California “here we come”

· Among the Barbarians, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

The barbarians are at the gates, and Washington, D.C. may never be the same. If American voters thought the war in Iraq was the most pressing issue of the day, Barbara Boxer may soon be disabusing them of that notion. Likely to be the next chair of the Senate Environment committee, Boxer is ecstatically planning her new campaign to save us from ourselves. Count on her to ramp up the volume on eco issues. DiFi, rarely raising her voice but a master of backroom deal making is rumored to be in line for Trent Lott’s seat at the Rules committee, and California rules are sure to look a lot different than Mississippi ruhls. Harry Reid may not be from California but the State of Las Vegas might as well be a territory of Los Angeles. In any case, my sense is that this will turn out to be a historic mid-term election but not for the currently pundited reasons. I think we’re finally seeing the end of the iron grip of The South on national politics and an end to the long reign of Dixiecrats in election politics. It has taken over 150 years for California, the economic powerhouse and cultural cutting edge of the country to get a few places at the table in Washington and it’s a harbinger of the changes in the national political landscape to come. No matter who sits in the Oval Office.

Special Election as fodder for theater

· Among the Barbarians, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

John Warren from Unconditional Theatre invites us to hear stories about the upcoming special election:

The Special Election is less than a month away. How much do you know about the ballot measures? Wondering whether it’s worth going to the polls at all? Unconditional Theatre is here to help!
We’re hosting an evening of stories & dialogue focused on California’s Special Election, to help you get familiar with the measures and connect with the unique reasons for your voting decisions. We’ll share personal stories that relate to the measures, offer dramatic readings from the ballot book, and discuss the content of the propositions themselves.
It’s a fun way to get a handle on the measures and discuss them with your peers. Even if you already know how you’re voting, this can help you articulate your reasons and become a better advocate for your position.
Sunday October 23rd, 7:00pm
Epic Arts
1923 Ashby Ave at MLK, Berkeley
(across the street from Ashby BART)
Epic Arts is kindly donating the space to us, and we’ll have snacks and drinks on hand. As always, anyone who shows up is invited to read and discuss. Participation is free.
By BART: Take the Richmond line to Ashby station. As you exit the turnstile, bear right and then right again as you exit the station. Cross the parking lot diagonally to the corner of Ashby & MLK. Epic Arts is across Ashby, the yellow building two doors down from the Ashby Stage.
By Car: From San Francisco, cross the Bay Bridge and take Highway 80 eastbound to Ashby. Take the lefthand fork of the exit ramp, and follow Ashby about 1.5 miles. Park as soon as you cross MLK. Epic Arts is on the left hand side, the yellow building two doors down from the Ashby Stage.

Got (moooo) Smog?

· Among the Barbarians

A curious editorial in the Sunday New York Times points out that California’s agricultural heartland may be at the heart of an air pollution crisis that could require regulation of cow emissions as well as car emissions. It seems that the mammoth dairy farms of the San Joaquin Valley–where about twenty percent of the nation’s milk comes from– are emiting about 19 pounds of pollution per cow per year. Add that by 1.7 million dairy cows (in all, there are 5.2 million cattle and calves in the state) and you’ve got a lot of bad gas. Dairy farmers disagree that their cows are contributing to air pollution. And they have political clout; the state’s biggest industry is agriculture and the top-earning commodity is “milk and cream”, earning them well over $4 billion annually.
The other major air polluter in California also happens to have a lot of political clout. Although the state has managed to enforce the strictest vehicle emissions laws in the country, the rising numbers of vehicles and particularly the rising numbers of SUVs–which do not have to meet the same pollution emission standards as other passenger cars–means the state is losing the battle against air pollution.
Recently, Bay Area residents, who have some of the least polluted air in the state, have been required to meet the more stringent smog standards of more polluted regions (e.g. the San Joaguin Valley). That means this year when I renew the vehicle registration on my 1988 Toyota Tercel I must take the old jalopy to a “test only” smog station where I’ll probably be told that the old gal (EVE294) doesn’t pass the test.
A reasonable solution to this dilemma might be to purchase a new SUV…or I could try to disguise the Toyota as a cow.