Saturday, April 19, 2014

What you should know about the high-speed rail project






















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Friday, April 18, 2014

The SF Chronicle: More journalism by press release

Children riding on a protected lane, not in city traffic

It's a cost-effective way to put out a newspaper---rely increasingly on press releases from special interest groups, especially if they support your editorial positions and flatter an influential special interest group. That's what the Chronicle gets by publishing a press release yesterday from the Bicycle Coalition in support of Bike to School Day---oh, wait, it's now Bike to School Week! (Other recent examples here and here.)

The Coalition is schizophrenic on bike safety: They insist riding a bike is a safe way to travel in the city, while admitting that our streets aren't really safe at all (AS PEOPLE DIE, MAYOR TALKS UP CAMPAIGN TO “BE NICE”).

Ed Reiskin, the head of the MTA, is a bike guy who told the Bicycle Coalition that he takes his child on his bike while riding on city streets (The link to the interview Reiskin did with the Bicycle Coalition four years ago is now gone from their new website, down the old memory hole. I bet Reiskin isn't sorry about that, since it makes him seem like a crackpot.)

Leah Shahum wants to jam up city traffic so badly that children can safely ride their bikes on city streets: "Imagine streets moving so calmly and slowly that you'd let your six-year-old ride on them." While you're at it, imagine gridlock on the streets of San Francisco. Shahum, by the way, doesn't have any children.

I say encouraging children to ride bikes is irresponsible.

Riding a bike in general is an inherently risky way to get around. From the Centers for Disease Control:

While only 1% of all trips taken in the U.S. are by bicycle, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants of motor vehicles do. In 2010 in the U.S., almost 800 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 515,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries. Data from 2005 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $5 billion.

The CDC on children and bikes:

Children (5-14 years), adolescents, and young adults (15-24 years) have the highest rates of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries, accounting for almost 60% of all bicycle-related injuries seen in U.S. emergency departments.

And the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

From the Safe Kids website:

Every two minutes, a child is treated in an emergency room for an unintentional cycle-related incident. More children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency rooms for biking related-injuries than any other sport.

From Medicine.net:

Children between the ages of 5 and 14 are particularly prone to bicycle-related injuries and account for the majority of those treated for cycling injuries in hospital emergency rooms...Behavior is another major contributor to bike injuries. Boys under 14 are more likely to be killed or injured than girls, and most fatal crashes are in some way associated with the bicyclist's behavior. Disobeying stop signs, swerving into traffic, and riding against traffic flow are some of the behaviors that have been connected to cycling fatalities.

And cycling and safety is really not about infrastructure---bike lanes, traffic "calming," etc.---since most cycling accidents are "solo falls," what that UC study everyone is strenuously ignoring here in Progressive Land calls "cyclist-only" accidents---that is, those accidents that have nothing to do with other vehicles. In fact the study found that "cyclist-only" accidents were not only the most under-reported injury accidents to cyclists but they were also just as serious as being hit by a car.

Thanks to Streetsblog for the link to the Chronicle story.

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Swallows back to Capistrano and gas prices spike

Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press

Kevin Drum blogs for Mother Jones and is of course a liberal---or a "progressive," if that's the term you prefer---but he's genuinely independent intellectually and isn't a party line ideologue. He understands, for example, how dumb the state's high-speed rail project is. Today Drum reminds us that it's the time of year when the state's oil refineries always report some problems:

I used to keep a file of clippings of this exact same story running each spring and summer. I mean, literally the exact same story. Every year, right at the point where the winter/summer switch squeezes supplies from out of state, there would suddenly be a bunch of "glitches" that took some local refinery capacity offline and prices would spike.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

High-speed rail loses again

California Common Sense

From yesterday's Fresno Bee:

A state appeals court rejected a petition by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, potentially clearing the tracks for a trial over whether the agency's controversial and ambitious bullet-train plan can comply with state law.

Three justices with the the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento issued an order late Tuesday summarily denying the rail agency's March 21 request related to a lawsuit by high-speed rail foes in Kings County. The rail authority had asked the appeals court to overturn a Sacramento County Superior Court's decision ordering a trial on one part of a lawsuit while another portion of the case is pending an appeal.

"It's nice when you win one," said Stuart Flashman, an Oakland attorney representing Kings County farmer John Tos, Hanford homeowner Aaron Fukuda and the Kings County Board of Supervisors. "I thought this (petition) was stupid, and by issuing a summary judgment, it looks like the justices thought so, too"...

Flashman said he expects that the rail authority will ask the California Supreme Court to review Tuesday's ruling. "I'm also guessing that review will be quickly denied," he said. "That means that the trial on the issue of the Authority's violations of Prop. 1A's requirements...will move forward, probably some time this summer..."

Thanks to Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability for the link.

Kathy Hamilton on the decision.


Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/04/16/3880279/appeals-court-denies-high-speed.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/04/16/3880279/appeals-court-denies-high-speed.html#storylink=cpy

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The Bicycle Coalition's new website


The Bicycle Coalition has a new website that looks like the old site on steroids, with pumped up type size and lots of pictures. Most of all it's about selling itself and making it easy for members and potential members to give it money, which is what you expect a special interest group to do.

But the new format dumps the archives of the old site, years of press releases, position papers, and candidates' questionnaires.

I sent this inquiry to Kristin Smith, the SFBC's "Communications Director," but I got no communication in response:

Ms. Smith:

Your new website doesn't have any link to your archives---all the old press releases, candidates' questionnaires, back issues of the Tube Times, etc. Is all that material permanently lost, down the Orwellian memory hole?

Regards,
Rob Anderson

We can safely assume that this electronic trove of recent San Francisco history is gone. If you don't have hard copies of these documents, they effectively no longer exist. The Memory Hole has done its thing once again. This isn't a new problem, since the Examiner's archives are only sporadically helpful, and the Bay Guardian's issue archive only goes back to 2006. Fog City Journal's archives are easily accessible. I've posted about how San Francisco Magazine has apparently dumped its archives completely, thus erasing the few interesting stories they've published over the years. I guess the city's history is a "luxury" its readers can do without.

Every post to this blog going back to the first post in December, 2004, is listed next to the home page. Beyond Chron's archive system is similarly transparent and easily available.

A lot of local politicians will be happy that their sycophantic responses to the Bicycle Coalition's election year questionnaires are now no longer available. Jane Kim, Quentin Mecke, Ross Mirkarimi, and all the 2012 District 5 candidates for supervisor have had their ass-kissing responses disappear into cyber-limbo.

And the Bicycle Coalition's pages on issues---the Bay Bridge bike lane, Level of Service, and CEQA are gone, as are all but a few issues of Tube Times. That's no loss intellectually, but it means that a chunk of the city's history is gone.

Here are my responses to the 2008 Bicycle Coalition questionnaire, which may now be the only complete copy available. 

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston bombing could have been prevented


Robert Spencer on Real Clear Religion:

...Even after the bombing should have awakened the authorities to the glaring shortcomings of their investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, President Obama seemed at a loss to imagine how the FBI might have made better use of the Russian intelligence: “It’s not as if the FBI did nothing. They not only investigated the older brother, they interviewed the older brother...are there additional things that could have been done in the interim that might have prevented it?”

One additional thing — among many — that could have been done was an investigation of the mosque attended by the Tsarnaevs. And not just by them. The Tsarnaev brothers were not the only jihad terrorists to attend the Islamic Society of Boston (now the Muslim American Society of Boston) mosque. Aafia Siddiqui, aka “Lady al-Qaeda,” who was convicted of trying to murder American soldiers and may also have been plotting a jihad terror attack against an American city, was also a member of that mosque, as were convicted jihad terror plotter Tarek Mehanna and his accomplice, Ahmad Abousamra. The renowned Muslim Brotherhood sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has praised Hitler and called upon Muslims to finish the führer’s job of putting the Jews “in their place,” was a trustee of the Islamic Society of Boston and has addressed the mosque congregation during fundraisers. Another imam who has addressed the Boston congregation, Yasir Qadhi, has called for the replacement of the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law and said that the “life and prosperity” of Christians “holds no value in the state of Jihad.”

On June 12, 2013, as the scandal of the Obama administration’s massive surveillance of law-abiding Americans was breaking, it was revealed that there was one place where people could be safe from surveillance: inside a mosque. Investor’s Business Daily reported that “the government’s sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized.

“Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover sting operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.”

This panel “was set up under pressure from Islamist groups who complained about FBI stings at mosques. Just months before the panel’s formation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations teamed up with the ACLU to sue the FBI for allegedly violating the civil rights of Muslims in Los Angeles by hiring an undercover agent to infiltrate and monitor mosques there.”

And specifically: “The FBI never canvassed Boston mosques until four days after the April 15 attacks, and it did not check out the radical Boston mosque where the Muslim bombers worshipped.”

So the Federal Bureau of Investigation was warned by at least one foreign government that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a jihadist. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was attending a Muslim Brotherhood-linked mosque founded by a principal al Qaeda financier. And the FBI sent agents to that mosque — not to investigate Tsarnaev or any other possible jihad activity there, but to engage in “outreach” to Muslims and spend time “talking to imams”...

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Coming soon to District 5: Kale cupcakes


New York beat us to it

Thanks to DIEHIPSTER.COM for the link.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Transit-oriented growth and the SMART[sic] train development scheme





















From Richard Hall's Marin County blog, Planning for Reality:

Transportation funding mandates future substantial growth

To attain the targeted funding, the SMART[Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit] train has to increase development the length of the line to attain an average of 2,200 housing units within ½ mile of each station, the real agenda for “station area plans” where the title deceivingly doesn’t reference that they are really camouflaged plans to increase housing.

An area like Larkspur that experiences organic growth through development outside the immediate area cannot seek funding without committing to more growth.

The transportation funding presumes that the new residents will take transit. However:

* In Larkspur the ferries are at or near capacity, no more ferry crossings can be added due to a legal settlement to prevent wakes and protect the environment.

* In Larkspur few residents will use the train to go north; the nearest major employment center is San Francisco.

* Larkspur is in a suburban, not an urban, setting where it is more likely that the new residents will drive to get to work, take their children to school or to go on a shopping trip with heavy shopping.

* Some might argue we entered into this Ponzi scheme when voters adopted SMART. But this was all cleverly concealed by slick marketing claiming that the train was the answer to 101 congestion.

By accepting the MTC[Metropolitan Transportation Commission] grant money Larkspur has entered a TOD[transit oriented development] pyramid scheme where it will endlessly have to increase urbanization to catch up with and address transportation capacity issues. The new money will not be focused on Larkspur’s most acute problems---traffic and parking---but instead vainly hope that the new residents won’t drive.

Ultimately this is all about SMART and MTC getting their grant money by ensuring there are 2,200 housing units within ½ mile of each SMART station. This is not about solving problems---it’s a Ponzi scheme all about money and regional agencies increasing the money they receive from federal grants that increases their influence, staff and executives' paychecks...

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday sermon: Can you pass this quiz?



These are pictures of a real quiz from a private South Carolina school.

Thanks to Daily Kos for the link.

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Another Obamacare victim

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Violent jihad heading our way?




The media is mostly ignoring the early evidence that flight 370 was deliberately taken off-course and ditched by the pilot. From a March 18 story:

Late yesterday it emerged that the turn that diverted the missing Malaysian Airlines plane off its flight path was programmed into the aircraft's computer navigation system, probably by someone in the cockpit, the New York Times reported. That reinforces the increasing belief among investigators that the aircraft was deliberately diverted, the newspaper said, quoting US officials...Rather than manually operating the plane's controls, whoever altered Flight 370's path typed seven or eight keystrokes into a computer situated between the captain and the co-pilot, according to officials. The computer is called the Flight Management System.

Even someone as sensible and well-informed as James Fallows seems to be avoiding that conclusion, instead clinging to the unlikely narrative of a fire in the plane that somehow destroyed the plane's navigation system and sent it off-course to its doom:

No theory of the plane's disappearance makes sense. But I've mentioned several times that I thought the "Chris Goodfellow scenario" required few logical leaps than most. Goodfellow, a Canadian who now lives in Florida, has hypothesized the following sequence: a sudden inflight emergency, followed by a turn back toward airports in Malaysia, followed by a still-unexplained incapacitation of the crew, and a still-unexplained flight out over the ocean.

Only a liberal's fear of the real, simpler explanation---terrorism motivated by Islam---explains this sloppy thinking by a very smart guy. But Fallows at least links a contrary, more logical explanation here and here that the plane was deliberately piloted off-course. Recall the early hope by liberals that the Boston Marathon bombing last year wasn't by anyone in the Rainbow multicultural coalition (Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American).

Sam Harris rightly calls this state of denial about radical Islam a potentially "ruinous self-deception."

If it turns out to be terrorism motivated by Islam, the people in the most danger would be the Moslem Uighurs in China, since most of the 239 passengers were Chinese, and Uighurs carried out a recent attack at a Chinese airport. Chinese authorities must be making plans for this possibility to avoid a horrific ethnic-religious conflict in China.

Examples are in the news every day. Yesterday's edition of the SF Chronicle alone, for example, had several stories about Islamist terrorism in three countries: Blasts in central Syria city of Homs kill 25Car bombs in Baghdad, Iraqi town kill 34 people, and Bomb blast in Pakistani capital kills 22.

Violent jihad seems to heading our way, as reported in the Chronicle story last Thursday linking the attack on P.G. and E.'s San Jose substation and the use of a photo[above] of a BART car in Al Qaeda's new edition of its online magazine. 





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Friday, April 11, 2014

Weirdest looking basketball player contest


Black candidate: Dennis Rodman

White candidate: Chris "Birdman" Andersen

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Beyond Chron ten years later

Photo by Frank Jang

Randy Shaw looks back on ten years of publishing Beyond Chron:

Soon after Beyond Chron began that I learned that one of my chief goals---enlisting activists to promote their causes---would fall short. Many activists have a desire to write but can’t find the time. Others lack confidence in their writing skills. Some feared alienating the Newsom Administration with criticism.

Oh yes, those "activists" are so busy they don't have time to write. And what kind of activist would worry about alienating City Hall? The real problem Shaw had is that many of the "progressive" causes ten years ago were dumb and weren't throught through very well, which I pointed out on Beyond Chron's first anniversary.

Shaw:

This meant that I ended up doing more writing than originally planned. Fortunately, Paul Hogarth, an activist with college journalism experience, came on board to give BC a political punch that also expanded readership.

I suppose "punch" is one way to describe what Hogarth brought to the party, but an ultra-left nuttiness would be more accurate. Hogarth's The day Obama became a Republican is a classic in the ultra-left genre, which has been a problem with Shaw's project from the start: You can't flank Beyond Chron on the left! (see also this, this, and this.)

Hogarth also wrote in favor of allowing UC to rip off and privatize the extension property on lower Haight Street that had been zoned for "public use" for 150 years.

Shaw:

Locally, I take greatest pride in a story I wrote in October 2010, “In District 6, Jane Kim Takes on the Machine.” I saw the Bay Guardian/Democratic machine anointing their handpicked candidate to represent the Tenderloin and the rest of D6 as profoundly disempowering and contrary to what progressive politics is supposed to be about. D6 voters agreed, electing Kim handily. In the decade prior to that story I had a good relationship with Aaron Peskin and used to talk to him about once a week; the only time we have talked since then is when we ran into each other briefly at a North Beach café.

Shaw's support for Jane Kim in District 6 over Peskin's candidates implied that Peskin is a racist. Maybe that's why there's a chill in your relationship, Randy. In fact Shaw has consistently assumed that only he understands the interests of non-whites in San Francisco, that those who simply disagree with him on, for example, immigration are racists. Shaw on immigration in 2006:

Can it be that liberal San Francisco does not really care whether thousands of its residents are made criminals due to racist attacks on the current generation of predominately Latino immigrants? Based on the city's inaction, it is difficult to draw a contrary conclusion.

Shaw plays the race card throughout the Jane Kim piece that he's so proud of: "In a city filled with young people and Asian-American Democrats, the DCCC’s slap in the face to Jane Kim does not serve broader progressive interests." Kim is "a young, Asian-American progressive," and by not endorsing Kim in District Six, Peskin and the DCCC "turns away those who do not fit its preferred demographic," which is supposedly white people.

The reality was that the white Debra Walker was much more qualified to be a supervisor than Jane Kim, who was both a carpetbagger and of dubious candle power.

Presumably Shaw's refusal to publish anything on the Islamic bullyboys is also based on his goofball racial analysis of politics, which makes him a typical American lefty. Of course Beyond Chron wrote nothing about the largely successful attempt by the Islamists to intimidate the media during the trumped-up issue of the Danish Mohammed cartoons, and they wrote nothing about the anti-Jihad ads on Muni buses.

While Beyond Chron's party line leftism hinders its coverage of issues---especially local issues that can't be usefully analyzed using typical leftist assumptions---just as often it's just plain stupid, like Shaw on Mirkarimi and CEQA.

My post on Beyond Chron's fifth anniversary.

Kim left the Green Party when being a Democrat became fashionable for leftists here in Progressive Land.

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Brandeis and Islam



Thanks to Pamela Geller for the link.

Andrew Sullivan on the cowardice of Brandeis.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Central Subway project cooks the books

Photo by Mike Koozmin

From the beginning of last week's story (Covering Their Tracks) in the SF Weekly:

LaVonda Atkinson laughs bitterly, shakes her head, and grins. "Your article"---the article you're now reading---"is gonna get me fired." It is, after all, dangerous to stand in the path of a train. That's especially so in the case of Muni's long-gestating Central Subway project: a $1.6 billion, 1.7-mile extension to Chinatown and eventually, if vocal civic boosters get their way, along to Fisherman's Wharf for millions, if not billions, more. The Central Subway is a transit line. But it's also a monument to the coercive role of politics in the realm of transit planning. It's a pet project of the city's most powerful influence-peddlers, virtually every electable politician, and our federal representatives in Washington, D.C., disseminating largesse back to the home front. Atkinson is the project's cost engineer. It's her job to ensure the numbers add up. They don't.

Not surprising that the folks building the Central Subway are cooking the books as they go along, since Save Muni---not cited in the article---has been documenting the project's many problems and deceptions from the start. It's an obviously flawed oversight approach that makes the project's cost engineer risk getting fired for blowing the whistle or have to go along with a dishonest practice.

As documented in Megaprojects and Risk, advocates of big projects get them approved by lying in the beginning about the cost and benefits of projects:

Martin Wachs interviewed public officials, consultants and planners who had been involved in transit planning cases in the US. He found that a pattern of highly misleading forecasts of costs and patronage could not be explained by technical issues and were best explained by lying. In case after case, planners, engineers and economists told Wachs that they had to "cook" forecasts in order to produce numbers that would satisfy their superiors and get projects started, whether or not the numbers could be justified on technical grounds...(pages 46, 47, emphasis added).

The authors also find this pattern in large projects in Europe and the rest of the world. Chapter two of the book, "A calamitous history of cost overruns," makes for sobering reading about what routinely happens after the construction of big projects begins, which is why it's important to stop these boondoggles before they get started.

On the Central Subway, Aaron Peskin, Jake McGoldrick, Tom Radulovich, and Dennis Herrera all oppose the Central Subway project now, but the first three supported the project in its crucial gestation period. (And Peskin and Herrera were accused by Rose Pak of being anti-Chinese racists after they came out against the project!) The unions support the project, because even dumb projects create jobs.

The prose in the Weekly story reads like a teenager's first attempt at writing---or "Writing"---for the school paper. Muni doesn't "sign" a contract; it "inks" it. Muni didn't "buy" or just "get" a computer program; it "acquired" it. The feds don't just "read" contracts; they "peruse" them. "Prior" is chosen instead of "before," and "subsequent" gets used before "after." A schedule is not "completed"; it has to be "finalized." There are "myriad" line items, when "many" would have been enough. A mere "letter" is transformed into a "missive." And "luxuriate" is used incorrectly instead of "linger."

The SF Weekly deserves credit for opposing the Central Project early on.

Of course the Board of Lemmings unanimously supports the Central Subway project.


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Monday, April 07, 2014

San Francisco, Worst Place Ever?

Photo via Flickr User Alberto Garcia

Why San Francisco Is the Worst Place Ever

from Vice.com

2014 is slowly turning into the "Year of San Francisco." The East Coast media in America has anointed SF as the new hub for innovation, conspicuous consumption, and comically absurd rents. New York Magazine parachuted a bunch of reporters into the Bay Area to figure out how to steal their douchebags back. The article asked "Is San Francisco New York?" No, it's much worse. The existential crisis around San Francisco's ascension to the heights of assholery stands in stark contrast to the fact that it is damn near unlivable for most normal people.

The end is nigh for a city that used to be a magnet for the counter-culture. San Francisco was strangled, so we decided to go over the numerous causes of death.

Everyone Worth a Damn Is Moving to Oakland

San Francisco used to be that place you moved to if you were too weird for LA, but too lazy for New York. It was a perfect city to ply your trade as a quirky motherfucker with a penchant for “edgy performance art” and whimsical scarves. That was just dandy. We liked that.

Around every corner, there could be an anarchist bookshop or a dude covered in glitter, wearing a Spongebob t-shirt, and sporting a raging hard-on. Where did that San Francisco go? Across the fucking bridge, that's where.

Oakland is cheaper than San Francisco (but not by much), it’s close to Berkeley’s cultural gravity, and it’s just a BART trip away from what’s left of SF’s relevance. It's also an industrial wasteland full of crime and Raider fans. You might ask yourself, What happened to San Francisco’s iconoclastic spirit…? Well, in two simple words:

Photo via Flickr User Tech Cocktail

Tech Bros

There's always been a bourgeois element to San Francisco that we all just ignored. The landed gentry of Nob Hill, Pac Heights, and Sea Cliff have always been there. They have owned their home for years, love wearing fleece sweaters, own nothing but real wood furniture, and are the type of people who tool around McCovey Cove in their yachts during Giants games. They are from a different planet and don't mingle with the plebs. They have their world of brandy snifters, champagne flutes, cheese tastings, and obscure European automobiles. They honestly don't care what you think.

The tech bro, on the other hand, seeks to engage in city life. They go to the same bars you do. They eat at the same restaurants. They badly want to be accepted as "cool," while also having more money than you and getting chauffeured to work in a free corporate bus. Their insistence on trying to infiltrate the real San Francisco has pretty much killed the real San Francisco. Dolores Park, once a safe haven for burnouts to drink 40s and smoke weed at 2:30 PM on a Tuesday, is now the world's biggest networking event for dudes who wear khakis to the gym.

In New York, Wall Street people know they’re pricks. In Los Angeles, Hollywood people are too stupid to know they’re pricks. In San Francisco, tech bros think they’re saving the world with their crackpot schemes aka “start-ups.” They’re the fucking worst.

Photo via Flickr User Shawn Whisenant

16th + Mission

The intersection of 16th and Mission---home to a bustling BART station and breeding ground for MS-13 gang activity---is where some 1970s dystopian vision of pre-Giuliani Manhattan has finally found a home. Remember that crazy naked black guy doing backflips and attacking commuters at a subway station? That was here.

Dog Shit on the Sidewalk

These urban IEDs are everywhere, constantly threatening your ability to have a normal walk in a city that basically forces you to be a pedestrian. Also, everyone's got a dog now, which means they gotta shit somewhere.

Too Many Stores Are Cash Only

Don’t pull out a credit card to buy your bespoke iPhone case. Save that shit for ETSY. This is San Francisco, the home of the shopkeeper too lazy/cheap to get a card reader. "Oh, we're so edgy that we don't take credit cards! We're sticking it to the evil banks!" I have a crippling nicotine addiction and don't care about your principles.

Photo via Flickr User Matt Lemmon

Haight-Ashbury Street Kids

Remember how we were saying we missed San Francisco’s “local color”? Well, there’s a dark side to that, and it’s not concerned with the cost of rent. The stinky weirdoes who beg for change and scream profanities at anyone who looks too “normal” will never leave San Francisco. The parks, bus benches, and gutters are their home. Their only calling is to ruin your day. We don’t even hate hippies that much. We’re all just trying to get by, and hippies are occasionally creative or interesting. The street kids in Haight-Ashbury don’t produce anything other than contempt. They’re mean to everyone, and aren't shy about expressing themselves. They're so shitty that if you give them leftovers from a restaurant, you might want to be sure they don't spit the food back in your face and piss on your leg.

Fisherman's Wharf

This shit should fall into the ocean. It’s easy to pick on a tourist trap, but to be fair there were only maybe three places in San Francisco that didn’t qualify as tourist traps, and they all moved to Oakland in 2007. The Wharf is where all the street vendors make $80,000 a year and live in SOMA. There’s a desperate air of indulgence that illustrates how visiting San Francisco is just smelling your own kale salad farts. Besides the press-a-penny machines, speed painters, octopus keychains, loud sea lions, and chain restaurants, it’s also perpetually cold as balls in a city that almost prides itself on being annoyingly chilly. 

Alcatraz

What kind of fucked up level of detachment do you have to have to bring your suburbanite family on a “funtastic” tour of a maximum security prison where hyper-violent men, stripped of their humanity, beat and raped each other? Hint: It’s the same people who get out of their cars and say shit like “I pay your salary!” when pulled over. I genuinely believe that if you willingly visit Alcatraz, you would have owned slaves with no moral qualms. On the other hand, the ferry ride over is pretty nice.

Driving

I am convinced that San Francisco was built as a dune buggy course, but became an actual city in the 1970s. I’ve had the displeasure of driving in Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, and Houston; yet San Francisco is the only city on earth where I’d rather set my car on fire and leave it smoldering in the middle of a one-way street than spend another two hours creeping up a series of 50 degree inclines, hoping to find a loading zone to briefly stop in before loudly, hopelessly weeping into my steering wheel. Cyclists, pedestrians, buses, and streetcars are keen to remind you that this is their city, not yours, and if they hit you, it’s your fault for being an eco-terrorist and not longboarding everywhere.

The Public Transportation Is a Joke

OK, we’ve established that driving in San Francisco is both pointless and dangerous. That’d be fine if the public transit system wasn’t still operating with an infrastructure from the Reagan administration. Muni, the city transit system, has trains that fall apart and fall off the tracks because of faulty, ancient overhead wires. They’re also always late because every line has an above-ground segment that routinely gets stuck in gnarly traffic. The train cars look like they’re made of plastic and need to be wound in the back to operate. The buses aren't much better since they're prone to randomly squashing cars. No big deal, right?

If you’re hoping BART is better, well...People get shot on BART---by the police. The seats are made of a fabric that is great for soaking up piss, vomit, and semen. The trains also make this godforsaken whistling noise underground. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. It sounds like a dolphin getting fucked in the blowhole by a grizzly bear. BART is buying new trains that address all these issues, which will start running in 2017. Of course, BART is also continuing to raise fares, making it harder and harder to afford to get anywhere, which makes living in the East Bay and working in SF even less tenable. Man, that Google Bus is sounding pretty good now, isn't it?

Follow Dave Schilling and Jules Suzdaltsev on Twitter.

Bill Maher on the "gay mafia"



Thanks to The Dish for the link.

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The sound you don't hear is the sky not falling

















































Thanks to the Huffington Post and Daily Kos for the links.

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sunday Sermon: Sam Harris and Bill Maher

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Smart[sic] growth in Marin

The WinCup development, photo by Frankie Frost

From Planning for Reality in Marin County:


...Supporters of high density, transit oriented development, including Wall Street banks, developers, builders unions, and social equity activists reap benefits from the very policies they helped shape, like California Senate Bill 375, ABAG’s Plan Bay Area, and the Marin County Housing Element. These financiers and activists mask their motivations behind claims of social justice and combating whatever else is ailing the planet.

These special interests have helped formulate policy such as Plan Bay Area, housing quotas, Climate Action Plans and Housing Elements in a bubble---a bubble removed from the input of residents who might be concerned about foundational flaws in the thinking---such as transit emits less greenhouse gases than cars (disproven by facts covered by this Planning for Reality article).

This policy-formulation bubble was also removed from what sacrifices residents might be willing to make to achieve these special interests goals---such as diverting money from roads to other transport modes, despite these modes declining in usage after increasing investments. Or imposing developments such as WinCup across Marin in the hope that the new residents work in Marin or a disproportionate number will take transit---more flawed thinking. 

Recently I emailed an ABAG employee to understand how Priority Development Areas (PDAs) are rescinded. Using LinkedIn, I discovered that he was a former employee of Urban Habitat, the social equity advocacy group that filed suits against Pleasanton and Menlo Park when they failed to meet the state’s [Regional Housing Need Allocation]RHNA quota. A similar suit by Legal Aid of Marin and Public Advocates, Inc. caused Corte Madera to buckle to pressure, allowing the monstrous Win Cup to be built.

I discovered that the planner overseeing the Marin County Housing Element is a director of the Marin Workforce Housing Trust, a multi-million dollar non-profit funded in part by the Marin Community Foundation with a mission of supporting the approval of housing projects...

The backstory on the Win Cup development in Corte Madera. 

See also Citizen Marin

Smart[sic] growth planned near dumb Smart system rail station in Larkspur.

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Flight 370: A speculative scenario












From Flt 370: A Speculative Scenario by John Duncan:

...At 1:19AM the pilots signed off from Malaysian Air Traffic Control and passed into the airspace of Vietnamese air traffic control. Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has said the ACARS system was deactivated even before the voice sign-off.

When Vietnamese ATC hadn’t heard from the plane by 1:30AM it asked other pilots in the area to attempt contact. One pilot about 30 minutes ahead did so and reported making a contact that contained a lot of static and “mumbling” from MH370, from someone that he took to be the co-pilot. That was the last signal heard from the aircraft.

I believe that a fire may well account for this---a fire perhaps started deliberately, as happened repeatedly on the Eithad flight, in or above the lavatories at the front of Business Class. Once in the ceiling space, the flames rendered inoperable various pieces of equipment and the electrical cabling that supplied them. Back-up equipment is of little use if connected to the same, disabled electrical circuits. 

Such a fire would account for the series of equipment failures over a period of time, whereas a bomb or similar catastrophe could be expected to disable all at a stroke. Similarly, if hijackers had taken control of the aircraft, they could have been expected to shut down all systems more or less simultaneously, rather than pausing for irregular intervals before switching off the next system. If we accept that the ACARS system was rendered inoperable just prior to the 1:19AM sign-off to Air Traffic Control, the likelihood is that the pilots were as yet completely unaware of a fire raging above and behind them.

The pilots’ visual displays probably reported the ACARS failure, but such an alert would probably have been regarded, at least initially, as nothing critical, as radio-transmission failure is nothing extraordinary for the airline industry. The back-up system could be switched on and, in theory, all would be fine.

When flight computers started to fail it would have been a different matter. In trying to report the problem the pilots would have discovered that all their radio systems had gone down. At this time, there would also have been a bedlam of erupting cockpit alarms, swamping the harried pilots with an overload of information...

James Fallows supports the mechanical failure theory, encompassing the fire scenario that would necessarily include a fire deliberately set by the likely suspect/suspects, Islamic fanatics:

No theory of the plane's disappearance makes sense. But I've mentioned several times that I thought the "Chris Goodfellow scenario" required few logical leaps than most. Goodfellow, a Canadian who now lives in Florida, has hypothesized the following sequence: a sudden inflight emergency, followed by a turn back toward airports in Malaysia, followed by a still-unexplained incapacitation of the crew, and a still-unexplained flight out over the ocean.

If you would like to see an argued-out (rather than merely speculative) version of a contrary hypothesis, check out this on Leeham News and Comment. The item is based on an interview with Greg Feith, a former NTSB investigator, who argues (a) that the wreckage might well never be found, and (b) that the most likely scenarios, in his view, involve one of the pilots deliberately bringing the plane down...

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