BRATTON…City parking rates, Easter plot, community television ch.26, movies. GREENSITE…on the importance of facts. SCHENDLEDECKER…creative listening. STEINBRUNER…Purewater Soquel, supervisor race, reduce fire risk, two new libraries, Santa Cruz Voice. HAYES…Earth Day 2023. PATTON…lets be reasonable, doubt and deep fake. MATLOCK…incense, peppermint, Bud lite, and cigar smoke. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week: Bill Hader. QUOTES…”Earthquakes”
DATELINE April 10
INCREASING PARKING RATES DOWNTOWN?? Late news has some official bodies discussing raising the parking rates downtown!!! How many more ways can our officials plot to kill the businesses that have survived? Our county is long, thin, stretched out, and demands an extra amount of driving. To penalize those of us who still do our shopping downtown by increasing parking fees on the streets and in the high level parking structures is a very low brainer.
EASTER EXPECTATIONS. I was surprised that one or more of the extra devout didn’t plot and plan to actually crucify their redeemer Donald Trump to some significant cross somewhere…maybe next year?
COMMUNITY TELEVISION SANTA CRUZ. Whoever is running our local channels (25, 26, 27) deserves a big thanks and a plea to continue re-running the old and wonderfully familiar Classic Arts Showcase on channel 26 right now. The brilliant classical music, modern dance, scenic photography all in 10 minute segments are so much more watchable than The Phantom, Flash Gordon and ancient Voices From the Village shows dating back to the 2010’s.
I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.
GOD’S CROOKED LINES. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.0 IMDB). One of the best movies I’ve seen in ages. Deep, complex, intelligent story of a woman who gets inside a mental institution to ferret out a murderer. There are lies being told but who’s telling them? Acting is near perfect, it’s in Spanish but that adds to it. Watch this movie when you want to regain your love of cinema.
BEEF. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.4 IMDB) It’s referred to as a comedy set mostly in the Korean parts of Los Angeles except there’s no laughs. It starts with a road rage scene and doesn’t get far away from that hassle. Few if any interesting LA scenes and the plot never develops.
AIR. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.8 IMDB).
Basketball star Michael Jordan has made over four (4) billion dollars from sales of the Nike basketball shoe with his name on it. This dull movie is only about the business dealings behind the deal Michael made. Little or no acting from Matt Damon, Ben Affleck or Jason Bateman as they haggle over the huge financial dealings. Viola Davis plays Michael’s mom and she does her job nicely but it’s a dull money driven movie. Nope Michael Jordan is in it only over the closing titles.
JOHNNY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.0 IMDB). This is a Polish biography centering on a priest who gives his all to everyone. Unfortunately it’s dubbed which means the words and meanings aren’t always the same. There’s good people in and around his parish and the priest goes to superhuman lengths to help them and this is even when he learns he’s dying of cancer. Due to the language shift we can’t tell how good the acting is because other actors are doing the voiceovers.
SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (8.3 IMDB) Years ago in this very same space I suggested, begged, pleaded that they take away Keanu Reeves acting license. He’s only 59 and is purported to be a kind human but fellow humans shouldn’t have to watch him on screens of any size. Yet, his Matrix and John Wick movies makes millions…go figure! This latest John Wick flick is one of the most violent, bloody, senseless movies I’ve ever seen and I get way more than enough violence and murder in our daily headlines. I’ve been trying hard to appreciate the talent in making a movie like this, and I can’t.
TETRIS. (APPLE MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). Tetris the world’s most popular video game has a very complex and even shady plus political history. Taron Egerton and Mara Huf are the leads and the entire movie is weird. How can anyone care about the history of a technical invention? Aren’t they all complex and involved with internal and external politics and shady money? We do learn that Tetris was invented by a kind, emphatic Russian guy. More than that becomes just kinky.
INFIESTO. (NETFLIX MOVIE). (5.5 IMDB). A Spanish thriller that keeps you awake through it all. It has covid and masks in the plot and extra fine camera work. There’s a cult, a hidden leader, a kidnapping plus a pair of devoted detectives and a surprise ending that you’ll remember. Go for it.
SWARM. (PRIME SERIES) (7.3 IMDB). If you’re a Beyoncé follower you’ll love this rock and roll Texas 2016 murder half mystery. It’s all mall life, sex workers, pole dancers, Thelma and Louise memories and a halfhearted attempt at a tense, tight plot. Don’t give up your daytime watching for this one.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FACTS
First a correction: In last week’s piece I wrote about the police shooting of an armed man who threatened to shoot a woman before driving off and crashing his car. I wrote that according to the SCPD video, when the first patrol car arrives on the scene the police order him to raise his hands and his response is to point a gun at them and they open fire first. To be more accurate, when the first patrol car arrives on the scene, they see him pointing the gun at them and order him to “drop it!” followed immediately by their opening fire. This correction does not change my viewpoint that the police responded appropriately based on the information available in the video. However, if I’m writing about the need to be factual rather than distort facts to suit an a priori agenda, I best be accurate.
That some saw the man with the gun as a man in crisis and the police overreacting shows an interesting shift in sentiment. There was a time when a man with a gun threatening to shoot a woman would not elicit sympathy. And for many in the community, it still doesn’t. But for some political activists, the threat to the woman is a non-issue.
Further on the topic of accuracy, I was pleased to read the comment from Cal Poly botany professor Matt Ritter, a highly regarded CA tree expert, quoted in a Sentinel article about the heavy loss of CA trees during the winter storms. On tree toppling, Ritter says: “But no particular species topples over more than others. For instance, while eucalyptus have a bad reputation, there’s no data to support that. Their problems are just more apparent because they are so widely planted”.
For the euca-phobes, the list of this species’ transgressions is long, is not supported by science, is crazy in a world that needs to reduce carbon dioxide, is ignoring the habitat value for songbird and raptor species (the bald eagle above) and is just plain wrong. Otherwise seemingly intelligent people make absurd statements against eucalyptus trees. A Sierra Club member who leads the fight to eradicate eucalyptus in the Bay Area, commenting on their supposed fire dangers writes that “in Australia they are called gasoline trees.” Where to start debunking such nonsense? Australians don’t use the word “gasoline.” They say “petrol” and no, they don’t call them petrol trees either. Today’s fire experts do not select any species as more fire prone. It all depends on the specific conditions.
Other popular issues mined for fancy over fact are the rail trail and climate change. The Environmental Impact Report for Segments 8 and 9 of the rail trail was recently on the Santa Cruz city council agenda. These two segments include Beach Street and then from the San Lorenzo River trestle to 17th Avenue. Segment 9, a stretch of around 2 miles will require the removal of 400 trees, many of them heritage size and all of habitat value. To approve their removal prior to the completion of a study underway to determine if passenger rail is even feasible, is folly.
I don’t begrudge the opinion that a train is preferable to 400 trees (although the full 32 miles will likely involve the removal of thousands of big trees.) I don’t share that trade-off but don’t object to someone holding that position. What I find objectionable is fabricating “facts” to bolster that or any position. There is no evidence that a passenger train, if even feasible, will get commuters from south county out of their cars. If commuters don’t get out of their cars to use the two existing express buses, then it’s unlikely they will do so for a more expensive mode of public transportation. Claiming that carbon reduction achieved with a train over cars will offset tree loss, reduces the preciousness of trees to just convenient carbon sinks. Since this project is likely years ahead if not decades, by then most cars will be electric. It’s a sure bet that people in CA are not going to give up the automobile without a fight. There is also evidence that a rail line is growth inducing which changes the whole landscape. That fact should be on the table and debated.
Climate change is real. When it is exploited to promote a particular agenda, its seriousness is undermined, and allies lost. One example is West Cliff Drive. It’s no secret there is move afoot to use the recent cliff failure to push an agenda to make West Cliff one way. Hysterics such as “unprecedented” and “a new normal” dominate the narrative. The facts are far less alarming. Public Works senior engineer, Josh Spangrud in assessing the damage to the three main areas along West Cliff pointed out that these are all places that had already lost some of their coastal armoring which has not been fortified since the 1990’s. He adds, “The areas with armoring are still in good condition and saw little damage; that armoring does work”. This important fact should be included in the zooms and discussions around this issue. It is never mentioned.
As for climate change, the headline in the LA Times of January 19, 2023, reads: “For all their ferocity, California storms were not likely caused by global warming, experts say.” The comprehensive article interviews top climate scientists who all agree with this assessment, with A. Park Williams from UCLA concluding:
“Global warming is real,” he said, “and because of it the heaviest storms around the world are getting heavier — except in California and the southwestern United States, where the weather typically swings from too dry to too wet.”
Political issues need to be grounded in fact not promoted with fiction.
|Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association http://darksky.org Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.|
“WHAT’S HOME: CREATIVE LISTENING ACROSS DIFFERENCE”
Let’s talk about city support for the arts this week!
I think it’s telling that Santa Cruz’s support for the arts is nested in “Choose Santa Cruz,” the “flagship program” of the Santa Cruz Economic Development (SCED) department, but with only one (wonderful) staff member in place.
From the Arts and Culture section of the website:
Our Vision for Arts & Culture Development
We support arts and cultural events for two reasons. Firstly, Santa Cruz has a robust arts sector and a vibrant cultural scene and we love being part of it. These communities are part of what makes Santa Cruz a unique place to live, work, and visit. We’re proud to support artists, arts organizations, and cultural events across our city.
Secondly, from an economic development perspective, it just makes sense. The total economic activity from the nonprofit arts & culture industry generated $38.38m and produced $22.36m in household income for Santa Cruz residents in 2013 alone. We envision more economic and quality of life impact from this sector in the future.
As an artist, I’m profoundly thankful for any material support of the arts, from just about any sector. I especially appreciate public funding for the arts, generally from Percent for Arts and General Funds. Unfortunately, the arts are most often mobilized for gentrified economic development, corporate white- or greenwashing, or hyper-capitalist investments for the ultra-rich. Most artists continue to struggle for fair pay and recognition for their work in spite of the lip-service paid to how essential we are to place-making, and little work is funded simply for its own sake.
The city’s current City Arts Recovery Design (CARD) program is a great example of Richard Florida’s “Creative Class” economic and urban renewal theories, which have been heavily critiqued. He even trademarked it.
To be transparent, I applied for a grant (which I didn’t get), and am involved with three other funded projects, and it’s great to finally be paid (a tiny bit) to work in my studio and in the community. Arts Council Santa Cruz County (collaborating with the city on the CARD program) does great work.
The grants originally offered empty storefronts for 3-6 months to two of these projects, one for rotating poster exhibitions, the other for a full-on exhibition-community-research-performance space. Both of those storefronts were rescinded, one of them after dozens of hours of work getting permits and utilities set up. That storefront remains empty, even nearing the end of that project’s programming. Very little information about the 12 funded projects is online, outside of their own websites or social media accounts. It appears that the CARD social media never went live, and events are not listed on the city’s calendar. So even for participants and supporters, it’s hard to keep track. My guess is that the understaffing of the department plus the privileging of property management is at fault.
Thanks to Arts Commissioner Lyons, we at least have one recent blog update on the Choose Santa Cruz website. It includes some project listings and websites to investigate further. Please take a look and come out to support all the artists and projects!
Grandmother’s Garden, 2023, Rescued quilt fragment from a ruined outdoor home, netting, gold embroidery thread
Here’s a teaser of the statement for my installation in the exhibition for “What’s Home: Creative Listening Across Difference” at the Radius Gallery, April 13-May 7.
What’s Home? A Basket Full of Kittens!
Is there anyone in Santa Cruz who isn’t touched by the housing crisis? I suspect many experience grief on individual and collective levels: The majority of us experience loss when friends and family move away or are stressed over precarious living situations; the empathetic feel terrible seeing suffering on the streets. Even while a minority benefit financially from the crisis. Some people are directly, profoundly, disproportionately harmed when they lose housing or shelter, potentially for a very long time, or chronically. In the worst cases, we grieve the deaths of friends and family.
That grief can trigger all sorts of intense and irrational behavior. Our fight/flight/freeze responses can be triggered; we get stuck in anxiety, depression, and self-medication. We can be so afraid that we lash out in anger and defensiveness. Policing doesn’t help, only making matters worse.
I detect grief responses in our political and community conversations around housing and houselessness all the time—how and where to build truly affordable housing, supportive and transitional housing; services, shelters, camps, and treatment facilities. What approaches to take and where the funds will come from. Some argue and insult on social media. Lawsuits filed.
Grief is a common thread in all my conversations about “What’s Home” in Santa Cruz, within and beyond this project, but there are positives too. Softness and consolation were uniting themes in my conversations with Greg and Fred about what home is. Greg was the most animated and joyful when talking about “a basket full of kittens” at the end of our conversation. Fred relayed a childhood memory of being enveloped by his mother in a soft, white sweater when he needed comforting. I struggle to feel at home without cats and yarn.
I wish we could have scheduled our third conversation, so that Greg, Fred, and I could have followed these threads more deeply. Greg was displaced from the Benchlands mid-project, and Fred became mayor of Santa Cruz. I do wonder if the gulf between one holding a seat of power and empathetically dialoging with another experiencing extreme precarity and exclusion was too much to sit with, leading to avoidance.
In the meantime, while I’ve been researching, crocheting, and sitting in on city council and community meetings, I ponder: What would it take to approach each other with softness and consolation when we debate housing and houselessness, even when we’re grieving, afraid, or angry? Of course, liberal compassion and Santa Cruz “niceness” is not the answer to deep-seated economic inequality and class antagonism. What would our governance and budgeting look like if our city acknowledged these divisions and moved to mitigate them? How might we write ordinances that ensure collective care instead of collective punishment? What if we re-founded our city on de-colonial principles?
I believe that we can only define “What’s Home” in Santa Cruz through acknowledging and collectively working through our deep structural and historical inequities.
|Joy Schendledecker is an artist, parent, and community organizer. She lives on the Westside of Santa Cruz with her husband, two teens, mother in law, and cats. She was a city of Santa Cruz mayoral candidate in 2022. You can email her at: email@example.com.|
JUST HOW PURE WILL PUREWATER SOQUEL BE?
Last Tuesday morning, a large orange crane extending about 100 feet in the air at Soquel Creek Water District’s construction site next to the County Sheriff Center in Live Oak caught my attention. The crane was unloading the long cylinders of equipment for the reverse osmosis and membrane filtration portions of treating the sewage water piped in from the Santa Cruz City sewage treatment plant several miles away.
These methods of cleaning sewage water are expensive, and demand great amounts of energy to force the water through micropores in membranes. However, the treatment process cannot remove 100% of the contaminants, and dirty water tends to foul the reverse osmosis membranes quickly.
Not all designs are the same, and I have recently learned in public records act information that the PureWater Soquel Project reverse osmosis elements will be low-pressure in filters with pores 3micron wide. That sounds impressive, but it should concern you because this is how the District is trying to reduce the amount of energy demand (and operational cost)…by using membranes with larger pores but that will require less energy to operate, but filter less contamination out of the finished water.
What about the concentrated waste products that the Reverse Osmosis and Membrane Filtration system will create at the PureWater Soquel Project? This is known as “brine”, and will all be piped back to Santa Cruz and get dumped directly into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, with no treatment beforehand.
Soquel Creek Water District’s EIR, which their Board approved in 2018, was completely silent on this issue and the potentially harmful impacts on the marine life in the area of the effluent outfall pipe, not to mention the areas where there are ruptures in that pipe 65′ offshore from popular beaches, were not addressed.
An increasing number of studies are being conducted regarding the risk of using treated sewage water for drinking water:
Whilst it is technically feasible to produce high quality drinking water from almost any source (including wastewater), the consequence of process failures results in a higher risk than for a more pristine water source.
Can we trust Soquel Creek Water District’s PureWater Soquel design to provide redundancies to prevent injecting contaminated water into the pristine Purisima Aquifer if there is a treatment system failure? That is perhaps what led District Director Bruce Jaffe to recently request a report back about the levels of redundancy in the Project’s design.
And what about the potential toxic effects of the treatment concentrate that will get dumped into the Bay that will include disinfection by-products inherent to the treatment process, and not present in the City’s current treated sewage outfall?
The study below discusses that problem, and what can be done to effectively prevent the contaminated concentrate from harming ecosystems where it is often dumped:
In cases where cities discharge to shallow coastal waters or rivers, elevated contaminant concentrations in RO concentrate may pose a threat to local ecosystems, resulting in similar concerns as those faced by inland communities. Even in locations where deep ocean outfalls are used, ecological impacts might still be a concern near outfalls. These effects could be exacerbated by the discharge of a more concentrated waste stream.
For trace contaminants that pose risks to aquatic ecosystems at or near the concentrations in wastewater effluent (e.g. The neonicotinoid imidacloprid, the insecticide fipronil, and the antibiotic sulfamethoxazole, a doubling of the concentration being discharged to the receiving water might result in chronic aquatic toxicity.
Here is why you need to be concerned about what Soquel Creek Water District is planning to do with the PureWater Soquel concentrated “brine” effluent:
In the South San Francisco Bay, an area where wastewater effluent is not substantially diluted by water from other sources during a dry season that lasts about 6 months per year, a risk quotient analysis for the discharge of RO [reverse osmosis] concentrate generated from a water reuse facility that is expected to share a discharge pipe with a conventional wastewater treatment plant indicated that urban-use pesticides could pose a moderate chronic toxicity risk (i.e., risk quotient between 6 and 10 for imidacloprid) at concentrations present in wastewater, and that concentrations present in RO concentrate are up to approximately 50 times greater than chronic toxicity benchmark values.
If this concerns you, please write the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors firstname.lastname@example.org . Speak up during Public Comment at their Board meetings, generally held on the first and third Tuesdays monthly, and are still virtual. Your next opportunity will be May 6 at 6:30pm: Agenda Center
SEE IT FOR YOURSELF! RSVP BY MONDAY APRIL 17
Educational Field Trip – Tour of the Monterey One Water, Pure Water Monterey Advanced Water Purification Facility
Matthew Keeling, Executive Officer, 805/549-3140,
The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board will meet at the Monterey One Water, Pure Water Monterey Advanced Water Purification Facility, 14811 Del Monte Boulevard, Marina, for a presentation and site visit led by facility staff.
The Board will convene the meeting at the facility at 8:30 a.m. followed by the presentation and tour. The public is invited; however, space is limited, and transportation will not be provided.
Persons interested in participating in the tour must RSVP by 12:00 noon, Monday, April 17, 2023, by emailing the Clerk to the Board at RB3-CommentLetters@waterboards.ca.gov.
ON YOUR MARK, GET READY…..COUNTY SUPERVISOR RACES ARE OFF AND RUNNING.
Last week, Ms. Monica Martinez, CEO of Encompass Community Services, announced her candidacy for 5th District County Supervisor. Monica Martinez Announces Board of Supervisors Candidacy | Good Times
A couple of days later, current 1st District Supervisor Manu Koenig, announced his intent to run for re-election.
Expect other candidates to also start announcing plans to run. It is unknown whether incumbent 5th District Supervisor Bruce McPherson will run again or not.
The big question is: Will 2nd District incumbent Zach Friend run for a fourth term??? Judging by his recent photo ops with Governor Newsom and Congressman Panetta, many feel he has long had his sights set on higher offices, and likely will jump to a new appointment in those arenas.
SIGN UP NOW FOR FREE VEGETATIVE MATERIAL CHIPPING AND REDUCE YOUR FIRE RISK THIS SUMMER
The Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District (RCD) is offering free vegetative material chipping for rural residents and private road owners to help reduce fire risk this summer. More material than usual is being allowed in order to help people clean up after the recent winter storm damage.
The deadline is April 30, but available grant-funded slots are going quickly.
To learn more about fire defensible space, fire resistant landscaping and more, take a look at the Santa Cruz County FireSafe Council website
TWO NEW LIBRARIES UNDER CONSTRUCTION, BUT ONE WILL HAVE NO BOOKS
The massive new Aptos Library is moving right along, and is likely to open by the end of this year. The grade of the parking lot has been changed, and a new ramp coming from Soquel Drive will bring those who have mobility challenges to the parking lot, not the library, as was the former route. It appears that people in wheel chairs will have to navigate across vehicle traffic ingress/egress, but we shall see what occurs before opening day. That date was supposed to be this summer, but according to the Capitola librarians, the date has been pushed back.
Below is the second “library” construction project, the new Live Oak Library Annex, which is attached to the Simpkins Swim Center on 17th Avenue.
This facility will have no books, and there will be no librarian on staff there, yet Library Capital Funding from Measure S taxation is funding the project. Isn’t that interesting? The County Grand Jury thought so, too, and did an investigation that raised many eyebrows.
You can read about that here. Take a look at the interesting timeline of events in Appendix B on page 21-22.
Here are the Grand Jury Findings from page 13:
Measure S Voter Information
F1. The plain language of Measure S required use of Measure S funds for the modernization, upgrade, and repair of the existing local library branches—not community centers.
F2. The Santa Cruz Public Libraries website states that Measure S funds would be used to address the “most urgent needs” identified in the Facilities Master Plan, which stated no new library branches were needed and focused only on the needs of the existing ten library branches—likely misleading voters.
F3. Voter materials disclosed how Measure S funds would be divided among the Santa Cruz Public Libraries’ Member Agencies, but did not disclose the allocation of $5 million to a Live Oak Library Annex within the Live Oak Community Center—likely misleading voters.
The Annex Is Not a Library
F4. Following the dissolution of redevelopment agencies in California, County Parks was left without a ready source of capital funds needed to fulfill the vision of the Live Oak Community Center as the heart of Live Oak, and Measure S filled the void.
F5. The Annex is an expansion of the Live Oak Community Center and not an expansion of the Live Oak Branch Library.
F6. The County’s decision to use Measure S funds for the Live Oak Library Annex in the Live Oak Community Center will impact the Santa Cruz Public Libraries operating budget.
R1. By December 31, 2022, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors should reassess its decision to use Measure S funds to improve the Live Oak Community Center and either reimburse the Library Facilities Financing Authority or commit additional funds to establish the Annex as a library resource consistent with other SCPL branches. (F1, F4, F5, F6)
Write District Supervisor Manu Koenig, whose area includes this debacle, and ask him if the Board of Supervisors ever took action responsive to the 2021-2022 Grand Jury report Recommendations…and why no books will be in this new “library”. <Manu.Koenig@santacruzcounty.us> or call 454-2200,
APTOS VILLAGE ENTRANCE STILL BARRICADED
Last week, there was a crew working again at the Soquel Drive entrance to the Aptos Village Project, trying to get the railroad crossing arms to work. The new microchip that has been holding up the project finally arrived, but there is still no electricity hooked up to the crossing arm assembly at the intersection. One worker said he heard that might happen on May 2, but he laughed and said he would believe it when he sees it.
SANTA CRUZ VOICE ONLINE RADIO IS OFFICIALLY LAUNCHING
On April 19, a great new online radio platform, Santa Cruz Voice, hosted by local programmers is officially launching. These folks have navigated from KSCO radio upon reorganization there at the end of last year and have worked hard to create something different that provides interesting local radio talk show programs.
Partnering with Think Local First, the Santa Cruz Voice hosts will be broadcasting live at the Back Nine Bar & Grill (Pasatiempo exit off Hwy. 17) on April 19, 5pm-7pm and welcome you to stop by.
Listen seven days a week here: Santa Cruz Voice
Yours truly has a weekly program on Fridays, 1pm – 3pm. called “Community Matters”, co-hosted with retired local attorney, Mr. Jeff Bosshard. Tune in and listen, and please let me know your thoughts.
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. ATTEND A PUBLIC MEETING AND ASK QUESTIONS.
MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK, AND JUST DO SOMETHING.
Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.
Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com
EARTH DAY 2023
How do you feel about Earth Day 2023, in Santa Cruz and throughout the USA? The first Earth Day was in 1970 and was organized by Wisconsin’s Senator Gaylord Nelson to be a massive public demonstration to restore the environment. Estimates are that 20 million people took to the streets in protest. They say that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded because of those first Earth Day demonstrations.
Imagine so many people demonstrating because of environmental degradation in the United States! While some things have improved since 1970, we are now facing the greatest threat to the planet ever due to greenhouse gases and climate change. Earth Day in 2023 is tamer, perhaps too tame. What are we going to do to better celebrate Earth Day in 2023?
Earth Day Learning
The best things I find to do on Earth Day in the Monterey Bay area in 2023 are about learning. My favorite educational attractions for Earth Day are being offered in conjunction with Earth Day Santa Cruz. Mainly, I suggest that you check out the free admission to the Museum of Art and History where the main feature is the Bay of Life exhibit. Chris Eckstrom’s and Frans Lanting’s Bay of Life project is very important- it’s a way for more of the Monterey Bay’s people to learn how we live in an epically special place. The photos at the exhibition are more than memorable…they are inspirational, and the project aims to mobilize people, much as Earth Day did at its origin.
Earth Day Reading
For Earth Day 2023, I highly recommend people read the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. The book is full of wisdom about how to live better on this planet. If you are interested in what your find in Ishmael, take the next step and read Derrick Jensen’s Endgame. Both books will point you in the right direction in many ways. A lot of what Derrick Jensen has to say is pretty important.
LEARNING IS NOT ENOUGH
Environmental education is only valuable if it is helps nurture pro-environmental behavior.
Give or Take?
In Quinn’s Ishmael, we are asked to reflect on if we are taking too much or just what we need from Earth. I take that another step to ask what we are giving back to Earth. A few of the events I find about Earth Day in the Monterey Bay area in 2023 are about taking less, not giving back to Mother Earth. Some of the events are downright greenwashing or irrelevant. Ecological restoration is the main way I see that we can give back to Earth, but I can’t find a single opportunity to help with ecological restoration associated with Earth Day near Santa Cruz. In fact, I know of only two organizations in Santa Cruz that help people give back to Earth: the California Native Plant Society, through its habitat restoration projects and the Coastal Watershed Council through its River Health programs. One might consider committing to helping these efforts as a pledge on Earth Day and then following up at one of their next events.
Greenwashing Earth Day
I know of one event that has brought greenwashing to local Earth Day celebrations. Building new trails is not a pro-environmental behavior, especially when it comes to building those trails at Cotoni Coast Dairies. As I have mentioned in previous essays, that property has not experienced the kind of planning for trails that is necessary to conserve our extraordinary biodiversity, especially that land’s sensitive wildlife species and the species protected through its National Monument status. That hasn’t stopped the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (aka Santa Cruz Mountain Trail Stewardship) from advertising an Earth Day event that focuses on habitat degradation. At their ‘Dig Day,’ volunteers will be unwittingly paving the way for unnecessarily wildlife disturbing activities. Earth Day volunteers will be helping folks rich enough to afford both a car and the gas to get to that park to bring their mountain bikes to have a ‘rad time’ on trails too narrow to be comfortable for bombing bikers and families going for a walk to use at the same time. To assure mountain bikers rule the trails, BLM has proposed rules that would make it illegal to step off of the narrow trails. It’s a pity that the Bureau of Land Management has had such a special relationship with this group, allowing them so much access to the closed park while turning away ecologists who would help better understand the plants and wildlife that need protection.
Outdoor Industry Lobbying Infects Earth Day
This Earth Day let’s renew our dedication to vigilance in protecting our public lands from well-funded special interest groups. In California as elsewhere, there are coalitions of businesses organizing to lobby for “increased access” (read wildlife habitat destruction). Their job is to “streamline regulations and policy affecting the active outdoor industry” (read stop public lands managers from protecting wildlife in favor of outdoor recreation). The clout of the Outdoor Industry Association is affecting politics, apparently trickling down right here on our North Coast.
Earth Day is Every Day
In closing, I hope you can sort through the Earth Day hype to find something meaningful to do. If you seek educational programs, may your experience lead in in the direction of actions that you can take to not only reduce your footprint on Earth but also to help improve wildlife conservation in and around the Monterey Bay. May we all think about that impactful, original Earth Day and how we might soon mobilize to push for the changes needed to avert the catastrophes of climate change. We are gathering together to make a difference, and our might will be felt in the near future.
Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at email@example.com
The image you see above, a “tranquil river in the forest,” is a still photo captured from a video found linked to a New York Times article, “Instant Videos Could Represent the Next Leap in A.I. Technology.” I am not sure whether The Times’ paywall will permit non-subscribers to read the article, and to view the embedded video, but you can give it a click, to see. The “video,” as you will discover if you are able to read the article, is totally fake. An A.I. program made it up.
Since I teach a course at UCSC called, “Privacy, Technology, And Freedom,” I pay close attention to news stories talking about the newest thing in “tech.” As anyone reading this blog posting is probably aware, A.I., or “Artificial Intelligence,” is the latest “big thing.” In fact, the edition of The New York Times that carried the story about “instant videos,” which I have linked above, also had an article on “Police Tech.” That’s worth reading, too, if you are interested in the topic of how continued police surveillance of everyone is likely to change our lives.
A lawyer-like thought came to my mind as I read the article about the use of A.I. to produce “instant videos” that will soon be so realistic that it will be virtually impossible to discriminate between a video that is “made up” by an A.I. program and an “actual video,” which accurately depicts something that really happened, in “real life.”
When it is no longer possible to tell the difference, which is what The New York Times article predicts will be the case rather soon, then the use of videos to convict criminal defendants of crime will be – the way I see it – significantly impaired.
Right now, doorbell videos, videos taken by bystanders, who are observing criminal conduct, and similar video evidences of crime are admissible in court, and are used to prove guilt. But what if there will soon be a significant chance, as to any video produced to show a crime in progress, that the video is not actually depicting “real” events, but is simply an A.I.-produced “deepfake”?
Has anyone thought about that? Criminal defendants are given the “benefit of the doubt,” when evidence is produced against them in court. If even one juror has a “reasonable doubt” that a defendant is guilty, that criminal defendant will not be convicted. Proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard used to establish criminal conduct. Given that fact about criminal law, many people who are not “fans” of our former president worry about whether it was really wise to bring the recent charges against him (reported on in the same edition of The New York Times, by the way, that reports on the recent A.I. advances I am commenting on in this blog posting). The concern is that at least one juror, in the jury ultimately called upon to judge the evidence, will have a “reasonable doubt” about some aspect of the charges against Mr. Trump. That will mean, if one juror does have such a “reasonable doubt,” that our former president will be exonerated, not convicted, of the crimes charged against him, with imponderable political effects.
Well, back to my main point. When A.I. is able to create semblances of “reality” that cannot be effectively distinguished from “real evidence,” then EVERY criminal defendant, entitled to be given the benefit of any “reasonable doubt” about the evidence produced against that defendant, will be able to raise such a “reasonable doubt” about even the most authentic evidence that police agencies produce.
Again, has anybody thought about this? That could really make it hard to convict real criminals of their real crimes.
Another benefit of a life lived in our new, “high-tech” world!
Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org
INCENSE, PEPPERMINT, BUD LITE AND CIGAR SMOKE
Donald Trump, after his Manhattan court appearance, immediately fled for refuge at Mar-a-Lago where he feels safest. In a speech he proclaimed, “I never knew something like this could happen in America. The only crime I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those that seek to destroy it,” in his belief that if it is said ad infinitum his complete innocence becomes a reality. As he enumerated all the crimes of which he is accused he said, “This is a persecution, not an investigation, but our heads are held high.” His two oldest sons, Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dweeb, though not named, were thanked for their support, yet naming Tiffany and Ivanka as he complimented them…even predicting “Barron will be great someday. He’s tall and smart.” There was no comment regarding The Onion’s headline: Trump Revealed To Have Paid Hush Money To Conceal Children He Had In Wedlock.
Continuing, The Don said, “But I have a great family and they’ve done a fantastic job and we appreciate it very much.” No mention of truant wife, Melania? It appears that she chose not to attend – neither did she watch his cringe worthy blather on those outlets who capitulated to airing it. Sources say she is angry about his extramarital affairs, doesn’t care to hear it mentioned, while being aware of who she’s married to, as she socializes with her own friends and family who know better than to mention reality. Staying at Mar-a-Lago offers her some safety, a retreat from the environs of Washington, D.C. and New York, despite the physical deterioration some have reported about the complex. Disclosures by some visitors of peeling paint and a general feeling of neglect may indicate that Trump may have his eyes on a dacha in Russia as his legal options narrow down. Will Melania be on that Underground Railroad escape? It’s a good bet that son-in-law Jared Kushner will hitch a ride as far as Saudi Arabia.
The net has gathered tighter now that several of the former prez’s administration associates have been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Jack Smith, most notably former chief of staff Mark Meadows who attempted to stay out of the limelight by claiming executive privilege. Meadows is seen as instrumental in providing information leading up to the January 6, 2020 Insurrection, and in the attempt to overthrow Biden’s election in the weeks prior to the inauguration of the new administration, especially in his dealings with Ginny Thomas. Others subpoenaed by Smith are John Ratcliffe, former Director of National Intelligence; Robert O’Brien, former national security advisor; and, Ken Cuccinelli, former Department of Homeland Security official. Former VP Mike Pence has ended his opposition to testifying, with ‘Mother’s‘ acquiescence, and can be expected to comply in the near future.
Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest rolled over in his grave with a smile on his face this week, as the GOP controlled Tennessee House expelled two of its Black members over a peaceful protest against gun violence on the chamber floor. General Forrest, founder of the KKK, would have been glad to see that a White member was spared removal from the body – heaven forfend that it had to be a woman accused of the same impropriety! Republican members are obviously attempting to solidify their race to the bottom of the heap by doing such things as overriding police accountability measures passed by voters, stripping civilian boards of power, making it more difficult to investigate abuse and excessive force by law enforcement, and generally ignoring wrongdoing by their own members. Candace Owen, a Hitler admirer, was honored for her ‘criticism of creeping socialism and leftist political tyranny,’ but they declined to honor Renata Soto for working with undocumented immigrants. Former basketball coach, Representative David Byrd, was accused of sexually assaulting three teenage girls as their coach, and while he did not seek reelection, he was allowed to serve out his term. Several years ago, two GOP lawmakers raised hell during a Capitol building renovation about a Muslim foot-washing sink being added to a bathroom – which was actually intended to be a mop sink. And on and on!
Mark Zaborowski on Quorum writes, “The lower chamber in Tennessee has just solidified Democratic control in these three districts for years to come. Special elections will be held, and these same folks can run again, if they wish. Meanwhile, the state is getting a lot of attention for this high-handed and frankly juvenile act. If the House had voted instead to censure the lawmakers for breaking the ‘rules of decorum,’ the point would have been made and the whole thing would have blown over quickly. Now, it’ll be brought up and re-examined after the special elections and beyond. It’s not as though these Democrats were invited into a club and then kicked out. They were elected by Tennesseans to represent their interests. Lawmakers ignore that important fact at their peril. Expulsion for committing a crime is one thing. Taking a political stand opposite the majority is viewed by most Americans as a right, not a privilege to be granted or denied by the majority.”
We can see the GOP errors in judgment with their continuing to harp about Hunter Biden and his laptop. They fail to disclose any information on why his hard drive is a smoking gun for Biden family criminality and voters are growing weary of this time waster. A study by the Congressional Oversight project indicates 63% of voters want Congress to look into issues like health care, rising costs and climate change instead of their petty distractions. But they have their base, who haven’t noticed that the wheels have come off, and a serious political party doesn’t exist anymore, able to handle new and relevant insights.
One Trumper has shown us the proper use of the AR-15 in getting rid of some anger and frustration. Kid Rock was disgruntled that Bud Lite had chosen actress, musician, comedienne and trans woman Dylan Mulvaney for an ad campaign in celebration of her milestone year of identifying as a woman. Taking to an Instagram video, Rock used his weapon to destroy a crate of Bud Lite, then consigning the leaking, foaming beers to the trash while yelling, “Know your audience, BUD!” Untroubled by this hillbilly’s elegy, Budweiser issued a public statement that it was standing by its decision to honor Mulvaney, uncaring that ‘this Bud’s obviously not for you, Kiddo!’
ProPublica blew the roof off the Supreme Court this week with the revelation that real estate magnate, right-winger and Hitler memorabilia collector, Harlan Crow was the benefactor of two decades worth of lavish vacations for Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Insurrectionist Ginny – all of which were not disclosed by the unethical twosome. Texas billionaire and GOP mega donor Crow bestowed gratuities totaling millions at this juncture, far above the threshold of $415 which would require reporting, and a violation of disclosure law. ProPublica cites flight records, internal documents and interviews to back up its charges of Thomas’ failure to include this generosity on his financial records, thumbing his nose at the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. Crow’s response was to claim that the Thomas duo never asked for anything and have been friends for over twenty-five years, to whom he was only extending hospitality which many of his “dear friends” have received. Thomas has vacationed on Crow’s 162-foot yacht around the world, as well as being flown to destinations in a private jet both domestically and internationally. In 2019, Clarence and Ginny were treated to an Indonesian vacation reputed to be worth around $500,000 had they footed the bill themselves. Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks hosted the Thomas’ numerous summers, via private jet, of course.
The Supreme Court’s spokesperson had no immediate response for comment, but we can rest assured there are plenty of strategy sessions to provide some upcoming Justification. Justice Thomas finally managed a response (HE SPEAKS AGAIN!) – pleading ignorance, saying he had been “advised” it was unnecessary to this largesse since there was “no business before the court.” It must have been information from the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who had invited Thomas to accompany him on a Texas hunting trip, leaving the invitee behind because he couldn’t “arrange a ride.” So, casting aside his oversights, he promised to follow more stringent guidelines in the future. Hearing that, Crow may decide to provide only his 98-foot yacht and the little-used Piper Cub as a gift for his old friend’s next vacation, provided Chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t butt in wanting a piece of the action.
Roberts may be a bit late in this sort of bid (or not?) with calls for an ethics investigation into Thomas‘ secretive activity, primarily by Democrats, with Republicans responses amounting to little more than, “Oh, look over there at the bunny!” Looking into Harlan Crow’s background we find he was a backer of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which attacked John Kerry’s war record during his presidential campaign in 2004. In 2011 Crow donated $500,000 to a Tea Party group founded by….wait for it!…Ginny Thomas, which paid her an annual salary of $120,000. Currently, he gives support to FreedomWorks, one group opposed to Biden’s student loan relief plan, and for 25 years he has served on the board of the American Enterprise Institute and on the board of the Hoover Institution, both being conservative think tanks. Many groups that benefit from his generous patronage are unknown, since he only discloses what is necessary to keep him within the law.
Although both Crow and Thomas vow there was never any discussion about court cases, it doesn’t pass the test since conservative politicians manage to get massive contributions with nary a discussion about what the donors want in return. A fireside chat, or cigars and wine following dinner has to influence one’s thinking. ProPublica concludes,‘When a justice’s lifestyle is being subsidized by the rich and famous, it absolutely corrodes public trust.” Bruce Maiman of HuffPost says, “A fundamental problem with our democracy is that bribery is legal and baked into the system. In closing, I’ll just say this: I believe you, Anita.”
Former conservationist, now anti-vaccine and anti-science extremist, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was encouraged by Steve Bannon, to throw his hat into the ring as a 2024 presidential candidate. The nephew of President John F. Kennedy has abandoned his family’s legacy of public service and is now a self-serving libertarian bent upon spreading conspiracy theories and deceitful anti-vaccine messages, associating with the likes of not only Bannon, but Roger Stone at ‘Reawaken America’ events. He has attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci in a tiresome commentary, comparing COVID-19 mandates to Nazi Germany, and being condemned by his own wife, Cheryl Hines. His siblings have attempted to convince him to mend his ways to no avail, as he sinks deeper into his destructive misinformation campaign. COVID-denier Trump appointed him to a vaccine safety panel during his administration, but quickly backed away after more rational heads prevailed. His pathetic political campaign is going nowhere but it still poses a danger since he has an established base and we’ve seen where this type of demagoguery gets us.
In other news, a Florida suspect was arrested for two home invasions after fleeing from police. The man, naked and covered in wheel bearing grease, peppermint oil and blood, and under the influence of drugs, dived into a swimming pool, then bounced on a trampoline before being restrained by three medics. He was charged with occupied burglary, battery on a police officer, criminal mischief, and violently resisting arrest. To the disappointment of Governor DeSantis, he couldn’t be charged with carrying a library card.
Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email: email@example.com.
EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.
EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.
“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake”.
“Stupidity is an elemental force for which no earthquake is a match”.
“I should like to save the Shire, if I could – though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them”.
~J. R. R. Tolkien
“We want a story that starts out with an earthquake and works its way up to a climax”.
I enjoyed this interview with Bill Hader. Hope you do too! 🙂
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