Archive for Dyssynergy

Especially this year

No argument from me:

Surely someone must have had Maryland-Baltimore County over Virginia.

(Via @Turing Girl.)

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It’s going to Katmandu

What is “it”? It’s tons and tons of garbage cluttering up Mount Everest:

A clean-up campaign has begun at Mount Everest, aiming to airlift 100 tonnes of rubbish left behind by tourists and climbers of the world’s highest mountain.

On its first day, 1,200kg (2,600lbs) of waste was flown from Lukla airport to Kathmandu for recycling.

Mountaineers are required to bring back whatever waste they generate on their climb.

But every year, local guides gather hundreds of kilograms of rubbish.

Ye gods! What sort of rubbish is it?

Most of the waste left on the mountain is empty beer bottles and cans, empty food tins, and discarded mountaineering and trekking equipment.

That can include oxygen bottles, which are essential for climbing at the highest altitudes.

One wonders if you see this much crap on K2, on the Chinese/Pakistani border.

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But it looks so much better

Even people can be swept under the rug if Broome has the room:

The state Senate is opening an investigation into the de Blasio administration’s exporting of New York City homeless families to other parts of the state, The [New York] Post has learned.

It was discovered last week that the city is paying a year’s rent to encourage the homeless to ditch the Big Apple’s homeless shelters for apartments upstate.

Senate Investigations Committee Chairman Terrence Murphy (R-Hudson Valley) told The Post on Sunday that he’s opening a probe and will hold a public hearing on the matter after being briefed by an infuriated state Sen. Fred Akshar, who represents the city of Binghamton and Broome County, where the homeless are being shipped by the city.

Apparently Bill de Blasio was not acting sub rosa:

Broome County welfare officials found out about the families when they came into the Social Services office to apply for other benefits but not rental subsidies. They were told New York City had already taken care of their rent.

On one level, this seems almost generous: a year’s rent almost anywhere in New York state will run into five figures. Peter Grant, though, finds it “despicable”:

Not only is NYC pretending to “solve” the problem by shipping it away, but they’re ignoring the crime and other problems that the homeless frequently bring with them. They’re dumping all that on other communities without so much as a “by your leave,” and will do nothing to pay the cost of alleviating or eliminating it from those towns. Goes to show … when you’re the “biggest brother” in a state run by a Big Brother government, you can get away with almost anything, at the expense of “smaller brothers.”

Indeed. Who knows what Chicago has sneaked past Springfield all these years?

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Get in the zone

The McG solution to Daylight Saving Time: move the time-zone boundaries by half a time zone. Yes, really:

As suggested here, I’m of the opinion that we could shift the time zone boundaries 7½ degrees west and do away with daylight saving time altogether. In this I dissent from those who would rather go permanently to DST across the country, because doing so would, in some places, have sunrise occurring well into the work day. I had enough of that in Fairbanks even without wintertime DST; not looking forward to it here in Georgia.

Where I live, sunrise in the winter could show up as late as 8:40 am, which strikes me as pretty damn late for a place on the same latitude as the northern portion of South Carolina.

Under my proposal, nothing would actually change here where I live. We’d be on Eastern Standard Time all year round because of where we are in the time zone. Our summertime sunrises and sunsets would both be an hour earlier, by the clock, than they are under the current system. The beneficiaries — in summer — would be those in the eastern parts of the existing zones, who would find themselves in the western parts of the new zones. The thing about time zones is, there are always western parts with later sunrises and sunsets than the eastern parts. Shifting the boundaries less than the full 15-degree width westward would have the same effect domestically as going to a nationwide plus-30 (something I’d previously espoused), without the downside of having the U.S. permanently a half-hour off from most of the rest of the world.

So the big winner in Oklahoma would be Kenton (population 17), at the far west end of the Panhandle; it’s currently on Mountain Time.

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Spot treatment

A phrase that has potential to shock: “urban leopards.”

And yet:

A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment suggests that leopards in Mumbai, the world’s sixth most-populated city, may save human lives by feeding on feral dogs. Feral dogs are a major health issue in India, where they are the leading cause of rabies deaths.

The study was led by researchers from the University of Queensland School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, with a population of 35 leopards, has the densest population of these big cats in the world. The park is also in the middle of the burgeoning city of Mumbai, with more than 20 million people. Approximately 350,000 people, many of them in poverty, live all along the periphery of the small national park. Leopards can be seen strolling the city streets, and hunting in parking garages.

That’s not a lot of leopards. But apparently it’s enough:

The study found that the small population of leopards “may consume about 1,500 dogs per year, saving around 1,000 bite incidents and 90 potential rabies cases.” The presence of leopards was also estimated to save $18,000 in dog management costs.

Leopard attacks on humans? Last year, seven.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Subluminal, if not subliminal

I have always argued that any system that can be written can be gamed.

One more anecdotal data point:

See what I mean?

(Via Katelyn Burns.)

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How little we have learned

And you can probably plug any other state into this matrix and get similar results:

The Romans probably never envisioned a system in which road builders would do the minimum amount of work possible, in the hopes of getting rehired to redo the same road in a few years.

(Via Sissy Willis.)

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Axe me no questions

Actually, the article doesn’t specify a brand name, but what do you think?

Police in Maryland say a car blew up when a man inside lit a cigarette after spritzing himself with an aerosol body spray.

The cigarette-and-spray combination caused “a sudden and violent expansion of the air molecules” in the car Thursday, creating a boom that pushed the roof up, shattered the front window and blew the doors open, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Jennifer Peach told The Baltimore Sun.

Peach said the driver appeared unharmed and was taken to a hospital to check for hearing damage, but Baltimore County police said on its social media accounts that the man was taken to a burn unit with serious injuries.

(Via Fark.)

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They have tools for that, you know

Some of them don’t even require proximity, if you know what I mean:

If this has put you in the improper mood, here’s some background music for you.


You plan better when you’re alive

But for many of us, perhaps not that much better:

[M]y big, selfish fear: what if everyone you care about and who cares about you dies or moves away, and you’re all alone? This is what happens when you let yourself get fond of people. I have a hard time making in-person friends and so “just find new people to care about” is not easy for me.

This doesn’t describe me so well, if only because I have one foot — well, six inches anyway — in the grave.


And yeah, also selfishly: holy cow, if I were to die suddenly? Nothing in my life is in order. I have a very minimal will; my important paperwork (do your heirs need your social security card and the like?) is kind of scattered … and my house is a mess. (I hate the new concept being foisted on us from Scandinavia of “death cleaning” even as I can see its value: if I were to get hit by a bus, what would people do with all my books and all my fabric and all my My Little Ponies? But at the same time, I cannot see myself living in an empty white box with almost no possessions, waiting for my own death…)

As the young folks say, “It me.” I should point out that the one person I know who actually does engage in this “death cleaning” isn’t, so far as I can tell, doing it for the sake of the estate; she’s just a committed ascetic.

That said, if it’s clear my number is up, I doubt that I’ll spend much time worrying about what little estate planning I did; I’ll have more immediate thoughts to torment me.

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You’ve seen rarer earths

Look, Mom, it’s escaping radioactivity!

For 2 weeks in the fall of 2017, traces of the isotope ruthenium-106 wafted across Europe. The radioactive cloud was too thin to be dangerous, but it posed a mystery to scientists. Now, researchers at the French Institute of Radioprotection and Nuclear Security say the isotope may have been released from the Mayak nuclear facility in southern Russia. They argue the leak may have happened when technicians botched the fabrication of a cerium-144 source needed in the search for sterile neutrinos at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in L’Aquila, Italy. The Russian government has vehemently denied that an accident took place, however.

There exist many isotopes of ruthenium, with atomic weights from 87 to 120; only seven are stable. Ruthenium-106 does not exist in nature, but has been synthesized from other nuclei; its half-life is just over a year. (Some of the others won’t last more than a minute or two.)

(Via Fark.)

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Terminal suffering

Kim du Toit tells a tale of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, 27 square miles within the city limits of neither Dallas nor Fort Worth, which has its own police department and its own ZIP code (75261). As he tells it, one does not simply walk into DFW:

With DFW, you absolutely have to have the correct terminal information — the gate number within the terminal is helpful, but you can get by without too much hassle if you don’t. I did have one airhead woman from New York ask me to take her to DFW, and when I asked her which terminal — sometimes that will determine whether you take the North or South entrances to the airport, even — she said brightly, “Oh, just drop me off anywhere in the airport; I’ll figure it out.”

Now let’s be honest: Evil Kim might just have dumped her at Terminal E (the most remote and also least-patronized of the terminals) and gone on his merry way, but this time the old rascal stayed in the background while I explained to Miss Upper East Side that this wasn’t LaGuardia (which is small because it’s squeezed into an island and against the sea), there is no pedestrian connection between terminals, and it could take her up to a quarter of an hour to get from one terminal to another at the far end of the place, if the inter-terminal rail- or bus service was working at its maximum efficiency. (Frequent visitors to DFW can stop laughing, now.)

Again: twenty-seven square miles. Fifteen percent bigger than the isle of Manhattan. About 1.7 million people live in Manhattan; it only seems like that many are squoze down into DFW.


I’m king of the world

For the next seven seconds, anyway:

You go back, Jack, and do it again.

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It costs money to leave the light on

I think I knew this, but I’m always happy to have corroboration:

Motel 6: The “6” in the name stood for six dollars, the original room rate of this motel chain, founded in Santa Barbara, California, in 1962. In today’s dollars, that translates to $49; the Motel 6 closest to me currently charges $86 per night.

Eighty-six American dollars per night? Dear Lord, what must they be charging down the street at the Super 8?

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No magic wands here

It takes about three minutes on social media, maximum, to find people who are deathly afraid of firearms. Unfortunately, it also takes about the same amount of time to find people to whom the weapon is a talisman. I suspect this bothers Tam even more than it bothers me:

Your open-carried gun is not an empowerment tool, it’s just a gun. It doesn’t tell everyone you are strong and determined, it just tells them you have a gun. It’s not a deterrent, it’s just a gun. People get to decide if they feel deterred or not.

It’s like a torque wrench: it has a limited range of uses, but sometimes nothing else will do. Remember poor Irving, the 142nd fastest gun in the West:

Well, finally Irving got three slugs in the belly
It was right outside the Frontier Deli
He was sittin’ there twirlin’ his gun around
And butterfingers Irving gunned himself down

Damned fool thought it was an empowerment tool or something.

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Department of Duh

I dialed over to Amazon to grumble about a shipment which is now two weeks late, and this advice was proffered:

If it hasn’t arrived by the end of the day, most late packages are delivered shortly after the estimated delivery date.

Tautological statement is tautological.

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Seems like it ought to work

Everyone has a solution to the problem of school shootings. Not everyone, however, is Francis W. Porretto:

School shootings, the most swiftly politicized events in contemporary American life, all take place … at schools. Places where the young are gathered, more or less against their will, and compelled to remain for several hours, five days per week, lacking all recourse for concealment or defense. Let’s leave aside for the moment that most schools are “gun-free zones.” Let’s focus instead on the vulnerability of minors concentrated in an easily identified locale. What comes to mind at once? What’s the easiest and most straightforward way to prevent a school shooting from happening, ever again?

That’s right: Ban schools. Eliminate these concentration camps for helpless victims. Imagine the improvement in the morale of our youth at being freed from compulsory vulnerability to any maniac with a gun! Imagine the savings to parents at not having to buy school supplies! And imagine the savings to taxpayers at not having to pay for these juvenile day prisons! Do it for the children!

I’ve heard worse ideas, and so have you, and that’s just this past week.

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Lest we hurl

It’s been 46 years since I went through this, and apparently it’s not going to be happening anymore:

The needs of the Army and the quality of the recruits it is acquiring have changed, so the Army is adapting. One of the many changes coming to Army Basic Training (BCT) is the removal of grenade qualification from basic training, which could happen as early as this summer. The Army says this training takes too long and the time could be used for more needed training.

Commanders have complained about receiving undisciplined and “sloppy” appearing soldiers to their units after BCT. So the Army has decided to dedicate more time for recruits to become physically fit and develop discipline by spending more time on drill and ceremony, inspections, and learning military history.

Discipline is a good thing. But:

“What we have found is it is taking far, far too much time. It’s taking three to four times as much time … just to qualify folks on the hand grenade course than we had designated so what is happening is it is taking away from other aspects of training,” Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, commanding general of the U.S. Army Center of Initial Military Training, told defense reporters on Friday. “We are finding that there are a large number of trainees that come in that quite frankly just physically don’t have the capacity to throw a hand grenade 20 to 25 to 30 meters.”

That’s scary. I mean, I was an unreasonable facsimile of the Pillsbury Doughboy when I started BCT, but I was pretty handy with the M69, the just-for-training version of the standard M67 grenade; to my amazement, they gave me an Expert badge to wear. I admit, I never came close to Expert with a rifle, though I did pass the qualification spec.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

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Lazy AF

No other explanation makes sense:


Why can’t these ******* people do their own ******* homework?


Addendum: Y!A has pulled the question for some ******* reason.

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Pet rocks, except they eat

Which, to my way of thinking, makes the rocks preferable:

Some college girl claims she was told to flush her “emotional support gerbil” by an airline employee. She did it. My first thought — a comfort gerbil? Give me a break. This is getting out of hand. If you cannot bear to part with your gerbil, peacock, snake, cat, prairie dog, wolverine, or even dog, then drive. In your own car. Maybe my trusty handgun provides me with emotional support. How about that?

I tend to side with George F. Will:

[T]he proliferation of emotional-support animals suggests that a cult of personal fragility is becoming an aspect of the quest for the coveted status of victim. The cult is especially rampant at colleges and universities, which increasingly embrace the therapeutic mission of assuaging the anxieties of the emotionally brittle. There, puppies are deployed to help students cope with otherwise unbearable stresses, such as those caused by final exams or rumors of conservatism.

Now I’m okay with, for example, Linus van Pelt’s blanket; it seems almost autonomous at times, but you can be sure it will never growl at anyone or crap on their shoes.

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Feedback looped

You may have seen this item from my tweetstream last night:

This was slightly disguised. In fact, the range was 1 to 5, and what I handed out was a 2; Walmart botched up my grocery order even worse than the original offense of taking 62 minutes to bring it out. The Web form asked for details, to which I responded:

It makes no sense to replace a fudge brownie from The Bakery with a box of Duncan Hines. And whatever the worth of Sam’s Cola, it was not what I ordered. Neither of these were indicated as substitutions.

This was about 7 pm. By 8, I assume heads were rolling; by 9, they’d issued a credit to my Visa card.

Customer service, folks. This is how it’s done. And that’s what I told them on their customer-service survey around 10.

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Insufficient bitches

Reuters begins the story this way:

After the German Shepherd Rumor won the top prize at last year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York, she had her first litter of puppies and retired from competition, like many female show dogs.

Well, yeah, sort of. It doesn’t help that their photo (see link above) carried this caption:

FILE PHOTO: Rumor, a German shepherd and winner of Best In Show at the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, takes a command from his handler during a visit to One World Observatory atop One World Trade Center in New York, NY, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo


Um, no. Not that you could necessarily tell from her registered name, which is GCh. Ch. Lockenhaus’ Rumor Has It V Kenlyn. (The American Kennel Club invented the Grand Champion title to encourage mere Champions to stay on the show circuit instead of retiring, inasmuch as AKC gets a cut of the entry fees.)

By contrast, most top male show dogs can keep competing for years, and it is no coincidence that they also win “Best in Show” in the prestigious annual competition far more often than females, breeders and handlers said as they prepared for this year’s show, which opens Monday, Feb. 12 in New York.

“Now she won’t show again, she’s done,” said Gail Miller Bisher, a spokeswoman for the Westminster Kennel Club, referring to Rumor. “But males can keep going. They can be used as stud and continue showing and keep their coat and keep their shape of body and all that.”

“Used as stud,” indeed. I bet the dogs don’t complain about being used. And speaking of “dogs”:

Female dogs, known in pure-bred circles as “bitches,” have snared Best in Show at Westminster 39 times since the award was first given in 1907. Males, known simply as “dogs,” have been victorious 71 times, almost twice as often.

How about that? The male is the default.

For the record, the oldest dog ever to win at Westminster was, indeed, a dog: Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, a Sussex spaniel, who won in 2009 at the age of ten years and two months. (You can call him Stump. Well, actually, you can’t call him at all; he died in 2012.)

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When things don’t suck

Our favorite four-year-old Person of Handyness repairs a broken wet/dry vacuum:

Child wields a mean soldering iron.

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Enclosed retail compound

One doesn’t really expect big-box stores to be aesthetically pleasing, but some are less so than others:

The Wal-Mart stores that I’ve been in have the charm of a Swiss village compared to the Gulag atmosphere of Costco. Oh, Costco has a look. The look is as if the Costco “Decor” vice president decreed, “Hey, just pour a slab of concrete, drop bunches of crap here and there on the grid, and be done with it. Huh? Oh, okay slap up some industrial shelves so the bodegas of the world can find their salsa stock. And bolt some airport landing lights on the ceiling so you need to put on sunscreen before entering. Just light that sucker up so that nobody can smuggle a buttload of pretzels out the door.”

It is also evident to a single person in Costco — in about two nanoseconds — that he or she needs to rent a family of 12 illegal aliens to get any real value out of the place. I mean, I like pickle relish on hot dogs just fine, but a two gallon container is probably enough that I can pass some on to my heirs even if I live another twenty years.

Walmart, of course, responds with two words: “Sam’s Club.”

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Also perhaps not a super genius

Though this fellow’s problem is likely more laziness than lack of smarts:

… the guy who once showed up to the campus nurse’s office and didn’t have his ID, and didn’t want to walk back to the dorm* and get it, and tried to get the receptionist to look up his student ID number using Campus Connect except he couldn’t remember the number of the class he was taking (“It’s like … a Psychology class?”) and I think finally something else happened that led the receptionist to comment, after he left, “It wasn’t like his arms or legs were broken or anything,” commenting on his sheer helplessness.

*Essentially: across the street from the office.

Leave him a message, and he’ll be happy to mansplain the situation.

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This whole soda-straw thing sucks

And that California proposal sucks hardest:

Is the reduction of waste plastic a worthy goal? Sure. Are straws a source of that? Well, probably. I’ve tried to get myself in the habit of not getting a lid at a fast-food restaurant unless I intend to take the cup with me. It’s been a long time since I was prone to spilling my soda and it’s not really needed, and that way I can trim some of my own plastic waste creation. Would it be a neat idea if servers started giving out straws just when patrons asked for them, or asking before handing them out? Sure it would, and it would probably help trim that amount of waste.

But a law, with a six-month jail term and a $1,000 fine? The bill is rock-solid evidence that someone has taken the business end of a straw, inserted it deeply into Assemblyman Calderon’s cranial cavity and switched the Dyson on full. It is, frankly, a wonder that his head has not collapsed due to the unequal pressure between the atmosphere outside and the hollow, echoing vacuum within. That someone on his staff managed to figure out they should remove the fines from the bill is no credit; this is not an idea you should walk back from as much as one you should never have had. Zapping restaurant servers with six-month jail terms and $1,000 fines when most of them make less than minimum wage is like citing children for illegal lemonade stands.

They could always make straws out of seaweed.

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Always an X factor

WWE mogul Vince McMahon has announced that the XFL will return in 2020, and one question to be answered is “Where will there be XFL teams?” Assuming the answer is somewhere other than “In McMahon’s dreams,” Steve Sailer considers the possibilities:

[A]re there enough warmish weather cities without major league franchises or a local college football flagship to support a winter league? San Antonio seems like a natural location and has a 64,000 seat Alamodome, although it has a popular NBA team playing at the same time. Maybe Albuquerque, Tucson, San Diego if the Chargers don’t go home from Los Angeles, St. Louis has a dome for indoor football, Oakland if the Raiders move to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City has a couple of nearby college programs but isn’t overserved, and so forth. The ideal would be a place with no NBA or NHL team to compete with in winter.

Cities that have been messed over by NFL teams leaving town recently include San Diego, St. Louis, and Oakland.

It seems to me that you could make a case for Tulsa; it’s not huge (one million metro), and there are times when the weather is, to be charitable, less than “warmish,” but there’s not a lot of competition — Stillwater is an hour away — and while I suspect Omaha might be a better match, it’s even colder than Tulsa.

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Man’s inhumanity to dog

This story left me a trifle weepy, especially when the former “owner” was contacted:

Okay, maybe more than a trifle.

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Discrimination of a sort

Or, why I’m not buying auto insurance from this firm, apart from the fact that it’s Welsh:

Admiral car insurance has been accused of putting up premiums for people with Hotmail addresses, claiming that they are more likely to crash. It would be relatively easy for Hotmail users to get their premiums back down again by changing to a more respectable Gmail address, but unfortunately none of them will be able to, because they don’t know how to use the internet.

In the beginning, we all got a Hotmail address to use as an alternative to a work address, some time between discovering email and realising your boss could read them all (circa 1996). The downfall started — and this will be a curiosity to digital natives — when people started to pay for their personal email account. Because it was free, Hotmail attracted all the people who didn’t want to pay or didn’t know you could and the brand thereby became tainted by them, this being the era when paying for stuff still conveyed connoisseurship, rather than cluelessness.

And now, of course, we are beset with losers who think everything should be free.

It didn’t help that there was nothing sacred about a Hotmail account, because you could just get another one, so there were a lot of Plus it was global, so you could never get your own name unless you added nine digits after it, like a Russian trollbot. Soon, it was all basically teenagers and people who needed a second email account for their double life.

I accept no responsibility for this, or for justifying my turn-of-the-century Hotmail account, and frankly, I’ve got some serious doubts about this selfsame insurance firm:

Were I Mr. Khan, I might be a trifle pissed off at that.

But go back to the email complaint. The author of the Guardian article poses the question:

Touché. Threeché, even. (Exit: stage left.)

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A quarry with houses in it

That’s how Doc Searls describes the ruins at Montecito, California, one ZIP code away from where he lives:

What we see is a town revised by nature in full disregard for what was there before — and in full obedience to the pattern of alluvial deposition on the flanks of all fresh mountains that erode down almost as fast as they go up.

This same pattern accounts for much of California, including all of the South Coast and the Los Angeles basin.

To see what I mean, hover your mind above Atlanta and look north at the southern Appalachians. Then dial history back five million years. What you see won’t look much different. Do the same above Los Angeles or San Francisco and nothing will be the same, or even close.

Five million years is about 1/1000th of Earth’s history. If that history were compressed to a day, California showed up in less than the last forty seconds. In that short time California has formed and re-formed constantly, and is among the most provisional landscapes in the world. All of it is coming up, sliding down, spreading out and rearranging itself, and will continue doing so through all the future that’s worth bothering to foresee. Debris flows are among its most casual methods.

Just in case you thought the only Dreadful Hazard out there was the San Andreas fault. Not even close. To this day I quake a bit at the memory of standing next to a two-story plate-glass window at a shopping mall southwest of South Central when the ground started to shake. I hadn’t run that fast since I was in Basic Combat Training sixteen years before. And then it dawned on me that nobody else was fleeing with such vigor. Farging tourist, I said to myself, even though I had my shiny new California driver’s license within easy reach.


Highway 101 — one of just two major freeways between Southern and Northern California, is closed indefinitely, because it is now itself a stream bed, and re-landscaping the area around it, to get water going where it should, will take some time. So will fixing the road, and perhaps bridges as well.

Meanwhile getting in and out of Santa Barbara from east of Montecito by car requires a detour akin to driving from Manhattan to Queens by way of Vermont.

We will, of course, rebuild, because that’s what we always do. And the next one will come, because that’s what the next one always does.

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