Illegal Immigrants Stealing Our Food

Oregonians have long complained about Californians invading their state, driving up property values, crowding state parks, even trying to pump their own gas. Now there is a new threat: predators from California have invaded the Willamette River and are eating the salmon as they try to make their way up the river to spawn.

Blame Richard Nixon. The President signed the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972. Since then the population of California sea lions has more than quadrupled, from around 70,000 to 300,000. Its cousin, the Steller sea lion, has increased its population from 30,000 to 70,000. By the late 1980s, sea lions were preying on fish runs at the Ballard Locks in Seattle. For years the invaders have been eating so many Columbia River salmon there has been debate about what to do with them – should their numbers be reduced by “euthanizing” some?

Biologists estimate that California sea lions ate at least 18 percent of returning adult steelhead through the first two months of this year. Adding insult to injury, about twenty-five California sea lions have made their home in the Willamette River near Portland. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife captured and transported three of them to the ocean near Newport. They swam the 230 miles back in less than four days.

Maybe they should be deported to Pier 39 at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, where the tourists think they’re cute. Or Sea Lion Caves near Florence Oregon where tourists pay money to climb down 250 stairs to watch them play. Then we could find out how much they really like Salmon.


Penzey’s and Jefferson Davis and Memphis

The Tennessee legislature is digging in on its determination to punish the city of Memphis removing statues glorifying Confederates Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest. The state House of Representatives refused to reconsider taking back $250,000 allocated to the city for its bicentennial celebration. It also stiffened penalties for violations of the so-called “Tennessee Heritage Protection Act.”

Republican Rep Andy Holt stated, “My only regret about this is that it’s not to the tune of millions of dollars,” adding the state has been “very generous” to Memphis. He argued taking down the statues, “is wrong because it removes history, which is what ISIS does.”

A GoFundMe account by University of Memphis graduate Brittney Block has raised more than $69,500 to offset the loss of the money.

Bill Penzey, CEO of Penzey’s Spices, who makes a habit of infuriating right-wingers, sent the following in an e-mail to customers last week:

You may have heard the news last week that the Republican-led Tennessee State House voted to cut $250,000 in funding to next year’s Memphis Bicentennial celebration as a punishment for the city of Memphis legally removing two Civil War-themed statues. Seriously. This whole thing where, in parts of America, and Penzeys own backyard is no exception, that racists feel free to be openly racist because only those on the receiving end of racism should pay its price has to end.

If you are upset with the removal of a 1964 statue putting Jefferson Davis on a pedestal you aren’t fooling anyone. The idea of looking up to the leader of the terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of over one million Americans in their quest to keep race-based enslavement legal is not an idea for this century or any other for that matter. The time where politicians can claim to be American while doing their best to destroy American values has to be at an end. No more free passes.

We here at Penzeys, for a long time now, have really liked Bicentennials and really disliked racism, so this seemed a natural spot to try and pitch in to help make up for a slice of this quarter million dollar shortfall. Even though there’s not much money in selling $4.45 Ozark Seasonings for $2, and Memphis is technically just east of where the Ozarks begin, in the spirit of tastiness knowing no borders, we will donate $1 for each $2 1/4-cup Ozark sold during the length of the run of this offer.

Through yesterday we’ve sold 14,978 $2 Ozarks so we are already committed to $14,978 in Memphis Bicentennial support. As of yesterday we still had 14,584 1/4-cup Ozarks pre-positioned in our stores, and 6,000 at the ready in our warehouse.

Meanwhile, Memphis officials say they had no idea the Legislature had offered or removed the money until it happened. Even though they acknowledge the funding would have been helpful, they never asked the state to provide it and weren’t counting on it.

Charles Portis and Katrina Whalen Talk Service

The Oxford American magazine recently celebrated the fifty-year anniversary of the publication of True Grit. The novel is Charles Portis’s best-known work, due in no small part to the film versions released in 1969 (John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby) and 2010 (Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld). The weekend event took place in Little Rock Arkansas, the author’s home town. The agenda included screenings of both movies, readings by writers who are also Portis fans, panel discussions with critics, educators and film experts, and seminars about the novel’s settings: Fort Smith AR and Oklahoma “Indian Territory.” A variety show, featuring singer Iris DeMent, rounded out the entertainment.

One of the panels included filmmaker Katrina Whalen who discussed the challenges of translating Portis’s work to the screen. Whalen’s short film, an adaptation of a Portis short story, was shown.

“I Don’t Talk Service No More” was published in 1996. The story is narrated by the resident of a “nut house.” He tells of his late-night phone calls trying to reconnect with his buddies in the combat unit he served with decades earlier in Korea. Katrina Whalen wrote the screenplay and directed the nine-minute picture. The film captures the mood of Portis’s story and brings alive the narrator’s dialog.


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Revisited

The vast collection of garbage, mostly plastic, floating in the earth’s oceans is growing even faster than expected. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is more than twice the size of Texas. It could take centuries – 80,000 years, by one estimate – to clean it up. Boyan Slat, a 24-year-old college drop-out, thinks he has a better idea.

Six years ago, the teen-aged Slat presented a TED talk outlining his plan to collect the debris. He says he can gather up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years. Putting money where his mouth is, he crowdfunded $2.2 million and is now the CEO of the non-profit firm Ocean Cleanup. Slat has subsequently raised more than $30 million from other investors, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. (Perhaps as repentance for Salesforce’s giant dildo office tower that now dominates the San Francisco skyline.)

Ocean Cleanup is launching its initial project, a 2,000 foot long floating tube. The giant tube was assembled at a former naval air station in Alameda, on the San Francisco Bay. The tube is flexible enough to ride with the waves and bend into a U shape, but also rigid enough to stop floating plastic. Attached below is a nylon screen to catch submerged plastic debris, without entangling marine life. Heavy anchors make it move more slowly in the ocean’s current than the plastic it’s gathering. Ocean Cleanup expects this pilot project to entrap and bring ashore five tons of plastic trash per month… a good start on the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the oceans.

Why this instead of taking his talents to some Internet whiz-bang start-up? “I think if you work on something that’s truly exciting and bold and complicated, then you will attract the kind of people that are really smart and talented. People that like solving complicated problems.”