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Friday, June 30, 2006

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Big businesses, especially those with their eye on the oil and hands around our throats, and corruption in government are just controlling us like crazy. I just came across this movie (thanks, Logan!) trailer. Watch it. It's crazy how oil controls the future of all of us and the future of this planet that we're borrowing (and destorying in the process). Check it:

SYNOPSIS from the movie's website:

It was among the fastest, most efficient production cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American technology to the forefront of the automotive industry. The lucky few who drove it never wanted to give it up. So why did General Motors
crush its fleet of EV1 electric vehicles in the Arizona desert?

WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? chronicles the life and mysterious death of the GM EV1, examining its cultural and economic ripple effects and how they reverberated through the halls of government and big business.

The year is 1990. California is in a pollution crisis. Smog threatens public health. Desperate for a solution, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) targets the source of its problem: auto exhaust. Inspired by a recent announcement from General Motors about an electric vehicle prototype, the Zero Emissions Mandate (ZEV) is born. It required 2% of new vehicles sold in California to be emission-free by 1998, 10% by 2003. It is the most radical smog-fighting mandate since the catalytic converter.

With a jump on the competition thanks to its speed-record-breaking electric concept car, GM launches its EV1 electric vehicle in 1996. It was a revolutionary modern car, requiring no gas, no oil changes, no mufflers, and rare brake maintenance (a billion-dollar industry unto itself). A typical maintenance checkup for the EV1 consisted of replenishing the windshield washer fluid and a tire rotation.

But the fanfare surrounding the EV1’s launch disappeared and the cars followed. Was it lack of consumer demand as carmakers claimed, or were other persuasive forces at work?

Fast forward to 6 years later... The fleet is gone. EV charging stations dot the California landscape like tombstones, collecting dust and spider webs. How could this happen? Did anyone bother to examine the evidence? Yes, in fact, someone did. And it was murder.

The electric car threatened the status quo. The truth behind its demise resembles the climactic outcome of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express: multiple suspects, each taking their turn with the knife.

WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? interviews and investigates automakers, legislators, engineers, consumers and car enthusiasts from Los Angeles to Detroit, to work through motives and alibis, and to piece the complex puzzle together.

WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? is not just about the EV1. It’s about how this allegory for failure—reflected in today’s oil prices and air quality—can also be a shining symbol of society’s potential to better itself and the world around it. While there’s plenty of outrage for lost time, there’s also time for renewal as technology is reborn in WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR?


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Illustration Friday: RAIN

Hearing your voice, maybe it was just the vibrations from your chest,

I felt the wind gently blowing my hair, a long skirt stirred by the breeze.

Hot and dry and lovely it whispered to me.

A life not lived, the dream of simplicity.

Wow, it's been quite some time since I've participated in an Illustration Friday topic. I did most of this today and then saw the topic and figured I could make it work...I just had to transform the sunny dance into the rainy dance.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Beth Orton love

I'm on another Beth Orton kick. I heard her live on Sirius Disorder yesterday and her voice just blew me away on the few songs she sang in the studio. Especially Shopping Trolley from her latest album. So Beth is on repeat on my computer. I think I'll just listen to her all day.

From Shopping Trolley...

Words are but dust of stars
When they collide
I get lost in the sparks
Explode into the dark
And move like light on the sea

I think i’m gonna cry
But i’m gonna laugh about it
All in time
I know i’m gonna cry
But i’m gonna laugh about it
All in time, all in time

Friday, June 09, 2006

Let it pass

Sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up and embedded in what we think someone is insinuating when none of it is based in reality. It's so difficult at times to let go of these thoughts that feel like reality. I find myself holding on to them so tightly sometimes that they manifest into reality just from squeezing too hard and thinking too much and analyzing to a fault. Who knows if this makes sense. I need to really practice...well, I think I have in the past year or so...sitting with a feeling and letting it pass instead of picking it apart and dwelling in it and making it bigger than everything else surrounding me. When I feel like something is off or when I hear a tone in someone's voice that makes me question their feelings toward me I need to just sit. I guess this is just a reminder to myself. Feel. Sit. After a while it will pass and it won't even really mingle with reality. It will just be gone.

Circadian Creation: 6.6.06 Overwhelmed

Flappp… flappp.
She heard the sound echoing around her.
Flap flap.
The sound was heavy and commanding,
A prehistoric bird perhaps, swooping in
To snatch her from herself.

Opening her eyes, enveloped
By white light
And a heavy vibration in
Her empty chest.
White light shrouded by impossible
Wings above her.
Magnificent grace.

She could see no face.

Flapp flap.
She opened her mouth;
Was wrong.
She tried to scream.

Flapp flap.
Was the only sound.
Slow and pregnant.

Tilting her head and searching around her
All she could see was
Endless wings.
The empty chests of countless girls
Like her.

A wing reached down and covered her.
Grace reformed to heaviness and darkness.
Taking her breath as she gasped one last time.

This is just a very rough first draft still...inspired by an interview with poet laureate Billy Collins heard on NPR yesterday.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Arrived at work and everything felt calm. I felt calm. That after sitting in traffic for over an hour. With New Jersey drivers to top it off. Yes, I guess I am one of them though. The days of rain feel like maybe they are cleansing me. Cleansing me, rather slowly I might add though, of the stress and frustration of recent and upcoming events. Ahhh, and it feels good.

Looking forward to another road trip…we leave on Sunday…down to Asheville North Carolina and then on to Bonnaroo in Tennessee for music, camping, relaxing and fun. Can’t wait. I haven’t been to a good musical festival in a while, so I’m definitely looking forward to it. Also looking forward to some good North Carolina exploration. Exploring with purpose but that will be explained at a later date for certain reasons.

So I suppose I have phone phobia. I just called congressman’s office to urge him to “save the internet” but I froze up and ended up hanging up. I felt like I was in eighth grade apprehensively yet excitedly calling a skater boy that I liked. It was rather pathetic actually. Perhaps I’ll call back later. Or maybe just add it to “the list.”

I left this open and went on with my day. As the day progresses…the rain keeps falling. Grey skies and wind are comforting. I love these days though I wish I could curl up out of the fluorescent lights and wrap a blanket around me and immerse myself in nothing. I find the doubts and worries seeping into my mind after a morning of relaxation and peace. I’m scanning photos for my grandmother’s 75th birthday party and I think it’s just reminding me of the fleeting nature of time and how it slips out of your hands. For myself, a reminder that actions need to be taken toward the dreams and things that will make me happy. I need to remember that. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the monotony of life and forget about those important things…the things that make your heart beat fast, the things that excite you and scare you. The real marrow of life. What’s the quote? "I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

No, I’m in no way, shape or form comparing myself to Thoreau so don’t worry. I want to suck the marrow out better. Right now, I’m leaving too much meat on the bone. Well, that’s what change is for. Exploring is up ahead on my road. I just need to get off the main road and explore the little paths. The paths with paint and words and woods and people and music and places. I need to get into the crevices of the moments and immerse myself. I will do that.

First, I just need to get out of this creative block. Hopefully a week of exploring will help with that.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ten on Tuesday: Relax

10 Ways I Like to Relax

  1. Sit in the sun
  2. Read a book (or a magazine for more lazy relaxation)
  3. Write in journal
  4. Watch a movie
  5. Have a glass of wine (or 2 or 3…or 8)
  6. Lie on bed or couch and do nothing
  7. Listen to mellow girl music while doing nothing or maybe while doing something creative
  8. Surf the internet like the geek that I am
  9. Walk the dogs around the yard and by the stream
  10. Take photos
Ten on Tuesday

Monday, June 05, 2006

Official language?

Where Our Mouth Is

By Geoffrey Nunberg

"Fresh Air" commentary,
June 1, 2006

To hear supporters tell it, the Senate's decision to amend its immigration bill with a clause declaring English the national language is a purely symbolic gesture, like establishing a national anthem or proclaiming National Ergonomics Week. That isn't quite true -- the declaration could be used by states to deny various services, like providing interpreters for immigrants in child custody proceedings or Workers' Compensation hearings.[1] But the bill doesn't actually bar states or the federal government from providing bilingual services that are already being offered.[2]

That puts critics of the amendment in an awkward position -- say that you don't think it's a good idea and you're liable to hear, "You mean you don't think everybody needs to learn English?" That leaves you in the position of having to say, "Well, yes, of course but…" And in the prevailing political climate, arguments that begin with "Well, yes, of course, but…" have a hard time getting out of the starting gate.

But it's precisely the symbolism and timing of the declaration that make it such a loaded political gesture. For more than 200 years, after all, the United States and the English have been happily co-habiting without benefit of clergy, even in periods when there were proportionately more immigrants than there are today. Why do we suddenly need to officially tie the knot? Do immigrants really need to be sent a message about the importance of English in American life?

That seems to be what a lot of Americans believe. In a recent Pew survey, 60 percent of Americans said they thought immigrants weren't doing enough to learn English, and a large plurality said that immigrants today were less willing to adapt to the American way of life than immigrants in the early 1900's.

That's merely one more reminder of how easy it is for pollsters to get Americans to pronounce on matters that they couldn't possibly have an informed opinion about. If people were trying to give honest answers to a question about whether the pace of language assimilation has decreased over the past century, you'd expect 97 percent of them to say "Now how in the world would I know that?"

And as it happens, all the evidence suggests that it takes recent immigrants a generation or so less to learn English than it took the German, Polish, or Italian immigrants of the early 20th century. True, first-generation immigrants are often slow to learn the language, particularly if they live in ethnic enclaves and work at menial jobs. But their children are virtually all English-speaking, unlike the children of first-generation immigrants a century ago.

Immigrants aren't stupid, after all. Surveys show that 90 percent of Hispanic immigrants say that English is necessary to succeed in this country. In fact the biggest impediment to learning English these days is the shortage of English classes. Right now there are 20,000 people on waiting lists to get into English classes in Massachusetts, 6,000 in Maryland, 10,000 in Arizona, and so on down the line. But none of the immigration bills before the Congress provides a dime to make those waits any shorter, in what has to be a singularly literal example of not putting your money where your mouth is.

Still, people persist in believing that today's immigrants are unwilling to learn English. One reason for that may be that foreign languages are a lot more conspicuous in modern America than they were a century ago. Even if you don't actually encounter many immigrants, you're reminded of their presence whenever you click down the TV dial, get cash at an ATM, or drive past a Spanish-language billboard. That helps to explain why people who live in areas that have few immigrants are actually more likely to believe that immigrants aren't trying hard enough to learn English -- for that matter, they're also more likely to believe that Latin American immigrants increase crime. In the absence of any real contact with immigrants, those people have nothing to fall back on but familiar ethnic stereotypes and the alarm they feel when they see Spanish popping up on Burger King menus and socket-wrench instructions.

Those are the stereotypes that politicians are playing to when they make a show of insisting that immigrants have to learn English, as if some people were unclear on the concept. What's disturbing about that isn't just that it slights the good faith and intelligence of recent immigrants. It sells the majority culture short in the bargain.

Europeans may understand this better than we do. As it happens, I was attending a conference on language and law in Dusseldorf when the Senate amendment was adopted. When the topic came up at dinner, the European linguists and lawyers were a bit mystified by the declaration. Not that they don't have their own issues with language and immigrants, but did anybody in the US really think that the English language needed the government to step in to preserve it? To Europeans, saying that the English language needs preserving sounds a little like putting crabgrass on the endangered species list.

It should sound pretty ridiculous to us, too. But Americans seem to have lost sight of just how compelling our language and culture are. So long as America is a receptive society that rewards individual initiative, immigrants don't need any urging to learn English, provided they're given the opportunity. In fact, they're assimilating linguistically more rapidly than immigrants in Germany, France, or Spain, which are relatively less open societies than ours is. That's the irony of this business: our doubts about immigrants' willingness to adapt to American life are really the signs of a loss of faith in our own irresistible charm.

1. The amendment states that no one shall have "a right, entitlement or claim to have the government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services or provide materials in any language other than English" -- language that could be used by states to justify the denial of various bilingual services. Return

2. It's a matter of opinion whether the amendment amounts to declaring English the official language. The pro-official language group U.S. English claims that it does, and so does the well-known language-rights advocate James Crawford, who writes, "Let’s call this what it is: an official language measure." See also Ben Zimmer's discussion of this question in LanguageLog.