7.31.2017

My simple 'hack' for planning a quick, easy & no work menu plan for a week's beach vacation for a family or group


Over the past couple years I've come to love the ease of packing, preparation and yes, taste of freeze dried foods when I'm camping.  I'm kicking myself for not jumping on the freeze dried bandwagon sooner as I recall lugging coolers and containers of foods on so many of our family tent-camping trips when the kids were growing up.  Many times we would 'hike in' to our site and it was all hands on deck to lug heavy coolers and bags of food to the site and then of course you struggle to keep it all cold, organized and out of the hands of sneaky and mean raccoons who have grown accustomed to humans and the goods they bring into the woods.

Last year due to a variety of family events and needs in various states, I did a LOT of solo driving cross country.  I ended up packing freeze dried and dehydrated foods and bottled water in my car and it was a life saver when I found myself stopping at a hotel for the night after a 10 or 12 hour drive and didn't feel like going back out to find food, or in one case; a VERY QUESTIONABLE HOTEL LOCATION that I didn't realize when I made the reservation online and couldn't get out of without losing my money; I was *not* venturing out even 1/2 block from my hotel to hit up the McDonalds in that neighborhood so the mushroom and beef noodle dish I prepared in my hotel room from a freeze dried meal and hot water from my in-room coffee maker made me the happiest girl in that hotel that night!

On the cross country road trip me and my daughter took in May where we camped our way across the state of South Dakota, we packed 2 weeks worth of food and bottles of water into the storage compartment of my little road-trip car and it was the best meal planning we've ever done for a trip.  We never worried about how close we were to towns with the availability of food and water; we had everything we needed.

We also used freeze dried foods on our beach camping trip this spring.  Other than some supplemental 'baby and toddler friendly' foods and powered formula for the baby, we again had no concerns about meal planning.  The most difficult part of planning lunch and dinner was deciding which package to use.

Now I'm in the middle of planning a trip to the beach - but we aren't camping.  It's a rental house.  For years we've tried to get away to the beach at least once a year and to save money we've always rented either a condo with a full kitchen or a rental house with a full kitchen.  This DOES save on the cost of eating 'out' and makes it so much easier to plan meals because you aren't wrangling busy kids and relaxing husbands into showering and getting ready to 'go out' to eat all your meals but as the wife and Mom and 'head cook' in our family, it means I've spent the last 20 years wasting a LOT of time in the kitchen prepping, cooking, baking, serving and cleaning.  Even with 'help' it's wasted time and no one likes to do dishes and scrub lasagna pans on vacation!

ENTER FREEZE DRIED MEALS!

After a lot of research, price comparison and thought to the process of preparation, dishes, ingredients needed to make similar meals, time involved and the ages and favorite foods of those on this trip, I decided on a 'kit' of Mountain House foods that is sold as a combination of their 2 day, 3 day, 4 day and 5 day emergency kits bundled together as one.  I ordered mine through Amazon and this is the exact one I ordered (affiliate link enclosed);




Mountain House 14 day Kit



This kit comes with all the foods you see pictured above and described below:
  • Breakfast Skillet 5x — Hash browns and scrambled eggs mixed with pork sausage, peppers & onions. Each pouch makes two 1-cup servings.
  • Biscuits & Gravy 3x — Hot fluffy buttermilk biscuits with creamy pork sausage gravy. Each pouch makes 2 1-cup servings.
  • Eggs & Bacon 2x — Crispy, crumbly bacon combined with scrambled eggs. -Each pouch makes 1.5 1-cup servings.
  • Eggs with Ham & Peppers 2x — Scrambled eggs with savory ham, green & red peppers. Each pouch makes 2 ¾-cup servings
  • Granola with Milk & Blueberries 2x — Crunchy sweet granola with real blueberries and milk. Prepared hot or cold, it is a great way to start any day. Each pouch contains 2 ½-cup servings.
  • Pasta Primavera 4x — Zucchini, spiral macaroni, cauliflower, broccoli, red & yellow peppers and green beans in a creamy, parmesan cheese sauce. Each pouch makes 2.5 1-cup servings.
  • Rice & Chicken 3x — Rice and chicken in a savory sauce accented with pimentos. Each pouch makes 3 1-cup servings.
  • Beef Stew 2x — Diced all natural beef, potatoes, peas, and carrots.  Each pouch makes 2.5 1-cup servings.
  • Beef Stroganoff 2x — Tender beef, noodles, and mushrooms smothered in a rich sour cream sauce.  Each pouch makes 2.5 1-cup servings.
  • Chicken Fried Rice 2x — Made with long grain rice, chicken, scrambled eggs, chopped onions, savory mushrooms, green peas, red peppers and diced carrots. Each pouch makes 2.5 1-cup servings.
  • Chili Mac with Beef 2x — Spicy chili sauce with real beef, macaroni noodles, onions, and beans. Each pouch makes 2.5 1-cup servings.
  • Lasagna with Meat Sauce 2x —Pasta with cheese in a rich tomato meat sauce. Each pouch makes 2.5 1 ¼-cup servings.
  • Macaroni & Cheese 2x — Macaroni noodles in a smooth, creamy, cheesy sauce. Each pouch makes 3 1 ¼-cup servings.
  • Mexican Rice & Chicken 2x — Spicy rice, beans, and chicken seasoned with tomato, peppers and olives. Each pouch contains 3 1-cup servings.
  • Noodles & Chicken 2x — A rich and creamy sauce with pasta, red peppers, and pieces of real chicken meat. Each pouch makes 2.5 1-cup servings.
  • Italian Style Pepper Steak with Rice & Tomatoes 2x — Tender cuts of steak with red, green and yellow bell peppers, onions and tomatoes with long grain rice. Each pouch makes 2.5 1-cup servings.
  • Spaghetti with Meat Sauce 2x — Tomato sauce accompanied by tender pasta and beef chunks. Each Pouch makes 2.5 1-cup servings
  • Chicken Teriyaki 1x — Chicken, rice, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and vegetables with a sweet and tangy oriental sauce. Contains 2.5 1-cup servings.


I have personally had most of these foods and since our family knows we love (love love love) the chicken breasts with mashed potatoes, the lasagna and the biscuits and gravy; I also ordered an extra case of each of those items.  This gives us a great variety for everyone to choose a favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner meal.  Most of our large family group are adults and young adults so everyone can prepare their own (you simply add hot water, close the package and wait about 10 minutes - open and eat!).  The little toddlers also have some yummy options with the not-spicy pasta and rice dishes and even a macaroni and cheese favorite.

Another perk?  Not only can people eat breakfast and lunch on their own schedules (early riser? late sleeper? doesn't matter!) you can literally eat this right out of the pouch so if you choose to do so, it means no dishes to wash!  Each package can serve between 2-4 people depending on how hungry they are and their ages.  Leftovers are not an issue; just pop it into the refrigerator and when wanted, just reheat on a paper plate in the microwave.

This kit has 42 pouches of breakfast, lunch and dinner options with 2-4 servings in each pouch.  As I mentioned, I also ordered 3 cases (6 pouches each) of our favorites; biscuits and gravy, lasagna and the chicken breast with mashed potatoes.  We have a total of 60 pouches of all variety of foods.  I also have freeze dried vegetables and fruit we already have on hand in our camping supply boxes as well as a couple freeze dried 'dessert' options like raspberry crumble and a chocolate chip cookie dough mix.

The only foods we will be buying when we arrive at the beach house are sandwich fixings; bread, deli meats, cheese, lettuce and condiments as well fresh fruits, milk, yogurt and one or two cereal options. This is a much much easier-to-manage shopping trip than the usual week long lunch and dinner ingredients trip that runs $400 and includes a whole car full of food items that we try desperately to 'use up' so we don't have to throw out much of it before starting the long trip home. 

We will probably have a lot of food leftover but that's not a problem!  Mountain House brand pouches, when stored at temperatures not over 75 degrees will last up to 30 years.  And they will not last that long in our home because as you've read in my post above, I use these for camping, for road travels, for hotel meals... they come in handy for many meals!


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You might also be interested in the products related to this post available to order through my affiliate links on Amazon if you can't find it locally or like Amazon's prices better:



Mountain House 14 day Kit




Mountain House Just in Case 72 Hour Kit

 
Mountain House 3 Day Emergency Food Supply
Mountain House Just In Case 4-Day Emergency Food Supply

7.30.2017

A tea-drinking Kansas family buys some pvc pipe and light in order to try growing hydroponic tomatoes... you'll never guess what happened to them


Source:  Chicago Tribune

I've included bits and pieces so you get the idea of the story, and the 'bold' accent is mine.  The whole story is available at the source listed.  This story makes me angry, frustrated and even somewhat scared. If ex-CIA, upstanding, good parents with a couple great kids can be put through this hell, anyone can.

'We'll never be the same': A hydroponic tomato garden led police to raid Kansas family's home

The hydroponic tomato garden that led to a 2012 police raid.
(Court exhibit)


Wearing only gym shorts, the stocky 51-year-old left his wife in bed and shuffled downstairs. The solid front door had a small window carved at eye-level, one-foot-square. As he approached, Harte saw the porch was clogged with police officers. Immediately after opening the door, seven members of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) pressed into the house brandishing guns and a battering ram. Bob found himself flat on floor, hands behind his head, his eyes locked on the boots of the cop standing over him with an AR-15 assault rifle. Are there kids? the officers were yelling. Where are the kids?

"And I'm laying there staring at this guy's boots fearing for my kids' lives, trying to tell them where my children are," Harte recalled later in a deposition on July 9, 2015. "They are sending these guys with their guns drawn running upstairs to bust into my children's house, bedroom, wake them out of bed."

Harte's wife, Addie, bolted downstairs with the children. The Hartes' son put his hands up when he saw the guns. The family of four were eventually placed on a couch as police continued to search the property. The officers would only say they were searching for narcotics.

Addie had a thought: It's because of the hydroponic garden, she told her husband, they are looking for pot. No way, Harte said, correctly reasoning marijuana wasn't a narcotic. And all this for pot?


"It's because of the hydroponic garden, she told her husband, 
they are looking for pot. No way, Harte said, 
correctly reasoning marijuana wasn't a narcotic. 
And all this for pot?"

But after two hours of fruitless search, the officers showed the Hartes a warrant. Indeed, the hunt was for marijuana. Addie and Bob were flabbergasted — all this for pot?

"You take the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, all the rights you expect to have - when they come in like that, the only right you have is not to get shot if you cooperate," Harte told The Washington Post this week. "They open that door, your life is on the line."

The April 20, 2012, raid would not furnish JCSO with the desired arrests and publicity (a news conference had already been planned for the afternoon.) But it would cause considerable embarrassment. Not only were the Hartes upstanding citizens with clean records, they were also both former Central Intelligence Agency officers. And they were not weed growers. Rather, the quick-trigger suspicion of law enforcement had snagged on — it would later turn out — tea leaves and a struggling tomato plant.


"Not only were the Hartes upstanding citizens with clean records, 
they were also both former Central Intelligence Agency officers. 
And they were not weed growers. Rather, the quick-trigger suspicion 
of law enforcement had snagged on
 — it would later turn out — tea leaves 
and a struggling tomato plant."


The Hartes would eventually file a federal lawsuit against the county, city, and officers involved. And although a federal judge later threw out their claim, this week a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that the family could move forward in court. The decision has larger implications for Fourth Amendment litigation and legislation targeting badly behaving police officers.

The scorching judicial pronouncement blasted authorities for laziness and possible fabrication, the kind of overzealous police work that's become a sometimes deadly facet of the drug war. And despite the sustained effort of the Obama Administration to power down the law enforcement's more quixotic battles with illicit substances, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised to reprioritize marijuana investigations. The Hartes case is a textbook reminder how that can be dangerous.

"Our family will never be the same," Addie told The Post. "If this can happen to us, everybody in the country needs to be afraid," Bob added.

The events leading to the raid began a year earlier, according to court documents. Starting in 1997, Sgt. James Wingo of the Missouri State Highway Patrol started pulling surveillance shifts in the parking lots of hydroponic garden stores around the state. The project's logic, as Wingo explained in a 2011 letter to other law enforcement agencies, was that the stores "sell items that are consistently found in indoor marijuana growing operations." As customers came and went, Wingo would note their license plate information and enter names into a database.

Around 2011, he'd come up with the idea of trying to raise tomatoes, golden melons, butternut squash, and other vegetates in a hydroponic garden in the family's basement as an educational project with his son. The set-up was small, just two parallel tubes of PVC piping with plastic cups of seeds and dirt under the lamps. And to gather supplies for the project, on August 9, 2011, Bob and his two children piled out of the family's Kia minivan in the parking lot of a gardening store called Green Circle in downtown Kansas City.

Wingo was watching from a parked car and noted the license plate.

Eight months later, as law enforcement continued to search every inch of their house for drugs, Addie sat on the couch, trying to explain to her son what was going on. "I had nothing, how do you explain that? They know I can't protect them then," she told The Post this week. "Sitting in your home, having your Miranda rights read to you, its absolutely surreal."

The raid turned up no marijuana. Before leaving the Harte house, police would only say the family had been targeted and surveilled because marijuana "seeds and stems" had been found on the property. The cops also suggested the couple's son was smoking pot, and told the Hartes to take him to a pediatrician for a drug test.

In the year following the raid, Addie and Bob both struggled to come up with an explanation for why marijuana seeds and stems would have been at their home. The couple say they've never smoked pot themselves. There just wasn't a sensible reason for the raid. The unanswered question began to eat particularly at Bob; previously calm and carefree, he stopped sleeping, and found himself mentally tripping down a rabbit hole of possible scenarios. Who were they dealing with here? he wondered. Was this a situation of corrupt cops or a set up? Or did a neighborhood kid drop some marijuana on their lawn walking by?

Addie, who's brother was a former New York City police officer, watched as her children became frightened just driving by the police station or seeing a patrol car on the road.

Finally, nearly a year after the incident, JCSO provided some documentation to the couple. Right away, they understood what had happened. On the official paperwork before the raid, investigators noted they had pulled the couple's trash before the incident as part of the investigation. But the reports didn't refer to "stems and seeds." They referred to a "wet glob vegetation."

"As soon as we heard that, we knew it was my tea," Addie told The Post, referring to a loose-leaf Teavanabrand tea she drank regularly. "But it took over a year and $2,500 for a lawyer to figure out what had happened."

"As soon as we heard that, we knew it was my tea," 
Addie told The Post, referring to a loose-leaf 
Teavana brand tea she drank regularly. 
"But it took over a year and $2,500 for a lawyer 
to figure out what had happened."


In fact, the pre-raid investigation was actually even more suspect.

Court records later indicated that after identifying the Hartes from Wingo's tip, JCSO conducted three trash pulls on the house. On the first, April 3, the officers noted wet "plant material" but determined it was "innocent." At the next two trash pulls — April 10 and April 17 — the same material was found again, but this time JCSO officers tested the material with a marijuana field test. The results came back positive, but the offices didn't take photos of the results or send the material to a laboratory for confirmation. Instead, based on the Wingo tip and the two positive drug tests, JCSO applied for and was granted a search warrant for the April 20 raid.

In November 2013, the couple filed a federal lawsuit against the county's board of commissioners, as well as the officers involved. The family claimed the raid was an unlawful search-and-seizure in violation of the 14th and Fourth Amendments. The suit, which asked for $7 million in damages, also argued law enforcement violated state laws including trespassing and abuse of power.

In December, 2015, U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum threw out the family's case citing qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that shields officers from liability for otherwise lawful acts in the course of their duty. The Hartes appealed.


Read the whole story here.


_________________________________________
      

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Wild Orange Blossom Herbal Tea, 2 oz
Jade Citrus Mint Green Tea by Teavana




If you enjoy visiting Just the Coffee Talking, please consider using my affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - Amazon by Coffee Talking




7.25.2017

Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees, any other apes, or any monkeys that we see on the planet today.



"Go to google.com and type in the word “evolution.” Then click on the “Images” tab and you will see the same image, or a variant of it, displayed over and over again. We have all seen the picture before. It was originally coined “The March of Progress” and is supposed to display human evolution throughout history."


This afternoon I am enjoying a 1:00 coffee break and found myself (through a click of a click of a click) on a page where I was reading about the myth, misinformation (whatever you wish to call it) that humans evolved from chimpanzees... or any other monkey or ape for that matter.

If you love this topic or have an interest, this blog is awesome to read through and interesting; I suggest you check it out.  Source

"Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees, any other apes, or any monkeys that we see on the planet today. Instead, we all share common ancestry. This means that approximately 65 million years ago, a time period that represents less than 1.5% of the age of our planet, there existed a “base primate” species. This base primate species was not the same as any primate species that we know today. However, it would have had characteristics of each group of primates. As time passed, its genetic information would have been warped slowly and new groups would have formed as the progeny of this original population began separating from one another."





"This tree shows which groups formed first, from left to right (Primates, Haplorhini/Strepsirrhini, Simiiformes/Tarsiiformes, etc.) and some of the subdivisions that occurred within the primate lineage in order to form the Homo clade. This is where humans reside. We are known as Homo sapiens. We are also not the only group that has ever existed that falls within the genus Homo. However, we are the only group of Homo that is still alive today. That is why our closest living relative is the chimpanzee, a species that falls under the genus Pan (Pan troglodytes). As you can see, we do not directly come from chimpanzees. Instead, we simply share common ancestry with them."



If you love this topic or have an interest, this blog is awesome to read through and interesting; I suggest you check it out.  Source



7.24.2017

MORE news... and maybe a comment or two. It's Just the Coffee Talking again...............


Wisconsin company hopes to offer microchip implants to employees  to BUY SNACKS IN THE BREAK ROOM!!!!!!

"A Wisconsin company wants to offer surgically implanted microchips for employees to make it easier to buy snacks in the break room.
"It's the next thing that's inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it," said Todd Westby, the CEO of River Falls, Wisc.-based Three Square Market, a company that supplies technology for micro markets and company break rooms, according to KSTP.
Westby said the implanted microchip makes it easier for people to pay for items at work. Instead of looking for coins, cash or a credit card, they would only need to place their hand in front of a scanner and electronically pay for their item."

“periods are NOT just for women”  YES THEY ARE.
YOU have a PERIOD because you are BORN FEMALE no matter what you 'want' to be.


Community college wants to do away with algebra because it's 'too hard' for students of color to pass....
"Algebra is one of the biggest hurdles to getting a high school or college degree — particularly for students of color and first-generation undergrads."

 
In the battle to provide nutritional choices for schoolchildren, isn’t chocolate milk better than no milk at all?
As a kid who has HATED WHITE MILK WITH PASSION SINCE THE AGE OF TWO... I feel the pain of these kids.  We had a militant nun when I was in elementary school to MADE me take milk even though I gagged at the thought of having to drink it.  My school only offered chocolate milk on Fridays and white milk was the only option other days.  After the nazi-nun started to force me to take white milk and stood and glared at me to WATCH me drink it, my Mom used to send packets of chocolate drink power to put in it.  Nope. I got in trouble for that too.  I still have a gag-reflex when it comes to drinking white milk....

7.23.2017

More comments on the news.... it's just the coffee talking again.

This afternoon I took a break and started to skim some of the news.  I saw the headline: Georgia mom left child at home to go clubbing

These kinds of news headlines always make me stop and think; but not always read them.  Because... when I read a parent has left children at home to go clubbing I'm thinking this:

She was gone just one night 'out' dancing?
How old were the children?  Were they toddlers and babies?


A Marietta mother was arrested after an apparent night of “clubbing” ended very badly. Police said the mother's absence prompted her 11-year-old daughter to seek a meal from a neighbor. That is when police said they discovered the place where the child lived was in a deplorable condition.

Eleven?  The 'child' is 11 years old.  Hmmm.  That is hardly a baby or toddler who can't fend for themselves for one night while the mother is out.  As a matter of fact, many kids are babysitting for other families at the age of 11.  I started babysitting for a family with a 9 month old baby when I was 10 years old.

And the charge apparently is up to felony status.

.....remained behind bars Friday evening on a charge of felony child cruelty in the second degree.

The arrest warrant states last Saturday evening, Oats’ daughter went to a neighbor’s apartment because she said she was hungry.

I was questioning why an 11 year old girl wasn't old enough to get herself something to eat.  My oldest daughter was 8 years old when she first starting baking homemade cakes - from scratch, not from a mix - by herself.  My son was able to fry an egg, work the microwave, get himself food at that age and he was learning to bake cookies at 9.  My youngest daughter, even as the 'baby' of the family and always having people do things for her, could make simple dishes by the age of 8 or 9 - like macaroni and cheese, eggs, etc.

So how does an 11 year old not know how to get herself food for just one meal?  There must be more to this....

“They found the conditions in a word I can only say deplorable, between roaches and other insects, mold and fungus, no food inside the residence, animal feces,” said Officer McPhilamy.

Ahhh.  So perhaps that why this turned into a larger issue?  Perhaps there was no food in the house?

The arrest warrant also states her mother was out “clubbing” and had not returned home by the time police got there around 3 a.m.

This part, I disagree with.  Again, at what age can a child stay by themselves while a parent goes out?  It is all relative I suppose, to the maturity of the child.  Perhaps this child was immature and not able to stay alone?  I was a very intelligent, mature & capable child.  I've raised my own kids to be that way.  Also, we have a clean home, full cupboards and refrigerator of food and well, truth be told I have never in my life gone out 'clubbing' (LOL) and I can count on one hand how many times my husband and I went 'out' while the children were under the age of 14 - and always with a babysitter.  


________________________________________________________________________


Fish attack at Minnesota lake leaves girl, 11, with deep lacerations to her foot, leg

This story brought flashbacks to me of my childhood.  No... I have never been attacked by a large fish but growing up in the heartland of America we often camped or rented cabins in Minnesota for family vacations and we spent a lot of time fishing.  Every large lake in Minnesota has the 'big' fish that everyone knows about.  Typically the catfish are the stars of the lake, river or dam as they are well known to reach the same length as an adult - yes; 5-6 feet.  

When I read the news story above I instantly remembered being approximately 11 years old and my family had rented a small cabin on a large lake in Minnesota.  I had befriended a family renting the cabin next door who had a daughter who was 14.  She and I went out on a small boat by ourselves and knowing the big catfish "Walter" had quite the reputation, I was just sure he was going to come up under our boat and topple it and then attempt to eat me.

Apparently the fish in the news story is most likely a Pike.  Incredibly sharp teeth and strong jaws!  While catfish grow large, fat and sluggish in the mud, pike are strong, fast and lean.  A force to be reckoned with. 


7.22.2017

UPDATED: After Student's Mysterious Death At Mexico Resort, Tourists Report Similar Incidents

This morning over morning coffee I was reading more about the family who went on vacation to an all exclusive resort in Mexico and within hours, their two college aged kids were hospitalized under mysterious circumstances; one of which ended up dying.


"Music blared as the McGowans waited. They don’t recall what was playing, just that it was loud and a few people were dancing in the middle of the lobby. Fifteen minutes passed. Then a half hour. There was an hour time difference between Wisconsin and Playa del Carmen. Maybe the kids were confused. Their cellphones weren’t getting service, so Ginny went to the desk to ask hotel staff to please call the kids’ room.

The woman behind the desk appeared flustered. She went to get a manager. They asked where Ginny’s husband was. She needed to get him and they needed to hurry. There had been an accident, the hotel workers told them.

Abbey and Austin were at a hospital.

They had both been found unconscious, face down in the pool."

I've been watching this story since it first hit the media in January when it happened.  Our family have kids in the same age group.  We've also heard stories of corrupt police and bribes first hand from friends who have traveled to Mexico (and our oldest teen daughter was with one of them at the time on a vacation as well)  and we've had our own experience with questionable drinks served to me and my college daughter.  In our case we had a couple male members of our party who did not order drinks but simply ordered a couple bottled beers join us, and we met up with more non-drinking members of our large extended family group before heading back over the border to the US side.  My daughter and I had ordered a frozen margarita. I have no idea what was actually in that drink but it wasn't a margarita and it wasn't just alcohol. We still have some frustrations and bad memories about that evening so I'm not going to go into specifics.  However, we are blessed that we had male non-drinking male members of our group with us that evening. The effects of that "margarita" didn't wear off until after our daughter had passed out around 10:00 pm that evening with no memory of the previous 5-6 hours.



Source: After Woman’s Mysterious Death At Mexico Resort, Tourists Report Similar Incidents

Austin and Abbey were found unresponsive inside the hotel pool and taken to a nearby hospital. Austin suffered a broken collar bone and was able to recover. Abbey, however, was in a coma and later died.

“I’ve been in college for five years and had my fair share of drinks before,” Austin told the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel last week. “No way in hell I’m putting my face down in a pool and going to sleep.”

The investigation into Abbey's death by Mexican authorities was limited: Only three hotel employees were interviewed, according to the Sentinel. Abbey’s father, Bill Conner, said he thought she may have been drugged.

“Somebody just had to slip them some type of drug,” he said.

The Conners were not the first to report mysterious events and ultimately, tragedy, during their time at a luxury resort in Mexico. An investigation by the Journal Sentinel revealed other tourists found themselves in unexplainable situations with no memory of what had occurred.

One Wisconsin woman told the Journal Sentinel she was assaulted while she and her husband were unconscious. An ob-gyn confirmed she had, in fact, been assaulted. Her husband woke up with a broken hand. Neither had any memory of what happened. In another incident, two brothers from Minnesota were vacationing with their parents when they awoke covered in mud to find their wallets and cellphones gone. Neither had any memory of what happened.

“In at least three cases, travelers reported that local hospitals, part of the Hospiten chain, appeared to be gouging them, demanding large sums of cash,” the Journal-Sentinel reported. “One man was told to take a cab to an ATM. The vacationers suspected Iberostar might be in cahoots with the medical company.”

It remained unclear, exactly, whether the motive for these incidents was extortion, assault or robbery, or who was perpetrating the alleged crimes.

Maureen Webster launched the site Mexicovacationawareness.com after her 22-year-old son Nolan died at a resort almost 10 years ago.

“Every time, every single time, something bad happens, [the Mexican resorts and authorities] blame the victim,” she told the Journal-Sentinel. “They say, ‘They were drunk, they were drunk, they were drunk.’”

Related from another site:  Tourists to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico suspect they were given tainted alcohol

They told the Journal Sentinel they believe they were drugged or the alcohol may have been tainted. They questioned how they could fall into a stupor so quickly. And whether they had been targeted.

Was it robbery? In one case, two teenage brothers from Minnesota on vacation with their parents woke up covered in mud, with no shirts or shoes and their wallets and cellphones missing. They had gotten separated during the night. One had a severe rash all over his legs. Neither could remember what happened.

Extortion? In at least three cases, travelers reported that local hospitals, part of the Hospiten chain, appeared to be gouging them, demanding large sums of cash. One man was told to take a cab to an ATM. The vacationers suspected Iberostar might be in cahoots with the medical company. The resort contracts with Hospiten and refers sick and injured guests to Hospiten's facilities. Abbey Conner's family paid about $17,000 to a small medical clinic south of Playa del Carmen and within several hours paid tens of thousands more to a hospital in Cancun, north of the resort, where Abbey and her brother were transferred.
What about that hospital mentioned in the articles?
Hospiten Riviera Maya is a small medical center about 14 miles away. It’s not the biggest emergency care center in Playa del Carmen. Nor is it the closest to Iberostar’s cluster of resorts on the northern stretch of the beach, which includes Paraiso del Mar.In one case, a husband and wife celebrating 13 years of marriage were sitting on the beach at Iberostar Paraiso Maya, in the same cluster of resorts where the del Mar is, in January 2015. The woman said she ordered two mojitos from the bar. Her husband had three beers.

They were talking to a couple who said they were from Oregon. They all ordered another drink and within a few minutes she began seeing black spots and told her husband something wasn’t right. Then she blacked out. She remembers being on the bathroom floor, vomiting and feeling like she was dying.

The next thing either of them recalls is waking up in their hotel room, more than five hours later. Her husband’s hand was broken. Neither had any idea what happened. Their belongings were still on the beach. They had not been robbed.

“I felt as if I had just been terrorized but did not know how and by who,” she wrote in her posting on the website, mexicovacationawareness.com. “I knew we came close to something evil, we were grateful to be alive, but filled with fear not knowing who did this to us.”

She said when they reported the incident to the resort staff, they were told to go to the hospital and to take cash.
Poor police investigating (or none at all) along with my question of why didn't anyone hear or see the ambulance arrive? -  Another snippet from the Journal's story...

When Abbey and Austin’s stepdad, John, and Austin hired a translator and went to file a police report a few days later, they say the police resisted launching an investigation, insisting it was an accidental drowning. How could they say that without at least interviewing the hotel staff who found them, the family wondered.

When they left the police department they weren’t certain whether any investigation would be done.

Within weeks, the McGowans hired an American law firm with a sister office in Mexico to help get answers. On Monday, they received their attorney’s report.

It raises even more questions.

On May 30, an attorney in Mexico inquired at the police department and found they had done a limited investigation. Police had interviewed three hotel staffers. The attorney’s report doesn’t say when the interviews took place.

The McGowans' American attorney, Florentino Ramirez, said he puts little credence in the police report.

"It's all too convenient," he said. "If it was an accident, where was everybody? It just doesn't make sense. There are too many open ends."


The police report did not contain any statements from hotel guests, the bartender or a woman who reportedly alerted hotel staff after seeing Abbey and Austin having trouble getting out of the pool. It does not contain key details from the medical clinic that received Abbey and Austin by ambulance.

The statements from the three staffers — the pool manager and two security guards — all indicate they arrived on the scene, pulled the kids from the water and performed CPR on Abbey. She was unconscious with a low pulse and spitting up foam from her nose and mouth as they tried to revive her, they all said.

Austin was going under and began moving and spitting up water as they pulled him out, they said.

Abbey “was seen” drunk at 7:03 sitting on the edge of the pool, they said, where the water was less than 4-feet deep. The report does not say who actually saw the brother and sister. It also notes security guards were nearby, 20 to 30 seconds away.

This doesn’t make sense to the McGowans for a number of reasons.

They were in the lobby at 7. If two people were being transported by ambulance, wouldn’t there be some commotion? Then again, maybe there was a back route out.

What about video surveillance? Is it true the hotel doesn’t have or use video cameras around the pool, as resort officials told John? Why won’t the resort help them get answers, let them interview the bartender and other guests?

What’s especially upsetting to the family is that Iberostar not only won’t answer their questions, nobody from the hotel ever reached out to say they’re sorry about the family’s loss.

UPDATE:  Today in the news there is an update about illicit alcohol being seized from this resort as well as others:

Authorities suspended operations at two popular tourist spots, including the lobby bar at Playa del Carmen's Iberostar Paraiso Resort, where Abbey Conner, a 20-year-old from Wisconsin, drowned after consuming alcohol.   Click here for the update.




7.18.2017

That last photo right before you drop your new iphone into the water....



It's been a couple weeks so I can laugh at this now.

My daughter went to the lake for the day.  In this picture you can see the shore and some buildings in the distance. This is where you paddle up to the dock and climb out of the kayak (stupid as usually you just put them up on shore) but this rental place has you climb out of them in water that is still deep enough to be over your heads.

And of course she slipped getting out.

This is the last picture I was sent from her, just minutes before she dropped her brand new sparkling iphone into the lake.







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7.12.2017

Utopian Communities in America - list from Yale

Putting this here for future reference; utopian communities that popped up in history. Often it was all the 'fad' of the time to start a new one.  I find all this topic fascinating.  Maybe some of my readers do too.  This list is from Yale.  Two more (The Mormons - or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Oneida Community I've wrote about more in depth already and will probably continue to do so.)


NEW HAVEN
John Davenport and Theophilis Eaton, joint leaders of a company of colonists who had arrived at Boston from England in 1637, searched in vain for a suitable place to settle near Massachusetts Bay. They turned to the land of the Quinnipiac in Connecticut. The colonists arrived at their new home on April 14, 1638. The next day, Davenport preached on “the temptation in the wilderness” from Matthew 4:1 and the new colony took its place on the shores of New Haven harbor.
Two months later, the planters met to lay the foundations of their civil government. They agreed that “the Scriptures do hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of men in their duties” and the theocratic community took shape.
Davenport next gathered the new church, aspiring to an even greater purity of worship than that found in the other colonies. Alone in the wilderness, the colonists sought a “church compact within itself, without subordination under or dependence upon any other but Jesus Christ.” In designing their ideal town, they created a grid of nine squares with the church in the central green, the common pasture. In such utopian dreams was America born. 


PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN COLONIES 
 In the early 1700’s, a series of German Second Adventists (pilgrims who believed in the imminent second coming of the Christ) moved to Pennsylvania and founded two important Utopian communes, Ephrata Cloister and The Woman in the Wilderness. Both believed that America would be the land of the Second Coming. Woman in the Wilderness derived its name from the woman in Revelation 12:6 who fled to the wilderness to escape a fiery dragon and wait for the return of Christ. Through their piety, creativity, learning, and work ethic, both communes heavily influenced the formation of the Pennsylvania Colony.

1. Society of the Woman in the Wilderness A group of scholars, led by Johannes Kelpius, arrived in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1694, the year their founder, Johann Zimmermann expected the dawn of a new millennium. They took their name from The Book of Revelation 12:6: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Mystics, philosophers, musicians, and artists, they developed a school for neighborhood children, held public worship services, and practiced medicine—out-going activities for men who otherwise lived as hermits in caves along the Wissahikon River.

2. Ephrata Cloister
The members of the Ephrata Cloister were an internationally famous group of scholars who gathered under the leadership of the mystical Conrad Beissel. Believing that the highest spiritual attainment was possible only to celibates, Solitary Sisters and Solitary Brethren lived in separate monastic buildings. A third group, Householders, lived in family groups.

Adherents took new names, lived in great austerity, and adopted a Capuchin-style habit. Their cultural accomplishments included calligraphy and choral music. Their Fraktur, printed documents with stunning hand illuminations, gained wide acclaim.

SHAKERS
The Shakers are the quintessential American utopian commune to which all others are compared. With one small Shaker community still in existence in Maine, the Shakers are by far the longest-lived American utopian experiment. The Shaker version of utopia – often encapsulated in the word “simplicity” is part of the American popular imagination: Shaker influence can be found in fashion, furniture design, textiles, and music.

In 1774, a Scottish woman named Ann Lee, who had received visions from God declaring the supremacy of a celibate life, brought her followers to America. “I knew by revelation that God had a chosen people in America. I saw some of them in a vision and I met them in America. I knew that I had a vision of America, I saw a large tree, every leaf of which shown with such brightness as made it appear like a burning torch representing the Church of Christ which will yet be established in this land.”

While the Shakers are known for their simplicity, their devotion is by no means simple-minded. The Shaker credo demands duty to god, duty to man, separation from the world, simplicity of language, right use of property, and a celibate life.

At their height in 1830, there were over 18 Shaker communities from Kentucky to Maine, including one in Enfield, Connecticut.

HARMONY, ECONOMNY AND GEORGE RAPP
George Rapp (1757-1845) was a German Evangelical Lutheran who came to America to escape persecution for his unique brand of Pietism, a strain of Christianity that called for heartfelt conversion from sin, personal communication with God, and the pursuit of perfection. At its height in Germany, Rapp’s following numbered about 12,000 people, although his commune never exceeded 800 members.

Rapp’s view of America was not unlike that of the German Communitarians who had come before him – America was the land of millennial promise—and Rapp also compared his commune to the woman in the wilderness from Revelation. He founded his communes in Harmony, Indiana, and later, in Economy, Pennsylvania on the principles of millennialism, chastity, and community of goods.

Life at Harmony was strict and difficult. Financial hardship made Rapp consider merging with a local Shaker group in 1816, but soon the commune developed a thriving agricultural economy trading grain and whiskey. After moving to Pennsylvania, the Rappites began dealing in oil and, ultimately, venture capital.
Over time, Rapp grew inconsistent and hypocritical in his decision making, causing several members to leave, until he made his 1st apocalyptic prophecy: on September 15, 1829, the three and one half years of the Sun Woman would end and the Christ would begin his reign on earth. In an extraordinary coincidence, a delusional German named Bernard Mueller had sent out letters to several communes in America about a month before declaring himself the Lion in Judah – the Second Coming – and his letter reached Rapp just in time to save his experiment at Harmony. Mueller was invited to Harmony, where Rapp preached that he was the Second Coming and the Great Alchemist. In 1831, Mueller arrived in Economy, but it became quickly apparent that he was not the man Rapp said he was. The community was so disgusted with Rapp that over a third left to start several notable communes.
The economic panic of 1837 and the doomsday-prophecy of William Miller (see The Great Disappointment) convinced Rapp that, once again, the end was near. Rapp’s faith proved premature and the “despot” died in 1847 at 89 years, leaving half a million dollars in gold and silver hidden under his bed, and a wealthy group of 288 members who, after reworking the government into a system of elders, pledged not to take any new members (most of whom were joining because of the economic success). They would await the Second Coming or die. Their ultimatum would ultimately destroy the Rappite movement.

NASHOBA A well-born English woman and close friend of General Lafayette, Frances Wright founded Nashoba in Shelby County, Tennessee, in 1825 to form a community in which slaves would be prepared for freedom through education in letters and farming. Wright enjoyed the friendship of Robert Owen and modeled her commune on New Harmony. When it failed, she arranged for the thirty-one Negroes still at Nashoba to move to Haiti and, with Lafayette’s assistance, to be assured of their freedom.

NEW HARMONY
Robert Owen was the preeminent utopian thinker of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A factory owner, he was influenced by industrialization in his native Scotland and the utilitarian philosophy of his friend and business partner, Jeremy Bentham. He purchased the Harmony land and buildings from the Rappites to establish the first socialist commune organized on the principle of rational ethics and not religion.

Owen rebelled against the “trinity of evils:” private property, irrational systems of religion, and marriage founded on property and religion. He developed a plan of progressive paternalism in his commune at “New” Harmony– curfews, house inspections, and fines for drunkenness and illegitimate children. He equated happiness with docility, and as a result was criticized for condescending to the working class.

Owen introduced the trade school to the US, stressing practical training and character building rather than classical education. But Owen’s character indoctrination irked many parents who rarely saw their children during their years of schooling when Owen would “shield children from the unwanted negative influence of their parents and families.” And although Owen stressed gender equality, girls only studied home economics and had little influence in the politics of New Harmony.

Owen’s naïve belief in the power of rational humanism was eventually denigrated by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels; but Engels once wrote of Owen that, in the early 18th century, all social movements and all real advance made in England in the interest of the working class were associated with Robert Owen’s name.


BROOK FARM The founder of Brook Farm, George Ripley (1802-1880), was one of Unitarianism’s most promising ministers, and the farm at West Roxbury, Massachusetts began as a product of the transcendentalist movement and a showplace for Christian socialism. The commune had more than 120 members at its highest point and was widely regarded as an intellectual center. After four years of existence, however, the members changed its purpose to that of a Fourierist phalanx.

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Among Brook Farm’s visitors was Nathaniel Hawthorne, who drew on his brief experience there for his novel. Hawthorne left Brook Farm in great disillusionment, and his novel, a thinly disguised satire, recounts with some venom how some commune members were permitted to spend their time reading poetry while others had to tend the cows. The commune saw hundreds of short term visitors, among them Henry James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Channing, Horace Greeley, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau.



VOREE / KINGDOM OF ST. JAMES
The day Mormon founder Joseph Smith was murdered, a man named James Jesse Strang claimed he had been ordained by angels to assume the leadership of the church. He exhibited a letter to the Mormon community in Nauvoo, Illinois that was purportedly written by Smith instructing Strang to found a Wisconsin branch of the church. Joseph Smith’s brother, William, supported Strang, though Strang had only been a member of the church for five months.

James Strang led his followers to Wisconsin where he set up the Voree commune on the principles of a modified Mormon faith. By 1847 Strang claimed to have had a large number of revelations, and, like Joseph Smith, had found more golden tablets and translated them. In 1847 the group moved to Beaver Island, Michigan and founded the Kingdom of St. James. The membership reached a high of 2,500 at this time. After being elected to the Michigan legislature for two terms, Strang was murdered by a mob of ex-members in 1854. The Strangite branch of Mormonism still exists with no communal base and very small membership.


ICARIA
Icaria was founded by Etienne Cabet, a French anti-monarchist who moved to England in 1834. There he wrote who wrote Voyage en Icarie, a novel which imitates More’s Utopia and reflects Rousseau’s French romanticism: return to a simpler, primitive economy where private property and the selfishness inherent in it never existed. His ideas mirrored those of the French Socialists in their plan of social progress through the leadership of a natural elite identified by equal education for both sexes. Cabet knew Robert Owen and borrowed his emphasis on the importance of a healthy physical environment as at New Lanark. He also subscribed to the golden rule: Love your neighbor as yourself; do not unto others the harm you would not have others do to you; do to others the good that you wish for yourself.

In 1849, in Nauvoo, Illinois, Cabet and his followers purchased land and buildings from Mormons who had left for Salt Lake, Utah. The group eschewed money and private property, preferring communal meals and apartment living. Children were moved from their parents’ environment at the age of four and housed in boarding-school buildings; they were allowed to visit home on Sundays, having been taught to love the community, not to have special affection for their parents. Every adult had a job in a workshop or on the farms.

The Icarians supported no religion but they met to discuss Christian morality and Cabet’s teachings. Men and women had equal voices in the weekly assembly which adopted a formal charter that prescribed the political structure described in Voyage-en-Icarie. Annually, they elected a president and four officers in charge of finance, farming, industry, education. Candidates who lived at the commune for four months became members upon election by a majority vote of the Icarian men and the payment of eighty dollars. Other sources of income were funds Cabet raised in Paris and royalties on his writings.

When Cabet proposed a four-year term for himself as president, the group suffered the first of its many splits. As splinter groups moved west, each community continued to cling to its original blueprint of life as put down in Cabet’s book, the dream of a community that would be “a truly second Promised Land, an Eden, an Elysium, a new Earthly Paradise.”

FOUNTAINGROVE
Fountaingrove was established in 1875 by Thomas Lake Harris, founder of the Brotherhood of the New Life and of three colonies in New York between 1861 and 1867. Fountaingrove, described by its founder as a Theo-Socialist community, was situated in Northern California on 700 acres two miles north of Santa Rosa, “the Eden of the West.” The charismatic Harris called himself the "primate," or "pivotal man" chosen by God, in whom the forces of good and evil fought on earth and from whom the announcement of Christ’s Second Coming would emerge. He identified himself with Christ and as a bi-sexual and divine man-woman.

His spiritualist doctrine included teachings such as Divine Respiration, which enabled the brotherhood to commune with God through rhythmic breathing. In 1891, Harris’s complex theories of Spiritual Counterparts—each person had a counterpart in heaven—and celibacy resulted in a widely publicized accusation of sexual license and immorality. Harris left Fountaingrove but not without having presided over a successful enterprise.


KAWEAH
Inspired by Edward Bellamy's novel Looking Backward, 2000-1899, and the Nationalist movement, the Kaweah Cooperative Colony was organized in 1886. Located on the Kaweah River, Tulare County, California, it began as a tent settlement operated on the principle of equal work and equal compensation for men and women. The Beinecke holds most of the original papers from the formation and founding of Kaweah, allowing a rare, intimate look at the struggles and intrigue of forming a utopian commune.

Kaweah grew out of the International Workers Association (IWA) in San Francisco, a city that has spawned more utopian movements than any other location in America (especially during the 1960’s). The IWA was a Marxist/socialist progressive labor group, largely influenced by Das Kapital, the Communist Manifesto, and Looking Backward, 2000–1899. Although Bellamy distanced himself from Kaweah and, like Marx and Engels, believed that social revolution was only viable on a national level and not through small communes, he did direct his most zealous disciples to Kaweah.

Most of the original members were skilled laborers and trade union representatives. One visitor said of the membership: “They are all perhaps without exception, intelligent, thoughtful, earnest, readers of books and journals, alive to the great economic and social questions of the day.”

Kaweahans organized their economy on a time-check system with checks in denominations ranging from ten minutes to 20,000 minutes. They could be exchanged for money: five cents for ten minutes, 100 dollars for 20,000. All work was considered of equal value and healthcare was free.

The members set up a complicated system of government with hundreds of divisions to carefully divide work responsibilities. But it was this meticulous attention to rather inessential detail that proved to be Kaweah’s demise. The people of Kaweah spent more time debating the finer points of Marxism then building the buildings and roads that would allow Kaweah to prosper.

The founders of Kaweah, Burnette G. Haskell and James J. Martin, envisioned a commune that supported itself by logging the sequoia forests. But the Kaweah Colony never got a chance to take advantage of this certain capital – in 1890 the United States government declared Kaweah part of the Sequoia National Park in an abrupt eviction of dubious legality.



ROYCROFT
The Roycrofters are a small band of workers who make beautiful books and things—making them as good as they can. —Roycroft motto

The Roycroft community of East Aurora, New York, took William Morris and his Kelmscott press as its model in designing an Arts and Crafts workshop in 1894. Elbert Hubbard, the founder, had made money in the soap business but preferred to realize his dream as a writer and promoter of high quality goods beginning with a print shop and expanding to include leatherwork, copper wares, leaded glass lamps and a version of the popular Morris chair. His mission was to convince Americans that beauty belongs in the objects of everyday living, from books to table mats.

Of the people who joined Roycroft, Hubbard recalled the “boys who have been expelled from school, blind people, deaf people, old people, jail-birds and mental defectives” who all managed to do good work. He rejected the “remittance men” who were willing to do anything but work: “They offered to run things, to preach, to advise, to make love to the girls. We bought them tickets to Chicago and without violence conducted them to the Four-O‘Clock train.” Others, he said, look “for Utopia, when work is work, here as elsewhere.

Nonetheless, as Hubbard’s biographer says: “In the early years, Roycroft had much in common with the utopian communities that had dotted the country earlier in the century. Not economically, since the property was Hubbard’s. But Roycroft had common meals, meetings, sports, studies, and a library. Cash wages were small, but there wasn’t much need or opportunity to spend money. The work was still work, but there was an effort to make it humanly satisfying. There was a real—if informal and basically paternalistic—feeling of shared values, adventure, responsibility.”

Hubbard and his wife perished on the Lusitania but the community continued until 1938.



POINT LOMA

In 1897 Katherine Tingley founded the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society at Point Loma, a peninsula in San Diego. Tingley's beliefs mixed humanitarianism with the occult. Members received no wages, and worked at tasks assigned to them on a rotating basis. At its peak, Point Loma had approximately 500 members. The community was basically a school run according to Theosophist principles. The members were very educated – most were polyglots with a facility in an Eastern tongue. The East-West cultural center regularly read from Christian, Confucian, Hindu, and Buddhist texts and adopted a pseudo-League of Nations flag as their own. The movement appealed to a certain social/intellectual stratum of the world in their universal call to brotherhood. “An injury to one is an injury to all” was a favorite phrase of Tingley.

At Point Loma, children lived in bungalows and were educated in communal nurseries. They only saw their parents on Sundays. Tingley called these youth programs the Raja-Yoga or “Kingly-Union” school. At Tingley’s initiative, the commune adopted groups of Cuban children and orphans and cared for them at the Raja-Yoga school.

Tingley was a remarkable woman of keen intellect, demonstrative personality, and grandiose vision. After her death, the hugely successful example of progressive, upper-class utopian living at Point Loma could not survive.

In 1898, Dr. William H. Dower and Mrs. Francia LeDue of the Theosophical lodge in Syracuse, New York received mystical instructions to shun Tingley's teachings in favor of the original teachings of Blavatsky. In 1903 they moved to a valley near Pismo Beach, north of Santa Barbara, named it Halcyon, and instituted the Temple of the People. There they built a sanatorium, and a cooperative society named the Temple Home Association. The community experienced internal troubles throughout its existence, and in 1912 the cooperative society disbanded.

Albert Powell Warrington, an Adyar Theosophist, established a Hollywood, California outpost in 1912, named Krotona. It had few communitarian principles; instead the group shared a common Theosophist philosophy. When Hollywood became too crowded in 1924, Krotona sold their 15 acres of land and moved to the Ojai Valley, northeast of Los Angeles. Here they established a school of Theosophy.



HALCYON

A group of Theosophists from Syracuse, New York, moved to Oceana, California, in 1903 to form the Halcyon community. They rejected the teachings of Katherine Tingley, the head of the movement at the time, in favor of a return to the original work of Madame Blavatsky. They built a sanatorium for the treatment of liquor, morphine, and opium addiction. Socialism and communal property marked the group and drew the attention of reformers like novelist Upton Sinclair.



HOLY CITY
Set off from the highway in the Santa Cruz mountains of central California, Holy City (1918-1954) was founded by William Riker, a former confidence man and alleged bigamist, who ran four times for governor of California on an openly racist platform. Most of his doctrine was a white supremacist form of religion he called the Perfect Christian Divine Way.

The 30 members of this settlement lived communally, separated by sex. A cross between a tourist trap and a Christian haven, the commune in its heyday in the twenties and thirties boasted such unconventional luxuries as alcoholic soda pop, peep shows, an ornately decorated gas station, a radio station and a zoo, all to lure passing motorists to the commune. Messages throughout the settlement screamed of the “World’s Perfect Government.” Riker’s theological writings consisted of hundreds of almost incomprehensible and often contradictory pamphlets and manifestos, some written in crayon.

The problem of finding what is “utopian” in this commune remains daunting. However, Riker, while offensive, nevertheless represents an example of a single personality inspiring communalism and looking to change his society—as distasteful as his aims may have been.



FATHER DIVINE AND THE PEACE MISSION
The Peace Mission movement, led by the charismatic and controversial black preacher Father Divine, stands out among the communal utopias of America as an example of what might be called the “satellite utopia” phenomenon.

From 1919 to 1929, Father Divine quietly instructed a handful of disciples in a religion that blended Eastern mysticism, Christianity and communal ideals. Then in 1929 the widespread economic collapse stimulated wider interest in Divine’s communalism as a shield against both emotional and economic distress. The minister gained renown for presenting free Sunday banquets to all visitors and for helping needy guests find jobs. Crowds came regularly from Harlem and Newark, venerating this mysterious provider as a heaven-sent deliverer. Divine supported this notion; he insisted that he was God.

The Peace Mission was one of the earliest effective supporters of integration, stressing that black and white followers alike were loved by the Savior, Father Divine.

At its peak in the mid-30s, the movement had perhaps 10,000 hard-core followers who believed fervently in Father Divine’s deity, devoted all of their possessions to the Peace Mission, and lived in one of the more than 150 movement centers. A rapidly expanding bureaucracy oversaw a successful transition from a modest commune to a far-flung network that reportedly handled over $15 million in business annually by 1938.



DROP CITY

Drop City, so named for Droppers, a group of friends who amused themselves by “throwing cans of garbage and water and balloons out the windows” in Kansas City, grew on a remote patch of southeastern Colorado beginning in May, 1965. Its credo states:
pixel.gif We are trying to be instruments of the cosmic forces working within the order of nature. We believe that earth, air, fire, and water belong to everyone and can’t be bought or sold, or owned. We are total revolutionaries; we are free men living equally with free creatures in a free universe.

The story of Drop City will never end. It’s the story of man on the road to be free.

Inspired and encouraged by Buckminster Fuller, the Droppers build geodesic domes from trashed automobile hoods and roofs.


HOG FARM

Hog Farm began as a communal pig farm in California in 1966 but it moved to New Mexico, near Taos. Hugh Romney, known as the comic Wavy Gravy, a veteran of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and their psychedelic school bus, served as leader and guru. By 1969, Hog Farmers gave their attention to aiding freaked-out youngsters, raising money for relief efforts, and bringing their message to college students. As the Yale Daily News reported in February, 1969, Romney and friends entertained with “huge group games” trying to get the audience to understand that “we are not our brother’s keeper, we are our brothers.” The they repeated their hippie ideal a schools, hospitals, SDS meetings: “May all beings be peaceful!”


TWIN OAKS

Twin Oaks, an intentional community near Louisa, Virginia, was founded in 1967 with 8 people, 123 acres, and $2,000 pooled dollars and a vision. By the late 1990s, it had 100 people and a sustainable farm and small business. The core of the commune is described on its home page.

Since Twin Oaks began in 1967, our lifestyle has reflected our values of equality and nonviolence. Our goals have been to sustain and expand a community which values cooperation; which is not sexist or racist; which treats people in a caring and fair manner; and which provides for the basic needs of our members. Although our original inspiration came from B.F. Skinner’s novel, Walden Two, it is now just one of the many influences which have helped shape Twin Oaks’ character. Our desire to be a model social system has broadened to include human-scale solutions to problems of land use, food production, energy conservation, and appropriate use of technology.

Twin Oaks supports itself primarily through the manufacture of handcrafted hammocks and other casual furniture items. We also have a book-indexing service, and a growing tofu and soy foods business.

THE FAMILY
A plot of woodland, 240 acres or rural Oregon, was chosen by Bob Carey, a one-time rider of Ken Kesey’s psychedelic bus, as the home of “The Family,” a religious back-to-nature commune established in 1968. Members, chiefly in their thirties or younger, came from such walks of life as computer programmer, welder, banker, and teacher. Most of the adults found their way to dropping out through dropping acid, but by the time of The Family’s foundation, they had turned to farming, meditating on Bible teachings, and fasting for mental cleansing.

A hexagonal lodge served as common room, kitchen, and refectory. Individual families (group marriage “hadn’t worked out”) lived in tents or tepees. The creations of potters and leather-crafters provided some income but a two-acre garden was the main source of food.

The commune’s credo: “Getting out of the cities isn’t hard, only concrete is. Get it together. This means on your own, all alone, or with a few of your friends. Buy land. Don’t rent. Money manifests. Trust. Plant a garden, create a center. Come together.”



THE DIGGERS

Haight-Ashbery gave birth to The Diggers, a counter-culture, anarchy-minded theater group in San Francisco in the late ‘60s. One of their products was this magazine, hand made and bound, and circulated to up to 300 other area communes on Kaliflower Thursdays. Kalifower’s intent was to extend the freedoms associated with flower children and the hippie movement to a broader audience. Its title reflects Kaliyuga, the Hindu name for the ultimate revolt against the morality of the vedas and suggests the flower that can grow out of that violence.



THE FARM
"Founded in 1971 at Summertown, Tennessee, with a spiritual commitment to simple living and self-reliance, The Farm has pioneered a wide range of social and physical technologies appropriate to low-cost, high satisfaction community living. The community offers examples of solar building design, permaculture, micro-enterprise, mushroom cultivation, large scale composting and gardening, and regenerative hardwood forest management." —From The Farm’s Web Site
















7.09.2017

A municipal court judge has been placed on unpaid leave after city officials in Texas learned she is not a U.S. citizen.

Well this is an eye opener...

CORPUS CHRISTI, TexasA municipal court judge has been placed on unpaid leave after city officials in Texas learned she is not a U.S. citizen.


While reading this news article I asked myself what many others must be asking as well - HOW does this even happen?  Well, it ends up the city did not ASK that particular question on the application.


"A question about citizenship wasn't on the application for appointment, Corpus Christi City Councilman Rudy Garza Jr. said Wednesday. The documents instead had a question about whether the applicant was eligible for legal employment in the state."

"Young Min Burkett is a permanent resident and eligible for lawful employment, he added."

But it's IN their city's ordinance... 

"But U.S. citizenship is a requirement to be a municipal court judge, according to the city’s ordinance.

“The error was a city error and we don’t feel Judge Burkett was insincere or did anything in her application or interview that led to any dishonesty on her part,” Garza said."

One of the other questions that came to mind was the legality of EVERY RULING SHE MADE IN THE LAST TWO YEARS SHE HAS HELD THE POSITION.  But I found 'their' answer to that little pesky issue.....

City attorneys had "determined that past rulings of this judge are not invalidated by this status"

Ohhhh I think not.  I'm sure they are HOPING that flies but I know if she had presided over ANY case that I or my family had, I would challenging that ruling.  SHE WAS NOT a citizen of the United States of America, so she would have no legal right to 'judge' my case.  Yep, I'd be challenging that.  And... I'm pretty sure there will be some in the Corpus Christi area that do.

This could get a little messy.................


When Islam Breaks Down - - - What the West can learn from the Muslim youths who throng my city’s prisons.

This afternoon I took a break (ice water though - not coffee for a change) and while looking for some topic (I honestly don't even remember what the original topic of research was!) I clicked and clicked and found myself skimmed an article called "When Islam Breaks Down" by Theodore Dalrymple.

Before I knew it I was not skimming... I was immersed.  I was seeing in my creative mind the faces of people, places and things he was discussing in his article.  I was sucked in and reading it and thoroughly thought it was wonderfully written.

As I got to the bottom of the article I was going to quickly read a few of the comments only to see... there weren't any.

WHAT?  How in the heck could this article not have any comments?  A hot topic today, well written, with real people, stories, emotions and feelings... not one comment?  I went back up to the top of the page to see where the article I was reading was even from (because I clicked into the article itself, not the parent site) and that is when I saw the date;  2004.  Ahhh.

I was going to tweet a link to it just because I found it very interesting reading, but only having about 1200 followers, that wasn't really going to get it 'out there'.  Instead I decided to feature it on Coffee Talking and because I found it incredibly interesting to read, I decided to put it all here instead of a just a snippet; and giving FULL AND LOUD CREDIT and linkage to the original source below.  I think it's well written and more people should read it.  Hopefully having it on a couple different sites instead of buried in the 2004 archives of just one site, will bring a few more eyes to it.




When Islam Breaks Down

What the West can learn from the Muslim youths who throng my city’s prisons.
Spring 2004

My first contact with Islam was in Afghanistan. I had been through Iran overland to get there, but it was in the days of the Shah’s White Revolution, which had given rights to women and had secularized society (with the aid of a little detention, without trial, and torture). In my naive, historicist way, I assumed that secularization was an irreversible process, like the breaking of eggs: that once people had seen the glory of life without compulsory obeisance to the men of God, they would never turn back to them as the sole guides to their lives and politics.

Afghanistan was different, quite clearly a pre-modern society. The vast, barren landscapes in the crystalline air were impossibly romantic, and the people (that is to say the men, for women were not much in evidence) had a wild dignity and nobility. Their mien was aristocratic. Even their hospitality was fierce. They carried more weapons in daily life than the average British commando in wartime. You knew that they would defend you to the death, if necessary—or cut your throat like a chicken’s, if necessary. Honor among them was all.

On the whole I was favorably impressed. I thought that they were freer than we. I thought nothing of such matters as the clash of civilizations, and experienced no desire, and felt no duty, to redeem them from their way of life in the name of any of my own civilization’s ideals. Impressed by the aesthetics of Afghanistan and unaware of any fundamental opposition or tension between the modern and the pre-modern, I saw no reason why the West and Afghanistan should not rub along pretty well together, each in its own little world, provided only that each respected the other.

I was with a group of students, and our appearance in the middle of a country then seldom visited was almost a national event. At any rate, we put on extracts of Romeo and Juliet in the desert, in which I had a small part, and the crown prince of Afghanistan (then still a kingdom) attended. He arrived in Afghanistan’s one modern appurtenance: a silver convertible Mercedes sports car—I was much impressed by that. Little did I think then that lines from the play—those of Juliet’s plea to her mother to abrogate an unwanted marriage to Paris, arranged and forced on her by her father, Capulet—would so uncannily capture the predicament of some of my Muslim patients in Britain more than a third of a century after my visit to Afghanistan, and four centuries after they were written:
Is there no pity sitting in the clouds
That sees into the bottom of my grief?
O sweet my mother, cast me not away!
Delay this marriage for a month, a week,
Or if you do not, make the bridal bed
In that dim monument where Tybalt lies.
How often have I been consulted by young Muslim women patients, driven to despair by enforced marriages to close relatives (usually first cousins) back “home” in India and Pakistan, who have made such an unavailing appeal to their mothers, followed by an attempt at suicide!

Capulet’s attitude to his refractory daughter is precisely that of my Muslim patients’ fathers:
Look to’t, think on’t, I do not use to jest.
Thursday is near, lay hand on heart, advise:
And you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend;
And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,
For by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee,
Nor what is mine shall ever do thee good.
In fact the situation of Muslim girls in my city is even worse than Juliet’s. Every Muslim girl in my city has heard of the killing of such as she back in Pakistan, on refusal to marry her first cousin, betrothed to her by her father, all unknown to her, in the earliest years of her childhood. The girl is killed because she has impugned family honor by breaking her father’s word, and any halfhearted official inquiry into the death by the Pakistani authorities is easily and cheaply bought off. And even if she is not killed, she is expelled from the household—O sweet my mother, cast me not away!—and regarded by her “community” as virtually a prostitute, fair game for any man who wants her.
This pattern of betrothal causes suffering as intense as any I know of. It has terrible consequences. One father prevented his daughter, highly intelligent and ambitious to be a journalist, from attending school, precisely to ensure her lack of Westernization and economic independence. He then took her, aged 16, to Pakistan for the traditional forced marriage (silence, or a lack of open objection, amounts to consent in these circumstances, according to Islamic law) to a first cousin whom she disliked from the first and who forced his attentions on her. Granted a visa to come to Britain, as if the marriage were a bona fide one—the British authorities having turned a cowardly blind eye to the real nature of such marriages in order to avoid the charge of racial discrimination—he was violent toward her.
"Granted a visa to come to Britain,
 as if the marriage were a bona fide one—
the British authorities 
having turned a cowardly blind eye to the 
real nature of such marriages 
in order to avoid the charge 
of racial discrimination"
She had two children in quick succession, both of whom were so severely handicapped that they would be bedridden for the rest of their short lives and would require nursing 24 hours a day. (For fear of giving offense, the press almost never alludes to the extremely high rate of genetic illnesses among the offspring of consanguineous marriages.) Her husband, deciding that the blame for the illnesses was entirely hers, and not wishing to devote himself to looking after such useless creatures, left her, divorcing her after Islamic custom. Her family ostracized her, having concluded that a woman whose husband had left her must have been to blame and was the next thing to a whore. She threw herself off a cliff, but was saved by a ledge.

I’ve heard a hundred variations of her emblematic story. Here, for once, are instances of unadulterated female victimhood, yet the silence of the feminists is deafening. Where two pieties—feminism and multiculturalism—come into conflict, the only way of preserving both is an indecent silence.

Certainly such experiences have moderated the historicism I took to Afghanistan—the naive belief that monotheistic religions have but a single, “natural,” path of evolution, which they all eventually follow. By the time Christianity was Islam’s present age, I might once have thought, it had still undergone no Reformation, the absence of which is sometimes offered as an explanation for Islam’s intolerance and rigidity. Give it time, I would have said, and it will evolve, as Christianity has, to a private confession that acknowledges the legal supremacy of the secular state—at which point Islam will become one creed among many.

That Shakespeare’s words express the despair that oppressed Muslim girls feel in a British city in the twenty-first century with much greater force, short of poisoning themselves, than that with which they can themselves express it, that Shakespeare evokes so vividly their fathers’ sentiments as well (though condemning rather than endorsing them), suggests—does it not?—that such oppressive treatment of women is not historically unique to Islam, and that it is a stage that Muslims will leave behind. Islam will even outgrow its religious intolerance, as Christian Europe did so long ago, after centuries in which the Thirty Years’ War, for example, resulted in the death of a third of Germany’s population, or when Philip II of Spain averred, “I would rather sacrifice the lives of a hundred thousand people than cease my persecution of heretics.”

My historicist optimism has waned. After all, I soon enough learned that the Shah’s revolution from above was reversible—at least in the short term, that is to say the term in which we all live, and certainly long enough to ruin the only lives that contemporary Iranians have. Moreover, even if there were no relevant differences between Christianity and Islam as doctrines and civilizations in their ability to accommodate modernity, a vital difference in the historical situations of the two religions also tempers my historicist optimism. Devout Muslims can see (as Luther, Calvin, and others could not) the long-term consequences of the Reformation and its consequent secularism: a marginalization of the Word of God, except as an increasingly distant cultural echo—as the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of the once full “Sea of faith,” in Matthew Arnold’s precisely diagnostic words.

And there is enough truth in the devout Muslim’s criticism of the less attractive aspects of Western secular culture to lend plausibility to his call for a return to purity as the answer to the Muslim world’s woes. He sees in the West’s freedom nothing but promiscuity and license, which is certainly there; but he does not see in freedom, especially freedom of inquiry, a spiritual virtue as well as an ultimate source of strength. This narrow, beleaguered consciousness no doubt accounts for the strand of reactionary revolt in contemporary Islam. The devout Muslim fears, and not without good reason, that to give an inch is sooner or later to concede the whole territory.

This fear must be all the more acute among the large and growing Muslim population in cities like mine. Except for a small, highly educated middle class, who live de facto as if Islam were a private religious confession like any other in the West, the Muslims congregate in neighborhoods that they have made their own, where the life of the Punjab continues amid the architecture of the Industrial Revolution. The halal butcher’s corner shop rubs shoulders with the terra-cotta municipal library, built by the Victorian city fathers to improve the cultural level of a largely vanished industrial working class.

The Muslim immigrants to these areas were not seeking a new way of life when they arrived; they expected to continue their old lives, but more prosperously. They neither anticipated, nor wanted, the inevitable cultural tensions of translocation, and they certainly never suspected that in the long run they could not maintain their culture and their religion intact. The older generation is only now realizing that even outward conformity to traditional codes of dress and behavior by the young is no longer a guarantee of inner acceptance (a perception that makes their vigilantism all the more pronounced and desperate). Recently I stood at the taxi stand outside my hospital, beside two young women in full black costume, with only a slit for the eyes. One said to the other, “Give us a light for a fag, love; I’m gasping.” Release the social pressure on the girls, and they would abandon their costume in an instant.
Anyone who lives in a city like mine and interests himself in the fate of the world cannot help wondering whether, deeper than this immediate cultural desperation, there is anything intrinsic to Islam—beyond the devout Muslim’s instinctive understanding that secularization, once it starts, is like an unstoppable chain reaction—that renders it unable to adapt itself comfortably to the modern world. Is there an essential element that condemns the Dar al-Islam to permanent backwardness with regard to the Dar al-Harb, a backwardness that is felt as a deep humiliation, and is exemplified, though not proved, by the fact that the whole of the Arab world, minus its oil, matters less to the rest of the world economically than the Nokia telephone company of Finland?

I think the answer is yes, and that the problem begins with Islam’s failure to make a distinction between church and state. Unlike Christianity, which had to spend its first centuries developing institutions clandestinely and so from the outset clearly had to separate church from state, Islam was from its inception both church and state, one and indivisible, with no possible distinction between temporal and religious authority. Muhammad’s power was seamlessly spiritual and secular (although the latter grew ultimately out of the former), and he bequeathed this model to his followers. Since he was, by Islamic definition, the last prophet of God upon earth, his was a political model whose perfection could not be challenged or questioned without the total abandonment of the pretensions of the entire religion.

But his model left Islam with two intractable problems. One was political. Muhammad unfortunately bequeathed no institutional arrangements by which his successors in the role of omnicompetent ruler could be chosen (and, of course, a schism occurred immediately after the Prophet’s death, with some—today’s Sunnites—following his father-in-law, and some—today’s Shi’ites—his son-in-law). Compounding this difficulty, the legitimacy of temporal power could always be challenged by those who, citing Muhammad’s spiritual role, claimed greater religious purity or authority; the fanatic in Islam is always at a moral advantage vis-à-vis the moderate. Moreover, Islam—in which the mosque is a meetinghouse, not an institutional church—has no established, anointed ecclesiastical hierarchy to decide such claims authoritatively. With political power constantly liable to challenge from the pious, or the allegedly pious, tyranny becomes the only guarantor of stability, and assassination the only means of reform. Hence the Saudi time bomb: sooner or later, religious revolt will depose a dynasty founded upon its supposed piety but long since corrupted by the ways of the world.

The second problem is intellectual. In the West, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment, acting upon the space that had always existed, at least potentially, in Christianity between church and state, liberated individual men to think for themselves, and thus set in motion an unprecedented and still unstoppable material advancement. Islam, with no separate, secular sphere where inquiry could flourish free from the claims of religion, if only for technical purposes, was hopelessly left behind: as, several centuries later, it still is.

The indivisibility of any aspect of life from any other in Islam is a source of strength, but also of fragility and weakness, for individuals as well as for polities. Where all conduct, all custom, has a religious sanction and justification, any change is a threat to the whole system of belief. Certainty that their way of life is the right one thus coexists with fear that the whole edifice—intellectual and political—will come tumbling down if it is tampered with in any way. Intransigence is a defense against doubt and makes living on terms of true equality with others who do not share the creed impossible.

Not coincidentally, the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death: apostates are regarded as far worse than infidels, and punished far more rigorously. In every Islamic society, and indeed among Britain’s Muslim immigrants, there are people who take this idea quite literally, as their rage against Salman Rushdie testified.

The Islamic doctrine of apostasy is hardly favorable to free inquiry or frank discussion, to say the least, and surely it explains why no Muslim, or former Muslim, in an Islamic society would dare to suggest that the Qu’ran was not divinely dictated through the mouth of the Prophet but rather was a compilation of a charismatic man’s words made many years after his death, and incorporating, with no very great originality, Judaic, Christian, and Zoroastrian elements. In my experience, devout Muslims expect and demand a freedom to criticize, often with perspicacity, the doctrines and customs of others, while demanding an exaggerated degree of respect and freedom from criticism for their own doctrines and customs. I recall, for example, staying with a Pakistani Muslim in East Africa, a very decent and devout man, who nevertheless spent several evenings with me deriding the absurdities of Christianity: the paradoxes of the Trinity, the impossibility of Resurrection, and so forth. Though no Christian myself, had I replied in kind, alluding to the pagan absurdities of the pilgrimage to Mecca, or to the gross, ignorant, and primitive superstitions of the Prophet with regard to jinn, I doubt that our friendship would have lasted long.

The unassailable status of the Qu’ran in Islamic education, thought, and society is ultimately Islam’s greatest disadvantage in the modern world. Such unassailability does not debar a society from great artistic achievement or charms of its own: great and marvelous civilizations have flourished without the slightest intellectual freedom. I myself prefer a souk to a supermarket any day, as a more human, if less economically efficient, institution. But until Muslims (or former Muslims, as they would then be) are free in their own countries to denounce the Qu’ran as an inferior hodgepodge of contradictory injunctions, without intellectual unity (whether it is so or not)—until they are free to say with Carlyle that the Qu’ran is “a wearisome confused jumble” with “endless iterations, longwindedness, entanglement”—until they are free to remake and modernize the Qu’ran by creative interpretation, they will have to reconcile themselves to being, if not helots, at least in the rearguard of humanity, as far as power and technical advance are concerned.

A piece of pulp fiction by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in 1898, when followers of the charismatic fundamentalist leader Muhammad al-Mahdi tried to establish a theocracy in Sudan by revolting against Anglo-Egyptian control, makes precisely this point and captures the contradiction at the heart of contemporary Islam. Called The Tragedy of the Korosko, the book is the story of a small tourist party to Upper Egypt, who are kidnapped and held to ransom by some Mahdists, and then rescued by the Egyptian Camel Corps. (I hesitate, as a Francophile, to point out to American readers that there is a French character in the book, who, until he is himself captured by the Mahdists, believes that they are but a figment of the British imagination, to give perfidious Albion a pretext to interfere in Sudanese affairs.) A mullah among the Mahdists who capture the tourists attempts to convert the Europeans and Americans to Islam, deriding as unimportant and insignificant their technically superior civilization: “ ‘As to the [scientific] learning of which you speak . . . ’ said the Moolah . . . ‘I have myself studied at the University of Al Azhar at Cairo, and I know that to which you allude. But the learning of the faithful is not as the learning of the unbeliever, and it is not fitting that we pry too deeply into the ways of Allah. Some stars have tails . . . and some have not; but what does it profit us to know which are which? For God made them all, and they are very safe in His hands. Therefore . . . be not puffed up by the foolish learning of the West, and understand that there is only one wisdom, which consists in following the will of Allah as His chosen prophet has laid it down for us in this book.’ ”

This is by no means a despicable argument. One of the reasons that we can appreciate the art and literature of the past, and sometimes of the very distant past, is that the fundamental conditions of human existence remain the same, however much we advance in the technical sense: I have myself argued in these pages that human self-understanding, except in purely technical matters, reached its apogee with Shakespeare. In a sense, the mullah is right.

But if we made a fetish of Shakespeare (much richer and more profound than the Qu’ran, in my view), if we made him the sole object of our study and the sole guide of our lives, we would soon enough fall into backwardness and stagnation. And the problem is that so many Muslims want both stagnation and power: they want a return to the perfection of the seventh century and to dominate the twenty-first, as they believe is the birthright of their doctrine, the last testament of God to man. If they were content to exist in a seventh-century backwater, secure in a quietist philosophy, there would be no problem for them or us; their problem, and ours, is that they want the power that free inquiry confers, without either the free inquiry or the philosophy and institutions that guarantee that free inquiry. They are faced with a dilemma: either they abandon their cherished religion, or they remain forever in the rear of human technical advance. Neither alternative is very appealing; and the tension between their desire for power and success in the modern world on the one hand, and their desire not to abandon their religion on the other, is resolvable for some only by exploding themselves as bombs.

People grow angry when faced with an intractable dilemma; they lash out. Whenever I have described in print the cruelties my young Muslim patients endure, I receive angry replies: I am either denounced outright as a liar, or the writer acknowledges that such cruelties take place but are attributable to a local culture, in this case Punjabi, not to Islam, and that I am ignorant not to know it.

But Punjabi Sikhs also arrange marriages: they do not, however, force consanguineous marriages of the kind that take place from Madras to Morocco. Moreover—and not, I believe, coincidentally—Sikh immigrants from the Punjab, of no higher original social status than their Muslim confrères from the same provinces, integrate far better into the local society once they have immigrated. Precisely because their religion is a more modest one, with fewer universalist pretensions, they find the duality of their new identity more easily navigable. On the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, for example, the Sikh temples were festooned with perfectly genuine protestations of congratulations and loyalty. No such protestations on the part of Muslims would be thinkable.

But the anger of Muslims, their demand that their sensibilities should be accorded a more than normal respect, is a sign not of the strength but of the weakness—or rather, the brittleness—of Islam in the modern world, the desperation its adherents feel that it could so easily fall to pieces. The control that Islam has over its populations in an era of globalization reminds me of the hold that the Ceausescus appeared to have over the Rumanians: an absolute hold, until Ceausescu appeared one day on the balcony and was jeered by the crowd that had lost its fear. The game was over, as far as Ceausescu was concerned, even if there had been no preexisting conspiracy to oust him.

One sign of the increasing weakness of Islam’s hold over its nominal adherents in Britain—of which militancy is itself but another sign—is the throng of young Muslim men in prison. They will soon overtake the young men of Jamaican origin in their numbers and in the extent of their criminality. By contrast, young Sikhs and Hindus are almost completely absent from prison, so racism is not the explanation for such Muslim overrepresentation.
Confounding expectations, these prisoners display no interest in Islam whatsoever; they are entirely secularized. True, they still adhere to Muslim marriage customs, but only for the obvious personal advantage of having a domestic slave at home. Many of them also dot the city with their concubines—sluttish white working-class girls or exploitable young Muslims who have fled forced marriages and do not know that their young men are married. This is not religion, but having one’s cake and eating it.

The young Muslim men in prison do not pray; they do not demand halal meat. They do not read the Qu’ran. They do not ask to see the visiting imam. They wear no visible signs of piety: their main badge of allegiance is a gold front tooth, which proclaims them members of the city’s criminal subculture—a badge (of honor, they think) that they share with young Jamaicans, though their relations with the Jamaicans are otherwise fraught with hostility. The young Muslim men want wives at home to cook and clean for them, concubines elsewhere, and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. As for Muslim proselytism in the prison—and Muslim literature has been insinuated into nooks and crannies there far more thoroughly than any Christian literature—it is directed mainly at the Jamaican prisoners. It answers their need for an excuse to go straight, while not at the same time surrendering to the morality of a society they believe has wronged them deeply. Indeed, conversion to Islam is their revenge upon that society, for they sense that their newfound religion is fundamentally opposed to it. By conversion, therefore, they kill two birds with one stone.
But Islam has no improving or inhibiting effect upon the behavior of my city’s young Muslim men, who, in astonishing numbers, have taken to heroin, a habit almost unknown among their Sikh and Hindu contemporaries. The young Muslims not only take heroin but deal in it, and have adopted all the criminality attendant on the trade.
What I think these young Muslim prisoners demonstrate is that the rigidity of the traditional code by which their parents live, with its universalist pretensions and emphasis on outward conformity to them, is all or nothing; when it dissolves, it dissolves completely and leaves nothing in its place. The young Muslims then have little defense against the egotistical licentiousness they see about them and that they all too understandably take to be the summum bonum of Western life.

Observing this, of course, there are among Muslim youth a tiny minority who reject this absorption into the white lumpenproletariat and turn militant or fundamentalist. It is their perhaps natural, or at least understandable, reaction to the failure of our society, kowtowing to absurd and dishonest multiculturalist pieties, to induct them into the best of Western culture: into that spirit of free inquiry and personal freedom that has so transformed the life chances of every person in the world, whether he knows it or not.

Islam in the modern world is weak and brittle, not strong: that accounts for its so frequent shrillness. The Shah will, sooner or later, triumph over the Ayatollah in Iran, because human nature decrees it, though meanwhile millions of lives will have been ruined and impoverished. The Iranian refugees who have flooded into the West are fleeing Islam, not seeking to extend its dominion, as I know from speaking to many in my city. To be sure, fundamentalist Islam will be very dangerous for some time to come, and all of us, after all, live only in the short term; but ultimately the fate of the Church of England awaits it. Its melancholy, withdrawing roar may well (unlike that of the Church of England) be not just long but bloody, but withdraw it will. The fanatics and the bombers do not represent a resurgence of unreformed, fundamentalist Islam, but its death rattle.

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