Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Now ask yourself why you keep flying, driving, voting for that paving politician….

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

In case you were wondering whether it might be worth it to take the train instead of flying, biking instead driving, investing in a home energy audit or voting out your paving politician (yup, the progressive ones like their paving as much as your standard issue Republican)……James Hansen has the answer.

And Obama needs to get an earful on this.

Peripatetic Cyber-Peregrinations May 4 – 7, 2011

Friday, May 6th, 2011

My random perusals….updated periodically.

There are always alternatives to fossils!

June 1 – 4  New Urbanism conference–Learn about how to make sprawl pretty! Ok, I’ll be nice. Maybe they have some good ideas. But over the years of watching development projects come through the city, I’ve come to the conclusion that for the most part, the New Urbanist concepts just get co-opted and buzzworded to death by developers who have no intention of ever actually putting the concepts into practice. But the words sound good, and by saying them during presentations at city commissions, they sail on through. Lipstick on a pig, as it were.

The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin jettisoned all the Madison “radicals” — even going so far as to purge their website of all evidence of any bike activism in the 1990s — in order to cozy up to the rightist businessmen….Wonder how that’s working out for them?

A powerful piece on how nature — the earth — is up against it, thanks to our gluttony.

 

Peripatetic Cyber-Peregrinations

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Miscellaneous readings of late:

Free will does exist.

Buses have history, too!

Jack up the gas tax! For decades I’ve been pushing for radically higher gas taxes, at the pump, as well as carbon taxes & such. This little article earned me many enemies among good liberals*, and my public testimony against Mayor Pave’s dirty air budget earned me threats of violence from rightists like Vicki Pyzinski (a.k.a. Vicki McKenna) . And now, finally, years later, it looks like the big brains at Harvard have finally figured out that higher carbon taxes are the only way to get ourselves off of that filthy addiction.

*Whenever a gas tax gets talked about, good middle class liberals wail about “the poor! What about THE POOR?!” What they really mean is, what about their own ability to wastefully deathmobile everywhere. The poor don’t drive much to begin with — about 1/10 as much as a typical middle class suburbanite — and furthermore, there are ways to recycle carbon/fuel taxes on machines back to people through lower income taxes (or higher EITC). If done progressively, this could end up putting more money back into the hands of the poor than any other mechanism out there.

Clean Energy? Not So Much.

Monday, April 11th, 2011

It seems that every couple of years another big time enviro of one stripe or another starts hawking some messianic fuel source or another. I’ve gotten into flame wars with “pragmatic progressive” policy wonks over bio-fuels (um, dear, the net gain over fossils? Zero. But I’ve got a machine for sale that runs off of its own momentum forever. Sell it to ya cheap.), argued with professors about nukes (um, where do you think that uranium comes from?), and entrepreneurs seeking to make cash out of cow crap (um, why are we piling up so much of that stuff in one place anyway?).

It’s always the same, we’ll be saved by the next miracle fuel.

Natural gas seems to be the latest darling, viewed by enviros as the next “bridge fuel.”

I’d suggest just burning the bridge before we even get there: Just use less. A lot less. I’ve been successful at slashing my family’s electric and natural gas energy use by 2/3. With a little institutioal cooperation, I think we could get down to using 1/10 the nation’s current per capita use. No hairshirt required.

Because, as we see here, the latest darling fuel ain’t so darling.

Update 1: More on the nuclear power pollution — and no, it ain’t about theoretical dangers of catastrophes. We’re talking about “routine” exposure here.

Unobtanium Discovered in Afghanistan!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

And Lithium, too! Enough to keep everyone in Prius batteries for decades to come.

And now we have a real excuse to keep the war going forever…..as usual in the name of deathmobiling forevermore.

How Bad Planning Reduces IQ…and Pay

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Mayor Pave and his minions are always lamenting the loss of economically successful people to the ‘burbs or complaining about ‘those people’ who do settle here. I’ve long maintained that if he & his developer buddies were to begin building the city in a more urban form, thus conducive to urban social interactions, we would see an invigorated economy, higher incomes and other good tidings. And we wouldn’t have to resort to racist/classist/scapegoating rhetoric. In fact, it was that promise — a cool city — that got this mayor elected in the first place. But somewhere along the line he got derailed onto the track bound for Rockford (the perennial worst city in the country).

Meanwhile, the research is rolling in that justifies the will of the people ca. 2003….

This NYT article delves into the latest research on the power of cities to generate higher incomes than low-density places. It all comes down to good old fashioned face-to-face communication.

Robbie Webber provides a marvelous illustration as to how this works in day to day life. She’s a geographer, so of course she gets how proximity & design empowers us as it convivializes our urban landscape!

So not only is Mayor Pave saddling us with low-density, car-friendly, cul-de-sac & strip mall development fit for a successful 1950s economy, he is also laying the groundwork for another rust-belt disaster in terms of personal income decimation.

We need a new mayor who understands the power of place for our well-being. And we definitely don’t need an Orange County Republican running our economic development planning.

P.s. I’m working on a post of how Green Kathleen is doing Mayor Pave one better in her constant rubberstamping of sprawl across the county.

Jesus Giveth, Jesus Bargaineth Away

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Just so His disciples don’t get too carried away in their euphoria over the health care “victory,” Jesus H. Obama announces His plan to keep the flock on the gluttonous energy path.

Drill, Jesus, Drill!

And true to form, this give away to the carbon interests is His opening gambit even before negotiations have begun on carbon emissions limits. Yeah, that’s it, give away every bargaining chip even before the bargaining has begun!

This lead up to the carbon cap talks is shaping up to be a replay of the health care debate: Just like His taking single payer off the table even before getting to the table; or handing over the public option ‘chips’ to the hospital lobby before serious negotiations even begin. Cede ground til there’s nothing much left to cede.

Then declare victory. Then, watch your followers, at the receiving end of an abusive relationship, be thankful for their crumbs. He really loves me. I know He does. Even when He abuses me.

Oh, and by the way, is this really the sort of bargaining that the really smart people at Columbia teach their law students? Remind me to not hire an Ivy League lawyer next time.

A Pillar of Progressive Prairie Populism*

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I’ve been railing mightily against the weak-kneed progressives & liberals around here. They, of course, have every excuse in the world as to why they must be ineffective:

Jed Sanborn might yell at me!

I’m in a minority!

The excuses are legion. But my disagreement with the weak-kneed on the council boils down to this: I disagree that being in a minority fatalistically mandates ineffectiveness. (As for their fear of the Dad Figure on the council, that’s something that could only be resolved in years of therapy sessions; i.e., beyond the scope of this blog.)

Perhaps they need a role model. I’d suggest they look no further than Elizabeth Warren. She’s standing up to the banks while getting virtually no political support from any quarter. While Obama again seems to be cowering in a corner on the issue of financial reform, Warren takes the fight to those cantankerous old banksters. Congress is full of bought-off weasels (both parties). Oh, and yes, St. Tammy continues to cave to the banks as well (She voted to allow them to loot the treasury in the last days of the Bush Administration, no restrictions, no conditions, no strings attached; and more recently, she has been in cahoots with the Office of the Comptroller of Currency in letting banks defraud their customers. I’ve got a letter dated December 29, 2009, in response to a complaint in which she approves of a bank’s fraudulent actions, in a case very similar to the cases reported in the NYT article above.)

Contrast that limp response with Warren’s approach: She just keeps hammering away. She’s taking the case public in every venue that will accept her (for starters, here, here). And she is relentless. Exudes the most righteous moral indignation (and rightfully so!). Promotes hard hitting, tight regulation. Is merciless toward the banksters.

To hear her talk on TV, or to read her quotes or her own op-ed pieces is an intense experience.

And to hear this straight talking Oklahoman — raised a Methodist to boot!** — and a Harvard professor, pulling no punches & taking it straight to the banksters, sounds a whole heck of a lot like the prairie populists railing against the banks of the 1890s! It just doesn’t get any better than this….

From Fighting Bob to Light-em Up Liz!

I think we’ve found the Fighting Bob LaFollette of our time! For this is a woman with fight. Fire. And I support her and her views on our financial system. Strongly.

Madison’s electeds at all levels should start taking notes. And following suit.

Tammy, are you listening? Time to screw up some courage and get tough on the banks!

Once in a while a new public figure emerges and astounds. Elizabeth Warren is Exhibit A.

*Forgive the bad alliteration — it just worked too well!

**Full disclosure: My mom is from OK and a Methodist, to boot!

The Next Messianic Miracle Fuel

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Ok, so lithium is not a fuel, it is a material component for storing fuel– in this case, electricity. Lithium-ion batteries are the latest “green” holy grail. Eco-mirage of the hip. Messianic miracle material for the eco-techie. Any good (paid) environmentalist tell you that if only we had enough hybrids on the road, we would all be saved!

Indeed, it is the latest goldrush, replete with mega-corporate mining and all the environmental degradation that goes along with it.

I suppose we should probably start gearing up to invade Bolivia to secure our access to battery-making material for those Toyota Piouses the enviros keep telling us we should buy.

Lithium-induced Piousness

How many times do we have to see this movie, people?

The other end of the pipeline

Get off your asses and walk! Ride a bike! Take a bus!

Ditch your deathmobile!

It is not now, nor will it ever be, a perpetual motion machine.  The Laws of Physics simply won’t allow perpetual denial.

Mayor’s Budget Puts Madison on War Footing

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Last night the mayor made a perfunctory resolution honoring veterans in commemoration of Veterans Day (Kristin Czubkowski live blogged it here; see 5:45 PM). It was sponsored by him and him alone.

How magnanimous.

As a veteran, here’s something I’d like to see him and his pliant council read as they wield their rubber stamps for a budget bloated with paving, automobile promotion, energy gluttony and thus more war forevermore.

Instead of doing something about the repercussions of our automobile addiction (i.e., war), the “green” mayor has budgeted for:

  • Doubling overall spending on paving since taking office ($33M in 2003 -> $68M in 2009).
  • Doubling the overall paving debt of the city (from an already bloated $47M in 2003 to $96M in the 2010 budget).
  • Trebling the annual increase in the paving contribution to the city’s debt ($11.5M in 2003 -> $35.3M in 2010).
  • Bloating debt service by 33% as a percentage of the operating budget (from 9% of the city budget to 12%).
  • An explosion of debt service to a whopping 17% of the operating budget by 2013.

Where does this fit into the big picture of the city budget? Well, guess what the single largest item in the capital budget is? Paving. The fastest growing component (ongoing) of the capital budget? Paving.

And the mayor’s passion for paving isn’t just a fiscal disaster. The capital budget is one of the major determinants of the look and feel of our city for generations to come. The budgets put together by this mayor have been highway heavy in the extreme. So he is creating places that promote automobilism to the exclusion of sustainable ways of getting around. His highwayscapes endanger pedestrians, terrify bicyclists and make transit untenable. Every tool we have to help pull us out of the climate/energy/fiscal tailspin is nixed by his highwayscapes.

Moreover, the ever tightening squeeze on the operations budget will mean budget difficulties for our quality of life, social & basic services. Saliently, Madison Metro bus service, considered an “operating” expense, will forevermore be in a vise between anti-transit/highwayscaped land use patterns (which cost more to serve) and an eternally squeezed operating budget (that is, a squeeze induced by debt service on those selfsame highways.)

Indeed, at this year’s “Neighborhood Roundtable” the mayor declared his intention of completely cutting all city funds to Madison Metro.

Yet he brags that this is a “reasonable budget for hard times.”

I call it a warmongering budget, Mayor Pave.