Although Vor was hard at work with a high pressure hose, “cleaning” the LAX City Bus Center, the poor creatures shown above have still have not been given a decent burial. Too, the kiosk tops still are coated with several millimeters of accumulated grime.
The LACMTA published an information card(1) entitled “Protect your health” with common sense tips on avoiding “swine flu”.
Another publication(2) is of even more interest to me in that it is directed at stopping vandalism. One statement, “Ignoring vandalism has been found to promote an increase in crime”, is surprizing in that almost nothing has been done by the LACMTA about the “whois” bumper stickers which deface many buses system wide. Their incondite approach, has resulted in their not being able to track down the perpetrator, coupled with the brochure mentioned here examplifies, yet again, that the right hand thinks that it is alone in the world.
Feeling good about the economy? Read this(3): http://www.slate.com/id/2219599/ and the feeling will soon go away. The former governor of New York, Elliot Spitzer (you may know him by his code name), is the author, and one who knows that “data” takes the plural form, “are” as well! Unfortunately, he has bad news for us, bad news which no amount of “feel good” platitudes can overcome.
Here is a brief summary: “So, despite trillions in public spending, we are short millions of jobs, are rapidly sliding further into debt, are losing our capacity to borrow at a manageable cost, and are producing fewer of the goods that will generate real wealth.” But please, read the entire piece.
On June 7th, a piece(not cited) at http://www.breitbart.com/ introduced the idea that public transportation might NOT be a “green”, i.e., environmentally friendly, as one might wish. Unfortunately, the copyright citation disallows linkage to the AFP (Agence France-Presse) source. So, go to the brietbart.com site and search for “Think twice ‘green’” (without the bookending “). OR, use this link to read the lengthy paper(5): http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=its/future_urban_transport
This, from the paper’s abstract: “Current results show that total energy and greenhouse gas emissions increase by as much as 1.6X for automobiles, 1.4X for buses, 2.6X for light rail, 2.1X for heavy rail, and 1.3X for air over operation. Criteria air pollutant emissions increase up to 30X for automobiles, 7X for buses, 10X for light rail, 29X for heavy rail, and 9X for air.”
La Taupe’s brief conclusion based upon his reading, is that if a given transportation sub-system, light rail or subway, is powered by electricity AND that electricity is produced by incorporation the combustion of coal or oil then the given sub-system might not be ‘green’. But don’t be satisfied with that read all you can, and come to your own conclusions. Relating this paper to our own LACMTA, it would seem that that agency’s beloved [but not by this author] “Expo Line” which is powered by electricity generated by oil, is less than green.
Another related article has this "New rail systems should serve as links to other transit modes, as is often the case in Europe and Japan. … We should avoid building rail systems that are disconnected from major population areas and require car trips and parking to access [and, your Mole inserts, are not part of an overall transportation system which links buses and other modes]."
In the same vein, traffic, please download and listen to this IBM produced podcast: http://download.boulder.ibm.com/ibmdl/pub/podcasts/future/SPTrafficFinal.mp3
Our 73.1 mile Metro “system” –subway and light rail– is tiny by Big Apple standards where the
NYC subway system alone is, at 722 miles(6), roughly ten times as large.
Snoble redivivus: One definition of insanity is repeating the past and expecting the future to be different. That is pretty much the case wih the rail cars which didn’t meet specifications, destined for the light rail system, were accepted by the LACMTA. Now they want to find another vendor and/or put the project out to bid. Where were the on-site inspections at the fabrication location(s) during the early build phase? Oh, there weren’t any? This is like the store owner who was losing a little money on every transaction who hoped to make up the difference on volume. Another example of this philosophy toward ROI (Return On Investment) is the TAP card “Day Passes”.
Plus ça change ….
Although Snoble was wasteful and inefficient, at least, his lapses were not responsible for the number of deaths for which Solow must accept responsibility. No matter how the work is contracted out, Metrolink has/had a duty to supervise, NOT to sit on their big, fat, overstuffed chairs and point fingers at the contractor. I have seen NO evidence that there was ANY manner of quality control exercised over the contracted crews. There is no question that Solow should be fired and those who fire him have any number of legitimate causes.
Ear to the Rail
As you know, su Topo likes history. Here is a link to a series of podcast about the life of Napoléon http://napoleon.thepodcastnetwork.com/2006/02/06/napoleon-101-episode-001/ . There are, currently, about 50+ hours of recorded materials. A word of caution, these are very unprofessionally done and suffer greatly from a lack of post-production editing. There may also be some historical inaccuracies.
One of the participants, an American, who drinks as he records, tends to wander off the subject. He is the author of a “for dummies” book about Napoléon and unlike many of the combat veterans I know, likes to brag about his “Bronze Star” and “Army Commendation”.
The other, a much more likable guy, is an Australian. It is real work to extract knowledge from these podcasts. I have listened to about 30 hours worth so far and although I have a much better understanding of Napoléon than I did before, it is likely because I have listened to a number of the podcasts several times.
On the positive side, I did learn about a number of Napoléon’s non-military accomplishments and gained respect for his intellect. The vestigages of at least one of them, the Napoleonic Code, remain in the laws of the state of Louisiana.
La Taupe’s intention is to listen to the entire series and then find a thick volume that is judged the “best biography of Napoléon” and read it. Please give the linked episode a listen and follow-up as you see fit.
Now one line of study often leads to another, so in researching what I had heard on the Napoléon 101 podcast, I found an extremely interesting juxtaposition of the R (Statistical Language, see: 2009-02-27, bibliography item (9)) and the visualization of data as found in Charles Minard’s map of Napoléon’s Russian Campaign of 1812-1813, all produced by http://pbil.univ-lyon1.fr/ (Pôle Bioinformatique Lyonnais at the Université Claude Bernard Lyon I in France). Pôle Bioinformatique Lyonnais means, approximately, [the] Center for Biological Computing in Lyon.
You can find Charles Minard’s (civil engineer and statistician 1781 –1870), map, which has been described as “The best statistical graphic ever drawn“,by Edward Tufte, "The Leonardo da Vinci of Data" (See: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5673332 , on page 7 of
http://pbil.univ-lyon1.fr/R/cours/lang04.pdf which also includes an English translation of the chart. There are also some excellent examples of graphical techniques using the R language. All-in-all, this is a beautiful document. Merci bien à le Pôle Bioinformatique Lyonnais!
The reason la Taupe likes this diagram so much is that it is rich in information, it is also dense in information and easy to read and interpret. By dense, I mean that it “carries” lots of information, in the same as the manner as a Japanese (Chinese) Kanji is dense. Such characters, in relatively few strokes, tell us about the subject to which the character refers, e.g., people, water, fire, sun and etc., as well as other indicia. Minard communicates the number of troops flowing in a given direction, to or from Moscow, by the colour and width of a band, as well as by figures. If our LACMTA would use Minard’s methodologies to depict traffic, i.e., passenger origins and destinations, then a mass transportation system built on logic, rather than suppositions, could be planned.
(LACMTA management may skip this section) Your computer may have a sticker which says “dual core”. This means that, in essence, that it has the ability to process “two jobs concurrently”. One theory of computing says [approximately] that while in the past we wanted to make processors faster – 1MHz CPU (Central Processing Unit, i.e., processor) and etc.— we now want to have more, although they might be slower, processors. So, data are distributed to several processors to accomplish the desired task.
Let’s say that we wanted to add up all the telephone numbers in the Los Angeles telephone directory for the 213 area code. Since an imaginary problem can be allocated to any equipment we desire, we will use an IBM Sequoia system(9) which is capable of “… making up to 20 quadrillion calculations per second thanks to its 1.6 million microprocessors”. This is overkill, but we will assign a processor to sum the numbers by the letter which is at the beginning of the name for each entry. Those names which begin with the letter “A” will be summed by processor 0, initial “B” names will have their numbers summed by processor 1 and so on, those names which begin with the letter “Z” will have their numbers summed by processor 25.
All of this will go on concurrently: while processor 0 is busy adding up numbers for the “A” group, other processors will be adding up their assigned initial letter’s numbers, up to and including the “Z” group, which will be added by processor 25.
When the job is finished the 26 partial sums are added into a final total, in NOT 1/26th of the time (partly because of the unqual distribution of initial letters of name, there will be more “A” than “Z” initial letters) but mostly because there is some “overhead” required to organize and control the subtasks.
Our LACMTA could use this approach to say, find the bus closest to a given bus that broke down by constantly tracking the real-time locations of all buses, then the closest bus could be rerouted to pickup the stranded passengers and then arrange for their ongoing journey (LACMTA management, if you read this anyway, it is not science fiction). This is all possible using a much smaller system than IBM’s Sequoia.
Su Topo is working with the Erlang computer language, developed by Ericson which has offers fairly, as these things go, concurrent programming and could accomplish the example of the telephone number addition described above.
The language can be freely downloaded from: http://www.erlang.org/download.html
A brief introduction is available at:
With more details at: http://www.erlang.org/doc.html Thank You Erlang Org!
An IDE (Integrated Development Environment, used to organize your work as a programmer) is available for Eclipse see: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/eclipse/downloads/ganymede/
Thank You IBM, for making Eclipse open source!
The Eclipse plugin, erlIDE, (establishes the IDE i.e., Integrated Developed Environment) is available at: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=58889&package_id=145847&release_id=678940 Thank You Eclipse!
Read about the creator of Erlang, Joe Anderson —warning this is moderately technical stuff— at: http://www.ddj.com/linux-open-source/201001928?cid=RSSfeed_DDJ_OpenSource
To see a brief overview of Erlang, en Française, visit http://pinard.progiciels-bpi.ca/erlang/impressions.html Merci bien à M. François Pinard.
If these things interest you, happy concurrent programming!
In one of my occasional visits to youTube I found this Paris Metro Music, it is not a concert hall but, … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE1_SIgcOrs
A Foreign Policy piece(4) describes how the ability of humans to think will evolve in the future. “By 2050, the result should be humans who are able to address issues and solve problems previously beyond our reach, redefining how we as a species imagine, work, and think.” Hmmm … I wonder if that will also apply to the LACMTA?
The Mole Rides Again, so that you need not think about paying more for less
I sat pondering about the single attribute which best characterizes the LACMTA. Is it its’ cresent ignorance, sans limite or its’ insensitivity to and lack of concern for the ridership, which already stands at an irreducible minimum. With the LACMTA, it is not so much a problem of not being able to think outside the box, as the lack of the ability to think even inside the box.
To illustrate my point, let’s take the recent severing of Metro service to El Segundo. Lines 124 and 125 had low ridership, yet somehow Metro was able to convince BCT (Beach Cities Transit) that even if Metro was losing money hand over fist on the lines, BCT would be able to make money. What should have been done is, in these days of (again) raising gasoline prices, to mount a sales campaign which would have informed people about the 124 and 125 lines as a link to the Green Line and therefore Los Angeles, Long Beach and all the communities between.
Which link to the Green Line is now provided by BCT –just how well remains to be seen. The losers, as usual, the ridership, like su Topo, whose monthly pass has AGAIN diminished in value.
But sell they can’t. People are expected, somehow, to just know how to use public transit. As a result, many who might be possible users of the bus and trains are unsure as exactly how to do it. Your Mole has suggested in an earlier post that Metro’s “marketing department” should set up meetings at local libraries, in El Segundo, for example and explain the service. Exact itineraries could be planned for people, questions answered, demonstrations of the “Trip Planner”
But no, the LACMTA decided to foist the two lines on BCT, in what might be considered a transportation sector instantiation of the financial sector’s “Greater Fool Theory”. The idea is that there is always a buyer … who will pay a better price than the seller paid < http://financial-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Greater+Fool+Theory > , or perhaps the bigger fool is the one who, believing profitability is just around the corner, will suffer even greater losses.
La Taupe feels that the LACMTA just wants out of this service area and once such service is assumed by BCT, if BCT cancels the service, well, it is not the LACMTA’s fault.
As usual, the LACMTA botched the handover printing a smallish flyer that suggested one call BCT for information on the new service. BCT need not be unhappy to see the switchboard lit up when a printed link to the new schedule on BCT’s site would have reduced the communication load somewhat. BCT’s ridership will lose some coverage too, because in order to cover the routes abandoned by Metro, they are rerouting their line 109 and dropping some coverage. It is a Lose-Lose proposition all around. Ignorance? Insensitivity? or that perfect blend that can only be formulated by the LACMTA?
Then too, is the lack of leveraging the technology which they already have, notably the GPS (Global Positioning System) driven stop announcements. This computer application could easily perform the additional related functions: (i) ensuring that the head sign reflects the actual heading of the bus, relieving drivers of this presently manual and often error prone task; and (ii) showing the next time of departure along with the destination when the bus is on layover.
2009-06-11: The woman seated across from me had an angel's halo peeping out of her neckline and some characters tattooed along her jaw, just under her chin --weird! Sunday, 14 June 2009: As usual, the LAXCBC is filthy. Newspapers litter the street, and every kind of detritus know to man partially carpets the sidewalks, the tops of the kiosks are covered with dirt winch could be accurately carbon dated back the Bush I period. On board a 232 line bus: we pass the bus stop just south of Century on Sepulveda and, as usual [shame on you ] Air Canada, assisted by the [inept] Airport Police, have not halted the work of the serial litterer who scatters [mainly] Air Canada materials in the street in front of the aforementioned bus stop. At a Green Line station: a homeless man punches his bedroll while smoking, knowing that one of the LACMTA's mottoes is"security last ' --actually they should prohibit smoking at all venues where people queue for public transportation. At first glance this guy seemed to have something wrong with his upper lip, but a second look reveals that he is walking around with the tip of his tongue stuck out just covering the upper lip. At the Vermont AV Station a worker wearing a Metro vest is working on the emergency telephone, I hope that he is adding a " cone of silence" because the way things stand, these phones are unusable. I wanted to read on the Blue Line but a man is babbling on about his sister seeing Obama and other things that the men su Topo knows don't talk about. <
2009-06-15 10:50AM: Line 232 (Southbound), Bus # 11046 , Operator I.D., unknown because this rotund woman with an enormous hand bag didn’t have a patch on her jacket. However, typical of these First Transit drivers she was rough, the bus jerked along as she accelerated too fast and then had to brake. One imagines that the LACMTA would say “It’s not our fault, because they are contractors.” But as we found with the Metrolink crash the contracting organization had a duty to ensure that the operators of their equipment meet minimum qualifications. The woman down the aisle was actively pcking her scalp –I turned away.
2009-06-19 A passenger stubs out her cigarette on the side of a bus before boarding. We stop en route to wait for a relief driver, why we couldn’t continue and have the relief driver catch up with us a stop or two later is something, well, actually another think I will never understand about Metro operations. Say, ten minutes wait time times 25 passengers is 250 minutes of waiting.
ON June 23 I am on a 439 bus, I.D. Number 6336, headed to LAX. It is driven by Mr. “I tape garbage bags over the bus windows”. (See: photo, LaCroix, on 2008-06-28) He also has an extremely bad habit of swiveling around in his seat, while the bus in traveling forward, in order to emphasize a point, pass his family pictures back to a passenger or brag about how [next year, his son with a GPA (Grade Point Average) of x.y will be in medical school at UCI]. Believe me, I don’t want to be friends with my ON-DUTY bus driver. I want him to keep his eyes on the road and his mind on his job. But, apparently the LACMTA, in spite of several complaints about this specific driver, doesn’t have the same concept about driver’s jobs.
Today the man seated behind me is engaged in an extended conversation with a person whom I come to understand is in significant-other’s daughter. I don’t want to listen to this conversation but HE chose the venue and I am unable to read because of it. It appears that he has assigned her the task of writing a letter, of about 1500 words, to her “real” father explaining how she feels toward and about said “real” father. This makes me a little sad, another marriage broken up, a family separated. I intend to marry for life.
This conversation ends, only to be replaced by an Oriental man telling someone that “.. the Rodeo is there and he knows that it is my car …”, “… he searched me and found the check that you wrote to me and now he has your address ….”, “… I have been trying to get the neighbours to say that no one is living there, so you have to move the Rodeo …”. We find that this guy is carrying two cell phones when the other one rings.
As usual, I report below those buses who have been defaced by someone affixing “Whois” bumper stickers to the interiors. For a facsimile of such bumper stickers see the photo (above) and also included in the posting of 2008-07-24. The current CEO of Metro has been informed of the following: the web site URL (Universal Resource Locator, i.e., address) of the defacer; his e-mail address; a photograph of the alleged defacer; his home address. Available indirectly, by researching the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) registration and/or related publicly available information, are the name(s) those who may be part of his conspiracy to extract commercial value in the form of free advertising from the LACMTA and as a side-effect to deface the vehicles of the LACMTA. I also have what is purported to be the alleged defacer’s social security number. I currently hold the following LACMTA departments in extremely low esteem: marketing; stops and routes; those responsible for the “Trip Spoiler, er.., Planner”. I will add the legal department to my list soon as they seemed unable to do for their salaries what su Topo has accomplished as a public service, shame on you all!
2009-06-25 Today bus routes downtown are totally munged –the Mayor is making an outdoor speech and they are filming on the streets. The LACMTA, operating at its’ usual 12% efficiency, with a few drivers stopping at unusual places, i.e., not their regular stops because people, like su Topo, are confused as to exactly where to catch a rerouted or “On Detour” bus. Of course the bus I want goes flying by.
2009-06-27 The two men were speaking a language which I didn’t understand –it turned out to be Zapoteco. On the Internet I learned that “…there are somewhere between 12 and 60 different Zapotec languages, each of which is difficult for speakers of the others to understand” http://www.native-languages.org/zapotec.htm . We take a 115 bus, I.D. 6458 driven by a woman, operator 29856. Like quite a few women bus drivers, she doesn’t distinguish between stopping the bus and stopping the bus smoothly –ah…, sorry ladies.
Happy fourth of July!
Please accept this Independence Day e-card from your Mole.
Joyeux fête nationale! Vive la belle France!
In honor of “Bastille Day”, here: http://www.pacocard.com/carte-postale.php?theme=fetes&carte=14-juillet-fete-nationale , is an appropriate card from la Taupe, just for you.
Dedicated to the Dulcinea of my dreams
“Presently he broke out again, as if he were love-stricken in earnest, "O Princess Dulcinea, lady of this captive heart, a grievous wrong hast thou done me to drive me forth with scorn, and with inexorable obduracy banish me from the presence of thy beauty. O lady, deign to hold in remembrance this heart, thy vassal, that thus in anguish pines for love of thee."So he went on stringing together these and other absurdities, all in the style of those his books had taught him, imitating their language as well as he could; and all the while he rode so slowly and the sun mounted so rapidly and with such fervour that it was enough to melt his brains if he had any.”
Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616), Don Quixote (1605), Chapter II
Fare Box Score Box
I.D. numbers of buses with Out of Order Fare Boxes: 9356;
Note: Few entries above do not necessarily mean more working fare boxes.
I.D. Numbers of Buses Defaced by WhoIs stickers: 7850+UR; 5177; 6357; 6326; 6370;6429+UR;
+UR = whois sticker and the ugly residue left after passengers partly remove the sticker.
I.D Numbers of Buses whose Head and Tail signs disagree: 5157—Wrong Head/blank; 11056-Missing headsign; 7127-both the side sign and the tail sign are inoperative; 7599- No signs at all; 12546-side sign one third blank; 7039-439/446; 7109- no head or tail numbers.
(1) N/A. “Protect your health”. LACMTA 09-20XXTR ©2009.
(2) N/A. “Help stop vandalism”. LACMTA 09-1424TR ©2009.
(3) Spitzer, Elliot. “Green Shoots, Red Ink, Black Hole: Green shoots? Feh. Here's truly terrifying data about the real state of the U.S. economy”. Slate Magazine. 3 June 2009. Accessed 2009-06-04
(4) Toffler, Alvin. “The next Big Thing: A Bigger Bang?”. Foreign Policy. May/June 2009. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4855 Accessed 2009-05-30
(5) Chester, Mikhail and Horvath, Arpad. “Environmental Life-cycle Assessment of Passenger Transportation: A Detailed Methodology for Energy, Greenhouse Gas, and Criteria Pollutant Inventories of Automobiles, Buses, Light Rail, Heavy Rail and Air UCB-ITS-VWP-2008-2”. Mar 2008. http://www.its.berkeley.edu/publications/UCB/2007/VWP/UCB-ITS-VWP-2007-7.pdf Accessed 2009-06-08
(6) Hood, Clifton. “22 miles: the building of the subways and how they transformed New York”. Simon & Schuster. 1993.
(7) Brahic, Catherine. “Train can be worse for climate than plane”. http://www.newscientist.com/ . 8 June 2009. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17260-train-can-be-worse-for-climate-than-plane.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news Accessed 2009-06-08
(8) Meeks, Karen Robes. “Long Beach Transit hybrid buses have a new look” 23 April 2009. http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci_12213610%20Accessed%202009-06-15
(9) N/A. “US supercomputer will have power of two million laptops”. 03 Feb 2009. http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci_12213610. Telegraph.co.uk Accessed 2009-06-17
(10) Merl, Jean. "Metrolink moves toward hiring its own train crews”. 27 Jun 2009. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-metrolink27-2009jun27,0,2117907.story. Los Angeles Times Accessed 2009-06-27
Su Topo’s Disclaimer and apologia
Your Mole always attempts to write an easy-on-the-eyes page using text input. Blogger.com however, has other ideas and will often not stay with a single font type or point size, produces extraneous spacing and etc. I wish I had time to debug the HTML which they produce, it is NOT the straight text which I pasted into the form, but I don’t. Therefore, I apologize on behalf of Blogger.com for the changes which they make, of which I do not approve. Sometimes, what I see, thankfully you don’t, is 24 point type –it is giant and other times they swallow my text, although it still seems to be there. In fairness to them, things seem better, although this is partly because I do understand which of their “features” do the most damage to me and consequently do not use them. Communicating these problems to them, for me, is something like having teeth extracted without the benefit of anesthetic, actually it is less fun than that. By their design, there is no simple e-mailing them with "Please look at my say, posting of 2009-06-28, it is weird!” I am hoping that one of their developers will some day read this, copy my code and improve their text to HTML engine. Until then, lo siento.
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This is to certify that I, the blogger who is known as the LaMetroMole, with respect to this blog, except as described below, am not now nor at any time during the past year have been, nor it my current intention to ever be:
1) A participant, directly or indirectly, in any arrangement, agreement, investment, or other activity with any vendor, supplier, or other party doing business with any of the entities about which I have written, which has resulted or could result in personal benefit to me.
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There are no exceptions.Date: 2009-06-24 S/ LaMetroMole