California Sun

Happy Sunday.

Here are a few stories you missed in the California Sun over the last week.

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Sun sampler


Firefighters battled a wildfire in Healdsburg on Oct. 26, 2019.

Philip Pacheco/AFP via Getty Images

Researchers estimate at least 4 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California. In recent decades, that amount of annual wildfire acreage across the entire country has been portrayed as "extreme." ProPublica wrote about the "insanity" of how we manage fire: "We keep doing overzealous fire suppression across California landscapes where the fire poses little risk to people and structures. As a result, wildland fuels keep building up. At the same time, the climate grows hotter and drier. Then, boom: the inevitable."


Dining at Marshall Store.

An oyster bar on Tomales Bay made The New York Times' 2021 list of the 50 most exciting restaurants in America. Marshall Store is a tiny family-owned restaurant perched directly on the shore right off of Highway 1. The oysters are farmed on location, served smoked, barbecued, and raw to patrons seated at communal tables on the deck. It's said to be a fine way to spend a sunny afternoon on the coast.

Also on the list: Mister Jiu's, Nari, and The Anchovy Bar in San Francisco; Pearl River Deli and n/naka in Los Angeles; and Mini Kabob in Glendale.


Golf courses fill the landscape in Palm Desert.

Roughly 120 golf courses, many of them shoulder to shoulder, crowd the arid Coachella Valley, the highest concentration in the world. As the state contends with a prolonged drought, a single course sucks up as much as 1 million gallons of water a night from an underground aquifer. That water is then replenished with supplies from the Colorado River or Northern California. The columnist Steve Lopez had some thoughts about the situation. L.A. Times


Robert Huskey/Cal State LA

Meet the latest graduates of Cal State Los Angeles, all of them incarcerated in state prison. The 25 men were participants in the Prison Graduation Initiative, the first in-person bachelor’s degree program for California inmates. "Having professors come into the facility and make space for us has been life changing," said Allen Burnett, who served 27 years behind bars. "They told us things I was never accustomed to hearing, things I never expected to hear, like 'We believe in you,' 'That's a good job,' 'You did this correctly.'" CNN


Alden Global Capital has been likened to a vulture.

Over the years, a secretive hedge fund named Alden Global Capital has gobbled up nearly 40 California newspapers. They include the Orange County Register, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Riverside's Press-Enterprise, San Jose's Mercury News, and the East Bay Times. In a devastating piece in the Atlantic, McKay Coppins broke down Alden's approach: "The model is simple: gut the staff, sell the real estate, jack up subscription prices, and wring out as much cash as possible."


Since 2009, Waymo, Alphabet's driverless car company, has been sending its vehicles all over San Francisco to collect map and traffic data. But something appears to have gone haywire in one sleepy neighborhood. Every day for weeks, as many as 50 Waymo cars have headed down a dead-end street, lurched to a stop as if confused, performed a multipoint turn, and headed out the way they came. "It’s literally every five minutes," one resident said. "And we’re all working from home, so this is what we hear.” KPIX | The Verge

Elon Musk: "Haha."


In 1971, a San Jose businessman named Glen McLaughlin came across a strange 1663 map in a London shop that depicted California as an island. He became obsessed with the cartographic error, which persisted in maps from the 1600s into the 1700s. Over time, McLaughlin amassed more than 700 maps showing California as an island, the world's largest collection. Now digitized at Stanford, they have have struck a chord in academia and beyond for the kernel of truth they contain: that California is in many ways a world apart. Big Think | Wired

A few examples:

Sanson's "Americque Septentrionale," published in Paris in 1657.

A map created by R. and J. Ottens and printed in Amsterdam in 1745.

A representation of California published in 1865 by Shuzo Sato in Japan.


Thanks for reading!

The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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