The Breakfast Club: 4-1-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we're not too hungover  we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it's PhilJD's fault.

 

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Sunday Train: Our Trebly Broken Highway Funding System

Over the balance of this year, you are likely to hear more and more about our broken Highway Funding system. For instance, William Moore, of the consultancy group Vianovo and member of the Transportation Transformation Group, wrote at Infra Insight this last 13 March that:

Absent swift action by Congress, state departments of transportation will begin to have cash flow problems that could delay payments to vendors and slow projects. Without action by the fall, new projects may have to be shelved until Congress can resolve the funding crisis that confronts the Highway Trust Fund.

However, this is just the most visible layer of pending crisis in our highway funding system. Even if we were to fix the threat to engage in spending at status quo levels,status quo spending has been falling behind the damage done by cars and trucks to our roads for decades, and even if we were to fund our transportation to address the massive shortfall in maintaining our current highway system, we have not seriously begun in addressing the fact that our current transport system is one of our principle contributor's to our economy's present climate change suicide course.

We have a trebly broken highway funding system, and there is no guarantee that we will actually address the simplest of the problems.

The good news is that we do not need massive technological breakthroughs to fix this triple layer cake of crisis. The bad news is that what we do need is a political movement with both the focus and the clout to push the existing available solutions onto the table, in the face of determined status quo resistance ... and those who have at least glanced at our political system over the past decade would be aware that building such a movement is a "to be solved by reader" kind of problem.

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Policing Gender

Sunnie Kahle, 8, prefers to have short hair and dress comfortably (t-shirts, jeans and sneakers). Officials at the school she has attended, Timberlake Christian School near Lynchburg, VA, decided that wasn't appropriate for one of their students. So they wrote to Sunnie's grandparents, who are also her guardians, to inform them that Sunnie would have to dress more femininely if she wanted to attend that school.

Despite what you may see in any headlines, Sunnie is not transgender. She is perfectly satisfied with being a girl.

The school officials, however, expressed their concern about her appearance and cited their policy against condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle, or having an alternative gender identity.

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WTF?

Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, the powerful chairman of the House intelligence committee and a former FBI agent, announced on Friday morning that he is leaving Congress at the end of his term to start a conservative talk radio show.

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Gender Prison: Transgender Ground Zero--This week in Saskatoon

Spooky how these stories all tied together.

Saskatoon high school students recently attended the 17th annual Breaking the Silence gender diversity conference in that Canadian city.

The conference this year is 17 years old, it’s the longest standing conference of its kind in Canada.

--Dan Cochrane, University of Saskatchewan

The conference had more than 110 attendees at the University of Saskatchewan.

Cochrane said that great strides have been made over the last two decades, in spite of the endurance of phobias and discrimination.

Adoptions, pensions, hospital visiting rights, wills; hundreds of thousands of hours went into legal cases. That’s been a major catalyst and the big one was same sex marriage.

--Cochrane

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Sunday Train: Car Subsidies & Ebbing Vehicles Miles Travelled

Earlier this month, the philly.com from the Philadelphia Inquirer carried a story, Drop in traffic on area highways forces review of plans. It cites several "area" road funding decisions based on assumptions of growing traffic, which turned out to be false:

  • A $2.5b New Jersey Turnpike widening justifiedm in 2005, by projections of a 68% increase in traffic volumes over the coming 25 years ... where turnpike traffic in 2013 is only 90% of 2005 levels
  • The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission undertook to provide up to $900m in annual funding for other roads around the state, based on projections of Turnpike traffic growth of 3% to 5% ... while to date, there hasn't been any appreciable traffic growth
  • The Scudder Falls bridge taking I-95 over the Delaware River was a four lane bridge that the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission decided in 2003 to replace with a nine-line $328m bridge based on projected traffic increases of 35% by 2035 ... and to date, that growth in traffic has not yet materialized

The article poses the question of "whether" the traffic growth that went away following the Panic of 2008 and which hasn't shown up in the ensuing Depression of 2008 to, optimistically, 2015, might not ever turn up.

Well, it probably won't. And that raises the follow-up question, what are we going to do about it?

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Out of Arkansas

I've shared before that I was teaching at a university in Arkansas when I transitioned. The University of Central Arkansas is located in Conway, about 35 miles north of Little Rock on I-40.

I can't say it was a good place to transition…but looking back, I wonder if there was anyplace that would have been good to transition in 1992.

Anyway, we left there in 2000 and moved to New Jersey.That meant I went from a tenured faculty member at UCA to teaching as an adjunct in mathematics at Montclair State University and as an adjunct in Computer Information Systems at Bloomfield College. Fortunately I was offered a tenure-track position at Bloomfield at the end of the first year, which I accepted…even though I had no background in computer programming.

But I taught myself the languages I needed to be able to teach and gained tenure in CIS in 2006. I moved back to teaching mathematics three years ago.

Anyway…enough about me. There are three news stories out of Arkansas I would like to share.

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Gender Prison: TLGB -- Two Voices

I don't so much have any news story this evening as some philosophical discussion. I'd like to invite my readers to listen to a couple of voices they probably have not been aware of.

 photo Johnson_zps10753f4a.jpgDr. E. Jaye Johnson is chief executive officer of KingMakerz Consulting, Marketing and Branding, vice chair of the Transgender Advisory Board of the City of West Hollywood and a member of LA Pride's Transgender Coalition. He has published an Op-Ed at the Advocate: LA PRIDE Makes a Transgender First.

Meanwhile Jerry Davich of the Chicago Sun-Times introduces us to Kaden S. in Transgender teen slowly lowering his shield.

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Sunday Train: Four Rules for Transit-Oriented Development from Five leaders

This week's Sunday Train features a piece from John Karras' urbanSCALE.com, How Your City Can Succeed In Transit Oriented Development. John looks at DC, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City and Cleveland to argue that your city can also succeed in pursuing Transit Oriented Development:

Here are the 4 key ingredients needed to create successful transit oriented development:
  • TOD Ingredient #1: Connect dense employment centers
  • TOD Ingredient #2: Regional collaboration
  • TOD Ingredient #3: Proactive planning and public policies to encourage TOD
  • TOD Ingredient #4: Public-private partnerships for joint development

This is an important argument, and ties in with many themes address in previous Sunday Trains, including Sustainable Real Estate Development is Good for the Economy and Other Growing Things (30 June 2013), Trains & Buses Should Be Friends (24 Nov 2013) and 'the successful communities are going to be the ones who get rail.' (1 Dec 2013), so join me below the fold for the most recent consideration of these issues and Transit-Oriented Development, commonly abbreviated as "TOD".

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Transgender artists at the Whitney

 photo drucker_03biennial08_800_zps4493c8c6.jpgRhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker are doing their part to bring the transgender influence to pop culture.

Rhys and Zackary met at a bar in the East Village in 2005. They were both aspiring to be artists…or rather, they were artists who were aspiring to be better known. Rhys was a graduate of Hampshire College and was working for MTV. Zackary was a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and was appearing on a reality show called Artstar, created by Jeffrey Deitch which was available on Dish TV's Gallery HD.

Their self-identifications at the time were an impediment to any instant romance. Rhys had never dated a man. Zackary had never dated a woman.

I remember thinking, "if I ever dated a boy, that’s the type of boy I’d date."

--Rhys

But over the last five years they have both transitioned…Zackary from male to female and Rhys from female to male.

They have a photo exhibition, Relationship, at the Whitney Biennial in New York. The exhibit consists of 46 chromogenic prints.

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