Big road trip last weekend: Phoenix, Barstow, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara and back by a different route. The Jeep Wrangler runs on unleaded regular. Paid $3.349/gal on 9/27 at Quartzsite, AZ off of I-10, one of the last Arizona gas-ups enroute to California. Wait 'til Blythe on the California side of the Colorado River and you will get 'hosed.' In Barstow, same day, I paid 3.579/gal at a Circle K. In Bakersfield on 9/30 paid $3.979 at a Shell station. Back home, yesterday, at Costco, $3.099/gal. Home, sweet home.
Dick Dale and the Deltones, Misirlou. Before Clapton, before Bloomfield, my first guitar hero. "King of the Surf Guitar." Pipeline (with Stevie Ray Vaughan). Nitro (with So Cal scenes). Let's Go Trippin', 1961. The first surf instrumental?
I missed Saturday Night at the Oldies because I was in La Mirada, California, for a conference at Biola University. Ed Feser gave the keynote address and I was the commentator. More about the proceedings later, perhaps. But for now a quick make-up:
An appropriate selection given the seismic events of Friday and Saturday in LaLaLand. On Friday evening I was quietly and comfortably ensconced in an easy chair in the guest suite of the Biola Philosophy House reading the Bible and Feser's Scholastic Metaphysics back and forth, when I felt the chair shift. I was puzzled for a second until I realized that I was in Southern Calfornia, earthquake country. I thought: no big deal. As a native Californian, this was nothing new to my experience. (I remember in particular the early morning San Fernando/Sylmar quake of February '71.)
Later that night, in bed, it was a bigger deal: the bed began moving back and forth. I reflected that the Philosophy House was single-story and that egress was quick and easy should that be necessary. So I went back to sleep.
The third tremor I recall was near the end of the conference, and the fourth, rather more serious, occurred on Saturday night while David Limbaugh, Adam Omelianchuk, Ed Feser and I were enjoying a nice quiet conversation over beer in the Philosophy House.
It is good to be back on (relative) terra firma, here in Arizona, where earthquakes are infrequent and mild. I've been out here 23 years and I don't recall experiencing even one.
Experts say a bigger earthquake along the lesser-known fault that gave Southern California a moderate shake could do more damage to the region than the long-dreaded "Big One" from the more famous San Andreas Fault.
The Puente Hills thrust fault, which brought Friday night's magnitude-5.1 quake centered in La Habra and well over 100 aftershocks by Sunday, stretches from northern Orange County under downtown Los Angeles into Hollywood — a heavily populated swath of the Los Angeles area.
A magnitude-7.5 earthquake along that fault could prove more catastrophic than one along the San Andreas, which runs along the outskirts of metropolitan Southern California, seismologists said.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that such a quake along the Puente Hills fault could kill 3,000 to 18,000 people and cause up to $250 billion in damage. In contrast, a larger magnitude 8 quake along the San Andreas would cause an estimated 1,800 deaths. [. . .]
California’s Democrats have long chafed against Proposition 209, a 1996 voter-backed measure that said: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, colour, ethnicity, or national origin” in public employment or education. In January SCA 5, a Democratic bill which, if approved by voters, would have exempted universities from this rule (and thus allowed them to bring back affirmative action), whizzed through the state Senate. It seemed likely to pass in the lower house, too.
But SCA 5 was defeated in the lower house. That's good news and a victory for justice, which is not to be confused with 'social justice.' Only the morally obtuse could object to Prop. 209.
Unfortunately the morally obtuse have infiltrated deep into our institutions:
"The university has been hurt” by Prop 209, says Gene Block, UCLA’s chancellor. Like other university administrators, he says that diversity creates a better atmosphere for learning.
That is just politically correct nonsense. But I am not in the mood to explain why one more time.
See here for links to posts critical of the Left's diversity fetish.
Banned on the Left Coast in the People's Republic of Californication! It figures. It's sad to see what has become of my native state. But I am fortunate to flourish in Arizona where bright sun and hard rock and self-reliant liberty-lovers have a suppressive effect on the miasma of leftists. So with a firm resolve to stick it to the nanny-staters I headed out this afternoon in my Jeep Liberty to Costco where not a single incandescent was to be had. So I went to Lowe's and cleaned 'em out. I bought four 24-packs. Three packs were Sylvania 60W 130V A19's @ $10.03 per pack and one pack was Sylvania 100W 130V A19's @12.02 per pack. Total: $42.11 for 96 bulbs. That comes to less than 44 cents per bulb.
The 130 volt rating means that I will get plenty of life out of these bulbs at the expense of a negligible reduction in illumination. A voltage check at a wall socket revealed that I'm running just a tad below 120 V.
And now I am reminded of what were supposed to have been Goethe's last words: Licht, Licht, mehr Licht! Light, light, more light!
Today I went to Home Despot Depot to bag the last of their stock. I bought 24 4-packs of Phillips 60W A19 1000 hour soft white bulbs @ $1.47 per 4-pack. So I paid $35.28 for 96 bulbs. That comes to less than 37 cents per bulb. Nice warm cheap light.
I reckon I'll burn out before they all do.
So that's my politically incorrect act for the day. Or at least one of them.
Pope Francis recently spoke, quite foolishly, of "unfettered capitalism," as if there is any such thing in the world. A more worthy cynosure of disapprobation is the slide toward unfettered regulation and omni-invasive government spearheaded by presumably well-meaning liberal-fascist nanny-staters.
You know things are getting bad when they come after your hot sauce. An Asian restaurant without Sriracha is like, what? A house without a fireplace? Coffee without caffeine? A man without balls?
You see, if these food fascists can go after Sriracha on the ground that it is a raw food, then Tabasco sauce, that marvellous Louisiana condiment from Avery Island, that undisputed king of the hot sauces, recognized as such by true connoisseurs all across this great land, that sine qua non of fine dining, and the criterion that separates, in point of the prandial, the men from the candy-mouthed girly-men, and which is also a raw food -- then, I say, Tabasco sauce is in danger, a state of affairs the only appropriate remedy to which which would be of the Second Amendment variety, if I may be permitted a bit of holiday hyperbole.
David Tran, founder of Huy Fong Foods, fled communist Viet Nam to come to our shores for freedom and a chance at self-reliance and economic self-determination . Unfortunately, the successors of commies, the leftists of the Democrat Party, may drive Tran out of California into a friendlier environment.
When they came for the soda, you did nothing because you don't drink the stuff. When they came for the Sriracha, you did nothing because you didn't know what the hell it was. But if they come after Tabasco sauce and you do nothing, then you deserve to be shot -- figuratively speaking of course.
I left my native state of California in 1973 and headed for Boston. Back in the day, California drivers were very good. So I was appalled to experience the awful driving habits of Bostonians. Not as bad as Turks who perform such stunts as driving on sidewalks and backing up in heavy traffic on account of missing a turn, but still very bad. California is catching up, however, as the once great Golden State becomes the Greece of America, thanks to stupid liberals and their stupid policies.
This from that resolute and near-quotidian chronicler of Californication, Victor Davis Hanson (emphasis added):
Little need be said about infrastructure other than it is fossilized. The lunacy of high-speed rail is not just the cost, but that a few miles from its proposed route are at present a parallel but underused Amtrak track and the 99 Highway, where thousands each day risk their lives in crowded two lanes, often unchanged since the 1960s.
The 99, I-5, and 101 are potholed two-lane highways with narrow ramps, and a few vestigial cross-traffic death zones. But we, Californian drivers, are not just double the numbers of those 30 years ago, but — despite far safer autos and traffic science — far less careful as well. There are thousands of drivers without licenses, insurance, registration, and elementary knowledge of road courtesy. Half of all accidents in Los Angeles are hit-and-runs.
My favorite is the ubiquitous semi-truck and trailer swerving in and out of the far left lane with a 20-something Phaethon behind the wheel — texting away as he barrels along at 70 mph with a fishtailing 20 tons. The right lane used to be for trucks; now all lanes are open range for trucking — no law in the arena! The dotted lane lines are recommendations, not regulations. (Will young truck drivers be hired to become our new high-speed rail state employee engineers?)
When I drive over the Grapevine, I play a sick game of counting the number of mattresses I’ll spot in the road over the next 100 miles into L.A. (usually three to four). Lumber, yard clippings, tools, and junk — all that is thrown into the back of trucks without tarps. To paraphrase Hillary: what does it matter whether we are killed by a mattress or a 2 x 4? In places like Visalia or Madera, almost daily debris ends up shutting down one of the only two lanes on the 99.
Wrecks so far? It is not the number, but rather the scary pattern that counts. I’ve had three in the last 10 years: a would-be hit-and-run driver (the three “no”s: no license, no registration, no insurance) went through a stop sign in Selma, collided with my truck, and tried to take off on foot, leaving behind his ruined Civic; a speeder (80 m.p.h.) in L.A. hit a huge box-spring on the 101 near the 405, slammed on his brakes, skidded into a U-turn in the middle lane, reversed direction, and hit me going 40 m.p.h. head-on (saved by Honda Accord’s front and side air-bags and passive restraint seat harnesses; the injured perpetrator’s first call was to family, not 911); and a young woman last year, while texting, rear-ended me at 50 m.p.h. while I was at a complete stop in stalled traffic in Fresno (thank God for a dual-cab Tundra with a long trailer hitch). She too first called her family to try to help her flee the scene of her wrecked car, but my call apparently reached the Highway Patrol first.
Drive enough in California, and you too, reader, will have a ‘”rendezvous with Death, at some disputed barricade.”
Thanks, California! Thanks for your monstrous spending and absurd regulatory overreach! America needs you. We need Connecticut and Illinois, too! We need you the way we needed the Soviet Union, as models of failure, to warn us what happens if we believe those who say, "Government can."
Moving to California was once the dream for many Americans. Its population grew at almost triple the national average -- until 1990. Then big government, in the form of endless regulation and taxes, killed much of the dream. In the last decade, 2 million people left California.
[. . .]
Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute summed up California's situation for me. "The politicians want to get re-elected, and the state government workers want to get as much as they can before the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. California is Greece -- the Greece of America."
I hope all Americans watch and learn from states like California. But if we don't, and if people keep electing big-government politicians, at least Americans, unlike the Greeks, can hop around between 50 states, trying to stay one step ahead of bad laws and ruin.
Do you live in a death spiral state? Buying real estate or municipal bonds in such a state may prove to be a foolish move. Here is a list with each state's 'taker ratio':
South Carolina 1.06
New York 1.07
New Mexico 1.53
Two factors determine whether a state makes this elite list of fiscal hellholes. The first is whether it has more takers than makers. A taker is someone who draws money from the government, as an employee, pensioner or welfare recipient. A maker is someone gainfully employed in the private sector.
[. . .]
The second element in the death spiral list is a scorecard of state credit-worthiness done by Conning & Co., a money manager known for its measures of risk in insurance company portfolios. Conning’s analysis focuses more on dollars than body counts. Its formula downgrades states for large debts, an uncompetitive business climate, weak home prices and bad trends in employment.
Given California's death spiral, why stay there? Victor Davis Hanson supplies some reasons. And I hope you Californians do stay there. Don't come to Arizona! You wouldn't like it here anyway. Too hot, too self-reliant, too 'racist' and 'xenophobic,' and every other citizen and non-citizen is packin' heat.
Intellectually bankrupt, morally bankrupt — the city is under criminal investigation for sundry financial shenanigans — San Bernardino is above all old-fashioned bankrupt bankrupt, a pitiful penniless pauper that cannot even afford a cup of coffee: Seriously — the coffee guy wants cash up front now and has stopped serving the municipal office building until the city makes good on its latte liabilities. This is a paddle-free scato-riparian fiscal expedition of the first order.
In plain English: up shit 'crick' (creek) without a paddle.
John Muir (The Mountains of California, 1894, Ch. 1) on California's Sierra Nevada mountain range:
. . . the Sierra should be called not the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years spent in the heart of it, rejoicing and wondering, bathing in its glorious floods of light, seeing the sunbursts of morning among the icy peaks, the noonday radiance on the trees and rocks and snow, the flush of the alpenglow, and a thousand dashing waterfalls with their marvelous abundance of irised spray, it still seems to me above all others the Range of Light, the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain-chains I have ever seen.
Would we have this beautiful description if John Muir had heeded the injunction, Never hike alone!? Note his use of 'mountain-chains' near the end of the passage. That is a term that has fallen into desuetude if it ever saw much use. It is an exact equivalent of the German Bergketten.
The best guide to that region of the Sierra Nevada known as the High Sierra is R. J. Secor, The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes and Trails (The Mountaineers, 1992, 2nd ed. 1999). It is a beautifully written book. Here is a taste:
The High Sierra . . . is the best place in the world for the practice of mountains. By the practice of mountains, I am referring to to hiking, cross-country rambling, peak bagging, rock climbing, ice climbing and ski touring. One of my goals in life is to go around the world three times and visit every mountain range twice. But whenever I have wandered other mountains, I have been homesick for the High Sierra. I am a hopeless romantic, and therefore my opinions cannot be regarded as objective. But how can I be objective while discussing the mountains that I love? (p. 9)
My kind of guy. During one of my High Sierra backpacking trips I met a man who knew Secor. Secor the climber smokes cigarettes! To be a climber you have to be all legs and lungs. Take that, you tobacco-wackos!
The single most congested stretch of highway in the United States, according to the researchers, is on the Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles, specifically the three-mile stretch of northbound California Highway 110 near Dodger Stadium.
People are voting with their feet. Voting with the feet and the wallet are more effective than casting ballots when it comes to expressing views and punishing enemies, not to mention voting with 'lead,' a last resort which, one hopes, will remain unnecessary.
Let there be no mistake: when you produce so many criminals that you can’t afford to lock them up, you are a failed state. Virtually every important civil institution in society has to fail to get you to this point. Your homes and houses of worship are failing to build law abiding citizens, much less responsible and informed voters. Your schools aren’t educating enough of your kids to make an honest living. Your taxes and policies are so bad that you are driving thousands of businesses away. Your management systems must be fouled and confused to the max for you to create something so dysfunctional, so wildly beyond your means, that the Supreme Court of the United States (wisely or foolishly is another question) starts to micromanage your jails.