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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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The fish that eats California

Uploaded: May 9, 2015

It's not the delta smelt. Nor the salmon ? it's the carp.

Indeed, the actions of one species present California with its biggest challenges in coping with the mega-drought: it's us. As Yunel Harari reminds readers in his recent bestseller "Sapiens," we are the species that most divides its own members into 'we' and 'they.'

That defining characteristic may have had some utility in the days of foragers, when life could depend on a quick discrimination between friend and foe, tribe or stranger. But that instinct has lost much of its evolutionary benefit generally; it gets in our way ever more often these days, especially when 'them' is 'us.'

For an example, look no further than the Danville/San Ramon Town Square discussion of East Bay MUD's new water supply ? which may taste and smell a little different from the wonderfully clean norm around here (most of which we don't drink, but our lawns and clothes are grateful, I'm sure). The change is needed to protect the ecosystem, according to EBMUD GM Alexander Coate, and the water will continue to meet all safety standards. "Alternatives would be even tougher to swallow," he adds, in a nice turn of phrase.

The very first comment, so-far subscribed-to by 25 (count-em) other readers, blames the damned ecosystem, and emphatically demands that unspecified criminal charges be brought against a random gang-of-three 'theys': Governor Brown, and Senators Boxer and Feinstein (only one of whom regularly even drinks the local water). You can tell the commenter is serious by all the exclamation points.

Then, when a few brave souls question the wisdom of that approach, they are promptly derided as 'brain-dead' 'idiots' with 'bleeding hearts,' who need to 'wake-up.' Other posters blame other 'theys:' home-builders, undocumented immigrants, water bottlers and the pols with whom they share sack time, educators and Democrats, in general, because the "Republicans haven't run this state since 1878" (whew). I'm not sure how the almond growers have escaped this onslaught, but the thread's still young.

Now, I'm aware (boy, howdy) that internet posting boards inspire a particularly avid subset of the population, and that anonymity breeds more emphasis(!) than forethought. But that said: really, torch-and-pitchfork set, are these the best comments you can offer to this community?

First, 'it' hasn't even happened yet, so drink-up and count the current blessings of our little green oasis before sometime next week, when the new water may actually reach your tap.

Second, kindly ponder exactly how much actual water you actually drink, out of how many gallons you actually use. It is a miniscule share. For those most discerning palates, carbon-based filters are cheap and easy. In other words, the burden here barely warrants any punctuation at all, much less multiple exclamation points. I'd need a whole lot more than "99 Problems" before this one would even make the list.

Third, this drought emergency is unprecedented in our history as a state community. I will speculate that many of the most vocal whiners hereabouts are also passionate proponents of limited government. If regulators had protected your sensibilities for up to, say, a dry decade, you'd be complaining about wasteful government spending for something that'll just never happen. You can't have it both ways in life, except on the internets.

Finally, this drought emergency really is a natural calamity no less severe than an earthquake or sharknado -- it's just happening in very slow motion. Do Oklahomans blame their elected reps when their houses and belongings are strewn across their landscape, such as it is?

In situations like that, communities manage to check their we'n-and-they'n, and their exclamations, at the door -- and then pull together toward a recovery. We can call the drought just the arbitrary act of capricious deity, if it helps: bad things have happened, and no one's to blame. And we all need to adjust and adapt, together, to ride it out.

It may get worse before it gets better. But it'll get a lot less-worse if we quit with the carping, try to evolve beyond our basest blaming instincts, and remember that Pogo was right.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I love to cook CARP!

Web Link

yum yum plenty...HOORAY!

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on May 10, 2015 at 8:49 am

Carpe carp, cholo.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 10, 2015 at 9:30 am

NO MERCY! Web Link

Posted by Jay, a resident of another community,
on May 10, 2015 at 11:32 pm

Maybe I'm a bit drunk now, but I think this column is hilarious. Tahnk you.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on May 11, 2015 at 11:57 am

Higher-tech drunk-dialing, I guess.

Posted by mooseturd, a resident of Pleasanton Valley,
on May 13, 2015 at 11:57 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

Tom, How long has it been since you've "dialed" a phone?

Posted by mooseturd, a resident of Pleasanton Valley,
on May 13, 2015 at 12:09 pm

mooseturd is a registered user.

On another note; You are quite wrong when you state, "Third, this drought emergency is unprecedented in our history as a state community." Even if we take our admission to the Union as the beginning of history, one only has to go two decades to find a monumental drought in Ptown. In "Pleasanton A Brief History", MacLennan reports that around 1865 thousands of sheep and cattle died from insufficient water (therefore no food) right here in our neighborhood. [MacLennan, Ken, 2014. The census of 1860 reported 32,000 cows. By 1870 there were only bones and a few stragglers.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on May 13, 2015 at 4:53 pm

MT: As in 'drunk-dialing?' About the time I bought my last LP (probably), and it did not have the desired effect (certainly). If anyone has any more recent examples, they are invited not to share.

Thanks for the perspective on this drought. I fell victim to repeating "what everybody knows."

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 14, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Oldies but goodies make a comeback and they're not cheap!

Web Link

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 14, 2015 at 7:33 pm

For those of you that enjoy hearing voices, check this out!

Web Link

i mean it! I am quite of aware that alot of you do indeed hear voices.

Posted by StudentA, a resident of Carlton Oaks,
on May 26, 2015 at 2:11 am

Great article! Tom is always on the top! Thanks!

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