Blog Archives

September 22 – 28, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…About recall vote locally, Grey Hayes on the Pogonip, Sentinel price increase, Rail Plus Trail, Basic questions, Heisenberg “review”, Movie critiques. GREENSITE…on the Homeless Garden Project and Pogonip. KROHN…Sources of Chris’ news and info. STEINBRUNER…column discontinued. PATTON…System Error/Internet Privacy. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover QUOTES…”Prescriptions”

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PARK HOUSE HOTEL. This was in Soquel back in the 1850’s. Peter Canares built the hotel at the corners of Walnut and Porter Streets. Alexander Getzscmann rebuilt and re-named it the Park House. In 1945 the entire building was again rebuilt and re-opened as the Soquel Inn.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE September 20

THAT NO RECALL VOTE! Now, just maybe, there’s hope that hundreds more Democrats will begin to take voting seriously!  It was a great conclusion to that Republican right-wing attempt to oust Newsom, and greater hopes for more support for Joe Biden. It still seems odd in this BLUE bubble of ours that 15,000 locals voted yes on the recall, and even more than that – 10,256 locals actually voted for Elder. Lest we forget, I’ll repeat it again… 22,438 area folks voted for Trump in 2020!

POGONIP AND PRESSURES. 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. He wrote the following…

POGONIP: IMPERILED ONCE AGAIN.

The results of the last meeting of the Santa Cruz City Parks and Recreation Commission illustrated how important it is to have community voices engage and how influential the quickly forming coalition to protect the Upper Main Meadow at Pogonip can be….and how much more work we’ll need to do to protect the Pogonip while ensuring an appropriate long-term home for the Homeless Garden Project. 

First the bad news: the Parks Commission voted 4 to 2 to advise the City Council to move forward with considering the move of the Homeless Garden Project to the Upper Main Meadow of Pogonip. The two Commissioners voting in opposition preferred to advise the City Council to reject any further consideration of the Upper Main Meadow site based on environmental concerns and associated cost, delay, and community discord and instead move forward with remediating the Lower Meadow site. 

Many thanks to Gillian Greensite for making an eloquent motion to stop the effort to move the project to the Upper Main Meadow. Gillian referred to the information we brought forward and the City’s confirmation that they are required to clean up the previously approved Lower Meadow site at taxpayer’s expense, which would allow the HGP to proceed with that location. Also, thanks to Dawne Schott-Norris for seconding Gillian’s motion. Planning Commission Chair Jane Mio expressed significant concern regarding the environmental impacts of the proposed Main Meadow relocation, but then oddly did not support Gillian’s motion. Vice Chair JM Brown made the opposing motion to move the project forward which was supported by Kristina Glavis and Hollie Locatelli. 

While the final vote was disappointing, your written and spoken testimony made a big difference. Without our work, the Commission vote would likely have been unanimous, procedural, and in favor of moving forward without pause to destroy the Pogonip’s centerpiece, it’s Main Upper Meadow. In a matter of days, we brought to light new, important, and substantial information that will gain momentum in the coming weeks as staff prepare for the City Council meeting to discuss the matter on September 28th and beyond.

We need your help to share the word about this ill-considered plan and ensure letters and testimony are provided to the City Council.  Please submit your comments (by September 22 if possible) opposing the Main Meadow location as soon as possible to: citycouncil@cityofsantacruz.com  

The September 28 Council meeting will be held via zoom 

Here are some talking points: 

  • The Upper Main Meadow is the heart and crown jewel of the Pogonip Open Space and should be restored as coastal prairie and wetland habitat and not developed for any reason.
  • The Environmental Impact Report for the approved Pogonip Master Plan explicitly determined that the Upper Main Meadow is not an acceptable site for the Homeless Garden Project due to myriad significant environmental impacts associated with that location.
  • The original state funding source that supported acquisition of the Pogonip was for open space, watershed restoration, and habitat protection and does not allow use as a commercial farm.
  • The Lower Meadows site should be cleaned up expeditiously to remove the lead contamination on site.
  • If the Homeless Garden Project no longer wants to relocate to the approved Lower Meadow site, it should consider options such as a permanent location at its current site on the Westside or leasing land zone for agricultural use. 

Please let more folks who you know might be interested know about this. If you are reading this and want to get periodic updates, please let me know and I’ll put you on the email list. coastalprairie@aol.com “.

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.

Email Grey at coastalprairie@aol.com

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SENTINEL PRICE RAISE! With just an inkling of all the news that’s fit to print, the Santa Cruz Sentinel just announced a 43 cent increase in the daily edition. That’s a total of $1.93 cents per issue per day. Or about $704.00 per year ,or a little over $59.00 per month. It does make you think….

RAIL INCLUDING TRAIL & RAILBANKING. Supporters of Rail plus Trail sent the following informative notes about railbanking…
Since “railbanking” was invented almost 40 years ago, never have tracks been removed, a paved “interim” trail constructed in their place, the “interim” trail removed and the tracks put back and rail service restored. Never, not even once!  

The anti-rail, trail-only Greenway gang know this well and is why they are pushing very hard and saying anything to “sell” railbanking to the unsuspecting public.  

Once the tracks are pulled and an interim trail constructed, it is unlikely there will ever be passenger rail service connecting Santa Cruz and Watsonville together, ever be “around-the-bay” rail service connecting Santa Cruz and Monterey or, ever be a seamless rail connection to the State Rail network at the Watsonville Junction.  

What is worse and reveals the true heart of Greenway, is that the Greenway initiative will change the County’s General Plan to immediately and completely halt all planning for future passenger rail. 

Barry Scott also messaged…

“To railbank, we cease construction and development of current trail designs, and have to:

Pay more to redesign everything,
Pay more to remove the rail line, 
Pay more to build an interim trail, and if we wish to restore rail have to build what we have now all over again,
Pay more to remove the current trail, and then pay more to rebuild the trail a second time.
And, finally pay to put back the rail.
Or, we can pay a little more for a trail NOW that keeps the tracks in place and save time and money, especially for future generations.”

TAKE A RIDE!!!
Next month, take a ride on the Coast Futura! The Coast Futura streetcar demo is happening over two weekends in Watsonville and Santa Cruz. 

Oct. 16-17 at Beach and Walker streets in Watsonville — the route includes a portion of the city and sloughs. 

Oct. 21-24 in Santa Cruz — the route will start at Boardwalk, heading towards Capitola through Live Oak.

Look here for details on riding Coast Futura …  

BASIC QUESTIONS. Anyone else still miss Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion broadcasts? Remember Lake Woebegone? Are we also noticing that Verizon advertises on Fox News? Then, too, both CNN and MSNBC carry so very many cheesy insurance and prescription drug ads….why aren’t there more “accepted” product ads on our favorite channels?   

JEWEL THEATRE’S HEISENBERG. It was startling and wonderful to sit closely (and masked) among fellow theatre-goers last Sunday (9/19) to experience the play Heisenberg. It’s playing in the Colligan Theatre at the Tannery. It stars Paul Whitworth as the 75 year old butcher, and Erika Schindele as the 42 year old Georgie Burns, in a succession of views of their relationship over time as they move apart and together. There’s laughs, deep thinking and fine acting from both. It’s playing now thru Oct 10, 2021. Go here for tickets, dates and info. Of course Jewel Theatre is a fully vaccinated company. All patrons must present proof of vaccination, with matching ID, and be fully masked. 

NEW MUSIC WORKS. Director, composer, and ceaseless worker Phil Collins tells us that big plans are underway for New Music Works, despite the Covid related setbacks they’ve endured. He’ll keep us posted, and it’s happening!!!

BLITZER GALLERY. Their current show features pen and ink drawings by Johannes A. Gaertner – a retrospective exhibit. It runs through Sept. 23rd. Their hours are limited due to covid: open Tuesday and Thursday 1-4, or by appointment. The gallery is in the old Wrigley Building at 2801 Mission Street. Go to rblitzergallery.com, call 831-458-1217 

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Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming 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.

CRY MACHO. (HBO MAX SINGLE). 91 year old Clint Eastwood does a terrible job of acting in this hackneyed Hollywood flop. At least he isn’t mayor of Carmel anymore! He’s supposed to be a has-been rodeo star who gets a job bringing a teenage boy back to his Texas dad. There’s part of a cockfight, but even that seems dull. Ignore this one.

THE FATHER WHO MOVES MOUNTAINS. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A disturbed father who was an intelligence officer in Romania goes just about crazy trying to rescue his son and girlfriend when they get trapped in a snowstorm in treacherous mountains. He’s got problems with his ex-wife – who shows up at the rescue headquarters – and plays politics and conjures vast money sums to dig up his son. Go for it, you’ll stay glued!!

PREY. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Five friends in their 20’s go kayaking and climbing in the woods. Somebody starts shooting and killing them one by one. Who’s doing it and why, are the driving forces in this pointless movie. It’s in German and the photography and acting are ok but don’t expect a lot.

BLOOD BROTHERS. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Muhammed Ali/Cassius Clay was a beautiful spokesperson for both the boxing and political world. This documentary tells of the influence that Malcolm X had on him, and about Elijah Muhammed’s influence on both of them. Watch it and see Cornell West, Sonny Liston, Al Sharpton and other important Black spokespersons relive those days.

JJ + E. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A poorer class of teenage boys meet up with a wealthier class of girls and families in this Romeo and Juliet spinoff. It happens in Sweden and is maybe time consuming. I can’t ruin the ending because there isn’t one!

TRUTH AND LIES. MONICA AND BILL. (HULU SINGLE). One of a few documentaries on the Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton affair. It points out that today with the #MeToo movement, Clinton would never have gotten away with his feeble apologies to everybody except Monica! Watch Al Gore, Gary Hart, and Jennifer Flowers and remember way back to the 1992 campaign.

THE LAST MAN. (HULU SERIES). This takes place three weeks after a horrible pandemic kills some millions of earthlings. Diane Lane plays a sort of Nancy Pelosi who becomes president of the United States. Based on a DC Graphic Comic book drama and uncomfortably like our present day Covid fear, it’s diverting and worth watching.

KATE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Woody Harrelson mugs his way through this Japanese bloody and gutsy flop of a well-worn plot. It’s about gangs, stabbings, and wild stunts that all happen in Osaka. There’s a teenage girl with some more secrets but do not watch this one.

 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, 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.  

THE CARD COUNTER (DEL MAR THEATRE). Oscar Isaac should be given some Academy Award right now…he’s perfect and totally believable in this poker playing and war veteran drama. But more than poker Isaac has a past that is revealed about like a poker hand….slowly and with much hesitation and heavy betting. See this movie it’s well worth your time and see it at the Del Mar if you live nearby.

LANGUAGE LESSONS. (DEL MAR THEATRE). It seemed crazy to actually attend a real movie theatre like the Del Mar to watch a new movie which was all presented as Zoom online scenes. Mark Duplass is a gay Oakland guy who loses his partner and works hard to become friends with his online teacher Natalie Morales who lives and signs in from Costa Rica. It’s depressing, artificial, and pointless. 

SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. (HBO SERIES). I haven’t seen Ingmar Bergman’s original film in decades (since 1974) and this new adaptation will rip your marital guts out. Starring Oscar Isaacs and Jessica Chastain it becomes a beautiful, but scathing examination of any, all of your marriages past or future. It has five episodes and after just seeing the first one you’ll know you’re in for a truly great viewing experience. Do not miss this opportunity.

THE VOYEURS. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). It looks and seems like NYC but it’s actually filmed in high rise apartments in Montreal. A couple gets hooked on watching, spying, eavesdropping through their neighbors windows. It’ll remind you of Jimmy Stewart’s Rear Window but more so! I can’t say much more without giving away plot details. Watch it, it’s totally absorbing and surprising. 

MALIGNANT. (HBO MAX SERIES). Hard to classify this one, probably a horror movie is best. A pregnant woman is violently pushed and beaten by her husband. She has visions or dreams of torture and somehow there are some actions happening in Seattle’s underground city. You do not need to see this movie.

ON THE VERGE. (NETFLIX SERIES). Four kooky women led by Julie Delpy and Elizabeth Shue traipse through Los Angeles with other women friends also in their 40’s. It’s supposed to be a comedy but none of the “stars” have any concept of timing, or expression. Avoid this series before it’s too late.

OPEN YOUR EYES. (NETFLIX SERIES). Set in Poland a young girl with apparent amnesia wakes up in a clinic that keeps patients tightly guarded while they work mysteriously to bring their memories back. It moves slowly but detailed enough to keep you wondering just what the truth behind the odd shifts really means. Watch it all six episodes, and stop worrying about your memory lapses.

BLACK ISLAND. (NETFLIX SINGLE). In German with subtitles it’s a deeply woven story of a young student who lives with his grandfather on an island. He gets waylaid in many ways by a youngish but beautiful and older school teacher who has designs on him that will keep you glued to the twisty plot. Good acting, moves along nicely, and you’ll like it.

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September 20.

THE FUTURE OF POGONIP.

Pogonip Upper Meadow G. Greensite

                                                                                                                               

Chatting with a friend who moved from Santa Cruz to Colorado, he raised the topic of the Greenbelt.  “Remember how open space was such an important issue in the days of trying to protect it from development as permanent protected habitat and public land?” he reminded me. I certainly did. It wasn’t a given. Many old-time locals worked tirelessly to secure the protected open space that circles the city, enjoyed by residents and visitors and offering flora and fauna a haven in their ever-shrinking world.

I shared with him the recent application to the city by the Homeless Garden Project (HGP) to move their in-the-works operations from the Lower Pogonip Meadow to the Main or Upper Meadow pictured above. The request is for 9.1 acres for the farm site in front of the Clubhouse, taking up most of the area before the grade rises, and an additional 1.1 acres for a building site next to the Clubhouse. Buildings include a 1500 square feet administrative building plus greenhouses and sheds. 

Full disclosure: I am a commissioner on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission. This issue came before the commission on September 13th for deliberation and vote to be forwarded to the city council for their upcoming meeting on Tuesday September 28th. That Commission meeting and vote is over and is now in the public record. I am sharing the discussion and vote from the meeting so you are aware of the issues since there has been little publicity. Your opinion is your own and if you choose to weigh in at the upcoming September 28th council meeting that is up to you. The council already took a position at its meeting on August 24th, supporting the move, then sending the item back to the commission for a recommendation and approval of a timeline, to then return to council on the 28th; an unusual process. 

Prior to the Commission meeting, HGP leaders requested zoom meetings with individual commissioners and I agreed to meet. I learned from them that extensive work had gone into preparation for the move from the HG current location on the far westside near Swanton Boulevard to the Lower Meadow Pogonip site when lead contamination from an old skeet range was discovered in the Lower Meadow. This brought activities to a halt and spurred the request by the HGP Board of Directors for a move to the Upper Meadow. (A location for the HGP in the Lower Meadow was written into the 1998 Pogonip Master Plan). I learned that lead contamination meant half the Lower Meadow site (4.5 acres) was not suitable for agriculture, that the HGP had raised an impressive $3.5 million towards the development of this site and that the owner of their current location on the far westside was breathing down their necks for them to move. At the conclusion of the meeting I had little problem with the relocation, despite a twinge of regret at the thought of losing the scenic Upper Meadow open-space to farmland. But other options seemed nil and I am a long supporter of the HGP.

I then set about to read all the documents, read any public letters and check the facts to ensure I had a full picture before reaching an informed opinion. Most of the formal public documents including the Pogonip Master Plan (PMP) and its Environmental Impact Report (EIR) were unavailable on the city’s website. To read the EIR you had to go to the public library. Frustrated at not being able to find the documents I contacted the director of Parks and Recreation who also could not find them. An obliging staff member scanned a hard copy and sent the EIR late Friday for Monday’s Commission meeting.

Reading the 390 pages of public comment from the 1998 EIR was an eye-opener.  I even found my letter in the record. My focus was in opposition to the push to further open Pogonip to mountain bikes, a move that I strongly opposed having born witness to the erosion and displacement impacts from even limited illegal use.  The Homeless Garden issue wasn’t on my radar at that time. It certainly was on others’ radar. Letter after letter after letter opposed locating the HGP anywhere on Pogonip. That position was the overwhelming majority.  The final council vote was a compromise: to set aside acreage on the relatively invisible Lower Meadow for the HGP. 

I also heard about two pieces of information that were verified during the commission meeting: that the city is required to clean up the lead contamination irrespective of a relocation of the HG, although the extent of the clean-up will be affected by the future use of the site and that Ron Swenson, owner of the land where the HG is currently located is open to having that site be a permanent home for the HGP. 

I also watched the August 24th city council meeting. It was clear that none of the council had read any of the documents (especially since they were unavailable unless they went to read them at the library) and that the unanimous vote of support was not based on full information.

The 1998 EIR is unequivocal in its conclusion regarding the siting of the HGP. It states on section V-5 : ” No other sites within Pogonip are feasible for garden relocation. The Upper Main Meadow is not a viable garden location because of the presence of Ohlone Tiger beetle habitat, mima-mounds, coastal terrace prairie as well as historic and visual issues.”

At the commission meeting I explained my shift in perspective given new information; that re-doing an EIR is not only expensive and on the city’s dime but that the conclusion will most likely be the same; that the process will take about 2 years and be divisive and there are options not previously disclosed to council. I tried for a motion to recommend to council to reconsider its prior position based on this new information. My motion failed on a 5-2 vote. The motion that passed was to support the relocation with a timeline including proper environmental review and full public participation. Next stop city council on September 28th.

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.

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September 20. 

POLITICAL WATCHING, READING AND LISTENING.

How do You Stay Informed?

I’m often asked what I’m reading. How do you stay informed? I think about this a lot because there is so much to read and keep up with. Autumn is now upon us too, and I always ask new UCSC students where they go for information about the world. Often, they say their “Google newsfeed” or “by-word-of-mouth” or “my parents send me articles.” Just as often they say “CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, SF Chronicle, or Democracy Now!” Since technology has made it easier for individuals to report news, there are many non-traditional sources of information, which come with positive and negative side effects. Of course, all news reporting has a bias. The New York Times may state each day on its front page, “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” (how haughty!), but we are all keenly aware that there are many daily stories happening around the corner and around the world that are reported in The Guardian (London) or La Jornada (Mexico City) or O Globo (Rio de Janeiro), which never see the light of day in the Times, “the paper of record.” (more PR bloviating). So, here is a column on content, what I read to stay up to speed, or maybe we just think we can actually understand this “crazy world?” (“Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.” Humphrey Bogart’s, Rick character, in Casablanca).

Hey, let’s share information. Tell me what you read. Email me at: ckrohn@cruzio.com

The Intercept
It was started by the insightful, and decidedly leftist and hyper-critical journalist, Glenn Greenwald. He had a falling out with other editors over content and he left, but this investigative online publication still breaks many stories from many sources. One recent story made it to the New York Times Sunday magazine. African-American and Berkeley-native, Terry Albury, joined the FBI to fight terrorism, but he ended up harassing Somali immigrants, and being harassed himself by fellow white agents in a Minneapolis FBI field office, became a whistle-blower, and began sending classified documents to the Intercept. Then there was this breaking story last week about the outsized clout of West Virginia Senator, Joe Manchin and his daughter’s business dealings. “Even the infrastructure bill’s relatively modest and incremental provisions could reduce the value of Manchin’s business interests, and the coal industry is lobbying mightily against them — as are Manchin’s Wall Street donors who have hired their own army of lobbyists to kill any provisions that would raise their taxes or hurt their bottom line…Meanwhile, we’ve just uncovered evidence that Manchin’s daughter, former CEO of the drug company Mylan, worked directly with the CEO of Pfizer to jack up the prices of life-saving EpiPens. This new information is especially interesting in light of Big Pharma’s opposition to the infrastructure bill’s provision allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug costs.” Some shady stuff that others picked up on after The Intercept broke the story.

The Daily Poster
David Sirota was a senior advisor and speechwriter on the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign. The Daily Poster also does some excellent investigative news pieces from a decidedly left political perspective, “left” because he is critical of the neo-liberal economic policies of the Clintons, Obama, and Bush. He’s a former columnist at The Guardian

Rumble
Rumble is a Canadian news and entertainment site that covers stories about the world from a decidedly non-American editorial view and some consider a decidedly conservative perspective too. Greenwald joined Rumble recently along with former Hawaii congress member, Tulsi Gabbard. Possibly, Rumble is the video version of Substack?

Democracy Now with Amy Goodman
This is now the mainstream news source on the center-left. Goodman consistently and conscientiously goes after unreported and under-reported stories. DemocracyNow even revisits stories a year later, which most mainstream publications fail to do with any consistency in the here today-gone tomorrow capitalist news-gathering business.

What Else?
Jim Hightower‘s, The Hightower Lowdown, is a weekly fun read about populist politics in Texas and around the country, “Forget Trickle-Down BS.” You can even get it delivered in hardcopy too. Krystal Ball is entertaining and worthy of some trust in her clear and blunt reporting of political events. The Young Turks is also a lively and informative news show. Believe it or not, it is now in its 20th season. The LA Progressive is a labor of love for leftists, Dick and Sharon, well-written stories about California and the country by those known and unknown, definitely worth a read. CalMatters is a very reasonable journal of issues that “matter” in the Golden State and beyond “the world’s fifth-largest economy.” One CalMatters story that caught my eye is why aren’t more Californians going back to work as unemployment here ranks second highest in the country

Locally
Well besides BrattonOnline’s weekly dollops of local politics, the Serf City Times has become a go-to news source for under-reported Santa Cruz labor news as well as a useful update on the county’s Covid-19 infection rates, but it is not web-based. You must email editor Sarah Ringler and get on the mailing list coluyaki@gmail.com Lookout Santa Cruz costs $187 per year, so to actually read a story you must pay, but the summary at news@lookoutlocal.com is a useful and easy read in learning about what the county’s mainstream status quo believe to be “news.” The paywall appears immediately if you Google Lookout, but you can go to the above email and ask to be placed on the mailing list to see the headlines. Alas, I wish the Santa Cruz Sentinel and San Jose Mercury News were better. Vampire-like, Alden Capital, who owns both under the name Bay Area News Group, bleeds all resources from the two papers, thus never providing the resources to do investigative journalism while continually running AP and NY Times reprints. Believe it or not, the Merc and Senile actually make money, but Paymaster-Alden drains it away for their investors’ pockets. On the free front are two local propaganda pieces that are worth checking out once in a while. The Monthly Chamber of Commerce newsletter allows the reader to peek inside the brain of the Santa Cruz business class, mostly the chamber’s CEO Casey Beyer, that is busy devising evermore stealthy ways of sapping the county’s material resources. UCSC’s “Newsday,” always tells you why UC Santa Cruz is on the cutting edge of almost everything and the best UC that exists (which actually might even be correct!)

Polling Services and Ratings of House and Senate Members’ Voting Records, Progressive Punch
Progressive Punch has been around for many years and was started by former UCSC undergrad, Joshua Grossman. It ranks each member of Congress according to their voting record.

Justice Democrats
Justice Democrats “is running progressive campaigns to transform the Democratic Party,” so says their website. It was started in 2017 by Cenk Uygur (Young Turks), Saikat Chakrabarti (AOC assistant), and Zack Exley (Bernie campaign). After supporting so many left-Dems including Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, Marie Newman, Raul Grijalva, Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, AOC, and Pramila Jayapal it has become a partisan Left-Democrat group that’s now taken quite seriously by DNC-types, or rather, the kind of fog-brained politics of the Santa Cruz Democratic Central Committee-types…not including Hochman, Falls, Dawson, Chiaramonte, and Glazer, but the group did once host progressive Ash Kalra from San Jose).

FiveThirtyEight
One of the premier polling firms is Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com. This opinion poll analysis group takes its name from the number of electors in the US electoral college, 538. California gets 54 of those. (FunFact: according to FiveThirtyEight, Joe Biden’s approval rating has gone from 55 in March to 46 this week. The approval/disapproval lines merged on Aug. 26th and look like they have only gone in the disapproval direction since then.)

Real Clear Politics
Real Clear Politics is a “polling data aggregator” that came together in 2000. I find them tilting heavily rightward politically, but their aggregating of opinion data is phenomenal in terms of covering Senators, governors, and the President. (Where else can you find approval ratings for Voldemort, err…Tr**p?)

Of course, the New Yorker, National Geographic, New York Times and Jacobin are all standard hardcopy publications that come in weekly and monthly to our house. I also highly recommend Nation Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, and the New York Review of Books, but I have lost the time to read them.

“In this year’s NDAA, I’ve intro’d 7 amendments, including blocking specific US weapons transactions to:

– Saudi gov over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi
– Colombia gov over its violent crackdown on protesters,&
– Israeli gov over the bombing of Palestinian civilians, media centers” (Sept. 17)

Note: Some people are saying AOC had a bad week after wearing the expensive, Tax the Rich, dress at a New York City even more expensive gala event. The proof will be in the pudding if congress really does “tax the rich” in passing the $3.2 trillion spending bill.


A window into downtown development and the destruction of our Santa Cruz past. This is a picture of the corner of Pacific Ave. and Laurel Street. Read this recent article titled: The case for…never demolishing another building,” from Energy in Demand.

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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#263 / System Error

Since I teach a course at the University of California, Santa Cruz on “Privacy, Technology, And Freedom,” I was naturally interested in a July 14, 2021, editorial statement by The New York Times, titled, “The Assault on Our Privacy Is Being Conducted in Private.” I have reprinted the statement below, to help those who might like to read the statement avoid any possible frustration at The Times’ paywall.

Besides announcing a soon-to-be-released book by three Stanford University professors, System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot, The Times’ statement made this very important observation: 

Much of the erosion of online privacy stems from the Federal Trade Commission’s policy known as “notice and choice,” which grants companies almost no boundaries on what they can collect, as long as users are informed.

I’ll be interested to read System Error when it comes out, to see if the authors have a workable alternative. As we all know (as I hope we all know), we are compelled to agree to surrender our privacy if we want to make use of the many internet-based services upon which we rely. We do get “notice,” and our “choice” is either to surrender access to our private information or not participate in modern, internet-based life. 

Social media platforms like Facebook, and companies like Google and Amazon, are accumulating a vast database of information on each one of us – which may even include the content of conversations carried out in our private homes, when we have internet-connected assistants like “Alexa” on the job. The databases maintained by these internet platform corporations are routinely opened up to the government, with no notice to us, and without any “search warrant” or other judicial review in advance.

If you don’t think that there is any significant danger in the current system, think again. Not only are we easily manipulated for commercial purposes, based on the personal information available to the huge internet platforms that play such a controlling role in our lives, the information available in these databases provides an open door to authoritarian, and even totalitarian, governmental actions.

There is, indeed, a “system error.” We have permitted a very bad system to become deeply established. I don’t think it’s going to be all that easy to change it!

oooOOOooo

The Assault on Our Privacy Is Being Conducted in Private

By Greg Bensinger

Mr. Bensinger is a member of The Times editorial board.

“You have zero privacy anyway,” Scott McNealy, the chief executive of Sun Microsystems, infamously declared more than 20 years ago. “Get over it.”

Well, you shouldn’t get over it. The rise of social media, Google and online shopping and banking has made us far more exposed than back in the internet’s infancy in 1999. Today, personal data like your Social Security number, bank account information, passwords, purchases, political beliefs, likes and dislikes are stockpiled in central databases. That makes it more easily analyzed than ever before by companies that want to part you from your money, and easier for criminals to steal or for the government to sift through. Worse, we hand over much of it willingly.

Perhaps you feel Mr. McNealy’s remark was prescient and that tech companies have simply won out in the battle for access to your every desire or private thought. (They even track your mouse movements.) And it may feel benign to turn over your shopping and web browsing history to technologists in Silicon Valley. But it should worry you that access to your data and myriad inferences about you are a mere government request away.

At a congressional hearing last month, Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security, said his company fields as many as 3,500 federal law enforcement requests annually for sensitive customer data, all under order of secrecy.

“Most shocking is just how routine secrecy orders have become when law enforcement targets an American’s email, text messages or other sensitive data stored in the cloud,” said Mr. Burt. In other words, the days of trench-coat-clad G-men riffling through filing cabinets are long over, and the assault on our privacy is being conducted, well, in private.

There are real consumer benefits to this data aggregation, of course. Facebook and many other sites are free in large part because of the volume of data fed daily into the companies’ ravenous maws, which in turn feed their lucrative targeted advertising business. The more that ads can be tailored to each consumer, the higher the ad price. It’s the difference between being shown a generic Nike shoe ad and being shown one for Nikes in the correct size, color and style.

Any notion that digital privacy is overrated is belied by Facebook’s very public anger over Apple’s recent move to allow iPhone users to choose to stop being tracked across the mobile web. Your data is worth billions.

Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, recently argued in The Washington Post for curtailing the secret gag orders to help restore consumers’ privacy. But he failed to acknowledge that Big Tech makes itself an obvious stop for investigators through its voracious aggregation of data on its users, nor did he offer solutions that would reduce the flow of information from users to corporate computers — and ultimately to governments.

The assaults on our privacy have become not only more secretive but also far more efficient. Americans once blanched at government efforts to sweep up data, including through the Patriot Act after Sept. 11 and programs like the Clipper Chip, which created a back door for the government to monitor phone conversations.

Much of the erosion of online privacy stems from the Federal Trade Commission’s policy known as “notice and choice,” which grants companies almost no boundaries on what they can collect, as long as users are informed, often in unwieldy terms and conditions statements, according to “System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot,” a forthcoming book by three Stanford University professors. “Nobody expects, much less desires to be tracked from moment to moment, with the intricate details of our lives pieced together and made permanently reviewable by companies or governments,” they write.

The trouble, they argue, is that Big Tech places the burden on users to protect their own privacy, which the companies would otherwise exploit at will. But most consumers can’t be expected to read hundreds of pages of disclosures, nor, if they object to their data being collected, to exclude themselves from participating in discourse through Facebook, Twitter or Google.

In their efforts to prosecute or prevent crime, governments may sweep up health, sexual or financial information that can affect future employment or benefits and that most people wouldn’t otherwise willingly release. Facial recognition software, made available to governments, has sweeping and chilling implications for surveillance and law enforcement and even for legal activities like participating in protests.

President Biden signaled his own concerns, directing the F.T.C. in his broad executive order this month to write new rules concerning private surveillance and data collection. While the changes could take years to come to fruition, they are a welcome acknowledgment of the extent of the problem.

Technology companies have exploited for far too long users’ and lawmakers’ indifference to a market devised by them that optimizes for ever-greater data collection in exchange for free products like email and digital maps.

The authors of “System Error” call for three reforms: a federally mandated right to privacy, revisions to the rules on informed consent so that consumers know what they are agreeing to and a new government agency to protect citizens’ privacy rights.

Congress has considered federal privacy legislation for several years but has been unable to pass a bill, leaving states to pass their own patchwork of protections. 

However, the Biden administration appears to be turning the tide on regulatory apathy, in addition to a promising slate of antitrust bills in Congress that would fix some of the imbalance between Big Tech and consumers. But it will also require a collective sense of outrage — you don’t have to be OK with signing your life away to Silicon Valley technocrats.

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 gapatton@mac.com

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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

    PRESCRIPTIONS

“Prescription: A physician’s guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient”.   
~Ambrose Bierce

“The human body experiences a powerful gravitational pull in the direction of hope. That is why the patient’s hopes are the physician’s secret weapon. They are the hidden ingredients in any prescription”.    
~Norman Cousins

I had some eyeglasses. I was walking down the street when suddenly the prescription ran out”.   
~Steven Wright

“That’s my prescription for a happy marriage – marry someone who doesn’t do anything similar to what you do”.   
~Maxine Kumin

“I toyed with the idea of playing Ravel’s ‘Pavane pour une infante defunte’ but I couldn’t remember if it’s a tune or Latin prescription for piles.   
~Les Dawson

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Here’s a neat piece with Dave Grohl and Jimmy Fallon


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