The Back 9

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Place Your Head on This, Please.  Anvil.  Ponderosa Forge, Sisters, Oregon

Last night, apparently, the town council in our fair burg passed a “resolution recognizing the 9 rules of civility.”  This was evidently the result of a “toxic environment for discourse,” which is one of the more interesting and simultaneously sickening memes I keep hearing repeated about the state of debate and disagreement in America.  Now we have to make rules about how to discuss the rules.  I don’t know how long this ruling on the discussion of rules was in a committee, which absolutely MUST be a part of that process, or if any amendments were submitted to the committee for discussion before the general session and public input, or even if the fair citizens were ALLOWED any public input on the resolution recognizing the rules, once it came out of committee, was studied thoroughly, voted on, and read into the public record.  I really don’t know.

Pshaw.

Some mornings I wake up, look at the world, and feel I have been transported to another planet altogether, as if whatever anchor binding me to the earth simply snapped and I floated away.  I can only imagine this is true:  I feel precisely like an aging, out of work, once famous, but now largely disregarded, hollywood actress who lives in a Malibu Canyon Santa Fe style home she won from a producer in her fourth divorce, takes bo-tox injections, has paid handsomely for a pair of bolt-ons that are sadly lopsided, has three cats that shit in her closet, and overdoses weekly at an oxygen bar in Ojai.  I think I feel like that some mornings.  Truly.  I wake up, read the news, and there it is.  It’s a strange phenomenon.

I would like to propose my own 9 Rules of Discourse.  Of course I would.

  1. Don’t be a pussy.
  2. Know what it is you think you know.
  3. Have at least 3 alternative proposals
  4. Come prepared to be disagreed with
  5. Come prepared to lose the argument
  6. Come prepared to live with losing the argument gracefully
  7. Practice listening before speaking
  8. Know when to shut up
  9. Assume other people in the room are also intelligent, until they prove otherwise

That’s it.  That’s the best I can do without diving off the cliff into a cataclysmic, blood pressure spiking rant, which really wants to come out, but I’m keeping it tamped down.

In other news, my friend Jim Cornelius and I recently made a raid into the Northern California outback to pick up a horse.  It was a grand expedition down to the old home place, with just enough time for some guitar playing, some singing around a bonfire, and a brief interlude to the petroglyph palace at Willow Creek Canyon.  We bombed down, and bombed back, hauling a new horse for the Figure 8, who as I write is happily ensconced in the barn, enjoying breakfast.

It’s hard to imagine the people who created this permanent art installation discussing 9 rules of civil discourse, but perhaps I’m wrong.  Perhaps that IS the meaning of this ancient tableau.  Perhaps, properly deciphered, it says:  “the rules for discourse have come out of the great spirit committee–here they are–also, there is a cougar in the canyon, mammoth steaks are awesome, and you, oxygen sucking hollywood actress, are a jackass.  Just maybe it says that.

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Actual Rock Writing, Willow Creek Canyon

In the end, of course, we will probably never know what this graffiti means.  Although I think I see a tomahawk in this one:

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At least I want it to be a tomahawk.  I want it to be a Paiute War-Axe, carved after the larger tableau, which was actually used on the barefoot and bark-trouser wearing committee that envisioned the 9 rules.  Not cruelly.  Not in the dismemberment sense.  Maybe just a quick rapping on the skulls of those involved, a reminder to get back to work weaving baskets and collecting pine nuts.  I want that to be true, and since it’s my desert, I can make it be that if I want too.

That’s all I’ve got.  It snowed all day yesterday.  This morning the sky is clear and brilliant blue and there is frost in the shadows.  There are three horses in the barn and a puppy in the yard digging a hole out of the hole I just filled in and replanted.  And when I think about it long enough, that sky and the warmth we are trying to create on our little rancho, against all of the other, my feet come lightly down to earth again.  I’ll take that.  Every time.

 

 

 

  1. Great one, Craig! I know how you feel. Your 9 rules for discourse work for me. I hope Jim publishes the 9 rules adopted by Sisters. They would be interesting to read.

    I have been writing on my idea of “differed responsibility,” or someone else will do it. Whether it is cleaning up after your dog or picking up some trash that has been sitting someplace for days. Too many folks assume someone else will do it. No one wants to take responsibility unless they are directed to do so. I asked a group of high school students if they would obey the teachers rules if the teacher had to step out of the room for a moment. The answer: NO! There is no motivation to do the right thing if no one is looking. Col. Wes Fox (MofH, Vietnam) was once my CO when I was a Capt., and he was giving us officers a bit of leadership talk. He stressed doing the right thing even if no one was looking or would ever find out was one of the major principles of leadership. He did catch a Lt. not doing what Col Fox had told him to do and the way he wanted it done. They guy probably can’t shit today as his ass is gone–chewed off. Col. Fox was quite a leader. He always insisted that the Officers jump from the plane first to set the example. Whoa-be to any officer that was drinking coffee or eating something, before the troops were drinking coffee or eating.

    When I read the paper or Facebook, I find myself often leaving in depression and disgust. What the hell is happening to this country. With the lies told by politicians, some of the media (don’t jump on me Jim), and the crap that shows up on Facebook, hell no one knows what the truth is anymore. I’m feeling more like Hector Lassiter and not trusting anyone or anything that I read.

    Semper Fi,

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    1. Thanks Thom, and you are right. My wife and I were discussing much of this topic the other night. Facebook and other social media have created this platform, absent any responsibility, which has enticed a lot of people to believe that they actually are the center of the universe. The level of discussion is reduced to memes and one-liners, without any thought backing much of it up. Weirdest part is, even after the know-nothings have been exposed as knowing nothing, they will vehemently defend their right to say whatever they want. We are entering the age of “differed responsibility” for certain. Saw that a lot as a cop–the absolute inability to take responsibility for anything. Soccer moms and grandmothers lying about whether or not they were wearing a seatbelt and on and on and on. “no one knows what the truth is anymore.” It’s true. The truth is what I say it is as I’m stealing from the store, getting away, and then calling the cops to complain about security trying to stop me on my way out–which I just read this morning, and which occurred, naturally, in Fresno. God help us.

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    2. Thom — I have no kick re: your comment on media. The media bear a tremendous responsibility for the degradation of the discourse. This is a broad brush, but I believe it to be true — this is down to the feminization of the news. I have a powerful urge to retch when an interviewer asks the question “how did that make you feel?” That’s ALL that matters — how you “feel.” It’s a question designed to elicit an emotional response that everyone can coo and cluck over. Completely insubstantial. And it encourages people to believe that how they feel about an event/issue is what matters, instead of what they know or think and can back up with information, evidence and action. Truth becomes completely relative when it’s all about your feelings. We’re trying to cleave to some old-fashioned notions at my paper, and print media in general is the least bad of all the options when it comes to this trend, but we’re shoveling shit against the tide.

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  2. Your 9 rules are excellent. I am most pleased to see No. 1, because “don’t be a pussy” MUST be first. Reminds me of reading Vardis Fisher’s “Mountain Man” when I was but an impressionable lad. Describing Sam Minard, Fisher wrote that he admired courage above all other virtues, because without it all other virtues are meaningless. That’s a good thing for a 12-year-old boy to read and absorb.
    I may be wrong, but I don’t think courage is simply an innate trait. I think it can be learned, developed, trained. But for that to happen, it has to be expected.
    Having had an up-close-and-personal view of the events and personalities that led to Sisters’ “civility project,” I get where it’s coming from.I’d argue that the “need” for it stems from a broad failure to inculcate Rullman Rule No. 1.
    I’m curious as to what it is about all this that set up ” a cataclysmic, blood pressure spiking rant, which really wants to come out,” but that might be best taken off-line.

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    1. Thank you, kind sir. Everything follows after number one. It’s the lack of number one that allows young people, old people, peoples in general, to believe they can actually be “bullied on line,” through a telephone, device, or computer. It’s the lack of number one that leads to cataclysm. I agree that courage can be taught, because courage is not the absence of fear, it is behaving correctly in spite of it. This boils down to training, the mind, the body, the philosophy. But the modern world seems to encourage us to believe that we don’t need courage, because we are entitled to be treated with kid gloves from birth to grave, and that the world owes us something. Look at this bizarre emphasis on “being safe,” and “safety,” and any other weird spinning of the safety-orange universe that has never, ever, had any basis in reality. As for the blood-pressure spiking rant, it is leftover remnants from my absolute disgust with bureaucracy, and the creation of policy for the sheer sake of appeasing idiots, or because it gives bureaucrats and “managers” the excuse to believe they are actually doing something–which mostly they don’t. It enrages me, probably always will, because I know how empty so much of it is, and had to live with the consequences of this kind of mindless manageering and policy fluff for too long. But I’m better now.

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      1. Of course. Duh.
        Looking forward to the newspaper column.

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  3. Totally gotta agree with the nine rules, my new discussion rule. Number one says it all for me. And it’s OK to be wrong or not agree ask my kids who know everything. I must say we were sad to not say hello on you last run in run out. Happy Trails friend

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    1. Kids always know everything. This is in the alternative book of rules. Yes, sorry we didn’t pop in, but we were on a relatively short time-hack, plus I drank too much bourbon, too early, which was a bad idea. Hope all is well. I will be calling you soon to talk about Lotti, the problem child, after I try a few more things to flatten her tremendous ego. LOL. Say hi to Bob!

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  4. Don’t forget, show some class and act like you have been here before.

    P.S.
    Remember friends,
    “CHARLIE DON’T SURF”

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    1. Charlie does not surf, and gets shelled every time he tries!

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  5. Christine DeForest April 15, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    On a lighter note…I loved the photos. Especially the one with the moss in glorious hues of orange and yellow. The evening with Jim and you was wonderful. Jim singing, you popping an occasional hee haw, and the fire blazing. Can’t wait to do it again.

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    1. It was a terrific time, for certain. We MUST do it again.

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      1. I’m in, absolutely.

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      2. Awesome. We should project down the road for another blast. This time with guns and such.

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  6. My 99 year old grandmother (a woman your father tried to please by eating massive amounts of her cooking) also said pshaw a lot… good word… and I imagine if she were alive today, she would be using it even more. Write on!

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    1. Cyndi–I’ve missed you! Pshaw was a Mark Twain favorite too, so your grandmother was in great company 🙂 Thanks!

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  7. Amen….that is all that needs to be said.

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  8. […] My buddy Craig Rullman has published his own rules: […]

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