Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Unbalancing Occupy Wall Street, Part I

     I have in mind a Social Theorem, or at least the seed: all of the inconsistent application of police activity across the nation, all of the heated political rhetoric, the sympathizing, posturing, and demonizing, the quotidian observations, the TV and radio talking head smearing commentary and dripping sarcasm, the corporate avoidance, the celebrity engagement, the EVERYTHING...is all an orchestrated dance.
     First, let's consider our country's large, metropolitan police forces: these departments do not exist in a vacuum.  They are the closest thing we have to an "in house" military, besides the National Guard.  They are well coordinated, and talk to each other.  Given the impressive array of technological tools and (mostly) generous budgets our large-city forces enjoy, the chances that they are NOT talking to each other are slim.
     So how best to deal with the most popular domestic uprising since the 1960's? Simple, revisit the '60's counter-counter culture strategy, only this time with a flotilla of technology in tow.  Develop a well-tuned strategy of response at a national level, with a core goal: unbalance and discredit Occupy Wall Street.  
     UNBALANCE: employ a good cop/bad cop (really!) city-by-city "let them peacefully camp overnight" and "tear gas and rubber bullet" policy grab bag.  Now that OWS is solidly present in every major American city, the movement presents a clear threat to the status quo - this will not be tolerated, and the police forces have instituted a strategy that will be rolled out with increased intensity.  Make no mistake, this is a chess match, and the establishment is thinking several moves ahead.  Keeping the organizers unbalanced and guessing if what happened in Oakland can happen in their city too, or possibly the passivity displayed by the Albany Police will visit them instead.  I am cynical on this point, not believing for a minute the latter force is "on the side" of the OWS movement.  There is an army of stalking horses surrounding the movement, and they are doing more than whispering to each other. 
     DISCREDIT: The reaction for the first several weeks of OWS was non-reaction - ignore or downplay the crowds and they will evaporate.  That didn't work, as OWS self-replicated and gained traction at a torrid pace.  So then they were termed "mobs" by the conservative talking point machine in Washington, DC and their reliable media bobble-head toys...that lasted a couple of 24-hour cycles.  When it became clear that this was not Tea Party Redux, and what was growing had - in principle and scope - the makings of a genuine movement, complete with a list of demands, soon followed by the impressive 99PercentDeclaration (a thunderous answer to "they don't know what they want," "they are bored/unemployed/don't want to work/dirty fucking hippies," etc.), a whisper and smear campaign was launched.  What OWS really represents is an anti-semitic, pro-muslim, marxist cabal fixated on overthrowing the virtuous, money-cultivating capitalists upon which this great nation was built, and so must be destroyed.
     Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't Forget Fukushima

It is my sincere hope that the short-attention-span-24-hour-news-cycle-consuming-public hasn't shelved this critical story that continues to unfold. Or worse, not ask the hard questions and think critically about what the Fukushima disaster really means, for all of us.

If there are any remaining questions or denials regarding the impact one nuclear plant disaster can have GLOBALLY, this article should help dispel it.

And so... "What are officials hiding about Fukushima?"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Exclusive Town: Aspen, CO or Woodstock, NY?

An update on the ongoing saga of Woodstock Commons, a 53-unit rental Workforce Family & Senior Housing Community under construction near the center of Woodstock, NY; the story presents a unique blend of colorful, crazy, and urgent.  To be continued, without question...

A few, loud NIMBY BANANAS hen-pecked the Woodstock Planning Board into actually considering revocation of the special use permit granted in August, 2010, after construction started...convening an unprecedented post-approval public hearing, despite no violations cited, and no due process exercised.

Environmental concerns were carefully and comprehensively studied and designed into Woodstock Commons, over the course of a 5-1/2 year planning process

It is but one more reason that we have a serious problem, where too few hold sway over too many. "Exclusive" towns like Woodstock, NY need to urgently address the great disconnect they have with the PEOPLE.

The all-too-vocal leader of SAGE, Iris York, points to Aspen, CO as one such exclusive enclave where such housing couldn't possibly exist. And why would lower wage earners even want to live there?

In reality, Aspen offers up at least 39 rental properties (with several hundred studio, 1, 2, & 3BR units), according to the Aspen/Pitkin Housing Office Rental Work-Force Housing map:

Aspen Housing Map

It turns out that Aspen gets it; Woodstock and it's self-appointed Elite do not.

Let's get on with the work of creating new and healthy homes for deserving families and seniors.

Original New York Times article

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Country Run By Pychopaths

I suspected as much:

Indy UK - The Difference Between A Politician & A Psychopath: None

    • Oh, darn...

      There are a number of American politicians who've been caught doing something illegal, unethical, mind-bogglingly self-destructive, or all of the above. And yet, none accept that they did anything wrong.

    • ...it gets worse!

      The following commentary includes material obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Behavioral Analysis Unit.

    • The final word for the night, courtesy of Dr. Hugo Marietan, professor at the University of Buenos Aires. He explains the 3% of the general population as being pychopaths thusly:

      QUESTION: "How to distinguish a psychopath politician from the one who is not?"

      ANSWER: "A basic characteristic of the psychopath is that he is a liar, but not any liar. He is an artist. Lies with the words, but also with his body. He acts. He may, even, pretend sensitivity. You believe him over and over because he is very convincing. An usual leader knows that he has to accomplish his function during an estimated time. Once the task is accomplished, he leaves. The psychopath, however, once he is at the top, no one can get him out: he wants to be once, twice three times. He can’t release the power, and least of all rely it on someone else. Perhaps, you remember someone like that? Another distinguishing feature is his ability of manipulate people. Arround the psychopath leader, we can find submissive people, who under his persuasive effect are able to do things that otherwise he wouldn’t."

O+ Festival: A Healthy Start, An "Open Source" Future?

      I like Dr. Cingel's original concept of "trading art for health care," and the O+ Festival has deservedly received attention outside the bubble that is the Hudson Valley, and our fair city of Kingston.  I think the time is ripe to take it to another level, and place it in the public domain as an Open Source that reaches all across the land.  The 90 bands that vie for 25 slots should all have a venue, well beyond the creative coolness that is Kingston. 

      The cause should expand well beyond artists and health care, and quickly become a model for bartering accessible health care for those who may not wear the label or carry the cache of "Artist." 

      Dr. Cingel and event organizers need only look at the viral, wild expansion of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, going from zero to sixty thousand in a few weeks time, and understand that people are hungry and ready for social movements that are not only designed for small sub-groups of the populace, but open, accessible, and beneficial to all that need real solutions and viable alternatives to business as usual. Otherwise, the Third Annual O+ Festival will be much like the first two, with solutions geared narrowly and a few bands and a few doctors competing for rather than expanding the base and great promise the concept offers.

      It is good, and healthy - it could be great, and revolutionary.

Wall Street Journal Article: Trading Art for Health Care

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fracking Observations, continued...

Anybody see this?  Anybody care?  160 million cubic feet of natural gas wasted, in North Dakota alone, EVERY DAY.  Do you trust the oil & gas companies when they advocate an URGENT NEED for more hydrofracking across New York and along the Marcellus Shale Formation?  They cannot even manage the wells already drilled and "functional."  

NY Times article on North Dakota Wasted Gas

AND because math is fun:

96.7 cubic feet of natural gas 1 therm; 400 therms consumed annually per household (CA) = 38,680 cubic feet

 160,000,000 / 38,680 c.f. = 4,136 households

4,136 households X 365 days = 1,509,824...that's how many houses of 3 occupants each could receive electricity, FROM THE WASTED NATURAL GAS IN NORTH DAKOTA.

The next time you hear someone spew about the alleged virtues of natural gas drilling, tell them to go hydrofrack themselves.  As if the chemicals in the ground and water wasn't enough of a reason to ban the process outright, already!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Woodstock, NY: Taking The "Fun" Out Of Dysfunctional

As the architect for Woodstock Commons, a 53-unit affordable and senior living community, I thought I had seen and experienced everything a small town planning board could throw at a proposed mid-sized residential development, over an excruciating, mind-numbing, patience-testing, grossly over-regulated 5-1/2 year planning review process.

I was wrong.

Caving and capitulating to the constant, harping annoyances of provocateur Robin Segal and SAGE (Sensible Action for Growth and Environment)  ringleader, Iris York, Woodstock Planning Board chair Paul Shultis, Jr. called an unprecedented hearing AFTER construction was well under way - ostensibly due to violations committed by the developer.  I can understand that he had to react in some manner to the concerns of York, Segal, and several neighbors et al., but to react by threatening to revoke the S.U.P. (special use permit) was nothing short of reckless and ham-handed.

Where was self-described environmentalist Iris York when the wetlands behind Bradley Meadows (the small shopping center on Mill Hill Road) was being illegally dumped in during the years prior to Woodstock Commons being proposed?  Or when homeless people set up unhealthy camps, literally IN the wetlands?  I guess she found her true environmental religion only when it suited her own self interests.

Where was Robin Segal during the first three years of intensive SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) and Planning Board review?  Not living in Woodstock or anywhere near, for one.  As a very recent resident, she sees fit to slam the door shut after her arrival.  What a self-important hypocrite, dressing up her concerns of governmental oversight as a faux-intellectual wolf-in-sheep's clothing.

Where was Paul Shultis, Jr. in the year since unanimous, conditional SUP approval was issued, during which time detailed, final public funding and private financing logistics were being ironed out, and a building approval was being obtained?  More importantly, where was he since construction started in late July, and why didn't he go through the proper channels before calling a public hearing based upon the emotional, unsupported accusations of messrs. York and Segal?  Instead of knee-jerking, placating, and appeasing, Mr. Shultis, Jr. should have done some homework and consulted with the Town attorney.  He did not, and in the process poured fuel on an arbitrary fire, lending credence to complaints that bear no credibility.

The merits of Woodstock Commons have never been acknowledged by its single-minded critics.  Instead, they suggest "spreading out" affordable dwellings throughout town, seemingly unaware that this is an economically unfeasible approach, ill-advised for accessibility, creates excessive vehicle travel, and would take decades to address the affordable housing crisis that exists - and must be solved - today.  Not one existing property has been identified or suggested, because no such properties are technically "affordable" in Woodstock, a second-home enclave where real estate values are out of reach for most residents - both its renters and prospective home owners.  

The energy invested in combatting this benign housing is entirely misplaced.  The very few residents in direct opposition, together in concert with an overwhelmed, exasperated volunteer planning board, are determined to redefine the reticence foisted upon fair housing initiatives well beyond the NIMBY and BANANA banners ("not in my backyard," and "build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything").  It's so nice when you have your own comfy home, why worry about others who may be suffering, unable to find a home close to where they work, living in tight quarters with their families,  struggling to keep up with tax payments on a fixed income or after losing a loved one.  Better to feign great compassion for the Indiana Bat habitat than for one's neighbors in Woodstock, at least in the world according to York and Segal.          

Woodstock Commons will survive this latest barrage of arbitrary nonsense, and ultimately become an integral part of the larger Woodstock community.  I know a number of my old Woodstock neighbors - one in particular forced out of town due to no available housing - are looking forward to opening day.  I will rejoice, and take solace that perhaps Woodstock will be functional once again.  And fun, for the enjoyment and healthy living of ALL.   

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fracking Observations...

When the first dozen natural gas fracking rigs start showing up across New York's uniquely beautiful landscape, when the second hundred artificial ponds of toxic muck start oozing into the groundwater, when the third thousand homeowner experiences benzene-laced tap water...will that be when you wonder why you didn't call your congressman or what the price of inaction really is?

This is what hydrofracking ("coal seam") looks like in Australia...imagine the same in New York. The difference here SEEMS to be the gas company still needs permission to drill on one's private property - in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia they have imminent domain. Large sections of New York, becoming industrial waste lands. Are YOU concerned?
What the frack is it going to take for people to wake up? An environmental disaster is at our doorsteps...no kidding!

     Thanks to Dick Cheney and the "Halliburton Loophole," the states are left to write and enforce regulations on an otherwise highly unregulated industry with significant health implications to our communities and the environment. If Ohioans are okay with seeing another 80,000 wells drilled in their great state, remain curiously incurious about exactly what toxic stew of chemicals is being introduced to their groundwater, waterways, and air, and prepared to sell out their children's future all for a short-term economic high, then by all means Ohioans should go for it.
I like to think that New York still has an opportunity to avoid the serious mistakes other states have made in allowing the natural gas companies to run roughshod over the land, for a few gold coins. You (and too many Americans) fail to understand the magnitude of the destruction this practice can wreak. I recommend that folks do some homework before giving the gas companies the green light, and celebrating unbridled excitement for the economic boon the towns will enjoy. In NY, we are going to fight the P.R. companies that candy-coat the natural gas chemical treats, strongly voice our opinions to our representatives, and scrutinize the DEC fracking rules that were just made public.
If only we had a Federal government that had the constitution to stand up to corporate puppets placed in "public service." There are many better ways to generate heat and electricity, just not the big money or big P.R. to counter the fake "clean energy" corporations. Unfortunately, the big wallets usually win...but not always, and not in Our State.

Hydrofracking 101, for those interested in the future of our environment and collective health.


...and on the BRIGHT SIDE...

What a nascent, TRUE green economy looks like...read "JOBS": http://8020vision.com/2011/07/01/solar-is-the-fastest-growing-industry-in-the-us/

"Rhone Resch, President of The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said that the solar industry employs 100,000 Americans and that that number could double in the next two years. Within a few years, the US will be the world’s largest solar market, according to SEIA."

This country needs a comprehensive energy policy that is NOT heavily ramping up relianance on hydrofracking in any way, shape or form.  Geothermal, Solar, Hydro, Wind, Tidal...so much potential, and the technology to tap these non-fossil fuel resources available TODAY.  What are we waiting for?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Government Waste, Part 1: Walter Reed Hospital

I find it implausible that construction costs alone can be a significant factor in the tripling of closing WRAMC and relocating it's services and functions. Construction costs have risen over the past six years, but only about 22% for basic materials (lumber & wood products, cement, iron products). All sector average wages in the Mid-Atlantic region have risen 14% - rounding up to 20% for the construction trades still suggests that the total fiscal impact of the six-year delay/adjustment in the closing/relocation plans would be impacted marginally and not by several X. There must be other factors at work here, possibly coordination with the Navy, programatic evolution, and bureaucratic inefficiencies are why the costs have skyrocketed. But it's not construction costs, as the article suggests. The GAO should aggressively market the property for reuse and repurposing, as it's imbedded real estate value must be tremendous. This would offset much of the cost increases, and prevent further fleecing of taxpayers due to uncreative governmental management.

Shame of the Nation: Capital Punishment

Troy Davis set to be executed in Georgia before midnight tonight. If ever there was a reason and cry to revisit and abolish capital punishment, it has presented itself tonight in a swift, tragic unfolding of events. The Supreme Court has utterly failed in it's mission to exact justice, it has given new meaning to "Justice Is Blind." Never mind that President Jimmy Carter, the Pope, Desmond Tutu, a group of retired prison wardens, and millions of citizens around the world urged the Georgia State Pardon and Parole Board to at least - AT LEAST - consider new evidence and recanted testimony of SEVEN eyewitnesses. I am ashamed of our Supreme Court, and that our country even has capital punishment - a medieval concept.

If Texas Governor Rick Perry - who gleefully, sadistically endorses executions and swaggers about his State's tally of executions - were to become President, I AM OUTTA HERE. At least in Canada, there is still civility.

The Great Divide, Part 1: The Job Creator Myth

NAILED IT. Rachel Maddow tonight unmasked the Republican "Job Creator" myth for what it really is: A LIE. It is a manufactured myth/lie that is being repeated in the Extreme Right echo chamber. The Koch Brothers (Charlie, David) saw their privately-held company net worth grow by 40% over the past 4 years...good for them! They are now worth $50b, that's $11b more than Warren Buffet. During that same period, the Koch companies shed over 13,000 jobs, not good for those employees!

So..."Job Creators?" No, "Self-Wealth Creators." It's all a lie folks, and if you out there have any sympathy for the Koch Brothers, or any non-job creators making multi-millions per year, then you are FAR more compassionate a person than I. And very, very easily duped.

Thank you, Rachel Maddow, thank you, "spirit of investigative reporting," thank you, Census Bureau.

A week after the Census Bureau reported that American poverty has hit an all time high, America has learned the wealth of Charles and David Koch has increased 43% since March of 2010.