Month: December 2010

My Fifth Year of Blogging

Five years certainly does go by in a flash! I started out on Blogger and then made the jump here to WordPress.

It’s been an interesting ride. I’ve managed to amuse people, educated people, and even get on some people’s nerves to the point of threats of bodily harm to myself and my loved ones.

But I’m going to keep on posting, keep on telling it like it is, keep on blogging.

Reminds me, the laptop is now five years old too. It’s just about time for replacement. I’m thinking a little 13″ MacBook Pro. I’m pretty much done with Windows PC’s. Besides, my work computer is still on XP though they are trying to get us all upgraded to Windows 7 so my Windows skills won’t suffer at all.

Belly Laugh Time: Study Confirms That Fox News Makes You Stupid

You can read the whole article at the link.

Here I’ll talk about a few of the findings in the article:

91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs

The reality is that it actually created jobs. I see numerous projects in my own city that benefited from the stimulus funds.

72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit

That may well be, but do they ever stop to think about the multi-billion dollar spending that goes along with prosecuting a war for nearly 10 years or more? It’s astronomical. Who gets rich, the stockholders of the munitions industry, that’s who.

72 percent believe the economy is getting worse

I see little indicators that the economy is doing better. Like the drop in unemployment insurance claims, or the crowds of people I see at the malls lately. People are more confident so they start spending. It’s that simple. I see recessions as having much to do with the psyche of the people. Fix that psyche and suddenly the economy improves.

60 percent believe climate change is not occurring

I was talking to a co-worker about this point. I asked a rhetorical question about what would it take to get these people to realize that global warming is true, for the water to be lapping at their door when they step out to go to work? To which my co-worker said “Or when Ohio is the new east coast.”

49 percent believe income taxes have gone up.

Right this moment, believe it or not the rich pay the lowest amount in taxes, and the middle class too. And corporations they’re the biggest offenders when it comes to tax breaks and incentives.

63 percent believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts

That’s because 63% are idiots. Of course tax cuts were included.

56 percent believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout

And 56% have the memory span of the common gnat. Seriously people, it was President George W. Bush that kicked off the bailout of GM and Chrysler. Not President Obama, it was President Bush. Big difference there kids!

38 percent believe that most Republicans opposed TARP

This one gets the lowest percentage because you can’t fool a Republican Fox News watcher all of the time. However those 38% need to look at what their congress critters are doing because Republicans sure as shit supported TARP. They couldn’t let their election sponsors go under.

And last but not least:

63 percent believe Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)

President Obama most certainly WAS born in the United States of America. I cannot understand the birther attitude. It’s ludicrous. Yes his father was Kenyan, but his mother was a born and bred Kansas girl and he himself was born in Hawaii. They have produced the birth certificate, they have produced news clippings from then announcing the birth of one Barack Hussein Obama, yet the birthers will still claim he wasn’t born here???

It is evident that Fox is nothing but a propaganda outlet. They were never a news organization. To call them one is an affront to real news organizations.



The Rising Tide of Islamaphobia in the U.S.

I’m watching with some dismay the takeover of Europe by Islam. But I’ve always maintained that you’ll never see the same thing happen in the U.S. because fundamentalist Christians would never stand for it.

In that vein, this week we have the news that an Islamic Relations Center had stones thrown at it, breaking windows, etc.

Just a short little article, a paragraph but the two sentences that makes me laugh are these:

The council is a non-violent social service agency and advocacy group for Muslims with branches in many major U.S. cities. It works to improve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Well maybe that last. It works to improve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims? I mention this much to my chagrin but in their own book it instructs them to kill the infidel. How do they reconcile that?

Providence Core Connector Meeting this evening

So I attended the meeting. Here’s my take away on this.

The politicians WANT a streetcar line in the city of Providence. It isn’t a question of getting either the current nor elected mayor on board with this.

However I brought up some points at the forum as did many others about the fact that the study premise is false. The Core Connector is using already developed areas such as Brown University, and the Lifespan group on the south end to anchor their streetcar proposals. But in their own documentation they show a depressed area of Portland, WA called the Pearl District in before and after pictures. I have to scan it for you to see it, the before picture is grey, boring, lifeless. The after picture with the streetcar shows color, trees, people, it’s night and day.

It makes sense to put fixed track into economically depressed areas. Over and over studies, and this by the Core Connector groups own studies, show that for ever $1 spent, the economic return is $4. So if we spend $66,000,000 to build a 2.4 mile streetcar line, the benefit is $264,000,000. If we spend $200,000,000 the benefit would be nearly a billion dollars!

Several of us made the point that the West end and Olneyville sections of the city seem to have been completely ignored. One of the RIPTA folks, Mark Therrien who is the Assistant General Manager – Transit System Development/Planning/Grants made a point that the #27 bus line would be made a BRT line. This would means stops every 1,000 feet, as opposed to the few hundred now.

But I know why they’ve chosen the #27. It’s all state roads, and the state has been going gangbusters installing ITS capable traffic lights all over the city. It’s just a little module that snaps into the control boxes that would allow buses in general to hold green lights. That would be a BIG plus for transit.

But one thing I hear, over and over again from people who would like to take the bus but hate the idea of transferring downtown. I think that RIPTA is trying to address that but like it or not, Kennedy Plaza and the PVD airport are transit hubs, no matter how you slice it.

I made mention the funding aspect. I’m going to be posting a template letter for RIPTA and everyone to hit up our federal legislators for the money to make a REAL streetcar system a reality in the city. We had them until 1948, we can have them again. Congress loves to fund the capital budgets of transit agencies but they don’t like to fund the operating side. One has to wonder why that little fact emerges all the time.

I pointed out that I find it ludicrous that we can spend close to a billion dollars to move a highway, yet we can’t find a couple hundred million to put in a decent streetcar system. Therrien asked that we write our congressmen and senators and so I will.

While there I had a brief meeting with our new city councilor Bryan Principe. Bryan gets it. He understands my arguments about the money. I mentioned that I’ll be lobbying our congressmen to have all highway projects have 20% of their budget funneled toward public transit projects. Think about it, this makes sense. What you can’t spend on expanding a highway, you spend on transit systems that negate the need to build more highway.

In Providence, we just moved I-195 to the tune of a billion so that would have netted $200,000,000 for public transit. Put it this way, RIPTA’s operating budget is $100,000,000 a year.

They’re going to have to replace the viaduct here in Providence too. That one should cost about a half billion. And then there’s the replacement of the Pawtucket River Bridge in Pawtucket and that’s going to be a fairly pricey affair too.

Figure $700,000,000 for both. My 20% proposal would mean that $140,000,000 would go to public transit.

We need to start moving away from a car-centric country to a public transit centered one, like Europe.

And what better way to do so than to penalize car infrastructure projects.

America’s Healthiest and Unhealthiest States (And how it impacts Rhode Island)

You can see the entire list by clicking here.

Now the RI observations:

RI is the 10th most healthy state in the union. The top ten list is mostly New England states along with Minnesota and Iowa. Interestingly the states that are healthiest also tend to already have marriage equality. Go figure! It would be shocking if I didn’t know we do have decent medical facilities here along with a medical school at Brown University. So obviously the state of the art is well developed here.

Behaviorally, RI is the 5th when it comes to smoking, much to my chagrin.

With regard to obesity, RI is somewhere in the middle, not in the top 10, not in the bottom 10. The bottom 10 are interesting, Michigan, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi. All areas of the country with pretty widespread poverty.

RI ranked 9th in highest rates of diabetes which is interesting. It breaks the correlation link between obesity and diabetes so what is causing diabetes? Well, we are a foodie state. Lots of good food in the area. That might have something to do with it.

More on Wendell Potter’s “Deadly Spin”

Reading through (I’m more than half way through the book.) I’m just astounded by the crap pulled by corporate America.

I’ve long suspected they game the Letters to the Editor page of my local rag, The Providence Journal. Used to be I’d have my letters printed regularly and then I noted they took a rightward turn when Belo bought them out.

We kept seeing letters against gay people, against healthcare, against government. And in Potter’s book, he details how corporations hire agencies to do things like write letters to the editor, contact media, etc.

They’re stacking the deck against us those dirty bastards. And they’ll be the first to cry out when their backs are against the wall.

UFO’s and life on other planets

Ok, so I don’t necessarily believe in UFO’s. The reason behind this is I have an understanding of the physical principles behind our universe and know what a light speed is (3×10^8 m/sec^2). The distances are HUGE.

Most of what we see as UFO’s are either aircraft, or even satellites and other space vehicles. Because they zip along at 17,500MPH or so.

As to life on other planets, I fully expect that there is life elsewhere in the universe. There are a plethora of rocky bodies now being identified, some with atmospheres. Knowing how widespread life is here on planet earth, from the most to least hospitable places, I’d guess that mono-cellular life is a definite, multi-cellular I’m somewhat still agnostic about, and intelligent remains to be seen.

But here’s the thing. If I know engineers like I know engineers (I am one!) it’s that we never stop at the current art. Keep tweaking and pushing. So right now we can detect these planets. At some point we’re going to develop light speed transit and we’re going to see very quickly whether there’s life out there. We may even figure out FTL (Faster Than Light) via warp (Which is theoretically possible but the energy required is ENORMOUS). However with news that the LHC project has been able to generate and trap and anti-matter particle means all we need now are dilithium crystals and plasma conduits (Ob: Star Trek).

If we can ever get our act together here on earth we might just do it. Reality is stranger than science fiction.