Friday, May 29, 2009

California state parks system just got its throat cut

Schwarzenegger proposes cuts to schools, in-home health care, and state employee salaries, more
Desert (and other) state parks to close, more

On the other hand: California is also cutting home health care, school funding, funded mandates that allow animal shelters to keep animals alive for five days before killing them ... California is broke. Our treasury system is broken, we can't save money here. Bad times mean hard cuts, because we seem unable to prepare for them.

I love this state, and I wouldn't want the responsibility for running it -- but *argh* sometimes I want to pull my hair out at the decisions the voters and the legislators have made over the years that have gotten us where we are now.

Honestly, I don't know what to say. I don't want state park funding cut, or education cut. I don't know where we're spending money that we (in my rarely humble opinion) shouldn't be. I know California has been historically bad at saving money, both by habit and by constitutional restrictions. (And I know for sure our constitution and its processes are badly broken.)

We can't spend money we don't have, and regardless of why we don't have money now, we just don't have it.

What do we do?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Girl Scouts are geographiles

Here's why Girl Scouts rock, among other reasons.

Rachel (in 4th grade) was among the friends I went to the USGS open house with. She collected a bunch of material -- geologic maps, mineral posters, bookmarks, stamps, anything sciencey and interesting -- at the open house, and showed it to her Girl Scout friends, and they were fascinated.

Rachel is a science geek, and an interesting kid. Her Girl Scout friends rock.

There are a lot of good reasons for girls to participate in Scouting, if they can find a good troop:

  • Girl Scouts don't require religious attachment or belief.

  • Girl Scouts encourage girls to be bold and adventurous, to be smart, and independent.

  • Girl Scouts have fun.

  • Girl Scouts don't discriminate on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

  • Girl Scouts work on environmental awareness.

  • Girl Scouts learn science.

What else rocks about Girl Scouting?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thematic Maps

Water USe in the US PNG
Originally uploaded by mmmaps.
Amanda Briney at explains thematic maps, what they're for, and how to read them:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

nifty 3D city modelling

freedom map of the US?

future gay marriage map
Originally uploaded by coltmaverick.
The picture-maker says (edited a bit, as indicated):
The United States seems inexorably headed towards marriage rights for [same-sex] -- but how long will it take to get there across the board? Nate Silver has an answer. Based entirely on his hard work at, here is the future of [same-sex] marriage in the US:

The years indicated are those by which a [same-sex] marriage ban would be defeated by voters in a given state, according to a regression model designed by Silver....

How did Silver come up with these results? Here's the explanation:
I looked at the 30 instances in which a state has attempted to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage by voter initiative. The list includes Arizona twice, which voted on different versions of such an amendment in 2006 and 2008, and excludes Hawaii, which voted to permit the legislature to ban gay marriage but did not actually alter the state's constitution. I then built a regression model that looked at a series of political and demographic variables in each of these states and attempted to predict the percentage of the vote that the marriage ban would receive.

It turns out that you can build a very effective model by including just three variables:

1. The year in which the amendment was voted upon;
2. The percentage of adults in 2008 Gallup tracking surveys who said that religion was an important part of their daily lives;
3. The percentage of white evangelicals in the state.

Click through for more details.

Needless to say, I'd like to see this map go black as fast as it can go. I think any consenting adult should be able to marry any other consenting adult.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Redwood Canyon, East Bay Regional Parks

redwood canyon_1
Originally uploaded by EBRPD Public Affairs.
The East Bay Regional Parks historical photos pool might just be my new favorite flickr pool. I'm going to be poking around in it and sharing some of these photos here and there, because the EBRPD is one of my favorite things about living in this part of California. Just a mile from my house between San Jose and Oakland, I can take my dogs running off-leash over hillsides and on wooded trails for miles, canoe, and swim, and a bit farther away, I can tour historic mines, ride an antique carousel, talk to goats, and learn about the special vegetation of serpentine grasslands.


"A group of high profile New Zealanders talk about climate change and why they Signed On at to ask NZ Prime Minister John Key to go to Copenhagen to Sign NZ On to 40 per cent emissions reduction by 2020."


It's so necessary.

Population control has to be part of it.

Clean energy has to be part of it.

Personal sacrifice must be part of it.

But 40% still seems like so very much.

How can we do it, really?

"Sign on" -- Okay. Now what?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

lightning hits the Space Needle

Originally uploaded by spookythecat., one of my favorite sites for geographilic information, has a fabulous video from May 23, 2009, of lightning hitting Seattle's Space Needle.

Here's the video:

And poke around for more nifty stuff.

A Green Journey for Conservation: Nathan Winters of

Nathan Winters has said goodbye (for now) to his beloved dog and set off across North America on a bicycle, raising environmental awareness (and blisters, and muscles) and tree-planting money for the Nature Conservancy.

Nathan started in Maine and is now in his home state of Vermont. He's chugging along visiting farmer's markets and organic farms, talking to real people doing real work about sustainability and conservation.

(Nathan talks to Larry Bisbee about recycling.)

This is an expensive trip. He's saving travel expenses where he can, but this is a fundraiser -- your donations to the Nature Conservancy (one of my all-time favorite environmental organizations) are fuelling his spirit.

To learn more about Nathan's travels:

Nathan's flickr stream, awesome cafepress shop (I love that bike), youtube channel, facebook page, and twitter stream. (Nathan posts updates about his location to Twitter, including when he's looking for a cozy place to bed down for the night, so you can help by following his travels there, and letting friends know when he's approaching and could use their hospitality.)

Please visit to find out how to donate to the Nature Conservancy and support Nathan on his journey.