essentialsaltes: (poo-bush)
Assuming you remember what phonebooks are, my fellow Californicators will be getting one for the ballot initiatives soon. Here's my regular dose of opinions to help influence the votes of people who don't want to do the research, thus magnifying my democratic power. Remarkably, I'm split exactly 50/50 on Yes/No, with one strong Maybe.


$9 billion in bonds for schools. Bonds are not a great way to fund anything. This plan does not seem to be very focused. There's no doubt there's a need, but I don't like this solution. Neither does Governor Moonbeam. Nope.


Seems like a messy shell game to get hospitals to pay fees to the state that are given back to the hospitals with matching federal funds. But it seems to work, and the NO argument (that this money is going straight to the fatcat CEOs) is just baloney. So if ain't broke, fix it in place permanently. Yes.


"Under the California Constitution, state general obligation bonds need voter approval before the state can use them to pay for a project. State revenue bonds do not need voter approval under existing state law." This prop would change the latter so that revenue bonds (over $2 billion) would need voter approval. While I'm tempted to have another way to partially veto the Monorail high speed rail, I don't see this additional oversight being helpful. Nope.


Aren't there enough roadblocks to getting things done? Adding a 'waiting period' for legislation seems unnecessary. I mean, best case scenario, evil law is proposed, and in 72 hours, someone's petition gets a bajillion signatures, convincing the legislature to not pass it. Anything that wicked will get erased off the books under the present system. Worst case scenario, legislators (and their shadowy funders) will add amendment after amendment to bills, each one taking an additional 72 hours of waiting before a vote ever takes place. Nope.


Extends 'temporary' extra income tax on $250K+ taxpayers (Prop 30 in 2012) for another 12 years. Ooh, I'm really torn. If we could extend it maybe 6 years, I'd feel better. We could use some extra juice for the rainy day fund, and to really make use of the budget surplus to eliminate debt. I favored the more balanced prop 38 that would have raised everyone's taxes temporarily. Ummm. Eat the rich! Strong Maybe!


Triples the state tobacco tax (and adds equivalent tax to e-cigs). Most of the funding goes to healthcare or the existing programs funded by cigarette taxes. My favorite negative effect of the prop: "state and local governments would experience future health care and social services costs that otherwise would not have occurred as a result of individuals who avoid tobacco‐related diseases living longer." A pretty punitive tax, but I really hate that cluster of millennials smoking on the sidewalk when I walk by at lunch time. Yes.


Allows parole hearings a bit sooner for certain 'non violent' felons than is currently the case. Despite the doom and gloom of the NO argument, all of these people will get parole hearings, and the parole board will decide whether it's safe to let them out, and when. I don't see any legitimate drawbacks here. Yes.


Provides schools with more flexibility in establishing bilingual education programs, erasing some of prop 227. The goal is still to get students proficient in English. Schools should have more flexibility in order to find out what works. Yes.


A grandstanding advisory vote calling on California officials to work to undo Citizens United through Constitutional Amendment. Entirely futile, but yes.


"Cal/OSHA Already Requires Adult Film Condom Use" (Not that compliance is 100%)
"Allows Individuals to Bring Lawsuits on Regulatory Violations."
I'll join Dan Savage in voting no.


"would require all prescription drugs purchased by the State of California to be priced at or below the price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, which pays by far the lowest price of any federal agency. "

This is why you see tearful veterans on the commercials urging a no vote, followed by the tenth of second summary of major contributors like Pfizer and Merck.

On the other hand, the drug companies don't have to sell us discount drugs. And yes, they could decide to raise prices on vets. Because of all the moving parts, and inevitable squabbling and lawsuits, I'm leaning towards No. I don't think this is the solution to the prescription drug price problem.


Eliminates the death penalty (and resentences current death row inmates to life without possibility of parole). "These reduced costs would likely be around $150 million annually within a few years." Yes.


"Requires individuals to obtain a four-year permit from DOJ to buy ammunition ... Allows DOJ to charge each person applying for a four-year permit a fee of up to $50"

Really? I'm sure the laudable intent is to stop bad guys with stolen guns from getting ammunition, but as much as I'd like better gun laws, I don't think I can go this far. The legislature acted in July: "Specifically, under the legislation: (1) ammunition dealers would be required to check with DOJ that individuals seeking to buy ammunition are not prohibited persons at the time of purchase and (2) DOJ could generally charge such individuals up to $1 per transaction." That seems far more reasonable than what the proposition is calling for; and it is already law. No.


I don't like smoking (see 56), but it's definitely time to end our reefer madness. The bigger tax base and the effect on 'crime' are icing on the cake.


Directs 'fees' for paper bags at grocery stores to state environmental purposes. Currently these fees are just kept by the stores. Now, the bags cost the store something, so it's hardly fair to take all the money away from them. But then again, why do they benefit from our green awareness? If this is really a necessary source of revenue for retailers... they'll just raise prices on other things. And then this proposition is just a tax to support the environment. Which I guess is okay. Hmm. I really don't care all that much. I'm gonna just go with No, and whenever people point to California as being unfriendly to business, I'll point to how they get to freeload off our bag fees. See also 67.


"In addition, the measure changes how attorneys are appointed for direct appeals under certain circumstances. Currently, the California Supreme Court appoints attorneys from a list of qualified attorneys it maintains. Under the measure, certain attorneys could also be appointed from the lists of attorneys maintained by the Courts of Appeal for non-death penalty cases. Specifically, those attorneys who (1) are qualified for appointment to the most serious non-death penalty appeals and (2) meet the qualifications adopted by the Judicial Council for appointment to death penalty cases would be required to accept appointment to direct appeals if they want to remain on the Courts of Appeal’s appointment lists."

Death penalty cases are not like other cases. This prop is trying to grease the wheels by appointing unqualified lawyers to 'defend' poor inmates (and they can't refuse). Just no.


Enacts a statewide ban on plastic bags (similar to that which already exists where I live). I think it's been a good thing on the whole. Make it so, statewide. Yes.


Aug. 9th, 2015 12:37 pm
essentialsaltes: (space invader)
We made a snap decision to take a road-trip. We started off in San Marino, hitting an estate sale where Dr. Pookie picked up more uranium glass.

Then out to Ojai.

The Post Office:

Ojai Post Office

There is a ladder to the tower, but the door is locked. A sign says you climb at your own risk.

We had a nice lunch at Suzanne's Cuisine. Possibly inspired by the recent potato chip tasting at work, I opted for the Reuben sandwich (my least unfavorite of the four flavors).

The Museum has some historical doodads and taxidermed animals. One thing that caught my eye was a jug of Pixo Cola concentrate from the Pixie Flavor Base Co.

Pixo Cola

The address on the jug is on Vernon, less than ten blocks from our house. Sadly, the only thing I can learn about the Pixie Flavor Base Co is that it got in trouble with the FDA in 1943 for adulterating/mislabelling orangeade concentrate. "On October 5, 1943, no claimant having appeared, judgment of condemnation was entered and the product was ordered destroyed or delivered to some charitable institution."

But there was also a temporary exhibit of items from Sergio Aragones' personal comics collection. Not of his own work, but the work of others, much of it signed personally to him. Aragones is now a local resident, and actually next Saturday (and again on Sep 19) you can tour the exhibit with him for a mere $25.

I was impressed by it, but I'm sure my comic book fan friends probably would have gone bananas.

Bob Kane

autograph/sketch books

We stopped at Bart's Books, which is a local institution. Didn't buy anything, but it's got a lot of stuff packed into a crazy space. A house that's been eaten by a bookstore. Books on the exterior walls just stay there, and you're advised to drop coins in a slot to pay for them after hours.

Bart's Books

We did a wine tasting and an olive oil tasting, and came away with bottles of both. And then pointed the car home. PCH was probably not a good choice on a summer beach day, but it was made worse by an accident that shut things down for a bit. Still more interesting than either the 101 or going back the way we came.
essentialsaltes: (City Hall)
Prop 43 was removed and replaced with Prop 1, information about which will be supplied at a later date in a Supplemental Voter Information Guide.

Prop 44 was renamed Prop 2.
And so on )
essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
Grandma's celebration of life was last weekend. With all of the craziness of the house selling and buying, I couldn't make it there, but at least I could play another small part in the overall process. Although her urn was interred alongside Grandpa at the veterans' cemetery, a bit of her had a different fate. She had asked to have ashes spread at Laguna Beach.

Now, knowing the risks of the release of ashes on the Pacific Coast, we added our own wrinkle to the plans.
Do you want to know more? )
essentialsaltes: (Yellowstone Falls)
... [and] the effects of climate change are branches hitting the windshield along the way.”

The Last Drop: America's Breadbasket Faces Dire Water Crisis - an eye-opening look at the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer. I think the most mind-blowing fact is that, in the great state of Texas, water is not a public resource:

No other state’s water law allows such unfettered individual control. The danger, especially apparent as the Ogallala disappears, is that it favors an individual motivated to turn a profit in the present day above community needs of the future.

The Texas law allowed billionaire oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens to sell trillions of gallons of Ogallala Aquifer water beneath 211,000 acres surrounding his majestic Mesa Vista ranch, in Roberts County, near the Texas-Oklahoma border. In 2011, the now 85-year-old sold his water rights for $103 million to 11 water-impoverished cities nearby, including Lubbock and Amarillo.
Elsewhere, particularly in Kansas, farmers irrigating where the Ogallala is shallowest are required to meter their wells, observe water-use restrictions, and are fined for not doing so.

Landowners in the HPWD – even today – can choose to suck their portion of the Ogallala dry any time they like.

Whew! I'm sure glad California has no water problems!
essentialsaltes: (City Hall)
Got to the end of California, so to speak. Definitely enough history in there for me to have learned a lot, and since it's an illustrated history, there's plenty to gawk at it as well. Sure, it's fortysomething years old, but that's at least new enough that things like the Watts Riots and Cesar Chavez are not only covered, but the spin is recognizable as that of the average liberal Californian who's fortysomething years old.

The book starts off with quite a bang. I guess I was vaaaaaguely aware the the name California comes from a work of fiction, but I was not aware of the peculiar nature of 'California':

Know ye that at the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California, very near the Terrestrial Paradise, and inhabited by black women without a single man among them, and living in the manner of Amazons. They are robust of body with strong passionate hearts and great valor. Their island is one of the most rugged in the world on account of the bold and craggy rocks. Their arms are all of gold, as is the harness of the wild beasts which, after taming, they ride.
In this island called California ... are many griffins the like of which are not found in any other part of the world. In the season when the griffins give birth to their young, these women cover themselves with thick hides and go out to snare the little griffins, taking them to their caves where they raise them. And being quite a match for these griffins, they feed them the men taken as prisoners and the males to which they have given birth. All this is done with such skill that the griffins become thoroughly accustomed to them and do them no harm. Any male who comes to the island is killed and eaten by the griffins.

Dr. Pookie was good enough to get me the recent edition of Fritz Leiber's Adept's Gambit from Arcane Wisdom. It features an earlier draft than the published version, retaining some of the references to the Cthulhu Mythos. It also has a letter from HPL to Leiber, praising the story in general and criticizing bits of spelling, diction, and historical reference. I haven't read the final published version in some time, so apart from a few obvious differences, it's hard for me to pick out the changes in the text. It's always been a bit of a strange story, with the focus shifting from Fafhrd and the Mouser to the story of Elsbeth/Ahura, but still a good one.

I curse that much of my library has been carted away in a pod, because I have a vague memory of a different letter from HPL to Leiber than the one printed here, that also offers some good insights and advice.
essentialsaltes: (City Hall)
I'm getting close to the end of California: An Illustrated History, a big coffee table book from the 70s. And there was a discussion of the Loyalty Oath Controversy at the UC. I still remember the odd feeling of signing a loyalty oath when I went to work for the library system. But since I was not actively seeking to overthrow the government, and I wasn't a member of the Communist Party, it was easy enough to sign so I could get my seven bucks an hour.

But I guess in 1950, when anticommunism was really at its height, the Regents of the UC went a bit further with their loyalty oaths, requiring them of professors. Some 31 refuseniks were dismissed (though they were ultimately reinstated, after the inevitable court case). Among them was UCLA physics professor David Saxon, who later became president of the UC. He passed away in 2005, and this eulogy offers more details, and incidentally shows Saxon kinda rocking the Indiana Jones/professor look.

And while we're at it... Prop 14.

The Rumford Act had banned discrimination in housing. The California Real Estate Association put Prop 14 on the ballot. It forbade the government to "deny, limit or abridge, directly or indirectly, the right ... to decline to sell, lease or rent such property to such person or persons [wink wink] as he, in his absolute discretion, chooses."

It passed by a 2 to 1 margin. (Yes, the state and US Supreme Courts struck it down.)
essentialsaltes: (Laika)

Trips Into History has some good background on how Rufus Porter, founder of Scientific American, came up with the plan. Unfortunately, it never got off the ground (so to speak).
essentialsaltes: (Devilbones)
The National Center for Science Education has started a new blog, entitled Science League of America. It takes its name from a pro-science organization run by Maynard Shipley in the 1920s in San Francisco. Here's a splendid call to action from a 1925 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"Our protest is against the control
of science by fanatics who consider themselves religious. We have nothing to
say against their tenets so long as they let science alone.
The Science League of America had its birth in California, a state which
has for many years been the Mecca for every type of cult, religious and otherwise,
that the twisted mind of man could invent. The scientific men of California have
necessarily come into contact with these cults more directly than most of us. We
bespeak the support of this League by all who are interested in scientific freedom."

Anyway, the current blog version of the SLoA has a neat article about Presbyterian theologian and geologist James Woodrow, uncle of Woodrow Wilson, who faced difficulties due to his acceptance of the theory of evolution.

"The synods of Georgia, Alabama, and South Georgia and Florida also expressed their disapproval, and since those four synods together controlled Columbia Theological Seminary, they were thus able to prohibit the teaching of evolution there. The board of directors then asked Woodrow to resign; when he refused, he was dismissed."
essentialsaltes: (rawk)
Yes, I survived the Snowpocalypse, and made it back to the best place lack-of-gods made.

But rather than slump into a puddle -- that's what Sunday's for! -- Saturday was pretty full. We started off with an estate sale, where the decedent was a bit of a hoarder, but had a particular fondness and knowledge of glass. I spotted a uranium glass juicer in one of the photos from the estate agent, and since Dr. Pookie is an aficionado of uranium glass (aka vaseline glass), we went down there. We found quite a trove of uranium glass pieces, and walked away with quite a haul.

Later, we went to the Day on Broadway (having been tipped off by colleency). The idea was that several old movie palaces were open to the public, and we went to gawk at them (and a few other things in the neighborhood). All photos here

Hard to ignore the Eastern Columbia Building, which was close to the registration desk.

Eastern Columbia Building (1930)

After registering, we headed off to Cole's for a French Dip and a drink. We poked our nose into the Bradbury Building, and then on to the theaters.

It's hard (in the photo) to appreciate how huge the ceiling of the Million Dollar Theater (1918!) is:


And what can one say about its strange tutelary spirit?


The Los Angeles Theater was a real revelation, with its crystal 'fountain'

"Fountain" of Crystal (with (dry) water fountain/pool below)

and ridiculous foyer


The mostly gutted Globe provided contrast with the others, which were generally much more restored.

Not so sumptuous entryway, apart from the gilt wooden moldings.

The Orpheum is pretty amazing, and the duffer at the organ was showing off its capabilities

The gent was showing off various sound effects from the organ

The place is huuuuuuuuge


Later, Dr. Pookie took me out to Pizzeria Mozza. The fried cauliflower was much browner than at Bucato, but still good. The dipping sauce was good, but not as amazing as the fresh dressing and herbs of Bucato. Some fine bread and prosciutto as well, before the main course -- The pizza with "Bacon, Salami, Fennel Sausage, Guanciale [aka pork cheek 'bacon'], Tomato & Mozzarella". Yes, it was meat heavy, but it was glorious. We pride ourselves on our homemade pizza, but this was even better. By a lot. For dessert, some little scoops of blood orange sorbet (extremely yum), chocolate rum gelato (gorgeous, but possibly(?) too rich) and 'olive oil' gelato: mild olive oil gelato coated in olive oil and salt. A very neat taste, but not as engrossing as the other two.
essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
Holly had warned us that we shoulda looked into Alcatraz tours some time ago, but we were trying to do a mostly unplanned vacation. Next morning, we made our way to the Alcatraz ferry and found out that tickets were sold out for the next three weeks. But that put us on the Embarcadero and we wandered about through the shops and nauticality. We toured the USS Pampanito, a WWII-era submarine. It was very cool to crawl around inside her, and Wikipedia has answered a remaining question: "Why is there a broom lashed to the conning tower?" To celebrate the sub's clean sweep patrol.
continued, with more photos this time )
essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
Let's see how brief I can make this...
not very, as it turns out )
essentialsaltes: (Shoot)
German agents conspired with Irish nationalists and Indian nationalists to run guns to India? Via San Francisco?

But the plot was uncovered, and the conspirators were put on trial, at the end of which the chief conspirator was shot to death by another defendant in the courtroom?

Me neither.

[Yes, another nugget from the Secret History of MI6]
essentialsaltes: (spockmonkey)
The neighbor up the street has a Coda parked in his driveway.

Never even heard of them. They need to poach Tesla's PR guy.
essentialsaltes: (City Hall)
"Those bonds, known as CABs, are unlike typical bonds, where a school district is required to make immediate and regular payments. Instead, CABs allow districts to defer payments well into the future — by which time lots of interest has accrued.

Perhaps the best example of the CAB issue is suburban San Diego's Poway Unified School District, which borrowed a little more than $100 million. But 'debt service will be almost $1 billion,' Lockyer says."
essentialsaltes: (Patriotic)
Ok, let's hop to it.

Prop 30: This is governor Brown's preferred plan to raise the state sales tax, and raise state taxes on those making more than $250K in order to pay for schools.

Prop 38: This is the competing measure that provides a similar amount of money for schools, but raises it all through a progressive income tax increases that starts at people making $7,300.

If both pass, the one with more votes wins. If neither passes, schools will lose $5 billion and change. But which one's better?

Hard for me to call. I like that 38 spreads the pain a little more equitably for something we all have a stake in. But 38 also comes with lots of fiddly bits about how the money's to be spent that seems a little micro-manag-y. 30 offers more flexibility on how it should be spent, but on the other hand, that includes the flexibility for the state to spend a lot of the money raised on non-school things. On the gripping hand, the state could use more flexibility in how it juggles the general fund in this time of crisis.

Verdict: I lean toward 38, but it's a narrow thing. Besides, who'm I kidding? How many Californians will vote to raise their own taxes?
of course there's more )
essentialsaltes: (Lips)
Dad was mentioning a trip to the governor's mansion long ago... something I don't remember at all. And the little detail that the clawfoot tub in the mansion was touched up a bit by Pat Brown's wife and daughter Kathleen:

Also a little crazy that, as per the linked story, the California governor's mansion hasn't served as the governor's residence since Reagan.


essentialsaltes: (Default)

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