Mega Drought in California

California is in a mega drought which may last many more years.

How to respond to the looming specter of enduring drought in California is a controversial topic, subject to much debate and pontification on the part of pundits and politicians.  The first thing to do is to divide the debate into two parts, water conservation by individuals and conservation by farms.

Eighty percent of water used in California is by large agricultural corporations. We see a lot of sad stories about small farms who are losing their livelihood but in most cases it is a result of an unwillingness to change in the face of facts. Farmers have been overusing water for many years with methods like flood irrigation and choosing to grow the most water intensive crops possible. Now that we are drilling for water deeper and deeper, the realty that water is not an infinitely renewable resource has hit the farmers hard.

So while individual efforts to conserve water won’t have as much of an impact as say banning flood irrigation, it is still something everyone should think about and do because every little bit helps. A significant amount of water can be saved by upgrading or changing appliances. A more efficient toilet tank system can save a lot of water as well as a water saving clothes washer. Upgrading appliances can qualify you for a rebate.

There are also a lot of opportunities to save water outside.

  • Use mulch, a layer of groundcover evens out the soil temperature and increases water retention in the soil.
  • Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation instead of a normal sprinkler, this can save up to seventy percent.
  • Plant a tree, trees need less water than grass and they provide shade which reduces evaporation and keeps things cool.
  • Plant drought resistant varieties of plants instead of water hungry grass.
  • Get a timer for the watering system and water at night or early morning to reduce evaporation from the hot sun.
  • If you have a lawn keep the grass long so the roots stay shaded and need less water.
  • Use a broom to clean patios instead of a hose.

We are currently experiencing the worst drought in 1200 years and indications are that it won’t end for 10-20 years. In light of that sobering forecast, we all need to do our part to save water.

Advertisements

Stuck at the Denver airport

So I suppose its not that bad, it’s not snowing here or in Boston either and i don’t have to sleep at the airport but chicagos is delayed so my pilot is late. I left at noon in LA and will be in boston at two-thirty in the morning.  After which It being christmas eve and everything, i will have to go spend time with my girlfriend and her family.  This is normally fine except for the fact that I will be drop dead tired and perhaps slightly offensive with my disinterest.

After that though will be a some time to relax at my moms and then at the cape, the most relaxing of all…

I was lamenting the work ethic of americans a moment ago becuase no one gives us any credit for being the hardest working people outside of asia.  I’m taking a week off and so I will get paid for three weeks instead of three and will need to subsidize my rent.  Even If I were a salaried worker, I would christmas day and newyears day off and the rest would have to be vacation days out of the ten or twenty given to most each year.  The average person in Europe works 30 hours a week and shuts down every afternoon for two hours to take lunch and a nap.  I would say that the average United state’s citizen works about double that and clocks out for lunch.

These stats are not totally accurate but the idea is spot on.  If you were to tell someone in Spain for example that you work 15 hours a day, every day, with health benifits that couldn’t cover a cold, they would consider it inconceivable and possibly criminal.  I would argue that it is a conflict in our constitution, albeit a debatable one.  One could see this hard work as cruel and unusual punishment for being poor or unintelligent but it is a necessary path for people in the pursuit of happyness.  And they are working like this to make other people happy, generally their families.

Suggestions?

Federally mandated paid vacations, even for hourly workers?

Tax Breaks for people working more than 40hrs a week?

This country was built on people willing to sacrifice their lives’ work to provide a better environment for following generations.  How are we not at a point where driven hard working people can have a few minutes of free time?

This began as a reflecting on my last six months of work and how hard it is to clock 50hrs a week and be tired all the time but now I see that it’s not about me, It’s about the people really stuggling to make ends meet because they are stronger than me and I don’t know how they do it decade after decade.

To the people whose shoulders’ we stand on!

The Crisis of Unemployment

It can also be seen as a cris of cost and stability. For previous gnerations a person, being smart and capable, could get a job with a company and be put on a payroll and get health benifits and retirment plans.  This is not an easy task these days particularly if you want to do something you like.

We (and by we I mean the millennials myself being born at the top of that generation 1984) we were all told we could do whatever we wanted with our lives; they told us the oppertunities are limitless and all ours.  Using my friends and childhood companions as case studies, we were given all the possible advantages and yet few are prosperous enough to even consider say having a kid.  We went to the best schools and a bright future was the motivation to do well in school.

This sunny outlook on the future stuck with most people right until the end of college.  Everyone graduated but no one found the modern equivalent of a steady job and white picket fence.  We found that work was long, hard, and unrewarding…if you are lucky.  We can only afford to live with several other people or as many do, with the parents.  What do you do after graduation?  Move back home until you can find a job that will let you afford a crappy apartment with a bunch of other college graduates.

Most of my friends made it out of our parent’s houses but after that we are just treading water.  No one is optimistic about advancement, we can only afford to be optimistic about keeping whatever dead-end job we have.

Which brings up the graduate schools and how a bachelors degree BA BS is the new high school diploma.  After working for a few years and realizing nothing differant is happening, many of my friends decided to get a masters degree.  Luckily for them, all my friends are smart so the only problem is financing the endevor.  The truly practical got degrees in Chemistry or computer science while the people such as myself who still had that hope of doing something enjoyable got a degree in Television, Radio, and Film.

“The Fog of War” five lessons from Robert Macnamra

Five Lessons

note: These comments are for WWII inclusive

 

 

 

“Belief and seeing are both often wrong.”

            Agree. They are always wrong; the real difference comes from perspective.

 

“Proportionality should be a guideline in war”

            Disagree. In order to win, it may be necessary to destroy the enemy’s moral and this may not be possible to do with a proportional guideline.

 

“Rationality will not save us”

            Agree. The smartest most intelligent calmest person will be completely irrational under the right circumstances.

 

“Emphasize with your enemy”

            On the Fence.  On a policy level, empathy should play a part. Once a war is in progress, however, empathy may cause hesitation to inflict the necessary damages.

 

“Maximize efficiency”

            Disagree. Historically efficiency causes many side effects and by-products. In war we may call these collateral damage or unnecessary civilian deaths.

World Finance

I’m very tired of everyone trying to explain what is going on in the global economy. To which everybody else simply responds “Well if you know what is happening, then fix it!”.  This doesn’t seem like the best way to approach the problem. If consumers could help in some way (other than not taking out bad loans) then we should tell them what to do, otherwise keep the mob in the dark. The more the average person knows, the less they understand, and the more they panic. A person can be rational, reasonable, and capable of not acting like a fool.  People on the other hand are crazy, irrational and prone to stampedes.

Money doesn’t exist, it’s just one way to measure value.

funny quote from I don”t know where

Any man, in the right situation, is capable of murder. But not any man is capable of being a good camper. So, murder and camping are not as similar as you might think.

Conflict in Ireland–1995

                                      Conflict and Cultures    

 

 

The conflict in Ireland, while having many similarities with the current conflict in the Middle East, has a much better chance of coming to a peaceful solution.  The first and most prominent reason for this is the fact that the cultures in conflict in Ireland are very similar while the Israelis and the Palestinians are extremely different.  The animosity between the Protestants and the Catholics was probably very strong when England split from the Catholic church, but now seems to be more of a result of the conflict than a reason for fighting.  This is not to say that the Protestant/Catholic line is not the main battle line drawn by both sides, just that the closeness of the religions makes it easier to cooperate.  The Palestinians and the Israelis, however, have vastly different cultures with very distinct histories.  The conflict in Ireland is also centuries old, meaning that the native Irish people who were kicked out of their homes have been dead for hundreds of years.  Due to the closeness in culture and being neighbors for so long, the Irish Catholics and the Protestant English/ Irish are able to compromise better than in the Middle east where the battle lines are much more distinct.

          The Irish who were forcefully displaced by the English in the early 1600s were not put into refugee camps and that is not only a stronger base for grievance but also one that many Palestinians can still remember.[1]  By the time the Irish Catholics were strong enough to separate themselves, at least partly, from England, there was no suggestion or goal to kick all the Protestants out and move back onto the land their ancestors had been kicked out of hundreds of years ago.  The recent Irish Catholic grievances have more to do with being second-class citizens and under the thumb of England.  Both of these problems were much easier to approach because the Irish Catholics were asking for a lot less, in terms of what their enemies could gives them, than the Palestinians are fighting for.

          The Catholics and Protestants in Ireland have been living together for so long that despite the anger they have for each other, they have the same culture and much of the same history. “Ninety percent of what could probably be defined as culture is common in our society”—Eamonn McCain talking about the different cultures in Ireland[2]. Facing an enemy of the same religion, particularly in battles that involve civilians, does make a difference in how badly you view them and this in turn changes the way one would approach peace.  This is significant even if the only difference is that the IRA buries it’s dead in the same way the Loyalists do.  While the Israelis and the Palestinians do coexist in close proximity, their cultures and religions are very different.  “The Middle East is a mosaic of peoples, religions, languages, and cultures”[3], this is true even without Israel because the Middle East has so many independent countries and conflicting Muslim sects.

          There is a ceasefire in Ireland right now because two close cultures found a way to live in peace for now.  The war in the Middle East is escalating because the conflict is relatively new and the enemies are strangers.  At the present time the Palestinians do have stronger grievances and while Ireland was oppressed by England for much longer, the assimilation that happened made and end to the problem come a lot easier than it will in the Middle East.

[1] http:://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/facets.htm#chap2

[2] http:://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem//kerr.htm

[3] THE ISRAEL-ARAB READER. Yitzhak Shamir: Israel’s role in a changing Middle east. P.426