Fort Ross

Fort Ross is one of the coolest places that ever seen. The timelessness of wood construction was a sight to behold. Russians coexisting with norcal Indians:

The Kashaya Treaty between the Fort Ross settlement and the Kashaya Pomo Indians

On September 22, 1817, the Indian chiefs, Chu-gu-an, Amat-tan, Gem-le-le and others, appeared at Fort Ross by invitation. Their greeting, as translated, extended their thanks for the invitation.

Captain Lieutenant Hagemeister expressed gratitude to them in the name of the Russian-American Company for ceding to the Company land for a fort, buildings and enterprises, in regions belonging to Chu-gu-an, [land] which the inhabitants call Med-eny-ny. [Hagemeister] said he hoped they would not have reason to regret having the Russians as neighbors.

“Chu-gu-an and a second, Amattan, whose dwelling was also not far off, replied, “We are very satisfied with the occupation of this place by the Russians, because we now live in safety from other Indians, who formerly would attack us and this security began only from the time of [the Russian] settlement.”

And then:

After the hospitality, when [the Indians] departed from the fort, a one-gun salute was fired in honor of the chief Toion.

via

Below are a few photos from a recent walk around Fort Ross:

More on the Chapel inside the fort:

The chapel was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The foundation crumbled and the walls were ruined; only the roof and two towers remained intact. Between 1916 and 1918, the Chapel was rebuilt using timbers from both the Officials’ Quarters and the Warehouse. On October 5, 1970 the restored Russian chapel was entirely destroyed in an accidental fire. It was reconstructed in 1973. Following Russian Orthodox tradition, some lumber from the burned building was used. The chapel bell melted in the fire, and was recast in Belgium using a rubbing and metal from the original Russian bell. On the bell is a small inscription in Church Slavonic which reads “Heavenly King, receive all, who glorify Him.” Along the lower edge another inscription reads, “Cast at the foundry of Michael Makar Stukolkin, master founder and merchant at the city of St. Petersburg.” via

fort ross chapel

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Tuesday: A big day for Genetically Modified Food

Update: California disappointed me. Prop 37 did not pass.

I’ve been diving into the history of Genetically Modified foods lately. I find the difference between attitudes in Europe and those in the U.S. really striking (Yep, we’re an easy-going bunch of eaters in comparison). Here’s a snippet from an article titled Europe angers US with strict GM labeling posted in Nature Biotechnology in 2003 right when Europe began establishing its import bans on Genetically Modified Organisms:

…the new regime—agreed to in late November 2002 after lengthy negotiations between ministers of individual member states—extends labeling to end-products such as sugars and oils even when GM ingredients cannot be detected in them because they are physically and chemically identical to products derived from non-GM crops. Even meat suppliers who feed their animals with transgenic grain will have to GM-label their products.
Food items will be exempted only if they were derived from crop material of which less than 0.9% was genetically modified. Comprehensive tracing of GM corn shipments will be essential to verify this. The effect will be that North American manufacturers will soon find their corn- or soy-based foodstuffs—virtually all of which are GM-derived—tagged with what the National Grain and Feed Association (Washington, DC) has likened to a “skull and crossbones on the packet.”

The CFR put out a great report in April of 2001 with a great introduction to the rampant skepticism of GMOs in Europe. Paints us Yankees as corn-dog scarfing ne’er-do-wells. To remedy this, Californians will vote Tuesday whether Genetically Modified food must be labelled in the state — a right Europeans have enjoyed for a decade. Also within the bill are restrictions on use of the word ‘Natural’, ‘Naturally made’, ‘naturally grown’ and ‘all natural.’

It’s amazing that entire aisles of our supermarkets cannot be fed even to the swine of Europe.

The Corn Aisle

On a related note, I recommend watching the film (or even just the trailer) of Genetic Roulette and reading Michael Specter’s take in the New Yorker. I agree with the idea that seeds are at the root of the issue, but I have a huge amount of faith in the growing popularity of organic seed libraries sprouting all over America.

 

‘Will California become America’s first failed state?’

First time I’ve ever heard ‘Failed state’ as a way to put the economic crisis in California in perspective:

In order to pass its state budget, California’s government has had to agree to a deal that cuts billions of dollars from education and sacks 60,000 state employees. Some teachers have launched a hunger strike in protest. California’s education system has become so poor so quickly that it is now effectively failing its future workforce. The percentage of 19-year-olds at college in the state dropped from 43% to 30% between 1996 and 2004, one of the highest falls ever recorded for any developed world economy. California’s schools are ranked 47th out of 50 in the nation. Its government-issued bonds have been ranked just above “junk”.

via The Guardian