The 'Golden State' Still Doesn't Get It [via David Angsten]

from Investor's Business Daily
States: The midterm elections turned into a sweeping repudiation of the Democrats' failed status quo — except, that is, in California. There, not only did the Democrats not lose, they gained clout.

Even as voters in other states said they'd had enough of ever bigger, more intrusive and higher-cost government by the Democrats, California voters said, "More please."

With the exception of the governor's office, California has been a virtual one-party state since the 1960s. Now, thanks to decades of anti-business policies promulgated by a series of left-leaning legislatures, its economy and finances are a mess, and it's hemorrhaging jobs, businesses and productive entrepreneurs to other states.

The pattern continued on Tuesday, when voters rehired 1970s Democratic gubernatorial retread Jerry Brown and rejected moderate Republican and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina for far-left, five-term incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer.

How bad has it gotten in the erstwhile Golden State? Consider:

• Some 2.3 million Californians are without jobs, for a 12.4% unemployment rate — one of the highest in the country.

• From 2001 to 2010, factory jobs plummeted from 1.87 million to 1.23 million — a loss of 34% of the state's industrial base. Ask any company, and it'll tell you the same thing: It's now almost impossible to build a big factory in California.

• With just 12% of the U.S. population, California has almost a third of the nation's welfare recipients. Some joke the state motto should be changed from "The Golden State" to "The Welfare State." Meanwhile, 15.3% of all Californians live in poverty.

• The state budget gap for 2009-10 was $45.5 billion, or 53% of total state spending — the largest in any state's history.

• The state's sales tax is the nation's highest, and its income tax the third-highest, the Web site recently noted. Meanwhile, the Tax Foundation's "State Business Tax Climate Index" ranks California 48th.

• In a ranking by corporate relocation expert Ronald Pollina of the 50 states based on 31 factors for job creation, California finished dead last.

• In another ranking, this one by the Beacon Hill Institute on state competitiveness, California came in 32nd — down seven spots in just one year.

• California is home to 25% of America's 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants. A 2004 study estimated that illegals cost the state's citizens $10.5 billion a year — roughly $1,200 per family.

• Unfunded pension liabilities for California's state and public employees may be as much as $500 billion — roughly 17% of the nation's total $3 trillion at the state and local level.

This has been building for decades. Yet, despite the abysmal track record, Democrats in this election not only won six of the state's seven top jobs, they extended their hold over the state legislature, too. The GOP gained a record 680 seats in statehouses nationwide on Tuesday. In California, they gained none.

Even Democratic candidate Jenny Oropeza, who died two weeks ago, still managed to defeat live Republican John Stammreich in a race for a state Senate seat.

California really bucked the national trend.

"Democrats had a 13-point party identification advantage among California voters, compared with an even split nationwide," wrote Jack Pitney, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, on the National Review's blog. "California voters approved of President Obama's performance by a 10-point margin, whereas the national electorate disapproved by nine points.

"It's a different kind of state," he said. That may be the understatement of 2010.

A large part of the state's Democratic tilt comes from its massive Latino population. The Los Angeles Times noted that it made up 22% of the voting pool, "a record tally that mortally wounded many Republicans."

Indeed, Latinos went for Democrats by 2-to-1 — perhaps ending the naive idea of some in the GOP of a New Majority built on the burgeoning Latino population.

But the real political problem lies in Sacramento, the state capital, which is run not so much by politicians as by the unions they've sold out to — state employees, nurses, teachers and prison guards.

For their part, politicians have largely ignored the state's crumbling infrastructure, failing schools and dismal job market. And it's about to get worse.

Voters also approved a new measure requiring a simple legislative majority to approve a state budget. It previously took two-thirds, giving Republicans far more leverage. Democrats, in other words, will now find it even easier to spend money they don't have.

Moreover, as its tax base shrivels, the state is lurching ever closer to fiscal insolvency. At some point, it will ask Congress for a bailout, and how likely is that with the new Republican majority?

Worse is the feeling among the state's businesses of an entrenched, almost pathological antipathy toward any job-creating activity.

As Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers memorably put it: "The killer factor in California for a manufacturer to create, say, 1,000 blue-collar jobs is a hostile government that doesn't want you there and demonstrates it in thousands of ways."

So far this year, thanks to California's unfriendly political environment, strict regulations and high taxes, 32 companies have announced they'll either expand elsewhere, move or shut down operations, according to the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.

For many, it's as simple as ABC — Anywhere But California. This is an issue near and dear to our hearts. Investor's Business Daily was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles — and for a quarter of a century has proudly called California its home.

But we too have been affected by the state's poisonous, anti-business political environment. With de facto one-party rule in the state since the 1960s and few signs of change anytime soon, our optimism about the state's future has begun to wane.

As a result, sad to say, much of IBD's future growth will happen at a new facility in Texas — where local and state authorities have bent over backwards to make us feel welcome.

California was once like Texas, but lost its way. Today, when comparisons are made, California is most often compared to Greece — another idyllic place with a sunny, Mediterranean climate on the verge of bankruptcy.

In the end, only the voters of California can change things. But on Tuesday, they opted for more of the same governance that will only make conditions worse.

{via Elaine Edelson]

So Eliah comes home from school and spends
an hour on the trampoline. When she's done she
comes inside and says, "Oh. Forgot to tell you that
I got an award for writing a poem at school. We had
to write like ee cummings. Ya' know. He's not my style.
But anyway, wanna hear it?"

So we nod furiously and listen as she reads her homage
to "Hurt is like Hunger," and try not to cry.

vigorous gnawing
empty void hollowness
wanting crying starving for
relief slipping away into
nothingness...happy joyful
contentment stuffed
with smiles-gone forever...
sadness no

L O S T...

Then she went back out on the trampoline.

Dale Chihuly: Alchemy in Glass

By Darby Roach

I'm standing with Dale Chihuly in a large open, high-ceilinged room called the hot shop. The reason for the name is immediately clear. Along one wall several furnaces glow orange -- this is where the glass goes for its transition to the molten state -- and the heat can be felt ten feet away. Another wall contains row on row of colored glass rods that will be ground up and added to the clear glass according to Dale's design.

Like an alchemist who magically turns lead into gold, Dale Chihuly turns plain glass into works of art. It's easy to understand why his creations are in high demand among private collectors, institutions and museums around the world. In fact his work is so well regarded and so well known that the mere mention of Chihuly conjures up images of impossibly beautiful curves, shapes and colors, fantastic compositions that transform common light into something extraordinary.

Dale is soft spoken and reserved, tranquil as he stands calmly sipping his coffee, seemingly oblivious to the surrounding din and clatter and ordered chaos of the hot shop. A small army of artisans hurry about, moving deliberately from one task to the next, each intent on his or her own contribution to the act of creation.

This is a team effort and Dale is constantly asking for their opinions, input and creativity, which he happily encourages them to incorporate into the work. There is, after all, a lot of spontaneity and serendipity in the glass. But make no mistake; it's Dale's vision. He is in charge. Every ship needs a captain.


"Watch closely," Dale says, "this all happens very quickly."

A gaffer spins molten glass at the end of a blowpipe and the glass begins to change. Dale's right, it does happen fast. There's not much time before the glass will cool and lose its plasticity, so Dale steps in with two large paddles, and in a few deft motions, what was an amorphous mass a few moments before is now an incredible work of art.

Dale Chihuly has been doing this for nearly 50 years now, and man, he is good.

But Dale's work goes far beyond creating and displaying the single piece. In fact, it's rare to see one in isolation. An important part of his art is the way in which he combines individual artifacts into compositions that are sometimes incredibly complex and sometimes elegantly simple.

Dale and his team have mounted amazing large-scale exhibitions at locations across the globe, including one in Jerusalem that drew a million visitors. True, his art works on a grand scheme, but it's also accessible at a more intimate scale, too. Even a simple arrangement of a few pieces thoughtfully lit on a table or shelf is a happy event not to be missed.

Dale Chihuly's next exhibition, Through the Looking Glass, will be in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts from Sunday, April 10th 2011, through Sunday, August 7th 2011. For more information, visit or, or

Darby Roach is a designer and a writer and heads up his own marketing agency, Orbit Direct. His most recent book, Your Three Second Window, demystifies the design process by explaining why we like the things we like, how to see and think as a designer, and what each of us can do to introduce harmony into our lives through enhanced aesthetic experiences.

Find out more about Darby and follow his blog at

Follow Darby Roach on Twitter:

IL: Is he single?

KJA: Yes, but he’s gay.

IL: I can work around it.—10/16/10, Burnside

Blame it all on the dude tripping the desert. [via Nina Reznick]

Hebrew University researcher: Moses

was tripping at Mount Sinai

Hebrew University Prof. Shanon argues that Israelite religious ceremonies included use of drugs.

By Ofri Ilani and Haaretz Correspondent

"And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking." Thus the book of Exodus describes the impressive moment of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

The "perceiving of the voices" has been interpreted endlessly since these words were first written. When Professor Benny Shanon, professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reads the verse, he recalls a powerful hallucinatory experience he had when he visited the Amazon and drank a potion made from a plant called ayahuasca.

"One of the things that happens when you drink the potion is a visual experience created via sounds," he says.

Shanon presents a provocative theory in an article published this week in the philosophy journal Time and Mind. The religious ceremonies of the Israelites included the use of psychotropic materials that can found in the Negev and Sinai, he says.

"I have no direct proof of this interpretation," and such proof cannot be expected, he says. However, "it seems logical that something was altered in people's consciousness. There are other stories in the Bible that mention the use of plants: for example, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden."

Shanon, former head of the Hebrew University psychology department, said his first experience with ayahuasca was in 1991 when he was invited to a religious ceremony in the northern Amazon in 1991 in Brazil.

"I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations," he says.

Since that time, he has used it hundreds of times, and has published a book about the plant.

"Hypotheses have been around for 20 years connecting the beginning of religions with psychoactive materials," Shanon says. He believes the Israelites used two plants in Sinai and the Negev: one of them is wild rue, a hallucinogen used by the Bedoin to this day. However this plant is not identified with any plant mentioned in the Bible.

The acacia tree also has psychedelic properties, Shanon says, which the Israelites could have used. The acacia is mentioned frequently in the Bible, and was the type of wood of which the Ark of the Covenant was made. According to Shanon, he drank a potion prepared from a species of acacia while he was in South America, which caused similar experiences to those produced by the ayahuasca.

Shanon also sees signs of a hallucinogenic vision in the story of the burning bush. "Moses 'looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed,'" Shanon quotes from Exodus 3:2. Time passes differently when under the influence of the plant, he notes. "That's why Moses thought the bush was not consumed. It should have been burned in the time he thought had passed. And in that time, he heard God speaking to him."

"But not everyone who uses a plant like this brings the Torah," Shanon concedes. "For that, you have to be Moses."

Chicago Women [via Susan Carlins]

Three friends married women from different parts of the Midwest.

The first man married a woman from Indiana. He told her that she was to do the dishes and house cleaning.

It took a couple of days, but on the third day, he came to see a clean house and dishes washed and put away.

The second man married a woman from Michigan He gave his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes and the cooking.

The first day he didn't see any results, but the next day he saw it was better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean, the dishes were done and there was a huge dinner on the table.

The third man married a girl from Illinois. He ordered her to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed, and hot meals on the table for every meal.

He said the first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything but by the third day, some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, and his arm was healed enough that he could fix himself a sandwich and load the dishwasher. He still has some difficulty when he pees.