Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’
* The absolute craziest thing I’ve ever seen: Berkeley Researchers Turn Brain Waves Into YouTube Videos.
* Paul Campos: “The law’s absurd formalism was part of its strength as ideology.” Precisely. This insight applies to many more aspects of the legal system than the revolting spectacle of our contemporary system of capital punishment, which in a case such as Davis’s — which is not in this respect was not unusual — psychologically tortures the defendant, the defendant’s family, the victim’s family, and others connected to the case for literally decades before producing what the system then has the temerity to call “justice.” (The climax of this spectacle last night involved Davis being strapped to a gurney with a needle in his arm for nearly four hours, waiting for various legal personages to respond to the question of whether, all things considered, it was finally time to stop his heart with state-administered poison).
That we tolerate this kind of thing so readily helps explain, in its own way, why it sometimes seems impossible to do much of anything about the absurdities and dysfunctions of the system of legal education that legitimates it in the first instance. Or perhaps it’s the other way around: perhaps we tolerate the absurdity of something like the 22-year “process” that resulted in the horror of Davis’s final hours because we ‘re socialized from the beginning of our careers in this system to accept all kinds of absurdity and injustice as natural, inevitable, and therefore legitimate.
Reading this I was reminded of Duncan Kennedy’s excellent article “Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy,” which Corinne linked the other day on Twitter.
* Ground Zero Mosque opens without controversy. It’s almost as if the objections to this were complete bullshit.
* I’m steadfastly not paying attention to the GOP primary, but this is pretty astounding, even by Republican standards.
* How long—how long must we sing this song? Forty years, give or take.
* Speaking at a Climate Week NYC event hosted by the Maldives, the TckTckTck campaign, and the U.N., Greenpeace International President Kumi Naidoo argued that the path to a sustainable future will involve peaceful, popular civil disobedience. “The struggle for climate justice is not a popularity contest,” he argued. He said the lesson of the Arab Spring, and the history of struggles from suffrage to civil rights to the end of apartheid, is that change only comes when decent men and women are willing to risk their lives and go to jail in peaceful protest.
* And Chris Ware on your iPad. Have a good weekend.
* Lots of talk today about Arizona and its new “papers, please” immigration law, which James Doty, Andrew Napolitano, Erwin Chemerinsky and Karl Manheim all agree is almost certainly unconstitutional. Even Tom Tancredo and Joe Scarborough thinks this goes too far—though douchebag of liberty Bill Kristol thinks it’s fine. The city of San Francisco will join a national boycott. Perhaps Major League Baseball will too. There’s more commentary on this from Eugene Robinson, Rachel Maddow, Seth Meyer, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert.
* Colbert’s segment on Sue Lowden’s chickens-for-medical-care scheme was pretty great too.
* Alas, poor Durham: not one of America’s highest cities.
* You can stop laughing, lawyers—now your degree is worthless too.
* There’s rioting in Oakland following the shooting of Oscar Grant by BART police last week.
* Sean P. Murphy at Inside Higher Ed says teaching at a community college isn’t as bad as it is sometimes made out to be.
* At right, via grinding.be, your image of the day.
* A person’s Erdős–Bacon number is the sum of one’s Erdős number—which measures the “collaborative distance” in authoring mathematical papers between that individual and Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős—and one’s Bacon number—which represents the number of links, through roles in films, by which the individual is separated from American actor Kevin Bacon. The lower the number, the closer an individual is to Erdős and Bacon.
* And just for kicks: Scrabulous is back.
Slouching towards Ecotopia: San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom has proposed fines of up to $1000 for failure to properly sort one’s trash.
The proposal, which city officials said the mayor could bring to the Board of Supervisors in about a month, calls for every residence and business in the city to have three separate color-coded bins for waste: blue for recycling, green for compost and black for trash.
Food vendors would have to supply them for customers. Managers of multifamily or commercial properties would be required to provide them for tenants or employees.
Trash collectors would be required to check the bins for proper sorting, which Blumenfeld said would require only a cursory visual inspection, not combing through the contents.
If they found a bin with the wrong material in it, collectors would leave a tag on the container identifying the problem. A second time would result in another tag and a written notice to the service subscriber.
On a third offense, the collector could refuse to empty the container, although this would not apply to multifamily properties like apartment buildings or to commercial properties with multiple tenants and joint collection.
The city could also levy a fine of up to $500 for the first violation, $750 for the second in one year and $1,000 for the third in a year.
The New York Times has an article on the under-recognized (even by many prevention experts) impulse component to suicide, already well-known to everyone who’s read the fascinating New Yorker article on Golden Gate Bridge jumpers I link to every time this issue comes up. The problem, in a nutshell, is this:
But part of this sense of futility may stem from a peculiar element of myopia in the way we as a society have traditionally viewed and attempted to combat suicide. Just as with homicide, researchers have long recognized a premeditation-versus-passion dichotomy in suicide. There are those who display the classic symptoms of so-called suicidal behavior, who build up to their act over time or who choose methods that require careful planning. And then there are those whose act appears born of an immediate crisis, with little or no forethought involved. Just as with homicide, those in the “passion” category of suicide are much more likely to turn to whatever means are immediately available, those that are easy and quick.
Yet even mental-health experts have tended to regard these very different types of suicide in much the same way. I was struck by this upon meeting with two doctors who are among the most often-cited experts on suicide — and specifically on suicide by jumping. Both readily acknowledged the high degree of impulsivity associated with that method, but also considered that impulsivity as simply another symptom of mental illness. “Of all the hundreds of jumping suicides I’ve looked at,” one told me, “I’ve yet to come across a case where a mentally healthy person was walking across a bridge one day and just went over the side. It just doesn’t happen. There’s almost always the presence of mental illness somewhere.” It seemed to me there was an element of circular logic here: that the act proved the intent that proved the illness.
New analysis: New analysis: California in for a devastating quake within 30 years. More here. I still want to move there anyway.
I put up some photos from our trip to San Francisco at Flickr. I got a little bit obsessive about taking pictures of signs, and after seeing the (excellent) Lee Friedlander exhibit at SFMOMA I got a little bit obsessed with taking Friedlanderesque pictures as well. (The Annie Liebowitz show at the Legion of Honor is also incredible, if you happen to pass through SF in the near future.)
From about the moment we landed I was in love with the town, and now I feel as though I’ll never be allowed to live in a place so awesome. (San Franciscans are my people.)
One of my favorite Friedlander shots:
And one of the more striking Liebowitz shots:
That one’s called “Fallen bicycle of teenage boy just killed by a sniper, 1994.” That’s sort of a down note to end a post about such a great trip on, so here are a few pictures that are little more fun, starting with Alcatraz.
Ah, that’s better.
And we’re back. A number of people asked me if my bosses at TIP made me take the blog down for the month I was teaching, and the answer is no—it was my own call, based upon the near-certainty of my teenage students reading my blog and bad things happening as a result. (Discretion is the better part of valor, etc. etc.)
In any event, we’re back, and I have nearly a month’s worth of backed-up links to upload in a single hugely massive and largely incoherent posting. So here goes nothing:
* Jaimee’s teacher and friend (and former BCR contributor) Isaac Cates has a new blog, Satisfactory Comics, as do my good friends Eric the Red and Jason Haserodt, currently about a third of the way through their 3000-mile bike trip across America.
* While I was gone Tim had a thought-provoking post up about the 9/11 generation that I wanted to gesture towards as well.
* I don’t care what sort of reviews it gets, I’m going to see The Darjeeling Limited as soon as I possibly can. The first trailer’s out.
* On the subject of Harry Potter, I feel like I regrettably missed the moment to comment on it, so I’ll just point to a slightly spoilery sentence from the Salon review that basically says it all:
As for the ending, and the strange, widespread and literarily autistic obsession with who does and doesn’t die in it, suffice to say that some sympathetic characters are killed and that everything — the configuration of the horcruxes, the true colors of Severus Snape, the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort — turns out in the only way it possibly could if you thought about it for more than two seconds.
If you’re feeling especially literarily autistic, however, J.K. has even more unnecessary epilogue for you to chew on.
* There’s also something to Megan McArdle’s take on the economics of Harry Potter, in which she argues that it’s J.K. Rowling’s failure to ever really think through the world she’s created that keeps the franchise from ever reaching the heights achieved by J.R.R. Tolkien or even C.S. Lewis.
* The State is finally coming to DVD. Toothbrush! You came back to me! And you’ve started a family.
* Here’s the full text of Alan Moore’s awesome proposal for the ultimate D.C. Comics miniseries, Twilight of the Superheroes.
* They solved checkers.
* Post-mortem photography, the absolute creepiest thing the Victorians were up to.
* Carl “Tinker” West: the most influential New Jerseyan you never heard of.
* Conventional wisdom has it that people who commit suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge travel from around the globe to end their lives in San Francisco Bay, but a new study of death leaps shows that the average jumper is a 41-year-old white man from the Bay Area.
If you’ve actually read this far, the only suitable reward is this photo of my Phantom Fiction class, the TIPiest bunch of TIPsters who ever TIPed. You’ll note the devil horns; I taught them that.
San Francisco is a city without graves. In 1900, the board of supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting burials within the city limits. In 1912, the board announced its further intention to eliminate the city’s previously existing cemeteries, and in 1914 removal notices were sent to all burial sites, declaring them “a public nuisance and a menace and detriment to the health and welfare of city dwellers.”
…Still, even the most ardent modernist might feel some misgivings about a rejection of the dead as complete as San Francisco’s. And such misgivings reflect, however dimly, a deep political insight—for a city without cemeteries has failed at one of the first reasons for having cities at all. Somewhere in those banished graveyards was a metaphysical ground for politics, and buried in them was a truth that too much of modern political theory seems to have forgotten: The living give us crowds. The dead give us communities.
Interesting essay on death, community, and everything at First Things. There’s some good stuff here, even if I don’t quite agree with all of it. For instance, this:
Heidegger is surely right that death belongs at the center of philosophy, but he has always seemed to me fundamentally wrong that the death involved is the death of ourselves. We need a new phenomenological description of the human condition that asserts exactly the opposite: Anxiety about one’s own death is less fundamental than grief at the death of others—-just as every parent knows that fear for our own lives can be less compelling than fear for the lives of others.
is wrong only insofar as grief at the death of others and anxiety about one’s own death are so inextricably bound that it’s impossible to tell them apart. Parenting (especially in societies where infant mortality has been largely checked) can be seen as a kind of double denial of death, both your own (“Even if I die, a piece of me will live on in my child”) and the child’s (who, no matter what you do, will still die eventually anyway). Hence our horror (for instance) at Tony Soprano’s mother, a nihilist with no such illusions—proclaiming “It’s all one big nothing,” she actively seeks to have her own child murdered because she is angry that she has grown old—or at a woman who admits she loves her spouse more than her children. Being a parent hasn’t sublimated their sense of self-interest, as we’ve all agreed it should.
Regular readers may remember my longtime interest in Golden Gate Bridge suicides, so it’s no surprise that I rented and watched The Bridge. I found it a pretty stunning project—in addition to direct, hidden-camera footage of suicides leaping off the bridge, there are interviews with family members and even one survivor. It’s an experience; there’s really no other movie like it.
The best article on the subject, I think, is still The New Yorker’s:
Almost everyone in the Bay Area knows someone who has jumped, and it is perhaps not surprising that the most common fear among San Franciscans is gephyrophobia, the fear of crossing bridges. Yet the locals take a peculiar pride in the bridge’s notoriety. “What makes the bridge so popular,” Gladys Hansen, the city’s unofficial historian, says, citing the ten million tourists who visit the bridge each year, “is that it’s a monument, a monument to death.” In 1993, a man named Steve Page threw his three-year-old daughter, Kellie, over the side of the bridge and followed her down; even after this widely publicized atrocity, an Examiner poll that year found that fifty-four per cent of the respondents opposed building a suicide barrier.
The idea of building a barrier was first proposed in the nineteen-fifties, and it has provoked controversy ever since. “The battle over a barrier is actually a battle of ideas,” Eve Meyer, the executive director of San Francisco Suicide Prevention, told me. “And some of the ideas are very old, ideas about whether suicidal people are people to fear and hate.” In centuries past, suicides were buried at night at a crossroads, under piles of stones, or had stakes driven through their hearts to prevent their unquiet spirits from troubling the rest of us. In the United States today, someone takes his own life every eighteen minutes, and suicide is much more common than homicide. Still, the issue is rarely examined. In the Bay Area, the topic is virtually taboo. One Golden Gate official told me repeatedly, “I hate that you’re writing about this.”
In 1976, an engineer named Roger Grimes began agitating for a barrier on the Golden Gate. He walked up and down the bridge wearing a sandwich board that said “Please Care. Support a Suicide Barrier.” He gave up a few years ago, stunned that in an area as famously liberal as San Francisco, where you can always find a constituency for the view that pets should be citizens or that poison oak has a right to exist, there was so little empathy for the depressed. “People were very hostile,” Grimes told me. “They would throw soda cans at me, or yell, ‘Jump!’ ”