To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bike lane conspiracists are not crazy. They are devious.


By Sami Grover, December 19, 2013

bike lane photo

From the notion that the bike lobby is a bigger threat to democracy than oil companies to cyclists as the new enemy of right wing politics, there's some laughably extreme anti-bike rhetoric out there these days.

Only, it's not funny.

True, it's tempting to paint such Agenda 21 conspiracy-mongering as crazy paranoia, and often the comments section on this site will be full of people talking about padded cells and loony wingnuts. But this is not simple madness. It's actually savvy strategy.

Just like the age-old tradition of politicians using racism to divide nations and exploit fears, there are powerful entities who seek to slow or reverse the trend toward increased urbanization and decreased dependence on the motorcar. Not only do they have an interest in keeping the oil-dependence gravy train rolling, but voter demographics suggest that certain political parties have much to lose if the world does keep moving toward an urbanized future, complete with its visions of bike lanes, gay marriage, clever little apartments and raw food vegan fine dining too.

And before all the shouting starts, let me just say that this has nothing to do with freedom. At least not in the myopic, restricted sense that anti-bike fear mongerers use the term.

As I argued in my post on why I do want to restrict your freedom, your freedom to drive your Hummer or develop your strip malls directly undermines my freedom to take a walk or teach my kids to ride a bike. (Not to mention their ability to have healthy lungs or, you know, a stable climate.) We have to have a dialogue about how to balance those freedoms.

To some degree, people are casting their vote already—moving to cities, waiting to learn to drive, and even suggesting that a low carbon future might not be a half bad idea. But assuming that the "free market" (whatever that is) can be a fair and balanced arbitrator is ignoring the fact that the forces of fossil-fuel dependent development have had decades to cement their hegemony.

This is not a government conspiracy, but it is about a different vision of how we want to live. We, as a culture, have to decide the future we want to live in. Then we need to set up our taxes, our planning systems, our government programs, our traffic laws, and just about everything else to shape the path to getting there. The Agenda 21 conspiracists know this, and that's why they are stoking up the fear and derision.

None of this means you have to live in my vision of the good life, any more than I want to live in yours. But it does mean that each of us should pay the true cost of our lifestyle on others. If you want to live in a giant house in the country, go ahead. But please don't make my children pay the price for the cheap gas that makes it possible.

Chinese Automaker Builds A Terrible Clone Of Cadillac Escalade EXT


 December 21, 2013


 Chinese Automaker Builds A Terrible Clone Of Cadillac Escalade EXT


China has a long history of making knockoffs, so much so that it's got its own traditions for it under the term "shanzhai." But this mutated attempt at a Cadillac Escalade EXT is so blatantly aspirational that it's wrong. It's as if the Cadillac had a kid with a Ford Ranger, and they named the result "Sloth."

 We've seen Chinese pickup clones before, and they were honestly pretty good, as Chinese pickup clones go. But this one just isn't right, somehow.

The Shanxi Victory Jinchi JX1 is built by state-owned automaker Shanxi, so you know the government doesn't give a crap about intellectual property laws. It's got the stand-up headlights of the Escalade EXT, and bodywork vaguely reminiscent of the rest of the car, but that's about where the similarities end, according to Car News China

Instead of the EXT's 6.0-liter V8, the Jinchi JX1 puts out a maximum of 100 horses, and instead of the Caddy's luxurious interior fit for naught but the most discerning NFL lineman, the Jinchi's got acres of black plastic from the 1980s:

 Chinese Automaker Builds A Terrible Clone Of Cadillac Escalade EXT

The Cadillac Escalade EXT is a fine car for the people that want one, I suppose, if what you what is heavy on the luxury, not as heavy on the utility, and extra-super-duper heavy on the chintz. And a Ford Ranger revival is something that pickup fans in the US long for all of their days and nights. But mixing the two together just feels wrong, really really wrong.

Imagine a construction worker, with calloused hands, sinewy strength, and a tenacious sense of duty.
Now imagine he spends his entire day working in a plastic Bill Gates mask.

Yeah, it's like that.