Category: Environment

The Food Truck Scourge

Los Angeles is lousy with food trucks at the moment. Thanks to a collision of social- and mass-media fawning, they’ve earned all the valuable trend labels (“hot,” “in,” etc.), transcending their utilitarian function and entering the lofty realm of Culturally Significant Phenomena. No longer do these Winnebago-sized mobile restaurants simply serve workers at construction sites...

Department of Bold Predictions: Crackpots

Bold prediction: Within a decade, a whole class of societal crusaders will develop and be recognized by the arbiters of culture. They will be called radicals, Luddites, crackpots. They’ll be dismissed and ridiculed. And they’ll be consistently marginalized by those with money and power. But they’ll be right.  Their main focus? Harnessing the astonishing energy...

No Free Parking

The idea behind Congestion Pricing is to charge people more to use things — city streets, toll roads, cellphones — during peak times. By raising the cost you reduce demand, freeing up more space. And if demand stays constant you earn higher revenue and then raise the price some more. Such programs are in place...

Boycott!

Everybody is angry at the Gulf oil spill. Everybody is angry at BP. As an expression of that rage, and to punish the callous corporation for its carelessness, calls are circulating to boycott the company for a day, or a week or forever.  Boycotting BP would be mildly amusing, if utterly irrelevant. But anyone who...

Taking Responsibility for the Gulf Oil Disaster

We’re all angry and disgusted and possibly horrified and shocked to see the destruction wrought by the oil spill bespoiling the Gulf of Mexico. Witnessing incontrovertible evidence of death by petroleum has got us in the mood for persecution and punishment. The bad people who did this — British Petroleum is the acting villain in...

Caloric Equality

Our finely developed sense of American vanity keeps us obsessed with working out and dieting, with inspirational weight-loss stories and TV game shows in which dramatically shrinking waistlines are seen not as a sign of dwindling well-being but as a heroic conquering of anarchic eating compulsions. We fortunate ones desperately want to be thin, but...

The Time to Care About Disaster Victims

President Obama sent us an email a few days ago, and this time it wasn’t to ask for monetary support of his healthcare reform boondoggle. He was asking us (and the millions of others on his OFA database) to help Haitians. He wrote: “Despite the fact that we are experiencing tough times here at home,...

Underfed and Overpopulated

For Americans drowning in super-sized sodas, bursting with high-calorie fat bombs from the Dollar Menu, and dying from generally too much of everything except self-discipline, it may be hard to understand that a large portion of the planet’s population doesn’t have enough to eat. If the projections are to be believed, it’s only going to...

Unfortunate Misapprehensions

With each day’s news comes further affirmation that it is entirely possible to be reasonably intelligent, highly educated, and specially trained while also being utterly ignorant of what’s commonly understood to be reality.  No, I’m not speaking of the funny folks with advanced degrees who denounce the Theory of Evolution in favor of loopy fairy...

What Would Happen If…

What would happen if everyone who owns American homes — urban, suburban, or otherwise — converted their lush lawns into vegetable gardens?  What would happen if every American family became a one-automobile unit and committed to using bicycles and public transportation except when carpooling? What would happen if the majority of Americans walked everywhere except...