American Elephants


A Bargain On Subways: 1.7 Miles for Only $1.6 Billion. by The Elephant's Child
August 24, 2011, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy | Tags: , ,

Whenever I get completely exasperated by the actions of my government, or my city council or county council, I always think — it could be worse, and look to see what they’ve been up to in San Francisco.

In 2003, then Mayor Willie Brown sold a half-cent sales tax hike to the voters in order to pay for a 1.7 mile subway line which he claimed would ease congestion on the crowded buses in Chinatown.  He was more interested in getting the political support of the power brokers in Chinatown.   In 2003, the city estimated that the line would cost about $647 million.  Unsurprisingly, or should I say “unexpectedly,” the latest cost projection is $1.6 billion, or almost $100 million for each tenth of a mile.

Transportation experts say that improving existing bus and light rail service would make more sense and the subway design is seriously flawed.  Commuters will have to descend eight stories underground to get on, the subway misses connections with most of the light rail and bus lines that it crosses and there’s no direct connection to either the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) or to the ferry.  After riders go only a half mile, they would have to walk another quarter of a mile to connect to the Market Street light rail lines. Taking the bus would be five to 10 minutes faster.

The Obama administration likes the plan.

Other than those minor problems, the city’s metro system is already running a $150 million deficit.  But San Francisco has applied for a multiyear $942 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.  The administration likes anything that gets people out of cars.

Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood said that people tell him they want to get out of their cars and enjoy clean, green green neighborhoods.  Uh huh. Everywhere I go, the people are babbling about clean green something or other.  Don’t you find everyone you know is repeating Obama’s buzz words?



Time Travel by American Elephant
March 3, 2010, 2:43 am
Filed under: Architecture, History, Music, Pop Culture | Tags: , ,

Grab the kids and travel back over 100 years with this rare footage from a streetcar traveling down Market Street in San Francisco in 1905, a year before the great earthquake and subsequent fire.

I love that there were apparently no traffic laws! Reminds me of our returning soldiers accounts of what traffic is like in Iraq. (Actually, bike messengers in SF still observe no traffic laws to this day.)

For comparison here is the same trip taken 100 years later in 2005:

This is exactly the same route I would take to work everyday when I lived in San Francisco, straight down Market to the Embarcadero, although I traveled it underground on MUNI.

The song in the first video is La Femme D’argent by Air, the second is Sa Trincha by Sergio. Pretty good for electronica.

(h/t AoS)



More Differences Between Republicans and Democrats. by The Elephant's Child
July 9, 2009, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

Democrats think you are dumb.  Or at least a lot dumber than they are.  They think you are too unintelligent to get along in the world without their guidance and care.  They are so sure that you need their expertise that they are developing a vast catalogue of rules and regulations to control your lives.

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (yes I know he is temporarily a Republican, but he is a liberal through and through) has banned smoking and transfats, and is now waging war against the demon salt. (There is no evidence that transfats are bad for you).

The United States Congress is interested in telling the nation’s schools what they can and cannot serve  in school cafeterias.  If they have their way, the U.S. Agriculture Department would be given the authority to regulate all food sold in schools, including in vending machines — when Congress renews their child nutrition programs. You can lead a child to a tofu hot dog, but you can’t make him eat it.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (candidate for governor) has banned spending any money to buy bottled water and mandated composting citywide.  Now he has issued an executive directive that gives city departments six months to conduct an audit of unused land — empty lots, rooftops, windowsills and median strips — that could be turned into community gardens or farms that could grow food for residents. Citizens could work the farms or purchase the fresh produce.

And effective at once, city workers may no longer make runs to the donut shop before meetings and conferences. A new ordinance will mandate that food served in city jails, hospitals, homeless shelters and community centers must be healthy.

Guidelines will include cutting bagels into halves or quarters so people can take smaller portions, and serving vegetables instead of potato chips.

As one wag commented, he thought most San Franciscans were already doing a lot of farming, but it was going on in closets with grow lights.  Can you imagine the lead content of the veggies grown on median strips?

Republicans believe that you are perfectly capable of running your own life without guidance from city mayors or busybodies in Congress.  They believe that you can probably decide what you want your children to eat as well.

Mayor Newsom’s administration provided directives for “healthy” and “sustainable”.  (Could we please drop that bologna word?)

  • Safe and healthy: No pesticides, high nutritional value.
  • Culturally acceptable: Chinese veggies for the Chinese, multicultural and religiously acceptable veggies for SF’s diverse population.
  • Sustainable: At last, a definition — use manure, not chemical fertilizer.  Yep, manure.  That’s appropriate.



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