Quotulatiousness

January 31, 2017

“It’s been slowly feeling like the death of San Francisco”

Filed under: Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The end of an era in San Francisco:

San Francisco Armory which, at its height, was making as many as 100 films a month. Photograph: Courtesy of San Francisco Armory

A handful of leather straps, sex toys and other bondage equipment were scattered throughout the mostly empty studios of Kink.com on a recent Thursday. Peter Acworth, founder and CEO of the BDSM porn empire, walked through the dark basement corridors of the San Francisco Armory, recounting how his company used to make as many as 100 films a month.

But in February, Kink actors will do their final shoot at the historic castle-like building that has become a world-famous destination for tourists and porn connoisseurs. As Acworth described Kink’s early days, staff upstairs prepared for a lavish party for Airbnb – the kind of corporate tech event that some fear could take over the Armory once porn is out the door.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Lorelei Lee, a longtime Kink performer. “To lose this in a city that is losing resources for artists and queers and sex workers in such a huge way is sad.”

The Kink.com studio is the latest uniquely San Francisco institution to shutter in the rapidly gentrifying city, which in recent years has become exceedingly unaffordable and culturally homogeneous amid a huge technology boom. Combined with the financial turmoil in the porn industry, Kink’s business model has become unsustainable, leading Acworth to cease all production in the Armory.

Although Kink.com will maintain Armory offices and continue to provide content, some San Francisco performers are lamenting the closure of a porn studio that elevated the profile of fetish entertainment and BDSM and provided stable jobs and a safe workplace for LGBT people and sex workers.

Acworth, who is from the UK, launched the company in 1997 out of a grad school dorm room. In 2006, he purchased the 200,000 sq ft Armory, which is a 1914 reproduction of a medieval castle.

The national landmark became the headquarters for his growing network of BDSM and fetish subscriptions sites, including an interactive live page and a news site, and has housed public tours, shows, workshops and other porn events.

January 10, 2017

Gentrification hit the BDSM community years back

Filed under: Business, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 20:55

In Salon, Annalee Newitz wrote about a quaint little San Francisco B&B that offered specialized services to the BDSM community before George W. Bush was inaugurated:

In a quiet San Francisco neighborhood, surrounded by views of tree-covered hills, a quaint little B&B welcomes visitors from across the country. Guests can choose from four well-appointed rooms in this refurbished turn-of-the-century house, all personally decorated by Elizabeth, the proprietor. While they’re staying at Elizabeth’s B&B — called Differences — guests are also welcome to use all the amenities of the house: an extensive dungeon in the basement, metal hooks tucked into lacy corners and the genuine antique bondage devices adorning the rooms. Of course, guests will also need to make their own pancakes — B&B stands for bed and bondage here. Elizabeth doesn’t do breakfast.

Like other renegade subcultures, S/M is gradually becoming gentrified. This is partly economic — getting flogged on a Friday night isn’t as cheap as it used to be. Dozens of exclusive sex stores have popped up, peddling high-end toys, devices and leatherware. A typical private “play party” runs each guest as much as $30 (this is a site cost — you pay for the space, not the sex). Certain clubs even enforce a pricey dress code: If you aren’t all gussied up in latex or leather, you don’t get in the door.

This isn’t the kind of gentrification one sees in urban landscapes where yuppies suck up all the warehouse spaces and formerly low-income housing. Nor can one locate some previous version of the S/M community that was less wealthy. Indeed, tracing S/M’s origins back to its Founding Daddies — the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch — one finds that S/M’s earliest class connections are purely aristocratic.

[…]

Odder still to an outsider would be the experience of attending an S/M seminar at QSM’s San Francisco warehouse, where a room full of well-dressed people in orderly rows of folding chairs watch politely as a well-known “dominant” demonstrates how to torture nipples correctly and why it’s important to employ bondage devices that won’t cause nerve damage. To avoid appearing “unsafe,” players plan their taboo violations and transgressions to a ‘T.’ It can be too much — Joe, a member of the coordinating committee for the Third Annual Leather Leadership Conference, notes ruefully that “the S/M community is, at times, overwhelmingly geeky. Players will spend hours and days debating finer points of flogging safety instead of just getting together and having fun.”

Given the lack of law-breaking and general air of wholesomeness in the S/M scene, it’s no wonder that Jack and Jill Suburb have come to join the fun. The question is, what gets lost in the translation when S/M values begin to percolate into the white-picket-fence world of middle America?

H/T to “SG” for the link.

December 14, 2016

Econ Duel: Why Is the Rent So Damn High?

Filed under: Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 13 Dec 2016

This week: Matt Yglesias and Tyler Cowen in a brand new Econ Duel.

Next week: Another Econ Duel! Scott Sumner and Larry White will take on monetary policy.

You’ve no doubt heard it before: the rent is too damn high!

In major cities across the United States, rent prices have been skyrocketing for some time. As a percentage of median income, rent is much higher for those that choose city life over suburbia.

But why are rental prices in these cities so expensive, and what can we do about it?

It’s a classic case of supply and demand: lots of people want to move to big cities because of the opportunities they afford. Naturally, they demand housing. But the supply is often short due to many factors, from geography to regulations. What does economics tell us happens when there’s a lot of demand, but not so much supply? Prices rise. As a consequence, many people are priced out of pursuing the lucrative opportunities available in major cities.

Coastal cities, like San Francisco and New York, have obvious geographical restrictions on building “out.” One way to deal with this problem is to build upwards with more skyscraper housing. This often isn’t feasible due to regulations on building heights, density, parking requirements, etc. But these regulations could be lessened or removed, allowing big cities to become denser and lowering rent prices. Lifelong city-dweller Matt Yglesias discusses this approach in this Duel.

On the other side, Tyler Cowen, who has always lived in the suburbs, argues that allowing cities to become denser may only provide a short-term solution. As more people move in, the cities become more productive with higher incomes for their inhabitants. And the rents rise again.

Of course, we’ve merely skimmed over the arguments here, and you’ll have to watch the Econ Duel to get the full picture! Check it out and let us know in the comments who you think makes a better case.

September 15, 2015

Monday Night Football – Vikings at San Francisco … well, that happened

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:23

Minnesota Vikings fans were very optimistic about the first game of the regular season, with hopes that Teddy Bridgewater would continue his ascent from the end of last season, excitement over Adrian Peterson returning after nearly a full year away from the game, and the promise of speedy new wide receiver Mike Wallace to stretch the field. In a few cases, that optimism might have lasted into the second quarter. Last night was a bad, bad game for the Vikings. The defensive line, supposedly a strength of the team, was giving up first downs like party favours. When the Vikings got the ball, we saw three quick incomplete passes and the punting unit came out. The offensive line was worse than advertised: at one point Teddy basically got sacked by his own right tackle as he ran for his life deep in the backfield (http://streamable.com/p0oa). It was almost as if the preseason had been extended one more game, and nobody in a Vikings jersey seemed to be mentally prepared to play a real football game.

At the Daily Norseman, Ted Glover delivers the Stock Market Report on the game:

Blue Chip Stocks:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, you’re kidding me, right?

Well, Mike Zimmer’s press conference tomorrow might be an all time epic rant. But that’s about it.

Solid Investments:

Mike Wallace, WR: The guy that came over in a trade with Miami has to be thinking what the hell, yo? But he was about the only guy that provided an offensive spark, at least while the game was still competitive–I SEE YOU KYLE RUDOLPH.

[…]

Junk Bonds:

The Offensive Line: One of the big concerns we collectively had coming in to the season was how the offensive line would hold up. If week one was any indication, we should be having a funeral and wake for Teddy Bridgewater sometime about the third quarter in week seven. That was brutal, man. Worse than brutal. I don’t know what’s more brutal–the o-line play in week one, or Trent Dilfer on the mic. We had to endure both.

Adrian Peterson, former Gulag Prisoner: So this is a funny story. Right after my fantasy draft, I damn near traded Aaron Rodgers for AP, straight up. I hedged at the last minute, because of the o-line. I am a genius for not making that trade. Peterson wasn’t able to get anything going, except for one pretty ridiculous catch and pinball wizard run, and overall, he was quieter than than a mute in a soundproof room.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB: Man, I had such high hopes for Teddy coming into week one. But as the game went on, he was running for his life, and making decisions that were more questionable than a drunk teenager. I think this game is an anomaly, but still…Teddy gave me a sad.

Blair Walsh, K: I don’t know about you guys, but personally, I’m going to JUST FREAKING LOVE chewing my fingernails to the bone wondering if, on any given kick this year, Walsh might actually make it, becase right now it’s 50-50, at best. It will give us a lot of excitement in what is looking to be a possibly grim season.

(more…)

January 31, 2015

If nothing else, you can be arrested for “resisting arrest”

Filed under: Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:25

This is a rather amazing little scene that was played out in San Francisco:

Published on 28 Jan 2015

Public Defender Jami Tillotson was unlawfully arrested at the San Francisco Hall of Justice on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 by officers of the San Francisco Police Department

Techdirt‘s Tim Cushing has the story:

As an American citizen, you can always refuse to answer questions, especially when you’re not in custody. Easier said than done, though, which is why the option of referring law enforcement to a lawyer is always on the table. Of course, police officers will try to avoid this possiblity, usually by framing the questioning as an innocuous, purely voluntary chat. They get irritated, though, when people realize this and tell them to talk to their lawyer or continually ask if they’re free to go.

So, while Tillotson’s attempt to defend her client from questioning related to a different crime may not have fallen under guaranteed Sixth Amendment protections, her willingness to protect her client from additional police questioning certainly falls within the bounds of what she (and her client) are legally allowed to do in a situation like this (i.e., “Talk to my lawyer.”)

But the police weren’t interested in speaking to a lawyer. They wanted to take pictures and ask questions without the “interference” of someone who knew how the system works. So, they arrested her for resisting arrest — which, as the video shows, she was very clearly NOT DOING BEFORE, AFTER OR DURING THE ARREST.

Tillotson objected to the arrest, but she placed her hands behind her back and allowed police to cuff her. She never struggled or otherwise impeded the officers in their duty — which was [WARNING: circular reasoning ahead] TO ARREST HER FOR RESISTING ARREST.

It’s a mindbending, oxymoronic, ugly display of force, where might = right and anyone standing in the way of an investigation needs to GTFO. With cuffs.

January 2, 2014

Green Bay playoff game at risk of TV blackout in home market

Filed under: Business, Football, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:39

For some reason, I had the impression that NFL blackout rules didn’t apply in the post-season, but Dan Zinski says there’s a real risk that the Green Bay Packers may not sell all of their tickets for this weekend’s game against the San Francisco 49ers:

Packer fans are the greatest, most loyal and diehard fans in the world. Which explains why, as of Wednesday afternoon, there were reportedly still 7,500 tickets available for Sunday’s home playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Huh?

Yes it’s true. Amazingly, the Packers are struggling to sell out their home playoff game. Despite their fans being better than everyone else’s fans.

[…]

The tickets must be sold by 3:40 PM Thursday to avoid a blackout. But if history is any indication the NFL will give the Packers an extension.

If the Packers still can’t sell the tickets and the blackout goes into effect? Look for a mass exodus out of Green Bay and Milwaukee and into all the towns where the game is on television. That will be a bad time to be traveling anywhere in Wisconsin.

And just wait until Sunday night when everyone is driving home, totally wasted. In the name of public safety, maybe the state government should buy up the tickets.

My guess is that the nightmare scenario won’t come to pass, that the tickets will get bought up and everyone will be able to see the game. And what an enjoyable game it will be…for people who hate the Packers.

On the other hand, I’ve seen predictions that the game-time temperature could be as low as -15F, which would be the coldest game in NFL history (the current record is -13F at the “Ice Bowl” in 1967). I wouldn’t blame the fans quite as much for not wanting to be part of that kind of historical event.

Update, 3 January: Earlier this afternoon, the Packers announced that they’d sold all the tickets to the game (a local business apparently stepped in to buy the remainder), so the game will be available on TV in the Wisconsin area. The weather reports are looking worse, however, as the temperature could go as low as -18F (or -25F) with a potential windchill of -53F. Brrrrrrrrrrrr.

October 16, 2013

US wages and personal mobility

Filed under: Economics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:07

Coyote Blog looks at the widely touted flattening of income growth in the United States and wonders how much mobility (people moving from one state to another) might play a part in the overall picture:

All of this is a long introduction to some thinking I have been doing on all the “Average is Over” discussion talking about the flattening of growth in median wages. I begin with this chart:

Click to see full-sized image

Click to see full-sized image

There is a lot of interstate migration going on. And much of it seems to be out of what I think of as higher cost states like CA, IL, and NY and into lower cost states like AZ, TX, FL, and NC. One of the facts of life about the CPI and other inflation adjustments of income numbers is that the US essentially maintains one average CPI. Further, median income numbers and poverty numbers tend to assume one single average cost of living number. But everyone understands that the income required to maintain lifestyle X on the east side of Manhattan is very different than the income required to maintain lifestyle X in Dallas or Knoxville or Jackson, MS.

Could it be that even with a flat average median wage, that demographic shifts to lower cost-of-living states actually result in individuals being better off and living better?

For some items one buys, of course, there is no improvement by moving. For example, my guess is that an iPhone with a monthly service plan costs about the same anywhere you go in the US. But if you take something like housing, the differences can be enormous.

Let’s compare San Francisco and Houston. At first glance, San Francisco seems far wealthier. The median income in San Francisco is $78,840 while the median income in Houston in $55,910. Moving from a median wage job in San Francisco to a media wage job in Houston seems to represent a huge step down. If you and a bunch of your friends made this move, the US median income number would drop. It would look like people were worse off.

But something else happens when you take this nominal pay cut to move to Houston. You also can suddenly afford a much nicer, larger house, even at the lower nominal pay. In San Francisco, your admittedly higher nominal pay would only afford you the ability to buy only 14% of the homes on the market. And the median home, which you could not afford, has only about 1000 square feet of space. In Houston, on the other hand, your lower nominal pay would allow you to buy 56% of the homes. And that median home, which you can now afford, will have on average 1858 square feet of space.

September 25, 2013

“SaaS: STRIPPERS as a SERVICE”

Filed under: Business, Law — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:58

The Register‘s headline perfectly encapsulates the dispute between Oracle/American Express and a high-end strip club:

A San Francisco strip club is suing Oracle after the tech goliath refused to pay a $33,540 bill allegedly racked up on the company credit card.

Larkin Street’s New Century Theater has filed a lawsuit claiming a man — named in the legal paperwork as Jose Manuel Gomez Sanchez — slid into the sexy flesh-pit last year and partied through the night.

It’s alleged he used an Oracle-issued American Express card between 1am and 5am to pay for $16,490 of undisclosed services on 2 October — right in the middle of Oracle’s OpenWorld 2012 conference in the city — and then returned two days later to splurge $17,050.

According to the San Fran Chronicle, Oracle was not willing to settle the subsequent bill. The database giant, easing itself into the software-as-a-service market, declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was submitted earlier this month to the Superior Court of California in San Francisco. The next hearing will take place in February. Sanchez is named as a defendant along with Oracle.

I’m not a lawyer, but it strikes me as a bad idea for Oracle to dispute the charges on the Amex card unless there are strong indications of “creative” billing on the part of the strip club. Just because they disapprove of how their employee racked up the charges doesn’t mean they can stiff the vendor.

August 26, 2013

Preseason “action” as Vikings lose to San Francisco

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:10

This was a nationally televised game, and both teams were expected to play their starters for at least the first half (except the 49ers have like a dozen quarterbacks on the roster, so each prospective backup was going to play less than a quarter). The Vikings didn’t look good. In fact, they looked particularly bad with the first team offence on the field. The defence looked much better, but not good enough to make up for the lack of offensive productivity on display.

Adrian Peterson got a few symbolic snaps, but no meaningful action (no contact at all), and was quickly replaced by Toby Gerhart at running back. Stephen Burton, who has been pushing to make the roster as a wide receiver, gave up an interception to end an early series and reduce his chance of being on the 53-man roster at the start of the season. Both of the starting tackles ended up with personal fouls — Matt Kalil drew two unsportsmanlike penalties and Phil Loadholt was flagged for holding.

The Vikings special teams gave up a kick-return TD which immediately wiped out any momentum from the Zach Line touchdown reception. Joe Webb caught a second TD from Christian Ponder to round out the scoring for the Purple. Chris Cook left the game with a groin injury and Kevin Williams will have an MRI today after he was injured on a nasty-looking block away from the ball.

I saw the first half, then a thunderstorm rolled through our area and took out the power briefly. When the power came on a few seconds later, the cable was out and I couldn’t watch the rest of the game. From the reports, I missed very little indeed…

The first round of roster cuts (from 90 players down to 75) are due by Tuesday, so this game was the last chance for some players to make any kind of showing.

ESPN‘s Ben Goessling says the final stat line is kinder to Christian Ponder than it appeared on the field:

Ponder went 7-of-9 for 48 yards on his final drive during the Minnesota Vikings’ 34-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, directing a 12-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Joe Webb on a fade route. It was as assertive and accurate as Ponder has looked all preseason, and though most of his completions were underneath the 49ers’ coverage, he converted two third downs (one on a 7-yard scramble, the other on his touchdown to Webb), and the scoring pass was Ponder’s second of the night. It helped him finish with his best stat line of the preseason — 17-of-23 for 116 yards, two touchdowns and an interception — but it also dressed things up after another ragged start for Ponder.

July 23, 2013

San Francisco TV station tries using DMCA to hide embarrassing clip

Filed under: Law, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:16

At Wired, David Kravets reports on San Francisco’s KTVU and their attempt to hide the newscast where they “identified” the pilot and crew of Asiana flight 214:

While many of the videos of the segment were still live on Google-owned YouTube, the reason why the Fox affiliate has been demanding their removal doesn’t concern copyright.

“The accidental mistake we made was insensitive and offensive. By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others,” the station’s general manager and vice president, Tom Raponi, told Mediabistro today.

More than 180 were injured and three were killed July 6 when the Boeing 777 slammed on the tarmac.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, owners of websites where the content is user-generated are obligated to remove copyrighted material at the rights holder’s request, or face the same potential penalties as the uploader. A successful copyright lawsuit carries damages as high as $150,000 per violation.

January 31, 2013

Randy Moss is not the greatest NFL receiver … but he could have been

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Judd Zulgad agrees that Randy Moss was a great wide receiver during his career in Minnesota, was even better in New England, but he was not the best ever:

Randy Moss declared this week that he believes he is the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game.

Moss is wrong. He’s not.

That honor belongs to Jerry Rice and from there the debate about who is second can begin.

But in giving ESPN and sports-talk shows invaluable fodder to discuss during Super Bowl week, one has to wonder this about Moss: Will he wake up one day long after his NFL career is over and realize that he could have been the greatest receiver to have played if only he had elected to apply himself.

There are no denying Moss’ talents.

Moss, who at 35 is spending the twilight of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, served almost immediate notice upon his arrival with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998 that NFL teams had made a mistake by passing on him 19 times in the first round of that draft.

In his rookie season, Moss helped to redefine how we thought about the wide receiver position.

[. . .]

Cris Carter might not have been beloved by the media, but he tried his best to mold Moss into a professional in 1998. Moss arrived back in Minnesota for a tumultuous month in 2010 and did far more damage than good in numerous areas, including when it came to Percy Harvin’s development.

Moss attempted to point out Wednesday the quality of quarterbacks that Rice had to work with during the majority of his career. What Moss failed to mention is that he spent three-plus seasons with a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Tom Brady and broke Rice’s record by catching 23 touchdown passes in 2007.

Guess who ruined the relationship between Moss and the Patriots? It wasn’t the football team. Rice bounced around late in his career because he wanted to hang on too long. Moss began to bounce around during the prime of his career because he had become a pain.

Moss, like Brady, should go into Canton, Ohio, on the first ballot when he’s eligible — it looks like he wants to stick around for at least one more season — and he should go down as a receiver who helped change the NFL as we know it.

What he won’t go down as is the greatest receiver of all time. For that, Randy Moss has no one to blame but himself.

September 24, 2012

Vikings upset San Francisco 49ers in Minnesota

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Lots of bookies are unhappy with the result of Sunday’s game in Minnesota, as the underdog Vikings played a complete game and came out with a big win over the heavily favoured San Francisco 49ers. Tight End Kyle Rudolph came down with two touchdown passes from Christian Ponder, and Ponder scrambled for another TD. Rookie Kicker Blair Walsh set a team record with another 50+ yard field goal to extend his career-opening streak to three games. 1500ESPN’s Tom Pelissero and Judd Zulgad wrap up the game from the Metrodome:

Update: Ted Glover at the Daily Norseman:

God damn it, it may be cheap, and it may be cliche, but this was as solid a team victory as this organization has had in a long, long time. When the offense needed to make a long drive and score, they did. When the defense absolutely, positively, had to get off the field, they did. When the special teams needed a big play, they got one. When Leslie Frazier and the coaching staff needed to dial something up, they did. Honestly, if you can’t get on board after this win, or get pumped up after a victory this convincing, you need to go cheer for another team. I can’t help you. If this was college, and I was handing out helmet stickers, everyone would get one, because this was a great win for this franchise. The Vikings just didn’t beat the 49ers, they flat out kicked their ass.

Kicked. Their. Ass.

August 11, 2012

Vikings defence crumbles in San Francisco

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:50

The first preseason game is out of the way and it wasn’t pretty. Both the Vikings and 49ers rested some of their starters, and the starters who played generally only stayed in the game for a series or two.

Most accounts agree that the Vikings’ offensive starters did well except for a rash of drops that cut short the first couple of drives. Christian Ponder’s decision-making was better than last year, not trying to force the ball into coverage and being willing to throw the ball away when nothing developed. The offensive line apparently held up well, giving Ponder time to get past his first read and making the most of what opportunities were offered. Blair Walsh scored all the Vikings points (two field goals), and got the ball deep enough on kickoff to keep San Francisco from any big returns.

(more…)

September 19, 2011

The “Day of Rage” turns into a damp squib

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:38

Apparently it wasn’t the start of the anti-capitalist revolution after all:

September 17 was supposed to be the Day of Rage, the starting point of an anti-capitalist revolution that (in theory) was going to sweep the country coast-to-coast. As I noted yesterday, “The plan is to protest in state capitals and major cities across the nation, but the focus of the revolution will be in New York, where a hoped-for 20,000 anti-capitalists will ‘occupy’ Wall Street.”

I dutifully sent my operatives out to cover what were to be three of the largest Day of Rage protests — in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles — so humanity would have a full record of this pivotal moment in history.

Really, I should have learned my lesson by now: The bigger the build-up to a protest, and the more grandiose the promises, the louder the sound of the bellyflop onto the dustbin of irrelevancy.

In other words: “Day of Rage” was a massive FAIL.

Lots of sad photos at the link. Even the fringy-est of fringe movements were represented. As one of the photo captions says, “Down in L.A., there were so few authentic protesters, that the LaRoucheites comprised a significant proportion of the attendees.”

July 30, 2011

Penn Jillette on his new book, and other experiences

Filed under: Books, Humour, Media, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:53

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