Thursday, August 3, 2017

The ugly mixture of politics and social media spill over to Facebook, Sheriff Donny Youngblood weighs in on marijuana and lamenting the growing hopelessness in our society

 * ... MCCARTHY: If there are two things that don't mix, they are politics and social media. That ugly recipe was on rare display this week when a Kern County teacher, Shannon M. Barnes, posted a picture of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy having lunch in Santa Monica and implying he was "toasted" drunk. That triggered a flurry of reactions, with Kevin's wife Judy Wages McCarthy
weighing in to defend her husband. "Whether done by a child or an adult, bullying is wrong," she wrote, adding her husband doesn't even drink.  "I didn't post a lie about someone being drunk in public. Instead this person posted a lie about my husband being drunk in public. Why? Divisive politics. Stop. Please. Take responsibility." Barnes later took down the original post (only after the Democratic Women of Kern asked its members to come to her aid because of "a lot of hate from little Kevin's fan base," but the responses didn't stop there. Even Connor McCarthy, Kevin and Judy's son, weighed in, posting a long and thoughtful response and saying the picture was taken while his father was celebrating his daughter's 21st birthday party. He added: "In all honesty I found the first post pretty hilarious. I've only seen him drink alcohol three times in my entire life.

* ... MARIJUANA: Nobody is watching the county debate over marijuana closer than Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who has not hid his distaste for the idea of legalizing the drug. "I will follow the law," he told me on KERN NewsTalk this week. Youngblood's fear: even if the state and county impose regulations on pot shops, an underground market with even more powerful cannabis may flourish. Meanwhile, Youngblood said the mountains of Kern County remain hotspots for illegal marijuana farms cultivated illegally on private property.

 * ... ROAD CONSTRUCTION: Here's some good news for local drivers: the city has completed its renovation and repaving of California Avenue between H and Oak streets. The project, a major headache for folks who live in Oleander, was thankfully completed before students returned to Bakersfield High School.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: Coffee does a good job of waking you up but accidentally dropping your phone on your face does an even better job."

 * ... OVERHEARD: At Cafe Med recently a young married woman is confiding in her girlfriend: "We get along great. I just tell him what he wants to hear and most of the times he isn't listening anyway."

 * ... SPOTTED: A local teacher expressed this lament on social media: "I prefer the homeless downtown to any jerk in a lifted truck. They are friendly, more interesting, and don't look at you like you're a freak.:"

 * ... CHRIS ARNADE: Chris Arnade is a former Wall Street banker who spent the past two years traveling the country and spending time with the least fortunate among us. His last stop on his cross country sojourn: east Bakersfield. Some of his observations include these: "If you are at the bottom of a system that those at the top claim is fair/just... well their claim is pretty much intended to be humiliating.... The word I keep coming back to, what I see in so many 'back-row' communities, is humiliation. And as a result, a desire for respect... If that small chance is missed it means a lifetime of feeling looked down on. Because America is a meritocracy, so it was clearly your fault... For many getting out requires threading narrow needle of opportunities starting from an early age. You must do everything right. No mistakes."

 * ... OUR COUNTRY: And Jim Milledge added this about the economic disparity in our country: "I am not homeless, but I can give you an example or two of why we are in financial trouble. The haves are growing by leaps and bounds. Example: I am retired from ATT. I have not received an increase in my pension for almost 20 years. At the same time, the CEO for ATT has a total compensation package that exceeds 25 million a year. The haves have forgotten the have nots. Second, we need to give people a hand up, not a hand out. Many of the poor are generation poor. They need to help themselves or we will have to carry them for eternity."

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A decade of wage stagnation and the Great Recession are leaving a long tail of homelessness and despair, celebrating the mighty sycamore tree and the benefits of owning a dog

 * ... OUR COUNTRY: What is coming of our country? Are you troubled like me when you witness the explosion of homelessness across our nation, the opioid crisis, the deterioration of our great cities and legions of Americans simply giving up and checking out of the
system? We have seen a decade of wage stagnation, the death of many programs aimed at the poor, the great recession and now we are paying the price. And check this out: according to Supervisor Leticia Perez, 25 percent of all the homeless in the United States live in California. We see it on our streets, in the tent camps along the freeways, along our river and in the alleys of our neighborhoods.

 * ... SYCAMORE: My favorite tree is the mighty sycamore that graces so many yards in the downtown and northeast areas of town. I have a tall one in my back yard, and it provides shade and a lovely backdrop to my small space where I entertain. But did you know that sometimes the
sycamores give off a distinctive odor? Answering a reader question about the scent, the New York Times reported: "The sycamore is also called the buttonwood tree or American planeteree. Perhaps you're thinking of an unrelated old world tree, Ficus sycomordus, or sycamore fig, which is far better known to perfume makers. Chanel once used an extract of its leaves in its famous fragrance. In both trees, and in many other odoriferous species, the chemical source of the scent may be the same. Their leaves, bark and sometimes wood are rich in organic chemicals called terpenes and terpenoids, volatile oils that are a major component of the essential oils used in perfumes."

 * ... DOGS: Meanwhile, the Times also reported this about one of the many benefits of owning a dog: "Older dog owners who walked their dogs at least once a day got 20 percent more physical activity than people without dogs ... and spent 30 fewer minutes a day being sedentary, on average."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I prefer not to think before I speak. I like being just as surprised as everyone else by what comes out of my mouth."

* ... KERN RIVER: Here's a note from reader John Bertolucci, who like many of us is clearly frustrated with folks from out of town ignoring warnings about the dangers of swimming in the Kern River. In his words, dripping with a healthy dose of sarcasm: "How about a word from the realists and contrarians: Those that are going to get in the river had better do it, and decrease the surplus population of California. We are all dying as we walk through life, why not die nobly in the mighty Kern just outside the hicksville town Bakersfield. Donald Trump should build a wall around the river to keep those people IN it!"

 * ... MEMORIES: Ronal Reynier added this to the conversation about Bakersfield police officer Sgt. Chitwood. "In my school days when we still used clay tablets: Tom Kelly, of the Bakersfield Police Department, came to school classrooms to give talks. This was many years before Sgt. Chitwood. Tom Kelly was a favorite with students who went home and told their parents what a great guy he was. I seem to remember he came to the school on a motorcycle. He parlayed these stories and a great smile in running and becoming sheriff from 1951 to 1955. I am sure there are those out there who have better memories than I. I may even have my facts turned around."

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And lastly, Lynn LeBeau had this to say: "I have often thought about Sgt. Chitwood when driving around town. He was my behind-the-wheel driver's ed teacher during East High's summer school program in 1968. He was authoritative but patient - and added a twinkle of humor to ease a nervous teen's jitters. His lessons have kept me (and others) safe these many years!"