Mar. 16th, 2011

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A bit more than year after the not-Poland novel first came to my head, I have an outline. This is not to say that I didn't know the whole of the events in the story before now -- I did -- but the specific structure wasn't there, which is why I kept moaning about how it should be written. Now I know in what size chunks the story needs to be told, and where the chunks go, and even, oh my dog, why.

But my house is flithy and I am having visitors who are already worried about me.

on another front: a Reuters columnist muses "is climate change increasing earthquakes?" No, stupid. This is just an attempt on your part to combine two sexy and frightening things in one headline.

And another thing. Old usenet buddies might remember when the US first invaded Afghanistan I said "But the war seems awfully civilian-oriented" because of early reports of biombing villages and schools. Pete McCutcheon was outraged. He said, essentially, "do you see what she said? How dare she say anything like that! That's completely out of bounds!" (Pete was an early harbinger, on a trivial scale, of the vicious eliminationism that has become a normal part of the US political landscape). But, really? Years and years and years later, what is the war in Afghanistan but worse and worse for civilians while warlords and arms traders and other criminals get richer and richer?

I almost wonder what old Pete is saying now.
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The old waiver for irrigation standards is expiring again. It's been extended over again in the past, but while it has had a tiny bit of success, it hasn't generally improved the ag wastewater runoff situation in the Monterey Bay Area.

There's a cool thing that has been a side effect of putting together the Move On Council -- I don't know if it works this way in other communities, but the people we've been approachuing to co-sponsor various events and activities have been reciprocating, and we've been asked to help by coming out to this all day meeting to discuss the very last item,  the pros and cons of extending the old waiver (which most farmers approve of since it hardly requires them to do anything), or to put a new one in place that actually has teeth (a good idea since there's still a lot of nutrient and pesticide runoff in the watershed -- some places like along the Salinas River are actually worse than they were in 2004 when this system was put into place -- and a lot of silting, which means both that the topsoil behind it has been destroyed and that the watercourse the silting's in is more prone to dangerous flooding).

Naturally, I can't go: I have babies and teenagers who I can't fold up and put in my pocket (and did I tell you I have a kajillion things to do to get ready for the state review, which is why I had to change my Prague ticket?) But I wrote a thing which maybe someone will have a chance to read for me or to put into the record. Here it is:

I'm a lay person, but I have been a volunteer water quality monitor in the northern Monterey Bay area watersheds for about six years. Some of our work has been field testing, the rest is clean delivery to professional laboratories. I don't call myself an expert, but I have seen the numbers and I have an idea what they mean. I have also looked into these waters, and reached into them with my own hands -- well protected, of course: we know that these waters are not healthy to touch bare-handed.
There are definite advances that have been made as a result of the 2004 waiver. More farmers are aware of water issues, and are voluntarily taking some measures that in the past they would never have considered cooperating with. But if you look at the results of the old plan -- the "bottom line," as people are so fond of saying, the water isn't generally cleaner. It isn't generally less infused with nitrogen compounds. There's not generally less pesticide getting into the watershed. Creeks and rivers are not generally silting up less.
These are not small things. A healthy watershed is not an esthete's luxury. Our livelihoods depend on it -- our lives depend on it. If you live in a local community, your drinking water is groundwater or surfacewater that is downstream of agricultural runoff. Think about how much contaminants have to be pulled out of that water before you can drink it or bathe in it. And then think about how difficult that is to do, and how much toxic material can not be pulled out of the water after it has gotten into it. If you're a farmer, you should consider that fertilizer and pesticide runoff ruins agricultural land over time. That only with a firm mandate for record keeping and preventive action can you expect your land to keep producing the spectacular yields we all expect from California land.

Would you like to see a return of a healthy fishing industry in our bay? I would. Would you like to face the next flood year knowing that our penned-in, silted-up streams will jump their banks and will destroy homes, jobs, and lives? I would not. It's simply time to take determined steps to heal our rich, fertile, productive agricultural lands and our rich, fertile, productive bay. We need modern protections and modern regulations to ensure the future of our community and the continuation of the Monterey Bay way of life.

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