Poetry Prose and Other Words

by Ken Ingham

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Blog 2005

December 25, 2005
Toast to Jesus the Man

Here's to you Jesus
You be the man
Two thousand years later
Billions celebrate your birth
Shopping malls ring out in your name
Fourth quarters bounce in your name
Coniferous hillsides are clearcut in your name
Here's to you, Jesus
You must have been some kind of guy

Oct 8, 2005 On Al-Jazeera's Launching of an English Channel:

This is a promising development, perhaps the beginning of the kind of exchange that is needed to dampen the war on terrorism. Let's give it a chance. Maybe it will help us to understand the origin of the hatred, not only theirs but ours; this is a prerequisite for ultimate peace. If Bush doesn't like what he hears on that channel, he can always agree to a frank and self-revealing interview with David Frost to set the record straight. Fat chance of that.

July 29, 2005 Response to Wash Post's requests for input on the effect of the Intercounty Connector Highway (ICC)

The ICC is not in my backyard. I am simply and honestly interested in what’s best for the majority of people, present and future.

When I saw the Post’s invitation to write, I had just returned from two hours at the library browsing the full version of the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). Here is what I learned. While the projected time of peak auto travel between Gaithersburg and Laurel would be reduced from 70 minutes to 37-39 minutes, shorter east-west trips would be less affected; travel from Rockville to College Park for example would take 42 minutes instead of 53. General relief from congestion on local roads and the beltway by either alignment is marginal, ~10% or less. At least one beltway intersection would experience an increase in traffic if the ICC is built. It seems that the official study is telling us that the ICC will not “end gridlock”, which was the main reason to build. Ending gridlock is, among reasons to build the ICC, what weapons of mass destruction were among reasons to invade Iraq.

The federally required environmental impact statement is supposed to analyze various alternatives, their potential consequences and the approaches taken to minimize impact on the environment. The problem with this DEIS is that it considers the impact of building the ICC only in comparison to doing nothing. We are left to guess what would happen if $3 billion were spent on alternatives such as those formally proposed in 2002 by the brave Mr. Ewing (who suffered a threat to his balls by a fellow county council member). If a combination of public transportation, improvement to existing roads, etc. is believed to be incapable of meeting the purpose and needs of the community, why not include the basis for that opinion in the DEIS. It’s not as if only a small minority would be interested. Indeed, proponents of alternative solutions invested $40,000 of their meager funds to sponsor such a study by Smart Mobility Inc, a nationally recognized traffic modeling firm. Five alternatives were examined, each of which projected a greater reduction in congestion than did the ICC.

Alas, the ICC is not about relieving congestion, it’s about expanding the circle of congestion. Its chief advocates constitute a minority of mostly commercial interests who have the financial resources to manipulate public opinion, employ full time lobbyists and contribute inordinate sums to political campaigns. They are on the verge of clinching a multibillion dollar debt-driven deal that will foster future sprawl, destroy dozens of acres of natural park land, disrupt communities and rob the rest of us of the resources needed to develop real solutions.

It makes no sense to continue building superhighways at a time when global petroleum production is peaking. Soon there will be less petroleum harvested each year that passes and its cost will rise inexorably. Building the ICC is tantamount to a Declaration of Dependence on a dwindling nonrenewable resource at a time when global competition for that resource is intensifying. Now is the time to prepare for the inevitable by developing a new sustainable transportation system that makes better use of human energy and moves people instead of cars. The auto era was splendid while it lasted but now we must break the habit of taking several thousand pounds of steel with us wherever we go.