Defending the indefensible

Prop. 7 looks to change daylight saving time in California (CBS8.com)

I’ve become a convert to the Daylight Saving Time/Standard Time switch. Sure, it’s a problem for a couple of days – but it maximizes daylight for the maximum number of people. Year-round DST means kids going to school in the dark and getting hit by cars.

We should spend more of the year on standard time, though – six months of each, as used to be the case.

An actual tweet from my town’s parks department

This is an actual tweet from my town’s parks department. I am not making this up.

I did not realize that this activity involved tournaments. I don’t even want to know how the winner is decided. Or what they get for a trophy.

“The largest body of water in California was formed by a mistake.”

99% Invisble podcast:

In 1905, the California Development Company accidentally flooded a huge depression in the Sonora Desert, creating an enormous salty lake called the Salton Sea.

The water is about twice as salty as the Pacific Ocean. The ground beneath the southern end of the sea is volcanic and water bubbles to the surface in muddy pools. The only fish that can live in Salton Sea are tilapia, but even they struggle to survive.

This sea—this gurgling, sometimes stinky, accident of a sea—is actually in danger of drying up and disappearing. And you may be thinking: “good riddance!” It doesn’t sound all that nice. But the Salton Sea needs us. And we need it.

The Salton Sea demonstrates that the difference between natural and artificial isn’t as clear-cut as we often think.

Anti-vaccers are going to court to block California’s strict vaccination law

Soumya Karlamangla at the LA Times reports:

The new law, which took effect Friday, bars parents from citing religion or other personal beliefs as reasons to not vaccinate their kids. SB 277 is one of the toughest mandatory vaccination laws in the country and drew many protesters when it was debated in Sacramento.

A group of parents and the nonprofit Education 4 All filed a suitFriday to overturn the law in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The suit claims that the law violates California children’s right to an education under the state’s constitution.

“SB 277 has made second class citizens out of children who for very compelling reasons are not vaccinated according to the CDC schedule,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Robert T. Moxley, said in a statement.

 

Uber and Lyft learn to drive Sacramento

Uber, Lyft leave fingerprints on Sacramento ride-hailing bills

I’m curious about the requirement that drivers need to be fingerprinted. If it’s a good idea to require it for other drivers, why should Uber and Lyft be exempt?

And I’m encouraged to hear that Sacramento killed legislation that would have allowed ride share drivers to organize. We truly do have the best legislators money can buy.

[Carolyn Said/San Francisco Chronicle]

” … Facebook wants to get rid of the internet and replace it with Facebook.”

Joshua Rigsby interviews Cory Doctorow for The Los Angeles Review of Books:

Cory on moving from London to beautiful downtown Burbank, California:

Burbank is its own little village. We’ve got a 2.5-mile-long stretch with no chain stores. I don’t own a car. We walk everywhere. We live five minutes from the airport. It’s very handy and weird and surreal. It’s where they shot the B-footage for ’50s TV shows, so everything feels eerily familiar in a Father Knows Best kind of way.

Burbank has just become our new normal, we’re settled in, we’re about to get our green cards. The bureaucracy is crazy, but it’s a one-time thing and that’s how I maintain my sanity, by saying, I never have to figure out how to get my Canadian long-form birth certificate again. So, I will spend this afternoon trying to figure out the office address of the doctor who delivered me 44 years ago for the Canadian government, but then never again.

On the role of fiction:

I don’t know that there’s a “the role,” but I think that one of the roles that fiction plays is that it’s entertaining. Fiction is primarily about empathy. It’s about pretending you’re someone else and experiencing their emotions. In the same way that getting a back rub feels nice, because it’s good for your muscles or whatever, I believe that thinking about what it would be like to be someone else is just intrinsically satisfying — at least for people within one or two sigmas of normal cognitive activity. Science fiction can also give us an emotional fly-through of a technology. It can be like an architect’s rendering of what it would feel like to live inside a technological regime, and so science fiction has been very useful in policy fronts in that regard.

On Facebook:

… Facebook wants to get rid of the internet and replace it with Facebook.

On his next novel, Walk Away, his first novel for adults since 2009:

Walk Away was inspired by the historian and activist Rebecca Solnit, who wrote the book A Paradise Built In Hell, about the gap between how people who live through disasters experience them, how they are reported, and how political and economic elites react to them. She starts with the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, and she shows this recurring pattering called “elite panic,” where rich people are convinced that when things break down the poor people are going to come and eat them, basically. So the rich preemptively attack the poor. Like General Funston keeping people out of the mission as it burned during the 1906 earthquake. He actually sent out detonation squads that didn’t know how to set fire breaks. They burned down a quarter of San Francisco, and didn’t let anyone go back and fight the fires in their homes. Or in Haiti — the ironclad belief that there would be food riots led to the creation of food distribution centers that were pretty much custom-built to create riots. Or in New Orleans, where there were no verified accounts of looting (as we understand it), besides people taking supplies and leaving IOU notes with the intention of settling up once the owners returned. Nevertheless there were Blackwater mercenaries and rich white neighborhood associations who were shooting to kill because they were convinced that there would be looting. There is this gap between how people behave and how elites believe people will behave.

Walk Away is a utopian disaster novel. It’s a novel about a disaster where people behave well.

 

Immigrant healthcare

California wants to let undocumented workers buy health insurance through state exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. [Patrick McGreevy – LA Times]

The plan will accrue no additional costs to the state – undocumented workers would use their own money, advocates say.

This won’t be controversial. Nope.

A British expat shares what she’s learned after living in San Francisco six months

Writer and editor Olivia Solon describes nicknames for the city – “San Fran” is universally despised, while “Frisco” is controversial – notes that she’s had to start using checks again, and coffee is taken very, very seriously.

6. All bars have TVs

It doesn’t matter whether you are in a sports bar (where it makes sense), a hipster dive bar or a swanky cocktail bar, they all have one thing in common: television screens in every corner. Not even Top of the Mark, a high-end martini bar on the 19th floor of the Mark Hopkins hotel known for its “spectacular breathtaking views of the San Francisco skyline, Bay and Golden Gate Bridge” escapes the telly box’s vice-like grip.

These screens act like conversational black holes, overwhelming all other chat forces until the only thing you can talk about is the One Second Slicer informercial. “Why yes, I am tired of slicing and dicing by hand and bulky slicers that clutter my countertop.”

Regarding nicknames: Around 1989-90, when I started covering tech, “Baghdad by the Bay” was a nickname for San Francisco. That fell out of favor for obvious reasons.

When I’m in the Bay Area, I’ll occasionally visit a fancy-schmancy boutique coffee place, but I’m partial to Starbucks and Peets. I just want a cuppa joe.

TVs in public places are horrible.

8 things I’ve learned since moving to San Francisco [Olivia Solon – Medium]

Homeless encounter

When I take Minnie on our hour-long afternoon walk, I go down Colorado Ave. to where it ends in a cul-de-sac and a chainlink fence with a sewage treatment plant beyond. To my right is a little wooded area, with a footpath leading down to the commercial street, Lake Murray Blvd. The footpath follows along the chainlink fence.

I saw a homeless man lying on the ground while walking Minnie at about 5 pm yesterday. He was lying asleep on a piece of cardboard.

I called La Mesa PD from my cell phone and they said they’d send someone. I believe them, but I still saw the man there when I returned with Minnie an hour later.

This afternoon about 4 pm: Same man, same place, this time blocking the whole path. Again, I called La Mesa PD, and they said they’d send someone. When I returned with Minnie an hour later, I saw the man walking up Lake Murray Blvd. Sure enough, he turned up the footpath and he was lying on the ground, same spot, when I passed by. I told him, “Hey, buddy, you can’t sleep here,” and he said he’d go somewhere else.

Next time I go walking, I’m bringing a printout of directions to St. Vincent de Paul and I’ll give him $10 for Trolley fare. I’m sympathetic to the plight of the homeless but he can’t sleep rough here.

Sometimes in the winter I find myself walking in the park after dusk. I see couples and individuals walking into the park, dressed in layers and carrying big bundles. I assume they’re homeless. That doesn’t bother me — I mean, it bothers me that they’re homeless and have to sleep rough, but I’m not concerned that our park is where they do it. They have to sleep somewhere. But not in our neighborhood.