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kottke.org posts about California

Perhaps the Beavers Will Save Us

posted by Tim Carmody   Jul 06, 2021

Beavers are unusual among animals in their ability to radically alter their habitat. They build dams to turn small streams and flood plains into ponds that they use to store food and hide from predators.

It turns out that this is useful for other species who like to radically alter their habitats, like humans. Let’s say you’ve got a dried out flood plain in California you want to restore in order to mitigate the effects of a drought, or even to help stop wildfires. Why not hire some beavers?

The Doty Ravine project cost about $58,000, money that went toward preparing the site for beavers to do their work.

In comparison, a traditional constructed restoration project using heavy equipment across that much land could cost $1 to $2 million, according to Batt…

“It’s huge when you think about fires in California because time is so valuable,” Fairfax said. “If you can stall the fire, if you can stop it from just ripping through the landscape, even if that beaver pond can’t actually stop the fire itself, just stalling it can give the firefighters a chance to get a hold on it.”

These lush green beaver wetlands also protect wildlife that can’t outrun a wildfire.

The weird thing is that humans have been drafting off of beavers literally as long as there have been humans and beavers, especially in North America. Humans come along, find these beautiful ponds and water sources that are perfect for commerce and agriculture, then proceed to trap and kill off the beavers that made it, either directly for their pelts or because the beavers become a nuisance for crops. (Harold Innis, who later became famous for his theories of media and communication, wrote a terrific book about this called The Fur Trade In Canada back in 1930.)

The idea that beavers might be a low-cost, low-impact way to mitigate the destruction of the environment by climate change (and other forms of human meddling) is an attractive one. But we have to be careful not to introduce beavers (or any other species) anyplace where they are unlikely to thrive, or where they’re just going to come into conflict with humans or other species, starting a cycle of destruction all over again.

The complicated world of weed in LA

posted by Chrysanthe Tenentes   Oct 26, 2018

Amanda Chicago Lewis is the best weed reporter.

Los Angeles is widely agreed to be the biggest and most important cannabis economy in the world, with a few million consumers, tens of thousands of workers, and billions of dollars each year in sales. It is also, from a business and government standpoint, one of the most contentious, complex, and gridlocked legal-marijuana markets in the United States.

It’s both astounding but also completely makes sense that there are 1,700 illicit dispensaries in Los Angeles on top of the 169 licensed establishments. It’s the wild west for weed right now. And the way authorities are handling the explosive growth is less than ideal.

Meanwhile, the DEA sent out threatening letters, and the city and the feds raided dispensaries indiscriminately, regardless of who had registered. Several shop owners went to prison—especially people of color. Even though most early weed entrepreneurs had worked on the illicit market, white dispensary owners who had previously been drug dealers were significantly less likely to have been arrested, and law enforcement was looking for people with criminal records. As time went on, the gray area of medical marijuana’s legality only deepened the racial divide.

School vending machines getting healthier

posted by Aaron Cohen   May 21, 2010

Changes in regulations governing school vending machines by states like New York and California are making healthy options more prominent. This is a good thing.

This spring the Alliance for a Healthier Generation reported an 88 percent decrease in beverage calories shipped to schools from the first half of 2004-05 to 2009-10, mostly due to calorie reformulations and reduced container sizes.

(via Carrie Becker)

CA to gays: no marriage for you

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2008

Today is bittersweet…Obama got elected but it looks as though Proposition 8 will pass, banning gay marriage in California. Fuck you, California.

Update: Fuck you too, Arizona and Florida. Also, several people objected to the strong language I used here, saying that I can’t curse an entire state where many voted against the ban, it was all the Mormon Church’s fault, and in one case, that it was hypocritical of me as a New York resident to complain. You know what? I’m *upset* about this and a little profanity, a little lashing out, is totally fucking warranted.

Legal pot in California

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 25, 2008

In California, it’s pretty much legal now to buy, sell, grow, and smoke pot, provided you’ve got the proper documentation from a doctor, which is pretty easy to get. This article from the New Yorker details the industry that’s sprung up around this legalization, filled with people who, you get the feeling, really like smoking pot for recreational and not medical reasons.

The counties of California were allowed to amend the state guidelines, and the result was a patchwork of rules and regulations. Upstate in Humboldt County, the heartland of high-grade marijuana farming in California, the district attorney, Paul Gallegos, decided that a resident could grow up to ninety-nine plants at a time, in a space of a hundred square feet or less, on behalf of a qualified patient. The limited legal protections afforded to pot growers and dispensary owners have turned marijuana cultivation and distribution in California into a classic “gray area” business, like gambling or strip clubs, which are tolerated or not, to varying degrees, depending on where you live and on how aggressive your local sheriff is feeling that afternoon. This summer, Jerry Brown, the state’s attorney general, plans to release a more consistent set of regulations on medical marijuana, but it is not clear that California’s judges will uphold his effort. In May, the state Court of Appeal, in Los Angeles, ruled that Senate Bill 420’s cap on the amount of marijuana a patient could possess was unconstitutional, because voters had not approved the limits.

Senate Bill 420! The LAPD and DEA have taken the stance that federal law takes precedence over state law and are routinely busting people for growing, selling, and possession. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future here.

Is California going to split from the

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 12, 2007

Is California going to split from the United States? CA governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently stated: “We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state.” Juan Enriquez extensively covers the potential fracture of the US in his book, The Untied States of America (@ Amazon).

The streets of Marin are slick with

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 28, 2005

The streets of Marin are slick with potatoes au gratin. Terrorist attack? If so, how long before possessing a bag of Yukon Golds wins you a free trip to exotic Guantanamo Bay?