Saturday, December 31, 2016

Free Art


3 Bumps on the Road Ahead for Shared Autonomous Vehicles

3 Bumps on the Road Ahead for Shared Autonomous Vehicles

The Uber that blew through a red light in San Francisco raised unanswered questions about policing, manufacturers’ guidelines, and shared space.


The video, dated December 14, now has close to two million views on YouTube: The light turns red at a busy San Francisco intersection, a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk, and an SUV with a giant headlamp sails right through. It was an Uber equipped for self-driving, the sort of vehicle that’s promised to essentially eliminate the dangers of human driving. But it had just narrowly avoided collision with a person exercising his right of way.
Tech companies are afforded a lot of special privileges in their use of San Francisco’s public space, but they’re also subject to heavy scrutiny. It didn’t take long for officials, and the media, to discover that Uber, which had started testing robo-Volvos with humans behind the wheel in San Francisco days before, wasn’t actually permitted to operate autonomous vehicles in California. Uber claimed that the red-light fiasco was caused by human error, and that they hadn’t needed the permits since the cars had human drivers monitoring the wheel. California wouldn’t hear it: The DMV ordered the cars off the roads, or else—so Uber moved AV testing to Arizona, where the governor is thrilled to have them.
Clearly, Uber’s hail-able AVs won’t be withering away under the Southwestern sun. The San Francisco incident raised a lot of questions about how new mobility services and automation intersect, and what lies ahead for cities working out how to handle the promise of shared, self-driving vehicles. Here are three areas where we can expect more action soon.  See full article HERE

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Funniest Take on 2016 yet by Dave Barry


Dave Barry’s Year in Review: 2016 — What the ... ?




BY DAVE BARRY



In the future, Americans — assuming there are any left — will look back at 2016 and remark: “What the HELL?”

They will have a point. Over the past few decades, we here at the Year in Review have reviewed some pretty disturbing years. For example, there was 2000, when the outcome of a presidential election was decided by a tiny group of deeply confused Florida residents who had apparently attempted to vote by chewing on their ballots.

Then there was 2003, when a person named “Paris Hilton” suddenly became a major international superstar, despite possessing a level of discernible talent so low as to make the Kardashians look like the Jackson 5.

There was 2006, when the vice president of the United States — who claimed he was attempting to bring down a suspected quail — shot a 78-year-old man in the face, only to be exonerated after an investigation revealed that the victim was an attorney.

And — perhaps most inexplicable of all — there was 2007, when millions of people voluntarily installed Windows Vista.

Yes, we’ve seen some weird years. But we’ve never seen one as weird as 2016. This was the Al Yankovic of years. If years were movies, 2016 would be “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” If years were relatives, 2016 would be the uncle who shows up at your Thanksgiving dinner wearing his underpants on the outside.

Why do we say this? Let’s begin with the gruesome train wreck that was the presidential election. The campaign began with roughly 14,000 candidates running. Obviously not all of them were qualified to be president; some of them — here we are thinking of “Lincoln Chafee” — were probably imaginary. But a reasonable number of the candidates seemed to meet at least the minimum standard that Americans have come to expect of their president in recent decades, namely: Not Completely Horrible.

So this mass of candidates began the grim death march that is the modern American presidential campaign — trudging around Iowa pretending to care about agriculture, performing in an endless series of televised debates like suit-wearing seals trained to bark out talking points, going to barbecue after barbecue and smiling relentlessly through mouthfuls of dripping meat, giving the same speech over and over and over, shaking millions of hands, posing for billions of selfies and just generally humiliating themselves in the marathon group grovel that America insists on putting its presidential candidates through.

And we voters did our part, passing judgment on the candidates, thinning the herd, rejecting them one by one. Sometimes we had to reject them more than once; John Kasich didn’t get the message until his own staff felled him with tranquilizer darts. But eventually we eliminated the contenders whom we considered to be unqualified or disagreeable, whittling our choices down until only two major candidates were left. And out of all the possibilities, the two that We, the People, in our collective wisdom, deemed worthy of competing for the most important job on Earth, turned out to be …

… drum roll …

… the most flawed, sketchy and generally disliked duo of presidential candidates ever!

Yes. After all that, the American people, looking for a leader, ended up with a choice between ointment and suppository. The fall campaign was an unending national nightmare, broadcast relentlessly on cable TV. CNN told us over and over that Donald Trump was a colossally ignorant, narcissistic, out-of-control sex-predator buffoon; Fox News countered that Hillary Clinton was a greedy, corrupt, coldly calculating liar of massive ambition and minimal accomplishment. And in our hearts we knew the awful truth: They were both right.

It wasn’t just bad. It was the Worst. Election. Ever.

And that was only one of the reasons why 2016 should never have happened. Here are some others:

▪ American race relations reached their lowest point since … OK, since 2015.

▪ We learned that the Russians are more involved in our election process than the League of Women Voters.

▪ F​​or​​ much of the year the economy continued to struggle, with the only growth sector being people paying insane prices for tickets to “Hamilton.”

▪ In a fad even stupider than “planking,” millions of people wasted millions of hours, and sometimes risked their lives, trying to capture imaginary Pokémon Go things on their phones, hoping to obtain the ultimate prize: a whole bunch of imaginary Pokémon Go things on their phones.

▪ A major new threat to American communities — receiving at least as much coverage as global climate change —emerged in the form of: Clowns.

▪ In a shocking development that caused us to question our most fundamental values, Angelina and Brad broke up even though they are both physically attractive.

▪ We continued to prove, as a nation, that no matter how many times we are reminded, we are too stupid to remember to hold our phones horizontally when we make videos.

▪ Musically, we lost Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, George Michael and Debbie Reynolds; we gained the suicide-inducing TV commercial in which Jon Bon Jovi screeches about turning back time.

Did anything good happen in 2016? Let us think …

OK, the “man bun” appeared to be going away.

That was pretty much it for the good things.

And now, finally, it is time for 2016 to go away. But before it does, let’s narrow our eyes down to slits and take one last squinting look back at this hideous monstrosity of a year, starting with …
JANUARY

… which actually begins on a positive note with the capture of elusive Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who in 2015 escaped (for the second time) from a Mexican prison when authorities failed to notice the signs reading (in Spanish) “WARNING: ESCAPE TUNNEL UNDER CONSTRUCTION.” Since then Guzmán has been in hiding except for an interview with Sean Penn, a guest spot with Jimmy Kimmel and a series of commercials for Buffalo Wild Wings. Mexican police finally are able to track him down during his four-week stint as a guest judge on “America’s Got Talent.” He is taken to Tijuana and incarcerated in what authorities describe as “a very secure Motel 6.”

In health news, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, responding to the spread of the little-understood Zika virus, cautions Americans not to have unprotected sex with foreign mosquitoes. Meanwhile the Flint, Michigan, water crisis worsens when samples taken from the city’s main water supply are found to contain traces of a Chipotle burrito.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/dave-barry/article123321019.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Unfair pay for monkeys!- lessons from the animal kingdom


Editorial: MTC’s $13,500 meeting to discuss bridge toll hikes


Editorial: MTC’s $13,500 meeting to discuss bridge toll hikes







(Karl Mondon/Staff)The Metropolitan Transportation Commission wants to raise bridge tolls to as much as $8.
By EAST BAY TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD
PUBLISHED: December 23, 2016 at 6:00 am | UPDATED: December 23, 2016 at 12:35 pm


They’re at it again at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The planning agency just moved into a new $256 million office building in downtown San Francisco, which was funded largely with bridge toll money and ran 53 percent over budget.

But when the 21-member commission held a workshop this month, the new digs weren’t good enough. Instead, they spent about $13,500 to meet five blocks away at the Embarcadero Hyatt Regency.

The bill included $4,225, including service charges and taxes, for lunch and for cookies and drinks during the break of the four-hour meeting. That’s $121 per person for 35 staff members and commissioners.

The meeting room rental was $3,263. Use of the audio visual equipment cost $6,101. MTC has similar facilities down the street in its new building.
MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger. (Karl Mondon/Staff)

The first meeting topic? Raising bridge tolls on seven state-owned Bay Area spans, from $5 to as much as $8. Those same bridge tolls funded the building that wasn’t good enough for the meeting.

If MTC wants drivers to pay more, its leaders should start showing they know how to responsibly spend a buck, or $5 billion that a $3 additional toll would raise over 25 years.

Unfortunately, MTC, under leadership of Executive Director Steve Heminger, demonstrates a money-is-no-object outlook.

Heminger flew during a three-year period to conferences in Tokyo, Sydney, Beijing and Vienna at public expense using air tickets costing more than $45,000, Bloomberg reported.


His $13,000 Sydney flight was eight times the price of a coach ticket. The cost and quantity of his international trips far surpassed leaders of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago transportation agencies.

Meanwhile, Heminger deceived the public about the deal for the new office building, which houses MTC and three other regional agencies, as the project ballooned from $167 million to $256 million.

Heminger didn’t do basic due diligence. The state auditor slammed MTC for bogus accounting. The state Legislature’s attorney questioned the legality of using bridge tolls for the building.

Now comes the proposed toll hike, which state lawmakers could place on the ballot for nine Bay Area counties in 2018.Oakland Mayor and MTC commissioner Libby Schaaf. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

MTC wants more money for BART, which just received voter approval for a $3.5 billion bond measure. That measure allowed using one-third of the money to indirectly subsidize already-excessive labor costs.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf suggests some of the bridge toll money should go toward housing, even though voters in her city and her county just approved $680 million of bonds for housing.

A responsible bridge toll increase that includes money, and spending controls, for roads and public transit might be merited. But public officials must first show they can manage current money responsibly.

Commissioners might start by ordering in sandwiches from a local deli.

Sf mayor Ed Lee and Governor Brown celebrate Bloody Communist China.



Related story here

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Merry Trumpmas!



Our new president is Merry Christmas for comedy. Here are a few more videos from the same artist.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Will SMART train have severe crossing delays like Denver trains?

RTD A Line slowly returning to normal after crossing issues cause ‘severe’ delays

POSTED 5:08 AM, AUGUST 17, 2016, BY CHUCK HICKEY, UPDATED AT 12:03PM, AUGUST 17, 2016



DENVER -- RTD's A Line to Denver International Airport suffered "operational difficulties" at several crossings on Wednesday morning, leading to "severe" delays in service.

The crossings at York, Clayton, Steele and Dahlia streets were affected, leading to the delays. RTD did not say specifically what the difficulties were. Crossing guards put up cones to hold traffic as trains passed through the crossings.

"Please allow extra travel time during the next few hours as we work diligently to fix the issue," RTD said on its website at 4:45 am.

Delays were running about 30 minutes, but by 8:30 a.m., RTD said some of the trains were running on time while others were experiencing delays of five to 15 minutes. The issue was resolved about noon and RTD said it would take about an hour for normal service to resume.

One passenger who got on the train only to find out it was going to be delayed got off. He described the constant delays as "amateur hour."

"I just ordered a ticket and the guy didn't tell me there was going to be a delay and I have to catch my flight in an hour. And the security guard just told me he couldn't guarantee I would get there in time," the man said. "Totally unacceptable."

Delays on the line are nothing new. The A Line has been plagued by by switching, electrical and power problems since its ballyhooed opening in April.

Power outages on Aug. 10 and 11 led to long delays. Train service was halted both days between the 61st and Pena Station and the airport because of a damaged power wire.

Bus shuttles operated between the station and the airport until power was restored.

There were delays on June 9 because of issues with the positive train control switch and wayside signals. On June 4 and May 22, there were delays because of crossing issues.

Power problems stopped the trains on May 16, 21, 23 and 24. On May 24, a lightning strike cut power to the line, stranding 80 passengers who had to walk on a 50-foot-high bridge.

Solar Scams around the Country



Dozens of valley residents were fooled by a solar company that promised cheap bills. Stealth Solar promised huge savings but the Arizona Attorney General's Office says the complaints proved otherwise. Dozens of valley residents were fooled by a solar company that promised cheap bills. Stealth Solar promised huge savings but the Arizona Attorney General's Office says the complaints proved otherwise. Dozens of valley residents were fooled by a solar company that promised cheap bills. Stealth Solar promised huge savings but the Arizona Attorney General's Office says the complaints proved otherwise.



SolEd explains "Who is responsible for Marinwood's Solar Contract?"



SolEd Benefit Corp attempts to explain the solar power purchase agreement to the Marinwood CSD.  The long winded explanation concludes that an un named third party will be responsible for the implementation.  Shouldn't the taxpayers of Marinwood CSD know who will be responsible for twenty year life of the solar contract?  You may have to watch this tape several times since he provides confusing, evasive answers.  Apparently, we are contracting for twenty years with an unknown third party investor.

On November 10. 2015, the City of St. Helena cancelled their contract with SolEd due to "non performance".   

Fair warning to Marinwood CSD. Know who you are doing business with.

  • Richard Devore, C2 Special Situations Group, LLC  Linked IN

  • City of St. Helena votes UNANIMOUSLY to cancel  contract with SolEd Benefit Corporation for "non performance".  Staff Report HERE

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Jake Shimabukuro Mix. Merry Christmas

What Would My Mom Do? (Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside)

What Would My Mom Do? (Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside)




I’m about to tell you the truth: parenting has become very precious in our generation.

This very morning, a mom posted how on her son’s birthday, she assembles a comprehensive “time capsule” including items, photos, and products related to that particular year, stores it in a set of antique trunks, and plans to present them all to him on his 18thbirthday as a tribute to his entire life.

Holy. Crap.

Cannot. Deal.

When I think about upping the joy in parenting and diminishing the stress, I propose that much of our anxiety stems from this notion that our kids’ childhood must be Utterly Magical; a beautifully documented fairytale in which they reside as center of the universe, their success is manufactured (or guaranteed), and we over-attend to every detail of their lives until we send them off to college after writing their entrance essays.

It becomes this fake pressure, which results in its trusty sidekick: guilt. And nothing steals joy away from parenting more than believing you are doing a terrible job at it. And nothing confirms you are doing a terrible job at it then thinking you should run out and backfill eight antique trunks as a memorial to your third-grader’s life.

So here is my trick for keeping the joy and losing the stress:

What would my mom do?






I was born in 1974, good readers. It no more occurred to my mom to coddle us Precious Snowflakes than it did to quit drinking a case of Tab a day. If you told my mom to craft a yearly time capsule for each child to store until graduation, she would have cried tears of laughter all the way to Jazzercise. My girlfriend asked me just yesterday:

“Do you remember your mom ever volunteering in your classroom?”

“NO mom was ever in our classroom. We rode the bus to school on the first day, had one Christmas party that consisted of store-bought cookies and cherry kool-aid, then school ended and we played outside until Labor Day. That was the school year.”

My mom says that she and her friends just raised us, while my friends and me “parent” (these are sarcastic finger quotes). And honestly? She’s right. They didn’t worry endlessly, interfere constantly, safeguard needlessly, or overprotect religiously. They just raised us. And we turned out fine.

Confession: as we head toward summer, I get this itchy, panicked feeling, because we are staring down twelve unstructured weeks, and all I can picture are my five kids sleeping too late, losing brain cells on their various screens which I will feel conflicted and guilty about, and driving me crazy. How will I balance work? How will I keep them entertained? How will I occupy fourteen hours a day? How will I maintain their reading levels? I already feel like a Bad Summer Mom and it is March, for the love. Which tells me I need to default to my trick:

What would my mom do?

Well, first of all, we didn’t have 24/7 access to cartoons, video games, and YouTube, so she did what all moms did: told us to play. The end. It never crossed my mom’s mind to “entertain us” or “fund expensive summer endeavors” or “create stimulating activities for our brain development.” She said get the hell outside, and we did. We made up games and rode our bikes and choreographed dance routines and drank out of the hose when we got thirsty. I swear, my mom did not know where we actually were half the time. Turned out in the neighborhood all day, someone’s mom would eventually make us bologna sandwiches on white bread and then lock us out, too. We were like a roving pack of wolves, and all the moms took turn feeding and watering us. No one hovered over us like Nervous Nellies.

And never one time, not once did I feel unloved or neglected.

My parents majored on the majors and minored on the minors.











Is this safe? Sorry, neighbors.







Tree skateboarding. It is a thing at the Hatmaker house apparently.




Could it be that we are simply too precious about parenting? Have we forgotten the benefit of letting our kids fail? Figure it out? Work hard for it? Entertain themselves? We put so much undue pressure on ourselves to curate Magical Childhoods, when in fact, kids are quite capable of being happy kids without constant adult administration. I would argue that making them the center of the universe is actually terribly detrimental. A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child. We can still demonstrate gentle and attached parenting without raising children who melt on a warm day.

Guess what the side effect is for us parents? RELIEF. Get your joy back! Try it. Pull back as Cruise Director and adopt the “what would my mom do” approach, and see what happens. What do you know? The kids are all right! They aren’t poor, neglected Oliver Twists. They won’t come completely unraveled. They aren’t helpless, hapless ninnies who can’t figure a bloomin’ thing out. Their futures aren’t doomed. We don’t want to produce young adults that despair at the first obstacle they face. Don’t we want them to learn that they are one part of a healthy family, not the centrifugal force of their entire environment?

And mamas and daddies? We get to jettison that manufactured guilt that tells us we aren’t doing enough, when in fact, no generation of parents has ever done more. (My friends in higher education are actually begging us to DO LESS PLEASE BECAUSE THESE CHILDREN DON’T KNOW HOW TO FILL OUT AN ONLINE FORM WITHOUT HELP.)

Let’s get our joy back and resist all this made-up stress! Let’s recapture the joy of watching kids play in sprinklers, build forts out of couch cushions, create dramatic “programs” (my parents have PTSD from ours), and run around the neighborhood with their friends. Let’s give them back the gift of imagination, self-sufficiency, creativity.

What did our moms do?

They let us be kids, and we wobbled and skinned our knees and made up our own fun and enjoyed the simple pleasures of childhood without any flash and dazzle. But you know what? We knew we were loved and we knew we were safe. We never doubted the most important parts of the story. We weren’t fragile hothouse plants but dirty, rowdy, resilient kids who ate Twinkies and candy cigarettes and lived to tell.

Mama, don’t fall for the yearly time capsules. You have everything your little ones need: kisses, Shel Silverstein books, silly songs, kitchen dance parties, a backyard, family dinner around the table, and a cozy lap. They’ll fill in the rest of the gaps and be better for it. Your kids don’t need to be entertained and they don’t need to be bubble-wrapped; they just need to be loved.

It’s all any kid has ever really needed.