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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

See him refer to himself in the 3rd person plural

"They're talking about PRT on MN Speak," the Minnesota anti-PRT Propagandist blogs today.

Of course, when you go there you discover the post is about him, and he's driving the discussion with his scattershot Talking Points, cartoons and distorted Photoshops. "Joe Sixpack" aka Johnny Rocketpack even chimes in with his regular lie® that the Denver Airport baggage sys- blah blah b- Zzzzzzzzz. Oh, and yet more guys who think referencing Marge vs. the Monorail is original thinking.

Also 11/27: "Interesting." See him pretend not to know the reason Taxi 2000 has no patents (of course he reads Weiner Watch -- it mentions his name!)

11/28: See him pretend again.
Plus, notice he cut-n-pasted the same Talking Point Tidbit in two different News-Leader threads: 1 .... 2
Bonus egg! -- Ken Avidor: non-digital mannequin

Be it ever so bumble, there's no place like Ken Avidor

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Why does he hate Shakespeare?

The Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist is trying his hand at cultural criticism, sniding at the Vectus brochure, "Really bad marketing blooper," with regard to the company's new brochure:

We know what he wants you to think: PRT = Huxley = Soma = dehumanized future.

That is the superficial, knee-jerk interpretation. As the rest of us know, Huxley's title refers to the line from Shakespeare's "The Tempest"--

"O brave new world, that hath such people in it." -Miranda

Huxley's story posits a nightmarish society in which many of the things that make us human have been banned, things like family, the arts,* books, science, religion, and philosophy.

PRT, a technology verified by scientific research, is therefore one of the things that would be banned in such a dehumanizing utopia.

Allow me to quote from the Wikipedia entry on Brave New World:
Additionally, stability has been achieved and is maintained via deliberately engineered and rigidly enforced social stratification. Source

Now, I'm not saying which is which, BUT-- which is the transit system of the Brave New World in Huxley's story: one that tells you what time you can travel, and that you tend to get better service if you live and work in redeveloped, gentrified areas? Or the one that includes a technology that lets you travel whenever you want, to and from anywhere you want, no matter who you are or where you live?

Obviously, Vectus would not want the negative comparison. PRT clearly adds to freedom of movement, choice and convenience, i.e. individuality. Therefore, the reference is meant to evoke Shakespeare, not Huxley; hope, not the nightmare. And any linkage to Huxley occurs in a context that Kenwood (again) shows he is oblivious to: irony.

Also today: People are asking about the Propagandist's new Upchuck video: "Has he purchased a tripod?"

* including Shakespeare, Kenmore-- this means Huxley's title is ironic
'Tis he, Ken Avidor, that hath done thee wrong.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Big Thanksgiving Turkey

Apparently, the best the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist can do for the Thanksgiving holiday is a quote from NEARLY THREE YEARS AGO (and just as articulate as he is). And already posted on his web page):

...the argument for the PRT system that exists out there is...well...this is a great way to add capacity very rapidly without...uh...since it's elevated you don't have the same problems with having to knock down houses and various other things...uh...y'know, but if you start looking at the system, the problem is there is no system.

if it's so great, then we'll see. If not, uh... why should we be subsidizing it?... certainly not to the tune of 600 million bucks... that's a ton of money...uh, it just doesn't make any sense to me.

I have to admit [David Strom is] consistent in his opposition to transit... even bogus, gadget transit. [ellipses in original] Source

Last time I wrote about how the typical, hysterical anti-PRT argument tends to get all convoluted, "allies become enemies and foes become friends," and we see that again here. Strom's Taxpayer League is conservative and opposed light rail, but Kenthorpe is enlisting him in the anti-PRT propaganda campaign. But wait -- isn't PRT supposed to be a right-wing anti-transit scam? Didn't Strom get the memo?

Either I have to remember to tell Larry Fabian not to give Strom his brown paper bag full of PRT cash this month, OR this is evidence that opposition to PRT, as well as support, crosses party lines. And the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist is a turkey.

Also: Track his latest Talking Point (has he never heard of CURTAINS?)

Roast a 20-22 lb. Ken Avidor at 400 degrees for 3 1/2 - 4 hours

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why Conspiracy

Why would Ken Avidor choose to create and promote a conspiracy theory? Why would anyone?

It seems like a no-win affair: whether a UFO cover-up, the Illuminati or Bigfoot, alleging conspiracy automatically puts one outside the mainstream.

My guess as to the answer is: CONTROL. When you blame everything on a conspiracy you can't lose.

(1) You get to define the conspiracy. Thus, a transit technology like PRT can really be anti-transit if there is an insidious conspiracy by anti-transit highway interests.

(2) You decide who are the conspirators. For example, liberals and conservatives, corporations and environmentalists, all agreeing on an issue, indicates divergent interests have put aside differences to work on something they agree is to their mutual advantage. Unless there is a conspiracy. UPDATE-- Ken Avidor uses LinkedIn to stalk PRT advocates (12/2).
(3) Facts are only as you see them. News stories you disagree with are "puff pieces." Peer-reviewed studies you disagree with? You guys buy those. Plus, by invalidating those puff pieces and bought-and-paid-for reports, you can keep on being the sole voice of truth crying in the wilderness. You can continue calling for investigations, even though those news stories and reports were investigations.
(4) You are the smart one. Because you define the conspiracy, you have all the answers. You get to say things like "I have proof of everything I say," and describe yourself as "perhaps the leading skeptic" of PRT -- even though all the proof is circumstantial, circular or plain wrong, and you are the leading authority only because you invented the conspiracy in the first place. But it feels good to be the keeper of secret knowledge; the people who believe you call you an "expert."

A word about words -- or rather, their meanings. For there's really nothing wrong with the word conspiracy per se-- but the common usage of the word gives it a certain je ne c'est plot.

In other words, in the popular consciousness there is a difference between a conspiracy and a plan.

For instance Hillary Clinton was right about there being a 'vast right wing conspiracy' against her husband. All the evidence about Richard Mellon Scaife, the Arkansas Project, etc. are in the public record. There was a group of people with right wing sympathies, linked by money and documents, working in concert against the Clinton presidency. But Hillary Clinton was ridiculed for calling it a conspiracy, because the general public doesn't give much credence to the existence of conspiracies. She should have called it a plan.

Hence, we can say that plans and conspiracies begin with theories. But plans go on to have provable facts that link together people -- causes and outcomes. Conspiracies, therefore, do not have these features.

So we can understand Ken Avidor the Minnesota anti-PRT Propagandist by recognizing the role conspiracy plays in his arguments, and the arguments of his followers.

The conspiracy.
Certainly Ken Avidor's free 'n' easy use of "scam" and "stalking horse" are prima facie evidence that he is alleging a conspiracy. He's even gone back over 30 years, unconvincingly trying to show that the conspiracy spans the ages.

In 2004, former Minneapolis Councilman Gary Dean Zimmermann, Rep. Mark Olson and then State Senator, now Congresswoman Michele Bachmann conspired to fleece Minnesota taxpayers with a multi-million dollar boondoggle called Personal Rapid Transit (PRT).
The conspirators.
Anyone who doesn't side with him is a PRTista or gadgetbahner. This is a reality where a multi-discipline civil engineering firm is only a highway contractor because it was involved with a PRT program. But if another firm agrees with him, its highway projects are ignored. One propaganda tool is The Pod Squad (right) -- presumably they have been convicted of something, or Avidor thinks ought to be, and all riding in a PRT vehicle. But the graphic and caption together are a deception: it conveys the message that PRT is a crime. But none of them were convicted for anything to do with PRT.

And what a poor group of disembodied heads they are: no PRT projects approved; no funds secured for PRT programs; no LRT projects stopped. Aha! This just means the Avidor is effective!

And Michele Bachmann? The so-called PRT bill she sponsored in 2004 was simply to add PRT to the long list of categories of projects for which Minnesota local governments may issue bonds. And her support for PRT was so deep, that was the first and last time she did anything on PRT's behalf. She is not a PRT supporter.

The secret knowledge.
It's all circular. Name one of Ken Avidor's claims -- every single one has been knocked down. Yet he continues to repeat them, and invent new ones. The ULTra PRT gets a development project? There is no project. There is? Then ULTra isn't really PRT. It is? Then ULTra is not really a clean all-electric vehicle!

* * *

Soon things become so convoluted that allies become enemies and foes become friends. Take the light rail-only posters the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist has cultivated on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Local Transit Forums. I won't name names, but two of them rhyme with Scroll Not Rolled To Mole Farriers and BihardBRANSITbadvocate. Read:

Posted by [Scroll Not Rolled To Mole Farriers ] at 11/2/07 7:40 p.m. in reply to: #1488320
Last edited at 11/2/07 7:54 p.m.
Now Sierra Club and Ron Sims are in the hunt for a better plan than what Prop 1 offers for its $157 billion in taxation over 50 years. It probably won't take Sierra Club and Sims the five years that ST required to come up with ST2.

So, let me get this straight, John Niles: you have now officially endorsed bad, shallow, and pie-in-the-sky conceptual planning and analysis? Isn't that how CETA came to embrace Monorail?

Figured out yet that Metro totally made up that 50k ridership figure, and that inflation will eat those new Rapid Ride service hours up in a giffy? [sic]

John Niles / Kemper Development Co have been talking up concept-only BRT for over 10 years now.

Now, Niles wants to "pass the torch" of phony support for his non-existent BRT plan to Ron Sims, and the kooks at the Sierra Club. Wow. I didn't know you could cop out on a cop-out!

Sierra Clubbers have a hidden agenda - they want to stop economic progress more than anything else...and hardcore tolling will definitely achieve that...

. . .
Posted by [Scroll Not Rolled To Mole Farriers] at 11/12/07 4:53 p.m. in reply to: #1504294
...When "Rapid Ride" begins service around the same time Central Link starts up, it will be clear to most people that Bus Rapid Transit is really just another way of saying "I was late, because my bus was caught in traffic." Metro could have included more capital amenities to make their slow, lumbering 2nd class buses try compete with light rail, but Sims chose quantity over quality.

A thoughful [sic] conservative would take a look at the operations and maintenance costs for running such a huge fleet of buses stuck in traffic, and see that Metro's .9 cent sales tax is getting eaten alive by inflation costs associated with having so many drivers, and so many internal combustion engines on the road.

But we don't have thoughtful conservatives here. Just the bomb throwing type. And the Interstate Era dinosaur road warriors.....

Posted by [BihardBRANSITbadvocate] at 11/12/07 5:14 p.m. in reply to: #1515781
Too bad there are no local versions of Paul Weyrich around here. He even gave Philadelphia good marks for getting Route 15 re-started with streetcars, although it sat for a little bit longer, because after the reconstruction, the neighborhood activists had their alderman block the re-start. Praising a rail line in Philadelphia when they supposedly have a working Bus Rapid Transit on the other side of the Alleghenies in Pittsburgh...

See what just happened?
(1) Buses were attacked because of their O&M costs. But light rail is nothing without bus feeder transit to increase the stations' rider catchment areas. Those costs will be incurred whether the primary line-haul mode is BRT or LRT. The real desire is for LRT, not budget savings.

(2) The Sierra Club (!) was attacked for not supporting the recent Seattle-area "Prop. 1" Roads+Transit measure, which would have authorized additional future LRT projects and highway projects. Sierra, a light rail supporter, decided it only wanted the light rail. In effect, Ken Avidor's running mates are attacking Sierra for being too pro-rail. The self-described anti-"road warrior" is really fine with roads, so long as it logrolls the desired technology, LRT, ASAP.

(3) Sierra's position is explained with a conspiracy theory--"a hidden agenda." That is how a venerable pro-environment group can disagree with you, the guardian of truth.

(4) Paul Weyrich (See his Right Wing connection, Part II, 5/30) is held up as an example of a conservative we need around here! Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, who once told a Resmuglican meeting:
I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as voting populace goes down. Source (Crooks and Liars)
This is a friend of transit? A man who espouses anti-democratic values that, if carried out, would make public transit impossible? Beyond espousal -- he has had the political resources to make it happen. But he happens to have a newsletter that says nice things about the desired technology, LRT, so the Propagandist's disciples love him.

(5) Neighborhood activists are on the wrong side because they delayed the Philadelphia Route 15 streetcar. Silly residents, thinking that what happens where they live is any of their business.

* * *

We started by asking "Why Conspiracy?" For Ken Avidor, our diagnosis is Control -- perpetuating his campaign by (mis)defining his opponents and a technology. Why that should be so important could be due to the conspiracy theorist having control issues.

But I'm not claiming to be an expert.

Ken Avidor is two - two - two mints in one

Friday, November 02, 2007

How about John Garamendi?

Remember John Garamendi, the Democratic Lieutenant Governor of California?

He met with a delegation from Sweden's IST (the podcar people) in January 2007. IST's visit followed a June 2006 memorandum of understanding between Sweden and California for an exchange on renewable fuel, energy and green transportation. Garamendi had only taken office on January 8, so the IST meeting was one of his first official acts as lieutenant governor. In April, IST met with Garamendi a second time.

Just more evidence disproving the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist's Talking Point that PRT is a right-wing anti-transit scam.

Is it possible this got started back in 2004, when Personal Rapid Transit appeared in the CalDems' platform?

The Propagandist gave the January meeting prominent coverage -- although he devoted his smearage to Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren.

Oddly, Labridor seemed to steer away from attacking Garamendi -- other than posting a photo (above) of him with Carlgren. Maybe Rodiva thought that'd put the fear of goddess into him.

Some background on Garamendi:

  • Peace Corps, 1966-68 (Ethiopia)
  • State Assemblyman (1974-76) and Senator (1976-90).
  • First California insurance commissioner, 1991-95 and again 2003-07; backs universal health coverage
  • Bruce Babbitt's Deputy Interior Secretary under Clinton; on the Clinton Administration negotiation team at the Kyoto Climate Change Conference; was one of the officials who sounded the alarm about the dangers to New Orleans of global climate change.
  • In run for lieutenant governor, at the time was only candidate anywhere to receive endorsement from Al Gore.
  • Currently being talked about as the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010.

And in case there are still lingering doubts as to Garamendi's Democratic bona fides, here is a video of his appearance on MSNBC, in which he slams Dubya's showboating on the California wildfires.

Yet to date Garamendi has not denounced PRT as a right-wing anti-transit scam. Clearly he is either (1) dumber than the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist, or (2) part of the conspiracy!

If he's not with Kenthorpe, he must be against him -- so Lt. Gov. John Garamendi is a PRTista, a tool of the anti-transit highway lobby! Is he one of those "left-wingers like Zimmermann"?

If so, shouldn't the Propagandist start smearing him straight away?

We're waiting!

The Ken Avidor / soon we'll be making another run / the Ken Avidor promises something for everyone