News and Reaction, Politics, Testimonials

2008 Election: San Francisco

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/03/2008-election-san-francisco/

For both the School Board and the Community College board, voters are allowed to select up to four candidates. My selections are presented in the order the names appear in the voter information guide.

San Francisco School Board

Marigrace Cohen has worked throughout SFUSD “in the trenches” for four decades. This should prove an invaluable perspective on how the district really works. Support for JROTC also stands out.

Omar Khalif is obviously a proud parent, whose focus is on the needs of students and parents striving to achieve within the public schools. His emphasis on school choice and freedom for students to access all available programs resonates with me.

Emily Murase brings diverse business and public policy experience to the table. A combination of being a public school parent and executive skills should serve the school board well.

Jill Wynns has served sixteen years. I am concerned that an “establishment” candidate may offer experience but may not facilitate needed changes. Her endorsement by my local supervisor, Carmen Chu, who should have a good perspective on the desires of local parents tips the scales for me to favor Jill Wynns.

San Francisco Community College Board

Dr Natalie Berg brings considerable experience, including three terms as board president and 30 years as a teacher.

Chris Jackson outlines a nice agenda that speaks to contemporary concerns. His experience working with various organizations and the state legislature hints at a flexible and energetic approach to getting things done.

Steve Ngo offers a moving personal narrative that underlines a bone-deep appreciation of vocational education. He comes across as a man with the drive, perspective and talent to tackle the job.

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News and Reaction, Politics, Testimonials

2008 Election: San Francisco Ballot Propositions

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/03/2008-election-san-francisco-ballot-propositions/

Prop A: San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center Earthquake Safety Bonds, 2008

NO I agree that it is critical to rebuild San Francisco’s lone trauma center and I want to support Prop A. However, the opposition argument raises serious concerns, first and foremost that the new hospital building will be constructed between two brick structures not scheduled for retrofit before 2015, thus “a catastrophic earthquake could crush the new hospital.” The rebuttal does not address what strikes me as a very serious objection. I am further disturbed that the pages and pages of paid arguments in support are mostly underwritten by the same handful of unions over and over, as if the project is being railroaded through by determined interest groups. I believe that rebuilding General Hospital is a critical priority, and in the unlikely event that Prop A fails to pass this year, I hope a better proposal can be offered next year.

Prop B: Establishing Affordable Housing Fund

NO Affordable housing is a laudable objective. I do not see the need to write this priority in to the budget, rather than trusting the city with the flexibility to address budget priorities.

Prop C: Prohibiting City Employees from Serving on Charter Boards and Commissions

NO Avoiding conflicts of interest is a best practice. I can also fathom that a city employee could conceivably act on a board, bringing valuable perspective while avoiding ethical conflicts. The opposition argument is well put: “this is a solution in search of a problem.”

Prop D: Financing Pier 70 Waterfront District Development Plan upon Board of Supervisors’ Approval

This sounds like a good idea but I have no feelings either way.

Prop E: Changing the Number of Signatures Required to Recall City Officials

YES Signature verification may not be strictly necessary but it strikes me as a best practice. Adoption ought to help head off potentially abusive recall petitions in the future.

Prop F: Holding All Scheduled City Elections Only in Even-Numbered Years

YES As a voter who bothers to read through the issues, every election takes some effort. I’m happy to do this every other year, saving me some homework and the city some expense.

Prop G: Allowing Retirement System Credit for Unpaid Parental Leave


Prop H: Setting Clean Energy Deadlines; Studying Options for Providing Energy; Changing Revenue Bond Authority to Pay for Public Utility Facilities

YES While I am wary of the power this invests in the government and PUC to screw things up, I do feel that Global Warming is possibly the biggest threat we face as a species, and taking bold, risky action to set an example in this crisis is worthwhile. The unending barrage of lobbying against this proposition on the part of PG&E implies that municipal power may even be a wise investment, not only for the environment but for city government and utility consumers.

Prop I: Creating the Office of an Independent Rate Payer Advocate

YES This sounds like a sensible check on the powers of a public entity, and a potentially wise investment to have made if Prop H passes.

Prop J: Creating a Historic Preservation Commission

YES This sounds like a sensible proposal with near-universal support. Hopefully such a commission can preserve and improve historical preservation in an iconic, world-class city that receives substantial benefit from tourism.

Prop K: Changing the Enforcement of Laws Related to Prostitution and Sex Workers

YES I am concerned that Proposition K eliminates the funding source for the First Offenders Prostitution Program, which funds diversion for sex workers to leave the trade. I am also concerned that K may allow pimping. I believe these concerns are overshadowed by the possibility that this will empower sex workers to report rape and other abusive situations to police, which I hope will open the system to more effectively target abusive pimps and Johns and ideally investigate and prosecute human traffickers. If Prop K passes I believe the city and private organizations must act to fill in the gap of the unfunded diversion program and work with sex workers to target abuse and trafficking. The comptroller estimates a savings of $1.6 to $3.2 million in annual enforcement costs, some of which could perhaps be redirected to cover the $250k presently available to diversion. The city also has a progressive, tolerant populace and numerous organizations that ought to do a fair job of supporting sex workers and helping them move on to better lives.

Prop L: Funding the Community Justice Center

NO The CJC sounds like a good institution, but this really is a Board of Supervisors issue to maintain funding that does not require voter intervention.

Prop M: Changing the Residential Rent Ordinance to Prohibit Specific Acts of Harassment of Tenants by Landlords

NO San Francisco is very strong on tenants’ rights. I don’t see any pressing need for this proposition.

Prop N: Changing Real Property Transfer Tax Rates

NO While I am sympathetic to solar energy I do not see the need to increase this tax. The solar energy provision sounds like a special-interest sweetener to pass an otherwise non-compelling revenue enhancement effort.

Prop O: Replacing the Emergency Response Fee with an Access Line Tax and Revising the Telephone Users Tax

YES This is a straightforward reform to 911 funding that replaces a “fee” with an equivalent “tax” to avoid a legal challenge, with updates to cover VoIP services and the like. Opposed mainly by Libertarians, so it must be sensible.

Prop P: Changing the Composition of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board

NO This sounds like a pissing match between the Mayor and Everyone Else.

Prop Q: Modifying the Payroll Expense Tax

YES A straightforward tax reform that closes a loophole, raises a tax ceiling for small businesses, increases city revenue, and upsets the Republican Party. Sweet!

Prop R: Renaming the Oceanside Water Treatment Plant

NO Fucking hilarious. But I’d sooner put Bush in the past than saddle critical public infrastructure with such infamy. This honor may be more appropriate to a superfund site or a toxic / radioactive waste storage facility. Nevertheless this cheeky proposition makes me glad to live in a city with a healthy sense of humor.

Prop S: Policy Regarding Budget Set-Asides and Identification of Replacement Funds

YES A sensible appeal by the mayor to have set-asides from propositions “clean up after themselves” after 10 years.

Prop T: Free and Low-Cost Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

NO Substance abuse treatment is a wise and righteous investment, but budget discretion is best left with the Board of Supervisors.

Prop U: Policy Against Funding the Deployment of Armed Forces in Iraq

NO This is a federal issue and a matter of conscience on the part of our elected officials.

Prop V: Policy Against Terminating Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Programs in Public High Schools

YES The military should reverse its self-destructive discrimination against gay service members. The city of San Francisco should reverse its self-indulgent hostility toward the patriotic duty of military service. Just as openly homosexual people should be allowed to serve in our national defense, so to should high school students interested in military service be afforded the opportunity to enroll in JROTC.

See Also: Vincent Lauria

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News and Reaction, Politics, Sundry, Testimonials

San Francisco: No on R!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/03/san-francisco-no-on-r/

Last week I contacted the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission regarding Prop R, to rename the sewage treatment plant for George W Bush. I just heard back from their Communications and Outreach department:

Dear Daniel Howard

This is a modern facility that protects the ocean and the environment every day. And yes, we feel that this proposition would denigrate the fine work performed at our plant.

Please do not reply to this email.
If you have additional questions, please submit them through our Feedback area at:

I encourage everyone to vote NO on R!

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Politics, Sundry

Election Day

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/04/i-voted/

Election Day

I voted! This is the first time I encountered a line at the polling place, which had twice as many booths as usual. I’d say turnout is high but there are also a fuckload of propositions on the San Francisco ballot, which was 4 over-sized cards, most of them double-sided.

I spoiled my first ballot, and had to ask for a fresh one.


About Me, Featured, News and Reaction, Politics

DST Increases Energy Consumption

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/07/dst-increases-energy-consumption/

I have a deep-rooted aversion to Daylight Saving Time, that ritual where we screw with the clocks in the Spring and the Fall to get people out of bed earlier so that, originally, New York stock brokers could get an hour of trading in before the London exchange closed, and later so that people may have more time to spend money on leisure sports in the afternoon. Farmers and parents find it a bear, since animals and children don’t really appreciate having their schedules re-adjusted.

But really, it saves energy! Look! Science!


According to a new study of energy consumption in Indiana, Daylight Saving Time actually results in increased energy consumption, especially in the Fall. Remember when the Bush Administration extended Daylight Saving Time a few years back as a magical way to conserve energy without actually doing anything? (I remember, because I had to patch servers to keep their clocks consistent with Congressional legislation.) The study finds that DST increases energy consumption the most in the fall!

Estimates of the overall increase are approximately 1 percent, but we find that the effect is not constant throughout the D.S.T. period. D.S.T. causes the greatest increase in electricity consumption in the fall, when estimates range between 2 and 4 percent.

These findings are consistent with simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. We estimate a cost of increased electricity bills to Indiana households of $9 million per year. We also estimate social costs of increased pollution emissions that range from $1.7 to $5.5 million per year. Finally, we argue that the effect is likely to be even stronger in other regions of the United States.

Thank you, New York Times Freakonomics Blog!!

Basically, the gist of it is if people get home earlier in the afternoon, they save money on lighting, but they fire up the AC or the heat. Back in WWII when people had more incandescent lighting than climate control, DST may actually have saved a bit of energy.

My main objection is that monkeying with the clocks is a very messy way to implement a notion to “wake up earlier in the summer and enjoy the morning” but I’m a crank.

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Featured, Sundry, Technical

Makefile, fortune

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/10/haha-im-so-broke/

One of my favorite automation strategies is to use Makefiles. The reason is that unlike a shell script you get free error-checking: a Makefile will bomb out on you if one command in the sequence fails. You can also chain targets together, lay out sub-dependencies, and the rest. I’m just finishing up on a little project which has this as the top-level target:

# default
all: dhcp sync yay

# cron-able
dhcp: hosts restart-dhcpd

# Positive feedback rocks!
        @echo "YAY!  Have a fortune cookie:"
        @fortune -sa

The first target, “all” is what will be run when a user types “make” and you see that things get broken down further. The “sync” target depends on the user to either enter a password or forward an ssh credential. (more…)

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About Me, Featured, Letters to The Man, News and Reaction, Politics, Relationship Advice, Religion, Sundry, Testimonials

Proposition 8

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/11/gay-marriage-pro-love/

One week ago the people of this country began to party in the streets. I was actually driving down 16th St when I had to stop because the street had been spontaneously closed by joyful San Franciscans. Once I got on my way home I passed Market and Castro. Castro was blocked off for a formal street party, but the crowds seemed subdued. Upon arriving home I saw that Prop 8, repealing the right of people to marry a person of their own sex, was ahead.

Joy at electing a remarkable man to the White House. But a gut-punch to those of us who feel deeply about equal rights.

Just now I received a link to Keith Olbermann, and NBC commentator, who does an excellent job of expressing my dismay over Proposition 8:

The gist: marriage is about Love. At the time Barack Obama was born his parents’ marriage was illegal in 1/3 of the United States, and in the days of slavery, marriage between black people was illegal. There is no advantage to be had in opposing gay marriage, and in this culture where we feel uncomfortable about the impermanence of relationships, and the high rate of divorce, if two people can find love, we ought to allow them to enjoy it the same as anyone else.

While there are lawsuits out to restore same-sex marriage through the courts, my personal hope is that we can put it on the ballot again, and that next time it comes before the people of California, the people will have grown in their own hearts to accept that allowing lovers to marry is what we ought to do. We gained ten points since the last ballot proposition, and Prop 8 would likely have failed were it not for balls-out misinformation fear campaign by the Mormon Church and other cultural conservatives, who viewed popular support for same-sex marriage in California as the first step in a trend that would ultimately lead to acceptance of same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

We have work ahead to ensure the rights of a minority that has been tormented for too long.

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Free Style, Sundry

Budget Cuts

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/14/budget-cuts/

Budget Cuts

Welcome to the recession. My employer has reduced the budget. We will maintain a constant headcount but need to reduce discretionary spending. We’ll keep serving bagels on Friday mornings, but no more fancy salmon dill red bell pepper pesto “lite” cream cheese.

All the same, while I can enjoy Philly Cream Cheese-“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”? Haha! 1980s flashback spread!

Mainly, I am happy and lucky to be in a pretty decent position to ride out this downturn with my income intact. Though, I have a nice cushion in the bank just-in-case. If I do find myself unemployed I may move out of my place and hit the road for several months.

On a less jovial note, the remains of a bookstore I recently saw in the Inner Sunset:

Sudden Closure


Free Style, Good Reads, Sundry, Technical, Technology

Effective Caffeine Use

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/19/effective-caffeine-use/

Wow. Someone, I think at work, just got me on this article called “The Calculus of Caffeine Consumption” — insightful!

So, the idea is that caffeine can either be used to keep you awake and functioning at a basic level, like say while you’re driving cross-country, or it can be used to enhance your cognitive peaks, in case you’re trying to really get the mind crunching on some problem so you can produce a paper or code or such. Further advice is that because caffeine tolerance builds up after a few weeks, caffeine becomes ineffective. The best strategy is to go off caffeine when you don’t need it, and use caffeine wisely when it is needed.

For my part, in the past year, I have gone through the occasional abstinence. More frequently though, I drink tea during the day, which has less caffeine, and then when I need to kick it up a notch, or to wash down some tasty chocolate, I drink coffee. Part of my weekend ritual is to have a “chocolate croissant” and a coffee, after which I have a really aggressive creative buzz going on, even though I have been drinking tea at work all week.

The other advice is that creativity peaks shortly after you have just woken up. Therefor one might try scheduling creative periods after a morning cup of coffee, then an early afternoon nap, followed by another cup of coffee.

I wonder if instead I should have a cup of tea in the early evening, so I can enjoy a moderate creative boost at home on my own time.

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Linux, Technical

Ubuntu: Turn off Periodic FSCK

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/19/e2fsck-frog-off/

I halt my computer at night, and boot it in the morning. This reduces my carbon impact. Alas, Ubuntu for whatever brain-dead reason doesn’t trust its filesystem. As if we lived in the 1970s it insists on checking the filesystem consistency every thirtieth boot. I sip my morning coffee, check my workstation, and have to hit ESC . . .

So, I googled a bit, and found a helpful forum thread. I thought I’d offer my own tiny variation:

0-09:57 dannhowa@T60p ~$ sudo tune2fs -c 0 `mount | awk '$3 == "/" {print $1}'`
tune2fs 1.40.8 (13-Mar-2008)
Setting maximal mount count to -1

Update: wamukota made an excellent suggestion, that one can instead set an interval with the -i flag. For example, one could set their computer to check every three months:

0-19:06 djh@noneedto ~$ sudo tune2fs -i 3m `mount | awk '$3 == "/" {print $1}'`
tune2fs 1.41.4 (27-Jan-2009)
Setting interval between checks to 7776000 seconds

Okay, that is a scary-looking command-line. Let me break it down. (more…)

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Excerpts, Featured, Language, News and Reaction, Politics, Testimonials

“It is not that Southerners are racist . . .”

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/23/racism-isnt-racis/

I enjoy the New York Times “Freakonomics” Blog but recently I was reminded of one of the shortcomings of modern academics: they can deny common sense by talking too much. Take the following sentence recently published by Eric Oliver:

“Racially isolated whites in Arkansas or Alabama may have been more afraid of voting for Obama not because they are more racist than white voters in Minnesota or Montana, but because they perceive greater racial competition with nearby black populations.”

Seriously: WTF? This is like saying: “It is not that they are racist, it is just that they have a reason to be racist.”

“When Frank got into a car accident while under the influence of alcohol, it isn’t because he was a drunk driver, it is just that he has been going through a lot lately, and he enjoys drinking a lot of cheap beer.”


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Quotes, Religion

Quotes: Sabbath

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/25/quotes-sabbath/

These are probably from a recent issue of The Sun.

“A human being who has not a single hour for his own every day is no human being.”

–Rabbi Moshe Leib

My party had been pushing ahead at a fast pace for a number of days, and one morning when we were ready to set out, our native bearers, who carried the food and equipment, were found sitting about without any preparations made for starting the day.

Upon being questioned, they said, quite simply, that they had been traveling so fast in these last days that they had gotten ahead of their souls and were going to stay quietly in camp for the day in order for their souls to catch up with them.

–Andre Gide

Winter makes me sluggish.

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Arrr! . . . Avast!
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