Lies, damned lies, and statistics

That’s enough time spent dwelling on the book, don’t you think?  Ready for something else?  A bit on economics………….perhaps?  Anyway, there’s a link to book sales on the side-bar now……..

On numbers:

Much of our life is influenced by ‘THE statistical-type numbers we read about from the value of the dollar, the number of people employed, the number of immigrants, number of books sold, stock market indexes, barrels of oil, GDP and so on. We gather data and we gather data in the form of numbers and measurements.  We then ‘crunch’ them, sort them, analyze them, account for them and reconcile them.  And then we call all that ‘the economy’.  WE (the people) don’t actually do much of that crunching ourselves – not as individuals, anyway. Government does that for us.  It is the government that knows the economy.

And, to coin a phrase; government is an ass.

Seems most of the numbers we and other countries have been using for the longest time are woefully inadequate and completely out of date.  The leading indicators are not, in fact, leading us anywhere except into ignorance.  We collect more data than ever before but we then make it conform to a leading indicator model like GDP which is not an indicator of anything anymore.  We are making BIG GIANT policy with all the wrong numbers.

All this came to light in a flash of insight recently for the US Bureau of Statistics that concluded the above and then readjusted the US GDP overnight by $400 billion dollars. In a blink, their economy morphed into something different than it was the day before.

This kind of news is boring for most people and so it should be.  The leading indicators are lies and the statistics used to create them are damned lies.  And we don’t really listen to them anyway.  Most of us just know ‘in our bones’ that they are wrong or irrelevant and that the cost of living, for example, is rising higher than official Stats Canada says it is. We know they are lying.

“But why would StatsCan lie?”

Well, there are a lot of reasons, many of which are political. The main reason, however, is that it is in the nature of a bureaucracy NOT to change what it does and has been doing yet it is in the nature of human endeavours to change all the time.  Virtually all the leading indicator formulas were designed just before or soon after the second world war.  That is when the revised definitions of what constituted employment, what constituted a service and what was a product was more well defined and so were the metrics for measuring it all for the purpose of describing the economy and the world in which we live.

And then along came computers and other interesting inventions.  Not to mention a gazillion new types of business.  Everything changed, but the founding metrics didn’t.

For instance;  if you buy a car, that purchase is ‘measured’ as part of the country’s GDP. But if you plan to buy a car and drive around to look at them for two months, that effort is not.  Translated on a larger scale :Inventions that make it to market are measured, research and development is NOT measured.  Think how that lack might skew Harper’s appreciation for research and the sciences? 

And that is just one small example.  It was that kind of realization that had the US Bureau of Statistics revise their numbers – they had not been giving value to R&D.

But they screw up in other ways, too.  Interestingly, they eventually came to measure natural disasters as part of GDP.  In a weird way.  New Orleans gets wiped out – and no measurement is made that impacts GDP (they don’t subtract).  Then New Orleans is later rebuilt: the rebuilding is measured and makes a big impact on GDP. The fact that the state of Louisiana has had no net improvement (even after reconstruction) and has suffered a great interruption belies the truth of it all.

“So, why tell me all this?

Well, mostly because the leading indicators indicate virtually nothing useful anymore.  So don’t look at them too seriously.  But the reason I am so interested is because I have a tendency to compare what I feel, see and know to what I am being told.  And, of course, I have concluded that the great THEY don’t tell the truth.  Now I know that half of that untruth is simply bad accounting.  They don’t KNOW the truth!

And I already knew the other half was just purposeful propaganda.

Bottom line: you have to look around and see what you see, you have to let your own senses tell you what’s what.  If you rely on StatsCan, the stock market indexes, the dollar, the price of real estate, you are, at best, getting a very inaccurate picture.

Probably the greatest single example (until recently) of a  major real-life indicator still unmeasured has been the air and water.  GDP would grow but liveability would diminish and even breathability was suffering in really bad places like big cities in China.  Rivers were and still are dying.  But health and well-being (nature or human) wasn’t measured and factored into any kind of economic metric.  Air and water weren’t ‘owned’ or taxed and so they weren’t measured.  A healthy river is NOT given a value nor is a polluted one.

Ergo: who cares?  Harper calls those who care about immeasureables,’ radicals’.

People measured particulates per million in our air and water but not in relation to human economic output. If it wasn’t linked to economics it wasn’t really measured.  Or valued anyway.  If it is not measured, it is ignored. And so China stupidly continued to poison it’s citizens and countryside blind to the cost of the cloud of poison in the sky and rivers. Until it was almost too late.  Maybe it is too late.  That scenario still has to play out.

“Is this an environmental rant?”

No.  This is simply a blog about lies, damned lies and statistics.  There would be no point, it seems, from believing any so-called facts from the likes of our official fact-deliverers (for the average Canadian that means media and politicians).  In other words: everything the media, the government, StatsCan, Prime Minister, Premier, Auditor General, Bank of Canada says is wrong and I think we can extrapolate that kind of mistake-sharing to all corporations, institutions and all officialdom.

Lesson: conduct your learning and thinking on your own and make your life decisions as if THEY (govt. et al) are purposefully lying, using the wrong numbers and/or are measuring the wrong things….’cause they are!

Fame! We’re gonna live forever!

Front CoverPlease forgive the lyrical title (from the musical, Fame).  But we are up and present on Amazon.com and Amazon.uk so the paper-version, printed-pages-and-cover book is now real!

http://www.amazon.com/Our-Life-Off-Grid-Couple/dp/0994014503

Although, Amazon.ca seems NOT YET to have it except in the Kindle version.  Sheesh!

This news is pretty good ’cause I had an interview on CBC Monday and I said it would be up in a day or so.  Thank God, it is!  The interview was only 6 minutes long on All Points West with Khalil Akhtar but that leaves only 9 minutes more to fill to satisfy my Andy Warhol’s quota of 15 minutes of fame.  Or one and half more interviews. Woohoo!

Oprah for nine minutes should do it, eh?

Now, just for the record: no one reading this has to buy the book.  You’ve likely already read it in blog-version, anyway.  The book is really just an interminable, mutated, cobbled blog diary hacked and blended into something half-readable by an editor who thinks the author mad most of the time, stupid all of the time and funny but once or twice every hundred pages.  Sal is pretty fond of me but she is still an enthusiastic and staunchly correct (politically, manners, subject and grammar) critic.  So, her reserved, British-side has curbed our optimism.  “We won’t get rich and famous and, if we do, it will be in spite of our literary abilities not because of them”.

Which is good because I would be weak around groupies.

But please feel free to take it out of the library – when they get it – which will be sooner rather than later if you make the request (hint).  You can use it for fire starter if you want because that will require the library to buy another copy.  In that way, we can guarantee sales without burdening our friends.

Anyway, we retain the movie rights.  That’s where all the action is.  We’re gonna get Willy to play the orca.  I figure Jack Black to play the raven, Kevin James to play me, Kiera Knightley will make a passable Sal if she works on her smile and builds some body strength while adding construction and literary skills to her haute cuisine abilities.  Make-up and special effects will have to make her cuter, tho.  Industrial Light and Magic if they want to get even close to the real Sally.

It may have to go animated….we’ll see.  Shrek could play me………….

Final Back Cover

 

 

 

Rah! Rah! Boo!

I have been holding off posting these past few days because I wanted to announce that the book (Our Life Off the Grid) had been published but – as of this writing – it is still a few days away.  Our part is done but it is stuck in the Amazon pipeline.  They figure to have it up before the end of the week.  E-books on Kindle and Smashwords are available now. 

http://www.amazon.com/Our-Life-Off-Grid-Couple/dp/0994014503

So, apologies for the delay in the special announcement.  Instead, we will resume our regular programming always in progress.  Back to RANTS by DAVID.  Lucky you.

Advertising on TV is expensive and it gets more expensive as the networks rank the popularity of their shows.  Famously, the most expensive ads are Superbowl ads and, of course, the most popular sitcoms Like the Big Bang Theory rank right up there.  Ads for prime-time TV run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for 15 seconds of exposure time. Typically, the companies with the greatest profit margins or largest market share take the most expensive slots and produce the most expensive ads.  Think: Coke, MacDonalds, Nissan, Ford, Tylenol, Charmin’ toilet paper and panty-liners.

Imagine my surprise to find that the greatest amount of expensive ad time lately is Canadian government sponsored propaganda.  I counted three out of four ads during a BIG Bang episode that boosted Confederation with John A MacDonald, Oil Pipelines as environmental stewards and a loan program for students to learn welding.  In a rub-it-in-your-face twist, the fourth ad was a repeat of the Confederation with John A. MacDonald ad.

The ad for John A. is blatant propaganda and even features a goal being scored by the Canadians at a World Cup event implying that the fathers of Confederation invented hockey or, at the very least, were in favour of it.  And we should all be proud.

Prior to that we were exposed to ads extolling the virtues and bravery of those who fought in the war of 1812.  That’s right, folks, stand up and be proud of your ancestors who fought the Americans two hundred years ago!  Before that we spent millions celebrating the ill-fated Franklin Expedition that saw dozens starve and freeze to death in the North.  For little or no reason.

How is it that a country that is dropping the ball on taking care of veterans, cutting back on health care and shorting education (except where they offer loans to young people) has millions if not billions to spend celebrating crap by advertising on the National Football League semi-finals?

Yesterdays NFL semi-finals were brought to you in large part by the Canadian government!

We shake our heads at the lies and propaganda of North Korea that deceive their people. We are alarmed at the lies and propaganda of the Chinese government that prohibit truth in the news and misinform the people.  We wonder at the mindless boosterism of the Americans and their false history movies, black flag ops, yellow ribbons, flags-on-porches and love-it-or-leave it slogans.  And we can only imagine the lies of Putin and African dictators as they lie to, rob and enslave their people.

But Harper is doing the same.  More subtly, I guess, but still pretty blatantly as far as I am concerned.  But subtle or blatant doesn’t matter.  Why is a government (a monopoly) spending our tax money to promote a distorted version of history massaged to look heroic?  Why are we being inundated with silly images of John A. MacDonald?  Does anyone in Canada want or even appreciate actors dressed in costume re-enacting some kind of perverted version of history?

When you combine the mis-telling of the lone nut-case shooting in Ottawa, the glorification of largely irrelevant history and the lies and obfuscations that passes for debate in parliament, when you add in the constant drum-beat for more police and security measures together with restricted freedoms and invasion of privacy and when you consider the abuses of power by big corporations, government and our very own police force, you have no choice but to compare all that to other dictatorial and corrupt governments throughout history and around the world.

And the comparison is getting way too similar.  It’s frightening.

Zombie Apocalypse – coming to a marketplace near you

Sorry.  I previously mentioned this.  This is just an update on the Zombie apocalypse which started last year, really.

Sal and I went driving by the unit block Hastings street in Vancouver late one dark and stormy night – near midnight – last year.  We were on our way home from somewhere and driving downtown was the straightest way home.  What I saw that night shocked me.  I witnessed what seemed like the initial ensemble of the Zombie invasionary strike force gathering in the shadows of the old, decrepit and vandalized three-story ex-BC Collateral pawn shop.  It was a horror show.

In the dark, in the rain, about 100 or so street people looking stricken and diseased, stumbled to and fro going nowhere in particular on that special block of inner-city Hell. Most seemed to be wearing dark, wet hoodies.  Or black plastic garbage bags.  Some were lying in heaps on the ground. Others stared vacantly at the traffic going by.  I have been to a lot of bad places on this planet and I have never seen anything that black, that bleak or that depressing.  Not the bad section of San Salvadore, not the back-street ghettos of Hong Kong, not in the jungles of Belize or Thailand.  Not even the Port Authority bus station in New York City.  It was so bad, it was as if some kind of an alien malignancy had literately manifested in human form right before my eyes.

As reported last year, I simply put my foot down a little further on the accelerator and wondered what the hell the world was coming to as we sped from the scene of the slime.

Last night we went again for dinner near there.  Favourite restaurant of a friend of mine. On the way in, we passed that same block.  There was more light.  It was not raining.  It was not as late.  But this time there were at least 200 people dressed in black and looking like the army of the dead.  And again, I was shocked.

We went for dinner and, while there, I decided I would slowly drive past the block and video it – which we did.  But WordPress won’t take such a big file so I will try to get it some other way (a link or something).  This requires ‘next generation’ assistance.

To be fair, half the tragically damned had already vacated the shadows by then and so the street was not quite as dreadful as I expected this time around.  In addition, there was a bit more street light and, upon closer examination, I saw some zombie-likes wearing some colour other than black. It was almost festive compared to my previous memory.

But the real surprise was in what they were really doing there.  It was a flea market of sorts – emphasis on fleas and viruses and other vile contagions.  These unfortunate but still extremely repulsive people were peddling their wares.  Doing transactions.  Making exchanges. Free enterprise was at work.

Admittedly, the value of the goods on display was several standards below what any normal person classifies as garbage if not medical waste or toxic and hazardous materials all amidst the ubiquitous used syringes and drugs and revolting human detritus of that kind of lifestyle.  Bloomingdales, it was not!  But it was clearly life-style shopping.

It was death-style shopping, actually.

It was still a massive horror show but it was last night revealed as a capitalist horror show of the lowest rung in society.  I guess our government would see that in a positive light. The trickle-down effect at work even in the gutters and shadows of midnight in the ghetto. The myth of equal opportunity being maintained.

‘Midnight!’?  Don’t kid yourself.  Not this time.  The pics were taken at 8:00 pm.  By midnight, it gets really scary.

 

Just a simple question…….

There is little doubt that there are Islamic fundamentalist-based terrorists.  Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and all that.  ISIL/ISIS.  What motivates them and ‘their followers’ is basically unfathomable to me* but they are there and they are doing bad stuff to all and sundry – including other Muslims.

There is little doubt that we have bad-to-the-bone whackos in our society, too, and they act out in harmful ways as well.  Even against other whackos.  Both sets of obvious evil-doers are indiscriminate as to their targets.  No one, it seems, is safe from their malevolence.  It is just plain dangerous out there.  They are all part of the dark-side, Luke.

Of course, not all bad guys acting out are Islamic mis-interpreters or even extremists of any philosophical kind and it would be a mistake to think that way.  But our everyday whackos are pretty indiscriminate, too.  We are afraid of them as well.  We got your garden-variety bad guys and your Islamic bad guys and, of course, the list of sub-category bad guys could go on and on. Hell’s Angels, Mafia, Red Scorpions, Triads, snakeheads, pervs, pedophiles and the PMO just to name a few.

So, why are our governments so quick to bunch your basic lone-whacko into the Islamic fundamentalist extremist mix? Hint: the main reason mankind accepted ‘governance’ in the first place was for protection or security reasons.  From the original big, tough guy in the tribal village to modern day tax collectors, we pay tribute to mean people so that they or the other mean people next door don’t hurt us.  Government is, more than anything, the protection racket.

Today’s best examples of this are not ISIL or Al Qaeda.  It is China and Russia.  Putin makes Osama bin Laden look like a choir boy.  The number of people killed by the Chinese government since 1950 is several times greater than the population of Canada.

So, given all that; given that all ‘other’ government bodies do bad stuff; given that the US has a recorded history of black flag ops, several assassinated leaders, the most people per capita in jail and the most powerful arsenal in the world, what makes you think they are all good guys in the US government?  What makes Canadians think their village tough guy is a good guy?

At the very least our so-called good guys lie and propagandize, steal and pollute, incarcerate and bully, pass laws to curb freedoms and enforce them through an ever-growing police force.  And they kill people.  If they are the good guys, it is not by much and their way of doing things is remarkably similar to the ways of the bad guys.

So, the question is: are we really governed by the good guys?  Or are our leaders just a bunch of bad guys of a different stripe who are, if results are anything to go by, just better at being thugs than the wanna-bes of ISIL and Al Qaeda?

*It is NOT unfathomable at all – it is simply the seeking of power.  But what makes that unfathomable is why someone would want power?  We all die eventually so even if you gain power, it is for a very limited time.  And, after so many members in your harem, so much money in your bank account and so many fancy cars to drive, what is the big pay-off from having power?

Something good in the city……I think….

…..I am not sure, actually.  It is good in principle but it feels weird to me.  I’m talking about ‘dog’ people.  What a bunch!

Sal makes me walk.  She thinks it is good for me.  And she thinks it is good for Fid, our dog.  That there is little distinction between us in her thinking process disturbs me.  She must think I am a dog.  Kinda.  Not as cute, tho.  She really likes it when we play together, that’s for sure.  In and of itself, that isn’t so bad.  But it seems I am dog #2. Fid is top dog. I am not happy about my place in the pecking (or peeing) order.

And every day we go to the beach and walk the dog(s).  And every day other people walk their dogs.  And some of those people are as ‘every day’ as we are.  Ergo – ‘dog’ people. We don’t know their names but we know their dog’s name.  That’s weird, don’t you think? We don’t talk about anything except our dog’s looks and behaviours but we do it every day and we do it with many of the same people.  That’s weird, too.

Are they all lottery winners?  Some are clearly trophy-wives but what of all the other ne’er do wells on the off-leash dog highway?  Shouldn’t they BE somewhere?

Occasionally, I hear Sal commenting to others on my looks and behaviours, too, but I am usually busy with a ball or something and don’t catch too much of it.  I am busy doing something.

The other day we saw Bentley but the people with him were not the same as the one we normally see.  “Who the hell are you!?  And what are you doing with Bentley?” I snarled.  

It turns out they were family members, not dog thieves.  Which is good because I was feeling protective all of a sudden.  My ears went back.  My lip had curled.  But Sal soon settled me down.  The young woman (daughter) was kind of attractive and, when I bent down to pet Bentley, she turned her back to me and presented, as they say.  I was tempted to sniff.

A sharp rebuke from Sal set me right.

Fid doesn’t normally consort with dogs.  Not his style.  I think he has sniffed fewer butts than even me!  He just ignores the four-legged altogether.  Looks down on them.  Unless he has to look up and then his manner changes somewhat but never in a ‘let’s do lunch’ kinda way.  He just walks away even faster.  He wants nothing to do with damn dogs! In that way, we are much the same.

The exception: his own kind.  Unless they are of the same breed, Fid is a snob.  Almost racist. Definitely elitist.  But Bentley is a Portugese Water Dog and so that explains our closeness to who-ever-she-is who owns him.

PWD owners are, themselves, a breed apart.  They tend to introduce themselves at dog parks, talk about PW dogs, talk about their dog’s genius and beauty and generally congratulate themselves on being owners of such fine canine specimens.  Like Ferrari owners or residents of Shaughnessy do.

It’s weird.

They go so far as to gather and walk together in PWD groups.  They ‘do’ Porty walks together. They gather in parking lots at a trail head somewhere and then ten or so dogs and an equal number (or more) of people walk along a trail waiting for their turn to pick up dog poop.  In the meantime (between canine bowel movements) they talk about their dog’s behaviours and good looks.  Ad nauseam.

This just does not make any real sense to me.  I just don’t get it.  I go.  But I go for the treats, ya know?  And the affection, of course.  I like the attention.  But I really don’t want to consort with any of the people,.  They are not my type.  Like Fid, I’m a bit of a snob, too, I guess.

Temporary failure to launch

Right now, if I am not bulldozing or consulting, I am walking the dog.  And, trust me, the dog and I are getting the bulk of the time so far this year.  Bulldozing ended with the rain (but maybe today will be dry enough) and consulting ended at Xmas.  From now on, it is just dogs and salvage and Craigslist. And socializing.  And counting down………….

Of course, we still have the book to launch but it has been caught up in the minutiae stage. The ‘print version’ is ready, the ‘Kindle’ version is ready and the e-reader (different from Kindle but suitable for libraries) version will be ready soon but all three take different formatting efforts and we are planning on a three-beachhead attack.  The plan: launch when ALL is ready!  L-minus 3 days and counting……..

And all is just not-quite ready………..not quite….just….not….details, details, details………

This is easy for me to say because Sal is doing it all.  It is she who has to marshal all the minutiae in the manuscript.  It is she who has to satisfy the publishing algorithm demands. It is all computer-robot-driven these days, it seems.  But she is becoming a publishing expert right before my eyes.  ‘Pixels’, ‘DPI’, ‘margins’, ‘fonts’, ‘points’, ‘indents’ and the like are sprinkled throughout her conversation only half of which is audible as she tends to talk to herself as she works.  I hear the swear words clearly, though, (and a sleeping Fiddich is launched to his feet!) but the rest is just a constant murmur as we sit and type together. And drink tea.

I’d rather be with Kubby.

Or my new-old, broken motorbike.  Which I have not yet had a chance to mess with.

Course, it could be worse.  I could be anywhere else in the rest of Canada covered in snow, shoveling, snow-blowing or trying to do stuff in 40 below.  For all my hearty, mountain-manliness, I am no longer interested in snow.  Not in the least.  Or mud.

Or mountains, now that I actually think about it.  Basically I am just a soft-pillow kinda mountain man. Like Pillsbury.  My mountain-manliness comes from the silhouette I cast rather than my interests.  I prefer gravel pits, beaches and off-the-leash parks now.

As you can see by this post, I am slipping into a drooling coma…..waiting on tenterhooks. Waiting for something to happen.  Celebrity.  Booker, Giller, Stephen Leacock.  Building damage, lawsuits, bleeding. Groupies.  Going fast out of control ’cause the throttle stuck! SOMETHING!

It is time to get 2015 on the road!

 

I blame Bill Cosby!

I am in no way inclined to defend the criminal justice system.  It is clearly broken and dysfunctional on so many levels.  From shooting and tasering of the mentally incompetent and innocent to trials that take decades and seem to be unduly influenced by expensive lawyers.  From systemic gender and racial bias to flagrant injustices against the poor and uneducated, it has been shown time and time again that it fails to adhere even to it’s own fundamental principles.  It seems, at times, that the law doesn’t even obey the law!  We are simply NOT all equal before the law.  We can’t rail against what is our so-called criminal justice system enough.

Having said that, it is all we have.  If we judge, condemn and sentence people without due process – however flawed that process – we have no justice system at all!  We have kangaroo courts prosecuted by allegations and gossip and the accused is unfairly sentenced to personal ruin and humiliation.  And what a jump that social kangaroo is taking with Bill Cosby!  What is happening to Bill Cosby is a travesty if not a crime.

But it is worse than just an unjust attack on a single person. THAT kind of injustice happens all the time.  This public skewering is, in effect, also a widespread repudiation of the entire legal system by the media and the drooling public and, it seems, the consequences of that be damned!

Of all the places for society to revolt against the system, they choose this sordid incident with which to do it!  What the hell?

Don’t get me wrong.  I tend to think that Cosby was a bit sleazy at the very least.  But it makes no difference what I think.  The man is innocent until PROVEN guilty.  Evidence has to be presented and testimony has to be delivered under oath and subject to cross examination. Anything less is third-world and barbaric.

Defending Cosby is hard to do mostly because the slander and libel and salacious media reporting is the only information being offered.  So, I won’t.  Instead read this as defending the legal system (and that makes me gag).  Here is a man accused of a crime by numerous people.  Charges may have been laid, I don’t know.  Makes no difference to me. Charges are not convictions.  So far, there is nothing that warrants the ruination of a person’s life, career and family that has been proven.  But that is what is happening to Cosby.

THAT is a crime, whether he is eventually proven guilty of one or not.

What about Jian?!  Well, he is a self-admitted sadist.  Not nice at all.  And he has been officially accused of ‘going too far’ and subsequently charged.  How that plays out will be interesting for some but, at the very least, the system is engaged in that accusation.  They may, as is too often the case, screw it up but at least both sides of the allegation will get their day in court.  But consider this: UNLESS Jian is proven 100% innocent on every charge and the pope publicly forgives him, he is still ruined.  The public has already ruled. His sentence has been levied already and any legal process is really just a salvage operation as far as he is concerned.

To me this is socially scary, illogical and self-defeating.  Already the system can accuse, try and convict (to death) a person on the street by the use of too-liberal force by the police.  Peaceful protesters can get arrested just for demonstrating and now require permits to do so. Hearings, Commissions and Review panels are restricted into impotence by their operating mandates. The voice of the people is being stifled everywhere and the life of the people is being threatened too often.

We don’t like that.  

But are we not protesting the rot in the system by simply attacking one of our own?  Is this what we do to protest unfair laws and the application of them…..we simply abandon justice when we find someone we don’t like anymore?  Isn’t this just another lynching conducted by millions of vigilantes?

Maybe we should be blaming ourselves (and definitely the media) for perverting the course of justice?

 

 

An argument for small towns

Seems I was not imagining things.  Vancouver is in the top ten worst congested cities in both the Americas.  Rio de Janeiro is the worst followed by Mexico City.  To be fair, that is according to one list, others rank them differently. Makes no difference – traffic is bad.

Vancouver is also going to float a referendum to increase the sales tax to help pay for more rapid transit.  This is on top of a levy that is added to all gasoline purchases.  Good luck!

Seems the planners have not noticed that mass transit has not relieved the traffic at all – in fact, it is worse since mass transit was introduced.  That should not come as a surprise to anyone. Virtually all cities with well-developed transit suffer grid-lock on the streets.  See London. See New York.  Even Hong Kong, with arguably the best transit system covering the smallest area with the most cooperative people, is jammed with traffic on the streets. Conclusion: mass transit makes travel worse.

“Dave!  That’s ridiculous.  If you manage to move more people by way of public transit, then that has to be an improvement for all.  Only makes sense.  That there is more traffic on the streets simply argues for more mass transit, not less.  Don’t be a fool!”  

Sorry.  My bad.  I’m an idiot. Mind you, London and New York do seem to indicate otherwise.  Still, I must be wrong.  I don’t have a degree in planning.  But I was thinking that way because I have just learned that clean hydro power causes much more pollution than even the already-in-place neighbourhood coal-fired plants in China.

In Burns’ words: “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ (planners) men gang aft a-gley”, [often go awry]

Seems the dams (there are 45,000 big dams in the world and half of them are in China) are somewhat seasonal or, for other reasons, their power generation fluctuates.  But the mere existence of a new dam attracts heavy industry and the heavy industry increases pollution in all their individual ways.  Plus, because the heavy industry can’t tolerate fluctuations in power, the utility company backs up the new power demands with even more coal-powered generators.  The once pristine area around a newly built dam quickly becomes a toxic industrial waste zone.

Anyway, I don’t care about logic and/or the narrow reasoning of planners. I am convinced that more public transit causes more traffic regardless of the arguments otherwise (hey, I am just exercising the non-logical, intuitive reasoning of my feminine side which is surprisingly correct most of the time).  It may be illogical, irrational and even counter intuitive but the results are indisputable.

Part of it is that the more the city accommodates people, the more people are attracted to the city and thus traffic increases.  Add to that the fact that most transit is one-trip-only (student from home to school, office worker to office…that kind of thing) and all those one-trip people need to invoke trades and deliveries – none of which can be done on transit – and right there, you have two people doing what in the old days was done by one.

And everyone who rides transit also has a car because, well, on the weekends they want to actually GO somewhere or because they have to shop and carry kids, do hobbies and get in a load of groceries.

Where there used to be one car, there is now a delivery truck, a bus and a sky-train PLUS the original car.

And don’t get me started on buses.  I see ‘em all the time and, except for rush hours, they are usually mostly empty.  Great big, slow-moving, always-stopping behemoths paralyzing the streets mostly under-utilized and seemingly picking up a high percentage of crazies and drunks.  Unless you are on a long, straight-line, one-stop-only trip, no one wants to ride the buses.

The truth is we already have roads.  And they go everywhere we are.  Maybe we can use them more efficiently?  Maybe we subsidize the purchase of really small cars and penalize the big limo-sized ones?  Maybe we put some of that transit money into developing pollution-free engines?  Maybe we stagger office hours and shopping hours by four hours? Maybe we restrict big trucks to after-hours (like in Germany)?  Maybe we just encourage more ride-sharing?

Or maybe we just recognize that mega-cities are just plain ugly, expensive and damaging to the area around them and all who inhabit them?

Maybe it is simply time to get out of them?

Job creativity

I like to think I work with my brain more than my ever-diminishing brawn.  Which has to be true since there is barely any trace of brawn left.  Mind you, finding brain is getting harder, too. Personal resource inventory is getting low.

“So, with no brawn and very little brain, waddya got?”

Not much.  But that’s where Kubby comes in.  Kubby-the-Kubota.  Oooh, the little cutie!

My friend, the contractor has his little front-end-loader (like a bigger BobCat) here at the construction site and his regular operator is off doing other stuff.  “Hey, Dave!  Wanna run the Kubota for a few days?”

So, now I get to wheel Kubby around the sloping terrain in an amateurish effort to clean the site up some.  Which should prove fun.  If there is a problem, (and there is) it is that Kubby is about 7 feet wide and space restrictions all around the property are much the same. Maybe an inch or two to spare.  Down by the pool with the long and fragile glass room extension, there is maybe 7’6″.  And I am going to be carrying pallets of loosely stacked granite stone.

“Unh, you got insurance, right?  Plenty of it?”

“Just be careful, OK?”

Creativity is not about making something from nothing.  It is about making something from nothing while accepting some significant constraints.  For instance, a painting is limited by the medium (acrylics, oils, water colours), the frame size, the material on which the paint is placed and the subject matter at hand. In my example, I am constrained by space, lack of skill, fragile boundaries (the building) and topography (Sal thinks I will end up upside down in the lower tennis court covered in granite blocks).  I have physics and gravity working against me, too.  One way or the other, I will make a spectacle of it.

Think of me as the van Gogh of site clean-up and hope that only my ear is in any kind of danger.