The Bookworm Beat 4-7-15 — the time “thief edition” and open thread

Woman writingOy! Even my interruptions keep being interrupted today. Still, I managed to gather together a few very interesting things:

Heading into a another cooling period

Even as the Left gets increasingly hysterical about “climate change,” which has become an all-purpose excuse for everything from drought, to deluge, to prostitution, actual data reveals that, to the extent the climate is changing, it’s getting colder. This is really bad because, as the California drought is reminding everyone, the one thing we can’t do without is water.

During warming periods, water trapped in ice is released, making the world a wetter and therefore more bountiful place. During cold cycles, though, there’s less available water, which severely cramps human access to arable land. Just think of Greenland, which was actually fruitful during the warming Middle Ages. Today, “Greenland” is a serious misnomer:

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The Bookworm Beat 2-26-15 — the evening edition and open thread

Woman writing

Alan Dershowitz challenges the talk about boycotting Netanyahu’s speech

Read and enjoy Alan Dershowitz’s fiery denunciation of the Obama administration’s efforts to get Democrats — especially black ones — to boycott Netanyahu’s speech about the existential threat Obama’s policies pose to Israel.

I won’t comment on the article — it speaks for itself — but I will comment on a couple of peripheral things. Dershowitz is a Democrat, but he’s also an ardent Israel supporter. I therefore can’t help but think that, as Obama prepares to break with Israel and ally America with Iran, it’s not a coincidence that Dershowitz suddenly found himself swept up in the pedophile sex scandal involving Jeffrey Epstein.

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Marin County Prosecutor wants to make sure citizens think twice about self-defense *UPDATED*

Bullet faster than dialing 911I have been engaged engaged in a running battle . . . er, discussion with a Progressive acquaintance about the Castle Doctrine.  This is the doctrine derived from the ancient Anglo-Saxon principle that “a man’s home is his castle” and he has a right to be safe within its wells.  In practice, the Castle Doctrine means that, if someone breaks into a home, that person is presumed to have lethal intent, giving the homeowner the right to use lethal force in his defense.

As I detailed in an earlier post, my Progressive acquaintance simply can’t wrap  his mind around the whole notion of “presumption.”  To him, it means “permission” and, flowing from that gross mis-translation,  he interprets this permission to mean that, in Castle Doctrine states, a homeowner can, with impunity, shoot anyone on his property.

Yesterday, I sent the Progressive the news story about a 14-year-old boy who was staying with his grandmother when, late at night, a man smashed a window.  When the teen challenged the man, the man ignored him and continued to try to break into the house.  The teen shot the man — 18-year-old Isai Robert Delcid — three times, killing him.

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The new Golden Gate Bridge movable barrier: Is this a reasonable use of public funds?

Golden Gate BridgeAs of next weekend, the Golden Gate Bridge will have a new movable barrier in place.  It will have cost $30.3 million to build and install.

With the new barrier in place, in the last quarter-mile before getting on the bridge, drivers coming from Marin will have to drive at 45 mph, rather than 55 mph.  People who are used to driving in the right lanes heading towards the bridge (because, up until now, the left lanes vanish), will discover that the reverse is now true:  the right lanes vanish, leaving only the left lanes. In addition, on the bridge itself, the left lanes in both directions will lose 6 inches:

Once on the span, drivers will lose 6 inches of lane.

“Just getting used to driving next to the barrier may take some adjustment for drivers,” Fehler said.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Andrew Barclay agreed.

“People need to use caution,” he said. “There will be an adjustment period. But we support anything that promotes safety for the traveler.”

Maybe I’m just a nervous nelly, but I see a few drivers tangling with that barrier or, worse, getting too close to cars on their right, causing accidents.

Why all this money and all these changes?

The bridge district says the barrier will prevent potentially deadly head-on accidents.

Hmmm.  I wasn’t aware that deadly head-on accidents were that much of a problem on the bridge.  I mean, I’ve always known that they’re a risk, which is why I prefer, when driving on the bridge, to stay away from the left lanes but, again, I don’t recall a whole bunch of accidents.

It turns out that there’s a reason I don’t recall a whole bunch of accidents.  There aren’t a whole bunch:

There have been 36 fatalities on the span since 1971, the last on July 3, 2001, with 16 fatalities occurring in head-on crashes. About 40 million cars a year cross the 1.7-mile bridge.

So, not only has there not been a fatal accident in more than 13 years, you don’t need to be a math genius to figure out that, with 1,720,000,000 car crossing the bridge since 1971, 16 fatalities due to head-on crashes is such an infinitesimally small percentage that I can’t get my calculator to tell me just how small.  Perhaps one of you — less math challenged than I am — can do the numbers.

Every death is a tragedy.  Every person who dies is someone’s parent, child, sibling, relative, spouse, friend, or lover.  In a perfect world, no one would die ever.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.  So my question for you is, assuming that the Marin IJ got its numbers correct, is it smart to spend more than $30 million dollars, inconvenience drivers, and create possible road hazards, in order to protect that almost invisibly small percentage of drivers who get killed in head-on collisions, with the last death occurring more than 13 years ago?

Does this kind of project reveal us to be a society that values life or a society that could use its money more wisely to save or improve life?

As you can see, I’m inclined to think that this is a boondoggle, not a necessity or even an act of decency.  I stand ready to be dissuaded, though, with better facts, better arguments, better logical, and/or more decency than I’m showing.

Marin storm update

Radar map of California stormAs I predicted over the last few days to anyone who would listen to me, the storm (at least so far) was over-hyped.  The reason I knew this was because I check the weather regularly during the rainy season.  I do this because I like rain, and it gives me something to look forward to.

According to Weather.com and Weather Underground, the storm was originally predicted to hit by Tuesday night.  Every time I checked, though, the prediction was pushed further forward in time.  From Tuesday night it went to Wednesday morning, then Wednesday mid-day, then afternoon, then evening, than late night, then the wee hours of Thursday, then the early hours of Thursday and, finally, late morning Thursday.

Since we’re just coming up on late morning Thursday, there’s definitely the possibility that the weather could worsen, but I kind of doubt it.  The storm mostly seems to be moving past us.

I’m not complaining about the storm as is, rather than as predicted.  It’s dropped a lot of water on Marin, and we can always use that.  For about 20 minutes, it rained really hard and water ran down our street (which is a hill) in a pretty impressive way . . . but it does that at least once every winter.  As a general principle, given Marin’s and California’s terrible drought, though, any rain is a good thing.

The best thing about the failed storm from my point of view is that I’ll be able to get my Mom to her doctor’s appointment.  From the kids’ point of view, the best thing is that they didn’t have to go to school.  I would have been more excited if they had gone to school, but that’s just me….

This one is for Marin residents concerned about sustainable development

WinCup siteHere’s the text of an email I received from Sustainable TamAlmonte about the December 9 Board of Supervisors meeting regarding Marin density:

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

We only have until December 9th to convince the Supervisors to make MAJOR changes to Marin County’s DRAFT Housing Plan in order to prevent excessive high-density housing in Unincorporated Marin. The only way this will happen is if we can demonstrate STRONG political clout. Presenting hundreds, better yet thousands, of petition signatures will help accomplish this.

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Marin has a drought-busting kind of rain

Part of the craziness that characterized my day today was the flooding.  When I drove my son to Redwood, I ran into a big, foot-deep flood right near the high school, but it was traversible.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to go anywhere near Tam High School:

The Bookworm Beat (11/15/14) — Time warp edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingWhy is this a “time warp edition”? Because even though I’m publishing it on Saturday, I actually wrote it on Friday. The reason delayed publishing is because I’m spending all day Saturday attending part II of my CERT training. I expect the training to be more of the same stuff as last week: really nice, well-informed, generous people inefficiently teaching four hours of useful information over the course of eight hours.

Rather than leaving my blog fallow for that time, I thought I’d prep a post in advance. The only reason I’m mentioning the 14-hour lead time is to explain why, if something dramatic happens in the news tomorrow, you won’t read about it at the Bookworm Room. And now, it’s time for yesterday’s news today!

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One Marin town tries to stop enforced urbanization

A bird's eye view of Corte Madera

A bird’s eye view of Corte Madera

Marin County is a very nice place in which to live and one of the nicest towns in Marin County is Corte Madera. Once upon a time, back in the 1960s and 1970s, before real estate went crazy, it was where the elite of Marin’s blue-collar workers owned houses. You wouldn’t find the grease monkey there, but you might find the guy who owned the gas station at which the grease monkey worked. Now, of course, a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom can set you back upwards of $600,000, while the nicer, bigger homes run close to about $1.5 million. It’s ridiculous.

What’s even more ridiculous as far as I’m concerned is that state judges and the state legislature have told us that it’s unfair that we live this way and, instead, that we have to increase our density to match more closely San Francisco’s density. San Francisco is a little under 7 square miles large and has a density of almost 18,000 people per square mile.  Of course, this urbanization plan is part of a general Democrat plan to destroy suburbs, which have a nasty habit of leaning conservative.

Ironically, it turns out that all the good liberals who populate Corte Madera, and who vote into office every crackpot Leftist, are NIMBYs at heart. While they’ll applaud urbanization in theory, they really hate it in fact.

Nobody was paying much attention when the Association of Bay Area Governments (“ABAG”), to which Corte Madera once belonged, through a gross error, insisted that Corte Madera provide more than 200 low-income housing units. Nor were they paying much attention when those low-income housing units went up near my home, because there’s still fairly good traffic flow where we live — not to mention the fact that the units are closer to a commercial district than they are to an existing residential district.

nmij1013wincup03

Apartments on the former Corte Madera WinCup site

When people started paying attention was when the site of a former WinCup factory suddenly started being developed. Sure, we’d had notices of hearings and such but you know how it is . . . people just kind of ignore those.

It turned out that we had ignored this one at our peril. On a street that is routinely heavily congested, a developer has built up an incredibly ugly apartment complex with more than 180 units. During the endless construction, traffic has been moving at a slow crawl for hours on a street that is the only access to places such as the Department of Motor Vehicles or Book Passage, which is Marin’s most beloved independent book seller. It’s also one of only two main access roads to the local high school and the police station.

Although miserable about it, there’s not much townspeople can do about the WinCup site. It’s a done deal. But now there’s a new fight heating up.

On the same street as the WinCup building site is a movie theater. It’s not just any movie theater. Century Theatres is a stand-alone theater (as opposed to a multiplex) with an absolutely fantastic sound system that George Lucas himself had installed when he released The Phantom Menace. It’s also one of the few places, other than hanging around malls and parks, to which local teens can go. While Corte Madera, Larkspur, and Greenbrae used to have easily accessible roller skating and ice skating rinks, as well as other youth oriented activities, they don’t now.

Century Theatres Corte MaderaThe theater’s owner is planning on selling and a developer wants to buy and build thirty-one more houses on the property. As a general principle, I am all for being able to sell ones property . . . but I’m also in favor of a community being able to have a say in its own planning.

Thanks to ABAG rules and judge-made law, though, that autonomy is gone. Ideally, if a majority of a town’s citizens want more housing, that’s their prerogative. If they want less, that should be their prerogative too. For example, here in Corte Madera, we’ve all paid a ridiculous fortune to buy into a certain type of community, subject to well-established zoning rules.  (Meaning that someone who owns commercial property can reasonably understand that he can only sell it to another commercial property buyer.)  To convert a business site into a heavily populated residential site to satisfy a leftist desire to clump people together because clumped people vote Democrat (more Democrat even than Marin already does) is irksome.

I have a special objection to all this building and it’s one that goes to the very heart of a community’s viability. Marin last put in a reservoir in the very early 1960s. Since that time, more than 100,000 people have crowded into Marin, with ABAG’s and the court’s urbanization mandates promising many more thousands of people. This attempt to pack people in, so that we’re an ugly version of San Francisco, ignores the reality of northern California, which is that, like clock-work, we have major droughts every thirty or so years. You can’t keep cramming more and more people into a place with an already finite water supply, knowing that there will inevitably be another drought coming down the pike.

Anyway, yesterday was the Town Council meeting to discuss the proposed dwellings for the theater site. Some people wanted to keep the theater. Others were amenable to another business moving into the site. All were hostile to cramming even more people and cars into a narrow corridor that cannot handle the existing number of people and cars, and into a drought-stricken community that can barely handle existing demands on water resources. The Town Council agreed with the citizens, but admitted that the judicial and state mandates left its hands somewhat tied — and this is true even though Corte Madera has parted ways with ABAG, making it the only Marin town to do so.)

What ended up happening is that the Town Council agreed to impose a 45 day moratorium on any new development in that specific area, with a hearing to determine whether to extend the moratorium to 2 years. Under the moratorium, the town can study again what the impact of new residential units will be on the affected area. As one member of the public intelligently commented, studies and real life are two different things, so it’s useful to see just how badly (or not badly) things such as traffic flow really are with the WinCup building in place.

You can read more about the Town Council meeting. I just thought I’d lead in with my two cents.

The real world of guns comes to my kids’ high school . . . maybe *UPDATED*

Main entrance to Redwood High School Larkspur

Both kids started texting me a few minutes ago, which came as a surprise, since they’re not supposed to text while class is in session.  In fact, class is not in session.  Instead, the school is in lock-down.  The rumor amongst the kids, all of whom are madly texting each other, is that there’s a kid with a gun roaming the school.  They don’t actually know.  What they know is that the police station is across the street, that when the lock-down started they were told it wasn’t a drill, and that there might have been a shot fired in a bathroom, but even that’s not certain.

The latest rumor is that the police did confiscate a gun, and are sweeping the school.  I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE:  I know that, once we’re all home together, Mr. Bookworm will start ranting about the Second Amendment, and not in a good way.  He simply cannot comprehend that the best deterrent would be the armed person’s knowledge that each teacher has a gun.  I’m a whole lot more worried about deranged students than I am about a teacher with a concealed carry weapon suddenly going postal.  That’s especially true at this school, where the teachers have the world’s cushiest teaching job:  gorgeous environment, great pay and benefits, and no violent or otherwise awful students.

UPDATE II:  Lots of sirens in the distance, so I know that the police are still heading to the school, not away from it.

UPDATE III:  From one of my kids:  “I’m hearing a lot about someone planning a shooting.  A friend just texted me saying that her friend heard gunshots.  Not sure what’s going on, but still on lockdown.”

UPDATE IV:  The solidified rumor is that a kid — identity unknown — came to school intending to shoot one or more people, but something happened that tipped off the plan, leading to the lock-down and police presence.

UPDATE V:  The kids are more perturbed by the number of police showing up than they were about the original lock-down.  Or at least, that’s the excuse my younger one is using to argue that he shouldn’t have to go to school tomorrow.  I explained that, just as it’s probably pretty safe to fly after an airport or airline scare, because everyone is super vigilant, tomorrow should be a pretty safe day at school.

UPDATE VI:  The new rumor is that there was a large planned shooting and that the police are trying to get to the bottom of it.  I don’t know.  I see this as a rumor from my child who really, really would love to skip a day of school and is trying to spin the situation to his advantage.

UPDATE VII:  Now both children have announced that they’re done with school for the week:  “This is freaky.  We’ve been in lockdown for an hour now.  I don’t want to go to school tomorrow.”

UPDATE VIII:  And it’s over.  They’ve been released from lock-down and school continues as usual.  I can’t wait to see what the principal has to say about this in the email I know I’ll get soon.

UPDATE VIII: One of my kids filled me in on the latest rumors: Apparently several Marin high schools, not just Redwood, went into lock-down. That report came about because kids were texting their friends at other high schools who also said they were on lock-down. There were also rumors that someone was shot, although that appears to be untrue. What definitely happened was that, as the lock-down continued, people started hyperventilating and otherwise having panic attacks.

Now that the whole thing is over, Story One is that a kid was in the restroom trying to load a gun and dropped the bullets, giving the game away. Story Two is that a kid took out an insulin injector, someone saw it, thought it was a gun, and started the panic. It should be interesting to hear what really happened — or at least what the police and the school district are going to tell people really happened.

UPDATE IX: Yet another rumor: It was a BB gun. We do live in a paranoid age, although a BB gun certainly can do damage.

UPDATE X: And finally, the official word from the school newspaper, which is that the whole thing was much ado about nothing:

According to [Police Lieutenant Sean] Smith, the threat turned out to be a false alarm.

“After surveillance footage we looked at, we determined what student had come in to the bathroom and left, and what classroom he was going in. We made contact with him and brought him out, made sure he didn’t have anything on him,” Smith said. “The weapon turned out to be a medical pin that made a clicking noise, and the top had fallen off.”

Disaster preparedness is a necessity for smart people and true conservatives

Loma Prieta damage in 1989

Loma Prieta damage in 1989

Over the past several years, our town and the next town over have worked hard to bring disaster preparedness from the government level down to the community level.  Neighborhood emergency disaster preparedness operates on the assumption that, in the event of a major emergency, government will not be there to help.

Here in Marin, we don’t base this assumption on a concern that our government emergency services are corrupt, under-funded, or inept.  Indeed, I’d say that the contrary is true in Marin.  Our local emergency services (fire, police, ambulance) are excellent:  They’re well-funded, there’s never been a smidgen of corruption, and the people on all these forces are enthusiastic, hard-working and well-trained.

These emergency services, though, exist for routine events:  a house fire, a robbery, a traffic accident. They are not intended to handle a massive earthquake — nor should they be.  Given that earthquakes happen at completely random, and usually lengthy, intervals, it would be insane for our community to fund in perpetuity emergency services large enough to cope with a rare (but still inevitable) disaster.

Given  funding realities, should “the Big One” (as Bay Area residents refer to the next anticipated earthquake) hit, it’s a reasonable certainty that people in our community will find themselves going for three to ten days without any access to emergency services, food, potable water, first aid, and shelter.  This is where we have a choice:  we can wait helpless for government first responders, or we can be our own first responders, taking responsibility for ourselves and our neighbors.

Here’s how it works:  At the most basic level, every household should purchase the life-sustaining supplies needed for three to ten days without access to stores, hospitals, fresh water, and shelter.  The rule of thumb is that neighbors will pool resources for a day or two, but it if looks as if the emergency conditions will last any longer than that, it’s every household for itself.

Unfortunately, while it’s easy enough to say “Buy supplies,” the reality is that most people are governed by inertia.  Too many people really do mean to stock up the next time they’re at Costco or Safeway, but when the time comes, they forget, or they haven’t made a place to put the supplies, or they just don’t feel up to the rigors of buying all the stuff, loading it in the car, and then unloading it again at the other side.  They’ll do it another day, they tell themselves.  Somehow, though, that other day never arrives.

What turns out to be the best system to ensure that the greatest number of households act intelligently before, during, and after a disaster is a neighborhood preparedness committee.  When a newspaper article reminds you to stock up supplies, you might think “Eh, I’ll get it done eventually.”  When your neighbor sits on your couch with you and explains what you need and how to get it, it lights a bigger fire, and ensures greater effort.  Likewise, when you get yet another email from yet another organization, you might ignore it.  But when a neighbor hosts a party to take about basic information (supplies, gathering spots, knowing who your neighbors are, etc.), there’s a greater likelihood you’ll be there, you’ll listen, and you’ll learn.

An organized neighborhood is also extraordinarily helpful when the disaster does strike.  This is the neighborhood that will have given already ensured that homeowners have supplies and that they know how to turn off their gas and prevent potentially contaminated water from flowing into their homes.   A prepared community will have block captains who go to the houses on their watch to make sure gas lines are closed, to perform the most basic injury triage (and first aid, if necessary), and to gather information about everyone’s whereabouts and status.  In this neighborhood, homeowners will have signs to place in their windows so that the block captain instantly see whether that home is “OK” or needs “HELP.”  (Even OK homes will eventually get a visit, but not on the first, triage pass.) If homes are destroyed, the prepared neighborhood will know where the emergency gathering spot is.

Lastly and most importantly, when the government “first responders” eventually show up (long after the neighborhood has already provided the actual first response), the organized neighborhood will be able to offer easily accessible information about fatalities, injuries, local dangers (leaking gas lines, downed electrical lines, etc.).  Experience shows that this level of preparedness results in the fastest attention from government emergency services.  This isn’t a case of bias or bribes on the government’s part; it’s a case of the path of least resistance.  If an emergency care provider has heading towards him a level-headed person with a list and a screaming mad-woman, he’ll turn gratefully to the list holder and try to pass the mad-woman off to someone else.

All over Marin, local communities have been accelerating their efforts to get organized.  As more neighborhoods prepare, those neighborhoods that don’t will be left out in the cold.  Their homes will be bare of survival essentials, their response to an actual disaster will be chaotic, and emergency services will give them the cold shoulder in favor of other, better-organized neighborhoods.

In my neighborhood, I’ve been invited to join the steering committee.  You won’t be surprised to learn that my role is communications.  As a committee member, I now get to attend the community-wide meetings for representatives of all the neighborhood organizations.  When I went to last night’s meeting (my first), whom should I see but our own Charles Martel?

At first, I was surprised to see Charles.  I shouldn’t have been.  For starters, he’s an exceptionally decent and intelligent human being, so it made total sense that he would volunteer himself to be in the front line of organization and preparedness both before and during a disaster.  It’s more than that, though.  Charles is a principled conservative who believes that government cannot and should not be responsible for everything in our lives.  We know what that looks like:

Hurricane Katrina victims, lacking any resources, clog New Orleans freeways.

Hurricane Katrina victims, lacking any resources, clog New Orleans freeways.

Conservatives recognize that government cannot be responsible for every eventuality in our lives. More than that, we understand that it should not be responsible for all things, because that gives it way too much power.

Understanding these facts is one thing. Acting upon them is another. We conservatives like to focus on trying to elect politicians who promise small government. Too often, though, once they’re in Washington or a state capital, these politicians either prove to be an ineffectual minority or, worse, they come down with “government spending disease” and think their responsibility ends with keeping the price tag down on yet another Big Government initiative.

What we all can and should do is something closer to home: We should be at the front lines when it comes to encouraging people to take care of themselves. When there’s a vacuum, government will fill it. If we make sure to fill that vacuum before government does, we’ve done our bit to help shrink Big Government. At the same time, we’ve also ensured that we will be in better shape in the long run than those who believe that Big Government is the one and only answer.

Having said that, I’d like to request help from you, my fellow citizens:  Because I am a procrastinator, I understand better than many the inertia that prevents people from getting in their car, driving to the local mall, and stocking up on home earthquake supplies. I’ve found that one of the ways to fight that procrastination is to make the shopping so easy that even the most shopping-averse, lazy, in denial person has no excuses. The answer, of course, is Amazon — and, even better, Amazon Prime.  You can shop from your home, at your leisure, and everything comes straight to your door.  What could be better?

The problem with Amazon, though, is that there are too many choices.  A single person could spend a lifetime trying to find the best quality, best priced emergency supplies at Amazon.  I’d rather use crowd sourcing.

My goal is to put together an Amazon shopping list that has on it the most highly recommended emergency supplies, everything from paper plates to can openers to flash lights to toilet paper to can openers to foil-sealed water (lasts 5 years) to food stuff to first aid kits. I know that not everyone should, will, or wants to everything from Amazon, but I still want a vetted list that enables someone looking for any or all necessary supplies can trust to provide purchase information.

Vetted supplies suitable for my Amazon earthquake list must be (a) high quality and (b) best price, keeping in mind the purpose for which the supplies are intended.  No one wants to buy a $900, 10-person, all-weather tent for a possible emergency when Amazon offers a highly rated, easy-to-assemble, some-weather tent for $110 dollars.  It’s even better if the tent ships free using Prime or it qualifies for Amazon’s “free shipping for purchases over $35.

So here’s my request:  If you have purchased emergency supplies lately from Amazon, and you feel that your purchase meets my “vetted supplies” criteria, please send me a link for that product, either through an email (bookwormroom * at * gmail.com) or by leaving a comment here.

Does it make sense to spend money to entice poor people to parks?

YellowstoneOne of the things we’ve always noticed when we’ve traveled to America’s magnificent state and national parks is that we see almost no black or Hispanic faces and, when we see Asian faces, they’re almost invariably Japanese tourists.  The vast bulk of the visitors at these parks are white middle class people.  It’s obviously a cultural thing, because this holds true whether the parks are cheap or expensive, or near to or far from heavily populated areas (which implicates ease and expense of access).

Marin County has taken note of this discrepancy at its own parks and has decided to invest $84,000 in programs aimed at enticing poor people and minorities to come to parks:

Officials awarded $84,000 to six programs that encourage “a more diverse community of visitors” at county parks, with much of the cash going to a nutrition and family fitness group, LIFT-Levantate, for a “park ambassador” program.

The Board of Supervisors approved “Measure A” sales tax grants benefiting the poor and minority communities as recommended by parks officials.

I was going to say that, since their taxes help support these parks, maybe it makes sense bringing their attention to the fact that they can enjoy the parks. It then occurred to me that their taxes do not support the parks because, if they are poor, they’re presumably in the 51% of Americans who get a free ride tax-wise.

It seems to me that the parks are there and it’s kind of up to people to find them if they want to. Having said that, I realize that I live in a bubble: upper middle-class, well-connected, well-educated, well-informed — and the child of poor immigrants who thought that driving to a national park was an extraordinarily wonderful vacation for children, especially since we couldn’t afford airplane trips anywhere, whether to Europe or even the East Coast.

What do you think? I can’t decide whether my instinct — “This is silly!” — is sensible, curmudgeonly, or class-ist.