How green was my valley: California's economic meltdown The fields of wheat, cotton and cantaloupe that sustained his family for three generations are gone. The land is a mess of fallow fields, cracked earth and swirling dust. (PDF - By some estimates, 12.8% of the United States' agricultural production (as measured by dollar value) comes from California, and the majority of that is in the Central Valley). However, his particular scene of devastation, Mr. Allen argues, has nothing to do with the credit crisis, the housing crash or the downturn that has California in a vice grip. It has to do with a seven-centimetre-long, semi-translucent, steel blue fish known as the Delta smelt. [more inside]
It's important to remember that everybody in our great republic has an equally important voice. [via Reddit]
The current federal and state budget woes have lead many to create their ideal budgets to keep it all in balance, and now you can try your hand at the push and pull of budgets large and larger. You can be a nation-wide budget hero (toggle-able music) at Marketplace for American Media. The LA Times makes the California budget into buttons, where you can add and subtract whole segments of the budget in a quick-and-dirty attempt at making things even out. Next 10 have created a more detailed budgeting system in their California budget simulator and localized Oakland variation. Too much information to handle? Stockton's budget balancing options cover police, fire community service and public works, with sliding scales of money to spend on each.
Hope withers on the vine. A look at daily life among the produce workers in Mecca, California.
Getting up to speed : "If it can get started, the California high-speed train would almost certainly be the most expensive single infrastructure project in United States history. Judging by the experiences of Japan and France, both of which have mature high-speed rail systems, it would end the expansion of regional airline traffic as in-state travelers increasingly ride the fast trains. And it would surely slow the growth of highway traffic."
Proposition 8 Upheld by CA Supreme Court. In crushing blow to marriage equality, the California Supreme Court has affirmed the validity of Proposition 8 today's ruling (PDF). [more inside]
A 28-acre plot of unspoiled Sierra foothill forest is bequeathed to the Auburn (CA) Recreation District. The bequeath came with one condition: That the park be named "Nobel Laureate William B. Shockley And His Wife Emmy L. Shockley Memorial Park." [more inside]
We've covered hobo culture before, both historic and modern, but as the story of Smashley and Stogie reveals, the lifestyle of the railway traveler still exists not only for weekend adventurers but as a means of escape for troubled souls. (via)
The Wave Motors of California. "Still embedded somewhere in the shores of California, buried by more than a century of sand, are lost hydroelectric machines." Further reading.
In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda In Southern California 1933 - 1945, a digital exhibition from the Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge. "The Nazi Propaganda period, 1933 to 1945, chronicles a crucial twelve years in American history. This exhibit's story about the local threat to American ideals demonstrates how European events reached across the ocean and affected people in Southern California -- in our own backyard." Magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, stickers and more. [more inside]
Four hours after his start against Oakland, his first time beginning the year with a major league team, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in a hit and run by a van speeding through a red light.
Tree of Bees? Hills that move? A reflective humorous post about living in Southern California via mockable.org
Coincidental to the publishing of her memoir, Candy Spelling - the widow of legendary television producer Aaron Spelling - is selling her Beverly Hills mansion for $150 million. (Daughter Tori Spelling is not expected to share in the proceeds.)
NPR article and slide show of the works of Julius Shulman. If you've seen anything by Shulman, you've seen this one. Gas station buffs probably favor this. And, if this one wasn't in Playboy, it should have been! And, bunches more though a google image search. And, at 98, he's still capturing images!
Photographer Pirkle Jones, best known for his images of California's migrant workers and changing landscape (including a collaboration with Dorothea Lange) and his iconic Black Panther pictures, has died at 95.
A new California proposition attempts to neutralize Prop 8 by substituting "domestic partnership" for "marriage" in state laws, thus leaving marriage to the Mormons and other interested parties. Getting the government out of marriage entirely has been proposed countless times before. (Previously: 1, 2, 3, 4)
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is signalling that marijuana policy will now be considered a matter of state jurisdiction. For obvious reasons, medical marijuana champions are celebrating the administration's committment to depart from the Bush and Clinton eras' previous policies of conducting frequent DEA Raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California. But with recent signs of a U.S. economy in even more rapid decline than anyone anticipated, and with California being particularly hard hit, some California politicians are suggesting the time has finally arrived to end the prohibition and put full legalization of marijuana on the table, pointing to potential windfalls in the range of a billion dollars in new tax revenue annually. [more inside]
With its $41 billion deficit spiraling out of control and federal judges ordering its prisoners released to relieve overcrowding, can legal marijuana save California?
If you were a fan of late-nite horror movies in Northern California during the 1970's, you likely spent Saturday nights watching Bob Wilkins, the droll, cigar-smoking host of Creature Features. An unlikely horror-show host, Wilkins' deadpan delivery and apparent disdain for the show's films (he reguarly suggested his audience change the channel) made Creature Features a show not to be missed. Bob Wilkins passed away today after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.
Please don't divorce us. An emotional argument for overturning Prop 8.
Architectural critic and writer Reyner Banham loved Los Angeles. (Last link is a BBC documentary, circa 1972, 52 minutes -- NSFW at 47 minute mark) [more inside]
Proposition 8. Saddened? Curious? Outraged? Happy? Dont Care? On Saturday, November 15 in every state across America and even in cities worldwide there will be a day of action. The response has been so overwhelming the website organizers needed to open up a sister website to handle to traffic overload. In many cases, police are being updated repeatedly by event coordinators with exponential expectations for attendees. [more inside]
This morning millions of Southern Californians dropped, covered, and held on as part of The Great ShakeOut. The largest earthquake preparedness exercise in U.S. history simulates a 7.8 quake rocking the southland. [more inside]
It's morning in America again -- but for the thousands of committed gay couples who got married in California [warning: Dan Fogelberg music, sweet visuals], the long nightmare of intolerance and hate is not yet over with the probable victory of Proposition 8. Supported by the anti-equality stances of Sarah Palin and "divinely" inspired others, and paid for by members of the Mormon Church and the mother of Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, many of the ads for Prop. 8 featured the faces of Obama and Joe Biden, who declared their opposition to the initiative but refused to support equal marriage rights for all, preferring to talk about "civil unions." Even excellent Democratic-leaning politics sites like Talking Points Memo were saturated with the deceptive ads, which overwhelmed those comparing the proposition to other forms of discrimination in California's history.
Just as a California campaign for a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage (allowed since June 16, 2008) is heating up the Connecticut Supreme Court has followed suit and overturned bans on same-sex marriage in that state. [more inside]
"I can name that tune in 300 yards ..." Not for much longer, though. Honda prepared for an upcoming commercial by cutting grooves in a road in Lancaster, California. These grooves, if driven over at just the right speed and in just the right car (one guess!) should play something resembling the William Tell Overture. But once filming was done (and I'm sure the commerical will be as impeccably produced and successful as Honda's other ads), locals and tourists were left with the driver's equivalent of that huge floor keyboard in Big, with some drivers lining up to play over and over again. Result? The city will pave over the road today. But hey, we'll always have Anyang. And Japan (previously). And Denmark.
While millions are flowing into California on both sides of the gay marriage battle, California's anti-gay leaders are raking it in through their nonprofit orgs.
E Clampus Vitus is a fraternal organization rooted in the California Gold Rush. Although some of its primary functions are beer drinking and implicitly poking fun at stodgier fraternal orders, it has also developed into a locally important benevolent organization. [more inside]
The owner of a California medical marijuana dispensary has been found guilty of violating federal drug laws. [LA Times] FTA: ...jurors had a clear sense that Lynch was not an ordinary street-corner drug dealer, but the fact that he was dispensing medical marijuana didn't matter under federal law. [...] "It was a tough decision for all of us because the state law and the federal law are at odds." Detailed coverage of the trial by Reason TV. Federal raids on California's medical dispensaries were recently featured on MeFi.
Why do Asian-American students achieve higher grades than Latino-American students? Despite the fact that the students come from the same socioeconomic background (median annual household incomes below $50,000 in working-class Los Angeles neighborhoods), Asian-American students disproportionately get better grades, attend AP courses, and go to college than their Latino-American counterparts. Students at Lincoln High School sit down for a frank discussion of why that is.
EducationFilter: California becomes the first state to mandate all 8th graders take Algebra; in part because U.S. students constantly trail their peers from other nations in mathematics. At least one person thinks it's a bad idea ("If only 25 percent of this nation ever earns a college degree, why insist that all children take algebra in eighth grade?"). Here's the algebra curriculum 8th graders will have to learn. [more inside]
As the gay marriage fight unfolds in California, some gays (and others) are fighting back: one gourp is boycotting a rich hotel owner, others are standing apart and one is suing the Bible (who gets subpoenaed for that one?). Meanwhile, a key opponent to gay marriage keeps its doors open (and its ballot committee going) despite being suspended. They say they're working on it, but no changes yet.
Hans Reiser leads police to the body of his wife. Software engineer Hans Reiser, who was convicted in the murder of his wife, Nina, long denied he killed her. His defense was based on the theory that she was hiding out in her native Russia and her body could not be found. Today, in a possible exchange for a shorter sentence he led police to the shallow grave of Nina Reiser, just a moment's drive from the house he lived in with his mother and two children. Previously, previously.
Sitting With Fire is a blog running from Tassajara, one of the oldest Zen monasteries in the US. It provides information on the status of Tassajara's residents who have stayed behind to combat the Basin Complex fire. [more inside]
Drive-through trees, Olvera Street, Knott's Berry Farm, and lots of other images and postcards of California at Image Archaeology.
Los Angeles-based photographer Andrew Bush mounts a camera on the side of his car to capture freeway drivers in the southwestern United States. [more inside]
The public shaming of Orange County billionaire Henry Nicholas continues apace. While his financial crimes may not have drawn more than a passing reference, his drug use and other, more unsavory acts, have gotten widespread coverage -- as early as last year. Perhaps, it's because Nicholas was famously involved in supporting tough sentencing laws (his sister was murdered by her boyfriend in 1983.) However, some of the "tough on crime" policies he has backed as recently as a few months ago are said to unfairly worsen the punishment for those who commit crimes much less serious than those for which he was just indicted.
"Try Legal Weed" is the slogan printed on bottle caps made by Weed, California brewer Mount Shasta Brewing Company's latest microbrewed lager. The ATF has ordered the brewer not to use the caps, as they may "mislead consumers about the characteristics of the alcoholic beverage." [more inside]
The [US] National Trust for Historic Preservation has released its 21st annual list of the nation's Most Endangered Historic Places. Among them: Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, (where Linda Brown tried to register for school, resulting in Brown vs. Board of Education); New York City's Lower East Side; California's State Parks; Philadelphia's Boyd Theatre, and several others. The previous 20 years of Most Endangered Historic Places can be found in the Archive. [more inside]
NewsFilter: The California Supreme Court has just overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages. Read the decision.
Fiscal Pressures Lead Some States to Free Inmates Early, says the Washington Post. Across the United States, a financial crisis is brewing in our nation's correctional systems. California, which has the largest prison system in the nation, (housing 170,000 inmates with a capacity of only 100,000), plans to increase the budget for new prison construction by 7 to 14 billion dollars, on top of releasing 22,000 nonviolent prisoners on unsupervised parole. Other states, especially Michigan, face an even more dire situation... [more inside]
Kumeyaay.info welcomes visitors and indigenous peoples of all tribal nations and provides a casual village environment to share and network their culturally relevant creative work, information and opinions. (previously)
A few years ago when I was visiting Alaska, one of the more interesting portions of the trip was the 45-minute drive from Anchorage to Girdwood along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. This is one of the world's rare bodies of water that features bore tides, an amazing scene. The highway is one of only 15 roads in the United States that have been designated an "All-American Road." What about some of the world's greatest highways? [more inside]
Prior to 1990, over a hundred illegal immigrants died attempting to cross the I-5 in Southern California. The answer? Put up a sign, of course. The sign has been seen as racist, and sometimes as a joke. The L.A. Times profiles the man who designed the sign, a Vietnam veteran who grew up on a Navajo reservation. The sign in question has become iconic in the debate on immigration policies, and a copy of it now sits in the Smithsonian. Via Strongly Worded Letter.
Ferocious-looking mystery creature in Tahoe National Forest confirmed to be a California wolverine, thought to be extinct since 1922. A motion-detecting camera snapped a compelling photo behind the beast last month, and the California Department of Fish and Game just confirmed the discovery with a clear profile shot. Notably, both photos appear to show the same animal.
VBS.TV presents "Epicly Latered"[~80 min, 16 parts, gnarly skateboarding], the story of John Cardiel.
Esalen: Where "California" Bubbled Up (one photo mildly NSFW) For many others in America and around the world, Esalen stands more vaguely for that metaphorical point where “East meets West” and is transformed into something uniquely and mystically American or New Agey. And for a great many others yet, Esalen is simply that notorious bagno-bordello where people had sex and got high throughout the 1960s and 1970s before coming home talking psychobabble and dangling crystals. In short, Esalen is in every way, even geologically, California at its most extreme. It is its caricature, as well as its noblest expression.