The Range

How Dry I Am

The scientists over at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography delivered some bad news: Lake Mead is going dry! The gloom-and-doom Scripps gang predict a 10 percent chance of the Nevada/Arizona lake going dry by 2014, and a 50-50 chance that the reservoir won't have enough water to generate any electric juice by 2021.

Researchers Tim Barnett and David Pierce said that human demand, evaporation and climate change were combining to create a net deficit of 1 million acre-feet a year from the Colorado River.

The Colorado River provides water for millions of people in the American Southwest, including most of us in Pima County. Tucson Water is moving ahead with plans to shut down groundwater wells and switch to recharged Central Arizona Project water.

Larry Dozier, the CAP's deputy general manager, called the Scripps predictions "absurd." Dozier said that agency forecasts showed that even in grim future scenarios, "shortages were manageable."

Elsewhere on the scientific forecast frontier: American inventor Ray Kurzweil predicts we'll all become cyborgs by 2029. The BBC noted that Kurzweil was among the "18 influential thinkers chosen to identify the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st century by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering." From the BBC story: Humans and machines would eventually merge, by means of devices embedded in people's bodies to keep them healthy and improve their intelligence, predicted Mr. Kurzweil. "We'll have intelligent nanobots go into our brains through the capillaries and interact directly with our biological neurons," he told BBC News.

White Clobbers Walker!

We mocked Pima County Republican Party Chair Judi White a few weeks ago for busting on General Accountability Office Comptroller General David Walker, who came to town as a guest of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to share his concerns about out-of-control federal spending. White called Walker a "controversial Washington insider who calls vital programs for seniors a cancer and who advocates massive cuts in spending or massive tax hikes."

We thought that was an odd thing to say about a man who pointed out the undeniable fact that the government can't continue to cut taxes and increase spending.

Well, it turns out that White has far more power than we ever imagined. Just weeks after she tore into Walker, he announced he was leaving his post. Walker is off to head up the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, some billion-dollar private-research foundation that nobody has ever heard of.

Judi White 1, David Walker 0!

Sad Song

Tucson International Mariachi Conference organizers, who lost sponsorship from Bank One after the Chase gang came to town, turned up at the Tucson City Council meeting to ask for a little help--like, say, free use of the Tucson Convention Center and city parks. The boosters say the festival, which started in 1983, is facing steep competition from other mariachi celebrations around the world and may have to move to Phoenix or something if they can't get city support. Council members promised to take a look at what they could do in a future City Council subcommittee meeting.

See How They Run

What's with the Raytheon Missile Systems guys trying to take over state government? Two Republicans who work at Raytheon formally announced their plans to seek seats in the Arizona Legislature last week, to little media fanfare.

Former Green Beret Frank Antenori, a Raytheon project manager who burst onto the political scene with a 2006 congressional campaign that ended with him losing the primary to Randy Graf, declared his intention to seek one of the two open seats in Legislative District 30, which includes the east side of Tucson, Green Valley and Sierra Vista. Both District 30 incumbents are leaving the House; Rep. Jonathan Paton has an eye on state Sen. Tim Bee's seat, and Rep. Marian McClure, who is termed out, is seeking a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The second announcement came from political newcomer Bob Westerman, who rented out downtown's Fox Theatre to declare his plans to take on Democratic state Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia. Westerman, a senior engineer and project manager at Raytheon, seems like a bright enough guy, though his plans to run as a Republican in heavily Democratic District 27 seems a bit quixotic.

Westerman has tapped Mary Davis as a "communications director" for his campaign. Davis is now working as a spokesperson for the Town of Oro Valley. Things could certainly turn awkward if Oro Valley needs to lobby Garcia on any issues this session. Good thing that local governments never have business with the state!

Sweet Nothings

The UA Wildcats gave fans a sweet Valentine's Day gift by beating Cal, 83-73, last Thursday, Feb. 14, but broke their hearts all over again two days later when they couldn't hold on to a one-point lead they had grabbed over Stanford with less than a minute left. Final score: Cardinal 67, Wildcats 66. The Cats are now 16-9 (6-6 in Pac 10 play) without Lute Olson, who was sidelined by his own heartbreak this year. The question that remains to be popped: Will Lute be reconciling with the team next year, or have they moved on with new coach Kevin O'Neill?
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