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Profile Information

Name: Nick Xylas
Gender: Male
Hometown: Bristol
Home country: England
Current location: Bristol
Member since: Sat May 13, 2006, 07:28 PM
Number of posts: 5,449

Journal Archives

Pittsburgh Bald Eagles

Webcam in an eagle's nest:


My wife is completely addicted to this site.

Public Transportation Trends Expose Ecological, Economic and Social Crossroads

U.S. travel by public transportation soared last year to its highest level in nearly six decades, a report revealed Monday—marking what many say is a positive step that underscores the need for broader environmental and social justice.

"This is a very good thing with respect to global climate conditions, but we need more improvements nationwide," said Barbara Lott-Holland co-chair of the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union, in an interview with Common Dreams. "If we are serious about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to dramatically change the mode of transportation from single passenger automobiles to zero emissions public transit."

With a record 10.7 billion trips nationwide, public transportation use has been climbing for decades, reveeals the report released by by the American Public Transportation Association. Ridership is up 37.2 percent since 1995, yet the U.S. population has only increased 20.3 percent since then. Furthermore, the report finds that 2013 was the eighth year in a row that ridership exceeded 10 billion trips across the country, amounting to an increase of 1.1 percent from the previous year, compared with a 0.3 percent increase in vehicle miles nation-wide.

Virginia Miller, spokesperson for APTA, told Common Dreams that use of public transportation increased "when the economy started to come back." She said that "nearly 60 percent of trips on transit are for work commute," citing data the association collected between 2000 and 2005.

More at: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/03/11-5

Peggy Noonan writes the most ironic, un-self-aware column in the history of Western civilization

Rahlly she does. From Kos:

Reagan had accomplices, of course. One of them was his best-known speechwriter, Peggy Noonan. The first actor to become president understood the importance of his scriptwriter, and Noonan painted some of the prettiest word pictures that distracted folks in the era of Other People's Money. Even after writing "Read my lips, no new taxes" for George H.W. Bush, she managed to parlay her fame into a lucrative career as a columnist and a pundit.

And now from the lofty heights of the Upper East Side, Peggy Noonan is shocked, sch...well, you know, she's surprised and dismayed that the culture of greed that her boss and his minions unleashed has now metastasized into something, well, ugly.

Her column starts with a rant about "House of Cards" -- proving that as trenchant social commentary, "HOC" should be seen as a damn entertaining political fantasy, and nothing more. But it's interesting that Reagan's speechwriter would say this:

I don’t understand why members of Congress, the White House and the media become cooperators in videos that sort of show that deep down they all see themselves as . . . actors. And good ones! In a phony drama. Meant I suppose to fool the rubes.

More: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/19/1278909/-Peggy-Noonan-writes-the-most-ironic-un-self-aware-column-in-the-history-of-Western-civilization#comments

Dispatches from a previous war on women

A letter to the UK Daily Telegraph, from 100 years ago:


Stratfor softening us up for dictatorship?

This article from the director of Stratfor, the Texan company exposed by Wikileaks as part of the "intelligence-industrial complex", appeared on the influential center-right (as opposed to batshit crazy TeapubliKKKan) site Real Clear Politics. It basically argues that dictators can be divided into "good" dictators like General Pinochet and some southeast Asian dictators, who dutifully advance the goals of the 1%; and "bad" dictators, like those crazy Muslims with their inconvenient belief that usury is a sin.

I wonder if we're going to see a steady drip of articles like this in the future, followed by lots of pundits questioning whether democracy is really all it's cracked up to be, followed by...?

(Note: although the article doesn't mention Obama, the comments thread is predictably full of wingnuts going "You know what makes someone a dictator? Presidenting while black, that's what", and ignoring the actual content of the article completely.)

Tammany Hall: a (partial) defense

Found this article challenging the conventional view of Tammany Hall as a byword for the Democratic Party's corruption at an unexpected source: the conservative blog Front Porch Republic. Though perhaps "traditionalist" would be a better descriptor, now that "conservative" has become a virtual synonym for "fascist".

When they were doing their jobs, the bosses (the word is a New York one, from the Dutch Baas, meaning master; a word that has spread from this archipelago off the New Jersey coast to the entire English-speaking world) looked in two directions. They looked out for the interests of their wards in Albany and, to a degree, in Washington; they also looked out for the individual interests of the pushcart vendors getting hassled by the cops and the sandhogs digging the foundations for the Brooklyn Bridge and the brides under their chuppas: everyone who either had a vote, or had the ear of a man with a vote.

In the most cynical terms possible, in modern politics votes are acquired through advertising, which is guided by the findings of public relations experts using the psychological technology of the focus group and the poll. Since 2004, House and Senate races have been won by the candidate who spent the most money between 83 and 98 percent of the time. The intimacy and persuasion needed in vote-getting are generated primarily through the medium of the TV screen, and the direct financial beneficiaries of that money are, of course, the TV stations.

By contrast, in Tammany New York, votes were acquired through social contact and practical favors, financial and legal assistance, jobs and drinks at the pub. The direct financial beneficiaries were, yes, the politicians and the businessmen who got contracts at far above the market price– but also the poor families whose rent got paid, the boy who got a job working for the new El being put up along Greenwich Street and 9th Avenue, the couple whose hotel room was paid for when they were burnt out of their apartment.

In less cynical terms: Tammany was a corruption, but it was a corruption of something good: the idea that government should, as Plunkitt said, be “warm and personal;” that decisions should be made locally; that rulers should directly and practically help the ruled; that there should be an everyday and immediate connection between the politicians and the people.

More at: http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2013/10/the-once-and-future-boss-the-possibilities-of-tammany-hall/

Dressage struggles for respect

Source: BBC Sport

However, while Hester's home island of Sark has seen its only postbox painted gold, some of his fellow Channel Island sportsmen seem yet to be enthused.

Cricketer Jamie Nussbaumer tweeted: "Dressage is just not a sport."

Nussbaumer was not alone, among those who have represented Guernsey in the World Cricket League, to express some cynicism after the win.

Ross Kneller used hashtags to imply that dressage was the "worst Olympic event" and that its participants were "born with silver spoon" in their mouths.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/19180865

The article doesn't specifically mention Ann Romney, but it's hard to believe that last commenter didn't have her at the back of his mind somewhere.

Parthenia Comics seeks funding

Parthenia Comics is a new independent comics publishing firm that I am starting. The aim is to publish short "how-to" guides in comic book form aimed at adult literacy learners and people whose first language is not English. The comics are currently specific to the UK market, but I hope to do format deals with publishers in other countries to publish local versions, rather than try and do a generic international comic. I am trying to raise funds via Indiegogo, please go to the link below for more information. And don't foget to share on your social networks etc, so that the word gets out to as many people as possible. Thanks for your help. (edit: even rec'ing this thread helps, as it means it will be seen by more people on DU)


Fundraising on DU?

I have an Indiegogo project that I'd like to plug on DU, and I want to do so in a forum where I'm not breaking any rules. Does such a forum exist. The best place for it would be Comic Books, but I am not sure if you are allowed to plug your own work there.

Chicago Factory Occupiers Form Worker Cooperative

Source: TruthOut

First, they occupied the factory to get their wages from the bosses that owned the machinery. Then, they occupied their factory to keep the second bosses from shutting down their machinery. And, now, they are on their way to owning and running the machinery.

The group of workers who occupied their Chicago factory in 2008 and again in 2012 incorporated a worker-run cooperative on May 30, 2012. The factory window makers will take over was formerly owned by Republic Windows and Doors and then Serious Energy, and will now be run by New Era Windows, LLC.

Their battle to win wages and back pay from Republic Windows and Doors by occupying the factory is often mentioned in the same breath as the occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill as a flash point of progressive struggle since the recession took hold.

Armando Robles, president of the United Electrical Workers Local 1110, said that the school of struggle the workers went through with both factory occupations helped them win the confidence to take over their factory.

Read more: http://truth-out.org/news/item/9500-republic-windows-and-doors-serious-materials-workers-form-cooperative

More at link. I hope this is the start of a trend.
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