July 2017

The drowned baby

Former state Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh used to refer to lobbyist money as "the mother's milk of politics." But he also advised new members of the Assembly: "If you can't drink their booze, enjoy their women, take their money, and vote against them in the morning, you don't belong here."
How things change! Special interests drowned the state Legislature in the 'mother's milk' not long after Unruh left office.

A sensible lawsuit to reform the state Legislature

 A federal lawsuit claims that our rights to representation are being violated because the size of the Legislature — 40 senators and 80 Assembly members — hasn’t changed since 1862 (and was made permanent by the 1879 Constitution ) even though the state’s population has grown from about 420,000 to nearly 40 million.

Regulation and its absence

 The dismal dialectic between government and business may be approaching the trough, even if it has not bottomed out yet. From this vantage point, the velocity of bribery having slowed from the sheer volume of the current bribes, something almost like a calm prevails. And in this calm it is possible to see why government regulates on behalf of the people and why business reacts and works to undermine and destroy every governmental regulation. Out of the latter motive comes such idiotic slogans as "The business of America is business," (Pres.

"Teheran," by Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers, 1948
The persons wane and fade, they fade out of meaning.
     Personal greatness
Was never more than a trick of the light, a halo of illu-
     sion -- but who are these little smiling attendants
On a world's agony, meeting in Teheran to plot against
     whom what future?  The future is clear enough
In the firelight of burning cities and pain-light of that
     long battle-line,
That monstrous ulcer reaching from the Arctic Ocean to

The Muslim civil war

 This is an excellent article that begs this question: how humble to we need to become to learn what we need to know to survive our leaders?
If we stop for a second to imagine all the ways possible to dismiss this question, and ask where those voices come from and how you feel about them -- warm, cold, fearful, trusting? -- it helps us see how far down the road of endless war we have gone and what it is doing to us as a nation, a people, a society, a place we would want to live if we had a choice.
-- blj


July 6, 2017

Mexico this year: a rising new cartel and drought

Rolling Stone
The Brutal Rise of El Mencho
With El Chapo behind bars, an even more dangerous drug lord has emerged. On the hunt for Mexico's next-generation narco
By Josh Eells
On a hot, humid night last August, two wealthy Mexican brothers went out to party in Puerto Vallarta.

Detwiler Fire, Tuesday, July 18, 2017

 The big smudge in the southeast is the Detwiler Fire -- a big, spreading wildfire fueled by tall grasses and manzanita east of Lake McClure and now descending on the City of Mariposa, driving crowds of cabin and ranchette owners before it. Fire trucks from the Inland Empire are lined up along Yosemite Parkway.
The fire doubled in size, from 11,600 acres to 20,000 acres in 24 hours.
We hope for the safety of the firefighters, residents and wild and domestic animals caught in the path.
-- blj



Detwiler Fire, Thursday, July 20, 2017, adds 25,000 acres overnight

 From 45,000 to 70,000 in another day of flames. Great reporting job by B.J. Hansen of My Mother Lode, and citizen reporters.

Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds owner and manager have been sheltering evacuated horses and other large animals fleeing the fast-moving fire.1.
 -- blj



My Mother Lode
Update: Size And Containment Grows On Detwiler Fire

Cotton lobbyists, the boll weevils of gummint?

 Cotton Subsidies in the United States totaled $35.8 billion from 1995-2014. 2Cotton Subsidies in California totaled $3.2 billion during the same period.2..  Cotton Subsidies in Merced County, California totaled $175 million from 1995-2014.3.
Evidently, this was far from enough to satisfy American cotton growers, so they are trying to raid the coming crop-insurance based Farm Bill.

Is this progress?

 And if it is progress, who, exactly, benefits from this progress? It's based on some assumptions that might not pass the rationality test. For example, does history support the proposition that California farmers haven't always lied about a labor shortage when farm-labor wages rise? Has mechanization really been all that successful in agriculture, or has it merely raised the amount of capital needed to enter agriculture, and therefore increase the size of farms that can break even, given so many other variables it would be tedious to mention?

Pwning* democracy

Pronounced "pon"
1.  (especially in video gaming) utterly defeat (an opponent or rival); completely get the better of.
"I can't wait to pwn some noobs in this game"

The Register (UK)