March 2010

The People of California are cordially invited to shoot themselves in the head again

Flak, propaganda, public relations, political campaign messaging -- there are a hundred names for what millions of dollars of broadcasted lies can do to public memory. We are going to get another dose of it this spring in the Proposition 16 campaign, the purpose of which is to make it practically impossible for any local government to establish a public power utility.


Fresno County leaders are trying to salvage a farmland protection plan that has drawn resistance from at least one small city and, ironically, from some farmers as well.-- Fresno Bee, 3-6-10


Bubble brains for bubble-jobs initiative

The great bubble brains among us are buying signatures this spring for a November initiative that would suspend AB 32, California's global warming law, until the state's unemployment rate dropped below 5.5 percent. The unemployment rate, now at 12.4 percent, has not dipped below 5.5 percent since September 2007, when the speculative real estate bubble was popping, with a sound heard round the world.

Dispatch from New Orleans

From time to time we are fortunate enough to receive a dispatch from New Orleans sent by Gary McMillen, an old friend, dynamite writer and photographer -- Badlands Journal editorial board
Ghosts, Gumbo and Hurricanes

Unemployment, foreclosure and agriculture this week

The great theoreticians of the economy that ate Merced speak in lovingly of "creative destruction." I suppose, from the vantage point of a tenured chair in a university economics department committed to free-market ideology, it all must seem terribly exciting. The public and elected officials (currently enjoying the lowest popularity ratings since such records began), may be excused for not fully embracing our culture's universal approval of all that is "creative." The destruction is not a new problem.

UC Merced and the Merced Sun-Star: Historical amnesia on speed

Some rightwing Anglos out at UC Merced recently posted a racially offensive video ( It's a cartoon featuring a semi-bald Anglo with a snotty British accent interrogating a female Chicano student, with no accent, involved in trying to start a Chicano Studies Program at the limping U. The Brit gets the best of the staged argument (sic).

Bob Baker's Newsthinking: a great book

I can't too highly recommend the latest edition (or any edition you can find) of Bob Baker's classic book on the news writer's craft: Newsthinking: The Secret of Making Your Facts Fall into Place.
I recommend it to everybody: working news writers, unworking news writers, editors, columnists, bloggers -- even publishers -- and perhaps most of all to readers of journalism. Whatever your relationship to the craft of journalism is, reading Newsthinking will increase your enjoyment of it.

Republicans declare World War III in Cardoza's congressional district

McClatchy's Big Eight
We didn't like this McClatchy article, "Health care overhaul: Tallying winners and losers." But we had to admit covering the results at the final bell of the year-long session of the free market for votes in the White House and Congress as if it were a wrap up article of a day's race card at Pimlico made some sense. But we had some bones to pick with it because for many ordinary readers, it will probably go down as pretty much the last word on the issue. We hope we get through the political campaign season without violence in the Valley.

Quick quiz for the county of tall cotton and thick prison guards

Background: Tulare Lake is an enormous lake dammed for the past 10-15,000 years by two large “alluvial fans” jutting out into the San Joaquin Valley (Figure 1). Before river diversion associated with modern irrigation practices, Tulare Lake was one of the largest freshwater lakes in North America. Currently it is mostly irrigated farmland.--Ancient Tulare Lake: Investigating Changes over the Past 15,000 Years
Adapted from CSUB Geology Department Lab developed by Dr. Rob Negrini