Monthly Archives: July 2019

Send Her Back

I hate politics, so I’ll try to keep this short.

“Send Her Back” is racist, fascist, and fucking frightening, in my opinion. Yet at a Trump rally yesterday in North Carolina, throngs of white Trump supporters chanted this, while Trump stood silently for 13 seconds, allowing this chant to build to crescendo. Trump is lying when he says he discouraged this, and “spoke quickly” when it began. He stood silently for 13 seconds. It’s all in the video.

I once thought white supremacists comprised just a tiny fraction of nuts in the American population. How wrong I was. Apparently there’s a lot of ‘em out there. And with Trump’s recent overt and blatant racist statements, I cannot help but suspect that anyone who continues to support Trump is a fucking white supremacist racist.

And right now, that’s at least 35% of our population.

I don’t like it. This is scary shit.

Could this become our new flag?

What will be next? A revival of the KKK? A legitimizing of the Neo-Nazi party?

Where the hell is all this leading to?

Let’s hope it leads to the Republican Party rejecting and abandoning Trump. And let’s hope it leads to Trump’s removal from office just as soon as possible. And let’s hope our country will quickly heal from these most recent wounds in our race relationships.

Hope. That seems to be all we have left, anymore.

Free Books

Chasing Unicorns is opening a bookstore, where you can buy books for free. For the cost of just one click of a mouse, you can open up any book in my Free Bookstore, and start reading at your leisure.

You can even download these books (though it may cost a few more mouse clicks), and hoard them on your own computer, smartphone, tablet, ouija board, or whatever reading device you use. They’re in PDF format, so they should work on most devices.

You can also give them away, as they have a Creative Commons license that allows unlimited distribution by anyone, as long as authorship is blamed on me, Tippy Gnu. Hell, you can even sell them if you wish. Good luck with that.

My free books come with a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. How can you beat such a deal?

There are currently just two books for sale, but I anticipate more will be added over time. I’m dredging up the bones of my long-abandoned oeuvre of works that have been taken out of print. I’m revising them, tagging them with a Creative Commons license, and then selling them for free to the general public.

I took these books out of print because I got tired of all the paperwork required, paying taxes on the piddly royalties. I know I won’t get rich, but by giving them away, maybe I can get famous. And without any tax consequences.

If you want to buy one of my free books, just click on the Free Bookstore menu item, at the top of this blog.

You may already be familiar with one of the books. I’ve been selling free copies of Unikonics on this blog since the summer of 2018. And since that time, I’ve also offered it for free download at obooko.com. According to my stats at obooko.com, Unikonics has been downloaded 500 times, and has been rated 4 out of 5 stars by 17 people who actually read it. I have no idea how much it’s been downloaded from this blog, but I’m guessing about one or two million times. Give or take one or two million.

When Unikonics was selling for real money (99 cents), I only sold one copy. And so you see, I just had to find the right price, in order to move this product. A lesson learned in marketing.

Pumping Up Piglipple also sold only one copy. So I think it makes a great new addition to my Free Bookstore. And since yesterday, it’s been offered for free at obooko.com.

I attribute the poor sales of Pumping Up Piglipple to its shitty book cover. I’ve never been good at cover design, and this is probably the shittiest of all my artistic endeavors. But as they say, never judge a book by its shitty cover.

I think you’ll enjoy Pumping Up Piglipple as much as you’ve enjoyed Unikonics. Even if you’ve never read Unikonics. Both books are short, so in the unlikely event that you find yourself in agony reading them, be assured that your torture won’t last long.

I hope you’ll visit my Free Bookstore, even if it’s just to get out of the rain. And if you keep coming back, as it expands its offerings, I’m sure that will encourage me to write more and more drivel, until my store looks like a fucking Barnes & Noble.

To enter my bookstore, just follow this link, or some of the other links cleverly implanted in this post. Or click the Free Bookstore link at the top of this blog.

Bienvenidos! Welcome! Come on in!

Conquering California, Part 10 of 17: A Revolting End

This is Part 10 of a 17-part series. If you’ve already forgotten what happened in the last part, do what I did, follow this link, and get yourself up-to-date.

To start at the beginning, follow this link.


 

A Revolting End

 

It was time for Plan B, for the Californios. All of Commandante General Castro’s forces in San Pablo retreated to Santa Clara, about 50 miles south. On June 30, 1846, they held a council of war, where they decided they needed to combine their strength with Governor Pio Pico’s southern forces. Then they could move north again and quash the Bear Flag Revolt.

On July 6, the army moved south again, to Mission San Juan Bautista, near Monterey, where General Castro was waiting. But the next day, somebody stopped thinking, and pondering, and mulling things over, and Plan B was dashed.

That someone who was thinking, pondering, and mulling things over, was Commodore John D. Sloat, of the U.S. Navy. He had received orders to seize San Francisco Bay and blockade California ports. But not until he was positive that war had begun. What a tricky order to follow! His superior officers knew how to cover their asses, by issuing such a vague order, and so Sloat had to figure out how to cover his own ass.

Sloat had been waiting in Monterey Bay since July 1 to obtain convincing proof of war.

He felt hesitant, but he finally decided it was better to err on the side of war, than do nothing and allow an opportune moment to slip by. He made this decison after several days of thinking and pondering and mulling over Fremont’s bold actions. He erroneously concluded that Fremont must have been acting on orders from Washington. Hell, he had to have been. After all, no normal military officer would have the audacity to do all the things Fremont was doing, without orders. Right? Hmm.

Sloat gave the go-ahead. And early in the morning of July 7, the frigate USS Savannah and the two sloops USS Cyane and USS Levant of the United States Navy, captured Monterey without firing a shot. And they raised the U.S. flag. Commodore Sloat had a proclamation in Monterey posted in English and Spanish, stating, “. . . henceforth California will be a portion of the United States.”

Old Glory being raised in Monterey, by the U.S. Navy.

On July 9, Sloat’s forces raised the American flag in Yerba Buena (current-day San Francisco).

Around that same time, Navy Lieutenant Joseph Revere was sent to Sonoma from the USS Portsmouth, which had been berthed at Sausalito. And on July 9, he had the Bear Flag lowered in Sonoma, and replaced by the U.S. flag. Soon after, the same flag replacement occurred at Sutter’s Fort.

So just like that, without a sputter, fizzle, or whimpering protest, the Bear Flag Revolt and California Republic came to an abrupt end.

One can only wonder how history would have played out, had the Bear Flaggers been better organized, and more competent and capable at conducting a revolution. Suppose they’d had a strong, intelligent leader within their own ranks, who thought for himself rather than relied upon the vulpine brain of the calculating Fremont?

And suppose that leader had found a way to unite with Californios, for independence? Would they have capitulated so quickly to the ambitions of the U.S. government? Or would they have resisted, and would California have remained an independent republic to this day?

We can only speculate. But as it stands, the California Republic lasted a mere 25 days, from June 14 to July 9, 1846.

And with the end of the Bear Flag Revolt came a new beginning. The beginning of the California Campaign of the Mexican-American War, to capture the remainder of California from Mexico. The task won’t be easy. There will be blood.


Come on back in a few days, for Part 11: The California Campaign Begins.

The Perfect Spam Recipe

Yesterday, Carolyn, at Nuggets of Gold, usurped the title of King Spam from Colin, and became our newest Queen of Spam. Remember the Silly Spam Game we played back in May, where the challenge was to submit a silly comment that my spam filter would catch? Colin, from A Dog’s Life? (Stories of Me and Him) won that challenge, with one comment that he masterfully crafted with a good spam recipe.

Meanwhile, none of Carolyn’s recipes worked, so she lost the contest.

But yesterday, a record four of Carolyn’s comments got snagged by my spam filter, and I had to stick my hand through all the yuck and muck and dig them out.

But I think I now know why some comments from pre-approved commentators on my blog end up on the spam heap. In other words, I think I’ve figured out the perfect recipe for making spam.

Occasionally after reading a comment, I get in an all-fired hurry and try replying to it without putting my cursor in the Reply box and clicking the mouse. Of course it doesn’t work, and WordPress just sits there and ignores me until I put my brain in gear and figure out what I did wrong. That is, unless the first letter I attempt to type is a capital S. Then the comment is instantly vacuum-sucked into the spam filter, with no warning or message telling me what is about to happen or what just did happen.

Compliments of WP, we have a shortcut key-combo of Shift+S, designed to instantly open up the trap door beneath an obnoxious commentator, and drop them into the Spam Dungeon. But if you are unaware of this shortcut key-combo, you may inadvertently send a good commentator into the Spam Dungeon. And that is not how to make blogging buddies.

Not only that, but once you drop someone down there, they remain there. Apparently, that’s what happened with Carolyn. A few days ago, I inadvertently opened the trapdoor with Shift+S, and down she dropped into the oubliette. I said to myself, “What the hell? Now, where did Carolyn go?”

I finally found her, wan and wasting, in the deep dark depths of Spam Prison. Of course I freed her, because she gives me lots of Golden Delicious apples.

But somehow, WP didn’t get the notice of her parole, and it kept sending her comments down to Spam Hell, even without Shift+S. That’s very nice of you, WP, to try to read my mind like that.

After manually approving four of her condemned spams, er, comments, WP seems to have finally figured out that she’s a good commentator (relatively speaking). And now WP has stopped doing me the unsolicited favor of filtering out her comments.

Carolyn is Queen Spam!

But not before she snatched the royal spam title away from Colin. So congratulations, Carolyn. Today I crown you Queen Spam!

Ta-ta-da-dahhh!

By the way, Carolyn, I promise to be good from now on, lest you use Shift+S too, and drop me down into those dark depths from which few return.

Conquering California, Part 9 of 17: Murder and Deceit at Mission San Rafael

This is Part 9 of a 17-part series. Forgot what happened in the last part? So did I. Okay, just follow this link, and you can get yourself up-to-date.

To start at the beginning, follow this link.


 

Murder and Deceit at Mission San Rafael

 

It didn’t take long for Commandante General Jose Castro to learn of the taking of the government’s horses, the capture of Sonoma, and the imprisonment of Mexican officers at Sutter’s Fort. And all of this really chapped his hide. He quickly organized a group of 50-60 militia.

He put Captain Joaquin de la Torre in charge of this militia, with orders to recapture the Alamo. Oops, I mean Sonoma. Torre led his forces north to San Pablo, and then across a narrow, three mile strait of the San Francisco bay, to Point San Quentin. San Quentin was just a few miles from the former Mission San Rafael. And it was about 30 miles by road from the Bears’ headquarters at Mission Sonoma.

They arrived at San Quentin on June 23, 1846. On June 27, 100 more men arrived at San Pablo, and waited to be brought over by boat to join Torre. Things were looking ominous for the Bear Flaggers.

But Fremont learned about General Castro’s preparation for an attack on Sonoma about the same time that he received the note from Ford requesting reinforcements. Hmm, all of this was reminding him of some other place. Ah yes, the Alamo. So on June 23, the same day Torre landed at San Quentin, Fremont left Sutter’s Fort for Sonoma, with 90 men.

He also wrote a letter of resignation from the Army and sent it to his father-in-law, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, in case the government should disavow his action. Yep, Fremont was a real genius at covering his tracks.

They arrived at Sonoma on June 25th and then quickly headed south to San Rafael, to make battle with Torre’s Californios. But when they arrived at San Rafael, the Californios had vanished. So they set up camp at the mission and sent out scouting parties.

On June 28, Fremont’s forces spotted a small boat coming across the bay. Fremont sent Kit Carson and two others to intercept it. The boat dropped three men off at the shore. They were the twin brothers, Francisco and Ramon de Haro, and their uncle Jose de la Reyes Berreyesa. Their intention was to travel on foot to Sonoma to inquire about the welfare of some of their relatives, who had been taken prisoner by the Bear Flaggers.

Mug shot of Kit Carson.

They came in peace, and were unarmed. But all three were shot and killed by Kit Carson and his men.

This triple-murder became an issue in Fremont’s 1856 presidential campaign. Partisan newspapers told conflicting stories. The MSNBC Mouthpiece Mumbler blamed the candidate, while the FOX Folderol Fanfaronade exonerated him. Nonetheless, it tarnished Fremont’s image and contributed to his defeat.

Meanwhile, Captain de la Torre had his balls caught in a wringer. He had not expected Fremont to show up. And he realized he was now vastly outgunned by a superior fighting force. And now here he was, hiding from Fremont’s scouts, just a few miles away from Mission San Rafael. He was backed up against the bay, and had to figure out a way to get back across the water to San Pablo without being massacred, the way Fremont had massacred those Wintu Indians.

But Torre was good at thinking fast. He concocted a deceitful, and potentially deadly ruse. He arranged for two letters to be intercepted, one by Fremont’s forces, and one by the Bear Flagger’s forces in Sonoma. These letters indicated that Torre planned to attack Sonoma on June 29th.

As soon as Fremont saw the letter, he felt startled, and knew he had to make a quick decision. But unlike Torre’s quick thinking, his quick thinking wasn’t very clever. In fact, it was nearly fatal. He absquatulated and headed posthaste back to Sonoma.

Unbeknownst to him, Sonoma had also intercepted a similar letter. They were waiting with cannons readied, guns cocked, and all men armed for bear. Or armed like the Bears they were. Because even in those days, Americans valued the right to arm Bears.

When they spotted Fremont’s men approaching, the jittery Bears almost mistook them for the enemy, and nearly opened fire. Fortunately, Stuttering Zeke was in command, and was unable to complete the order to, “F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-i-i-i-i-r-r-r-e!” before someone recognized Fremont.

Fremont realized he’d been tricked. He ate a quick breakfast of two Egg McMuffins and small order of hash browns, then immediately hurried his men the 25 to 30 miles of trail back to San Rafael. But it was too late. Torre and his men had already escaped by boat across the bay to San Pablo.


Come on back in a few days, for Part 10: A Revolting End.

Conquering California, Part 8 of 17: The Battle of Olumpali

This is Part 8 of a 17-part series. I won’t blame Alzheimer’s or drunkenness, because who knows, maybe you’re just easily distracted. But if you’ve already forgotten what happened in the last part, you can follow this link, and get yourself up-to-date.

And if you want to go way back and start at the beginning, follow this link.


 

The Battle of Olumpali

 

The Bear Flag revolt had just begun, with the capture of Mission Sonoma. And the Bears quickly recognized they had a big problem on their hands. They possessed very little gunpowder, and realized they’d need a lot more to defend the mission from an expected Mexican attack. You see, they remembered another mission. The Alamo. They knew what the Mexicans could do.

A cannon at Mission Sonoma. But not much use to the Bears, without gunpowder.

At first they sent their flag designer, William Todd, to try to secure gunpowder from the USS Portsmouth, anchored at Sausalito. Whoa, wait! Did I say “gunpowder”? No, no, I meant “gun doubter”. I mean I doubt guns can work very long without a certain special ingredient.

The Bears had to get clever. For legal reasons, Todd wasn’t supposed to actually say out loud that he wanted “gunpowder”. The plan was for him to say something mealy-mouthed, and then with a wink and a nod, hand a note to Captain Montgomery, containing the actual request.

But Todd must have had a short memory, because he forgot about this plan and blurted out to Captain Montgomery, the request for “gunpowder”. And of course Montgomery solemnly declined Todd’s request, stating that by law, the U.S. was neutral in this conflict.

Well that shot that plan all to hell, thanks to the idiot Todd. Now they had to find another way to procure the explosive chemical.

So on June 18, a procurement party of two men, named Thomas Cowie and George Fowler, were sent from Sonoma to Rancho Sotoyome (near current-day Healdsburg, California). Their mission was to pick up a cache of gunpowder from Moses Carson, who was the brother of Kit Carson.

They never came back.

On June 20, the Bears tried yet again. First Lieutenant Ford sent Sergeant Gibson with four men to Rancho Sotoyome. Gibson obtained the gunpowder. But on the way back, he and his men got into a gunfight with several Californios. They managed to capture one of them.

Perhaps they used waterboarding, or perhaps they just got him drunk. But from that prisoner they learned that Cowie and Fowler had been killed. They also learned that stupid ol’ William Todd and a companion had gotten themselves captured by Californio irregulars.

First a pig flag. Then the gunpowder remark. And now he’s a POW. Todd really wasn’t doing much to make this Bear Flag Revolt a success.

When Ford learned of this back in Sonoma, he realized that the Californios were beginning to resist. So he sent a note to Fremont, at Sutter’s Fort, requesting reinforcements. He also organized a party of 17 to 19 Bears, and went searching for William Todd and his companion.

Ford and his party found them near the Native American rancho of Olumpali. They were being held captive inside an adobe house. But as Ford’s men approached this adobe, 70 Californio militia men poured out. Gulp.

Ford’s men were way outnumbered, and they knew they were in for it. They positioned themselves in a grove of trees. The Californios then mounted their horses and charged on horseback. But fortunately for Ford’s men, they had superior weapons that could fire at a longer range than the weapons of the Californios. They opened fire on the charging enemy, killing one Californio and wounding another, at long range.

When the Californios saw this amazing feat, they disengaged and fled.

During this battle, William Todd and his companion escaped the adobe and ran to the Bears, and were successfully rescued. This became known as the Battle of Olumpali, and was the only battle won by the bad news Bears during the Bear Flag Revolt.

They didn’t have internet in those days. But they did have boredom. And so word still managed to quickly spread about this battle, and the deaths of Cowie and Fowler. And this news raised the anxiety of American settlers. They began to fear that they would become targeted by the Californio militia, and so they moved into Sonoma for protection. And this increased the number of settlers in Sonoma to 200.

Stupid fools. Had they forgotten the Alamo?

 

Sutter’s Fort of “Friends”

 

Meanwhile, Fremont had taken Sutter’s Fort without any resistance. But instead of raising the American flag, a Bear Flag was raised. Fremont thought it safest to go along for awhile with the settlers’ ambition for independence, and tacitly support the fledgling California Republic. This would give his activities cover until he could be certain that war had been declared by the U.S. against Mexico.

On June 16, 1846, General Vallejo and the other prisoners from Sonoma were delivered to Sutter’s Fort.

Vallejo considered Fremont to be his friend, and expected to be paroled by him. But the sentiment among most of the settlers at the fort was to keep this man prisoner. Fremont sensed this, and wanted to remain in favor with the settlers. So he denied the parole. And he ordered Vallejo to be treated as a true prisoner, with no special privileges. After all, what are friends for?

Fremont put one of his own men, Edward Kern, in command of Sutter’s Fort, while placing John Sutter second in command. Which was kind of a slap in the face for poor ol’ John Sutter. Because there he was, second in command of his own fort. Hmm, some friend, that Fremont.


Come on back in a few days, for Part 9: Murder and Deceit at Mission San Rafael.

Conquering California, Part 7 of 17: The Immigrants Are Revolting

This is Part 7 of a 17-part series. So, you were goofing off and have already forgotten what happened in the last part? No problem. Just follow this link, and get yourself up-to-date.

And if you really want to get serious, and start at the beginning, follow this link.


Plaza at Sonoma, sketched in 1851.

 

The Immigrants Are Revolting

Mariano Vallejo

 

In June, 1846, Army Captain John C. Fremont instigated 34 illegal American immigrants into attacking the pueblo of Sonoma. Mission Sonoma had been built 25 years earlier to counter the Russians at nearby Fort Ross. But now it was not the Russians who posed a threat, but the Americans.

Sonoma was now occupied by retired Mexican General Mariano Vallejo. He maintained an armory of military weapons and materiel at the Sonoma Barracks. The immigrants wanted that shit, and they came to get it.

Vallejo had built a large mansion on the mission grounds, and named it Casa Grande. He was a proud man, and a rich man, but also a very amiable man.

The servant’s quarters are all that remain of General Vallejo’s Casa Grande.

On the morning of June 14, 1846, the 34 settlers under the leadership of Ezekial “Stuttering Zeke” Merritt and William Ide, surrounded Casa Grande. Zeke and a few others went to the door and knocked. The General, who was probably still in his bathrobe and holding a cup of coffee, answered.

There are many conflicting eyewitness accounts about what exactly transpired, but I imagine the conversation went something like this:

“G-g-g-ooood m-m-morning G-G-G-General. I-I-I-I-m S-s-s-s-Stut-tut-tut-ering Z-Z-Zeke. Y-you-you-you are-are-are un-un-underrr ar-ar-rest. W-W-W-We are-are-are re-re-re-volting.”

“Que?! Que paso? No aspeaka ingles mucho good.” Vallejo seemed puzzled and concerned.

Vallejo’s brother-in-law, an American immigrant named Jacob P. Leese, came to the door.

“Que paso, hermano?” asked Leese in Spanish. Luckily, Leese was bilingual.

After awhile, with Leese’s help and a lot of patience, the message Stuttering Zeke was trying to convey was comprehended by Vallejo, as well as the intent of the gringos who were surrounding his home.

Vallejo cordially invited the stutterer and a few others inside for a drink, and to discuss the matter further.

They spent a few hours pleasantly talking things over in three languages (English, Spanish, and Stutterish) and getting drunk. Vallejo had no objection to the inchoate revolt, because he favored the annexation of California by the United States. And with good cheer, they negotiated a parole with Vallejo, whereby he would be allowed to remain free if he pledged not to interfere with the revolt.

But when word of this agreement reached the settlers outside, the hothead Ide rejected it as bullshit. Soon Ide barged into the mansion and spoiled the drunken chinwag, by placing Vallejo and his family under arrest.

Most of the settlers agreed with Ide, and Stuttering Zeke had a difficult time articulating a counterargument. Besides, he was drunk. So there was no helping it. Vallejo, Leese, and the rest of the general’s family were taken prisoner.

The settlers were winging it at this point. They had never participated in a revolution before, so they just came up with ideas as they went along.

Their next big idea was to create a flag. William Todd, a cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, designed it and did the art work. For cloth, the ladies at the garrison gave the rebels a new cotton sheet and some old red flannel from a petticoat. Todd painted a bear and star with linseed oil, red paint, and blackberry juice. Beneath the bear and star, he limned the words, “California Republic”, and a strip of red flannel was sown to the bottom.

Bear or pig? What do you see? This replica of the original Bear Flag is on display at the Sonoma State Historic Park. It was constructed in 1896, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bear Flag Revolt. The original Bear Flag, constructed by Todd, was destroyed in the fire that followed the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

The paintings were crude, as Todd was not the greatest artist in the world. In fact the grizzly bear was so poorly drawn, some mistook it for a pig. And had that perception prevailed, this would have become known as the Pig Flag Revolt.

The bear symbolized strength and resistance. The lone star was in reference to the Lone Star Republic of Texas, and the Texan rebellion against the Mexican government 10 years earlier.

They raised this flag for the first time, on June 17, 1846.

Monument to the Bear Flag Revolt, at the Sonoma State Historic Park, Sonoma, California.

The rebels made the Sonoma Barracks their headquarters. And they changed the name of their revolt from the Popular Movement to the Bear Flag Revolt. They also elected military officers.

Henry L. Ford (no relation to the automobile magnate) was elected First Lieutenant of the company. Samuel Kelsey was elected Second Lieutenant. Grandville P. Swift and Samuel Gibson were elected Sergeants. These were the only elected officials of the new California Republic. No civil structure was ever established.

Ide then wrote and issued a proclamation to be distributed throughout northern California, declaring the establishment of this new republic, justifying the revolt, and inviting good citizens to join.

After the takeover of Sonoma on June 14, 1846, 70 more volunteers joined the rebels. By early-July, nearly 300 had joined the Bear Flag Revolt. The game was on. Alta California was going down.

These Mexican Army barracks at Sonoma became the headquarters of the Bear Flag Revolt.


Come on back in a few days, for Part 8: The Battle of Olumpali.

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