Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Night Videos

Iijima Hiroki : Portrait of a Kendama Samurai from Matthew Ballard on Vimeo.

'Cockatoo' (2012, short film) from Ninja Milk - Social. Content. on Vimeo.

Frozen Tundra from Oliver Würffell on Vimeo.

The Conditioned from Facebook Stories on Vimeo.

Out of Bounds from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.

Mémoires from La Forêt Des Renards on Vimeo.

Strawberry Citizen will not be Deterred from getting a hearing on the Strawberry Priority Development Area.

Prepared Remarks Delivered during Open Time for Public Expression at the Marin County Board of Supervisors Hearing on February 4, 2014

This is my fourteenth consecutive appearance, this time to acknowledge that you finally have set a date for the Strawberry PDA after 7 long months of unjustified delays.

In contrast, you rescinded other PDAs in less than 40 days from start to finish.

No other PDA had to wait this long for a hearing.

No other PDA had to wait for an arbitrary window imposed by ABAG to opt out.

And, no other PDA had to appear before the TAM Board.

To his credit, Supervisor Kinsey is the only one of you to announce that he would vote in favor of any community that wanted to opt out because inclusion in a PDA is supposed to be voluntary.  On the other hand, each of you could have moved to put the Strawberry PDA on your calendar sooner, but none of you did.

President Sears announced that you will “consider whether to maintain, re-draw, or entirely withdraw” Strawberry’s current PDA designation.

Let me be crystal clear: The overwhelming majority of Strawberry residents wants to opt out.  If any of you are entertaining a vote to maintain or re-draw our PDA, then you will be exposed for continuing the pattern of refusing to listen to your constituents.

Please think about how this headline will play politically:


You will destroy Plan Bay Area’s tenet that PDAs are voluntary agreements, and you will infuriate taxpayers by mis-allocating scarce transportation funds.

Strawberry residents who live on Belvedere Drive have asked President Sears for relatively modest amounts for real and immediate improvements, such as the installation of speed bumps, or traffic signs that say “No Right Hand Turns During Rush Hours” to curtail the current practice of many motorists who cut across our community and speed through our surface streets to avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic on Highway 101. 

None of us has asked for a $261,000 PDA grant to fund yet another study prepared by private-sector traffic consultants.  This Board has a penchant for directing substantial sums to outside consultants, when our very capable Public Works staff could perform the same tasks in house.

We all have to face the facts: Our PDA system of awarding transportation grants is not working as originally envisioned for Transit Oriented Development, and may not even be appropriate for our small County.

Of the 11 cities and towns in Marin, not a single one has volunteered to be a PDA, except downtown San Rafael.

Only 3 PDAs remain in unincorporated areas.

Strawberry and Marin City have the two highest percentages of renter occupied units in the County.  Strawberry has 61% and Marin City has 69%.
They will never be served by Smart Train.

By refusing to let Strawberry opt out, you expect us to absorb even more high density rental units than we have already.

You can’t foster sustainable communities if there are far more renters than owners because the tax base will not support it.

Here’s one solution.  Let Strawberry opt out and redirect our PDA share to Downtown San Rafael and Cal Park.  One of our County’s top priorities is to complete the missing Smart Train link from San Rafael to Larkspur.  Both of these PDAs lie along the proposed link.  They will need all of the money they can get, and they aren’t complaining about their PDA status, so let them have the money."

Friday, February 14, 2014

VIDEO: Joni Mitchell, "They paved paradise..."

Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell Printer-friendly version of this lyric

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel *, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum *
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that DDT * now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Marinwood was built in the 50s and 60s.   Now, urban planners from Marin County and the Association of Bay Area Governments have declared us the "Marinwood Priority Development Area"

71% of all affordable housing in unincorporated Marin will be built from St. Vincents to Marinwood up through Grady Ranch.  If built to plan it will grow our community by 25%.  In addition,  they have identified other areas throughout the valley to build high density housing.  It is a developers dream.  The building and environmental restrictions have been loosened.  There is abundant financing available and very generous tax breaks.

Learn more about the plans for massive expansion of housing and population in our treasured valley.
Attend meetings. Call and write our representatives.  Help us spread the word. Vote.

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot"

HUD Suburb Integration like Marinwood Village discredited by Own Research.

HUD Suburb Integration Plan Undercut By Its Own Study

HUD Suburb Integration Plan Undercut By Its Own Study

22 Comments Wed, Jan 22 2014 00:00:00 E A01_A1
HUD argues that too many minorities live in neighborhoods "served by schools whose students' test scores are significantly lower than the schools...
HUD argues that too many minorities live in neighborhoods "served by schools whose students' test scores are significantly lower than the schools... View Enlarged Image
The social theory behind a sweeping new Housing and Urban Development Department proposal to racially integrate suburbs was discredited by the federal agency's own research on a prior program, IBD has learned.

HUD aims to engineer a massive resettlement of neighborhoods on the hunch that urban poor who move to suburban areas will get better jobs and perform better in school. Officials say this justifies forcing local officials to loosen zoning laws and other "barriers" limiting development of affordable housing.

But a comprehensive November 2011 study sponsored by HUD's research unit undermines the reasoning for what critics call an unprecedented federal intrusion into local housing affairs.

The study analyzed HUD's Moving to Opportunity initiative, a 15-year housing program launched in 1994. The program aimed to boost employment and education prospects for urban poor by providing access to better housing, schools and jobs in more affluent neighborhoods.

By those objectives, the experiment bombed.

Poor Outcomes

Though HUD moved thousands of mostly African-American families from government projects to higher-quality homes in safer and less racially segregated neighborhoods, the adults for the most part did not get better jobs or get off welfare. In fact, more went on food stamps. And their children did not do better in their new schools.

Despite enrolling in schools that ranked higher on state exams and drew their student bodies from "considerably safer and more affluent neighborhoods," the HUD-sponsored study found the children had no gains in reading or math achievement tests between 1994 and 2008. They generally earned the same grades and were held back at the same rates as control-group peers who remained at their old inner-city schools.

In fact, the program saw "slightly worse outcomes in some respects for Section 8 males, who were less likely to be on track educationally and less likely to have attended college."
Job outcomes were equally disappointing.

The 287-page study found that adults who relocated outside the inner city using Section 8 housing vouchers did not avail themselves of better job opportunities in their new neighborhoods, and saw a "sizable negative impact on annual earnings."

"Moving to lower-poverty neighborhoods does not appear to improve education outcomes, employment or earnings," the study concluded.

Same Players

Many top HUD officials who played key roles in administering the program now champion the expansive new regulation. They include Deputy Assistant Secretary for Programs and Enforcement Sara Pratt, who worked at HUD during the Clinton administration.

Yet HUD expects that minorities who relocate under its suburban integration mandate — recently published in the Federal Register under the title Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing — will see gains in both education and employment. The agency is expected to finalize the regulation early this year.

"Low-income students who have access to asset-rich neighborhoods with good schools may realize math and reading gains that help close the achievement gap," HUD's 34-page rule states. The proposal does not mention the 2011 study or its findings.

In a companion document assessing the regulation's costs, HUD briefly cites its prior failed program, acknowledging it did not produce "evidence of success" in employment and education, but states that "there were improvements in other aspects such as mental health."

Though HUD admits relocated urban poor did not benefit from suburban "assets," it insists its planned integration efforts have "the potential" to provide them "the benefits associated with high-income neighborhoods."

The agency argues that too many minorities live in neighborhoods "served by schools whose students' test scores are significantly lower than the schools serving the neighborhood in which the average white household lives." HUD plans to lean hard on cities where "this disparity in access to a quality education" exists.

The agency also is targeting cities showing racial disparities in "employment numbers for African-American and white households." It posits that inner-city blacks, who generally have higher unemployment, "might be hampered because of a lack of access to important job centers."

In its draft regulation, HUD mandates that city officials identify such disparities and submit plans for closing them. Plans that amend or waive zoning rules to allow development of more affordable and subsidized housing in suburban areas — and then "affirmatively market" those units to urban poor — stand the best chance of approval.

Pressure On Suburbs

HUD is tying compliance to future federal funding. Besides losing housing grant money, cities that fail to comply could be sued for civil-rights violations.
Some 4,500 municipalities and counties would be affected by the new regulation.
The agency ambitiously asserts it wants to "eliminate racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty" across the U.S.

Critics say HUD's mandate not only would provide little economic benefit for urban minorities but also could harm suburban neighborhoods by reducing safety and lowering property values.

HUD argues its housing integration mandate will help inner-city minorities victimized by gang violence move to safer areas and escape a life of crime.

But crime followed minorities in the Moving to Opportunity program.
"Males in the experimental group were arrested more often than those in the control group, primarily for property crimes," the study found.

The findings confirm the fears of many critics of HUD's proposal, who argue that crime often spikes in areas where Section 8 housing tenants resettle.

Relocating Crime

Academic studies over the past decade back them up. They show violent crime, including murder, generally followed subsidized housing tenants dispersed to suburban areas in several cities where housing choice programs were tried. The cities include Memphis, Tenn.; Louisville, Ky.; Indianapolis; Riverside, Calif.; Baltimore; Antioch, Calif.; Chicago; and Cincinnati.

"Homicide was simply moved to a new location, not eliminated," concluded University of Louisville criminologist Geetha Suresh in a 2009 paper in Homicide Studies.

Moving to Opportunity was HUD's most ambitious social experiment ever, involving more than 4,600 families from several major cities. Despite its failure, HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation would follow its footsteps, but on a much-wider scale and with far greater federal intrusion.

"A more comprehensive approach is needed," said senior HUD official Raphael Bostic, though he admitted in a foreword to the 2011 study that families enrolled in the program had "no better educational, employment and income outcomes."

The study's authors, all of whom are scholars teaching at major colleges such as Harvard and the University of Chicago, doubt the government would see any better results from a more aggressive relocation program that placed urban poor in even more affluent areas.
"Some social scientists have reacted with surprise to the fact that (the Moving to Opportunity program) has not had more pronounced impacts on outcomes like employment rates or earnings," they said in the conclusion to their report. "They have argued that MTO is not a fair test because the demonstration did not generate changes in neighborhood conditions that are 'large enough.'"

"But," they argued, "the range of neighborhood variation induced by MTO is about as large as what we could possibly imagine any feasible housing policy achieving."

HUD suggests in the executive summary of its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing draft rule that its own policymakers are not confident the housing mandate will produce the desired outcomes.

Agency Notes Uncertainty

Its disclaimer reads: "There is significant uncertainty associated with quantifying outcomes of the process, proposed by this rule, to identify barriers to fair housing, the priorities of program participants in deciding which barriers to address, the types of policies designed to address those barriers, and the effects of those policies on protected (minority) classes."

Yet the edict threatens to alter the landscape of American neighborhoods.
Critics warn that the federal government could end up doubling down on failure.
"Expect the same failed results, but on a national scale," said ex-Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., in a recent interview.

Read More At Investor's Business Daily:
Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook

Editors Note: Marin is a county targeted by HUD for their new programs.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Libertarians vs. Conservatives on Social Issues

A Marxian Case for Capitalism

Rise of the Libertarians

Rise of the Libertarians 


A lot of people are messing with libertarianism. We get it. If you see an alternative worldview gaining currency as your own is starting to lose out: attack, attack, attack. Strategically, it’s probably smart.

When Jane Mayer wrote that sloppy hit piece for The New Yorker against the Brothers Koch a few years back, it was way more strategic than personal: These are the folks who give money to organizations that don’t agree with you about lots of things. If you want to weaken those groups, villainize the funders by any means necessary to make their donations toxic.

Well played. The bigger problem for progressives, however, is that libertarianism has grown far larger than any billionaire's money. So you have to do still more to kill the movement. At the very least that means using heaping helpings of intellectual dishonesty. Can you swiftboat a movement?

In a recent New York Times piece profiling Rand Paul, Sam Tanenhaus and Jim Rutenberg write that libertarians are a bunch of “antitax activists and war protestors, John Birch Society members, and a smatter of truthers who suspect the government’s hand in the 2001 terrorist attacks.” Why would the Times not instead describe folks like Times columnist Tyler Cowen, Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, or investor Peter Thiel? That’s not part of the narrative.

Let’s get to the heart of the matter: Progressives are afraid. Just when they seized the ring, their power is ebbing. Outlets have to make libertarian voodoo dolls so they act as pricks. But why is libertarianism gaining so much traction? What is the true source of the prog media’s fear?  

1.   Libertarianism is the new “center.” At the risk of raising the hackles of the hyperanalytical, consider this: Most people think of Ds as being on the left and Rs as being on the right. Remember: It’s about popular perceptions. And when we think in terms of those perceptions, most people think of Rs as being fiscally and socially conservative and Ds as being fiscally and socially liberal. The old center was once about being either squishy in both departments, or about being fiscally liberal and socially conservative. But a new “center” is emerging. As people become disaffected with all the bad economic policies of the Obama administration and all of the preachy moralisms of the Republican status quo, most are gravitating to a position that looks decidedly more libertarian—that is, fiscally conservative and socially liberal.2.   Progressivism is the status quo. Stranger still, leftish progressivism has been part of the status quo for so long, what at one time seemed forward-thinking now seems positively quaint. I can see Rachel Maddow standing out by the Hoover Dam begging us to go back to the ineffectual make-work programs of the 1930s. The world isn’t really about “things” anymore. In other words, in the peer-to-peer age, you really want to try to solve the world’s problems with the blunt instrument of government power? Dirigisme? How gauche. Government has been flogging that old mule for centuries now: Taxes, subsidies, and mandates. Lather, rinse, repeat. Is that all you got? It sort of inverts the terms “liberal” and “conservative” when you think about it. Progressives don’t want change; they want the same old things that don’t work. And when people listen to libertarians, they learn why. (Hint: libertarians actually understand economics.)

3.   Libertarianism is a powerful vision. If the technocrat’s dream was a man standing on the moon, the libertarian’s dream is of a peaceful, prosperous city-state (perhaps on the sea) built after bright, creative, and conscientious people. That’s because ours is a philosophy of peaceful cooperation, real community, and lateral relationships. Indeed, it is only through cooperation, community, and lateral relationships that free people get things done. Technocrats look around at the world and feel that society—and especially the economy—is like a rocket they have to launch and keep fixing in flight. But you have to have the right people at mission control, they believe. You have to have the right technicians designing this thing. But society is not like a rocket at all. It’s like a coral reef, which rises up from the ocean floor thanks to billions of interactions none of which anyone planned. Ordinary people are starting to grok that.

4.   Partisan politics is dying. The kids today are growing up (a) in an era of high-tech decentralization, and (b) in an era where electoral politics is being exposed as one big charade. They’re becoming increasingly disaffected with the back-biting, name-calling, cronyism, and bureaucratic bungling that is the nature of this particular beast we call politics. And politics is the primary means for both conservatives and progressives. While partisans sit around and pontificate, young people are exercising their freedom and making the world a better place through massive open-source networks. This is the essence of opt-out culture. Millennials, having grown up on the Web, are not really into centralization, and thus not into politics. It’s much easier for them to imagine a world in which you choose from thousands of “apps” (emergent communities) than a world in which every couple of years you wait in line for ages to send your prayers up to get one of two crummy apps—only to have them both suck. Libertarianism is the antidote to this failed democratic operating system (DOS).

5.   Libertarianism is not conservatism. It’s easier to pick on conservatism. It appears quaint, less cosmopolitan. It’s a worldview that seems headed over a demographic cliff. Zealous concern for so-called “family values” falls flat for younger people who have become far more tolerant of different sorts of family arrangements, lifestyles, and social norms. While libertarians tend to be far more socially tolerant, libertarianism is adaptable because it’s primarily a political doctrine—which is to say it makes room for all sorts of personal moralities. You can be a family-values conservative and still be libertarian. You might not choose alternative lifestyles for yourself, but you’re unwilling to have others thrown into jail for choosing those lifestyles. And this libertarian tolerance is a welcome shelter from the false dichotomy propped up by the puritans of political correctness and by Fox News viewers looking to flare up the culture wars.

6.   Progressivism’s cracks have finally been exposed. Progressives will urge that Obama is not the change they hoped for. But the Affordable Care Act should have been progressivism’s shining moment. Of course, it was anything but. First the president lies to the population, then joins his party in forcing Americans to swallow the bitter pill of Obamacare. He then unleashes the technocrats and gives contracts to his crony buddies to create a $500 million non-functioning Web site (and that’s just the start of the crony bonanza). The president then assures everyone that the wasted resources, high premiums, and diminished options are for the greater good. People start to get wise to it. Progressivism's cracks are exposed. Add the failure of Cash for Clunkers, the failure of Solyndra, all the bailouts of banking cartels, and the “rescue” of the auto manufacturers and unions. The list goes on and on. The more progressive technocrats try to do, the more they botch it. Of course, something similar can be said about all the faith-based initiatives of the Republican years: you know, like the creation of the TSA, the War in Iraq, “stimulus” packages, and all manner of pork barrel projects. Progressive purists will try to argue that all of this has been a series of pragmatic patches to a failing system. For America to truly be great, they say, Republicans must not be so “obstructionist.” But President Obama, with his pen and his phone, has seized dictatorial power. Apparently, the ends justify the means. This is the foundation of progressive ideology. And it’s failing.

7.   Libertarianism is real communitarianism.  Libertarianism actually provides a superstructure for community. The problem with communitarianism is that it never shed its dependence on centralization and state power. Real community is built from the bottom up by people with overlapping interests, concerns, and needs. It is not the product of the imaginings of communitarian philosophers like Michael Sandel, nor of the grand designs of urban planners. Community comes from the unobstructed encounters of neighbors on street corners, of hipsters peacocking at coffee shops, of bitcoiners gathering in Satoshi Square, and of people drawn together out of common cause or mutual aid. Community bubbles up from a free people. And you can’t get any more libertarian than that.

8.   Libertarians really don’t like crony capitalism. For all the lip service progressives pay to the “problem” of income inequality, they consistently back the most illiberal and inegalitarian policies. Is there anything fair about showering taxpayer resources upon this energy company or that—and making their CEOs’ wealth more secure in the process? Is there anything equitable about shoring up the U.S. banking cartel with permanent legislation like Dodd-Frank? And what chosen “one-percenters” are benefitting from the crony-infested Obamacare legislation, which rains goodies down on drug-makers, healthcare providers, and insurance companies in equal measure? On the other hand, while libertarians don’t mind the sort of inequality that comes from people successfully creating happy customers, wealth, and jobs, we really—no really—don’t like collusion between business interests and government power.

9.   Libertarianism is pluralism. Between the theocrats and the technocrats lies a group of people who want to have—and want you to have—elbow room. While there are certainly judgmental libertarians out there, they’re usually being judgmental about “jokers to the left of me, clowns to the right” (theocrats and technocrats). Otherwise, we’re pretty tolerant people. And it’s in that toleration that real diversity can flourish.

10.   Libertarianism is inevitable. In “50 Ways to Leave Leviathan,” Jeffrey Tucker and I showed that the old rules are becoming obsolete. People are connecting and cooperating across national boundaries. They’re practicing what James C. Scott calls “Irish Democracy,” which is another term for people simply turning their backs, on a massive scale, on an imposed order. Together, whatever our moralistic stripes, we are simultaneously creating a new order while rendering the old order obsolete. And now we’re aided by technology. This is not a libertarian ideology, but a libertarian reality carved out by people who simply refuse to be controlled by peers who purport to be superiors.

Read more: 10 reasons why Slate, Salon and the progressive media are afraid

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Susan Adams hires Housing Activist Kiki LaPorta for Key Aide position

From Susan Adams:

We are pleased to announce that Kiki La Porta is joining the District 1 team as a Board Aide. With family roots in Marin County since 1966, Kiki has been a community volunteer for many years on issues relating to climate change, social equity and sustainable practices and policy. Her professional background is in communications with expertise in public agency communications and community outreach. We are very excited to have her working with us on issues of importance to our district, and to the people we represent. Kiki will be starting 2/18. Her email is and she can be reached at 473-7354. 

Longtime Housing Activist, Kiki LaPorta wrote a Marin Voice in Support of the massive urbanization of the Larkspur Landing Area HERE.

Clearly,  Susan Adams is solidifying her core support with the housing activists in hopes of winning re-election.  Damon Connelly, is challenging her Supervisor seat and is seen as the favorite to win.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Former CIA Director: "Just call them terrorists"

Former CIA director: In order to spy on domestic dissidents, just call them terrorists

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 5:01pm
This was originally posted on Privacy SOS.

Back in 2012, the ACLU of Massachusetts published a report called 'Policing Dissent', exposing the Boston Police Department's 'red squad' surveillance operations, directed at antiwar and economic justice organizers. Among thedocuments we obtained through a public records lawsuit were so-called 'intelligence reports' from the Boston police fusion center, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC). These documents shocked the public. In files labeled "HOMESEC-DOMESTIC", "GROUPS-CIVIL DISTURBANCE", and "GROUPS-EXTREMISTS",  detectives described the entirely peaceful activities of groups and individuals ranging from Veterans for Peace and CodePink to Howard Zinn and a former city council member.

While the BPD files didn't explicitly call these non-violent activists 'terrorists', detectives working at a so-called 'counterterrorism fusion center' came about as close as they could get to doing so without spelling out the T word in black and white. But it's no secret that other law enforcement agencies jumped that shark long ago. In recent years, undercover informants have infiltrated antiwar movements targeted as "domestic terrorists". While the past decade's terror wars have given local, state, and federal law enforcement seemingly endless funds to pursue activists simply for challenging government policy, the US government's conflation of peaceful dissent with terrorism has a long history in the United States, dating back at least to the 1970s.

Betty Medsger's new book on the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, "The Burglary", contains some relevant and largely suppressed history. In the wake of the Media, PA burglary and the subsequent newspaper articles exposing J. Edgar Hoover's red squad surveillance programs, some CIA officers began to voice dissent internally about their own agency's troubling domestic operations, codenamed MHCHAOS. In 1972, Medsger writes, CIA director Richard Helms
called his top aides together and said he was adamant that MHCHAOS would not be "stopped simply because some members of the organization [the CIA] do not like this activity." He made changes in order to protect the program more now that the [dissident officers were] so determined to have it end. To the maximum extent possible, within the agency, the program and the agent then in charge of it, Richard Ober, would be identified with terrorism and not with American dissidents. The massive program would in fact have the same functions it always had, including the monitoring and destruction of the more than five hundred alternative newspapers staffs it had under surveillance. (At the same time, the FBI also monitored alternative and campus newspapers, sometimes suppressing them.)

Henceforth, Colby wrote in a memorandum after that meeting, the label "international terrorist" would replace "political dissident" as the target of the CIA's illegal domestic operations. As part of this image transformation, Helms did what Hoover had done many times—and would do again in April 1971 to protect COINTELPRO when he thought it was about to be revealed—to minimize the possibility that secret operations would be exposed. Helms ended MHCHAOS in name, but continued it in reality with a new name: International Terrorism Group. It would be much easier for people, including people within the CIA, to accept the domestic operations if they thought they were aimed primarily at stopping terrorism rather than at stopping dissent.
It's common to hear law enforcement officials describe non-violent activists as terrorists today. History suggests we can thank former CIA director Richard Helms for that, at least in part. Years after his agency's assassinations, anti-dissent programs, antidemocratic coups, and other dirty tricks were exposed to the public in congressional hearings during the 1970s, Helms reportedly said that all of it was "just a congressional firestorm over nothing," Medsger writes.

The CIA's domestic operations offices are currently based in Denver, Colorado. Per an executive order signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, the CIA is allowed to collect information about Americans. The details of the order are classified, so we can't be sure, but it's a safe bet to assume that if the agency wants to spy on American dissidents, it just calls them Terrorists.

This was originally posted on Privacy SOS.

San Francisco is Spreading Out-the evolving urban form.

The Evolving Urban Form: The San Francisco Bay Area
by Wendell Cox
February 7, 2014

Despite planning efforts to restrict it, the Bay Area continues to disperse. For decades, nearly all population and employment growth in the San Jose-San Francisco Combined Statistical Area has been in the suburbs, rather than in the core cities of San Francisco and Oakland. The CSA (Note) is composed of seven adjacent metropolitan areas (San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Vallejo, Napa, and Stockton). A similar expansion also occurred in the New York CSA.

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to two of the three most dense built-up urban areas in the United States, the San Francisco urban area, (6,266 residents per square mile or 2,419 per square kilometer) with the core cities of San Francisco and Oakland and the all-suburban San Jose urban area (5,820 residents per square mile or 2,247 per square kilometer), according to US Census 2010 data. Only the Los Angeles urban area is denser (6,999 per square mile or 2.702 per square kilometer). The more spread out New York urban area trails at 5,319 per square mile (2,054 per square kilometer).

The San Francisco Bay; Central Valley Area

The continuing dispersion was reflected in commuting patterns that developed between 2000 and 2010, with the addition of the Stockton metropolitan area, which is composed of San Joaquin County, with more than 700,000 residents. San Joaquin County is located in the Central Valley and is so far removed from San Francisco Bay that it may be appropriate in the long run to think of the area as the “San Francisco Bay & Central Valley Area.” The distance from Stockton to the closest point shore of San Francisco Bay is 60 miles, and it is nearly another 25 miles to the city of San Francisco.

Ironically, this continued dispersion of jobs and residences is, at least in part, driven by the San Francisco Bay Area’s urban containment land use policies designed to prevent it. What the planners have ignored is the impact on house prices associated with highly restrictive land use planning. The San Francisco metropolitan area and the San Jose metropolitan area are the third and fourth most unaffordable major housing markets out of 85 rated in the recent 10th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, trailing only Hong Kong and Vancouver.

Historical Core Cities: San Francisco and Oakland

The historical core municipalities (cities) of the San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco and Oakland have held their population very well. Each essentially retains it 1950 borders. Among the 40 US cities with more than 250,000 residents in 1950, only San Francisco and Oakland managed population increases by 2000 without substantial annexations and substantial non-urban (rural) territory within their city limits. For example, New York and Los Angeles, both of which have grown, have nearly the same city limits as in 1950 and 2000, yet much of New York’s Staten Island was rural in 1950 as was much of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.

Yet both San Francisco and Oakland have had difficult times. Between 1950 and 1980, both San Francisco and Oakland suffered 12 percent population losses, which were followed by recoveries. The losses were modest compared to the emptying out of municipalities like St. Louis. Detroit, Chicago, Copenhagen, and Paris, which remain one quarter to nearly two-thirds below their 1950s figures. Further, population gains from annexations masked losses within the 1950 boundaries of many cities, such as Portland, Seattle, and Indianapolis, etc.

San Jose: Now the Largest City

San Jose is now the Bay Area’s largest city. San Jose has grown spectacularly, from a population of 95,000 in 1950 to nearly 1,000,000 today. San Jose passed San Francisco by the 1990 census and Oakland by the 1970 census (Figure 1). Virtually all of San Jose’s population growth has occurred during the postwar period of automobile suburbanization. The pre-automobile urban form familiar in San Francisco and central Oakland simply does not exist in San Jose. Even attempts to pretend the pre-war urban form has returned have been famously unsuccessful. Even after building an extensive light rail system, San Jose’s transit work trip market share is barely one quarter that of the adjacent San Francisco metropolitan area.

Nonetheless, suburban San Jose has become a dominant force in the “Silicon Valley”, which stretches through San Mateo County in the San Francisco metropolitan area and into Santa Clara County, which includes San Jose. The Silicon Valley has been the capital of the international information technology business for at least a half century. The highly suburbanized region has done more than its share to elevate the San Francisco Bay Area to its high standard of living (According to Brookings Institution data), a phenomenon that has spread also the urban core of San Francisco. At the same time, San Jose is the second most affluent major metropolitan in the world and San Francisco ranks seventh. The Silicon Valley, which includes much of San Mateo County (adjacent to Santa Clara County in the San Francisco metropolitan area), is clearly the economic engine of the region with twice as many jobs as San Francisco (which is both a city and a county).

Metropolitan Growth

Overall, the San Francisco Bay Area has grown approximately 180 percent since 1950, considerably more than the national average from 1950 to 2012 of 107 percent. The Bay Area’s growth was strong, but well behind the 280 percent growth achieved in the Los Angeles CSA (Los Angeles, Riverside-San Bernardino, and Oxnard MSAs).

However, growth has since moderated substantially. Between 1950 and 2000, the Bay Area grew at an annual rate of 1.9 percent but since 2000, the annual growth rate has dropped to 0.7 percent annually. Even so, in recent years, the Bay Area has nearly equaled the much slowed growth of the Los Angeles CSA, adding 23.6 percent to its population since 1990, compared to 25.5 percent in Los Angeles. Both areas, however, grew at less than the national population increase rate (25.8 percent), and slowing, in the 2000s to the slowest growth rates since California became a state in 1850.

Suburban Growth

Despite the decent demographic performance of the cities of San Francisco and Oakland since 1950, nearly all Bay Area growth occurred in the suburbs. Between 1950 and 2012, only one percent of population growth in the CSA occurred in the two historical core municipalities and 99 percent in suburban areas. Things have been somewhat better for the two cities since 2000, with seven percent of the growth in the historical core municipalities and 93 percent of the growth in suburban areas (Figure 2).

Since 1950, the San Jose metropolitan area has grown by far the fastest in the CSA, with the more than 500 percent increase in population. The outer metropolitan areas (Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Vallejo, Napa, and Stockton) have grown nearly 300 percent, while the parts of the San Francisco metropolitan area outside the two core cities grew more than 200 percent. San Francisco and Oakland grew approximately 5 percent (Figure 3).

Domestic Migration

As house prices increased before the subprime crisis, the Bay Area lost more than 600,000 domestic migrants, a rate of more than 85,000 per year. Since 2008, however, with substantially lower house prices, and a renewed tech boom, there has been an annual gain of approximately 4,000 to the Bay Area in domestic migration. However, if the substantial house price increases since 2012 continue, the area could again become a net exporter of people.

Future Urban Evolution

Like much of California, San Francisco Bay CSA exhibits much slower population growth than before. How much of this is tied to the regional and state policies constricting suburban housing remains an open question, but it seems much growth that might have occurred in the original San Francisco metropolitan area or the later developing San Jose metropolitan area will instead occur in the Vallejo or Stockton metropolitan areas, where housing prices tend to be much lower, particularly for larger homes that are increasingly unaffordable closer to the urban core. Indeed, it is not impossible that Modesto (Stanislaus County) could be added to the San Francisco Bay CSA by 2020, which is even farther away from the historical core than the Stockton metropolitan area.

At the same time, many potential new residents may find either the high prices near the core nor the long commutes associated with Central Valley residence unappealing. Many households may instead seek their aspirations in Utah, Colorado, Texas, and even Oklahoma, not least because the “California Dream” has been made affordable.

Wendell Cox is a Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris and the author of “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.


Note: Metropolitan areas are labor markets. Their building blocks in the United States are complete counties. Metropolitan statistical areas are organized around built up urban areas with counties reaching a threshold of the urban area population being considered central counties and included in the metropolitan area. In addition, any county with an employment interchange of 25 percent or more with the core counties is also included in the metropolitan area. Adjacent metropolitan areas are added together to form Combined Statistical Areas if there is a 15 percent or more employment interchange. This is a simplified definition. Complete details are available from the US Office of Management and the Budget.

Tags:Housingpopulation growthSan FranciscoSuburban Growthurban sprawl

— Wendell Cox

Wendell Cox is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute; a consultant to public and private public policy, planning and transportation organizations; and a visiting professor at a French national university. He is principal of Wendell Cox Consultancy, an international public policy firm. He has provided consulting assistance to the United States Department of Transportation and was certified by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration as an expert for the duration of its Public-Private Transportation Network program (1986-1993). He has consulted for public transit authorities in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and for scores of public policy organizations.

Monday, February 10, 2014

New Math by Tom Lehrer

Here is a Common Core 1st grade math question from Pearson Education. You tell me how well Common Core is working. Remember brain research says that abstract thinking does not begin until age 12. What is a 6 year old going to do with this?

How Common Core Devalues Great Literature

Many years ago, a prominent man wrote to one of his favorite authors about his latest book.  This man had been a soldier, a hunter, an athlete, an historian, and a social reformer, and was now employed in a post of some significant responsibility.  He had many children, and was by all accounts a bluff and hearty father.
“My dear Mr. Grahame,” he wrote,
My mind moves in ruts, as I suppose most minds do, and at first I could not reconcile myself to the change from the ever-delightful Harold and his associates, and so for some time I could not accept the toad, the mole, the water-rat, and the badger as substitutes.  But after a while [my wife] and two of the boys, Kermit and Ted, all quite independently, got hold of The Wind Among the Willows [sic] and took such delight in it that I began to feel that I might have to revise my judgment.  Then [she] read it aloud to the younger children, and I listened now and then.  Now I have read it and reread it, and have come to accept the characters as old friends; and I am almost more fond of it than your previous books.  Indeed, I feel about going to Africa very much as the sea-faring rat did when he almost made the water-rat wish to forsake everything and start wandering!
I felt I must give myself the pleasure of telling you how much we had all enjoyed your book.
And he closes with all good wishes, “Sincerely yours, Theodore Roosevelt.”
Now that’s a letter from a different world.

It makes my gorge rise, after that breath of fresh air with the tang of the river in it, to have to utter the words “Common Core Curriculum,” and its relentless, contemptible, soul-cramping, story-killing, pseudo-sophisticated, utilitarian focus not on the beauty and truth and goodness that good art reveals, not on the imaginative worlds that good books can open up to someone simply willing to receive them as gifts on their own terms and enter into them with gratitude, but upon scrambling up supposed skills in suspicion, superficial criticism, and dissection.

Yet I have to do it.  I hate the task, just as I’d hate to have to pull on rubber galoshes to clear out a clogged cesspool.  But someone has to do it.

Let’s look at that letter again.  It is written by the Theodore Roosevelt, who, whatever may be one’s opinion of his policies, was not only an immensely learned man.  He was an immensely imaginative man; it comes across in all of his words and deeds.  And he, President of the United States at that time (1904), did not write to praise Kenneth Grahame for helping his brood of children to “actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews.”  I can imagine Teddy taking the birch switches down from the wall to give a thrashing to someone who could write such a dimwit sentence.  For we do not read The Wind in the Willows in order to build knowledge about talking rats, or to broaden worldviews, whatever that term from political sloganeering is supposed to mean.  We read The Wind in the Willows to enter the world of The Wind in the Willows, and maybe learn something about ourselves in the process.  But the aim of reading the work is simply the joy and the wonder of it; it is a good book, because it tells us good and true things in an artful way.

Teddy did not praise Kenneth Grahame for helping the Roosevelt children to learn how to analyze what the CCC calls, with revealing ugliness and reductiveness, “text,” so that he would “reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic,” as if the noblest task of mankind was to listen to a political advertisement or to cast a vote.  Teddy praised the man for giving him new friends: Toad of Toad-Hall, the Rat, the Mole, and the Badger.  If you are not reading novels to make new friends, or to wander across the fields, or to sail the sea, then you should not read them at all.

And that, as it happens, is one of the very things you learn from The Wind in the Willows itself.  When the story begins, the shy and pleasant Mole is invited to join the Rat in a boat.  The Mole, being a Mole, hasn’t ever been in a boat before, and he finds it really quite nice, as he leans back and feels the swell of the water beneath him.

“Nice?  It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke.  “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats.  Simply messing,” he went on dreamily: “messing—about—in—boats.”

Is it too much to ask that teachers of young children remember, hidden somewhere underneath their encrustations of sin, false learning, ambition, treadmill-pumping, work for work’s sake, and jaded familiarity with the surfaces of things—underneath the calluses of adulthood—that the Rat is right, and that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats?  I mean this.  Is it too much to ask that teachers of young children remember that works of the imagination are for the soul?  That our first response to them should be one of wonder and gratitude?  And our second response, and our third?

The Common Corers get things exactly backwards. You do not read The Wind in the Willows so that you can gain some utilitarian skill for handling “text.”  If anything, we want our children to gain a little bit of linguistic maturity so that they can read The Wind in the WillowsThat is the aim.  I want my college students to read Milton so that they can enter the world that Milton holds forth for us.  I show them some of his techniques as an artist, since they’re mature enough to appreciate them, but not so that they can reduce the poem to an exercise in rhetoric.  I show them those techniques so that they may understand and cherish the poem all the more.  I want them to become “friends” with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.  I want them to climb with Dante and Virgil the glorious mountain of Purgatory.  I want them to stand heart to heart with the Geats as they watch the flames devour the body of their deceased king Beowulf.

Those are the important things, the permanent things.  If you are not reading The Wind in the Willows as Theodore and Edith Roosevelt and their children were reading it, then you should not read it at all.  If you are turning Tom Sawyer into a linguistic exercise with a veneer of intellectual sophistication, then you should not read Tom Sawyer—in fact, you cannot have understood a blessed thing about Tom Sawyer.  If you are reading The Jungle Book for any other reason than to enter the jungle with Mowgli, Bagheera, and Baloo, then you had best stay out of the world of art, keep to your little cubbyhole, cram yourself with pointless exercises preparatory for the SAT, a job at Microsoft, creature comforts, old age, and death.

But what baffles me most about this latest and hugely expensive exercise in inhumanity is that it has never been cheaper or easier (were it not for distractions and the insanity and moral squalor around us) to give children a splendid education in arts and letters.  Back in 1904, books were still relatively expensive for most families. There were no paperbacks. You couldn’t order five or six used novels by Dickens for the price of a couple of pizzas. You couldn’t go to library book sales—dumping classics among the trash—and pick up a copy of The Wind in the Willows for the price of a candy bar.

There’s no excuse for us. Any school librarian with a free hand and a very modest amount of money can quickly put together a set of a thousand or two thousand classic novels and books of poetry fit for children, that would have been far beyond the means of almost anyone a hundred years ago. And what about the teachers?  Let us not fall for educational patois and the unspoken assumption that it requires experts with special knowledge and secret recipes of twenty five herbs and spices to make children learn against their will.  For the most important thing that any teacher of reading can do for children is to read good and great books with them and for them, with imagination and love. It is not like designing a rocket to go to the moon.  It is at once far easier and far more profound than that. It is like silence, and play, and prayer. It is like messing around in boats.

The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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