Important ruling on how much of a proffer you need in order to cross on a prior bad act bearing on veracity and on bias. The takeaway: the standard is “a fairly lenient one”

 

Keith A. Moore v. United States, No. 12-CF-778 (decided April 30, 2015).

The Players: Chief Judge Washington, Associate Judge Glickman, and Senior Judge Pryor. Opinion for the Court by Judge Glickman; dissenting opinion by Judge Pryor. PDS for Mr. Moore. Trial Judge: Ann O’Regan Keary.

The Facts: In this armed robbery trial, Mr. Moore’s defense was that the complainant, Lorenzo Thomas, fabricated his story that Mr. Moore had stolen $1,000 from him because Mr. Thomas was due in court the next day for a probation revocation hearing for failure to pay restitution, so he needed the cash — or at least a ready excuse for why he could not pay the restitution.

Prior to trial, Mr. Thomas had told the government that he had a lot of cash from working at P.F. Chang’s restaurant. He later recanted that and said the money came from a tax refund and gambling proceeds. The prosecutor obtained a copy of Mr. Thomas’s tax return, which reflected a large refund, primarily due to Mr. Thomas claiming his little sister as a dependent. It occurred to the prosecutor that the tax credit might not have been appropriate because Mr. Thomas and his little sister both lived with their mother, who was a federal employee and the more natural person to claim the child as a dependent. In discussing the tax return with Mr. Thomas, the prosecutor told him that “there was no understanding between him and the government about whether claiming his sister as a dependent was appropriate.”

Issue: The defense sought to cross-examine Mr. Thomas about whether he had committed tax fraud on two bases: (1) the defense argued that a false representation on a tax return was a proper subject on cross-examination because it was a prior bad act bearing on Mr. Thomas’s veracity with respect to the contested issues at trial; and (2) cross-examination about the suspected false tax return was probative of Mr. Thomas’s bias because the prosecutor had discussed with him a possible problem with the tax return, and he may have therefore harbored a subjective belief that he was in jeopardy of prosecution, which would give him a testimonial bias.

The judge precluded all inquiry about the tax return, ruling that the matter was too convoluted because it required knowledge of tax rules, Mr. Thomas had used a professional tax preparer and did not complete the return himself, and that even if the return reflected dishonesty, that was not as probative as other fertile grounds the defense had for cross-examination.

Holding: The trial court erred in precluding the desired cross-examination because the defense proffer was adequate to require it on both theories — prior bad act bearing on veracity, and bias. The error was harmful at least with respect to the former purpose because Mr. Thomas’s veracity as to the source of the money he claimed the defendant took from him was hotly contested at trial.

Important Rules and Points for Practitioners:

This is an important case on the doctrine of prior bad act bearing on veracity. This opinion clarifies that the standard for a defense proffer to permit such inquiry is a “fairly lenient one,” the very same standard as for bias cross-examination (with which judges and practitioners are more familiar). The proffer need suggest only a “well-reasoned suspicion” that “the witness committed a veracity-impeaching bad act or is biased in the manner asserted.” Here, the defense proffer of suspicious circumstances warranted permitting the cross-examination as a matter of law, although the defense could not definitively prove dishonesty: although the tax return was prepared by a professional, it included an assertion that the witness provided the factual information that permitted the tax credit; it was undisputed that the witness would not be allowed to take the tax credit if his mother’s adjusted gross income (AGI) that year was higher than his AGI; the witness’s AGI was only $9,245; his mother was a federal employee, so it is likely that her AGI was higher; therefore it is “quite a reasonable suspicion” that the witness provided false information to the tax preparer for personal gain. This was sufficient. SF

Eureka! Exclusionary rule does not apply in a cold case solved by DNA evidence obtained through an unconstitutional but “good faith” search by a prison employee.

Shepardson R. Blair v. United States, No. 12-CF-1351 (decided May 7, 2015)

Players: Associate Judges Blackburne-Rigsby and Thompson, Senior Judge Steadman. Opinion by Judge Thompson. PDS for Mr. Blair. Judges: Thomas J. Motley (motion judge), Ronna Lee Beck (trial judge)

Facts:

Based on DNA evidence that linked him to the sexual assault of C.H., Mr. Blair was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and assault with significant bodily injury.

Issue 1:

While Mr. Blair was incarcerated at a federal prison in 2005 for a DC first-degree theft conviction, a Bureau of Prisons employee drew a sample of his blood so that his DNA profile could be uploaded to a database run by the FBI. Although the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act (“DNA Act”) authorized BOP to collect DNA from inmates convicted of “qualifying” DC offenses, the DNA Act did not authorize it to collect Mr. Blair’s blood in 2005 because the DC government had not yet made first-degree theft a qualifying offense. The FBI discovered in 2009 that Mr. Blair’s DNA matched that of the man who assaulted C.H. in 2005. The FBI shared this information with MPD, and Mr. Blair was arrested for the 2005 assault. In 2011, the trial court issued a warrant compelling Mr. Blair to allow MPD to take another DNA sample. Probable cause to support that warrant depended on the DNA match obtained using the 2005 sample. At trial, the government introduced the DNA evidence derived from the 2011 sample, which, like the 2005 sample, linked Mr. Blair to the 2005 assault.
Assuming that BOP’s collection of the 2005 DNA sample violated the Fourth Amendment, did the trial court err by declining to apply the exclusionary rule and permitting MPD to collect a second sample based solely on information derived from the 2005 sample?

Holding 1:

No.  First, BOP likely acted in good faith when it took the 2005 DNA sample, mainly because: (a) defense counsel acknowledged that he “did not ‘know of any’ bad faith” on the part of BOP; and (b) although the DC government had not yet designated all DC Code felonies (including first-degree theft) as qualifying offenses for purposes of the DNA Act, Congress had already designated all federal felonies as qualifying offenses, suggesting that the unconstitutional search resulted from a negligent, but not bad faith, failure to recognize this difference.

Second, the trial court “reasonably concluded” that the deterrence-related benefits from suppressing the fruits of the 2005 DNA sample would not outweigh its costs, mainly because: (a) DC law was later revised to include “any felony” as a qualifying offense under the DNA Act, obviating any need to “deter BOP personnel from again making th[is] mistake”; (b) several years elapsed between the collection of the 2005 blood sample and the trial; and (c) BOP personnel were “not adjuncts to the law enforcement team.”

You should be able to distinguish this opinion by emphasizing that its holding depends on its peculiar facts, including that prison staff rather than police conducted the unlawful search.

Issue 2:

To be convicted of first-degree sexual abuse, the defendant must force the complainant to engage in a sexual act that involves (in relevant part) “penetration, however slight, of the . . . vulva of another by a penis.” Here, C.H. testified that the assailant pushed “into [her] vagina” with his “non-erect penis” and “tried several times to push himself further inside.” The doctor who treated C.H. after the assault found “a significant amount” of debris in C.H.’s vulva.

Was this evidence insufficient to establish that the assailant penetrated C.H.’s vulva?

Holding 2:

No. C.H.’s testimony that the assailant pushed “into [her] vagina” and tried to push “further inside,” together with the “violent nature of the attack,” permitted the jury to infer that he penetrated her “vulva, if not her vagina,” even though his penis was not erect.

Issue 3:

During the assault, C.H.’s head was repeatedly banged against the ground. The doctor who assessed her at the hospital testified that she had abrasions “all over [her] body,” evidence of “trauma” around her eyes, “a lot” of tenderness in her jaw, neck pain, and a “severe headache.” The doctor ordered CAT scans of C.H.’s head, face, and mandible because he was “concerned” that she might have a “significant head injury,” and he ordered an X-ray of her neck to “rule out bone injury.” These tests apparently found no sign of internal injuries.

Was this evidence insufficient to prove the significant-bodily-injury element of felony assault?

Holding 3:

No. The CAT scans and X-ray the doctor ordered for C.H.’s head and neck, together with the bruising “all over [her] body,” sufficed to show that her injuries were significant, though the issue was a close (“less than obvious”) one.

The Court’s emphasis on diagnostic tests is somewhat at odds with prior decisions holding that significant bodily injury includes only injuries that require medical treatment rather than diagnosis. The opinion should thus be read narrowly to avoid conflict with the Court’s past decisions. The opinion itself suggests several limits to its holding: (1) the tests here were aimed at detecting injury to particularly sensitive body parts, the head and neck; (2) there was medical testimony that the tests were needed to rule out internal injuries; (3) the Court relied not only on the tests, but also on evidence of bruising “all over” C.H.’s body; and (4) the Court recognized that the issue was close despite all these factors.  JM

“Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”


Michael A. Hartley v. United States, No. 13-CF-653 (decided May 14, 2015).

Players: Chief Judge Washington, Associate Judges Blackburne-Rigsby and Easterly. Opinion by Chief Judge Washington. William R. Cowden for Mr. Hartley. Trial Judge: J. Michael Ryan.

Facts: On a December afternoon at the Rhode Island Metro station, Mr. Hartley attempted to rob James Galloway-Reed of his cell phone. After verbal threats failed to convince Mr. Galloway-Reed to surrender his phone, Mr. Hartley placed his hand in his pocket and stated, “this isn’t a joke, I have a gun.” Unfortunately for Mr. Hartley, Mr. Galloway-Reed did not believe him and began to walk away. Mr. Hartley followed him to an underpass across the street and began to “physically assault” him. A bystander called the police, who arrived and apprehended Mr. Hartley at the scene. No gun was recovered from Mr. Hartley’s person or the surrounding area.

Mr. Galloway-Reed suffered “minor cuts to his face, a black eye, and swelling.”

Issue 1: “[W]hether placing one’s hand in one’s pocket and pointing it at someone while verbally threatening to shoot them if they do not comply with one’s demand is sufficient evidence to satisfy the District’s while armed enhancement statute.”

Holding: No, given these facts. The Court distinguishes an earlier case, Smith v. United States, 777 A.2d 801 (D.C. 2001), in which the Court found sufficient evidence that the defendant was armed where he had robbed a restaurant with his hand in his pocket, asserting that he had a gun, and was not apprehended on the scene. Smith is distinguished based on the facts that (a) Mr. Galloway-Reed testified that he did not believe Mr. Hartley had a gun, and (b) Mr. Hartley was immediately apprehended and no gun was found on his person or nearby. Thus, there was no basis for the jury to infer that Mr. Hartley had a firearm.

In a footnote, the court also distinguished this case from those in which a witness perceives a physical manifestation of a weapon, imitation or otherwise, that could reasonably be mistaken for a firearm at the time that the crime was committed.

Issue 2/ Holding: The government conceded that the evidence was insufficient to support Mr. Hartley’s conviction for felony assault because Mr. Galloway-Reed did not suffer significant bodily injury.  CP

Supreme Court Announces Scienter Requirement for Federal Threats, Has Implications for D.C.

In Elonis v. United States, the Supreme Court recently decided the question of what mental state is required for a person to be guilty under the federal threats statute. Anthony Elonis had posted a series of amateur rap lyrics on Facebook that his ex-wife and co-workers perceived as threatening. He argued that he could not be guilty of threats because the rap lyrics were creative expression, and not intended to threaten.

The federal threats statute makes it a crime to transmit in interstate commerce “any communication containing any threat…to injure the person of another.” 18 U.S.C. 875(c). On its face, the statute only requires that the communication contain a threat. The statute does not contain any explanation of the mental state required for a person to be guilty under this statute, and the parties disagreed on this point. The government argued that a defendant only need to intend that the words be communicated, and that the defendant understood those words. According to the government, it would be enough that a “reasonable person” would understand the words to be a threat, even if the defendant did not intend to issue a threat. Mr. Elonis argued that this amounted to a “negligence” standard and that such an interpretation would undermine the principle that “wrongdoing must be conscious to be criminal.”

The Court rejected the government’s position and agreed with Mr. Elonis. It found that, based on the general criminal law principle that a defendant must be “blameworthy in mind,” a defendant must either intend to issue a threat, or communicate the words knowing that it will be viewed as a threat, for his conduct to be criminal. Since the jury instructions in Mr. Elonis’ case allowed a finding of guilt based on the lower, “negligence” standard, the Court reversed Mr. Elonis’ convictions. The Court did not decide the issue of whether a finding of recklessness would be sufficient.

Although this case is not technically binding on D.C. courts, since it addresses the federal statute, it will be highly persuasive authority here. The D.C. statutes, like the federal statute, do not contain any intent requirement. D.C. practitioners can argue that as in Elonis, general criminal law principles require that a person must intentionally or knowingly threaten in order to be guilty of a crime, and that it is not enough that a reasonable person would have perceived the communication as a threat. Although the D.C. Court of Appeals has held that a person may be guilty of threats regardless of whether he intended his words to be threatening (or even was reckless in this regard), the Supreme Court’s rationale in Elonis undermines this precedent and thus opens the door to defense arguments that an intent to threaten is required.  SN

RBI Proposal on Rupee Linked Bonds

In the past, rupee denominated bond issuances have essentially been available to multilateral institutions, of which the International Finance Corporation (IFC) had availed of them. Now, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced a draft framework, which allows Indian companies as well to tap this avenue for raising debt. Indian corporates that are eligible to avail of external commercial borrowings (ECBs) will now be able to issue rupee-linked bonds overseas in any jurisdiction that is Financial Action Task Force (FATF) compliant. There is a cap on pricing of the bonds in that the coupon should not be more than 500 basis points above the sovereign yield of corresponding Government of India security. Other terms such as requirement of regulatory approvals and end-use restrictions are similar to ECBs. Investors in such bonds are allowed to hedge both currency risk as well as credit risk through permitted derivative products in the domestic market. There are more relaxed requirements for international financial institutions issuing such bonds depending upon whether or not the proceeds are being deployed in India.

This proposal could have the effect of expanding fund-raising opportunities for Indian corporates, especially to fulfill financial demand in sectors such as infrastructure. This is particularly the case given the relative shallowness of the domestic bond market. At the same time, the tight restrictions such as cap on pricing and other conditions that are pegged to the ECB policy may act as a dampener against significant inflow of funds through this route.

What Should Start-up Founders Know About Rule 701?

In my opinion, all startup founders should be familiar with and actually understand Rule 701 under the Securities Act because this is precisely how they get to issue equity (restricted stock or options) in their startup to their employees, officers, directors, consultants and advisors in order to provide them with the right kind of incentives. Rule 701 allows startups to do so in a private placement, without registration with the SEC, and with minimum compliance requirements (unless the aggregate offerings exceed $5 million in any 12-month period). One important thing to keep in mind is that the exemption applies only to the registration requirements of the Securities Act; other provisions, most importantly the antifraud provisions, remain fully applicable, which means that any disclosures made by the company may not be materially false or misleading.

Where does Rule 701 fit in?

As you know, all issuances of securities by a company have to be registered with the SEC unless a particular offering falls under an exemption from registration. You are familiar by now with Rule 506 that provides an exemption from registration for securities issued in a private placement. Well, Rule 701 provides an exemption from registration (also on a federal level) for securities that private companies may issue as equity compensation to its employees, directors, officers, consultants and advisors.

Principal requirements and restrictions relating to a Rule 701 offering.

1. Only the issuer (i.e. the company) may use the Rule 701 exemption. This rule is not available for resales.

2. The company has to be a private company (i.e., not be subject to reporting requirements under Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act). But a company that files Exchange Act reports on a voluntary basis or in accordance with a contractual obligation, is eligible to use Rule 701.

3. The persons to whom offers and sales of securities may be made pursuant to the Rule 701 exemption include employees (including employees of majority-owned subsidiaries), directors, general partners, trustees, where the issuer is a business trust, officers, consultants and advisors. There are many SEC no-action letters regarding who are the eligible recipients of Rule 701 equity (there is some uncertainty about who are the eligible advisors and consultants), so startups should check with their attorney to ensure that they do not issue Rule 701 equity to ineligible persons.

4. Securities offered under Rule 701 are “restricted” securities, and cannot be resold unless they are registered with the SEC or are resold pursuant to another exemption (such as Rule 144).

5. Offering and sale under Rule 701 must still comply with any applicable state “blue sky” laws.

6. Rule 701 equity may be offered and sold only pursuant to a written compensatory benefit plan (or compensation contract). The Rule defines “compensatory benefit plan” as “any purchase, savings, option, bonus, stock appreciation, profit sharing, thrift, incentive, deferred compensation, pension or similar plan.” This means that the startup should invest into developing an equity compensation plan early on in its existence.

7. The Rule is not applicable to transactions entered into for capital-raising purposes.

8. For equity offered and sold to consultants or advisors, several special rules apply. The Rule is only available to them if they are 1) natural persons; and 2) they provide bona fide services to the company which are not connected to any offering or sale of securities in a capital-raising transaction and which are not intended to promote or maintain a market in the issuer’s securities (whether directly or indirectly).

What else do you need to know about Rule 701?

1. Aggregation Limits

Over the course of any rolling 12-month period, the total aggregate sales price or amount of securities sold may not exceed the greatest of:

1) $1 million;

2) 15% of the issuer’s total assets, as measured on the date of its most recent balance sheet (if no older than its last fiscal year end); or

3) 15% of the outstanding amount of the class of securities being offered and sold in reliance on the Rule (again as measured as of the date of its most recent balance sheet).

There is no (theoretical) limit to the amount of money that can be raised pursuant to Rule 701, provided that whatever amount raised remains within the aforementioned limits. However, there are some enhanced disclosure requirements when the aggregate sales price or amount of securities sold exceeds $5 million in any consecutive 12-month period.

2. Disclosure Requirements

1. For aggregate offerings equal to or less than $5 million, the company must deliver to the recipients only a copy of the compensatory benefit plan or compensation contract.

2. For aggregate offerings exceeding $5 million, the company must, in addition to a copy of the compensation plan/contract, provide in a reasonable amount of time prior to sale:

  • A summary of the material terms of the plan (or, if subject to ERISA, a copy of the summary plan description required by that Act);
  • Information about risk factors associated with the investment in the offered securities; and
  • Financial statements (prepared in accordance with GAAP) required by Part F/S of Form 1-A under Regulation A, including at a minimum the company’s latest balance sheet as well as statements of income, cash flows, and stockholder equity for the preceding two fiscal years (or for the period of the issuer’s existence, if less than such a period). Note that audited financial statements must be provided only if the company has already prepared them; the company need not undergo a financial audit to comply specifically with these disclosure requirements.

Conclusion

Rule 701 can be a very useful and relatively inexpensive tool for start-up companies wishing to provide equity compensation to their employees, directors, and others. There are no SEC reporting requirements, and the disclosure requirements are, in general, not particularly onerous. At the same time, the Rule does impose a number of limitations and exclusions which the company must carefully abide by. The company should always have a knowledgeable attorney to develop or review any proposed Rule 701 compensation plan to ensure compliance with its requirements.

This article is not a legal advice, and was written for general informational purposes only.  If you have questions or comments about the article or are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to contact its author, Arina Shulga.  Ms. Shulga is the founder of Shulga Law Firm, P.C., a New York-based boutique law firm specializing in advising individual and corporate clients on aspects of business, corporate, securities, and intellectual property law.

Participate In Chick-Fil-A Survey To Get Free Chicken Sandwich During Next Visit

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About Chick-Fil-A Feedback Survey:

Chick-Fil-A offers fast food like breakfast, kid’s meal, drinks, desserts, salad and wraps and many other food items. The Chick-Fil-A restaurant conducts a feedback survey online for its customer to get their feedbacks and experience so as to improve their food quality along with service. The major purpose behind gathering this feedback is to understand the need and wants of the customers and hence to solve the difficulties faced by their customers in easy manner. This company also provides a validation code as a significance of reward for participation after completing the survey. With the validation code on your receipt, you can able to get free sandwich during your next visit. The whole process related to the feedback survey will be completed within short time period. Moreover, the survey must be finished within 2 days from the day of visiting restaurant.

Requirements for Chick-fil-A Survey:

  1. You need to have computer with internet connection
  2. You need have receipt during your earlier visit to restaurant
  3. You must have read the conditions regarding participation

Instruction To Participate In Survey:

  • Visit the website my cfa visit via internet connectivity
  • In the homepage of the website, you will asked to choose the language like English or Spanish
  • Enter the serial code available in the receipt which you got during visiting restaurant for purchasing meal or any other eatable items for the restaurant
  • After that, click ‘start’ button to take up the survey.
  • The questions will be opened in the next page
  • Provide your answers to the questions asked and the questions will be relevant to your shopping experience
  • After finishing the survey, you will obtain justification code
  • After that use that code during your next visit to the restaurant to get free sandwich
  • Use the code before getting invalid.

Overall Verdict:

Company carries out online surveys for its customers to get feedback regarding their services and products which in turn assist the company to enhance the quality of their food services. The essential purchase behind conducting this survey is to acquire the level of satisfaction of their customer regarding their products and services that company provide to its customers. Those who take part in this survey will get exciting prices and free sandwich during your next visit to the restaurant. Take up the survey to provide your option and feedback and win free chicken sandwich at the time of next visit towards Chick-fil-A Restaurant.

We Have Fallen In Love With Ourselves

There are two reasons the advertising industry is besotted with the web

The corporate fat boys love it because it came along at exactly the right time to provide an exciting new thing to sell, just as the agency business was losing its mojo.

The rank and file love it because it is quickly becoming the most advertising and marketing-controlled medium in history.

We — the marketing industry — are running the web. It is the first major medium that is completely under the thumb of advertisers and marketers.

We used to have some control over TV and radio. Our advertising choices about what to support with our clients’ ad dollars influenced what programmers programmed. But we never had hands-on control of the actual content.

In radio and print media the same was true. We influenced the content with our buying, but we didn’t control or create the content.

Radio, tv, or print was always a medium first, and then a marketing vehicle. The web is not. The web is quickly evolving into a marketing vehicle first, and, oh yeah, it’s also a communication medium.

It is impossible to do anything on the web without being assaulted by marketing or advertising.

It was possible to watch 12 minutes of uninterrupted sitcom before a spot came on. You could sometimes listen to 5 songs in a row before you heard a radio spot. But not with the web.

You can’t go 30 seconds on the web without being interrupted.

I have commented previously on how the web has similarities to a super-charged Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages was a marketing gimmick masquerading as a medium. The web is becoming very much the same thing.

On the web, every move you make, every step you take, everything you watch or read is interrupted by advertising or marketing. We ad geeks love the web because we don’t just create the ads, we create the ocean they swim in. We’ve never before had this kind of power for our meager talents.

The web didn’t start this way. But it is evolving into a non-stop, always-on marketing circus. It’s what makes it nauseating, and — to us in the industry — irresistible.

The Good Things Offered by Forex Trading Alert

Forex trading alert is a snippet of information which is passed on to the forex trader in a way in which he can interpret it successfully and use it for trading in the forex market (read more at http://info.wreckbox.com). Fact is, the Forex trading alert comes in a wide range, nonetheless most of them are based on the standard tools of fundamental analysis and technical analysis.
There is huge difference among fundamental analysis and technical analysis. The former talks about utilization of tools like charts, graphs and other pictographs, while the latter, is all about formulas and mathematical concepts making sure that the trend in the market can be predicted. Examples of the formulas utilized in technical analysis are the correlation formula, the forex pivot points as well as the risk-reward ratio. With that in mind, the forex trader need to opt for forex alerts that is easy to interpret. In case a forex trader isn’t capable of analyzing the information presented, then there they will not be able to get the most out of the information. It is essential for a trader to understand the technicalities in forex trading alert.  
The forex trading alert can determine various trends like the volatility, risk management, currency movements and also the future market trend. The movement in the currency can be estimated by estimating both the opening and the closing prices of a particular currency on a previous day so that it can be contrasted appropriately with the prices for that day.  
While the risk management is calculated by a risk probability calculator. Within this, it will be easy for a trader to know the risks involved and will have an idea on how much the gains and loses will be.   Lastly, the trading alert is a great tool in a forex trader’s arsenal which would guide him on a way to success by aiding him to conclude rewarding deals and reap a rich reward in return. So what are you waiting for? Get the Forex Trading Alert Program today!  You can be guaranteed that things will get better!

JOHN RETALLACK

is a photographic artist from Rochester, New York.

John has an extensive and varied career in the photographic arts.   Since working in arts education at The School of Visual Arts NYC and Rochester Institute of Technology, School of Photographic Arts & Sciences, John now devotes his time and talents to his own freelance commercial and fine art photography projects.   John has participated consistently in  public exhibitions since 1973 with works in numerous publications and private and public collections including Wallace Memorial Library Archives, George Eastman House, Monroe Community Hospital, Russian Fine Art Photographers Union and Iron County Museum.
John explains himself on his website in 10 points:
1. Born in Michigan’s Upper Peninsular:  Became a Yooper.
2. Got his first camera, age 10
3. Joined a MASH unit (US Army) and was trained as an X-Ray technician
4. Stationed in Germany during the Cold War
5. Studied photography at Rochester Institute of Technology, BFA Degree
6. Freelanced in New York City shooting magazines & ad agencies
7. Began teaching career at the School of Visual Arts in NYC
8. Accepted a teaching position at RIT which led to Tenure in the
School of Photographic Arts & Sciences
9. Quit working at RIT (early retirement)
10. Continues freelancing in photography, doing things he’s always wanted to do.
John’s contribution to the Personal Histories exhibition is a touching and intriguing entry entitled
“All My Love, Mike”.
It is a collection of images and text on loose pages housed in a hand made clam-shell box.
“Dad was drafted in 1942.  He was a surgeon.  First he was sent to Texas to train with other doctors in an Army Hospital unit.  Mom followed him there.  When he was sent to the South Pacific she went back home to Michigan.  For Christmas in 1944 she traveled to Denver to stay with relatives for a few months.  Every day, as much as possible, they exchanged letters.  Mom would enclose pictures, mostly of their new son, me, which he was eager to see.
 
After their deaths, within a few months of each other, I found Dad’s letters and Mom’s pictures hidden in separate places.  The pictures I examined immediately but held the letters for years before I was able to read them.  This book is a tribute to the love, respect and longing I witnessed in the letters.
 
 
This book was created in 2014 over a period of about 3 months.  I am responsible for all scanning, photography and assembly.  After some deliberation I decided that the pages should be loose and in a box as the original letters and pictures were.
 
The text was scanned from letters to my mother (70 total) covering dates from September 1944 to February 1945 (the only ones I have).  The pictures were scanned from snapshots found in a book where Dad had kept them.  The backgrounds used in some of the pages were created in the studio.  Text, pictures and backgrounds were assembled and printed from InDesign and printed to archival standards.  The box was created with Canapetta Bookcloth and Flanders British Tan bonded leather, also to archival standards.”
ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT OF THE ARTIST – JOHN RETALLACK

Feature Artist – JEN CONDE

JEN CONDE

is an artist and graphic designer living on a pacific coastal waterway south of Brisbane, Australia.

She exhibits prints, paintings and artists books in her solo and group exhibitions held across Australia and internationally.  She has won various awards, including ‘Best of Show’, Rotary Art Spectacular 2008, ‘Best Overall’, Aveo Art Show 2010 and has work in the National Gallery of Australia print collection.

Jen has illustrated a number of books for local authors and is an active member of local artists and writers groups.

She holds a Diploma of Fine Arts from the Brisbane Institute of Art and a Diploma of Visual Communications from the Queensland College of Art.

Jen’s  contribution to the Personal Histories exhibition  is a mixed media and calligraphy artists book made on Hahnemühle 250gsm paper entitled “The Netmaker”:

My artist book is about a poem written by early Brisbane poet, teacher and opera critic ‘Val Vallis’ (1916-2008). 

Val Vallis gave me permission to use his poem “The Netmaker” which is about his father, a fishing net maker who worked as a wharf lumper and fisherman.  “The Netmaker” is the poet’s lyric ode to the memories of his father mending and making his nets.  Val died a few years ago and this exhibition is a good opportunity to remember him and his poetry but also because the poem is about his own father and the nets he made. 

ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT OF THE ARTIST:  JEN CONDE

 

An Epidemic of Tunnel Vision

Something has become very obvious in the past 10 or so years.  At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, I’ll just generalize and say it has to do with people younger than me.  I say this because I can’t quite pinpoint where it begins.

Younger people,  with the GAZILLIONS of tech devices they have  at their fingertips, have become victims of a severe form of historical tunnel vision.  When I say history, I don’t mean history like in  history books.  Not the type of history you were tested on in school– although with the cuts and changes in school curriculums, social studies lessons are severely lacking– but that’s a rant for another day.  I call it tunnel vision because  it seems to me, that many times younger people don’t look beyond the tunnel of their own lives and experiences, or those of their immediate contemporaries.

The type of history I refer to is pop culture history; movie history, TV history, music history, etc.  Anything that has occurred beyond 10 years ago, if you bring it up in conversation, results in the faces of those you are engaged in conversation with to either glaze over, or screw up in  such a way as if to say…”What are you, like 100?”

For the record, I’m not 100, I’m not even 50.  When did younger people check out of society to the point where,  if something did not exist before they were born, they have no knowledge of it, or better yet, have a distain for it!  I am not silly enough to generalize and say ALL younger people are afflicted with this lack of sociological awareness .  Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about teenagers.  By their very definition, teenagers are supposed to look at you like something from the caveman days if you’re over 25.  No, I’m talking about twenty somethings, and sorry to say, once in a while a thirty something.

I don’t expect younger people to know about aspects of the culture from my generation as well

Ella Fitzgerald

as Ido, because they did not experience it.  The same can be said for my parent’s generation,  and their parent’s,  and so on and so on.  HOWEVER,  I have some sort of working knowledge of people, events, and things from before my time.   Was I around to know of the first movie stars?  No, but I am familiar with some of their names.   Do I view silent movies on a regular basis?  No, but I’ve seen a few of  them.  Do I only  read books exclusively  by Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald,  Lewis Carroll, Emily Bronte…stop me I’m on a roll…when I have not been required to read them?  Not exclusively, but I have re-read many of them after leaving school. What’s a victrola?  An early record player….ipod.   What’s a wringer washer?  An early washing machine…no dryers, clotheslines!  Do you know what ragtime music is, or scat, or big band?   Can you name any of the most famous musicians or singers of the 30s, 40s, or 50s?  Do you know Doris Day, Scott Joplin or Ella Fitzgerald?
I try to keep this in perspective and think of when I was their age, and go back 20 years.  Did I  SERIOUSLY know about anything  I’m ranting about at that age.  YES.

I can’t with a clear conscience blame the younger people.  Who, you may ask, do I blame?   Maybe I should whisper this so as not to tick off my own generation… I blame their parents!  Excuse my while I speak to them exclusively.  “Hey you guys, when did you stop talking to your kids about your life?”  The music, movies, books, TV and movie stars, news events, new inventions, anything that happened in our time…did you ever talk to your kids about it?  Did your  parents ever talk to them about the same things of their generation?

 

Okay, I know, they walked away, eyes rolling like an out of control slot machine, tongues clicking like a yard full of chickens… I’ve heard and seen it all.  WHO CARES!! DO IT ANYWAY!!  Someday, when they are older, someone older than they will attempt to have an intelligent conversation with them, and they will be able to connect with that person because YOU, their WONDERFUL PARENTS imparted the wisdom of your generation on them, and made them better for it.
How did I begin to know about the things of historical pop culture?  My parents and grandparents.  My aunts,  uncles, older friends of my parents.  At parties, or when anyone stopped over to visit, I would sit quietly and listen.  If you’re quiet enough, adults forget you’re there and they say things and talk about things they might not have if you were being a pest and becoming very high maintenance.

My family talked about their lives, past and present.  Some of it boring, some of it PRETTY, PRETTY GOOD!  People talking, and people listening….a lost art.

So, what is the bottom line?  Parents and grandparents,  talk to younger people about your lives.  Let them know how great, or not so great it was “way back then..”  Yes, the young people will fidget, roll their eyes, maybe not believe you.  Keep at it, they need it.  It will rub off!

Kids, don’t be so quick to take off and just be on your own at multi generational gatherings.

Be respectful, be helpful and ASK QUESTIONS!!  Older people LOVE to talk about the old days.  Ask them what they liked to read, watch and listen to when they were your age.  Not familiar with who or what they’re talking about?  Now is the chance to take what you’re good at…technology…and use it to become fascinating and a sparkling conversationalist.   Google it, watch it on YouTube,  read about it on your e-readers!  Then when you’re in a conversation with someone more than 10 years older than you, maybe even an employer, you can sound like an intelligent, well rounded individual.  GET OUT OF THE TUNNEL and LIVE!
About the Author
Histories for Kids, Inc.
Laura Lynch
http://www.historiesforkids.com 

tales@historiesforkids.com

https://twitter.com/Hist_4_Kids

Terry and Laura Lynch have combined their careers of performance and education
to develop interactive historical portrayal  children’s programs, for school, libraries,
historical societies and park districts that not only educate but entertain.

The one man, interactive presentations give audiences a new, first person perspective
on the people and events that make up our history and culture.

Find out about our latest presentations and workshops.
Remember, history happens when you least expect it! 

Silent Heroes

There are many “silent female heroes” in American history.  We are all familiar with the celebrated women; Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Wilma Rudolph have been documented in history.
However, there are quite a few women whose accomplishments are not as well known.  One of these women was Mary Katherine Goddard.  Born in 1738, Mary Katherine Goddard was a newspaper publisher, printer, and postmaster.

After the death of her father, Mary Katherine began working in her brother’s print shop in

Rhode Island.  The family moved to Philadelphia in 1768, where her brother published the Pennsylvania Chronicle. In 1773, Mary Katherine’s brother started a new printing business in Baltimore and began Baltimore’s first newspaper, the Maryland Journal. In February 1774, the Philadelphia shop closed and Mary Katherine moved to Baltimore to take over the new shop and newspaper.   Even though she had been running the paper for many years, it wasn’t until 1775 when the Maryland Journal officially changed the colophon to read:  Published by M.K. Goddard.

During the Revolutionary War, Mary Katherine Goddard was the only printer in Maryland!  The first copies of the Declaration of Independence with the names of all of the famous signers were from Mary Katherine’s press.

In 1775, Mary Katherine was only female postmaster in office when the Second Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General of the United Colonies.  This made her the first female postmaster in the United Colonies.  She held the office for fourteen years until October 1789 when the Postmaster General at the time, Samuel Osgood, said that the job required someone who could visit and oversee the Southern department of the postal system. He believed the job of postmaster involved more traveling than a woman could handle. Despite the loss of her position, Mary Katherine was held in such high regard, that two hundred of the leading businessmen of Baltimore endorsed her petition to the Postmaster General be reinstated.

Although the petition was denied, Mary Katherine went on to own her own her own bookshop until  1802.  She died in 1816, a woman who was a champion for freedom of speech and for the rights of women.

About the Author

Histories for Kids, Inc.
Laura Lynch
http://www.historiesforkids.com
tales@historiesforkids.com
@Hist_4_Kids

Terry and Laura Lynch have combined their careers of performance and education to develop interactive historical portrayal children’s programs for school, libraries,  historical societies and park districts that not only educate, but entertain.

The one man, interactive performances give audiences a new, first person perspective on the people and events that make up our history and culture.

Find out about our latest presentations.
Remember, history happens when you least expect it!

Civics Education: A Responsibility of Citizenship

Once upon a time, long, long ago, civics education was a part of the curriculum for American students.  They were required to know the principals of American Democracy, the system of government, rights and responsibilities of being an American citizen, and geography,  as well as what we would recognize today as a basic U.S. History class.
At that time, students also discussed current event freely from a Constitutional perspective.  While that was the norm 50 or 60 years ago, after the end of the 1960s, the tide began to turn on civics education.  It came to be seen as indoctrinating students, and a compromising of and individual’s rights.

Another contributing factor to the decline in civics education was the American quest for individuality.  Toward the end of the 1960s and early 1970s, discussions with students on current events were becoming increasingly difficult.   According to Professor Eric Lane of the Hoffstra Law School, “A discussion on topics such as the war in Vietnam, black power, women’s rights, affirmative action, and even presidential politics was likely, at least in the educator’s eyes, to create disruptions rather than understanding.  Today however,  with cuts in funding, No Child Left Behind, and Common Core curriculum, civics, let alone U.S. History gets lost in the testing shuffle.

 

What can be done? In these days of political accountability, in has become increasingly important for students to “know their civics”.  It serves as a ruler by which we can measure the conduct of our elected officials.

 

It’s time to give a little bit of that ‘Ol Time Civics back to the American students.  Students should begin their civics instruction as soon as they begin reading.  Even a youngster as young as 5 or 6 can understand the meaning of being a good citizen.  Whether it is by throwing trash away and keeping parks tidy, or obeying a stop sign at a corner, if they can master video games, they can master good citizenship.

 

In 2014, Arizona became the first state to pass the Civics Education Initiative.
The Civics Education Initiative requires high school students, as a condition of graduation, to take and pass the USCIS Citizenship Civics Test—the test all new immigrants must pass before becoming citizens.

It’s a step in the right direction.  It only makes sense that if the people who weren’t born
in this country can pass the test, the citizens born here should pass it, too.  It is the goal of the Civics Education Initiative to have all 50 states pass the education legislation by September 17, 2017, the 230 anniversary of the United States Constitution.  What a way to celebrate!




About the Author

Histories for Kids, Inc.
Laura Lynch
http://www.historiesforkids.com
hfktales@gmail.com
@Hist_4_Kids

Terry and Laura Lynch have combined their careers of performance and education to develop interactive historical portrayal children’s programs for school, libraries,  historical societies and park districts that not only educate, but entertain.

The one man, interactive performances give audiences a new, first person perspective on the people and events that make up our history and culture.

Find out about our latest presentations.
Remember, history happens when you least expect it!

Scandinavia and the World: The History of Nations

Today my girlfriend showed me this great webcomic called Scandinavia and the World, which, much to her chagrin, I spent a lot of my evening reading. It really is quite funny, using characters for different countries and smaller political entities of northern Europe and making jokes about history, stereotypes and current events, as well as a creative storyline.

SatW’s main characters

Like I said, I spent a lot of today reading the comic, and I finished the entire thing. From it, I actually learned quite a bit of historical anecdotes and other fun facts, as well as statuses and stereotypes of non-national entities like Greenland, the Faeroes, Scania, the Alands and Bornholm. (I did previously know a bit about such places, and Scandinavian history, but there’s a lot you can learn from a Danish artist.)

However, there was something I thought about quite a bit while reading the comic, and that was how tempting – but misleading – it can be to portray history through personalized national figures. Of course, it’s not my intention to criticize a funny website, and indeed I would bet that when I was younger I would have given a lot to be capable, artistically and otherwise, of doing this kind of work. The broader point I’m trying to make is that telling stories of how one country did something to another country or this country liked that country more – such stories are completely illegitimate from a serious historical perspective. To really learn how history worked, you can’t turn nations into individuals; instead, you have to focus on individuals and move beyond nations entirely.

Histories of Nations: How their Identities were Forged

When I was a young history undergraduate I attended a riveting lecture by that brilliant and charismatic medievalist Walter Ullmann, an Austrian immigrant to Britain and one of the world’s great experts on the papacy. He was speaking about the so-called Donation of Constantine, an infamous document of dubious origin whereby imperial Rome was purported to have ceded authority to the Church. Ullmann painted a vivid picture of the clash between political and spiritual power in early medieval Europe, homed in on the Donation and concluded with a gleeful rhetorical flourish: ‘This,’ he exclaimed, ‘was how the supreme authority of the medieval papacy was forged!’ We students couldn’t avoid a silent giggle at the double-entendre.

A great deal of what passes for history might be said to be forged. Or, at least, the facts of the past constantly reconstrued to fit changing perspectives. And this is particularly true of national histories. Was Russia (or ‘Rus’) the creation of Norsemen? Yes, if – like Peter the Great and his successors – you are a determined westerniser; emphatically not to centuries of equally adamant Slavophiles. Has it been right for historians of ‘France’ to incorporate events that occurred long ago in Provence? Was the Risorgimento an heroic uprising against Austria that united Italians in their aspirations for a nation state, or a civil war in which the chief loser was the papacy? For some nations, such as India, the early record is sparse (and its history mostly written by foreigners), so one can understand the need to resort to myth; in China, by contrast, a continuous historiographical tradition going back to ancient times has been recurrently invoked by regimes seeking ancestral reinforcement. In the US historians have often presented their nation as having been unique, a new kind of state transcending the historical processes and transformations of others.

These and similar issues pop up throughout Peter Furtado’s immaculately edited and superbly illustrated new book. It can have been no easy task to co-ordinate the efforts of 28 historians from around the world, each contributing a chapter about his or her own ‘nation’ and its history, but it is one for which Furtado, a former editor of History Today, is well equipped. One suspects he ruled his roost with a light hand and a finicky reader might carp about variable definitions of nationhood and of the time periods considered. ‘Egypt’ begins some 4,000 years ago but the chapter contains little about shifts in Egyptian historiography, while ‘Japan’ has interesting material about the nation’s alternating bouts of exceptionalism and modernity but goes back no further than Admiral Perry in 1853.

Minor reservations aside, there is no doubt about the timeliness of this volume. In recent decades a number of fierce ‘history wars’ have broken out in which revisionist scholars have attempted to pin new interpretations of the past onto hitherto accepted national narratives. Thirty years ago Australian history was widely interpreted as starting in 1788; today that has been pushed back 40,000 years or more. In Germany, where some solace was formerly achieved by regarding the Hitler regime as a 12-year aberration, recent scholarship has explained Nazism as the culmination of a far longer historical process, one that led, moreover, to unimaginable suffering not only by the victims of German aggression but also by millions of ordinary Germans. In Spain civil war historians have increasingly come to highlight the atrocities of the Franco regime, while in Israel controversial prominence has recently been given to brutalities committed against the Arab foe during the nation’s war of independence (or Nakba – ‘day of catastrophe’ – depending on your perspective). Turkey, like Britain, a nation whose history is deeply marked by the ambivalent legacy of a former empire, agonises over alternative readings of the massacre of its Armenian minority after the First World War; while Russia, nationally re-assertive, gives renewed emphasis to the leadership of Stalin in helping achieve victory in the Second.

All these nations and many more are represented in this rich and multi-layered volume. Like all histories those about nations (including our own) evidently seem to involve a never-ending job of – not forgery exactly – let’s call it ‘reconstruction’.

Daniel Snowman’s books include a study of the ‘Hitler Emigres’ and The Gilded Stage: A Social History of Opera (Atlantic, 2010)

The Mariner’s Rule

One of the things my readers ask me most often, in response to this blog’s exploration of the ongoing decline and impending fall of modern industrial civilization, is what I suggest people ought to do about it all. It’s a valid question, and it deserves a serious answer.

Now of course not everyone who asks the question is interested in the answers I have to offer. A great many people, for example, are only interested in answers that will allow them to keep on enjoying the absurd extravagance that passed, not too long ago, for an ordinary lifestyle among the industrial world’s privileged classes, and is becoming just a little bit less ordinary with every year that slips by. To such people I have nothing to say. Those lifestyles were only possible because the world’s industrial nations burnt through half a billion years of stored sunlight in a few short centuries, and gave most of the benefits of that orgy of consumption to a relatively small fraction of their population; now that easily accessible reserves of fossil fuels are running short, the party’s over.

Yes, I’m quite aware that that’s a controversial statement. I field heated denunciations on a regular basis insisting that it just ain’t so, that solar energy or fission or perpetual motion or something will allow the industrial world’s privileged classes to have their planet and eat it too. Printer’s ink being unfashionable these days, a great many electrons have been inconvenienced on the internet to proclaim that this or that technology must surely allow the comfortable to remain comfortable, no matter what the laws of physics, geology, or economics have to say. Now of course the only alternative energy sources that have been able to stay in business even in a time of sky-high oil prices are those that can count on gargantuan government subsidies to pay their operating expenses; equally, the alternatives receive an even more gigantic “energy subsidy” from fossil fuels, which make them look much more economical than they otherwise would. Such reflections carry no weight with those whose sense of entitlement makes living with less unthinkable.

I’m glad to say that there are fair number of people who’ve gotten past that unproductive attitude, who have grasped the severity of the crisis of our time and are ready to accept unwelcome change in order to secure a livable future for our descendants. They want to know how we can pull modern civilization out of its current power dive and perpetuate it into the centuries ahead. I have no answers for them, either, because that’s not an option at this stage of the game; we’re long past the point at which decline and fall can be avoided, or even ameliorated on any large scale.

A decade ago, a team headed by Robert Hirsch and funded by the Department of Energy released a study outlining what would have to be done in order to transition away from fossil fuels before they transitioned away from us. What they found, to sketch out too briefly the findings of a long and carefully worded study, is that in order to avoid massive disruption, the transition would have to begin twenty years before conventional petroleum production reached its peak and began to decline. There’s a certain irony in the fact that 2005, the year this study was published, was also the year when conventional petroleum production peaked; the transition would thus have had to begin in 1985—right about the time, that is, that the Reagan administration in the US and its clones overseas were scrapping the promising steps toward just such a transition.

A transition that got under way in 2005, in other words, would have been too late, and given the political climate, it probably would have been too little as well. Even so, it would have been a much better outcome than the one we got, in which most of us have spent the last ten years insisting that we don’t have to worry about depleting oilfields because fracking was going to save us all. At this point, thirty years after the point at which we would have had to get started, it’s all very well to talk about some sort of grand transition to sustainability, but the time when such a thing would have been possible came and went decades ago. We could have chosen that path, but we didn’t, and insisting thirty years after the fact that we’ve changed our minds and want a different future than the one we chose isn’t likely to make any kind of difference that matters.

So what options does that leave? In the minds of a great many people, at least in the United States, the choice that apparently comes first to mind involves buying farmland in some isolated rural area and setting up a homestead in the traditional style. Many of the people who talk enthusiastically about this option, to be sure, have never grown anything more demanding than a potted petunia, know nothing about the complex and demanding arts of farming and livestock raising, and aren’t in anything like the sort of robust physical condition needed to handle the unremitting hard work of raising food without benefit of fossil fuels; thus it’s a safe guess that in most of these cases, heading out to the country is simply a comforting daydream that serves to distract attention from the increasingly bleak prospects so many people are facing in the age of unraveling upon us.

There’s a long history behind such daydreams. Since colonial times, the lure of the frontier has played a huge role in the American imagination, providing any number of colorful inkblots onto which fantasies of a better life could be projected. Those of my readers who are old enough to remember the aftermath of the Sixties counterculture, when a great many young people followed that dream to an assortment of hastily created rural communes, will also recall the head-on collision between middle-class fantasies of entitlement and the hard realities of rural subsistence farming that generally resulted. Some of the communes survived, though many more did not; that I know of, none of the surviving ones made it without a long and difficult period of readjustment in which romantic notions of easy living in the lap of nature got chucked in favor of a more realistic awareness of just how little in the way of goods and services a bunch of untrained ex-suburbanites can actually produce by their own labor.

In theory, that process of reassessment is still open. In practice, just at the moment, I’m far from sure it’s an option for anyone who’s not already traveled far along that road. The decline and fall of modern industrial civilization, it bears repeating, is not poised somewhere off in the indefinite future, waiting patiently for us to get ready for it before it puts in an appearance; it’s already happening at the usual pace, and the points I’ve raised in posts here over the last few weeks suggest that the downward slope is probably going to get a lot steeper in the near future. As the collapse of the fracking bubble ripples out through the financial sphere, most of us are going to be scrambling to adapt, and the chances of getting everything lined up in time to move to rural property, get the necessary equipment and supplies to start farming, and get past the worst of the learning curve before crunch time arrives are not good.

If you’re already on a rural farm, in other words, by all means pursue the strategy that put you there. If your plans to get the necessary property, equipment, and skills are well advanced at this point, you may still be able to make it, but you’d probably better get a move on. On the other hand, dear reader, if your rural retreat is still off there in the realm of daydreams and good intentions, it’s almost certainly too late to do much about it, and where you are right now is probably where you’ll be when the onrushing waves of crisis come surging up and break over your head.

That being the case, are there any options left other than hiding under the bed and hoping that the end will be relatively painless? As it happens, there are.

The point that has to be understood to make sense of those options is that in the real world, as distinct from Hollywood-style disaster fantasies, the end of a civilization follows the famous rule attributed to William Gibson: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” Put another way, the impacts of decline and fall aren’t uniform; they vary in intensity over space and time, and they impact particular systems of a falling civilization at different times and in different ways. If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, and depend on the wrong systems to support you, your chances aren’t good, but the places, times, and systems that take the brunt of the collapse aren’t random. To some extent, those can be anticipated, and some of them can also be avoided.

Here’s an obvious example. Right now, if your livelihood depends on the fracking industry, the tar sands industry, or any of the subsidiary industries that feed into those, your chances of getting through 2015 with your income intact are pretty minimal. People in those industries who got to witness earlier booms and busts know this, and a good many of them are paying off their debts, settling any unfinished business they might have, and making sure they can cover a tank of gas or a plane ticket to get back home when the bottom falls out. People in those industries who don’t have that experience to guide them, and are convinced that nothing bad can actually happen to them, are not doing these things, and are likely to end up in a world of hurt when their turn comes.

They’re not the only ones who would benefit right now from taking such steps. A very large part of the US banking and finance industry has been flying high on bloated profits from an assortment of fracking-related scams, ranging from junk bonds through derivatives to exotic financial fauna such as volumetric production payments. Now that the goose that laid the golden eggs is bobbing feet upwards in a pond of used fracking fluid, the good times are coming to a sudden stop, and that means sharply reduced income for those junior bankers, brokers, and salespeople who can keep their jobs, and even more sharply reduced prospects for those who don’t.

They’ve got plenty of company on the chopping block. The entire retail sector in the US is already in trouble, with big-box stores struggling for survival and shopping malls being abandoned, and the sharp economic downturn we can expect as the fracking bust unfolds will likely turn that decline into freefall, varying in intensity by region and a galaxy of other factors. Those who brace themselves for a hard landing now are a good deal more likely to make it than those who don’t, and those who have the chance to jump to something more stable now would be well advised to make the leap.

That’s one example; here’s another. I’ve written here in some detail about how anthropogenic climate change will wallop North America in the centuries ahead of us. One thing that’s been learned from the last few years of climate vagaries is that North America, at least, is shifting in exactly the way paleoclimatic data would suggest—more or less the same way it did during warm periods over the last ten or twenty million years. The short form is that the Southwest and mountain West are getting baked to a crackly crunch under savage droughts; the eastern Great Plains, Midwest, and most of the South are being hit by a wildly unstable climate, with bone-dry dry years alternating with exceptionally soggy wet ones; while the Appalachians and points eastward have been getting unsteady temperatures but reliable rainfall. Line up your choice of subsistence strategies next to those climate shifts, and if you still have the time and resources to relocate, you have some idea where to go.

All this presumes, of course, that what we’re facing has much more in common with the crises faced by other civilizations on their way to history’s compost heap than it does with the apocalyptic fantasies so often retailed these days as visions of the immediate future. I expect to field a flurry of claims that it just ain’t so, that everything I’ve just said is wasted breath because some vast and terrible whatsit will shortly descend on the whole world and squash us like bugs. I can utter that prediction with perfect confidence, because I’ve been fielding such claims over and over again since long before this blog got started. All the dates by which the world was surely going to end have rolled past without incident, and the inevitable cataclysms have pulled one no-show after another, but the shrill insistence that something of the sort really will happen this time around has shown no sign of letting up. Nor will it, since the unacceptable alternative consists of taking responsibility for doing something about the future.

Now of course I’ve already pointed out that there’s not much that can be done about the future on the largest scale. As the fracking bubble implodes, the global economy shudders, the climate destabilizes, and a dozen other measures of imminent crisis head toward the red zone on the gauge, it’s far too late in the day for much more than crisis management on a local and individual level. Even so, crisis management is a considerably more useful response than sitting on the sofa daydreaming about the grandiose project that’s certain to save us or the grandiose cataclysm that’s certain to annihilate us—though these latter options are admittedly much more comfortable in the short term.

What’s more, there’s no shortage of examples in relatively recent history to guide the sort of crisis management I have in mind. The tsunami of discontinuities that’s rolling toward us out of the deep waters of the future may be larger than the waves that hit the Western world with the coming of the First World War in 1914, the Great Depression in 1929, or the Second World War in 1939, but from the perspective of the individual, the difference isn’t as vast as it might seem. In fact, I’d encourage my readers to visit their local public libraries and pick up books about the lived experience of those earlier traumas. I’d also encourage those with elderly relatives who still remember the Second World War to sit down with them over a couple of cups of whatever beverage seems appropriate, and ask about what it was like on a day-by-day basis to watch their ordinary peacetime world unravel into chaos.

I’ve had the advantage of taking part in such conversations, and I’ve also done a great deal of reading about historical crises that have passed below the horizon of living memory. There are plenty of lessons to be gained from such sources, and one of the most important also used to be standard aboard sailing ships in the days before steam power. Sailors in those days had to go scrambling up the rigging at all hours and in all weathers to set, reef, or furl sails; it was not an easy job—imagine yourself up in the rigging of a tall ship in the middle of a howling storm at night, clinging to tarred ropes and slick wood and trying to get a mass of wet, heavy, wind-whipped canvas to behave, while below you the ship rolls from side to side and swings you out over a raging ocean and back again. If you slip and you’re lucky, you land on deck with a pretty good chance of breaking bones or worse; if you slip and you’re not lucky, you plunge straight down into churning black water and are never seen again.

The rule that sailors learned and followed in those days was simple: “One hand for yourself, one hand for the ship.” Every chore that had to be done up there in the rigging could be done by a gang of sailors who each lent one hand to the effort, so the other could cling for dear life to the nearest rope or ratline. Those tasks that couldn’t be done that way, such as hauling on ropes, took place down on the deck—the rigging was designed with that in mind. There were emergencies where that rule didn’t apply, and even with the rule in place there were sailors who fell from the rigging to their deaths, but as a general principle it worked tolerably well.

I’d like to propose that the same rule might be worth pursuing in the crisis of our age. In the years to come, a great many of us will face the same kind of scramble for survival that so many others faced in the catastrophes of the early 20th century. Some of us won’t make it, and some will have to face the ghastly choice between sheer survival and everything else they value in life. Not everyone, though, will land in one or the other of those categories, and many those who manage to stay out of them will have the chance to direct time and energy toward the broader picture.

Exactly what projects might fall into that latter category will differ from one person to another, for reasons that are irreducibly personal. I’m sure there are plenty of things that would motivate you to action in desperate times, dear reader, that would leave me cold, and of course the reverse is also true—and in times of crisis, of the kind we’re discussing, it’s personal factors of that sort that make the difference, not abstract considerations of the sort we might debate here. I’ll be discussing a few of the options in upcoming posts, but I’d also encourage readers of this blog to reflect on the question themselves: in the wreck of industrial civilization, what are you willing to make an effort to accomplish, to defend, or to preserve?

In thinking about that, I’d encourage my readers to consider the traumatic years of the early 20th century as a model for what’s approaching us. Those who were alive when the first great wave of dissolution hit in 1914 weren’t facing forty years of continuous cataclysm; as noted here repeatedly, collapse is a fractal process, and unfolds in real time as a sequence of crises of various kinds separated by intervals of relative calm in which some level of recovery is possible. It’s pretty clear that the first round of trouble here in the United States, at least, will be a major economic crisis; at some point not too far down the road, the yawning gap between our senile political class and the impoverished and disaffected masses promises the collapse of politics as usual and a descent into domestic insurgency or one of the other standard patterns by which former democracies destroy themselves; as already noted, there are plenty of other things bearing down on us—but after an interval, things will stabilize again.

Then it’ll be time to sort through the wreckage, see what’s been saved and what can be recovered, and go on from there. First, though, we have a troubled time to get through.