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

Friday, April 27, 2007

See him hopping down the bunny trail

In the last post (By Any Other Name, today) I added a bulletin about how Kiln Ovendoor the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist is copying "PRT Is a Joke" is a Joke, and started putting "Easter Eggs" at the end of his blog posts. For instance --

Ask Ken Avidor what he knows about the "Personal Rapid Transit" scam. Source

Some advice: hey Ken, a fundamental rule of Easter Eggs is that text has to be totally invisible. I can see yours, it is slightly gray; maybe you copied that from me too? Color code #f5f6f6?

Second, are you absolutely sure you want to ask people to ask you what you know about PRT? Because they're gonna find out you don't know squat.

And third, if you really want people to ask you, you need to turn your Commenting back on.


A Ken Avidor spill on Lake Superior was reported to the Coast Guard this morning --

By Any Other Name

One of the puzzling things about the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist is his difficulty with language.

The typos.
The punctuation (learn how to use ellipses, buddy).
And he's usually a punchline short of a joke.

Another aspect is the (almost) endearing awkwardness with which he tries to hurl insults. Let's look at his two favorite epithets.

1. "Gadgetbahn, gadgetbahnen" (over 170 hits. Created by Michael Setty of publictransit.us, earliest appearance in 2002). It's supposed to be an insult, but really now. Bahn means "road," but it also means "rail" -- Deutsche Bahn, for example, is the government-owned German railways agency. And people like gadgets, they find gadgets to be useful devices, otherwise they wouldn't want them. So, Labridor thinks calling PRT a useful device on rail is a slam? Pretty low on my list of fightin' words.

But, eager to get in on the Teutonic branding, last year Kenwood floated this trial balloon:

"I have a hypothesis; PRT seems to induce a magnetism (I call it Gadgetbahnism) that pulls all sorts of crack-pots into its orbit." Source

"Gadgetbahnism"??? Give me a freakin' break.

2. "PRTista, PRTistas" (35 hits, seems like more). It's PRT plus the Spanish version of the suffix -ist. In English, "PRTist." Objectively it means 'one who is of/with PRT.' But if you call someone a PRTista, the intended meaning is clear: the person in question is being likened to Nicaragua's Sandinistas.

This is only an insult if the people doing the namecalling don't like Sandinistas. Maybe it's just me, but I don't mind being lumped in with a left-wing political movement that toppled the U.S.-puppet Somoza, resisted death squads that were funded by Ollie North's illegal sale of weapons to Iran (and proceeds of drug smuggling), and, when they came to power, significantly reduced illiteracy.

Therefore I now formally claim these two non-insult insults for the pro-PRT side. Yeah, I'm a PRTista, and I like gadgetbahn -- so what of it?

Also today:
COPYCAT! Now he's putting Easter Eggs in his posts too. You know what they say about imitation and flattery.

"I like big Ken Avidor s and I cannot lie"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Back to the rumpus room for the anti-PRT propagandist

(Mock Journalist, Part Deux)
Did Slappy Olson go "berzerk"? Watch the really high-quality video posted by Avipoor the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist --

Video of Rep. Mark Olson Going Berzerk [sic] at Yesterday's Minnesota House Session
Only a day after a Judge postponed Rep. Mark Olson's trial for beating his wife, Olson went nuts on the House floor, ranting about suicide and death... watch:

H/T MN Publius.

Hey Kenwood, is that an HDTV set you've got there?

The problem here is not that Slappy is a right-wing Resmuglican -- he most assuredly is one -- or that he is trying to piggyback on the Virginia Tech massacre in order to politicize a debate (about voluntary mental health screening in schools, no less) -- that's what he's doing. The problem is that if those of us on the Left are going to call attention to it, it needs to be done accurately.

1. Did he go "berzerk"? He was certainly worked up by his own speechifying. Hard to tell without seeing more of his remarks. Verdict: Maybe. 2 out of 5 Accuracy Stars.

2. Was he "ranting about suicide and death"? This bears some inspection. Look at Olson while he is yelling: he is looking down at the paper. At this point in his remarks he is reading aloud!

What is he reading? Dunno. But "completed suicide" is a common psychiatric term. Slappy's probably reading from a report about suicide.

Go to the linked MN Publius post; at present there is an audio clip of this same "rant." When you listen, at the very beginning you can hear Olson say:
"next column"

He's reading a list from a table within a report!

So was he ranting? That particular clip may sound like insane chanting, but really he was Shouting While Quoting. Verdict: Obnoxious, yes. Ranting, no. 1 out of 5 Accuracy Stars.

That only this brief clip was offered points to the propaganda nature of its presentation. I can understand someone stumbling on the government cable channel while channel surfing and mistaking this for a wig-out. But Mr. Ovendoor was sitting in front of the TV in his family rumpus room for who knows how long, aiming his video camera at the screen to record Olson's every word.

He recorded the context. He simply chose to omit it.

As already noted, it is fact that Olson used Virginia Tech as an opportunity to politicize a proposal about voluntary mental health screening in schools. That was more than sufficient to call attention to his craven opportunism. Labridor chose to use out of context video to turn fact into propaganda.

The Dept. of Sanitation will not pick up your Ken Avidor if it contains more than 10% recyclable material.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

See him try to blog about another complex issue

It's always been my position that the U.S. Greens are flawed. They adopt extreme positions and stick to them with a no-compromise tenacity similar to that which the neocons hew to theirs. Often to my sensibility the Greens sound naive, which somewhat reflects the party's relative newness. No doubt my background in public policy has me lean toward neutral analysis and consensus-building, and away from the Right-Wrong formula that politics needs to follow. However, that doesn't mean the Greens deserve to be smeared by the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist --

Zimmermann Supporters Try to Shame Congressman Keith Ellison
Watch the second half of this You Tube video as Charley [sic] Underwood and Dave Bicking, two of Gary Dean Zimmermann's most ardent supporters and apologists make complete fools of themselves at at a meeting in Powderhorn Park, April 15, 2007:


The core of the position voiced by Underwood and Bicking is if you're against the war you should stop funding it. Yes, it's simple and yes, it ignores that there is a civil war, the result of the Resmuglicans' gross miscalculations. One can't help feel the whole U.S. bears moral responsibility and we shouldn't abruptly withdraw from a disastrous situation.

However, there's nothing in Underwood and Bicking's position that would rule out unilateral withdrawal being followed by deployment of U.N. peacekeepers, and the U.S. making financial restitution to Iraq via some neutral organization or country.

Did Underwood and Bicking try to "shame" Rep. Ellison? All they really did was articulately state their positions and challenge Ellison to match them. For his part, Ellison stated a very mainstream anti-Administration position.

Did they "make complete fools of themselves"? Hardly. Listen to the audience in the video: Underwood got APPLAUSE (@3:53 to go).

And it sounded as though Dave Bicking scored a point when he asked about redeployment -- Ellison voted for the surge, which includes Afghanistan too, is he against that part of the war? Ellison replied Yes, but said he didn't want to get locked into anything. That's not the sort of equivocation I would want myself saying archived on YouTube, although I do understand what he means and I'm not going to blame him for it. But I get what Bicking means too.

While I personally like to balance all the issues, Bicking, Underwood and many Americans (maybe even a majority) have made the war their single #1 issue. And it is stupid to attack Bicking, Underwood -- and by extension their position on Iraq -- just because of Zimmermann and PRT. One would think the anti-PRT propagandist would be able to identify with single issue voters, since he is one himself (1, 2, 3)

Iraq and Afghanistan are complex issues that are confounding people a lot smarter than the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist. But why is he trying to blog about this issue anyway? Probably all he cares about is how al-Maliki, al-Sadr and Karzai stand on PRT.


P.S. - again with the ego: Labridor is not mentioned in the video, yet once again he tags the post with his own name.
When a marsupial gives birth, the Ken Avidor crawls into the mother's pouch to complete development

Monday, April 16, 2007

We can answer his question with one word

The Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist recently snided the following about incarcerated ex-Minneapolis councilman Lee Harvey- er, Gary Dean Zimmermann --

At the time of his trial, Gary Dean Zimmermann had a court-appointed lawyer. Zimmermann claimed he was broke.

According to the City of Minneapolis website, Zimmermann still owns 3 properties worth $794,500. How is that possible?

2200 Clinton Av. S. $226,500
2012 Grand Av. S. $389,500
2416 - 17th Av. S. $178,500


Like anyone who lives in the real world of paycheck to paycheck, month to month budgeting, the intelligent reader can think of one -- extremely obvious -- possibility:


Think before you type, Kenmore.

The "fifth Beatle" Ken Avidor mainly stood at the back.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

End of an era for the anti-PRT propagandist

Today marks the end of an era in the low-down dirty disinformation campaign of Nedken Labridor, the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist. That era, which shall forever be known as "Wednesday," was the day that Avidor tried to imagine some mileage in "The CPRT Not in the Living Green Expo This Year?" (4/11)

I know we've covered this type of Talking Point before, but please try to stay awake and the debunking will proceed in an expedient manner.

Hearsay #1
"They were [at the Expo] in 2005 and 2006... don't see them on the Transportation exhibitor's list this year." [ellipses in original]

Yes they were there. In fact, to quote a source close to the CPRT (Kenwood still won't try to get answers to his questions the way a good TC Daily Planet Transportation Editor should)--

Living Green Expo always has given CPRT one of the best booth spots because they think our focus is important.

Hearsay #2
"Maybe someone complained?"

What??!!! Who on earth would do that? Oh right: he would --

last year one of the organizers told me Ken Avidor called trying to talk them out of having us there... He noted that it seemed Ken was making it a REALLY personal issue. He asked me if we had materials slamming other modes of transit. I described what our materials look like and he didn't see any problem with it. But I'll bet Ken thinks he managed to get us kicked out.

Hearsay #3
"...or [ellipses in original] maybe it's because PRT isn't popular in Minnesota anymore as the shortage of posts to this PRT Yahoo forum shows [image]

Ken Avidor and others like him are the reason nobody posts to the PRT talk list. The other PRT lists are moderated and he is blocked. Who wants to chat about PRT and have a liar twisting everything and then posting his lies on several blogs?

Ovipod's Wednesday Era comes to a screeching stop. See how easy that was?

As for being at the 2007 Expo, CPRT will have a presence, sources say. The group simply made other arrangements.

Democrats attacked the White House for replacing Carol Lam with Ken Avidor

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Surrealism? Dadaism?

The Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist is still trying to paint the pretty picture that if you're a PRT supporter you must be a right-winger. What I've been countering with is the truth that PRT is not "owned" by any particular party, and that plenty of progressives and neutral agencies support it too.

Here's another example. Which party came up with the original idea for an ULTra PRT system for Cardiff, Wales? If you buy the Propagandist's logic, it must be the Tories, right?

You would be incorrect. The party promoting ULTra over buses was Labour: the UK's traditional democratic socialist party. It was the less-left "Liberal Democratic" party that took the conservative position of sticking with what we know, are comfortable with, that doesn't involve change.

Also today: The Bloviador notes that Rep. Mark "Slappy" Olson sent out a crazy questionnaire. I don't know about crazy, but it is tiresomely Resmuglican -- transparently designed to elicit responses, among other things, against universal health care and for English-only laws. I would like to know, though, what's crazy about all-day kindergarten.

PRT isn't mentioned in the questionnaire, and neither is he. So why has Labridor tagged his post with "Personal Rapid Transit" and his own name? Ego much?

Ken Avidor will give your pet a healthy, glossy coat.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Mixed signals - is the Propagandist MIA from TCDP?

This is interesting.

The Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist's bio is no longer on the Twin Cities Daily Planet's Transportation page, and that page no longer lists him as Editor -- although he is still on the masthead page.

What's more, a search of the Planet's archive reveals no Avidor-authored pieces since December 2006. More significantly, a recent series on light rail (1, 2) was authored by Jane McClure, not you-know-who. And amazingly, it was followed by presentation of an actual opposing viewpoint -- by no less than Ed Felien, publisher of the Pulse weekly and Southside Pride community paper -- and defender of Nedken nemesis Dean Zimmermann.

The editorial message introducing Felien's piece carries the byline "TC Daily Planet" -- not Avidor.

It is difficult to believe these editorial decisions could have been made by Avidor. Can we hope the Planet has finally acted on his long record of inaccuracies and misrepresentations that we have documented?

Weather today is partly cloudy, high in the mid-50s with chance of Ken Avidor in the afternoon

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Nothing he writes can be trusted

Ah. Ken Avidor the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist. Are we ready to laugh?

In the recent post where he came up with his new Talking Point -- "the so-called PRT system that breaks down half the time" (See his sweeping generalization, 4/5) -- Avidor reported the following about the Morgantown PRT:

Recently a snowstorm shut down the PRT and buses has [sic] to shuttle the students around. Source
(congrats, by the way, on spelling "buses" correctly -- don't ever say I never said anything nice)

This is in line with his longstanding Talking Point that PRT can't operate in snow.

I've long since given up believing even the smallest thing he writes, so of course I checked the reference. What I found in the WVU Daily Athenaeum was this:
A car slid into a utility pole causing a large power outage on the Evansdale campus and in Westover, said Bob Roberts, WVU chief of Public Safety and Transportation.

The accident occurred around 8:30 a.m. and knocked power out for about an hour and a half, he said.

Generators kept many of the buildings in power, Lofstead said.

''I am sure some professors let classes out because they were in the dark,'' she said.

The power outage also shut down the PRT, Roberts said. That meant buses had to run the usual PRT routes, he said. Source

The PRT shut down in the snow, but not because of the snow.

Hey Avidor -- that's some really "accurate" "reporting" you've done there, you've really outdone yourself! What a great TC Daily Planet Transportation Editor you are, they must be so proud!

Sort of related: Rain shuts down New York trains (8/8)

Ken Avidor is the lowest selling type of Girl Scout Cookie

Thursday, April 05, 2007

See his sweeping generalization

Say, did you read the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist quoting new Kansas City (MO) Mayor Mark Funkhauser (Democrat -- yesss!), a West Virginia University alum?

Mark Funkhouser used to ride West Virginia University's Personal Rapid Transit system, which he recalled "was broken down half the time."...He says the PRT "wasn't really mass transit... Source (and congrats for finally learning how to use ellipses correctly)

Well, no, I agree -- how could it be mass transit, with only five stations?

A more complete excerpt from that portion of the Honorable Mr. Funkhauser's interview is:
He says the PRT "wasn't really mass transit," certainly not like the system Kansas City needs to develop. Source

I agree! Not a five-station, 1970s era PRT --even if it has run for millions of miles and still serves 15,000 daily passengers. In other words, what's the 'gotcha' that Avidor thinks he's reporting? Nothing! Come on Ken, get it together! You're the Transportation Editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet! Display some reading comprehension!

And of course, the Morgantown PRT doesn't really break down "half the time" -- that, class, is what they call hyperbole. A successful alumni trash-talking with his alma mater's campus newspaper. The M-PRT actually has 98 - 99% availability rate, as described in a peer-reviewed paper.

Anyways, Avidor now has a New Talking Point: "the so-called PRT system that breaks down half the time." Can you wait to see how many times he's going to use it? I can't!

Three: 2 to change the light bulb and 1 to hold the Ken Avidor

Monday, April 02, 2007

The closed circle

Knute Berger's maiden Mossback column for David Brewster's new Crosscut oped site is a meta discussion on discussions of racism in Seattle Public Schools. In it, Berger strikes a chord that rings an enormous "PRT Is a Joke is a Joke" bell --

The school district... has a problem with a kind of institutional political correctness that sees racism at the bottom of everything -- and this feeds a culture of aggrievement. It's at the point where everything in the schools is seen as racist. Two-tiered learning is racist. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning is racist. Closing schools is racist. Recess is racist. Summer vacation is racist. Even white charity to raise money and help fund enhanced programs is racist. No teacher, parent, or staff member, it seems, is ever accused of having good intentions, such as a simple desire to do the best for children in a flawed world.
In looking over my column, I was reminded that one of the examples of racist hegemony, according to the authors, was "discourse," the idea that rational discussion is itself racist. While relatively harmless as an academic mind game, I suppose, in the real world this construct is a recipe for toxic gridlock because it posits that the means of reaching understanding or a reasoned consensus are themselves suspect. How do you educate without discourse? How do you learn? And what are the alternatives?

What Berger has done here is identify a doctrinaire faction that has defined its operating environment in a circular way -- no matter what, the faction is always right.

Sound familiar?

In the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist's little universe, discourse about transit innovation is in itself anti-transit because, dammit, everyone knows that only light rail is worth having, case closed. Anything to the contrary -- even if objective -- is to be ruthlessly attacked. Those who want to 'reach understanding or reasoned consensus' about PRT 'are themselves suspect.'

PRT supporters "buy" reports with favorable findings. Reporters Laurie Blake and Britt Robson "report lies." Grist Magazine is helping to perpetrate "nonsense." Julie Risser is part of the Pod Squad for considering PRT. Reporter Zoe Naylor is to be taken as seriously as the actress of the same name -- "just for fun." A Democratic state senator is an "idiotic... nutcase" because one out of 99 bills he introduces is about PRT.

Not even elders are worthy of respect if they support PRT. Prof. J. Edward Anderson, still the "wacky professor," now "sounds way tired and way old." Ex-Navy aviator John Kropf is "cranky," and to be laughed at for making a toy train for children.

Kiln Ovendoor the anti-PRT propagandist: still klassy after all these years.

Also today: "Did Dutch Company Anonymously Edit Wikipedia Personal Rapid Transit Page?" Not if anyone, even a Labridor, can trace the DNS address! Is updating a URL now evidence of the "PRT scam"? (Remember: Avibore used to love Wikipedia until it stopped serving his purpose-- then he joined a Wikipedia Critics page. Now he's considered Not Good.)

Oh, and "40 km/h [25 m/ph]" will also be the average speed of Seattle's Central Link light rail (p. 9). Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Ken Avidor is a leading source of greenhouse gas