This week's new articles from the alternative weeklies...
- Smart meters, stupid company (San Francisco Bay Guardian)
Smart meters seemed like a good idea at first glance — a little wireless device that, unlike it's dumb analogous predecessor, would track precise readings of household energy usage in real time, identifying wasteful activities and helping consumers make informed choices about conservation and consumption. Considered a crucial first step in enabling a smart grid that would modernize the existing power grid for the information age, the technology was touted as offering potential benefits such as cheaper service, fewer new power plants and transmission lines, cleaner air, and more reliable services. But Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s $2.2 billion program for installing smart meters has now become the subject of caustic criticism by thousands of customers and activists as the culprit for skyrocketing rates, adverse health effects, and threats to privacy. Full article
- Women's Funding Network Sex Trafficking Study Is Junk Science (SF Weekly)
ATTORNEYS REPRESENTING CRAIGSLIST told Congress on Sept. 15 that the ubiquitous web classifieds site was closing its adult section. Under intense scrutiny from the government and crusading advocacy groups, as well as state attorneys general, owner Craig Newmark famously applied the label "Censored" in his classifieds where adult advertising once appeared. During the same September hearing of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, members of Congress listened to vivid and chilling accounts regarding underage prostitution. They heard testimony from half a dozen nonprofit executives and law enforcement officials. But the most alarming words of the day came from Deborah Richardson, the chief program officer of the Women's Funding Network (WFN), who told legislators that juvenile prostitution is exploding at an astronomical rate. "An independent tracking study released today by the Women's Funding Network shows that over the past six months, the number of underage girls trafficked online has risen exponentially in three diverse states," Richardson claimed... In the wake of this bombshell revelation, her disturbing figures found their way into some of the biggest newspapers in the country.... None of the media that published Richardson's astonishing numbers bothered to examine the study at the heart of her claim. If they had, they would have found what we did after asking independent experts to examine the research: It's junk science. Full article
- Toxic Art (East Bay Express)
Sculptor Eva Hesse was one of the few female artists to garner acclaim for her minimalist work in the 1960s New York art scene. So when brain cancer took her life at the age of 34, her critics and collectors were shocked; she had just begun what looked like a landmark career. But just as notable as her works — which are currently on display at the Berkeley Art Museum — is what some speculate was responsible for her untimely death: the toxic resins and plasters she worked with. Since Hesse's death, artists have become much more aware of the hazards of certain art products. But it turns out that contemporary art supplies are just as dangerous — and seriously underregulated. On shelves of art supply stores, in private studios, in print shops, and in art schools, all kinds of toxic products are still in use, either because artists and instructors feel that they know how to use them safely, or because their nontoxic alternatives are viewed as less effective. Full article
THIS Thursday at the Tech Museum in downtown San Jose, ZER01 officially launches a new series: ART/TECHNOLOGY: In Conversation. For the debut episode, Rick Rinehart of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will moderate "The Future of Play," a conversation with IDEO's industrial designer and toy inventor, Joe Wilcox, along with interactive digital artist, filmmaker and researcher Scott Sona Snibbe. At press time, the event was filled up, but it will broadcast live via Ustream, where anyone can tune in and participate. The tag-team duo of Wilcox and Snibbe provide just what the doctor ordered when it comes to engaging conversations such as these. Wilcox invents toys at IDEO, a multi-award-winning global design firm with offices in Palo Alto. Before that, he worked as an industrial designer for NASA and at MIT's Aero-Astro Lab. Full article