The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This afternoon my two boys were running around my back yard and decided they wanted to participate in a religious ritual. Which they were taught at a public school.

Liar! you say. America's government schools do not teach religion, no how, no way.

The ritual in question was to find newspapers, and plastic containers, and put them in the proper recycling bins. Actually there is one bin, partitioned vertically with opposing lids. As my kids told me, the green lid is for plastic, the blue for newspaper.

Cretin! Imbecile! Recycling isn't religion. Just good citizenship.

But when the garbage truck comes, it lifts the recycling bin ... and dumps all the containers and newspapers into one big chamber. So the act of separating various forms of waste is meaningless mumbo-jumbo.

Kind of like a religion.

There is much that American government does which enrages me, because it is so senseless. I feel as though the very stupidity of the act renders it immune from criticism. In such cases it is helpful to have an framework, an explanation -- a Weltanschauung, if you will.

Here's a particularly infuriating example: Santa Clara County is going to spend taxpayer money to close lanes on a busy thoroughfare:

El Camino Real could undergo a major transformation over the next five years -- one that would impact everyone from motorists to bus riders to bicyclists to pedestrians from San Jose to Palo Alto.


The proposed changes on El Camino will draw the most debate -- especially the VTA's plan to remove two lanes of traffic and turn them into bus-only lanes running down the middle of the road for 10 miles -- from Lafayette Street in Santa Clara to Showers Drive in Mountain View.

It's all part of what's being called the Grand Boulevard Initiative for El Camino from San Jose to San Francisco. While it's now mostly a vision in San Mateo County, Santa Clara County officials are getting ready to turn the idea of a more transit- and pedestrian-friendly roadway into reality.


The push toward "road diets," as transportation planners call them, took off in 2008 when Caltrans endorsed the concept of "complete streets" for urban neighborhoods. That's planner-speak for making the entire street, from sidewalk to sidewalk, geared for safe access and use by pedestrians, bicyclists and other nondrivers.

The Association of Bay Area Governments predicts that the population of Santa Clara County will increase by 500,000, with 400,000 more jobs, by 2035. With major highway widening near an end, traffic officials say, more residents and commuters means transit must improve.

And there you have it, the religion of the 21st century in action. Driving a car is a sin according to American civic theology, much as playing cards is considered a sin by fundamentalist Christians. Replace a road with mass transit, and you have done a good deed, to be rewarded in the afterlife. (At least I assume the "transportation planners" will be rewarded in the afterlife, because in this life their light rail V2 is not going to attract any more riders than the first edition.)

I wonder what a 19th century American would think if his public servants told him that his nearby busy railroad would have one of its three tracks ripped up in order to

make the entire railway, from tie to tie, geared for safe access and use by pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-traingoers.

I think he would conclude that his public servants were insane.




Recycling helps the earth because it could save animals, it could save birds, puppies and all kinds of them. A lot of the animals that recycling helps to save are the ocean animals. There are a lot of animals in the ocean that mistake trash for food. They're eating things that we could be recycling. Check out this video:

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