December 2020

Sky Star

The mountain came to Mohammed in the form of the Sky Star‘s arrival in San Francisco. It had previously been installed in Louisville, Norfolk, and Cincinnati, where it was wildly popular. It will stay here only a year, so go ahead and ride it. If you’re not here in SF, watch for it to arrive near you. That said, it isn’t exactly cheap – the ten-minute ride costs $18 for adults and $12 for children and seniors, but I thought I got my money’s worth.

Actually, it’s been here since March, but the opening was slowed by the pandemic. The gondolas are quite comfortable and seat up to six, but don’t worry. You are not jammed in with strangers but rather are grouped by party. I rode it with just my friend Bob in our gondola and loved it. Not that the ride was all that dramatic or, despite the height, frightening. Rather, what I most liked about it was the serenity as it gently and smoooooothly rotated me 150 feet into the sky. The only jerky part was whiplashing my neck around to take in the 360 degree views from the East Bay to the Farallones and back. And yes, it was quite nice to look down at the De Young museum’s observation tower. Scurry around, Earthlings.

I wasted a lot of time during the all-too-brief ride taking photos of the various views and, you know how I am, of the wheel’s engineering. Wasted because when I went to suck the photos off my camera’s chip, it was empty. Just another tiny little switch somewhere somehow switched wrong, an increasingly common occurrence. And not just in camera settings.

Fortunately, my Bob came through for me with the same sort of shot that I thought I was taking. No need for a photo of the wheel from afar because the web is full of ’em.

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Last week there was a minor ripple in the news and short articles in the NYT and elsewhere about the Justice Dept. not extending Jonathan Pollard’s travel restrictions. I was struck by one word common to these articles – “gave”.  They all said that Pollard “gave” classified information to Israel.

Oh please. Pollard didn’t give all that classified information to Israel.  Oh no.  He sold it.  And he’s now a national hero in Israel, which speaks eloquently about our relationship with the trusted ally that we have been propping up since we gave them military aid at their inception and that has stabbed us in the back on multiple occasions. Pollard’s motive was not an American Jew’s love of Israel. Oh no. It was an American Jew’s love of money – pure greed. In fact, before he approached the Israelis, he offered to sell his information to several other countries, including Pakistan and then-under-apartheid South Africa. But Israel became the highest bidder; so he sold to them and then, during the process of transferring all that classified material, he held out for a raise.

And this is why he got a thirty-year sentence, was refused parole until he’d served every day of it, and was slapped with travel restrictions after he got out.

I’ve summarized in the above paragraphs, but I highly recommend your reading the Wikipedia article on him since he’s far worse than I’ve revealed. His whole life has been a tissue of lies and fabrications. And if you’re up for heaps of mendacity, browse around in Pollard’s own website for one lie after another.

He’s a great hero in Israel, where he’s been given citizenship and where he probably is by now. I wish we’d thwarted the greedy scumbag by keeping the travel restrictions and making him rot right here.

Meanwhile, here’s a voracious raptor off Polk Street.

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