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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

On Reaching Water Sufficiency: Can California Learn from Israel?

As California faced its fourth year of an extreme drought in 2015, Californians could have done worse than look at Israel’s ten-year completed effort to desalinate Mediterranean seawater and recycle wastewater.  The sustained investments provided Israel “with enough water for all its needs, even during severe droughts.”[1] If only California’s officials could say the same. Rather than deprive the Israelis of the opportunity to instruct the Californians, I want to point to the subtle role of basis-of-comparison as undermining the California end.


The complete essay is at Essays on Two Federal Empires.





1. Isabel Kershner, “Aided by the Sea, Israel Overcomes an Old Foe: Drought,” The New York Times, May 29, 2015.

Ethnic Groupings in the European Parliament: A Function of Rhetoric

L’extreme droit a formé un autre parti fédéral. The anti-E.U. party officially announced on June 16, 2015, is named “Europe of Nations and Freedoms.” A label can say a lot about a party’s principles. In this case, the overriding point is that the E.U. is supranational. That is to say, the Union is an international organization. Closely behind is the secondary point that freedom resides at the national level, otherwise known as the level of the states. Even though the supporting state parties were at the time typically labeled as extreme—the extreme right—the main-stream media in the E.U. reporting on the new party used rhetoric subtly undergirding the principles.

Le Pen and Wilders toasting their new ethnic group in the European Parliament (Source: G. Wilders)


Monday, June 15, 2015

Dish Network and the U.S. Government Dominating Colorado: A Court Ruling on Marijuana

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on June 15, 2015 that Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient from Colorado who had been fired by Dish Network in 2010 for using the drug while at home and off-duty, was not protected under the state's "lawful activities statute." According to the Court, “Colorado’s ‘lawful activities statute,’ the term ‘lawful’ refers only to 14 those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees 15 who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law 16 but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute.”[1] This reasoning seems pretty solid, though if we unpack use and consult with the company’s own rationale, the case is considerably messier. In fact, the problem may reside with the American federal system itself, in which case an erroneous judicial decision could be expected.

The complete essay is at “Dish Network and the U.S. Government.”



[i] No. 13SC394, Coats v. Dish Network, June 15, 2015.

The Sound of Music: Marital Roles and Inner Transformations

Fifty years after the film’s initial release in 1965, viewers of The Sound of Music could measure the imprint of the women’s movement of the 1970s by how very different—antiquated actually—the film is in terms of marital roles. Whether Liesl in the first half of the film or Maria in the second, their acceptance of the dominance of husbands over wives stood out like a blade of grass needing to be cut in 2015 for all but a minority of viewers. Yet the internal changes that Maria and the Captain have the courage to undergo resonate in any age, being so much a part of human nature, as distinct from sociological artifacts.



The full essay is at “The Sound of Music.”