Indy Digest: Feb. 17, 2022
There are few things over which I lose sleep.
On occasion, concern about friends and family will keep me up for a bit. And I’d be lying if I said business worries never cost me some sleep. Beyond that … I sleep pretty well. But as of late, one other thing has interrupted my sleep patterns a time or two: climate change.
Yes, really, climate change.
Why, you may ask, is a big-picture societal issue over which I have no direct control keeping me awake? Well, my mind gets going, and then it goes some more—and then I find myself fretting about the future of places I love … like Palm Springs.
Before I get to my worries about the Coachella Valley, I want to mention another place I love: my hometown of Reno, Nevada. It’s where my mom lives, and where my in-laws live. (It’s also a place where, you may recall, I now have a serious business interest.)
Last summer, as wildfires raged across the west, Reno became miserable—for weeks at a time. Smoke from the fires headed east—and found a nice place to go in the valley that Reno calls home. The result was the worst air quality in the country.
Oh, and temperatures are rising there, too—to the point where a recent study declared that Reno-Tahoe could no longer be considered a feasible Winter Olympics host. The weather’s gotten too warm.
And now for the Coachella Valley: A couple of years ago, a UC-Riverside study was released that came to a stunning conclusion. (You may have missed the news stories about the study, seeing as some other attention-grabbing things were happening in 2020.) That conclusion: “Due to climate change, the number of days above 85 degrees between November and April is projected to increase by up to 150% by the end of the century. These changes are enough to prevent many from patronizing the area’s famous outdoor attractions and events such as the annual Coachella Valley Music Festival, according to the study published … in the journal Climatic Change.”
Let’s break that down: Do you think it’s hot here sometimes? Well, imagine the number of hot days we have now … and then multiply it by two and a half. Yikes.
Yeah, the study says this will happen by the turn of the century, which is still 77-plus years away. But a lot of really bad changes are happening now—like all the wildfires, and the aforementioned smoke, and the mega-drought the state of California is currently in now. That drought is the worst in at least 1,200 years, and increasing temps contributed about 42 percent to the severity of the drought, according to a recent study.
Yeah, maybe climate change is a silly thing to lose sleep over. But then again, maybe it’s not.
From the Independent
Education Bogeyman: Many Right-Wing Politicians Claim Ethnic-Studies Classes Are Divisive and Harmful. Coachella Valley Educators Say the Exact Opposite Is True.
By Kevin Fitzgerald
February 15, 2022
No, critical race theory is not being taught in Coachella Valley high schools. But as California starts making ethnic studies a requirement for graduation, what is being taught?
Edutainment! Neil Berg Combines Performance, History Into Separate Shows, Focusing on Broadway and Rock
By Matt King
February 16, 2022
Neil Berg has made his mark in the theatrical world. He has composed The Prince and the Pauper, The 12 and Grumpy Old Men: The Musical—and he’s translated his love of music into various entertaining and educational concerts.
By Katie Finn
February 17, 2022
So many people tell me they have wines they’ve been sitting on for decades, and they’re wondering if the wines are still good. Here’s what I say to that: Open it.
February 17, 2022
Topics addressed on this week’s comics page includes suction pumps, noodle cups, Antifa, living in sin, fecal matter—and more!
The Lucky 13; Ison Van Winkle, Vocalist and Frontman for Yip Yops, Releasing ‘A Night at the Shack Soundtrack’ on March 4
By Matt King
February 17, 2022
Get to better know Ison Van Winkle, the frontman of Yip Yops.
• Welcome to the endemic era in California! Our partners at CalMatters explain: “Gov. Gavin Newsom’s health secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said the state’s new plan marks a shift in the handling of the pandemic toward preparedness, acknowledging that officials will have to be flexible to respond to any new variants of concern. The state dubbed its new plan ‘SMARTER,’ an acronym for its seven areas of focus: shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education and Rx treatments. … The strategy unveiled today includes preventive planning like stockpiling 75 million masks and bringing in 30 million over-the-counter tests, as well as the ability to increase the health care workforce by at least another 3,000 staff if there’s another surge. It also includes building on current wastewater surveillance and genome sequencing to have a better understanding of the evolving virus, and pursuing a public-private partnership with a COVID-19 test manufacturer that can secure a supply chain for California.”
• California lawmakers are taking aim at misinformation. Whether their efforts will pass muster in the Legislature—or with the First Amendment—remains to be seen. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Richard Pan’s proposal, which still is being finalized, would require online platforms like Facebook to publicly disclose how their algorithms work and how they promote user content, including which data sets are used and how they rank the prominence of user posts. The platforms would also be required to confidentially share more detailed information with researchers, with the goal of creating more responsible algorithms. Assemblyman Evan Low said his bill would label doctors’ promoting of misinformation or disinformation about COVID-19 to the public as unprofessional conduct that could draw disciplinary action from the California Medical Board. Disinformation is generally considered to be intentional or deliberate falsehoods, while misinformation can be inadvertent.”
• I’m presenting the weekly Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report here, for two reasons: 1. Habit … it’s sort of what I *do* on Thursdays. 2. To, yet again, remind everyone that COVID-19 is awful: Eight more of your neighbors from the Coachella Valley (and rural areas to the east) died from the disease during the week ending Feb. 13.
• The city of Palm Springs would like to remind you that an indoor mask mandate is still in effect in the city. From the community advisory: “The city of Palm Springs would like to advise the community that despite the governor’s recent announcement that the statewide indoor mask mandate (has expired), under the city’s local COVID-19 order, masks are still required indoors within the city of Palm Springs for the time being. … Palm Springs and Riverside County case number declines are not as significant as other areas in the state. (City Manager Justin) Clifton and his team continue to review weekly indicators and the trends are becoming more encouraging, he said. ‘We hope these trends will continue to decline and that Palm Springs can align its requirements with the state of California very soon,’ said Clifton. In addition, under the city’s local COVID-19 order, proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test is still required (inside) in restaurants and bars for the time being.“
• The New York Times recently did a piece exploring the possibility that a “flu” that ravaged Russia in 1889 may have actually been caused by a coronavirus. A snippet: “The Russian flu finally ended a few years later, after at least three waves of infection. Its patterns of infection and symptoms have led some virologists and historians of medicine to now wonder: Might the Russian flu actually have been a pandemic driven by a coronavirus? And could its course give us clues about how our pandemic will play out and wind down? If a coronavirus caused the Russian flu, some believe that pathogen may still be around, its descendants circulating worldwide as one of the four coronaviruses that cause the common cold. If so, it would be different from flu pandemics whose viruses stick around for a while only to be replaced by new variants years later that cause a new pandemic.”
• Rancho Mirage is being Disney-fied! Deadline reports: “Disney will be building new master-planned communities called ‘Storyliving,’ with the first to be developed in Rancho Mirage in California’s Coachella Valley. Other sites are under exploration ‘as more and more fans look for new ways to make Disney a bigger part of their lives,’ the company said. At each location, it said, Disney cast members trained in the company’s guest services will operate the community association. Disney Imagineers will play a key role in developing the creative concept for the communities, working in conjunction with respected developers and homebuilders. The first community is called Cotino … (near) where Walt and Lillian Disney had a home. It’s being developed in collaboration with DMB Development to offer a range of home types including estates, single-family homes and condos, including at least one area expressly for ages 55+.”
• The weather is supposed to be pretty amazing on Saturday … and here’s a unique way to get outside and enjoy the loveliness. From a news release: “Flagging in the Desert returns to Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs on Saturday, Feb. 19. We begin with a free class at 11 a.m. for new flaggers and those who want to learn some new movements. Loaner flags will be available. Our DJ begins at noon and the music continues until 4 p.m. There will be a silent auction of some beautiful new donated flags. This is a FREE event, but we will be seeking donations for The Community Food Bank @ The Center. Bring a chair or a blanket; bring your lunch; but most importantly bring your enthusiasm. More information is available at www.flagginginthedesert.com.”
• Our friends at the Desert Rose Playhouse asked us to let everyone know about a lineup change—which has resulted in a very cool production coming to the playhouse this weekend. From a news release: “Electricity, the highly acclaimed comedy-drama by Terry Ray, starring Ray and Mel England that has toured the nation from Los Angeles, to Minneapolis and over the past four years has became the longest-running play in Palm Springs, is returning to Palm Springs at the Desert Rose Playhouse for a special limited engagement opening tonight, Feb. 17” and running through the weekend. … “Electricity is an audience delighting, deliciously hilarious and at times heartbreaking romance between Brad and Gary, once closeted gay classmates who make an unlikely couple after sharing a motel room following their 10th high school reunion. There’s an ‘electricity’ between them (‘Do you feel it?’) that brings them back to that same room after every successive reunion from 1983 to 2013.” Get tickets and learn more at desertroseplayhouse.org/product/electricity-by-terry-ray.
• And finally … I present to you this news item sans comment, although I will disclose that I am sighing and shaking my head. NBC News says: “A priest resigned this month after his diocese announced that thousands of baptisms he had performed were invalid because he had changed a single word. He said, ‘We baptize you … ,’ instead of ‘I baptize you … .’ ‘It is with sincere pastoral concern that I inform the faithful that baptisms performed by Reverend Andres Arango, a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, are invalid,’ Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix said in a letter last month. ‘This determination was made after careful study by diocesan officials and through consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome,’ he wrote.”
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Corrected to fix a math error in the introduction.