Category: Culture

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The Hummer Metaphor

San Diego changes around me, particularly from the cost-of-living increases brought by the ever-growing emigration of high-tech workers escaping Northern California; they’re well-paid and find here comparatively affordable rents and home prices—all of which rise as more Googler-types relocate. SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns set them free to work from anywhere there is reliable Internet.

So I was only modestly surprised to see a Hummer parked off of Lincoln in the University Heights neighborhood on Feb. 21, 2021. What amazed me more, when arriving here in October 2007, was the number of Hummers seen seemingly everywhere. You could have played an adapted Punch Buggy—and lost—for the few non-military Hummers traveling about the Washington, D.C. metro area that we left nearly 14 years ago. In San Diego, the contrast was stark, and I wondered why all the gas guzzlers given stereotypes about carbon-aware, environmentally-focused California culture. Should I answer status symbol? The late-2008 economic collapse purged the oversize vehicles from local roadways. Who could afford higher monthly payments or gasoline for a roadster rated city driving of 13 miles to-the-gallon?  By mid-2009, their numbers had diminished to near nothing; that I observed. Eventually, as the economy recovered, based on increasing sightings, various Jeep models replaced the Hummers as all-around utility vehicles.

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Surely There is a Better Way to Help the Homeless

I specifically shot the Featured Image, yesterday using Leica Q2, to illustrate this essay. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 11:22 a.m. PST. The carts belonged to one of three homeless men gathered together a few meters away on the Hillcrest side of Washington Street Bridge (University Heights is on the other). For sure, San Diego has a significant indigent population. But I write about San Francisco and something that surprises me—and perhaps will you, too.

According to the SF Chronicle (sorry, subscription required), the city is “currently sheltering more than 2,200 homeless people in about 25 hotels” and the “monthly program costs range from $15 million to $18 million”. By my math, that works out to between $6,818.18 to $8,8181.82 per person each month. If these people were paid, the equivalent annual salary would be between $82,000 and $98,000. Oh, and looks like the United States government will cover costs through the end of September 2021.

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Divided We Stand

At Noon EST today, Joseph R. Biden Jr. ascended to the Presidency of the United States, having taken the oath of office about 12 minutes earlier. He later issued 15 executive orders, which is an unprecedented number compared to his predecessors. None to one is typical on the first day. Democrats are unified controlling the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

Biden’s first-day actions and posturing by the House and Senate are indicative of a party with a mandate. But there is none. The 46th President won the 2020 Election by slimmer-than-appears electoral margin and Democrats command a narrow number of seats in Congress. The data, along with recent protesting and rioting by conservative and liberal constituents, reflect a nation deeply divided, rather than united behind the new Commander-in-Chief. The situation portends that his calls for unity will fail, although I hope otherwise.

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Flowers, Anyone?

The Featured Image is an attempt to soothe the soul, following an insane few days that promise to be absolutely crazier. I captured the flowers on April 2, 2018, using Leica M (Typ 262) and Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens. Vitals: f/4.8, ISO 200, 1/250 sec, 50mm; 10:24 a.m. PDT. Photo is composed as shot; no edits.

As for the bizarre goings on, to start: During a massive rally of up to 1 million people (my guess, 250,000-plus) in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021, protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol during certification of the electoral vote that confirms the 2020 Presidential Election winner. Violence ensued, and lawmakers were evacuated, including Vice President Michael Pence. A woman (Ashli Babbit) from here in San Diego was shot and killed by police. Later, an officer (Brian Sicknick) died of injuries sustained during the melee. Politicians quickly called the assault an “insurrection” and failed “coup”, blaming President Donald Trump for instigating the incident.

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If the Lockdown Lasts Long Enough…

I am so tempted to buy a can of spray paint and replace that last zero in twenty-twenty with a one. Because given that Southern California’s COVID-19 crackdown continues unabated—and that the restaurant couldn’t have opened in “Early Fall” because of it—autumn twenty-twenty-one looks ever more realistic. That assumes the place isn’t forced into insolvency, like so many other local eateries. In this County, SanDiegoVille keeps a running list of restaurants and pubs permanently shuttered during 2020—the majority since the pandemic’s start. I count 113 entities, but more when accounting for establishments with multiple locations.

These businesses are prohibited from seating customers, indoors or outdoors; take-out and delivery are the only options, and they don’t generate enough revenue to keep operations aloft. The widening spread of COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), demonstrates that forced closures are ineffective killing the pandemic. But they sure look likely to massively massacre small- and medium-size businesses.

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The N-Word for White Women

Six months have passed since I walked by the painted window, somewhere in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, that is this post’s Featured Image. My thoughts needed some percolation before I was ready to express them. Here we go. Women of a certain age (often middle age, or older), economic status (Middle Class or wealthier, which means entitled), and race (white) are all over the InterWebs for behaving badly. Somebody smartphone-videos their tirades, which may or may not include racial slurs but more often is angry or exasperated. The typical stereotype is the woman who calls cops or store manager to settle a perceived grievance.

Call it the new KKK—Karen-Ken Klan, which lynches people in the social media public square, where they don’t lose their lives but absolutely lose their livelihoods: Jobs and reputations, for starters. Death would almost be merciful compared the merciless torture for which they endure.

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California’s Christmas Coal Stocking Stuffer

For a state top-heavy with liberal-leaning Climate Change crazies cruising electric cars and demanding the end of carbon emissions, California sure loves coal—as in stuffed by the truckloads into Christmas stockings. Governor Gavin “Grinch” Newsom assures plenty of blackened lumps this holiday, following his most recent order that effectively shuts down most of California and demands that citizens stay home and embark on nothing more than “essential travel”; how odd that trips for alcohol and cannabis are allowed, although I’d like to think that Santa regards them as naughty and worthy of a sack of curbside coal—seeing as how the lockdown order permits deliveries but forbids visits from the likes of Old Saint Nick.

Today marks the first full day of shutdown misery, which will last until at least Dec. 27, 2020. Driving through Ocean Beach this morning, I was struck by how many eateries and pubs had set up outdoor dining areas—some costing tens of thousands of dollars to construct. Now they’re useless monuments to COVID-19, colossal wastes of capital, and resounding lessons that trying to do the right thing for public health is the wrong approach when Governor Newssolini keeps changing the rules by which businesses operate during the pandemic.

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California Cancels Christmas

Reading the list from my previous post, Cali life might seem so fab that you’re ready to move to the Golden State. Cool your jets and read on first. Earlier today, Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom extinguished the light at the end of the holidays, by announcing even more SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19restrictions that assure Santa won’t shimmy down any California chimneys this Christmas Eve, even if wearing a mask or practicing social distancing. St. Nick Corp. isn’t an “essential business”, meaning one exempt from the onerous obstructions to living—or even breathing—under the benevolence of Governor Newssolini’s  auspicious authority.

Bigger than the new lockdown protocols is their nebulous nature. Newsom has organized the state into five regions, placing San Diego County with Los Angeles County, which has the greatest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (e.g. infections) in the United States. He expects that ICU capacity will fall to 15 percent within the next day or two, which will be the event that steals Christmas from Southern California, if not statewide. But he was downright dubious about when this would happen, although he could confidently say that once the trigger pulls, the new shutdown order would be in place for at least three weeks. Do the math. Santa ain’t coming this year!

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The Benefits of Living the COVID California Crackdown

Thanks to Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s dictates demanding that citizens stay home, California is now a fine freeloading paradise where taking responsibility for anything is a crime. But that’s okay, because his do-nothing principle is assured to protect us—locked inside our own living-in-paradise prisons—from SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), also known as COVID-19.

I have heard some commenters refer to the Gov as Newssolini, but anyone with more than two functioning neurons should see such insinuation insults the dictator. (Say, Mr. Mussolini, how’s the temperature in Hell these days?)