From the Publisher: Bright Problem Solvers

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1987
Arnold G. York

How do you know what to believe when information comes to you prepackaged by artificial intelligence in some computer that probably knows more about you than you do yourself? If your profile, wherever it may reside, says you’re a political conservative but don’t much care for Trump, but like jelly beans and are looking for a new mechanic for your Mercedes, you can just bet you’re going to get political news stories on your cell phone that fits that bias, leaning or belief—call it what you will. You’re going to see stories about Trump family corruption and criminal investigations, also nasty stuff about AOC, stories that Nancy Pelosi is a cross-dressing grandma and that the Democrats in the house are all left-wing Antifa radicals who want to turn us all into socialists. You’re also going to see ads for Mercedes mechanics near your home and great sales on jelly beans. When the same political message gets repeated over and over again every day, it begins to feel like it must be true, and that the country is falling apart and we have to something right away or we’re in mortal danger. Couple that with photographs that can be manipulated—taking people out or putting people in, or putting your face onto someone’s body—or that somewhere a computer may have taken your recorded voice and read someone’s script with your voice saying things you never said, and it gets difficult to know what’s real. What makes it even harder is that there are public figures who are real but you wouldn’t know it based upon some of the dumb things they say. Recently, General Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor to President Trump and a recently pardoned felon, appeared to endorse the idea of a military coup, Myanmar (formerly Burma) style. The question in my mind is not did he mean it, but how could anyone that inconceivably dumb end up as a three-star army general and even worse director (until fired) of the Defense Intelligence Agency? We all have to become better skeptical consumers of information or we’re going to end up running around trying to escape imaginary goblins, which may explain the popularity of all those “walking dead” movies.

 

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Malibu seems to have its share of homeless residents and, according to some, more than its share. Following some of the comments on the social media site Nextdoor, there is obviously a group of local villagers who just can’t understand why we can’t just round them up, lock them up or just truck them into another community. Aside from the fact that it would be against the law, and also very nasty, it just wouldn’t work, because while we were sending our homeless to someone else they would be sneaking their homeless into Malibu, which frankly is pretty much how the problem was handled for years, except it keeps growing. The simple fact is we don’t have enough housing, and that’s for everyone, at almost every income level, and we have made it so time consuming and expensive to build that there is not nearly any construction, except in the highest end of the market, that makes any economic sense. To build the basic Malibu house, meaning buying the land and building a nice but not extraordinary house, just can’t be done for less than two, three or maybe four million dollars, and I may be low in my estimate. Suppose you want to just add a little granny flat, an ADU, for say 900 square feet here in Malibu. It would be almost impossible because all of the existing rules and regulations would make it so prohibitively expensive to build it wouldn’t make any financial sense. Ultimately, the only answer is for the legislature to chip away at local control of land use and mandate housing, because no local community is going to vote for more traffic or more density. So far, most of the housing bills have died in the legislature but it’s only a matter of time before they start passing.

 

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Last week, I asked why we can’t have some water in Legacy Park in the center of Malibu. After all, the regular park walkers want it, the occasional visitors want it, the ducks certainly want it and the other flora and fauna could certainly use it. The explanation, as with most things in Malibu, is more complicated than would first appear. This week we have a letter to the editor from John Sibert, a former Malibu mayor and council member, a university professor in the sciences and a very bright, problem-solving kind of guy. It turns out that the only permissible source of water for Legacy Park is runoff from the surrounding 330 acres. If we are doomed to count on rain runoff as our only source of water, then considering we are in a drought cycle that my last for a decade or longer, we can’t expect to see much more than a dry gulch for years to come. I believe this is a town filled with a lot of bright, problem-solving people. I’m sure there is an alternative answer to this dilemma and we’re going to keep covering this story until someone comes up with a workable solution.