On the Level Blog on Temporary Hiatus to Fight ‘Smart’ Meters

Protest in Santa Cruz County in August that Shut Down PG&E's Smart Meter Program

As you may have noticed, I have had to take a break from regular posts on this blog, as we mobilize communities against our utility in California, PG&E, who are attempting  to force ‘smart’ gas and electric meters  on everyone’s home- with or without their permission.  Green on the surface, but rotten to the core, the more I’ve learned about this undemocratic program, and the dangers of wireless radiation, the more horrified I’ve become.  Now more than 25 local governments have formally objected to the program, yet the state allows PG&E to continue.  The worst part about it is that many of the approximately 3% of the population who are electro-hyper sensitive are being forced to leave their own homes, in some cases becoming refugees, living in their cars to avoid the emerging ubiquitous wireless radiation.

Climate change is an emergency.  But from where I’m sitting, the even greater emergency are some of the false solutions they are coming up with to ‘respond’ to the crisis.   Real solutions to climate change help re-localize, come from the grassroots, involve reduced consumption and foster stronger communities.   The ‘smart’ grid -as its being implemented- does none of these. There is more information and regular updates on the site I am running, http://stopsmartmeters.org.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to put a halt to the wireless smart meter assault and return to our regularly scheduled programming of anti-car righteousness.  I’m also pleased to announce that my Driven to Excess research is set to be published in the World Transport Policy and Practice Journal soon (social decay caused by motor traffic now in new improved statistically significant format!)

Thanks for bearing with me as we fight the machine.  Look out San Francisco, it’s on your doorstep!

Welcome to the machine

 

A New Generation of Cargo Bikes: Hauling with Human Power in the 21st Century

Halloween ride from Menlo Park to Santa Cruz on my new Frances tourer, with Pass and Stow and Bruce Gordon racks- sure beats Highway 17!

The new Make Magazine is out on the streets, and with it, my article on cargo bicycles, entitled Cargo Bike Power: Car-Free Carrying Makes a Comeback.  In the course of my research, I interviewed innovators and relatively new entrants into the industry, like Josh Muir and Saul Griffith as well as legends of cargo bike applications and design like Erik Zo and Stephen Bilenky.

I was so impressed with Josh Muir’s Frances Cycles (I mean it’s hard not to pant and drool over the beautiful bikes on his website) that I ordered my own custom, all around touring bike, which arrived a couple of months ago.  I’ve done a couple of long rides on it, including from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo along the Big Sur Coast (below) and a Halloween ride from Menlo Park to Santa Cruz via the Ridge Trail (above).  It’s so nice to have a large front rack- perfect size for a medium pizza or 12 pack of beer!

I just love a bike that you can take on and off road, that is light enough for a pleasurable roadie rec ride, but is substantial enough that you don’t have to worry about breaking it if you hit a pothole.   If you’re going to own one bike, I’ve found that a touring bike is the most practical.  Of course, you’re not going to want to leave this on the street unattended for any length of time, so a beater bike is also essential if you are living car-free.

It was exciting to learn more about, and share the innovations going on in the bicycle industry.  It is likely that as the economy continues to slow, we will see more bicycle manufacturing return to the US, where labor isn’t as expensive as it once was.  The most exciting, high quality framebuilding is happening in small batches in backyards throughout the country.   From Josh Muir, the framebuilding artisan who takes a stylistic page out of the early years of bicycle building, to Saul Griffith, whose Onya Cycles attempts to replicate the abilities of a car, with CAD design and electrical assist, there is a noticeable level of new energy in designing personal mobility that does not rely on internal combustion.

Need a new bike?   Consider a cargo carrying variety!  Or simply modify your existing steed and bring out the inner hauling beast!  Need to move that mattress across town?  You haul not U-Haul!

Even heavy, bulky and awkward loads can be carried by bike! (2004, Haight St. SF)

Can You Hear Me Now?? Cell Phones Cause Cancer.

It’s incredible to me how so many of my friends- even those who know the risks- still hold small microwave ovens (cause that’s what they are) up to their heads and keep them on their bodies.  Watch this video if you are still not convinced.  Serious shit people- wake up- I don’t want to lose you!

Endangered Pregnant Blue Whale Hit By Ship, Washes Up at Bean Hollow

I’m devastated and heartsick to hear that the pregnant blue whale who washed up at Bean Hollow beach this last weekend was the victim of a ship strike off the coast.  This follows another recent whale killing where a cargo ship pulled into Oakland terminal with a whale stuck to its bow.  Over the years, the Cetacean death toll from shipping has been horrific.  I covered this issue here at On the Level when I was crossing the Atlantic on a cruise ship last year to get back to the US.  It’s appalling that we continue to allow this to happen in our backyard.

While the mainstream media might decry this as a tragic ‘accident’ the truth is that we continue to treat marine mammals (and all marine life) with a recklessness and cruelty that boggles the mind.  It’s no accident when we fail to enforce low shipping speeds in areas where whales are feeding and birthing.  It’s no accident that we fail to use the latest sonar technology to allow ship captains to avoid whales in the open ocean.  It’s an intentional, cold calculation to internalize profit, while externalizing damage and death to the natural world.

From oil and gas drilling, to naval sonar exercises that can damage the inner ears leading to the horrific deaths of the most magnificent animals on the planet near extinction, our culture seems hell bent on destruction of the natural world.  It’s a suicidal system that will bring us to a grisly end as well if we don’t manage to turn things around in time.

While our ‘leaders’ call for infinite, exponential economic growth and more trade with Asia as a way to stem unemployment and increase wealth, what does this actually mean in terms of the real world?   Increased carbon emissions, more cargo ships and oil tankers crushing the life out of whales, more mercury raining down on our environment from coal fired power stations, and the list goes on.

Does job creation really depend on slaughtering the living world?  Or is it actually the generation of extraordinary stores of wealth by a very few psychopaths like Donald Trump that depends on these vicious attacks on humans and nature?

Why is there such a fuss put up by religious fundamentalists when one woman out of seven billion makes the choice to end her own pregnancy because she can’t give the baby the life it deserves, but there is barely a peep when one of the last 5000 or so Blue Whales on Earth- a mother and her unborn calf are murdered so that Wal Mart can stock the latest plastic crap that we don’t  really need or Chevron can import blood oil from Iraq to its Richmond refinery?

It’s time we expand the idea of being pro-life to include all of life, of whatever species.

The Bike Song

Go Mark Ronson!  This is one cool video :)

PG&E Hiding From Smart Meter Protests

Fix Fell Demands Safe Streets as a Human Right