Science Girls to the Rescue!

Okay, I’m super-pumped over GoldieBlox science stuff for girls! I’ve still got serious phosphene burn from past exposure to the “Pink Aisle”, and if we can spare just one generation of kids (and their parents) from that…!

I’ll always look back fondly on President Jimmy Carter (our only nuclear physicist president, so far). Remember when he put solar panels on the White House?
Remember how President Ronald Reagan had the solar panels removed (and gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy) just to be a total dick?
At least one of the removed White House solar panels ended up in a museum… in China, where they know the value of renewables.
It’s okay though: President Barak Obama is putting new solar panels back where they belong. At least until the next far-right mutant slithers into the White House.

Here’s ‘progress’ I’m going to ignore: an electrode that can simulate synthetic tastes (salty, sweet, bitter and sour).

Archaeologists have unearthed what may be the oldest — and largest — ancient wine cellar in the Near East. Discovered in a ruined Canaanite palace in Tel Kabri, the site dates to about 1,700 B.C. 

Indonesian researchers have just discovered the remnants of a torpedoed Nazi sub off the main island of Java just west of Indonesia.

Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims, especially those appearing in the mass media.

Who knew? The Stuxnet cyberweapon came in two variants, one far more stealthy than the other.

Give It an Honest Re-Think, eh, INCOG?

Tulsans tend to get pretty worked up about “change” in the abstract. Witness the public debate wasted over essentially minor changes in the recently revamped municipal trash/recycling program: you’d have thought we were granting the vote to cats but not dogs or something. Whether it’s just the hardened arteries of a population that thinks of any change as a change for the worse, or those with a vested interest in the status quo trying to keep their petty fiefdoms untouched, resistance to change sure gets in the way of problem solving in Tulsa.

Improving public transportation should be one of those “totally good” things, right? Fewer ozone alert days, you can read while someone else does the driving, increased access to Our Fair City, etc.  As a pre-teen I used to be able to buy a day-pass for the bus for the price of a soda and take the bus to the Central Library and back or just ride the “Super Loop” around the city all afternoon if I wanted to. The bus worked for me, but I wasn’t depending on it to get me to work or school on time.

Recently, INCOG released their latest plan for improving public transit, labelled “FastForward”The plan has  the Peoria-Riverside core as its principal focus, calling for 9 new buses, improving wait times to only 15-20 minutes and business development incentives within a 10 minute walk to the bus line. FastForward might be a small step in the right direction, but the “large bus” model is why public transit in Tulsa never seems to get any better.

From my admittedly cursory reading of the “FastForward” plan I saw no sign that anything smaller than the usual ‘Behemoth bus’ was even considered. That shows a demonstrable lack of vision… or something worse. This is why public transportation in Tulsa has gone from ‘sucky’ to ‘suckier’.

Observe the standard Tulsa Transit bus:

Though they’ve added some bike carriers and are converting the fleet to natural gas, they are still big expensive buses that are mostly empty most of the time. Too expensive, they are to few and too far between, which makes the wait times too long.  In the words of Tulsa City Councilor G.T. Bynum, “We’re wasting millions of dollars to provide a lousy service”. Who wants to stand in the heat or dark or rain for even the “improved” 15-20 minute wait time? 

You DO want public transportation to work, don’t you? Then get that wait time down to 5 minutes! Consider the idea of using a greater number of smaller, cheaper jitneys! It’s way more cost-effective to keep more of them on the road to reduce wait times, even during off-peak hours. During rush hours, go ahead and run those stanky old buses (the only time they are efficient is when they’re full).  Jitneys offer the flexibility to deviate slightly from the published route for the comfort and convenience of passengers, making the service friendlier for all.  

What could possibly go wrong with shifting to jitney service? Well, if Houston’s experience is anything to learn from, the jitney doesn’t have many friends, taking fire from both “big bus” partisans and cab companies alike

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to consider alternatives that haven’t already failed (and failed consistently) here. Maybe if all the workable options were actually presented to the potential riding public (and they made their voices heard) Tulsans would get the public transportation system they deserve, instead of just the bare minimum required to say we have public transit at all.

Jitney bus in RishikeshFilipino-style 'Jeepney'

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