The Mole reads the papers (and other things) so you don't have to

The Los Angeles Times printed a sad article(1) about an accident involving a Blue Line train, downtown. Three things about the piece really bothered me. One was a quote which said: “... the driver may have misread the traffic signal ...”, which shows how little time and effort is spent in developing clearly understood traffic signals. The second is Fire Battalion Chief Gomez quote - “I've been here 4½ years and I've lost count of the number of accidents I've seen with this train”. Finally, it seems that a basic element of reporting was ignored in that no specific time of day, other than “Sunday morning” was given. Was darkness a factor??

I believe that this tragedy foreshadows accidents which we will experience if the ill conceived, poorly planned “Expo Line” is – and I sincerely hope that this will NOT be the case – built. The money wasting, unnecessary “Expo Line” will be 100% at grade level, unlike the Blue Line, which is mostly elevated.

Which makes me wonder, have the local newspapers stopped reporting on “Orange Line” accidents?

In mid-August the LAX City Bus Center was cleaned, more or less anyway, and the graffiti cleaned. Now three weeks later it is filthy again, with the usual detritus: cigarette butts, fast food residue and newspapers. Old newspapers, especially around the periphery of the site where the fences stop and trap the papers which are blown there.

Speaking of litter, the “Los Angeles Times”, reporters Kenneth R. Weiss, Ms Usha Lee McFarling, photographer Rick Loomis and other supporting staff all deserve a “Well Done” for their work on the “Altered Oceans” series.(2)

Unfortunately, like man's other assault on our planet which is leading to “Global Warming” the future, this case too, seems bleak.

Unlike the spokesperson for 'Heal the Bay”, who wrote an optimistic letter to the Times Sunday, 6 Aug. 2006 page 1), I have a dimmer view and cannot share his provincial naiveté. In stating that “... these problems are solvable ...”, he takes only the narrowest view and looks only at our local situation. It seems to me that the status of Morton Bay in Australia is not easily reversible. A careful reading of Part One of the series (Sunday, 30 Jul. 2006, page 1) attributes the present situation there to over fishing, runoff of fertilizer and other material from land based sites and the constituents of combustion which also contribute to “Global Warming”. Replacing the fish population in what can only be described as a “dead zone” controlled by the lyngbya majuscula bacteria, is an immense and expensive task.

In Part Four of the Times series, the western gyre [an accumulation of floating trash] is described as being “... twice the size of Texas. ...” - certainly a cleanup of this and the eastern gyre will require more that a weekend of beach cleanup and is quite possibly Sisyphean in nature. Modern day agriculture is likely impossible without fertilizer and countries such as China, arguably the most environmentally damaged country in the world(3), add to atmospheric pollutants daily.

Looking toward the future, our hopes for a solution by future generations are diminished by several factors. The “dumbing down of America” continues unabated, today's young people seem to be self centered and focused on new cars, perpetually plugged into various personal entertainment devices, and, by viewing “fake news programs” they reduce what very little time that they might have to focus on real news, including environmental issues.

More than a generation ago, Rachel Carson, in “Silent Spring(4)” foretold the future. She was, over the longer term, with the exception of some reduction in DDT usage, ignored. This seems destined to be the fate of the Times series as well. People just don't care!

As I read about the various kinds garbage which is washed out to sea, I considered other litter which originates on land. In their May 2006 issue, “Vanity Fair” included a brochure(5) which cited the fact that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide annually. With this as a starting point, I computed that this is the equivalent of 124 shipping containers full of cigarette butts each and every year!

Much of Los Angeles' contribution to this litter washes through the gutters, into the storm drains and ultimately into the ocean where no nets will stop them. In many, if not most parts of the city of the city one can see this litter all around.

Until we can educate our citizens and the entire world's population to stop all forms of littering, curtail runoff from the land and the explosive growth of lyngbya majuscula etc. can be stopped and reversed, mankind may be near its final chapter.

Ear to the Rail

For those of you who must keep up with the economy and financial news, http://www.bloomberg.com/ (Yes, it is the company owned by the mayor of NYC). Has podcasts too, here is a sample of what you will find there: http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/veILdo3AFsOw.mp3

For others, who might appreciate the British take on the news, try http://news.sky.com/skynews/home and SkyTV's podcasts at

Here is an interesting example which includes a reference to Bush's call to PM Tony Blair, “Yo Blair”:

Now, Sky’s podcasts are OK, but, I have found that the some reporting doesn’t always give credit where credit is due. For example, Sky headlined an aircraft safety story indicating that they had spent six (6) months on it. I used a simple Google search with “boeing +ducommun +suit” as the search arguments and found Mother Jones piece of last October as the fourth in the list. Someone at SkyTV has not done a creditable research job. Here is what MJ had to say.

Here is the link to the Sky piece:

The Mole Rides Again - so that you will still hear about a mother and child in conversation

The homeless, at least the ones which are easy to see from the bus have AGAIN taken up residence in bus shelters along Airport Bl. One is located at the Arbor Vitae bus stop and the other short block away at 96th St. It would seem to me that the Airport Police, which I believe has the responsibility for this area would want these people relocated – for obvious reasons.

I am riding a line 232 bus. I overhear a rare (in English anyway) sweet conversation between a mother and her young daughter. The mother explains to the kindergartener why the mother's favorite swimming suit for the little girl is too tight - “... the swimming suit stayed the same size but you got bigger ...”.

As I look down at the Green Line tracks on the north side, from the platform of the Aviation Station, I notice something. Two cables, in PVC conduit, run down the center of the tracks for the length of the platform. They originate from a padlocked metal box on the east side of the station. I assume that they carry signaling control. The PVC piping is parallel to the tracks and is supported in place by transverse members, about one yard in length, about 8 inches above the roadbed. The problem is that five of these supporting members have broken off their fasteners and one is missing completely! Ah, Metro Maintenance at work – or is it at rest? I ride the next train and report it to the “motorman” on the emergency intercom. He tells me that he will “radio it in” . We will see.

I am at Lake and Colorado in Pasadena. There are lots of fairly large posters around the intersection. They offer a no questions asked $1000 reward for the return of a “GE Vivid ultrasound machine”. The picture shows it to appear laptopish. The detail states that this machine is needed in order to diagnose babies with heart defects. I hope that they find it! The telephone number given is: 626.791.3365. If you can help see to it that this machine is returned, please do so.

The man seated in the bus shelter near the bus stop has a large wart below his nose and exactly in the center of the nostril divider, whatever they call that? The torn back sleeve, at the shoulder seam, of his jacket is held together by a single safety pin. He has two shopping bags which are actually comprised of 7 or 8 similarly sized shopping bags layered one inside the other. The outmost bag, lending an element of class, is a Bloomies “Big Brown Bag”. I have never seen anything like this near 59th and Lex in NYC!

On the Foothill 187 line – it is clean, quiet, cool and comfortable with high backed seats. Although it seems to have too many “rattles” for a bust of its apparent age. The woman across from me has some kind of cough (yes, in the era of H5N1, I have become more sensitive) so I move to the only other appealing place to me on this ride, the rearmost seat. The bottom cushion is poorly anchored and keeps sliding around. As soon as a seat opens up, I move again. Unlike the Metro system this ride was cell phone free :-).

Line 79 bus number 7637 operator number 10311. This driver can't shut up! He makes redundant stop announcement and other unnecessary comments. I think I know him and that he used to deliver a sermon of sorts, but, I am not sure. Anyway, no “Have a blessed day”, whatever the hell that means, from him. It is annoying. His chatter, together with the AVA (Automatic Voice Announcements) and the stupid Transit TV with the brain damaged duo of wanna be Martha Stewart cooks and their single hot plate, are cutting into my meditation time.

The driver tells us about seeing a weekend Superman movie. I am not entertained and would like a siesta after a big lunch at Nordstrom’s Santa Anita Shopping Center store. He notifies us that the next stop will be, my destination, the Law “Lieberry”.

I am riding a 720 line to Santa Monica. When I board the passengers are educating the (by accent) Indian or Pakastani driver in the fine points of the American language, viz., cursing. Apparently, he closed one of the back doors on someone – this is a double or articulated vehicle – too soon. So, the topic of the moment is the F word in its infinite inflected forms. Everything is great until a bag lady sits next to me on one of the center facing seats. She tries to strike up a conversation with a young Latina who seems less than enchanted by this, yet manages a smile.

(1) Cleeland, Nancy “2 Killed 2 Injured in Car Hit by Train” 21 Aug 2006 Los Angeles Times:B4

(2)N/A “Altered Oceans series” 30 Jul~10 Aug 2006 Los Angeles Times
(3) Economy, Elizabeth C. “The River Runs Black” 2004 Cornell University

(4)Carson, Rachel “Silent Spring”, 1962 Houghton Miffin Co.

(5)”What You Can Do: 50 Ways To Help Save The Planet” which accompanied Vanity Fair's May 2006 issue.

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