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What the Thunder Said

“The earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up,
and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.”

—Numbers 16:32

The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 convinced Voltaire (who didn’t need convincing to begin with) of the nonexistence of God.  The Great California Earthquake, when it comes (as it must), will only demonstrate the nonexistence of what California has in place of God.  Whether it actually manages to convince anyone is another story.

The late Marc Reisner, who died three years ago at the age of 52, wrote what is arguably the best and most important single work on the American West ever published.  Cadillac Desert (1987), viewed one-dimensionally, is a history of the development of water policy and water delivery (water “growth”) in the arid Western states, from the Hundredth Meridian to the Pacific Ocean.  I am ashamed to say that, when the book first crossed my desk, I gently hefted its formidable bulk and set it aside respectfully as being a volume of no interest to the readers of an East Coast magazine of conservative politics, however worthily it might serve as a doorstop, until, in crippling old age, I found time to read the thing as an act of public duty by an adoptive Westerner.  In fact, I got around to the job somewhat sooner...

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