2011/08/28

My email to the BART Board


Hello, my name is Martin MacKerel. I spoke at the special BART Board meeting about the phone service cutoff on August 11th.

First of all, I want to thank you for listening. A few times I have spoken at public meetings of other bodies, and usually the public participation seems just for show. Your meeting seemed genuine.

I have a couple of responses to statements at the meeting. I agree strongly with Edward Hasbrouck's point that it is not appropriate for BART staff or the Board to have the sole power to temporarily shut off service; instead, the staff should get an injunction from a judge. This is in keeping with the long-standing American idea of checks and balances.

2011/08/24

Special BART Board Meeting on Mobile Phone Service Interruption of August 11th

I spoke at a special BART Board meeting this morning about their cutting of cellphone service during a protest. I thought that the board actually seemed open and interested in public input, in contrast to most public hearings I've been to. The President of the Board, Bob Franklin, actually came up to me briefly afterwards and thanked me for my attitude - I had said in my comment that I was taking the Board at their word and meeting in this "appropriate" forum for dialogue before engaging in protest. The meeting did, actually, feel like part of a dialogue.

I came out strongly against the action and in favour of free speech, and pointed out that it took a riot in January 2009 to get Mehserle arrested. One might blame the immaturity of the rioters, but it would be more instructive to consider the deafness of the power structure.


2011/08/16

Book Review: Emergence by Steven Johnson

Emergence by Steven Johnson book cover
Both my experience reading this book and my experience writing this review were quite interesting. I loved both Where Good Ideas Come From and The Invention of Air, also by Steven Johnson, and read each in a short period of time. I expected the same from this book, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software.

'Twas not to be, however. I read about halfway through the book, got fed up, and left it for a few weeks before finishing it. It took me a couple weeks to start writing the book review. I wrote most of one, then threw it out. Now, several weeks later, I am starting over.