Thursday, June 30, 2005

Breasts not bombs

You see, because protests are so commonplace in San Francisco and because they are so much a part of the fabric of Bay Area living, to get proper media exposure for a successful demonstration you must be able to stand out.
Members of the au naturale contingent Breasts Not Bombs said the war is indecent, not their nakedness. "Boobies never hurt anyone," said Sherry Glaser. But after more than two years at war, the public has become desensitized to protests, they said. So if they have to show a little skin to get attention, so be it.
About a dozen antiwar activists from Mendocino County came down to show about the war in San Francisco's Union Square today.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

BART strike looms

Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) union employees are set to go on strike at 12:01 a.m. next Wednesday unless a new contract can be agreed upon with managers. The current contracts expire at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

UC Berkeley researchers conducted a study last year to determine the impact of a service interruption of BART which carries about 320,000 passengers most weekdays.
The morning commute on the westbound Bay Bridge could create backups stretching 26 miles, with cars driving as slowly as 9 mph, the report said.

"The mess on the freeways would spill over to city streets, and that makes things even worse. In many cases, drivers would likely spend one to two hours on city streets just to get to the freeway, crawling at speeds as low as two miles per hour,"” Jorge Laval, a PhD graduate student in civil engineering and lead author of the report, said at the time the report was released.
While it's the Bay Area's socialistic mentality to support labor in contract negociations like this, it will be interesting to see if the public will back the underworked and overpaid BART employees.
The average full- time BART union employee, they say, receives a total fringe benefits package worth $31,719 a year on top of their average annual base salary of $67,865 for a total average annual compensation of $99,584.
Not a bad gig.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

John T. Walton dies in ultralight crash

John T. Walton, the middle of three sons of Sam Walton was killed yesterday in the crash of his experimental ultralight aircraft in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Walton, whose net worth was in the $18 billion neighborhood, was 58.

It's been fashionable recently to despise Wal-Mart and the Waltons, but the SF Chronicle printed this about John:
Walton founded the Children's Scholarship Fund in 1998 to provide low-income families with money to send their children to private schools. The foundation started with $67 million from the Walton Family Foundation and benefited more than 67,000 children.

Jim Courtovich, who spent two years getting the Children's Scholarship Fund off the ground, said Walton was a devoted sponsor who "didn't just donate money, he donated time and energy." Walton would clear days at a time from his schedule to focus on the project, he said.

Courtovich also said that Walton had a casual manner and, like his father, not above doing chores himself. One time, skiing in Jackson Hole, he said Walton "had to leave early because he had to caulk his chimney."
It seems as if he was a pretty decent guy. And I hope I'm out flying around in ultralights when I'm closing on 60.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Google breaks $300

The shares of Google, the internet search leader, finished trading today above $300 and closed at $304.10, up $6.85. Google now has a market capitalization of $84.5 billion making it the 23rd largest U.S. corporation just ahead of Home Depot and just behind PepsiCo Inc.

From the Wall Street Journal:
Google's ascent has defied skeptics, whose lack of interest in Google's unusual "Dutch auction" IPO last August forced the company to lower its offering price to $85. Since then, Google's stock has more than tripled, compared with a 2% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and 1.2% rise for the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index.
In spite of a P/E ratio above 120, many Wall Street analysts still have a "buy" or "strong buy" rating on the stock. Mark Mahaney, who follows the company for Smith Barney, has posted a target price of $360 on it.

Shortly after Google went public last summer, I told many clients I thought the stock was going to $50. It's starting to look as though I might need to revise my forecast.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Estate tax sham

Saturday's Washington Post condemned an estate tax proposal by Rep. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) as a sham but the logic employed by the Post is too flawed to be taken seriously.

America's estate tax is being gradually phased out until its complete repeal in 2010 only to return in full glory in 2011, as if it had never been phased out at all. (How lawmakers can sleep after passing such convoluted legislation remains a mystery). Kyl's proposal would allow an $8 million exclusion for each individual rather than the $1 million currently slated to return in 2011.

From the Post:
No one expects full resurrection to happen, nor should it; the amount of estates shielded from taxation at that time, $1 million, is too low. But complete repeal is unjust, unnecessary and unaffordable; it would cost $745 billion over the first 10 years, $1 trillion if extra interest costs are included. Though the House has voted to make repeal permanent, proponents of that approach don't have the 60 votes necessary to close the deal in the Senate.
Politicians and liberal journalists don't understand the meaning of the word "cost". Cost refers to an expenditure not phantom revenue. Complete repeal won't "cost" a thing. If you hoped that your grandmother would send you $100 for your birthday but she didn't, did that cost you $100? Of course not. You're disappointed, but it didn't "cost" you a cent.

The Post's opposition to Kyl's proposal is based on the idea that the U.S. cannot afford to repeal the tax without consdidering the real issue which is that the estate tax is the most unethical and illogical tax of all.

State and local taxes make sense in that proceeds are used to fund schools, police and fire departments. Taxes on items like gasoline and tires make sense in that the proceeds are used to build and maintain roads and bridges. While our income tax system is far from perfect, it still makes some sense in that the proceeds are used fund a government that maintains an economic system that allows us to earn that income. But a tax on the value of everything accumulated over a lifetime, imposed simply because you died, makes no sense at all.

The Post believes Kyl's proposed exclusion is too high and his proposed tax rate is too low.
You'd think Democrats would not only see through this sham but be eager to pick up the fight. After all, the question is whether, at a time when the gap between rich and poor is widening, extraordinarily wealthy Americans ought to be asked to give back some of what they've been able to amass. But instead of seizing on the estate tax fight as a defining issue, Democrats have scared themselves into thinking that they'll be punished for standing up against repeal.
"Give back"? Wealthy Americans were not "given" their assets by the IRS and shouldn't be required to relinquish them to the federal government just because they had the misfortune of dying. If they choose to give back at death by leaving assets to their favorite charity that should be their choice.

You paid taxes on it when you earned it. You paid taxes on what you earned through intelligent investing. You paid taxes on it when you spent it. And if you bought real property, you have paid taxes on its value every year. So who should get to decide where it goes when you die, you or Congress?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Pirate Blogging

I'm blogging on a pirated wireless connection in Kansas where Mrs. THC and I are taking care of our three beautiful nieces, ages 9, 7 and 4 while their parents are in Italy. More later...hopefully.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Cooper and Kaiser

The San Francisco Chronicle's coverage of Elisa Cooper's legal struggle with Kaiser and its posting of patient data on a public website has been less than accurate and, in my opinion, not very fair to Cooper. Henry K. Lee's story today is a slightly better effort.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Kaiser fined $200,000

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan has been fined $200,000 by the California Department of Managed Health Care for unauthorized online disclosure of patient health information.
The agency's investigation found that Kaiser created a Web portal used for testing by its IT staff. The site contained confidential patient information, including names, addresses, phone numbers and lab results, and was set up and available for public viewing in 1999 "without the prior consent of those affected."
Back in January, former Kaiser employee, Elisa D. Cooper discovered the patient information on Kaiser's public website. She brought its existence to the attention of Kaiser but when they failed to do anything about the breach, she linked to the information on her blog. Cooper's actions were responsible for getting the media and the DMHC involved but has also caused her to be embroiled in legal wranglings with Kaiser.

I posted this account last month which includes an email I received from Elisa discussing some of the problems she has had with the media regarding her story. A lively discussion including participation from Alisa followed in the comments section of the May 20th post. (The comments counter reads "0", however the comments are still there).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fathers Day

Dad was born in a tiny town in central Iowa to a country school teacher and a jack-of-all trades in 1925. He lived there until he graduated from high school and joined the Army in World War II.

When I was a kid and we'd drive to Iowa to visit Dad's folks, I remember walking into town and everyone saying, "Oh, you're Pinky's boy!" It was like Mayberry and I was Opie, everyone knew my father even years after he grew up and moved away. I didn't think that much of it because that's how small towns are, everybody knows everybody. But as I grew older I discovered it wasn't just Iowa where so many people knew my father. All of my life I would hear, "So you must be Al's boy" or "You're the judge's son, huh?".

But Dad was not the type you'd expect to know a lot of people. He wasn't especially outgoing and he didn't get involved in lots of civic projects or events. And professionally, while successful, he wasn't a great standout. So why does this man cast such a large shadow?

What makes Dad special and the reason people know and remember him is because he is the most honest and decent man on earth. All my life I never heard him say a negative word about anyone and I'm certain he never hurt another human being. I never heard him say anything he didn't believe in his heart to be true. He's been a great father and a wonderful role model.

Dad, I hope you had a good day today. I hope every father had a good day today.

Grizzly Peak

Mrs. thc graciously volunteered to sit with our three young nieces in the Midwest for a week while my brother and his wife are being entertained by the finest wineries in Italy (it's tough being in the wine biz). So I'm left to my own devices until I join her in a few days.

This morning I pumped up the knobbies on my trusty mountain bike, dusted off the saddle and headed up the hill to Grizzly Peak Road where I took this photo.

Mrs. thc: It's sunny and 70 in the Bay, dear. What is it there, 90?

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Gerrymandering refers to the practice of manipulating the boundaries of legislative districts to benefit one group or political party to the detriment of another.

In 1812, while Elbridge Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was governor of Massachusetts, the Republican-dominated legislature redrew district lines to favor Republicans over Federalists. A Federalist newspaper cartoon depicted the Essex county district as a salamander and the artist referred to it as a "Gerry-mander" although the governor was opposed to the practice.

One of the three major issues Governor Schwarzenegger wants on the ballot in a special election this November is a proposal to have a group of retired judges redraw district lines in California in an effort to make boundaries more sensible. And, according to the Los Angeles Times, Democrats are willing to go along...sort of.
But what is perhaps more puzzling is that Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) has announced that Democrats are willing to go along with Schwarzenegger, relinquishing the power to draw their own district lines. They just want the first election with the new lines to occur after the 2010 census, when redistricting normally occurs.
My question to Nunez and California Democrats is, if redistricting is the right thing to do, then the sooner the better, right? Why wait until sometime in the next decade?

Friday, June 17, 2005


The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Michael Jackson intends to throw a big party for all of his faithful Saturday night.
To thank selected fans for their allegiance during his child-molestation trial, Michael Jackson and his family plan an invitation-only bash Saturday night at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, although it is not clear whether the self-described King of Pop will be on stage.
Let's just hope it's adults only.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Doughnut Democrats

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page today compared the Democrat party to a doughnut--there's no center.
The Democratic leadership has arguably never been more overtly hostile to free markets, deregulation, tax reform and free trade than it is today. The National Taxpayers Union reports that last year the House Democrats recorded their lowest taxpayer rating ever, having voted just 13% of the time for smaller government and less taxes.
Seems to me to be more like a crescent roll, but I guess "Doughnut Democrats" has a nicer ring.

The only notable Democrat who is embracing any centrist ideologies is Hillary Clinton. She may be the only leader in her party that understands that the party's disenfranchisement of the middle class and its abandon of any moderate, let alone conservative, ideals has cost them elections.

The problem with Hillary is that we cannot be certain where she really stands on issues because she might just be putting up a moderate front so she can take a run at the White House. That means she's not a doughnut at all, she's a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.

For additional perspective, take a look at Enlighten-New Jersey and Another Rovian Conspiracy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Tsunami alert

In another subtle reminder that I'm not in Kansas anymore, yesterday the National Weather Service issued a tsunami warning for much of California's coast.
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the ocean floor Tuesday night about 90 miles southwest of Crescent City, sparking a short-lived tsunami warning across Northern California's coast and prompting a partial evacuation of the coastal town.
Now, you might think that someone who lived his first forty-two years in tornado alley would be accustomed to meteorological phenomena. But tornadoes are not as common in the Midwest as many believe. Either that or I was just lucky because, in all the years spent in Kansas, I never witnessed a tornado.

Anyway, I don't think all the "duck and cover" training I got in grade school is going to be very useful if a tsunami hits the Bay.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It's a big tent

Let there be no doubt that Republicans come from every walk of life and are every shape and size.

Busty blonde porn star Mary Carey is in Washington to attend the President's Dinner, an annual fundraiser for Republicans. This afternoon she met with reporters to show off her evening gown and talk about a Republican luncheon she attended.
"I met a lot of nice people," Carey said of the lunch, where presidential adviser Karl Rove spoke. "I met some people who talked about helping me with donating money to my next campaign."

She plans to run for lieutenant governor of California next year as an independent. But her trip to Washington has swayed Carey's political leanings. She says she's been a Republican "for a couple of days."
Carey ran for governor in the 2003 recall election in California and finished tenth in a field of 135 candidates.

Is there anyplace in the world where politics is more interesting than California?

Monday, June 13, 2005

The economics of wages

In the 1990's, President Clinton and Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, argued for increasing the minimum wage by suggesting that such action could actually attract new workers into the workplace. They based their theory on research by Princeton University economists David Card and Alan Krueger. But careful analysis of the Princeton study and common economic sense don't bear it out.

Today's San Francisco Examiner cites a study by economist Ken Sims for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
Many San Francisco restaurants are closing and others are just hanging on, according to a study that blames last year's 26 percent increase in The City's minimum wage and a slew of other new and increased local fees, taxes and regulations.
San Francisco's minimum wage stands at $8.62 per hour for 2005.

The conventional wisdom for raising the minimum wage, or for having one in the first place, is to help the working poor. It's very appealing to suggest that everyone should have a living wage, however, it's just not that easy.

To understand why such a law is actually harmful to low-wage workers, consider the employers' alternatives. If, for example, an employer is required to pay a worker $9 per hour for work that he values at only $6, he/she has several options. First, the employer could fire the low-wage workers and replace them with more productive employees. Secondly, he/she can outsource to contractors or worse yet, outsource to foreign workers. A third alternative is to automate. An employer can also chose to hire illegal workers who seem to be plentiful and willing to work for lower wages and virtually no benefits. Finally, as San Francisco restauranteurs are doing, they can chose to quit business altogether or relocate to an environment that is more business-friendly.

A living/minimum wage seems a compassionate thing. But can it actually work in the real world?

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Kansas, the land of Oz. Or, as the Kansas Department of Tourism would have folks believe, "The Land of Ahs". It was my home for most of my life and I'm proud of it. But what's the matter with Kansas is that people outside the state only know it for its backwardness.

Case in point, the Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, regularly makes headlines as his parishioners travel around the country to picket and denounce gays, Catholics and Muslims. Yesterday in Tracy, CA, thirteen members of his church showed up to protest at the Tracy High School graduation ceremony because another high school in Tracy received administrative support for their chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance.
"We're here to preach to this generation that it's not all right to be gay,'' said Betty Phelps of Topeka, who carried one sign thanking God for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and another denouncing gays. "They need to learn some morals before Judgment Day."
The city of Tracy countered with about thirty police officers and 250 demonstrators complete with their own signs with slogans like "Keep Your Hate in Kansas" and "Hate is Not a Family Value".

According to the SF Chronicle (thanks for the photo) the demonstrations were peaceful. The only damage was to the image of Kansas and Kansans.

Ah, Kansas. What would Dorothy and Auntie Em think?

Saturday, June 11, 2005


It seems, from this AP story via the SF Chronicle, that we might be in for some bonus pyrotechnics on the Fourth of July.
The Hubble Space Telescope will be watching when the University of Maryland's Deep Impact space probe crashes into a comet July 4, setting off a cosmic firework that may be visible on Earth.
Deep Impact, launched January 12th, will release an "Impactor" to collide with the the Manhattan-sized comet and create a crater expected to be about the size of a stadium. The rest of the spacecraft will fly on by and record the impact with cameras and other high-tech instruments. How cool.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Big Brother?

Legislation is moving through Congress to renew 16 provisions of the USA Patriot Act that will expire at the end of this year.

The USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001) was deemed necessary by 9/11 and was signed into law just 45 days after the 2001 attacks. The act includes provisions that make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to share information and allows for expanded wiretap and search capabilities.

In my work in the financial services industry, the Patriot Act requires much more information and documentation on clients and their money. New clients need to provide us with extensive information about themselves, their resources, their financial assets and employment. Certain types of transactions are reported to the federal government and we're very reluctant to open accounts for non-U.S. citizens or to wire funds to accounts outside the U.S.

How has the Patriot Act affected your job? Has it had any impact on your civil liberties or the liberties of anyone you know? Should these 16 provisions due to expire be made permanent?

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Jon U, a 29 year-old good Samaritan, died Wednesday evening at a suburban Kansas City hospital from injuries received on May 20th while helping a woman whose purse was being stolen.
Police said U heard Ruth Peck's screams on the afternoon of May 20 as she struggled with a man who wrenched her purse away from her in a busy Olathe parking lot. U dashed after the thief and tried to retrieve the purse, reaching inside the getaway car. As they wrestled, the car sped away from the area of the Target store on West 119th Street with U being dragged alongside. The car hit a building, and U was pinned between it and the car. As others pursued the thief and held him for police, U was sprawled on the ground.
The charges against Brad Joseph Jones have been upgraded to felony murder. He had just been paroled from prison on May 12th after serving time for other purse robberies.

In hindsight, it's easy to say that Ruth Peck should have just let the purse go and Jon U should have remained a bystander. But it's my guess that each of them acted instinctivley. Ruth fought against wrong and Jon came to help.

U's wife, Stephanie is expecting their first child in August.

What would you do in these circumstances? Would you stop to think first or would you just act? And what does it say about our penal system that a thief would return to stealing just eight days on parole?

(Ruth Peck is an old acquaintance of mine. Thanks to tomw, another friend of Ruth's, for letting me know).


This is so weak.
The militant Islamic Jihad on Wednesday presented pictures of torn copies of the Islamic holy book, the Quran, claimed they were taken inside an Israeli prison and said soldiers were responsible for the desecration. Israel denied the charge and said the pictures were a fabrication.
I think I'll take pictures of some wrecked car somewhere and send them to my insurance company. I'll tell them it's mine and ask them to send me a fat check. Think it will work?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Dean on defense

Monday Howard Dean criticized the Republican Party for being a "pretty much a white, Christian party" and I commented on it yesterday. Today, on NBC's "Today Show" he tries to explain himself.
Dean noted that he, too, is a white Christian. But he said the GOP is too narrow in its scope and the Democratic Party is far more diverse.
Fine. The Democrat party might very well be more diverse ethnically than the Republican party. But I raised the question yesterday of how diverse/tolerant are they of other ideologies. Not very, it would seem if the party Chairman resorts to name-calling anyone with whom he disagrees.
While even prominent Democrats in recent days have distanced themselves from some of his comments, the outspoken Dean, appearing on NBC"s "Today" show, said criticism of him is meant by Republicans to divert attention from the country's problems and make him the issue instead.
Issue? Dean is not an issue. He's just entertainment.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Howard in San Francisco

Howard Dean made a stop in San Francisco yesterday and, according to the Chronicle, made more derogatory comments about Republicans. Big surprise.
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, unapologetic in the face of recent criticism that he has been too tough on his political opposition, said in San Francisco this week that Republicans are "a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party."
I'm certain that this kind of rhetoric played very well here in the Bay Area where we are as ethnically diverse a population as one will find. But diverse ideologically we are not. Tolerant of different ideologies we are not. Try telling a group of strangers at a party that you're conservative and watch everyone move to the other side of the room.

I'm also amused by the Chronicle's choice of words, "recent criticism that he has been too tough on his political opposition." Too tough? He hasn't been "tough" at all. He's been an immature, name-calling embarrassement to his party. Keep it up, Howard.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Uncle Milton

No doubt many Americans who lean toward liberalism feel that privatizing Social Security is just something Bush favors because he hates old people or because it would be a tasty bone tossed to his buddies on Wall Street. They also seem to be in complete denial that privatization has also been proposed in recent years by popular Democrats as well.

But privatization is not a new idea at all. The concept was first put forward by economist and Nobel Prize Winner, Milton Friedman in his 1962 book, "Capitalism and Freedom". Friedman recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that Social Security is really a Ponzi game.
"I've always been opposed to Social Security. I think it's a very unethical program. "
Asked why, if Social Security is so terrible, it is the most popular government program in American history, Friedman replied, "Well, because why does a Ponzi game work? It's easy to understand why it's popular. So far, on the average, retirees have gotten more out of the system than they put into it. "
At 92 Friedman still has a sense of humor. When the Chronicle asked him why he lives in San Francisco, liberalisms den, he quipped, "Not much competition here."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Coaster and Cisco

Coaster and Cisco came to live with us two years ago today as ten week-old kittens. A few days earlier, our sixteen year-old kitty, Jackson, was euthanized ending a courageous bout with cancer. During their first day in a new home, Mrs. THC and I had to go out for a couple of hours and later returned to find the two of them curled up together in Jackson's favorite spot, the back of a big mauve chair. How did they know it was the best napping spot in the house?

PG&E's challenge

Electricity. It's a fascinating physical phenomenon and an interesting business. What other commercial enterprise would launch a giant promotion encouraging customers to use less of its product?

We received a letter recently from PG&E announcing their 20/20 Summer Savings Program. If, from June 1st until September 30th, we use less electricity than we did during the same period last year, they'll knock 20% off of the cost of all of it. At first I thought it was silly, but 20% off the price of four months of electricity could amount to some serious dough. And they've challenged us, dammit! We're going to take a run at this thing.

Are any of you other PG&E customers accepting this challenge? Does anyone have any good tips on how to save electricity?

Friday, June 03, 2005

Deep Throat, the movie

The outing of Deep Throat is undoubtedly the biggest news story of the week and rightfully so. Deep Throat played a dramatic role in modern American history and it's amazing that four men, Bernstein, Woodward, Bradlee and Felt, were able to keep his identity a secret for thirty-three years.

So, as the news media are in a frenzy to learn more about Mark Felt and get interviews with Woodward and Bernstein, it occurs to me that the origins of the name "Deep Throat" may have been forgotten.

Deep Throat,the movie was released in theaters in the summer of 1972, about the same time as the breakin at the Watergate office complex. The 61 minute X-rated film starring Linda Lovelace had a production budget of $22,500 and scenes starring Lovelace were shot in just six days in Miami. Regarded as the most successful pornographic film of all time, estimates of total revenue vary from $100 million to $600 million.
Roger Ebert, the popular movie critic, did have some comments about the movie's total gross when he reviewed Inside Deep Throat, a documentary film about the movie. Ebert explains that in the 1970s when Deep Throat was made and released, most of the porn theaters were owned by the mob and they probably "inflated box office receipts as a way of laundering income from drugs and prostitution" so in fact Deep Throat did not really gross $600 million, even though that was the box office tally.
The film had attained such status in 1972 pop culture that Post reporter Bob Woodward chose the name for his secret source. Little more than a voice in a dark D.C. parking garage, Deep Throat provided "deep background" for Woodward and Berstein's reports.

The Democrats leader?

It's scary how close Howard Dean was to winning the Democratic nomination last year and perhaps the Presidency.
While discussing the hardship of working all day and then standing in line for eight hours to vote, Dean had said, "Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."
Technically I suppose he is correct, but I suspect there are at least as many Democrats who have never made an honest living either.

When did becoming DNC Chairman mean you had to get headlines by making a fool of yourself?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

California compassion

We Californians are a compassionate lot. At least we like to think we are. And we'll do almost anything to make ourselves appear so.

Take as examples two suicide-related issues being discussed in California today.

First, the California Assembly will soon vote on legislation by Democrats Patty Berg of Eureka and Lloyd Levine of the San Fernando Valley that would legalize physician-assisted suicide. The San Francisco Chronicle is endorsing AB654, saying "It should be an individual's choice, not the government's."

Secondly, in San Francisco, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has already forked over $1.6 million of the estimated $2 million necessary for a Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier study. The barrier itself is expected to cost somewhere between $15 million and $25 million and would be designed to prevent the twenty or so suicides each year from the bridge.

Californians, with our unique brand of logic, can support both of these issues simultaneously because doing so makes us feel superior. We are compassionate.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A multi-million dollar loft for Oakland's homeless

Jack London Square, Oakland's upscale entertainment district, is the center of controversy involving Mayor Jerry Brown's swanky, $4 million loft.
Mayor Jerry Brown's decision to sell his converted warehouse in Jack London Square has pitted him against his former neighbors in what has become a classic "not in my back yard" debate.

At issue is whether the buyer's plan to convert it into a shelter that would house 30 young adults ranging in age from 18 to 23 is the right fit for a growing area packed with $700,000 lofts.
C'mon now, we've got to look at the bright side of this. Oakland could become known as the place to be for troubled young adults. The chamber of commerce could say, "Oakland: We shelter our homeless in multi-million dollar lofts!" Before you know it, we'll be attracting less-fortunates from around the country.

And talk about location! Jack London Square is rife with theatergoers, diners and night clubbers. Truly a target-rich-environment for pan-handlers, pickpockets, drug dealers and those who just enjoy harassing middle-class folk out for a night on the town.

And for those who complain that the shelter would be bad for their property values, relax. What's a hundred grand or two? Your loft was probably overpriced anyway.

(Thanks to Bernard at A Certain Slant of Light, without him I might have missed this story.)