Category Archive 'California'
01 Oct 2022

Contemplating Lunch?

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19 Aug 2022

Beach Boys Parody

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10 Jun 2022

Much-Suffering, Much-Enduring (πολύτλᾱς ) Californians

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Odysseus and Euryclea.

Going home from the Bay area to his Central Valley farm reminds Victor Davis Hanson of Odysseus’ hardships in returning to Ithaca from Troy.

I drove back from San Francisco not long ago to the rural San Joaquin Valley. It is only 200 miles. But in fact, it can feel like Odysseus trying to get back home to Ithaca from Troy.

Walking to the car in San Francisco was an early morning obstacle course dotted with the occasional human feces and lots of trash. The streets looked like Troy after its sacking. Verbal and physical altercations among the homeless offered background. The sidewalks were sort of like the flotsam and jetsam in the caves of the Cyclopes, with who knows what the ingredients really were. Outbreaks of hepatitis and typhus are now common among the refuse of California’s major cities.

The rules of the road in downtown San Francisco can seem pre-civilizational: the more law-abiding driver is considered timid and someone to be taken advantage of—while the more reckless earns respect and right of way. Pedestrians have achieved the weird deterrent effect of so pouring out onto the street in such numbers that drivers not walkers seemed the more terrified.

The 101 freeway southbound was entirely blocked by traffic—sort of like the ancient doldrums where ships don’t move. About 20 percent of the cars in the carpool lane seemed to be cheating—and were determined not to let in any more of like kind. The problem with talking on the phone and texting while driving is not just cars, but also semi-trucks, whose drivers go over the white line and weave as they please on the theory that no one argues with 20 tons of freight.

The trip can take over three hours in theory and often longer than six hours in practice. …

Remember that you will encounter pre-civilizational Laestrygonians at any moment who can cut you off, ram you from the rear, sideswipe you, slam on the brakes without warning, or as Lotus-eaters simply fall asleep or doze off in a drunken stupor. Recall that you are driving in a state of 40 million with roads designed for 20 million.

RTWT

01 Jun 2022

CA Appellate Court Unanimously Rules That Bees Are Fish

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Law & Crime:

[A] three-judge panel of a state appellate court found that certain invertebrate animal species, including bees, are legally contained under the same umbrella definition as “fish” under the terms of the Golden State’s homegrown Endangered Species Act.

Four different bumblebee species are facing dire odds in the country’s most populous state. That danger mostly comes from the activities of huge agricultural interests. In 2019, the California Fish and Game Commission moved to protect those bees, the Crotch, Franklin’s, Western, and Suckley’s cuckoo, by designating them as endangered, threatened, and candidate species under three sections of the CESA.

Almond growers, citrus farmers, cotton ginners, and other agricultural groups sued. They argued that the CESA does not allow the Commission to designate any insects as endangered, threatened, or candidate species because insects are not included in the statute’s enumerated categories of wildlife entitled to such legal protections.

The Commission countered, saying that the definition of fish can and should encapsulate bees and other similarly situated invertebrates because, in part, it already does in practice. At least one species of shrimp, snail and crayfish are listed under the CESA. The listing of the Trinity bristle snail is particularly instructive, the Commission argued.

That’s because the snail, the commissioners note, does not even live in the water and was categorized as “threatened” in 1980. The way the snail got on the list was by being classified as a “fish.” Since the bristle snail is a terrestrial species, the Commission argues, “fish” cannot be limited to animals that inhabit a marine environment.

RTWT

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Read it and weep:

Almond Alliance of California et. al. v. fish and Game Commission et. al.

We conclude a liberal interpretation of the Act, supported by the legislative history and the express language in section 2067 that a terrestrial mollusk and invertebrate is a threatened species (express language we cannot ignore), is that fish defined in section 45, as a term of art, is not limited solely to aquatic species. Accordingly, a terrestrial invertebrate, like each of the four bumble bee species, may be listed as an endangered or threatened species under the Act. . . .

If we were to apply the noscitur a sociis canon to the term invertebrate in section 45 to limit and restrict the term to aquatic species, as petitioners suggest, we would have to apply that limitation to all items in the list. In other words, we would have to conclude the Commission may list only aquatic mollusks, crustaceans, and amphibians as well. Such a conclusion is directly at odds with the Legislature’s approval of the Commission’s listing of a terrestrial mollusk and invertebrate as a threatened species. Furthermore, limiting the term to aquatic would require a restrictive rather than liberal interpretation of the Act, which is also directly at odds with our duty to liberally construe the remedial statutes contained therein. We thus decline to apply the statutory interpretation canon here.

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Ilya Somin, writing at (T)Reason magazine, says: “The ruling is not as ridiculous as it sounds.”

Which explains, of course, just how driveway puddles get to be “Navigable Waterways,” and growing wheat to feed animals on your own farm (Wickard v. Filburn) can be “Interstate Commerce.”

Clearly you don’t really have to be a full-fledged liberal statist to become this intellectually addled. This kind of extreme casuistical thinking can apparently be transmitted to soi disant Libertarian professors by mere contagion resulting from their hanging around the sort of intellectual pestholes known as law schools.

21 Feb 2022

More Crime in California

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Hank the Tank likes leftover pizza.

NYT:

Since the summer, a black bear known as Hank the Tank has made a 500-pound nuisance of himself in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., breaking into more than two dozen homes to rummage for food and leaving a trail of damage behind.

So far, nobody has been able to deter Hank, said Peter Tira, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Department officials and the local police have tried to “haze” the bear with paintballs, bean bags, sirens and Tasers, but he is too drawn to humans and their food to stay away for long.

26 Oct 2021

Gerrish Family Believed Killed by Heatstroke

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Remember this item from August 22nd?

Daily Mail:

The mysterious deaths of a British Google engineer and his family on a hiking trail were not a case of homicide, police say.

The bodies of Jonathan Gerrish, 45, his wife Ellen Chung and their daughter Muji – along with their dog Oski – were found by search teams on Tuesday in an area of the Sierra National Forest known as Devil’s Gulch. …

The Marisopa County Sheriff’s Office is now ruling out homicide in the hiking trail deaths, Fox News reports. Spokeswoman Kristie Mitchell said: ‘Initially, yes, when we come across a family with no apparent cause of death, there’s no smoking gun, there’s no suicide note, there’s nothing like that, we have to consider all options.

‘Now that we’re five days in, no, we’re no longer considering homicide as a cause of death.’

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Outside magazine:

On October 21, 2021, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office announced its long-awaited conclusions about what had killed an active, outdoorsy family and their dog on a hiking trail in California’s Sierra National Forest on August 15. They determined that the family died of “hyperthermia and probable dehydration” on a day when temperatures hit 109 degrees. The cause of death of Oski, an eight-year-old Aussie-Akita mix, remains undetermined. Based on a veterinary examination of the dog’s remains and other evidence on the scene, Sheriff Jeremy Briese said Oski probably also died of heat-related issues. …

The mystery surrounding the family’s death both saddened and captivated people worldwide. Speculation flew on social media, where armchair sleuths hypothesized about everything from poisoning by drug cartels, to a hit by Garrish’s one-time employer, Google. A more promising hypothesis, reported in September by the San Francisco Chronicle, was that the family had been exposed to dangerous anatoxins from algae blooms in the nearby South Fork Merced River (the Sierra National Forest closed the surrounding area as a precaution). The investigation’s toxicology report proved otherwise.

In a press conference, Briese said 30 different agencies aided his office’s investigation, including the FBI. “This is an unfortunate and tragic event due to the weather,” Briese said.

The trail where the Chung-Gerrish family died is an approximately eight-mile loop with more than 4,000 feet of elevation change. It starts at 3,880 feet of elevation, drops down to a river valley at 1,800 feet, and then climbs back out. Hikers typically access it from a dirt road called Hites Cove Road, about 18 miles northeast of Mariposa, at a rudimentary trailhead. There is no cell phone service in the area. Leak Pen, an assistant recreation officer at the Bass Lake Ranger District, which oversees that portion of the Sierra National Forest, described the loop as “steep and challenging and mostly popular during the cooler spring months.”

When the family began their hike at 8:00 A.M. on Sunday, August 15, it was about 75 degrees. The investigation noted that Gerrish’s cell phone showed he had researched the trail the day before using an app, charting out the family’s route. They probably expected to be on the trail for four or five hours, back home in time for a late lunch. They’d packed some snacks, a bottle with baby formula, and an 85-ounce bladder full of water. A common guideline for adult hikers is to drink 16 ounces of water per hour under normal circumstances. Following that math, two people hiking for four hours need 128 total ounces of water. Add in extra for the dog, and to contend with the hot temperatures forecast that day, and Chung and Gerrish probably should have been carrying two 85-ounce bladders. They did not bring a water purifier or a portable dog bowl.

Their hike began with a steep, yet scenic 2.2-mile descent down to the South Fork Merced River, by which time temperatures would have risen by at least 15 degrees, into the 90s. From there, the family trekked parallel to the river for just under two miles. During that time, it’s easy to imagine Oski romping along the riverbank and getting a drink. Perhaps Chung and Gerrish began to worry about their own dwindling water supply. It was searingly hot, over 100 degrees when they reached the hike’s halfway point at the intersection with the Savage-Lundy Trail, which would bring them back to their car.

The app that Gerrish had used to plan their outing wouldn’t have told him that the Ferguson Fire of 2018 had incinerated all the California incense-cedars and pines that used to shade the trail. The tourism site Yosemite.com calls the Savage-Lundy “the most difficult trail in the area.” It gains more than 2,000 feet of elevation in its three-mile ascent, on a south/southeast facing slope exposed to constant sunlight. The Chung-Gerrish family only made it up the first two miles. Temperatures for that section of the trail, from 12:50 P.M. to 2:50 P.M., topped out at 109 F. When local authorities found their bodies two days later, the bladder was empty, save for small traces of water.

22 Aug 2021

Mysterious Deaths of Google Engineer, Wife, Baby, & Dog

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Daily Mail:

The mysterious deaths of a British Google engineer and his family on a hiking trail were not a case of homicide, police say.

The bodies of Jonathan Gerrish, 45, his wife Ellen Chung and their daughter Muji – along with their dog Oski – were found by search teams on Tuesday in an area of the Sierra National Forest known as Devil’s Gulch. …

The Marisopa County Sheriff’s Office is now ruling out homicide in the hiking trail deaths, Fox News reports. Spokeswoman Kristie Mitchell said: ‘Initially, yes, when we come across a family with no apparent cause of death, there’s no smoking gun, there’s no suicide note, there’s nothing like that, we have to consider all options.

‘Now that we’re five days in, no, we’re no longer considering homicide as a cause of death.’

Mr Gerrish, originally from Lancashire, had been a software developer for Snapchat and previously worked for Google. …

The couple were last heard from early on Sunday when they uploaded a photo of a backpack. Searchers began looking for the family on Monday after they were reported missing by friends when they did not report to work.

County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said: ‘I’ve been here for 20 years, and I’ve never seen a death-related case like this.

‘There’s no obvious indicators of how it occurred.’

Briese said there was no obvious cause of death and that he had not dealt with a case like this in his 20 years in the area.

‘You have two healthy adults, you have a healthy child and what appears to be a healthy canine all within a general same area,’ the sheriff explained.

‘So right now, we’re treating the coroner investigation as a homicide until we can establish the cause.’

RTWT

19 Jul 2021

California Housing Prices

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(click on image, as usual, for larger version)

My wife Karen forwarded, for schadenfreude laughs, this Zillow record of a recent house sale in San Jose.

San Jose is a depressing, intensely-governed police state of a small city, consisting of truly ghastly cheap suburban houses built of ticky-tacky squatting at the bottom of Silicon Valley and spilling up on to some of the scrub-covered surrounding hills.

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17 Jun 2021

Coastal California’s Waging War on Kern County

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Bakersfield

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.

RTWT

10 Jun 2021

17-Year-Old California Girl Throws Bear to Save Dogs

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18 Apr 2021

COVID Sent Bay Area Techies Fleeing to Tahoe

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Outside reports that the COVID epidemic had terrible consequences for the Lake Tahoe resort community:

They just kept coming. The day-trippers, Airbnbers, second-home owners, and unmasked revelers. Unleashed after California’s first statewide COVID-19 lockdown ended in late June of last year, they swarmed Lake Tahoe in numbers never before seen, even for a tourist region accustomed to the masses. “It was a full-blown takeover,” says Josh Lease, a tree specialist and longtime Tahoe local.

July Fourth fireworks were canceled, but that stopped no one. August was a continuation of what Lease called a “shit show.”

The standstill traffic was one thing; the locals were used to that. But the trash—strewn across the sand, floating along the shore, piled around dumpsters—was too much. Capri Sun straws, plastic water-bottle caps, busted flip-flops, empty beer cans. One day in early August, Lease picked up a dirty diaper on a south shore beach and dangled it before a crowd. “This anyone’s?” he asked.

Lease was pissed. He couldn’t believe the lack of respect people had for this beautiful area, his home for two decades. Plus, they’d invaded during a pandemic, bringing their COVID with them.

That day, after the diaper incident, Lease went back to his long-term rental in Meyers, California, a few miles south of the lake at the juncture of Highways 89 and 50, where he could see the endless stream of cars. An otherwise even-keeled guy, he logged on to Facebook and vented. “Let’s rally,” he posted on his page, adding that he wanted to put together a “non welcoming committee.” He was joking—sort of. But word spread like the wildfires that would soon rage uncontrollably around the state. Before long someone had designed a flyer of a kid wearing a gas mask, with a speech bubble that read “Stay Out of Tahoe.” It went viral.

On Friday, August 14, at four o’clock, over 100 locals from around the lake began to gather. They commandeered the roundabouts leading into the Tahoe Basin’s major towns—Truckee, Tahoe City, Kings Beach, and Meyers in California, and Incline Village in Nevada—to greet the weekend hordes. Young women in bikini tops, elderly couples in floppy hats, and bearded dads bouncing babies in Björns held up hand-painted signs: “Respect Tahoe Life,” “Your Entitlement Sucks!,” and “Go Back to the Bay.” One old-timer plastered his truck with a banner that read “Go Away” and drove around and around a traffic circle.

But summer turned to fall, which turned to winter, which became spring, and the newcomers are still here. It’s not just the tourists anymore, whose numbers have ebbed and flowed with lockdown restrictions and the weather and whose trash has gone from wet towels twisted in the sand to plastic sleds split in the snow. There’s another population of people who came and never left: those freed by COVID from cubicles and work commutes. They migrated, laptops in tow, to mountain towns all over the West, transforming them into modern-day boomtowns: “Zoom-towns.”

In Lake Tahoe, the unwelcoming party was hardly a deterrence. The outsiders have settled in.

RTWT

05 Oct 2020

Trans-Black Reparations Now! No Justice, No Peace!

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Godfrey Elfwick (authors’ names come out wrong in Outline) says he is a Trans-Black woman. (Actually, he is a sharp-tongued satirist writing for the British Spectator.)

On Wednesday, California became the first state government in the US to adopt a law to study and develop proposals for reparations to descendants of enslaved people and those impacted by slavery. This is positive news and I am hoping it will set an example to encourage other states to follow suit.

As a transblack individual and an immigrant to the United States, it’s pure coincidence that I’ve recently (since yesterday) been mulling over the idea of moving to California. I believe that I qualify for reparations from the white man who has kept me down and prevented me from achieving my full potential. Only the other week I applied for a position at Microsoft and was told (by a white man, probably, it was on the phone but his voice sounded pale) that I would need a degree in Computer Science to even be considered for any job other than that of a receptionist or cleaner. Now, if that’s not racism I do not know what is. It is sexism too. How is someone like me expected to obtain such a qualification when the cards are stacked so high against me? This has been proven time and time again. The moment I tell someone I am a Black woman (their ignorance and bigotry only allows them to view me as a white male), their demeanor swiftly changes and the atmosphere becomes tainted with the unmistakable stench of hostility, followed by hysterical shouting and racial slurs. Because I’m not just going to stand there while some honky crackerjack stares down their ridiculously pointy nose at me. Not once have I been given a second interview. Discrimination.

In my opinion, it’s high time the subject of reparation was taken to a federal level. I mean, if forcing white people to contribute more taxes to atone for the possible sins of their ancestors won’t end racism once and for all, I honestly do not know what will.

RTWT

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