What we're about
Upcoming events (2)
Scott's House AND Zoom
Our selection for December is:
California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric--and What It Means for America's Power Grid by Katherine Blunt
A revelatory, urgent narrative with national implications, exploring the decline of California's largest utility company that led to countless wildfires -- including the one that destroyed the town of Paradise -- and the human cost of infrastructure failure
Pacific Gas and Electric was a legacy company built by innovators and visionaries, establishing California as a desirable home and economic powerhouse. In California Burning, Wall Street Journal reporter and Pulitzer finalist Katherine Blunt examines how that legacy fell apart--unraveling a long history of deadly failures in which Pacific Gas and Electric endangered millions of Northern Californians, through criminal neglect of its infrastructure. As PG&E prioritized profits and politics, power lines went unchecked--until a rusted hook purchased for 56 cents in 1921 split in two, sparking the deadliest wildfire in California history.
Beginning with PG&E's public reckoning after the Paradise fire, Blunt chronicles the evolution of PG&E's shareholder base, from innovators who built some of California's first long-distance power lines to aggressive investors keen on reaping dividends. Following key players through pivotal decisions and legal battles, California Burning reveals the forces that shaped the plight of PG&E: deregulation and market-gaming led by Enron Corp., an unyielding push for renewable energy, and a swift increase in wildfire risk throughout the West, while regulators and lawmakers pushed their own agendas.
California Burning is a deeply reported, character-driven narrative, the story of a disaster expanding into a much bigger exploration of accountability. It's an American tragedy that serves as a cautionary tale for utilities across the nation--especially as climate change makes aging infrastructure more vulnerable, with potentially fatal consequences.
This event will likely be hybrid. I will host the meeting in person at my house in Berkeley (inside but with windows open, vaccination recommended by not required, masks optional) which is near the intersection of College Ave and Woolsey St. I will email people the address a few days before the meeting. Here are the Zoom details:
One tap mobile
Our selection for January is:
We Are Bellingcat: Global Crime, Online Sleuths, and the Bold Future of News by Eliot Higgins
The page-turning inside account of the organization solving international mysteries and wielding the power of the internet to fight for facts. In 2018, Russian exile Sergei Skripal and his daughter were nearly killed in an audacious poisoning attempt in Salisbury, England. Soon, the identity of one of the suspects was revealed: he was a Russian spy. This huge investigative coup wasn't pulled off by an intelligence agency or a traditional news outlet. Instead, the scoop came from Bellingcat, the open-source investigative team that is redefining the way we think about news, politics, and the digital future.
We Are Bellingcat tells the inspiring story of how a college dropout pioneered a new category of reporting and galvanized citizen journalists-working together from their computer screens around the globe-to crack major cases, at a time when fact-based journalism is under assault from authoritarian forces. Founder Eliot Higgins introduces readers to the tools Bellingcat investigators use, tools available to anyone, from software that helps you pinpoint the location of an image, to an app that can nail down the time that photo was taken. This book digs deep into some of Bellingcat's most important investigations-the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine, Assad's use of chemical weapons in Syria, the identities of alt-right protestors in Charlottesville-with the drama and gripping detail of a spy novel.
This event will be hybrid. I will host the meeting in person at my house in Berkeley (inside but with windows open, vaccination recommended by not required, masks optional) which is near the intersection of College Ave and Woolsey St. I will email people the address a few days before the meeting. Here are the Zoom details:
One tap mobile