Free Internet ain't free: Given that the SF Weekly considers advocacy uncool, it's not surprising that Matt Smith slammed those who would apply the city's Precautionary Principle before getting on the free Wi-Fi bandwagon ["Making (Radio) Waves," March 28].
But in the interest of real journalism, I would have liked to see Smith take on real issues, besides his anticipated $40/mo. saving with semi-free Wi-Fi (he concedes there'd be upgrade fees for less-than-pokey speed):
1) The very real science that suggests there are health issues to address, given that radio frequencies employed can be close to those governing human cell functions (see Drs. Henry Lai and William Ross Adey's research, and recent European studies);
2) The fact that our government has cut off funding for more research, and left oversight to the FCC where commerce trumps public health, making us all guinea pigs;
3) That there's no such thing as a "free beer" (historically, what political bosses offered in exchange for votes) but that the city can, with vision and planning, own the high-speed Internet infrastructure and reap the revenues that, after the initial contract period, would go directly to Google and EarthLink.
More real policy analysis and fewer cheap shots would greatly improve your coverage.
Taking the Wi-Fi fight inside: In regard to Matt Smith's SF Weekly article, I have to respectfully disagree on a few important points. Matt's likening of the mayor's Wi-Fi plan for San Franciscans to offering "free Guinness for Dubliners" is an over-simplification. The opponents of the Wi-Fi plan are in agreement with the mayor that wide broadband access is crucial to social empowerment and economic growth in San Francisco; however, the problem lies in the technical aspects of the free broadband plan. It is being pitched as mostly for the benefit of residents of S.F. subsidized housing projects and low-income residents. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi will not fit that need. It doesn't provide the connection speeds or reliability needed for indoor use. I have personally used Google's Mountain View Wi-Fi system; it doesn't work indoors and isn't intended to, much like other U.S. cities that have implemented Wi-Fi. Do we realistically expect subsidized housing project residents to use laptops or handhelds outdoors with any significant regularity?
We at the District 3 Democratic Club recently held a Wi-Fi forum that included panelists Supervisor Jake McGoldrick and PublicNet S.F. community activist Bruce Wolfe. We did invite representatives from DTIS (Department of Telecommunications and Information Services) and the Mayor's Office, and unfortunately they declined to attend. It was evident that Supervisor McGoldrick wants to explore the alternatives before signing off on this proposed deal. Furthermore, it was recognized that most Internet users' access is indoors, and if there were to be wide broadband access in San Francisco, Wi-Fi isn't going to provide the connection speeds needed. A solution including fiber-optics may or may not be the answer, but be aware, there is no faster medium. The strands within a fiber-optic cable carry Internet traffic via pulses of light, at the speed of light.
Elsewhere in the U.S., cities and towns are successfully leveraging Wi-Fi networks for field workers such as the police, fire department, city planners, and utility companies. If that is what this city-wide Wi-Fi network is intended for, fine, but don't sell us a false bag of goods. Simply, subsidized housing project residents aren't going to get any use for outdoor Internet connectivity suitable for laptops and handhelds. Matt may be surprised to learn that free Guinness for San Franciscans is a much easier sell than free Wi-Fi.
Corresponding Secretary, District 3 Democratic Club
We are not worthy: Your open letter to the Mother Hips in the SF Weekly was the very best music article I have ever read in the publication! Too often lazy journalists kiss the ass of soppy, dreary hippy toss like the aforementioned 'Hips just because they are "local" and "worthy." Well, the MH's were earnest rubbish with awful lyrics 10 years back and still are. Whose local bubble can you prick next? There's a few likely candidates. Incidentally, I agree utterly about Kelley and Vetiver. Keep up the standards.
... And the winner of this week's Best Comment Award from SFWeekly.com: People fuck, as you say, this is true. At times, they fuck on the tailgate of a beat-up white Ford Ranger, down a dirt road just off of Highway 50 near Ely, Nev., when the urge happens. They fuck hard in the desert sun, yelling and grunting loudly, and then collapsing into the truck bed after three or four positions, heaving together and laughing their asses off. ... Then they get back in the truck and drive BLARING THE MOTHER FUCKING HIPS all the way to San Francisco to go to see a show, and maybe later that night camp on the beach, a weekend trip from the mountains, stopping only to piss or puff, hike or fuck some more.