Joel Kotkin explains how Coastal California environmental superstition combined with snobbery is devastating the economy, and wiping out the jobs, of Blue Collar in-land Kern County.
Located over the mountains from Los Angeles, Kern County has always been a different kind of place. Settled largely by “Okies and Arkies” from the Depression-era South, the area has a culture more southern than northern, more Ozarks than Sierra. Home to just under 1 million people at the southern end of the state’s Central Valley, Kern is noted for producing the “Bakersfield sound,” epitomized by the late country star Merle Haggard, and is sometimes even referred to as “little Texas.”
Its economy rested on two natural resource industries that once powered California – agriculture and oil. The region leads California in energy production and is fourth in agriculture, mainly yielding lettuce, strawberries, and grapes. Its concentration of agricultural jobs is 22 times the national average and its oil industry jobs are 6 times the national average.
Although these may seem like “old economy” jobs, the Kern area has easily outperformed zippy “new economy” places in total job growth; outside of the Silicon Valley, notes Chapman analyst Marshall Toplansky, Kern is one of few California areas producing mid-wage jobs above the national average – far more than San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties, which have fallen behind the national pace. …
In a state suffering from high housing prices and a lack of middle-wage jobs, one would think boosting Kern County and its largest city, Bakersfield (population: 700,000) would be a priority. Governor Gavin Newsom boasts that he wants to look for ways of “unlocking the enormous potential” of the Central Valley, but he seems more interested in flattening the area’s aspirations.
Climate policy sits at the core of this assault. Reflecting the prejudicial neuroses of his Bay Area and oligarchic base, Governor Newsom – who Dan Walters describes as “California’s champion virtue signaler” – has announced plans to shut down the state’s oil industry. Newsom’s latest unlegislated decree directed state regulators to ban all forms of oil and gas well stimulation technologies, including steam injection, essential for oil and gas extraction in the state. The draft rules, issued last month, would effectively sharply limit California’s oil and gas industry as well as future exploration and development. According to a study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, these dictates threaten over 366,000 high-paying, largely blue-collar jobs, about half held by people of color. Another 3.9 million jobs, 16.5% of total state employment, are at risk from these policies.
People in Bakersfield may depend on these jobs, but rigid Ecotopians – backed by investment bankers, social media magnates, and urban real estate interests, the funders of “progressive” politics – want them eliminated. The green push also threatens to destroy the area’s ability to fund local services. Renewable firms thrive in the area – producing 25 percent of all California’s renewable energy, according to the Kern EDC, and serving as home to the nation’s largest solar plant, wind farm, and geothermal facility. But these facilities tend to pay little or no property tax, while oil represents the largest source of local revenue. Green energy won’t do much for the county when faced with the demand for more welfare and other services that would accompany increased joblessness stemming from the demise of oil.
Nor is energy the only area Newsom is seeking to undermine the local economy, particularly now that California is about to have another of its regular droughts. The last one ended in 2017. Since then, first under Jerry Brown and now Newsom, the state has done little to increase reservoir storage capacity during wetter years. Captured water is increasingly released into San Francisco Bay, rather than used for homes and farms, in a quixotic attempt to “save” species in decline despite decades of “scientific” protection.
Like the energy sector, agriculture finds itself in the crosshairs of the greens, who link dry weather to climate but oppose the construction of new reservoirs, preferring to use runoff for natural areas like San Francisco Bay and the adjoining delta. The preferred solution to droughts today is not de-salinization or boosting water storage, but wiping out farmland, creating a dystopic landscape of abandoned fields in some of the world’s richest agricultural areas.
The losers here are not just the “corporate” farms long disdained by California’s progressives. In the last drought, which ended in 2017, thousands of poor and predominantly Latino workers lost their jobs. The most recent drought is hitting just as Central Valley farmers struggle with new groundwater regulations that dramatically cut their ability to cope with reduced runoff from rain and snowmelt. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, groundwater limits will eliminate between 535,000 and 750,000 acres of Valley farmland. Small farmers, who won’t be able to pay for or even secure ever-scarcer water, likely would be the worst hit.
Zero Hedge reports on one of Rock & Roll’s heroes acting like a hero.
Pink Floyd song writer Roger Waters slammed Mark Zuckerberg during a press conference recently, announcing that the Facebook owner had offered a “huge, huge amount of money” to use the iconic song Another Brick In The Wall Part II in an advert for Instagram.
Speaking at an event to raise awareness about imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Waters noted the deep deep irony of Facebook wanting to buy and use a song that rails against ‘thought control’ and mindless conformity.
Waters described the development as part of Zuckerberg’s “insidious movement… to take over absolutely everything.”
Waters read out Facebook’s request, which noted “We want to thank you for considering this project. We feel that the core sentiment of this song is still so prevalent and so necessary today, which speaks to how timeless the work is.”
“And yet, they want to use it to make Facebook and Instagram more powerful than it already is,” Waters urged, adding “so that it can continue to censor all of us in this room and prevent this story about Julian Assange getting out into the general public so the general public can go, ‘What? No. No More.’”
“So it’s a missive from Mark Zuckerberg to me… with an offer of a huge, huge amount of money and the answer is, ‘f**k you! No f**king way!’,” Waters boomed to rapturous applause.
“I will not be a party to this bullsh-t, Zuckerberg,” Waters added.
He then asked “How did this little pr**k, who started off going, ‘She’s pretty, we’ll give her a four out of five. She’s ugly, we’ll give her a one’… How the f**k did he get any power in anything?”
“And yet here he is, one of the most powerful idiots in the world,” Waters emphasized.
On 13 September 1877, Captain Frederick Benteen led a company of the 7th Cavalry into the Battle of Canyon Creek armed… with a fly rod! Richard Lessner at the Museum of American Fly Fishing blog explains the key role of Salmo clarkii in George Armstrong Custer’s disastrous defeat one year previously at the Little Big Horn.
Bolshevik-Nonsense-Wallah Raj Patel, in the Guardian, tells us that apple pie is baked up from a recipe of historic crimes involving ” stolen land, wealth and labour.”
This is what results from admitting exotic, Third World immigrants to advanced Western democratic countries, and educating their offspring at elite institutions like Balliol College, London School of Economics, and Cornell.
Apples were first domesticated in central Asia, making the journey along the Silk Road to the Mediterranean four thousand years ago. Apples traveled to the western hemisphere with Spanish colonists in the 1500s in what used to be called the Columbian Exchange, but is now better understood as a vast and ongoing genocide of Indigenous people. …
Not that the recipe for apple pie is uniquely American. It’s a variant on an English pumpkin recipe. By the time the English colonized the new world, apple trees had become markers of civilization, which is to say property. In Virginia, apple trees were used to demonstrate to the state that land had been improved. John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, took these markers of colonized property to the frontiers of US expansion where his trees stood as symbols that Indigenous communities had been extirpated.
In The Revolt of the Public, Martin Gurri traces the exalted status of the modern scientist to the mythical figure of the early twentieth century renegade scientific genius, embodied most famously by Albert Einstein. Einstein, Gurri reminds us, was hardly a creature of the academy. He nearly dropped out of high school, and when he began publishing his scientific insights he was working not at a university but at the patent office. But Einstein’s singular genius, combined with his tenacious devotion to The Truth, made him first the equal and then the superior of every credentialed academic in the world. Like Copernicus, the intrepidness of Einstein’s spirit and the independence of his mind elevated him above the banal muck of human affairs, bringing him a step closer to the gods of nature.
This mythological image, Gurri writes, remains the template for our popular conception of the professional scientist. But the myth is wildly at odds with the reality of what science is today.
The modern scientific research industry is like a cross between a giant perpetual motion machine and a game of musical chairs. Scientific research is underwritten, in large part, by a steady stream of government funding. To keep the lights on in their labs, scientists need to tap into that stream. They do so by designing research projects that conform to whatever the government prioritizes at any particular moment. If, for instance, there was just a major terrorist attack and Congress was concerned about the threat of bioterrorism, scientific research that related to that concern would be likely to be fast tracked for funding, so it may be a good time for a savvy principal investigator to start pitching projects aimed at developing vaccines for bioengineered pathogens. The successful scientist is the one who is particularly adept at writing fundable grant applications pegged to some politically salient research objective, and then generating laboratory results that make some sort of incremental progress toward that objective to justify a renewal of that grant funding in the next cycle.
The modern professional scientist is thus less like Albert Einstein than like his co-workers at the patent office. He is a bureaucrat, albeit a highly technical one. His goal is, to be sure, to seek The Truth, but only within the very narrow parameters of what other bureaucrats and politicians have deemed to be questions worth asking.
Anthony Fauci is the Platonic form of the scientist-technician-bureaucrat, which is why he has held his position as one of the top scientists in the nation for decades and through multiple administrations. As a creature of both science and politics, he has made himself indispensable as an interface between the two worlds and as the individual best positioned to mold the former to suit the needs of the latter. After 9/11, he transformed NIH into the agency at the front line of defending America against the imminent threat of jihadis armed with weaponized plague viruses. He championed “gain-of-function” research, which essentially meant building those superviruses before the terrorists did, the better to find vaccines for them. And once the Islamic terrorist threat faded a bit from our collective memory, he re-tooled this heftily-funded research into humanity’s front line of defense against Mother Nature, “the worst bioterrorist.” Unfortunately for Fauci, in the process, he may have — oops! — created one of the biggest pandemics in human history. …
At every such juncture, we’ve been admonished to “believe the science.” But this is not science; it’s politics. Science demands a reflexive posture of skepticism toward received wisdom, tempered by trust in empirical evidence. Bowing habitually to expert authority on the strength of titles and credentials is the antithesis of the scientific mindset. It is precisely what Democrats adopted the “party of science” moniker to reject: willful obedience to those who hold cultural and political power.
To study the Sydney funnel web spider, one researcher tags along from a distance with the help of tags the size of a grain of rice.
After four or five minutes of breathing carbon dioxide gas, Caitlin Creak’s eight-legged subject is fully unconscious. Working quickly—she has less than a minute before the spider, named Harold, starts to wake up—Creak pins the creature’s legs under a foam doughnut, leaving the shiny black body exposed. Using an especially strong super glue, she attaches a tracking device, barely larger than a grain of rice, to his back. The next day, she’ll release Harold near where she found him on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, and study his movements as he continues on his all-important journey to find mates.
Harold and the other participants in Creak’s research are Sydney funnel web spiders, the most venomous spider in Australia, a country that certainly does not lack for venomous eight-legged beasties. In children, a funnel web bite can be fatal in as little as 15 minutes. Typically measuring less than three inches long, including legs—record-holder “Big Boy” topped the charts at nearly four inches—the funnel web spider certainly isn’t Australia’s largest, but it’s one many people from cooler regions of the world would likely describe as intimidating, and impressively chunky instead of delicate and spindly.
“These spiders certainly have impressive-looking fangs and very strong bites. They rear up in impressive threat displays and actually drip venom from their fangs, which is very unusual—most spiders try to conserve their venom,” says Samantha Nixon, a spider venom researcher at the University of Queensland. Nixon says funnel web spider venoms are some of “the most chemically complex venoms on the planet, containing over 3,000 peptides.” Researchers are even studying some of the venom peptides from another species of Australian funnel web spider as potential treatments for stroke, epilepsy, and certain types of pain.
But while their venom is well-studied, Creak says relatively little is known about the spiders themselves. “They’re a very understudied species,” says Creak, a PhD student at the University of New South Wales who originally considered becoming a vet before getting hooked on spiders during an invertebrate biology course in university. “We know how many ways they can kill a person, or a rat, which is great, but we don’t know anything about their life history. It’s such an iconic species; I think it’s really important to uncover more.”
My wife brought me one home from a business trip to Oz, safely encased in Lucite.