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March 2018

Ready Player One: Movie Review


I’ll be honest; I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Ready Player One, the newest courtesan to Hollywood grandmaster Steven Spielberg’s harem of family-friendly adventure fantasy films, up on the big screen. No, I haven’t anything against the man for the vast majorityof his features are nothing short of fantastic (with exceptions to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and 1941), I simply just wasn’t all that jazzed up for Ready Player One’s premise. I still haven’t read the novel by Ernest Cline, but from what I gathered from the marketing and trailers it seemed like yet another cinematic hero’s journey structured as a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory-esque wish-fulfillment fantasy with all the sweets replaced by video game/retro pop-culture icons. Now while that all sounds chaotically amazeballs on paper I was still somewhat skeptical of how the whole picture would turn out; and you know what? I had a total blast! Once again Spielberg has proven himself as the crown king of whimsically potent visual storytelling and has produced a cinematic adventure that’s so remarkably fluid and fun that I still feel silly for doubting him in the first place.

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On Nishi 2.0: A simple question about fair housing in Davis

Housing-clipart-_9667858236By Michael Harrington

Dear City Leaders:
May I ask a simple question?

If I want to advertise a rental unit on Craig’s List, and I list if for $1,000 to anyone, but $850 to a full time, card carrying student, everyone knows that as a private owner and lessor, I cannot do this. I cannot do this even if the City thinks it’s fine and gives a City Council 5-0 vote blessing and passing an ordinance.

This question is not anti-student or anti-student affordable housing. It’s a basic fair housing question.

So, how is Nishi 2.0 any different than my renting a house to students and non-students, with a 15% discount for being a fulltime student?

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Seven FAQs about Nishi Air Quality

Nishi-pic1. What is the Nishi project?

Measure J/R gives Davis citizens the right to vote on whether residences (aimed at students, but not exclusively for students) should be built on the Nishi property.  Two years ago, Davis citizens voted down a project at Nishi.  That project had a commercial component and a residential component.  The new project proposal, often called Nishi 2.0, just has a residential component, plus allowances for daycare, nursery, outdoor exercise areas, etc.

2. Nishi is near a freeway. So what? A number of places in Davis are near freeways.  Do they have bad air quality too?

Studies show that all sites near freeways suffer from poor air quality.  Quoting a recent LA Times article:

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City Council Candidates Changing Positions on Measure R

CivEnergyForumThe Davis College Democrats (DCD) have excoriated Linda Deos for her apparent change of position on Measure R* from "I am definitely for repealing" to "I support Measure R." Now, with the publication of the candidates' responses to CivEnergy's question about Measure R, we can see where the other four candidates besides Deos who were at the DCD forum now stand on Measure R.

Mary Jo Bryan to the DCD: "Repealing of course. I have never voted for it."

Mary Jo Bryan to CivEnergy: "I am neutral at this point."

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How can we measure Davis as a healthy, sustainable bio-social economic organism confronted with perpetual UCD Disruptions?

Source: Davis Wiki

By Jon Li

The city staff has a status quo approach to the state requirement that the out of date Davis general plan be updated. Staff has imposed a rigid process where the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee is only allowed to listen. Everything is subject exclusively to city council ratification; staff does not want any changes from either the Advisory Committee or the City Council. Staff only wants the right to claim they are acting on the authority of the city council. The city council has no control over the city staff.

Davis’ economy is so pathetic that it cannot afford the government we have, let alone the amenities most people in Davis take for granted.

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A New Strategic Plan for the Open Space Program: City Process Done Right

Source: Davis Wiki

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 20, a very important but easily missed item was presented and approved by the Council: The 2030 Strategic Plan for the City of Davis Open Space Program. I highlight it here not only because I think the issues are near and dear to many Davisites' hearts, but also because I think it serves as an excellent example of community-staff-commission-Council coordination that I would like to see more of (and I say this as someone who has criticized City processes in the past, e.g., here).

The process toward a new strategic plan for the Open Space program began approximately halfway into the 30 year lifespan of Measure O, a tax that the voters of Davis agreed to impose upon themselves in order to provide for, among other things, "Acquisition in fee or easement of open space lands within the Davis planning area...the improvement, operation, maintenance and/or monitoring of open space lands currently owned by the City in fee easement [or] acquired by the City in the future, including but not limited to the restoration, enhancement and preservation of habitat areas, maintenance of open space lands, and monitoring of habitat and agricultural conservation easements."

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A Tale of Two Towns: Searching for the “Other”

PflugervilleBy Christy Corp-Minamijji

I have two hometowns, a couple thousand miles apart.

This morning I dropped my son off at his high school – his bike is broken. The rainy morning scene was almost aggressively normal – the patient loop of cars through the parking lot, waving each other on through our windshield wipers; helmet-wearing teens biking in through the exit – latte cups in one hand, steering with the other. Just another “late start” Wednesday.

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District Attorney Candidate Dean Johansson Played Key Role in Development of New City of Davis Surveillance Ordinance

(Press release) Yolo County ACLU* board member Dean Johansson – now a candidate for Yolo County District Attorney – played a leadership role in developing the surveillance ordinance passed unanimously Tuesday, March 20, 2018, by the Davis City Council.

The ordinance – which regulates city departments’ use of surveillance technology, building in safeguards to protect civil liberties – was the result of a year and a half of collaboration between the Yolo County ACLU, ACLU of Northern California, Davis City Council, Police Chief Darren Pytel, and Brian Hofer, Chair of the City of Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission.

Other community groups, including the Davis Human Relations Commission, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, ACLU People Power, and the National Lawyers Guild supported the development and passage of the ordinance.

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Deceptive phone calls about Nishi's air quality "mitigation"

Nishi-picBy Thomas A. Cahill

Davis citizens are reporting phone calls from the pro-Nishi folk implying that I support their proposal just because they are using the ultra-fine filters we developed in their mitigation efforts.

In fact, I strongly oppose the Nishi proposal since the mitigation they propose will be grossly inadequate to address the severe air quality conditions at Nishi. The 95% mitigation they mention is based on work in a wind tunnel, not dwellings.

The best we have been able to achieve in occupied dwellings is well below 50%, and thus seriously inadequate to mitigate the Nishi air quality threats.

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Statement from the Dean Johansson for Yolo DA Campaign

DeanRecently the DA’s office put out a press release stating that they may soon start doing what what we’ve been advocating for since this campaign began…voluntarily reducing or dismissing convictions for marijuana-related offenses.

In response Dean made the following statement

“Although this announcement is clearly politically motivated — and it is unclear whether the DA is exceeding or merely fulfilling his duties under Proposition 64 — I sincerely hope that the DA keeps his promise to help these individuals get their lives back. I’m also proud that our grassroots campaign is already having an impact and changing the conversation about drug enforcement in our county.

“If the current DA is truly committed to restoring justice I would urge him to be transparent about the harm that his past policies have caused. We all know that the war on drugs has disproportionately harmed communities of color, yet the DA’s office claims they do not track drug cases by race or ethnicity. The DA should also explain his past decisions to target medical marijuana growers. Did he truly believe that this was in the public interest and a wise use of our resources?”

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Live blogging from the CivEnergy City Council Forum


Here is a brief summary of each candidate's positions on the questions asked. These are my paraphrases, not quotes - I did the best I could, typing on a cranky iPad!

I left off opening statements in what follows; the four questions that I blog about below are:

  1. Unique food identity for Davis?
  2. Instance of one City decision making process and your evaluation of it.
  3. One issue in your platform, why important, how you will address
  4. Closing remarks 

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Annihilation (2018): Movie Review


This week I had the pleasure of seeing Annihilation, the second feature film of writer/director by Alex Garland. You might remember him from his directorial debut with Ex Machina (2013). Annihilation is a strange, emphatic, and nihilistic science fiction tale of horror, and seeing as I am an enormous fan of everything in that sentence it should come as no surprise that Garland’s latest film (in my opinion) is one hell of a cinematic experience! With that being said, Annihilation is NOT for all audiences. There’s more than a few scenes featuring gruesome granger that will undoubtedly stick in the nightmares of those who are faint of heart, and the narrative makes for many unanswered questions. I LOVE when movies leave themselves open to interpretation, but I know not everyone feels the same way so if you consider yourself squeamish and prefer your movies with clearcut conclusions then stay far away from this one. But if you enjoy “hard” science fiction stories that challenges the audience and is so ensanguined with Lovecraftian cosmic horror that the screen’s practically sporting tentacles then why are you still reading this review? GO SEE IT WHILE IT’S STILL IN THEATERS!!!

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Is the Vanguard systematically deleting links to the Davisite -- and only the Davisite?

It seems that the Vanguard is systematically deleting links to the Davisite -- and only the Davisite.  The following screenshots show three examples of this, with the original versions, as posted by the author with links to the Davisite, and then later versions without links to the Davisite, apparently removed by the blog owner or one of the blog moderators.  Yet links to other sites like Facebook remain.

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Five Council Candidates State Positions on Measure J/R


West from Rd 30B - Sac skyline
View from Mace curve - one of the areas subject to Measure J/R

Last night (2/28/2018), the Davis College Democrats held a forum for candidates for Davis City Council. Well, not all candidates -- you had to be a declared Democrat to participate, even though the City Council is supposed to be non-partisan. Forum participants also had to answer a series of loaded questions. Here's one:

Our city is running out of room to accommodate future growth, with a severe housing and financial crisis. Measure R has placed a stranglehold on any annexation efforts to deal with this problem by requiring a ballot measure for any significant development. In 2020 Measure R will go on the ballot for reauthorization. If elected how will you augment Measure R to stave off another city housing or financial crisis?

Davisites might be surprised to learn how the five candidates (out of nine running) in attendance answered.

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CivEnergy Will Host Davis City Council Candidates Forum

Download(Press release) CivEnergy is sponsoring a Davis City Council candidates forum from 3 to 5 pm Sunday, March 18, in the Davis Community Church Fellowship Hall, 421 D Street. Each of the nine declared candidates for the two open council seats has agreed to participate in this free community event, moderated by former Davis Mayor Ann Evans. They include: Ezra Beeman, Mary Jo Bryan, Dan Carson, Linda Deos, Eric Gudz, Larry Guenther, Gloria Partida, Luis Rios Jr. and Mark West. Visit www.civenergy.org to see candidate responses as to why they are running for office, what their platform is, and how they will be an effective city council member.

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Measure J, Measure R... and now Measure J again? A guide for the perplexed

West from Rd 30B - Sac skyline
View from Mace curve - one of the areas subject to Measure J/R

I think most Davisites know that measure letters get reused, so that a Measure A of today might be different from a Measure A of yesterday. But in this June's election, things get very confusing – the successful Measure J of 2000 is what permits Davisites to vote "no" (or "yes) on the Measure J of today. Hunh?

Here's an attempt to clarify the situation.

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Linda Deos on Measure R

DeosMeasure R

My name is Linda Deos and I am a candidate for Davis City Council. I am writing on Measure R because of its continued importance to all of us here in Davis. Let me begin by stating in as clear as terms as possible that I support Measure R. I unequivocally support direct citizen participation in land use decisions affecting City policies for compact urban form, agricultural land preservation and adequate housing supply to meet internal City needs. I voted to renew Measure R in 2010.

After attending numerous commission and council meetings over the past year, I have been especially struck by the lack of information provided to city commissioners who are asked to weigh in on many development proposals brought forward. I have also seen the real frustration from our volunteer commissioners that their respective efforts and time have been for naught due to their inability to truly weigh in on proposals.

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The Greatest Showman (2018): Movie Review


Alright, let’s get the harsh stuff out of the way first. This film is NOT about the life and times of the self-made 19th-century showman, entrepreneur, and civil rights activist, Phineas Taylor Barnum. The Greatest Showman is a romanticize “follow your dreams,” movie musical starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum’s superego; specifically focusing on Barnum’s creation in a little venture that would eventually become the world-renowned Barnum & Bailey Circus. Now if you’ve paid any attention to the film’s marketing, you might’ve gathered that historical authenticity has been not so subtly replaced with a brand of magical realism common in many musicals of Hollywood. The “twist,” (I suppose) is that while the film takes place in the late 1800’s, the music and dance is anachronistic with an emphasis on a more contemporary arena rock/pop music sound. In many regards, The Greatest Showman is almost identical to Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie musical, Moulin Rouge! (2001), except for the fact that The Greatest Showman is good. Director Michael Gracey has made a wonderfully shot and brilliantly executed cinematic cabaret of charismatic actors, mellifluous vocalists, and ebullient dancers. This production is one of those rare occasions where the film’s alteration of its source material both heightens the viewing experience but also contributes to the ideals and vocations of P.T. Barnum. The Greatest Showman may be leaning more towards the “fictional” end of historical fiction, but it’s still an impressive feat of cinematic entertainment that’s sure to instill a feeling of childlike wonderment in your heart long after the credits stop rolling.

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From The Archive - Nishi

The flatlander published the below article before shortly before the community voted against the Nishi project measure A only 2 years ago. With Nishi 2.0 on the ballot this spring, The Davisite is publishing this article to begin the conversation on this very controversial project.

The Nishi Proposal
By Robert Milbrodt

In our form of government, citizens are the masters and government is the servant.  Yet, the City of Davis has long had these roles reversed.  Measure J, adopted by voters in June 2000 and renewed as Measure R in June 2010, was meant to encourage the City to adopt a deliberative community process.  Such a process would engage citizens throughout any planning process that anticipates significant changes to our town.  At the end of this community driven process, voters would then be asked to collectively ratify or reject their own work product.  That’s democracy.

What would a democratic planning process have looked like regarding Measure A?

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On Good and Evil

By Jim Leonard

Deception is normal.

We naturally camouflage our behavior in order to protect ourselves and exploit others.

One way to look at it is: good can only appear to be good but evil can appear to be good or evil; evil, thus, has a superficial advantage.

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