Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1100 Broadway Downtown Oakland Mural Finished: Rocky Rische-Baird

After several months of work, the mural at 1100 Broadway in downtown Oakland is finished. 
The work of Oakland artist Rocky Rische-Baird, it is a step back in time as much as it is a celebration of downtown Oakland and a landmark for 1100 Broadway itself. I talked to Rocky Rische-Baird about his new classic work.

Republicans in Congress have a lower approval rating than President Bush

Republicans tanking ratings - Real Clear Politics: “Republicans in Congress have a lower approval rating than President Bush, according to the latest Gallup survey (Dec. 12-14, 1008 A).

Just 25% of U.S. adults approve of the job Republicans are doing in Congress, 4 points lower than Bush's 29%. It is the lowest mark for either party since Gallup began polling the approval ratings of Congressional parties in 1999.

Congressional Democrats received a 37% approval rating -- still low, but a 7-point increase from their all-time low at the end of last year.”

"Liza The Wine Chic" Liza Zimmerman On SF "View From The Bay" 1/9/2009

Liza Zimmerman, my friend who's based in San Francisco and locally 
known as "Liza The WIne Chic" just sent this email:

Dear All,
Please join me for my Bay Area TV debut! I was on Captain Kangaroo many years ago, but this will be more fun. The show tapes live on Friday January 9th from 3pm to 4pm, so members of the audience will need to be there by between 2:15 and 2:30pm. Tickets are free and it's going to be fun! Here are the RSVP directions:
Please direct people to our website and click on "be in our audience" and fill out a ticket request form. In the request form they would request the date that you will be on the show and under comments they can comment that they are a friend or family member of "Liza who will be on the show that day" or something along those lines. Or they can also call me at 415-954-7733 to request tickets. After requesting tickets, information and tickets will be emailed to your guest.

Thanks and I hope to see you there,

Code Pink activists march in Berkeley to support Iraq shoe-throwing - Inside Bay Area

Iraq shoe-throwing supporters unite Worldwide - Inside Bay Area: “Anti-war activists from the group Code Pink marched at a Marine recruiting station in Berkeley this morning to show solidarity with an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush on Sunday.
Members of the group and others marched around the recruiting station holding shoes in the air to show support for Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who hurled two shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.
In many Arab countries, showing the sole of one's shoes, much less throwing shoes at another person, is considered a sign of extreme disrespect.”

-- I wonder if this will become a new cultural movement beyond Iraq?

Larry Lessig's Not Shifting On Net Neutrality, But Jaunt To Harvard Is Bothersome

Back when I had more time on my hands I was a daily consumer of the blog of law professor Larry Lessig. Lessig's known for his path-breaking takes, ideas, and legal research and expert testimony on something called "net neutrality" and the development of the Creative Commons. But since he was at Stanford, I always saw him as a part of the San Francisco Bay Area's unique culture.

See, unlike other parts of America, "town" and "gown" in the Bay Area mix well. There are so many smart, almost smart, and people who think they're smart, and some mix of the three (those who venture into areas not of their expertise), that it keeps the mind active and constantly challenged. There's no other place in America like this region. It's for that reason I can't imagine why Larry would take off for Harvard.

Now, in his blog he mentions a scholarly shift from "culture" to what I would simply call "power" or what elected officials and institutions do that's "subverted" by money. At a time when our very way of life is still being rocked by technological change and specifically the Internet, I can't at all see the value of such a shift. Especially by someone in Lessig who's helped shape how we protect creatives in a time when the law seems to want to stifle us.

I've always associated Harvard with money, not intellect. Berkeley, and to a bit of a lesser degree, Stanford, I associate with intellect. When I read Larry's blog, my first thought was "Harvard bought him off." So it's interesting that Professor Lessig would leave for the moneyed institution to study about, well, how money's corrupting areas of public trust.

In any case, I wish him well, but I also wish he'd reconsider his decision.

OPEC cuts record 2.2. million barrels a day |

OPEC move will raise oil prices From AP and AJC: “ORAN, Algeria — OPEC on Wednesday agreed to slash a record 2.2 million barrels from its daily production as of Jan. 1, while the bloc's outsiders Russia and Azerbaijan announced their own cutbacks of hundreds of thousands of barrels from the market.

Oil prices tumbled close to four-year lows after the announcement, however, a clear indication of the growing belief that the world is heading for a long and painful recession in which energy use will continue to erode.”

--- Just what we need now in this bad economy, more high gas and energy prices. Americans should cut back on car use ASAP. But this also signals a need to have fuel-efficient cars and keeps Detroit on the hook.

More San Francisco fallout from Madoff collapse -

More local fallout from Madoff collapse From SFGate: “With reference to the unfolding $50 billion alleged Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Bernard Madoff, the following e-mail was sent to a number of Bay Area institutions Monday:

Dear Colleagues:

I regretfully write to inform you that due to a sudden financial crisis and the resulting loss of funding, the JEHT Foundation has stopped all grant-making effective immediately and will be closing its doors in early 2009. Unfortunately the funds of the donors to the JEHT Foundation were managed by Bernard L. Madoff, a financial adviser who was arrested last week for defrauding investors out of billions of dollars. ”

-- The ripple impact of this is huge. It goes to show what happens when wealth is concentrated in a few hands that are then fooled by one person. Stories like this are all over the World. And the credit crunch assures these nonprofits will be in dire straights for a while.

Nation's first face transplant done in Cleveland |

Nation's first face transplant done in Cleveland | From AP and AJC : “CLEVELAND — A woman so horribly disfigured she was willing to risk her life to do something about it has undergone the nation's first near-total face transplant, the Cleveland Clinic announced Tuesday. Reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow and a team of other specialists replaced 80 percent of the woman's face with that of a female cadaver a couple of weeks ago in a bold and controversial operation certain to stoke the debate over the ethics of such surgery.

The patient's name and age were not released, and the hospital said her family wanted the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The hospital plans a news conference Wednesday and would not give details until then.”

--- I have to admit I have an issue with this, because I'm wondering about the character of the woman who had her face. It seems like she's taking a new life - someone else's life. But on the other hand, it's better to have a face where people want to approach you than not. The doctors just made sure she would be able to earn a living.

Time names Obama 'Person of the Year'

President-elect Barack H. Obama has been named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2008. The magazine has named Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Gov. Sarah Palin and Chinese director Zhang Yimou as runners-up.

Obama is Person of the Year according to Time magazine.

Why did Time choose Barack Obama? For the some of the same reasons that Seihan Mori, the senior monk at Kyoto's Kiyomizu, temple chose Obama's now-iconic "change" as Japan's character of the year. In an age full of cynicism and tribulation, Obama has inspired many around the world to rekindle their fundamental belief in our potential - to work in hope rather than languish in despair.

VP Dick Cheney's Senior Staff Salaries Hidden From Public

I got an email that was supposedly from Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr's Chief of Staff Kenneth A. Edmonds. In checking online to learn more about Edmonds, I discovered his salary, and that VP Dick Cheney's senior staff salaries are hidden from the public.

Report: Small online news sites more proven than large ones » VentureBeat

Report: Small online news sites more proven than large ones » VentureBeat: “The report uses long tail economics to show how small sites can do well by achieving greater distribution among a niche readership. Because operating costs are so low, these sites can still manage to be successful despite lower rates of advertising revenue. The report describes the revenue model for independent blogs and news sites and it offers, as an example, a news site with 1 million unique visitors a month which generates $1.5 million in annual revenues assuming a $2 CPM (cost per thousand user impressions) rate.”

No Steve Jobs in 2009: Apple Announces Its Last Year at Macworld

Apple Announces Its Last Year at MacworldFrom Apple's website: “CUPERTINO, California—December 16, 2008—Apple® today announced that this year is the last year the company will exhibit at Macworld Expo. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, and it will be Apple’s last keynote at the show. The keynote address will be held at Moscone West on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Macworld will be held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009.”

-- This is definitely the end of an era. I can't imagine anyone getting up at 4 AM to hear Phillip Schiller speak in the morning. I can't help but wonder what the real story here is.

National Journal Online -- Lost in Transition -- E-Government Ball Already Rolling At Commerce

National Journal Online -- Lost in Transition -- E-Government Ball Already Rolling At Commerce: “If Barack Obama wants to prioritize e-government, he might look to the Commerce Department, which has quietly gained a reputation for being one of the most Web-savvy departments in the federal government.
Commerce has long been viewed as a sprawling, almost ungovernable bureaucracy, but over the last few years it has seen significant advances in areas both small (online video) and large (the 2010 census).
"I think the Commerce Department has been aggressive and progressive," said Arnold Jackson, associate director for the 2010 census.”