Friday, October 9, 2015

The One-Offs

Oh, California Department of Public Health Most Popular Baby Names 2009-2013, how I love thee.  Everyone already knows that the most popular California boys' names in 2012 would be Jacob and Ethan and Matthew and, God help us, Jayden.  So go on with your Emilys and Mias and Sofias.  We all see you.  The best part of the CDPHMPBN is that it lists how many babies in a given year got that name.  So, for example, in 2012, exactly 1,007 Zoes arrived in California, followed closely by 1,006 Madisons.  There is a 100% chance there will be a Zoe or Madison in your California life at some point.

But we don't care about them.  We care about the ONE-OFFS.  That's right, those names that were bestowed just one time in the State of California in a given year.  And we've learned that, if nothing else, California parents are fucking CREATIVE AS HELL.

So for example in 2012 precious ZEPLIN and ZESAR and ZIPO zipped out of some forward-thinking Moms.  "Popsicle you have, now to me you must give," young YODA might say.  SOCRATES and PERICLES are giving democracy a spin, while SAW and BLAYDE are just cutting up.  MOBY and TIESTO and ZEDD will be manning the playground decks, while CHAOS seems to be in trouble all the time.  No worries though, BUD's here.  And why settle for just one when you can have ERICS?

The girls are having just as much fun.  In fact, they're a RIOT.  Wait, is SANSA a Game of Thrones character or a beta blocker?  I forget.  TAEDYN seems like the wreckage left after two more popular names collided.  Maybe CASHLYNN can help pick up the pieces.  I hope SNOW WHITE and CINDERELLA are in the same class; the other kids' minds will be fucking blown.  I hope they go to Disneyland with RAPUNZEL one day.

Finally, presented without comment:

There's gotta be a story, right?  I hope there's a story.

If you're Bored at Work, feel free to go mining and do share any good gems you unearth therein.  Have a good weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Have Read the Lindley Meadow Picnic Area Rules, and They Are Fascist as Hell

Everyone's debunking!  Some people have read Proposition F, and other people have read what people who read Proposition F said.  Who knows?  Everybody's probably wrong.  Whatever.  For everyone's benefit, I read the Lindley Meadow Picnic Area rules and they are not what they seem!!!

One of the grandest green spaces in glorious Golden Gate Park is Lindley Meadow. Its grassy area stretches along the south edge of JFK Drive in the center of the park, spilling down a steep bank into a wide flat space with picnic tables and grills tucked into the eucalyptus border. Lindley Meadow is a splendid place for a party!

Right off the bat, LIES.  Lindley Meadow isn't one of the "grandest green spaces" in Golden Gate Park, despite what this alliteration-addled author might have you believe.  It's an average green space at best.  In fact, it's really brown in places, as you can see in the photo above.  Good luck with your garbage picnic in the middle of that dirt hole.

It's a "splendid place for a party" if you like choking dust and grass stains, all right.

Let's get to the "Picnic and Party Features," which is just the GG Park jackboots' way of saying "Life Restrictions/Buzzkills":

1. Restrooms are located at the Equestrian Center just west of Lindley Meadow.
2. Cheers! Beer and wine are welcome at Lindley Meadow, but kegs and liquor are not. Remember: carrying open alcoholic beverages outside the picnic area is never permitted.

Oh, I guess we all should wear matching uniforms and sing "How Great Thou Art" too. Have you ever been to anything fun that didn't have kegs and liquor?  ANSWER: NO.  Beer and wine is fine for the kids, but a function without kegs and liquor is like a day without a dumb startup.  You probably can't have any snacks with high fructose corn syrup either, but I haven't checked with Eric Mar to be sure.

Also, I carry alcoholic beverages around my house all the time, which is "outside the picnic area," so come and get me, Happy Police, I guess I broke the rules.
3. Jump! Inflatable play structures are welcome (additional permit required). No electricity is provided.
See how they snuck that "additional permit required" hoping you wouldn't notice?  That's them telling you that your 10,000 square foot inflatable Larry Ellison Japanese Junior Jump Palace will be hung up in Planning for 18 months before you finally get a permit.  Happy Birthday!  NOW THAT YOU'RE MUCH OLDER.
5. Food-Trucks require an extra permit.
Here's a perfect example of the Regulatory State smothering our economy.  Today it's "Food-Trucks" that require a permit, tomorrow it's "Your-Disgusting-Fucking-Kale-Salad."  BACK OFF GOLDEN GATE PARK JUST LET ME LIVE!!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Today in Our Garbage City: Civic Design by Chuck E. Cheese

If you think the Country Bear Jamboree at Disney World is cultural caviar, I've got some good news, via Willie Brown's weekly column in the Chronicle:
If things go according to plan, Tony Bennett won’t be leaving his heart in San Francisco much longer.
He will be keeping it here as part of bigger-than-life statue atop Nob Hill, in front of the Fairmont Hotel.
The sculpture is being made by local artist Bruce Wolfe. Tony will be posed as if he were singing, and the statue’s base will be rigged with technology that will play his signature “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” whenever someone walks by.
Fundraising for the project is being lead by Charlotte Shultz and Fairmont general manager Tom Klein. The idea is to honor the song, the singer and the Venetian Room, where the singer and song came together to make so much magic.
It’s going to be one heck of a tourist draw. Can you imagine how many people will be hopping on those little cable cars that climb halfway to the stars for a selfie?
The hope is to have it done by August, when Bennett will celebrate his 90th birthday.

Madre de Dios.  A robotic Tony Bennett, doomed for all eternity to sing one song over and over and over again.

At least until the Robot Revolution happens and the Bennettron 3000 is free to exact a horrifying revenge on Charlotte Schultz and Tom Klein.

Seriously though, Jesus fucking Christ, who thinks this is a good idea?  I also have some technical questions about how this is going to work.  If it sings "whenever someone walks by," does it start over again?  Because a lot of people walk by there and I'm imagining the first 2 notes of the song on an endless hiccuping cycle.  Or will the song just be playing all the way through, 24/7?  HOPE YOU LIKE THAT HOTEL GUESTS.  Some VP of sales from Cincinnati, driven mad by sleep deprivation, is going to yank Tony's robotic voicebox and become a civic hero.

This is the kind of cheeseball garbage that fucking Myrtle Beach would turn down for being too tacky.  There are a million ways to honor Tony Bennett but this is the worst anyone could think of.  Why don't you just loose an army of Roombas with speakers taped to the top, circling the city nonstop, each blaring the song on infinite repeat?  Then everyone can enjoy it!  

Seriously, what the fuck.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gentrifork: Pitchfork reviews of SF gentrification articles

(An occasional series.)

Tech overkill destroyed the loveliest, liveliest city on the West Coast

Adrian Weckler

Irish Independent, 2015


Finnegans Wake, perhaps the crowning achievement of Irish literature, begins "a way a lone a last a loved a long the / riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."  Lovely, no?  This piece of Irish literature, "Tech overkill" etc. by Adrian Weckler begins by trodding on more familiar ground: "A friend of mine pays $5,000 per month for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. To buy it, she says, would cost $1.4m."  Perhaps more comprehensible, but so done.

Since Gentrification Work (just "Gent" now, amirite?) splintered into its various subgenres like Bitch House and Teslawave, Dumb & Boring has become one of my favorites; hell, I've dabbled in it myself.  But slipping past the forgettable first track here, "Friend With Laughably Expensive Apartment," I'm afraid Weckler brings nothing new to the table.  Indeed, he's gentrifying the genre itself, kicking out more interesting ideas for sad, sick, familiar passages.  Just check this out, from "This City Shuts Down Early" (a track, I might add, that can trace its lineage back even to the pre-Gent days of Wish This Was New Yorkism):

They may all be responsible, hard-working people. But as I walked the streets of the city 10 days ago, I was struck by how everything was quiet by 11pm. It seemed that anyone staying up after that was working on some start-up project or teleconferencing with an office in China.

How droll.  Did you perhaps poke your head in for a quick “nǐ hǎo” or are you just guessing? But yeah, I guess the one block on 2nd you based this entire story on doesn't have any bars open past 11.

Things don't improve in the next track, "Everything Used to Be Better":

This is a relatively recent thing. The first time I travelled to San Francisco I was 19. It was a magical place, unlike any other US city I had been to. There was a pulsating artistic atmosphere about the place.
Today, San Francisco is still physically beguiling. But culturally, it's now a chilled out version of Manhattan without the legacy. The tech boom has pushed out local character and imported people who look, talk and act the same.

Translation: Nobody offered me molly this time.

Homeless Mentions are the Twitter parody accounts of Gent: everyone's got one, and they're all terrible.  Weckler gamely rises to the bait:
The city has retained enough of a liberal ethos to tolerate a (very) large number of homeless people, where other cities might be more harsh. (This is striking: there are small armies of homeless people lining streets in San Francisco.)

There you go.  The homeless are either a symbol of the Lost Heart of a Once Great City or a small army between us and the beautiful vistas.

I remain convinced that D&B still has a lot to offer.  I'll throw on a masterpiece of the genre like Nellie Bowles' "The 2,500-Person Tech Mixer That Was Not a Party" sometimes and just let the uuggggghhhhhh wash over me.  Weckler's got a long way to go, and multiple references to Slack won't take him there alone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Today in Our Garbage City: Everyone seems to be enjoying the sidewalk advertising!

Oh yay!  There's another Big Tech Conference in town which means a lot of dudes in goatees and dumb looking white cross-trainers will be runing over you on the sidewalk because they're looking at their phone.  This one is even specialer though because something called "Bluewolf" decided to mark the event by putting shitty graffiti all over the goddam place.

Photos via We Built This City
According to their Twitter bio, "Bluewolf" "is a global consulting agency and proven Salesforce strategic partner that builds digital solutions designed to create results."  I have no idea what the fuck that means.  Bluewolf sounds like it should be a microbrewery in Boulder or a psych metal band from Austin.  Instead I guess it's a bunch of jackoffs creating the fuck out of some results.

They also have the shittiest tags I've ever seen.

Anyway, a proper hue and cry was raised, and Carla Marinucci of the 'Gate was ON IT:
Gordon contacted the advertising firm contracted to do the work. The person she spoke with said his firm had tried to contact several city departments to get permission to post the logos, but was rebuffed. Still, more than 60 logos popped up on sidewalks Monday.
Gordon said the contractor — CivitasNow owner Jacob Taylor — told her his company would begin removing them.
But Blue Wolf CEO Eric Berridge doesn’t see the harm in plastering his company’s logo on the public sidewalks.
“We think it’s great for the city of San Francisco,” Berridge told us, noting that he lived in San Francisco for years after going to UC-Berkeley and growing up in Belmont. He said his company employs “hundreds” of people in the Bay Area.
He shrugged off any possible penalties from the city, saying “I’m sure that it will all work itself out. Everyone seems to be enjoying it. We went through the proper channels.”

Here's everything people loathe about tech companies in one neat package.  Utterly oblivious tech CEO thinks "it's great for the city of San Francisco."  How far up your own ass do you have to be to think that the City of San Francisco will enjoy your ugly graffiti that's meaningless to 98% of us?  And who's enjoying it?  Show me one person not employed by Bluewolf who's saying "Man, I wasn't sure this boring-ass lanyard party was going to be any fun, but these ads I can walk on have REALLY TURNED THINGS AROUND FOR ME!!!"

Sigh.  It's just another example of tech treating San Francisco like their own little private playground and not a city with hundreds of thousands of people who don't give a shit about building digital solutions or optimizing results.  Remember when that other tech thing celebrated making a ton of money by trashing Dolores Park and then walking away?  Yeah, it's like that.

Jesus Christ, it's not that complicated.  DON'T PAINT ADVERTISING ON PUBLIC PROPERTY.  How can you not know that?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Does rain cause earthquakes? WE INVESTIGATE.

A while back, the National Weather Service - Bay Area posted this on Twitter:

It's basically a graph of historical rainfall in September in San Francisco.  What's the first thing you notice?  BOOM, 5.07" in September 1904.  Typically, there's not a ton of rainfall in any year in September, so 5.07" really stands out.  And of course, about 19 months later, in April 1906, there was a VERY EXCITING EVENT in San Francisco.

So this got me wondering.  DOES RAIN CAUSE EARTHQUAKES.

Answer: YES.

In March of 1957, there was a 5.3 earthquake in San Francisco.  In December of 1955, SF got a ridiculous 11.47 inches of rain.  Remember all that rain last December?  That was 11.70 inches.  That's a lot of rain.  Point being, big rainfall in 1955 was followed by earthquake in 1957.  See the pattern?  PATTERNS ARE SCIENCE.

In December 1889, SF got a ridiculous 13.81" of rain.  This was followed in April of 1892 by not one but two earthquakes within a couple of days, a 6.4 in Vacaville and a 6.2 in Winters.  PATTERNS.

The wettest month in San Francisco history was January 1862, with a Mount Waialeale-like 24.36 inches.  Sidenote, can you imagine if we got 24 inches of rain today?  Local news would have to go to an all-rain format.  Anyway, the rainpocalypse of January '62 was followed in short order by a 6.3 in the Santa Cruz Mountains in October 1865.  December 1864 also had a healthy 8.91 inches of rain, so that probably didn't help.

SO WATCH THE FUCK OUT.  Last December, as I mentioned, we got a very healthy 11.70 inches.  This winter we may get more because of a looming El Nino.

If we get up to double digits in rainfall any month this winter, there will for sure be a bigass earthquake in the next 14 to 36 months.  There is no way this will not happen.  Make peace with your God and say goodbye to your loved ones.  We are all toast.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hey Roman Mars, redesign this

Monotonal podcast host/busybody Roman Mars for some reason has decided that the San Francisco flag needs to be changed.  From the Chronicle yesterday:

A Bay Area radio talk-show host has launched a mission to bring down San Francisco’s official flag, calling it an eyesore and uninspiring.
Roman Mars, host of the design show “99% Invisible” on KALW, said the city’s banner, adopted 115 years ago, carries all the “big no-nos” of flag design, and he believes it’s long overdue for a makeover.
Mars said most San Franciscans aren’t even aware the city has its own flag. It’s only visible in a few select places, most notably City Hall and the Ferry Building.
“It’s ugly,” Mars said. “It’s mainly just not used. I think that’s the biggest tragedy of it.”

Fuck you, Roman Mars.  A lot of people like the San Francisco flag.  I like it a lot.  A lot of other people like it a lot.  Now I wish I had never donated to your pledge drive.  I want my $20 back.

It's got a cool phoenix.  It's got the badass motto in Spanish.  So what if you can't read it from the ther side?  Step around to the front and stop being such a fucking baby.

What's more, Roman Mars doesn't even fucking live in San Francisco.  He lives in Kensington.  I had to Google it just because I always forget where Kensington is.  It's apparently "an affluent unincorporated community and census designated place located in the East Bay, part of the San Francisco Bay Area, in Contra Costa County, California, United States."  If you want to redesign flags of cities you don't live in, Roman, why not pick San Diego or Houston or, for God's sakes, Huntington, West Virginia? (Scroll down and gag.)

Maybe it's because, as far as I can tell, Kensington doesn't have its own flag!  That explains why Roman wants to meddle in flag business in cities where he doesn't live.  Let's fix that!  Maybe if we design a flag for Kensington, Roman will just leave us alone.  God knows we have enough problems already.

My first inclination was just to go simple.

Or maybe something that reflects the local populace.

But to attract the jaundiced gaze of Roman Mars away from our beloved San Francisco and to his own municipality's flag, we had to go big.  Here it is, your new Kensington, California unincorporated community flag:

I like it!  It really says "Kensington" to me.  LOOK OVER HERE ROMAN MARS!!!  WE'RE READY FOR YOU!!!!