LA Times – Alternate Reality (Rick Caruso’s Malls)

Alternate reality
Rick Caruso’s outdoor malls are a cleaned-up facsimile of city life.

By Tina Daunt, Times Staff Writer
December 1, 2004

Multimillionare developer Rick Caruso is walking past the shops on Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter, surveying the streetscape with all its architectural elegance and decay.

Little escapes the notice of the Los Angeles businessman: the ornately carved crown moldings, the wrought iron balconies, sizzling gas lanterns, cypress shutters, cracked sidewalks, leaning walls, bare wires. The place is beautiful but worn out. To Caruso, it looks like a dump.

“They certainly haven’t spent any money on maintenance,” he says. “I don’t see any reason to ever come back here again.”

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan opposed Caruso’s effort to remove Parks as chief, but says he admires the developer’s business sense.

“His father is a wealthy man, so he came to it the easy way,” Riordan says. “But he never let that make him lazy.

“I think he’s ready to take over Los Angeles.”

NOTE

The text of this story was taken down at the request of the LA Times (May 14, 2008). The timing of this request to remove the text is probably related to the recent opening of Caruso’s Americana mall in Glendale, which was lavishly and flatteringly covered by the LA Times.

The story which was taken down was an interesting portrait of Caruso as a born-wealthy Republican fundraiser with an avowed hatred for the disorder of living cities. It’s an interesting picture, especially given the rumors of his possible run for LA mayor. Sadly, the original link to the story on the Times website is now broken. However the full text of this article seems to be available for purchase for just $3.95.

Four bucks may seem like a lot just to read a short biographical article from 2004. But clearly the Tribune-owned LA Times knows how to run a profitable business, so rather than question their economic decisions, let us simply wish them the best.

Fudd

Finally, the silly accusation of an “imminent threat” gets debunked in the eloquent terms it deserves:

Sec. RUMSFELD: Well, I’ve–I’ve tried to be precise, and I’ve tried to be accurate. I’m s–suppose I’ve…

Mr. FRIEDMAN: `No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world and the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.’

Sec. RUMSFELD: Mm-hmm. [pause] It–my view of–of the situation was that he–he had–we–we believe, the best intelligence that we had and other countries had and that–that we believed and we still do not know–we will know.

What will they do as they fold up into an angry fetal ball?

System Justification

Two months ago a study was published in the APA’s Psychological Bulletin called “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition.” It took a set of scientific studies from the last 50 years and attempted to parse out some of the motivating traits of a “conservative” worldview. Although the shorthand descriptions of conservative traits are definitely unflattering, it didn’t really make any outrageous claims (conservatives tend to be intolerant of ambiguity. Yeah, that’s a stretch.) And when it was published, nobody outside academia seemed to care much.

Until last week when Berkeley Media Relations put out an inflammatory press release, one sentence of which directly linked Hitler, Mussolini, and Reagan — something the study doesn’t actually do. They put the press release on the web and sent it far and wide, and that finally got some attention.

But only for the press release. Which is now described as the study itself on a wide array of conservative websites. There’s reposting of the full press release even though it’s already online. There’s tedious line by line insulting of the press release. There’s Rush Limbaugh ranting and flapping about the press release. There’s cosmic pronouncements about the fallen nature of Man and how this differs from the press release. And in almost all the responses there are torrents of gibbering, howling, frothing hatred of Berkeley, who put out the press release… even though the lead author of the study is at the Stanford.Business School and has a PhD from our “president’s” alma mater, Yale.

The full study itself is online at Stanford [1.7 MB PDF]. And since it was published in a reputable academic journal, there’s a response to problems in the study, with a counter response by the authors [also online, 1.7MB PDF].

The commie swine at Berkeley Media Relations didn’t provide a link to their cross-town rival, so it’s a pity that conservative bloggers couldn’t figure our how to Google any faster. Cause the paper itself includes a handy graph so you can attempt to understand the inner machinations of conservatives in the wild:


[full image – 84k]

Glenn Reynolds almost made one insightful point about all this:

What’s most amazing to me is that the Berkeley PR office thought that trumpeting this study to the nationwide media would be a good idea, and that doing so would somehow enhance the school’s reputation.

The study itself is actually, well, conservative. What’s amazing is that Berkeley decided to put out a press release that was clearly intended to piss off every conservative they possibly could. Why? Becasue there’s no such thing as bad press? Or – being deceptive Marxist scum – is it something more… sinister?

William Kristol recently hypothesized that Bush ordered his subordinates to deliberately screw up their explanation of his State of the Union misspokenings and thereby drive the liberal media into a tail-chasing frenzy. I assumed that this suggestion was either a ham-handed rhetorical device, or (more likely) just batshit crazy. But then again… maybe it’s just batshit crazy enough to work.

Maybe Berkeley has done the same thing with conservatives — putting out a “sexed-up” press release! Now we have Rush Limbaugh attacking a single sentence while the study itself gets lots of attention but remains basically unassailed. (How clever you are, Kathleen Maclay. “Media Relations” — is that a title they gave you in Havana?)

Not only that, conservative bloggers are now providing a fascinating source of annecdotal evidence for the study itself. Especially Dr John Ray at Dissecting Leftism. Here he is exhibiting what might be described as the existential motive of self-esteem:

But perhaps the best indication of how “motivated” their own cognitions are is the fact that they cite only two of the more than one hundred articles I have had published on the subject. I am clearly one of the major authors (if not THE major author in terms of number of articles in print) in the field that they purport to survey, but they ignore 98% of what I have to say.

Unfortunately Dr Ray is apparently the only blogger who seems to have even attempted to read the study itself (although he’s still mostly worked up about the press release). Not coincidentally, he’s the self-proclaimed number one worldwide expert on conservative psychology — namely that it doesn’t exist. And even if it did, then there’s no way in hell that liberal academic so-called scientists would be able so say anything meaningful about it.

Oh but liberal psychology? You can be damn sure that exists. And John Ray will TELL you all about the DANGERS of LEFTISM. For example this piece in David Horowitz’ Front Page Magazine:

As the quotations already given show, Hitler shared with other Leftists a love of constant change and excitement — and what could offer more of that than war?

So, um… all “Leftists” are pro-war? Like Hitler?
Cause they love excitement?

And Tony Blair was inspired by Mussolini ?

And this guy is the only person trained in psychology who responded negatively to the study itself?

Riiiight.

So if a group of psychologists spend years looking at scientific surveys and publish a peer-reviewed paper suggesting there’s a relationship between certain personal traits and a politically “conservative” worldview, then that is a scandalous example of junk science.

And if a single lapsed psychologist simply feels in his heart that “Leftism” is universally tied to various poisonous beliefs, then… he starts a blog. And Glenn Reynolds cites him as a reliable authority. And lots of other conservative bloggers attack a press release.

I think we’ve all learned something today.

Intellectual Property Food

The GIF patent expired in America today. The right to create one of the most often-used image formats in the world has reverted to the public domain.

The headlines for this event fruitfully collided with the headlines of another intellectual property issue — America whining about Europe’s policies on genetically modified food. The intellectual property angle of geneticly modified food almost never gets brought up publicly in America. Usually a shill for agribusiness rants about the complete safety of GM crops, and that’s about it. Of course safety is not at all the first thing on their minds: [nyt]

The Bush administration and agricultural businesses view the [European] policy as simple protectionism because American companies, which dominate the biotechnology industry,would benefit most from lifting the ban. Without it, American companies would export about $300 billion more in corn each year than they do now, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Although the debate about GM crops is partially about the remote prospect of catastrophic ecological devistation, it is actually about who gets to own the patent on corn. A struggle over who will control the code for food. Right now, this is far more looming threat than the mere destruction of all agriculture.

We’ve seen how corporate owners act when confronted with the duplication of mere music-information. They blame the massive flaws of their oligarchic business model on the file trading of teenagers, which makes them feel more than justified in unleashing both rabid lawsuits and guerrilla tactics. The RIAA’s knee-breaker desperation seemed to know few boundaries, but just recently, senator Orrin Hatch found a way to take it up a notch. This guardian the Constitution decided to lay his bat-shit craziness on the table and openly suggested that the computers of copyright violators should be hacked and destroyed. Among other egregious offenses, such corporate vigilanteism would be a violation of recent anti-terrorism laws. A United States senator just suggested that terrorism is okay for intellectual property owners.

In this environment, and as genetic information increasingly becomes just more information, how will the corporate owners of the food-codes behave? How will these copy protection methodologies look when translated into the global food supply?

There was a little discussion about this back in the late 90’s when Monsanto was trying to market the “terminator gene” — a copy protection scheme for it’s seeds. Or rather, it’s patented intellectual property. Monsanto had to back down on that one, at least publicly. In October of 1999, they said they wouldn’t commercialize “sterile seed technology.” The BBC reported on Monsanto’s public statement:

The letter said: “Though we do not yet own any sterile seed technology, we think it is important to respond to those concerns at this time by making clear our commitment not to commercialise gene protection systems that render seed sterile.”

The technology might still be used in internal research, the company said. And the genes could help create plants in which certain characteristics can be switched on and off.

Andrew Simms of Christian Aid, a development charity, said the move was a major reverse: “Terminator technology was the lynchpin of a strategy to protect corporate royalties in developing countries.

“Up until last year, the US Department of Agriculture [who own a key patent] expected that within a short period of time you would not be able to find seeds that did not use terminator technology.”

Pete Riley of Friends of the Earth said the move was an attempt by the food giant to win favour in the press. “It is only a gesture and it will cost them nothing. There is nothing to stop them introducing it at a later date.”

And apparently nothing was stopping anyone else from using similar copy protection ideas. Syngenta planted a test crop of terminator plants in England in 2001. The Institute for Science and Society recently examined the current state of “terminator” copy protection technologies and found that several are being used right now. But they also found that it’s getting harder to get information about what’s being planted.

Aside from the actual technology of genetic copy protection, corporations are nevertheless vigorously enforcing their intelectual property rights over genetic code, even when they pollute the crops of farmers not using their seeds.

A Canadian farmer named Percy Schmeiser had been planting canola in Saskatchewan for about 50 years. Around 1998, some investigators from Monsanto noticed that his canola fields were polluted with pollen from neigboring fields of genetically modified canola or maybe from passing trucks. The farmer had not planted any Monsanto seed, but his crops contained Monsanto’s patented genetic material due to cross-pollenization. Since the farmer had not signed a Technology Use Agreement for the tainted food he was growing, Monsanto sued the farmer for patent infringement.

Monsanto outlined their request for patent infringement seeking damages totaling $400,000. This included a list of civil damages, including about $250,000 in legal fees, $105,000 in profits they feel Schmeiser made on the 1998 crop, $13,500 ($15 an acre) for technology fees and $25,000 in punitive damages.

The Canadian court ruled against the farmer.

In a key part of the ruling , the judge agreed a farmer can generally own the seeds or plants grown on his land if they blow in or are carried there by pollen — but the judge says this is not true in the case of genetically modified seed.

The case is on appeal…

Critics attacking an anti-GM policy can continue to scornfully repeat that the food itself is perfectly safe. It’s even true that there’s only a very very remote chance that all terrestrial plant life would be wiped out by a genetic oopsie-daisy. But there are immediately tangible effects of forcing copy protected food on the world. Oddly enough, the pro-GM crowd seems to avoid the issue entirely…

And that GIF patent? Still valid in Canada, Europe and Japan for another year.

Related

Statistics of a Drinky City

With renowned Bay Area modesty, the San Francisco Chronicle proclaims: “There are more well-read drinkers in San Francisco than anywhere else in the land.” [via boing boing]

They base this on Bureau of Labor Statistics data which ranks San Francisco highest in per capita spending on alcohol and books. Each resident there spent an average of:

$744 on booze and $266 on books, out of an annual income of $70,237. The average resident of Los Angeles, by comparison, spent only $412 and $148 for the same items, out of an annual income of $53,514.

That means a San Franciscan spent 1.1 percent of his money on booze. An Angeleno spent only 0.77 percent.

Bar owner Ed Moose of the bar North Beach bar “Moose’s” had these thoughts on the alcohol issue:

“All through history San Franciscans have been drinkers,” he said. “The Gold Rush, the lack of women, the boom and bust times, the devil-may-care attitude, all of that is here.”

Los Angeles is a more sober and a more sobering place, Moose said.

“Nobody drinks in public down there, nobody stays out after about 8 o’clock, ” he said. “Everyone pretends he has to get up early in the morning.”

(Obviously just a little projection going on in terms of people pretending to have a reason to get up in the morning….)

LA may be more sobering — in the 2000 census, 22.1% of the population were below the poverty line compared to 11.3% in SF. But sober seems like a strange accusation.

So then what valid facts might lie behind this statistical ranking? Several of the high spending booze cities do have good daytime drinking weather (SF, Portland, Seattle, New York) but Honolulu is number 3, so that interpretation gets skewed. The top five cities in per capita alcohol spending also have populations less than a million people, which seems odd. Citoes like Chicago, New York, and LA surely spill more liquor than the sleepy village by the Bay. All in all, these statistics seem to just indicate that things are kind of expensive in San Francisco. In which case Moose can be forgiven his irrational bias — you gotta keep your spirits up while dealing with such a tiny concentration of the wealthy-yet-unemployed.

So all this got me looking at demographic data on drinking, which the Feds have also helpfully supplied. The consumer expediture survey java-based public data querey generated the following charts of drinking expenditure based on education. The vertical axis is the average number of dollars spent on alcoholic beverages per year by a person with the corresponding degree.

high school diploma

bachelor’s degree

masters, PhD or professional degree

What does it all mean? The obvious data points:

  • Book lernin’ aside, in 1999 everybody partied like it was 1999.
  • More school = more money spent on drinks.

One interpretation is that people who go to college learn to drink more. Which is of course true. But these charts could also indicate that more college means more expensive drinks. Lacking solid empirical data on the cost-per-sippy of the expensively degreed, this loose end remains naggingly untied.

We also need to factor in the new New Economy and the massive layoffs that began around 2000-2001: people with a high school education and a presumably crappy job had a one year drop in drinking expenditures of about 10%. People with a graduate degree, presumably with a mediocre job which they abruptly lost along with their entire savings, had a major drop in booze expense — almost 25%.

This drop might be single-handedly accounted for by the patrons of Moose’s, one quarter of whom moved to Los Angeles en masse when they all lost their information architect gigs in SoMa, in spite of their master’s degrees. Most of these people are now stuffed into the once comfortable bars of LA, loudly complaining about how much this so-called city sucks and how hard it is to land a good commercial. What’s especially irritating is that they always take up an extra bar stool with their carpetbags, which are inevitably filled with copies of their sexy yet theoretically deep action-adventure-romance screenplays, “cause that’s what you do in LA.”

Call to them, Moose. Howl to them through the foggy night! Cause if they ever stop yelling into their cell phones about how cool the Mission used to be, maybe they’ll hear you and come home. And I’ll be able to get a bar stool again.

Meanwhile, people with just a bachelor’s degree appear to have spent a little more on alcohol over the 2000-2001 period. They are the Honolulu or the Portland of this data set? In either case, kudos!

Opening a souvenir can of fog whilst awaiting further testing…

Statistics of a Drinky City

With renowned Bay Area modesty, the San Francisco Chronicle proclaims: “There are more well-read drinkers in San Francisco than anywhere else in the land.” [via boing boing]

They base this on Bureau of Labor Statistics data which ranks San Francisco highest in per capita spending on alcohol and books. Each resident there spent an average of:

$744 on booze and $266 on books, out of an annual income of $70,237. The average resident of Los Angeles, by comparison, spent only $412 and $148 for the same items, out of an annual income of $53,514.

That means a San Franciscan spent 1.1 percent of his money on booze. An Angeleno spent only 0.77 percent.

Bar owner Ed Moose of the bar North Beach bar “Moose’s” had these thoughts on the alcohol issue:

“All through history San Franciscans have been drinkers,” he said. “The Gold Rush, the lack of women, the boom and bust times, the devil-may-care attitude, all of that is here.”

Los Angeles is a more sober and a more sobering place, Moose said.

“Nobody drinks in public down there, nobody stays out after about 8 o’clock, ” he said. “Everyone pretends he has to get up early in the morning.”

(Obviously just a little projection going on in terms of people pretending to have a reason to get up in the morning….)

LA may be more sobering — in the 2000 census, 22.1% of the population were below the poverty line compared to 11.3% in SF. But sober seems like a strange accusation.

So then what valid facts might lie behind this statistical ranking? Several of the high spending booze cities do have good daytime drinking weather (SF, Portland, Seattle, New York) but Honolulu is number 3, so that interpretation gets skewed. The top five cities in per capita alcohol spending also have populations less than a million people, which seems odd. Citoes like Chicago, New York, and LA surely spill more liquor than the sleepy village by the Bay. All in all, these statistics seem to just indicate that things are kind of expensive in San Francisco. In which case Moose can be forgiven his irrational bias — you gotta keep your spirits up while dealing with such a tiny concentration of the wealthy-yet-unemployed.

So all this got me looking at demographic data on drinking, which the Feds have also helpfully supplied. The consumer expediture survey java-based public data querey generated the following charts of drinking expenditure based on education. The vertical axis is the average number of dollars spent on alcoholic beverages per year by a person with the corresponding degree.

high school diploma

bachelor’s degree

masters, PhD or professional degree

What does it all mean? The obvious data points:

  • Book lernin’ aside, in 1999 everybody partied like it was 1999.
  • More school = more money spent on drinks.

One interpretation is that people who go to college learn to drink more. Which is of course true. But these charts could also indicate that more college means more expensive drinks. Lacking solid empirical data on the cost-per-sippy of the expensively degreed, this loose end remains naggingly untied.

We also need to factor in the new New Economy and the massive layoffs that began around 2000-2001: people with a high school education and a presumably crappy job had a one year drop in drinking expenditures of about 10%. People with a graduate degree, presumably with a mediocre job which they abruptly lost along with their entire savings, had a major drop in booze expense — almost 25%.

This drop might be single-handedly accounted for by the patrons of Moose’s, one quarter of whom moved to Los Angeles en masse when they all lost their information architect gigs in SoMa, in spite of their master’s degrees. Most of these people are now stuffed into the once comfortable bars of LA, loudly complaining about how much this so-called city sucks and how hard it is to land a good commercial. What’s especially irritating is that they always take up an extra bar stool with their carpetbags, which are inevitably filled with copies of their sexy yet theoretically deep action-adventure-romance screenplays, “cause that’s what you do in LA.”

Call to them, Moose. Howl to them through the foggy night! Cause if they ever stop yelling into their cell phones about how cool the Mission used to be, maybe they’ll hear you and come home. And I’ll be able to get a bar stool again.

Meanwhile, people with just a bachelor’s degree appear to have spent a little more on alcohol over the 2000-2001 period. They are the Honolulu or the Portland of this data set? In either case, kudos!

Opening a souvenir can of fog whilst awaiting further testing…