Saturday, July 28, 2018

Not Wikipedia: Touring San Diego State's "new" Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences building

This is not the first time I've mentioned this place on a blog; last year I discussed the then-forthcoming Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences building on this blog's clone, and it turned out I was right about the place; the first floor is operating on both sides, but sections of the second and third floors are still under construction on the tall wing (South side) and the second story of the short wing (North side) closest to the original Engineering building. The building opened to great fanfare this January, which makes it shocking that they are still getting their act together.

For some reason they still have a construction webcam running on the building, even though the construction is all indoors. Notice that the dome covering the camera is pretty grimy now.

The Thomas and Anne Day quad. If you look up Thomas Day in the Los Angeles Times archives, back in 1992 there was a brutal fight between SDSU President Day and the professorate over proposed budget cuts, leading to a vote of no confidence by them, and Day stepped down in 1996. He had been SDSU president since 1978, nearly twenty years. As far as we can tell, Thomas Day is still alive, but his wife Anne passed away in 2013, making her one of the few deceased people on the building.

The plain soil bit behind the red walkway; if you were facing towards Day quad, this view would be 90 degrees to the right. The building with the arched walkway dates to the 1940s. The table on the extreme right behind the tree is one of the permanent ping-pong tables that sit in the sun.

One of the engineering lab rooms inside the ground floor of the building. All interior photographs were taken quickly.

Elevator to the second floor; this was the one in the front area of the South building.

And this is where the construction starts. The actual engineering labs (which function as lab and classroom) were finished, but all the stuff across from them was unfinished.

One of the unfinished areas; possibly a study area or a space for a computer lab.

Third floor of the South wing; the paper on the floor is there to protect it from heavy dolly wear and whatnot. The white "wall" where the exit sign is in the back is actual more of that white plastic sheeting.

As you can see it's all over the place. I think this might be the second floor.

Clark is the construction firm involved, and that's what the third-story floorplan looks like.

And here is a zone under construction, with one of the workers doing something. Notice that the glass is being held in true by painter's blue paper tape at the corner.

More of what ex-President Hirshman was good at, "selling" naming rights for the EIS. Here is their third-story student and faculty lounge, named after the Meyers.

And here's the Fronius Room on the second floor.

Yes the man himself got something named after him, the second story terrace where students' brains will melt in the sun.

Hirshman's tables and deck furniture (in the back).

Hirshman's benches.

I guess all of this is payment for the names on the building. Hirshman himself is now president of Stevenson University, a private college near Baltimore, Maryland that used to be Villa Julie College, a Catholic women's junior college from the late 1940s to the 1960s that went co-educational in 1972.

They named a terrace on the second story of the North wing, just because they could.

There is a bridge that connects the North wing to the old Engineering building and they gave naming rights to the Doyle family foundation. I didn't get photos of every plaque, but some of them were for local companies, and seeing all these names in metal made it look more like a Good 'Ol Boys club then anything truly academic.

All the stairwells are THX-1138 White and the paint fumes are overpowering.

.....Except for the landings with standpipes. New commercial/institutional fire code thing?

They are using more-and-more LCD TV screens as permanent monitors - here is one that has been displaying the same message since the summer began.

SDSU things that aren't the EIS

As long as we are showing photos of of SDSU, let me show you what they do to the place during the summer.

A large hole behind the EIS, don't ask me why, but you see stuff like that.

Bench made by the Works Progress Administration possibly in 1938 or 1940. Portions of the original college were built by the WPA right before America's involvement in World War II, such as....

This long portico attached to Hepner Hall. Which as I was walking around.....

One of the Hepner classrooms was being gutted and modernized, something that has been happening to the creakier classrooms in the older buildings for the last couple of years. This creeping change will probably take a decade to finish.

They allowed the art students to do university-sanctioned "street art" (so it was mamby-pamby) a few years ago, and now the art is beginning to rot off the boards.

Behind a temporary fence they were replanting this mangy corner garden, possibly to be a Xeriscape. This is near the Life Science building that used to be the SDSU model grade school in the 1940s that was conjoined to the Physics-Astronomy building in the 1950s or early 1960s.

The corner next to that fenced garden. that two way portico leads to the other Life Science building across a bridge. Yes, that is a TV yagi antenna. If you squint at SDSU, you think you are on the Spanish coast.

Worst photograph of Hardy Tower ever, taken from the plants alongside that long portico. Speaking of that space.....

This lamp has been sitting like this for a while now, notice the cobwebs inside.

More of that green fencing. Re-laying paving bricks in front to the SDSU bookstore, probably because it was sinking in at spots.

This has been a thing for two years; the elevator foyer in the Student Services building had been there for twenty years; Hirshman had them enclose it with glass doors and walls and gave the Mack family donors the naming rights.

They really want you to know that this was "gifted" by this Mack family.

This is inside an elevator.

Don't ask me why these cherry picker rigs are in this faded courtyard. The grass was always dying and now it's been churned up.

The same space a few days later.

.....I think I've made my point, which is "the university is always being worked on in the summer."

Bonus: Those @%&*ing Ofo bikes

The urban cancer of mainland China, brightly-colored rent-a-bikes that use a smartphone app to ride, have hit San Diego, and the bikes littered the campus this month.

Ofo has been around since 2014 and they started sending their canary yellow bikes to San Francisco somewhere in the last year or so, and San Diego is now the "sideshow of a sideshow" to quote Donald Wolfit's version of General Sir Archibald James Murray in Lawrence of Arabia, of the Great Undeclared Non-Motorized Metered Transport War. Ofo is one of five or six "bike or scooter sharing" businesses operating in the town. Here the bikes are sitting in the second-floor walkway of Parking Structure Two, which has been around since the late 1960s.

Bike left in front of the Life Sciences building, a hazard for the twentysomething who walks while looking at their smartphone.

This Ofo bike lacks the "skinned" basket frame and the bent fender of a true veteran.

The big plastic yellow dingus on the back forks is the locking mechanism to keep free rides and theft from happening. You pay a dollar an hour to ride this dorky thing. There is a big chance that Ofo might vanish from San Diego as they have from other burgs in other states.

The only guy happy that a mainland Chinese "unicorn" start-up is hitting a wall in America, this blog's Sebastian Gorka, Chris Chappell. 很多运气,最白的家伙!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Guest Post: E. A. Barbour "The Super-Rich Are Different From You And Me; They Can Pay Someone To Control Their Wikipedia Biographies."

I really can't write much of an introduction for this one - it speaks for itself.

The Super-Rich Are Different From You And Me; They Can Pay Someone To Control Their Wikipedia Biographies

by E. A. Barbour

Obviously, as I’ve ranted before, serious criticism of Wikipedia’s questionable operations has been a near-complete bust. Unless you post embarrassing material on an unnoticed scandal somewhere (such as on the Wikipedia Sucks! forum), and some obsessed Wiki editor sees it and implements changes (it has happened occasionally), paid editors and COI (conflict of interest) editors will get away with it. Remember that there is a long, long essay on how to properly perform “paid/COI editing”. Not that it matters; I have come across literally hundreds of cases of COI abuse, especially on biographies and articles about corporations and nonprofits. Not to mention editing of WP content by government employees, which is so commonplace there are special Twitter accounts to keep track of them.

There are few better areas to throw virtual rotten tomatoes at Wikipedia insiders. They know damn well that COI editing is unseemly, against their own policies, and very easy to do. And typically they either mishandle it, or ignore it and hope it goes away on its own. In a few rare cases, as I’ve posted on the WS forum and Wikipediocracy, the COI editing is performed by WP insiders or Wikimedia Foundation employees, because the subject is a “close friend of the Wikimedia movement”. But for now we will look at one obscure billionaire, and show how he rewrote history.

Henry Who?

Consider the story of Henry V. Nicholas III. You should know who he is, because he was one of the founders of Broadcom, a major manufacturer of RF and networking chips for use in cellphones. You could easily have a Broadcom product in your phone or your laptop or your tablet computer right now, and not know it was there. According to his Wikipedia bio, he is “number 626 on the list of Forbes' Billionaire's List, with a net worth of $3.6 billion. Yeah, he’s important.

You see, there’s almost nothing in his WP bio about a bizarre media frenzy involving him, circa 2007-2009. And there used to be. I remember what the article about Henry T. Nicholas III looked like in 2009, having blogged about it at the time. His WP coverage was NOT complementary. There was much ranting about his “private sex dungeon” and “coke and ecstasy parties on his private jet” and so forth. Unfortunately I can't point you to an old diff on Wikipedia, because in 2010 the "Henry Nicholas" article was originally about a 16th-century German cleric. It was quietly renamed to "Henry Nicholis" and moved. The modern-day Henry Nicholas was put there, the original bio called ”Henry T. Nicholas III" was deleted, and its history was disappeared. This was done by an unnoticed “SPA”, or “single-purpose account”, called Toweltoweltowel. And another SPA called Littlebrownpill also mucked around with it. Plus several others, all very quiet and undeclared as paid editors (which they should really have done to meet the COI rules). quietly sanitized the article and boiled down the lurid orgy-cave and drugs business. A few other edit accounts, including a very dodgy one called Dstringer71 which grinds info about "Marsy's Law", also edited Nicholas's bio. Guess who the champion of Marsy's Law was.

Please bear in mind: Henry wasn’t really guilty of anything other than being a divorced man who went a little party-hearty with the sex-and-drugs and also did some nasty things to Broadcom’s stock — all things that are commonly abused in the magical little world of Silicon Valley. If what he did were “really terrible crimes”, hundreds of Valley big-shots would be in tiny prison cells right now. But Henry managed to fight off the criminal charges and even avoided a long sentence for securities fraud. The accusations of 2007-2009 had that charming reek of disgruntled employees taking revenge on him; as usual, he became fodder for UK tabloids, at least for a couple of years. The Sun or the Daily Mail would not have given a shit about Henry or his company otherwise. The “sex dungeon” or “sex cave” stuff is just hilarious, and REALLY reeks of small people trying to take down a guy with big stock options.

Today's Wikipedia content about Henry is far longer than it was in 2009, and blathers about his philanthropy and "great citizen" credentials. The “Marsy’s Law” article practically paints him as a saint. The scandals have been squeezed into a very small paragraph at the bottom. A few perennial "paid editor" types like Patapsco913 (who I have repeatedly pointed to as an undeclared paid editor, repeatedly, on both the WS forum and on Wikipediocracy before it) have been watching it carefully. Like that media hailstorm never happened. (There is a thread on the WS forum with links to some of the old media reports. Amazing he can’t bribe or threaten those organizations into removing it all. Sorry Henry, you’re not a demigod. Just filthy rich. But keep trying, we all need some lulz.)

Henry’s Shame

Wanna see what Henry T. Nicholas III, the Wikipedia biography, looked like in 2009? Here you go, a complete quote of the raw text, minus formatting and references:

Early life and education”

Nicholas was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to Marcella and Henry T. Nicholas Jr. At birth, he was the tallest baby born on record at Christ Hospital.[citation needed] Stands 6 ft. 6 inches (1.98 m). Nicholas lived in Glendale, Ohio until he was 4 years old. His father was an attorney with the IRS and his mother was a teacher and later an administrator at the Princeton School district in theatre. When his parents divorced, and he moved with his mother and sister Marsalee to Los Angeles, California, where his mother planned to get her Masters degree in drama from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). At UCLA, she met Bob Leach, her second husband, and Nick’s "real dad". Nicholas attended elementary schools in Malibu and Santa Monica High School. Nicholas received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the UCLA, after having attended the United States Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, previously and then both a Masters Degree and Ph.d. in Electrical Engineering from UCLA. It was at UCLA that Nicholas met Dr. Henry Samueli, his future business partner.”


After graduating from UCLA in 1987, Nicholas worked at TRW in Redondo Beach, then went to PairGain Technologies in Cerritos, California, where he was director of Microelectronics. He left PairGain, which was later acquired by ADC Telecommunications, to co-found his own endeavor, Broadcom Corporation in 1991.”


In 1991 Nicholas and Samueli each invested in $5,000 and worked out of Nicholas' Redondo Beach home, moving to Irvine four years later and took the firm public three years later in 1998.[7] At Broadcom, Nicholas was President and Chief Executive Officer.[8] He and his partner Dr. Henry Samueli made significant developments in wireless technology. Today, Broadcom makes semiconductors for wired and wireless communications enabling the networking of voice, video and data services. He was known to enforce a dress code throughout the company, requiring employees to don business attire, unlike more relaxed Silicon Valley workplaces.[9] Nicholas resigned as Broadcom's CEO in 2003, saying that his resignation "was driven entirely by personal issues related to family separation and divorce".[10] In June 2008, both Nicholas and William Ruehle, the former chief financial officer of Broadcom, were charged with improperly backdating stock options, forcing Broadcom to take a $2.2 billion write-down.[4]

Current activities”

Nicholas is a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine.[11] Dr. Nicholas is currently retired.”

Business awards”

Nicholas was the recipient of an Orange County Titan Award, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Electronics, was named as one of the Top 20 Entrepreneurs by Red Herring magazine and one of the World’s Top 50 Cyber Elite by Time Digital Magazine.”

Other activities”


The Henry T. Nicholas, III, Foundation focuses on improving the quality of life through investments in education, youth sports, medicine, technology, law enforcement and national defense.[12]

Criminal justice”

In 1983, while he was in graduate school, Nicholas' sister, Marsalee ("Marsy") was brutally murdered.[13] Since then, he has been an advocate for criminal justice and with a focus on the rights of victims.[12] Nicholas has assisted his parents in expanding Justice for Homicide Victims, Inc., a non-profit organization that supports the victims of homicide.[14] He was the 2005 recipient of the Ronald Reagan Award for Pioneering Achievement in Criminal Justice, and has been honored frequently by law enforcement organizations for his work supporting victims’ rights.”


Partnering with retired Judge Jack Mandel and the Episcopal Diocese, Nicholas announced that his education foundation will open "Academic Centers" in Orange and Los Angeles Counties to provide a safe and nurturing school environment to help high-potential, underprivileged students realize their educational goals. Nicholas pledged $10 million over 20 years for the first Nicholas Academic Center in Santa Ana, which opened in January. In 2004, Nicholas announced a $10-million gift to St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in Orange County and the formation of a partnership with UC Irvine’s engineering school.[15]


In 2004, California voters were considering Proposition 66, which would have weakened California’s Three Strikes Law. Ten days before the election, polls indicated it was going to pass by as much as 75% of the vote. Nicholas became involved, supporting a bipartisan coalition of elected officials including past California Governors, celebrities and grass roots organizations, and personally speaking in television and radio spots, recounting the tragedy in his own family. The ballot measure narrowly lost.[16][17]


Nicholas married in 1987; he and his wife Stacey, a former electrical engineer, had three children, Brett, Matthew, and Shelby. They all go to St. Margaret's Episcopal School. [18] Dr. Henry Nicholas is now divorced.”

Drugs and alcohol”

Nicholas has been linked to drugs and alcohol abuse in the last decade. In April 2008, he voluntarily checked himself into a Betty Ford clinic for alcohol abuse, as he struggled with a divorce and the death of his stepfather.[19] A hidden video of Dr. Henry Nicholas surfaced on YouTube shortly before the indictment. The video was confirmed when "Nick's" attorney confirmed the video was indeed Dr. Henry Nicholas III. In the video it appears that he snorts cocaine and smokes crack cocaine. He is currently under indictment for felony drug conspiracy (SA CR 08 - 00140, Central District of California, Southern Division).[20] Nicholas is undergoing treatment at Cliffside Malibu while awaiting trial on federal charges of drug distribution and securities fraud.[21] He lives in Newport Coast, Newport Beach, California.”

Alleged sex cave plans”

In 2007, a construction team sued Nicholas, alleging he had failed to pay them for a proposed underground sex cave, where he could indulge his "manic obsession with prostitutes" and "addiction to cocaine and Ecstasy." [22]


In June 2008 Nicholas was indicted for felony drug, conspiracy, and securities fraud.[4][5][23]

Now, is THAT enough to convince you Wikipedia has a serious problem with COI abuse? If not, I can always post hundreds of other cases. There are so damn many that I’ve basically stopped collecting them — it’s a full-time job and I am not being paid to collect “dirt”. Also, I’m far from the only person to have noticed this: a few years ago Wikipediocracy trustee Greg Kohs prepared a report by studying 100 randomly-chosen articles about corporations for COI abuse, and he concluded that at least 50% of the articles showed signs of paid editing. Feel free to bring this up at the next Wikimania. And don’t blame me if they kick you out.

Also: don’t be too surprised if the diffs above, showing how the old Henry T. Nicholas III article disappeared, also disappear. They’ve abused the “oversight” function to hide scandals before, and they might do it again when they see this. Have a nice day, suckers.