Broken window theory vs. urban art

February 28, 2009

Good rant today by  Greg Dewar over at The N-Judah Chronicles about how the apparent sloppy execution of city anti-graffiti laws led to the elimination of a mural on a produce market in San Francisco’s inner Sunset District.

I’m no fan of vandalism or gang graffiti, but sometimes rules intended to address gang issues or pure vandalism can go too far and suppress or eliminate something new and creative.

Read more at The N-Judah Chronicles.


Obama’s Iraq speech Wordle

February 27, 2009

Here’s a Wordle I made of President Barack Obama’s speech about Iraq at Camp Lejune Friday, Feb. 27, 2009.

Wordle: President Obama Iraq speech Feb. 27, 2009

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SF Weekly calling the kettle black?

February 25, 2009

This morning, the San Francisco weekly newspaper SF Weekly tweeted thusly: “We Hate to Pick on the Chronicle When It’s Down — But Is Anybody Proofreading? http://tr.im/gLPB”. Now, even though I make my living helping smart people look smarter by editing their writing, I

Whats wrong with the ad on the right?

What's wrong with the ad on the right?

understand that mistakes happen to everyone, so I won’t needle the Weekly too much about something I found in its Feb. 4, 2009 edition. But it is funny, so I have to point out that either someone at the Weekly or one of its advertisers needs to look to its own mistakes.

On page 12 of the Feb. 4 SF Weekly, I noticed an ad for a medical marijuana establishment. The ad features a photo of a young businessman, apparently in an attempt to show that a “typical stoner” isn’t who one might think it is. But there’s something wrong. A scan of the ad is included in this post, linking to a bigger version on Flickr. Bragging rights go to the first person who comments explaining what’s wrong with the ad.

And to be fair, it’s likely that this error is the advertiser’s fault, but someone at the Weekly could have caught it before it went to press.

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Update on Muni express story for Spot.Us

February 18, 2009

I’ve had a couple of questions recently about the status of the story on San Francisco Muni’s express buses I’m writing for the crowd-funded journalism site Spot.Us, so here’s a quick update.

I am finishing some interviews this week and expect to file my story by this time next week. Once it’s in Spot.Us’ hands, a fact-check editor will have a go at it before publication. My belief is that they’ll publish soon after that, but it’s up to them.

This story has been pushed back longer than I would have liked. But the way Spot.Us works, there’s no definite deadline for pieces — and since I have a wife, two kids and an older house to think about, when I’ve found work that does have a deadline and also provides enough to cover the mortgage payments, I’ve taken it. The unfortunate result is that I’ve put off the Muni story.

One observation about the expresses that I’ll share now won’t surprise daily express riders, but it seems almost surreal to people used to the regular bus or the streetcar: By and large, express riders are really polite. Trying to get on most streetcars and buses can sometimes resemble a contact sport (I’ve had plenty of jabs in the ribs from people who try to shove their way in the door of the L-Taraval ahead of everyone else, regardless of how long others have been waiting), so it’s very odd to see passengers line up neatly for the express and head to the back of the line if they arrive late. And although it can be hard to get a seat, depending on the time and where you catch the bus, the ride itself usually is quiet and civilized.

I’ll post further updates if I have anything new to report, including when I file the story. In the meantime, do visit Spot.Us. Some great pieces already have been published, and others are still in need of funding.

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A Daly dose of class

February 18, 2009

Before I forget, I want to note a pleasant experience involving San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly I had at City Hall on Inauguration Day.

My daughter and I were playing hooky to attend the viewing of the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Civic Center Plaza that day, and afterward I took her across the street to City Hall to use the restroom and go on a quick tour of the building. She almost seemed impressed that I knew a restroom in the basement that was empty even when the upstairs facilities were full of people who also had been in the Civic Center crowd.

Later, we were rounding a second-floor corner near the supervisors’ offices when Daly appeared down the hall, his family in tow. I stopped him and stuck out my hand, and since I didn’t expect him to remember me off the bat from when I was with the Examiner, I explained who I was and introduced my daughter. Daly said he remembered me, said hello, shook my hand and was very pleasant.

Though it was a few years ago, I wrote plenty of editorials criticizing Daly (some I agreed with, some others I didn’t). If he really did remember me, he very well might also have remembered the criticism and have had reason to remind me of it. But he was gracious and pleasant.

This wasn’t a particularly important event, of course, but after years of writing so much against the supervisor, it seemed important to mention.

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