Wildfire smoke ain’t like some family campfire, folks!


Daytime, Juniper Hills, California

The West Coast’s wildfire crisis is no longer just the West Coast’s wildfire crisis: As massive blazes continue to burn across California, Oregon, and Washington, they’re spewing smoke high into the atmosphere. Winds pick the haze up and transport it clear across the country, tainting the skies above the East Coast.

But what are you breathing, exactly, when these forests combust and waft smoke near and far? Charred trees and shrubs, of course, but also the synthetic materials from homes and other structures lost in the blazes. Along with a variety of gases, these give off tiny particles, known as PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller), that weasel their way deep into human lungs. All told, the mixture of solids and gases actually transforms chemically as it crosses the country, creating different consequences for the health of humans thousands of miles apart. In other words, what you breathe in, and how hazardous it remains, may depend on how far you live from the Pacific coast…

As the smoke plume travels through the atmosphere, “the heavier particles are going to start to fall out as time moves on,” says Rebecca Buchholz, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “But then those sticky, partially burnt carbon gases are going to start to coagulate and become more particles again. So you’re losing particles out of the smoke, but you’re also gaining particles as the air processes through time.”

Another atmospheric nasty we’re all too familiar with forms as well: ozone, which inflames your airways. “Ozone requires carbon-containing gases, nitrogen-containing gases, and sunlight,” says Buchholz. “And so the more processing time you have, the more ozone is going to get created in that smoke plume.”

There are parts of the West where breathing the air has been evaluated as the equivalent of smoking 400 cigarettes! Today, wasn’t that bad in my neck of the prairie – here in northern New Mexico. But, after a morning try, I had to give up my usual regimen of exercise walking. My breathing, my eyes, just had too much of a bad thing to deal with.

The NRA was all for gun control when Black people were carrying the weapons


Bobby Seale and Huey Newton

…Although the National Rifle Association currently leads the charge for the rights of citizens to carry guns of all types with little to no interference from the government, the original gun rights advocates to take that stance were the Black Panthers.

Throughout the late 1960s, the militant black nationalist group used their understanding of the finer details of California’s gun laws to underscore their political statements about the subjugation of African-Americans. In 1967, 30 members of the Black Panthers protested on the steps of the California statehouse armed with .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns and .45-caliber pistols and announced, “The time has come for black people to arm themselves.”

The display so frightened politicians—including California governor Ronald Reagan—that it helped to pass the Mulford Act, a state bill prohibiting the open carry of loaded firearms, along with an addendum prohibiting loaded firearms in the state Capitol. The 1967 bill took California down the path to having some of the strictest gun laws in America and helped jumpstart a surge of national gun control restrictions.

I was the first in my family – of my generation – NOT to work in the gun industry. Growing up in Connecticut, the historic arsenal of America, it was just one of several industries you considered working in as a factory hand.

Nowadays, I’d give serious consideration to any legislation fairly designed to keep weapons from status as a political instrument. Yes, that’s a challenge in a society that treasures political power as generally more important than human life.

Move to pardon Bayard Rustin will display more than apologies

The nation can count on the veil drawn aside from the discrete racism, homophobia, all the private bigotries of American conservatives and today’s Republican Party.

Ten years before the March on Washington in 1963, Bayard Rustin was arrested…Rustin — who would later go on to become one of the most prolific organizers of the civil rights movement, including as the mastermind behind the March on Washington — wasn’t booked for his activist work, however. He was arrested over his sexuality.

That January night in 1953, Rustin was having sex with another man in a parked car in Pasadena, California. He was jailed on a “morals charge,” and served about two months in jail. The offense landed him on the sex offender list.

The charge cost him jobs, and though Rustin didn’t necessarily hide his sexuality, it was used against him. Former Sen. Strom Thurmond, a segregationist, read Rustin’s arrest record on the Senate floor and used it to delegitimize the civil rights movement, calling him a “pervert.

“If that wasn’t enough, the record was reportedly supplied to Thurmond by J. Edgar Hoover, who at the time was the director of the FBI.

Now, California lawmakers are attempting to right the wrong.

RTFA for a sense of what needs to be done.

What the article doesn’t confront is the range of opposition this simple act will encounter. Please, don’t be naive and think that pulling at the thread of bigotry tied to American conservatism will only release a modicum of honesty and justice for Bayard Rustin. The stink of racism and homophobia within the minds and lives of America’s rightwing heart is only disguised, diminished in its perception – not its roots and persistence.

California + carmakers tell Trump to stick his anti-science ideology where the sun don’t shine

Four major automakers…have reached an agreement with California on fuel efficiency rules, bypassing a Trump administration effort to strip the state of the right to fight climate change by setting its own standards.

California and other states had vowed to enforce stricter Obama-era emissions standards, after President Donald Trump proposed rolling back the federal rules. Automakers had worried that court battles between state and federal governments could create years of uncertainty for manufacturers.

❝ The automakers “didn’t want to face the expense, distraction and the bad publicity that comes from being part of a big rollback on clean cars,” Mary Nichols, who chairs the California Air Resources Board, told Reuters…

She said the state hoped to turn the voluntary agreement “into enforceable agreements” and that the companies had agreed not to legally challenge California’s vehicle regulatory authority.

The fake president and his Republican pimps said, blah, blah, blah!

Geothermal Mud Pot Began Moving Across California About 3 Years Ago

When it comes to matters of geology and rumbling earth in California, the San Andreas Fault is usually the star of the show. But this time around, the area near the infamous fault has caught people’s attention due to a mysterious pot of bubbling mud.

Refusing to stay in place, a roiling mass of carbon dioxide and slurry-like soil is migrating across the state at a pace of 20 feet a year. So far, it’s carved a 24,000-square-foot basin out of the earth, and it’s set to continue its crusade until whatever’s driving it dies out. Scientists currently have no real idea why it’s moving or if it can be stopped.

Interesting stuff. RTFA and see what little scientists have so far figured out. Mostly, just keeping track of the “feature” on the map of Southern California.

Waste not, want not – in Oakland

❝ The red plum’s presence confounds the third grader. She didn’t want the fruit in the first place, yet there it is. She doesn’t want to eat it, but she knows that tossing it into the garbage at Oakland’s Hoover Elementary School is wrong. Standing before containers for trash, recyclables, compostables, and unopened entrees, milk cartons, and whole fruit, the girl’s decision-making matches her Disney-movie hijab — Frozen.

Fortunately, Nancy Deming, the school district’s sustainability manager for custodial and nutritional services, is supervising the sorting line today. “If you’ve started eating your fruit, it goes in the compost,” she reminds the girl with a smile. “If you haven’t taken a bite, it goes to Food Share.” The girl glances at the plum, then carefully places it in the clear bin, from which students can take whatever unopened or unbitten foods they please. Anything left will either be offered the next day or donated to a local hunger-relief organization.

❝ For decades, students here and there have made use of designated tables in school lunch rooms to leave or pick up unwanted whole fruit, packaged foods, or other meal items. Although rare in most school districts, Deming has standardized the practice and made it mandatory for schools serving some 37,000 students in Oakland. As the only school employee in the country whose sole responsibility is fighting food waste, Deming has transformed the Oakland Unified School District — and somewhat reluctantly herself — into a national leader. With her help, the district has arguably done more than any other in the country to minimize excess food, redistribute edible leftovers to people in need, and compost the inevitable inedibles.

Always nice to see someone in a craft often practiced casually – managed by cheapass bureaucrats – build sensible frugality into successful management.

Choose California, you moron!

❝ If you had to choose one state out of the 50 to use as a blueprint for America’s future growth plan, which state would you select?

Let’s add a wrinkle. There are two choices, Kansas or California

Would you select the coastal tech and entertainment giant or the heartland agriculture and industrial producer?

❝ It’s a no-brainer. Kansas has been a disaster, with giant budget shortfalls, service cuts, slashed education budgets and a brain drain with young people leaving the state. The economy has failed to keep up with growth in the rest of the country and is much weaker in terms of job gains, wage increases and gross domestic product growth than neighboring states with similar economies. In 2015, for example, Kansas had one of the worst job growth rates in the country, at 0.8 percent, adding just 10,900 nonfarm jobs.

In the five years before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, no state economy performed worse than Kansas. Things became so bad that Kansas decided to simply stop updating the public about state economic news…

The idiots’ delight

SCOTUS rejects corporate appeal — Lead Paint Decision Stands!

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from Conagra Brands and Sherwin-Williams Co., leaving intact a ruling that requires them to pay more than $400 million for lead-paint remediation in California.

The rebuff, issued without comment Monday, is a blow to business groups, which had called for high court review in the hope of derailing other suits over climate change, opioid addiction and gun violence…

The cities and counties said the companies and their trade associations promoted lead paint as safe well after they learned that it caused irreversible neurological harm, particularly to children. Lead paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978 but remains on the walls of many homes.

Overdue – not just the ruling; but, corporate profiteers taking responsibility for the poison they maintained for years after they new of the risk presented by lead paint. Time to pay up for the clean up.