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Overheard in SF

S Aufrecht

His tab was thirty-five hundred. Todd told him […] We didn’t have an after party so he told him […] He just closed a really big deal and his commission was like fifty kay.

What good is bad data?

S Aufrecht

The advertisements in San Francisco are very localized but have much higher budgets and production values than typical local business ads for car dealers and real estate agents. This one is my new second-favorite bus ad of all time1. The small text reads, “What good is bad data?”.

Bus advertisement: large text: Go Dodgers.  small text: What good is bad data?

  1. First-favorite: An ad for a Seattle regional bank competing with Wells Fargo, which read, “Have wild horses dragged you to the wrong bank?”

Sometimes failure is not an option

S Aufrecht


  1. Django Software Foundation and individual contributors. (2019). The messages framework. django Documentation. Retrieved from

Advertising is lies

S Aufrecht

Wells Fargo continues its holiday advertising tradition with an encore of “The Stagecoach & The Snowmen” — a television commercial that struck a chord in its 2013 debut with themes of selflessness and working together.1

But actually

Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland began an investigation six months ago into allegations that some of the banking corporation’s stagecoach horses were subject to abuse, drugged, ill-trained and, at times, put bystanders at risk. The decision to suspend the program came only weeks after the stagecoach’s most visible event: The Rose Parade. 2

Homeless Blockchain

S Aufrecht

“We have at least 1,400 homeless people in our city, and that includes many right here at UC Berkeley,” Bartlett told the class. “So how can we use blockchain to fund a new prosperity? That’s a challenge I’d like you to take on.” The course, taught by visiting professor and former venture capitalist Po Chi Wu, is among a growing number of classes and research initiatives on blockchain technology emerging at universities.

Biden, like SFUSD, like White San Francisco parents, like most Democrats, does not support busing

S Aufrecht

We’re now having a debate about Biden’s opposition to busing in the mid-1970s, and whether that is beyond the pale for a Democratic nominee in 2019. But the fact is that virtually no Democratic elected officials – certainly very few at the federal level – have supported the federal government using busing as a tool for desegregation for the last forty years. So I think in effect Biden’s position has been the position of the vast majority of Democratic elected officials for decades.

—Josh Marshall1

CloudFlare’s bandwidth peering with Telstra and other bad actors

S Aufrecht

For instance, if Telstra were to peer with CloudFlare then they would only have to move traffic over about 30 meters of fiber optic cable between our adjoining cages in the same data center. Now Telstra will need to backhaul traffic to Free customers to Los Angeles or Singapore over expensive undersea cables. Their behavior is irrational in any competitive market and so it is not a surprise that each of these providers is a relative monopolist in their home market.

—Nitin Rao, CloudFlare1

  1. Rao, Nitin. Bandwidth Costs Around the World. 2016 Aug 17. CloudFlare blog. Retrieved from

Overheard in San Francisco

S Aufrecht

… was missing for almost a year. They just found him. Now that they know he’s dead, we can …

—somebody I walked past

DIY Smut

S Aufrecht

I just used a Dremel to saw a notch into a stripped Ikea hex nut. I’ve never felt more dirty—or more alive!

SFUSD Lottery

S Aufrecht

“San Francisco Had an Ambitious Plan to Tackle School Segregation. It Made It Worse.”

—Dana Goldstein, New York Times1

The New York Times published an article about how San Francisco’s school lottery is messed up. In missing the point, misses a much bigger opportunity to shit on SF. Goldstein’s narrative is that SF started using a lottery system to solve segregation, but it failed, and everybody hates it, so take that, nerds!

A truer narrative is that San Francisco has never tried an ambitious plan to tackle school segregation, but has instead, when forced by lawsuits, offered a series of deeply inadequate compromises that continue to accommodate White segregationist preferences and avoid spending money appropriately.

The NYTimes says “The district had previously used busing to try to desegregate schools, under a 1983 agreement with the N.A.A.C.P.” An earlier lawsuit, Johnson v. San Franciso Unified in 1969, led to busing starting in 19712, still almost two decades after Brown v Board of Education. Both the NYTimes and the SFUSD’s official history of the lottery3 skip this minor detail. The common narrative after busing, which I’ve heard personally from ‘experts’, is visible in this this KQED story4:

The lottery as we know it today is the product of more than 40 years of trying to solve the problem of segregated schools. In the 1970s, SFUSD tried bussing kids from one neighborhood to another, but parents hated that and many left the district altogether.

What actually happened is that a third of White parents fled within 2 years, and demographically never came back5. This racial element is also prominently missing from the NYTimes and the SFUSD narratives.

The lottery happened after two more lawsuits, and was an attempt to resolve the lawsuits without busing. The lottery is unpopular among White and richer Asian-American families, who have trouble getting their kids into predominantly White schools on the first try. The lottery itself is less unpopular among disadvantaged families, but the lack of busing sabotages its effectiveness for them.

The lottery obviously has flaws; depending on your perspective, the worst flaw is either that parents have up to a year of anxious uncertainty, or that the lottery is an inadequate partial measure taken to avoid real efforts to solve segregation.

No more tinkering; no more sticking with the current approach … I do think it’s my responsibility to say, ‘Hey, I’ve seen lots of analysis, I’ve heard from thousands of families, and what I can tell you for sure is that it’s time to move on,’ “ [SFUSD Board of Education Commissioner Matt] Haney said.6

That’s this guy …

Matt Haney

… who is now my District Supervisor, replacing London Breed the District 6 Supervisor. “[T]he vote requires district staff to come up with a new plan that includes one of three possibilities” 7, all of which are based primarily on home address. 65 years after Brown v Board, SF is no closer to integration. Which is a shame for White kids too, because8:

  1. White students’ test scores don’t drop when they go to schools with large numbers of black and Latino students.
  2. Diverse classrooms teach some of the most important 21st-century skills, which matter more than test scores.
  3. Graduates of socioeconomically diverse schools are more effective in the workplace and global markets.

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