Monday, May 02, 2016

Howard Buffett: The anti-Trump

Howard Buffett


Donald Trump: Chickenhawk

The Chickenhawk

...Donald Trump’s selective service file reads as follows: Between 1964 and 1966, as American troop commitment in Vietnam escalated and the military draft began in earnest, Trump received three 2-S classifications—student deferments—for being enrolled at Fordham University and later at Wharton business school. In the ’60s, graduate school was an easy way to extend a student deferment until you turned 26, at which point you aged out of the draft. 

Unsurprisingly, graduate schools became wildly popular destinations in the ’60s. One survey showed 90 percent of MBA applicants were motivated by fear of conscription. Trump’s reasons for pursuing a business degree were, like anyone’s, surely mixed, but the real story lies in Trump’s two medical exams. 

In July 1968, Trump received a 1-A classification, signaling he was fit to serve on the basis of a physical he had taken roughly two years earlier. Then, in October 1968, Trump was examined again, and classified 1-Y. He was no longer protected by a grad student deferral, but it didn’t matter. He had been made exempt from military service due to an unspecified medical condition.

Not surprisingly, Trump has dissembled on the issue, claiming his high draft lottery number prevented a call-up. But Trump’s publicly available files show he received his 1-Y classification before the lottery went into effect, in 1969. When Trump’s biographer confronted him about the timeline, a curious exchange ensued. “As he talked, Trump slipped off his black loafer and pointed to his heel, where a little bulge pushed against his sock. ‘Heel spurs,’ he explained, ‘on both feet.’ ” 

By his own account, Trump was a golden boy athlete through high school, “always the best player” on the field, one who excelled “not just in baseball, in every sport.” Yet somehow, thanks to a minor protuberance, he was declared unfit for military service...

Never one to settle for the garden-variety howler, Trump, who was shipped off to a posh military school as a teenager, has insisted, “I always felt I was in the military,” or “I always felt I was in the military in the true sense.” 

What did Trump do, when confronted by the actual sacrifice of John McCain? He simply negated it, ex tempore, with bluster. Thus Trump completed the boomer triple play: He evaded service; he nonetheless arrogates to himself the language of military valor; and he treats those who actually served as chumps...

A list of American chickenhawks. Trump's name isn't on the list, but he clearly qualifies as per the above.


Quote of the day

From Dwight Garner's review of Jenny Diski's last book in the NY Times:

“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” (Vladimir Nabokov, "Speak Memory")

That is, Diski didn't "pass" or "pass away." She died and she will be dead forever.

Diski's essays in the London Review of Books are, as Garner noted, free of platitudes and cliches.

An earlier post on Diski.

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Willie's World

Willie Brown's world is different than the one the rest of us live in. From his column in today's Chronicle:

Demonstration update: Hard to work up  a head of steam for the anti-Greg Suhr progressives backing those camped outside Mission Station on a hunger strike. It certainly wasn't the greatest look the other night when some of the supporters headed straight from a rally at the police station to one of the chic restaurants nearby. 

If they want to talk about it, maybe we can get together at Jardiniere. I was back there for the second time the other night. The quail was perfect, the warm crouton-based salad just as good. With dessert, it was $55 well spent. Try it---eating out is becoming more affordable, what with all the restaurants that are opening shop and trying to entice diners.

$55 for dinner is "affordable"? Maybe to a one percenter like Brown.

Look at Jardieniere's menu and we see that the quail (ramp, chantenay carrot, basil) is a mere $34. (You know a restaurant is fancy when there are a lot of French and Italian words in the menu.) Sounds like Brown had the warm bread salad (artichoke, chicory, crescenza), which is $17.

The desserts are apparently listed under "sweets," and, even if he had the cheapest one, the $8 cookie (cookie, confection, tartelette), that comes to $59---without a tip.

No drink? "Cocktails" are $13 (pomme noir: rye, baked apple shrub, pommeau de normandie, lemon, bitters)---"pommeau de normandie"? La de fucking da! 

That would push the tab up to $72. Maybe Brown just had water.

A 20% tip on a $72 dinner would be $15, which would make the tab around $87.

Not hard to understand what all those Bernie Sanders supporters are upset about.

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Two death cults: Christianity and Islam

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

What it's like to be a girl in Pakistan

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos


The future of commuting: Cars, not bikes

Paragon Realty Group

...While the popularity of cycling to work is growing, jumping 62 percent from 2000 to 2013, it’s still only used by a fraction of a fraction of U.S. commuters, 0.6 percent, compared to the 5 percent who use public transportation and 86.2 percent majority who drive. These numbers might make cycling seem like a healthy, environmentally sound, and incredibly niche mode of transportation, a footnote in America’s transportation story....

Bikes and buses, obviously, out-perform cars in terms of efficiency and the amount of space they occupy. But scaling up bicycle use isn’t really an option, especially [for]those with longer and longer commutes...(emphasis added)

Timothy Papandreou, director of the Office of Innovation at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, firmly believes cities should view these [Uber and Lyft]services as a complement to the existing transportation grid.

"Public transportation agencies have ignored private transportation for years," he says. "That’s background noise. Uber and Lyft discovered how to get this entire group of people from point A to B with a peer system, using an existing fleet. We have been focused on the public budget, and ignoring the private budget. But when you combine those two, there’s a lot of money to move people around."

Every day during rush hours, Christian Perea witnesses a human drama playing out in the backseats of his Prius C. A driver for Uber and Lyft in San Francisco, Perea often picks up customers using the new carpooling services UberPool and Lyft Line, which bundle riders together to increase efficiency and lower costs...

Perea, who helps run The Rideshare Guy blog, is constantly talking to other drivers, and has seen the pros and cons of the explosive growth of this service, which was first introduced in San Francisco a year and a half ago and has now racked up more than 100 million rides worldwide...

Rob's comment: 
After linking ACS percentages on bike commuting in US cities, the Bike League appends this caveat:

Note: ACS numbers are based on surveys of a sample of the population, so they are just estimates---sometimes with large margins of error. Some changes may not be statistically significant. They are just bike commuter estimates; many people who ride bikes are not counted here.

Most people in the US still commute in cars, which are much faster than public transit and provide door-to-door transportation:

On the other hand, there's this letter in the SF Weekly:

Uber & Lyft drivers spend much more time on the streets than a normal driver would and they use 5 to 10 more vehicles than are necessary to do the job ("The Unstudied Traffic Impacts of Uber and Lyft," Chris Roberts, 4/21/16). They obviously are major sources of both congestion and pollution. But the SFMTA and the state Legislature have refused to do environmental impact studies. Worse, environmental groups like the Sierra Club continue to ignore the subject. The Natural Resource Defense Council argued against doing an environmental impact study when Uber and Lyft put their "Pool" services on the street. 

Ed Healy 
San Francisco

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Cycling and "numb nuts"

New York Times

I've posted about this issue before: here and here. It's also an issue for women, not just guys. 

Still another doctor warns cyclists about spending too much time on their bikes.

Doctor Richard S. Lang of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in the Cleveland Clinic's Men's Health Advisor newsletter:

How great is the risk of erectile dysfunction with bicycling?

Evidence suggests that sitting on a bicycle seat for extended periods of time may generate enough pressure on the perineum (the area between the testicles and the anus) to damage nerves and the artery that supplies blood to the penis. Adequate blood flow is necessary to produce and maintain an erection.

Many cyclists prefer bicycle seats with narrow protruding saddle noses because they provide for better control and steering, but these seats seem to be most associated with erection problems.

Instead, use a wide, well-padded seat or a newer ergonomic seat. Make sure your bike is the right size for your height and weight and that the seat is positioned at the correct height so that you don't fully extend your legs at the bottom of your pedal stroke. Avoid leaning forward all the time, which puts more pressure on your perineum.

Raising your handlebars so that you sit upright can help shift more of your weight and seat pressure from your perineum to your buttocks.

Take breaks during longer rides, and lift yourself off the seat occasionally to relieve pressure on the perineum. Most importantly, don't dismiss any genital pain or numbness.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Trump and the woman card

Talking Points Memo

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A Muslim mayor of London?

Next month London voters will elect a new mayor. From The Spectre Of Mayor Khan's Islamist London:

...Here in London, which is home to about a third of British Muslims (including thousands of migrants who live below the radar of the authorities), we have already seen the assertion of power by political Islam. The takeover of Tower Hamlets by a corrupt Islamist politician, Lutfur Rahman, may be a harbinger of things to come. Last year he was removed from office by special commissioners, but for five years Rahman and his cronies ran a borough of nearly 300,000 people, distributing a budget of more than £1 billion. 

It is worth noting that after being ousted from the Labour Party, he was able to replace it with a notionally “independent” but in practice sectarian group, even though Muslims officially make up only a third of the population. The Muslim “block vote” is such a formidable electoral force that for Islamists to dominate a city it does not need to have a Muslim majority.

The greatest prize, of course, is London itself. By the time you read this, the capital may already have elected the first Muslim Mayor of London: Sadiq Khan. At the time of writing, polls predict that Khan, who is also Labour MP for Tooting, will win by a larger majority than either of his predecessors, Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson. 

Khan has worked hard at projecting a moderate image as a modern, liberal Muslim with no sectarian baggage. He no longer protests, as he did in 2004, that Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi perhaps the most influential preacher in the whole Islamic world — is “not an extremist”. (The Sheikh says that Hitler “put Jews in their place”.) He has carefully distanced himself from Babar Ahmad, who was later convicted of terrorist offences, and other extremists with whom he was once associated. 

But he knows very well how important the Muslim vote is for Labour. At least ten London boroughs have large, mainly conservative Muslim communities, where children grow up in an Islamic monoculture and women are covered or veiled...


Prince was a religious crackpot

Can't claim that I was ever a big Prince fan, but I didn't know that he was a religious crackpot who opposed gay marriage, which of course doesn't necessarily say anything about his talent. Raised as a Seventh Day Adventist, he later became a Jehovah's Witness who did the door-to-door thing:

A newspaper in his hometown reported how a married couple had answered their door to find Prince proffering a copy of the Watchtower. Though they were orthodox Jews, and it was Yom Kippur, they were also Prince fans. They welcomed him into the house.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hillary the hawk is a myth

The New York Times magazine published a lengthy profile of Hillary Clinton under an illustration of her as a toy soldier and the headline "How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk."

The profile, by Mark Landler, traces her evolution on foreign policy, explores her legacy as secretary of state, and seeks to deduce a Clinton worldview. It's fascinating, deeply reported, and well worth reading. It also reiterates what is perhaps the defining piece of conventional wisdom about Hillary Clinton and foreign policy: she is a super-hawk...

A few hours after the piece went online, something else was published comparing the presidential candidates on foreign policy. And the story it told could not have been more different.

It was a simple scorecard, assembled by a non-partisan nuclear nonproliferation group called Global Zero, comparing the five remaining candidates on a battery of eight foreign policy issues.

On every issue that Global Zero measured, Clinton is indicated as far less hawkish than all three of the Republican candidates, and as basically tied with Bernie Sanders. She supports the Iran nuclear deal; the Republicans all oppose it. She supports using diplomacy to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis; John Kasich is the only Republican to do so. She supports negotiating with Russia to reduce nuclear weapons; no Republican candidate does.

This measured only policies related to nuclear weapons, and so is far from comprehensive. But on these major geopolitical challenges — including the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, which seem among the few crises that could plausibly draw the US into war — Clinton is significantly more dovish than all three Republican candidates...

The above is an antidote to the self-righteous stupidity of the ultra-left. From Alternet:

Nothing in Clinton's record proves that she can or will work to curb the national-security mania, the militarist juggernaut and predatory marketing and lending that have trapped us like flies in a spider’s web of 800-numbered, sticky-fingered pick-pocketing machines that are pumping not only inequality but heartsickness and violence into our daily lives...

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tim Redmond and the failure of the left

There's a lot to argue with in Tim Redmond's ultra-left version of recent city history, but this statement can't go without a response: "Gavin Newsom, who wants to be the next governor of California, got his start in local politics attacking homeless people."

That is simply untrue. I'd call Remond a liar, but he's no doubt sincere and thinks he's giving it a straight shot.

His slur is a reference to Newsom's Care Not Cash policy that, like every other Bay Area jurisdiction had already done, stopped the city policy of giving homeless people monthly cash payments that in effect helped them remain homeless. 

Funny thing happened when Care Not Cash went into effect: More than 1,000 of the homeless disappeared from the welfare rolls. Turned out they only wanted cash, not care.

Before Mayor Newsom and Care Not Cash---and Homeward Bound, Project Homeless Connect, supportive housing, etc.---what was the Bay Guardian/Redmond left's approach to dealing with the homeless problem? Food Not Bombs and the Biotic Baking Brigade, the pie-throwers.

The abject failure of the city's left on homelessness was an intellectual failure, since they saw the homeless as just another category of victims under our wicked capitalist system. The implication of the left's lack of serious policy proposals: the people of San Francisco should just learn to live with the growing squalor on city streets and in our parks.

More on the Bay Guardian's "vision" for San Francisco here and here.

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Garnering myriad single word cliches

Add "garner" and "garnering" to our growing list of single word cliches. Both of these inelegant variations on plain old "get" appear mostly in our written language. From an internet story we get two garners in two paragraphs:

Clinton’s Democratic primary rival has consistently garnered 70-80 percent support with young voters...a new Latino Decisions poll released last week finds Trump only garnering 11 percent support from Hispanic voters against Clinton’s 76 percent support.

We are now resigned to seeing our world turned into a "globe" and even mild assent "absolutely" agreed "upon."

In this morning's Chronicle, a story on the Warriors' deep bench:

Depth has been their strong point for the past two seasons, and it will be called upon now. But the task will be difficult.

It might be a little easier if the Warriors just called on it.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Where's the story?

Updated graph will show a sharp 7% 2015 dip

Still waiting for stories in the SF Chronicle and SFStreetsblog about the bicycle count report that showed commuting by bike in the city declined by 7% in 2015 compared to 2014.

Their silence is conspicuous. Could it be that those two publications find the declining count so unacceptable that they refuse to report it? (The Examiner had a story by a reporter who evidently relied on the MTA's press release and didn't read the report.)

Recall that neither Streetsblog nor the Chronicle did any reporting---not even a mention---of that UC study several years ago showing that the city had a radically flawed method of counting cycling accidents (the Examiner also ignored that story). 

The only news to be reported must conform to the city's "progressive" consensus?

Not surprising that the Bicycle Coalition went with the MTA's big lie without mentioning the 7% decline in the count, but they are a special interest organization and don't pretend to be journalists.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

The war on Tommy Robinson

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Richard Dawkins on religion

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"Just tell him you’re the president”


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dave Chapelle's Prince parody

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Donalds


The above cartoon was from 1973. See the New Yorker's The Trump Trope.


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Matt supports Dean


A fund-raising letter from Matt Gonzalez:

Hi Rob, 

I have known Dean Preston for twenty years and can say that he has always been on the right side of important political issues, every single time. 

On the Board of Supervisors, he will be an independent voice and an important check on mayoral power and runaway development. He'll stand with tenants who are getting priced out of San Francisco, and he'll protect local businesses that are the backbone of San Francisco's economy.

I represented District 5 when the city returned to district elections after two decades of city-wide elected supervisors. I can say from experience that the key to succeeding in the job is to be motivated by good values and commit yourself to working to improve the lives of your constituents. I am certain that Dean will be that kind of Supervisor. (Matt Gonzalez, former President, San Francisco Board of Supervisors)

Rob's comment:

Except for housing, specifically which "important issues" has Preston been on the "right side" of? He's opposed to chain stores on Divisadero, which is good. But he also opposed a bank, which seemed problematic to me. He's evidently on the side of the angels on housing---against evictions and for more affordable housing---but what else does he stand for? You won't find out from his campaign website, which is all happy-talk and housing. It's fair to say that so far Dean Preston is essentially a one-issue candidate.

Nor is Matt Gonzalez a very reliable guide to "the right side" of city issues. As a supervisor, he and the Bicycle Coalition led the city to screw up the Market/Octavia intersection; he neglected the homeless issue, which led to Gavin Newsom's election as mayor in 2003; as he was leaving office, he thought it was cool to allow a graffiti "artist" to deface the walls of his City Hall office with juvenile political slogans; and he helped give birth to the undemocratic ranked choice voting system that led to the election of Preston's political opponent, Supervisor London Breed, who has been wrong on almost every issue since she took office.

Supervisor Breed has been running with the City Hall lemmings and the Bicycle Coalition on the Masonic Avenue bike project, which will screw up traffic in this part of town. Does Preston think he won't have to take a position on that? What about the dumb idea of eliminating the Fillmore/Geary underpass? Breed supports it. What does Preston think about that? 

Incumbent Breed will probably be able to fuzz the housing issue by essentially agreeing with Preston that eviction is bad and that we need more affordable housing, which means he'll have to define himself by his positions on other issues.

He could start my mulling over these questions that were ignored by the 2012 candidates.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

High-speed rail project still doesn't have the money

Frank Oliviera addresses an Assembly committee on the high-speed rail's 2016 business plan.

From the report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office:

The plan assumes that additional funding will become available to pay for the $43.5 billion in construction costs for the remainder of Phase I. The plan also assumes that funding would be available in order to begin construction of the remainder of Phase I in 2018, so that the entire Phase I system would be completed and operational by 2029. While the plan does discuss some potential sources that might be able to partially fund additional portions of Phase I (such as seeking additional federal funds and securitizing operating revenues), it does not include a full funding plan.

More on the cap-and-trade issue.

In an editorial, the Chronicle doubles down on dumb:

High-speed rail is still a worthy project that could bring incredible benefits to the state and to the next generation of Californians. But there’s growing bipartisan concern about whether the authority is on the right track.

On the contrary, the high-speed rail project was poorly-conceived and narrowly authorized by California voters in 2008 after a deceptive campaign based on inflated ridership predictions and minimized costs.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

John Pritchett

See Honolulu Madness and Rising rail chaos in Honolulu

Supports for a 1,600-foot-viaduct to carry high-speed rail trains across the Fresno River are seen under construction near Madera. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, AP
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli

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Hillary and guns

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The MTA's information control

A reader writes:


SFMTA released their 2015 Bicycle Count Report on April 16, 2016

The latest Transportation Fact Sheet was from 2013 and released Jan. 22, 2014.

SFMTA can issue a Bicycle Count report each year for the 3.5% of bike riders but cannot release an annual Transportation Fact Sheet for the remaining 96.5% of city travelers.

As usual, SFMTA doesn't have its priorities in order.

Rob's comment:

There won't be any more Transportation Fact Sheets released by the MTA, and there won't be any more Collisions Reports. Why? Because these documents often had information that contradicts the party line from City Hall and the MTA, particularly about all the "improvements" the city is making to city streets. 

I asked the MTA about the Transportation Fact Sheet last December but got the usual runaround from Paul Rose. So why didn't I push for an answer? Because the answer is obvious: the MTA isn't going to issue any more of those informative documents.

The Transportation Fact Sheet not only has information about how many vehicles are registered in the city, how people commute in the city, how many vehicles per household, etc. It also has the numbers on how many parking tickets the city issues and how much money it makes on those tickets. Why would the city voluntarily provide this information if it doesn't have to? Our "progressive" representatives in City Hall aren't complaining. Instead, make people file a Sunshine request to get it.

The Collisions Reports included a list of the Highest Injury Collision Intersections with an analysis that showed what the city was doing to make them safer. Now the city simply declares that every busy street in the city is part of a high-injury network. No need to analyze accidents to determine exactly how and why they happen. Besides, there's supposedly no such thing as an accident under the city's fatuous Vision Zero campaign, which is a slogan disguised as a policy.

Now the city just counts accidents---I mean "collisions"---and gives the numbers to the city's many house-broken journalists without any analysis like what Commander Ali did on all the 2014 fatalities on city streets (The Chronicle's Heather Knight, however, did a story on Ali's report, but no city paper has done anything on that damning UC study).

Even though the MTA has 5,745 employees, it won't assign anyone to analyze every traffic injury accident and make that information public because it would undermine its happy-talk Vision Zero bullshit and also raise doubts about all the "improvements" the city is supposedly making to our streets.

The city's policy limiting the release of useful information goes back to the trauma inflicted on the MTA back in 2013 when its gross incompetence at counting traffic accidents was exposed by the NY Times.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

The 2015 Bicycle Count: A 7% decrease!

With the flim-flam accompanying its latest Bicycle Count Report, it seems that the MTA is desperate to maintain the fiction that cycling in the city is increasing significantly. 

Otherwise, the crude propaganda in their press release is hard to explain, since anyone who actually reads the report knows that the number of cyclists counted has actually gone down at 51 of the 78 locations where people are actually doing the counting.

But the city is "moving to better data collection" with automatic counters. On page 9:

For example, the September 14-20, 2015 manual counts (taken for only two hours from 4:30-6:30 p.m., not capturing the full evening commute) report a seven percent decrease from the September 2014 manual counts. While the 15 automated counters also reported a similar decrease in this September 14-20 timeframe, automated counts for all of September weekdays showed a two percent increase from September 2014 to September 2015 (~234,000 to ~239,000).(emphasis added)

That is, the machines counted more cyclists on the count days because they were counting all the weekdays in September, not the same seven days counted manually. But the only comparison that can be made is between the manual count of 2014 and the manual count in 2015 at the same locations.

Who are you going to believe, the lying eyes of the people doing the count or the MTA's counting machines? 

A prediction: the city will eliminate the "manual" count by actual people and switch to an "automatic" count with the machines. That means there won't be any human verification of the numbers, just like there's no way we can verify the accident numbers the city now doles out to the city's credulous reporters.

The graph at the bottom of page 9 shows how the count has leveled off in the last two years. Even the caption on the graph tries to minimize the significance of the manual count: "while manual counts saw a 7% decrease when just analyzing two hours in the PM peak commute over only 6 days." 

By my reckoning, if the count is done between Sept. 14 and Sept. 20, that's seven days, not six.

Check it out: Of the 78 manual count locations in the report, 51 showed a decrease in the cyclists counted compared to 2014.

Even 12 of the 17 locations that had "improvements" in the last year---new bike lanes or paint for visibility---had fewer cyclists counted than in 2014.

Some unimpressive statements: "There are an estimated 82,000 bicycle trips in San Francisco per day." Seems like a big number, but the context is important. Unmentioned: there are more than 2 million trips made in the city every day by all "modes" of transportation (page 5).

"According to the American Community Survey, bike mode share for commute trips made by San Francisco residents increased to 4.4 percent in 2014." 

When you check out the Transportation Fact Sheet---which the city is no longer going to publish. Gee, I wonder why?---on page 3, we learn that the ACS percentage for bike commuters was 2.1% in 2000. 

You can call that a 100% increase in the percentage of bike commuters, but it took us 14 years to get to 4.4% from 2.1%. Since then we have been bombarded with pro-bike, anti-car propaganda from City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition; we have a right to be unimpressed.

If you read the stories on the report in SF Bay or Hoodline, you only get the MTA's propaganda about "a major citywide increase in cyclists." 

Interesting to note that SF Streetsblog hasn't done a story yet on the report. Maybe Rudick has actually read it, not just the press release.

Joe Rodriguez in the Examiner of course buys all of the MTA's propaganda and obviously didn't take a close look at the report, which is what he also does on Masonic Avenue (here and here).

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Albert Hoffman takes the first acid trip

73 years ago yesterday, Albert Hoffman discovered LSD---or rather experienced its effects after an accidental dose:

“Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”

After intentionally taking the drug again to confirm that it had caused this strange physical and mental state, Dr. Hoffman published a report announcing his discovery, and so LSD made its entry into the world as a hallucinogenic drug."

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Quote of the Day

From the interview with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the NY Times:

Have you decided which presidential candidate you’re supporting in 2016?

Whoever the Democrat is. Period. End of story.

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Obama helps Curry with his shot

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Tax the churches

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Friday, April 15, 2016

We'll soon know exactly how dumb SMART will be

Posted by a skeptical commenter

Whenever the Marin Independent Journal has a story on the new Sonoma/Marin SMART train system, the comments are fun (SMART begins talking rail schedule as service set to begin later this year), as the project's critics and supporters hammer each other.

This story gives critics some ammo: "The cost of fares has not been announced." 

That is, the folks at SMART have no idea how much to charge an unknown number of future passengers. They also don't know how much the system itself is going to cost to operate, a crucial factor when calculating ticket prices. 

Our Muni system here in San Francisco collects only 25% of its operating costs from fares. How much better than that will SMART do? The problem: If ticket prices are set too high to offset operating costs, ridership and revenue decline. 

One of the comments makes the obvious point:

So soon enough we will be able to document the failures of this boondoggle. The low ridership. The subsidized tickets, which will be in the thou$ands for EACH single ticket. The added traffic problems due to back ups. Of course, there will be excuses offered at every failure, but never accountability. Oh, yeah, probably another tax hike, too. But, don't expect to be able to vote on it this time.

And this from the story:

SMART officials are promising rail service will deliver people to destinations faster than taking Highway 101, in particular those coming southbound on the freeway in the morning. “The alternative and options trains will be providing is[sic] tremendous,” said Farhad Mansourian, SMART’s general manager.

He would say that, wouldn't he? A comment raises the question of how people will get from the rail stations to their "destinations":

SMART's computer simulations don't take into account the time it would take to drive to the SMART station, find parking, pay for parking, pay the train fare, find a ride to one's ultimate destination (bus, cab, ferry?) and pay for that ride. Sounds like the plot for 'Final Destination 6.'

Another comment on that issue:

Is San Rafael going to build massive parking structures at its SMART stations? Or is the theory that all the riders will take public transport, ride-sharing and bikes to the stations.

With traffic congestion, commuting by car is a pain the ass, but the great advantage those wicked cars have over trains: they provide door-to-door transportation.

Speaking of train stations, the Novato station issue here and here. Be sure to read the comments to the latter story.

Later: How Many Riders Will SMART Really Have?

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Your drought report card

Public Policy Institute of California

More at How We Did.

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Updating UC's pepper spray issue

From the Sacramento Bee.

The proposed UC logo from James Fallows.

The Pepper Spray Times.

Later: see this from and this from Kevin Drum.

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Kevin Drum on Mother Jones:

I know the doomsayers don't care, but at the moment we're paying about 2 percent of GDP to service the national debt. The chart below shows how that's skyrocketed since—um, I mean, declined steadily since its height during the Reagan era. Pretty scary, isn't it?

See also this and this.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

3,979 more motor vehicles in SF

DMV San Francisco: Get in line

This is a companion piece to yesterday's post on C.W. Nevius. Turns out that according to the DMV there are more motor vehicles than ever registered in San Francisco. 

Seems like City Hall's anti-car policy isn't working, mostly because it isn't reality-based, but also because of gentrification. Surprise! People of means own cars.

Compare the 2014 DMV numbers (481,787) to the 2015 numbers (485,766), and we learn that there were 3,979 more motor vehicles registered in the city in the last year. 

That's the pattern since 2000 (451,879) when I first began keeping score (I always subtract the number of trailers).

The breakdown: 407,656 cars, 54,768 trucks, and 23,342 motorcycles/motor scooters.

In yesterday's column, Nevius perpetuated a myth: "And look at the Millennials, choosing to live in the city and scorning car ownership."

Actually millennials drive just as much as previous generations---and they shop at Walmart!

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