Data Cherry-Picking?

By Montecito Journal   |   October 5, 2021

I am reading Bob Hazard’s series on our water crisis with great interest. He is a strong writer and does his research, but I think there are instances in which he is cherry-picking the data.

In his first piece, he mentions that 5% of California water is used for outdoor residential purposes. That may be true statewide, but water is a localized resource. In 2019, Melinda Burns reported that Montecitans were using 200 gallons per capita per day, with 85% of that going to landscaping.

In the recent piece focused on desalination, Mr. Hazard uses an ‘us/them’ narrative that I find disconcerting. In an effort to make his case that desalination is viable, he positions the “environmental community” as unified in opposition. I’m not sure that this is the case, although there are many ecological red flags with heavy reliance on desalination, the number one issue being energy use. He also backs up his assertion that open ocean intake is safe for marine life with a quote from an industry spokesperson. Those “tiny little organisms” that are sucked into the intake system may seem inconsequential, but they are the basis of the food chain for larger members of the aquatic community.

The impacts of climate change are now squarely upon us, and I hope we can move past the “us/them” narrative to one in which we recognize that we are all in this together.

Kathi King 

Clarifications on Bellosguardo Article

In last week’s Montecito Journal, Lynda Millner wrote a lovely article about a talk I recently gave at The Santa Barbara Club about what it was like growing up at The Clark Estate-Bellosguardo and bringing it forward through the years to the current day. 

I would like to clarify several points in that article.

The book, Empty Mansions, was written by Bill Dedman, not I. I did write articles for several publications and most recently, I wrote the chapter on Bellosguardo for David Myrick’s Volume III of The Great Estates of Montecito.

My book, The Gates of Bellosguardo, My Enchanted Childhood, is still a work in progress.

Also, last week’s article has Morton mentioned incorrectly as the chauffeur. Actually, he was the butler. Armstrong was the Scottish, bagpipe playing chauffeur who drove the cars in his starched, brass buttoned uniform.

Although imagining Morton, the kind, “very proper” English butler wearing his “morning coat” and actually driving the 27 Rolls Royces, Pierce Arrows, or Cadillacs makes me smile.

Thank you to the Montecito Journal for your fine magazine and interesting articles.

Barbara Doran

Well Done, Rinaldo

Kudos again to Rinaldo Brutoco, this time on his commentary “intimidation politics” regarding Republican “thug-ocracy” as in threatening retaliation against the American business community for cooperating with the Congressional Investigation into the January 6 insurrection attack on the Capitol and the “Big Lie” of a stolen presidential election that preceded it. Recently, Ken Burns, the famous filmmaker and chronicler of American history, said that American Democracy is currently facing its greatest crisis since the 1860s with the onslaught of the Civil War and the 1930s with the rise of Nazism and Fascism around the world.

In the 1860s, millions of Americans believed in the continuation of the enslavement of black people, that brought us the Civil War. In the 1930s, millions of Americans were resistant to, or even adamantly against, getting into the fight to stop Nazism and Fascism until Pearl Harbor in 1941 and our entry into WW2. In 2020, 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump, a purveyor of lies, hate, and cruelty even though he clearly lost the presidential election to Joe Biden. The current leaders of the Republican Party (Trump, McCarthy, McConnell, Govs. DeSantis, and Abbott) as well as Trump’s current and previous advisors (Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Mike Flynn, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort – some of this group pardoned by Trump as convicted felons) are not interested in national service for the public good, but only attainment of raw political power.

In convenient subservience to their base voters that include those that are anti-science, anti-vax, anti-abortion, right-wing religionists, white supremacists, climate change deniers, gun rights extremists, and conspiracy theorists there is clear intent to capture the national government and as Mr. Brutoco warns “pave the way to fascism.” Biden and the Democratic Party, even with its faults, are the only national political party with the maturity, enlightenment, and vision to govern the country at this disturbing and troubled time. Their proposals for national economic and infrastructure renewal, science-based decision making on the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, support for multi-racial democracy and expansion of the social safety net may be the last best hope to save the evolving American Democracy. All Americans of good will must now speak up, and act socially and politically to protect the nation from this clear danger to our future.


Barry Gordon

Social Media is a Drug

There are only two industries that call their customers “users” – illegal drugs and software. Social media is a drug.

Watch: The Social Dilemma. A Netflix documentary that won a 2021 Emmy and explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, especially for our youth. Never in our lifetime have we had such societal discord, depression, and chaos and that started as algorithms combined with social media platforms and driven by advertising profit incentives that have become universal, evolved, and now wield such control over our lives. See it on Netflix or YouTube – it is one and a half hours, but worth it for our future.

This paradigm shift of understanding is something people need to grasp. Pass it on.

John Burk


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