30 September 2011

Smarter, Greener, Cheaper Infrastructure

A smarter approach to America's infrastructure crisis is brewing underneath Philadelphia, where an aging "combined sewer system" that collects wastewater and storm water in the same pipes dumps raw sewage into the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers during heavy rains. Engineers have proposed a $9 billion storage tunnel under the Delaware to stop overflows and comply with EPA regulations. But Mayor Michael Nutter doesn't have $9 billion, and if he did, he wouldn't want to bury it 150 ft. underground.
Instead, the city has launched a remarkably aggressive campaign to keep storm water out of its sewers in the first place with the help of rain barrels and rain gardens, vegetated green roofs and permeable green roads, new trees and new parks. A green road looks like any other road, but rain that falls on it slowly percolates underground instead of zipping into a storm drain. The eventual goal is to capture runoff from one-third of the city's impervious surfaces and make 15 sq. mi. of man-made, urban jungle function more like a natural forest.
Nutter, who has pledged to turn Philadelphia into the greenest city in America, has a nice riff about treating water as a resource instead of a waste product and how it's fun to convert parking lots into parks. But he isn't some tie-dyed hippie tree hugger. He wouldn't be so excited about green infrastructure if he didn't think it could help him comply with the Clean Water Act for about $7 billion less than a giant tunnel would cost.
"It's revolutionary, but it's really a no-brainer," Nutter says. "We help the environment, and we don't have to waste all that money tearing up the city."
What Nutter and his team are doing with porous basketball courts and man-made wetlands is a model - not just for wastewater projects, which the EPA expects to cost the U.S. nearly $400 billion by 2030, but also for the reconstruction of a cash-strapped country.

~Michael Grunwald, Time.com

03 September 2011

Machine shed the big brother to La Cantina

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Welcome to "Htrae"

When the American people vote in a bunch of reactionary extremists into the houses of Congress, based on the bogey man in the White House...(it's not called the Black House, after all)...what do we expect? He's been called everything from a Kenyan anti-colonialist (hey, weren't the founding fathers all anti-colonialists?)...to a socialist, fascist, communist, anti-American...blah, blah, blah...keep the inane banter going and nothing will get done except more division, stagnation, recession...possibly a depression...and maybe even a civil war, there's so many looney-tunes out there. Rick Perry, a secessionist, is polling the highest of the crazies for the Republican nomination. Talk about not loving America. Yikes. This is Bizarro World.

In the Bizarro world of "Htrae" ("Earth" spelled backwards), society is ruled by the Bizarro Code which states "Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!". In one episode, for example, a salesman is doing a brisk trade selling Bizarro bonds: "Guaranteed to lose money for you". Later, the mayor appoints Bizarro No. 1 to investigate a crime, "Because you are stupider than the entire Bizarro police force put together". This is intended and taken as a great compliment.

Welcome to the New Republican Party.

Let's get something straight...12 trillions of dollars of debt began with Reagan, who never submitted a balanced budget and robbed from the SS trust fund he created by doubling payroll taxes, through Bush I...then a Democrat named Clinton finally submitted a couple of balanced budgets...with surpluses (which were owed to the SS trust fund)...and then came GW Bush with his unfunded wars, Medicare part D...and huge tax cuts for the wealthy to "return the surplus to the taxpayers"...and made speeches about how mortgages and credit needed to be loosened up so that every one could own a home, regardless of their credit rating...which was a disaster, combined with sliced and diced derivatives created by the big banks...which GW then bailed out. Crashed the world's economy...not just ours. Left a huge shitpile for the next President to clean up. Unfortunately, he's black and hated. Certainly not a liberal or progressive man...a middle of the roader...a compromiser. But...he's got the middle name Hussein. And did I mention he's black? And a Democrat. Hell, the Republicans dogged Clinton (who actually cut welfare and balanced the budget)...all through his terms in office. Face it, he did what no mouthy Republican President did in recent history. He submitted a balanced budget...with a surplus. Had we stayed on that track, we'd have no national debt now. None...no interest to pay on the debt...zero. Right now we pay 412 billion dollars in interest on the debt...a total waste. That money could be getting this country on track. We've lost our power, because of lies and lying liars...The New Republican Party.

Winter is passing

It has been since autumn that I’ve written anything.  I feel...no, I know that a coup has been stag d in this country. But, from my vantage...