In Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov,” a priest recalls the
words of a man who confessed: “The more I love mankind in general,
the less I love people in particular.” We can all think of people
like that – folks of varied political persuasions who rally to
“save” humanity, but become so consumed by their cause that they
lose patience for the individuals they ostensibly are trying to
Judging by Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest plan to “save” the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, he appears to suffer from a variant
of the same condition. California’s Green Governor loves the Earth
in general but he doesn’t seem to care about particular earthly
Throughout his political career, Brown has championed grand
Earth-saving projects such as AB 32, the state’s first-in-the
nation cap-and-trade system designed to prod the world into cutting
the carbon dioxide emissions that supposedly lead to global
warming. He is pushing a high-speed-rail system that is designed to
lure people out of their automobiles. He speaks often about his
commitment to the environment.
Yet I wonder whether the governor has ever taken the short trip
from the Capitol to one of California’s ecological treasures. As it
comes down from the mountains and heads toward the San Francisco
Bay, the bulk of the state’s water passes through the Delta. It is
a land of marshes, islands, charming small towns, Victorian
mansions, and orchards interspersed between 1,000 miles of
The Delta also is Ground Zero for ongoing fights over the
state’s water supplies. Judges have routinely stopped the water
flows out of the Delta, toward the dry but agriculturally rich San
Joaquin Valley and toward Southern California’s massive
metropolises, to help a tiny endangered baitfish known as the Delta
Smelt. The smelt is viewed as the canary in a coal mine – a
bellwether for the ecological health of the waterways.
Millions of smelt are killed each year as they get caught in the
giant pumps near Tracy, near the south end of the Delta.
Environmentalists also express concerns about the level of
saltwater that moves inland from the Pacific Ocean.
This tiny, tranquil region is about to undergo dramatic,
government-imposed changes that threaten its beauty and way of
life. The governor’s plan is touted by Southern California water
agencies and farmers alike who view it as a means to assure more
consistent water supplies.
I’m a believer in providing water to thirsty farmers and thirsty
cities. But the Bay Delta Conservation Plan won’t necessarily
increase the flow of water, according to the first parts of the
plan, which recently has been released to the public.
The plan would start a decade-long construction project to build
two massive tunnels to bypass the current river system. At a cost
estimated as high as $39 billion before the usual
government-project overruns, the tunnels would move water supplies
under the Delta and thereby decrease the current reliance on the
aging, earthquake-prone levees.
The plan has two equal goals: restore the Delta ecosystem and
improve water reliability. It won’t increase water flows, but by
resolving the Delta Smelt issue it will end the court-ordered water
stoppages – at least in theory. Here, the administration proposes
the use of tax dollars and massive engineering feats to solve a
legal and regulatory problem. This is a poor use of resources,
especially in a state that still is largely broke and that already
faces some of the biggest debt and tax burdens in the nation.
What are the chances that once the smelt issue is fixed that
environmentalists won’t find another reason to sue to stop the
water flows given that the water flows are the source of the real
The administration’s plan will tear up the Delta for at least 10
years. We know how government infrastructure projects are always
delayed, so it’s anyone’s guess how long it actually will take.
Even its advocates admit that they aren’t sure about the unintended
consequences of the project.
As part of its ecosystem restoration program, this boondoggle
will flood a large portion of the Delta’s land, destroying
vineyards, farmland, orchards, and marshes. It will submerge
islands. There will be land confiscations.
Environmental groups believe the re-engineering of the ecosystem
will destroy salmon and other fish habitats. No one in their right
mind would hand over a precious region such as this to bureaucrats,
but in Sacramento these days the Brown administration is trying to
relive the glory days of the New Deal where central planning and
big spending are the in thing.
Here’s a case where free-market advocates such as myself and
true environmentalists should make common cause – to stop a
misguided project that will raise water rates and increase the
state’s debt load to provide limited and questionable gains. There
are better, cheaper, more reasonable ways to increase water
supplies, tend to a damaged ecosystem and shore up the levees.
I don’t expect this governor to worry much about debt spending,
tax burdens and that sort of thing. But perhaps his might take a
trip through the meandering waterways and charming small towns of
the Delta where he can learn that one shouldn’t save the
environment in general by sacrificing an environment in the
In Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov,” a priest recalls the
Nothing transformed American lives in the last century more than the gender revolution. The empowerment of women redefined courtship, sex, marriage, and child-rearing. Women’s entry into the paid workforce, in particular, upended the bourgeois Victorian family model in which he battles in the marketplace and she nurtures in the home. In 1950 about one in five married women went off to work; in 2000 about three in five did. Now, after decades of such astonishing change, the gender revolution appears over—before its completion.Last summer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former high-flyer in the State Department, wrote a declaration of dependence, “Why Women Can’t Have it All,” which stirred up blogo-pandemonium. She argued that the gender revolution will never be completely won, because the emotional tug of family on women is too great, and the domestic urge of husbands is too slight. Then Marissa Mayer, the new head of Yahoo, returned to the office only two weeks after giving birth. “The baby’s been way easier than everyone made it out to be,” she proudly announced, signaling, to the outrage of struggling mothers that, for her at least, the revolution had already succeeded.Continue Reading… …
SINALOA DE LEYVA, Mexico — An indigenous Mexican woman put on display in Victorian-era Europe because of a rare genetic condition that covered her face in thick hair has been buried in her home state in a ceremony that ends one of the best-known episodes from an era when live human beings were treated as collectible specimens.
With her hairy face and body, jutting jaw and other deformities, Julia Pastrana became known as “ape woman” after she was taken to the U.S. by showman Theodore Lent in 1854, when she was 20. She died in childbirth in 1860 and her body ended up at the University of Oslo, Norway.
How literature has no chance whatsoever of saving my life anymore
Kurt Vonnegut: Contemporary writers who leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorian writers misrepresented life by leaving out sex.
“Seattle’s downtown has the smoothness of a microchip,” Charles Mudede says. “All of its defining buildings—the Central Library, Columbia Tower, Union Square towers, its stadiums—are new and evoke the spirit of twenty-first century technology and market utopianism. If there’s any history here, it’s a history of the future. The city’s landmark, the Space Needle, doesn’t point to the past but always to tomorrow.”
Most new technologies appear to undergo three distinct phases. At first, the computer was so big and expensive that only national governments had the resources to build and operate one. Only the Army and a handful of universities had multi-room-sized computers. A little later, large corporations with substantial research budgets, such as IBM, developed computers. The computer made its way into midsized businesses and schools. Not until the late ’70s and early ’80s did the computer shrink enough in size and price to be widely available to individuals. Exactly the same pattern has played out with nylon, access to mass communication, access to high-quality printing, Humvees, GPS, the web, handheld wireless communications, etc., etc. (Over a longer timeline, something quite similar happened with international trade: at first, global interaction was possible only between nations, then between large companies, and only now can a private citizen get anything he wants manufactured by a Chinese factory and FedExed to his shop.)
Suri Cruise’s $24,000 Playhouse? Katie Holmes Reportedly Buys 6-Year-Old Daughter Very Fancy Christmas Present (PHOTOS)
Suri Cruise must have been a very good girl this year: we hear her Christmas presents cost as much as some people make in a year.According to The Sun, Holmes spent nearly $49,000 on gifts for her daughter, including a $24,000 playhouse for the six-year-old. The Grand Victorian Luxury Playhouse is the creation of “a professional interior designer and expert builder,” according to the website of Sweet Retreat Kids, which the Daily Mail reports to be maker of the playhouse. The luxury faux-home comes with amenities you probably didn’t have in your play home: electricity, running water, heat, a sun room and media room. That, and the option of a picket fence and landscaping designs, which put our fire escape vegetable gardens to shame. We have no doubt Holmes spoke with one of the designers to develop a great floor plan (yes, that’s an option) for the mini-palace. Read More…
More on Suri Cruise
The image that reportedly appeared on the exam paper
Thousands of students taking their final high school exam in Australia were dazed and confused when they detected a huge robot helping revolutionaries in the thick of action during the Russian Revolution.
It turned out that the image was accidentally included in this year’s history exam taken by some 5,700 students, The Age website reported.
The title of Nikolay Kochergin’s famous artwork, “Storming the Winter Palace on 25th October 1917″, speaks for itself, putting the spotlight on the events set during the October Revolution.
However, when students opened their exam they saw a revamped version of the work featuring a huge “BattleTech Marauder” robot helping the revolutionaries to move forward, The Age informed, notin
g it was unclear how the doctored version made it into the exam.
It’s likely that those in charge of piecing the history test together took a shortcut with Google Search. For some reason they failed to notice that the chosen image differed from the original.
A spokesman for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority told The Age it was “sourced and acknowledged by the VCAA as coming from the internet”.
She promised the VCAA would monitor students’ answers to ensure that those distracted by the image wouldn’t be disadvantaged.
It’s reportedly not the first time the educational authority has been involved in an awkward situation in its exam papers.
Last year popular columnist Helen Razer accused the VCAA of plagiarism after the English exam allegedly featured tattoos by the writer without her permission or acknowledging she was the author.
Graffiti art is no piece of cake, but in Shelley Miller’s case, it is the frosting. The Montreal artist, who we spotted on Beautiful Decay, gives street art a sugar rush, painting ornate frosting murals on urban walls. Miller turns the streets into her own gigantic birthday cake, applying edible adornments that look more like Victorian tiles than traditional tags. Miller toys with the expectations of street art in both medium and style, showing that even the stuffiest of traditions can survive on the streets. For some time at least… the ephemeral works eventually fade away with the elements. You know what they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. That’s enough sugar puns for now, check out Miller’s blog to here more details on her unusual process. Read More…
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