I’ve invited Andy Stunich, who takes a much more pro-Israel line than I, to discuss recent and current events in the Mideast on KHSU this Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. Originally we were going to discuss Iraq and maybe Libya, but I think the Gaza carnage will take up the hour.

It’s kind of hard to discuss the matter dispassionately as body parts are flying all over the Gaza, but we’ll make the effort.  I’m told that the average age in the Gaza is 19, that the population is crammed into a density of nearly 10,000 people per square mile, and that there really are no safe places for Gazans to escape to.  I’m also told that Gaza constructed very few bomb shelters over the years, but instead focused on tunnels.  That Hamas purchased rocket launchers with little or no military strategic value in lieu of shoulder-held rocket launchers which might have actually deterred Israeli airstrikes (but are useless for attacking Israel).  There are disturbing reports of Hamas executing Palestinian protesters today.  And the Israeli government has warned its citizens to expect an extended campaign to root out the tunnels, locate hidden rocket launchers, etc.  Not much good news of late, other than large anti-war demonstrations in Jerusalem and Haifa, but I fear the Peace Now movement of Israel is of very little political influence.  I’ve read lots of genocidal rhetoric from both sides of the conflict, including some scary stuff from an elected Israeli official.  Undisputed is the fact that Gazans are being killed by a hundred for every Israeli killed.  I will argue, and Andy will undoubtably dispute, my contention that Israel has more power to alter the course of history (Hamas can kill people, but it’s no threat to Israel).  But I’m not going to get into a discussion of which side is more or less morally culpable.  It’s a pointless discussion in times of war.

Unfortunately this is a polarized issue such that for many people you either support one side of the conflict or the other.  Not much room for nuance.  But we will find that room on Thursday, though ultimately there are only two groups of people who can bring these endless conflicts to an end.  Anyway, lots to talk about as the body count climbs.  It’s a pretty depressing topic, but at this point I think it’s callous to ignore whether or not we can actuhasally influence events.

Cousin MarkReally going to miss him and his show.  I’ll have some  more to say later.

The photo is courtesy of KMUD.

Also from KMUD:

Our funked up Cuz’n Marc Patterson passed away on Sunday, July 27, 2014. He had been a DJ at KMUD since the late eighties, he was a great volunteer, and served two terms on our board of directors, and was president. He organized several fundraising concerts for the radio station, and was always an advocate and a promoter for KMUD. This picture by Felix Omai is from the famous KMUD Halloween Boogie a few years ago.

Great article on an interview with Eureka City Council candidate Kim Bergel.


Also Natalie Arroyo.


I was recently polled by telephone on these campaigns, as well as the Mayor’s race (they asked if I would support Chris Kerrigan) and the remaining City Council race (they asked if I would support Pam Service).   But whether either of them run, I suspect that by August the progressives will have a full slate ready to run.

BrainPromo for this Thursday’s show.

As neuroscience provides increasing amounts of information on how the human brain works which is contrary to old assumptions, will it change the way we approach trials, sentencing, and our personal feelings about people accused of crimes? Does the science call for more of a medical approach to crime than punitive?  What would such policies look like?  Is rehabilitation and reparation as opposed to retribution possible?  Join Julia Minton, Bob Froehlich, and Eric Kirk for a discussion of neuroscience and the law this Thursday night at 7 pm on All Things Reconsidered.

Will the impact on the salmon this summer be permanent?

A very scary article.

Peter read some of the discussion in a previous thread and wrote out the following history and thought.  I welcome his thoughts, and even agree with some of them.  I disagree with others, but when I have the time I’ll place my responses into the thread with everyone else.  It’s a long piece, most of it under the fold.  Also, some of the sentences appear to have been chopped short, and that may be a formatting conversion issue.  I’ll compare what’s below with what was sent to me later and correct them manually.  I’ve already done that with a few sentences, but I can’t finish until later and I think the essence of the writing is below.


Let me start by saying that it troubles me deeply to see Bonnie Blackberry and Dan Taranto spoken of in such terms, by bloggers whose ignorance seems to me to be equaled by their arrogance.  Bonnie and Dan are two of the most intelligent, selfless, and tireless public servants it has ever been my privilege to know (and work with).  You who so facilely demean them have no idea what they have done, for you among so many others, over so many years.

Riding such a high horse makes it hard to see what’s actually down there on the ground.  So here’s a little history, for what it may be worth.  One person’s version, of course.

I moved to SoHum in 1971.  My wife designed a charming little house and I built it.  At the outset of the process I applied for a building permit but I let it lapse when I read the fine print and discovered that the house could be abated (bulldozed) because it didn’t conform to the Uniform Building Code; for instance it used recycled lumber, and my electrical outlets weren’t the proper distance apart (they didn’t exist; we used kerosene lamps for the first fourteen years).  I also discovered that the Building Department had no interest in flexibility.  So my house was illegal, and this was worrisome since I planned to live out my days here.

In 1979 I was asked by a County supervisor to join the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on the Housing Element (CACHE).  I knew Dan Taranto, who was heading up the committee; as we were both owner-builders and had both had similar difficulties with the Building Department (at that time separate from the Planning Department) and since we knew that there were quite a lot of other folks in the County in a similar situation we decided that the “alternative owner-builder” should be considered a legitimate component of the county’s housing stock and should be properly represented in the Housing Element along with several other categories of owner building.  (The CACHE Subcommittee on Housing Regulations conducted a survey of building permits which indicated that the many forms of owner building accounted for 65% of home building activity in the County).  I was the Alternative Owner-Builder representative on the CACHE committee, and the upshot of our work in that specific area was the Alternative Owner-Builder program, which has something over three hundred houses under its umbrella and which is, I’m happy to say, currently accepted by the Planning/Building Department as a legitimate response to a real need.

  Read the rest of this entry »

My promo for KHSU’s Thursday Night Talk:

Is nuclear power essential to a an energy plan to address climate change?  Please join Eric Kirk with his guest retired physics professor Rich Baker, who will make the case on Thursday Night Talk, June 26 at 7:-00 p.m.


I’ve met a number of young environmentalists, some of them very active, who are pro-nuclear power.  They are convinced that it’s an essential part of any energy plan to avoid both global warming and mass death for lack of power.  I’ve wondered if Fukishima had changed any minds, but as far as I can tell it didn’t.

Maybe it’s a generational thing?

I’m open to convincing, so let’s discuss it.


Finally, your representatives are listening to you!

Now is the time to be heard!


JFK's Vow


Humboldt County Sheriff, Mike Downey and Undersheriff, Bill Honsal will join me for a Town Hall Meeting in Redway on Thursday, June 26th. 
We will be discussing issues raised by this petition and other input we have received from the community about this issue. 
We look forward to hearing your input and your participation in a discussion of the problems and possible solutions. 
Please join us at the Redway Elementary School, 5:00 PM, Thursday, June 26th.

Thank you,
Estelle Fennell 
2nd District Supervisor

A great article on “Ten Scientific Concepts Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing.

Thanks to Julia Minton for bringing it to my attention.

Number 3 in particular I want to emphasize in light of a recent radio show discussion.

This misconception is an exploitation of quantum mechanics by a certain breed spiritualists and self-helpers, and epitomized by the abomination, [the movie] What the Bleep Do We Know? Quantum mechanics, famously, has measurement at its core. An observer measuring position or momentum or energy causes the “wavefunction to collapse,” non-deterministically. (Indeed, I did one of my first columns on “How smart do you need to collapse a wavefunction?”) But just because the universe isn’t deterministic doesn’t mean that you are the one controlling it. It is remarkable (and frankly, alarming) the degree to which quantum uncertainty and quantum weirdness get inextricably bound up in certain circles with the idea of a soul, or humans controlling the universe, or some other pseudoscience. In the end, we are made of quantum particles (protons, neutrons, electrons) and are part of the quantum universe. That is cool, of course, but only in the sense that all of physics is cool.


I’m guilty myself of at least one misuse, and from now on instead of “statistically significant” I will say “statistically discernible.”

September 2014
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