646 - Six Californias: a Silly Con?
The best argument against German Unification came from French writer François Mauriac: “J'aime tellement l'Allemagne que je préfère qu'il y en ait deux”. It takes an American to propel that backhanded compliment to the next level. Venture capitalist Tim Draper loves his home state of California so much that he'd prefer not two but six of them. He will explain why and how at a press conference scheduled today for 3pm (PST).
California is by far the most populous state of the U.S. The 26 million Texans are a distant second to California's 38 million. In other respects as well, the Golden State compares better to other top countries than other top states.
In area, California is 20% larger than Germany. With its population just under half of Germany's and its $2-trillion economy almost at two-thirds, California on its own would have the world's 9th-highest GDP (Germany is 4th). Why would anyone want to replace that golden-egg-laying goose with half a dozen less remarkable goslings?
In Mr. Draper's words, because California as a single unit has become too expensive and too ungovernable: “We now spend the most [of all states on education and prisons] and we get the least in return: […] We're 46th in education […] We are among the highest recidivism rates. […] There have been some good people running California […] so it must be systemic”.
To Mr. Draper, who made his fortune investing in Hotmail and Skype (and may make more money off his backing for Tesla and SpaceX), the state of California suffers from a structural systems failure. Its regional divergences are simply too big: “People down south are very concerned with things like immigration law and the people way up north are frustrated by taxation without representation. And the people in coastal California are frustrated because of water rights. And the people in Silicon Valley are frustrated because the government doesn’t keep up with technology. And in Los Angeles, their issues revolve around copyright law. Each region has its own interest, and I think California is ungovernable because they can’t balance all those interests”, he told TIME Magazine.
In his vision, smaller states would not only better reflect the differences that already divide California into distinct cultural and economic ecosystems, they would also be closer to their citizens per se by the simple fact of being smaller.
Perhaps unwittingly, the venture capitalist thus reflects the philosophy of Leopold Kohr, the Austrian anarchist and environmentalist thinker who coined the phrase Small is beautiful. Kohr believed that “[t]here seems only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness […] The answer: not union but division.” To rid Europe of its centuries-old imbalances of power, he proposed a continent composed of small, rectangular states modelled on the US (see #18).
Draper's subdivisions are a repetition of Kohr's tought experiment. His 'Six Californias' would be:
Paradoxically, the late great state of California would be better represented in Washington after its dismemberment than it is now. As it is, close to 40 million Californians send only 2 Senators to DC, while roughly the same number of Americans – those in the 21 least populous states – get 42 out of 100 Senators. After the split, the 6 mini-Californias together would send 12 Senators to the Hill, out of a new grand total of 110.
A few days ago, Mr. Draper's proposal passed the first hurdle: the California Secretary of State greenlighted the petition drive that will put the question onto the next state-wide ballot in November. That is: if the campaign can gather just over 807,000 signatures by July 18.
It's not the first time that California has been subjected to divisionism. After the Mexican Cession of 1848, the pro-slavery faction in Congress campaigned for a slave-holding state of South California, below the so-called Missouri Compromise Line at the 36°30′ parallel north. That line marked the maximum northern extent of slavery in the previously unorganised western territories. Eventually, under the Compromise of 1850, California acceded to the Union as free state in its present borders.
The Missouri Compromise Line dividing a slave California (green) from a free California (blue).
It took only a few years of statehood for the first home-grown subdivision proposals to surface. In 1854, the State Assembly debated splitting off a northern state of Shasta, and a southern one called Colorado (before that name became attached to another state).
The 1859 Pico Act proposed the Tehachapi Mountains, north of Los Angeles, as the natural border between a northern and a southern California. That idea evaporated in the anti-secessionist sentiment taking hold of California at the outbreak of the Civil War.
In 1941, frustration in northern California, and a regional affinity with southern Oregon, led to the half-serious secession of the State of Jefferson on either side of the state border. The frustration was old, and occasionally still resurfaces; but that secession too was badly timed: one day later, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and Jefferson was swept away in a wave of All-American patriotism (see #458).
In 1965, the Tehachapis, a transverse range closing off the San Joaquin Valley in the north from the Mojave Desert in the south, were again mooted as a border. The proposal to detach California's 7 southern counties from the other 51 passed in the California Senate by 27 votes to 12, but died in the State Assembly.
In 1992, a proposal to allow a referendum on a partition in North, Central and South California passed in the State Assembly, but stumbled in the State Senate.
The subject of subdivision is regularly rehashed by pundits and politicians alike, motivated by the three great political fault lines that plague any state of a certain size: conservative versus liberal, rural versus urban, and the rivalry among urban centres themselves (i.e. San Francisco vs. Los Angeles).
The straight line marking the northern borders of San Luis Obispo, Kern and San Bernardino Counties (west to east) is often taken as the unofficial border between northern and southern California.
Proposals historically crystallise along a north-south divide, but occasionally also suggest separating coastal (urban, liberal) California from the more rural and conservative hinterland. As neatly demonstrated by the recent suggestion to create a giant inland state of Reagan, covering most of southern California minus the urban coastal strip, those ideas usually come from conservatives, frustrated by the state-level dominance of 'Left Coast' liberals.
So, rather than radical and innovative, Mr. Draper's proposal is but the latest in a long tradition of divisionist proposals even older than the state itself. What is exceptional, is the number of states he proposes.A map from the San Jose Mercury News, showing county lines and major cities overlaid by the proposed new borders.
It not only allows the urban centres on the coast and the rural hinterland to pursue their own interests, unfettered by each other's opposing views, the proposal also takes on board regional differences, between San Francisco and Los Angeles on the one hand, and between the more libertarian Jeffersonites and the more conservative state to their south.
One aspect of the proposal that totally misses the mark, are the proposed names. South California is as far north as West California. West California is not in the west of California but in its south, and extends further east than most of the state. Similarly, North California is not in the north, and Jefferson, which is, comprises only half of the original proposal for a state with that name. To top it off, Silicon Valley does not include all of... Silicon Valley.
Even if Mr. Draper's proposal gets on the ballot in November, is approved by the Californian electorate and its state representatives, the question of whether it or any other state can legally initiate its subdivision in more states, is subject not just to Congressional approval, but to constitutional validity.
Famously, Texas reserved the right to do something very similar to what Mr. Draper proposes (see #537 for a post on Texas divisionism), but even that right is subject to legalistic challenges. The only example of a US state splitting is the secession of West Virginia from Virginia, on the eve of the Civil War – a desperate measure for desperate times (see #353).
Also, there is the slight possibility that Mr. Draper has other priorities besides good governance for all of Califoria(s). For one thing: is copyright really the main worry of Angelenos? Some critics have suggested that the real focus of his attention is Silicon Valley, which he wants to liberate from the encumbering legislation imposed by the state government by providing it with a state government of its own, which would be much more sympathetic to the aspirations and requirements of the tech industry.
Still, the venture capitalist insists his plan isn't a silly con. He not only predicts success, but also imitation of his scheme: “My guess is that [if we are successful,] New York will create three [new states] and Texas will create five. We might end up with a total of 60 states”.
Many thanks to J.B. Post for alerting me to the map, found on Mr. Draper's brand new (and as yet contentless) website www.sixcalifornias.info, which promises to livestream his aforementioned press conference later today.
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
What are they?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDA0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTM1ODc0Mn0.NH33LuauIo__sUBi4tvhwxDcsvhflDFD-Nhx9FjlSNk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=148%2C0%2C149%2C0&height=700" id="cec96" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acb78abe2ab46a17e419ad30906751d6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Artist's impression of the Kordylewski cloud in the night sky (with its brightness greatly enhanced) at the time of the observations.
G. Horváth<p>The<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kordylewski_cloud" target="_blank"> Kordylewski clouds</a> are two dust clouds first observed by Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961. They are situated at two of the <a href="https://www.space.com/30302-lagrange-points.html" target="_blank">Lagrange points</a> in Earth's orbit. These points are locations where the gravity of two objects, such as the Earth and the Moon or a planet and the Sun, equals the centripetal required to orbit the objects while staying in the same relative position. There are five of these spots between the Earth and Moon. The clouds rest at what are called points four and five, forming a triangle with the clouds and the Earth at the three corners.</p><p>The clouds are enormous, taking up the same space in the night sky as twenty lunar discs; covering an area of 45,000 miles. They are roughly 250,000 miles away, about the same distance from us as the Moon. They are entirely comprised of specks of dust which reflect the light of the sun so faintly most astronomers that looked for them were unable to see them at all. </p><p>The clouds themselves are probably ancient, but the model that the scientists created to learn about them suggests that the individual dust particles that comprise them can be blown away by solar wind and replaced by the dust from other cosmic sources like comet tails. This means that the clouds hardly move but are <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/11/news-earth-moon-dust-clouds-satellites-planets-space/" target="_blank">eternally changing</a>. </p>
How did they discover this?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Nzc4MjQ4MX0.7uU9OqmQcWw5Ll1UXAav0PCu4nTg-GdJdAWADHanC7c/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="952fb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a778280a20f1c54cd2c14c8313224be2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"In this picture the central region of the Kordylewski dust cloud is visible (bright red pixels). The straight tilted lines are traces of satellites."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>In their study published in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/mnras" target="_blank">Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society</a>, Hungarian astronomers Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, and Gábor Horváth described how they were able to find the dust clouds using polarized lenses.</p><p>Since the clouds were expected to polarize the light that bounces off of them, by configuring the telescopes to look for this kind of light the clouds were much easier to spot. What the scientists observed, polarized light in patterns that extended outside the view of the telescope lens, was in line with the predictions of their mathematical model and ruled out other possible sources. </p>
Why are we just learning this now?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjUyNDMyMH0.Zl8GmQ_rJHiL4b7hN0r_YBmgb6_ZqIRvqOVuko2ubpw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C141%2C0%2C185&height=700" id="87afe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd4c0b5088e601d7279cc5eb226f8b7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"Mosaic pattern of the angle of polarization around the L5 point (white dot) of the Earth-Moon system. The five rectangular windows correspond to the imaging telescope with which the patterns of the Kordylewski cloud were measured."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>The objects, being dust clouds, are very faint and hard to see. While Kordylewski observed them in 1961, other astronomers have looked there and given mixed reports over the following decades. This discouraged many astronomers from joining the search, as study co-author Judit Slíz-Balogh <a href="https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/research-highlights/earths-dust-cloud-satellites-confirmed" target="_blank">explained</a>, <em>"The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy. It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor."</em></p>
Will this have any impact on space travel?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3d797fff5430c64afcb5a49bddc3616"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ou8N3v9SFPE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lagrange points have been put forward as excellent locations for a space station or satellites like the <a href="https://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html" target="_blank">James Webb Telescope</a> to be put into orbit, as they would require little fuel to stay in place. Knowing about a massive dust cloud that could damage sensitive equipment already being there could save money and lives in the future. While we only know about the clouds at Lagrange points four and five right now, the study's authors suggest there could be more at the other points.</p><p>While the discovery of a couple of dust clouds might not seem all that impressive, it is the result of a half-century of astronomical and mathematical work and reminds us that wonders are still hidden in our cosmic backyard. While you might never need to worry about these clouds again, there is nothing wrong with looking at the sky with wonder at the strange and fantastic things we can discover. </p>
New cancer-scanning technology reveals a previously unknown detail of human anatomy.
- Scientists using new scanning technology and hunting for prostate tumors get a surprise.
- Behind the nasopharynx is a set of salivary glands that no one knew about.
- Finding the glands may allow for more complication-free radiation therapies.
PSMA PET/CT technology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="676e611b970c9b516cace0870447b325"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RHAyoQF09X4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>PSMA PET/CT is a new combination of <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pet-scan/about/pac-20385078" target="_blank">PET scans</a> and <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675" target="_blank">CT scans</a> that is believed to offer a more reliable means of locating prostate cancer metastasis. A <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/prostate-cancer-psma-pet-ct-metastasis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published last spring suggests it may be the most accurate way to diagnose prostate cancer metastasis than any method previously available.</p><p>Prior to PSMA PET/CT, the primary way to look for metastatic prostate cancer was to image the body using x-ray-based CT scans and to perform bone scans, since bone is where prostate cancer often spreads. CT scans, however, often miss small tumors, and bone scans can generate false positives as a result of other damage or abnormalities that have nothing to do with prostate cancer.</p><p>PSMA PET/CT scans track the travels of an intravenously administered radioactive glucose tracer throughout the body. For hunting down prostate cancer, this tracer contains a molecule that binds to the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472940/" target="_blank">PSMA</a> protein that's present in large amounts in prostate tumors. The molecule is linked to a radioisotope, <a href="https://netrf.org/2018/11/13/gallium-68-scan-for-neuroendocrine-tumors/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gallium-68</a> (Ga-68).</p><p>In last spring's research, PSAM PET/CT was shown to be 27 percent more accurate than previous methods at finding metastases (92 percent accuracy as opposed to 65 percent). In addition, it was found to be much less likely to produce false positives, and it was particularly good at detecting tumors far removed from the prostate.</p>
A good kind of avoidance behavior<p>"Radiation therapy can damage the salivary glands," says Vogel, "which may lead to complications. Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden."</p><p>The researchers looked back through the cases of 723 patients who had undergone radiation treatment, interested in seeing if inadvertent radiation of the tubarial glands was associated with the complications experienced by the patients. It turned out that this <em>was</em> the case: In cases where more radiation had been delivered to this area, patients did indeed report more in the way of complications of the type one would expect when salivary glands are radiated.</p><p>Now that we know the tubarial salivary glands exist, therapists can stay out of their way. Vogel says, "For most patients, it should technically be possible to avoid delivering radiation to this newly discovered location of the salivary gland system in the same way we try to spare known glands."</p><p>He's hopeful that that things may be about to get at least a bit better for cancer patients: "Our next step is to find out how we can best spare these new glands and in which patients. If we can do this, patients may experience less side effects which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment."</p>
A new survey found that 27 percent of millennials are saving more money due to the pandemic, but most can't stay within their budgets.