Tag Archives: San Francisco

Do Androids Dream of Wall Mounted Art?

Do Androids Dream of Wall Mounted Art? San Francisco

Having questions about whether becoming “transhuman” will feel great or kind of, like, weird? Whether the promise of living forever and morphing into a god is something new when it’s presented by science as opposed to superstition?

If so, this new art show probably won’t be of any help to you. It assumes that ushering in a post-human intelligence (The Singularity) will absolutely be super awesome for everyone.

Singularity Schwag - Transform & Transcend; San Francisco

You can understand how an immortality cult of rich, powerful nerds has a need to equate science and art in order to make the idea of evolving into a machine feel less apocalyptic. But I fear they’re gonna have to do better than this.

For example, I give Google credit for their Droid commercials, especially the one of the miners who discover a floating chunk of ore that converts humans into machines – it’s bold and dark and, aside from the presumption that we’ll be given a choice about the conversion, doesn’t sugar coat the horror that would no doubt accompany the process. You’ve probably seen it:

I recommend repeated viewings. Pay attention to the storyline here: Open on what looks like earth, at a futuristic strip mine. A group of folks who cannot breathe the atmosphere enter a sci-fi gate, plunge deep into the earth, pass an empty helmet (it isn’t like theirs – it looks like that of a current-day military pilot), and finally enter the chamber where the levitating mystery ore somehow leads one brave guy to take off his space suit’s sleeve and insert his bare arm into the thing. His arm immediately turns into a machine (with a Verizon-powered Droid phone on the end, naturally).

The best thing about the spot is that it’s fucking cool. The tangible sense of menace in the story raises more questions than it answers.

An earlier spot is simpler, and doesn’t include choice – in the reflection of a closeup of an eyeball, we see someone is simply browsing online and in the process is converted into a machine:

In contrast, here is the propaganda of the Singularitarian cult in its rawest form:

There are no questions here, just answers. It reeks of desperation and fear – fear that no one else on the planet believes their immortalist vision and, therefore, their own day of Transformation will never come.

Relax, guys. Assuming the Machine Intelligence will take cognizance of us at all when it emerges, I’m sure it can resurrect us from the dead along with all of our relatives who have ever passed on. Take a lesson from your religious cousins – have a little faith. If nothing else, it’s more becoming.

Ironically, Google’s approach will probably sweeten people up to the notion of surrendering to the Singularity more than the pure propaganda approach will. It seems that the Google hive mind understands irony better than the wanna-be transhumans. Which is truly, epically, cosmically fucking ironic.

Those Damned 49ers – and I Don’t Mean the Football Team

Those Damned 49ers; San Francisco

KQED’s Quest blog tells a story: In Gold Rush times, monied interests quickly depleted the gold deposits on the surface and in the rivers. So, they invented honking water cannons and blasted away canyon walls and hillsides.

The resulting sludge drained into the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers where it was strained of the gold. Remaining sediment and water was sent into the Central Valley to flood farmland and generally lay waste to ecological systems as far West as the San Francisco Bay. We’ve suffered that pollution ever since.

But, good news! A tipping point has been reached, and Bay waters are 30% clearer now than just 10 years ago. But…

There is always a “but.” The lack of sediment from hydraulic mining could cause us extra trouble when sea levels rise from global warming.

What I find fascinating, yet also extremely challenging, is how the choices we’ve made as a civilization over the decades and centuries combine and sum to create the issues we face right now. There are no simple answers. Regardless of how well-intentioned some environmental programs may be there will always be some uncertainty about how natural systems respond.

None of us could enjoy the land we call California without the Gold Rush. Which makes it all the more frustrating to learn about the bad behavior of the nasty dudes who made it all possible.

Video: Warping Minds at Musée Mécanique

Musee Mecanique, San Francisco

Nestled amongst the schlock and obesity of Fisherman’s Wharf is Musée Mécanique, a working collection of vintage carnival psychedelia. A true San Francisco treasure.

Here is your video:

Music performed & recorded by David Molina.

In this video, local musician and sound artist David Molina captured native audio from the museum and created surreal soundscapes. They were used in an art installation, Homage to Musée Mécanique.

North Beach Gets its Own Cooking Show

Gianni's Pizza Margherita

A while back I did a video piece about Gianni Mola, a colorful North Beach resident who showed us around the neighborhood, claimed (while standing at the edge of Chinatown) that “fresh Italian blood” was coursing back into the restaurant industry, and then took us up to his kitchen while he made gnocchi from scratch.

Afterwards, he asked me to help him create a web cooking show, and I obliged.

Check it out at Gianni.tv. The concept is to show Gianni’s “village” lifestyle in North Beach: how he uses his favorite local food purveyors to source the meal he cooks that night for friends; the importance of “time and place” (seasonality and regional diet); and simple kitchen techniques that can allow anyone to make authentic Italian dishes and meals.

Episodes already released include recipes for Pizza Margherita, Porchetta, and San Marzano tomato sauce.

Subscribe – via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or RSS – to be notified when the next episode drops (about how to create an authentic southern-Italian Sunday Gravy).

Seattle Does San Francisco for Cheap

Bayview Park, Sutro Tower, San Francisco

Courtesy of the City Guides Facebook page, this article from the Seattle Times shows how to have a luxurious good time in San Francisco on a tight budget.

The article is a bit more thorough and creative than most of its type, but I’d take it further and, for the truly adventurous, try using CouchSurfing.org to avoid paying high city hotel room rates – you’ll also meet real locals in the process.

Can’t make it to China, Japan, France, Italy or Mexico this year? Explore San Francisco’s ethnic neighborhoods and attractions, and circle the globe without leaving town… Dim Sum in Chinatown? Panini in Italian North Beach? Both are tempting, but we settled on the Mission District for an afternoon of street art, tacos and ice cream.

I do love that they recommend free City Guides walking tours, something every SF local should take advantage of (be sure to donate!). Last year they served nearly 40,000 walkers, and have dozens of tours, most of which can be dropped in on without a reservation. (Full disclosure: I recently graduated from the excellent guide training program at City Guides; stay tuned for more details.)

LA’s Sit/Lie Law in San Francisco

LA's Sit/Lie Law in San Francisco; photo by BayView Times/Sheet Roots
Photo by BayView Times/Sheet Roots

This article in the SF BayView doesn’t pretend to be neutral on the issue. It does, however, provide a helpful perspective on the proposed law:

If we want to compare Proposition L with another city’s sit/lie law, we should really look to our tougher, rougher, bigger neighbor to the south: Los Angeles. The enforcement program for the sit/lie law there was designed while our current chief of police Gascon was second in command. The San Francisco law looks and feels eerily familiar compared to the Los Angeles one…

The main features of the initiative were described in a 2002 internal LAPD memo entitled “Homeless Reduction Strategies.” The public relations campaign for SCI was designed by Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow George L. Kelling, who was paid about $500,000 in consulting fees…

The San Francisco proponents of sit/lie are currently quoting arather long article by Manhattan Institute writer Heather Mac Donald, who has been described as “the thinking bigot’s Ann Coulter.” …

Much like the LA law, the major proponents of Prop L are financial, real estate and hotel interests and the upper police department brass. Both initiatives were introduced by seemingly liberal mayors. In both San Francisco and Los Angeles, the image of the white mother and baby under threat were used repeatedly in their public relations work.

Several SU readers have spoken out in support of Sit/Lie here, where I pointed out the Manhattan Institute’s connections with Giuliani’s remaking of Times Square.

What do you think? (Read the whole BayView article here.)

Giuliani’s Brain Spanks San Francisco

Giuliani's Brain Attacks San Francisco

The visionaries who saved Times Square have decided to lend their beneficence to our fair city, and show us once and for all how only “the will to enforce common norms of public behavior” can clean up areas like the Haight-Ashbury, ridding it of the gutter-punks and pit bulls.

But in the process, our Doms have to deliver some tough love, especially to those employed by “Homelessness, Inc.” here in the city. Yes, Daddy, we’ve been very bad. Hurt us! Give us what we deserve! We don’t want to hear that the solution to every civic problem is incarceration, but my, we do NEED to hear it.

One of the more precious quotes in the article suggests our reward if we obey:

Police officials and local entrepreneurs speak wistfully of the transformation of New York’s Times Square, and they still hope that it could happen here [in the Tenderloin].

They do prescribe one non-police action to achieve this shopper’s utopia:

Perhaps, too, such public passivity in the face of crime owes to the city’s lack of a tabloid newspaper; in New York, such grisly events, which were common in the early 1990s, sparked widespread outrage in no small part because papers like the New York Post made them front-page news.

San Francisco Has Wood – Ladders

Ours is the only fire department in the country that makes and uses wooden ladders. Before the fir used to make the ladders can be utilized it has to sit and age for 15 years. Amazingly, they repair ladders that are close to 100 years old for future use.

This is a fascinating piece. I could do without the cheesy anchorman voice-over, but other than that, I was riveted for the whole 3:55 duration.

The video’s been around for about a month now and I don’t know how I missed it.

The Cheapest Beers

The Cheapest Beer, San Francisco

Steve Robles spends his free time wisely, and passes the savings on to us:

Whether you’re unemployed, underemployed, or squirreling away your, ahem, nuts in terror of the post–American Empire Mad Max economapocalypse to come, these are hard times for beer lovers who like their pints out in public. You need cheap suds. Here’s a guide to staying within your meager budget while enjoying an oat soda or 10 to help you swallow the bitter pill that is the Bay Area economy. And cheer up, you ol’ bugger: it’s beer o’ clock!

SFBG has the whole story.

North Beach Old and New

North Beach Boundaries, Fresh Italian Blood; San Francisco

Presented through the eyes and hands of local North Beach resident, John “Gianni” Mola, a former poverty lawyer and Old World Italy aficionado, this video first touches on Chinatown’s growth into previous North Beach territory, then presents some restaurants that are part of what Mola sees as a trend of Italian immigrants coming back into North Beach.

It finishes with him sourcing and making a gnocchi dish from scratch. Do not watch this video while hungry!

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