Santa Barbara Evening View

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Santa Barbara Evening View
I love trying to get a different perspective on our beautiful corner of the world. And I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with my cameras after dark. No surprise then that I would always be on the lookout for a wonderful nighttime perch like this.

Thanks to our mountains, we have the opportunity to go from a beautiful cityscape like this, to an absoulute dark sky allowing great views of the stars in Santa Ynez Valley with only a short drive. And you can see that on some interesting maps online that can help you find dark skies for stargazing, or even bright cityscapes if you’re a crazy owl-like photographer who likes that sort of thing. This is one of my favorites… http://darksitefinder.com/maps.html

(By the way, access to this particular perch was thanks to a friend, client and long time Santa Barbara View reader!)

-Bill Heller

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Saturdays with Seibert

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

catAfter dropping off my ballot on Tuesday I was given a sticker, “I Voted.”

As it turned out every local vote I cast was on the losing side. I didn’t vote for Lois, Das, or Bill, and I voted for M.

So for no particular reason I put the sticker on my cat. She seemed to like it. I’ll always vote for cats.

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Ecofacts: The Energy Revolution, Part 1‏

Column by Barbara Hirsch

The wonderful progress of the present century is, in a very great degree, due to the invention and improvement of the steam engine, and to the ingenious application of its power to kinds of work that formerly taxed the physical energies of the human race.”~Robert H. Thurston

As that was written in the 1870′s, the first plant for generating electricity was being built in New York. It was the transition from the first to the second industrial revolution, the first being fueled by coal, the second adding liquid fossil fuels to the mix – whatever needed to be burned for energy to light our homes, run our factories and of course, the internal combustion engine – our cars.

Some historians have marked the second industrial revolution as 1870-1914, and from our view a hundred years later it seems premature to mark the end of it then, as if all technology changed with the first World War. Let’s say it continued until the 1970s or ’80s, or call it an era, with the next one beginning when the internet and digital technology comes to the fore.

The Third Industrial Revolution is so new, its revolutionary nature is still evolving, albeit at lightening (broadband) speed. It could be viewed simply as the digitization of manufacturing, or as an energy and economy revolution, the democratization of energy, as expressed by Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Hydrogen Economy and more recently The Third Industrial Revolution: How lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and World. Here are his pillars of this revolution:

1. The shift towards renewable energy.
2. Transforming buildings to generate and store energy on-site.
3. Deploying hydrogen storage, among others, to store intermittent energies.
4. Using internet technology to transform power grids world-wide.
5. Transforming the transport fleet to electric and fuel cell vehicles using the interactive power grid.

Next up: the hydrogen potential.

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Advice for the Soul of Body and Mind

With Dr. Kathleen Boisen

Question??

My son who is in third grade seems to be struggling with reading and spelling. How do I become an informed, advocating parent? MJ Santa Barbara

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Illustration by entera-theartist.com

You are in luck to have access to the best information any parent can have. It is a beautifully written, user friendly Booklet called DyslexiaLand written by Cheri Rae, a local writer who started the dyslexiaproject.com.You can purchase this booklet at Chaucers or at Amazon.com, or through her website. This booklet tells you everything you need to know. Here are some of the highlights.

The schools can’t diagnose or even offer help with learning challenges. It simply isn’t in the system in California, and states do vary. Today’s schools are designed for typical learners, for whom reading comes easily, note-taking is a breeze. But for the 20% of children who have a different neurology this is not the case.

The truth is that dyslexia is a specific learning ability, neurobiological in origin, typically characterized by strengths including creative expression, athletic performance and scientific discovery. It is a learning style with special sets of abilities and brilliant gifts. To assume that everyone has the exact same learning style is just plain crazy. Unfortunately our school system only has one channel that suits most of the 80%. When you ask a teacher or a parent, what is your child’s learning style? The answer should reflect his superior talents, not where he doesn’t fit in. We live in a tiny, print base reality that may not include some of our greatest talent.

Here are a few names to think about; Albert Einstein, John Lennon, Jay Leno, Babe Ruth, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, Charles Schwab, Ted Turner, Walt Disney, Tesla, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Winston Churchill, Eisenhower, Benjamin Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Prince Charles. They are all Dyslexic. And here is another name, Mine.

Yes, I am dyslexic, and in the fifth grade I was declared mentally retarded by my teacher after testing my reading skills she found that I was at first grade level. Makes you wonder how I got from first to fifth grade without anyone noticing, but never mind. In those days the way to deal with these things was to simply shuffle me off to a school for retarded, special eds needs children and that was it. My mother fortunately advocated for me, she demanded that I be given an IQ test before being shuffled off to the low horizon academy. I tested “normal” or “above average” and I was transferred to another class, my parents hired a team of tutors and I muddled through to college.

I am a kind of dyslexic success story since I have attended five universities and have degrees from all of them, I have been a teacher, speak four languages, written a book and am now a Doctor of Oriental Medicine. It was challenging, but I feel advantaged. Dyslexics have an ability to think outside the box, to be an active, creative thinker and have special talent in figuring out ways to do things differently.

When you look at the list of amazing people who are dyslexic you realize that there might be a superior brain lurking in there, one that should be nurtured and encouraged. Yale figured that out, they have a center for Dyslexia and Creativity. Where’s ours?

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Keeping Montecito, Montecito

Dan Seibert

In today’s Montecito Journal, Kelly Mahan looks into the weed situation and reports the following. The area has been the responsibility of the Streets division since the project was finished in 2009. But the Street people are more into “concrete and asphalt,” more than weed abatement. They have been working with the Parks department to take control. As of later this month the Parks will start maintaining the area.

Kelly must have some influence because I drove by this morning and there were four men from the city doing the weed removal. Thanks to Kelly and the city for jumping on this so fast. I appreciate it!

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Get Real about Representation

Column by Loretta Redd

DistrictElections3A lot of money is about to be spent fixing a problem that doesn’t really exist in Santa Barbara.  The proposed action won’t remedy the concern, and could well create a more contentious and still unresponsive city council.

The prevailing logic concludes this unnecessary remedy is cheaper than a law suit.  Welcome to the less than burning issue of District Elections… or some other form of selecting candidates for City Council.

Santa Barbara is a Charter city, and as such, has more autonomy than “general law” cities which have to follow state provisions for municipalities.  Of California’s 482 cities, only 121 are governed by Charter.

Our City Charter provides for the size of the council, the fact that the mayor has no more authority than other council members, that the City Manager is granted significant powers, that there are maximum salaries for council members, restrictions on land-use, how the city spends money, pay scales and such.

In other cities throughout California, there have been challenges to citywide elections by the ACLU and other local groups based on the premise that “at-large” elections don’t adequately reflect the demographics of the city, and has resulted in a failure to elect a racially diverse city council.

Clearly, that is the case in Santa Barbara…if…and it’s a big IF…the method of electing our council members is the real reason we have had so few minority representatives.

With demographics of 38 percent Hispanic/Latino, 3 percent Asian, 1 percent African American and 54 percent white in Santa Barbara, there can be no doubt we do not have proportional Council representation based on race.  But should race be the basis for redistricting, or should population numbers be the driver as it is in some cities.

Many municipalities having changed their voting methods from at-large to other systems, have done so in order to create a ‘climate of inclusion.’  Perhaps registration to vote and participation would increase if the candidates better reflected the racial makeup of the city…but the actual ballots cast for perennial candidate Cruzito Cruz or Megan Diaz Alley for instance,  are contrary to this logic.

Will minorities be better represented with “proportional representation?”  Regardless of the method of election, one must ask how minorities are being underserved in our city.  When I attended the public forum recently at the Faulker room, the most consistent complaint from minority speakers was that their elected officials were non-responsive.

In my opinion, Council member non-responsiveness has little if anything to do with race, which is why district elections may result in even greater disappointment.  A greater challenge to elected officials is the sheer volume of questions, comments, complaints, suggestions and requests they receive daily- most by email.

Don’t expect them to admit to this…after all, they are your ‘representatives,’ and it would sound whining and unprofessional to admit that there is no possible way to answer every comment received.

With the help of office staff assigned to assist each council member, they attempt to prioritize, respond and follow up on public inquiries, but I am certain there are times it is a daunting task.   Ask yourself how much time you spend responding to emails or texts each day and multiply that by a thousand or so…

This issue has only gotten worse, as the City offices increasingly hide behind electronic mail and voicemail messages.  All corporations and governments do this now; usually in the name of “efficiency,” it remains a great way to dodge the public and control the message.  Whereas one brief call to a city staff person might answer any number of questions, now the resident must find their way through the rabbit hole of contacts and leave print or voice messages in the ‘void.’

Irritating? Absolutely.  But the truth is, electronic systems are cheaper than hired personnel, so I don’t see the Information Technology department of the City diminishing in scope any time soon.

But with this dependence on IT, we have created an unrealistic expectation of immediacy, which may be increasing our sense of being denied adequate ‘representation’ and ‘responsiveness’ from our council.

There is also a hurdle of language.  It is fairly easy to translate electronically from Spanish to English and vice-versa, but nuance and immediacy can be lost.  Do we have any Spanish speakers on council? I don’t think so, but it would make sense if we did.

Ultimately, our City will be forced into changing its method of electing Council representatives.  That is pretty much a given.  But, whether having a representative ‘speak’ and ‘act’ for a single district will result in more responsiveness waits to be seen.  I imagine it could increase the likelihood of a ‘call back,’ or face-to-face meeting, and it may create a better bridge of language and culture but it will also result in greater competition for budget dollars, and for services from city staff.

Perhaps District or Cumulative or Ranked Choice voting ‘success’ looks like this:  a greater proportional voter turn-out,  resulting in a more diverse City Council with an even greater volume of complaints from their constituents.   November elections ought to be interesting.

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Signs of the Times in Santa Barbara, California

Aerial billboards have made their way up from the spring-break beaches of Mexico to the American Riviera. Santa Barbara is free of roadside billboards, and the City has a strict sign ordinance in place, which marketers are now rising above.
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Senior Prank at Santa Barbara High Makes News

For their senior prank, students at Santa Barbara High School (YouTube version) hired a mariachi band to follow principal John Becchio around… here’s the story on Today.

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Staying the Course in Santa Barbara: County Election Results

sbview_election1California’s Top Two Candidate Open Primary system received it’s first full test Tuesday, and in Santa Barbara County, the results are not that surprising. Here are story lines from election night:

Santa Barbara View is going to be the first to call the race for U.S. Representative, 24th District, in favor of Lois Capps. The incumbent congresswoman would reportedly like to face Republican Chris Mitchum in November, but the race for second place and a matchup vs. Capps could last well into the night.

Santa Barbara County returns, not the full district, had Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco ahead of Mitchum by a small margin followed by Justin Fareed. Bradley Allen, the out-of-state doctor who happens to be married to Jaclyn Smith of Charlie’s Angels fame, leads a pack of five with 6% or less of the vote. 

Click here for results from Santa Barbara County.

Update: The 24th Congressional District covers multiple voting districts, map below, running from San Luis Obispo through Santa Barbara, and into Ventura County. With all precincts reporting 100%, former actor Chris Mitchum looks like next candidate to lose to Congresswoman Lois Capps in the fall; however, his margin over Justin Fareed is less than 1,000 votes so the race hasn’t been called. Dale Francisco is running third.

Thursday Update:
Chris Mitchum still holds a narrow lead over Justin Fareed, but 30,000 ballots are reportedly yet to be counted and the race has not been called.

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For official state-wide results, click here.

As expected, it’s a night of status quo in Santa Barbara. Incumbents who won include: Assemblyman Das Williams, Sheriff Bill Brown and County Supervisor Janet Wolf, who had the only real competition of the night in former Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves.

Measure M Falls by Less Than 1,500 Votes
Measure M, the controversial proposal which would siphon off funds from dearly beloved budget items in order maintain Santa Barbara county roads, facilities and parks at current levels, or better, was the surprise story of the night, but it went down to a slim defeat thanks to a broad, bipartisan coalition who opposed the measure by Peter Adam.

Thank you to everyone who ran for elected office.

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Sharon’s Take: Elliot Rodger’s Rampage

by Sharon Byrne

Narcissism Unbounded

The morning of May 24, I watched on CNN the horror of Elliot Rodger’s rampage unfold. I cried openly for the beautiful young lives taken for no apparent reason, and for the searing, visceral wound our community received, a deep wound that will take years to heal. How could this terrible thing have happened here?

More information about Rodger will undoubtedly come out, and psychologists will be studying him for years to come, trying to find answers.

In “My Twisted World,” he provides a chillingly lucid account as to why he committed these horrible acts. We know so far that he legally owned his guns in one of the toughest states on gun control. His therapist(s) did not detect how dangerous he was, and he wrote often in “Twisted” that he resisted therapy. He planned this out well in advance, first looking at Halloween, then Deltopia, both discarded because of heavy police presence. He settled on April 26, and began posting some of his darkest videos up on YouTube in late April.

His mother asked the sheriffs to do a welfare check on him after seeing some of that material. He might be suicidal. The sheriffs checked on him, so Elliot reassured them he wasn’t suicidal and naturally didn’t inform them of his plans. He took down his YouTube videos after their visit. In “Twisted”, he writes that he was relieved not to be diverted from his path. He knew exactly how to deflect them. Sheriffs aren’t psychic and we don’t live in the pre-crime world of Minority Report.

This is a case where a lot of people did what they were supposed to do, but the dreadful outcome was ultimately in the hands of one individual.

He had hints that he was on the wrong path: a terrible cold, when he never gets those, on April 24. He questioned briefly if this was a sign from destiny that he was on the wrong path? Why didn’t he spend more time on that thought, rather than deciding to continue with his terrible course, and pushing the new day of Retribution to May 23?

He was 22, an adult. His parents made mistakes in subsidizing an adult who didn’t have a job and never seemed to sign up for more than two classes. He volunteered once. Giving him a BMW to boost his confidence was foolish. The way to build confidence is to push against your edges and succeed. He should have jumped out of a plane, signed up to drive an ambulance in some war-torn province, or dug wells in Africa. He needed to find out what he was really made of and build a life of meaning.

Instead, his whole life was an endless navel-gazing whine about what he lacked, which was sex and success on the party scene.

I watched his Retribution video before it was stripped off YouTube and was stunned at his vapid spiel. Chills ran up my spine. How does one constellate a worldview, as Rodger did, that the world is here simply to serve his pleasure? And when the world doesn’t serve up satisfactorily, he’s entitled to exact a brutal revenge on it?

Seeds

He was brought up on the fringe of Hollywood. It’s not hard to imagine the pretty, plastic people there sidling up to him, batting eyelashes, eyeing a hopeful gig on Daddy’s next film. In a shallow mind brought up in a shallow world, this early attention probably rooted as an anchor. He was owed fawning. People living in a bubble tend to believe the rest of the world operates just like their bubble.

As he went through puberty, he shifted to a fixation on sex. His entire existence was reduced to one aim: get laid.

Online Fuel

Having moved outside his bubble to Isla Vista, and finding that world not so acquiescent to his desires, Rodger entered an online world catering to his ‘get laid’ ambition: Pick-Up Artists (PUA) sites. And in this world, he was introduced to ‘Harem control’, 7’s, 8’s and 9’s (ratings for women you should aim to pick up), Alpha Males, Beta Males (the ones who feminism-indoctrinated women shun in favor of Alphas), Game (how one gets women into bed), and other frankly misogynistic nonsense that continually presents women as opponents to be conquered.

Elliot Rodger spent quite a bit of time percolating in online cauldrons of this thinking. Most people are perfectly capable of looking at hyperbolic, even vitriolic, Internet content, whatever the subject, set their BS filter to ‘high’ and not get incited by it. For some reason, Rodger seems to have sucked it up through a straw, unfiltered, and adopted it as mantra.

But instead of developing game, “Twisted” reveals repeated incidents of Rodger going to social events, and expecting others to approach him. He seemed to have no sense of his obligation to interact socially to develop relationships. It was as though others were supposed to provide his desires by reading his mind.

When this didn’t happen, he got more and more angry, particularly toward men of color, for being able to land hot blonde chicks, when he himself was such a miserable failure.

Spiraling Downward

His psychological maneuver in the face of failure was not to question his social style, but rather to move into serious ego inflation, elevating himself to god status repeatedly in “Twisted” and fantasizing about world domination, with him as Supreme Leader.

He also moved over to anti-PUA sites. The anti-PUA crowd doesn’t disagree with PUA philosophy that women are opponents to be conquered. They’re just pissed that the PUA sites sell stuff to desperate guys… stuff that doesn’t work. They also indulge in a fair amount of self-loathing. Rodger was a prolific poster on PuaHate.com, taken down after the murders.

Even these websites ran out of psychological gas eventually for Rodger. Had he turned inward and explored what he was contributing to his problem, it could have led to a reckoning with the self, a Dark Night of the Soul, so to speak, that could have perhaps generated a psychological breakthrough: he was the one who needed to change. This is the path many people take after divorce, job loss, or other major life-altering events. It is the path of being able to confront yourself and be totally honest.

Narcissism Takes Over: It’s Not Him. It’s Them.

From anti-pua-johnny.blogspot.com: “If you are still not getting anywhere with women, the problem is very likely got nothing to do with you and primarily with your environment and the chicks around you.”

Could this type of thinking be what planted the seed of the Day of Retribution in Rodger’s mind? It echoes in “Twisted” and the YouTube Retribution video: those who have failed to serve his wants (women, and men who are having sex with them) are the problem. Therefore, they must be destroyed.

There’s no easy answer for how to stop an individual devoid of any meaning in his life from spiraling into an absolutely poisoned, insular, narcissistic mindset that destroys lives as Elliot Rodger did. He is 100 percent responsible for his actions. Do not seek to lay blame elsewhere. This one rests with the individual.

There are some very dark corners in the human heart. The anonymous capability of the Internet renders them more visible, but sadly less rectifiable at the same time. I wish we viewed posting comments as public discourse, deserving of decorum, rather than as an open mic for rants that some may internalize as mandate. Does anyone really want a psychiatrist monitoring their posts to see if they’re possibly dangerous, and signaling enforcement to follow up on them? Be cautious before heading down that path.

Thankfully, the Alpha Phi women did not open their door that night. Rodger’s plan collapsed on itself but not before he served up every parent’s ultimate nightmare: utter powerlessness to prevent the murder of one’s child. University neighborhoods are supposed to host students engaged in higher learning, not provide stalking grounds for maniacal individuals.

I asked my daughter, a junior at Santa Barbara High, how she feels. She no longer wants to go to a large school. Maybe not any school in California. When I was a student in the 90s, one just had to be watchful about stepping out into a dangerous neighborhood next to campus. Drive-by shootings there weren’t uncommon, but seldom affected any college student.

For this college-age generation, a new normal is now in play, and it’s pretty dark and scary.

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California Election Turnout Could Be ‘Embarrassingly Low’

Go-Vote-500x500Across California, voter turnout in the primary election is expected to match or surpass record lows. Here in Santa Barbara, there are some important races and issues on the ballot, so a reminder to get out and vote. Polls will be open across the state from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. To find your polling poling place, click here. Vote-by-mail ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. Tuesday to be counted.

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Volunteering at DAWG (Dog Adoption & Welfare Group)

Ali Azarvan went on a quest, volunteering for 20+ non profits this May. Over the next few weeks, Santa Barbara View is going to share his chronicles, which take you inside some of Santa Barbara’s non-profit organizations. “I started with the simple goal of making the world a better place,” said Azarvan. “In leading by example, I’m hoping to motivate others to make a change. This particular project, May Days – One Month to Make a Difference is a perfect example of my concept. This month I will be volunteering at 25 different nonprofits and documenting my experience at each. I want people to understand that they can make a difference, even if they don’t have deep pockets!”

DAWG (Dog Adoption & Welfare Group)

I can honestly say that “May Days” has been one of the most life-changing experiences of my life. I have learned very quickly that there are a ton of people out there that are truly doing what they love – truly following their passion. This enthusiasm is contageous – and it provides more energy than a 20oz can of Red Bull.

Like everyone else in the world who has made a dramatic shift in his/her life, I am battling moments of self-doubt, moments of “what the hell am I doing here? My bank account is a joke!”. This morning was one of those moments. However, once I stepped foot in DAWG’s shelter in Goleta, California, all of that went away.

I spent a lot of time with some of the most passionate people I have ever met. The women that I got to hang with are exactly the kind of people I like to surround myself with – people with big hearts, big smiles, and open arms. The intial part of my day was spent with Angela Adan, their multi-hat-wearing dog whisperer. She took me for a VIP tour of the facilities and got me up to speed on their mission – DAWG, a no-kill shelter, “provides a safe and loving environment for dogs awaiting permanent adoption in their forever homes”.
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The facilities are amazing – they have their own on-site veterinary office including a dental chair, digital x-ray machine, and a surgical room. Can you imagine how much easier and more efficient the system works when you don’t have to spend tens of man-hours transporting 50-80 dogs back and forth to the local vet? Bravo, DAWG. Bravo. Continue Reading →

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La Playa Lights

Santa Barbara photo to start the week, by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
La Playa Lights

The lights of La Playa Field at Santa Barbara City College as seen through the masts of the sailboats at the harbor. -Bill Heller

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EcoFacts: Current Losses and Gains

Column by Barbara Hirsch

Eco FactsEnergy drives life, the economy, the world. Energy security often drives politics. Energy is always needed, and is usually a primary source of pollution and climate change. What new technologies will allow us to transform our systems, our relationships to energy and fossil fuels?

Power plants are being built every day – 60 nuclear reactors are under construction globally, and seemingly countless numbers of plants utilizing coal, gas, solar, wind and others.* Sunflower Electric Power Corp (love that name) is building a $2.8 billion new coal fired power plant in Kansas, for example. But without a doubt the best, the cheapest and the most efficient plants are the ones never built, thanks to energy conservation, wherever and however we can do it.
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On the Town in Santa Barbara

More from Dan Seibert on this glorious Saturday with the USS Ronald Reagan in town.

Walking along Cabrillo Friday evening I saw three women sailors laughing it up with another woman.  They continued towards me and as they passed I said, “You’re Gene Kelly, you’re Frank Sinatra, and you’re. . . ”  And the third one said, “I’m the other guy!”  All I could think of was Donald O’Conner.  Regardless, it was life imitating art.

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On the Town (1949)

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