The spoken word and the personal voice remain incredibly powerful

Here’s just a hint of the experience I had this week at Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at Berkeley Reperatory Theater.

This doesn’t do the full experience justice and only gives a hint of the interwoven stories of beautiful technology, our love for it, the people we think of who bring it to us, and the people who do that we don’t think of.

I urge you to see this show. It will move your mind.

Bad Weather Coming

West coast of North America, look out:

Originally Posted by USGS
From: UC Environmental Protection Services Issues [mailto:UCEPS-
Subject: Winter Storm Warning starting Sunday

Currently, the strong El Nino is reaching its peak in the Eastern
Pacific, and now finally appears to be exerting an influence on our
weather. The strong jet has been apparent for quite some time out over
the open water, but the persistent block had prevented it from reaching
the coast. Now that the block has dissolved completely, a 200+ kt jet
is barreling towards us. Multiple large and powerful storm systems are
expected to slam into CA from the west and northwest over the coming
two weeks, all riding this extremely powerful jet stream directly into
the state. The jet will itself provide tremendous dynamic lift, in
addition to directing numerous disturbances right at the state and
supplying them with an ample oceanic moisture source. The jet will be
at quite a low latitude over much of the Pacific, so these storms will
be quite cold, at least initially. Very heavy rainfall and strong to
potentially very strong winds will impact the lower elevations
beginning late Sunday and continuing through at least the following
Sunday. This will be the case for the entire state, from (and south of)
the Mexican border all the way up to Oregon. Above 3000-4000 feet,
precipitation will be all snow, and since temperatures will be
unusually cold for a precipitation event of this magnitude, a truly
prodigious amount of snowfall is likely to occur in the mountains,
possibly measured in the tens of feet in the Sierra after it's all said
and done. But there's a big and rather threatening caveat to that
(discussed below).
Individual storm events are going to be hard to time
for at least few more days, since this jet is just about as powerful as
they come (on this planet, anyway). Between this Sunday and the
following Sunday, I expect categorical statewide rainfall totals in
excess of 3-4 inches. That is likely to be a huge underestimate for
most areas. Much of NorCal is likely to see 5-10 inches in the
lowlands, with 10-20 inches in orographically-favored areas. Most of
SoCal will see 3-6 inches at lower elevations, with perhaps triple that
amount in favored areas.

This is where things get even more interesting, though. The models are
virtually unanimous in "reloading" the powerful jet stream and forming
an additional persistent kink 2000-3000 miles to our southwest after
next Sunday. This is a truly ominous pattern, because it implies the
potential for a strong Pineapple-type connection to develop. Indeed,
the 12z GFS now shows copious warm rains falling between days 12 and 16
across the entire state. Normally, such as scenario out beyond day
seven would be dubious at best. Since the models are in such truly
remarkable agreement, however, and because of the extremely high
potential impact of such an event, it's worth mentioning now. Since
there will be a massive volume of freshly-fallen snow (even at
relatively low elevations between 3000-5000 feet), even a moderately
warm storm event would cause very serious flooding.
This situation will
have to be monitored closely. Even if the tropical connection does not
develop, expected rains in the coming 7-10 days will likely be
sufficient to cause flooding in and of themselves (even in spite of dry
antecedent conditions).

In addition to very heavy precipitation, powerful winds may result from
very steep pressure gradients associated with the large and deep low
pressure centers expect ed to begin approaching the coast by early next
week.
Though it's not clear at the moment just how powerful these winds
may be, there is certainly the potential for a widespread damaging wind
event at some point, and the high Sierra peaks are likely to see gusts
in the 100-200 mph range (since the 200kt jet at 200-300 mb will
essentially run directly into the mountains at some point). The details
of this will have to be hashed out as the event(s) draw closer.

In short, the next 2-3 weeks (at least) are likely to be more active
across California than any other 2-3 week period in recent memory. The
potential exists for a dangerous flood scenario to arise at some point
during this interval, especially with the possibility of a heavy
rain-on-snow event during late week 2. In some parts of Southern
California, a whole season's worth of rain could fall over the course
of 5-10 days. This is likely to be a rather memorable event. Stay
tuned…

Samuel Y. Johnson
Western Coastal and Marine Geology
U.S. Geological Survey
Pacific Science Center

Dinah’s 2008 election slate

President & Vice-President: Barack Obama & Joe Biden
— Solid platform, sound plans, inspiring leader who can bring us together.

U.S. State Representative: Nancy Pelosi
— I want her to take a stronger stance against the war, but need an experienced leader in the House.

State Senator: Mark Leno
— Very pleased with his work.

Member State Assembly, District 13: Tom Ammiano
— Generally pleased with his work.

Member Board of Education: Barbara "Bobbi" Lopez, Sandra Lee Fewer, Rachel Norton, H. Brown
— Combination of statements (I like H. Brown's idea of training kids for emergency response preparedness rather than pointless P.E.) and endorsements.

Judge of the Superior Court, seat #12: Gerardo Sandoval
— Have heard bad things about opponent & have voted for Sandoval in the past without regret.

Member, Community College Board: Mary T. Hernandez, Steve Ngo, Natalie Berg, Milton Marks
— Again, combination of statements & endorsements.

BART Director: Tom Radulovich
— Keep up the good work.

State Propositions:
1A – Yes
— We need to build more non-car infrastructure

2 – Yes
— Cruelty isn't necessary in food production. Don't buy the argument that it's too expensive to be decent.

3 – No
— Past bond funds still available. Some concerns over percentage of money going to private hospitals.

4 – No no no
— Mother's rights over her body come before the "rights" of some lump of cells. Fetuses are not citizens.
Would I like to see fewer unwanted pregnancies, absolutely yes. Do I think making abortion more difficult to obtain decreases unwanted pregnancies, absolutely not.

5 – Yes
— Treatment works better than punishment and it's cheaper.

6 – No
— Locking up a specific portion of the budget for a specific cause is generally a bad plan.

7 – No
— When Environmental Defense, the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, AND PG&E agree something is a bad idea, it's a bad idea.

8 – No no no
— Don't build prejudice into the state constitution. (See my comments on this below).

9 – No
— As someone I trust deeply with direct experience of Victim Witness programs told me: the voice of the victim is already pretty well protected in our justice system. We don't need non-objective opinions leading to over-imprisonment.

10 – No
— Appears to heavily favor one service provider (key backer of the proposition, surprise surprise) and doesn't even require that the fleet established with these funds remain in California.

11 – No
— As much as redistricting may be needed, this is not the proposition to do it. It does not have any safeguards to ensure that the commission it would establish actually represents the electoral mix of the state.

12 – Yes
— A good bond act with costs covered by those benefiting from it.

City & County Propositions:
A – Yes
— A major quake is just too probable and the benefit of this work too clear to delay it.

B – No
— Again, as with State Proposition 6, a fixed set aside is unappealing.

C – No
— This should be covered by other conflict of interest rules. The argument "why should a fireman be prohibited from serving on the environment board?" is compelling.

D – Yes
— This is a good area to continue developing.

E – Yes
— Consistency with established best practices is a good thing.

F – Yes
— Elections are expensive so let's get people involved in these local decisions when they're already drawn to vote on state & national issues.

G – Yes
— Yes, this seems perfectly reasonable.

H – Yes
— Imperfect, but I can't say I trust PG&E's environmental or cost decisions over what's proposed here.

I – Yes
— Seems reasonable & no arguments against submitted.

J – Yes
— Surprised this doesn't already exist; unconvinced by all the developers & landlords arguing against it.

K – Yes
— Oh this was a very tough one, but the public health arguments are incredibly strong, particularly the evidence from New Zealand. I would prefer that it explicitly shifted efforts from prosecuting prostitutes to prosecuting human trafficking or other abuses. Frankly, I'll be surprised if it passes, so I expect votes for K are more of an indication of priorities to SFPD.

L – Yes
— I am unconvinced that the opponents to the Community Justice Center are driven by more than being in opposition to Gavin Newsom. Quit grandstanding, Daly.

M – Yes
— Only landlords oppose this measure attempting to stop abuses by landlords. *cough* Well that's pretty easy to decide on.

N – Yes
— I do not believe measure opponent Michela Alioto-Pier has my best financial interests at heart; I'm not nearly rich enough to be part of her base.

O – Yes
— This is one of those "has to go by the voters but its just a best practice change" as I read it.

P – No
— Sorry, Gavin, we agree on quite a few things, but I'm with the huge crowd opposing this change.

Q – Yes
— No brainer; no opposing argument.

R – No
— This is a frivolous, unhelpful measure and I'm sorry to see it made the ballot. Now is the time for us to find common ground with those who supported George W. Bush and help them understand how his policies were damaging to them. This mockery doesn't help. It's also unkind to those who perform this important city service.

S – Yes
— A nice rational approach. After that starry-eyed "let's turn Alcatraz into a peace center" measure C earlier this year, we definitely need dreamers to balance their ideas with how they'll be funded before we vote on them.

T – Yes
— Treatment services reduce city costs relating to substance abusers.

U – No
— I oppose this war and further troop deployment to Iraq, but don't think our representatives in Congress should be told, for example, that they should oppose an otherwise good plan because it includes a minor deployment.

V – No
— Military recruitment in high schools is just revolting.

Member Board of Supervisors District 5: Ross Mirkarimi
— Seems to be doing a good job. I like my neighborhood!

Thoughts on California proposition 8

This is about the law. An adult individual in California currently has a legal right to marry another adult individual to whom he or she is not closely related.

In the past, this right was limited by race: California Civil Code Section 60, provided that “All marriages of white persons with Negroes, Mongolians, members of the Malay race, or mulattoes are illegal and void,” and also Section 69, which stated that "… no license may be issued authorizing the marriage of a white person with a Negro, mulatto, Mongolian or member of the Malay race". This was overturned by the California Supreme Court in October 1948 in Perez v. Sharp on the grounds that it violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

As Time Magazine described the decision in their October 11th, 1948, issue:

"Laws prohibiting the intermarriage of whites and Negroes are on the
books of 30 states, have survived every legal test. Last week one of
those states changed its mind. California’s ban on mixed marriages was
declared unconstitutional by a 4-to-3 decision of the state’s Supreme
Court. Marriage, said the majority opinion, is a fundamental right of
free men; and the right to marry includes the right to marry the person
of one’s choice. The decision also declared the law contrary ‘to the
fundamental principles of Christianity’."

No doubt there were many who would have preferred that the decision had not gone that way; it would be another 19 years before Loving v. Virginia in the U.S. Supreme Court forced laws against inter-racial marriage off the books.

That ruling stated: "Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law."

So, we have a strong precedent for protection of the individual’s right to marry the person of their choice.

I firmly believe that women should have the same legal rights as men, and vice versa. In other words, I believe gender should be as strong as race with regard to equal rights under the law.

The law should be blind to gender as it is to color.

Marriage by the state bestows a legal status of a recognized relationship, just as health laws for farms bestow a legal status for a recognized food producer. Religious persons may ban the consumption of a particular food, but their beliefs do not deny others the right to consume that food. Similarly members of a particular religion may ban participation in the religion to those who marry a member of the same sex (or of a different race), but their beliefs should not deny others the right to marry.

With regard to the "what about allowing marrying children? or animals?" scenarios brought up by supporters of a ban on same-sex marriage, these add a new class of person able to marry: a non-adult or a non-human, and are therefore not parallel to the matter at hand in Proposition 8. The "slippery slope" argument ignores this basic matter of legal precedent and Constitutional backing. We are talking about a legal relationship which is defined as being between two individuals who are not closely related. The question here is whether additional qualifications can be added on that; if unrelated individuals A, B, C, and D can be married off as A&B and C&D or as A&D and C&B, then what legal justification can there be for preventing the marriages of A&C or B&D?

I remain baffled by the argument that encouraging serious public commitments to each other somehow "weakens marriage". I was at San Francisco City Hall in February 2004 and walked down the entire line talking with the couples; these were not fun-seekers, but rather couples seeking to publicly state their devotion to each other. In an age of celebrity weddings and "find a bride" reality shows, this restored my faith and that of many of my friends in the institution of marriage.

These are some of the reasons I will be voting NO on 8.