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Jan 27th
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From the Editor

greg archerPlus Letters to the Editor  

Brace yourselves: It’s nearly over—2011 that is. So, what have we learned? Certainly, 2011 has been a fascinating year for Santa Cruz on a number of fronts. Most notable may be the fact that two of our own generated national attention that also shined the spotlight on Santa Cruz and the unique creative shire that it is—James Durbin and Chris Rene. Durbin turned heads this year for getting to one of the final top spots on American Idol last spring. A lavish homecoming captured national attention, too. The singer’s first solo album hit the charts last month. As for Rene, the 28-year-old local singer stunned Santa Cruz by making it to the Top Three on TV’s new hit, The X Factor. News of his final nights on the show—and whether he grabbed the top prize—were unavailable at press time for this issue, but regardless, Rene, like Durbin, came out a winner, exposing a depth and humanity that aren’t always that present in most performers in televised talent competitions. The way we see it: Durbin and Rene are two of Santa Cruz’s top local heroes for 2011.

What else happened in 2011? Too much to replay here, but the biggest loss may have been the Coastal Commission’s voting down of the proposed La Bahia Hotel renovation. That decision certainly raised eyebrows and offered yet another glimpse into the quirky inner workings of some of our local politics.

In the meantime, the year ahead promises new hopes, new ideas and new possibilities. My hope is that Santa Cruz County, and the officials elected to serve it, take advantage of some of the ripe opportunities in front of them. Perhaps some wiser choices in 2012 could create a powerful and positive ripple effect to remember.

As for you, the GT reader ... thank you for reading. We couldn’t do this without you.
Here’s to a prosperous 2012. Enjoy ...

Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief

Letters to the Editor

Feel The Waves?
Regarding the SmartMeter debate (GT 12/15), I am not paranoid, but the little man inside my head disagrees. When I noticed the newly-installed SmartMeter on the side of my home, I was sent spinning with fears that I would soon go sterile, lose all my hair and develop rickets. PG&E reassured me, however, that the electronic signal emitted by their new device was no more harmful than the one transmitted by the cellphone which has been irradiating my testicles all these years. Their argument, it seems, is that if my nuts actually do drop off I should sue AT&T, not them. I was momentarily soothed.

After several days—time spent carefully examining myself for radiation burns—it occurred to me that the more alarming feature of the SmartMeter is its ability to communicate with (and possibly control) modern household appliances, ostensibly to facilitate greater energy efficiency. This is presented as a means of reducing my energy bill and lessening the environmental impact of domestic electricity production.

Since all of my appliances were manufactured during the Carter administration, I was—at first—unmoved, but what does it mean that we are inviting PG&E into our homes to start pushing buttons and reprogramming our devices? Will they be able to set the correct time on my microwave?

Now I recognize that PG&E has no obvious sinister motive to control the temperature of my vegetable crisper or dry my undies on “Knit/Delicate,” but I am unable to shake the fear that I might someday be forced to listen as my toaster-oven testifies against me at my own sedition trial. Et tu, ToastMaster?

At the same time, I find it difficult to understand their motive for convincing us to reduce consumption. What industry is interested convincing its customers to use less of its product? Something evil must be afoot.

When PG&E reacted to a visit by a dozen of its customers attempting to return their SmartMeters to the Capitola payment center by calling the cops and locking the doors, my fears were confirmed. Why would they act in such a plainly defensive manner if they have nothing to hide? I'm not paranoid, PG&E acts suspiciously. Perhaps the entire controversy would have simply faded away if they weren't stammering like a bunch of sixth-graders caught smoking behind the gymnasium. It would probably also help if they hadn't burned eight people to death so recently.

Still, it is hard to understand why PG&E is pursuing the SmartMeter program so doggedly. Is it one facet of an elaborate government plan to ferret out the purveyors of dissent? Is it a plot to render us all completely dependent on Big Brother to manage our lives and operate our domestic appliances? I often have trouble distinguishing between state-sanctioned corporate monopolies and bald-faced dictatorships. But enough of my own cognitive shortcomings. In any event, the line between government and commerce has become so blurred that we can't even really be sure which one of them is screwing us at any given time.

The paranoid cannot—by definition—be self-aware. As soon as you decide you are paranoid, you aren't. Delusions recognized cease being delusory. I believe all of the conspiracy theories surrounding SmartMeters; but then, I am the sort of person that believes in things that aren't true. Just ask the little man in my head.

E Classic
Santa Cruz

Best Online Comments

On ‘Water in the Hood’ ...
I think this is an opportunity to stop the UCSC growth plan. We don't have the water to support it. My concern is that the money from normal rate payers who prefer conservation and less growth will be paying for the desal plant, and taken away from need infrastructure repairs. If the pro-growth and high-end ag users want water, they should foot the bill for the desal plant, plus cost to run it. The ignorance by the City and UCSC is aggravating when there are really better options. There are existing desal plants, like Morro Bay, which are full of problems.

Bill Smallman

That Downtown Window Decorating Contest

And the winner is ...? Stripe, the popular Downtown Santa Cruz portal nabbed the top votes in this year’s Winter Wonderland Window Decorating Contest. The online voter that won the readers’ side of the contest in a random drawing: Joanie Vigil, who nabbed $100 in Downtown Dollars.
Congratulations to all. Visit Stripe at 107 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-9252, stripedesigngroup.com). Log onto goodtimessantacruz.com for more special online exclusives.

Holiday Deadlines GT offices will be closed Thursday, Dec. 22 through Friday, Dec. 30 in observance of Christmas and New Year’s.
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Force of Nature

Santa Cruz’s Carlie Statsky brings her love of the natural world to the hyper-personal art of wedding photography

 

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

The magical time of Mercury’s retrograde cycle is here once again, until Feb. 11, and then some. The Mercury retro cycle actually lasts eight weeks when we consider its retrograde shadow, giving us six months a year for review. We know the rules of Mercury retro: Be careful with everything; cars, driving, money, resources, friends, friendships, groups, interactions, thinking, talking, communications. Avoid big purchases, important meetings and important repairs. Mercury retrograde times are for review, reassessment and rest. Our minds are overloaded from the last Mercury retro. Our minds need to assess what we’ve done since October—eliminating what is not needed, keeping what’s important, preparing for new information in the next three months (till mid-May). Mercury in Aquarius retrograde … we reinvent ourselves, seek the unusual, we don’t hide, we’re just careful. We live in two worlds; outer appearances and inner reckonings, with both sides of our brain activated. Yet, like the light of the Gemini twins, one light waxes (inner world), the other (outer realities) wanes. Like Virgo, we see what’s been overlooked—assessing, ordering and organizing information. It’s an entirely inner process. When speaking we may utter only half of the sentence. We’re in the underworld, closer to Spirit, eyes unseeing, senses alerted, re-doing things over and over till we sometimes collapse. Because we’re in other realms, we’re wobbly, make mistakes, and don’t really know what we want. It’s not a time for decisions. Not yet. It’s a time of review. And completing things. Mercury retro: integration, slowing down, resolution, rapprochement.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of January 23

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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How are you going to make a tangible difference in your community this year?

Spread more kindness and compassion.