Wealthy Californians should pay dearly for their ornamental lawns

The Washington Post published an article titled Rich Californians balk at limits: ‘We’re not all equal when it comes to water’. It’s getting a lot of attention. Such as this article at Daily Kos. The article includes many memorable quotes including the one in the title. Here’s another one from a self-centered, entitled, oblivious asshole throwing a tantrum:

What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?

I should point out that as a software engineer in Silicon Valley my income is only slightly less than the median for the community that was the focus of the article. And yet I can’t identify with the douche-nozzles featured in the article. Nor do I have any sympathy for their situation.

This quote caught my eye:

Once the water goes through the meter, it’s yours.

You know what? I agree. However, I think the cost of that water should be progressively priced with a steep increase in each tier. For residential use every home should receive an allotment large enough to meet the basic living needs (drinking, bathing, toilet) for, say, a family of four at a base rate. The next tier might allow enough water for plants, but no lawn, on a typical 1/8 acre single home plot and be priced at double the base rate. The third tier would provide double the allotment of the second tier and be priced at eight times the base rate. That should give you enough water for a decent size lawn and to wash your car every week. If that still isn’t enough water for your landscape, pool, jacuzzi, and to wash your four cars twice a week then you can purchase even more water but at a rate 50 times the base rate.

People should be free to piss away their money in pretty much any manner they see fit. If that means wasting potable water when there isn’t enough to meet the needs of the entire society they should be free to do so. But “free” only in the sense they can make that choice. The financial cost of wasting that resource should most decidedly not be “free”.

Newspaper gives honest answer to “Why do you support such a liberal agenda?”

The title of this post is from Daily Kos where Black Max points out that the newspaper’s answer contains

No snark, no smartassery. This is one of the finest responses I’ve ever seen to this kind of question.

I encourage you to read the article by Taylor Batten. Here are a couple of the answers that resonated especially strongly with me:

We believe in consistency, so if you are going to drug-test recipients of public assistance, drug-test them all, including the corporate chieftains who are the biggest beneficiaries.

That’s because the “masters of the universe” on Wall Street who precipitated the 2008 economic collapse and received enormous bailouts by the US government have suffered no consequences. No drug testing let alone jail time. And

We believe if you’re a fan of a politician solely because he has a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ after his name, then you’re not paying attention.

That last quote struck home because until the 2010 midterm elections I gave little consideration to the political affiliation of a candidate. Until 2010 I had always believed in voting for the most qualified candidate regardless of their party affiliation. But in the 2010 election I voted for any candidate who was not a Republican. It didn’t matter to me if the Republican was a better choice than their opponents. The Republican party was so toxic that I would vote for anyone who was not a Republican as long as they had not been convicted of a crime.

Having said that I’m still in agreement with Batten’s point that you should not vote for someone simply because of the political party (i.e., tribe) of which they are a member. Whether you should vote against someone due to their political party affiliation is an open question. As I write this I’m sorry to say the Republican party has been taken over by insane people unable to distinguish between reality and what they wished were true. Thus while I won’t vote for someone simply because they’re a Democrat I will vote against someone because they’re a Republican.

Also, you’ve got to read some of the comments to the article by Taylor Batten. Including this by John Keller:

He lost me with the Obama is not from Kenya comment. That was an obvious dig at conservatives, the majority of whom never believed that was true. …

Several people replied, correctly, that there was nary a conservative (and certainly not FOX News) arguing against the assertion that Obama was not a USA citizen and thus eligible to be president.

Californians starting to worry about climate change

Andy Borowitz nails it again at “The Borowitz Report” from which I give you a couple paragraphs:

SACRAMENTO (The Borowitz Report) – A new poll shows that Americans who were unconcerned about climate change as it wreaked havoc around the world are beginning to worry, now that global warming is affecting the appearance of their lawns.


In interviews across the state of California, residents expressed anger and outrage that climate change had been allowed to worsen to the point that it has now severely limited their choice of ground cover, shrubs, and other decorative plantings.

Yes, it’s satire. Sadly it also reflects the reality that most people are self-centered and unable to think beyond next week and therefore won’t take climate change seriously until it affects them personally. Not to mention that they are likely to be upset by trivial effects (e.g., not being able to have a quarter-acre of lawn). It will be interesting to see how we react when forced to deal with major impacts like another dust bowl.

Sen. James Inhofe breaks the stupid meter

The title isn’t mine. It’s from this article by Charles P. Pierce. Watch James Inhofe toss a snowball on the Senate floor to “prove” climate change is a hoax.

We are doomed if idiots like Mr. Inhofe are in control of our future. I wouldn’t trust Mr. Inhofe to walk my dogs. I understand that Mr. Inhofe can’t be an expert on every subject (neither can I). That does not excuse is continual statements regarding climate change that are at odds with the scientific consensus.

climate change might kill me

Okay, climate change is unlikely to directly kill me. But it seems highly likely to indirectly kill me or at least make my life unpleasant. San Francisco broke an unfortunate record last month:

In another sign California’s persistent drought, downtown San Francisco recorded no measurable rain in January for the first time in 165 years.
The National Weather Service also said Santa Cruz recorded no rain in January for the first time since 1893. Normal rainfall for that city in January is more than 6 inches.

For the Bay Area as a whole, last month was the driest January on record, the weather service said.

This article at Daily Kos by Jen Hayden sheds more light on the issue.

CO2 is safe says physicist

Princeton physicist William Happer is still being invited on television to talk about things of which he is ignorant. He’s living proof that being intelligent on one topic doesn’t make you smart on other subjects. Case in point, this quote:

I keep hearing about the “pollutant CO2,” or about “poisoning the atmosphere” with CO2, or about minimizing our “carbon footprint.” This brings to mind another Orwellian pronouncement that is worth pondering: “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” CO2 is not a pollutant and it is not a poison and we should not corrupt the English language by depriving “pollutant” and “poison” of their original meaning….CO2 is absolutely essential for life on earth.

I’d love to lock him in a sealed chamber for a few minutes with 7% of the nitrogen replaced with CO2. Note that the percentage of oxygen would be unchanged from normal atmospheric levels. Then I’d ask him if CO2 was a poison. Of course getting an answer will be difficult because he’ll be dead.

That stupidity isn’t the worst part. What is worse is attacking a straw man argument. When people who know what they’re talking about use phrases like “poisoning the atomosphere” they don’t mean that we’re going to immediately drop dead due to a hundred ppm increase in CO2 (i.e., far less than a 1% increase). They’re using a poetic shorthand for the second order effects (e.g., increased temperature) that will make life very unpleasant for a significant fraction of the Earth’s population — human, animal and vegetable.