Posts Tagged ‘op-ed’

Compare and Contrast: Marin County’s Bicycle Movement vs. San Francisco’s – Point / Counterpoint with Marinite Dick Spostwood

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Check it out:

Dick Spotswood: Marin bike lobby’s political clout is slipping – Marin Independent Journal

1. Hey, SF County has a “powerful bicycle lobby” as well – so let’s take a look, paragraph by paragraph. I should say though, that if I were running things bike-wise in Marin, I prolly wouldn’t listen to Dick Spotswood at all.

2. I’ll bet you the Marin County real estate industry, for instance, has lobbyists more effective than the Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s, to keep things in perspective.

3. So DS is promoting a “silent majority” argument against a minority of a minority? OK fine, but it sounds like he’s mad at just a small number of bikers. And what’s this – “self-righteous on-the-road arrogance?” We have a bit of that on our side of The Bridge also.

4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Well, I didn’t know all that stuff. San Francisco County Supervisors don’t really have to worry about people coming after them for excessive bike advocacy, so this makes Marin seem a lot different than SF. I’ll tell you, riding through a smelly old train tunnel sounds like something worth trying, once or twice anyway. (I could go either way on whether opening these tunnels makes sense, cost benefit-wise – I don’t know much about them.)

9, 10. Charging people for walking or riding across the GGB is a real non-starter, like something that’s never going to happen ever again. (Actually, I wouldn’t mind if the state of CA rolled governance of the GGB into the BATA and then cast Golden Gate Transit out, leaving Marin County to pay for Marin County’s transit system. JMO.)

11. “Biker-anarchist Critical Mass” isn’t all that much these days and it doesn’t operate “most Fridays,” just some Fridays, just once a month, actually.

12. My understanding is that “bicycles are generally restricted from narrow, single-track trails” on Mt Tam, but perhaps some trails have been opened up recently? IDK.

13. What’s this, the  Marin bike movement was “hijacked by big-time developers and their regional alphabet agencies’ allies.” Wow, yes, the same thing happened in SF over the past quarter-century – this is the era of the “urbanst,” indeed.

14. We have a similar dynamic in SF, but it’d be hard to imagine bike advocacy ever being a “ballot box negative” down here.

15. Oh, at long last, the TO BE SURE graf! Finally, all the way at the bottom. Hurrah!

16, 17. Oh, and now come the bromides for the bike movement of Marin. IDK, if I had a lot of time and not much money, I’d get my buds to pack into political meetings as well.

All right, that’s it.

(Oh, I’ll add that the membership at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition appears to have dropped something close to 20% from the high of a few years back. The SFBC has been captured by SFGov, so  these days it pays more heed to whichever Mayor is in currently in office than its remaining membership. JMO.)

Google Seeks the “Right Balance” on the Right To Be Forgotten: “Expert Advisory Council” to Hold Meetings in Europe Soon

Friday, July 11th, 2014

The latest from the Google Blog on the so-called Right To Be Forgotten in the First Amendment-free EU:

Searching for the right balance

[So in five words I’m counting two puns and one subtle jab at the possibility of an absence of balance in this latest unappealable edict handed down from the Court of Justice.]

So here’s the wind-up:

“In May, the Court of Justice of the European Union established a “right to be forgotten.” Today, we published an op-ed by David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, in the U.K.’s The Guardian, Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, France’s Le Figaro and Spain’s El Pais, discussing the ruling and our response. We’re republishing the op-ed in full below. -Ed.”

And here’s the pitch – the final two grafs:

“That’s why we’ve also set up an advisory council of experts, the final membership of which we’re announcing today. These external experts from the worlds of academia, the media, data protection, civil society and the tech sector are serving as independent advisors to Google. The council will be asking for evidence and recommendations from different groups, and will hold public meetings this autumn across Europe to examine these issues more deeply. Its public report will include recommendations for particularly difficult removal requests (like criminal convictions); thoughts on the implications of the court’s decision for European Internet users, news publishers, search engines and others; and procedural steps that could improve accountability and transparency for websites and citizens.”

“The issues here at stake are important and difficult, but we’re committed to complying with the court’s decision. Indeed it’s hard not to empathize with some of the requests we’ve seen—from the man who asked that we not show a news article saying he had been questioned in connection with a crime (he’s able to demonstrate that he was never charged) to the mother who requested that we remove news articles for her daughter’s name as she had been the victim of abuse. It’s a complex issue, with no easy answers. So a robust debate is both welcome and necessary, as, on this issue at least, no search engine has an instant or perfect answer.”

“Posted by David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

Well played, G!

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Writes His Big America’s Cup 2013 Op-Ed on an iPhone? – Hilarity Ensues – “Ailing, Sailing”

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Wow. Last night’s deficient op-ed from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is still live this AM on the San Francisco Examiner website, as Erin Sherbert notes in the category of  “Media, WTF?”

Here it is: Yacht race, opportunity sailing in sailing in sailiong in ailing in in

Oh, this just came in from Rewrite:

(You see, the easy way to remember Isle of “Wight” is to think of all the rich white people that the America’s Cup is for.)

I wonder if the “Largest Newspaper in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties” actually printed this boner as-is hundreds of thousands of times.

Oh well.

As with the similarly-ailing Central Subway project, it appears that, once again, the City Family is failing us with the whole America’s Cup deal. Too bad San Diego* can’t take this white elephant (white whale?) yacht race off our hands.**

Oh well.

[UPDATE: Here’s the fix – “Yacht race, opportunity sailing in.” (So your big America’s Cup editorial headline doesn’t use the phrase America’s Cup? OK fine, but your hed looks like the start of a haiku now…)

*A place where it might actually make sense to build and race 72-foot-tall catamarans. I’ll tell you, it sure doesn’t make sense to do it in the Bay Area. Even Larry Ellison hisself recognizes this fact now.

**Yeah, Fun Diego actually had an AC preview race not too long ago but nobody cared, the “expected” crowds didn’t show. So the City Family members who went down there from the 415 to see how SD would handle the massive crowds ended up bored and ended up heading home early. 

New York Times Writer Tom Friedman Gets All Excited About Electric Cars – Here’s Why We Shouldn’t Listen to Him

Monday, September 27th, 2010

New York Times writer Tom Friedman visited a battery factory in China and then took a test ride in a Coda Automotive Sedan listening to an electric car CEO all the while.  Now he’s so excited, he wants you to give more money to the United States electric car industry.

Basically, Tom thinks we need to have the government spend money to keep up with the Euros and the Reds, just like back in the 1960’s when we paid Boeing to waste money building supersonic aircraft, because it was The Future, because the Euros had the Concorde and because the Russians had the TU-144, because Everybody Else Was Doing It.

Should we trust the CEO from this company when he asks us for more money?

Now, here’s a bit of the reaction to Tom’s op-ed so far, and here’s my reaction, bit by bit. Let’s let Tom go first:

China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports…

Not exactly sure how building airports is a “moonshot”  but oh well. Anyway, he goes on about high speed rail and stem cells and then gets to electric cars:

Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities.

This is industrial policy, this is government picking winners and losers. This is automatically, necessarily a good thing? Really?

In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

That’s a big assumption, right – Tom knows what the “next industrial growth engine” is going to be? 100% sure about that?

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

America plus about four dozen other countries, right?   

Moving on:

The electric car industry is pivotal for three reasons, argues Shai Agassi, the C.E.O. of Better Place.

Shai “Music Man” Agassi is a nut. He’s another rich guy wants to change the world. It’s not a foregone conclusion that his battery-exchanging scheme will function as planned, right? I mean, A Better Place might not work out even with all that government money he’s getting.

First, the auto industry was the foundation for America’s manufacturing middle class.

So what. What’s so magical about building cars as opposed to refrigerators and whatnot? Was there ever a time when the average middle class worker worked in the auto industry or anything associated with the auto industry? Nope.

Second, the country that replaces gasoline-powered vehicles with electric-powered vehicles — in an age of steadily rising oil prices and steadily falling battery prices — will have a huge cost advantage and independence from imported oil.

Petroleum produces the electricity that powers the cars, right? Oh, what’s that, we’ll need some more moonshots to get solar and wind power going? Yes we will. 

Third, electric cars are full of power electronics and software. “Think of the applications industry that will be spun out from electric cars,” says Agassi. It will be the iPhone on steroids.

Spin-offs? Now we’re talking. That’s just like the Apollo program – it’s Whitey on the Moon! The point of Apollo was to make spin-offs, is what some people think. Why not just build iPhones  and “power electronics and software” if that’s what you think we need. What’s magical about building electric cars?  Weren’t the Apollo missions cancelled when people realized what a big waste of money they were? Wasn’t the entire Space Shuttle Program a c0lossal waste of money as well? Wouldn’t a manned mission to Mars be an even greater waste of money? That might be a good program for Morton Thiokol or whomever, but would it be a good program for America? Shouldn’t moonshots have a raison d’être before we start writing checks?

Europe is using $7-a-gallon gasoline to stimulate the market for electric cars…

Lot’s of luck with that one. First of all, “Europe”  had $7 a gallon gasoline long before the electric car companies started to lobby the influential writers of the New York Times. But anyway. And didn’t Hillary Clinton just run for President saying how we needed a cut in gas taxes? Might she do that again? Yep. So, that’s a tough row to hoe, raising gas taxes. I’m with you, Tom. Let’s raise gas taxes if we can. But we should do that independent of what they do in Europe, right? Otherwise we’d get most of our electricity from nuclear power the way they do in France and we’d have a nuclear waste dump in Napa County the way do in their Champagne region.  

China is using $5-a-gallon and naming electric cars as one of the industrial pillars for its five-year growth plan.

Boy, that’s what we need, a five-year plan?

Sure, the Moore’s Law of electric cars — “the cost per mile of the electric car battery will be cut in half every 18 months” — will steadily drive the cost down, says Agassi, but only once we get scale production going.

There is no “Moore’s Law of electric cars.” Sorry. Shai Agassi sold you a bill of goods, Tom. He feels it’s his job. That means that he’s the last person in the world people should listen to to learn the truth about electric cars. People have said the same thing about Telsa and its use of 7000-whatever AA-sized (or whatever, close enough) industrial batteries but we’re not seeing anything like this kind of improvement in this part of the battery market.

U.S. companies can do that on their own or in collaboration with Chinese ones. But God save us if we don’t do it at all.

“God” save us? Thanks NYT, I learned something new about you today. GM can build an electric car is it wants to. Nissan is doing so right now. Why do electric cars need to be from U.S. companies? Why do we need more corporate welfare for building cars in America?

Two weeks ago, I visited the Coda Automotive battery facility in Tianjin, China — a joint venture between U.S. innovators and investors, China’s Lishen battery company and China National Offshore Oil Company.

No, Tom. You visited a Tianjin Lishen Battery facility in Tianjin, China

Kevin Czinger, Coda’s C.E.O., who drove me around Manhattan in his company’s soon-to-be-in-production electric car last week, laid out what is going on.

KC is yet another smart guy on a ego trip running a crap electric company, so let’s immediately buy into everything he has to say, shall we?

The backbone of the modern U.S. economy was locally made cars powered by locally produced oil.

Tell me in which era this mythical time was and I’ll tell you how you’re wrong.

It started us on a huge growth spurt. In recent decades, though, that industry was supplanted by foreign-made cars run on foreign oil, so “now every time we buy a car we’re exporting $15,000 of capital, paying for it with borrowed money and running it on foreign energy sources,” says Czinger.

So Kev, you don’t like foreign things, huh? Let’s make a note of this. Oh and BTY, the top two suppliers of foreign oil are, can you guess, Canada and Mexico. That’s not all that foreign, is it?

“We’ve gone from autos being a middle-class-making-machine to a middle-class-destroying-machine.”

Autos are not a “middle-class-destroying machine.” Sorry.

A U.S. electric car/battery industry would reverse that.

Ooh, I’m an millionaire NFL football team owner. Now, build me a stadium and pay for it and then all sorts of wonderful things will happen. No no, even better, I’m a bored former Goldman Sachs partner and now I’m a millionaire Chinese electric car company CEO. Now, build me a battery factory and pay for it and then all sorts of wonderful things will happen. Promise.  

The Coda, 14,000 of which will be on the road in California over the next year and can travel 100 miles on one overnight charge, is a combination of Chinese-made batteries and complex American-system electronics — all final-assembled in Oakland (price: $37,000).

Whoa, slow down Tom. 1) 14,000 of might be on the road in California over the next year. Never ever trust what the CEO of an electric car company says, right? Maybe Coda will unload 7000 units to the govmint as promised (the state of CA has changed its mind about buying electric cars before, right?) and 7000 units to consumers of the next 12 months or maybe they won’t.  2) Final assembly will take place in Oakland? First I’ve heard of this. First it was L.A. County, then it was going to be in Benicia and now you say it’ll be Oakland? Is this a scoop, Tom? But does anybody know about this in Oakland yet? Nope. Oakland is either a scoop or an error – Only Time Will Tell. 3) The price, she is $44,900.

It is a win-win start-up for both countries.

Again, Only Time Will Tell.

If we both now create the market incentives for consumers to buy electric cars, and the plug-in infrastructure for people to drive them everywhere, it will be a win-win moon shot for both countries. The electric car industry will flourish in the U.S. and China, and together we’ll tackle the next challenge: using auto battery innovations to build big storage batteries for wind and solar. However, if only China puts the gasoline prices and infrastructure in place, the industry will gravitate there. It will be a moon shot for them, a hobby for us, and you’ll import your new electric car from China just like you’re now importing your oil from Saudi Arabia.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t we importing new electric cars from China right now? I think so. The Coda Automotive company is doing it, right? Helloooo, Tom? Lot’s of luck putting gasoline prices “in place” (or, in other words, raising federal gas taxes sky high), Tom. I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. And haven’t we thrown too much money at American auto companies the past few years? Making cars is nothing special, despite what CEOs tell you when they’re driving you around Manhattan, Tom.

What’s next? Maybe a CEO from Big Corn could drive Tom around on a John Deere somewhere in the Midwest and then he could write about how we need to throw more money at corn ethanol?

What do you think, Tom?