Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu is Real

Swine flu is real. Yes it is.

It's unfortunate that it's being blamed on our innocent porcine neighbors. They had nothing to do with it. The blame falls squarely on another breed of swine, the Capitalist Pig.

This disease was bred in the packed pig factory farms of Mexico, transmitted to humans by flies feeding on huge shit and piss ponds, and spread about the world through our overwhelming reluctance to stay in one place.

Whether or not this particular virus transmits between humans remains to be seen. It's difficult to tell this virus from regular flu virus based on symptoms.

Accompanying the "swine flu" epidemic is the corporate farm PR epidemic. It started in Mexico, attempting to blame local respiratory illness in the vicinity of factory farms on the swine flu, hyping panic over a swine/avian flu pandemic, distracting the source of the disease through the smoke and mirrors of media hyperbole.

Yes, swine flu is real, and the swine are smirking through their snouts in corporate boardrooms across the globe.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Factory farming source of Swine Flu

"Residents [of Perote] believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to “flu.” However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms. It was unclear whether health officials had identified a suspected pathogen responsible for this outbreak."

The real purpose of torture

Two articles on Truthout, here, and here, explain the true purpose of waterboarding and other forms of abusive interrogation: to obtain statements from prisoners supporting the political agendas of the captors.

All intelligence operatives know that information obtained by torture is unreliable. Prisoners will say anything to stop the abuse and pain of torture. Anything obtained through coercive interrogation techniques must be scrupulously verified externally and is therefore of little value.

The most successful results of torture have always been statements by prisoners supporting the agendas of their captors and opposing the their own participation in acts of war. In Korea and Vietnam, torture was used to coerce American soldiers and airmen into testifying against the United States and in support of the country the United States was invading.

What we've learned from the experience in Iraq is that the use of torture by the United States erodes the moral position of our presence in Iraq, refuting democracy rather than supporting it, and promotes the recruitment of individuals dedicated to ending the US invasion and occupation of their country.

Torture is not only evil and immoral, it is counterproductive to the espoused ideals of the United States. Torture, or anything that smacks of torture, has no place in US foreign or domestic policy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Doug Peacock and Ed Abbey on Democracy Now

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales interviewed Doug Peacock about his work defending grizzlies and grizzly habitat. Doug talked about his friendship with Ed Abbey and played clips from a couple of Abbey speeches.

Listen or watch here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From the Shoe-is-on-the-other-foot Department

Tsk, Tsk. Hoist on one's own petard. Our very own Demoplubican, Jane Harmon, caught in her own web.

I guess Mark Twain was right:

"Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

As if cell phones weren't bad enough already …

I don't need any more justification to know that cell phones are bad, irredeemable, worse than useless, socially destructive, unnecessary and just plain stupid. Now we learn, in this article, that anyone can download software into your cell phone that allows it to be used as a tracking device, a continuous monitor of your phone calls and your face-to-face conversations, even when it's not turned on.

Of all the devices foisted upon an unsuspecting consumer public by unscrupulous corporate entities, cell phones are the worst. There's no need for cell phones in anyone's life. They're rude, intrusive, cause traffic accidents, fill user's heads with uncontrolled microwave radiation, and, worst of all, they've created an entire generation of cell phone zombies who can't exist without checking their tiny screens every 30 seconds for all important messages.

As James, a character in my novel-in-progress, tells his cell phone using compadre: "Just take your damned cell phone out to the pasture and drop it in a cow pie. Maybe some cow will step on it. Let 'em listen to that."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mark Twain, come home!

"I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse. "

The older I get, the more I understand Mark Twain's disappointment with the human race. In a time of historical challenges to human society, those near the top of the heap continue to scramble for the very pinnacle, grinding the rest beneath their silver heels.

That would be bad enough if those below were capable of grabbing the climbers by the coat tails and dragging them back to the rest of the rabble. Each and every one waxes rhapsodic about "the equality of man," goes to church on Sunday and swoons over profound sermons about loving their neighbors as themselves. Yet, not a one of them, or very few, less than 10%, is willing to stand up to the petty tyrants, government toadies and corporate sycophants in defense of life and liberty.

Humans have made a graveyard of the globe in pursuit of pitiful profits, power over others and mere material excess. "Enough" and "sufficient" lie forgotten in the dust, trampled under greed and profligacy. The noble aspirations of our immigrant forefathers, some of them at least, are forgotten, relegated to quaint pageants and epic historical tomes.

At one time I was an anthropologist and archaeologist, a student of the human condition through the lenses of time and space. I studied the lives of ancient peoples and marveled at the clever social systems they devised to live in harmony with the natural world, and with each other, mostly. Of course, they didn't have much choice then. It was either get along with the powerful forces of Nature or get kicked out of the gene pool for bad behavior.

Now, with the advent of Man the Transcendent, we think we no longer have to pay attention to the whistle blast at the edge of the pool, the sharp warnings of the Life guard. We'll cleverly invent a submarine to avoid the increasing depth and inhospitality of the pool. Our cultural stories, that once guided us through the waves, no longer provide a rational course of action in a world over-occupied by our fecund species.

My one solace is the sure knowledge that Nature bats last. My soulmate daily reminds me that a thousand years from now, all will be well. Those who survive will, of necessity, be living in harmony with natural cycles and processes. The economists, the social climbers, Pentagon fear mongers, and the growth maniacs will have have passed into history, or, like the dinosaurs, evolved into humans who fly free in a clear blue sky.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Peak Oil, Climate Change and PRT

PRT Enthusiasts ignore two critical pots of information when evaluating future transportation needs: Peak Oil and Climate Change.

Our transportation choices are influenced largely by two factors: perceptions of convenience and relative cost. Right now, private automobiles are the cheapest, most convenient mode of transportation for more than a mile up to several hundred miles of travel. Therefore, most people buy and use private automobiles and eschew public transportation.

Peak Oil and Climate Change are raising the cost of everything. During the past spike in gasoline prices, private automobile traffic declined precipitously, as did transport by truck. Cargo ships are still travelling at 10 knots rather than their earlier 24 knots to save fuel. As gas prices return to $4.00 per gallon and beyond, more people will leave their cars at home and travel by foot, bicycle and public transportation, all without the expense, energy consumption and urban blight of building a PRT network.

As climate change takes hold and global agricultural patterns change, precious fossil fuels will be reserved for moving food and water about the planet rather than people. Localism is already seen as the response to climate change, as we seek ways to grow our own food within easy transportation distance from our communities.

All this will change public attitudes about transportation, as we all pull together in mutual aid to accommodate the coming changes. PRT fosters individualism, on demand services and elitism, all of which are antithetical in a world demanding local cooperative solutions.

PRT is a 20th Century solution to a 21st Century problem

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Liveable Streets

We all know how ugly most city streets are, how uncomfortable it is to walk or bicycle on streets designed for cars, crammed in between tall buildings, with little life other than motorists in their metal cans and pedestrians sprinting for safety.

What to do? Should we build more unhuman transportation systems, hang them on the buildings, suspend them over the heads of pedestrians and bicyclists, little individual cars whizzing about on permanently affixed tracks, cluttering up our sky, crossing our greenways, using energy even when not in use.

How about the approach in the photo above? Let's make our streets more human, more organic. Let's reduce space for cars and increase space for humans. It's called Liveable Streets. You can see the legend for the photograph here, and learn more about Liveable Streets here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The PRT Beast

This is what a PRT system would look like in Santa Cruz, as proposed by Transportation Enthusiast, with PRT stations spaced .5 miles apart throughout the community. That's 50 stations at $100,000 apiece (according to a construction industry expert). Then there's guidelrails, the command and control facilities, the pod cars themselves. I'd say, at least $20,000,000 minimum to build the thing. That's not counting right of way acquisition on private land for a private development scheme. Then there's annual maintenance, personnel costs, liability insurance, licenses and fees.

This is all in addition to the existing Metro Transit system, which will have to exist side by side and compete with PRT.

All this is to be supported with an alleged 10 to 30% of commuters in a population less than 100,000. That's less than 10,000 riders to pay for this behemoth!

Nope, it doesn't "pencil out." If this were such as Stirling opportunity, it would be built already.

When does Buffalo start building its own PRT?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Evaporating Dreams in the Desert

Transportation Enthusiast points to Masdar as the shining new city in the desert, a green, sustainable oasis in a land where temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade ... and there's no shade.

Here's an article: The dark side of Dubai that tells the real story of the UAE "miracle" in the desert.

If you throw enough fertilizer on it, you can grow posies in a pickup truck.

You Are Being Lied to About Pirates

From the "Things That Never Change" Department:

Johann Hari: You Are Being Lied to About Pirates

PRT - The Myth That Keeps on Missing.

Engineers want it because it's a technocratic challenge.

Investors want it because it promises to make them lots and lots of profits (at whose expense?).

Who else wants it?

Pedestrians? No need!

Motorists? They already have their infrastructure.

Bicyclists? Hah!

Go to Cyberspace Dream for the full story.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


As we contemplate the real world of finite resources, it's important to consider the opportunity costs of decisions we make each and every day.

In R. Crumbs Epilogue to "A Short History of America," we see three possible outcomes: environmental collapse, the technocratic imaginarium and the ecotopian solution.

There is insufficient energy and "natural resources" to achieve and sustain the Technocratic Imaginarium, leading inevitably to environmental collapse, pitiful metal hulks in the streets, crumbling facades, sturdy plants growing through the pavement. While this vision strikes horror into the hearts and minds of most humans, the birds and flowers smile at the prospect.

The Ecotopian Solution, however, makes room for humans among the birds and flowers, as one of them, not as rulers over them.

The decisions we make every day will determine the outcome. If we invest today in the Technocratic Imaginarium, we set our course irresolutely toward environmental collapse. The opportunity cost of the Technocratic Imaginarium is a sustainable future for the human species.

Which will it be, my Pretties? PRT and the technocratic graveyard, or Mr. Natural and a thriving world for all life?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Podcars surface again!

Pod Cars surface again! in Ithica, New York.

Jean Brocklebank offers this cogent response:

Alert!!! This is a terrible idea and one that the PRT LLC's of the world
are promoting big time. Think Segway. Something not needed and marketed
like it is THE a problem that does not exist.

"They" are trying to sell Podcar Development right here in Santa Cruz.

Podcars require an enormous infrastructure of raised railings (think
Disneyland) that clutter the airshed. That infrastructure will require a
lot of energy in its manufacture, installation and maintenance. A podcar
system is not instead of roadways and sidewalks and bike lanes that now
exist. It is in addition to. Furthermore, there must be Podcar stations,
with parking lots for people to park their cars to ride the rest of the way
in their "on demand" individual podcars.

Here is Santa Cruz, the Podcar Pimps are touting the system as a tourist
attraction and frightening the populace with "we should be the first city to
do this to get in on the tourist dollars!"

Morgantown, W.Va is always used as an example. Stupid example. That system
was built to take students to campus (after some incidents of student rapes
I think). Heathrow Airport is also building take passengers from
their car parks to their airplanes.

The Podcar Pimps like to tout the privacy of the podcar...if one wants to
travel alone. Isn't this simply replacing the single passenger automobile
with the single passenger podcar? Same mentality at work.

In any community, with commuting needs, a simple bus system (which the
Podcar Pimps acknowledge must be a part of the system unless podcars rails
will be intruding into every neighborhood) is all that is needed for public
transportation beyond a two mile radius. Two miles is walkable and takes 20
- 30 minutes, depending on the vigor of the walker. Bicycles take even less
time. Buses, trolleys can use the existing roadway infrastructure.

Step outside your home and imagine the behemouth (and they are) podcar
railings, 10 - 20 feet in the air, filling your airshed. Then look at the
ground and see the huge pylon feet cluttering what may have once been a