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

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It sounds familiar, somehow...

Yes, it's another end of another era for Kiln Ovendoor the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist:

The Dump Mark Olson Blog Going Back Into Mothballs

...I'm not going to be wasting time following the pathetic antics of Rep. Mark Olson or his pals the Personal Rapid Transit pod people anymore.


I know, he's declared victory so many times that his latest announcement of retirement from blogging is more underwhelming than usual.

The last time was when A Transportation Enthusiast and I called Kenwood on his kid-glove treatment of conservative Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg. This followed on the heels of his embarrassment over the Ray Cox Affair, as well as Poolgate and a smear on Cornell University.

Kennel Ration needed to lay low for a while, so he claimed a New Year resolution (more then 2 weeks after Jan. 1) to spend less time on the internet, and made himself scarce.

It lasted until June.

As for the newest 'retirement,' I had several premises to choose from for this post. There was:

"Regulators seize Dump Mark Olson - Value of
blogger retirement sinks on repeated erroneous prediction
of foes' demise"

Topical -- but too wordy. I could also have gone with:

"End of the Propagandist - A Transportation Enthusiast
orders flags to be flown at 99.999-hundredths staff"


"A&E starts 15-year countdown clock to
Propagandist's where-are-they-now retrospective"

Or even:

"Propagandist quits to spend more time with Michele Bachmann"

But I think one image is all we need:

Will he be back? Of course he will! He's gonna be bogged down in his ill-conceived War on Gadgetbahn for a hundred years!

You won't have Ken Avidor to kick around anymore

Friday, September 19, 2008

Against it before he was for it

Now he's an urban planner.

The city of Alameda (Kenwood claims he lives there) is working with the developer SunCal to redevelop Alameda Point, the site of the former Alameda Naval Air Station. Good idea? That's for the community to decide.

The Point is a sprawling 770 acre brownfield at the west end of Alameda's island.

One version of SunCal's proposal, option "B," was designed by reknowned planner Peter Calthorpe. The concept calls for 6,000 homes on 700 acres of the Point. This translates to 13,056 people on just over 1 square mile, nearly the density of San Francisco (16,634). Alameda's current density is on the order of 2500-ish per sq mi.

Calthorpe has designed it to have a PRT network, and SunCal wants to connect it to BART in Oakland. Therefore, Kenmore hates the "B" plan.

Kennel Ration says PRT is being put forward to get around environmental regulations that limit density, instead of offering "real solutions" for transit:

Is PRT also an Environmental Regulation-Busting Tool?[*]
. . .
PRT is being used to bamboozle citizens in Alameda into scrapping Measure A, a ballot initiative aimed to regulate development...

...The 1972 ballot initiative regulates lot size and forbids construction of housing units that would accommodate more than two families. The developer has put forward two potential options, both of which would require a ballot initiative, likely in 2009, that would waive Measure A at least at Alameda Point.
Instead of offering a real solution to the transportation needs of the people who move into those additional 2,000 units, Suncal offers an imaginary, snake-oil solution - PRT... CLEVER!!! Source

In other words, he is complaining the Point "B" plan ought to be using light rail. Here's his contradictory logic: with light rail, plan "B" would still be 13,056 people per sq mi. Hold on -- is that density "regulation-busting," or isn't it? Note also that Lubridor misrepresented Measure A's purpose -- it is not primarily to protect the environment, but to keep density low (no more than 2 families per lot). The slogan of the Keep Measure A campaign is "No Overcrowding."

But if the regulations aren't busted, that low density is not cost effective for light rail. And if you don't have density, the alternative is sprawl somewhere else. Humidor is either supporting Measure A against Smart Growth and higher densities that help any mass transit work better, or is fine with busting regulations if it is light rail doing the busting.

He's against Smart Growth before he was for it! He was a NIMBY until he wasn't!

Thermidor always thinks light rail is the solution and ignores the urban planning context. Now, I'm not an urban planner either. But I've looked at enough MUPs to notice some realities at Alameda that would render conventional, large-vehicle transit problematic, although not impossible.

It has to do with distance and cost. The most direct route for a light rail connection to BART is to go north about 1200 yards, to the West Oakland BART station.

Except there's something in the way: the Oakland Inner Harbor. This is a 300 yard wide navigable waterway. An expensive high bridge would be needed to cross it, in order to allow ocean-going freighters and the San Francisco ferries to pass beneath.

The alternative would be to run the light rail line east through the built-up area of Alameda. Not only would this create a beneficial transit connection to and for the rest of the city, but it would also allow light rail to cross the Inner Harbor channel at its narrowest point in the Fruitvale Bridge area, and then on to the Fruitvale BART station. These would be good results.

The problem is that it's about 4.8 miles to Fruitvale Bridge, and through the heart of town. Do you think Alameda or SunCal have $250 millionish for such a disruptive project? Light rail in this situation would be a non-starter politically. No redevelopment, no "busting" of regulations -- no Smart Growth. "CLEVER!!!"

* Notice his longtime and frequent use of the question mark. It's a classic cheat used by ignoramuses and propagandists -- a question mark turns a smear into a question. They don't really answer the question, they just present distortions, so to the casual reader it appears the smear is the answer to the question. Plus, if fact-checkers catch them lying, propagandists can use the excuse 'I was only asking a question.'

Someone's knockin' on my Ken Avidor, somebody's ringin' the bell

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday 16:35 PDT

I just posted the following on one of Kennel Ration's YouTubers:

Oh Ken. Ken, Ken, Ken. The "not feasible" statement has been retracted by the Irvine Director of Public Works: "We regret any misunderstanding that may have resulted due to our characterization of the availability of PRT to meet the City's criteria". [ link ]

That's the truth. Delete this comment and you're suppressing it.

Let's see how long it takes for him to hit the Delete!

Answer (9/20): about two days!
You know who else puts out smears and repeats them even after they're exposed?

Ken Avidor + Karl Rove = Ken McCainidor

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Propagandist lets loose with Cheney-like aim

The 2nd Podcar City Conference -- this time in Ithaca, New York -- has just concluded, which can mean only one thing: a Surge of anti-PRT propaganda from Kenthorpe Thermidor the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist.

If you get Google Alerts on PRT you've no doubt laffed at Kennel Ration's frantic, scattershot antics in the LA Times, Treehugger and the Cornell Sun. Therefore I won't do a detailed recitation here of his lame smears. Instead, I'll interpret (term from my museum NGO days) some of his Talking Points where they touch on broad PRT-related issues.

Hints of Dark Forces
"Who are the 'generous sponsors' funding this Podcar Conference?" he asks, linking to a page with no sponsor names at the website of conference organizer Podcar.org, the Institute of Sustainable Transportation (IST). In another example of his habitual or intentionally poor research, the list of sponsors is on a different page. The names on the list is further evidence of how PRT's support does not come from Dark Forces. The non-PRT sponsors are:

  • SIKA, a think tank under the Swedish Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications
  • Visit Ithaca, a tourism organization
  • Cornell University
  • Ithaca College Sustainability Program
  • Eco Village at Ithaca
  • Apricon, a Swedish project management firm
  • Chemung Canal Trust of Elmira NY
  • WNYY 1470AM Progressive Talk Radio
  • NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
  • Sustainable Tompkins
  • Alternatives credit union
  • C&S, a construction company with offices in seven states (four offices in New York)
  • Ithaca Carshare
  • Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, the Ithaca-area transit agency and a nonprofit company
Look at the number of progressive and/or environmental state and local organizations on the list! This is homegrown interest in PRT, not some outsider, top-down conspiracy -- which Kenwood claims when he alleges a shadowy "they" (unspecified) "were here in Minnesota four years ago." But IST was not in Minnesota in 2004; and Vectus PRT was not even on the map yet (POSCO didn't start it until 2005).

Rodiva also asks "Why are traditional transit organizations and professionals not participating?" -- well isn't TCAT, the Ithaca transit agency, 'traditional' enough for him?

Notice what group was not at the conference: the Discovery Institute. Fact: Discovery is trying to get Diesel Mobil Unit rail on King County's Eastside, which is a conventional rail technology!

"Ithaca Podcar Conference Charging Students $60," reads another Kenweed headline. Ignoring that it's a professional conference renting the Historic State Theater, so costs must be recouped. And it must have been OK since Cornell is a sponsor (see above); the $60 student price was a $30 discount.

Implications of corruption
Kenmore has had this in his toolbox for a while. He trial-ballooned it when he tried to tie Ed Anderson to a conman in the Cabintaxi era, and later tried to make PRT part of the Zimmermann bribery case, though PRT was never part of the case. This time he has locked onto progressive sustainability activist Jake Roberts. Roberts is the host of the Podcar Conference, and because he recently had to step down as executive director of the Ithaca Festival, Kenwood hinted there must be some PRT responsibility. Except that was a cheap and empty smear: I found out (by reading Ithaca news for 5 minutes) that PRT had nothing to do with the Festival's fiscal problems, and corruption isn't even at issue. The organization was simply overextended.

Selective attention"Debbie Cook does not appear at the Ithaca Podcar Conference," screams the headline at the Dump Mark Olson blog (motto: No one posts comments since I banned Mr_Grant and A Transportation Enthusiast). "Congressional candidate Debbie Cook will not appear at the Podcar Conference as the Podcar website claimed," writes the Louella Parsons of the Luddites, trying to claim the Conference is "a bust." While it is mildly disappointing Cook chose to appear by video, I am encouraged that she chose to stay home to campaign against Dana Rohrbacher and have a presence in Ithaca. It's the New Millennium -- Cook telecommuted.

And like we did above with the list of organizations, let's look at the prominent individuals who were at the conference:
  • Councilman Gus Ayer, California (D)
  • Councilman Ed Porter, California (GP)
  • Mayor Carolyn Peterson, Ithaca (D)
  • U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, New York (D-22)

Liberals! Progressives! They were all there, and one can only assume that Amnesidor simply forgot to mention Rep. Hinchey (who only sits on Appropriations). Because their participation is more evidence PRT is not a right wing plot -- that Talking Point is effectively dead*: Peterson is well-known as an environmentalist, and even declared a Grateful Dead Day for god sake.

Add to the list officials who are participating in PRT in some way, such as John Garamendi (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) -- the last two enthusiastic about Masdar -- and we can say that PRT-friendly liberals not only outnumber Michele Bachmann and Mark Olson (neither of whom were in attendance in Ithaca)...

We can also say the liberals are
more effective about PRT. When was the last time Bachmann or Olson did anything effective for PRT? Or even attend a PRT conference? Hinchey speaks of a new federal transportation bill that includes PRT -- why hasn't Bachmann done that? Why didn't the Resmuglicans propose PRT bills in all the years they controlled Congress?

Supporters are the ones who do things. Progressives, environmentalists and community-based groups are the ones who are organizing behind PRT, who are doing.

*Although that doesn't mean it won't rise again, zombie-like

Tick-tock, Ken Avidor. Tick-tock.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mock Journalist, Part V - Bonehead Revisited

Remember the Ken Avidor-authored laff riot otherwise known as Was the ULTra test track bulldozed? Journey with me now to the days of yesteryear --

It was February 19, 2007, and Kennel Ration tried to use Google Maps to prove that the Cardiff test track had been removed. The ULTra website shows an aerial photo of the track, but Google Maps shows a vacant lot -- the track must be gone and ULTra a failure! was his line of reasoning. It didn't occur to Kenmore that the Google Maps photo might be -- oh, I don't know -- out of date?

I responded to him, also on February 19, with my own satirical take on his gaffe.

Have you tried our new information resource, The PRT-Centered Universe of...? In the course of doing research for it, I happened upon a posting to a Welsh message board:

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 12:20 am
Post subject: ULTra Cardiff Test Track... Bulldozed?

Does anyone know if the ULTra Test track at the end of Viking Ln is still there?
[ellipsis in original]
Now, over the years I have been critical of Vapidor's lame attempts at journalism, so it's good to see him, the ex-Transportation Editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet, trying to ask questions, seeking the whole story.

Oh but wait -- notice the date. February 20 -- the day after his original blog post!1

That wasn't a real reporter's question, it was Labridor desperately trying to get the 'proof' he should have tried to get before publishing the story! Which makes his 'story' a Lie.®

1. Even accounting for time zones, 12:20am in Cardiff is 6:20pm in Minneapolis, and Kenwood's original blog post was at 10:11am.

Ken Avidor got his tit caught in a big fat wringer

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's curtains for the propagandist

The obvious thing about Kiln Ovendoor's Talking Point about cutting down half the trees on the block is this:

Show of hands -- who doesn't have curtains or blinds on their bedroom windows?

She came in through the bathroom Ken Avidor

Rep. Bachmann gets a promotion

She's now Senator Bachmann. The jump-up is courtesy of Kennel Ration, the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist. Would I lie to you?

In Minnesota, the biggest supporters of PRT are the usual anti-rail transit suspects: Senator Michele Bachmann, Rep. Mark Olson (16b), Phil Krinkie.... and Dean Zimmermann [ellipses in original]. Source

Too bad no other Los Angeles Times readers know or care who Olson, Krinkie or Zimmermann are. People less concerned with Guilt By Association and more into finding additional transit alternatives probably care more that PRT has been endorsed by the World Wildlife Fund* and the EU.

Also today: World Premiere!
New Feature!

* Click Skycab thumbnail

Ken Avidor, the human cut and paste hot key

Monday, September 08, 2008

Missed it by THAT much

Post #200!

What is the margin of error for the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist? For instance, one of his 'proofs' that PRT is a hoax and a scam is that a felon proposed a PRT test track before he was a felon. Well, ATS proposed and built a test track in Wales, for a PRT system that is now under construction at Heathrow -- was that test track a scam too? Did ATS succeed in hoodwinking Cardiff County, the UK government and the EU into funding . . . . something that proved PRT works?

So no -- proposing a PRT test track does not prove PRT is a hoax or scam.

That's a pretty huge error though. Has Roadkill Bill International no Quality Control Division?

Here's another one, it comes from that golden age of anti-PRT propaganda known as 2004. It concerns this infamous piece of disinformation:

Truthtellers have long since debunked it based on what can actually be seen in the image. First, the 'ugly' guideway is the late-90s Raytheon version that was canceled years before Ovendoor created the image. Therefore, he was asking people to judge PRT on the basis of how it was not going to look.

Second, Wikipedia editors determined he was showing the guideway disproportionately large -- out of scale. Meaning he was asking people to judge PRT on the basis of how it was really not going to look!

Despite these truths he keeps on using this image. Hey Kenwood: repeating something over and over until the truth sinks in, catapulting the propaganda, doesn't make something true. Until now, the PRT community's counter-propaganda troops have relied on these facts to Fight The Photo.

But recently some additional facts emerged.
Thanks to Google Maps and its Satellite and Street View functions, plus my experience in aerial photo interpretation, "PRT Is a Joke" IS A JOKE has determined that the photo was taken at the corner of 36th and S. Grand in Minneapolis. The business at left is a laundromat, and the one in the center is Present Moment Books & Herbs.

By itself, the location is immaterial. However if we look at what Labridor wrote about PRT and this particular location, it becomes yet another example of how you can't trust anything he puts out. Here's what he wrote in Wikipedia:
The illustration shows an actual PRT guideway (Raytheon) on an actual street in Minneapolis (where Dean Zimmermann and the CPRT propose to build a PRT system) Source

Now here's a map of said Zimmerman/CPRT proposal -- with a special enhancement!

Can you spot the enhancement? It's the Green Arrow. If you follow that arrow off the edge of the map and go another 3-and-a-half blocks, you'll come to 36th & Grand.

THAT'S RIGHT: Humidor was claiming Zimmerman/CPRT wanted to PRTify a place that no one was talking about PRTifying.

Kenjob should not take this as a total defeat though -- I've shown that Hippy Paradise is not in danger.

Ken Avidor is the world's longest underwater tunnel