Tuesday, September 21, 2021


Sunday, September 19, 2021

No confusion about booster shots

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Snitch Nation

Friday, September 17, 2021

The SF Weekly is no more

In the SF Chronicle:
After more than 40 years, SF Weekly, San Francisco’s last-standing alt weekly, will cease publication “for the foreseeable future” at the end of the month, the paper’s editor in chief, Carly Schwartz, confirmed Friday. The weekly, which had a circulation of 65,000, was sold, along with the San Francisco Examiner, to Clint Reilly Communications last December. In an email, Schwartz said the decision was made to pause SF Weekly to “double down on our efforts with the Examiner.”
Sorry to see that. The city needs as many independent media voices as possible. The internet is what makes print journalism less viable, since it takes away a lot of advertising that print publications rely on.

From the story:
“The loss is incalculable,” said Joe Eskenazi, the managing editor of Mission Local who worked at SF Weekly for nine years starting in 2007. “A robust alt weekly tells you the most unvarnished version of what’s going on in the city....It doesn’t play by the niceties of daily journalism. “San Francisco has never needed a functional alt weekly more.”
That's an idealized version of how SF Weekly actually performed over the years. 

It pandered to what it apparently thought was young readers with positive stories about graffiti/tagging vandalism. But so did the city's other now-defunct weekly, the Bay Guardian: Local intellectuals betray the city and SF Weekly enables vandalism---again. (Even the Chronicle isn't above that!)

That the two weeklies were often deficient the same way prompted this: Matt Smith and Tim Redmond: Peas in a pod way back in 2005.

Like the Chronicle, the SF Weekly ran with the lemmings on Vision Zero and traffic safety: SF Weekly, Vision Zero, and reality

And the failure by all three publications on Masonic Avenue can't go unmentioned 

Nor should the failure on Islamic terrorism be forgotten: SF's "alternative" media: Profile in lameness.

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Sunday, September 12, 2021

Life is short, art is long

September 12, 1940

Lascaux cave paintings discovered

Near Montignac, France, a collection of prehistoric cave paintings are discovered by four teenagers who stumbled on the ancient artwork after following their dog down a narrow entrance into a cavern. 

The 15,000- to 17,000-year-old paintings, mostly of animal representations, are among the finest examples of art from the Upper Paleolithic period.

First studied by the French archaeologist Henri-Édouard-Prosper Breuil, the Lascaux grotto consists of a main cavern 66 feet wide and 16 feet high. The walls of the cavern are decorated with some 600 painted and drawn animals, symbols and nearly 1,500 engravings. 

The pictures depict in excellent detail numerous types of animals, including horses, red deer, stags, bovines, felines, and what appear to be mythical creatures. 

There is only one human figure depicted in the cave: a bird-headed man with an erect phallus. Archaeologists believe that the cave was used over a long period of time as a center for hunting and religious rites.

The Lascaux grotto was opened to the public in 1948 but was closed in 1963 because artificial lights had faded the vivid colors of the paintings and caused algae to grow over some of them. 

A replica of the Lascaux cave was opened nearby in 1983 and receives tens of thousands of visitors annually.

Art is even longer than we thought.

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

Fully American

Letter to the editor in today's NY Times:

To the Editor:

I was 8 years old when my mom and I were driving to school and heard the news of the first plane hitting the twin towers. I was getting out of the minivan but she told me to wait. 

Then the second plane hit. I could see the look of horror in my mom’s eyes, but all I could think to ask was if I could go to class. Instead, we drove home.

When we got home and saw my dad on the couch, hands over his mouth and whispering a prayer, the gravity of the attack finally hit me. I’m Egyptian from his side and grew up Muslim. Later on I could hear my parents talking and arguing.

“What do you think will happen?”

“I don’t know. This isn’t good. You know they’ll declare war. Inshallah we’ll be OK.” (“Inshallah” is “God willing” in Arabic.)

Then came the death threats over the phone. Someone shouted at us from a car, “You people should be in camps!” My parents were harassed at work, and I was called a terrorist at school.

From 9/11 on I knew I would never be seen as fully American in many people’s eyes. That feeling hasn’t changed.

Youssef Shokry
San Francisco

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Friday, September 10, 2021

Rob Rogers

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Thursday, September 09, 2021

Robert E. Lee: Homicidal racist

AP Photo: Steve Helber 

Later: I added "homicidal" to the title, since simply calling Robert E. Lee "racist" seems inadequate given the number of black Americans whose murder he condoned. He was not a garden variety racist. He condoned what we would now call war crimes against black American troops.

Daily Kos quotes the Atlantic:

Soldiers under Lee’s command at the Battle of the Crater in 1864 massacred black Union soldiers who tried to surrender. 

Then, in a spectacle hatched by Lee’s senior corps commander, A. P. Hill, the Confederates paraded the Union survivors through the streets of Petersburg to the slurs and jeers of the southern crowd. 

Lee never discouraged such behavior. As the historian Richard Slotkin wrote in No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, “his silence was permissive.”

....As the historian James McPherson recounts in Battle Cry of Freedom, in October of that same year, Lee proposed an exchange of prisoners with the Union general Ulysses S. Grant. “Grant agreed, on condition that black soldiers be exchanged ‘the same as white soldiers.’” 

Lee’s response was that “negroes belonging to our citizens are not considered subjects of exchange and were not included in my proposition.” 

Because slavery was the cause for which Lee fought, he could hardly be expected to easily concede, even at the cost of the freedom of his own men, that black people could be treated as soldiers and not things. 

Grant refused the offer, telling Lee that “government is bound to secure to all persons received into her armies the rights due to soldiers.” 

Despite its desperate need for soldiers, the Confederacy did not relent from this position until a few months before Lee’s surrender.

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Obama: Vote no on the recall

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Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Fauci rebuts vaccination ignorance

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Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Taliban thugs beat Afghan women

Afghan women in Kabul
On Slate:

Hundreds of Afghan women took to the streets in Kabul Tuesday to protest ahead of the Taliban’s formation of a new government in the country. 

The protests played out in dramatic fashion as female demonstrators, many of whom have no recollection of life under oppressive Taliban rule, called for women’s rights, shouting anti-Pakistan slogans, along with expressing support for the anti-Taliban resistance in Panjshir province.

The highly-charged street scenes started peacefully in response to a visit to the country from the head of neighboring Pakistan’s intelligence service for talks on the formation of the new Taliban administration. 

The group has preached a more moderate line since surging back to power after two decades. Taliban fighters allowed the procession, which grew to include many male demonstrators, to continue until the protest moved into the city center, where protesters were beaten and machine guns fired into the air to disperse the crowd....

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democratic underground


Monday, September 06, 2021

Closing city streets was based on a lie

Jim Swanson

A letter to the editor in today's SF Chronicle:

Now that the Great Highway has been reopened, how about the rest of the slow streets? These streets were originally closed for people/families who were sheltered at home so they could have a safe (social distance) path to walk or ride bikes. 

With schools open and many people returning to their workplaces, there is no need to have these streets closed.

Mike Jang
San Francisco

Rob's comment:
Jang doesn't mention other justifications for closing city streets during the pandemic. The Chronicle's Heather Knight: people need that space to walk their dogs and hug their friends!

In fact there was never a sensible public health justification to close city streets to cars during the pandemic. 

Making it harder to drive and park in the city---when cars are actually safer than public transportation---was City Hall's opportunistic extension of its long-time policies under the influence of anti-car special interest groups, the Bicycle Coalition and Walk San Francisco that represent a small, militant minority of city residents.

Recall the City's attempt to rush its ambitious Bicycle Plan illegally through the system back in 2005. Since then the Chronicle hasn't opposed a major City Hall project: How the SF Chronicle failed San Francisco.

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Saturday, September 04, 2021

Charles Barkley gets it right

Barkley“The people who are not vaccinated are just assholes.”

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Not in Texas

Bill Bramhall

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Friday, September 03, 2021

Elizabeth Warren: Poor women in Texas will suffer

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Thursday, September 02, 2021

The Republican Party: American Taliban

Moulitsas got it right back in 2009:

"We all agree with the Taliban."---Rush Limbaugh, October 9, 2009

America’s primary international enemy—Islamic radicalism—insists on government by theocracy, curtails civil liberties, embraces torture, represses women, wants to eradicate homosexuals from society, and insists on the use of force over diplomacy. Remind you of a certain American political party? 

In American Taliban, Markos Moulitsas pulls no punches as he compares how the Republican Party and Islamic radicals maintain similar worldviews and tactics. 

Moutlitsas also challenges the media, fellow progressives, and our elected officials to call the radical right on their jihadist tactics more forcefully for the good of our nation and safety of all citizens.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2021

....Masks, in addition to vaccines, work. Lots of evidence in favor of masks has accumulated during the pandemic, but nothing quite like a new randomized trial that involved more than 340,000 adults in Bangladesh, some of whom were given masks and told to wear them. The groups that wore masks in this massive study had fewer symptomatic cases. “Anti-mask people keep saying, ‘Where’s the randomized controlled trial?’ Well, here you go,” as one doctor told me....

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Richmond District and the Great Highway

Christopher Michel

Letter to the editor in the SF Chronicle:

I write to add my voice to those Outer Richmond District residents who have expressed their gratitude at having the Great Highway open to automobile traffic again. 

I wonder how many realize that in addition to losing access to that important roadway, my neighbors and I lost all three of the bus lines (5, 18 and 31) that offered service to Ocean Beach north of Fulton. (The 5-Fulton ran only as far as Sixth Avenue for months; the 18 and 31 have only just started running again).

Suddenly, the only way for octogenarians like me to get to doctor’s appointments downtown or in Daly City, or to go grocery shopping was to drive (or call for a ride and let someone else drive). 

How did this help reduce car traffic? You can count me among those who will be happy to consider closing part or all the Great Highway to cars in future — just as soon as the city shows it can provide reliable public transport for the area. 

Not everyone can get around on bicycles, scooters or skates!

Linda Shaffer
San Francisco

An Open the Great Highway petition.

The Great Highway is back open now, but the city's two anti-car special interest groups will keep trying to close it again: Walk SF and the Bicycle Coalition.

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The crackpot party is also the snake oil party

Paul Krugman in today's NY Times: 

....Right-wing extremists, and to some extent even more mainstream conservative media, rely on financial support from companies selling nutritional supplements and miracle cures — and that financial support is arguably a significant factor pushing the right to become more extreme. 

Indeed, right-wing extremism isn’t just an ideological movement that happens to get a lot of money from sellers of snake oil; some of its extremism can probably be seen not as a reflection of deep conviction, but as a way of promoting snake oil....

....A few months ago it seemed likely that the development of effective vaccines would soon bring the pandemic to an end. Instead, it goes on, with hospitalizations closing in on their peak from last winter. This is partly due to the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant, but it also crucially reflects the refusal of many Americans to take the vaccines.

And much of this refusal is political. True, many people who are refusing to get vaccinated aren’t Trumpists, but there’s a strong negative correlation between Donald Trump’s share of a county’s vote and vaccination. 

As of July, 86 percent of self-identified Democrats said they had had a vaccine shot, but only 54 percent of Republicans did....

....As the historian Rick Perlstein has pointed out, there’s a long association between peddlers of quack medicine and right-wing extremists. They cater to more or less the same audience.

Americans willing to believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that Italian satellites were used to switch votes to Joe Biden are also the kind of people willing to believe that medical elites are lying to them and that they can solve their health problems by ignoring professional advice and buying patent medicines instead....

....Alex Jones of Infowars has built a following by pushing conspiracy theories, but he makes money by selling nutritional supplements.

It’s also true, however, for more mainstream, establishment parts of the right. For example, Ben Shapiro, considered an intellectual on the right, hawks supplements.

Look at who advertises on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. After Fox itself, the top advertisers are My Pillow, then three supplement companies.

....Snake oil peddlers, clearly, find consumers of right-wing news and punditry a valuable market for their wares. So it shouldn’t be surprising to find many right-leaning Americans ready to see vaccination as a liberal plot and turn to dubious alternatives....

The extremism of media figures radicalizes their audience, giving politicians an incentive to become more extreme.

So you can see how vaccination became such a flash point. Getting shots in arms is a priority for a Democratic president, which automatically generates intense hostility among people who want to see Joe Biden fail. And such people were already primed to reject medical expertise and believe in quack cures....

Surely everyone on the right noticed that even Donald Trump got booed recently when he told attendees at a rally that they should get vaccinated. He probably won’t say that again, and would-be future Trumps definitely won’t.

You could say that if American democracy is in danger, that’s partly because sellers of snake oil — not bad policy ideas, but actual bad medicine — have been pulling off this one weird trick.

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Monday, August 30, 2021

Alma takes a walk

The NY Times

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Bernie Sanders: Vote no on the recall

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Fauci: School vaccine mandates "a good idea"

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Covid death by state



Saturday, August 28, 2021

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Leaving Afghanistan

Russians in Afghanistan 1988

Kevin Baker in Politico:

....As with many other places that lie between more powerful countries — Poland, for instance — Afghanistan’s strategic value for geopolitics often has been exaggerated by map room geniuses the world over. In fact, that importance has been very limited since the Spice Road trade routes began to disintegrate in the 15th century. 

As the world moved on to sailing ships, air travel and other economic priorities, and the means of getting them, controlling Afghanistan became less vital. But that didn’t stop all the armchair Napoleons who noted sagely that it was right between the Russian and British empires, or the key to India, or on the road to China.

Eventually, all the empires that made their way to Afghanistan found good reason to move on, or to limit their costs and expectations — as President Joe Biden finally has done, a gutsy decision, however chaotic its execution has been. 

Unlike nearly all the great powers that have trampled Afghanistan for millennia, the U.S. actually had a good reason to be there. We just didn’t have a good reason to stay....

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Thursday, August 26, 2021

American Taliban

Rob Rogers

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Opening the Great Highway

Letter to the editor in the SF Chronicle:

I don’t think the rest of the city understands the giant sigh of soul-releasing relief everyone who actually lives out in the Outer Sunset and the Richmond had when they restored the Great Highway to operations. 

Last week, everybody was using the highway as a highway, the mixed-use path as a mixed-use path and the beach as a beach. If anything has spelled a return to normal, it’s been this. 

Thanks, Mayor London Breed.

Larry Young
San Francisco

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