Tea Party: “Dumb as a Sack Full of Hammers”

Now that I’ve heard Anthony Bourdain’s 53-second explanation for why he’s happy about the Tea Party, I’m happy too.

Here it is:

Planning Commission: Proposed Zoning Change Provokes Passionate Public Comments

The Nevada County Planning Commission meeting held yesterday in the Board Room at the Rood Center consisted essentially of one agenda item, and that item didn’t sound all that controversial:ORD10-001 Contractor’s Equipment Yard Definition and Accessory Storage.”

But the meeting was well attended both by local citizens opposed to and by contractors supportive of this proposed change to the General Plan definition of storage facilities for commercial equipment (derived from the 1983 Ballot Measure A).

The General Plan Policy 1.28 currently reads as follows:

But county staff is now recommending a modification to the General Plan zoning code to include a definition of “Contractor’s Equipment Yard” that would permit, within prescribed limits, some storage of commercial equipment on residential property.

The signature benign example cited yesterday by several commenters sympathetic to this change is the plumber parking his equipment truck, with its pipe racks and tools, in his residential driveway.

But residential critics vigorously expressed concern about the non-benign possibilities of multiple forms of conspicuous heavy equipment being located in residential neighborhoods.

Ray Bryars, who was the first member of the public to speak yesterday, had this to say in his April 25th letter to the Planning Commission:

“Dear Commissioners:

I am strongly concerned that the proposed addition of Sec. LII-3.29 will dramatically change the quality of life and cause environmental harm in our residential zoned areas.

The proposed ORD10-001 is one of the scariest ordinances I’ve seen. It gives preferential treatment to certain residents while reducing the quality of life for others. At the same time, it is putting the environment at a much higher risk level.”

Barbara Bashall, Executive Director of the Nevada County Contractor’s Association (NCCA), in her March 17th letter to the county, expressed support for a modification of the Zoning Code:

“We believe that the use, operation and storage of owner operated construction equipment is an essential part of maintaining an economically vibrant rural county character and therefore needs to be limitedly allowed in rural zoning areas. Many local contractors are small businesses that operate out of their homes. They play an important role in our local economy and their ability to do business is paramount to a successful community.”

Other commenters yesterday included Helene Hall of the Federation of Neighborhood Associations (FONA) and Laurie Oberholtzer of the Rural Quality Coalition, as well as several local contractors.

Written comments over the last several months, in addition to those already cited above, were submitted by the Scott’s Flat Road Association, SYRCL, Cascade Shores Homeowners Association, Rattlesnake Neighborhood Association, and several other individuals (all documents on this subject are available in a single county online directory here).

The Planning Commission concluded its meeting yesterday with a resolution to keep the public comment period open until its regular July 14th meeting (1:30PM), with at least one informal public workshop to be held in the meantime.

As soon as I can edit a few video clips of yesterday’s public testimony, I will post them to this blog.

100,000 Toothpicks and 37 Years Later, Man Completes Incredible Model of San Francisco

Now on display at the Tinkering Studios in the Exploratorium through June 19th:

“For all you ping pong balls out there, get ready to take a tour of San Francisco that will blow your fictional minds. Since 1974 Scott Weaver has been working on his masterpiece, Rolling Through the Bay: an artistic recreation of his hometown that features four rolling tracks for ping pong balls, each taking you down a different path through the city. The Golden Gate Bridge, the Transamerica Pyramid, Haight-Ashbury, Coit Tower, etc. – all the major landmarks of San Francisco are represented. The most amazing part of this ping pong roller coaster isn’t the more than 3000 hours Weaver spent in its creation, nor the intense details shown in the 9 foot by 7 foot by 30 inch model. No, what is truly eye-popping is that Weaver built this moving sculpture entirely out of toothpicks, more than 100,000 in all, collected from nations all over the world. Don’t miss the amazing video demonstration of Rolling Through the Bay below, followed by a short clip where Weaver discusses his construction techniques.”

See full article here.

Scott Weaver’s Rolling through the Bay from Learning Studio on Vimeo.

Scott Weaver’s thoughts on working with toothpicks from Learning Studio on Vimeo.

APPLE-a-Day Party at the APPLE Center, May 4th, 6:30 PM

April 28, 2011
APPLE Center for Sustainable Living
412 Commercial Street, Nevada City CA 95959

“APPLE a Day” Fundraising Gathering, Wednesday May 4th, 6:00 – 7:30 PM

Please join us at the “APPLE a Day” Gathering, a fundraiser for the APPLE Center.

This is your opportunity to:

  • Meet local trailblazers in our community
  • Get inside scoop on current events and programs, including the Gold County Gleaning fruit tree project.
  • Learn about APPLE membership benefits


  • Grass Valley City Council Member Yolanda Cookson
  • APPLE Executive Director Mali Dyck
  • Gold Country Gleaners

Come share appetizers, drink and conversation with other like-minded  people.

“APPLE a Day” Discount: 15% off purchases in the APPLE Center during the Gathering


What is “APPLE a Day?”

Starting March 1st, 2011, APPLE began offering a special opportunity to be part if this incredible organization. You can sponsor a day at the APPLE Center for only $110. Which day(s) will you choose? Your birthday?  Your child’s birthday?  Keep the Center thriving as the hub of Nevada County’s sustainability movement  — sign up today to reserve your day!

Sign-up by visiting the website, http://www.applecenter.org/get-involved/an-apple-a-day/, or sign-up in person during the Launch Party, or anytime during the APPLE Center’s regular hours (wed-sun 11am-5pm).

All donations to APPLE are tax-deductible.

Ryan Plan Would CAUSE a Rise in Health Care Costs

Dean Baker and his colleagues at the Center for Economic and Policy Research are making a very important point that has been largely overlooked by the media everywhere, but is vividly clear in the CBO’s analysis of the plan:

The Ryan plan itself will cause health care costs to rise.

How does it do this? How does it manage to increase health care costs while simultaneously shifting the burden of those extra costs to the elderly?

It does it precisely by replacing Medicare’s efficient (low-overhead) system with a less-efficient privatized (voucher) system that will force seniors into the private market.

In other words, the Ryan plan does nothing about the fundamental problem of rising health care costs, and in fact aggravates that problem.

Medicare is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Effectively destroying Medicare by privatizing it, therefore, makes the fundamental problem worse.

People who have been calling for “Medicare for All” as an answer to our national health care cost problem have got it exactly right.

Other Resources:

See Dean Baker’s excellent article on the subject in the Guardian UK: “What we’re not being told about Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan: The mainstream media has failed to report that the Ryan plan is a privatisation programme that will hand $30tn to insurers

See CEPR Press Release: “Cost of Medicare Equivalent Insurance Skyrockets under Ryan Plan

See CEPR Issue Brief: “Representative Ryan’s $30 Trillion Medicare Waste Tax

See Talking Points Memo “CBO: GOP Budget Would Increase Debt, Then Stick It To Medicare Patients

Latest Birth Certificate Won’t Satisfy Obama’s Idiot Critics

The White House today released the long-form facsimile of President Obama’s birth certificate (see image below), issued by the Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital on the island of Oahu in Hawaii on the day he was born, August 4, 1961.

The Safest Prediction I’ve Ever Made: This won’t satisfy his “birther” critics, whom I have chosen to refer to in my headline as “idiots,” but who are actually better understood as “motivated reasoners,” the term used by science now to explain the process whereby we all — some more successfully than others — resist facts that contradict our entrenched beliefs and prejudices. See Chris Mooney’s excellent article on this subject in the latest Mother Jones: “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science” (hat tip to Anna Haynes).

We can only speculate about the motivation of the motivated-reasoning birthers, since they now span the spectrum from mother of the birther movement Orly Taitz to the birther opportunist and fake presidential candidate Donald Trump.

But it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to suggest that many of them are racists and bigots who simply cannot abide the very idea of a black man having the temerity to be President of the United States.

If you have any doubt about how relentlessly such critics will resist facts, just click on the image below and see the comments already posted to the White House website about this new evidence (see an example of such a comment below the following image):

Perfect example of the “motivated-reasoning” of a skeptical commenter:

“jeepix 7 minutes ago
I blew this up to it’s full size and there’s white around most of the letters in the form as well as white around the hand-written letters and numbers. If this was scanned, the green pattern in the background would come through to show it was not ’altered’. Also, what’s with the cut area on the left? How it appears ’pasted’ into the green pattern? This looks odd to me. If it existed all the time, why did the governor of Hawaii say there was nothing on file?”

Should California Raise Taxes on the Wealthy? (Poll)

Alpha Building Community Collaborative Will Likely Open Next Spring

Angela Diaz, writing in today’s Union, quotes both Reinette Senum and Gary Tintle suggesting that the new Alpha Building Collaborative will most likely open next Spring (not this Fall, as had originally been hoped):

“The original hope was to open the doors of the Alpha Building Community Collaborative around Thanksgiving; spring of next year is now looking more likely, both Tintle and Senum said.”

Read full article here.

Whose Taxes Would Jesus Cut?

In his latest column, Paul Krugman talks about the only serious balanced-budget proposal out there (it’s not the Draconian Paul Ryan plan):

“Because of those large tax cuts, the only way the Ryan proposal can even claim to reduce the deficit is through savage cuts in spending, mainly falling on the poor and vulnerable. (A realistic assessment suggests that the proposal would actually increase the deficit.)

” … From the tone of much budget discussion, you might think that we were groaning under crushing, unprecedented levels of taxation. The reality is that effective federal tax rates at every level of income have fallen significantly over the past 30 years, especially at the top. And, over all, U.S. taxes are much lower as a percentage of national income than taxes in most other wealthy nations.

” … the only major budget proposal out there offering a plausible path to balancing the budget is the one that includes significant tax increases: the “People’s Budget” from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which — unlike the Ryan plan, which was just right-wing orthodoxy with an added dose of magical thinking — is genuinely courageous because it calls for shared sacrifice.”

” … the proposal achieves this without dismantling the legacy of the New Deal, which gave us Social Security, and the Great Society, which gave us Medicare and Medicaid.”

Read Krugman’s full column here.

Ordinary Miracle: Baby Robin Hatching

We’re all born hungry!

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