Friday, July 31, 2015

The crippling blindness of the punditry]

I normally like the CSM, but publishing this idiot has me doubting things.
If there's anything that's true about the United States of Amnesia, it's that our crisis of armed violence against African-Americans has everything to do with decisions of the founders.

All of this happened in the wake of the tragic and totally senseless shooting in Charleston, S.C., an event that had little if nothing to do with any of our Founding Fathers.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The other most under-appreciated president ever nails it at 90

(LBJ being the other)

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

WORD: Catholic Nun Explains Pro-Life In A Way That Will Stun Many

> "I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sugar, the sweet poison

The most familiar chemical additive may be the most deadly.

The Evidence Supports Artificial Sweeteners Over Sugar - The New York Times

Shared via my feedly reader

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Krugman nails conservative "analyses"

As in so many cases, the self-styled hardheaded realists are nothing but phony blowhards who start with the desired answer (cut taxes and regulation, privatize, etc.) and reason backwards to their desired policy prescriptions (cut taxes, privatize, etc.)

The real reason conservatives want to do away with Medicare has always been political: It's the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful. But when they make their case to the public they usually shy away from making their real case, and have even, incredibly, sometimes posed as the program's defenders against liberals and their death panels.

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Noam Chomsky: Bubble Tests Yield Meaningless Rankings - Living in Dialogue

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

Transit districts, not cities should be the ones to tax and regulate Uber/Lyft type services

Portland and Salem are both taking steps to try and figure out rules for the new "network" rideshare providers like Uber and Lyft.

This is because cities see these services as competitors to taxi services, which cities have historically regulated.

So this is a good opportunity to fix a historically based regulatory mismatch at the same time as promoting a general improvement in the public welfare.

First, the right local government to regulate the Ubers and Lyfts are the transit districts, not the cities. This is because, done right, these network rideshare services can fill gaps in the transit services, and augment mobility.

Second, the Ubers and Lyfts have to help with the challenge of ADA transportation burdens, which have all been dumped on the transit systems -- which is wrong, but right now, that's the state of play. What "helping" means is that every Uber and Lyft ride that is NOT in a vehicle capable of giving a handicapped person a ride is taxed, with the tax going to the transit system. Probably, the natural setpoint for this tax is the regular single-trip busfare for the number of riders.

The Ubers and Lyfts will howl, of course, since their business model is to avoid responsibility for anything they can avoid, to boost profits. But we don't have to listen to the howling. In Salem and Portland, the threat of Uber isn't just that it will kill cabs --- it's the threat to transit systems that should concern us. If these new networked ride providers succeed, it will be at the expense of the regular transit system, leaving an even worse budget calamity for supporting ADA accessibility.

Third, and in partial compensation for the tax, is that for every rideshare vehicle that IS capable of transporting the handicapped, the transit system should pay the fare whenever a person who could call on the paratransit service uses the Uber or Lyft ride instead. In other words, we make the paratransit system a true alternative that offers disabled people something like equivalent mobility 24/7.

Fourth, all networked rideshare providers pay a small transit tax on each ride, regardless of whether the vehicle is handicapped accessible or not, but the tax is only during those hours when the transit system is in operation. So during regular hours, riders using a networked provider help support the transit system that they will want to fall back on during those moments when Uber and Lyft don't have a vehicle available, or when their "surge" pricing makes them unattractive.  But there's no such tax in the middle of the night when the transit system isn't running.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

THIS. Brilliant.

This is so great. I'm not much of a weightlifter -- slices of pizza being my heaviest lift most days -- but this is a great example of a deep insight.

So many problems in society need a dose of this kind of thinking: Instead of adding force and insisting that the solution is more power (more of what is already not working), why not reverse the problem and see an elegant solution.

There's an important lesson here, with applications everywhere, for all who have eyes to see.

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

There's a simple way to end gerrymandering. Too bad Congress made it illegal. - Vox 

Years back, a law professor told me that when she teaches a class on the drawing of legislative districts, she leaves the issue of multi-member districts for last because it solves all the problems too well and makes the rest of the material uninteresting.

I was reminded of that when I read Kim Soffen's Upshot column about the way geography rather than gerrymandering disadvantages Democrats in Florida when it comes to the US House of Representatives. . . .  

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Salem -- whistling past the earthquake warnings

Fellow Salem blog HinesSight points to the important New Yorker story on The Big One that's coming on a date to be determined (after the fact), a date which will truly Live in Infamy long after the original date that earned that title is forgotten.

Perhaps lyrical New Yorker prose can wake up and convince the so-called leaders of Salem to actually lead an appropriate effort -- that is, an emergency effort -- to make Salem earthquake resilient, which would start with getting all the public safety folks and their offices out of City Hall NOW, and distributing them into several of the many suitable, newer (designed for earthquakes) empty buildings sitting unused. 

That's probably job 1 -- increase the survival rate of public safety folks.  If the Big quake hits on a weekday morning now, as things are, few city employees will survive to blame for letting volunteer politicians mislead and misdirect our priorities so badly. 

If I were the Chief of Police, I would tell the Mayor and City Manager that they have 30 days to negotiate leases and move all the police offices into facilities spread across town, but whether they've done it or not, on Day 31, the Salem police will not be in working in the tombs-to-be on the bottom of three stories of flattened concrete. Let them Mayor and Manager try to fire the Chief who has the courage and foresight to actually do the job required of a leader.

There are lots of other quake preparedness jobs the city should be leading -- helping residents identify and fix what is fixable in their homes (and to finance such improvements), instead of squandering our wealth on ever more foolish giveaways to try and restart the sprawl era. 

There's plenty of economic development work right here -- making what we have survivable and investing in people and in procedures and preparedness for what we know is coming.

People of Pacific Northwest: be scared, very scared. The Big One is coming.
// HinesSight

If you live in Oregon, Washington, northern California, or British Columbia, you MUST do this -- read a scarily truthful story in The New Yorker, "The Really Big One: an earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest; the question is when.

The Big One

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

How Salem can get its streetcars back -- Wireless Streetcar Arrives in Rio [feedly]


Wireless Streetcar Arrives in Rio
// Next City Daily

The first of 32 Alstom Citadis wireless streetcars arrived in Rio de Janeiro last week. (Credit: Alstom)

Rio Gets Its First Wireless Tram

Railway Gazette International reports that the first of 32 Alstom Citadis wireless streetcars arrived in Rio de Janeiro last week to test the power supply system on a new catenary-free tram line that is set to begin service in time for the 2016 Olympic Games.

The 28-km, 37-stop line is being built by VLT Carioca, a consortium of Brazilian and French rail transport and technology firms. VLT Carioca in turn awarded Alstom a €230 million ($254.5 million U.S.) turnkey contract to construct the line using its APS wire-free power supply system. The system transmits electricity to the trams by energizing a third rail embedded in the pavement when cars pass over it; the rail is de-energized at other times. The trams also have supercapacitors to store energy generated during braking.

The test tram took 20 days to get to Rio from Alstom's plant in La Rochelle, France. Four more trams will be built in La Rochelle, and the other 27 trams that will provide service on the line are being built in a new factory Alstom built in Taubaté in São Paulo state.
The line's 14-km-long initial section will open in mid-2016, in time for the Olympics.

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

Saturday, July 11, 2015

At last, as micro-step in the right direction of INCREASING library services

Most of Salem is still grossly underserved by libraries, and most of the people who most need library access have the hardest time doing so — what with both libraries located within a mile of each other in the old downtown core area and West Salem — but at least we're finally reversing the starvation trend and increasing hours. 

Now, the fact that there's no transit service on Sunday is another matter entirely — so the increase should have been to open the main branch on Mondays before Sundays, since the buses run on Mondays.

But any progress away from the cut-cut-cut mentality that has been in place is still welcome.

Library Open Sunday!
Beginning THIS SUNDAY July 12, 2015 and for the first time ever, the main branch of the Library will be open Sundays FROM 1-5 PM over the summer months (just not the September holiday weekend). As part of this year's budget, Salem City Council and the Budget Committee expanded the Library's hours to include summer Sundays. To learn more about summer learning fun, including at the Library featuring comedians, teen talent contest, magicians and jugglers, check out

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

Minerva's Most Memorable Lesson: The Science of Active Learning | EdSurge News

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

Friday, July 10, 2015

Why Standardized Testing in Schools is Utter Folly

The whole notion of evaluating teachers via student standardized tests is utter nonsense from the git-go because you have two independent, uncontrolled variables — students and teachers.

The only way you could use standardized tests to evaluate anything is to reduce the independent variables down to one: you either

Have just one teacher teaching all tested students in the same way (thereby allowing you to at least argue that variations in student performance are rooted in the students, although there are a host of variables that could affect those), or

Have only uniformly prepared and proficient students be taught by various teachers before administering the tests (thereby allowing you to isolate teaching as the variable).

Since neither of these conditions can or could ever obtain, the whole exercise is folly — expensive, destructive folly. Like private prisons, standardized tests are a case of snake-oil peddlers convincing the rubes that they need what the peddler is selling, and once they buy, they're hooked and hornswaggled into buying more and more, like the alcoholic who wants more of the hair of the dog that bit him.

To the test peddlers, there's no problem in education that can't be addressed with more and more "accountability" -- for everyone but them.

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

Welcome to the Future: Talking Resilience with Chuck Collins

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

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Generocity Philosophy host Kim Trumbo speaks at Salem Public Library

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

Generosity Philosophy Podcaster Speaks at Salem Public Library
Kim Trumbo, creator of the Generosity Philosophy Podcast will appear at Salem Public Library on July 14 at 7 p.m. in Anderson Room A. This program is free and open to the public.
Each Generosity Philosophy episode focuses on an individual or group that has either identified a need in their community and taken action to address it, or recognized an opportunity for positive action and found a way to make it happen. Kim describes her subjects as "heroes who live to give". Since her weekly podcast launched in 2013, she has interviewed nearly 100 people who have found creative ways to benefit others. Her interview subjects have included developers of websites and apps, individuals who have found ways to repurpose everything from hotel soap to funeral flowers, people who have found ways to distribute clothing and other goods to those who need them most, and many more. Some of her subjects live near her Aumsville home, while other hail from across the globe. All have made their communities and the world better through ideas put into action. The Generosity Philosophy podcast is available for free download on iTunes and Stitcher.
Kim will talk about the lessons she's learned from the many people she has interviewed for her show, and there will be time at the end of her presentation for Q & A. She is also the author of a children's book, George, the Generous Giraffe. Copies of her book will be available for sale and signing. More information on Kim's projects can be found at her website, For more information on this and other programs at Salem Public Library, call 503-588-6052 or visit


Local Heroes Need & Deserve Support: Northwest Hub Indiegogo Campaign -- Let's Get With It!

Story Updates 0 Comments 2 Funders 12
The Northwest Hub provides access to inexpensive transportation by reclaiming used bikes.
Cory Heintz
Salem, Oregon
United States
1 Team Member
Contact See More Details
The Northwest Hub is a not for profit full service bicycle shop, bike reclamation program and training center. Proceeds from our cycling center directly serve neighbors in need of transportation who "purchase" a bike through service to our community. Through recycling, reclamation, training and redistribution, the NW Hub provides affordable services and sales to the general public and free bicycles, locks, parts, repair training and vocational rehabilitation to adults and at-risk youth.
We recently received backing from a local business to cover the rent and utilities of a retail space for one year. However, we are still in need of further tooling and supplies to train and mobilize our community in need and make bicycles accessible to all, whatever their income. Every $100 donated enables us to train, empower, and mobilize one person in need of skills and transportation. 
Please help us reach our goal!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl -- at Salem Cinema

Not to be missed. Lil' ol' Salem has a movie house that's the equal of any on the West Coast.