TODAY FROM THAILAND:
I left the Little Masseuse standing in the lobby of Savrunbhumi Airport in Bangkok and passed through customs and security. My flight to Taipei was delayed due to a maintenance problem and then, after we boarded, delayed some more until finally we were asked to return to the terminal for dinner. I had pizza and a coke.
We were then herded back onto the plane for our flight to Taiwan and my transfer to the flight to LA that had been held at the airport. The flight itself was no more uncomfortable than usual. I occupied myself by intermitting episodes of napping and viewing movies on the personal screen provided each seat on EVA. I saw a movie about a man, his son and robot boxing starring Hugh Jackman; a film, with De Niro about governmental assassins killing each other and, a story about Mossad agents in post-war East German kidnapping an ex-Nazi doctor wanted for war crimes, that goes horribly wrong. The last film starred Helen Mirren who for some reason always turns me on, a fact I am sure she will be pleased to know.
Arrival at LAX was a nightmare. Of all the international arrivals I have been through all over the world, this had to be perhaps the worst. At one point, having taken over an hour to work my way through passport control, I had gotten to the baggage carousel that, of course, was not the same one at which I was repeatedly advised my baggage would be deposited and retrieved my suitcase. I proceeded to where the signs informed me that the line for customs began. The line itself snaked about 3/4 of the way around the terminal. As I approached the end of the line, a woman, clearly an airport employee, dramatically and firmly attempted to wave me off from joining the end of the line located about two feet behind her. She insisted that I turn around and go back through the entire terminal, circle around the baggage carousels and approach the same spot from another angle, saying that this way was blocked. I ignored her and pushed my way onto the line while she scurried ahead to shoo away other travelers seeking to join the same line.
After almost another hour, I emerged, met Monty and proceeded to the currency exchange desk to exchange baht for dollars. They charged me a fee that amounted to almost one-third of the value of the money exchanged.
I slept the night at Monty’s house. The next morning, after breakfast, he and I went to the local High School to exercise. Torrence High School’s athletic fields have recently been redone in the modern style that passionately obliterates any form of natural life. The track was an attractive rust colored rubberized material, the field in shiny green Astroturf and the stand’s silver aluminum bleachers had replaced wooden ones.
Following our walks around the track eight or ten times, stretching and pushups on the Astroturf and a few very slow wind sprints, we took off to visit with Ben at his new apartment where I talked extensively and excessively on the subject I like most, me.
After leaving Ben in peace, Monty and I eventually ended up in a high end clothing store in Redondo Beach owned by Jimmy and imaginatively named “Jimmy’s.” Jimmy, who is originally from Pakistan, served us wine and mixed nuts and stories about growing up Muslim in Pakistan as a virtual orphan, gaining a scholarship to study in America, becoming wealthy, raising a family, and in the end, like Ben, Monty and I ending up as members of the M3WBNB Club. At least he still has a bankrupt clothing store where he serves good wine and mixed nuts.
The next day, it was off to meeting other members of M3WBNB regarding a South East Asia distributorship for a product called “Blue Cow,” a specialty drink that’s supposed to calm the drinker down as opposed to something like “Red Bull” which makes them crazy.
This was followed by a brief get together with Pete another member of the club, who in his previous life raced at Indianapolis and in the Baja 500. Pete was at the garage he leased in order to refurbish auxiliary vehicles that move containers around the nearby Port. He, Monty and I swapped stories about when we were somebody.
Then off to Union Station for the train to Sacramento that is scheduled to arrive in Sacto at midnight only to discover I had nowhere to stay for the night.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
On the Edge: Stories about the Creation and Early Years of California’s Monumental Coastal Protection Program.
In the Beginning: an oft told story (continued).
Back at the cabin we ate a lunch of elaborate home made trail mix and some locally grown fruit while John explained how to, “use the techniques of the private real the estate market to protect resources.” It seems, he had managed to cajole many of his neighbors into selling him relatively low cost options to purchase their land. He raised the money for the purchase of the options from various endeavors including peddling “Jughandle Creek” Christmas cards. His goal was eventually to sell the options to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Unfortunately the Department did not see Jughandle Creek with the same urgency and significance as John.
Nevertheless, John’s approach of using the private market to preserve nature impressed me a lot since, among other things, it indicated some creative thought regarding getting something done beyond simply pressuring government to figure it out and do it. This approach affected some of the implementation policies that several years later I wrote into California’s Coastal Plan.
Since I had already been hooked, the remainder of the afternoon was spent discussing, planning and plotting our strategy for preserving and protecting John’s beloved Staircase.
It was clear to me that John was a lover and while he, like any lover, believed he would fight to preserve from harm every strand of his beloved’s hair, he was not, a defender. The difference to me was that the defender operates more or less by the following rules:
1. If the conflict is severe, damage is inevitable. (The lover often cannot neither conceive nor tolerate of the slightest harm to his beloved.)
2. You cannot protect anything if you are dead. (The lover, on the other hand, swears he would give his life for his beloved, but in fact rarely does, and because of that is prone to rash and foolish decisions.)
3. The opponent has to know right down to his shorts that he is in the battle of his life.
4. The defender will be disposed of the moment those defended believe the threat is past. Any songs that will be sung will be sung only about the lovers or those who merely survived the enemy’s rout.
(If this all sounds a little Seven Samurai and the Magnificent Seven, it is.)
Anyway, eventually we began the defense using all the traditional methods; protests, demonstrations and the like (John had may allies and supporters he could call on) and I joined in. Then came the litigation.
(to be continued)
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
I am sorry, I have run into a form of writers block over tales for Old George to tell about the “Dark Times,” in the NMR colony. If anyone has some simple plot suggestions of tales that fit NMR society I would appreciate it.
2. H. Glaber fellow travelers.
To, Paul W. Sherman, Stanton Braude and Jennifer U.M. Jarvis, who in the August 1999 Journal of Mammalology reported that there are no food fights among baby mole rats. Although unlike any other mammal, the Mole rat Queen births as many as twice the infants as she has mammaries, there is no problem because the normal greedy behavior of other mammal infants is absent and they willingly take turns sucking on a tit.
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
RED STAR: Chapter, Rachel.
Rachel was a very attractive woman. Perhaps one would not consider her drop dead gorgeous, her nose was a bit too pointed, her hair an undistinguished shade of brown, her shoulders a bit too angular. Nevertheless these minor imperfections aside, from anyone’s perspective she was a very pretty woman. She was smart too. Having gotten her advanced degree in finance from Wharton, she spent a few years on Wall Street as an up and coming financier. But she was not especially happy doing what she was doing and when her mother got sick, she returned to San Francisco to take over the family’s flower shop on California Street near posh Pacific Heights and in the past three years opened a second outlet in downtown and transformed the small business into one of the cities leading event planning operations.
But still she was not completely satisfied. Her personal life, as it had been since high school, was pretty barren. She worked long hours and on her few dates she found that her brusk no nonsense manner and intellectual attainments put off most of her suitors. At 34 she had begun to accept the fact that in the long run she was destined to be alone. This in itself did not bother her too much. But there was a gnawing sense that she was somehow at fault in the paucity of significant relationships. No matter how much she told herself that she was an independent modern women making her own life, she retained a deep seated feeling that she was, in some way, failing.
This evening she had just finished dinner with her friend Janice who had left soon after dinner to hook up with a guy she had met a few days ago at Cafe Americano located a few blocks away. Perhaps, she thought that’s whats bothering her, she needed to get laid but instead she was going home like most nights to watch a little television, catch up on some work, review her investments, read a book and then go to bed.
It was a beautiful San Francisco night. She stood for a moment on the sidewalk in front of the McWerter building in which the restaurant was located and took a deep breath then began walking down Steuart Street away from busy Mission Street toward the little cul-de-sac into which Steuart Street ended where she had parked her car. As she walked along she could hear sirens wailing from somewhere toward Market Street. She thought that there must be a fire in one of the stores or office buildings on Market since so many sirens appeared to be howling all at once.
As she crossed Howard Street she fished out her keys from her pocked and jingled them absent-mindedly as she walk along toward the end of the Cul-de-sac. Her car was parked in the last space before the road ended. To her left toward the Embarcadero and the bay was a small plaza, a remnant undevelopable piece of land turned into a forlorn paper strewn park. To her right across Steuart, rose the 8 or so level parking garage that serviced the area, while in front of her the plaza narrowed as the Embarcadero slashed across in until it ended at the entrance to the new main offices of the Gap, a well known clothing manufacturer. She smiled slightly when she thought about one of the sayings she remembered from her classes at Wharton that went something like, “you could always tell when a company is about to fail; it is almost always soon after the leave the place that served them so well during their growth for their signature headquarters building that inevitably was built to feed the CEO’s ego.” She mused that that appeared to be happening to the GAP which had experienced dramatically declining profits almost ever since moving in.
She arrived at the car, pressed the unlock button on the key and opened the diver’s side door. Suddenly a large dark shape rose from in front of the car where it had apparently been crouched and hiding. Before she could react, she was grabbed flung against the side of her automobile and her keys snatched from her hand. The suddenness of the attack and the pain as her body struck the metal stunned her and she found herself dragged toward the door. She regained some control over herself and began to resist. Her attacker pushed and pulled her even harder, he was quite strong and he shouted “get in the car before we both get killed.” Just then she heard a loud sound like something exploding and the rear window of her car shattered.
During the days when I had somewhat of significant impact on the planning and implementation of California’s coastal program, I often found myself on one side an ideological divide among environmentalists; between those that focused on the protection and rehabilitation of coastal resources (my leanings) and those that believed that no development is good development. The no development side had a valid point, they argued that, if all development were eliminated along the coast (or at least all new development) the natural environment would return to the state nature intended.
As with most absolutist ideologies, it overlooked several inconvenient facts among which was that no part of California’s shoreline no matter how remote was free of impacts caused by the vast migration of population to California over the last hundred years or so. Unless all or most of those people were driven off, the resources would continue to degrade simply from their continued presence no matter how much future development was restricted.
My position was prompted by concerns about the continuing impact of economic conflict on coastal resources as well as questions of simple equity.
A little story may help explain the evolution of my views. Early in the program, we received a proposal for development of a small resort hotel on the shores of one of the myriad of inlets along the coast. There was no other development along this section of the coast and the resources that could be impacted were especially sensitive. The developer was someone largely self-financed and could not by any means be described as a “large developer.” In fact, I believed that essentially his entire financial resources were tied up in this property. During a meeting with him, as I discussed the various concerns we had with the proposed project, he became visibly agitated. Finally unable to contain himself, he jumped out of his seat, rolled up the sleeve of his shirt to reveal the telltale tattoo of identification numbers that indicated a survivor of the Nazi death camps. He shouted that he was being treated almost as badly as in the concentration camps.
Now without getting into the appropriateness of his analogy or whether or not it was simply a cynical ploy to play upon my emotions for his benefit, it did place in hard contrast the nature of my actions.
Ultimately we denied this project, as we were required to so that the Coastal Plan could be completed without compromising its effectiveness, by actions that could be inconsistent with that plan. Although the denial was ostensibly temporary, I am sure the impact on the developer was devastating since he probably was not financially strong enough to maintain his position and may have been forced into bankruptcy or worse. I also knew that any plan that we came up with would have as one of its goals the maintenance of this short stretch of the coast free from development.
I realized then that our decisions, did not simply preserve resources, albeit temporarily, but also often penalized the economically weak, while favoring of the financially strong. Our actions actually gave an advantage to the large landowner or the well funded development corporation, who could lie in wait for political fortunes to change or could spend whatever it took on political and economic consultants to obtain the economic reward from the exploding value of an entitlement for development along the coast that we had created.
Because a permit to develop along the coast became immensely more valuable as a result of our regulation, those with the wherewithal to wait for a politically propitious time or to purchase the political and technical consultants (of which I was a reasonably successful one following my departure from governmental service) to acquire the prized permit, were often successful. Those without the wherewithal lost, sometimes everything.
As a result, it became my approach to instruct the Commission staff to inform the prospective developers early in the project approval process as precisely as we could what we wanted the development to do, what resources to be protected and equally important what resources needed to be restored or expanded. The latter because I believed that absent such action, environmental resource degradation and loss from the ongoing effects of already existing development would continue. If you are not increasing the extent and health of the resource base you inevitably are losing them. This the “No Development” ideologues simply failed to understand or appreciate.
If the Permit to develop was as valuable as we apparently had made it, then not only were we using that increment in value to improve the resources but, I believed, we also reduced the inequities between the economically powerful landowners and developers and the much more common small entrepreneur. Now the burden was no longer on the agency to maintain an often untenable position but upon the applicant who must decide if the value in hand was worth more that the uncertain future value that may be obtained by fighting on.
The question can be raised whether or not we are merely forcing current development to bear the costs of past errors by government. The answer is, yes and no. Land use regulation does not simply shift property values it, in fact, increases the value of the entitlement itself. In other words the land values have been shifted to some extent from the lands potential development value to its value entitled. On the other hand costs to develop are increased and therefore may represent an increased societal cost, but perhaps not to the extent of the costs of environmental degradation flowing from a failure to regulate. These costs (in either case) often fall heaviest on those least able to bear them. To deal with this several commentators on the process urged and a number of us on the staff agreed that included among the so-called coastal resources were those things that can be considered replacements in whole or in part for some of the societal impacts. These included increased access to coastal recreation by the general public, preservation and expansion of lower cost facilities and the like.
The plan and the legislation that ultimately emerged attempted to address most of the issues mentioned above without surrendering its strong focus on coastal resources as follows:
a. The creation of a regulatory agency with specific, not general, policies to focus the regulation on the particular unique resources of the coast and to encourage their expansion.
b. Funding for acquisition of those areas of great value for recreational, environmental and even equitable goals (such as the resort developer referred to above) and,
c. An environmental redevelopment and public access agency to begin the process of undoing the damage already done.
Following in the passage of the massive California Coastal program, alas, those ideologically committed to the belief that no development is good development gradually prevailed in the regulatory program resulting in the favoring the large and powerful developer over the small and financially weak producing a hodgepodge of poorly designed projects, both large and small, a spate of inequitable decisions falling primarily on the economically defenseless, and a slowing down of resource preservation and restoration even to the point of interfering with the ability of other agencies to carry out the policies they were charged with in the coastal legislation.
So does this make me a “liberal” on environmental matters. Not to that certain segment of the environmental community that opposes all or most development. I consider myself, if tags are necessary, more an environmental populist who believes that, even in environmental matters, the statement I have made several times before, should qualify every social, political, environmental and collective action we make and perhaps individual actions as well:
“Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom to those without wealth, income or power?”
Anything less in my opinion is neither patriotic, good public policy nor moral.
2010: Prescription drug dangers.
In a report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, study authors said that in looking over records that spanned from 1976 to 2006 (the most recent year available) they found that, of 62 million death certificates, almost a quarter-million deaths were coded as having occurred in a hospital setting due to medication errors.
An estimated 450,000 preventable medication-related adverse events occur in the US every year.
The costs of adverse drug reactions to society are more than $136 billion annually — greater than the total cost of cardiovascular or diabetic care.
Adverse drug reactions cause injuries or death in 1 of 5 hospital patients.
The reason there are so many adverse drug events in the US is because so many drugs are used and prescribed — and many patients receive multiple prescriptions at varying strengths, some of which may counteract each other or cause more severe reactions when combined.
2012: Headphone danger.
According to Chris Woodyard at USA Today, serious injuries have increased 300% in the last six years for pedestrians wearing headphones. Even more worrying, 70% of the people in these instances were killed.
Nearly 70% of those that died in the accidents were under the age of 30.
Surprisingly, almost half of the vehicles involved in the accidents were trains and not cars. The rapid increase in these accidents directly correlates to the rapid growth of the MP3 player market.The loud volume of the headphones blocking engine and horn noise coupled with the distraction of the music seems to be a fatal recipe. It just might be time to turn down the volume when on the move.
2012: Olive oil.
Italy sells three times as much olive oil as it produces.
A. : You might be conservative if (by Bruce Lindner):
1: You’re irate over the president taking so many vacation days on the taxpayer’s dime (61 thus far), but you thought George W. Bush earned every minute of his leisure time (196 days at the same point in his presidency).
2: You’re happy with your 40 hour work week, paid vacations and company-provided healthcare, but you’re strongly anti-union, because those commies haven’t done anything for you lately.
3: You strongly support the First Amendment and its guarantee of religious freedom to all, but you don’t think Muslims have a right to build an Islamic Community Center in Manhattan.
4: You believe Ronald Reagan was a devout Christian, even though he hated going to church, but any president who spends twenty years going to the same Trinity United Church in Chicago must be a Muslim.
5: You believe when a Republican governor creates a healthcare package with an individual mandate for everyone in his state, that’s a good idea. But when a Democratic president does it, suddenly it’s unconstitutional.
6: You’re so enthused about demonstrating your Second Amendment rights, you can think of no finer place to brandish your pistol in public than at a presidential rally.
7: You believe Bill Clinton was responsible for Osama bin Laden’s escape ten years ago, but thankfully George W. Bush caught up with him and killed him in Pakistan.
B. : What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
“When a man tells you he got rich through hard work, ask him: Whose?”