Sunday, August 31, 2014

BBW to Blow $1B: Fastest Internet in US? It's Chattanooga, TN, Thanks to Local and Fed $$$

Fastest Internet in US? It's Chattanooga, TN, Thanks to Local and Fed $$$ (Ps. Big Cable Very Angry)
Now THIS is what Salem should be spending millions on instead of squandering it on planning a giant piece of Eisenhower-era Sprawl Propellant that will cost over $1 billion and produce negative return on investment to the people of Salem when all is said and done.

We already have a local electric co-op serving part of Salem. We just have to organize, expand that to serve all of Salem (sending PGE packing) and get cracking on a broadband over power line system like Chattanooga has.

Just another of the "Billion Better Ways to Blow $1,000,000,000" than on a Bridgasaurus Boondogglus.

Fastest Internet in US? It's Chattanooga, TN, Thanks to Local and Fed $$$ (Ps. Big Cable Very Angry)

Yes, you read that right.  Internet speeds as fast as 1 gigabit gigabyte per second are the norm in the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Not the spot you might have predicted, would you.  Certainly not the place I anticipated would have faster, better internet than anywhere else in the United States, and one of the faster internet speeds on the planet.  Not only that, but the fast internet is helping to lead Chattanooga out of the economic doldrums.

[A] group of thirty-something local entrepreneurs have set up Lamp Post, an incubator for a new generation of tech companies, in the building. A dozen startups are currently working out of the glitzy downtown office [that was formally the home of Loveman's department store].

"We're not Silicon Valley. No one will ever replicate that," says Allan Davis, one of Lamp Post's partners. "But we don't need to be and not everyone wants that. The expense, the hassle. You don't need to be there to create great technology. You can do it here."

He's not alone in thinking so. Lamp Post is one of several tech incubators in this mid-sized Tennessee city. Money is flowing in. Chattanooga has gone from close to zero venture capital in 2009 to more than five organized funds with investable capital over $50m in 2014 – not bad for a city of 171,000 people. [...]

In large part the success is being driven by The Gig. Thanks to an ambitious roll-out by the city's municipally owned electricity company, EPB, Chattanooga is one of the only places on Earth with internet at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average.

Yes, these young groups of local tech entrepenuers are important, but they couldn't have created this turnaround alone. They are receiving help help from the city's Democratic Mayor, Andy Berke, but the real driver of the boom comes from the efforts of the city's municipally owned electrical provider, EFB, which decided to fast track a high speed fiber optics network, rather than settle for slower service from the big cable company internet providers.  On September 17, 2013, after construction was completed seven years earlier than originally planned.
[C]ity residents have an unlikely business to thank [for their faster, cheaper internet service]: the publicly owned electric utility. [...]

[T]he effort to bring cheap broadband to the masses began as a simple engineering problem: The city's electric company, EPB, needed a way for its systems to monitor and communicate with new digital equipment being installed on the grid. Meanwhile, city hall was learning that the country's biggest phone and cable companies wouldn't be starting service there for a decade or more.

Chattanooga spent $330 million on its new network, raising $220 million in bond money and winning $111.5 million in federal stimulus dollars. (The money from Washington was like icing on the cake; by the time EPB applied, it had already reached its initial targets and with the additional funds cut a 10-year construction plan down to three years.)

According to Harold DePriest, EFB's CEO, the high speed network referred to as "The Gig" is a big profit center for EFB.  However, one major benefit is the savings it generates for one of the network's biggest customers: EFB, itself.  He estimates savings of at least $1 Million per year.  However, while Chattanooga's high speed internet is proving to be quite the success story, it didn't come without opposition from you know who:
Along the way, EPB fought several court battles with Comcast and the state cable association. Even before all this, Chattanooga had to lobby the state government for permission to let EPB participate in the telecom market.
Across the country, twenty states prohibit or restrict municipalities from doing what Chattanooga has done - create their own high speed broadband networks to compete with the big telecom and cable companies, who have a stranglehold on providing slower, crappier, more expensive internet service to most of us.  So, it should come as no surprise that the big telecoms are concerned that other municipalities will see what Chattanooga has accomplished, and are taking legal steps to stop any further expansion of EFB's internet service.
The US cable industry called on the Federal Communications Commission on Friday [August 29, 2014] to block two cities' plans to expand high-speed internet services to their residents.

USTelecom, which represents cable giants Comcast, Time Warner and others, wants the FCC to block expansion of two popular municipally owned high speed internet networks, one in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the other in Wilson, North Carolina.

"The success of public broadband is a mixed record, with numerous examples of failures," USTelecom said in a blog post. "With state taxpayers on the financial hook when a municipal broadband network goes under, it is entirely reasonable for state legislatures to be cautious in limiting or even prohibiting that activity."

Chattanooga has the largest high-speed internet service in the US, offering customers access to speeds of 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average. The service, provided by municipally owned EPB, has sparked a tech boom in the city and attracted international attention. EPB is now petitioning the FCC to expand its territory. Comcast and others have previously sued unsuccessfully to stop EPB's fibre optic roll out.

Wilson, a town of a little more than 49,000 people, launched Greenlight, its own service offering high speed internet, after complaints about the cost and quality of Time Warner cable's service. Time Warner lobbied the North Carolina senate to outlaw the service and similar municipal efforts.

How nice of them to be concerned about taxpayers, especially as most of these companies are doing their darnedest to avoid paying taxes.  But, as you can guess, what they are really concerned about is competition from local municipalities, and the loss of their virtual monopoly on providing broadband services in America.  Imagine availability to internet services fifty times faster than what Comcast and Time Warner (in the process of seeking approval for a mega-merger, FYI) are willing to provide, and at an equal or even lower price?  No wonder they want to block Chattanooga and EFB from expanding service to more residents.  EFB has the proper response to the pompous, selfish and greedy actions of the telecom industry.
In a statement EPB said: "Communities should have the right – at the local level – to determine their broadband futures.

"The private sector didn't want to serve everyone, but public power companies like EPB were established to make sure that everyone had access to this critical infrastructure.

Meanwhile Chattanooga is thriving, and has even bigger plans for the future:
Mayor Berke has dealt with requests for visits from everyone from tiny rural communities to "humungous international cities". "You don't see many mid-sized cities that have the kind of activity that we have right now in Chattanooga," he said. "What the Gig did was change the idea of what our city could be. Mid-sized southern cities are not generally seen as being ahead of the technological curve, the Gig changed that. We now have people coming in looking to us as a leader." [...]

EPB's high-speed network came about after it decided to set up a smart electric grid in order to cut power outages. EPB estimated it would take 10 years to build the system and raised a $170m through a municipal bond to pay for it. In 2009 president Barack Obama launched the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a stimulus programme aimed at getting the US economy back on track amid the devastation of the recession. EPB was awarded $111m to get its smart grid up and running. Less than three years later the whole service territory was built.

... The University of California at Berkeley estimates that power outages cost the US economy $80bn a year through business disruption with manufacturers stopping their lines and restaurants closing. Chattanooga's share of that loss was about $100m, EPB estimates.  ...  Since the system was installed the duration of power outages has been cut in half.

In short, no shutdowns such as the one millions of customers of Time Warmer had to suffer through this last Wednesday.
Internet service went down for millions of Americans on Wednesday morning after cable company Time Warner Cable suffered a major outage. [...]

Affected users besieged the helplines and social media accounts of the firm, which declared an operating income of $1.1bn in the 2nd quarter of 2014.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Time Warner Cable paid $1.1m to resolve an investigation from the Federal Communications Commission that found the provider did not properly report multiple network outages.

"TWC (Time Warner Cable) failed to file a substantial number of reports with respect to a series of reportable wireline and Voice Over Internet Protocol network outages," the FCC's report read. "TWC admits that its failure to timely file the required network outage reports violated the commission's rules."

Hey, what a shocker.  Lousy service from a monopoly, including the failure to report multiple "network outages" in violation of FCC regulations.  In short, you can understand the big telecom companies acting in their own interest, if not yours, to maintain the status quo.  At present, they are practically printing money while we get internet service that is worse than thirty other countries, including, among others, Uruguay.  

Yeah, let that sink in.  Uraguayans have better internet service than citizens of the "greatest nation on earth."  Pretty damn embarrassing, if not a big surprise. Ever since we began to glorify Big Business and denigrate government during the Reagan years, we've seen America go from being a leader in many fields to falling further and further behind even many third world countries, all so our multinational, tax dodging corporations can feed off ordinary Americans like so many parasites, slowly draining the lifeblood out of our nation even as they steal whatever is left in our pocketbooks.

So, to Chattanooga I say good luck and godspeed in your battle with these corporate psychopaths.  I only wish my city had done what yours did.  And thanks for showing all of us that government investment in infrastructure, whether at the local level or with assistance from the federal government, in this case the electrical grid and fiber optic networks, works better to grow our economy than the current, private, monopolistic practices of the telecom industry.  Indeed, their actions are hurting our nation's economic future, even as they rake it massive profits for bad service.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Goodbye and Good Luck!

The only part she's wrong about is that the welfare state is NOT a Ponzi scheme. The amount of wealth available to support the people has never been greater, and far outstrips even our vast degree of overpopulation. But overpopulation is a problem because of real, physical, environmental limits on natural resources (limits that no amount of wishful thinking by economists and techno-optimists can overcome), not because we lack the monetary wealth needed to maintain the welfare state.

The number of workers to the number of elders is only the right way to count up our ability to support the welfare state if assets are distributed equally.

 In developed countries, and especially in North America, we have more than enough wealth to provide good care and a decent level of comfort for all, including lifetime health care from womb to tomb and a free education that would allow each person to maximize their potential.

We have all that wealth and more, except that the top 1% and especially the top 1% of those and most especially the top 1% of those have gained control of so much of the wealth that they have the resources needed to run a ceaseless campaign of propaganda aimed solely at convincing the rest of us that there's no way we could ever afford any of that, and that the rest of us should be grateful for whatever scraps we are able to pry out of their vaults.

Gillian Bennett, maiden name Quentin-Baxter, was born in 1930 in Christchurch, New Zealand. At Canterbury University, Gillian became friends with Jonathan Bennett, a fellow Philosophy student. In 1954, Gillian received a scholarship to study in Bonn, Germany. Jonathan and Gillian were married in Cambridge, England, in 1957. New Zealand is a country of wild beauty and infinite depth. They often ached to be there but accepted early on that career decisions gave them no way back. “Like a toi toi arrow shot in the air. Never no more. Never no more.”

Over the next 40 years Gillian and Jonathan lived in Cambridge (England), Vancouver (Canada), and Syracuse (USA). During her time in Syracuse, Gillian trained to become a psychotherapist, and practised and taught group and individual therapy. Gillian's mentors were chiefly Richard Erskine and Rebecca Trautmann.In 1996, Gillian and Jonathan retired to Bowen Island, just off the coast of British Columbia. They have two children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, all of whom—thanks be—are flourishing.Gillian Bennett died around noon on August 18, 2014.

The Ruin—our home on Bowen Island.

I will take my life today around noon. It is time. Dementia is taking its toll and I have nearly lost myself. I have nearly lost 
me. Jonathan, the straightest and brightest of men, will be at my side as a loving witness.
I have known that I have dementia, a progressive loss of memory and judgment, for three years. It is a stealthy, stubborn and oh-so reliable disease. I might have preferred an exotic ailment whose name came trippingly off the tongue, but no, what I have is entirely typical. I find it a boring disease, and despite the sweetness and politeness of my family I am bright enough to be aware of how boring they find it, too. It is so rough on my husband, Jonathan. I don't think my lovely cat has noticed, but I'm not sure.

Dementia gives no quarter and admits no bargaining. Research tells us that it's a “silent disease,” one that can lurk for years or even decades before its symptoms become obvious. Ever so gradually at first, much faster now, I am turning into a vegetable. I find it hard to keep in my mind that my granddaughter is coming in three 
day's time and not today. “Where do we keep the X?” (coffee / milkshake-maker / backspace on my keyboard / the book I was just reading) happens all the time. I have constantly to monitor what I say in anattempt not to make some gross error of judgment.        Sunset at The Ruin.

There comes a time, in the progress of dementia, when one is no longer competent to guide one's own affairs. I want out before the day when I can no longer assess my situation, or take action to bring my life to an end. There could also come a time when I simply must make a decision based on my deteriorating physical health. I do not like hospitals—they are dirty places. Any doctor will tell you to stay out of them if you possibly can. I would not want a fall, a stroke, or some unforeseen complication to mess up my decision to cost Canada as little as possible in my declining years.
Understand that I am giving up nothing that I want by committing suicide. All I lose is an indefinite number of years of being a vegetable in a hospital setting, eating up the country's money but having not the faintest idea of who I am.

Each of us is born uniquely and dies uniquely. I think of dying as a final adventure with a predictably abrupt end. I know when it's time to leave and I do not find it scary.
There are so many things we obsess about. We seem to have a need to get things right. Should we bring a bottle of wine or some flowers to the party? Will jeans and my new boots work or is that too casual? How do I find a new mate?

We do NOT talk much about how we die. Yet facing death is thoroughly interesting and absorbing and challenging. I have choices which I have reviewed, and either adopted or discarded. I think I have hit upon the right choice for me.
I have talked it over with friends and relatives. It is not a forbidden topic.Anything but.Every day I lose bits of myself, and it's obvious that I am heading towards the state that all dementia patients eventually get to: not knowing who I am and requiring full-time care. I know as I write these words that within six months or nine months or twelve months, I, Gillian, will no longer be here. What is to be done with my carcass? It will be physically alive but there will be no one inside.

Gillian and Jonathan 1957

I have done my homework. I have reviewed my options:

Have a minder care for my mindless body. This would involve financial hardship for those I leave behind, or involve them in a seemingly endless round of chores that could erode even their fondest memories of me.

2.Request whatever care the government is willing to provide. (The facility will expect my husband, children, grandchildren, to visit often to thank the caretakers for how well they are looking after the carcass. Fair enough, but not what I wish for my family.)

End my own life by taking adequate barbiturates to do the job before my mind has totally gone. Ethically, this seems to me the right thing to do.

I can live or vegetate for perhaps ten years in hospital at Canada's expense, costing anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 per year. That is only the beginning of the damage. Nurses, who thought they were embarked on a career that had great meaning, find themselves perpetually changing my diapers and reporting on the physical changes of an empty husk. It is ludicrous, wasteful and unfair.

My family, all of whom are rational and funny to boot, would not visit me in hospital, because they know I would not want them to.    
The world strains under the weight of an aging population. We are living longer, and our life expectancies continue to grow. By 2045, the ratio of working-age citizens to their elderly dependents will become increasingly burdensome in almost every part of the world. In Canada and the US, the ratio is expected to be sixteen workers for every ten elderly dependents. It is a social and economic disaster in the making.Yet most people say they would like to live to 90 or 100, or even beyond.There are many ethical issues here: life extension radically alters people's ideas of what it is to be human—and not for the better. As we, the elderly, undergo manifold operations and become gaga while taking up a hospital bed, our grandchildren's schooling, their educational, athletic, and cultural opportunities, will be squeezed dry.

The heart of the problem is arithmetic: The post-World War 
llSocial Welfare State, created at a moment when the baby boom was still gestating, is built on a generational Ponzi scheme. As life expectancy increases and birth rates decline, the population pyramid is being inverted—and in some countries that is causing the entire economy to topple.

onathan & Gillian—2014.

Everybody by the age of 50 who is mentally competent should make a Living Will that states how she wants to die, the circumstances under which she does not want to be resuscitated, etc. Add a statement such as: "If I am ill and frail and have an infection such as pneumonia, do not attempt to restore me to life with antibiotics. Pray let me pass. I do not give any relatives or doctors or psychiatrists the right to squelch this decision." One's general practitioner would have a copy.
Legally, everyone should have an obligation to make a Will, which would be stored electronically, could not be destroyed, and would be available automatically to any hospital in the world.What about a person who refuses to make a Will? There should be a fallback Will that applies to everyone who has not done his civic duty. I do not have all the answers, but I do think I'm raising questions that need to be raised.

Three outsize institutions: the medical profession, the Law, and the Church will challenge and fight any transformative change. Yet we all hear of changes in each of these professions that suggest a broader approach, guided and informed by empathy. My hope is that all of these institutions will continue to transform themselves, and that the medical profession will mandate, through sensitive and appropriate protocols, the administration of a lethal dose to end the suffering of a terminally ill patient, in accordance with her Living Will.

Killarney Lake on Bowen Island.

Life seems somewhat like a party that I was dropped into. At first I was shy and awkward and didn`t know what the rules were. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing. It turned out that I was there to enjoy myself and I didn't know how to do that. Someone kind talked to me and made me laugh. I began to understand that actually I had to make up my own rules and then live by them.
I did pick up that I needed to know when to leave, and that is now.
All members of my immediate family are in Vancouver: daughter, son, two granddaughters and four grandsons. All know that it matters to me not to become a burden to them, or to Canada. I have discussed my situation with them all. In our family it is recognized that any adult has the right to make her own decision.

Just in case anyone is tempted to think I must be brave to off myself, you should know that I am a big
sookie. I am sorely fearful of being alone in the dark. I am scared something will get me. I do not want to die alone. If my cat were failing in the way that I am, I would mix some sleeping medication in with top-quality ground beef, and when she fell asleep, carry her lovingly to the garden and do the rest. Who wants to die surrounded by strangers, no matter how excellent their care and competence?
I have had a husband beyond compare, and children and grandchildren who have outstripped me in most meaningful ways. Since I was seven I have had wonderful friends, whom I did and still do adore.This is all much tougher than it need be on Jonathan, and I wish he did not have to be alone with his wife's corpse. Canadian law makes it a crime for anyone to assist a person committing suicide, and Jonathan, therefore, will in no way assist me. Our children, Sara and Guy, would so willingly be with their father, but the laws being what they are, we will not put them in jeopardy.

Today, now, I go cheerfully and so thankfully into that good night. Jonathan, the courageous, the faithful, the true and the gentle, surrounds me with company. I need no more.
It is almost noon. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A must read for all Oregonians: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

As we head into the upcoming campaign to finally rid Oregon of the death penalty, a new book of great power to remind us that, in America, we treat the guilty and rich better than the innocent and poor.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

A random thought on limited parking

What's the key to relaxation, to letting yourself have the time to explore a new place or have a new experience? Time. It's letting go of the urgency we so often feel from sunrise to bedtime.

What do places like coffee shops and pubs and cafés and better bookstores offer? Opportunities to have that relaxed experience so you can sit a while, work or converse or lose yourself in a book.

There's not unlimited parking available in downtown Salem, so there has to be some way to allocate and ensure turnover in parking spaces downtown.

But we need to proceed very thoughtfully, and with due respect for the trade offs involved when we make people stress about time whenever they come downtown. We don't want increased parking spot availability to be the result of people deciding that being downtown simply isn't a good experience.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kurt Schrader among 37 House Democrats Voting with the GOP to Poison Your Water

More shameful nonsense from a former Oregonian who has gone native in DC,
Land of Lobbyists Lavishing Lucre on Lacklusters Like Him.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Mark your Calendar for Sept. 23, Loucks Auditorium: "On Paper Wings"

On Paper Wings ~ documentary screening

Tuesday, September 23, 7:00 pm       
FREE: Sponsored by the Salem Public Library Foundation. 

On Paper Wings is the story of four Japanese women who worked on World War II balloon bombs, the civilians affected on the Oregon coast, and the project to fold a thousand paper cranes as an act of reconciliation between the women who made the balloon bomb paper and the loved ones of the family killed that day.

Ilana Sol is a filmmaker and archival researcher living in Portland, Oregon.  When her hobby of historical research led her to find out about the Japanese balloon bombs, she soon found herself spending hundreds of hours researching these bizarre weapons, and traveling thousands of miles to meet with those affected by them.
Japanese Women visit Bly
The group of Japanese women visit Bly, Oregon in 1996.
Ilana Sol

On Paper Wings ~ documentary screening

More on downtown parking: constructive feedback beats punitive fines

The problems with meter-paid parking adopted in isolation deserve a much longer look, which requires more time which is, alas, fleeting.

But we can say one thing for sure off the top:

Regardless of how parking overstays are identified and sanctions administered, the parking ticket is a terrible, destructive, counterproductive thing.

Parking tickets are uniquely terrible because they are negative random sanction applied only AFTER the undesired behavior and they have the net effect of giving the downtown visitor -- the people we spend lots of time and money to lure downtown -- a smelly turd with which to commemorate their visit.

Because they're a punitive sanction, they implicate due process rights, which means they're inflexible -- the person who overstays because their counselor made a real breakthrough and spent extra time with them gets the same parking ticket as the person who just ignored the whole limited time thing. The person who overstays because getting measured and fitted for a suit took longer than expected gets the same ticket as the kid who just got distracted by the other kids at the park.

Further, if there is a "victim" in people parking too long downtown, the victims are the downtown businesses who want customers, not the city. But who gets the fine today? The city.

Sanctions are most effective when the victim of the violation gets some restitution for the harm they felt, not when a distant third party gets paid. With parking tickets, a third party, the city, gets the restitution (the fine). People see this as creating a financial incentive to issue tickets. Which has a grain of truth, because parking enforcement is crazy expensive -- a costly force of municipal employees whose job it is to go around and drop smelly turds on the windshields of the people who might just be the very people we've been trying to bring downtown for ages.

In a two-party relationship -- a married couple, or customers and businesses -- there is a feedback loop in which each side "negotiates" with the other by adjusting their behavior to accommodate their differing preferences optimally.

We know that drivers want, among other things, infinite free parking, all located right in front of wherever they want to be that instant; businesses want to be located in a busy downtown that attracts customers, which necessarily means limited parking availability. They eventually reach equilibrium, with both parties trying to optimize the relationship so that each one gets as much as possible of what they want while the relationship continues.

But when you add an inflexible third party -- the city -- into the relationship, it works terribly in terms of allowing for flexibility and feedback. By its nature, legal/judicial punishment systems can't be very flexible -- unless people are generally treated the same, it makes people furious and litigious. People faced with this system opt out, because the third party won't make any accommodations to their various needs and preferences. In the context of downtown, opt out is exactly what we don't want folks to do.

So it's a pretty horrible system all around. It pisses off and frustrates the people you are trying to attract. Its administered by bureaucratic fiat that then requires a very expensive quasi-police system to enforce, backed up by an even more expensive legal/judicial bureaucracy. And the net effect harms the businesses who we're supposedly helping.

There's a lot more to say, but in the meantime, if parking time limits are going to be used in just downtown, at least try to limit the damage by addressing these issues. How?

Easy: adjust the "parking ticket" so that most parking tickets that most people get are mainly feedback (more instructive) and only a very, very mild sanction (less punitive). And you do that by, as much as possible, getting the city out of the picture in most cases.


Again, simple: make the downtown parking ticket a into a gentle reminder that produces more of what everyone wants: people doing business downtown. You do that by setting up a system where the first few parking tickets a person gets can either be paid (as now) OR be forgiven if the driver does what we want: spends money with downtown businesses.

Under this system, imagine you get a $15 parking ticket. instead of being furious or stressed (and for a lot of working folks, a $15 unplanned fine is a huge stressor), you see on the envelope a list of all the downtown businesses in the "Welcome Downtown" district and you notice that if you spend $100 with any of the businesses on that list in the next 7 days, you can staple the receipts to the ticket and turn it in at any of the businesses and it is forgiven.

It's still a sanction -- but it's a pretty mild one, and it can leave both the driver and downtown businesses better off directly. The driver gets a gentle reminder rather than a slap in the face, and businesses enjoy the prospect of customers looking to spend enough money on goods and services downtown to get the ticket forgiven.

There are other layers to address for repeat offenders, etc. but the general idea is so much better than what we do now (and what has helped empty other downtowns) that it would be really nice if the various downtown factions could unite around the idea of designing a less punitive, less bureaucratic, more positive system for regulating downtown parking.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Even the Washington Post gets it -- why not Salem City Council?

The Washington Post has long since stopped deserving to live off the acclaim earned during  Watergate. It is now a fount of clich├ęd, conventional wisdom, always happy to be calling for more bombing of the wogs in some distant land, pro-corporate in its bones, and greatly corrupted by its close ties to the Pentagon and the rarely intelligent Intelligence hydra of three-letter agencies.

And yet, even the Post gets that if we don't arrest our headlong rush into climate chaos, it's game over for civilized humanity -- and with that goes freedom and democracy.  Neither of which are going to have much of a chance once the bodies of people really start piling up from disasters caused by a destabilized climate.  We are already seeing entire families of other species at the base of the food web being wiped out or threatened with extinction.  And History shows that, when the hairless ape tribes feel existential threats, out goes the veneer of civilization and the rule of law, and in comes the rule of force.  

If you want a preview of what life under climate chaos will be like in the former USA, just think about the worst parts of Africa since colonialism-- a constant parade of murderous thugs fighting over spoils in a general environment of suffering and viciousness.

Yet our so-called city leaders -- the folks on the Salem City Council -- refuse to even acknowledge the problem or put Salem on the list with thousands of other cities . . . and EVERY OTHER CITY OF ANY SIZE IN OREGON . . . to commit themselves to taking action to reverse the terrifying trend that leads to a very different, much less hospitable planetary ecosystem. 

On Sunday, September 21, citizens from all over the world will demonstrate in New York City to demand that global leaders respond to the threat. 

And there will be a local action too, at the Eco-Ball at Riverfront Park, there will be a Rally for Climate Justice for the Future, a call for the Salem City Council to wake up to their moral duty to help preserve a livable climate for all future generations, starting with the children of today.  

Stay tuned for more details.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sound the General Alarm: Latest ice loss data

If you have kids or grand kids -- indeed, basically, if you give a damn about anyone but yourself -- this should terrify you and galvanize you into demanding a serious response to the impending climate chaos on the same scale as the threat, which makes all others seem trivial.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."
> Doubling time for ice loss rate on the order of 3-5 years?! No wonder I recently heard of a climate change expert saying his biggest worry was not methane burps, but gulf stream conveyor belt slowdown/stoppage.

Paul Evans for House District 20

Of the few competitive races for Oregon State House, this one takes the cake for showing what a terribly screwed up election system we have, where gerrymandering can make the lightest lightweight of the favored party a real threat to beat a far more accomplished and far worthier candidate.

 If, like me, you live in one of the many districts in Oregon that are completely uncompetitive thanks to the nature of single member districts and gerrymandering, please support Paul Evans for House District 20.  

Paul faces an uphill battle registration-wise, but he is such a superior candidate that this is a very winnable race. Except for the partisan label, his opponent wouldn't even be able to credibly run against Paul on accomplishments; but, as it is, she has a built-in base that threatens to allow her to win this seat that is an open seat for the first time in a long time.

Even though this is not my district, I gave big (as micro donors go) to help elect Paul Evans, and I hope you will too.
All Oregon will all be better off for it.


Paul Evans for House District 20

Dear John --

With your help, we've been able to overcome many challenges; however, the closer we get to Election Day, the more hurdles we face. The race for our district is one of the most competitive races in Oregon this year. We need your help, now more than ever. There's a lot at stake this election, John - can I count on you to chip in $10?

All my best,

Paul Evans


On Saturday we had over 35 individuals, including Representative Rob Nosse from Portland, join us for door-knocking in Salem. In total, we were able to knock on over 700 doors - wow! Help us continue building momentum for this grassroots movement by signing up to volunteer!

In addition, Stand for Children, the National Association of Social Workers, and the End Violence Against Women PAC have recently chosen to endorse my campaign and join 25 others who have done the same!

I also completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge! You can watch the video here!

Upcoming Events

September 17: Mental Heath Forum
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Paul Evans for House District 20 · United States
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

WHITE DEATH: Robert Lustig: the man who believes sugar is poison

Meanwhile, how much sugar being peddled to kids in S-K Schools?

See also the new movie FED UP.  
Another important feature seen in Salem thanks to Salem Progressive Film Series.

Robert Lustig: the man who believes sugar is poison | Life and style | The Guardian

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

The end of brick and mortar retail?

The parking meters in downtown question MUST NOT be addressed in isolation from other forces at work in Salem.

For example, take Salem's new-ish Peak Sports on State St., a terrific addition to downtown and to Salem. Peak's lease rate, like all rents downtown, was negotiated and set without meter paid parking on the horizon. Add metered parking to the mix while the rents stay fixed under the leases and you have a great recipe for even more empty storefronts in Salem, which is already precariously close to tipping into a vicious cycle of decline.

Peak now faces REI in the hideous sprawl plex called Keizer Station, in an environment where all retail stores, including both Peak and REI, are struggling to adapt to the cut-throat competition of Amazon. Amazon's whole business model is exploiting the tax advantage it gains by not paying any, while it enjoys the use of the roads everywhere but pays nothing to maintain them.

Now add parking meters in downtown Salem only to that equation.

In a dynamic environment characterized by intense competition, very small factors that make one business less fit relative to competitors can have outsized consequences because our economic system is increasingly winner-take-all.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

DRAFT-- some tentative thoughts on parking meters and transport in Salem generally

I have been working sporadically for many months to come up with an approach to dealing with the nasty, sniping fight that has flared up over parking on Salem. I  wanted to have a more polished presentation ready before unveiling it but like all good intentions . . . Overtaken by events.

Anyway, here's a first draft of thoughts, dictated (so excuse typos), definitely subject to revision:

Q: why do you oppose parking meters in downtown Salem?

A: several reasons.

First, parking meters or a permanent and costly solution to a temporary problem, which will likely solve itself as continued high gas prices and increasing unaffordability of driving makes alternative approaches better equipped to succeed, without the nasty investment and then perpetual payback for meter infrastructure and upkeep.

Second, and this is related, is that solving the systemic problem in only one area simply disadvantages that area relative to the rest.

Third, there is the equity problem. In a city without a functioning transit system, There is a real equity problem in imposing parking meters that are not tied to ability to pay. The poor already spend a hugely disproportionate share of their income by having to have a car. Allowing free parking ramps, but making prime parking spaces on the street available for a price, continues the privatization of the public space, where those with wealth get to purchase the best of the public has provided for everyone and those without resources or shunted further and further away out of sight.

This is not to say that pricing is not a solution Salems parking problems. Only that it is important that the system must be treated first as the system and not as unrelated isolated problem. Parking is only a small part of the system problem.

Q: okay, then what is the solution?

A: I think the most productive path to a suite of positive approaches – what I am carefully trying not to call the solution — is to recognize that the paved roadway system is a network utility, like the electricity, Internet, telephones, water, natural gas, and sewer.

As many people have noted, the way we pay for transportation – the burden we place on the public system, and the imposition we inflict on those around us by our use of the network – is terribly illogically priced. 

Gasoline is probably the only logically priced part of the system, because gasoline is strictly priced according to use, and use roughly correlates with the weight of the vehicle, which is a proxy for the damage that the vehicle does to the public roadways. This is changing somewhat with the advent of electric and hybrid cars, but for all the publicity they get, they are still a trivial share of the driving we do, and so they do not change the fundamental reality that fuel is the only part of our transportation system that is logically priced according to use.

Q: so how does thinking of the transportation system, or the roadway system, as a network utility help anything?

A: the great thing about thinking of the roadway system as a network utility is that it immediately offers a wealth of alternative and experience from other systems about how other networks manage to sort out conflicting priorities and how to allocate the resource most efficiently and how those network managers deal with equity considerations within a larger price structure that allocate the resources according to ability to pay.

Q: such as?

A: consider how we are now dealing with storm water runoff, which is related to our sewage treatment costs. We used to hit everybody with basic sewer charges and that gigantic house with lots of concrete and impermeable surface pay the same for water stormwater runoff processing contribution as a tiny house with nothing but trees on the lot. Now we've gone to recognizing that different development patterns place different burdens on the stormwater runoff system. Each lot is considered individually, and they are charged a different assessment based on their fraction of impermeable surface – the surface that causes stormwater runoff.

The burdens on the roadway system can be assessed individually easily as well. Every business and residence in Salem places a call on the common resource – the roadway system. But the grandmother who long since stopped driving puts a very low call on the system compared to the busy house with 3 teens and two adults each of whom have a car or truck of their own. Essentially, grannies call on the system is the ability of emergency vehicles to reach her home when necessary. 

By placing the use of emergency vehicles into the general fund, and making public agencies pay for the transportation – whoever is the use of alternative one possible – it's possible to charge ready for her access to the service but she never uses in the same way that we all pay insurance quotes that we never use the insurance.

Q: what are you talking about?

A: i'm talking about paying for roads through a series of charges that are assessed on each address in on each vehicle in order to pay for a complete, functioning transit and roadway system. In other words, we reduce everybody's taxes by cutting their taxes , that is, taking off of their tax bills all the money currently being spent on transit and roadways. And then we change to fund those public goods -- those network services --  through a series of charges that are based on individual assessments rather than on property values.

The individual assessments are quantifiable, objective, fair, charges for the burden that each person at each address places on the network services — transit and roadways.

For residences, the charges start with each vehicle that is registered at each residence. The size and weight of the vehicle is the first consideration. That's pretty elementary, and pretty easy to do. You end up with a table that everyone can consider when shopping for a vehicle, and it really makes the decision to purchase a second vehicle or the first vehicle a big step up in fees— Which is another way to reward people for only having one vehicle or avoiding additional vehicles, and especially big reward for those who have no vehicles and who plays little or no demand on the roadway system through usage.

The second component of the roadway network utility charge for residents this has to do with accessability. Here, there is a reward for people who live in compact spacing and who will provide the density needed for efficient delivery of goods and services and support for transit. People who live in transit third areas will pay more on their network utility charge because of having access to transit. But they will pay less proportionately because of the density factors the excess ability of their home is hard and so many others will share the charges with them.

Contrary to that, is the people living in low-density suburban sprawl, the winding streets and cul-de-sacs that characterize places like West Salem. These are fantastically expensive places to serve with public services, and impossible to serve with transit. With a few residence per network mile, the charges for people living in those places will be much higher per capita. This is offset somewhat by the fact that those places tend to be much more affluent anyway. But, it's not about taxing based on income, but rather charging based on the costs that they impose on the system. Sprawl is simply so inefficient that it's impossible to serve inexpensively, and it has a lot to do with why Salem's budget is so broken.

But density is not the only factor. The location within the network is another factor for each residence. A high density unit on the edge of the city will pay more for the network utility charge than the same high density unit would pay in a more central location. Each address would have a computed accessibility score, which factors in the number of approaches – the number of nodes through which you can reach the point of analysis without duplicating the path — and in this analysis, the centralized network place is better than the place on the branch, because of the first number of paths to the same point suggest that the pressure will be distributed evenly around the residence, rather than building up pressure to expand the arteries on the network.

Thus, the person who lives in a transit served, dense area will pay little or nothing for the network utility charge directly if they choose not to have a car because they place little or no direct demand on the system. Conversely, if they choose not to have a car, but demand that services be delivered to them through a car or a truck, they will pay (through the price of the goods and services delivered to them) the prices that those service providers will pay in paying the network utility charge.

Q: how does billing work?

A: same as water and sewer bills now, only more predictable and efficient.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WORD: Kurt Vonnegut on Salem's Mania to Build a Giant Boondoggle Instead of Fixing What We Have

"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do the maintenance."

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

WORD -- Different rules apply

A most important article. As true in Salem as everyplace else.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cohen has been drinking fracking fluids again

Serious insanity by NYT's Cohen. Anyone who says USA is heading towards energy self sufficiency is either themselves innumerate, a con man, or way too trusting of those who are.

The magnetism of Silicon Valley may suggest that the United States, a young nation still, is Rome at the height of its power. American soft power is alive and well. America's capacity for reinvention, its looming self-sufficiency in energy, its good demographics and, not least, its hold on the world's imagination, all suggest vigor.

The Nation's editor has Washington Post column on fair representation voting for Congress

This is the uber-reform, the one that unlocks all the other reforms we need.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

We need a fairer system for choosing House members

By Katrina vanden Heuvel  August 19 at 8:48 AM

In the original conception of our Constitution, the House of Representatives was to be the branch of government that best reflected the will of the people. House members cannot serve without being elected — vacancies are not filled by appointees — and they must face the voters every two years. Notably, the House holds pride of place as the first branch of government to be described in the Constitution. The framers move directly from "We the People" to the House, underlining the notion that, for our Constitution (and our government) to function, representatives must be accountable to the people.

Unfortunately, as we near the 2014 midterm elections, the reality of House races today clashes with that goal.

Let's start with the connection between votes and seats. In 2012, we faced a major choice between the major parties and a mandate on President Obama's first term. In the presidential race, Obama defeated Mitt Romney in the national popular vote by almost three percentage points, and Republicans suffered the worst performance in Senate elections by any major party in a half-century.

In House races, Democratic nominees overcame incumbent advantages for Republicans and won the national popular vote by more than 1.1 million votes. By those numbers, Americans painted the Capitol royal blue. Shockingly, though, Republicans won 54 percent of the House seats,establishing for themselves a 33-seat majority. And looking ahead, analysts estimate that Democrats may need as much as 55 percent of the popular vote in November to secure a majority.

Such a disconnect between voters and those who are installed as their congressional leaders goes far beyond any distortion we've seen in the Electoral College in presidential elections. It's absolutely unacceptable in House elections, and it deserves far more debate than it has received.

The most-discussed culprit for the abysmal nature of House elections is gerrymandering. Every decade, states redraw congressional districts. Given the sophistication of today's technology, the growing partisan divide among voters and the relatively low-profile nature of the process, those in charge of mapping have the means, motive and opportunity to use redistricting to help their friends and hurt their enemies. Republicans in states such as Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia did just that. Barack Obama carried all those states in 2008, but today, Republicans hold a 68-31 edge in those states' House seats.

But while gerrymandering matters, we must think more broadly. The core problem turns out to be districting, not redistricting. Congress's 1967 law that mandates use of single-member districts for House elections has institutionalized the practice of shoehorning voters into boxes that restrict choices and distort representation. That is, districts are drawn in ways that lead to results predetermined by the powers that be. But today, there's a growing call, from members of Congress including James Clyburn (D-S.C.)to institutions such as the The Washington Post editorial board, to consider allowing voters to define their own representation in multi-seat district elections.

FairVote has created just such a fair-representation plan that Congress has full authority to establish. Every state would keep its same number of seats, but districts would be combined into larger districts drawn by independent commissions. Of critical importance: In each new "superdistrict," like-minded voters could elect candidates of choice in proportion to their share of the vote. To illustrate: In this "open-ticket system," a voter would cast a vote for one candidate. This vote counts for the candidate and, if that candidate is associated with a political party, also for that party. Seats are then allocated to parties in proportion to their share of the vote using a proportional-representation formula — like that used by Democrats to allocate convention delegates in their presidential primaries. Each party's share of seats is filled by its candidates who won the most votes. An independent wins by exceeding the minimum share of votes necessary to win. (Watch FairVote's excellent video for a primer on the system.)

In Massachusetts, for example, more than a third of the state's voters consistently vote Republican, but the GOP has not won a House seat there in two decades. Yet by consolidating Massachusetts's nine districts into three districts of three seats each, and by using a fair-representation system, that significant bloc of Republican votes would consistently win three — rather than zero — of Massachusetts's nine seats, a direct translation of the voters' will. Similarly, Democrats could end Republican monopolies and exaggerated majorities in states such as Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Although novel, fair representation has the potential to draw a strong coalition of support. Women, for example, are deeply underrepresented in House elections, with more than four in five seats still held by men, andwomen win about 10 percent more seats in multi-seat state-legislative and city-council elections than they do in congressional districts. Other supporters would be those in favor of 50-state parties, as we would engender two-party competition in every corner of the nation. Third parties would be able to field viable candidates, not mere spoilers, and our ideological polarization would be lessened with a new mix of representatives that better reflects the diversity of our thoughts and interests.

How we can move such a bold plan forward? To start, Democrats who are crafting a redistricting reform package should enable commissions to create such plans. State leaders should petition Congress for an exemption from the 1967 mandate. Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D) has proposed that two states that have done partisan gerrymanders — one for Democrats and one for Republicans — could even enter into an interstate compact in which they agree to utilize a fair-representation plan together.

We may have an opportunity this year. In July, Florida's congressional gerrymander was tossed out by a state judge on the grounds that two districts did not comply with the state's Fair District constitutional amendments, which had been approved by voters in 2010. A FairVote proposal has shown how, in a fair-representation system, the five Florida districts affected by the ruling could be combined into a single district, its representatives chosen by the open-ticket rule. It would make every voter count, provide fairer partisan representation and uphold the Voting Rights Act.

People are thinking creatively about how to re-energize American democracy. It is not acceptable to sit on our hands as we watch the value of a vote get more and more skewed. It's time to launch a drive for a fair-representation system for Congress so that the House of "We the People" can finally live up to its name.

Read more from Katrina vanden Heuvel's archive or follow her on Twitter.