Category Archive 'California'
10 Jan 2017
1899 stereograph photo of Pioneer Cabin Sequoia.
A powerful winter storm in California has brought down an ancient tree, carved into a living tunnel more than a century ago.
The “Pioneer Cabin Tree,” a sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, saw horses and cars pass through it over the years. More recently, only hikers were allowed to walk through the massive tree.
Over the weekend, a powerful winter storm slammed into California and Nevada, prompting flooding and mudslides in some regions. The Associated Press reports it might be the biggest storm to hit the region in more than a decade.
On Sunday, a volunteer at the state park reported that Pioneer Cabin had not survived.
“The storm was just too much for it,” the Calaveras Big Tree Association wrote on Facebook.
It’s unclear exactly how old the tree was, but The Los Angeles Times reports that the trees in the state park are estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. Sequoias can live for more than 3,000 years.
The iconic tree was one of just a few tunneled-through sequoias in California. The most famous was the Wawona Tree, in Yosemite National Park; it fell during a winter storm in 1969 at an estimated age of 2,100 years. The other remaining sequoia tunnels are dead or consist of logs on their side, the Forest Service says.
However, there are still three coastal redwoods (taller and more slender than sequoias) with tunnels cut through them. They’re all operated by private companies, the Forest Service says, and still allow cars to drive through.
10 Sep 2016
California does have the best fogs.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
30 Apr 2016
Whiny-minority democrats in the California State Assembly rejected a holiday honoring John Wayne, because the actor (who died in 1979) had been conservative and had made a couple of un-pc comments (one of them probably a joke) decades and decades ago.
What a California lawmaker intended as a benign resolution honoring a late, world-renowned movie icon exploded into an emotional debate over decades-old racist comments.
The state Assembly defeated the official ode to John Wayne Thursday after several legislators described statements he made about racial minorities and his support for the anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee and John Birch Society.
Republican State Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach sought to declare May 26, 2016, as John Wayne Day to mark the day the actor was born.
“He had disturbing views towards race,” objected Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, leading off a 20-minute debate.
Alejo cited a 1971 interview with Playboy in which Wayne talked disparagingly about blacks.
“I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people,” he told the magazine.
Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, who is black, said he found Wayne’s comments personally offensive.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, cited his comments defending white Europeans’ encroachment on American Indians who Wayne once said “were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”
All of which proves that, back then, John Wayne was perfect right about their kind. You read this kind of thing and think: The sooner North Korea perfects delivery systems able to reach California the better. Cut the continent off at the Sierras and float those communists out to sea.
04 Dec 2015
Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik’s weapons
Media reports about the guns were misleading as ever, describing them as “legally purchased” typically as part of a ideologically-loaded effort to demonstrate the lack of Gun Control regulations which might have kept such weapons out of the hands of mass killers like Farook & frau.
But MRC TV’s Dan Joseph yesterday noted that, in fact, those two AR rifles were almost certainly not legally acquired.
San Bernardino, Calif., officials have confirmed that the two rifles used by gunman Syed Rizwan Farook in Wednesday’s massacre were purchased not by Farook himself, but rather by a friend. This means that at some point the rifles were either sold, stolen or given to Farook by his friend, sometime within the last three or four years.
According to California’s firearms laws, it is “illegal for any person who is not a California licensed firearms dealer (private party) to sell or transfer a firearm to another non-licensed person (private party).” The prohibition on transfers – except those between family members- that do not involve a licensed gun deal Went into effect on January 1, 2011.
This means that unless, Farook’s friend was an authorized weapons dealer in the state of California or the transfer occurred in another state, then the rifles were acquired illegally.
Today, Jacob Sullum, at Reason, confirms that either a straw purchase or an illegal transfer must have occurred.
Federal officials say Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the massacre’s perpetrators, bought the two 9mm pistols used in the attack, a Springfield and a Llama, from gun shops in San Diego and Corona. That means he passed background checks, which indicates he did not have a disqualifying criminal or psychiatric record. An acquaintance of Farook’s bought the two AR-15-style rifles used in the attack, a DPMS A-15 and a Smith & Wesson M&P15, also at gun shops in San Diego and Corona.
Sullum goes on to note the ineffectiveness of legislation targeted at “bad” military-style weapons in preventing human ingenuity from developing work-arounds which render the regulations meaningless.
The DPMS A-15 and Smith & Wesson M&P15 both come in “California legal” versions, which means they have “bullet buttons” that require the insertion of a loose round (or some other tool) to detach the magazine. With that feature, the magazine is not considered “detachable,” which is part of the state’s “assault weapon” definition.
Gun controllers tend to view bullet buttons as a sneaky end run around California’s “assault weapon” ban. Huffington Post reporter Daniel Marans calls the bullet-button option a “technical loophole.” Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center (VPC), complains that gun manufacturers are “cynically exploiting an inadvertent limitation” of the law. But bullet buttons are explicitly allowed by California Department of Justice regulations, which say “‘detachable magazine’ means any ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm with neither disassembly of the firearm action nor use of a tool being required.” The DOJ adds that “a bullet or ammunition cartridge is considered a tool.”
Since rifles with bullet buttons do not have what California considers detachable magazines, they can include military-style features that would otherwise be forbidden, such as folding stocks, pistol grips, or flash suppressors. “Assault weapon” is an arbitrary, legally defined category, so the fact that California does not consider these rifles to be “assault weapons” means they aren’t “assault weapons.” It makes no sense to complain that California’s “assault weapon” ban misses some “assault weapons,” which are whatever legislators say they are. Nor does it make sense to complain about design changes, such as bullet buttons, aimed at complying with the law. Gun manufacturers that produce “California legal” guns are doing precisely what the state has told them to do.
But, wait, more than human ingenuity and work-arounds using technical loopholes occurred here. According to The Wall Street Journal, the ATF discovered that two highly-illegal modifications of those rifles were made.
The rifles used in the San Bernardino mass shooting were illegal under California law because they were modified and violated the state’s ban on assault weapons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined on Thursday. …
The two semiautomatic rifles were versions of the popular AR-15 model, according to San Bernardino officials. One was made by DPMS Inc., and the other by Smith & Wesson.
While they were originally sold legally, with magazine locking devices commonly known as bullet buttons, the rifles were subsequently altered in different ways to make them more powerful, according to Meredith Davis, a special agent with the ATF.
The Smith & Wesson rifle was changed in an attempt to enable it fire in fully automatic mode, while the DPMS weapon was modified to use a large-capacity magazine, she said.
Modifying the DPMS A-15’s to accept larger capacity magazines would be a felony in California. On the other hand, converting Smith & Wesson M&P15 to full-auto capability did not only violate California gun laws, it was also a serious federal crime, violating the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968 (which would make the couple, as felons, persons prohibited from owning full-auto weapons), and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 (banning civilian ownership of new machine guns).
The notion that more Gun Control laws would prevent such shootings was satirized yesterday on Facebook with this image:
26 Sep 2015
“I don’t like the climate, the people, their way of life. Nothing ever happens and then one morning you wake up and find that you are 65.” – William Faulkner on Hollywood
13 Sep 2015
Ronnie Cohen is a California liberal who raised her son to be environmentally-conscious, and she has been paying the price.
My son, Cory, will leave our Northern California home to start college back East in the fall, prompting other mothers to offer condolences about my soon-to-be-empty nest. Though they expect me to break into tears, my overriding emotion when my youngest departs will be relief. I will finally be freed from the constant scrutiny of the ever-vigilant eco-warrior I raised.
I can do nothing right in my teenage son’s eyes. He grills me about the distance traveled of each piece of fruit and every vegetable I purchase. He interrogates me about the provenance of all the meat, poultry, and fish I serve. He questions my every move—from how I choose a car (why not electric?) and a couch (why synthetic fill?) to how I tend the garden (why waste water on flowers?)—an unremitting interrogation of my impact on our desecrated environment. While other parents hide alcohol and pharmaceuticals from their teens, I hide plastic containers and paper towels.
I feel like I’ve become the adolescent, sneaking around to avoid my offspring’s scrutiny and lectures. Only when Cory leaves the house do I dare clean the refrigerator of foul-smelling evidence of my careless waste—wilted greens, rotten avocados, moldy leftovers. When he goes out to dinner, I smuggle in a piece of halibut or sturgeon, fish the stocks of which, he tells me, are dangerously depleted. Even worse, I sometimes prepare beef—a drain on precious water, my son assures me, and a heavy contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions.
What a relief I will feel to be out from under the fiery gaze of my personal sustainability meter-reader!
Read the whole thing.
21 Jul 2015
Californians led by Venture Capitalist Tim Draper are believed to have collected enough signatures to put a proposal for splitting California into six states on the ballot.
If we can’t saw California off at the Nevada line and float it out to sea, this sounds like the best option.
19 Apr 2015
Joel Kotkin explains that California has fallen into the hands of the rich and spoiled and ideologically deluded who are determined to embrace a pious environmentalist agenda which will preclude the maintenance or new development of the kinds of infrastructure needed by the rest of the population.
California has met the future, and it really doesn’t work. As the mounting panic surrounding the drought suggests, the Golden State, once renowned for meeting human and geographic challenges, is losing its ability to cope with crises. As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the state’s middle- and working classes.
The water situation reflects this breakdown in the starkest way. Everyone who follows California knew it was inevitable we would suffer a long-term drought. Most of the state—including the Bay Area as well as greater Los Angeles—is semi-arid, and could barely support more than a tiny fraction of its current population. California’s response to aridity has always been primarily an engineering one that followed the old Roman model of siphoning water from the high country to service cities and farms.
But since the 1970s, California’s water system has become the prisoner of politics and posturing. The great aqueducts connecting the population centers with the great Sierra snowpack are all products of an earlier era—the Los Angeles aqueduct (1913), Hetch-Hetchy (1923), the Central Valley Project (1937), and the California Aqueduct (1974). The primary opposition to expansion has been the green left, which rejects water storage projects as irrelevant.
Read the whole thing.
07 Apr 2015
Investors Business Daily offers the modest proposal of using market mechanisms instead of penalties and coercion.
California is so dry that Gov. Jerry Brown has instituted water-use restrictions for the first time in the state’s history. The problem, though, is not a shortage of water. It’s a shortage of thinking.
The Parched State — once known as the Golden State — is so dry that Brown said it “demands unprecedented action.”
“We have to pull together and save water in every way we can,” Brown said Wednesday from Echo Summit in the Sierra Nevada, where, AP reports, “state water officials found no snow on the ground for the first time in their April manual survey of the snowpack.”
“Were in a new era,” said Brown. “The idea of your nice little green grass getting water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”
Using an executive order, the Democratic governor, according to an official statement, “directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25%.”…
No, this is not a new era. It’s still the era of limited thinking. It’s the Soviet way of dealing with scarcity.
What California needs is more water, not more government mandates. Water is a commodity just like any other, and its allocation should not be left to governments.
If it were bought and sold in an open market, there would be a strong incentive to move water to where demand is high and supply is low — such as California.
But as long as prices are kept artificially low by government dictums, that incentive doesn’t exist and potential providers never become actual providers.
If prices are allowed to rise, however, the profit motive will spur innovation — such as the unlikely prospect of squeezing water out of deserts to sell to consumers — and create competition in which rivals will fight to provide the best service at the lowest price.
When there is no true market for water, it falls under political control, which Terry Anderson and Peter Hill say in “Water Marketing — The Next Generation” precludes efficient pricing while at the same time creating political conflict and encouraging waste.
This is where we are now in California.
A water market won’t pop up this weekend to save the state, but market pricing would help conserve what’s on hand until new resources come online.
We’ve made this point multiple times. If the price of water is set by the market rather than bureaucrats who can’t possibly know what the right price is and always let politics dictate their decisions, consumers would self-ration when the price rose.
California successfully navigated its drought problems in the early 1990s under Republican Gov. Pete Wilson using pricing mechanisms and authorizing the California Drought Emergency Water Bank to buy water from agricultural sources.
Farmers profited more from selling water than from the crops they would have otherwise used the water for. One economist said in 1991 that that year might “be a turning point in California’s transition to water trading.”
But California didn’t learn then and it still doesn’t understand today.
Native old-time Californian Victor Davis Hanson identifies the underlying problem: massive population growth in an artificially-watered desert environment whose spoiled inhabitants have embraced an extremist environmentalist ideology which makes their own lifestyles “unsustainable.”
Brown and other Democratic leaders will never concede that their own opposition in the 1970s (when California had about half its present population) to the completion of state and federal water projects, along with their more recent allowance of massive water diversions for fish and river enhancement, left no margin for error in a state now home to 40 million people. Second, the mandated restrictions will bring home another truth as lawns die, pools empty, and boutique gardens shrivel in the coastal corridor from La Jolla to Berkeley: the very idea of a 20-million-person corridor along the narrow, scenic Pacific Ocean and adjoining foothills is just as unnatural as “big” agriculture’s Westside farming. The weather, climate, lifestyle, views, and culture of coastal living may all be spectacular, but the arid Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-area megalopolises must rely on massive water transfers from the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, or out-of-state sources to support their unnatural ecosystems.
We’re suffering the ramifications of the “small is beautiful,” “spaceship earth” ideology of our cocooned elites. Californians have adopted the ancient peasant mentality of a limited good, in which various interests must fight it out for the always scarce scraps. Long ago we jettisoned the can-do visions of our agrarian forebears, who knew California far better than we do and trusted nature far less. Now, like good peasants, we are at one another’s throats for the last drops of a finite supply.
20 Mar 2015
Feeling homophobic? Here’s a highly politically incorrect game to play.
The Sacramento Bee reports on an obviously tongue-in-cheek ballot initiative in California which is bound to drive the Left Coast’s resident fruits and nuts into a tizzy.
An attorney from Huntington Beach, [Matt] McLaughlin in late February spent $200 to propose a ballot measure that authorizes the killing of gays and lesbians by “bullets to the head,” or “any other convenient method.”
McLaughlin’s “Sodomite Suppression Act” now is testing the limits of free speech. …
[T]he measure is likely to proceed to the signature-gathering stage. At the moment, its fate rests with state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is charged with writing a title and summary for the proposal. Legal experts say she has little choice but to let the process continue and that McLaughlin is unlikely to face professional repercussions.
Joking about shooting Gays, of course, isn’t very nice. But neither is foisting Gay Marriage on an unwilling America through judicial legislation based on preposterous constitutional interpretations, and neither is it very nice when people lose their jobs for donating to support Proposition 8, nor is it very nice when private individuals are ordered by left-wing courts to violate their private convictions and render support to Gay Marriage.
Resistance to tyranny over the private opinions of Americans has only risen to the rude joking stage, but you never know, one day as the reach and extent of coercion proceeds and the forms it takes multiplies, resistance may proceed beyond joking.
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