instead, the cannabis industry will be dominated by greedy white farmers who know how to grow pot and run a business, but have few, if any, other interests. Greedy white farmers do not attract tourists. If they did, people would flock to Iowa to watch corn grow. Greedy white farmers drain rivers, kill fish and destroy habitat, and they use their political clout to make sure that no one gets in their way. That’s what greedy white farmers do everywhere, and that’s what they intend to do here.

Silly Greedy Farmer

Yes, farming is boring and ugly and no one wants to see it, and the same is true of farmers, but we have something else here in Humboldt County that is worth more than all of the black-market marijuana we’ve grown here in the past, and all of the nuclear caviar we hope to produce in the future, put together. That is natural habitat.

natural habitat humboldt

Natural habitat has become remarkably rare around the world. I mean really rare, not artificially price-controlled, “rare,” but genuinely uncommon, and truly valuable. The Earth has lost half of its natural biodiversity since the first Earth Day, and the primary reason is loss of habitat. If we should treat anything around here like nuclear caviar, it is the natural habitat here in Humboldt County.

habitat loss

People want to see natural habitat, and they want to see it teeming with life.. Natural habitat attracts tourists. Biodiversity attracts tourists. No one will ever figure out how to produce habitat on the cheap and flood the market with biodiversity. Habitat will only become more rare and valuable. Pot, on the other hand, is easy to grow and cheap to produce, and it won’t be long before some state, like Nevada, Texas or Kansas, decides to get out of the way and open up the floodgates to an ocean of cheap cannabis.

habitat disregarded

That will leave us, here in Humboldt County, facing the same decision we face now, but with fewer options, and greatly diminished assets: Do we sacrifice our lives, and the natural habitat we love, in a vain attempt to compete with market forces beyond our control, or do we use our imagination, and learn to do something else, that harmonizes with the natural splendor of this unique place, and works for the kind of people who make up this community, and make this community special.

sohum people-tile

SoHum in August: Come for the Smoke, Stay for the Helicopters


I love August in Southern Humboldt, triple-digit temperatures, the air hazy and thick with the ever-present smell of smoke and the hellish red tint it lends to the sunlight. Everybody’s nervous, nervous about fire, nervous about water, nervous about fish, nervous about their crop, and nervous about helicopters. Don’t forget the helicopters. Ya gotta love helicopters.


Yes, to see SoHum in all of its glory, come in August. They say sunlight is the best disinfectant, and one August afternoon in Garberville will remind you why. Nothing can survive there. In Garberville, every fiber of your being will tell you that the sun wants to kill you. You will try to accomplish whatever you went there to do, but you will become ever more stressed, fatigued, irritated and confused, by the minute, as the sun steadily beats the shit out of you, until you finally realize you must flee for your life.

flee for your life

For miles around, the forested hills mitigate the harmful effects of solar radiation, but Garberville has the only substantial assemblage of concrete and asphalt in the area, and it concentrates sunlight like a magnifying glass. The locals have cut down damn near every last tree in town to insure maximum solar gain. They really don’t like people hanging around town.

Garberville welcome to buy

The proliferation of wildfires in our area seems like a wet dream for our local merchants. Every cafe and restaurant in town has a cue of at least six clean cut young men in uniform, just the kind of customer they’ve always wanted. Now they’re everywhere. I had to wait in line for lunch behind a whole platoon of regular Army GIs. I don’t think that ever happened to me in Garberville before.

GIs in line

2015 is shaping up to be an exceptional summer for smoke in SoHum. We love smoke in SoHum. As anyone who lives here will tell you, we have the best smoke in the world here in SoHum. Pot smoke, cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust or good ol’ wood smoke, whatever your favorite flavor, we’ve got plenty of it here in SoHum, and we’ll happily set fire to a car, a homeless person or an RV to spice it up for you.


Personally, I really love the smoke. I know it’s killing me, but for some reason I appreciate the air more when I can see it, and I find warm smoky air particularly comforting.  It might remind me of something from my childhood. I vaguely remember that my grandfather smoked a pipe and kept the thermostat too high.

smokes a pipe

Speaking of too high. I love smoking weed so much that I hollowed out my toothbrush, and attached a bowl to it so I can smoke pot while I brush my teeth. That’s how much we love smoke here in SoHum, and we’ve become connoisseurs of the finest smoke. We’ve developed our appreciation for smoke to a high art. We prefer to call ourselves “smokiers,” rather than “smoke snobs,” but it’s just our way of celebrating the pure joy of breathing contaminated air.

breathing apparatus

And nothing compliments the light-headedness that comes from breathing contaminated air on a hot summer day like the ominous reverberations from the incessant beating of rotor blades. Few sounds strike more fear into more hearts around the world than the sound of an approaching helicopter. Locally, decades of conditioning by CAMP have effected us deeply. This year, the choppers are all fighting fires, but they remind us of our PTSD. …all day.

ptsd pot

So, please, visit SoHum in August and you’ll get a warm welcome. You’ll see us at our best, and taste the air when it’s thickest and creamiest.

Firefighters walk under smoke from fires along Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake, Calif., Friday, July 31, 2015. A series of wildfires were intensified by dry vegetation, triple-digit temperatures and gusting winds. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


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