June 12, 2002
Arts and Entertainment
The business of business
I have been studying the problems of education for many years, and this is one of the best discussions of what is wrong with privatization ["Unchartered Territory," 5/29/02]. I would add, though, that this model applies not only to Edison, and to the schools, but also to any public service that, we are told, can be managed better privately and still make a profit.
I hope that the media, having begun to understand what is going on, will use these insights to be more critical of "businesslike" approaches to other services, such as hospitals, nursing homes, child care, and mental health services. It is wildly unrealistic to think that profit can be made in services that are already underfunded. The only possible source of profit in such instances is to cut corners and foist an inferior product on the unsuspecting public. By the time people catch on and complain, the entrepreneurs are on to the next scam.
No sensible businessman will want to get into an enterprise that, if analyzed soberly and objectively, without rosy glasses, can obviously not make an honest profit.
Gang's all here
Obviously, people skate for many different reasons and do many different things when they skate [Letters to the Editor, 6/5/02]. So they have their own twist on it fine with me. So they dress a lot different than most skaters I know and use nicknames. Big deal. So one of them is apparently a writer for the Bay Guardian and wrote an interesting article and got her perspective published as a cover story. More power to her.
I admit I've seen their group and wondered, "What's up with that?," and probably even looked at them funny. But hey, people that know me know how funny I look.
Bottom line, they have wheels on their feet and they're encouraging people to skate. They gave props to "D" and Sixth Ave. They've convinced clubs/stores/bars to let them skate indoors, and they even called skating "eco-friendly travel."
Gang, gang, gang, gang yes, the word has negative connotations, but I think the public will be smart enough to distinguish this "gang" from violent gangs. Heck, maybe it's appropriate for most skaters, since we technically break the law when we skate on the street, especially at night. I admit, I often have total disregard for antiskate laws call me a gangster!
Leave the artists alone
Thanks for the great coverage on the art on the Albany Bulb ["Outlaw Art," 6/5/02]. Albany Let It Be needs all the help we can get informing people of this magical wonderland and that every resident of the Bay Area stands to lose if this park passes into state control. Once this place has been sanitized, it will be gone forever.
Your reporter, Rachel Brahinsky, poses an excellent question toward the end of the article. If the state is able, legally, to lease the proposed soccer fields to an outside entity, then how can state park planners say, without a hint of irony that "We can't carve out pieces of the park for exclusionary uses," when discussing the art on the Bulb?
It's one of the most contentious pieces of this puzzle and one that continues to infuriate us.
Additionally, we're battling the familiar war of attrition waged by some, but certainly not all, of the Sierra Club against off-leash dogs in the Bay Area. The beauty of the area is that in spite of all the use and abuse it has sustained, including the 40 years of dumping in the first place, the homeless encampment (where more than 100 animals lived with them) and now art and off-leash dogs, birds, reptiles, small mammals, and plants have thrived and increased in numbers and variety.
Albany Let It Be
Alternatives to Verisign
Thanks to Annalee Newitz for shining light on VeriSign, the company that bought Network Solutions to became the largest registrar of domain names in the United States [Techsploitation, 5/29/02]. VeriSign behaves like too many big businesses: it charges more than its competitors and is harder to deal with.
At webmac.info we register Web clients' site names with DirectNIC for $15 per year. For the same service Verisign charges $30. Like other registrars, Verisign offers online name registration, though we find the interface for their pricey service less user-friendly.
If you decide to change registrars to take advantage of competitors' lower prices, Verisign is most uncooperative. I guess they figure they can afford to be: they have your site name; what are you going to do about it?
Our Internet solution: don't use them in the first place.