It’s Time Metro Marked the Frequent Service Network

I’m not sure whether it should be by route or stop location (since there are pairs of non-frequent routes that combine for frequent segments), but King County Metro needs to clearly, obviously, and visibly label the frequent service network. This has been a known issue for years, and many people have called for it, but it hasn’t been done. Other cities like Portland and Columbus already do it (by logo and route color, respectively), but people need the ability to passively¬†notice where they can rely on a bus coming every 15 minutes or less, and where they can go on those routes. I’d love to gather a team of guerilla activists to go mark a set of bus stops, but I don’t know who would do it (the Transit Blog people if they were useful. Alas.). Plus Metro might have valid complaints about that. But increasingly it seems like we’re not being listened or responded to. I haven’t seen data (very curious to), but I’d bet that ridership goes up when you provide people this kind of increased and improved information–we know that happens in similar situations.

I don’t really care if frequent service is defined as every 15, 12, or 10 minutes, and the route schedules and maps should also be labeled on paper and online, but the critical thing is physical visibility at stops and on bus routes. This is for far more than just bus riders, to help encourage good transit-friendly location decisions. Even a new color of paint on the street where frequent routes go would be good. But frequent service is the core of what enables car-free life (not just work commutes or planned trips). It’s Metro that owns/maintains the stop flags, benches, and shelters.

There is so much critical work around here that needs to be done but which no one is funding. Just the kind of project I would undertake if I had a basic income.


Unfocused Rage Is Not a Strategy

It’s hard to be hopeful when the left seems to think we can pass gun laws by wishing and hoping, and that anger, nastiness, and personal attacks can defeat Trump.

After Newtown, I looked around at the facts, concluded new gun laws weren’t going to happen, and said so. I was excoriated for it (anyone who votes against new gun laws will lose their seats in 2014!), but I was right (they GAINED seats). The votes weren’t there. Too many members of Congress had A or B ratings from the NRA. We’re not a democracy where public will calls the shots; we’re an oligarchy where the rich and powerful few do. The same is happening now. A couple states are strengthening gun laws, but at least as many are moving them in the opposite direction. Congress isn’t about to do anything.

The left is excited about the 2018 elections. The right was excited about the 2010 and 2014 elections. Republicans made major gains those years but still couldn’t defeat Obama. Democrats are poised to make major gains this fall, but again, that says little about their ability to win a presidential election. Run another campaign like 2016, especially with another piss-poor candidate, and you will get the same result. You can’t apply the same actions and expect a different reaction. The left’s response to Trump now reminds me a lot of the right’s response to Paul Wellstone when he was in office. They were apoplectic and tried throwing everything they could at him in the desperate, random, undisciplined hope that something would stick. They never bothered to figure out what he was doing or how. So they never defeated him, as liberal as he was. If you pre-emptively declare all Trump voters evil and unworthy of campaigning to or persuading, you can’t get enough votes to win an election. And you don’t have to win all of them–just enough to get 270 Electoral Votes. No Nazis required; just win back Obama’s voters. If you’re too proud to care about those Obama-Trump voters, you’ll have to endure 8 years of Trump. And you’ll share responsibility for making it happen. Calling them names, applying double standards you don’t hold yourself or your allies to, demonstrating ever-increasing levels of baseless hyperbole–and abandoning your most fundamental values of logic, fairness, and civility in the process–will only alienate more people further and cost you the moral high ground. Fight on Trump’s terms, and Trump will win. He will always be able to out-divide and out-hate us. It’s a fight we can’t win, and a basis so disgusting and antithetical to our oldest and most important principles that such a victory wouldn’t be worth it.

That doesn’t mean excusing, ignoring, or pandering to hate. I grew up Jewish. Like any Jewish American born in the 70s, I had Holocaust teachings beaten into me. And I’ve always objected to *and studied* the scapegoating of minorities and the forces that lead to genocide. (I truly cannot implore you strongly enough to read Richard J. Evans’ history of Nazi Germany) From the KKK in this country around the Civil War and civil rights movement, to Hispanics, Catholics, to LGBTQ people, to Nazi Germany, to Rwanda, to Sudan; one truth emerges consistently. The fear and hatred of minorities usually comes from roots in economic suffering and desperation. That’s not to say it’s okay; it’s a horrific unjust failure of morality, conscience, and humanity. But the best predictor of how humans will act, or explainer of why they act as they do now, is usually history. America has never been good at teaching, learning, remembering, or applying the lessons of its own past, and we’ve gotten worse with the constant focus on whatever is happening RIGHT NOW to the exclusion of thoughtful analysis and discussion. We have even less memory of the past or sense of history than we used to before push notifications and BREAKING NEWS on every screen. I even had an attention span before 9/11. While we must do all we can to ensure equality and protect vulnerable groups of people, we also must finally address and ameliorate the underlying economic problems misleading people down the path of scapegoating and hate.

Why do you think Bernie Sanders did so well with people who later voted for Trump? Or that, once Hillary clinched the nomination, people chose a fascist demagogue over an establishment corporatist? Progressive populism works, and people choose it if given the chance. As Wellstone did. As long as no one really speaks to their financial pain, as neither corporate party has in my lifetime, many get swept into the hate. It’s easier to ignore the real problems in your own economy and blame “those lazy foreigners” (who are somehow taking your jobs with their laziness), just as it’s easier to for Democrats to ignore any possible fault or responsibility of Obama’s and lay all blame on Republicans, however dishonest or counterproductive. It feels good temporarily, but it doesn’t solve the problem. And on some level, I think people realize that. Offer to do something about wages that have stagnated for 40 years, the obscene debt you have to take on to get a college degree, the appalling lack of health care for tens of millions of Americans, the grim future we face as we can’t afford to retire, the communities betrayed by both advancing technology (closing coal mines) AND poor trade policies (Rustbelt manufacturing), the third world destitution we gratuitously condemn huge swaths of the country to, the creeping dominance of the working poor and idle rich–and you will earn those people’s support. AND YOU WILL WIN. Blaming the Russians, hoping for impeachment, or throwing your most creative insult-laced personal attacks at Trump supporters won’t get us anywhere. Progressive economic populism will.

We haven’t rejected an incumbent president since George H. W. Bush in 1992. If we stay on our current path, 2020 is going to look more like 2004 than 1992. Unfocused rage is not a strategy. We’re going to have to strip away our preconceptions, listen to people we don’t agree with, and do SOMETHING to address their legitimate concerns.

Derailment Highlights Importance of Redundancy

One critical lesson we can take fromyesterday’s tragic train derailment is the importance of REDUNDANCY in any transportation system. Sound Transit built straighter, more direct track to save time on many commuter and intercity passenger rail trips that will no longer have to go out of their way on older freight. This was a good and necessary project.

You never know many details of a service disruption in advance–you can’t know when they will happen, where, or for how long. But the nature of life is that you do know they WILL happen, like our 9.0 earthquake. If your system only works when everything goes right, it’s failing. You can’t rely on everything always going right. You need alternatives available. This is one reason why grid layouts of streets work so well.

Obviously the new bypass track has been out of service since this morning, and will remain so for a while. But the old, indirect freight track can still be used. Amtrak and ST riders needing to travel through the accident area are delayed, but they can still get where they’re going (like a coworker who took the Cascades to Portland today; we only had to cancel one hour of tests). 

This is exactly what ST is NOT doing with light rail. We know there are many disruptions and other problems with the MLK segment especially. But there will be no parallel track redundant to the “spine” (part of why it’s so idiotic). One line will run from Ballard to Tacoma, a good 35 miles or so, and any disruption on MLK will grind the entire line to a halt. Buses have much less capacity and can only move a fraction of the people; we need a parallel rail line. Similarly, ST is building street-running Link on Bel-Red Road. That will be the weak link on the other line from Everett to Redmond, putting it at risk of halting entirely. Based on the service patterns ST plans to use, only the West Seattle stub and Kirkland-Issaquah segments will be immune to this. A system with only one north-south route or one east-west route lacks redundancy and therefore fails. For the ability of people to keep moving between here and Portland, we’re lucky we built redundancy we’re now benefitting from. Now imagine what happens when 200,000 or 400,000 riders a day get stuck on Link due to a similar disruption without redundancy. To allow that for $54 billion is unconscionable.

Make English Great Again!

Language is supposed to be written with capitalization and punctuation–at least to be correct–which ultimately is so it can be read and understood. It honestly is harder for me to comprehend the more common poorly written language, like this:

this is the typical writing we see not only on social media but on blogs and even news sites or sites that purport to be news. it is basically English with no capitalization and very infrequent punctuation and it is harder to decipher¬†and follow it just doesn’t flow the way language should when you read it there also tend to be spelling syntax and grammar errors which I wont try to imitate HOWEVER what it does retain is the ancient and very helpful convention of inserting spaces between words we can thank the ancient greeks for that thanks ancient greeks but in all seriousness as long as we are giving up quality and clarity and millennia of learned lessons incorporated into the conventions of language in exchange for speed and volume what is to stop us from regressing even further and shedding these useful ancient greek spaces between words.


The Hypocrisy of Many Nikkita Oliver Supporters

It’s the stock in trade of many Democrats to blame non-voters for their losses in midterm elections. This is not an accurate description of what’s happening or why, and it’s a terrible strategy for trying to win elections or just treat other people with basic respect. You can’t shame and blame people into voting the way you want–ask Hillary Clinton. Moreover, this strategy ignores the myriad of real problems that lead people to abstain from voting, in which Democrats are often complicit. Research shows that the #1 reason people don’t vote is lack of time. But no matter how thoroughly and patiently you explain this and the political science behind it, Democratic voters and many politicians and “pundits” insist on ignoring real problems, blocking reforms, and blaming people who don’t vote in midterm elections. Because it’s easy and absolves them of responsibility.
Now Seattle has an open mayor’s race. There are 21 candidates on the primary ballot. Many of these same liberal/progressive people who insist on blaming non-voters are now flocking to Nikkita Oliver–a young black woman with an uncommon name who has failed to vote in 75% of the elections for which she was eligible. Not only have these same blamers fabricated intellectually amazing excuses for this, but some even accuse you of sexism, racism, or classism for pointing it out or questioning it. I have never missed an election since I turned 18 in 1994. I am not black or female, but I am poor and disabled, and I have moved a lot. You don’t have to have a perfect voting record, but you can’t fail to vote 3/4 of the time and expect to run a major city with no political experience. 
For her supporters, who seem less concerned with substance or policy than anything else, you can’t have it both ways. If you’re going to blame people for not voting, you can’t support a candidate who votes 25% of the time. And if you’re going to support the candidate with the worst voting record, you have absolutely no business ever blaming anyone for failing to vote.

Trump Immigration Policy Hinders PTSD Treatment

On a separate track from the medication issue (unresolved), I met with a new therapist who does EMDR, which is one treatment for PTSD. She seemed good and thought I’m a good candidate for it based on initial screening. She did her master’s at Case Western, so we’ve both lived in Ohio. The catch is that she’s foreign, and the government rejected her visa application, so she has to leave the country. I don’t think many capable health providers with advanced degrees were kicked out of the country under previous presidents. I apologized. Treating low-income trauma patients isn’t exactly a job Americans are clamoring to do. In fact, this would be my first treatment for PTSD after more than 3 years seeking it in at least 4 different clinics. 
She’s the only clinician at Rainier Beach who does EMDR, so she’s referring me to Renton or Des Moines to see another one. I think those are accessible from the 106 and A Line, though Des Moines is probably a long trip for weekly appointments. I’ve never really been there. I’ll see this therapist again after I get back to follow up on the referral. 
I also got my passport application printed and photo taken, but they stop processing them at 4:00. So I’ll come back tomorrow or Monday to finish that, then I can take my Scandinavia trip. Trying to keep the productive momentum going. New couch coming tomorrow before a night watching Bella and Milo.

Classist, Ableist Health Care

Can’t seem to get med refills or doctor appointment before leaving town. They interrupt and don’t listen to you. I even got hung up on trying to explain why people with autism hate talking on the phone and why it’s such a problem for a supposed mental health provider. Hardly any locations in the city or accessible without a car. I don’t know if I’ll be in drug withdrawal for the two weeks I’m in Columbus. This is how Medicaid and King County Community mental health work. Programs for the poor are poor programs.