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Topanga Film Festival 2022 

Fall officially arrives on September 22, when the autumnal equinox occurs. The days are already growing shorter, and the temperature at night has dipped into the 50s for the first time in months. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins the evening of September 25, and continues through sundown on September 27. We wish our Jewish friends and readers a good and blessed year. 

The November 8 election is just six weeks away. Ballots will be mailed in two weeks, and voter pamphlets will be arriving any day. Voters will be weighing in on the merits of seven propositions, and selecting a U.S. Senator, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Member of the State Board of Equalization, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

There are local races underway as well. Malibu and Calabasas have important city council elections, and the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District race is important for many local residents. 

The battle over the newly redrawn 42nd Assembly District is one of the most interesting races. This new district includes a diverse and vast section of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, from Camarillo to Beverly Glen, including Topanga, Calabasas, Malibu and Pacific Palisades and almost all of the Santa Monica Mountains. Jacqui Irwin, the incumbent who previously served the 44th Assembly District in Ventura County, is facing off against Lori Mills, a real estate professional and political activist who is from Simi Valley. The two candidates couldn’t be more different. Irwin is a Democrat who has the support of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters; Mills is a Republican who is closely allied with Steve Bannon. 

The election with the greatest potential to directly impact residents of the Santa Monica Mountains is the race for Los Angeles County Third District Supervisor. This is a huge district with two million people. It includes most of the Santa Monica Mountains and coast, but also urban parts of the Westside and the Valley. It’s a close race between two Democrats: California State Senate majority leader emeritus Robert Hertzberg and West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath. 

Of the two, Horvath has the stronger environmental credentials, earning endorsements from the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity. She also has the support of women’s health and rights organizations that include Planned Parenthood. TNT had the opportunity to speak with Lindsey Horvath at a recent event hosted by the Los Virgenes Homeowners Federation. We were impressed by her willingness to listen to local concerns, her commitment to respecting local governments and community organizations, and her willingness to acknowledge that communities in the wildland interface have different needs than urban areas. It isn’t often that one meets a politician who really listens. For all of these reasons, TNT is endorsing Lindsey Horvath for this seat.

The November election this year isn’t high profile the way a presidential election year is, but it is important. The decisions we make on November 8 have the potential to affect all of us directly, so watch for that voter guide, and please vote.

And speaking of voter guides, the Ig Nobel Award for Literature this year (awarded by the creators of the magazine Annals of Improbable Research in gentle mockery of the Nobel Peace Prize) went to researchers examining why legal documents are so hard to read.

The study, authored by MIT scientists Ted Gibson, Eric Martinez, and visiting researcher Francis Mollica, and published in the journal Cognition, is entitled “Poor Writing, Not Specialized Concepts, Drives Processing Difficulty in Legal Language.” The conclusion? Most lawyers are just bad writers, with a limited understanding of sentence structure, a reliance on unnecessary jargon, and a penchant for non-standard capitalization. 

In an interview with Science Blog, Martinez, the lead author of the study, said, “We found that even lawyers have a hard time reading these sentences.”

The Ig Nobel Prize for physics went to the authors of a study on how ducklings swim in formation. Professor Gen Matsuzaki, a researcher at the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan, received the engineering prize for his work on the most efficient way to turn a doorknob, while Swedish IT engineer Magnus Gens received the safety engineering prize for inventing a rubber moose traffic collision dummy.

The Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an international team that developed an algorithm to help gossipers determine when to tell the truth and when to lie. The research reveals the “critical role of gossip in maintaining world peace.”

The Ig Nobel Awards are a reminder that science is strange and wonderful, and also sometimes fun. 

Stay safe, be well.

Cover design by Scott Bremmer

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