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Monday, 31 August 2009


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Wow, that first photograph is fantastic and somewhat epic in a frozen kind of way.

That first image of Mr. Swesey is - breathtaking. It's worth going to the full photo essay just to see large, but many other images there are equally as awesome. Thanks for the link.

(Oh - since this post has 0 comments yet a featured comment, it means you can see the future. So, please tell us now what's coming on 9/9/9 from Leica? :))

Why do people continue to flock to California, especially southern California? Frequent fires, mudslides, earthquakes, over-crowding, unbelievable traffic, oppressive taxation and regulation, etc. On the other hand, I know there are people who don't understand why I would want to live in a tiny town in NC, but I swear, I don't get the attraction of southern CA.

It just isn't California's year, is it?

Those pictures are amazing.

I couldn't help but notice on the first picture there's a drop of sensor dust. I think that's the first time I've ever seen that in a professional picture.

There are more photographs here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bigpicturefire,0,5985825.htmlstory from the LA Times.

Auburn is right up the road from me. Having lived in this state for 46 years, we've come to learn California is a dangerous place, as well as a paradise.

There is also a timelapse of the wildfires which is strangely mesmerising.


Much of California is what's known as chaparral, i.e. a biome that achieves equilibrium *by periodically burning*. So the ecology of that region is actually dependent on frequent fires, yet for some reason we act surprised that wildfires sweep through every year.

Of course, not everyone chooses where they live and it's awful for those caught up in this mess. But if you move out there because you have dreamed of owning a home out in the wilderness, you should know the risks beforehand. It's sorta like moving out to Florida to own beachfront property and not realizing that there were hurricanes. Or moving to Minnesota to avoid the summer heat only to be shocked by the brutal winters. Or moving to Manhattan because you saw Sex and the City and then complaining that there's nowhere to park.

Just checked, and as of 10:25 AM, the Mt. Wilson observatories are still OK. That's the property I'm worried about. All the communications towers the newsies are fretting about ... they're just hardware and they'll be replaced because they make beaucoup bucks for their masters.

pax / Ctein

Dear John,

It's a "selective-misperception-combined-with-unfamiliarity" thing. California is BIG. It's got three times the land area of North Carolina. It only has four times the population, though, so the overall population density isn't significantly higher than North Carolina. Lots of states have much higher or lower densities. Nevada has 1/6 the population density, Texas has half the population density, and Massachusetts has three times the population density.

All of these states are still predominantly rural area. Massachusetts and California are a lot like North Carolina; there are huge numbers of people live along the coasts, and the rest of the state is underpopulated. Why do people like living in urban clusters? Who knows? But it's to your advantage. If they didn't, the population density where you live would be twice as high.

As for the natural disaster rate, even in high risk areas, it's not any riskier per capita than living elsewhere in the country. E.g., people on the Least Coast get major hurricanes at least as often as we on the Left Coast get major earthquakes. I live in what is considered an extremely high risk area. In the past 50 years has been one major quake. There's a two thirds chance of another major quake in the next 30 years.

So, different people put up with different risks. People in the Midwest by and large don't have to deal with hurricanes or earthquakes (well, not very often). But they get regular thunderstorms, hail storms, tornadoes, and blizzards. Each of those is far less destructive than a major earthquake or hurricane... but they get them a lot more often.

So it's just a case of choosing your poison.

As for the overtaxation bit, that's a philosophical choice but not an economic one. Turns out that if you look at states all over the country and analyze the cost of external services (scaled to the median income of the state) you find out that people pay about the same for the same services everywhere. Sometimes it's in state taxes, sometimes it's in property taxes, sometimes it's in sales taxes, sometimes it's in usage fees. You get to decide what philosophically suits you the best, but if you want the service, you end up paying for it. Of course, you can also choose your locale based on how much of those services you want. It happens that Californians, collectively, like a lot of them.

(Please, no libertarian (or liberal) rants in response. As I said, it's a philosophical choice, and I'm not telling readers what choice they should make.)

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

When I saw these pictures I thought 'wow!' and I can see that others are equally impressed by them. Then I realised I was appreciating the quality of the pictures and overlooking the fact that these were scenes from a disaster. I remember when Salgado's 'Africa' came out and we all salivated over the quality of the images, but actually many of them were heart rendingly sad and awful. I forget which WWII photographer gave up war photography when he found himself composing the best shot of heaps of bodies at a just liberated concentration camp and not seeing what was really in front of him. Truth is the beauty of the image can transcend the scene, if we are not careful that is.

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