Friday, February 29, 2008


Sorry for the harsh title, but this story really is a mindfuck. Per the Matier and Ross column titled Wheelchair ramp will cost $100,000 a foot:

"It's crazy," admits Susan Mizner, director of the mayor's Office on Disability. "But this is just the price of doing business in a historic building."

It’s unclear if the $1.1 million price tag for the proposed Supes Chamber wheelchair ramp includes sparkle and pink-pony decals.

More clear is the emotional backlash against the disabled, and against the Alioto clan, it will inspire.

Compared to the disastrous Muni Metro albatross old Joe left rotting around the neck of SF public transit, $1.1 mil for a ten-foot ramp is chump change.

But as Michela Alioto says, it’s all about the symbolism. I agree completely.

I was thinking of supporting Joe Alioto Veronese, mostly because of the way he double-crossed Mayor Newsom in electing Ms Sparks president of the Police Commission.

But now, just the name “Alioto” gives me pause. It’s the symbolism.

I was inspired by this story to visit Princess Sparkle Pony’s blog. It restores my faith in snark.

Text not available

The Hunting of the Snark An Agony, in Eight Fits By Lewis Carroll, Henry Holiday

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008


[I have to post this now, before Hillary gets knocked out of the race.]

Press me, I’ll admit I’m a communist. Or a socialist. Or a democratic socialist. I’m definitely a Marxist, or something pointing stiffly in that direction.

It’s pathetic that in the USA communism is taboo. Most European countries have (mostly small) Communist Parties, I think. No big deal.

So, in my mind, it’s kind of neat that Hillary Clinton, for a summer internship while at Yale Law, chose a self-described communist law firm.

I spent five weeks of the summer of 1969 house-and-dog sitting in the Oakland Hills, up and around a winding road from College Avenue in Berkeley. Two summers later that house would be visited by Hillary Clinton.

The house belonged to Mal Burnstein and his wife. Mal had represented me and nine co-defendants in a successful seven week trial of one group of SF State 1968 Student Strike mass arrestees. Acquittals all around. I mentioned this in a previous post.

Mal was way too good for the venue. The judge had to call a quick recess at the end of Mal’s day-and-a-half summation because three of the jurors were sobbing.

The Commie law firm where Hillary interned in the summer of 1971 was Treuhaft, Walker, & Burnstein. BTW: Bob Treuhaft’s wife was Jessica Mitford, who called herself “Mrs Treuhaft” on the phone. I don’t know about my attorney, Mal Burnstein, but according to many sources, Treuhaft and Walker were CPUSA.

And, according to this New York Sun article, TW&B’s clients included the Oakland Black Panthers, who, at the time, were being gunned down by Cointelpro, and charged with killing cops.

I bring this up to contradict Hillary’s claim that she, as opposed to Barrack, is “fully vetted.” She's been investigated, but not all the mud has been thrown, yet.

From the Sun story:

One partner at the firm, Doris Walker, was a Communist Party member at the time. Another partner, Robert Treuhaft, had left the party in 1958, several years after being called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and labeled as one of America's most "dangerously subversive" lawyers.

In her book, Hillary refers to Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein simply as "a small Oakland law firm," at least according to the Sun article.

Based on her internship with TW&B, the hot-button terms that can fairly be associated with Hillary in political ads against her include: Communist, Black Panthers, Cop killer, Huey Newton, Violent radicals.

As in:

Hillary interned in 1971 with a Berkeley based Communist law firm that helped Black Panther Huey Newton beat cop killing charges, and defended other violent radicals and dissenters.

Everything in that statement is true except for “Berkeley-based.” The law firm was located in neighboring Oakland, which doesn’t pack quite the same zing as “Berkeley.”

The implied charge is that Mrs Clinton is secretly still a communist, waiting to seize power before displaying her true colors. Most observers, I guess, would call this charge ridiculous.

For me, it would be a reason to vote FOR her.

But there probably are some undead voters somewhere who'd want to arise from their Barcaloungers one more time to vote against “all that hippy crap.”

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Sunday, February 24, 2008


Last weekend at a practice for my 3.5 Mens USTA team (affiliated with the Gay Club) I chatted with an acquaintance who had been practicing on adjacent courts with another, non-gay, team.

My friend was unfamiliar with his team and expressed surprise at their conversation, about recruiting players who were underrated by NTRP (National Tennis Rating Program, maintained by USTA) so that they could dominate in the upcoming league play.

My friend, besides dissing people who purposely play down said, “ It’s kind of like cheating, Willie.”

I wholeheartedly agreed. And issued a summary statement with my usual subtlety and care:

The promise of NTRP is a fraud.

After my friend departed I continued the theme with others sitting on the bench, one of whom made a face and pointed in front of his chest at a guy sitting outside the fence, a prominent member of the Gay Club, who is a full time employee of USTA NorCal.

He had gotten a little drift so I boldly, of course, repeated my charge, and received well thought out defenses. My claim was based on eyewitnessing many many matches between players with the same NTRP rating that were not competitive, that is, there was little doubt who would win.

BTW: “NTRP” is a computer program maintained by national USTA that tracks each player’s match results and, based on those results, assigns each player a numeric rating from 1.0 (raw beginner) to 7.0 (grand slam seeds). For USTA team competition, the ratings are divided into half-point steps. So, I used to be a 3.0 player. I improved, so now the computer rates me 3.5.

So I did a little research.

Here’s what I consider to be the “promise of NTRP” taken from USTA NorCal’s website describing league play:

Teams are set up according to NTRP rating, so you're always sure that you'll be facing off against someone of comparable ability. That keeps the competition lively and the atmosphere social.

A reasonable person might conclude that he or she, if the system is working correctly, would have a substantial chance of winning (or of losing) any match played. Anyone who has played USTA league tennis knows this is not true.

So I found this in some FAQs regarding NTRP on the national USTA website:

7. What does it mean to play "competitively" with another player?

A "competitive" match is one in which the outcome is unpredictable (scores such s 6-4, 6-4 or closer). When one player consistently wins with only the occasional loss of a few games, the match is not "competitive." Properly rated, players within .2 of each other should be competitive in playing ability.

This explains why they don’t publish each player’s exact rating, say, to two decimal places. If they did this, a player could look at a prospective opponent’s exact rating, compare it to his or her own, and determine whether or not USTA thinks the match will be “competitive.”

The NTRP computer calculates ratings to multiple decimal points, but reveals the ratings only in half steps. They say I’m a 3.5 but they don’t say where I am within the 3.5 range.

The following charts show how NTRP, by its own definition, produces many “uncompetitive” matches.

The large box shows the full range of 3.5 players. The brackets indicate the range of competitive opponents .2 in red above the star (an individual’s rating), and .2 in green below the star.

Opponents within the red bracket will probably beat you, but you have a fighting chance. You will probably beat opponents within the green bracket, but they have a reasonable chance. Players with identical ratings should win half the time and lose half the time.

The black arrows above and below the colored brackets indicate matches that USTA considers “non-competitive.”

In the first illustration, you (the star) are in the middle of the 3.5 NTRP range. Only 20% of your matches will be non-competitive, 10% at the top and 10% at the bottom.

However, if, as in the second illustration, you are rated at the top of the range, 60% of your matches will feature non-competitive opponents.

Likewise if you are rated at the bottom of your range, except you’re gonna be a big loser.

We could get into more detail (if I weren’t so lazy) about singles vs doubles etc, but at the very least we see that the promise made by USTA NorCal is not sincere, and doesn’t paint a true picture of what a newcomer will discover.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008


“They blow this white stuff up your nose, and it’s like these time release pellets get lodged on the inside of your skull and it’s like looking at the ceiling of a planetarium only tactile, you know, like brain-tactile, and like every day you experience the complete life-cycle of the universe from Big Bang to Absolute Zero and back again.

“It’s draining,” Pud said.

Back from Amazonia, Pud is much the worse for wear.

His grandma got everything expunged, but Pud is beat, truly. “You never know when the snap crackle ‘n’ pop will start up again.”

It’s like his hubris has a shock collar now. He is daunted. It’s kind of sad. They say brain cells don’t regenerate. So it’s not like Pud can just start over.

[The above picture is from the Wikipedia article “Psychedelics, Dissociatives, and Deliriants.” In no way is it implied that this shaman and/or his tribe have ever had any contact with an American named Pud.]


Locally, I see that Mayor Newsom has said “Fuck you” to Muni riders and Muni employees by hiring four gubernatorial campaign consultants out of Muni’s budget.

I haven’t caught up with the outcome (Peskin demands give-back) etc, but it’s the thought that counts.

The local election results were disappointing and predictable.

Sfmike pointed out an amusing development—the omnipresence of Jennifer Siebel ads on Pat Murphy’s SF Sentinel. Is this team-building? Let’s see… they got Kukla, now JS can be Fran… all they need is a one-toothed dragon to play Ollie.

Nationally, a participant in one illegal, immoral war and firm advocate (Bomb-bomb Iran) of more, John McCain is accused of sex with a woman not his wife, with little concern that the foreplay may have involved bribery and corruption.

No candidate for president has mentioned the need for NWPG (Negative World Population Growth), which for me means they’re not serious.


If we are going to achieve a sustainable world economy, NWPG must be accompanied by a shift from resource-consuming activities to artistic/symbolic activities. An example of the former would be desert dirt-biking, of the latter, singing.

America is embarrassed to sing in public, silly stupid cowards.

It’s like Americans would rather strip naked in front of a crowd than sing.

Look at the ridicule Ted Kennedy received for serenading a Texas audience with a Spanish song. Teddy has balls. And the crowd went wild.

Here… hear. I put my mouth where my money is:

Go ahead. Make fun of Ted. Make fun of me. Knock yourselves out.

So we have Barrack’s promise of “a new kind of politics.” I’m like, does that come before or after “the end of history”? I’m so skeptical I could… sing.

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