Thursday, January 31, 2013

Windsor, Canada Dumps Fluoride

Windsor, Canada just voted to stop fluoridating their water. You'll recall Crescent City recently voted to stop fluoridation. I suppose this should be good news for those of us concerned about individual choice, but I'm not so sure.

Just as with every other discussion about this, Windsor's debate seems to pretty much ignore the issue of individual choice and responsibility. Sure, there was one mention of mass- medication. There was also mention of residents not having a choice but to drink fluoridated water. I'm not sure that amounts to concern about choice.

The argument seems to always center about whether fluoride is good or bad for you. If bad, it shouldn't be in drinking water. If good, it goes in the drinking water. No concern about those who might feel different than what the 50.5% majority wants.

I'd also be willing to bet that many of those who oppose fluoridation would be willing to put something else in the water if they thought it beneficial. I hope I'm wrong in that regard.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Earthquake Warning System Proposed

Kinda neat, but I don't think this proposed earthquake warning system will do much good. It might cause more problems than it helps.

A proponent says, "When you put the $80 million figure side-by-side with the billions upon billions of damage that we suffer after every big earthquake, I think the investment is a no-brainer," Padilla said.

I beg to differ. That vast majority of earthquake damage will still occur. They're talking a 60 to 90 second warning. Even if it gave you an hours warning buildings would still come down. Sure, some workers might be able to stop what they're doing. Maybe a few cars or trains could slow down. I'm not sure that's worth $80 million.

What it would probably do is drive a lot of us in earthquake country nuts. I know my heart already starts beating fast in even a small earthquake, mostly cause I'm wondering if it's gonna end up being the big one. Imagine if you were alerted to earthquakes you couldn't even feel at the time.

Many of us would end up even worse nervous wrecks about earthquakes than we already are. I'm not sure we need that.

Saturday, January 26, 2013 Newsletter

I used to ignore's daily newsletter, but recently started giving it a look. I like it and often find news or commentary I might have missed in my morning visit to their web page. Here's the online version.

If you like what you see, you can subscribe to their newsletter here. No charge for subscribing although they often include fund raising requests.

Tom Allman: Constitutional Sheriff

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat has a story about Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman being a member of the Constitutional Sheriff's.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dish Network Raising Prices...Again

Got a notice in the mail the other day from Dish Network that they'll be raising prices by $5.00 come next month. That's twice in two years. They raised it by $5.00 back in 2011, too, if memory serves me correct. With the new price increase, we'll be paying around $50.00 a month. At this rate, they might end up more expensive than Suddenlink before long.

Or will they?

Checking the Suddenlink page it's hard to tell just what they offer. From their web site, it looks like their basic TV service might start at  $56.00 a month for over 200 channels- the vast majority of which I don't want or need.

They had some other deals I had to look for. They seemed to be bundles but were hard for me to make heads or tails of. This, from the company that thinks nothing of sending me sometimes three mailers a day trying to get me to switch!

Dish still seems to beat cable at this point, at least if they let me downgrade to their Dish America plan which lists now at $29.99 a month. That should put us at around $35.00 a month after their price increase which, pricewise, is right back where we started at with most all the channels we usually watch.

If Dish goes up another $5.00 bucks in a year or two, we'll take a more serious look at going back to cable.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Constitutional Sheriffs & Majority Rules

I'd been hearing about the Constitutional Sheriffs holding events around the state. They had one in Del Norte County not long ago. I believe the Sheriffs of Mendocino, Del Norte and Siskiyou Counties attended. I wondered about our very own Mike Downey. Why wasn't he there? Wouldn't he be in such an organization?

It appears so. This Reason magazine article lists 90 or so Constitutional Sheriffs. Mike Downey is among them, as are all the Sheriffs of far Northern California counties. Way to go, Mike!

One of my most hated sayings is "Majority rules!", although I'm sure I said it myself more than enough times as a kid. J.D. Tuccille has a short piece in Reason magazine that looks at majoritarianism and majority rule.

He refers to a college class he spoke to about ten years ago where he brought up the concept of majority rule. About half the class seemed to think the majority should be able to pretty much rule without regard to the rights of the minority (my interpretation). I'd be willing to bet things have gotten worse over these last ten years with even more students feeling that way.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Circuit Court Nixes Rescheduling of Marijuana

Breaking news from Reason magazine: A U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to keep marijuana a schedule 1 drug- schedule 1 drugs being those that are highly addictive with no accepted medicinal value.

As I read it, this doesn't seem to be as bad as it sounds. I could be wrong and haven't read the brief that's included with the article. If I'm correct, the court just said the DEA can continue to use their own criteria in defining what studies are acceptable to them as evidence of marijuana being a relatively benign drug.

On the downside- again, assuming I'm reading this right- the courts basically deferred to the DEA and let them set their own criteria for making judgments on drug classification. It could be argued it is in their best interest to keep as many drugs classified schedule 1 as possible.

It should be troubling to all that a government agency seems to be given carte blanche for legal authority over decisions they have a vested interest in. That authority would be better vested in the courts or congress rather than the agency that benefits from the decision. This is akin to allowing local police departments authority to set and enforce speed limits with no oversight from the city council or other government entities.

This probably isn't the last word on marijuana rescheduling, but it probably gives us an idea of what's to come.

Do Something Disease

Do Something Disease is our longest running pandemic. We see it every day. It's all over the mainstream media. A couple days ago I found two good examples. Same day, different papers and different authors:

Our very own Dave Stancliff wrote this oped in the Times Standard. He wants congress to DO SOMETHING!

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat carried an oped by syndicated columnist, David Brooks. He wants congress to DO SOMETHING!

Of course, by doing something they generally mean passing more laws.

Stancliff: "Here's how it works; they do not get paid until a law is passed.".

Brooks: ""Political leaders would erode partisan orthodoxies and get back into the habit of passing laws together.".

Sick, sick, sick. Neither of them ever seems to consider that we already have more than enough laws and the vast majority of those laws do- or are- one of five things:

  1. Cost you or somebody else money
  2. Restrict your or somebody else's freedom
  3. Redundant- there being laws for or against it already
  4. Shouldn't be government business in the first place
  5. All the above
With that in mind, I'd say we need less laws, not more. Gridlock is good. Most of us would be better served if we paid our legislators to just sit there rather than DOING SOMETHING!
This post in honor of columnist, Steve Greenhut, who recently told me one of the phrases that annoys him the most is "We need to do something.".

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King: Gun Owner

I had no idea Martin Luther King was not only a gun owner, but had applied for a concealed weapons permit. It was denied because he was black, which was the norm at the time.

California Executions Resuming?

Not very soon, according to this article from the Contra Costa Times. It will likely be years instead of months, according to many in the know.

I tend to lean fairly strong against the death penalty and voted for Prop 34 last election which would have replaced it with life without parole. However, that the application of the death penalty is being held up due to quibbling over its method- lethal injection, specifically- is nothing short of ridiculous.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Monkey See, Monkey Do

This kind of stuff really irks me: Just cause other cities have an ordinance, Fortuna feels the need to follow suit. Arcata and Eureka already have ordinances regarding camping and campfires, so Fortuna feels they need to have one.

And I love this part: Whether such ordinances accomplish their stated purpose or not is subject to some speculation, but there is little downside to such ordinances.". In other words, it doesn't matter if it works or not. Let's do it anyway! 

The Fortuna City Council, along with the others, needs to be treated for that growing epidemic of Do Something Disease.
Speaking of Do Something Disease, I am pleased to see the Eureka City Council relaxed the ordinance on beekeeping within the city limits. That's something that should have been done long ago. But they couldn't just let it happen, could they? 

Nope. You have to pay a fee of $25.00 and get a permit to raise bees within city limits. And this from what The Left calls Eureka's conservative city council.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Journal Does Bill Panos

Nicely written piece in this week's North Coast Journal chronicling the life and times of new Eureka City Manager, Bill Panos. Sounds like a good hire with fine credentials.

A couple things in the article raised concerns with me about his judgement: Why would anyone move back to California when they had a chance to live elsewhere? He's also a member of the Sierra Club? Yuck!

Other than that, welcome to Eureka, Bill.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

U.S. of Paranoia

Not sure what the political message is for this map, but I thought it was cute. Strange that Northern California didn't get included in Potlandia. Here's a larger version that is easier to read.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Van Der Zee's Letter

Do I detect sarcasm in this letter to the editor of the Times- Standard?

If it's not, I still don't get it. If you're a business owner that's taking heat for a decision you've made, wouldn't it make more sense to use such a letter to make your case to the public? Why bother writing a letter like that?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Killer Whales Offshore Humboldt Bay

I must have missed it if any local media reported on this. The Del Norte Triplicate reports on some guys that followed a pod of the whales down to Humboldt Bay and witnessed one eating salmon.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Do You Know Your Energy Statistics?

I got my December PG&E bill the other day. I believe it's the highest we've paid at around 156 dollars and change. I went up to the PG&E web site to see if I could figure out whether the increase was due to increased energy use or cost of energy. They have a special web page for figuring that out.

To get there go to the PG&E web site and log in. Click on the My Energy link and then My Usage. All kinds of info there.

I got a bit sidetracked when I first got there by a graph that showed our last year's energy use compared to "energy efficient" homes and "all similar homes". I have no idea what criteria they use for similar homes. At first glance, we came out pretty good:

With electricity, we were well below Similar Home usage. During the summer months we equaled efficient home usage. Then we climbed above Efficient Home use as the weather got cooler. We still stayed well below Similar Home usage:

Oct- Nov 2012; Us- 170kwh, Efficient Homes- 172kwh, Similar Homes- 390kwh. It stays close to that all year except for Similar Homes spiking upward in October.

With gas, we didn't do as well. Even during the summer we were above Efficient Home use, but still below Similar Homes. July- Aug 2012: Us- 20 therms, Efficient Homes- 10 therms, Similar Homes- 24 therms.

I suppose it should be no surprise our gas bill went up as it got colder, but I was surprised to see it spike starting in October (wasn't that when we started using our new, high- tech thermostat?) and go above Similar Home usage in Nov- Dec: Us- 67 therms, Efficient Homes- 28 therms, Similar Homes- 60 therms. It was the gas that seems to have cost us the big increase.

Taking a look at their Compare Bills feature, I see our gas bill was $134.76 this last month. The month before it was only $59.65 (Yikes!). Electricity was only $19.93 compared to $16.11 last billing period.

Comparing this last bill to last year's of the same period, gas was only $97.67. Electricity was $19.19, so hardly a change there. The big increase is, again, due to gas.

The bill comparison suggests some reasons for the increase, weather, for example. There's no mention of increased natural gas prices that I could find and I have read that natural gas prices have gone up substantially, or were going to, despite the supposed abundance of it nowadays.

Regardless, it is what it is and I don't see any way to shave costs on our bill except maybe setting the thermostat down a degree or two.

While I find their energy stats application of interest, I don't know how one could use those stats to decrease their energy bill and it does bring one question to my mind: How much of my bill is used to pay for providing all these statistics?

Friday, January 11, 2013

North Coast Journal Removing Comments?

Anybody else posted comments to stories on the North Coast Journal site and have them disappear? I believe this is the second time I've noticed mine missing.

I posted one earlier in regards this story. Checked back in about half an hour and it was gone. Posted a different one later and it's still there as I write this.

Just wondering if it's being done deliberately, a glitch in the web site, or maybe I'm just not seeing all the comments?

Update: DISREGARD! I just found my comment in those of another story on the same subject. I thought I'd posted it under the same one as my last comment. My bad and apologies to the N.C. Journal.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jets Over The North Coast Today

Well, not quite. Nothing I could see in the Times- Standard about it, but the Press- Democrat reports there will be a small military exercise in the area involving some F16 fighter jets today around 10am. Eurekans may not see much, but the first one is supposed to take place from Cloverdale to Garberville. The second one will be off the coast of Eureka but may be too high to see.

Maybe they'll give us a fly- by when they're done?

Speaking of Felons...

Reason's Jacob Sullum takes a look at Obama's record on clemency. It appears he's at the bottom of the list with the possible exception of George Washington. Sullum suggests Obama may end up our least merciful president as far as pardons and commutations are concerned.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Felons Voting?

I had a brief back and forth last night with a fellow in comments to a Sacramento Bee article on a prison related issue. It started out with him writing that we allow felons to vote. I replied that it was my understanding felons aren't allowed to vote. He countered that he works in a California prison and had been tasked with providing some inmates absentee ballots.

That motivated me to do a quick internet search where I found this table of felon voting restrictions, or lack thereof. I was surprised at what I saw. I'll admit to having not given the issue a lot of thought before, but certainly thought that was one of the aspects of punishment for felonies: You can't vote. In fact, every now and then I've read of some movement to restore voting rights for felons.

It doesn't seem to be that bad. California, for instance, allows a felon's voting rights restored after he's served his sentence and isn't on parole anymore.

Other states have various restrictions with a number having the possibility of permanent revocation of voting rights and a couple, Maine and Vermont, with none and even allowing voting in prison. That would suggest what the fellow told me in the SacBee forums isn't correct. I'm not saying he's lying. I'm just saying, according to the table, California doesn't allow felons to vote in prison. Maybe the table is wrong?

The guy said he'd ask about it at work today. Hopefully, he'll get back and clarify.

At any rate, it looks like what I'd been thinking and hearing about all felons not being able to vote wasn't quite right. If it's true that California doesn't allow voting by felons until they're removed from parole status, I'd say California has it right and that's the way it should be.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Anti- GMO Activist Changes Mind

Wow! This is some turnaround for Mark Lynas. He's one of the fellows who started the anti- GMO movement a couple decades ago. He seems to have changed his mind and now thinks GMO foods can be beneficial to mankind. It will be interesting to see how viciously he's attacked over this by his former comrades.

Hat tip to Radley Balko of The Agitator for the link.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Pension Bond Stuff

Local media recently reported on the City of Eureka borrowing money via pension bonds to fund city employee's pension funds. This Associated Press article published in the Fresno Bee takes a look at how that works. It seems a lot of cities are doing it and there is a risk involved.

The City Journal's Steve Greenhut takes a look at the City of Stockton trying to stiff pension bond holders as part of their bankruptcy filing.