Stoking the Conspiracy Fantasists: Like A Spark to Tinder

I haven’t wanted to post about the California wildfires because, from this distance, it feels like indulging in disaster porn. “We” have seriously fvcked up another gorgeous chunk of the only planet currently available, and the locals are paying for that in some of the most dramatic footage possible, thoughts & prayers.

But there’s no “natural” tragedy that can’t be made worse… Per the Washington Post:

The arrest was made as more than 18 fires across the state continue to endanger the lives of thousands, including hundreds of firefighters and first responders working around the clock. One, the Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California, is the largest wildfire in California history. Yosemite National Park has been closed “indefinitely” because of smoke from another fire…

The Holy Fire, which started in the Holy Jim Canyon area, has been burning in Southern California since Monday, with more than 600 firefighters assigned to fight it. Two firefighters have been treated for heat-related injuries. The fire remains only 5 percent contained.

Mike Milligan, 71, who calls himself a volunteer fire firefighter and chief, said in an interview with The Washington Post that he has been flagging problems with suspect Forrest Gordon Clark for more than three years. He said he alerted the U.S. Forest Service that “you have to do something or he’s going to kill someone or burn this place down.”

Milligan said he received several texts from Clark last week threatening to start a fire.

“In a text, he said this place ‘is going to burn just like we planned,’ ” Milligan said, adding that he reported it to the sheriff’s office and again to the U.S. Forest Service. “Why the hell didn’t they respond? I reported this over and over again.”

Milligan said he’s known Clark for 10 years and has been concerned about his mental health and behavior in the tiny mountainous area, with only 17 recreational cabins at the bottom of a steep cannon.

The area is very rustic and reclusive, and tends to draw “unique and quirky individuals who enjoy living by themselves in a remote area, with limited personal interaction,” said Olivia Walker, public affairs officer for Cleveland National Forest, a local branch with the U.S. Forest Service…

Clark had been involved in volatile disputes with neighbors — on their rented recreation forest cabins — for years and appeared to believe in conspiracy theories, Milligan said. The land is owned by the federal government and the cabins are supposed to be part-time residences.

Walker said she wasn’t aware of Milligan’s reports of concern. Local police did not respond to requests for comment.

“Even if someone here had been aware of odd behavior, there was nothing we could have done unless the person was violent- that would fall under law enforcement,” said Walker. “You can come here and act the fool all you want, but please don’t start fires. It’s a big loss to the area — scenically it’s a big loss.”…


 
Speaking of incoherent conspiracy theorists…

There is a lot of very confusing shit in those two brief tweets—water being directed into the ocean for reasons unknown but probably having to do with the state’s Democratic governor, trees conspiring with a wildfire to take attention away from Trump and the super job he’s been doing. All these things are confusing not just because they’re bad/dumb thoughts badly phrased, but because they were bad/dumb thoughts that had never before been spotted in the wild. Journalists asked experts, as journalists do, why Trump was wrong, and they struggled not so much at debunking his argument as figuring out what it even was…

…[H]e’s been saying this same weird thing since before he was elected. In a May 2016 speech in Fresno, Trump debuted the idea that California, which was then in the grip of a historic drought, was in fact not in the grip of a historic drought. “When I just left, 50 or 60 farmers in the back and they can’t get water,” Trump maundered. “And I say, ‘How tough is it; how bad is the drought?’ ‘There is no drought, they turn the water out into the ocean.’ And I said I’ve been hearing it and I spent a half an hour with them, it’s hard to believe.”…

Trump promised his audience that, when he won, “we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive.” We can probably assume that Trump doesn’t understand the confusing specifics of California’s water policy any better than I do, which is to say not even a little bit. But it seems clear that what Trump heard or thought he heard from the 50 Or 60 Farmers In The Back that he spent an unbelievable half hour with has somehow both stayed with him and metastasized as his miraculous brain ran it through an endless game of telephone. Whatever it was that someone who was maybe a farmer maybe once said to Trump has now become this—a state dying of thirst and burning to a crisp while the loony libs idiotically direct its roaring rivers out to sea….

He doesn’t want to know more, not just because he is not really super into learning things but because it would never occur to him that there would be more to learn beyond the (impossibly childish) answers that his wise gut furnishes. This is his strength, and it is a powerful one—a willed ignorance and willful stupidity so unbelievably thick as to be bulletproof. Trump can’t be wrong, in a way that is meaningful to him, because he will never believe that he is wrong, or even think to ask…

It’s certainly not Trump’s fault that some troubled soul on the other side of the country acted out his fantasies. Nobody could be held responsible here. It’s, like, an act of god!… and the Repubs’ god is a vengeful and paranoid deity…

133 replies
  1. 1
    dmsilev says:

    It’s not like he’s recently pardoned any ultra-conservative anti-government nutjobs convicted of setting wildfires.

    I guess I have to ask what this is in reference to. He pardoned the Bundy clan, but I don’t think wildfire-setting was on the (long) list of crimes they were accused/convicted of. Or was it?

    ReplyReply
  2. 2

    I am so sick of stupidity in high places

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  4. 4
    YetAnotherJay formerly (Jay S) says:

    @dmsilev: He did not pardon Bundy clan people he pardoned Hammonds who were convicted of setting a fire in Oregon. ETA Bundys were in Oregon to protest the Hammonds being sent back to prison after an early release was deemed in error.

    ReplyReply
  5. 5
    Calouste says:

    $50,000* worth of mental health care for this guy would have prevented the millions and millions of damage the fire that he started is doing.

    We should start treating these people like Typhoid Mary.

    *) I’m not clued into the exact costs of mental health care, so I hope this is a reasonable estimate.

    ReplyReply
  6. 6
    A Ghost To Most says:

    In less blood-pressure-spiking news:

    Aerosmith’s original tour van found abandoned in woods

    ReplyReply
  7. 7
    Mike in NC says:

    Why won’t Trump deploy his Space Force to put out the wildfires? They have jet-packs and death-rays and other cool stuff.

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  8. 8
    James E Powell says:

    Anyone who’s been on the 5 or the 99 in the Central Valley over the last tens years knows – from like a thousand billboards & signs – that there is no drought, that it’s all due to the evil of Obama, Hillary, Pelosi, the Democrats, and several other vaguely defined enemies of America.

    Also too. I’m right by Lake Elsinore. The sky just to the west of us has been smoke for the last three days. We can see flames in the hills above the lake.

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  9. 9
    Baud says:

    It would be cool if California had no GOP Congresscritters left after the election.

    ReplyReply
  10. 10

    Actually, it looks as if this “water to the sea” theory is straight from Infowars:

    Guess where Trump got his insane “fire” theories
    Then, however, reporters moved on to the next story, with no time to Google from whence Trump derived this crackpot notion about water taken from farmers and “shoved out to the sea.” The answer, apparently: InfoWars, the website of lunatic conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

    ReplyReply
  11. 11
    Ksmiami says:

    As I said before, Trump supporters are dangerous and need to be quarantined with crayons and Xanax. Before they kill us all. Oh and Fox News needs to be turned into a smoldering pit

    ReplyReply
  12. 12
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Gary K:
    That was just fucking today! Oh my god I hate this asshole. What possible reason could these dicks deserve a pardon?

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  13. 13
    debit says:

    He doesn’t want to know more, not just because he is not really super into learning things but because it would never occur to him that there would be more to learn beyond the (impossibly childish) answers that his wise gut furnishes. This is his strength, and it is a powerful one—a willed ignorance and willful stupidity so unbelievably thick as to be bulletproof. Trump can’t be wrong, in a way that is meaningful to him, because he will never believe that he is wrong, or even think to ask…

    We have a client who came into the office a couple years ago just spitting mad. He said that he had just heard on the radio that our stupid city officials were, in an effort to discourage loitering and crime at a light rail station, hiring classical musicians to sit there and play music all day and night, year round. I expressed my doubt that this could possibly be true, as a) this is Minnesota and the platforms are outside and b) it was the stupidest thing I had ever heard of. “I know it’s stupid,” he shouted. “Because they’re a bunch of stupid liberals who want to waste hundreds of thousands of MY tax dollars!”

    Naturally it wasn’t true. The actual story was that the city bought a digital recording to play. It was $150.00. And when I told the guy this, his face fell, and he sputtered, because to him the story of hiring people to sit in the cold (or rain or heat) and play music because they were so stupid was the way it SHOULD have been. This is why your typical Trump voter loves him and will continue to no matter what. They’re too invested in the stupid libs myth. The need it to be true.

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  15. 15
    CarolPW says:

    As a third generation Californian, although no longer a resident of the state, two things: First, google Shasta Lake Drought (Shasta is the most northern reservoir) and look at the images. WHAT vast amount of water coming from the north is he talking about? Second, a very important consideration for the water flow requirements into San Fransisco Bay is to prevent salt water incursion into the vast Sacramento delta waterways, and the resulting ruination of some of the most productive agricultural land in the state.

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  16. 16
    Baud says:

    @debit: I hope you insist that your client pay you in advance for the work you do.

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  17. 17
    MattF says:

    @M. Bouffant: It’s interesting that the crazy here has an actual source. Theories that Trump comes up with himself are usually limited to ‘It’s all a Chinese hoax’. But in this case, it seems we have Mr. Jones to thank.

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  18. 18
    Redshift says:

    Even if someone here had been aware of odd behavior, there was nothing we could have done unless the person was violent- that would fall under law enforcement,” said Walker.

    I don’t know the specifics of California law, but one thing I learned serving on a grand jury years ago is that in Virginia, it’s a misdemeanor to threaten to kill someone, but it’s a felony to threaten to burn their house down.

    Point being, the idea that the police can’t do anything unless he’s violent is wrong. (I was going to say it’s BS, but since it’s a Forest Service person saying it and not a law enforcement spokesperson, I’ll allow they may just be misinformed.) If he’s making credible threats of violence against persons or property, they don’t have to wait for them to be carried out.

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  19. 19
    dmsilev says:

    @YetAnotherJay formerly (Jay S): Ah, got it, thanks.

    ReplyReply
  20. 20
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Baud:
    Whoops. It was the 10th and that’s what stuck in my mind

    ReplyReply
  21. 21
    debit says:

    @Baud: Every year that he has to pay taxes I hope he storms off in snit, never to come back, but alas we aren’t so lucky.

    ReplyReply
  22. 22
    oatler. says:

    @CarolPW: HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT NESTLE
    I heard even Merle by god Haggard turned environmentalist after he moved to the Shasta region.

    ReplyReply
  23. 23
    Mike J says:

    What’s the “Jesuit conservancies” conspiracy theory? I had at least heard of the others.

    ReplyReply
  24. 24
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷:

    That was just fucking today!

    It’s August now.

    Edit: Should have read more comments before commenting myself.

    Another edit: Hey, the edit window is all different! And easier, I think….

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  25. 25
    MattF says:

    @Mike J: Jesuits! What more do you need to know?

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  26. 26
    MattF says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: And, apparently, the pie filter is back.

    ReplyReply
  27. 27
    Mary G says:

    JJ McNab spends almost all her time with these nutjobs, so she’s either a saint or a masochist or both. Her Twitter is a scary follow.

    ReplyReply
  28. 28
    trnc says:

    @Baud:

    It would be cool if California had no GOP Congresscritters left after the election.

    And the rest of the US. for that matter.

    ReplyReply
  29. 29
    JPL says:

    @James E Powell: Stay safe.

    ReplyReply
  30. 30
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Calouste:

    We should start treating these people like Typhoid Mary.

    Most of these garbage-humans would fight to the death to defend Typhoid Mary’s constitutional right to prepare their food for them.

    ReplyReply
  31. 31
    Damned at Random says:

    I think we should require all candidates for public office to take a reading comprehension and 8th grade science exam an post the results next to their names on the ballots. It would save me a lot of time on research

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  32. 32
    CarolPW says:

    @oatler.: I believe it! Although Emmylou’s version is better known, when Merle sings Kern River, particularly “And now I live in the mountains I drifted up here with the wind” it is perfection. It’s a very California song.

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  33. 33
    debbie says:

    Don’t know why my comment didn’t take, but I’ll repeat: My local news ran an interview with one of Clark’s neighbors. She said she wasn’t surprised it was him and that the fire was politically motivated, but she declined to say why. I didn’t think that was particularly surprising.

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  34. 34
    debbie says:

    Ooooh, love the new editing!

    ReplyReply
  35. 35
    Martin says:

    The Holy Fire is about 8 miles from my house. Close enough to be annoying, but not threatening.

    Yes, the area is pretty, but these areas burn every decade or so anyway – and they pretty much always have. The largest known fire in California, but predating good records was the Santiago Canyon Fire back in 1889. The Holy Fire, named after Holy Jim Canyon is part of the Santiago Canyon area. It started in almost exactly the same place as that fire. That fire burned 300K+ acres – about half the area of Rhode Island.

    This is part of the normal cycle here. People want to live up against the mountain because it’s pretty and quiet, but when the Santa Anas come through (and there are no Santa Anas now, btw) you have 5% humidity, 100 degree temps, and 50-60MPH winds. The mountains will burn. They will burn without people setting fires. Last night additional fires got started because the updraft from the Holy Fire created pyrocumulus clouds which triggered lightning and ignited new areas. If you live in these places, your house will burn down over some reasonable period of time unless you put in extreme effort, which hardly anyone here ever does. A lot of those threatened homes didn’t exist 10 years ago. It’s not that different than the neighborhoods in Houston that are inside the flood control basins – the ones that are designed to fill up so that homes don’t flood.

    Yes, I’m sympathetic to the loss, but neighborhoods don’t need to be built there. If this nutbar didn’t set the fire, one would likely have happened naturally once the brush built up enough. Florida gets hurricanes, Oklahoma tornados, we get fires. Sometimes they’re human caused and sometimes they aren’t, but loss mitigation needs to consider both factors and we don’t really do that. I have a friend who nearly lost his home in the Laguna fire and he set up a sprinker system on his roof that draws water from his pool and has a backup battery. He has dramatically improved the likelihood of surviving a fire in a way that doesn’t draw water off of critical needs. Cost him some money, but he realized that was the cost of living there.

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  36. 36
    Calouste says:

    @Damned at Random: It’s already there on the ballot. (R) means they failed the science test.

    ReplyReply
  37. 37
    NotMax says:

    The produce aisles at the supermarket haven’t been the same since the Dems forced those thousands and thousands of California farmer out of business in order to send fresh water straight in the direction of China, don’tcha know.

    ;)

    ReplyReply
  38. 38
    bemused says:

    @debit:

    Another angry tiresome grievance collector. Most people would have been a little embarrassed when set straight about some goofy story but they’d groan and laugh at themselves for falling for it.

    ReplyReply
  39. 39
    Martin says:

    @Baud: We’re working on it. Talked to our candidate last night. CA 45 is going to be hard, but hopefully we can pull it off.

    ReplyReply
  40. 40
    BC in Illinois says:

    @Mike J:

    What’s the “Jesuit conservancies” conspiracy theory?

    If I remember correctly, they had President Lincoln assassinated.

    ReplyReply
  41. 41
    A Ghost To Most says:

    So you think your cat is badass?

    Last night, a mountain lion entered a home on Marine St through a screen door, No people were injured but a house cat was killed. Please keep ground level doors and windows closed and locked at night and when you are not home. (This is also good advice for bears and burglars.)

    – Boulder PD

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  42. 42
    different-church-lady says:

    His name is Forrest?

    Just kill me.

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  43. 43

    One of the things I find deeply troubling about this is that there’s going to be a feedback loop. Conservative media are going to pick up on Trump’s ridiculous ideas come up with rationalizations, and broadcast them. They’ll get back to Trump and will validate in his mind how correct his initial stupidity was, so the whole thing will be reinforced.

    ReplyReply
  44. 44
    Jay says:

    @Martin:

    https://www.energyupgradeca.org/climate-change/

    I live in a Province where the Rainforest on the Island, the Valley and the Coast has massive fires every year. That’s not “normal” or even cyclical.

    We have lived here for 20 years. It’s now 5c warmer here. We don’t get the -40c winterdays anymore, and summers are more extreme. We picked peaches in the garden today. 20 years ago winters were to cold to even grow hardy apples. We also now get too much rain in the spring and fall to classify as a desert anymore.

    When we bought the land, 10 metre wide firebreaks were “best practices”, now no only are there more fires, but they are much more intense and severe, 30 metre wide firebreaks are now the “best practice”.

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  45. 45
    Gary K says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: July!@🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: You must have had a good summer, to lose an entire month!

    ReplyReply
  46. 46
    YetAnotherJay formerly (Jay S) says:

    @Mike J: Apparently a misspelling of Jesuit conspiracies.
    ETA a second google turned up articles like this https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2013/09/a_long-sought_land_purchase_al.html so maybe something wraped around the failed land deal.

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  47. 47
    I'll be Frank says:

    @Ksmiami: We can haz Space Force to nuke Fox from space, plz?

    ReplyReply
  48. 48

    @MattF: I think I’d feel better if I thought Trumpf came up with his looney shit all by himself, rather than he was getting it from Alex Fucking Jones. Trumpf only has a limited imagination.

    ReplyReply
  49. 49
    California Stars says:

    @Jay: @Martin: The fires are cyclical and necessary. The increasing scale of the fires is likely influenced by increased temperatures. But yeah, you can’t live through a dry season here and imagine that the place will never burn. Last year my parents evacuated but fortunately their house was spared. A firefighter friend of ours mentioned that the fire workers were selectively protecting those properties that had been cleared of brush and exhibited some measure of fire prep. Not as a punitive measure but because the homes that were surrounded by brush/flammables were considered a lost cause.

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  50. 50
    Mary G says:

    @Jay: Those are some scary ass charts. I grew up next to the ocean in So. Orange Co., and when I was small we didn’t even own a fan. We’ve had fans for 25 years now, and a couple of years ago I got a window AC unit. I felt really bad about it, but it was a health thing. Now at Lowe’s there’s an entire aisle of portable and windows AC systems.

    On a happier note, I am celebrating the changing charts at Real Clear Politics. They skew a bit conservative and I am a bit of an Eeyore, so they are my go-to. When they put them up for the November elections, their forecasts looked like (I’m doing this from memory, so the earlier numbers may be wrong):

    Senate start: 53 Republicans, 44 Democrats, 3 toss-ups
    Senate now: 48 Republicans, 45 Democrats, 7 toss-ups

    House start: 226 Republicans, 186 Democrats, 23 toss-ups
    House now: 195 Republicans, 199 Democrats, 41 toss-ups * Democrats took the lead today!

    Govs starts: 29 Republicans, 18 Democrats, 3 toss-ups
    Govs now: 21 Republicans, 20 Democrats, 9 toss-ups * Almost tied today!

    We can do this.

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  51. 51
    TenguPhule says:

    a willed ignorance and willful stupidity so unbelievably thick as to be bulletproof.

    At some point after his trial and conviction this theory needs to be tested and disproven.

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  52. 52
    TenguPhule says:

    @Calouste:

    We should start treating these people like Typhoid Mary.

    Label them insane dangers to the public and lock them up in solitary confinement till they die?

    I approve!

    ReplyReply
  53. 53
    MomSense says:

    These Sov Cit Jonesclown cultists are terrifying. You cannot reason with them.

    ReplyReply
  54. 54
    TenguPhule says:

    @Ksmiami:

    As I said before, Trump supporters are dangerous and need to be quarantined with crayons and Xanax. Before they kill us all.

    You can still kill someone else with crayons.

    ReplyReply
  55. 55
    TenguPhule says:

    @Baud:

    It happened in July.

    he’s quantum leaping.

    ReplyReply
  56. 56
    MomSense says:

    These Sov Cit and Jonesclown cultists are terrifying. You cannot reason with them and I suspect a good percentage of them are beyond reprogramming.

    At what point can we take legal action against the conspiracy peddlers? They are causing real harm.

    ReplyReply
  57. 57
    TenguPhule says:

    @trnc:

    And the rest of the US. for that matter.

    Take it from Hawaii, the Democrats begin infighting almost immediately.

    ReplyReply
  58. 58
    TenguPhule says:

    @Roger Moore:

    One of the things I find deeply troubling about this is that there’s going to be a feedback loop.

    Cold Fusion in our lifetimes. Just not in the form we expected.

    ReplyReply
  59. 59
    opiejeanne says:

    @CarolPW: I had an argument with someone online about this. The guy seemed to think the Columbia comes all the way down to Northern California. I pointed him to a map, and while he was on “our side” his limited understanding of what was where was pretty startling. I told him the Columbia empties into the Pacific after going past Portland on the north edge of Oregon. His mind was blown. He seemed to think that Portland was a lot farther south, like 300 miles farther south or something. I’d prefer allies to be better informed, and I tried.
    But maybe he’s one of those people who can’t understand a map. I know one person like that.

    ReplyReply
  60. 60
    Luthe says:

    @Damned at Random: I’m of the belief no elected official should be allowed to take the oath of office without passing the US Citizenship exam. That way we might get people who understood how the government is supposed to work.

    @Martin: Los Angeles is Burning

    ReplyReply
  61. 61
    opiejeanne says:

    @James E Powell: Is the Holy fire the one that forced the evacuation of Idyllwild?
    I’m going to have to check on these fires and which one is called what.

    I’m just waiting for another fool to start a fire in the San Bernardino mountains. Last time it burned nearly a thousand homes and killed six people. 2003, The Old Fire. They finally caught the bastard who started it, six years later.

    The Old Fire

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Fire

    ReplyReply
  62. 62
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    Please keep ground level doors and windows closed and locked at night and when you are not home. (This is also good advice for bears and burglars.)

    Totally agree. I have always maintained that bears and burglars should keep doors and windows locked at all times.

    ReplyReply
  63. 63
    Ruckus says:

    @Calouste:
    I do enjoy getting a chuckle out of the truth once in a while. This is one of those times.

    ReplyReply
  64. 64
    dmsilev says:

    @MomSense:

    At what point can we take legal action against the conspiracy peddlers? They are causing real harm.

    People are trying with Alex Jones. He’s being sued by families of Sandy Hook victims because of the way he’s egging on the “truther” types that are harassing the families.

    ReplyReply
  65. 65
    TenguPhule says:

    DeVos Ends Obama-Era Safeguards Aimed at Abuses by For-Profit Colleges

    FTFNYT link.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formally moved Friday to scrap a regulation that would have forced for-profit colleges to prove that the students they enroll are able to attain decent-paying jobs, the most dramatic in a series of moves that will free the scandal-scarred, for-profit sector from safeguards put in effect during the Obama era.

    In a written announcement posted on its website, the Education Department laid out its plans to eliminate the so-called gainful employment rule, which sought to hold for-profit and career college programs accountable for graduating students with poor job prospects and overwhelming debt by revoking federal funding and access to financial aid. After a 30-day comment period, the rule is expected to be eliminated July 1, 2019.

    Instead Ms. DeVos would provide students with more data about all of the nation’s higher education institutions — not just career and for-profit college programs — including debt, expected earnings after graduation, completion rates, program cost, accreditation and other measures.

    “Students deserve useful and relevant data when making important decisions about their education post-high school,” Ms. DeVos said in a statement. “That’s why instead of targeting schools simply by their tax status, this administration is working to ensure students have transparent, meaningful information about all colleges and all programs. Our new approach will aid students across all sectors of higher education and improve accountability.”

    But in rescinding the rule, the department is eradicating the most fearsome accountability measures — the loss of federal aid — for schools that promise to prepare students for specific careers but fail to prepare them for the job market, leaving taxpayers on the hook to pay back their taxpayer-backed loans.

    The kids are so fucked.

    ReplyReply
  66. 66
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    @Mike in NC: Pffft! You know nothing of Space Force. You don’t use the ‘death’ setting on your ray gun to fight fires! You use the ‘freeze’ setting! Or is that the ‘sprinkler’ setting? I don’t remember, but it’s definitely NOT the ‘death’ setting.

    ReplyReply
  67. 67
    opiejeanne says:

    @NotMax: You know what they really want, those farmers with their signs all up and down the I-5 (Yes, I’m from SoCal. Fight me)? They can get water, but the fees for the newer farms are higher. They want the water on the cheap and they don’t care about the fish or the fisheries or the ecosystem in the delta or anything other than how many damned tasteless tomatoes can I grow on this piece of land and for how cheap? These aren’t family farms, these are agribusinesses. When the tomatoes are ripe-ish the sides of the road are covered with tomatoes that have fallen off the top of the gondolas, and there’s a spray of tomato juice falling on the road and splashing every car that gets too close.
    There used to be a ketchup factory near Lodi, CA, and when it was in full swing it made the surrounding area for miles smell like garbage.

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  68. 68
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @MattF:

    And, apparently, the pie filter is back.

    Been a while since I used it, so hadn’t missed it. But I do wish they could sort out the nym/email thing instead of toying with us. (I whine, but am actually very grateful to Alain and Major Quad for all they do to keep the gears moving. And I know it’s inevitable there will be occasional hiccups and annoyances.)

    ReplyReply
  69. 69
    Raven says:

    Nice evening. The drive from Boston was a nightmare but expected. I’m outside at Frank Pepe just a couple of miles from the hotel. I ordered to go so I could sit outside and,even though this is “any town USA” it’s pretty and cool. The hospitality room was fine, there is even a picture of me from 50 years ago so that was fun.

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  70. 70
    TS (the original) says:

    Prior to the dolt taking office, fires of this intensity – or much less were country wide news. The President must help were always the screams from congress. With this ahole – nothing except blaming California for the fires.

    And he pretends to be the president* for all of the USA. If he could bring in laws that were relevant to blue states only – he would.

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  71. 71
    WhatsMyNym says:

    Non-native grasses in California are a big part of the problem. They were bought in for grazing food. Grow faster than the native grass, but then dry out in time for the fire season.

    ReplyReply
  72. 72
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    Some of the comments to the tweet mine that vein. My favorite: “Most cats would use the couch”.

    ReplyReply
  73. 73
    JPL says:

    @TenguPhule: Trump learned early on that if you create a lot of chaos, it is difficult for the media to concentrate on just one thing. It seems like a year ago, that we discovered that his Mar a lago buddies are running the VA.

    ReplyReply
  74. 74
    cynthia ackerman says:

    @California Stars:

    This is a common practice known as triage.

    ReplyReply
  75. 75
    Ruckus says:

    @California Stars:
    Not long after the 91 Oakland Hills fire there was a brush fire that came the 1/8 mile from Angeles National forest to the back fences across the street from my house, it was all just chaparral between the houses and forest. The LAFD was out in massive force because they didn’t want to hear about another Oakland fire. I was outside with a hose putting out embers that were falling on my house and yard. The firefighters told me not to waste my time, none of the houses were going to burn, there was more than enough cleared area and all the houses had cement tile roofs. They were right, no one lost anything, other than maybe a few singed back yard fences across the street. Now of course a friend who lives less than a mile east has had his house burn down twice in the last 25 yrs. He says the next time they aren’t staying.

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  76. 76
    TenguPhule says:

    @The Midnight Lurker:

    Pffft! You know nothing of Space Force. You don’t use the ‘death’ setting on your ray gun to fight fires! You use the ‘freeze’ setting! Or is that the ‘sprinkler’ setting? I don’t remember, but it’s definitely NOT the ‘death’ setting.

    Its the disintegration setting. You have to destroy California to save it.

    ReplyReply
  77. 77
    CarolPW says:

    @opiejeanne: Everything that goes to Shasta Lake originates in California.The Klamath River, originating in Oregon, does go through part of northern California but enters the Pacific also in northern California. None of the Klamath River water is available to farmers in the California Central Valley or the San Joaquin Valley. There is no water coming from the north outside of California available to the major agricultural regions of California. I grew up on a farm in the Sacramento River Delta, and California water stuff has always been complicated.

    And roll on Columbia! I assume the person you were arguing with was not from either Oregon or Washington, because it’s hard to imagine a local could think there was some way for that river to end up in California. The Columbia is less than a mile from my current location, and the various diversions and dams that were constructed for providing power to the WWII aluminum plants, as well as the messing around with its course around Grand Coulee Dam (supplying both power and agricultural water) is also complicated. I love the area around Soap lake, both for the Columbia River stuff and the channeled scablands inundation stuff.

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  78. 78
    Jay says:

    @California Stars:

    Never used to burn here, but that was because Septewemic Fire Managers used to use careful clearance and small set fires to manage the forest. 350′ tall Douglas Fir trees don’t burn well.

    That forest is mostly gone, the wet springs now generate a massive fuel load, fires burn so hot now that they sterilize the soil, we’ve gone from 1 day a year of air quality warnings to an average of 30 days a year, ( we had to buy an ionizing air filter to be able to breathe in the house, and wet HEPA facemasks to go outside), and of course, the spring rains now bring down massive mudslides and flooding that are changing valleys and rivers that remained unchanged since the glacier’s retreat.

    It’s not a “cycle” anymore, it’s an exponential trend.

    We’ve gone from a average high of roughly 500 fires a year, 1873-1975, with up to 10,000 sq km burned max,(1961), to an average over the past decade of 1600 fires a year and an average of 10,000 square km burned.

    It’s the new normal.

    ReplyReply
  79. 79
    Raven says:

    Here ya go, 50 years!

    https://flic.kr/p/28U1QCU

    ReplyReply
  80. 80
    lgerard says:

    @TenguPhule:

    this administration is working to ensure students have transparent, meaningful information about all colleges and all programs.

    i have the feeling that the Space Force will be landing on Neptune before this “information” is available

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  81. 81
    Ruckus says:

    @Raven:
    You had lawn chairs and newspapers? We had to make do with………
    Have a great time at your reunion.

    ReplyReply
  82. 82
    Raven says:

    @Ruckus: I think these NG guys shipped them with their signal equipment and trucks.

    ReplyReply
  83. 83
    Jay says:

    @opiejeanne: @CarolPW:

    There’s that old saying that War is how ‘Merkins learn geography, and there hasn’t been a war in the Columbia basin in a long time.

    ReplyReply
  84. 84
    opiejeanne says:

    @CarolPW: I don’t think he was from California either.

    California’s water laws are complicated, going back well over a century. Mark Twain got it right: Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting.

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  85. 85
    Felony Govt says:

    We’ve always had fires in California but “fire season” is now almost all year round. Climate change is real.

    My house (and most others around here) has no AC because we’re “near the beach” (actually 2 miles away or so). There used to be maybe 2 or 3 really hot and uncomfortable summer days each year. Now it’s weeks on end. Our big box fan is working overtime.

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  86. 86
    Ruckus says:

    @Raven:
    I saw stuff one might not believe removed in seabags (that’s duffel bag for you land lubbers) but never anything outside of an occasional fifth or dime bag brought aboard. Of course there wouldn’t have been any place to put anything anyway. When Admiral Zumwalt allowed every one to have civilian clothes onboard, everyone had to find a place to store them. I think some uniform items didn’t make the cut.

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  87. 87
    Jay says:

    @Felony Govt:

    Yup, massive fires in Greenland, Siberia, the Alaskan North Slope, Canada’s Arctic are now the “new normal”, along with drunken forests, melting permafrost and methane craters.

    ReplyReply
  88. 88
    TenguPhule says:

    @opiejeanne:

    California’s water laws are complicated, going back well over a century.

    Most of which I am given to understand boils down to: “I was here first! Prioritize me!”

    ReplyReply
  89. 89
    opiejeanne says:

    @Felony Govt: We’ve given up. The heat the past several summers has become impossible to handle with fans, and so we got an estimate for AC. I’ve resisted it for the eight years we’ve been here, but this week was so hot that I was getting sick. Today the weather changed and tomorrow it’s supposed to be 72 with nearly a third of an inch of rain, and thunderstorms. Yay! The following ten days it’s not supposed to get higher than 88, but that could change. In the PNW when it hits 93 everyone just wilts. I’ve gone to wearing as little clothing as possible which has cost me sunburned feet.

    Humidity was 50% today, and the house is finally cooling off from the 80 it was at 7am this morning. There’s a breeze now which is wonderful. We are parked in lawn chairs next to a big cedar on the north side of the house, under a big interesting hornet’s nest. The hornets will be evicted soon, but so far they haven’t been aggressive.

    ReplyReply
  90. 90

    @Felony Govt: The house I grew up in in the Conejo Valley didn’t have A/C, I’ve had the window A/C here on almost every day for the past month.

    ReplyReply
  91. 91
    TenguPhule says:

    @Jay:

    along with drunken forests

    End the beer subsidies! Make those trees buy their own booze!

    They’re probably non-native shrubs anyway//

    ReplyReply
  92. 92
    CarolPW says:

    @Jay: There was a fuck of a lot of war effort in the Columbia basin (both Richland, where I live, and the house I currently own, are products of the Manhattan Project) but I can’t recall any actual wars here other than some Native American battles. The Japanese internment wasn’t a war, but it probably felt like one to the Japanese-Americans.

    People should know where the Columbia River goes just because of Lewis and Clark. As I recall, California was not one of their destinations.

    ReplyReply
  93. 93

    @TenguPhule:

    “I was here first! Prioritize me!”

    Ask folk in the Owens Valley about that.

    ReplyReply
  94. 94
    opiejeanne says:

    @TenguPhule: Not exactly. The earlier arrivals are already prioritized. It’s the newer farmers who think they’re entitled to the same deal.

    ReplyReply
  95. 95
    opiejeanne says:

    Here’s the hornets’ nest:

    Hornets’ nest

    ReplyReply
  96. 96
    Amir Khalid says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    Verily, Alain and Major^4 are the Chewbaccas without whom this ship could not make the Kessel run.

    ReplyReply
  97. 97
    opiejeanne says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Oh God, is that a sorry story. We were up at June Lake when someone blew up the dam and let the water into the Lake. We only heard about it when we stopped in Mammoth on the way home and picked up an LA Times.

    ReplyReply
  98. 98
    TenguPhule says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Verily, Alain and Major^4 are the Chewbaccas without whom this ship could not make the Kessel run.

    And under 4 parsecs too,

    ReplyReply
  99. 99
    California Stars says:

    @Jay: Well that’s depressing. It certainly seems to have gotten worse in recent years, though I can remember as a child in the 80s that there were somewhat regular fire scares in the nearby counties. Nothing as huge as in the last couple of years, though, and nothing like the choking gray skies we’ve had these last two years.
    @Ruckus: @cynthia ackerman: Following the fires last year I observed neighborhoods in which some houses/properties were entirely untouched, and others had been reduced to black smudge on the earth.

    ReplyReply
  100. 100
    opiejeanne says:

    @Amir Khalid: Don’t you start with me about parsecs! I hate that stupid line.

    ReplyReply
  101. 101
    opiejeanne says:

    @TenguPhule: Fuck you for that!

    ReplyReply
  102. 102
  103. 103
    TenguPhule says:

    Fed-up California residents set electric scooters on fire, smear them with poop

    They’ve been crammed into toilets, tossed off balconies and set on fire. They’ve even been adorned with dangling bags of dog droppings.

    As cities from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills struggle to control a rapid proliferation of electric pay-per-mile scooters, some residents are taking matters into their own hands and waging a guerrilla war against the devices. These vandals are destroying or desecrating the vehicles in disturbingly imaginative ways, and celebrating their illegal deeds on social media — in full view of authorities and the public.

    “They throw them everywhere: in the ocean, in the sand, in the trash can,” said Robert Johnson Bey, a Venice Beach maintenance worker who regularly comes across scooter parts on the Venice Beach boardwalk, Speedway and adjoining alleys.

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  104. 104
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:
    We have a swamp cooler (no AC). One of the inexpensive joys of a dry climate. It works so well I leave the door open to the garage to cool it as well.

    ReplyReply
  105. 105
    TenguPhule says:

    @opiejeanne: Happy Tree of Life day to you too!

    ReplyReply
  106. 106
    bk says:

    @opiejeanne:

    But maybe he’s one of those people who can’t understand a map. I know one person like that.

    Miss Teen South Carolina?

    ReplyReply
  107. 107
    Jay says:

    @CarolPW:

    Cartography, Geography and Geology should be taught in schools, but them there’s sciences doncha know.

    I read maps and marine charts for entertainment though.

    Spent 2 years in the summer snorkling and mapping the Chehalis River Canyons, just so I could fish it better.

    ReplyReply
  108. 108
    Ruckus says:

    @California Stars:
    After the Santa Rosa fire, where I have a good friend living, we drove though one winding road on the south side of town. There would be several houses burnt to the ground and one in the middle of the fire that was untouched. This went on for several miles. My friends house to the southeast side of the city was OK but she had to evacuate for quite a few days and had no idea of the damage till she was allowed back in. I watched the fire maps and there was fire around her housing area but I believe only one house in the area burned. Even on the north side there were some (a lot fewer) untouched homes. Some homes would look just fine from one side and embers from the opposite. These fires burn very fast, the winds are high and fire builds it’s own wind. The natural chaparral in the fire areas has a high wax/oil content to deal with the dryness/normal lack of water. Get it hot and it ignites and burns hot, making the situation that much worse. And a lot of the fire areas are mountainous, with areas that a bulldozer can not climb to even create a fire break.

    ReplyReply
  109. 109
    California Stars says:

    @Jay: You might find this article interesting; it’s what I was thinking of with the “necessary and cyclical” fires comment.

    “There Is No “No-Fire” Option in California”
    by Zach St. George, January 02, 2018

    ReplyReply
  110. 110
    TenguPhule says:

    Utah man killed city worker and torched her truck over yard rule ‘harassment’

    Kevin Wayne Billings, 64, said the code enforcement officer in suburban Salt Lake City “got what she deserved,” police said in jail documents.

    Jill Robinson had dealt with Billings before, but it was a routine call and code enforcement officers don’t aim to harass residents, officials said.

    He poured gasoline on Robinson’s city pickup truck, then set it ablaze Thursday, police said. He also started a fire on his neighbor’s deck that spread to their home and destroyed it, killing six dogs and two cats, police said.

    Billings had wrongly accused the neighbors of reporting his yard to the city, a spokeswoman for the couple who lived next door said.

    As the fires burned, he stood in his driveway, near the body, witnesses told police.
    Billings was arrested on suspicion of aggravated arson, murder and other charges. No attorney was listed for him in court records, and there was no answer at a publicly listed phone number.

    Police say they found an assault-style rifle, a handgun, bolt cutters, a propane torch and gas containers in his house

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  111. 111
    Bess says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Some of the water distribution issues revolve around the fact that some early built water containment and distribution was built by groups of land owners and the right to that water has been passed along with title to the land. Someone who developed land later or did not participate in the cost of construction can’t access that water at a low price.

    It’s kind of like someone way out in the boonies paying for building a road to their house and then turning it into a toll road. They paid for it, why should they have to share for free?

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  112. 112
    Jay says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Worst part is, the boreal forest is attempting to “flee north” and colonize the tundra, but isn’t going to make it in time.

    And the boreal forest doesn’t drink Rob Ford beer, it drinks fine microbrewed brown ales, porters and stouts.

    ReplyReply
  113. 113
    jeffreyw says:

    Great Spangled Fritillary
    Caught this guy with my S8 this afternoon while mowing the back pond dam.

    ReplyReply
  114. 114
    Aleta says:

    @opiejeanne: Two years ago we got a small Fujit*su heat pump (DC Halycon Invertor iirc) for our house and then a 2nd one for an old building we use in the summer. We got the first to save $ on heat in the ‘shoulder season’ and the 2nd to dry the old building out. We’ve been using them steadily in unbelievable heat and humidity; very happy with them. Heat, Dry, Cool and Fan settings along with temperature. The air is fresh, they work fast, can’t believe how comfortable. Before this I’d lived in really hot humid climates w/o air conditioning. These seem to feel nicer than the older kind of air conditioner too.

    ReplyReply
  115. 115
    CarolPW says:

    @Jay: I agree that people best learn river geography from fishing. Most farmers also know very acutely where their water is coming from, so I am at a loss as to what crap that fuckhead thinks he heard from farmers in California.

    ReplyReply
  116. 116
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @James E Powell: Is this the Liberals are using lasers to melt the clouds before they get to the coast conspiracy theory or something new?

    ReplyReply
  117. 117

    @A Ghost To Most: Ain’t an option here, I”m a renter.

    ReplyReply
  118. 118
    Aleta says:

    @Aleta: A day of thick fog followed by a hot day and the humidity has sometimes gone to 90%.

    ReplyReply
  119. 119
    opiejeanne says:

    @bk: LOL! Yeah, she didn’t understand much of anything to be honest. I hope she learned a few things after she grew up a bit.

    ReplyReply
  120. 120
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    So the implications of all this, is the reasons the fire season is so bad it the Tinfoil wing of the Trump base is out starting fires because they must Own Liberals and their hatred of liberalism is so bad they will engage resort to arson?

    ReplyReply
  121. 121
    J R in WV says:

    @opiejeanne:

    When I was a little kid, hornets built a nest under the top edge of a window opening on my granddad’s brick house. Because the back of the nest was against the window glass, we grandkids could climb up on a chair and watch them laying eggs and building their internal nest structures.

    Then later on a different nest was built on a huckleberry bush. An older kid, Bill G next door went out on a cool night and nuked it with wasp spray and wrapped it in plastic. After it cooked in the poison a few days, he cut the bush, and gave the whole big nest, much larger than a basketball, to me. I had it on the wall of my bedroom for years.

    Hornets, hostile and dangerous.

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  122. 122
    opiejeanne says:

    @Aleta: We talked with our estimator about heat pumps, but it really doesn’t fit our needs, nor do the geo-thermal systems. We don’t have terribly hard winters. It gets down to 15F one night every year but it never stays that cold. It’s not going to be that expensive to add it to our fairly new forced air heating systems (it was upgraded three years before we bought this place, when the house was only 12 years old) because all of the ductwork is already there.

    ReplyReply
  123. 123
    opiejeanne says:

    @J R in WV: That was cool being able to see inside the nest.

    We’ve been told to bag it after nuking it by several friends.

    ReplyReply
  124. 124
    Jay says:

    @CarolPW:

    Somebody tried to explain the Delta Tunnels conflict to Dolt45 with out a kids colouring book on the subject handy.

    ReplyReply
  125. 125
    HumboldtBlue says:

    I haven’t wanted to post about the California wildfires because, from this distance, it feels like indulging in disaster porn.

    No, please, no.

    It’s news.

    Important, impactful and immense.

    Humboldt County has yet again escaped the most serious ravages of wildfire and we along the coast are about as immune from the disaster as you can get (for now, the local climate has changed drastically in the time I have spent here, close on two decades) but this is news impacting hundreds of thousands of people. The expenses, the loss of property, the overwhelming damage is going to reverberate for years.

    Focusing on an ongoing disaster that is directly impacting a good score or two of your readers is always worth it. It’s not just the fire ravaged areas (poor Lake fucking County has been scorched three straight summers) that are affected, the entire state is affected, hell, it will require Federal action as well.

    ReplyReply
  126. 126
    burnspbesq says:

    @Ruckus:

    He says the next time they aren’t staying.

    California will be depopulated while we’re still around to see it. It won’t be drought or fire that is the direct, proximate cause, although they will be factors. When California becomes uninsurable, it becomes uninhabitable.

    ReplyReply
  127. 127
    Ruckus says:

    @burnspbesq:
    It’s already basically uninsurable for one of our major problems, earthquakes. Has been for a number of years. One of those times they lost their house was during the Northridge earthquake. A neighbors house caught fire and took out 6 more before the fire department could get there and put it out. The insurance companies were not going to cover any losses because they said the fire was caused by earthquake and therefore not covered. The CA insurance commissioner said as long as they had fire insurance and earthquakes are not listed as a non coverable cause they have to pay up. Check your homeowners policy for fire causes. It used to be only arson caused by a policy holder. Wanna bet that fire caused by earthquake is no longer covered?

    ReplyReply
  128. 128
    Achrachno says:

    @burnspbesq: Why should it become uninsurable? Most of the state is not particularly prone to wildfire, and the areas that are are probably becoming less so. The fire hazard can be managed with rational land planning, though we have a way to go on that due to the usual political and ideological factors. Planning? Eeek! But the politics here have gotten somewhat better, at least at the state level.

    ReplyReply
  129. 129
    Achrachno says:

    @Ruckus: And yet despite the problems with the threat of a major earthquake and subsequent insurance issues, the population continues to grow and that shows no signs of stopping. CA is a huge market and I’ll bet the right pressures and incentives could be found to encourage the insurance companies to serve that market despite the quake problem. Do they still insure people in FL, OK, and places like that? Are the threats in CA really greater, or just different?

    ReplyReply
  130. 130
    Achrachno says:

    @WhatsMyNym: Yes, but the weedy grasses mostly came as contaminants in seed grain, in the wool of imported sheep and as general stowaways in one thing or another. People move a lot of material around and weed seeds come with it, including both grasses and other things. Some grasses were brought intentionally as range improvements or for erosion control, but I think those are usually the smaller part of the “flashy fuels” problem.

    ReplyReply
  131. 131
    Bess says:

    @Achrachno: Late to the conversation, but I’ve got a lot of native bunch grass on my acres in the coastal range and it stays green through the summer. The areas with “Spanish oats” browns out.

    I’m hoping that with cattle no longer on the land the bunch grass will gradually take over.

    ReplyReply
  132. 132
    sukabi says:

    @Calouste: $50,000 would have gotten inpatient treatment for about 2 weeks in 1994.

    ReplyReply
  133. 133
    Caracal says:

    @Calouste: They don’t want to be treated, they think the rest of us are sick and need mental health treatment.

    ReplyReply

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