Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jenny Diski

Jenny Diski has been writing in the London Review of Books about her fatal ailments---lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis---and her impending death since September. From the latest installment (Who’ll be last?):

‘I bet you’ve found faith now,’ believers wrote to Christopher Hitchens when he announced he had terminal cancer. He insisted he hadn’t. I’d never been envious of those who believe in an afterlife until now. It would be so much cosier than dissolution. She’s gone to the next room. Nope, can’t manage it. She’s gone to dust and rubble. Gone nowhere. No where to go to. No she to go to it. Much easier to be convinced you will be met in Elysian fields by a thousand virgins, or drink from fountains of Manhattans. I can’t even get close to what they call faith, though I quite see Pascal had a point; and so did Wittgenstein (though quite wrong globally) when he said: ‘Go on, believe! It does no harm.’ I don’t and won’t and there it is...

Diski on Roman Polanski and rape.

Diski's website and her blog.

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Why ISIS is like Donald Trump

From Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

Basically, everyone is willing to give lip service to fighting ISIS, but for most of the actors in the Middle East it's not really a high priority. They'd rather keep their powder dry for the main event. In that respect, ISIS is sort of like Donald Trump. All the other Republicans want to get rid of him, but they don't want to spend a lot of their own energy doing it. They want someone else to do it, so that it will be someone else who's too worn out to win the actual nomination fight.

Even so there's some recent progress in the campaign against ISIS.

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The city that knows how...

Chris Roberts in the SF Weekly (The City That Knows How To Get Sued):

It's up to City Attorney Dennis Herrera to warn the mayor and the Board of Supervisors when legislation will land them in court — and it's up to Herrera's office to do the legal lifting in court, as it did when landlords sued to overturn new tenant-friendly eviction protections last year (the landlords won). There's no official count on how many local laws have been challenged in court, overturned by a judge, or simply abandoned when they proved unenforceable — although the city's issuance of gay marriage licenses, the effort to force cell phone manufacturers to post warnings that phone radiation can cause brain cancer, and a ban on advertising soda on city property are an example of each, respectively. Despite those setbacks, local lawmakers have yet to appear shy.

Add the Bicycle Plan to the list of the city's losing litigation. Recall that we warned the city early on that making the ambitious plan part of the General Plan and implementing it on the streets of the city without any environmental review was illegal (see this, this, and this).

We were ignored and dismissed with contempt by both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors; both rejected our appeals unanimously.

Later we learned that City Attorney Herrera privately agreed with us, though his staff at our appeal hearing before the supervisors lied about the legality of what the city was doing. He and his staff had their marching orders from the mayor and the Board of Supervisors, and in court the city continued to pretend that the two-volume, 500-page Bicycle Plan was exempt from CEQA.

Judge Busch brushed aside the city's lies with his 2006 decision.

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Unsung heroine: One woman warned about the housing bubble

Thanks to Bloomberg News.