I was having coffee with Jim the other day down in Sisters town, at a fine greasy spoon called The Gallery, which up until a few weeks ago had a fine collection of old rifles hung up on the walls, and where a regular collection of regular guys gather most mornings at the counter to stare down the pies and get their daily dose of good cheer from the gals working the counter. The Gallery serves a heap of great diner food for not a lot of money, if you are into that sort of thing, and they still have a wooden indian in the entryway which is a throwback to an era not long ago where not every statue was automatically a symbol of racist domination.
If you don’t know, Artificial Intelligence, AI, is creeping inexorably into our lives. From facial recognition technology to autonomous vehicles, from drone swarms to Siri, from Tesla to Pandora’s “Musical DNA”, AI and Machine Learning are among the incredibly powerful – and largely invisible — forces driving our next cultural revolution.
Sunday morning we killed the turkeys. This is an important fall ritual on the Figure 8 because it brings with it a level of intimacy with our own lives that we find sorely lacking in the Age of Robots and Artificial Intelligence. It’s the same impetus that drives our effort at growing vegetables, and hunting for protein when we can: because it moves us decidedly off of the crass and mindless consumer X and comes with a refreshing dose of participation and personal responsibility that remain life’s best teachers.
In a consumer society, where so much of what we require for daily life forces us into roles of utter dependence upon complex, fragile, and unaccountable systems, there are few remaining outlets that allow us at least the illusion of self-sufficiency. Hunting is one of them.
In this inaugural segment of Running Iron on the Road, Craig shares thoughts and music from a trip to the central highlands of Mexico.
Readers of this site generally accept the proposition that our American experiment in self-government is taking on water. I would argue that, all things considered, the ship is actually beginning to list heavily under the combined weight of a wholly unaccountable administrative state, a surreal burden of debt we will leave to our grandchildren as a kind of cynical stocking stuffer, third-world education standards, tribal strife stoked by retail journalism, a new and prevailing cultural adulation of the victim mentality, meme-think politics, and a Congress that is more or less directed by the parasitic whims of a guild economy.
In this episode of the Running Iron Podcast Craig, Jim, and Oil Can are joined in the bunkhouse by Austin, Texas, resident Rick Schwertfeger. Rick is a retired public health professional who has also become a regular contributor to both Frontier Partisans and Running Iron Report. Rick sits down to discuss internet dating, former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s shooting prowess, and his studies of frontier life during the American War for independence.
As a bonus, the Running Iron boys are also joined by Miami Firefighter, and former US Marine, Carlos Constanzo. Carlos talks about his family’s experience before, during, and after the Castro takeover of Cuba.
Nevada cowgirl, educator, philanthropist, and elite-level athlete Cris Converse joins Craig and Jim in the Bunkhouse on the historic Figure 8 Ranch. Cris leads just the sort of eclectic and informed American life that fans of Running Iron appreciate; in this terrific interview she discusses the fascinating trail of her life, and lends important perspective on making a legacy commitment to community.
I often return to the poets these days. From great translations of the Illiad and the Odyssey to Beowulf, from Shakespeare to Dylan Thomas, and more frequently to the modern giants like Charles Wright, Richard Hugo, or Galway Kinnell, I find a touchstone that gentles my nerves. That ritual works for me because fine poets fire the language with precision, and stoke the imagination with what John Keats called “Negative Capability.” Our world is sorely lacking in appreciation for the mysterious and the levitating these days, and the airwaves are so rich with insincerity, so over-cooked with political certainty and righteous declarations, that the daily and endless caterwauling amounts to a kind of relentless propaganda bullhorn.
I’m drawn to those quiet little outbursts of humanity demanding attention, that impulse to declare with some permanence: “I was here”. It is the same impulse, I suppose, that drove my wife and I to put our handprints and our names in the wet concrete when we built our barn. For good measure, we added the paw prints of our dogs, and I scratched the date in with a nail.
“By midafternoon MacKenzie’s troops had taken torches to all the teepees and burned them down. Thousands of rounds of bullets, hoarded by the Indians and abandoned during the raid, exploded. In the wreckage of the Indian camp soldiers found a pillowcase made from a Seventh Cavalry guidon flag, command memo books and guard rosters; scalps of a white girl and a Shoshone girl, a necklace made of human fingers, personal clothing and military hardware…”
Author Rick Steber stops by the bunkhouse for a revealing interview with Craig & Jim. Steber has written more than 40 books, including “Caught in the Crosshairs,” “Red White Black,” and “Buy the Chief a Cadillac.” The recipient of numerous awards for his writing, the Los Angeles Times has said: “Steber’s words remind you of Hemingway or Fitzgerald.”