Category: Environment

Dealing With the Energy Crisis by Driving Trucks

A gallon of self-serve unleaded regular gasoline in Los Angeles costs an average of $3.20. In a weird, painful way, the high cost is a blessing, because (theoretically) it reduces demand, and when we drive our automobiles less we pollute our environment less. Our new Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, declared last month in his State of...

Self Destruction

Depending on one’s quotient of Puritanical self-abnegation, the follies of other less disciplined souls often inspire the pensive equivalent of a scoff. Of the fatty we think, “Surely he knows that a diet of doughnuts and fries will only make him more obese.” Of the smoker we think, “Surely she knows that smoking causes an...

Street Cleaning

Based on a several weeks of highly unscientific observation, we’ve come to the dismaying conclusion that motorized street cleaning in Los Angeles doesn’t work. This, we know, isn’t exactly shocking news. But if what we’re concluding is indeed true — and the more unscientific observing we do, the more certain we become — our city is wasting millions...

An Open Letter to Councilman Tom LaBonge

Mr. Tom LaBonge, Councilman COUNCIL DISTRICT 4 200 N. Spring Street Room 480 Los Angeles, CA 90012 March 17, 2006 Dear Mr. LaBonge, Although I admit to a healthy skepticism toward elected officials whose stated motivation is “public service,” you’ve made a positive impression on me since you took office. As a recent profile of...

Urban Density

If one requires further evidence that we human beings are, at the end of the day, animals — or beasts, or savages in clothes, or however one prefers his locution –turn to our planet’s major cities. (One can look also to our obvious obsession with mating and eating, also.) There, in our teeming metropolises, we...

Philippines Notes, Part One: Litter in Paradise

The easy default reactions of an American who encounters unspeakable poverty and squalor when visiting a country like the Philippines are pity, scorn, and outrage. How monstrous, it seems, to call places like these “developing countries” when the extent of their development is obvious: great bastions of wealth and property concentrated in the hands of...

Jared Diamond, Television Phenomenon

The historian, biologist and UCLA Professor Jared Diamond has accomplished a feat more rare than altruistic Congressmen. He’s transcended the anonymity and general irrelevance of academia. Like Camille Paglia, Alan Dershowitz, and Noam Chomsk, Diamond is a scholar who’s achieved pop culture notoriety. His two best known books, the recent “Collapse,” and “Guns, Germs, and...

A Radical Idea for Lowering Gasoline Prices

Here in Los Angeles, a gallon of unleaded fuel costs more than $2. The premium stuff, used to power our high-performance, eight-cylinder power fiends (that can travel at more than 125 mph but are required by law to be kept under 65 mph on most roads), costs nearly $2.50. Experts are saying the summer could...

Natural Disasters and God

With the Iranian city of Bam nearly obliterated by an earthquake and now buried in rubble, devout Muslims must be asking themselves how this latest catastrophe (40,000 souls estimated dead) fits into their God’s grand plan. Jews could wonder something similar about the holocaust, but that tragedy could at least be ascribed to the cruelty...