Category Archives: California

Election Reaction, Part II

If I were Governor of California, and had a cooperative legislature, and didn’t mind being recalled, I would make the following declarations:

  1. That, with the passage of Prop 8, all same-sex marriage are null and void.

  2. That, due to the California Constitution’s declaration of equality among all citizens, I have no choice but to render all marriages in California null and void.
  3. That the State of California henceforth considers marriage to be a religious matter. In order to respect religious freedom it will no longer issue marriage licenses to anyone, and the definition of marriage will therefore be up to individual churches.
  4. That the State of California is establishing a civil union status, available to any two consenting adults, to encapsulate certain legal benefits formerly associated with marriage.
  5. That all couples whose marriages were recently nullified by Prop 8 or government decree will automatically receive civil unions.

Needless to say, this would never actually happen, and it would do nothing to placate the anti-gay bigots who voted for Prop 8 (although it sure would be fun to take away their marriages too). But I do think getting government out of the marriage business entirely is the right move. Supporters of small government should be all for it!

Squid invasion in Monterey

Squid are pretty awesome, but like T-Rex I start to worry when they move in next door:

A mysterious sea creature, up to 7 feet long, weighing up to 100 pounds. It hunts in packs of hundreds, flying through the water at 25 mph, changing color.
With a parrot-like beak and arms covered with thousands of sharp barbs, it attacks and tries to eat nearly anything it sees, including fish, scuba divers, even its own kind.
But it’s not a creature of Hollywood. It’s real. And it’s reached the Monterey Bay. The Humboldt squid, also known as the giant squid or jumbo squid, traditionally has lived in warm waters off South America and Mexico, where fishermen call it “diablo rojo,” or “red devil.”

HELLO T-REX
(Via Boing Boing)

Election 2006 Endorsements

My neglect of the blog continues but I really should post something about the election.

(Image via Pharyngula.)
My endorsements: Recently the Republican Congress passed a bill which legalized torture and suspended habeas corpus. I am endorsing every Democrat running for any office anywhere.
In California, we have the usual assortment of dumbass ballot initiatives. I am voting no on everything except 87 (taxing oil companies) and 89 (public election financing). I could perhaps be convinced otherwise (but you’ll need to do it before about 10am tomorrow).
I predict that Republicans will keep both houses of Congress. I think there’s no way the Senate will switch; the House seems more likely, but I think dirty tricks and rigged voting machines will put the GOP over the top.

Why I love Berkeley

Sure, this is completely futile, but that’s part of the charm:

With overwhelming support from Berkeley residents, the Berkeley City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night to be the first jurisdiction in the United States to let the public vote for the President’s impeachment. The measure will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot, at a cost of about $10,000.
The measure alleges that the administration violated the Constitution with illegal domestic spying, justified the Iraq war with fraudulent claims and illegally tortured citizens. San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz and dozens of other cities have already passed council resolutions urging impeachment but none has gone as far as Berkeley.

Critics may be right that this is not terribly productive, but it sure will be fun to punch “yes” on this in November. On the other hand, who knows how my vote will actually get recorded—we use Diebold touch-screen voting machines.

Politics roundup: flightsuit optional

I think my brain is still in vacation mode, since I haven’t been able to come up with any deep thoughts for the blog. I have a bunch of stuff to review which I’ll try to post tonight. Meanwhile, I haven’t done a political post for a while, so here are a few items.

  • Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed. Better late than never, I suppose. The Bush administration let this guy operate as long as he was politically useful for drumming up support for the Iraq war. From The Atlantic:

    During my time in Jordan, I asked a number of officials what they considered to be the most curious aspect of the relationship between the U.S. and al-Zarqawi, other than the fact that the Bush administration had inflated him.
    One of them said, “The six times you could have killed Zarqawi, and you didn’t.”
    When Powell addressed the United Nations, he discussed the Ansar al-Islam camp near Khurmal, in northern Kurdistan, which he claimed was producing ricin and where al-Zarqawi was then based. On at least three occasions, between mid-2002 and the invasion of Iraq the following March, the Pentagon presented plans to the White House to destroy the Khurmal camp, according to a report published by TheWall Street Journal in October 2004. The White House either declined or simply ignored the request.

  • Bush’s visit to Baghdad. Meaningless political theater, like the “Mission Accomplished” flightsuit stunt. This is just about the only thing Bush is good at. I’m not holding my breath for any changes in Iraq policy.
  • No frog march for Karl Rove. Disappointing; as Josh Marshall points out, we all know by now that Rove did leak Plame’s identity.
  • The California primary. I normally try to pay attention to primaries, but I think I would have slept through this even if I hadn’t been in Mexico at the time.

Anything else I should have mentioned?

ID infects CA

I tend to speak very highly of California, while mocking other, less civilized states, especially if they are below the Mason-Dixon line. However, my beloved state has been known to indulge in abject stupidity on occasion. We made Arnold governor, we continue to allow Rob Schneider to make movies, and now… “intelligent design” has come to California. The new strategy is to claim that it’s “philosophy” rather than science. (They’re half-right, insofar as it is indeed not science.)

In this case, the parents say in their suit that school officials in Lebec — a town of about 1,300 just west of Interstate 5 in Kern County and about 63 miles north of Los Angeles — designed their course as a way of getting around that decision.
At a special meeting of the El Tejon Unified School District on Jan. 1, at which the board approved the new course, “Philosophy of Design,” school Supt. John W. Wight said that he had consulted the school district’s attorneys and that they “had told him that as long as the course was called ‘philosophy,’ ” it could pass legal muster, according to the lawsuit.

I can only hope the courts will correct this rapidly… our public schools are bad enough as it is.

Accuracy in Race Names

This morning’s Stinson Beach Trail Run would have been more aptly named the Mt. Tamalpais Trail Climb (Which Happens To Start At Stinson Beach). This was a course so steep that at one point it was necessary to climb a ladder to continue. The t-shirt depicts runners going up a gentle incline; this would be accurate if I wore it while lying on my side. It was a nice place to run, as it’s basically the same forest as Muir Woods. But next time I’m bringing a sherpa.

Eminent physicist sentenced to prison

This is not the sort of story one expects to read about a physics Nobel laureate:

Nobel Prize-winning physicist gets 2 years in Santa Maria crash
Associated Press
SANTA MARIA, Calif. – A Nobel Prize-winning physicist was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for killing a man and injuring seven others when his speeding Mercedes-Benz slammed into a van.
John Robert Schrieffer, 74, a Florida State University professor who once taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, pleaded no contest July 25 to felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence for crashing into the Toyota van near rural Orcutt.
Schrieffer had nine prior speeding tickets and was driving on a suspended license at the time of the Sept. 24, 2004 crash. He also admitted to a criminal enhancement of causing great bodily injury to three people in the van.

Schrieffer was the “S” in the BCS theory of superconductivity, which describes conventional superconductors and is therefore highly relevant to my own research. I’ve never seen him in person, but it’s still kind of shocking. Later in the article his colleagues protest that he’s not an “extreme personality”, but nine speeding tickets? He sure sounds like a reckless driver, at least.
Via Fark, where the headline writer inexplicably went for quantum tunneling as the basis for the obligatory joke rather than something on resistanceless flow.

The California Love and Puppies Act [Open Thread]

Reaction of the poll worker when I turned in my card: “That was fast!” I didn’t really know how to respond to that. I did at least take time to read the names of the propositions to make sure I wasn’t accidentally voting against some previously-unknown initiative that was slipped in between 74 and 75 and guaranteed love and puppies for all, or something.
Ask Darth how I voted!
And now, a music review:
The Rosebuds: Birds Make Good Neighbors: Here’s another album I’ve really enjoyed lately; I’m always up for some good indie-pop. These songs manage to be fun while covering some dark and angsty topics. The first track is called “Hold Hands & Fight” which is a pretty good hint of the themes of the album. My favorite song here is “Leaves Do Fall”: the lyrics are very evocative and the music is perfectly matched to the mood of the song. They have some more tracks for download at their website, apparently full songs and not just samples.
In other news, according to Amazon A Feast for Crows is shipping. I had meant to have finished Woken Furies by now so I wouldn’t have to decide which to read first… Dammit.

2005 Election Endorsements

We have an election tomorrow in California, with eight ballot initiatives. Needless to say, I am doing appropriate research beforehand:

This blog endorses a “no” vote on propositions 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, and 78. I’m also leaning towards “no” on the remaining two, 79 and 80, although they seem like good ideas in principle: I’m skeptical of deciding complex policy by ballot initiative.
Mark Kleiman has a good summary of the ballot at his blog. As he points out (in the “details here” link), Proposition 77 leads to urban voters being underrepresented; this should be seen as part of the GOP’s nationwide program to redistrict states in their favor (as in Texas and Colorado) rather than as some sort of attempt at fairness and anti-gerrymandering.
Here’s Brad DeLong’s take along with excerpts from other commenters. And here’s Kevin Drum’s explanation of why he always votes “no”, a stance that becomes more and more appealing to me every year.
As usual, attempts to change my mind are welcome. Those of you not in California may be content to point and laugh at our ridiculous governor instead.