Reclaiming “Redneck” From History

Blogging again after a busy year off. :)

The term redneck is usually an insult these days, used by urban, hip, coastal people who went to college for at least four years, vote for Democrats, and work at high-paying high-status jobs in government or the private sector. I fit that description, except that my politics aren’t liberal/left and I don’t vote mostly for Democrats (or didn’t til Donald Trump was elected President).

However, I grew up in Texas among conservative family and neighbors. Three generations ago my paternal ancestors were all from West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Over the weekend, I stumbled across an editorial in The Guardian that I wish every American would read. I don’t agree with many of the political views held by the three authors, but I treasure the history that this op-end brings to light. The authors clearly believe that we cannot solve the problems that America faces at present by splitting into a bunch of racially- or culturally-defined groups and fighting. I agree with them.

One of the most fascinating periods of American history is the history of mining and the early labor movement centered in and around the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, southeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. After a cross-country trip in 2015 took me through West Virginia’s New River Gorge, I’ve been reading histories of that region. I’m glad other people are finding inspiration in the same times and places.

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The Oroville Dam, California, and the US

As of Thursday night, Lake Oroville stands at 32 ft (9 M) below the emergency spillway intake. The California Department of Water & Power (DWP) has managed to do this despite additional rain/snow in the last 24 hours because the main spillway despite being damaged has not deteriorated any further. The DWP is planning to take it down to 50 ft. below the intake and keep it there til they’ve got a permanent fix in place.

What this means is that the evacuation song and dance is not likely to be repeated this spring. WHEEWWW!

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The Oroville Dam Flood Plain Evacuation: Resources

I have many things to say to California State government officials about the current crisis with the Oroville Dam spillways. Because many of you failed to heed explicit warnings twelve years ago, 200,000 people were forced out of their homes with less than one hour’s notice. Many of these people are also temporarily or permanently out of work. Farmers are away from their farms, unable to plant and unsure whether they will make a crop this year. None of them knows whether they’ll get to go back in a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or not at all.

So (deep breath) their needs come first. I’ll rant later if I have energy left. Below are the most useful web resources I have found for evacuees. The organizations listed here also need donations, for those who want to help.

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It’s Time to Quit Taking the Bait

Donald Trump’s first ten days in office have made it clear that he plans to govern as he has run his businesses and show: create chaos and let the “winners” claw their way to the top. It was probably unrealistic to hope for anything else. As should surprise nobody who knows me, I’m not willing to play that game. Knee-jerk reactions to a verbal bomb thrower simply play into the dynamic he or she prefers and deliberately creates.

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It’s been a very long last six months. The US election was a disheartening drag for reasons I won’t bother to repeat. Health issues raised their ugly heads. I’m diabetic, which complicates any health issue. Four days after the election, my gall bladder blew up and I landed in Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno for nine days. Fortunately the very fine surgical and medical staff coped with gall bladder, sepsis, and diabetic shock on the operating room table, sending me home not just alive but feeling better than I had in months.

I’ve been catching up on work and personal obligations, so have ignored the blog and mostly Twitter til the last few days.

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Hiding Your Light: The Secret W. H. Auden

Somebody just tweeted a link to an amazing article about the personal life of early 20th century poet and playwright W.H. Auden. Auden was a practicing Christian. This article describes just how seriously he took Christ’s command not to do good deeds “to be seen by men”. In this world of reality television, which respects no boundaries and keeps no secrets, reading this article provided a real boost to my morale.

I knew Auden was a good poet and playwright. I had no idea that he was such a good man as well.

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Rethinking Racism in America

This month The Atlantic published an article titled “The Racist History of Portland, the Whitest City in America”. I react badly to race-baiting, and the title of this article sounded like race baiting to me. However, I went to college in Portland in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and still have ties to the city. So I was curious. and read the article.


Portland when I was in college and now is a “blue” city, a hotbed of progressive politics. Oregon has no history of slavery. I was unaware that Portland also has a history of severe racism. The details shocked me, and I have seen racism. I was born outside of Dallas in the early 1960s and grew up in Texas. Worst of all, the evidence of Portland’s continuing racism was visible when I was there attending college, and I never noticed.

This article got me to thinking about many things, some of them outside of the subject of the article. I want to summarize the story that this well-written and informative piece tells before I go into my own thoughts.

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Not a Normal Presidential Election

This presidential election year has shaped up to be something I never anticipated. A candidate I both distrust and disagree with on fundamental issues is running against a demagogue who is utterly unqualified by education, temperament or character to be President of the United States. I think the first is less bad than the second, so I’ll probably vote for Hillary Clinton. If there’s any real risk that Donald Trump might win the election, I will also campaign for her.

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The Woman I Wish I Could Vote For

In the past few months, as a flood of desperate people have escaped Syria and other intolerable places and flooded into Europe, I’ve watched German Chancellor Angela Merkel rise above a massive flood of panic and xenophobia that is sweeping most of Europe, the United States, and many other countries. Merkel could so easily have gone along with calls to close Germany’s borders and refuse to admit any but a tiny number of refugees. Instead, she called on Germany to prepare to admit as many as two million desperate people. In doing so, she has broken all the usual “politician rules”, and might well be voted out of office as a result.

But not if I could help it. Merkel has shown a degree of character, courage in the face of adversary, and basic decency that no other European leader has demonstrated in my lifetime. I’m not sure who I’ll vote for in the upcoming American Presidential election. If I were German, though, I’d know. I don’t care who else was running.

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Bigotry against Muslims and Preserving the American Experiment

In the past couple of months, some American women whose names I don’t remember have called on all American women to wear headscarves in public to show support for and solidarity with Muslim women in America. That call has led to an active public discussion on Twitter and elsewhere, and several interesting articles published on various news sites and blogs. I’m a non-Muslim American women who has had an unusual degree of contact and interaction with Muslims in the past 25 years. I responded to one of the articles earlier today. On further thought, I decided to expand what I said and post it on my blog as well.

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