Authoritarianism in Tiny Steps

All the power in both the County and the City of Santa Cruz (where I live) now resides in the hands of a County health official. Yesterday, she just closed all parks and all beaches in the county for at least a week. She had the courtesy to post a long letter explaining her reasons.

The letter contains this gem: “…too many of us were visiting the beach for leisure rather than recreation.”

I just can’t figure out the distinction. I am sure I don’t know when I am enjoying leisure from when I am recreating.

Now, I have been using the English language daily for about fifty-five years; it’s my working language; I write in it; I read at least a book a week in that language. Nevertheless, I don’t get the distinction. I even tried the old trick of translating the relevant phrase into my native language, French, like this:

Trop nombreux etaient ceux, entre nous qui se rendaient a la plage pour y jouir de leurs loisirs plutot que dans un but de recreation.

Still don’t know what the difference is!

The problem with George Orwell, the poor man’s libertarian theoretician, is that he keeps cropping up not matter how hard I try to shut him out of my mind. Way to go George! You were on to something.

Addendum the next day: I almost forgot. The county of Santa Cruz also explicitly forbade surfing (SURFING). Now, surfers hate even gliding past one another. They don’t congregate. They are sometimes suspected of attempting murder to get more space on the waves.

Two explanations come to mind for this strange interdiction. First, this is a devious way to stop many young people from nearby, very populated Silicon Valley to come over to Santa Cruz and enjoy their forced vacation on the waves. Or, second, this is an unconscious expression of the puritanism that always accompanies petty tyranny: Times are hard; you may not enjoy yourself, period!

The Real Meaning of Christmas

…Jesus Christ matters a great deal for this atheist. For Christians, Easter, the Resurrection, is the big date. For us it’s Christmas. When someone wishes me “Good Holidays” in my simplistically minded libprog town, I respond with a cheery, “Merry Christmas.” I don’t do it just to be churlish (though I wouldn’t put this beyond me). No, I mean it.

What happened in Bethlehem is that God became a human, completely, with a conventional birth and all, and a regular upbringing.* This is not another small unimportant religious tale. In time, it’s a world-changing myth.

When God is man, we are only one step removed from Man becoming God. In the long run, it’s the beginning of the end of our collective submission to an often savage Bronze Age divinity. It took about 1500 years but it did happen and only in the parts of the world that had been Christian (plus, maybe, in Japan. Why in Japan? Beats me!).


* By the way, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is not what many people think it is. I keep hearing the mistake on the radio. (It takes an atheist to help with Christian theology, N.S.!)

A Small Reason Why I Don’t Want Big Government

Santa Cruz, California is really Silicon Valley Beach. It’s the closest; the next one is quite far. That’s in addition to drawing visitors from deep into the Central Valley of California, and a surprising number of European visitors.

One attractive beach close to its municipal wharf has only two (2) toilets. On Labor Day weekend Sunday, one of the two toilets was out of order. I estimate there were between 500 and a thousand people on that particular beach.

The day before, Labor Day weekend Saturday, the same toilet was already out of order. It was still out of order on Monday, Labor Day itself.

It was only a few months ago that the City of Santa Cruz joined a class action suit by a number of government entities against major oil companies for causing climate change. The first judge to look at the suit send the plaintiffs packing, of course.

So, this city of 60,000 wants to stop global warming but it does not have the ability to place two working toilets at the disposal of hundred of visitors who leave thousands of dollars in its coffers. The city cannot afford to hire a competent plumber on an emergency basis to fix the problem immediately. It does not have the timeX2 that would be required. Make it timeX3 on the outside. The total would come to $500 tops. Make it $1,000. It does not change anything.

The same happened last year or the year before. Surprise!

This is pathetic. We are governed by morons. Their gross incompetence is not natural, I am guessing. It’s learned stupidity. Our fault. We vote them in – with big help from UC Santa Cruz undergraduates who don’t care one way or the other, just want to feel good by electing “progressives.”

No one told our City Manager that Labor Day weekend, and its crowds, were coming. How was he supposed to know?

Gay Parade: a Conservative Take

So, last Sunday was Gay Pride Parade downtown Santa Cruz. I am all for parades in general. It feels good for people to march, no matter the cause. In this case, I am a little perplexed at first. I don’t know what the marchers are addressing. This is Santa Cruz, after all, where no one is ever judgmental, except against those who are judgmental. Where is the potential gain in tolerance, I wonder?

The parade does not even succeed in browbeating me by making me feel “what it’s like to be a minority.” After all, most of the women in the parade are a lot like me. They like what I like. We may have been rivals once but I was not even aware of it until my wife brought home – in all innocence – an obviously lesbian admirer. My wife is from India. She was young then. There were many things she did not understand. Also, she was striking. Of course, I threatened the woman with beating her up with my big fists. No, I was not acting intolerant. I treated her the way I would have treated any sexual rival. I treated her equally, you might say. (Yes, she quickly vanished.)

The Santa Cruz parade is puzzling in other ways. One small tight group carries two signs. The first shows a Star of David in several colors. The second sign shows a small number of abstractly rendered fish in the same colors. I can’t bring myself to believe that this is a plea for support of Jewish homosexual fish. Yet, I have no other interpretation. The Santa Cruz parade also leaves me a little frustrated because it’s frankly scruffy, overall. I feel parade envy vis-à-vis the flamboyant and perfectly groomed San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. I am not sure but I think the difference is due to the fact that the Santa Cruz event is dominated by lesbians. Many (not all) lesbians make it a point of pride to wear sloppy t-shirts, like guys. Some aspire to be male rednecks and are fast getting there.

Toward the end, I enter into a conversation with two older woman, one costumed. It turns out they are leaders of the local Medical Marijuana Alliance. One is a retired nurse. They both like guys, one of the biddies reassures me unhelpfully. They are there because there is an alliance between the Alliance and lesbian and gay organizations. They support one another politically. This is good American politics at work. Mutual support is set up peacefully, without acrimony, to gain influence over rules and over how public funds are spent. I often complain about the policy results of such coalitions but I can’t think of a better way, in the short term, that is.

I still dislike taxation and I dislike even more large segments of law and order. I detest above all the so-called War on Drugs, a true catastrophe for this whole society. In the short term, though, I don’t see the path forward to doing away with these gross limitations on individual freedom. So, I rejoice in every item of evidence that we could do worse.

A Tale of Two Cities (in Santa Cruz, California, USA)

There is a Veterans Hall right in downtown Santa Cruz. It’s called “Veterans Memorial,”  says so on its facade. It’s next door to the US Post Office and across the street from a marble monument to those children of the county who participated in World War One or in World War Two.

Every Wednesday morning, a group of older men and a couple of women, wearing Veteran badges and holding up a Veteran flag as well as a US flag meet near the monument to sing songs. They don’t sing especially patriotic songs but rather goodies and oldies. This morning, they gave a beautiful rendition of “Lily Marlene.” One old guy volunteered that he was sorry no one there knew the words in German. (For those of you who get your culture from Twitters: “Lily Marlene” was a rare thing, a tube sung by both sides in the European theater during the second world war.) Mostly, usually, they sing “Home on the Range’” and the like.

Another old guy told me that the group is not allowed to meet inside the Veterans building when the weather is inclement without paying the county a fee. Veterans’ Memorial is not freely available to veterans. It’s a small group; they don’t seem prosperous. Perhaps the fee is the method used by the county to keep the homeless out. It’s true that the group of singers looks a little scruffy. Some are old men who don’t live with a woman. Some are down and out homeless. Some are veterans who are homeless.

The decidedly left-wing municipal council of the City of Santa Cruz uses all kinds of artifices to contain and corral the homeless population. It wouldn’t be surprising if the county did something similar. I don’t know that it does. It sounds credible though. I will look into it.

I am not saying there is no problem with the homeless concerning more than those who are homeless. I have spoken about it before. The methods used to deal with them just make me deeply uneasy from a constitutional standpoint. The latent hypocrisy also gets to me. More later.

Two days ago, there was a little ceremony in front of O’Neil’s  flagship store, also in downtown Santa Cruz, a block away. Yes, I mean that O’Neil, that genius of entrepreneurship, that hero of capitalism. (For those who read me from overseas: O’Neil is the brand of surfboards then, of beach apparel, you see on every beach in the world. There is actually a Mr O’Neil.) The ceremony was a  celebration of PACT. (“People for something or other.”)

PACT was celebrating  its first-year anniversary and changing its name to honor a former DA. There were representatives from the DA’s office, from the city police, a couple of social workers, others from various city departments, or county departments, almost all public employees taking paid time off work. I would venture that 90% of those who stopped there for more than one minute were on the public payroll or spouses of such. They were celebrating themselves.

PACT targets “nuisance crimes.” That’s mostly behavior of the homeless population. In its first year, a press release announced, PACT reduced “nuisance crimes” as follows:

“The program focused on 70 repeat offenders during its first year and results show a 70% decrease in arrests and citation recidivism rates. During that period, ambulance runs for those 70 DAP-focused offenders decreased 80%.”

I live downtown, in one of the areas targeted, I think. I did not notice any reduction in nuisances. How come I am not surprised that a new government program announces striking successes? The press release concludes that:

“The Santa Cruz City Council and County Board of Supervisors will be considering the expansion of PACT in their upcoming budget hearings in May and June.” (Bolding mine.)

So, I don’t want to sound persnickety and I am all for initiatives, trying new things where old methods don’t work. What I saw and read on that occasion though is not good enough. I need two more things.

First, I want to be told squarely that the methods used do not violate anyone’s constitutional rights. Even laws that have been on the book forever make me nervous. Anti-loitering laws for one. (Is any man in a conservative coat and tie ever accused of loitering when he is just waiting in the street for his friend?)

Second, to judge a publicly funded program, I always want more info than is provided here. I have no reason to doubt the PACT figures  (“70% reduction in…”) – however cherry-picked they may be. They are only performance measurements however. I want cost-benefit, input-output measurements. If a city program resulted in 100% reduction in litter on my street, I would be only guardedly happy. If I found out that my share of the real cost of this achievement was $10,000 annually, I am certain I would want to  find out about the cost of a 90% reduction in litter, and so on.

And, by the way, I want the real cost, all included, including pension funding going forward. Sometimes just asking that a bureaucracy calculate the costs of its actions and make them public is enough to alter its course. Sometimes, just demanding that it calculate those costs is enough.

Good government is largely about choosing. I want the  elements of choice to be divulged to me as a citizen and as a taxpayer. It’s not too much to ask, I think.

PS  Yes, I know, the city council was elected according to fair and clean elections. That’s not enough for me. I want it to do as little as possible on its own.

We Must Have Order!

I sometimes think that the small daily vexations of government do more to wake up regular people than the really big abuses of government. Below is a relevant anecdote.

Seven or eight years ago, the City of Santa Cruz forbade me from cutting the tree figuring in the picture below. It’s a redwood tree. It’s in my tiny front yard. Its invasion of a sewer line cost me $10,000 before I asked humbly for permission to remove the tree. Now, the tree roots are destroying the foundations of my house as well as the sidewalk in front of it. The city says that I am responsible for fixing the sidewalk, indefinitely, apparently because redwood tress grow at least for several hundred years.

redwood in santa cruz

Now, to be fair, the City arborist told me a few months ago privately that if I asked for permission to cut the tree again now, it would probably be approved. It does not do me much good now. She said no when I could afford to cut it now, I can’t afford it. Besides, the city insists that I have to pay for a permit to remove the tree I did not want in the first place. This is more offensive than the much higher cost of taking the tree down which involves real work, at least. (It’s true that I bought the property with the tree on it. I had no idea then that I could even be denied the permission to cut a forest tree.) I am quite insensitive to the need of my city to have redwood trees, specifically, within its boundaries.

First, everyone knows that redwoods are destructive. Moreover, they sterilize the area where they grow. Second, it’s not as if our citizens were deprived of trees, as people might be, say, in Arizona. In fact, there is a large forest a four minute drive from my house, seven minutes by bicycle, tops. It’s a 90% redwood forest. It’s not clear to me that I must recognize a duty to subsidize the redwood viewing of residents and visitors who are too lazy to drive or bike there.

Note my delicateness of mind: I admit that many of my fellow Santa Cruzans would be morally torn between the desire to commune with redwood trees, on the one hand and their fervent wish to not contribute to global warming by driving four minutes, on the other hand. But I think they can just bike there, or walk. I also admit that there are people in Santa Cruz who don’t own a car and who are physically unable to bike or walk to the forest. I would be in favor of a city-sponsored collection to bus them to the redwood forest four times each year. I would gladly contribute, voluntarily, that is.

Two deeply different views of the world are at odds here. Now, let me assure you that although I am a conservative, I like trees. I like cherry trees and apple trees mostly, for obvious reasons, but redwoods are OK because they give high grade lumber. And, yes, they look wonderful. That is, they look wonderful where they belong, in a forest, with their brothers and sisters and all the cousins around. My own redwood tree (the tree that my family and the City apparently jointly own) is a object of shame. It’s so bad, that I never use it to give directions to my house although it stands right out. It’s an object of shame because PG&E, the publicly regulated monopoly, has the right to shape it in any way it chooses. I am sure there are technicalities that escape me here but the shape it prefers makes my redwood tree look like an old, overused toilet brush. Sorry for the vision, I call them as I see them!

Well, I planted a yellow rose bush nearby and the bush found the spot attractive. It grew and grew under my firm benign neglect. Eventually, it had to discover that the nearby redwood tree makes a good ladder to the sun. The result is in the photo above. Well, I think you are not going to believe this but a member of the leftist and left-liberal city council complained about the rose bush on the tree. She says it looks unkempt. Here you have it – not left-wing thought, there is no thinking involved here – but the leftist temperament in a nutshell: Things have to be neat; personal preferences do not matter; bureaucracies give you predictability even if at stupendous cost, the market is inherently messy. We must have order even if it impoverishes our lives.

Irrationality, Self-indulgence, Childishness, Bizarre Beliefs, and Innovation: From the Belly of the Beast

I have lived for many years the People’s Socialist Green Republic of Santa Cruz in California, right in the Belly of the Beast. That’s not its real name actually, just the name it deserves. It’s a university town of about 50,000. A large campus of the University of California sits on the hills overlooking the town. The campus has several distinguished university departments, including Marine Biology and Astronomy. However, many more of it undergraduates believe in Astrology than know anything at all about Astronomy.

It’s a Bobo-land where LUGs prosper and the boys are quiet, timid, retiring, sweet, and too frightened to do the job that Mother Nature commanded for them. (LUG= Lesbian Until Graduation. I swear I have known several, young apparent lesbians who showed up a couple of years after school with a husband, a male husband, I mean. There is a logic to it: Lesbianism is the highest degree of feminism. It brings you a great deal of political prestige on campus. But then, soon, nature and convention re-assert themselves and everything returns pretty much to what the young woman’s parents always wished for, a dual income family, children, etc. Note that I have said nothing about or against lesbians by natural inclination.) The University of California at Santa Cruz has a healthy “Department of Feminist Studies,” not “Women’s Studies,” not “Feminine Studies, ” “Feminist,” with an “ist” indicating perhaps a certain lack of scholarly detachment!

Savvy faculty members of 70s vintage (like me) with more or less phony doctorates they invented have used this mass of ignorant, semi-literate, easily revolted, sometimes revolting, overwhelmingly middle-class young people to take over the running of the city. (Note for overseas readers: In California, you can pretty much register to vote anywhere where you have lived for I don’t know how long. I couldn’t even find it on the Internet. No identification is required or even permitted to actually vote. )

Picture it: a mass of voters who have no permanent stake in the city, whose parents in many cases pay their very indirect property taxes (via rent) determine who shall rule the city. When these voters graduate or go on Spring Break, permanent residents like me are left to live with their preferences. I hasten to say that their preferences are not always objectionable even when they are debatable. One example of the latter is covering the city hall parking lot with solar panels, an operation unlikely to be ever audited. I mean that I am not dead-set against such an experiment. I would just like to know how much it cost and how much power it actually produces. If it cost $500 per permanent resident of the city and it generates just enough power to light the city hall for three months, I am against it, dead-set against it. If it cost $50 per resident, anything goes, I think. Well, I will probably never know.

I will never really get old in Santa Cruz because I live here in a time warp. It’s still the sixties here and maybe the seventies. The radical professors go back to my time in graduate school. Some are young enough to have been “trained” by my graduate school colleagues when the latter became professors. They rule, often with the help of wealthy downtown businessmen who used to be hippies or Trostkysts, or both. The climate is a retro-mixture of the simplistic vulgar Marxism of those who have not read a single page of Marx, and of old New Age unexamined beliefs. There was a small demonstration downtown, just yesterday with signs reading: “Capitalism must die so we may live,” and also, “Four days work for five days pay.” (Why as many as four days, I wonder, why not three, or two?) What percentage of the young demonstrators could give definition of capitalism that’s not a mere slogan, I ask myself? (The answer is in Jacques Delacroix’s “Capitalism.” The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Blackwell Publishing. Vol. 2, Malden, Mass. 2006.) I would bet the answer is close to 0%, or even less!

In Santa Cruz, there is a brisk local trade in chunks of quartz, loved for their esoteric properties. Their properties are so esoteric, no one is able to explain to me what they are. Earth Day is celebrate here in a lively way. If anyone ventured to declare that one of the two original Earth Day founders, Ira Einhorn, beat his girlfriend to death and left her to dry in a trunk in a closet, he would be accused of slander so absurd as to prove madness, my madness. Incidentally, Einhorn, who had fled to France for fifteen-plus years, was defended to the end against extradition by the French Green Party. Does it show that greenies have a criminal bent? No, it indicates that they lack ordinary criticality. By the way, I knew the other founder, Dennis Hayes, when we were both undergraduates. I am sure he did not murder his girlfriend. That’s half of the founding team. We can’t all be perfect.

Here, in Santa Cruz, I am surrounded by irrationalisms of several categories. They range from otherwise dead varieties of communism, varieties dead everywhere else on earth, including North Korea, to environmentalist cults, through a large number of diet fads the least of which is veganism. Often, I think that my wife, my daughter, my toddler granddaughter, myself, and a handful of friends are the only rational and fact-bound people around.

Why do you live there, JD if you are so critical, if it’s so painful, they ask? Several answers. First, Santa Cruz maybe the only place on earth with beautiful, uncrowded beaches within a forty-five minute drive of Silicon Valley, a strong engine of economic development, of jobs, of technical innovation (perhaps, the strongest engine anywhere in the world). Second, it’s a very beautiful location (Big Sur is next door). Third, there are fish in the ocean only one mile from my house.

Fourth, the stranglehold of the university on the town is not all bad for me personally. It creates a kind of modern serfdom all to my advantage as a mature consumer. There is an inexhaustible local supply of young people who need a job but who are not about to go pick strawberries two miles away, as everyone knows. As a result, hardly anybody here earns more than ten dollars an hour. This basic economic fact makes for well-staffed bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants. Santa Cruz is better endowed with those attractions than any town of its size that would rely on seasonal tourism of non-elite variety. (My town’s main tourist attraction is the Boardwalk, a permanent carnival -a “Luna Park”- attracting blue-collar families and recent immigrants from poor countries who live in and near Silicon Valley.) There is presence of a permanent middle class of professors determined to live la vida loca even and especially if they are ardent Marxist. This fact helps  Santa Cruz  support restaurants that would probably not be found here without them. The movie theaters are better than average for the same reason. We actually also have three brick-and-mortar bookstores, one of which, Bookshop Santa Cruz, is downright lavish. I am often annoyed in this town; I am seldom in excruciating mental pain.

Fifth, with a median age that must hover next to 25 (I did not bother to check,) there is a fantastic music scene around me. I am of an age where I am wont to doddle to sleep in front of the TV fairly early but I like to know that there is good music to be had should it strike my fancy to remain awake. In fact, the rich night musical scene often bleeds into the day time, within my reach.

In general, if you have an open mind however, it’s not always easy to dismiss the other airheads, I find.

On the rare occasions when I go to one of the several “natural” stores in town, I wonder at the sight of paper-thin, shabbily dressed young women clutching three dollars to pay for what looks like an equal number of organic, sustainably and locally grown salad leaves. I snicker secretly of course. Yet, yet, there is good scientific evidence that rats fed a starvation diet live longer than their brethren fed a normal diet. The young women may just be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

It’s unavoidable that I have friends who partake more or less fully of the local culture, of course. For one thing, I spend time in coffee shops. They don’t have coffee shops for old conservative curmudgeons, it turns out. If there were, I would probably not patronize them. There is a difference between being one and liking others of the same kind. Besides, old men in public places often try shamelessly to recruit you into their mutual misery clubs: Let me tell you about my arthritis, I will listen about your shingles. Second, I am a writer of sorts. That fact entails a need for services not always provided by narrow rationalists like me. (By God, even my car mechanic is a spiritualist!) So, for example, the person who will adeptly lay out my stories for printing is a friend who will also try to persuade me of the merits of various herbal medicines. (I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography is live in the Kindle Store)

Leave me alone, I protest, I go by science alone. I don’t think I have any choice on this. It’s science or it’s superstition from the days when life expectancy was about fifty. Of course, tea made from a flower in Asia the name of which I cannot pronounce is “natural,” but so is cobra venom; why don’t you try an injection of it, I ask my friend venomously? It’s sovereign against almost all ills and pains.

And then, I read an article in a trusted newspaper (the Wall Street Journal 5/3/5/14). The author, Nina Teichloz, argues rather persuasively that the health-based rejection of animal fats, going back to the fifties, is founded on pseudo-science, on almost-science, on exaggerated amplification of sparse research result, and on monstrous career ambitions. It may well turn out that bacon fat is good for you, and canola oil bad, she argues. It’s turning out, as I speak, that foods that tend to replace the banned animal fats in enlightened Americans’ diets, all based on carbohydrates, have recognizable, well- demonstrated noxious effects on health.

Wait a minute, I think, I am one of those enlightened Americans though reared in France! All my adult life, I have been what doctors call a compliant patient. They don’t have to tell me the dos and don’ts twice. Also most of my adult life, I have deprived myself of pâté, rillettes, terrine of this and terrine of that, cheese, marbled steak, etc. For a long time, I was even on a fairly stern macrobiotic diet involving a great deal of grain, several kinds of grain, three times a day. I have Type II diabetes although I am only moderately overweight. My four unenlightened French siblings – who share 50% of my genes – have no trace of diabetes. One is enormous. All ate everything they wanted on the extravagantly fat French menu all their lives. (But three out of four don’t eat much at all.) Did I get severely punished for my well-informed science-based rationalism, I wonder? (But to be fair, I have to remember that beer too is rich in carbohydrates, not just whole bulgur wheat.)*

I had smelled a rat for a long time anyway because French men, who do all the wrong things but one, persisted in not dying.

Anger wells up in me when I see a young father bicycling blithely in traffic with a his toddler in handlebar seat as if the kid were a bumper against oncoming cars. He is obviously trying to save the planet from “climate change” (formerly “global warming”). Yet, the child will most likely survive. Seeing the world from Dad’ bike at an early age may cause him to become a natural cyclist when he grows up. This may be enough to compensate for his relentless, ceaseless small screen habits, for his sedentariness, health-wise and with respect to the development of his imagination.

In the end, it may well be that my annoying town is a boon to the wider society, in the manner of a natural laboratory. If it’ turns out, for example, that a diet based largely on raw carrots causes cancer, the local vegans will be the last ones to know. Yet, they will constitute a valuable sample on which to run a serious epidemiological study, a real one. If it’s a fact that ten joints of cannabis a day is an effective remedy against aging, there is an excellent chance the discovery will be made in Santa Cruz. Also, this town fairly drips with bad artists. Many are mere artistry pimps, living at public expense for little in return. Some try but don’t succeed. But art may be like the Olympics: You need a broad base of practitioners of varying merits for a chance of a handful of medals.

Silliness and sometimes downright madness may just be the price we pay for a reasonably inventive society. In the other society I know best, France, there is far less mediocrity on all kinds on display than I see in the US and in Santa Cruz. In France, in the past thirty years, there is also little new to hear or to see, I believe. The main recent French artistic achievement is an original and pleasant way to light up he Eiffel Tower. (I am not contemptuous, I like it.) The French industrial achievements likewise have been modest and largely the result of precise engineering rather than of innovation.

In America, they say, “Far out; by all means try it!” even if it has only one wing to one side, and a motor made of twisted rubber bands. Our nonjudgmentalism is often exasperating. In France, they will tell you, “It will never fly” even if the article in question is a complete WWII jet. Accordingly, the first men to fly in a controlled flight were Americans and former bicycles repairmen, failed businessmen, as well as high school dropouts. Unlikely it would have ever happened in France. There, the Wright brothers would have been admonished to stay in school until age 23 or 24, earn a couple of proper engineering degrees first and then, ridiculed until they returned to serious business of building bikes.

Every time I grate my teeth at the irrationality, the childishness, the self-indulgence around me in Santa Cruz, California, I make myself repeat the obvious to myself: America invented live radio broadcasting, the Internet, the Windsurfer, country music as well as jazz, and the giant double roll of toilet paper in public accommodations. Irritation is a small price to pay, perhaps.

Still rock-solid among my beliefs: 1 Children should be vaccinated; 2 Almost every service the government provides could be better supplied by the market, private contracts, and insurance schemes. (It’s “Almost” because I have not seen my way yet to defense being outsourced to mercenary outfits. Libertarians hardly ever discuss this central issue.)

* full disclosure: I have been on the Paleolithic Diet – with some systematic cheating – for over a year. My diabetes number have never been so good in fifteen years. My doctor is speechless because he does not want inadvertently to promote another diet fad. I am not making any other claim except that I am rarely hungry. The cheating is this: I drink coffee and wine or beer every day. None is really part of that diet. It’s just good for my soul.

Small Town Exhibitionism

I have had plenty of nasty things to say about the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz where I live. (I remain here for two reasons. First, its superb ocean sites, second I like to stay close to the enemy where I can keep an eye on it.) There are also some nice things to say about the town.

First, street musicians abound here, on weekends but also on any warm evening. I always give them money, sometimes if only so they may take music lessons. Incidentally, this is also a town with an immensely rich musical life after dark. I am mostly asleep at that time but I sleep pleasantly in the knowledge.

Second, there are many murals about. I hate a few of them but they are not the ones that show People’s Heroes in the 1920′s Bolshevik style, as you might expect. They are the ones done in simplistic fake-childish style, according to an old-man’s cliché-filled unimagination about childhood. I won’t name him because I can’t afford the lawsuit right now against a man who is successful enough to be becoming rich on my local businesses stubborn bad taste. (I am still awaiting the fat oil company check promised to me because I “deny” global warming!)

Third, this is a town with not one, not two, but three bookstores. Everyone can buy his books on Amazon after I am gone, as far as I am concerned. In the meantime, I want the eye candy of rows after rows of new books. I do my small share by agreeably paying the couple of dollars more per book the privilege costs me.

Fourthly this is a university town with many restaurants although I would call few of them very good: It’s hard to maintain high culinary standards where your average cook is a Mexican who has not idea of what the food he prepares is supposed to taste like and the average diner is 23 and has never tasted anything beyond burgers and pizza.

Fifthly, there is much arresting street spectacle on nice days. A couple of days ago, on a sunny morning, a young man is walking up the main drag with his skateboard in one hand, his laptop in the other, and his plastic cup of coffee in his teeth. Dynamism, athleticism, intellectualism, and resourcefulness all rolled into one person, a sight that makes you smile.

Then, two teenage girls also walk by. One, the busty one, is wearing a tight white t-shirt with yellow bananas printed and the word “bananas” in black in several places. She is carrying her purse against her chest in a futile attempt to cover up. I am guessing she was feeling very brave this morning in her room, choosing her daring-vulgar clothes. Then, she walked on Pacific Avenue, crossing paths with dozens of guys, eye rapists each and everyone of them. I wonder if she is thinking that Mom is right, some of the time.

By the way, how I am longing for a no holds-barred debate between women on relentless female exhibitionism! It would go a long way toward countering the pernicious feminist simplification that has dominated our culture for two decades. I wouldn’t get involved in such a debate, I am too smart for this. I wonder though why it is that at the gym, all men who wear shorts were long shorts while all women who wear shorts wear short shorts. Go figure!

Order, Order, Order

In the conventional wisdom, as you become older, you tend to like order more and more. That is, with age, one is supposed to become more “conservative” in the traditional sense of the term. Personally, I have escaped the curse. Instead, I find myself resenting more and more the growing imposition of petty rules by public entities.

It began a few years back when the city of Santa Cruz banned sleeping. OK, let’s be honest, you may still sleep legally in your bed. The city made it illegal to sleep in public. It’s true that the homeless are a plague here. Many are in a near-constant state of NDUI (not driving under the influence). Many are poor lost souls who are a danger to themselves and occasionally to others. Thus, three or four years ago, a local shopkeeper walking to work was knifed to death in broad daylight. Her killer had spent the previous 48 hours in a shelter muttering about and to his Bible. No one reported him,of course because he had not done anything illegal until then. Next!

The ban on sleeping made me acutely uncomfortable at the time. First, it was plainly inhumane. Second, if you prevent human being from doing what their human nature demands, they will find another way to do it. So, informal camps proliferate in the wooded areas juxtaposing the town. Here, in Central California, we are in a period of prolonged drought. Do we need unattended campfires and campfires attended by people who don’t play with a full deck?

A petty use of power, municipal power, applied in a search for orderliness led to greater and far more dangerous disorder.

I don’t even know if there are enough night shelters for everyone who wants one. I know that there will always be sane but houseless people who don’t want to be in a shelter, by choice. A sizable part of me respects their choice. You may not force people in places where they don’t want to be without due process. The Constitution is completely clear on this. And, I am not in favor of more shelters anyway because I believe they attract the economically feeble to Santa Cruz thus aggravating the problem.

You don’t have to be a “soft” to want the Constitution respected.

Now, since then, there as been a multiplication of city rules. This happens while the crime rate plunges. The fewer crimes the more rules. The crime rate is tanking all over the country; Santa Cruz city rules can hardly take the credit. What am I to think?

Here is a quiz: The Santa Cruz City Council is dominated by:

a Republicans;

b Democrats;

c Leftists to the left of the Democratic Party

Not far is the independent harbor. I used to admire the Santa Cruz (Small Yacht) Harbor. It was the only government and quasi-government organization I knew that stayed clear of reliance on taxes. Harbor users -in their many guises- supported the maintenance of the harbor. They included boat slip renters like me, of course, but also beach goers whose coffee paid for the rent the coffee shop paid to the harbor in return for an excellent commercial location. Harbor users also included patrons of the good restaurant that dominates the harbor entrance with its million dollar view. The restaurant goers gladly paid solid parking fees, of course, and a portion is remitted to the harbor.

I also liked the way the harbor administration put to work underused resources such as the large general parking lot reserved for boat owners that tends to stand more than half empty after four pm. The harbor had an agreement with the self- same restaurant to hold musical barbecues once a summer week evening on the beach it, the harbor, administers. The restaurant got its profits from the sale of barbecued food and the harbor pocketed full parking fees from those not holding slip stickers. The arrangement drew crowds. It was all a little bit untidy but not much. Twice, on such a barbecue evening, I leaned spontaneously out of my truck to congratulate the officer directing parking and to assure him, unsolicited, that this particular slip owner, me, was not (NOT) inconvenienced at all.

And then, someone retired and there was a new sheriff in town. Under the new harbormaster, several things that were allowed became forbidden overnight. The harbor hired a full-time parking enforcer, like the town next door. Suddenly, the one harbor employee the average harbor user interacted with was the parking enforcement officer. This necessarily hostile and heartless functionary supplanted the traditional harbor officers who save boats, and sometimes lives, every weekend. The mood changed and not for the better. I am not speaking for bitterness about parking fines here; with my slip rental goes a permanent parking sticker permit.

Maintaining a stricter order often requires stricter rules that make most people unhappy. Eve if it’s only a little bit unhappy, the bad feeling accumulates.

Then, stand-up surfboards had to be segregated from boats. Boats are limited to 5 m/h inside the harbor anyway. Some boats under sail inside the harbor regularly exceed the speed limit. Those are steered by aces. How bad can a collision be under these conditions, really? Has there been a single collision involving a standup board? Did a boat owner complain about stand-up boards being in the way? Maybe. Did ten complain? I doubt it. (I have not asked; I don’t trust I would get a valid answer I could cite.) My point is that one can always find a complainer or two. If you handed out free ice cream to poor children and cleaned carefully afterward, there would be some curmudgeons to object. I am sure there are boat-owning slip renters who complain even about the ocean swells. But everyone knows that good harbors are bustling with activity. Those who detest the corresponding moderate disorderliness have no business in a harbor at all. They should be reminded of the fact that there is a long waiting list for their slips instead of listened to.

The art of civilized administration requires that complaints be ignored up to a point. It also includes remembering the second most important American maxim: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it until it is.”

Then, there are the new signs that shout at you that fishing from docks is “prohibited.” For as long as I remember, 20 year-plus, children fished from the docks. It was an excellent, healthy, commendable form of leisure for kids, including poor kids, if you ask me. Were there ever any accident as a result, even one? I don’t think so. The signs affirm further and vengefully that the prohibition is: “strictly enforced.” No joking with serious matters here! We are not kidding. Don’t even think of enjoying yourselves!

The posted “minimum” fine is $174. Think about it: Your otherwise well-behaved 12-year old gives you the slip to try to catch a sardine or two. He gets caught. You are into it for about twenty hours of minimum wage. This comes close to a violation of the Eighth Amendment, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment, I think. There may also be here a subtle breach of contract involved here. When I first rented a slip in the harbor, fishing from the docks was common practice. The locked dock that was part of the rental gave me special access to a pleasant fishing spot. Then, after twenty years, the contract becomes unilaterally modified to my detriment. The harbor did not bother to re-negotiate the contract.

I agree that this is a very small kind of tyranny but it’s tyranny all the same. The habit of being oppressed nearly always begins small in democratic countries. Our tiny liberties are eroded slowly until we don’t even remember we ever had them.

In the same period, I have heard the crew of one of the few remaining commercial fishing boats left in the harbor complain that they are made to feel unwelcome. I have no proof that their allegation is correct but, I wonder, why would they make it up? It jibes with the other forms of turning of the screw I mention. There is no doubt that the harbor would be neater without fishing boats. Fish smells and the rushed commercial fishermen drop the occasional dead fish into the harbor water. And, well, it’s a yacht harbor, after all. And, by the way, if slips only went to middle-aged nuns who work as librarians, the harbor would be even neater.

Occasionally, I take my grand-daughter to buy live crabs directly from a boat. It’s an expedition for her. It’s unforgettable. It shows her that some food does not come from the supermarket. But who am I to lay claim to such privilege? And who the hell are the commercial fishermen to insist on making a living from a harbor originally created by the Army Corps of Engineers with tax money?

On 2/3/14, coming out of a restaurant, my family and I were treated to a wonderful geyser-like spout of water reaching much higher than a three storied building. No, it was not a whale; the scene was a couple of miles inland, on a busy commercial artery, at a street intersection. We watched in utter fascination for more than fifteen minutes. (I posted a still picture of the event on my Facebook. Look for it.) I am obviously no expert, but I believe that while I looked on several hundreds of thousands of toilet flush- equivalents of city water were lost forever. I know, I know, accidents happen; no system is perfect. But why did it take so long to cap the leak? There is a fire station five or six blocks away.

I almost forgot to tell you: At the very same time, the same evening, there was an important meeting of the Santa Cruz Water Commission to make recommendations about water rationing to the City Council in view of the current drought.

Would I make this up? Would I dare? Do I have the talent?

In my immediate surroundings, the only rule or law I have seen abolished in the past twenty years or so concerns dogs. They used to be prohibited on the main commercial drag of Santa Cruz, Pacific Avenue. The prohibition has been rescinded. Dog owners are numerous and determined. Their victory renews my faith a little in democracy. I wish I could cite more examples though.

Sometimes, the ugly thought crosses my mind that public entities are increasingly run for the benefit of their nominal employees. Karl Marx was almost right about classes, maybe . (See, on this topic: “Karl Marx Was Right (Pretty Much)“)

More on local government action: “Coyotes: How Government Bureaucrats Think

Nice Weather, Female Exhibitionism, and Scientific Research

Something interesting happened in Santa Cruz the past two or even three weeks. (I write on January 25 2014.) Or rather, something did not happened that should have. (I am alert to the dog that did not bark, as in Sherlock Holmes.)

For a long time now in the winter of 2013-014, comments on the weather have been in the national news much more frequently than is usual.

It’s been rather warmer here in Santa Cruz this January than it usually is in the middle of August. The Japanese cherry tree across the street has even been fooled into blooming! Although it’s a small city, I think Santa Cruz is a world center for warmism and for climatism (also for organic foodism, for vegetarianism, for nutism – it means eating only nuts – for deadly bicyclism,* for primitive feminism, for obligatory lesbianism, for residual Trotskysm, for holistic medicine, and perhaps also for holistic plumbing, I am not completely sure.)

Yet, yet, I never heard a peep through the local grapevine in the past few weeks about how the unseasonably warm weather was another proof of global warming. I only refer to the informal grapevine; I wouldn’t know if the local press had said anything. I don’t read it much; I have many unimportant things to do.

I have two explanations for this apparent surprising silence, one pretty sure, one tentative.

First, warm weather in January puts people in a good mood, even in California, even if they don’t want to be in a good mood. For one thing, the young women were walking around for days with the smug little look of nearly all women, everywhere, who get to show a bit of skin at a completely unexpected time. Their ebullient mood is catchy. The young men appreciate though they have been taught to avert their eyes lest they be accused of visual rape. The old guys frankly stare and smile, trying to remember why they do. (I know wherewith I speak!) The older women don’t seem to mind; it brings back warm memories, I would guess.

How about this: The strength of a national feminist movement is inversely correlated with mean winter temperatures?

My second, and tentative hypothesis about the lack of sententious comments about the warm weather in California is that ordinary people have finally caught on: You cannot argue that unexpectedly high temperatures in one fifth of the country are proof of global warming while maintaining that unprecedented low temperatures, at the same time, in three fifth of the countries do not contradict this view. You can’t have it both ways.

Of course, there is that other, newer beast, “climate change.” It goes like this:

If it’s warmer than usual, it’s because of man-made greenhouse gases. If it’s colder, it’s because of man-made greenhouse gases.

I laugh, I laugh stupidly but I could actually see this kind of argument made in a legitimate manner. You could try to show oscillations around a baseline. The baseline would have to be fixed. You couldn’t chose another baseline every time you did not like the weather facts. You would have to show that the oscillations have greater amplitude than was/is the case in some other test period or place (planet?). The greater amplitude oscillations would have to last for some reasonable period (not six years, for example). Finally, you would have to make a credible effort to show that high-magnitude oscillations are causally linked to greenhouse gas emissions. You couldn’t simply show two graphs looking a little bit alike and beginning and ending at times of your convenience, for example.

You would also have to publish prominently all the results of well designed research that indicated no greater oscillations than usual or no link between greater oscillations and the magnitude of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Honestly, you would also have to explain which man-made emissions do what: car exhausts, air pollution from nuclear plants, cattle belches. (The seconds don’t exist, I am just toying with your minds; the third is not a joke at all; look it up.)

Note that I did not use at all the word “proof.” A reasonably objective demonstration satisfying all the above would give this denier pause. Also, climate scientists who, I am told, overwhelmingly “believe” in climate change would have to make an creditable effort to stop the irresponsible media bullshit spread every day in their names. (More on the last point another day soon.)

Not much to ask and a tall order!

* See my piece “Global Warming and Child Sacrifice” at Facts Matter

Global Junk Science: a Small Window

I meet two young traveling Frenchmen at the coffee shop. I like the new French more than I liked the old. For one thing, they tend to know English fairly well. This helps them shed the monumental French parochialism (“provincialisme,” in French). Perhaps as a consequence, they are generally more friendly than the previous generations of French people I have known. And, by the way, I wish I had the power to end a tenacious legend once for all: It is not the case that the French “hate Americans.” They just don’t like anyone very much; they are not cordial to any strangers. I feel a glacial wind blow all over me whenever I land in France, that’s although my French is perfect, by the way.

OK, that was a digression. I was also well disposed toward these two young French men because they reminded me of me: It’s true that I itched-hiked across the country and back, at their age. One of them is helping his mother with two restaurants, one on the Riviera, one in Strasbourg; the latter is called, “le globe-trotter.” I like that. The other French guy, age 22, is studying engineering, engineering of “sustainable energy,” he specifies.

I am a weak man, I have trouble with temptation; I can’t resist this one, of course.

Why sustainable, I ask. Isn’t it true that we have more proven reserves of petroleum than ever before?

He readily assents but, he asserts, petroleum is very bad for the environment.

Interestingly, that young man is not especially eager to tell me about climate change. Instead, he affirms that the burning of fossil fuels causes holes in the ozone layer with deadly consequences for humans. This sounds like deja vu (as we say in English), something from ten years ago, but what do I know? It’s possible that the problem has come back and that I am not aware of it. I make a note to check into it.

What kind of alternative power producing methods do you favor? I ask him further. I am eager to avoid discussions of solar power because I live in Santa Cruz where I get more info about the topic than I can begin to digest, including a solid dose of mendaciousness.

Let me sum up my non-dogmatic position about solar power. First, I recently disconnected my old passive solar water pre-heating system because it did more harm than good. Perhaps, a better person, a more virtuous person (I was going to say a more pious person) would have obtained better results from it than I did. Me, I don’t have the time or the patience; I have many unimportant things to do. Second, every time I ask for estimates about installing a modern solar heating or electricity producing system in my house, I am forced to realize that amortizing it would take thirty years. It’s not worth the bother. Perhaps, if I were a twenty year-old home owner. Perhaps if I put a little religious zeal behind the project. Third, I think solar power is wonderful doing what it’s currently doing all over America. I mean providing power for emergency telephones on highways and keeping boat batteries charged during long lulls in boat use.

Incidentally, reliance on solar power in poor countries such as India is another topic altogether. I said nothing about it this time

More incidentally, my skepticism is not of the same nature as the faith of many solar advocates. It’s no symmetrical to it. I don’t “believe” that solar power is worthless. All it would take would be a single good technical innovation in solar energy production to erase my skepticism. It would not take a profound experience of the kind St Paul experienced on the way to Damascus, for example. If I became converted, I would still be the same person, with all the same few virtues and, I hope, the same vices.

What sustainable technologies do you favor? I ask the young man pretend-innocently.

Tide-activated power plants, he answers simply.

It turns out I have some familiarity with the topic. I lived near the first one ever built anywhere. It was in France, inaugurated in the early sixties. I skin dived and speared fished and collected shellfish both upstream and downstream of it. I have no objection to this technology. Forty years later, we know it does not do any serious damage to anything. Even sailors have become used to it. There is even a certain elegant simplicity in its design: Tide comes up, turbines activate, water comes back down, turbines activate again. That first tidal dam doubles as a bridge that was needed at that spot anyway. No problem, as far as I am concerned. I am pretty sure the tidal power technology must have improved in fifty years; it should have, yet….

I ask the engineering student: Why are there only four in the whole world? Does this indicate something wrong, impractical, uneconomical, or something with this technology?

No, he states with perfect self-assurance but with courtesy, you must be wrong; there are thousands of them worldwide.

So, if I looked, I reply, I would easily find hundreds of tide-powered plants?

Absolutely, he affirms.

I go home and I do the obvious, the easiest thing: I look it up in Wikipedia. I was wrong, it turns out; there aren’t only four tidal plants in the world in actual operation, there are eight (8). I was wrong by fifty percent or one hundred per cent depending how you count.

Then I turn to the Wikipedia entry on “ozone hole.”

It has an unfinished look. It seems much like a work in progress or perhaps, a work abandoned in mid-course . The only citation in anything resembling a scholarly journal dates back to 1985. It’s side by side with references to the Huffington Post and even to Mother Jones. There is also in the entry interesting and reasonable speculation about nefarious indirect effects of ozone depletion on melanoma (skin cancer). There is no real health study, not even a crude one.

My young French interlocutor seems wrong here too.

Is it possible that the a deeper search would shore up more sturdily the case for ozone depletion and human health? It’s possible. I think it’s frankly unlikely. There are enough English speakers on the globe interested in such issues for the Wiki entry to be reasonably well updated.

How about the tidal plants? Could there be many more? My answer is a resounding “No.” Power plants are easy to count and hard to miss. Perhaps Wikipedia is much out of date, perhaps there are twice more than it indicates. That would be sixteen (16). That is still a tiny number. My original question remains intact: What’s wrong with this superficially appealing technology?

Why did I find out in my conversation with this young hands-on environmental activist and through its follow-up?

1 The French educational system (or his particular engineering school) is very bad;

2 He does not care about facts. He does not care enough to check with ten keystrokes something important to him. Sounds familiar?

You decide.

Climate Change and the First Amendment

Like nearly everyone in the world, I don’t have the training to judge directly the pronouncements of organizations that affirm that there is:

a) Serious temperature rise on a global scale (“global warming”).

b) That it is caused by human activity (such as burning fossil fuels or keeping too many belching cattle).

c) That human beings must quickly reverse manufacturing growth and driving (and growth in cattle) or suffer devastating consequences.

Instead, I have to rely on indirect evidence to judge the claims of specialists and to decide what the appropriate action would be (including deliberate inaction). This is not a new situation. We all do this all the time. So, I am unable to assess the talent of the surgeon who is going to open up my chest but I can sure smell the booze on his breath and make the logical jump that it’s not good news. Similarly, I know little about the care of automobile engines but when I see a car mechanic banging on an engine with the back of a screwdriver, I am alerted.

The quality of specialists is not the only way indirectly to gauge the quality of a viewpoint. It’s also legitimate to infer the seriousness of a claim by assessing the quality of its believers. Thus, I am leery of so-called “alternative medicine” and other “informal” health perspectives because many of their proponents seem to live in la-la Land in matters other than health. And if marathon runners kept falling dead at 39, I would have good reason to wonder if running is that good for you. (I said “if.”) If the proponents of Chinese traditional medicine turned out to be sick all the time, I would have to think twice (thrice) about its merits. (I know, there is a causation issue in this sentence. It’s not a solution; it’s part of the problem.)

The quality of its followers say something about the credibility of a creed, I believe.

Here is an anecdote about the credibility of climate change proponents, “ccprops.” It’s only an anecdote. It may be isolated. It may represent no one but those involved. Or, it may sound familiar. Think!

I live in the Green People’s Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz. My wife and I may be the only residents with anti-Obama bumper stickers. (There is a good chance we only get away with it because leftists can’t spell: “Obamination,” mine says.) Those residents who are not greenies or leftists of some kind tend to observe a discreet silence. The voice of rationalists like me who oppose big government and the myths that support it is muffled to the point of being mostly inaudible. I am not saying that I am a victim; I am suggesting a minor degree of heroism.

One ordinary day, I am peacefully drinking coffee at my downtown coffee shop. My daughter and my five-year old grand-daughter are with me. There is a demonstration on the other side of the street, yards away, of about 200 people, most young, a few of retirement age. They have placards and they sing slogans against pipelines, all pipelines, against global warming, for the environment. I notice that some of them wear what I think is a fairly witty t-shirt sign: “Don’t frack your mother.” The usual collection of Mother-Earth loving catastroph-tropic semi-educated Santa Cruz crowd, I think.

When the demonstration disperses because of rain (the environment does not cooperate), a group of five demonstrators comes to sit under an umbrella of my coffee shop. After a while, they start making ingratiating noises toward my attractive, impossibly cute grand-daughter. I tell them in a calm voice that they may not talk to the child because I think they carry a bad, morally objectionable message.

I am just tired of letting my enemies go unchallenged. I believe they have enough influence collectively to sap what’s left of the economic life of California. They are precisely endangering my grand-daughter’s future with their anti-economic mindless message. There is no reason to waste an opportunity to show some unkindness here.

They are stupefied. This is Santa Cruz, California, after all. It’s one of the world centers of foo-foo-headedness. By locals standards, these people are 100% virtuous. More importantly, in their parochial minds, they are 100% right. They have never encountered hostility before, not even opposition. No one has ever treated them that way. They did not know anyone actually could, even legally. They kind of believe that the First Amendment protects them against criticism. They don’t know that it only enjoins the government. (“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….”) They don’t know that the First does not guarantee against a private person making you cry with unkind comments. Nowhere does the First say or suggest: “Dr D shall not say hurtful things to silly Luddite greenies.”

Many young people are in the same state of ignorance nowadays. It may be because they don’t read much. It may be because they believe wrongly that they already know the Constitution. It’s the result of many years of left liberal education that is both biased and lazy. Even a friend of mine accuses me of “starting a fight.” I did no such thing. I was peacefully drinking my coffee while reading the WSJ. A bunch of strangers began yelling empty and offensive slogans near my face and I replied very moderately. “But they have a right….” Of course, they have a right; I did not say otherwise. I only instructed them to not speak to the child for whom I am responsible. I told them why in a brief and moderate way.

Immediately, the demonstrators start using religious-sounding language: You are “deniers” they say. Boy, that hurts! Boy, I am glad there is not much firewood handy! (I am not that stupid. I know well that they are trying to compare me to with theory of evolution “deniers.”)

A  frumpy woman in her forties presents herself as an expert because she is making a documentary on climate change, she says. This leaves me cold. Santa Cruz is full of self-declared, self-admiring artists. (I know this for sure, I am one.) I am thinking that if I worked on a movie about human female sexuality it would be no evidence that I know anything on the topic. Am I right?

For some mysterious reason, the film-making housewife insists on treating me as if I were a born-again Christian. Again, I have no idea what she would have done that. I don’t look the part in any way. I am sure I don’t act Christian, whatever that may be. I am absolutely certain I did not say anything leading to that kind of identification. I am an atheist of the calm, non-militant kind. Religion is not at the forefront of my preoccupations except sometimes, the silly Earth worshiping of her gang, precisely. As I said, the madness is close to the surface. The woman appears a little strange, a little twisted.

Temperatures have already risen by 1.4 degrees – the woman experts asserts in a loud voice.

Centigrade or Fahrenheit – I ask?

Yes – she says.

I ask again.

I don’t know – she brushes off my question.

In how long – I ask viciously – in what period?

I don’t know, she says with disarming honesty.

I am under the impression that her ignorance about the things she, herself, chose to evoke does not trouble her a bit.

Are you smarter than the 95.5% of scientists who believe in climate change – she challenges me with finality?

I refrain from answering out of humility. (Could well be that I am; I wouldn’t be that surprised; depends what you call a scientist; I have been reading for more than a half century; I read well; I retain better than most – not better than most at Harvard, better than most in the street. I went to an excellent or maybe just good graduate school, etc.) Also, I was seized like an overworked engine by this affirmation. I have encountered it for years with some variations in digits. I will just make again the obvious point the statement calls for:

If it were true that 95.5 % of scientists believed that there was man-made global warming that will have disastrous consequences, if it were true in reality, how in the world would anyone know this? Has there been a worldwide poll with strict definitions of who is a “scientist”? Was it conducted according to all the known intricate rules of polling including careful, neutral wording? What qualified pollster organization accomplished such a big difficult task? Why isn’t the pollster bragging about it? 95.5% is obviously a bogus number some one made up years ago and that keeps being repeated by believers. Its precision itself cries out, “Phony.” People who assert it are asserting that they don’t know what they are talking about, that they lack ordinary criticality. They are asking to not be believed.

The woman is joined by two younger people who appear to be her children. (Craziness might be hereditary.) A young man of about twenty is using the F word loudly five feet from my grand-daughter they all thought so cute three minutes ago. I am not a prude; I am not especially clean talking but there is no chance, zero chance that I would use such language in the presence of a small child. These people are insane. I don’t mean this figuratively. I mean literally. I mean that if they showed the same loud zeal in connection with say, parking, or house painting, they would risk being institutionalized.

In addition to factual waywardness and bad logic ccprops demonstrate their moral blindness in small ways as well as in big ones. They insist on their right to kill birds, for instance, including the legally protected bald eagle, in order to continue installing wind mills that contribute essentially nothing to the resolution of the imaginary problem of global warming (WSJ 10/11/13 “Fighting Climate Change by killing Eagles,” Robert Bryce.)

I listen to them calling the local talk shows. (I used to have a local talk show radio program myself.) They sound insane even if they are right. Most callers of talk shows are perfectly reasonable. Left-oriented ccprops are of a feather with rightists Bildeberg conspirators. Why do both kinds of callers sound regretful that it’s not yet technically feasible to murder over the airways?

Notice what I am not doing: They can go on demonstrating their irrationality, their lack of trustworthiness, their ignorance. It’s protected by the First Amendment. I will continue to try to make them cry every chance I get. It’s protected too.

Forty years after the launch of feminism

On Halloween afternoon I was downtown Santa Cruz on a candy expedition, escorting my grand-daughter the delightful M., five. M., a brown-skinned child, was Rapunzel. She was wearing a purple sequined dress with a petty-coat showing its pale blue border beneath, white gloves, and a blond wig to her ankles. She would have easily won the contest if there had been one. All afternoon women voiced their appreciation of her look.

My perspicacious observations on that occasion:

All little girls still want to be princesses or fairies. None wants to be a fire man, or a firegirl, or a fireperson. None wants to dress in neutral colors. If it’s not pink, it’s purple.

Nearly all little boys want to be dressed as anything with a gun, or a sword, or anything with a truck. Those I saw who are dressed as anything else were obviously forced by their politically correct or social climbing Moms. The way you know is that they sulk in spite of the large amounts of candy in their loot bags. A small number of little boys do want to dress as fairies but that’s nothing new. And it has nothing to do with feminism.

Fat women take Halloween as just another opportunity to wear a push-up bra and to hang out (or to almost hang out).

Almost no straight man wants to wear a costume. Those few men who do wear one have been blackmailed by their wives. You know it because they are costumed to represent the minor part of a pair or of a trio of which Mrs is the principal, the Tin Man of Wizard of Oz, for example. Costumed straight men are thus merely fashion accessories, as well they should be.

Forty years later: Feminism: 0; Mother Nature: 1.

I am not making this up. Open your eyes for the Goddess’s Sake!

And I know it’s completely different in San Francisco but it has nothing to do with feminism, one way or the other, or the other.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Pretty much the same story as that of the first years of the American Revolution including the foreign intervention and under enormously favorable circumstances than the poor Libyans encountered. After all, King Georges was no Kadafi.

Tsk tsk. You’re getting sloppy Dr Delacroix. I suspect you have re-ignited your passion for smoking ganja. Santa Cruz has a wonderful variety from around the world to choose from.

As I have previously noted, the angle we should be looking at (from a national security perspective) is the one of France during the Anglo-American War. They are the ones who intervened on behalf of a rebellious segment of the British Empire, just as we are intervening on behalf of a rebellious segment within the Libyan state.

Nevertheless, you keep repeating this tired mantra so I figure I’ll try to kill it. Right here and right now.

Let’s start with your keen observation that King George was no Ghaddafi. Aside from being totally correct, I think it would also be pertinent to point out that King George was also at the helm of a worldwide empire that was in constant rivalry with not only France for global hegemony, but also with aspirant regional hegemons throughout the world. Now contrast this position with that of Libya at the time of Ghaddafi’s offing.

King George also wielded a lot less power than did Ghaddafi. Indeed, he wielded a lot less power than most monarchs of his time period. As we both know, the British parliament held immense power, and King George was in constant conflict with them. The Rule of Law was alive and well in Britain during King George’s reign. Contrast KG’s position with that of Ghaddafi, a brutal tyrant who exercised a near-supreme will over his subjects.

Let’s review the circumstances of the positions of the two tyrants of Dr. J’s choosing before we continue any further: one of them was at the helm of a global empire and constantly held in check by his own parliament and the Rule of Law. The other was a tyrant of a mid-sized post-colonial state in North Africa who ruled with an iron fist and was spurned by most of the global community.

Can we continue?

France (whose position, remember, during the Anglo-American War is the one that most resembles our own today in regards to the Libyan excursion) was in constant conflict with Great Britain. They were fighting for global supremacy. French support, then, came not from benevolence or fear of mass migration from the U.S. to France, but from a calculated decision to strike deeply at a hated enemy, one that had recently acquired all of France’s colonies in India and North America.

The U.S., in contrast, has become involved in the Libyan civil war because of cries from weak and decadent allies to come to their aid for fear of a mass influx of Muslims into their welfare states.

Not exactly a struggle for global supremacy. I suspect you will warn your readers that China (GDP PPP per capita Intl$7,000) is watching us, of course.

The 13 colonies that fought for independence were independent polities, too. They all had their own ideas and thoughts and interests to look after when coming to an agreement with each other. Libya – one state – has merely one resource that is apple of everybody’s eye. While the American experience was one based on compromise and sectional interests, the Libyan experience is one that will be based off of the redistribution of wealth. Not a good start, if you ask me.

An observation and a question: the transitory government of Libya has recently asked NATO to continue its no-fly zone to at least the end of the year. It has recently welcomed foreign troops from Qatar to help shore up its defense forces. My question to you, Dr. J, is this: did the transitory government of the U.S. ask foreign powers to patrol their streets for them? To continue to keep their navies nearby to help dispense of any lingering British presence?

I find it suspicious that the Libyan rebels have relied so heavily upon foreign support. What is their motive for this? Most rebellions hearken calls for independence and liberty. Why do they beg the West for help? In my mind, a government – even a transitory one – that is incapable of standing on its own two feet without the support of foreign influence and power, is not a government that will long be trusted by the people it purports to govern.

Is the Libyan experience similar to that of the American one? Sure, but only a very superficial level. It would be best to leave Libya to the Libyans – warts and all.

Duckshit and Bullshit in Santa Cruz, California.

Today, interestingly right before Memorial Day, thousands of residents of Santa Cruz are hiding their faces like a bunch of old nuns who would have caught sight of a naked man by mistake. (I should stop saying this; it’s may not be fair to nuns.) The cause of their emotion: a front page article in the local newspaper about one of the most obvious beaches in town being grossly polluted. The newspaper is itself a grossly  biased greenie-liberal sheet that can’t spell. (It has its good days once in a while but I can’t figure out why.)

Something like this happens regularly with the most attractive beaches in the area pointed to by the severe index of pseudo-science, or of quasi-science. The last time I looked into it, it turned out that natural lagoons had been allowed to form on the offending beaches,  stopping the flow of small creeks. Ducks and seagulls had gathered in there, of course and done  for weeks on end what waterbirds will do in the water. The solution: Breach the sand dam that allows for the lagoon;  sea water downstream then tests clean within a day or so.

At the time, local surfers organizations and many greenie mouthpieces had darkly commented as if it were a known fact that the high bacteria count near those beaches was due to human fecal matter. It was not. It matters. I would not let my grandchild swim in duck shit but the fact is that it’s less likely to infect humans with human disease bacteria than do human feces. Got it? Continue reading