Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday (or We Read Everything)

 A biased guide to what's been going in the last week or three.

Finally, a non tech-related story from San Francisco makes national news, and, of course, it has to involve a Chinatown gangster. The saga of Sen. Leland Yee getting arrested for influence peddling and weapons trafficking with such luminaries as Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and former school official Keith Jackson was covered well by the Chronicle. They grabbed on like a thick piece of packing tape and refused to let go, with charts, graphs, photos, and stories that explored Yee's voting activity. They also did background pieces on Jackson and Chow, retelling the story of Chow attending a murdered associate's funeral as the only person in a white suit.

People love to criticize newspapers as an outdated technology, but the Chronicle's coverage of the scandal is a good reminder of the power and importance of a traditional newsroom staffed with experienced reporters. And it underscored the enjoyment of reading the news in print — charts, graphs and timelines don't work as well online.

But here is what I thought was interesting that no one is talking about: Chow used to work with United Playaz. That's one of those organizations where people who used to live the street life come talk to kids about staying in school and out of trouble. Turns out Chow's keep right speeches were only that. 

Now I don't have any issues with United Playaz. They do great work and serve an important purpose. But there does seem to be a bit of a cottage industry of ex-gangsters who grow up to be community workers and "help the kids." I met a lot of them when I worked at CELLspace. Back then I couldn't help but wonder if a few of them were just nice-mugging for the cameras. Turns out Chow was.

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The "Google Bus" is here to stay. The Board of Supervisors decided the pilot program, where the commuter shuttles will pay the city $1 per stop when they use them, doesn't need an environmental impact report, which is, basically, a long, long study of everything. The decision was preceded by a full day's hearing, which 48 Hills did a nice piece on.

On the same day of the hearing, a group of costumed acrobats blocked a commuter shuttle and handed out free "Gmuni" passes. It was more of a joke than a real protest, as the group left after a few minutes. Reading the comments on the Bay Guardian's story was more telling than the article itself though. It appears that people who comment on websites are not big fans of protesters blocking shuttles. Everyone can think what they want of course, but it seems odd that people would come to San Francisco — a city with an established history of public dissent and weirdness — and complain about a short, colorful protest. Do the internet trolls in Las Vegas hate gambling? 


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I have been approved to become a mentor for Lyft. This means that I'll be getting paid a small sum to inspect potential drivers' cars and driving skills. Because that's what San Francisco really needs. More Lyft drivers. 

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I pretty much never go to anything these days, but if I was going out this weekend, I would go and see the Flow Show.


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