June 22, 2014

6 Californias, The Home of the Rave, the Ham-and-Eggs Theory, the original meaning of "brainstorm," and The Gnomes of the Future.

California is too big to be just one state, and bigness begets bigness. The request, in splitting it up, is to split it in 6.

I remember talk in the 60s and 70s about splitting California into 2 states. And I see a NYT report from 1941:
Talk of splitting California into two States along the line of the Tehachapi Mountains has been revived....

This is a recurring discussion, due to the different temperaments and clashing personalities of the two sections.
What was the difference between southern and northern California back in 1941?
To Northern California Southern California is "the home of the rave," where hamburgers and brainstorms alike are super-colossal.
I'm just going to guess that "the rave" is a play on "brave" (as in "the home of the brave"), that it just means that people are raving lunatics, and that "brainstorm" had a more negative meaning at the time.
In the North "screwball" is a satisfactory description of the South — after successive campaigns to defeat such Southern-born notions as End-Poverty-in-California, Utopianism, the Townsend Plan and the Ham-and-Eggs Theory.
Imagine how absurd it would be if states were split up whenever people in one section of a state thought the people at the other end were deranged. I'd be living in a state, in the southern half of what is now Wisconsin, and I believe that state would be named La Follette.

If your state were bisected according to different temperaments, clashing personalities, and food preferences, which direction — north/south, east/west, diagonal? — would the line be drawn and what do you think the 2 parts would be named?

Anyway, I take it you also want to know what was the Ham-and-Eggs Theory. It was, apparently, a Depression Era proposal to give $50 a week to everyone 50 and older. It all started when...
On July 25, 1938, Archie Price swallowed poison and died in Balboa Park. He had notified the local press two years earlier that he would kill himself when his savings were depleted, because, as he put it in a letter found in his pocket with his last two cents, he was "too young to receive an old-age pension and too old to find work." Price was buried, without ceremony, in a pauper's grave...
And I looked up "brainstorm" in the (unlinkable) OED and my guess that the original meaning was much more negative than the current usage is correct. Traced as far back as 1861, it meant "A fit of rage, melancholy, etc.; a sudden change of mood or behaviour; (also) a sudden and severe attack of mental illness; an epileptic seizure." That 1861 quote was from S. B. Hemyng's "Dark Cloud with Silver Lining":
Then a fierce brain-storm swept over her. There was a gloom on her brow, clothing the dimly visible gnomes of the future in dark, shapeless shadows.
Gnomes of the future... I love that phrase. I googled it, and I can't describe my fortuitous path, but I ended up with this, which is too delightfully almost relevant not to show you:

62 comments:

Tarrou said...

Michigan would be split into the southeast corner (Detroit to the Tric-cities and Ann Arbor/Lansing) and everyone else. And then the thumbillies would probably try to secede from that bit.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Western part of North Carolina. A few years back, when Mike Easley was governor, there was talk of splitting off into "West Carolina", mainly because it was said that the west was ignored by Raleigh. Not receiving it's fair share of funding, government attention, etc.

Years later, that talk has all but died.

The new Republican Governor spends time in the Western Mansion (yes, there is one) and that seems to be enough for those who once wanted to "secede."

Mark said...

"If your state were bisected according to different temperaments, clashing personalities, and food preferences, which direction — north/south, east/west, diagonal? — would the line be drawn and what do you think the 2 parts would be named?"

If New Hampshire were divided, it would be into three sections. The northern most tip would still be New Hampshire, the center section would be Touristbourg and the southern section would be North Massachusetts.

Richard Fagin said...

I'd say not until Texas is allowed to split into five states as has been proposed in the past, but the resulting 10 new Democratic U.S. Senators that would result in such a split of Calif. wouldn't be totally offset by a similar split of Texas. At least one of a split Texas' state's U.S. Senators would both me Democrats.

I'm still scratching my head wondering how the Republican Congressman in TX-27 held on to his seat after winning it in 2010.

Uncle Frank said...

My state was already named. After James Carville helped Bob Casey, Sr., get elected Governor of Pennsylvania, he said that Pennsylvania has Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and Alabama in between.

I'll give him props for a funny line.

Douglas said...

I'm not sure of this, but didn't Texas retain the right to divide itself into five states as part of the treaty bringing it into the Union? Doing so would give Texas residents collectively an additional eight senators, but I guess that possible benefit hasn't been enough to induce the state to undergo mitosis.

tim maguire said...

Pretty funny that North thought the South were a bunch of granola crunching looney leftists.

New York City often talks of splitting from the rest of the state as upstate New York is much more conservative and has too much influence based on population. But upstate will never let the city break away as the rural conservatives are too addicted to the city liberals' money.

brio said...

You really don't know the meaning of "rave?" You look up other words but didn't bother with this word and instead guess at its derivation.

Fen said...

Funny how the people always caterwauling about Direct Democracy and the evils of the Electoral College don't want to lose CA's 55 electoral votes.

Why, its almost as if they don't really believe in the stuff they lecture the rest of us about.

Anonymous said...

For all practical purposes California is now split in two:
Siliconia in the north and Mexifornia in the south.

Ann Althouse said...

"Rave" with "the," these days, brio, reads as a drug-infused dance event, which struck me as funny. Try to divine the ways of Althouse, why she goes where she goes at any given point, and you may enjoy the readings here more.

For commenting, I recommend attempting to say something creative or funny or wise.

Do more lateral thinking.

traditionalguy said...

Your being "too delightfully almost relevant not to include" has long been my standard for comments.

Ron said...

I still Michigan would just lose the UP...and the rest would split into Detroit-Flint....and the rest.

chillblaine said...

If LA Times columnist George Skelton thinks its a nutty idea, chances are it is quite rational. I like the idea of being confederated with my adjoining counties, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino and Imperial.

I doubt we would be subject to AB32, the state's cap-and-trade scheme. And our local tax dollars couldn't be used to fund the ridiculous new train project between LA and San Francisco.

richlb said...

Here in Maryland we have a Red streak in the mountainous Western portion and the agricultural Eastern Shore, with the Blue crazy mass in the middle. I think most states really pan out like this, particularly when they only contain one large city. The city almost always tends to be Democrat, with the rural areas trending Republican. The city soaks up the money and influence, leaving the rest of the state under represented. A few years ago they redrew the districts to remove the Western MD district that was historically Republican and give the Dems one more House rep in DC.

surfed said...

There is precedent - West Virginia seceding from Virginia (1862) in the Southern States War of Succession and Constitutional Liberty. Florida by way of example - Two completely different States and Key West (a place unto itself). The demarcation line would be From Daytona through Orland and down to Tampa. That would be South Florida. North Florida is culturally akin to the traditional South - same mores, values and culture that runs from North Carolina through Eastern Texas (Virgina having relegated itself to the Middle Atlantic and West Texas to the West). I say do and lets have some FUN.

MountainMan said...

I could see my state of Tennessee reorganizing as three states: East, Middle and West. The state actually recognizes the three "Grand Divisions" in the constitution and there are parts of state government organized along these lines. That is why the state flag has three stars. Each area is geographically, culturally, and economically distinct. I assume here in the East, where I live, we would prefer again to use the name State of Franklin, the 14th state formed in the mid-1780's that was never recognized.

Anonymous said...

Terrible Reading Comprehension Guy says:

Althouse misses the point here: at this point the idea of splitting California into six states is only a petition -- it hasn't happened yet, as she implies in her title. There has been talk of splitting California into separates states in previous decades, if she would have done her research. I realize that she is just "brainstorming" but I think a more careful understanding of the facts would be beneficial to someone of Althouse's position.

Freeman Hunt said...

If Arkansas split, the northwest corner would be nicked off and renamed Northwest Arkansas. That's almost already used like a state name. "Where are you from?" "Northwest Arkansas." The state consciousness of Arkansas residents betrays the existence of an existing cultural split. People in the northwest corner know the northwest corner. The rest of the state is more of an uninteresting abstract idea to them. (Even Little Rock.) In the rest of the state, people seem to know more about the state as a whole. They're more aware of what towns are where, and they think of Little Rock as a major place.

At least, these are my impressions.

The Drill SGT said...

I was born in what would be Jefferson (Chico), and grew up in what would be Northern California (Sacramento/Davis), though when last I lived there it was in South California (Irvine).

If there were 6 states, at least the north could get a better deal for its water.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Terrible Reading Comprehension Guy"

I so hope this is a recurring character!

Michael K said...

" at this point the idea of splitting California into six states is only a petition "

The lefty billionaires in the Bay Area would lkiek to have 12 Democrat Senators to crush those pesky Republicans in the House.

Like immigration, this idea is a GOP suicide pact. I wouldn't mind the State of Orange County but it would be too expensive for the country.

MountainMan said...

Thinking more about my comment earlier about Tennessee, perhaps California doesn't need to actually split into separate states but to write a new constitution that recognizes different divisions, as does TN. Then, state functions could be allocated across those divisions such that minimal or proportional representation is required from each. I don't think people who are not from TN realize how different each of the three divisions are. If I drive the 500 miles from my home in Kingsport to Memphis I feel like I am in a completely different state when I get there, and in many respects I am. These Grand Divisions have worked well since the current constitution was written in 1870. When I look at how dysfunctional CA is I think there are quite a few things they could learn from TN.

FleetUSA said...

Northern Virginia is already known as NOVA. It could merge with the District of Columbia becoming one state giving DC residents statehood.

Maybe it could even be called Potomac.

Carol said...

I grew up in Socal and felt out of place, and always thought of the northern part as sensible, cultured, mature, educated..I wish that place really existed.

Still love SF.

policraticus said...

I grew up thinking of our tiny home state as a two states united by a common hatred for Pennsylvania and Maryland. You had my home in the rolling hills and urban centers of Northern Delaware and then everything south of the C&D Canal, Slower Delaware, populated by red neck chicken farmers, peach orchards and beaches.

Now I live in New Jersey and can see that 1702 was a dark year in colonial history. The Keith line was there for a reason. We should return sovereignty to West Jersey forthwith and let East Jersey go become part of New York. Good riddance to the them.

surfed said...

Addendum - Misspell from the cell phone - that would be Secession and not Succession. I need a cellphone for seniors with a larger keyboard.

Sam L. said...


Blogger Carol said...

I grew up in Socal and felt out of place, and always thought of the northern part as sensible, cultured, mature, educated..I wish that place really existed.

Still love SF.

SF, from what I've seen and heard, only fits "educated". Other than that, seems fairly reasonable as a description.

As I understand it, Oregon cannot be bisected; Portland and the Willamette Valley would have to be the peninsula of Portlandia into the Sea of Oregon.

The Drill SGT said...

FleetUSA said...
Northern Virginia is already known as NOVA. It could merge with the District of Columbia becoming one state giving DC residents statehood.


You have it backward. The DC used to included Northern Virginia, or at least Arlington County. It was later decided that the Feds would never need that much land so the the VA portion was returned.

If you want voting rights for DC, return it to from whence it came, Maryland. Which of course would mean just Plus 1 (D) Congressman instead of 1 (D) Congressman and 2 (D) Senators in the resulting blue DC State.

Anonymous said...

I've thought for a long time that the Two Californias are East and West. West is the big clumps of urban population up and down the coast, tied to light industry and media and knowledge industries and a bit of finance. East is the interior—though at some latitudes it comes all the way to the Pacific Ocean—based on agriculture and natural resources. The difference between Los Angeles and San Francisco is trivial compared to the difference between either and Fresno or Bakersfield.

Jeffrey said...

I live in Chicago now, so this is easy: the Chicagoland area (basically the city and the Collar Counties) would be the state of Chicago, and the rest would be called Illinois.

natatomic said...

With Florida, you could probably just cut the panhandle off - Florida and West Florida (alla Virginia, and W. Virginia). Or maybe create the country's first state-within-a-state by drawing a state line around Walt Disney World. You could call the state Lake Buena Vista if you want, but I really like the idea of going all out and calling the state Disney, USA.

hombre said...

I grew up in So Caifornia mostly in the 50s.

Before the advent of Silicon Valley, Northern California was just a parasitic haven for hippies, politicians (Sacramento) and the effete rich living off the efforts of their southern and central neighbors.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Indiana would be cut in two East-West... With the line running north of Lafayette in the west and south of Kokomo in the East. The Northern Portion would be called 'rustbeltia." Or perhaps the "Indiana Union" The rest of us would be Indiana

Some Seppo said...

I knew I'd read something significant (to me) about Ham and Eggs.

Although every reputable economist, including Fisher himself, felt that the plan was "fantastic, incredible, and dangerous," as it would introduce more scrip than money into the California economy and eventually bankrupt the state, it was tremendously popular.

The 1938 ballot initiative that would have made it the law of the land probably failed only due to a scandal involving the Allens and a crooked cop. A 1939 ballot initiative was crushed after critics were able to explain the economic costs, and by 1942 the Ham and Eggs movement was dead.

It had at least one lasting effects, though; a young Democratic Naval veteran running for Congress was trounced after failing to support the plan, losing the primary to a Republican. After his crushing defeat, Robert Heinlein abandoned politics and started writing to make his mortgage payments. The house was paid off in 1940; the pulps had many flaws, but at least they paid cash.

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/refs/Safari_Scrapbook3/snarkout:%20worth%20what%20it%20used%20to%20be.html

Fernandinande said...

Zombie garden gnomes.

Biff said...

New Jersey, despite its small size, would resolve to three states. The largest and bluest, by population, would be the narrow swath along the NJ Turnpike/I-95/I-295 roadways running from New York City to Philadelphia. We'd keep calling it New Jersey, since most people from out of state mistakenly think that NJ is the Turnpike, anyway.

To the northwest of the Turnpike would be a solid red state, possibly called "Morris" in recognition of some colonial history and a prominent county. Alternately, since it includes the bulk of the NJ Department of Tourism's "Skylands Region", perhaps it would be called "Skyland." Much of it is actually quite pretty.

To the southeast of the Turnpike would be a semi-rural state possibly known as "Pineland", and it would include the Jersey Shore. Politically, it would be a true battleground state, with the GOP being legitimately competitive.

Badger1972 said...

Ann - My state, Wyoming, is the least populated but could be split by politics/economics.

The southern tier, along the UP rails and I-80, is the left leaning part - plus a remote northwestern outpost. The government dependency class occupy Cheyenne (fed. & state workers) and Laramie (university). Add in the unionized rail workers along the UP and an old mining culture in the southwest. There is also the uber-rich enclave of Jackson, home to out-of-state, liberal, big money donors and the people who serve their interests.

The rest of the state is the traditional, conservative Wyoming of ranchers, energy production and agriculture. It is dominant in current politics.

broomhandle said...

Washington would be divided into two states. The deep-blue Pugetopolis of King, Pierce, and north Thurston counties. Betamax would serve as poet laureate. And then the rest of the state. Of course, there would be low-grade insurgencies in Vantucky and Spokompton, but fuck 'em, they don't have the guns or the numbers.

Scott M said...

Probably never happen, but if it did, it would set off a cascade of such things. Colorado comes instantly to mind and you just know Austin would try to split from Texas.

Chance said...

Silicon Valley as a state name is an embarrassment. They need to hook up with a marketing company to think of better names.

Anonymous said...

A common quip in Chicago is that "without Chicago Illinois would be Mississippi." This is incorrect, it would be half Iowa and half Kentucky. If a split were made it would save Chicago election officials the trouble of waiting until the downstate returns were in before releasing their counts. East St. Louis would have to join Missouri.

eddie willers said...

Georgia's quite comfortable with itself.

Mountain hicks and Flatland hicks could work, I suppose.

avwh said...

"I've thought for a long time that the Two Californias are East and West. West is the big clumps of urban population up and down the coast, tied to light industry and media and knowledge industries and a bit of finance. East is the interior—though at some latitudes it comes all the way to the Pacific Ocean—based on agriculture and natural resources. The difference between Los Angeles and San Francisco is trivial compared to the difference between either and Fresno or Bakersfield."

This is true. The urban coast is extremely blue; the interior is red. Two totally different cultures.

cokaygne said...

Maine could be split into two or three pieces. One boundary would be that between the 1st and 2nd congressional districts. By law, each of the two districts contains about half the population. The northern district, the 2nd, contains about 80% of the land area and is predominately rural or even wilderness.

The southern district, the 1st, containing Portland and its suburbs, would fit in nicely as an extra county for Massachusetts. Some Mainers call southern Maine, "North Boston" and that is not a compliment.

All of Maine, which is equal in area to all the rest of New England, used to be part of Massachusetts, but was granted statehood in 1820 as part of the Missouri compromise to maintain the balance of Senators from free states and slave states. So there is a precedent. There is also precedent in that Maine divides its electoral votes. Two of the four are statewide, and there is one for each of the Congressional districts. Recently all have gone to Democrats and the state is usually taken for granted in presidential elections, but the second district comes close to being in play for Republican presidential candidates.

Maine's northernmost county, Aroostook, is equal in land area to the New England states of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Mainers call Aroostook, "the county", and those who live there, many of whom speak French as the original "Cajuns" (Acadians), raise potatoes or cut trees for a living. But for its population of less than 72,000, Aroostook, home of Senator Collins, the last non-crazy Republican, could be a state.

cokaygne said...

Some Seppo, Heinlein was a Democrat? My how that party has changed.

cokaygne said...

My native state of Massachusetts is more homogenous now, but could still be split in two inside and outside of route 128. Inside 128, call it Boston because they won't mind, would be a very deep Blue city-state comprised of great ethnic diversity and overseen by a cultured elite who humbly admit that they are the smartest people in the room. Outside 128, the real Massachusetts is still deep Blue but the inhabitants are not so taken with themselves.

In addition to two who serve in the Senate, Massachusetts has 9 Senators temporarily serving in the House, but always ready to move up.

Revenant said...

Imagine how absurd it would be if states were split up whenever people in one section of a state thought the people at the other end were deranged.

It doesn't sound insane to me. It sounds like a damned good idea. If a political entity is that sharply divided, splitting into smaller entities allows both sides to "win".

There should be a restriction on it, though -- a minimum population each new state has to have in order to qualify, so that they aren't over-represented in the Senate.

Revenant said...

the resulting 10 new Democratic U.S. Senators that would result in such a split of Calif

Unless the states were *heavily* gerrymandered, you wouldn't get five blue states out of a split. There are more Republicans in California than in Texas.

Northern and eastern California are "red", San Diego and Orange County are purple, the bay area and LA are blue.

Wayne said...

The correct name for Althouse's new home state would be "Batsh!t Crazy"

Kirk Parker said...

I'm all for splitting up California, as long as it's the right parts the get washed away into the sea.

campy said...

Slaveowner/rapist Jefferson as a state name? Please; that's practically a Hate Crime.

Forget about naming any new states after dead white males. Womyn & People Of Color only need apply.

richardsson said...

I disagree with George Skelton on almost everything else (at least I did when I used to read the L.A.Times) but he is right on this one. I don't know if the voters will approve the proposition but I can't see Nevada, Montana, Utah, and a whole lot of other small states vote to dilute their Senate and Electoral College votes. I think the real problem with our politics today are too many billionaires with very stupid political ideas and too much money to keep promoting them.

Danno said...

Although this was probably an exercise in creativity based on Skelton's dreams, what we really need to do is cut the number of states! We already have too much government overhead in the US. Both Delaware and Rhode Island come to mind. Maybe also some of the lightly populated western states, also. A state named Dakota? The state of Hawaii should be part of California. The US Senate should be limited to 100 positions, or less if you work to eliminate some states.

Sorun said...

I would like urban areas to consolidate into one large urban state: Urbana or Blackapolis or something. The states would be left as is. The new urban state would be like a lot of West Berlins with big fences around them.

retired said...

The current 6 state proposal was done with a meat axe. Marin County and the Northern Sierras together!?!
Split CA in to 5 states
Dopeland for the northwest corner
Jefferson for the wilderness northeast, the Sierras and their foothills.
San Francisco its the bay area
Mexifornia for the central valley and central coast ag region,
Los Angeles for the LA basin and San Diego for Orange, San Diego and the south eastern desert.

wildswan said...

But why just split up the old states? Why not some all new states based on transportation networks - like Richmond-to-Boston,Cleveland to Chicago, Milwaukee to Madison or just Big city/Bedroom suburbs and then the rest of the former state.

And better yet - why not IT states based on affiliation. People get put into "states" based on big data interpretations of their behavior. Then you wouldn't get stuck in with Milwaukee voters even if you lived in Milwaukee County, you could be in Waukesha State-of-Mind. Or then, you know, we could campaign for Althousiana. And then send Crack to Washington - enjoy watching them try to move him on issues

tim in vermont said...

Our state is divided, even though it all fits into one area code and one congressional district. We have the Northeast Kingdom, where you live if your passion is hunting and your career goals include some aspect of the lumber industry, and the "Trustafarian" belt, ski towns and high end outlet shopping, based on the prevalence of trust fund babies and white kids with dreadlocks, and regular old maple syrup/dairy working Vermont.

I think if you took a vote, the state would vote to be a province of France.

ken in sc said...

The Free State of Winston County seceded from Alabama when Alabama seceded from the union. They were later occupied by Confederate forces.

ken in sc said...

Something similar happened in Tennessee. Hillbillies were not necessarily in league with the plantation owners.

ken in sc said...

When the Yankees came, they didn't care. They burned and destroyed everything and everyone indiscriminately, even the Mennonites in the Carolinas who refused to participate in the war.

That's how pro-union Southerners came to hate Yankees.

Plumb Family In Turkey said...

Great song by Pavement called "Two States" on this very topic.