Wednesday, January 29, 2014


We had a little drizzle this morning, just about enough to dampen the sidewalks. It wasn't much, but it was certainly welcome. Weeks ago, it was evident that less rain would be arriving this winter than the normal amount. The reaction to this has been measured, a polite way of saying that it has been very slow. We have had suggestions for a voluntary 20% cut in water use, but little else. I believe that it would have been better to impose mandatory cutbacks and more specific directions. The watering of lawns could have been forbidden, or at least restricted to one or two days a week. I expect more restrictive steps to be implemented soon. On January 27, the San Francisco Chronicle printed my letter urging this About 30 years ago, when I was specializing in professional liability insurance for architects and engineers, I attended an annual conference of what was then known as the California Council of Civil Engineers and Land Surveyors (CCCELS). I heard a very interesting presentation and discussion on the use of secondary water lines. At least one community, probably in Southern California, had developed a secondary water system, with the pipes painted blue, to distinguish them from the domestic water supply, using highly treated potable water. The less highly-treated water was used for irrigation, saving money and making it possible to keep the lawns green during a dry season. Of course, it took some capital outlay to set up this system, but the payback was worth it. Ideas to prepare for drought seem to have no traction during times of "normal" weather. As our population increases marginally, and demand for water grows, it is time that we took some serious action to mitigate the effects of a prolonged drought. If this does not happen in the remaining years of my lifetime, it will become an unwelcome burden to our grandchildren.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Minimum Wage

In the recent past, the age of 21 was key in many respects. It is still important these days for such concerns as the legal age for consuming alcohol. However, one becomes an adult at 18. I greeted this change with some appreciation, having become a member of the Armed Forces at age of 17, exposed to the possibility of being killed in action, it seemed only fair that I could vote at 18. I do support an increase in the current federal minimum wage. California is among several states that already have a higher minimum wage. However, I am aware of the millions of unemployed young people in our country. I am not alone in thinking that there might well be a differential, to encourage initial employment of young adults. This could be phased in so that it would not reduce the hourly rate of those already in employment. My hope would be that it would encourage employers to find work for those under (say) 21, although I realize that the effect of such a change is debatable.

Monday, January 13, 2014

More on the Death Penalty

My personal position remains unchanged: I am not personally in favor of the death penalty, but I do believe that it is reasonable for any decision on this matter to be made after public debate and decision making. I believe that it is appropriate for each political entity qualified to reach a decision on this matter to make it's own choice. This morning I read of a man who had been sentenced to death in 1989, whose conviction has now been overturned. It seemed probable that he was the only person responsible for the crime, but the courts have determined that the witness's identification of the perpetrator was insufficient and unsupported. Let me make it clear that I have no quarrel with the court's conclusion. I certainly understand why the accused's family and friends would do everything in their power to keep him alive. However, in my opinion the lengthy delay in reaching a conclusion is unacceptable. I believe that there should always be a final date for the filing of any appeal of a conviction, especially one which might result in the imposition of the death penalty. The desire of the victim's family and friends for "closure" is totally understandable. I don't have a strong opinion on the timing of any final appeals, but it seems to me that two years might be appropriate.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gender Issues

In past years, gender was strictly a grammatical term. It is now used for a person's sex. Here I use the word in this latter sense. Each of the following phrases has a distinct but related meaning: 1. Gender preference. Although this may be illegal, as in employment advertising, the concept certainly exists. I recently used the idea for myself, making a list of what I was looking for, in an opening for live-in help. I was open to the idea of a man, but thought it probable that we would be selecting a female. 2. Gender equality We still have a long way to go to reach this ideal, in which a person's gender is irrelevant. 3. Gender balance. When males and females are both eligible for positions in (say) a company, one achieves gender balance by arranging for the successful applicants to be roughly in proportion to the respective genders. 4. Gender neutrality. This is an ideal which is seldom achieved. A person's gender is simply not considered, one way or another. A potential problem is that this may give the perception that the result is out of desirable balance.