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California Drought Update

All of California remains in drought with over 80% in worst categories of 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought. Reservoir levels are 50% below average. (previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Aug 18, 2014 - 70 comments

"But really, if you can make tea, then you can make beer."

Meet craft brewers, home brewing enthusiasts, bartenders in "Craft Beer – A Hopumentary", which focuses on California. [YT] [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 15, 2014 - 32 comments

I will name him "Puffy"

Petaluma couple rescue tiny ambulatory pom-pom; turns out to be rare shorebird. [more inside]
posted by oneirodynia on Aug 12, 2014 - 23 comments

where the poor people are is where the amputations are

poverty linked to diabetic amputations in california [more inside]
posted by yeoz on Aug 7, 2014 - 8 comments

How the burrito became a sandwich

NPR's Planet Money explains the history of the sales tax in the United States by tracing what kinds of sandwiches get taxed and why: How the Burrito Became a Sandwich. Bonus: In-N-Out Burger history in the podcast.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 22, 2014 - 154 comments

"A system that serves no penological purpose... is unconstitutional."

A federal judge declared California's death penalty unconstitutional Wednesday, saying delays of 25 years or more in deciding appeals and carrying out occasional executions have created an arbitrary and irrational system that serves no legitimate purpose. Executions in California have already been on hold since 2006, due to problems with the procedures associated with lethal injection. If the ruling is upheld, California will join 18 other states (plus D.C.) that have abolished capital punishment. (Read the court's opinion here.)
posted by scody on Jul 16, 2014 - 46 comments

A Little Bit of the Pacific Ocean Bottom, That You Can Walk On

Beautiful rocks. On the east side of the San Andreas Fault is mainland California. On the west of it is Point Reyes. The geology of Point Reyes is rather unique. It thus fosters a unique local ecology and is home to relatively unique animal species [more inside]
posted by Michele in California on Jul 11, 2014 - 19 comments

Eichler, Cliff May and the invention of the California Ranch Style home

The post-war boom gave rise to new concepts of modernity in domestic architecture and, of course, massive suburban development. One such concept was the California ranch-style home, pioneered by Cliff May (1909-1989). Another contemporary architect, Joseph Eichler (1900-1974), had his own vision of modernity in America's new suburbs, but both styles used similar language. At the time, these new designs for living were seen as modern and at the cutting edge of sophistication, but sophistication within reach of the average professional, middle-class family. They were designed to have a practical as well as an aesthetic value. Welcome to mid-century modern. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 4, 2014 - 29 comments

Witches, dragons not included

Imbued with asymmetrical charm and handcrafted whimsy, Storybook Style houses evoke the aesthetic of classic fairy tales, inside and out. [more inside]
posted by Lou Stuells on Jun 20, 2014 - 13 comments

California K-12 Teacher Tenure System Struck Down

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu said that the laws governing K-12 teacher job security were unconstitutional. Treu declared the rules governing K-12 teacher tenure in California were unconstitutional because they affect predominately minority and poor students, allowing incompetent instructors to remain in the classroom. He said in the decision that the protections "impose a real and appreciable impact on students' fundamental right to equality of education." He went on to say that the evidence for this "shocks the conscience." The decision ends the process of laying off teachers based solely on when they were hired. It also strips them of extra job safeguards not enjoyed by other school or state employees. And, lastly, it eliminates the current tenure process, under which instructors are either fired or win strong job security about 18 months after they start teaching. The case was brought by a Silicon Valley group, Students Matter. The suit has highlighted competing views of teacher tenure. The decision has lead to significant and spirited debate over K-12 teacher job protections.
posted by professor plum with a rope on Jun 11, 2014 - 147 comments

The air was humid with a microclimate of marijuana

The Believer takes a longform look at Humboldt County's marijuana cultivation culture. Since the early ’70s, when growing began to replace a foundering timber industry in Humboldt, reliance on the marijuana economy has only increased. By 2012, it was thought that marijuana accounted for one billion of the county’s four-billion-dollar economy. During my stay, I don’t remember seeing a clothing store, bookstore, supermarket, bar, restaurant, supply shop, gas station, repair shop, pharmacy, or burrito shack that wasn’t patronized by someone with direct ties to a pot farm. You could smell the skunk, see the twenties. In parkivng lots, souped-up grower trucks growled by—mostly Toyotas, a status symbol in Humboldt. Somewhere along the way, that back-to-the-land exodus begun in San Francisco some forty years ago, when poor hippies left the city and went north, into the woods, in search of a simpler, cheaper life, their own piece of Arcadia on which food and intoxicants alike could be grown, to offer a thumbnail history—somewhere along the way, that movement morphed into a thriving industry.
posted by porn in the woods on Jun 10, 2014 - 18 comments

I hope they all get ripped apart by wild animals.

This is a collection of Francisco "Puree Tomatoes" Taccir's blog posts from Myspace and Friendster from 2005 – 2010. Tomatoes was a writer, artist, and addict who was born on February 26. 1977. He died on October 10, 2010 from a heroin overdose. [more inside]
posted by item on May 20, 2014 - 7 comments

"I didn’t want my shop burned down."

A Maryland gun store owner recently spent the night in his store to guard against retribution for his store's (now-reversed) decision to sell the Armatix iP1 Smart Pistol, the first smart gun to be marketed in the United States. Andy Raymond, co-owner of Engage Armament in Rockville, Maryland, initially supported the iP1 as a way to reach "fence-sitters", but backed down after receiving death threats. [more inside]
posted by tonycpsu on May 6, 2014 - 391 comments

A Northern California Love Song

♫ ♫ Well, you came out of nowhere like a Berkeley pedestrian
You stole my heart just like a San Francisco crackhead stole my bike
You drive me crazy like those West Marin hippies
But you're the kind of Northern Californian that I like ♫ ♫
[more inside]
posted by Lexica on Apr 20, 2014 - 20 comments

Condor Watch

Hunt the endangered California condor -- for science! [more inside]
posted by mudpuppie on Apr 15, 2014 - 9 comments

Hidden treasures, in drying lakes and rivers, and in NYC street cracks

The drought in California has brought about a number of things, from exposing part of Mormon Island, an old mining town that has partially emerged from Folsom Lake (news coverage clip; aerial view of a re-emerged bridge with overly dramatic music; a tour of the exposed ruins), to being good news for gold prospectors. But if there's too much of a crowd in the Sierra Nevada foothills, you can always dig for gold in New York City (alt: YouTube), in the cracks of Midtown's Diamond District with Raffi Stepanian.
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 1, 2014 - 6 comments

Eaglecam 2014

Three bald eagle chicks recently hatched on Catalina Island, just southwest off the coast of Long Beach, California. Now you can watch a live cam of the mother and her hatchlings. [UStream] [more inside]
posted by mykescipark on Mar 26, 2014 - 20 comments

You bring the Ouija board, I'll bring the spirits...

The infamous, sprawling Winchester Mystery House has plans to allow overnight stays and full onsite alcohol consumption
posted by The Whelk on Mar 16, 2014 - 46 comments

Reinstatement of affirmative action may fail to make California ballot

As reported recently by the San Jose Mercury News, Asian-American Democrats in the State Assembly now look to be blocking the reinstatement of race-based affirmative action in California, previously on the fast track for the November ballot, after it passed through the State Senate with all Democrats, including three Asian Americans, supporting the measure, and all Republicans opposing. [more inside]
posted by MattD on Mar 16, 2014 - 74 comments

The California Aggie would have been 100 next year.

Today, the UC Davis student newspaper, The California Aggie, put out its last print edition. The Aggie has been in dire straits for some time. Ad revenue started to plummet in 2009 and the paper has been working off of its reserve funds. Publication was cut from five days a week, to four days a week, to one day a week. Very few of the staff have been paid at all and those who were earned around $2 an hour. Despite the print change, the paper was due to run out of money by June 2014. Then came a last gasp, paper-saving measure: Measure 1, proposed for the winter 2014 ASUCD ballot, would add a $9.30 increase to student fees in order to subsidize the formerly independently run paper. But.... [more inside]
posted by jenfullmoon on Mar 13, 2014 - 36 comments

Blowing the whistle on improperly finding competent to stand trial

Melody Jo Samuelson, a staff psychologist at California's Napa State Hospital (Previously), recently won a million-dollar judgement against the state and her supervisors. She had been told to declare mentally ill patients competent to stand trial. [more inside]
posted by larrybob on Mar 11, 2014 - 19 comments

A Trail of Broken Glass

Stephen Glass was a well-known journalist at The New Republic who was exposed for multiple instances of fabricating stories and lying to cover up the details (previously here and here), as well as burning a few bridges in his attempt to explain his actions. A movie was made about this, and he wrote a book. Since Glass’s fall, he has gone to law school and has been practicing as a paralegal at a Los Angeles law firm with the hopes of becoming a lawyer. He has passed the bar exams in New York and California. However, there is a required ethics review in both states before one is allowed to practice. He was already denied (informally) a license in New York, and a final decision in California was appealed to the California Supreme court, who ruled last month conclusively that Glass would not be allowed to practice law in California. Here is the 33-page ruling. [more inside]
posted by SpacemanStix on Mar 5, 2014 - 68 comments

The California Drought: Water and Power

"During the medieval period, there was over a century of drought in the Southwest and California. The past repeats itself." After three consecutive years of below-normal rainfall, California faces its most severe drought emergency in decades. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the deserts of Southern California have been turned into livable spaces only by huge feats of engineering that divert massive amounts of water from other parts of the state and the country. Marc Reisner's 1986 book Cadillac Desert documents the history of acquiring and diverting water to the American Southwest. A four-part documentary based on the book was released in 1997. Part 1: Mulholland's Dream // Part 2: An American Nile // Part 3: The Mercy of Nature // Part 4: Last Oasis
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates on Feb 16, 2014 - 124 comments

The ‘Mustache of Justice’ has left the building.

Thomas Scully, the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President George W. Bush, once said, “Fifty percent of the social safety net was created by Henry Waxman when no one was looking.” After 40 years and 17 consecutive terms, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is retiring from Congress. [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Feb 13, 2014 - 35 comments

God Is Love

Out in a forgotten, dusty corner of Southern California, just east of the Salton Sea, Leonard Knight let his love and devotion to the Lord inspire a Technicolor vision on the desert floor. His creation came to be known as Salvation Mountain. On Monday, Leonard Knight passed away at the age of 82. [more inside]
posted by 2N2222 on Feb 11, 2014 - 21 comments

The Pacific Crest Trail

On May 17, 2013 I was dropped off in Campo, California at the US/Mexico Border. Four and a half months later I was in Manning Park, British Columbia having walked the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) across California, Oregon, and Washington to get there.

This is what I saw.

posted by cthuljew on Jan 29, 2014 - 32 comments

Are you ready to RUMBLE?

What Neil deGrasse Tyson is to astrophysics, Lucy Jones is to seismology. "The last time there was a large seismic event on the fault that can do us the most harm, the San Andreas, in 1857, Los Angeles had about 4,000 residents. “We really weren’t worried about keeping a complex social structure in place,” Jones said. But as we get bigger and more complex, we increase our vulnerability." Jones presented her talk, “Imagine America Without Los Angeles” to the American Geophysical Union Conference in San Francisco in 2013. While today is the 20th anniversary of the Northridge quake, we still haven't quite figured out what to do to mitigate the effects of the BIG ONE to come. [more inside]
posted by Sophie1 on Jan 17, 2014 - 68 comments

The Manhunt of Christopher Dorner

The LA Times recounts the Manhunt of Christopher Dorner from Feb. 3-12, 2013 through a series of interviews and research. Previously [more inside]
posted by fizzix on Dec 27, 2013 - 30 comments

Science Journalism Award winners

2013 Science Journalism Award winners from the American Association for the Advancement of Science: [via Romenesko] [more inside]
posted by mediareport on Nov 6, 2013 - 4 comments

professional rock climber Joe Kinder cuts down juniper trees for sport

Professional sport climber Joe Kinder recently admitted to cutting down two Juniper trees at the base of a climbing cliff in the Tahoe, California region in order to make a climb safer. Kinder at first did not admit to the action, which may be illegal (with fines up to $500 and up to six months in jail if the tree was in the Tahoe National Forest) but has since posted an apology (My Actions, My Responsibility, And My Mistake) to his blog.
posted by gen on Oct 31, 2013 - 67 comments

That is not an exhaustive list, but it’s exhausting.

A collective narrative of trying to make it on $17,000 a year: bargaining testimony from a UCSC student-worker
We make only $17,000 a year. We make only $17,000 a year in a town where almost that entire paycheck goes to rent. So today I’m going to talk about how academic workers try to get by on $17,000 a year.
posted by andoatnp on Oct 30, 2013 - 54 comments

"Where are we? *When* are we?"

Back to the Future: The Trip. "We wanted to take this trip because we love the Back to the Future movies and thought it would be a fun, unique, and interesting trip. What you will see for each tour stop is first of all a picture from the movie from that scene, and then a picture of us at that location or a picture of what the landscape looks like currently in 2007." [more inside]
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Sep 22, 2013 - 14 comments

58% of domestic workers spend more than half their income on rent

Home Truths: Domestic Workers in California (PDF). 2012's groundbreaking National Domestic Worker Survey was conducted in 14 cities; the sample analyzed in this report includes 631 domestic workers (nannies, caregivers, housecleaners) in four metropolitan areas in California: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Sep 15, 2013 - 131 comments

The Epicenter of Crime

The Hunt's Donuts Story Hunt’s Donuts was a thorn in the side of the police at the heart of a neighborhood that has always been a thorn in the side of the police. . [more inside]
posted by dubold on Sep 13, 2013 - 5 comments

Here come seven like a Gatling gun

Loved by some but often ignored, passed on by Spielberg, peppered with famous poker player cameos, the boldly painted, logorrheic portrait of real gambling life, California Split might be the quintessential Altman film. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Sep 12, 2013 - 15 comments

feeding time

Postcards from the Alligator Farm. [via]
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse on Sep 11, 2013 - 9 comments

All That Meat

Somewhere in-between the space-age bachelor pad sounds of Esquivel and the gimmicky novelty of Spike Jonze sits Mel Henke, one of the most overlooked originators of the mid-century lounge sound. While most famous for versions of All That Meat, 77 Sunset Strip, and Pennies From Heaven, his largely instrumental wink-wink-nudge-nudge album La Dolce Henke is considered his masterpiece - The Lively Ones - The Twisters - You're Driving Me Crazy - Woman In Space - Farmer John - Old McDonald Had A Girl - See The USA In Your Chevrolet - Last Night On The Back Porch (Warning, historical sexism, erotic car metaphors)
posted by The Whelk on Sep 8, 2013 - 8 comments

The Many States of Jefferson, the could-have-been and might-be states

If someone mentions the state of Jefferson that existed in an alternate universe, the question should be: which one? The western neighbor of the Kansas Territory, the eastern portion of Texas, the later effort to split off a western portion of Texas, or the new state composed of parts of Oregon and California? [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 6, 2013 - 25 comments

Force Fed

On Monday, August 19 - day 43 of the strike a federal judge approved a request by state and federal prison authorities to engage the controversial practice of force-feed striking prisoners.
[more inside]
posted by eviemath on Aug 28, 2013 - 43 comments

Lincoln Highway, the first (attempt at a) transcontinental US highway

On July 1, 1913, a group of automobile enthusiasts and industry officials established the Lincoln Highway Association "to procure the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description without toll charges," and to be a lasting memorial to Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Highway efforts started about three years before the first federal road act would provide funding to states to improve the broad network of roads. Never officially finished, the first transcontinental highway eventually became renumbered as various interstate and US routes. To celebrate its centennial, there was a cross-country tour in June. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 17, 2013 - 33 comments

Hunger Strike Against Solitary Confinement

30,000 prisoners in California have launched a hunger strike to protest the conditions under which "segregated" prisoners are being detained.

The Five Core Demands:
1. Eliminate group punishments and administrative abuse.
2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.
3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons (pdf) recommendations and end long-term solitary confinement.
4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.
5. Create and expand constructive programming. [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea on Jul 10, 2013 - 87 comments

"..isn't a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare.."

The Center for Investigative Reporting has found that in 2006-2010 nearly 150 female inmates in California were coerced into sterilization without state approval. [more inside]
posted by seanmpuckett on Jul 7, 2013 - 89 comments

I prefer a wet San Francisco to a dry Manhattan.

"Adrift is a love letter to the fog of the San Francisco Bay Area. I chased it for over two years to capture the magical interaction between the soft mist, the ridges of the California coast and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge."
posted by gman on Jul 5, 2013 - 27 comments

Hiding Public Land

For years in Malibu, CA, homeowners have tried to hide public access points to local beaches in order to prevent people from using them. A recently released app has tipped off the public as to exactly where these access points are, causing an outcry from the homeowners.
posted by reenum on Jun 23, 2013 - 114 comments

Form and Landscape

Form and Landscape - Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Basin, 1940-1990 - is a series of themed exhibitions that tell the story of how Los Angeles 'became modern' by using photos from the comprehensive archives of Southern California Edison. The photos portray the many roles that electricity has played in the development and modernization of Californian life and culture (domestic life, signage, streetscapes, etc.). Part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time Presents initiative.
posted by carter on Jun 18, 2013 - 7 comments

License Plate of the Future

South Carolina wants to switch to digital license plates that will display messages related to the driver's eligibility to operate a vehicle. In 2010, California considered using similar technology to display advertising.
posted by reenum on Jun 11, 2013 - 109 comments

Pacific Heights is just a movie, right?

I’ve recently joined the ranks of San Francisco landlords who have decided that it’s better to keep an apartment empty than to lease it to tenants. [SLNYT]
posted by BobbyVan on Jun 7, 2013 - 69 comments

America's 10 Worst Prisons

"'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.' So goes the old saying. Yet conditions in some American facilities are so obscene that they amount to a form of extrajudicial punishment." Mother Jones is profiling "America's 10 Worst Prisons." Facilities were chosen for the list based on "...three years of research, correspondence with prisoners, and interviews with reform advocates." [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 14, 2013 - 88 comments

Mapping transit inequality

Dan Grover and Mike Belfrage have mapped transit inequality in the Bay Area after reading a New Yorker piece on the New York City subway (previously). The ways in which a widening income gap are changing the demography of San Francisco have been widely reported of late (previously, previously). The project's code is available if you'd like to try mapping your own city.
posted by liketitanic on May 8, 2013 - 25 comments

"it’s one thing to survive, and another to live."

This past September, Jessica Ann Lum won a "Best Feature" award in the student-journalist category from the Online News Association, for her Master's project: "Slab City Stories." Less than four months later, on January 13, 2013, she passed away. She was 25. "Jessica loved to tell people’s stories. This is hers." [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 1, 2013 - 12 comments

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