I’m So Excited About Rosendale’s Debut Album That I Pre-Ordered It

I’m not a ‘music’ person. I only find out about musicians after they are famous, and usually not even then (you’d be amazed by how many ‘famous’ songs I don’t know). Never before have I pre-ordered a music album.

Last month, I watched the Taiwanese American Cultural Festival on YouTube. Looking at the schedule, I asked myself, “Who is this ‘Rosendale’ and what are they doing at a Taiwanese American festival” (I missed the section in the program which explains who everyone is). When his segment came up, I was like, “oh, he’s a singer.” Then I heard his songs and his commentary. (Note: his segment was only available on livestream, the recording is not publicly available.)

Since then, I’ve listened to Rosendale’s YouTube songs many times.

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I Haven’t Stepped a Toe Past City Limits in 15 Months. How Do I Feel?

I haven’t left the City and County of San Francisco since February 2020. I haven’t been to anywhere other than San Francisco or Alameda County since October 2019. 47 square miles / 121 square kilometers has been the limit of my physical world.

How do I feel? Surprisingly, I feel fine.

As soon as pandemic restrictions became serious, people complained about cabin fever and how much they want to ‘get out’ and travel far from home. Even now, over a year later, I… still don’t relate.

My life is such that I rarely have an ‘essential’ reason to leave city limits. Among people in my physical social circle, I’m unusual in not having crossed city limits at all since the first stay-at-home order. Many people I know have essential reasons to cross city limits, but I also get the sense that they are surprised by how seriously I’ve taken the ‘no nonessential travel’ thing.

I’ve been lucky to have already done quite a bit of travel in my life, and even before the pandemic, I felt I was getting diminishing returns from additional travel. For me, personally, staying in San Francisco city limits for over a year wasn’t bad.

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I Got One of the Last 700 Vaccine Doses (and I’m Waiting for a Blood Clot to Kill Me)

According to this news outlet, there were only about 700 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine left in San Francisco as of April 26, when its usage resumed in the city. This website claims that about 600 more doses of ‘single-dose’ covid vaccine have been administered to San Francisco residents since April 26 and approximately 37,000 San Francisco residents have been injected with ‘single-dose’ vaccines. Because of the manufacturing problems the J&J vaccine is having in the United States, I don’t expect many more San Francisco residents to be injected with the J&J vaccine this year.

Those roughly 600 people in San Francisco who got J&J vaccine injections since April 26? I’m one of them.

Why?

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Once Again, Context Is Complicated: On Racial Tensions in San Francisco School Politics

The brouhaha over the San Francisco school board member who posted a bunch of tweets in 2016, was removed from her position as vice-president, and is now suing the school district and her other board members to the tune of a hundred million dollars, is making national news. What is not making national news is the local context.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this and this article offer good overviews).

My own opinion of the Allison Collins’ tweets is: I don’t think people should resign because of tweets they made five years ago, especially before they won an election, BUT Ms. Collins has handled this situation so badly that she should resign because of how she has behaved in 2021. Also, the teensy bit of sympathy I had for her evaporated when I learned about her ridiculous lawsuit (which I at first believed was an April Fool’s joke) which will take resources away from public school students in San Francisco.

But Allison Collins is incidental. If it wasn’t her, it would be someone else (okay, someone else might not have acted in such a spectacularly awful manner). That’s because the forces colliding in this have been around in San Francisco for decades, long before Allison Collins became part of this picture.

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What Does Being Jewish Have to do with Liking Wuxia/Xuanhuan/etc.?

Ten years ago, if you had asked, “Will you still be into wuxia ten years from now?” I would have blanked at trying to imagine anything about myself ten years in the future said “probably not.”

Nowadays my taste for wuxia has expanded into a taste for xuanhuan and other Chinese-themed fantasy (personally I don’t consider wuxia to be ‘fantasy’, but it’s a trivial hairsplitting of genre definitions, I will not argue with people who say that wuxia is a subset of ‘fantasy’). I don’t spend nearly as much time reading traditional wuxia as I did, say, eight years ago. Yet it’s still clear that, even today, I am much more excited about reading/watching wuxia/xuanhuan/etc. than European-inspired fantasy.

Why?

I don’t think there is One True Answer… but a partial answer is ‘I’m Jewish’. Or more precisely, ‘my specific experience of being Jewish, which is not necessarily the experience of other Jews.’ Continue reading

Pricing Follows Power

In San Francisco, most people spend much more on housing than food. Does this mean that housing brings much greater value to people’s lives? No. If I were forced to choose between housing without food and adequate food without housing, I’d rather have enough food and take my chances as an unsheltered homeless person. In reality, I might decide that temporarily lacking food but keeping my housing would be better for my social status and prospects of improving my situation (the stigma of being homeless makes it harder to improve one’s socio-economic standing). But if I believed the situation would last over three months, I would choose food.

Why is housing drastically more expensive than food? Simple – people who control housing have more power to increase prices than people who control food.

Housing is much more than physical shelter. Climate-appropriate tents are cheap and provide sufficient shelter for survival. If physical shelter is all that is needed, that’s the solution. Sometimes, that IS the solution; many people in San Francisco lived in tents after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Another part of ‘housing’ is the social consensus that someone may reside in a particular spot. Away from others, social consensus does not matter; wherever there are others, social consensus is necessary. Otherwise, it’s dangerous to live there. Immediately after the 1906 earthquake and fire, the social consensus was that (some) people may live in tents. Now, there is a general social consensus that someone can pitch a tent on private property with the owner’s permission (but what is private property?) or in the safe sleeping villages (though some neighbors object). Otherwise, someone living in a tent pitched in San Francisco, lacking the protection of social consensus, is at much higher risk of being assaulted, robbed, or being forced to move. Continue reading

From the Guy Who Analyzes Local Votes

I have a neighbor who has been obsessed with local voting patterns for decades. After every election, he studies the results from every precinct. Last week, I attended the (online) neighborhood association meeting where he shared his conclusions about the most recent election. Practically the first thing he said was that Trump got more votes in our neighborhood, San Francisco as a whole, and California as a whole in 2020 than in 2016. He has never seen a Republican presidential candidate get so many votes in San Francisco. Trump did particularly well in certain (though not all) working-class neighborhoods with many residents of color. To him, this feels like the beginning of an important trend. He believes that if this trend continues, then Trump supporters are going to build a real power base in the city and increase their influence over local politics. He also went into more detail about the California-wide votes and how it reflects that California Democrat Party is losing ground. Continue reading

Why do self-identified progressives/liberals use Uber/Lyft? And am I really any different?

I only need one reason to vote against California’s 2020 Proposition 22: it requires a 7/8 majority in the California legislature to be amended unless it is overridden by another proposition (meaning another expensive campaign – the Yes on 22 campaign, at over $180 million dollars, primarily funded by a few corporations, is already the most expensive campaign for a ballot measure in California history). The original AB5 law had glaring problems, has already been amended by the legislature, and can be amended again. Any law like AB5 or Prop 22 with massively uncertain social and economic effects needs to be open to amendation by the legislature and not require a clunky voter measure to fix. For this reason alone, I urge all California voters to VOTE NO. If you support any clauses in the proposition, it is much better to pester your representatives in the legislature to pass appropriate legislation so that if it backfires and does not work out the way you hope, it can be fixed.

That said, what I really want to talk about how people who claim to be progressive, in favor of fair pay, an equal economic playing field, and rule of law, still choose to patronize Uber/Lyft/etc.

Last year, when I was in Juneau, I needed a few car rides, and I wanted to share them with other people so I could split the fare. I knew, from talking to locals, that there were very few Lyft drivers in Juneau and that they charged even higher fares than the local taxi companies. I passed on this information to other tourists in Juneau, and they still chose Lyft. At first, I could not believe it. Why would anyone choose a more expensive service with less availability? It was only when they tried to get a Lyft and failed because no driver was available that they finally listened to me, called a local taxi company, and were shocked that the local taxi company charged less, even though I had already told them that would be the case. When I asked them why they tried Lyft even after my warning, they said “because it’s convenient.”

And not all tourists heeded me even after they could not get a Lyft ride. Even when they knew they would have to wait more than an hour for a Lyft, they refused to do a price comparison with a local taxi company and preferred to wait for the Lyft rather than get a taxi which would arrive much sooner.

I finally figured out that, by ‘convenient,’ they mean it’s their habit to always choose Lyft, even when someone is telling them they will have to wait longer and pay more. They are not in the habit of dealing with any of the taxi companies in Juneau. There is some psychological benefit that is worth spending more time and money on. Continue reading

Gloomy Sky Over San Francisco

The sky is totally dark and orange

Looking towards the Pacific Ocean…at around 11 AM.

On the morning of September 9, 2020, when I woke up, it was so dark that I thought my clock must be wrong. Did Daylight Savings end and I forgot about it? I wondered. But no. The sky really was that dark. Even as late as NOON, it was so dark that it was a major strain on my eyes to read without artificial light.

It did get brighter in the afternoon (I was able to do some reading without artificial light!) And today, September 10, when I’m writing this post, there is a lot more natural light, though still less than a normally-foggy day.

That’s a street light in the upper-right corner, NOT the sun. Yes, it was so dark that the street lights stayed on all day.

As many of you know, there are a lot of wildfires burning through the Pacific coastal region of North America right now. I’ve read in the news that much of the smoke which darkened the sky of San Francisco on September 9 came from the wildfires blazing through Oregon. (It also occurs to me that this post is going to be published on September 11, which is very infamously associated with lethal fire).

I was out walking from around 10 AM to noon on September 9, which is when I took all of the photos in this post. A lot of other people were snapping photos too.

Amazingly, even with all of this smoke in the air, and the layer of ash covering cars and other objects which were left outside all night, the air quality was ‘moderate’. According to the news, the smoke was really high in the air, whereas the air near the ground (which we breathe) is clean air from the ocean. But the air quality varies a lot in the city due to all of the microclimates. According to the map I checked, the closer to sea-level and the further west, the cleaner the air, the further above sea-level and the further east, the worse the air, with the east sides of the tops of hills having the worst air. Continue reading