Archive for August, 2009

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

This seems like a pretty cool project.

Folks, if you want your cool neighborhood places to stick around, you gotta support ’em…by buying from them.

Glacial Heritage Area

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is planning a new “Glacial Heritage Area.” Earlier this summer they had a survey in which they invited comments from the public. Unfortunately, I didn’t post this until too late; the comment period is closed. Apologies, apologies, apologies. However, I did submit comment. I really like their thinking about this. The questions were, shall we say, a bit leading. But I liked where they were leading us. The following are my narrative responses to some of their questions:

***********************

Item 5 (Conservation Parks):

NO ATVs!!!!!!!!! Also, it is really irksome for those of us who, for environmental reasons, do not own a car, but who periodically rent one and so thus must pay the daily rate at parks. I think you should have a special annual pass for non-car owners that can be transferred to rental cars.

Item 8 (Linking Trails).

The horseback riders always end up on the bike trail, pitting and tearing up the surface (see the “400 Trail” right now for an example.). I think horse trails should be very separate from the bike trails.

Also, the Glacial Drumlin trail really should be paved. It links communities. It isn’t *just* a rec trail. There are billions in stimulus funds available for exactly this sort of upgrade. As it stands right now, the trail is only usable for about 2.5 mos out of the year because it is either snow/ice covered or muddy or a series of sandtraps the rest of the year. And I’ve heard that the reason it is kept this way is snowmobiles. That is a bogus. You should talk to your counterparts over in MN who have done studies showing that there is no difference in snow coverage over the course of the winter between gravel and asphalt.

Also, there should be some parts of the trail reserved for XC skiing in the winter, especially segments that can make for interesting overnight connections (i.e., places with lodging).

DNR survey said: “11. The GHA project also proposes to create buffers of working farmlands and scattered conservation lands adjacent to many of the wildlife areas. These buffers, known as Rural Landscape Protection Areas (RLPA), would complement efforts to protect farmlands in the area. In total, the GHA project proposes to establish 3,000 acres of protected lands within the 25,000 acres encompassed within the RLPA.

Item 11 is something I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. Excellent idea. So much of Wisconsin’s beauty is in it’s rural landscape. We all know we aren’t in the High Sierras; so enjoying the rural heritage is what one enjoys here. It really sucks that so many state parks are now hemmed in by hideous McMansions. The Kettle Moraine units are the worst case scenario in this regard.

Item 16 (River based Conservation)

A. I don’t think the bands [along the river] should be so narrow.
B. I think you should use conservation funds as an adjunct to CRP [conservation reserve program] funds to really target highly erodable lands all the way to the hilltop and *pay* farmers to put those lands into permanent conservation, or at least perennial crops like hay, clover, etc.
C. Work with farmers to at least have contour strips of permanent perennials at intervals [alternating with crops] all the way up all hillslopes which provide more infiltration zones to facilitate more even flow in the rivers across the course of the year [as opposed to storm surges straight into our surface waters].

That is to say, protecting rivers starts at the top of the hill, not down at the bottom. Once you’ve got a problem down at the wetlands, it is too late.

On the boat access issue: NO MOTORS!

18. What do you think the priorities of the GHA project should be?

Saving the rural landscape–and not just along the trails. As we see farmland getting gobbled up, we are losing the great biking this state offers. As a rec cyclist, I consider an acre of farmland to be better than an acre of parkland in terms of getting away from it all while still living in the city. If DNR could manage to team up with the farm folks to ensure that a) their practices are sustainable, and b) they remain economically vibrant *and preserved* green zones surrounding cities (instead of being used as development zones), I think we could see a real win-win for the environment as well as our ability to continue to enjoy Wisconsin’s great outdoors. So the thrust isn’t necessarily to buy land; it should be to ensure that the remaining open spaces remain rural. I think you could get a lot more bang for your buck (from a recreational & environmental standpoint) by doing transfer of development rights/purchase development rights or land trusts & the like rather than outright purchases. And this is particularly important in these sprawl zones between Madison & Sprawlkesha. Why? So we who live in the city won’t need to drive for hours to get to the great outdoors. We should be able to bike for a half hour from the capital and find ourselves in the middle of farm fields.

19 (Additional comments).

Is there any way we could work out a more extensive foot trail network that is similar to the snowmobile network? I mean, the farmers are already on board with having the motorized menaces ripping across their land in the winter. How about extending it to peaceable hikers in the fall?

Also, how about gun-free zones for fall hiking?

*********

In sum, Wisconsin Department of Natural resources is proposing a place that does not suck. Thanks, Ranger Rick!

Wisconsin Association of Lakes Job Posting: Communications Director

Monday, August 24th, 2009

This will be the first in an occasional series of job postings. I know some of my readers are undergoing, ahem, shall we say, life transitions given the state of the economy & so forth, so I’m going to post whatever job listings come my way. Just my little effort to help in one little way. I’m on several listservs, some of which are limited distribution, especially among enviro leaders. So many of the postings will have a non-profit, esp. enviro non-profit bent to them. The jobs I’ll be posting are jobs that either a) have not yet been broadcast into the MSM, or b) never will be. So this will be something of an early warning system, radar over the horizon, knowing-the-right-person(!) sort of thing. I won’t post stuff that I know is already out there, broadcast, in the MSM. Although I guess I might post it if I find out some insider info that might help readers here get the job. No guarantees though. And please don’t email me asking for more info. I post what I know here. For further info contact the organization. Good luck!

This just in today:
****************************************
[stuff deleted]
The Wisconsin Association of Lakes is undergoing some transition. We have a Development Director starting, and are in the process of hiring a membership coordinator.

Karen has told me that I can’t leave until I replace myself, so if you know anyone interested in being a Communications Director, contact Karen at kvonhuene@wisconsinlakes.org

Please feel free to forward this announcement to others who may be interested, there are so many great folks out there that I am sure I have inadvertently missed someone!

–Tami

Tami Jackson
Wisconsin Association of Lakes
Director of Communications
Phone: 608-661-4313
E-mail: tjackson@wisconsinlakes.org

Mayor Pave: Born Again!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

In his latest blog post, it is clear that Mayor Pave either:

a) Done got borned agin (Hallelujah! Amen, brothers & sisters!)

or,

b) Is feeling the heat and the dimming prospects for re-election

or

c) A lot of both.

Robbie Webber does a good job of deconstructing his new awareness of the economic efficacy of transit v. deathmobile over at Brenda Konkel’s blog.

Critical though it was, I thought she was very kind to him. In calculating the High Costs of Driving, he leaves out the costs in lives & limbs. He leaves out the costs to our quality of life. And he leaves out the costs to our spirit as we allow our machines to dictate hate & brutality as part & parcel of our way of getting around.

But on a sheer dollars & cents basis, the mayor’s analysis is a good one. It is just too bad that he is only now getting to it. We worked our asses off for him in 2003 for exactly this sort of thinking. He jettisoned the smart growth, pro-transit, pro-pedestrian, pro-bike ideas soon after taking office, calculating it politically expedient. (He is, after all, a political calculator extraordinaire; and I mean calculator in the most basic, mechanistic sense.) I think he is beginning to realize that he burned the very votes, the very neighborhoods who put him in office and who have been steadily turning against him. It is always dangerous to turn your back on ideals when politically active in a city that thrives on ideals.

The field is wide open for a new mayor in 2011.

Afghanist Nam

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Hey look, here’s another one! The really, really, smart people over at the NYT just figured out what I’ve been saying all along about President Jesus H. Obama’s War.

It is just amazing how the people of the poorest nations on earth have been able to beat the mightiest military forces ever assembled. Not once, not twice, but several times during my lifetime. There should be some courts martial for basic military incompetence. Then there should be some good ol’ fashioned show trials of the politicians who started & stoked these inane wars in the first place. I wonder when the tough guys will figure out that you can’t win wars–no matter how mighty the military–when you don’t have morality on your side.

Of Smart People, Global Warming, Gluttony and Bombing Villages to Save Them

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Oh hey look, the really important people are finally figuring out that our gluttony really does endanger our national security. Even the Pentagon–USDOD being the single largest user of oil in the world–is finally getting it. Face it folks, Afghanistan & Iraq are to future oil wars what the Spanish Civil War was to WW II–just a warm up. A sampling of what’s to come:

At first the military’s concern was for its bases. Advice was sought on the effects of tidal surges and rising ocean levels. More recently, the long-range dangers of droughts, food shortages, floods and the perils of mass migrations of hungry peoples 20 to 30 years from now have been studied.

The Pentagon foresees situations resulting in political instability and unrest that might require American military intervention in the worst cases, and big humanitarian rescue efforts at best. “It gets real complicated real quickly,” said the deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, Amanda Dory, throwing grammar to the wind.

Sounds like self-induced Apocolypse to me. Sayyyyyyyy, speaking of biblical prophesies, since I’ve been all Noah-like in my screaming & yelling on this energy conservation thing since I was, oh, 11 years old–and actually reducing my household’s energy consumption by more than 2/3 compared to the national average– I’m wondering if maybe I’ll get rapted (is that a word?), thus leaving all y’all to deal with the disasters foretold by Pentagon planners!

And those smart guys at the Pentagon are finally figuring out that, no, you can’t save a village by bombing it:

As General Stanley McChrystal’s 60-day strategic assessment is wrapping up, he [is?] poised to recommend a new approach for Afghanistan, one grounded in counterinsurgency’s strategy of protecting the population.

Who says military intelligence is an oxymoron?!!!! What’s that you say? Why didn’t they figure this out after Viet Nam? Welllllllll, we’ll call that the $64,000,000 toilet seat question that someone from the military can answer for me!

Speaking of really smart people in the military, this is all quite amusing to me (in a dark humor sort of way) because I remember back in my days as a 2nd lieutenant serving under then-Major John Abizaid in the 3/325 (ABN) in Vicenza, Italy, and having that rising star lecture us junior officers on how bad the commanders in Viet Nam were, and how he would have done everything differently than the generals back then. And that basically, he could have won it because he would have been a better commander.

Flash forward 16-18 years and the Major is a General. He commands all operations in the Middle East, including the Iraq War. The smart guy has a chance to prove that he could do better. Does he bring us a just peace? Nope, he brings us more of the mindless, senseless brutality that marked our murderous excursion in Viet Nam. Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. Bagram Prison. Wanton wrecking of the cultural patrimony of Iraq (more here, here and here). Basically, Abizaid commanded the same brutal tactics that drove the success of the Viet Cong back in the day. He orchestrated so much senseless brutality on the part of the US forces that they actually generated more enemies and more danger than they had before. He practically drove Iraq into a civil war. It was South Viet Nam all over again. They didn’t pull out of the tailspin until Bush canned him.

Yet that Wikipedia article about him is nothing more than despicable sycophancy. It reads like something his publicist put out. But hey, it got him a spot at that rightist think tank at Stanford! Smart guy indeed.

Mayor Pave Kills Bus Ridership

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Gee, ya think? The MSM finally catches up to what we’ve all been saying would happen for years now, and most especially during the last budget cycle when Mayor Pave rammed through a draconian 33% increase in bus fares. Fares go up; ridership goes down. It’s the ol’ supply & demand. Econ 101, people.

But the MSM never would have noticed it had former alder–and Mayor Pave’s bête noir– Brenda Konkel not posted her analysis last Friday. Once again, the intrepid blogging masses are driving the news cycle and keeping lazy journalists in check. I mean, that article was sheer sycophancy. Not one person outside of the mayor’s circle was quoted. I’m predicting that Joe Tarr will be the next communications director for Mayor Pave.

In any case, looking at the numbers on ridership, I said as much in an Isthmus column last year before budget time:

The loss of bus ridership due to rising fares and declining service means more congestion, longer commute times and less available parking for everyone who drives.

A lot of us said as much. Too bad we’ve got a mayor who is incapable of listening. To sense.

UrbanMilwaukee.com’s Excellent Analysis of Rail Station Siting in MSN

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Probably the best analysis and summary of all of the commentary out there regarding the potential siting of a train station in Madison, Wisconsin. Sometimes it takes a furriner’s perspective to get it right! (UrbanMilwaukee.com is is definitely a blog to watch.)

Trains only work when they connect downtowns to downtowns. Thus, the airport site sucks. The Yahara site is the perfect one for connecting urban Madison to the rest of the upper-midwest’s urban places. Unfortunately, the “smart” growth mayor just doesn’t get it.

V-J Day: A Thanks

Friday, August 14th, 2009

The following is a letter I just wrote to a friend’s father who served in WW II. I just wish I had had the foresight to do the same for my own relatives while they were alive.

******************************

Dear Hugh,
Since today is the anniversary of V-J Day, I just wanted thank you for everything you did those many years ago.

Being an amateur student of history, I’ve tried to imagine what it might have been like in that place & time. But obviously, imagination is one thing, reality another. Reading about it can’t quite match a reality of having a kamikaze flying down upon you! But I do know that it was a herculean & heroic task you guys did back then. Again, I thank you.

I also wanted to send along some very heartfelt thanks that I got in my travels. While biking in Normandy back in the early 80s, almost everywhere I went I had folks just coming up to me and thanking *me* for the American efforts on D-Day & beyond. They were near tears in their gratitude, expressed with great struggle in their very rudimentary English (and you know how the French are about English being spoken on their soil!). These tended to be middle aged+ folks who had actually lived through it, but in a couple of instances when their kids were along, the point was as much a thanks as it was to impress upon their kids the importance of the Americans’ endeavor. (Keep in mind also that this was a time of pretty extreme anti-American sentiment in Europe given the whole Pershing Missile debate.) I meekly protested that it wasn’t me, but that I’d definitely pass the thanks on to those who were actually there.

In 2000 we took a trip to the Philippines and almost everywhere we went there was a similar outpouring of thanks. Even when we were hiking in the deep outback of jungles & rice paddies, we would have entire villages spontaneously pouring out to tell stories (again, in very broken English) of how bad it was under the Japanese; how they helped shelter the escaped GIs (they even re-named a village “Behind the Clouds,” permanently adopting the American code name for a hideout for escapees from the Japanese POW camps!); fought as guerrillas and; most importantly, how much they appreciated everything the Americans did. They knew that their efforts would have been for naught had it not been for your efforts. And mind you, we were hearing this some 55 years after the fact! The kids were there, assembled, listening, taking it in. These very poor folks, living in very simple grass huts, were keeping the memory of your efforts alive.

So I’m passing along the thanks from around the world, as well as from Madison, Wisconsin!

Yours,
Mike

Study: Bad Diet & Stupidity Linked

Friday, August 14th, 2009

And now we know why all of those fast food-eating, deathmobile-bound, violence-prone slobs who rail against ‘dem bikers’ are as dumb as they can be.