It isn’t California anymore

Updates

  1. Originally published October 31, 7:31 pm.
  2. October 31, 9:34 pm:
    • The Santa Rosa Press Democrat has published a map (figure 1) of nearby (to Santa Rosa) fires since 2015.[1] Try, just try, to imagine living near this.

California

FireShot Capture 035 - Map of Kincade and nearby recent fires - www.pressdemocrat.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat‘s map of fires since 2015.[2]

Firefighters are getting the Kincade fire under control but other fires are ravaging California.[3] But Ronald Reagan’s daughter shares the sense that California has changed.[4]

Patti Davis, “My father’s library will likely survive the fires, but the California of my youth is gone,” Washington Post, October 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/30/my-fathers-library-will-likely-survive-fires-california-my-youth-is-gone/

Dale Kasler, “PG&E says its equipment may have caused a fourth California fire in the past week,” Sacramento Bee, October 30, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236841498.html

Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, “Map of Kincade and nearby recent fires,” n.d., https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10246412-181/map-of-kincade-and-nearby


Redlining

A few days ago, I found a couple more gratuitous guns. One is actually not very far from my apartment, just on a street I don’t drive on very often, and because my complex includes many Black residents, I can accept that this one might be metaphorically aimed at Blacks. The other is in an area I’m much less familiar with, along the Monongahela River in Washington County. I don’t know the racial make-up near the latter location but an initial impression suggests this one is not so metaphorically aimed.


Pictures are here.

Both of these additions raise an issue of how I am assessing metaphorical aims. I need to dredge up demographic maps, preferably spanning several decades. Such demographics need to cover both race and class.


Brexit

Just a quick note on Brexit: The British Press is already in full horse race mode coverage of the forthcoming election.[5] You might have already gathered that this is not the sort of coverage that interests me and that I think political surveys—now boasting a nine percent response rate[6]—should be discounted entirely. Which is to say campaign coverage is bullshit. All of it. Every last diarrhetic drop spewed from the bulls’ asses with such a velocity and range as to cast doubt as to whether any green grass may be found.


  1. [1]Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, “Map of Kincade and nearby recent fires,” n.d., https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10246412-181/map-of-kincade-and-nearby
  2. [2]Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, “Map of Kincade and nearby recent fires,” n.d., https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10246412-181/map-of-kincade-and-nearby
  3. [3]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Active Incidents,” October 30, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  4. [4]Patti Davis, “My father’s library will likely survive the fires, but the California of my youth is gone,” Washington Post, October 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/30/my-fathers-library-will-likely-survive-fires-california-my-youth-is-gone/
  5. [5]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Britain sets December date for an election in which Brexit will dominate,” Washington Post, October 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/with-labour-partys-backing-britains-boris-johnson-looks-set-to-get-his-snap-election/2019/10/29/778ed246-f9c9-11e9-9e02-1d45cb3dfa8f_story.html
  6. [6]Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/pollsters-phone-polls-238409

The ‘ungriddable’ city

Updates

  1. Originally published, October 26, 7:14 pm. Note: All times are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) unless otherwise noted.
  2. October 26, 9:39 pm:
    • The mandatory evacuation area for the Kincade fire has expanded. Notably, it now includes my mother’s house. Areas being warned have shifted south (figure 1). Graphics have been updated.
  3. October 27, 4:36 am:
    • To be honest, I’m somewhat perplexed. Even as it appears firefighters are gaining significant control over the Kincade fire and that it has not advanced in the direction of Highway 101, evacuation warnings have now been issued for a relatively small part of northwest Santa Rosa that, ominously, approaches an evacuation center (figure 1). Winds have shifted and are now strongly off-shore.[1] In addition, the evacuation zones are now numbered. Graphics and text have been updated.
  4. October 27, 8:28 am:
    • I haven’t received notifications, which may mean that map updates were out of sync with the notifications I received. It now appears more of Santa Rosa is under mandatory evacuation (figure 1). Winds are now off-shore at 40+ miles per hour.[2] It seems to me that the Santa Rosa evacuation center is now being encroached upon with mandatory evacuation orders on the north and west sides (figure 1). According to the Cal Fire incident page, Kincade fire containment is at 10 percent.[3] Graphics have been updated.
    • It is harder for me to keep up to date during the day, while I’m working, but I’m packing my Chromebook today. I will try.
  5. October 27, 1:05 pm:
    • A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for another piece of Santa Rosa, drawing very near the evacuation center there and the Kincade fire looking very much more serious than it did overnight (figure 1). Wind speeds appear to exceed 50 miles per hour.[4] The fire is now up to 30,000 acres and still at only 10 percent containment.[5]
    • Amidst all the drama, there is, of course, a very real human toll. Some folks are saying they don’t want to repeat their experience from two years ago. As the evacuation orders arrive, they are considering more permanent departures.[6] And it really is something to think about when you can’t rely on the lights being on, as aquifers draw ever lower, and as suffocating smoke becomes an annual occurrence. This isn’t civilization anymore. It may be spectacular, but it’s hell.
  6. October 27, 9:12 pm:
    • Be sure to look through the slide show in this Press-Democrat coverage.[7] I recognize some of the places as places I’ve been.

      They’re ordinary places really. The sort of places you take for granted as you drive right on by. Ordinary, that is, except for those who lived and worked in them. Their lives are forever changed.

      And if you feel a sense of deja vu, that’s kind of my point. This is how it’s been for fire after fire after fire. That bravado we always cheer, where victims swear they’ll rebuild, seems hollow now.

  7. October 28, 4:30 am:
    • Containment is now at 5 percent of over 54,000 acres in the Kincade fire.[8] I’m having trouble telling from the Incident map (figure 1) how far into Windsor the fire has reached. The distance from northern Windsor to my mother’s house is a little less but traverses the same rugged dry terrain that a spread from Healdsburg would. It appears there is a shift in the weather pattern (figure 2) but I am not at this moment able to determine its significance. The winds have dropped[9] but that may only be because it is night time. Graphics have been updated.
  8. October 28, 10:09 am:
    • It kind of looks like I failed to publish the 4:30 am update. Oops.
    • As of now, the Incident Map (figure 1) is making clear that where previously the main part of the Kincade fire had seemed to be in mountainous terrain, it now seems to be moving towards, if not into, Healdsburg and Windsor. Containment is at five percent of over 66,000 acres.[10] Winds seem to have weakened for the moment[11] and it appears the region is in for a bit of a respite on Monday (today) before conditions worsen again on Tuesday.[12]
    • “Cal Fire officials said they were concerned that the fire would jump Highway 128 into fuel-laden land that has not burned in decades.”[13] I’m not sure what the Sacramento Bee reporters mean when they talk about Highway 128, which runs into Mendocino County north of Cloverdale, along Highway 101 to Geyserville, and then east over the mountains into Lake County. Though there’s certainly land there that hasn’t burned yet, Lake County burned before Sonoma County in several massive fires over several years.

      My concern however is with the fire’s move toward Windsor and Healdsburg. If the Kincade fire jumps Highway 101 (the latest incident map, figure 1, suggests it’s reaching right to it), which is what the Tubbs Fire did two years ago, and heads towards my mother’s house, I don’t think any of that territory has burned in decades either. And it looks to me like it’s getting close.

      In the meantime,

      The Kincade Fire and other blazes that erupted Sunday during the heavy winds closed several major roadways, including Interstate 80, the main east-west highway through Northern California between San Francisco and the Nevada state line. I-80 was closed for several hours between Vallejo and Crockett because of brush fires raging at both ends of the Carquinez Bridge, but reopened by mid-afternoon.[14]

      Apparently this is happening all over the state.[15] I said earlier that this is hell. It’s hell. And yeah, reminiscent of when the Sonoma County fires broke out in 2017.

  9. October 28, 8:13 pm:
    • The humiliation of Boris Johnson continues as “he was forced to grudgingly accept the European Union’s offer to delay Brexit until January, and then lost a motion in Parliament to stage a general election before Christmas.”[16] (Brexit)
    • There’s apparently no real news on the Kincade fire. I am updating the graphics nonetheless. The fire does seem like it is spreading towards Healdsburg if not into it (figure 1) and winds are currently on shore.[17]
  10. October 29, 3:51 am:
    • As if Brexit was ever, even once, really on track, it’s gone off the rails again as Boris Johnson has “abandoned” the withdrawal bill because he wants an election so bad. You know, like he wants Brexit itself. And yeah, I’m not the only one calling bullshit.[18]
    • The evacuation orders for much of west Sonoma County, including (just barely) my mother’s house, have been reduced to warnings, though the incident map (figure 1) also seems to show the fire further encroaching on Healdsburg. Cal Fire says it has achieved fifteen percent containment on over 74,000 acres.[19] The winds are shifting again,[20] in line with earlier forecasts.[21] The warning means people need to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice, so this isn’t really clearance for people to return home. This fire still looks incredibly dangerous to me and if those forecasts hold, I expect we’ll see a much more alarming picture later in the day. Text below has mostly been removed—look to these updates instead. Graphics have been updated.
  11. October 29, 10:13 am:
    • Labour will back an election, improving the likelihood that one will occur in December.[22] The call for such an election was likely to succeed anyway, leaving Labour in the unenviable position of going into an election it had opposed.[23] (Brexit)
    • People are mad at Pacific Gas and Electric, and have reason to be, especially with the Kincade fire,[24] but it’s worth remembering the climate crisis is a major contributor.[25] Winds are still relatively weak but have now shifted to an off-shore direction.[26] They keep changing how they show the fire intensity and spread in the Sonoma County Incident Map and I am especially unfond of the latest iteration.

      I see now (figure 1) that Healdsburg is across the Russian River from the fire and the fire has not jumped the river there. But parts of Windsor, especially the north and east are on fire.

      The fire is very close to Highway 101 (figure 1). The road, which is marked as closed, is only four lanes (plus a median) wide there. I can’t imagine that a good gust of wind won’t enable the fire to jump the highway into terrain that I don’t think has burned in a very long time. But they’ve still got a lot of west Sonoma County only on an evacuation warning phase.

      I gotta tell you, this doesn’t help to bolster confidence in their logic for how they ordered evacuations and when. Graphics are updated.

  12. October 29, 2019, 9:06 pm:
    • Parliament has approved an election to be held on December 12,[27] which is just what Boris Johnson wanted. I am disappointed the franchise will not be extended to 16-year olds and European Union nationals: Their futures are at stake, even more than those of the old fogies who so desperately want out of the E.U.[28]
    • The Kincade fire is now 15 percent contained at over 75,000 acres.[29] The fire remains close to, but on the east side of Highway 101. Evacuation warnings are now shown for adjacent parts of Lake County (figure 1). Winds are strongly in an off-shore direction, but not so strong over such a wide area as before.[30]
  13. October 30, 4:33 am:
    • Little seems to have changed with the Kincade fire since the last update,[31] except that stronger winds are appearing over a broader area. Which is to suggest that firefighters seem to be pretty much holding the line, and that if the wind forecast holds,[32] the worst should be over. For now.[33] Graphics have been updated.
  14. October 30, 9:05 am:
    • Richard Denniss explores the social constructions in economics to explain why economists disagree.[34] I respond with a new blog post entitled, “Cats are smarter than we are. Really.
    • The Kincade fire is at 30 percent containment and nearly 77,000 acres.[35] Firefighters seem to be holding the line in areas I’ve been most concerned with but I think maybe not so well to the north and east. Unfortunately there’s a weird cut off in the graphics in figure 1 that makes this harder to discern. Winds are strong and off-shore but not as strong and not as strongly over as wide an area as before.[36] Graphics have been updated.
  15. October 30, 7:00 pm:
    • Asserting the supremacy of state law, an Allegheny County judge struck down Pittsburgh’s gun control laws,[37] which were passed in the wake of the Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting last year.[38]
    • My methodology here is weak beyond compare, but I’m guessing from his avatar that Nathan Heller is a lot younger than I am. That said, his recollection of fires in the San Francisco area is about like mine.[39] California just isn’t the place it used to be. It is, as the headline on Annie Lowrey’s exploration of how the Wildlife-Urban Interface came to be so heavily populated proclaims, becoming unlivable.[40] (Kincade fire)
    • Winds are still offshore, but not nearly so strongly as earlier even today.[41] Updated containment figures are not yet available.[42] A lot of east Windsor appears to have burned or to be on fire but Healdsburg continues to be spared. Overall, the Kincade fire looks much less active and evacuation orders and warnings seem to be receding (figure 1). My mother will be going home tomorrow. Graphics have been updated.
    • Barring unforeseen developments, I will end this issue here. It’s become unusual for me to hold an issue open like this for several days on end but I did so on account of the Kincade fire. At this moment, that no longer seems to be justified.

Pittsburgh

I’ve been working on my page entitled, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated anyway, but it turns out that Pittsburgh navigation is sufficiently difficult that it merits a CityLab article.[43] Yes, it really is that bad. And worse.

Vince Guerrieri, “The Map That Unlocked the Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” CityLab, October 25, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/10/pittsburgh-street-map-beltway-system-allegheny-county-roads/600658/


Humanities

Support for the humanities comes from an unlikely source.[44]

Heather Long, “The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors,” Washington Post, October 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/19/worlds-top-economists-just-made-case-why-we-still-need-english-majors/


Kincade fire

FireShot Capture 034 - Kincade Fire Incident Map (Sonoma, Napa, Lake Counties)_ - sonomacounty.maps.arcgis.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of Sonoma County Incident Map, taken on October 30, 2019, at 7:37 pm EDT (4:37 pm PDT). Click on this static image to open the source.
nepac-2019-10-30-18
Fig. 2. 72-hour gif of Northeast Pacific satellite photos, taken two hours apart, as of October 30, 6:00 pm EDT (3:00 pm PDT).

Jonathan Cox, another Cal Fire spokesman, called the evacuation orders a preventive measure against “a worst-case scenario for this fire.” Capt. Stephen Volmer, a fire behavior analyst with the agency, said the winds were expected to start blowing the fire in a southwesterly direction beginning about 8 p.m. [PDT] toward Highway 101.[45]

A lot of Sonoma County still has visible scars from the fires two years ago. The psychic scars are, of course, longer lasting. But all I can really say is that the scenes I have seen there are, in a way, beyond description. There is an impact just from seeing the burned areas, or even just driving around a curve and being confronted with burned vegetation. Let alone seeing pads where homes used to be.

Best wishes to all.

Dale Kasler, “PG&E expands blackouts as fierce winds approach: 940,000 to lose power in California,” Sacramento Bee, October 26, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236691183.html

Dale Kasler and Hannah Wiley, “50,000 face evacuations in Sonoma County as Kincade Fire peril intensifies,” Sacramento Bee, October 26, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236685153.html

Nico Savidge, Annie Sciacca, and Casey Tolan, “‘I don’t want to do this again’: Blackouts and wildfires put Sonoma County on edge,” San Jose Mercury-News, October 26, 2019, https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/26/i-dont-want-to-do-this-again-blackouts-and-fires-make-sonoma-county-residents-question-their-home/

Randi Rossmann and Will Schmitt, “Latest: Crews fighting to protect Windsor from approaching Kincade fire,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10227533-181/latest-winds-picking-up-in

Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html

Dale Kasler, “Can wildfire risk worsen? Northern California eyes more winds, another PG&E outage,” Sacramento Bee, October 28, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236718203.html

Nathan Heller, “San Francisco’s Fire Season,” New Yorker, October 30, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/california-chronicles/san-franciscos-fire-season

Annie Lowrey, “California Is Becoming Unlivable,” Atlantic, October 30, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/can-california-save-itself/601135/


Brexit

William Booth, Michael Birnbaum, and Karla Adam, “U.K. Parliament rejects Boris Johnson’s call for an early election on Dec. 12, but a pre-Brexit election remains likely,” Washington Post, October 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-pushes-brexit-until-end-of-january-british-prime-minister-johnsons-request/2019/10/28/c53839cc-f967-11e9-9534-e0dbcc9f5683_story.html

Karla Adam and William Booth, “Britain sets December date for an election in which Brexit will dominate,” Washington Post, October 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/with-labour-partys-backing-britains-boris-johnson-looks-set-to-get-his-snap-election/2019/10/29/778ed246-f9c9-11e9-9e02-1d45cb3dfa8f_story.html

Max Colchester, “U.K. Opposition Labour Party to Back Boris Johnson’s Call for Election,” Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-opposition-to-back-boris-johnsons-call-for-election-11572347134

Peter Walker, “MPs poised to vote through plan for December election,” Guardian, October 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/29/rush-to-election-slowed-mp-stella-creasy-backbench-labour-amendment


  1. [1]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  2. [2]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  3. [3]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 27, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  4. [4]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  5. [5]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 27, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  6. [6]Nico Savidge, Annie Sciacca, and Casey Tolan, “‘I don’t want to do this again’: Blackouts and wildfires put Sonoma County on edge,” San Jose Mercury-News, October 26, 2019, https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/26/i-dont-want-to-do-this-again-blackouts-and-fires-make-sonoma-county-residents-question-their-home/
  7. [7]Randi Rossmann and Will Schmitt, “Latest: Crews fighting to protect Windsor from approaching Kincade fire,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10227533-181/latest-winds-picking-up-in
  8. [8]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 28, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  9. [9]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 28, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  10. [10]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 28, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  11. [11]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 28, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  12. [12]Dale Kasler, “Can wildfire risk worsen? Northern California eyes more winds, another PG&E outage,” Sacramento Bee, October 28, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236718203.html
  13. [13]Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html
  14. [14]Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html
  15. [15]Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html
  16. [16]William Booth, Michael Birnbaum, and Karla Adam, “U.K. Parliament rejects Boris Johnson’s call for an early election on Dec. 12, but a pre-Brexit election remains likely,” Washington Post, October 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-pushes-brexit-until-end-of-january-british-prime-minister-johnsons-request/2019/10/28/c53839cc-f967-11e9-9534-e0dbcc9f5683_story.html
  17. [17]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 28, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  18. [18]Rowena Mason, “Brexit: Boris Johnson abandons bill in new push for December election,” Guardian, October 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/28/boris-johnson-abandons-brexit-bill-in-new-push-for-december-election
  19. [19]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 28, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  20. [20]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 28, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  21. [21]Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html
  22. [22]Max Colchester, “U.K. Opposition Labour Party to Back Boris Johnson’s Call for Election,” Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-opposition-to-back-boris-johnsons-call-for-election-11572347134
  23. [23]Rowena Mason, “Brexit: Boris Johnson abandons bill in new push for December election,” Guardian, October 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/28/boris-johnson-abandons-brexit-bill-in-new-push-for-december-election
  24. [24]Randi Rossman and Will Schmitt, “Broken PG&E tower discovered near origin of Kincade fire on The Geysers geothermal power property,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, October 25, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the
  25. [25]Kurtis Alexander, “Scientists see fingerprints of climate change all over California’s wildfires,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 2018, https://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Scientists-see-fingerprints-of-climate-change-all-13128585.php
  26. [26]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 29, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  27. [27]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Britain sets December date for an election in which Brexit will dominate,” Washington Post, October 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/with-labour-partys-backing-britains-boris-johnson-looks-set-to-get-his-snap-election/2019/10/29/778ed246-f9c9-11e9-9e02-1d45cb3dfa8f_story.html
  28. [28]Peter Walker, “MPs poised to vote through plan for December election,” Guardian, October 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/29/rush-to-election-slowed-mp-stella-creasy-backbench-labour-amendment
  29. [29]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 29, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  30. [30]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 29, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  31. [31]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 29, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  32. [32]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 30, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  33. [33]Kurtis Alexander, “Scientists see fingerprints of climate change all over California’s wildfires,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 2018, https://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Scientists-see-fingerprints-of-climate-change-all-13128585.php
  34. [34]Richard Denniss, “If economics is a science, why isn’t it being more helpful?” Guardian, October 30, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/30/if-economics-is-a-science-why-isnt-it-being-more-helpful
  35. [35]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 30, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  36. [36]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 30, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  37. [37]Bob Bauder, “Judge strikes down Pittsburgh’s controversial gun bills,” Trib, October 29, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/judge-strikes-down-pittsburghs-controversial-gun-bills/
  38. [38]Campbell Robertson, Christopher Mele, and Sabrina Tavernise, “11 Killed in Synagogue Massacre; Suspect Charged With 29 Counts,” New York Times, October 27, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/us/active-shooter-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.html
  39. [39]Nathan Heller, “San Francisco’s Fire Season,” New Yorker, October 30, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/california-chronicles/san-franciscos-fire-season
  40. [40]Annie Lowrey, “California Is Becoming Unlivable,” Atlantic, October 30, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/can-california-save-itself/601135/
  41. [41]Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Map: Real-time map of wind gusts in the North Bay,” October 30, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10155288-181/map-current-winds-in-the
  42. [42]California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “Incidents,” October 30, 2019, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/
  43. [43]Vince Guerrieri, “The Map That Unlocked the Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” CityLab, October 25, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/10/pittsburgh-street-map-beltway-system-allegheny-county-roads/600658/
  44. [44]Heather Long, “The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors,” Washington Post, October 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/19/worlds-top-economists-just-made-case-why-we-still-need-english-majors/
  45. [45]Dale Kasler and Hannah Wiley, “50,000 face evacuations in Sonoma County as Kincade Fire peril intensifies,” Sacramento Bee, October 26, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236685153.html

For-profit schools’ most favorite education secretary ever is in contempt of court

For-profit schools

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, “Federal judge holds DeVos in contempt in loan case, slaps Education Department with $100,000 fine,” Washington Post, October 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/10/24/federal-judge-holds-devos-contempt-loan-case-slaps-education-dept-with-fine/


Kincade fire

There is a new blog post entitled, “The Kincade fire and the limits of human hubris.”

Randi Rossman and Will Schmitt, “Broken PG&E tower discovered near origin of Kincade fire on The Geysers geothermal power property,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, October 25, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the

Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware, and Andrew Freedman, “High-voltage power line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations,” Washington Post, October 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/24/fast-moving-wildfire-ignites-northern-california-wine-country-prompting-evacuations/


Veganism

George Reynolds, “Why do people hate vegans?” Guardian, October 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/25/why-do-people-hate-vegans


Brexit

Sam Knight has written a history of Brexit, pretty much since Theresa May was toppled.[1] After all, it has been one very long, very strange journey and we still don’t know, really, how it ends.

Sam Knight, “How Brexit Will End,” New Yorker, October 25, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/04/how-brexit-will-end


James Comey

Tammy Kupperman et al., “Judge says impeachment inquiry is legal and justifies disclosing grand jury material,” CNN, October 25, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/25/politics/grand-jury-impeachment-mueller/index.html


  1. [1]Sam Knight, “How Brexit Will End,” New Yorker, October 25, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/04/how-brexit-will-end

Hillary Clinton, narcissist

Hillary Clinton

There is a new blog post entitled, “Hillary Clinton needs to just shut the fuck up.”

Dan Merica, “Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are ‘grooming’ Tulsi Gabbard for third-party run,” CNN, October 21, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/18/politics/hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard/index.html

Nathan Robinson, “Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Tulsi Gabbard are embarrassing,” Guardian, October 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/22/hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard-embarrassing-paranoid


Migration

The Chronicle of Higher Education has some of the backstory[1] to the drama over the Flores Settlement and the treatment of migrant children.[2]

Emma Pettit, “The Witnesses,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 16, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20191016-the-witness


Brexit

Boris Johnson finally won one.[3] He also lost yet another one.[4] These two stories differ mostly in emphasis, and I’m still thinking about the significance of who chose which emphasis.

William Booth and Karla Adam, “Parliament denies Boris Johnson support for his fast-tracked Brexit deal, making Oct. 31 exit unlikely,” Washington Post, October 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/brexit-fast-or-slow-boris-johnson-faces-big-votes-tuesday/2019/10/22/dc12989c-f447-11e9-b2d2-1f37c9d82dbb_story.html

Max Colchester and Jason Douglas, “Johnson’s Brexit Deal Clears Hurdle in Parliament but His Timetable Is Rejected,” Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/boris-johnsons-brexit-deal-clears-vital-hurdle-in-parliament-11571768188


  1. [1]Emma Pettit, “The Witnesses,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 16, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20191016-the-witness
  2. [2]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html; Caitlin Dickerson, “‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children,” New York Times, June 21, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html; Adam Harris, “An Astonishing Government Report on Conditions at the Border,” Atlantic, July 3, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/government-report-details-inhumane-conditions-migrant-facilities/593242/; Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html; Alejandro Lazo and Jacob Gershman, “Lawsuit Alleges Government Mistreatment of Migrant Children,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawsuit-alleges-government-mistreatment-of-migrant-children-11561608969; Katie Mettler, Mike DeBonis, and Reis Thebault, “Border agents confiscated lawmakers’ phones. Joaquin Castro captured photo and video anyway,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/02/ocasio-cortez-says-dispute-with-border-patrol-agents-started-after-one-tried-take-stealth-selfie/
  3. [3]Max Colchester and Jason Douglas, “Johnson’s Brexit Deal Clears Hurdle in Parliament but His Timetable Is Rejected,” Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/boris-johnsons-brexit-deal-clears-vital-hurdle-in-parliament-11571768188
  4. [4]William Booth and Karla Adam, “Parliament denies Boris Johnson support for his fast-tracked Brexit deal, making Oct. 31 exit unlikely,” Washington Post, October 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/brexit-fast-or-slow-boris-johnson-faces-big-votes-tuesday/2019/10/22/dc12989c-f447-11e9-b2d2-1f37c9d82dbb_story.html

Intellectual dishonesty: scandal or fraud?

Scientific scandal

Stephen Fleischfresser doesn’t use the term ‘scientific fraud,’ but some of this work appears at least intellectually dishonest. So what I want to know is, who the hell, besides the tobacco industry, cited these assholes, “one of the most influential and heavily cited psychologists of all time, the oft controversial Hans Eysenck” and his partner in crime, Ronald Grossath-Maticek?[1] Because if people are actually relying on this bullshit, the question that follows is, how much damage has been done to the body of knowledge? How much?

Stephen Fleischfresser, “Is this ‘one of the worst scientific scandals of all time’?” Cosmos, October 21, 2019, https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/is-this-one-of-the-worst-scientific-scandals-of-all-time


Palestine

Steve Hendrix, “Netanyahu fails to form new Israeli government; rival Gantz poised to take up the challenge,” Washington Post, October 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/netanyahu-fails-to-form-new-israeli-government-rival-gantz-poised-to-take-up-the-challenge/2019/10/21/7a4574d4-e27e-11e9-be96-6adb81821e90_story.html

Times of Israel, “Warren says withholding aid to Israel is ‘on the table’ to curb settlements,” October 21, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/warren-says-withholding-aid-to-israel-on-the-table-to-curb-settlements/


Brexit

Karla Adam and William Booth, “Another Brexit hiccup as House Speaker John Bercow denies Boris Johnson a vote Monday,” Washington Post, October 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/boris-johnson-presses-ahead-with-october-departure-from-the-eu-despite-requesting-brexit-delay/2019/10/21/c915338c-f297-11e9-bb7e-d2026ee0c199_story.html


  1. [1]Stephen Fleischfresser, “Is this ‘one of the worst scientific scandals of all time’?” Cosmos, October 21, 2019, https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/is-this-one-of-the-worst-scientific-scandals-of-all-time

Boris Johnson’s not so super Saturday

Brexit

Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Boris Johnson’s Bad Saturday and the Contradictions of Brexit,” New Yorker, October 19, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/boris-johnsons-bad-saturday-and-the-contradictions-of-brexit

Daniel Boffey, “Brexit: Johnson sends unsigned letter asking for delay, and second arguing against it,” Guardian, October 20, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/19/eu-will-grant-brexit-extension-if-johnson-sends-letter-says-brussels


Parliament wanted a deal. Will it vote for the one Boris Johnson got them?

Brexit

Rory Carroll and Lisa O’Carroll, “Rival unionists accuse DUP of catastrophic Brexit miscalculation,” Guardian, October 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/rival-unionists-accuse-dup-of-catastrophic-brexit-miscalculation

Rowena Mason and Rajeev Syal, “‘It’s painful to choose’: ERG locked in internal talks over Brexit deal,” Guardian, October 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/its-painful-to-choose-erg-locked-in-internal-talks-over-brexit-deal


Kurdistan

Delil Souleiman, “Deadly Turkish airstrikes shatter deal to pause Syria offensive,” Times of Israel, October 18, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/deadly-turkish-airstrikes-shatter-deal-to-pause-syria-offensive/


Recession

Derek Thompson skillfully distinguishes between the dot-com crash and what is happening with some so-called “tech” companies (like Uber, Lyft, and WeWork) now. But he focuses too much on stock market valuations[1] and not enough on the effects, like mass unemployment such as that which followed the dot-com crash. We still don’t know what’s going to happen to Uber and Lyft employees, let alone the legions of drivers whom the companies refuse to count as employees,[2] when these companies fold.[3]

Derek Thompson, “The Not-Com Bubble Is Popping,” Atlantic, October 18, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/are-we-cusp-next-dot-com-bubble/600232/


  1. [1]Derek Thompson, “The Not-Com Bubble Is Popping,” Atlantic, October 18, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/are-we-cusp-next-dot-com-bubble/600232/
  2. [2]Noam Cohen, “How Tech Firms Like Uber Hide Behind the ‘Platform Defense,’” Wired, September 13, 2019, https://www.wired.com/story/how-tech-firms-like-uber-hide-behind-the-platform-defense/; Kate Conger, “Uber Says It Will Not Change Driver Status Under California Gig-Worker Law,” New York Times, September 11, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/business/economy/uber-california-bill.html; Shirin Ghaffary, “Uber and Lyft say they don’t plan to reclassify their drivers as employees,” Vox, September 11, 2019, https://www.vox.com/2019/9/11/20861599/ab-5-uber-lyft-drivers-contractors-reclassify-employees; Aaron Gordon, “Uber To California: Make Us,” Jalopnik, September 11, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-drivers-shouldnt-expect-to-be-employees-a-1838048966
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Liking Lyft, not liking Uber,” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/liking-lyft-not-liking-uber/

Alert the heavens: Elijah Cummings is coming

Brexit

It’s now about the Democratic Unionist Party’s quest for political power. Yes, really. And because of that,[1] Parliament’s ratification of the deal remains in doubt.[2]

With the DUP refusing to give its backing, there remains serious doubt that the deal will pass through parliament unless Johnson is able to convince both a significant number of Labour MPs and a large chunk of the 21 MPs whose whip as Conservatives was removed last month.

Soon after the agreement was announced, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, rejected it as worse than the deal produced by Johnson’s predecessor in Downing Street, Theresa May.[3]

Daniel Boffey, Jennifer Rankin, and Rowena Mason, “Johnson seeks DUP backing in race against time over Brexit deal,” Guardian, October 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/oct/16/michel-barnier-optimistic-of-deal-after-pm-makes-concessions-on-irish-border

James Rothwell, “DUP’s demand for a veto over deal brings talks to standstill as consent not customs becomes crucial issue,” Telegraph, October 16, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/16/dups-demand-veto-deal-brings-talks-standstill-consent-not-customs/

Daniel Boffey and Jennifer Rankin, “Boris Johnson and EU reach Brexit deal without DUP backing,” Guardian, October 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/boris-johnson-and-eu-reach-brexit-deal-without-dup-backing

Laurence Norman and Max Colchester, “U.K., EU Agree on Draft Brexit Deal, Paving Way for Key Vote,” Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/brexit-talks-are-dealt-a-blow-as-northern-irish-party-rejects-draft-11571294766


Elijah Cummings

I have marked my own passing through phases of life by the deaths of others: Middle age as celebrities of roughly my parents’ generation have begun to pass on, old age as celebrities of roughly my own generation have begun to pass on.

I don’t believe I particularly express that ineffable quality of soul, at least not very often. B. B. King did and recognized it in others. He talks about that somewhere in the music collection I have curated over decades. I most often recognize soul in the additions I make to that collection when I learn of artists’ passing: Yes, of course, B.B. King, but also Arethra Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder.

Soul is perhaps what I perceived in my grandfather.

I don’t often include obituaries here, let alone of politicians.

I fault Elijah Cummings as I do all politicians, for their belief in and their participation an inherently corrupt and violent system that is incapable of significant progress, particularly as life on earth faces near-term existential challenges.[4] But ironically, it might be Trey Gowdy, following a clash with Cummings in the then Republican-controlled House at the Benghazi hearings, who summed it best:

“It’s not about politics to him; he says what he believes,” [Trey] Gowdy told the Hill newspaper. “And you can tell the ones who are saying it because it was in a memo they got that morning, and you can tell the ones who it’s coming from their soul. And with Mr. Cummings, it’s coming from his soul.”[5]

Whatever our differences, and whatever the solutions may be to the problems we face, we need a lot more soul.

And with Cummings’ passing—he was eight years old than me—the curtain on my own utterly futile and wasted life seems that much closer. I wish I could make it all different.

Jenna Portnoy, “Rep. Elijah Cummings, Democratic leader and regular Trump target, dies at 68,” Washington Post, October 17, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/17/elijah-cummings-dies-baltimore/


  1. [1]James Rothwell, “DUP’s demand for a veto over deal brings talks to standstill as consent not customs becomes crucial issue,” Telegraph, October 16, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/16/dups-demand-veto-deal-brings-talks-standstill-consent-not-customs/
  2. [2]Laurence Norman and Max Colchester, “U.K., EU Agree on Draft Brexit Deal, Paving Way for Key Vote,” Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/brexit-talks-are-dealt-a-blow-as-northern-irish-party-rejects-draft-11571294766
  3. [3]Daniel Boffey and Jennifer Rankin, “Boris Johnson and EU reach Brexit deal without DUP backing,” Guardian, October 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/boris-johnson-and-eu-reach-brexit-deal-without-dup-backing
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Why I do not vote,” Not Housebroken, February 23, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/02/23/why-i-do-not-vote/
  5. [5]Jenna Portnoy, “Rep. Elijah Cummings, Democratic leader and regular Trump target, dies at 68,” Washington Post, October 17, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/17/elijah-cummings-dies-baltimore/

The roller coaster

Brexit

The roller coaster continues to be a roller coaster.

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Brexit: ‘Many issues’ still unresolved, warns Leo Varadkar,” October 16, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-50063022


#MeToo

So, while refusing to excuse powerful older men for their assaults on young women, I’ve also been critical of such women for using their youth and sexual attractiveness to gain access. It seems Meghan Daum shares that perspective.[1]

But then we move on to the next question: What if, in a patriarchal society where social mobility has all but evaporated,[2] that youth and sexual attractiveness is the only or even only the most important leverage these women will ever have to advance their careers? Daum alludes to and even discusses her own experience in deploying that leverage, but does not really address this question.[3] As one who has never enjoyed that particular advantage, and who now finds himself systematically excluded from the job market,[4] I know how hard it is to get your foot in the door and how easy it is to fail. The question, really, is how is one even really supposed to find a job? I can’t escape that.

Meghan Daum, “Team older feminist: am I allowed nuanced feelings about #MeToo?” Guardian, October 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/16/metoo-older-feminists-problem-with-everything-extract


  1. [1]Meghan Daum, “Team older feminist: am I allowed nuanced feelings about #MeToo?” Guardian, October 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/16/metoo-older-feminists-problem-with-everything-extract
  2. [2]Claude S. Fisher et al., “Why Inequality?” in Great Divides, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2003).
  3. [3]Meghan Daum, “Team older feminist: am I allowed nuanced feelings about #MeToo?” Guardian, October 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/16/metoo-older-feminists-problem-with-everything-extract
  4. [4]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/