October 2014

The billionaire and the surfers: a Peninsula tale

 Twenty-five years ago a resident of Silicon Valley and friend of a Badlands Journal editor wrote a congressman he knew with a novel proposition. While the new rich of Silicon Valley were busily fencing off many old haunts of Peninsula folk, he proposed that Congress construct a fence around Silicon Valley to keep its denizens in and to protect the rest of the nation from them.
At least someone tried. -- blj

NIMBY elite demands Merced City Council stop plans for bridge on Parsons Ave.

The Right Sort of People live along Parsons Ave. and the mayor knows it. -- eds.
The Merced City Council held a kangaroo court hearing in front of a lynch mob on September 15, starring Mayor Stan Thurston as the mob's lead attorney.  In an unprecedented 15-minute display of  litigation in a legislative body, 

Hawk downs drone

Hawk 1, Drone 0: Bird of prey attacks quadcopter, takes down from skies (VIDEO)

Published time: October 11, 2014 08:27 

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Screenshot from youtube video by Christopher Schmidt

About questions

 End of December in Leningrad, 1983, minus 15 degrees Celsius (they said it was the coldest winter since '44, but perhaps they always say that about cold winters there), walking east on Nevsky Prospekt in late afternoon haze, a man came toward me. He looked like a Tatar and wore a long, fur-trimmed leather jacket and a sheepskin hat, earflaps akimbo. Reminded me of some Indian trappers getting off a train and strapping on snowshoes in the middle of the forest in western Ontario.

Kern County-approved Bakersfield oil-transfer station project sued

 Down on the front lines in Kern County, a lawsuit with implications for Merced, which has two main railroads running through it, is being fought over the future transportation of oil, particularly the highly flammable fracked crude from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to refineries in Richmond.



LA: it believes in its own tinsel

 LA lives or dies by its own propaganda except for its fine B movies, its superb detective-story writers, and the incomparable Mike Davis (City of Quartz, Planet of Slums, and much more).
But, is it absolutely necessary that the rest of the state swallow LA propaganda, particularly on the question of how much Northern California water it "deserves" as "fair and equitable" so it can continue to grow? For the benefit of whom (1)  at the cost of the destruction to what (2)?
See answers below. -- blj

New Valley "dynamic duo" and Old Valley hog ball

 Ken Groves, former staffer for former Rep. Gary Condit, once again raises the spector over our part of the San Joaquin Valley of "the dynamic duo." How well we remember the vivid picture drawn by the local political press of a fundraiser held at Fritz Grupe's ranch during the height of the real estate bubble, after which the dynamic duo of that era, former representatives Dennis Cardoza, The Pimlico Kid-Merced, and Richard Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy, split more than $50,000 in bribes (we mean campaign contributions, of course).

Atwater al fresco

 "Is the bigot still on the council?" asked a relocated Valley citizen the other night, when we were standing again before the Mystery of Atwater politics.
"Think he's gone by now, but let's check." (1)

Restorative justice in Merced schools?

 Fewer suspensions not only benefits students, but translate directly into cost savings for schools because school funding is based on the number of students in attendance. A 40 percent reduction in suspensions would save $120,000 for county school districts. -- Scambray, Merced Sun-Star, Oct. 23, 2014

Prize winning academic women: what do they do?

This is a story about a highly accomplished scientist at California Institute of Technology, Frances Arnold, who in 2013 received a national medal for technology and innovation from President Barack Obama. It is also a story about women in academia, particularly women in the sciences. Last and least, it is a story about DNA engineering, actually the technology to synthesize DNA and "rewrite the code of life."