Fact-Checking the "PRT Boondoggle" Blog
A project of the PRT NewsCenter

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mr. Electron

A basic building block of the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist is that he is oh so negative. Even where his campaign endorsements are concerned, he can only tell you what to vote against--such as his use of the familiar mock-church sign.

He's so busy hating advancements in transit technology, he forgot to get in a word for his own candidate. Here's a little help:

Why can't he be positive? Is it so hard for him to make an affirmative statement?

vote Jim Huhtala

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

False Accusation (I can do this all day)

Here's another example of how Ken Avidor the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist cherrypicks information to suit his agenda (Redefining success, 9/22). It seems ATS Ltd., the maker of the ULTra PRT, wants a new CEO. The stated reason is that current chief Martin Lowson's experience is mainly in research & development. Avidor does not develop an argument about this, he merely asks the reader if it's a "shake up." So what if it were?

Update (11/4 - Exclusive!): Martin Lowson himself informs "PRT Is a Joke" Is a Joke of an additional factor in the CEO search: he and ATS wish to have someone who could lead the company for the next ten years. Says Lowson-- "This does mean someone younger."
Avidor then writes the name Trevor Smallwood 'caught his eye.' Trevor Smallwood, OBE, has been on ATS's board for six years. Right; he just happened to notice it. Don't you think that really what happened is that Avidor Googled every name associated with ATS, until he found something smear-worthy?

Now, what's your guess as to how
Ken Avidor attacked Mr. Smallwood? If you guessed Trevor Smallwood is anti-transit, come on down and pick up the keys to your new Oldsmobile! It seems Smallwood co-founded a private transit company, First Group. Avidor writes:

First Group doesn't seem to have a very good reputation among transit riders in the U.K.:

Around 300 people marched through Sheffield last Saturday to protest against First’s bus fares rise. As one woman put it, "I only want to ride on the bus, not buy it!"
Let's think about that. One protest reflects a national consensus? Does he mean all the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? It's a small country, but not that small! And how about the Falkland Islands? Plus, does he think that no public transit agency has ever raised fares?

Then to twist the knife, he mentions a 1999 rail tragedy in which a train operated by First Group was one of those involved:

First seems to be one of the the worst when it comes to privatizing transit:
In 1999, First defended its profits rise despite being the operator of one of the trains involved in the Paddington rail crash of that year, insisting that profits were not being prioritised above safety.
But what does the record show? Mr.
Avidor seems to like the BBC, so let's ask them:
In Context

Investigations revealed how 31 people died and dozens were injured because of a head-on collision when one of the trains passed a red signal.

Public inquiries were headed by Scottish judge Lord Cullen. He made dozens of safety recommendations and concluded Railtrack, the company then in charge of rail infrastructure and its investment, had failed to respond to earlier warnings about signalling problems. Source
Railtrack was singled out. Not First Group. (1, 2)

What does
Avidor write next?
Interesting that First operates a fleet of school buses in America. The potential for growth in the corporate school bus business lies mainly in the creation of suburban sprawl rather than transit-oriented communities. Can't have those kids walking or taking transit to school.
Exsqueeze me? First Group did not invent the concept of privately owned school bus companies! The yellow school bus operating under school district contract is a tradition going back decades. And since when are school buses not "transit"?

Why is he bashing school buses? School bus hater!

Archive: Mock Journalist (7/10)

It would take 8 seconds for Ken Avidor to come to a complete stop

You get your money's worth

Why, why, why does anyone consider Koney Aviblair, Prime Sinister of the anti-technology nation, to be a journalist? The proprietor of Lloydletta/Dumps seems impressed by him because he doesn't charge her for his work. But anyone else?

Here's a link to his most recent piece of slanted manipulations, give it a read and then come right back. I'll wait. You might want to open it in a new window.

All done? Let's begin. The "excellent Light Rail Now article" he mentions is an anonymous, non-peer reviewed hack job that has been debunked numerous times on basic errors of fact and logic. That he thinks it "excellent" indicates a high likelihood that he is its author. Furthermore, all four of the examples he goes on to cite have errors of fact, blatant misrepresentation, and beating the dead horse:

1.a. CPRT's website: talk about misinformation! Yes, what dark, shameful things can be imagined from their site being down? How about the very common occurance of their webmaster forgetting to renew their domain registration? What happened to the days when journalists called sources and interviewed people-- that is, why didn't he just ask them why the site was down? (See also #3.)

Updated 10/2/06: cprt.org is back on line. -Ed.

1.b. CPRT and the IRS. A CPRT official tells this reporter that the IRS sent them a memo relating to Labridor's charges, saying they were told to put some boilerplate language on the website (Talking Point Compost, 7/25) which the CPRT board had to approve. In other words, not an IRS censure of CPRT. More like, Dear CPRT: Please post this so the strange man will leave us alone. Sincerely yours, The IRS.

And yet Kenwood is throwing around the "electioneering" charge. Does he know something else that CPRT isn't saying? How could he know that something if it hasn't been publicized? Unless he has a secret source--but if he does, why withhold it? What kind of "journalist" (other than your Robert Novak types) would make unsupported claims, or withhold important facts?

2. ULTra, Wales and E.D.I.C.T. The Prime Sinister attempts sleight of hand on this one. The ULTra system is not a golf cart, and its configuration had nothing to do with its apparent cancellation by Wales. It was, just as related by the very passage he quotes, due to political resistance.

Furthermore, the big-bad acronym "E.D.I.C.T." stands for "Evaluation and Demonstration of Innovative City Transport," and its edict.info site is no longer operating because the "E" part was completed 3 years ago. Much of the findings are now found at the linked European Union site, EU Research, about PRT and the Wales test program.

What kind of "journalist" (other than your Sean Hannity types) claims a project has been "flushed down the memory hole," but for his "proof" cites an official government page that is actually an enthusiastic endorsement? Speaking of memory holes, Avisnore somehow omits the fact that the EU is backing the current installation (the "D" part of E.D.I.C.T.) of ULTra (the "I" part) at Heathrow Airport.

3. Skyweb Express. Why doesn't he just ask them what they're up to, instead of repeating this No News Is Bad News talking point? Oh, but he's poisoned any hope of his ever having a journalistic relationship with Taxi 2000 (unless it's the type the paparazzi have with Brad & Angelina). This reporter is not surprised that any company with a vehement critic such as Avismores would keep its cards close to the vest.

What kind of "reporter" (other than your Jayson Blair types) covers a subject, but has no communication with that subject? No wonder he has to guess, and Make It Up.

4. Skyloop. Of course Skyloop seems dead, it has no reason to be active. It was not a PRT system, but rather a citizen committee with official standing that chose PRT as its preferred technology. But the consultant hired by the metropolitan planning agency to evaluate the committee's PRT plan blew the analysis. The MPA decided not to proceed with PRT, to which the citizen committee still objects.

But this has been documented many times, and Avibore knows it. What kind of "journalist" (other than your Brit Hume types) clings to a fixed political agenda rather than take objective facts into account?

Kenmore (the Happy Deleter) is not the "owner" of either the Dump Mark Olson or Dump Michele Bachmann blogs. It is a mystery why the actual owner continues to allow him free run of those blogs to practice such inaccurate faux journalism.

The More You Know: Want to learn more about the Minnesota anti-PRT propadandist? Do you like comment-spam about Buffalo sports franchises? Then remember to check out the new blog Weiner Watch!


Friday, September 22, 2006

Redefining success

Every once in a while, Ken Avidor the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist likes to engage in a hearty round of self-congratulatory back-patting. Now is one of those times.

Let's reflect for a moment on the inputs that led to this egotistical output. What are the dependent variables of his anti-technology crusade?

  • He urges Democrats to support light rail; he attacks Resmuglicans for not supporting light rail; he then acts as though no one else could predict Ds and Rs would take those positions.
  • He conflates a public policy choice to adopt existing technology in the short term with with the viability of a developing technology in the medium term or long term. When it comes to major public works, the public sector tends to prefer dominant paradigms almost by default--but he claims victory anyway.
  • He attacks third and minor-party candidates for supporting PRT; he then claims those low-polling candidates lost because of PRT.
  • To low-polling candidates who normally don't attract much attention, his flurry of attacks on a single issue takes on the appearance of great importance. They scramble to adjust their PRT stance (because that's politics), and give Ken more influence than he deserves (giving him the benefit of the doubt because they don't know his anti-technology campaign is an obsession).
In other words, he sets really easy hurdles for himself, then struts around crowing when they come to pass.

I would like to propose an alternative method for evaluating Ken Avidor's effectiveness. It's quite simple: How many active PRT programs exist today, compared with when he started his systematic attacks on personal rapid transit and its supporters?

Then: Three programs (Taxi 2000, ULTra, Skytran)

Today: Ten programs--
ULTra-European Union-BAA
POSCO Vectus-Uppsala University
Skyweb (Taxi 2000)
Skycab-Swedish Rail Agency-city of Hofors
Korean Railroad Research Institute
EcoTaxi APGM-Techvilla
Unimodal (Skytran)

Congratulations, Kendoll. You're so effective.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Editor's note: Welcome P-I readers!

If you're visiting based on yesterday's recommendation by the "PRTskeptic" in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Local Transit Forum, thanks for stopping by!

A few clarifications and explanations for new readers.

First, if you're not familiar with the term gadgetbahn, it is a made-up word used by people who are against innovation in transportation technology. They apply the word to any new transport technology they don't like, basically anything invented after 1897--the monorail was invented c. 1898. Why they are such reactionaries, I couldn't hazard to guess.

Second, people who wield the gadgetbahn paintbrush are notoriously inaccurate. For example, this blog is not primarily about these new transit technologies. Rather, this blog is about HIM, the "PRTskeptic." He hates it when people don't refer to him by name--so I don't. Instead, I humorously call him by names that rhyme with his real name, or parody his real name. Often I call him "the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist." Sometimes I just spell his name with exclamation points or asterisks. It's all in fun! Which brings us to the

Third thing, which is: the motif of this blog is liberal-progressive-motivated Funny! Humor, satire and parody are the Best Practice when writing about the "PRTskeptic," because his record of innaccuracy and distortion makes serious debunking difficult. And boring. Kiln Ovendoor (an example of a homophone of his name) has demonstrated many times that his Achilles Heel is a pronounced lack of a sense of humor. So it's more effective, as well as more enjoyable for everyone, if we just relax and have fun with it!

However, I pledge to always have truth at the core of every post.

So feel free to have a look around! Check out previous posts, as well as the Links and Best Of lists in the sidebar. It's great to have you here. Visit often!

P.S. Thanks for the endorsement, Kenwood!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why does he hate pirates?

Once again demonstrating his supreme lack of a sense of humor, the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist ruined International Talk Like a Pirate Day for millions of children all over the internation. He did it on his Michele-Bachmann-spankin' new blog, Green Party Gone Bad, when he began using the Ejection Seat on this reporter's pirate-motif comments.

Why does he hate talking like pirates? Why does he hate the little children who want to talk like pirates? Why does he hate comedy and America???

His ostenible justification was that the comments were "off-topic." However, his application of this new standard seems arbitrary and capricious.

1. The following, in direct response to his claim that what he is practicing is "muckraking," was deleted:

Cap'n_Blog said...

A question from the crew, Kap'n K@n:

How can what ye be doin' be called "muckraking" when all ye be doin' is reprintin' and linkin' things that other gobs be postin'?

Yer posts here be containin' no investigatin' of yer own, only brief and subjective comment-arrrrrr-y.
2. A comment responding to his claim that candidate Mike Cavlan had "a meltdown,":
Mr_Grant said...

I say, old man, what's this "meltdown" you write of? Micko Cavlan is just talking like a Wodehousian character, satire-wise don't you know.

No. One guesses you don't.
Also deleted. Why does he hate P.G. Wodehouse?

3. Finally, when he announced the policy about off-topic comments, I wrote the following:
Cap'n_Grant said...


Arrrr, since ye are mentioning off-topicness, do ye mean off-topicness is the topic? Because I hope I am on-topic by pointi
ng out that ye often strays off-topic--here for instance.
Deleted! Three on-topic comments, all suppressed!

So: he earns a point for not shutting off comments entirely (like he did at Dump Mark Olson, (He's hiding from his readers, 7/26))-- but he loses 10 points for defining on-topic comments in such a way that would make the audience screener at a George W. Bush rally proud.

Also today: Introducing Weiner Watch. The community of blogs dedicated to the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist just grew by 100%!


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Hey kids! Heave-to for the words of Kaptain K@n, the Skeptical Terror of the High Seas (Lake Superior):

And where be his answer t' See His Right-Wing Connection (9/7)? Has he no answer, Jim-lad? Does his silence mean acknowledgement -- that his ship-mates be right-flippers? Be he offline while attendin' a Birch Society jamboree? Ahoy Kap'n K@n, what colors be ye flying from your mast?

Enjoy ITLPD at Kap'n K@n's Green Party Gone Bad

Followup: Why does he hate pirates?

Ken Avidor is a white whale

One for the la-dees

Hey everybody! The Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist may finally be joining me in a civilized dialogue over at Lloydletta!

Head on over there and see the length of his attention span!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

O the teethmarks

Remember the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist's insistence that there is no PRT planned for Dubai, that it's "bogus" (one of his three adjectives, the others being silly and wacky)? Remember how he confused Kuwait with Dubai, and didn't report what a Parsons Brinckerhoff rep had to say about PRT in Dubai?

What must it be like to be him? To desperately make a wild claim (such as "there is no PRT project at London's Heathrow"), then cross his fingers and hope it doesn't come back to bite him on the ass (as when the Heathrow project was splashed across British headlines)?

What will he think when he reads the following, f
rom the official site of the Dubai International Financial Centre project? One hopes he has a tube of Neosporin close by:

  • Land under development: 45 Hectares / 5 million sft
  • Around 40 Towers on a shared podium
  • Built up area (including parking): 4 million square meters / 45 million sft total
  • The above districts will consist of office towers, residential towers and hotel properties.
  • Over 45,000 knowledge workers...
  • An Internal Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) System to enable ease of movement both for the knowledge workers and residents of DIFC.

In other words, everything PRT advocates have been saying PRT can do: a transit network servicing a populous urban area. And everything Kiln Ovendoor says PRT can't do.

It must be sad to be him.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Asked and answered (and answered, and answered...)

True to his Talking Points Strategy (©Karl Rove), K. Opendoor the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist asks flawed questions, ignores the answers, then asks them again. And again; and again. The latest:

David, why are you PRTistas trying to get Bachmann, Olson and Vandeveer elected?
Do your liberal friends know that you support right-wingers?
(Cucking Stool, Sept. 6 5:55 pm)
As though I haven't already answered that a number of times, such as here (12/1/05), and the latest being here (DMO, July 12). He just doesn't get that supporting PRT doesn't mean you have to support pro-PRT candidates who hold objectionable positions on other issues. And I thought I was quite clear.

Kenwood, please make a note of this for your future reference!


Monday, September 11, 2006

The Path to Hiawatha Light Rail

I don't know David Greene. We would probably get along great. But the following statement, quoted by the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist at Dump Mark Olson, makes no sense at all:

Now, I was no fan of Dean [Zimmermann], I'll freely admit that. His work for PRT set back getting real transit going in the metro area quite a few years. In the end, he was a fairly ineffective councilmember but he did just enough damage to transit by diverting resources to pie-in-the-sky vaporware that has not a chance of succeeding. He simultaneously encouraged anti-transit legislators to gum up the conversation using calculated efforts to sell PRT as "real transit" in order to kill systems like LRT that are proven to work. This did not, in my mind, serve the community. Source
How can Dean Zimmermann be said to have "set back getting real transit" when Mr. Greene's preferred LRT program, the Hiawatha Line, broke ground in 2001 and opened in 2004-- all during Zimmermann's term in office? That said, what was the "just enough damage"? Where is the listing of resources that he alleges were diverted to PRT? How much money, exactly? How many miles of LRT could that have built? What state or local appropriations or tax credits did PRT receive? How much of that was actually diverted from light rail? Why then is Minnesota PRT development woefully underfunded? Did anti-transit legislators really need PRT, or Zimmermann's encouragement? They would have been anti-transit anyway.

Don't just parrot the conventional wisdom, especially when it's circulated by the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist. It's the right wing that blindly follows; you have to do your own homework.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

See his Right Wing connection!

From The Pulse (Minneapolis):

...local developer and right-wing pundit Jim Graham explained why he and his conservative friends had a party to celebrate Dean Zimmermann's conviction for bribery:

"I, and other neighborhood people, had requested County and Federal investigation into this situation for three years... The reason Barb Lickness and her friends had a party to celebrate his conviction was Zimmermann had crapped all over their neighborhood for four years to support the Sabri organization."
What's this??? Barb Lickness is a conservative friend of a right-wing developer/pundit? THE Barb Lickness??? The same Barb Lickness who has written at least one letter-to-the-editor against Personal Rapid Transit? A letter ghost-written by the Minnesota anti-PRT Propagandist (Puppetmaster, 9/13/2005)???

This is almost too delicious for words! For a long while now Kenwood has tried to characterize PRT as strictly a right-wing tool. He's even smeared liberal-ol'-me! Directly, by mentioning me in the same breath with Resmuglicans like Tom Delay (6/18/2005, 5:32 pm), and sneering at me "I thought you were a liberal." And indirectly, writing "right-wing bloggers... reminds me of the PRTista who has a blog about me, but spells my name with asterisks."

This time, the path starts with an actual right-winger, and leads straight to the front door of the "PRT Skeptic. "

Time to come clean, Mister Skeptic! What is the true nature of your relationship with Rep. Mark Olson? What is really behind your salacious focus on Sen. Michele Bachmann's hands (Mr. Peepers, 8/31)? How many properties do you rent from Steiner Development (See Him Bash Comedy Gold, 7/20)? What's the MPG on your Hummer? Are you now or have you ever been a subscriber to National Review???

Previously: Astroturf!-- Puppetmaster (9/13/2005)

Also today: See him slammed by a Green

From MnGreens.org discussion list:
"If politics was so easy and as black and white as this then we should begin building an alter [sic] to [!!!!!!] for his work in emphasizing that politics is not about a complete package, but about your stand on PRT. Modeling ourselves after [!!!!!!'s] merciless work attacking Greens like, Michael Cavlan, Dean Zimmermann, Julie Risser, and probably others in blogs yet unfound or unmade, is what other parties do with other issues and something we should avoid unless we desire living in political obscurity." --David Dittman, 9/6/2006

Ken Avidor exists only in simulation

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pablum Puker!

I've always wanted to use that expression in a headline, because for a while it seemed to be the catch phrase most associated with amateur pharmacist Rush Limbaugh.

Speaking of doctrinaire microcephalics, step into my time machine and journey back to the year 2000. Look! Over there! It's !!! !!!!!! the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist smearing another member of the PRT - cars - highways - Republican anti-lightrail conspiracy:

Posted at itdp.org

We have to assume the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist thinks American infants should leave the Single Occupancy Stroller at home, and instead walk, ride bikes and take light rail to work.

Say! Maybe right after !!!'s
light rail presentation (all those years ago) was allegedly "disrupted" by a PRT supporter, it was also interrupted by a crying baby! I knew there had to be a good reason.

Also today: Look who's been added to the Luv Pod Hagiography-- Minnesota state senate candidate Julie Risser (G-41). Go for it, Ovendoor! Who cares if she's for renewable energy and single-payer universal health, and wants more kids to walk to school? So what if she's against coal gasification? PRT is a way bigger issue! It's the single issue, right?


has cited disruption of a meeting as a key event in the formation of his anti-PRT views. Over the years, he has reported the incident variously as:

...a deranged man interrupted a workshop my wife and I were giving at Macalester College, shouting that PRT is the "only transportation solution", threw a dozen Taxi 2000 Corporation brochures at us and stormed out. Source (June 2004)

A PRT fanatic disrupted a workshop my wife and I were conducting years ago throwing Taxi brochures at us and screaming "PRT is the future!". Source (May 2005)

In one memorable encounter, a deranged man interrupted an art workshop my wife and I were giving at Macalester College, shouting that PRT is the "only transportation solution", threw a dozen Taxi 2000 Corporation brochures at us and stormed out. Source (September 2006)

A PRT enthusiast disrupted an art seminar my wife and I were conducting, yelling that public officials conspired to suppress PRT and threw Taxi 2000 brochures on the table. Source (October 2008)
These stories are identical -- other than the man is not always deranged, said three different things, and the flying brochures had two different targets.

The disrupted meeting is twice described as having been about "art." Only -- why would a PRT supporter come to an art workshop in the first place, PRT literature in hand. And why would transit arise as a topic of contention -- if the workshop was about art, is all I'm saying.

Ken Avidor is colicky