Thursday, June 30, 2011

Affordable Housing

I've noted before that, when it comes to providing affordable housing, the issue is always somewhere that Governor Jerry Brown isn't. But that doesn't mean he isn't in support of housing subsidies--just not for other people.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Another Kid in College

This morning's Bee reported on yet another gifted kid whose parents are taking him to college classes. He's 7. What are his parents thinking? He may be really, really smart, but he's still 7, and he should be doing the stuff that 7-year-old kids do. And the parents should know that kids who are sent off to college at 7 or 10 or 12 don't do well in later life. They aren't allowed to develop the social and emotional skills appropriate to their age.

I speak with a bit of experience. My parents were encouraged to put me in a special program that skipped a bunch of kids together. So I went to 7th grade at 11. Hey, parents want to hear that their kid is one of the smartest kids around. But luckily, they learned their lesson and when the school approached my parents about doing the same thing to my brother, they passed.

I've always told the teachers I know that, should they come across a parent who wants to skip their kid, I'd do my best to talk them out of it. And I suspect that's true of everyone who ever skipped a year of school.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'm With Steinberg on This One

I've been critical of my local State Senator, Darrell Steinberg, but I'm with him on this one. In fact, were I Steinberg, I'd be mad as a hornet and going round the Capitol building putting devil horns on the pictures of the Governor.

What happened was this: Jerry Brown came into office claiming that he would fix California's budget problems. To do this, he would both chop out a bunch of spending for low-income Californians, particularly children and seniors, and raise taxes. Unfortunately it takes only a majority vote of the Legislature to cut services, but it takes a 2/3 majority to raise taxes. The Governor opened negotiations with the Republicans to get the four Republican votes (two in the Assembly and two in the Senate). But these votes were hard to come by. In fact, they never showed up. Nothing, nada. They negotiated, yes, but every time they came close to agreement, the Republicans came up with more demands. Pension "reform", gutting environmental regulations, and so on. Barely more than 1/3 of the Legislature, they wanted all of the Republican Party platform.

When it became clear (along about March for most people) that the Governor wasn't going to get his four Republicans, it also became clear that the Democrats were going to have to do the budget on their own. It's not a pretty budget--it cuts services, kicks the can down the road, moves money around--but it was a budget. The Governor vetoed it, claiming that it wasn't realistic. Well, it may not have been the best budget, certainly not one I liked, but it was more realistic than the Governor's.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Google Guitar

If you haven't been playing with this, you haven't had any fun today.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Few Quick Things

I'm off to do laundry, clean the living room, run the dishwasher, and plant my impatiens, but wanted, first, to give a big "thank-you" to my local Assemblymenber, Roger Dickinson, for his bravery in voting for AB 934, which would restore the rights of tenants to sue for wrongful eviction. This is particularly important in foreclosure cases, where the banks behave very badly toward tenants, and tenants, thanks to our local press, know almost nothing about their rights in foreclosed properties. It should be noted that only 13 Democrats were sufficiently brave to vote for the legislation. The rest were hiding in the bathroom. I guess campaign contributions from the banks were more important to Sandre Swanson and Nancy Skinner than protecting tenants from wrongful eviction.

Next, I ran across this article this morning. (Ht Patrick) What I loved about it was this:

"His commentary reflects a left-of-centre perspective--which, oddly enough, has made him [Dean Baker of CEPR] one of the best prognosticators of the stock and real estate markets over the past decade and a half."

Uh, leftists (and I include Baker as one of us, although he is not responsible for my politics at all) have been making good predictions for a long time. In the early 1980s both Alexander Cockburn and Barbara Ehrenreich railed against policies that would increase economic inequality. No one listened, but it turned out that income inequality is a big part of our problem, and it's going to be much more difficult to fix it now. And I have, on so many occasions that I am now a "broken record" on the subject, described support for neoliberalism as smug, self-serving, sanctimonious twaddle. The left is almost always right; it just takes 30 years to prove it.

And then there's this.

Update: As you can see, I did clean the living room.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Cat Blogging 7

The cats are confused by the weather. No, not tornadoes. California tornadoes are really glorified funnel clouds. We've had a few of them this year and, from the reaction of local television weather reporters, you'd think they were right up there with the tornado in Joplin. One of our bigger ones tore the roof off a chicken coop. No chickens were harmed.

But for the second year in a row, we've had spring for four months. Yes, cooler temperatures, a goodly amount of rain. Instead of silently enjoying our good fortune, our local weather reporters have spent inordinate amounts of time on the subject. Pictures of people in raincoats, person-on-the-street interviews, minute-by-minute doppler updates, the works. The first year we lived in Sacramento it was 102 in May. We had no air conditioning in our car. I cried.

We did have one 91 degree day. All the azaleas, which had been blooming for a month, lost their flowers. But it has been cool enough that the basil is failing. Basil is a tropical, and doesn't like temperatures below 50 degrees, and we've had quite a lot of nights in the 40s this spring.

Unfortunately though, the most important fact about the weather is that we may have hit the "point of no return" in carbon emissions, and have permanently trashed our little planet Earth. Emissions in 2010 exceeded those of 2008 and, no matter what we do now, it may be too late to limit the worldwide rise in temperatures to a level that won't bring about a runaway greenhouse effect. We're stuck with those who don't believe that climate change is a problem and those who want to use market mechanisms to deal with it. So it's likely that nothing will happen, and certainly nothing that will actually limit the damage. We're toast, so to speak.