Sunday, 27 May 2007

Ron Paul : Join The Revolution

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Giuliani.

Money, Banking, and the Federal Reserve

One Final Illustration

Relationship between gold & silver and the monetary system.

USD (Federal Reserve Dollar)
$ (Dollar as a defined, tangible unit based upon silver & gold)

Gold = 654 USD per troy ounce
Silver = 13 USD per troy ounce

The Dollar, or Unit as defined by the Coinage Act of 1792 containing .773 oz. pure silver
(True value = 10 USD)
The Eagle, or 10 Dollar coin per the same Act containing .564 oz. pure gold
(True value = 369 USD)
You will note that the relationship between gold and silver is no longer valued at the same ratio.

Yet interestingly enough, we no longer mint the same coins – they have been replaced with Silver Eagles and Gold Eagles as follows:

1 Troy Ounce Silver Eagle = 13 USD
Face Value = $1 (or 1.3, 1792-1964 Silver Dollars)

0.10 ounce American Gold Eagle coin = 65 USD
Face value = $5 (Note that 13 times 5 is 65)

0.25 ounce American Gold Eagle = 164 USD
Face value = $10 (The appropriate denomination should be $12-1/2)

0.50 ounce American Gold Eagle = 327 USD
Face value = $25 (Note that 13 times 25 is 325)

1 Troy Ounce Gold Eagle = 654 USD
Face value = $50 (Note that 13 times 50 is 650)

You can see immediately the relationship between the denominations. Now these coins are minted for investors and collectors, and they are composed of purer metals than coins made for circulation. As you can see, the quarter ounce Gold Eagle falls out of place with its denominational value of ten dollars, but the rest calculate pretty well to the current price of silver and gold. Now you'd be lucky to find these coins anywhere for the actual USD prices. The current selling prices are:

$1 Silver Eagle = 15 USD
$5 Gold Eagle = 75 USD
$10 Gold Eagle = 180 USD
$25 Gold Eagle = 350 USD
$50 Gold Eagle = 700 USD

I'd suggest investing in gold and silver since these metals will always hold their value. When the Chinese come knocking on our door asking to collect the One Trillion Dollars we owe them, you will still own something of value. Rep. Ron Paul before the U.S. House of Representatives addresses this very issue. I commend this article to you. By the way, Rep. Paul is a true Republican running on a true conservative platform. I'd vote for him. He is being marginalized by the media in he same way Kucinich and Gravel have been.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Just How Much Cash Are We Talking About?

Try to buy one of these things and it will set you back 15-20 dollars, yet the denomination of the coin is one dollar.

(Fictional Scenario Follows)

I was just thinking about money, can you imagine that? Funny how we tend to dwell on those things we don't have…

Anyhow, Supposing we had a machine that could transport us through a multi-dimensional universe and we found ourselves in Geoftopia (my imaginary world), I occasionally muse upon what it might look and feel like. Now Geoftopia is not Utopia, it is bound by those very same universal physical principles that bind us here on 21st century earth; bad things and unexpected things happen, there still is death and taxes; people still are people, and they are capable of doing shitty things to each other. But I am President of the U.S. of A., Congress has seen my wisdom, the people are behind me, and all eight planks of my platform have been made into law with a few concessions and adaptations, implemented to varying degrees of success, and we have begun to work to build a new future that promises to be one of the most free, just and equitable societies ever created by civilization. Our founding fathers (and mum's too) have finally stopped turning in their graves and are at peaceful rest. (I can dream, can't I?)

So in my internal reality, I was thinking about cash, moola, dinero. I am thinking about how much I might possess, how much it might be worth, and even what it might look like. I'm imagining my palms laced with silver, twenty dollar gold pieces and shiny, coppery pennies that can actually buy you something.

As far as possessing money, nowadays there's really no point in it unless you're saving up to buy something, 'cause it's not worth anything in and of itself. But gold and silver will always be worth something, they have inherent value. There's a stability to that kind of money that makes possession of it desirable. Of course the true, spiritual value of money is not the money itself, it is the power that it wields – namely the ability to buy things, trade things and create things we want. But saving for a rainy day, one's inevitable old age and leaving an inheritance of value to one's progeny is not just gratifying, it is savvy and altruistic. On a large scale, such saving allows each progressive generation to one-up the previous one. Is that not the whole idea here?

We have simply embraced our oppressive servitude for momentary pleasures and the hollow void of empty consumerism, and we leave our children mired deeper in debt, with little concern for the world they'll inherit. We have debased ourselves and betrayed our true inheritance as children of God, and refusing to act as responsible citizens when we accept anything less than liberty. What good is this life without liberty? We might as well be dogs living the way we do with no thought for the future, satisfying our own needs with no thought for our brothers. Only dogs have an excuse, and might actually show more love than what we routinely do. We may not be worthy of our inheritance after all.

But I digress. We are in Geoftopia right now, where people are becoming accustomed to the responsibilities inherent to liberty and are not averse to sacrificing momentary pleasure to building a more just and equitable future for their children. But ironically, along with such uncomfortable adjustment and occasional pain that growth brings, we find ourselves liberated, empowered and more fully human.

After the dissolution of the financial oligarchy and the return to the gold and silver-based currencies, there was a rapid deflationary period. Of course, wages decreased simultaneously, the minimum wage was no longer held in place, and instead labor unions were allowed to organize (with the N.L.R.B. actually representing labor for a change). Since the establishment of a Universal Healthcare Insurance had occurred prior to the monetary reforms, employers had already saved millions, labor relations improved immensely without the health insurance obstacle, employees saw their wages increase and more jobs were created as companies reinvested the fortunes that were being siphoned off to the "health for profit" industries. Labor unions were then allowed to concentrate their efforts on issues of workplace safety, seniority, and job classifications, along with wage negotiations that produced results.

People that work in service sector jobs that made wages close to $20 per hour are currently making around $1.50 per hour, but the purchasing power of $1.50 is closer to what $30 bought one previously. One does not see many $100 bills any longer, unless they're picking up their pay (which employers must pay in cash on a biweekly or semi-monthly period mandated by law). The same service sector worker can expect to earn roughly $120 biweekly (equal to $2400 prior to reform). Even though this same worker has essentially seen a real pay increase of close to 100 percent due to monetary and tax reform, he now has to pay a quarter on the dollar for goods and services, but there are "prebate" cheques from the government for "necessities" that compensate for lower paid workers. The net result is the average worker has seen his spending power increase dramatically, and the economy has grown exponentially as a result, since most of these people were previously living at subsistence levels and can now invest in things like college educations for their kids. Billionaires are now millionaires, but they're still rich, and if they don't feel like giving the government a quarter for every dollar spent on their next Ferrari, they can always invest their money or save it.

There are no longer any payroll taxes since the IRS was dissolved. All government programs are now financed by a national tax on goods and services, it is a hefty tax equal to a quarter on the dollar, but it is based on the Fair Tax Code and fully transparent. In other words, Joe Citizen can actually see where his tax goes and what it funds. As a result, the military-industrial complex took a severe beating. People figured they already have enough nuclear warheads to unleash Armageddon, and enough is enough. Instead, the existing industrial sector is undergoing a vast "retooling" to maintain employment and reinvest in infrastructure that will provide energy, transport and communications and allow the economy to thrive for years into the future – and all while looking at sustainable, ecologically intelligent means of doing so. The States get a portion of the tax as well, so there is no longer any justification for a separate State Income Tax. Social Security Reform cinched up the existing money and prevented it from ever being used for anything other than payments, and the remaining funding now comes from the sole National Tax. Citizens are allowed to make direct contributions towards their own retirement as well, which they have begun to do now that they have discretionary income.

Lastly, it was decided that the days of religious meddling would be put to a quick rest. Separation of Church and State was fully comprehended. The government would no longer be in the business of determining morality, and God would be respectably given his due place as Creator of the Universe and taken off currency. No more mottos of "In God We Trust" (all others pay cash). No more idolatry on our coins. Instead, we began to trust one another, and with each passing day, new-found freedoms we had all but forgotten empowered us to become more fully human. The government had become "of, by and for the people". Never in history had man been so in charge of his fate. The prospects of an equitable future seemed imminent.

A Case for the Lowly Penny

Click on the penny above for "Citizens for Retiring the Penny"! Yes, they are a nuisance, aren't they? According to this site and other sources I have found, it costs more to mint a penny than the actual value of a penny – 1.4 cents to be exact. And we all know what you can buy with a penny – absolutely nothing. I have a little adage that I repeat rather frequently, based upon Ben Franklin's "a penny saved is a penny earned", that goes "a penny saved, isn't worth very much". (chuckle)

As my readers know (there are probably four of them), one of my platform planks is monetary reform. But I do not wish to send the penny packing. I'll explain why I think that focussing on remedies for a failing, devalued currency are misguided. I think the penny still has a place in our hearts, even if it be a small one.

The dollar is quite independent from the U.S. Constitution, which instead has a number of disability clauses that limit the powers of government in such matters. For all intents and purposes, our current monetary system flies in the face of the Constitution and violates its very premises. In other words, our "fiat" paper currency is illegal and illegitimate. The mere fact that it is not backed by anything (or redeemable) makes it nothing more than rather meaningless and valueless paper. The more paper "dollars" put into circulation, the less value such "dollars" possess, until you get to our current state of affairs. Compared to the value of the dollar in 1913, today's dollar is worth 4¢. Simple arithmetic tells us that a penny in 1913 was worth one of today's quarters. Nobody's considering eliminating the quarter dollar now, are they?

Do you know that the "dollar" is a defined unit according to the Coinage Act of 1792? "The Dollar or Unit shall be of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current," that is, running in the market, "to wit, three hundred and seventy-one and one-quarter grains of silver." That is 0.773 troy ounces of pure silver. At the time of this writing, the current value of that amount of silver is about 10 Federal Reserve dollars. I commend this article to you: "How Misconstruction of the Monetary Powers and Disabilities Subverted the Founding Fathers' Intent",by Dr. Edwin Viera, Jr.. There are a good number of American citizens around today that can probably recall "silver certificates", payable to the bearer on demand – redeemable currency that was tied to the value of something tangible.

If I may take a slight deviation in our discourse, I would like to state that my entire raison d'ĂȘtre, in this life is about empowerment – personally and communally. This is oversimplification, but for the sake of understanding, I see the world composed of two philosophical camps. I try to boil things down to their roots, examine the soil, the prime motivation and underlying source of their constructs and then decide which camp they sprang from. There is the egalitarian, libertarian, free thinking, creative, empowering camp that views humanity as the pinnacle of Creation and inspires us to be more, to grow and evolve and realize our full potential. That is the camp that I struggle to align myself with. Then there is the totalitarian, dystopian, oppressive, mundane, institutional enslaving camp that views humanity as nothing more than a disposable resource (or at the most, a smart ape) and seeks to bind and shackle us with fear so that we can never break free. The world is not so black and white, but the seeds of ideas are. Ideas are the most important "things" we've got, so we'd best be careful choosing the ones we want. Our current monetary system is an abuse of power, an enslaving institution that is not worthy of us.

So it is my suggestion that we abolish our fiat currency and replace it with currency that is redeemable for silver and gold. The Federal Reserve must be abolished entirely, and banks will no longer have the ability to create money out of nothing. Why should financial institutions be able to suck the life from those who have worked, scrimped and saved for their children's futures? How come your average citizen who essentially sacrifices his very being to the betterment of society finds home ownership entirely outside his grasp? The financial bowl is only getting deeper, and those in the center can only dream their way out, while a few on the edges enjoy wealth beyond imagination, and contribute nothing while doing so. It is hardly an equitable, democratic system we currently have in place.

It is not a socialist notion to say that workers, those who actually produce things of value and provide needed services are entitled to some meaningful compensation for their work. Then why are we paid with valueless paper? Think about this. You could see your life savings quite literally snuffed out by any significant financial downturn. Is that fair? Is it equitable? Meanwhile there will be speculators, lenders and financial institutions that will make their killings. Everything is in place right now waiting for just such an event. Our government has openly defied our God-given rights and constitutionally granted liberties; they will hardly flinch at instating martial law under the guise of security. Do you think you own anything? Think again. What will happen when you cannot afford your mortgage payment? There are those inside and outside our government that are waiting for the biggest power transfer ever, and we are playing right into their hands.

I think these power elite have once more underestimated the common man. They may be in for a big surprise. However, it seems to me that preventive medicine is always preferable to invasive surgery. That is why I so much as bother to write my ideas down. It may not be much, but it is something. If we all do a little something, it can add up to a whole lot of something. Now is the time to take up our calling and make those little differences. Let's not wait until we are facing our enemy fully on his terms, herding us into rail cars bound for the work camps. So much for the lowly penny!

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Dennis Kucinich Reports

Hey, Mr. Olbermann! You forgot this guy.

Olbermann's Commentary

I'd like to add that Kucinich was never mentioned here. I wonder why not?

Brown 2008 Platform

I have chosen to run as a candidate for President of the United States in the 2008 general election. I am running as a populist candidate with no party affiliation. Once elected, I will work with all parties and elected officials to effect the best change possible. I truly believe that all parties and platforms have some merit, and the winner should never call all the shots. I meet all the criteria for the presidency; I will be 43 years old when inaugurated in 2009, I was born in Santa Clara county in the great state of California in 1965, and I have never committed nor been convicted of a felony.

Planks (An Overview):

1.) An end to our illegal occupation of Iraq and an end to preemptive military aggression.
I believe we can safely change the name of the Defense Department to the Department of Peace and World Welfare. Any time we declare "war" on something, you will note that it never actually gets rid of anything. Instead, the problem only appears to be exacerbated. So let's try waging peace for a change. This does not imply weakness, or lack of defense, or a lack of willingness to protect – quite to the contrary. Let's leave Armageddon to the realm of phantasy, shall we?

2.) Election Reform. Let's bring democracy back to the U.S.A.

3.) Monetary Reform. Abolish the Federal Reserve and put monetary control back to the people where the founding fathers and U.S. Constitution put it. Audit the Federal Reserve and make sure we still have the gold and silver to back our currency.

4.) Rescind NAFTA and other "free trade" agreements. Let's return to fair trade and bring our jobs back home where they belong. We can rebuild this country's infrastructure and create a full-employment economy.

5.) Universal Healthcare. Businesses should be allowed to do business and hire employees without the constraints of paying their employee's healthcare costs. We need a nationalized single payer healthcare system that is not for profit. Workers should be able to see their real incomes rise to the cost of living increases, and not allocated to higher and higher insurance rates. Healthcare should never hinge upon one's employment.

6.) Eliminate the IRS and the Federal Income Tax. Since our federal income tax goes exclusively to the interest on the debt incurred by the administration of the Federal Reserve, and since the Federal Reserve will be reincorporated into the confines of the government with all due transparency, such a questionably constitutional tax will be repealed and replaced with a Fair Tax on goods and services.

7.) Limits on Corporations and Break Private Monopolies. Re-amend the Constitution to allow the government to revoke corporate charters when deemed necessary, and place the power back into the hands of the citizenry where it belongs. Let's bring free market capitalism back to our country.

8.) The "New" New Deal. Public works on a large scale and retooling of existing industry to build a bright future here and around the world. We can once again lead the way by example, not through fear and intimidation. Primarily, we should be concerned with the environment, energy equity and a sustainable future. We can ease off our oil dependence, and look at renewable, clean energy and safer nuclear energy, as well as building infrastructure that conserves energy, such as high speed rail, car-free cities and more efficient use of land and resources.

Sound like Utopia? Why not? Nothing is impossible, except the impossible (of course). I will elaborate on each plank at later dates.

I have little doubt that if I should ever become president, as unlikely as that is to happen, that there will be many attempts made at assassinating me. But I promise to do my best at dodging those bullets!

Corporate Candidates and the Illusion of Choice

I have been pondering the way in which the corporate media propagandize and control our "democratic" elections, and in doing so I have come up with a means to bring back our democracy. It requires participation however, and from those who are the most disenfranchised and least likely to vote in a system that they feel has little or nothing to do with their lives, or at least they perceive it as something beyond their control and so corrupt that it makes no difference who they vote for.

I used to think this non-voting block of Americans had to be lazy, apathetic or ignorant – or perhaps all three! It is by far the largest vote in any election. Or better said, the non-vote (or vote of no confidence) seldom, if ever slips below 50 percent. That is actually a sobering statistic if you just let it seep in. Remember Bush-43's mandate in 2000? Well, almost twice as many eligible voters voted "no confidence" in the system as those who voted for either candidate. What does that say about democracy in the U.S.A.?

Before I began to investigate and research this posting I was under a very false impression (I actually make some attempt at verifying, fact checking and clarification of the matters before a I write about a subject, unless it is purely anecdotal or conjecture – don't you wish "journalists" would do the same?). I had always heard this "50 percent of the voters" thrown around, and I was very much under the impression that it implied half of the registered voters. It does not. This figure is the percentage of eligible and registered voters that tend not to vote in any given general election. The figures are even more pathetic for midterm elections, where roughly two thirds of eligible voters do not register and/or vote! As an aside here, it is probably the midterm elections that have a greater effect on us, considering the fact we are electing "representatives" from our respective geographical/cultural regions.

Let's take the 2000 election as an example. It was one of the most contested elections in our history (and rightly so). We allowed the ideologically-skewed Supreme Court to appoint our Commander in Chief. It is all quite questionable. Yet I am not going to delve into that particular abyss. I just want to talk numbers, if I may. In 2000 there were 206 million eligible voters, of which 156 million registered, of which 106 million voted. Out of the 106 million (all these numbers are rounded), 51 million voted for Gore, 50 million voted for Bush, 3 million voted for Nader, 1 million did not vote for a presidential candidate, and 1 million voted for other candidates.

I was a "spoiler", or a Nader voter. Just notice if you will, that sixteen times as many registered voters did not bother to get off their collective ass to vote, as opposed to those who voted their conscience, voted green and voted for Nader. Yet I never heard the media call these slackers' patriotism into question. So, extrapolating from the numbers listed (and yes, we're strictly dealing with the popular vote presently), the candidate that received the greatest number of votes in 2000 was "none of the above", with over 55 million votes. I counted the third-party candidates solely due to the fact that our two party system takes all, and anyone like myself that voted third party knew fully well that their vote was a protest vote and nothing else. If you now add the 50 million eligible voters who did not even see the point in registering to vote, you have 105 million disenfranchised citizens – or more than the combined total who voted for both Gore and Bush. So much for mandates!

To say we're in need of election reform in this country is merely stating the blatantly obvious. But hey, why not state the obvious? And while I am at it, I am also announcing my candidacy for the presidency. I am ready to be your president, and one of the planks of my platform will be election reform. Allow me to present the steps I'll take at bringing back our voice in government:

1.) Public funding of all parties and candidates. No corporate contributions. Personal contributions limited to $200 annually per candidate. All candidates will be granted equal air time, and debates will not be controlled or "framed". Debates will be organized by the public and broadcast for free without commercial interruption on the public television networks.
2.) Declaration of "Election Days" as mandatory, national holidays.
3.) Same-day voter registration, or within 24-72 hours of election allowed.
4.) Ban on electronic voting machines. We must have paper trails.
5.) Polls will be open for a 24 hour period throughout the country, at which time they may not disclose running tallies or results. Exit polling will be prohibited unless conducted by a disinterested and approved source, and they will be prohibited from discussing the results until after the election.
6.) All eligible citizens will be required to vote, or they will be fined or serve time in community service. For those who do not feel they have a voice, "none of the above", or "no confidence" will be options on the ballots. If a "no confidence" vote wins the majority, the election will be deemed invalid, and voters will have to return to vote again at a later date.
7.) The Constitution will be amended to disband the Electoral College and enact a Popular Vote in its place.
8.) Gerrymandering will be laid to rest. Districts will only be allowed based upon existing political geography – cities, counties and states. (Included in the Election Reform Amendment).

I think this should this be implemented, we would see a real surge of democratic participation in this country. That would be a good thing.

Until then, I suggest that we can begin to arrange and organize a mass boycott of the sham that is to be the 2008 general election. I am either voting for Kucinich or Gravel in the primary, so we'll see how they do. But I am fairly certain the continued marginalization of such candidates by the media will do the trick in painting them as "unelectable", and we will be forced to choose from the list of pre-approved candidates (in which case it really does not matter who we vote for). I suggest staging sit-ins outside our polling places where we can burn our voter registration cards in protest. T-shirts with "None of the Above" printed on them, and buttons with No Confidence 2008 could be made. Just some ideas folks.

Your participation is always appreciated. Oh, and vote for me in 2008.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Currently Reading:

"The End of Gay, and the Death of Heterosexuality", by Bert Archer

I think we are beginning to realise that a gender-based, sexual identity is a thing that we can no longer perpetuate. In fact we are polymorphous sexual beings with less than clearly defined gender roles. We should not limit ourselves by definitions.

Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto. –Terentius.
I am human, and nothing human is alien to me.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Rant O' th' Day

(heavy Brooklyn accent) Talk amongst yourselves…let me give you a topic…Human Resources is neither human nor a resource. Discuss.

One of the many ways I resent the heck out of the established corporate oligarchy is how it has effectively and pervasively fucked up English. Pardon my French.

We have so many wonderful words in English, yet the Corpofascist regime insists upon inventing new (and not so improved) ways of saying things. Actually, that is pretty much what they do – keep us perpetually in a fog as to what they are really saying and doing. Of course we all love their little slogans and we repeat them with resolute glee. Don't I sound educated? (Yeah, to a three year old you fuck wit, you actually sound like a right prick).

Let me give you an example that chaps my ass regularly. There once were Personnel Departments. That's pretty straight forward; just by the name you can tell what they do. Personnel manages people (persons). I'm a person, she's a person, we're all persons. Then some corporate half wit decided the word had to be changed and came up with the term "human resources". I hate the term. I never say it unless it is in a disparaging context.

I am not a "human resource"; I am a person. Let's define the words "person" and "resource", shall we?

A person is an individual of inherent value. The value of a person is immeasurable. A person has rights and responsibilities. A person exists outside and beyond what he does for a living or what he directly contributes.

A resource is generally a raw material. It is something of no intrinsic value, yet once utilized it can be of measured value. A resource is an inanimate object with no rights or responsibilities. A resource only exists as long as it is deemed of value.

One cannot put the words "human" and "resource" together to describe anything unless one is describing a physical resource of value to humankind, otherwise it is an oxymoron, and the person responsible for this insidious term is indeed a "moron". To say that human beings are important to other people is superfluous. Actually, it's just plain stupid.

Instead, what the term really means is that the corporate mentality (or philosophy if you prefer) sees humanity merely as a resource! Now that's some scary shit. But it does help explain how they have no qualms using our brave men and women in uniform as cannon fodder to increase their already astounding profits.


(Props to my man, George Carlin)

If This Isn't Fascism, What Is?

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Gas Is Heavily Subsidized and So Is Parking

There has recently been a chain e-mail circulating and making its rounds that encourages consumers to boycott purchasing gas on May 15, in order to send a message to the Gas & Oil Corporations that we are fed up with such inflated prices at the pumps. Whereas I am a staunch supporter of consumer/citizen action, I also believe the real point is missed entirely here. First in my mind, a single day will hardly make any lasting effect on the price of gas, because the underlying demand still exists. What will make a difference is for us to reevaluate our driving habits and make significant changes. The best thing we can do for our future and the future of our kids is to relinquish our dependence on the automobile entirely. The next best thing we can do is reconsider how many cars we need. In other words, can we make due with a single car? We can conserve the number of miles we drive – consolidate trips, carpool, limit unnecessary jaunts – as this will conserve gas and bring demand down. Finally, we can trade in our guzzlers for hybrids, biodeisel or low emission vehicles. But keep in mind that the manufacture of automobiles is in and of itself very hard on the environment. It actually does much less damage to the environment to keep an older car in good mechanical condition and simply drive conservatively. Limit your milage and drive slowly and smoothly, not abruptly or spasmodically. Many people do not realize this.

The automobile is driving us poor. Forget the price of gas; there are several other huge outlying costs to automobile ownership, such as insurance, maintenance, licensing fees and other taxes, and parking. No wonder people are upset that gas is nearly four dollars per gallon.

In my mind, however, the price of gas is not the main issue. There are actually quite a few hidden costs to the gas we put in our tanks – namely the continued occupation of Iraq. Now the administration appears to be considering launching an attack on Iran. Expect much higher prices should this terrible blunder be made. The actual price per gallon of gasoline when these hidden costs are factored in is really 7 - 8 dollars per gallon (some estimates are as high as 10 dollars per gallon). That means that citizens who do not even drive are subsidizing the price of gas for those who do drive. If consumers could see those real numbers at the pump, I bet they'd start changing their driving habits quickly. But as it currently stands, the price of gas is ridiculously low and heavily subsidized.

It also stands to reason that the roads and parking considerations are also heavily subsidized, regardless of the occasional toll (which in itself is counterproductive to relieving congestion, conserving energy or reducing commute times). Suburban sprawl has nearly dictated that we all drive to our destinations, but even in these less than idyllic conditions, ask yourself if a bicycle will allow you to make certain trips. Can you walk? Right now, cars own the roads, but we can reclaim our streets. Have you ever wondered just how much space cars take up? Not to mention the visual clutter they make.

I have a little task for you, should you indulge me. Take a walk through your neighborhood, and when you do so, focus on automobiles and everything built to accommodate them. Take mental note as though you come from a place or time where automobiles do not exist. Simply observe the space they require, observe how inanimate the majority are, and how they simply occupy space and do very little in regard to actually moving people. Now imagine each car as a large sofa. What would you think if your neighbor parked his sofa in front of your house? Can you begin to see how the automobile is an anti-social device? Now imagine a vibrant street with people on it with no cars to be seen. People are much more interesting than metal boxes, are they not?

I commend to you a well written and informative article on the subject: "The Automobile Shapes the City", by Martin V. Melosi. I have posted a couple excerpts pertinent to our discussion:

Even cars at rest—in parking mode if you will—created problems for cities that few other forms of transportation faced. It is ironic that a technology designed to provide individuals with greater flexibility in meeting their transportation needs remains unused much of its life. “An adequate highway system—one affording completely free movement of vehicles—would still not solve our transportation problem,” noted one expert in 1950. “This is because the objective of every motor vehicle is a terminal. The average motor vehicle, for instance, is in motion about 500 hours a year; it is parked the remaining 8,260 hours.” More than forty years later, other experts expressed a similar sentiment: “If one were to set out the most inefficient means of transport, the auto might be the outcome. Consider, for example, the facts that the average auto is parked and unused for about 90 percent of its lifetime and that even when it is used, it is nearly empty.”

Detroit in 1962 – an abominable waste of prime real estate & blight on the city; car parks prevail.

Excerpt from same article: A parking study conducted in California stated that about 59 percent of the ground area in Los Angeles’ central business district (CBD) in 1960 was devoted to streets and parking, with about 35 percent for roads, streets, alleys, and sidewalks, and 24 percent for parking lots and garages not included in buildings with other purposes. During roughly the same period, acreage devoted to streets and parking in other urban cores was similar in scale or slightly less. In Detroit (1953), streets and parking made up 49.5 percent of the central city; in Chicago (1956), 40.7 percent; in Minneapolis (1958), 48.3 percent; Nashville (1959), 39 percent; and in Dallas (1961), 41.4 percent.

What one does not see here is the square footage of garages within buildings and the space reserved for street parking, so the amount of land required for parking cars and housing them is really quite astounding. We have destroyed our cities in the United States. There are few examples of vibrant cultural centers that remain, and in those few cases (such as San Francisco and New York City) the public fought and prevailed against carving their cities up with expressways. San Francisco made the wise decision to finally tear down the few expressways that were built, starting with the Embarcadero Freeway, and later the Central Freeway. Both neighborhoods are now revitalized, and visually pleasing.

Central Freeway Before


Had the planners had their way…truly would have been the death of my beloved city. (1948 plan)

Now it's time for the good news. There are options, and we live in a democracy where we still have a voice. Albeit, at this stage it might actually require wresting that voice back with a little civil disobedience. Nonetheless, the inspired documents of our founding fathers remain regardless of our leader's open defiance of them. Some people have rightly inquired why I have chosen the automobile as my personal adversary. Obviously we have bigger problems, there's the "war on terror", failing schools, lost jobs, destruction of the environment, loss of freedom, escalating health care costs and collapsing infrastructure. Why would I pick on the defenseless passenger car?

Here's how I see it, and my gratitude for following my leaps of logic. Currently we are "at war". It is not a war in the traditional sense. We cannot even see our enemy. I could go on for a thousand pages on this subject alone, but I will spare everyone. I think we can all pretty much agree than the main motivation behind our invasion and occupation of Iraq is the mere fact that it happens to sit on some of the world's largest oil reserves. We use a lot of oil in this country – some may say we are quite dependent upon it. A good deal of that oil is combusted in engines of automobiles. We have also created infrastructure and cities that are largely dependent upon automobiles as a means of getting around. If we begin to rethink this, redesign our existing cities and fund public transit, and perhaps have the vision to begin to build new car-free cities, we will decrease our dependence on foreign oil. We will no longer have to waste billions of dollars fighting global wars, and instead we can fund infrastructure, schools and healthcare, and in doing so we can create high paying jobs and rebuild our economy. We are on the verge of what can either become a global catastrophe, or a bright new future. The decision is ours. Now is the time.

May God help us.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Maglev Train

Extreme Trainsurfer

Seriously kids, this is not a recommended way to get around.

French Train Breaks Record

Monday, 7 May 2007

'Cool Grey City' Projected to Turn Murderously Hot

It is only May, and this is probably the third or fourth day that we've had a heat wave here in San Francisco. It is 9 am, and the tempertaure is already soaring past 23 degrees. We are projected at hitting 30 degrees today. Last year we had a week long heatwave in July. This is not typical weather for our city, and we are ill prepared for it. Our apartment is like a furnace, with no means of cooling down. We have all the blinds shut and curtains drawn. Surprisingly, our beloved fog may be somewhat responsible for extreme variations of weather in our immediate future. So now we can buy air conditioners that will simply increase CO-2 emissions to combat the effects of global warming? We are frogs in a warm bath, and the flame is getting higher!

Here's an article from 2004, enjoy!

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Rant O' Th'morning

(I Posted as a comment to another blog.)

What ever happened to old people?

Why is the adjective "old" considered uncomplimentary?

How about "people who are very close to expiration"?

Seriously, we have a major psychological issue of denial in regard to our imminent demise.

Perhaps if we could just stop obsessing over our death (which is quite assuredly inevitable), and instead turn our energy towards leaving something of value for the generations to come, then at the very least we will be remembered fondly, and our handiwork will attest to our collective vision of munificence. As it now stands, we are not only assured that we will die and decompose, but all memory of us will also fade, with perhaps the sole exception being the fact that we behaved like a bunch of childish, selfish, ignominious morons.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

More Trains

Yesterday I made several attempts at uploading videos from You Tube, to no avail. I had a fantastic video of the French TGV breaking a speed record of 574 kilometers per hour! Now that's extremely quick. For a little perspective, if one were to maintain that velocity a trip form coast to coast could be made in under 9 hours! Another way to envision such speed is to imagine traveling one mile in ten seconds! Mind you, this is old technology, since we're talking about wheels on tracks and overhead cables.

Maglev trains are a step up in technology, since the computer controlled driving mechanism is in the track bed. In the case of Maglev, there are no overhead cables, and the wheels retract at speeds above 140 kmph so that in effect, the train is suspended in air, reducing friction to mere aerodynamic considerations. However, even this is not cutting-edge technology – the future involves Maglev trains in transatlantic and transglobal vaccuum tubes, where speeds of 5000 kmph could be attained. A transatlantic crossing in such a scenario would take so little time, that commuters could live in London and work in New York. I had posted a Japanese Maglev train breaking a speed record of 581 kmph. Don't ask what happened to the video – I'll attempt to link to it later. That is not significantly faster than the tried and true TGV, but the limit of Maglev is still being tested. The last video that never made it to my blog is a currently operational Maglev train in Shanghai, China that routinely travels up to speeds of 430 kmph.

I may decide not to post for a while, since this takes up a lot of time, and I do work for a living. I also find myself getting awfully depressed at the state of politics in this country and often wonder if it will continue to decline to the point that I might find myself emigrating to China, or someplace that is building an economy. Here in California, our "governator", Schwarzenegger and the lilly-livered Legislature are about to kill the HS Rail bond measure we as voters would have been voting on in 2008. What the hell are they afraid of? You want an answer? The voters!

I have decided to put my full support behind Senator Mike Gravel. I was a big Kucinich supporter, and I still admire the man greatly. Yet Gravel really impresses me as less of an idealist and more of a realist. You need that balance. I also think he has a presence that makes him more "electable". He is relatively old, but I don't think voters will care too much. But best of all are his planks for a national initiative that allows direct voter participation in the legislative process, elimination of the IRS and the unconstitutional income tax, full funding and no raiding of Social Security, and of course an end to our illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq.

Please contact your representatives. Tell them you want a voice regarding the future of rail in California.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Political Cartoon

More High Speed Rail

"Ultimately, the question is whether Californians are willing to modify their long-standing relationship with the passenger car, and re-establish their historical love affair with rail."

Thursday, 3 May 2007

America: Freedom to Fascism

This is a full length movie, my peeps. Gravel '08 Campaign has the abolishment of the IRS and elimination of the Federal Income Tax as one of the planks on their platform. Nobody ever talks about this fundamental and unconstitutional abuse, so I've posted it here. However, a word of warning is due. Although I believe some valid questions are raised, this video borders on the madness of conspiracists. I suggest if you are feeling at all ill, or queasy, or if you are in a blue funk, that watching this would quite doubtfully have the effect of remedying your maladies

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Gravel 2008

Rail Was, Is, and Will Be the Solution

The "Holy Trinity" of personal transport rail is:

1.) Intercity/Interstate High Speed Rail

This is the highest technology, cutting-edge rail transport. I believe we should seriously be looking at nuclear energy. I know this is opposed by many in the environmental/green movement, and I think it is unfortunate. Our energy needs are increasing, and in order to grow the economy and continue to provide energy equity for all, I believe nuclear energy is our future. Wind, wave and solar all have their place and they should most certainly be utilized, but in order to truly break our dependence upon oil, nuclear is the only way to go presently. Nuclear energy does not have to pose a threat to life on the planet. Eventually, given proper funding and research, we can harness nuclear fusion which will indeed not only provide stunning amounts of energy, but it is inherently clean and totally renewable. Another astounding area of research should be magnetic levitation, or superconducting maglev trains. Such trains could maintain speeds up to 350 mph. At such speeds, most domestic flights would become unnecessary, thereby eliminating even more destruction to our environment and dependence on oil. One could travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles within an hour and a half, including stops. A trip from coast to coast could be made in twelve hours with stops along the way. One could say that such is unreasonable considering the fact that a transcontinental flight can be made in half the time, however, we are talking door to door here. As it now stands, to make such a trip, one is required to leave his home approximately two hours before his flight, and then he needs to either book a shuttle, take a cab or train to the city center which could easily occupy another hour, and there are generally delays or connecting flights, so even in the best case scenario such a flight would be marginally faster. Yet the maglev train could shuttle you in true comfort and pamper your tastes for luxury along the way. Not to mention, they don't generally fall out of the skies!

2.) Regional Commute Rail (Heavy Rail)

Why not talk about BART? It has saved our ass time and time again. It is a pretty good system, and it would be even more successful if the politicos would just let it. There are three big issues I have with BART however.
A.) It does not link the entire region. It should logically be extended down the peninsula and up to the north bay.
B.) The measured fares are crazy! BART should be entirely subsidized and made "free" to all passengers.
C.) It does not run 24 hours. This just makes no sense at all.
If our politicians could get off their collective ass and implement those three things, we'd be looking at a real alternative to automobiles.

3.) Inner City Light Rail

SFMTA could certainly use some help. As a resident of San Francisco, I can honestly say it sucks. Most of the time I choose to either walk, bike or cab to my destinations. Fortunately, the size and density of this city allows me to do so. MUNI does little to actually assist in my transportation needs. The busses and cars are almost always in disrepair, they run erratically at best and they are almost always driven by people who apparently hate their jobs. And of course when one finally does get on board, he would be fortunate to find a seat. All that said, there are a few lines that work well and tend to run regularly. My solutions for MUNI are as follows:
A.) Make it an employee-owned company with plenty of subsidies from the city.
B.) Eliminate fare collection altogether.
C.) Replace some existing bus lines with light rail.
D.) Replace existing diesel coaches with electric ones, namely the 12 Folsom that runs outside my flat.

So there we have it, a means at eliminating the need for automobile ownership, improving transit, building the economy, increasing productivity, and protecting the environment – and essentially doing so with existing infrastructure.