June 28, 2005

Car Sharing: Another Blow for the Ownership Society

What will the right wing say? Surely it's un-American not to own a car (it's mostly blue-state types in big cities in the coasts who don't. after all--in part because they live near where they work, because it's expensive [market forces] and because there are real transit options). But what about when entrepeneurs find a way to make money off of it?

HOURCAR is a new option in the Twin Cites for people who don't want (or need) to own a car, but would find one useful now and then.

This sort of thing could spark a wider revolution: instead of every exurban acreage owning a riding mower, a group of neighbors could share one. (OK, that's pretty radical).

This already happens informally with snowblowers in our neighborhood: Most homes don't have enough in the way of sidewalks and driveways to justify an emissions-heavy snowblower, but one or two people per block who do own one (often on a corner lot), and have so have so much fun revving the thing up two or three times per winter that they oftern clear the sidewalk on the whole block.

Sharing, rather than ownership, creates a society.

Posted by tgus at 9:59 AM

June 27, 2005

New High Speed Japanese Train

Japan is serious.

Where's the U.S. leadership in mass transit innovation? (Sorry, Hummers don't count.)

Posted by tgus at 12:34 PM

Oil at $60+

Maybe it's time this country got serious about alternatives to cars.

Posted by tgus at 12:32 PM

June 7, 2005

Just What the US Needs: A Romanian SUV

DuVernois Blog has found it.

Sounds like the only ones interested may be Ceausescu nostalgia-buffs and hunters with a death wish.

Posted by tgus at 4:41 PM

Delayed Bicycle Gratification

I finally cancelled my Metropass today, six weeks later than I had once thought I would. The rain and cold have faded convincingly enough.

Actually, I've been anticipating this for even longer.

I'll be biking through the summer, except for when it rains hard, or feels like Christmas in July. Exercise, fresh air, low-cost, and atmosphere-friendly.

But I'll miss the train, the pulse of conversation, the jostling, the brief bursts of mobile community--and especially game days at the Metrodome East stop.

Posted by tgus at 3:22 PM

June 3, 2005

Blogging as Busking, or, Baseball. Buses, and the Creation of Social Capital

As I stepped off the bus, in the light rain, at the Metrodome East station on my way home two nights ago, I heard the sounds of a saxophone. There across the street was a busker, wearing his Twins cap, and riffing on "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." Fans on their way to the rain-protected game smiled. Some tossed coins and bills into his case. As a train pulled up, its rhythms and chimes added a counterpoint to the sax-man's music.

His playing earned him some money. But in addition to the green stuff, he was also creating social capital, creating interactions between erstwhile strangers, and maybe some understandings among otherwise anonymous people. I found myself feeling particularly glad that he wasn't chased off, by either the drizzle or the police.

And as I listened to him express himself in a public space, for any to hear who happened past, I found myself thinking that busking can be like blogging in the idealized sense of both activities: creating connections.

Of course, anything from poor musicianship to irresponsible or vitriolic blog-posting can destroy social capital, rather than create it. But here was a confluence of positive forces for cultural capital: Mass transit, grassroots music, and the home team to root-root-root for.

Posted by tgus at 4:18 PM

June 1, 2005

Spring, Rover, and Stadium Roofs

This time I think spring is really here (he says, knocking on wood, or the nearest facsimile thereof). When I got on the 50 last night, all of the windows were open. And an English bulldog in a car in the next lane was soaking up the warm air with its over-sized underbite happily jutting out the wide-open window.

And then, I arrived at the HHH Dome as Twins fans arrived. But in a change from recent weeks, they weren't rushing out of the rain and chill right into the old Teflon and plastic balloon, but actually lingering at the plaza activities outside.

The long stretch of cold, wet weather we've just been through makes me wonder about the sanity of a roofless stadium in these climes. Do the Twins really want a new stadium with no roof? Springtime in Minnesota (heck, even fall and summer) can be quite the roller-coaster ride. Once the novelty has worn off, will fans still come out the ballpark in a cold drizzle, or when it's 95 degrees with 95% humidity?

Posted by tgus at 10:20 PM

Bad News for Gas Guzzlers; Hybrids Looking Better

The AP is reporting that oil prices are back up above $54 per barrel after falling as "low" as $47 per barrel a couple of weeks ago.

A key quote from the article:

"John Kilduff, a senior oil analyst at FImat USA said, '$60 a barrel, which looked highly unlikely just last week, is now once again within the realm of reason.'"

This cuts at least two ways in the stock market, of course. Some investors get spooked by possible inflationary drag on the economy; others (or some of the same ones) turn speculative and hope to profit at the expense of oil consumers.

But it only cuts one way at the pump.

The article closes with the reminder that oil is 24% more pricey than it was a year ago. That would seem to be a trendline.

Posted by tgus at 5:37 PM