July 2014

How do you deal with the moral authority of ignorance? James Lee Burke, Pegasus Descending (2006), p. 473

Gov. Jerry Brown must be saved from himself, says the next state Senate leader. He needs to be talked out of starting the bullet train in the Central Valley boonies. "I don't think it makes sense to lay down track in the middle of nowhere," asserts Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles). It's illogical. No one lives there in the tumbleweeds." -- George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2914, "Next Senate leader Kevin de Leon wants Brown to rethink bullet train." 

Just what the world needs: incurable Swine Flu virus

 Mad scientists are at it again, proudly announcing creation of a swine flu virus immune to human resistance in Madison, Wisconsin, not far from some of the swine-production centers of the nation.
Readers of Badlands may have forgotten a struggle several years ago to block establishment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of a Level 4 Biowarfare lab, rated even more dangerous than the Level 3 lab that produced this monster, as always, "for better research to find a cure." LLNL established a Level 3 lab instead.

Some current aspects of information-technology spying

 We once had a friend, who might be described as a member in memorium of the Badlands Journal editorial board, who spent the last 25 years of his life in Silicon Valley devising a system for collecting and organizing information based entirely on 4X6 index cards. Don Quixote had nothing on Peter Gillingham. Curiously enough, his technique for storing and retrieving vast amounts of information on index cards is probably more secure than most computer storage and retrieval systems around today.

"Almonds and Dust"

 "Almonds and Dust"
(Tune of "Diamonds and Rust," J. Baez)
 Bill Hatch
Well I’ll be damned
Here comes your dust again
But that’s not unusual
It’s just I had a summer cold
When the harvest began
And here I sit, hand on my oxygen
Hearing that sound I’ve known
Decades of bumper crops ago
Tractors, trailers and trucks.
As I remember your days
Got grayer than rain clouds
My farming was small time you said
Where are you coming from?
A Farm Bureau banquet.


"To extirpate" means to destroy completely or to extinguish. It is a fancy word used by resource-agency biologists in the past participle, "extirpated," as professional jargon for "extinction". Agribusiness, Southern Californa water agencies and state and federal resource agencies have been working together for years to extirpate the Delta smelt because it is the principle endangered species that obstructs agricultural corporations and urban water agencies from unlimited use of Delta water.

We must not be complicit any longer

 We have read a number of reports and opinions on the current Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip but haven't anything that says more about it with less words than Chris Hedges' remarks in Truthdig on Monday. And unlike so many American expressions of helplessness, Hedges has a simple approach, proven effective against apartheid in South Africa: an immediate mass movement demanding boycotts, sanctions and divestment -- blj
If we fail to act we are complicit in the slaughter. -- Chris Hedges, July 14, 2014

Snapshot of those who conserve and those who guzzle water in California in May 2014

We don't know what to make of this list of water districts that have conserved and those that have increased water usage during this great drought. Probably worse and better examples did not respond to the survey. Nevertheless, with the glaring example of San Francisco's 19-percent increase in water use, the largest reported increases came from Southern California while, with the exception of Glendora in LA County, the nine top districts that reduced water consumption came from Northern California.

Costly luxury crops

 The large crop results in part from a rise in almond acreage -- about 860,000 acres this year, compared with 840,000 last year and 570,000 a decade ago. This year's average yield per acre is projected at 2,440 pounds, second only to the 2,540 in 2011. The number of trees per acre also has risen. -- John Holland, Fresno Bee, July 11, 2014.

Bugs in Arizxona

 When it comes to the environment, those great "stewards of the land" in the Farm Bureau never fail to surprise with the stupidity of their policies..
“We view the tamarisk as a pest,” said Joseph Sigg, the government relations director at the Arizona Farm Bureau. “Water is an expensive input, and to the extent that we can lower it, the beetle can help.”
And that's the news from Arizona on Bastille Day, 2014.-- blj
New York Times

OIRA, mother of political slush funds?

 We have noticed that one of the darker, more cunning tools of American politicians is regulation. Regulation can be a beautiful thing for a politician. Say, for example, a US senator writes a resolute and righteous environmental regulation suited exactly to the specifications laid out by expert scientists in the field covered by this particular draft regulation. Let us suppose that the draft is enthusiastically supported in a rare show of unity by all the environmental groups of any possible danger to our politician.