People Outside San Francisco Care More About the Boudin Recall Than Residents

A bunch of media outlets are blabbering about the Chesa Boudin recall and what it means for San Francisco. I run into references in online interactions with people from outside the city… sigh.

San Francisco residents care so much about Boudin that we had a lower-than-normal voter turnout. Despite a governor race AND a US Senator race on the ballot (to be fair, everyone knew who was going to win those elections). The election we had earlier this year, which was basically just the recall for three school board members, had a higher turnout, lol.

For what it’s worth, I voted no on the recall, not because I support Boudin (I didn’t vote for him in the first place, and I’m not sorry to see him go) but because I dislike the recall campaign. The claims that this will drastically lower crime rates in San Francisco are bogus. Property crime was common in San Francisco before Boudin came into office, and the causes for our high property crime rate aren’t going away when he leaves office. He’s a scapegoat.

Continue reading

How can anyone believe that we are “after the pandemic”?

The other day, a local organization sent me an email which had a recap of their first in-person event “after the pandemic.”

Um, what?

I’m not against outdoor gatherings. Heck, I considered going to this organization’s outdoor gathering (and decided not to for reasons unrelated to covid). But… “after the pandemic”?

In San Francisco (where both I and this organization are located) official covid case counts are rising, hospitalizations are rising, test positivity rates are rising, and wastewater covid levels are rising. One testing location in the city reported a 19% positivity rate this month.

How is this compatible with being ‘after the pandemic’?

Deaths aren’t rising—yet—but that’s a lagging indicator. Long covid data sucks so bad we can’t track it.

Anecdotally, among locals I talk to… covid still makes people sick.

Continue reading

What Admissions System Would I Choose for a High School?

Aceadmiral’s comment from last week’s post made me wonder: what admissions system would I design for Lowell?

I’m NOT the one who should make this decision. I’m not a Lowell alum, I’ve never worked at Lowell, I’ve never shared a household with a Lowell student. Heck, nobody elected me to the school board. True, I attended a public high school in San Francisco, but that means I might be a troll. Rivalries between different public high schools exist, and there’s a risk I may want to trash Lowell.

But since there’s zero chance I’ll influence this, there’s no harm in me putting out this thought experiment: what if current Lowell students controlled admissions?

Continue reading

How Can Changing Admissions Ruin a School?

Lowell High School’s admissions policy based on ‘academic merit’ has been a school-board level political issue for as long as I can remember (and I attended public schools in San Francisco from elementary school through high school). In recent years, now that Lowell has finally replaced ‘academic merit’ admissions with a lottery system, it’s become national chatter, or at least I find people outside of the San Francisco Bay Area writing commentaries.

I won’t discuss the legal issues (if you’re interested, you can learn about that here), or even the racial politics. I’m going to discuss: how does changing admissions affect the quality of education?

I’ve run into many comments like ‘the school board ruined Lowell’ just because of the admissions change. Not because they changed teachers. Not because they changed the curriculum. Just ‘admissions based on academic merit’ -> ‘admissions by lottery.’

How can changing admissions criteria ruin a school?

Continue reading

Strange Spring

This winter had particularly low temperatures by San Francisco standards. Not the coldest in my lifetime, but the coldest I recall in recent years. Then, in February we had a little heat wave. It was NOT the warmest heatwave I’ve experienced in a San Francisco winter—we get winter heatwaves once in a while, some years it’s warmer in winter than in summer because of our peculiar weather system. What was unusual was that the colder-than-normal temperatures and the heatwave happened within the same winter.

Then there was the precipitation. We had a really wet December and then… dry January and February. Though March is proving to be wetter (it rained today).

It’s like we got winters from two different years spliced together.

This being California, we’re worried about whether the reservoirs have enough water to irrigate all the farms, and whether we’ll have a bad wildfire season later this year.

Right now, it’s messing with the flowers.

Continue reading

Why Aren’t the Cargo Ships Waiting to Unload in Southern California Going to Oakland?

Given the current supply chain crisis, you’d think that those cargo ships waiting in line for the Southern California ports would sail north to congestion-free Port of Oakland. Even if it’s not part of their usual contract, surely they could temporarily arrange alternate routes, especially since the Port of Oakland is asking for more cargo ships. Furthermore, Oakland has a rail terminal, so there’s no need for truck drivers: containers can go straight from ships to railcars.

Does the Port of Oakland have enough spare capacity to take all the cargo ships lined up in Southern California? No. But why aren’t the shipping companies taking up all the capacity which is available?

The supply chain crisis is a combination of long-term problems, such as non-union truck drivers, after expenses, earning less than minimum wage from port work (which explains why most truckers refuse to work in ports) (and there aren’t enough union truck drivers, or rather, the ports don’t contract enough union truck drivers because they don’t want to pay union wages). With these accumulating problems, this crisis was going to happen at some point. The pandemic is just one more straw on the camel’s back.

If the people who controlled cargo shipping—that is, the shipping lines and the ports—were interested in a functional supply chain, they’d shift some of the cargo traffic to Oakland.

The crux of the matter is: the people who have the power to ameliorate the crisis make more money by keeping the system broken.

Continue reading

The Bizarre World of Vintage Toilets

I had no idea that the toilet I’m using is older than my parents. I had no idea that vintage toilets could sell for over a thousand USD. I had no idea that legal restrictions made the vintage toilet market so weird. One might even call it a ‘black’ market.

We applied to have our toilet replaced for free by our local water utility. To qualify, we had to send photos identifying the model and manufacturing date of our current toilet. The manufacturer of the toilet bowl… went out of business in the 1930s. That’s quite a way to date a toilet!

Then I went down the rabbit hole of vintage toilet research.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading