Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Three Stooges in... Pod Killers!

Our friend Ken Avidor is well known for his Photoshop hacks, so I figured I'd give it a try myself. Since 99.44% of all public anti-PRT sentiment can be traced to these three guys, I figured they deserved their own poster. Introducing "The Three Stooges" of anti-PRT propaganda: Ken Avidor, Michael Setty, and Vukan Vuchic.

These guys have been at it for years now. They've been debunked so many times that their credibility is trash among those in the know, but they can still bamboozle the unknowing public with their pseudo-intellectual load of crap. Someday the world will look back on these luddites as the three men who delayed transportation innovation for decades.

So whenever Ken posts one of his "pod squad" graphics, feel free to post this in response. My only regret is that I couldn't find a photo of Ken's fugitive buddy Mark Knapp. Maybe I'll get a mug shot, once he's caught. Any leads on the investigation, Ken?

Enjoy. :-)

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Ken Avidor's Longtime Friend Caught with Mrs. Nussbaum's Credit Cards

So everyone's heard by now how Ken Avidor's long time friend and blogging partner Mark Knapp was charged with aggravated identity theft for using credit cards obtained in another man's name.

There are so many hilarious ironies to this event that I had a hard time selecting which to write about. Most of the good quips have already been made: "the guilt-by-association king has guilty associations!", "Zimmermann is looking forward to having a fellow Green as a cellmate", and my personal favorite: "Green Party Gone Bad!"

The last, of course, is a reference to the blog, "greenpartygonebad.blogspot.com" that Mark Knapp and Ken Avidor shared right up until Ken apparently took it down when Knapp went fugitive. Can you imagine the scene at Avidor's computer that day, as he frantically tried to purge all his associations with Knapp? I imagine it was like those movie scenes when the cops arrive for a drug bust, and a drug dealer frantically flushes his stash down the toilet.

Ken Avidor flushing Knapp down the toilet. Now there's an amusing visual.

So anyway, I was looking for an different angle on this hilarious development, and I started thinking about Ken Avidor, the self-styled investigative reporter who claims to have "exposed the PRT scam". Ken Avidor, who thinks "LIM" is a PRT company, when it is actually a type of electric motor. Ken Avidor, who looked at a 10 year old satellite photo of ULTra PRT's test track site and claimed it had been bullozed (hint: the photo was taken before the track was built).

Yes, we've all had fun watching Avidor's sometimes bumbling, always inaccurate, "investigations" through the years. But with the Knapp revelation, Avidor took bumbling to a new level. Think about it: the whole time Avidor was investigating all the so-called "crooks and liars" of the PRT world, his best friend and blog partner was allegedly using stolen credit cards, and Avidor never even noticed!

So when they went out to dinner and Knapp was always picking up the check, wouldn't you think Avidor would get suspicious? Where was this luddite Green getting all this spending money? And why was he signing his credit slips "Mr. Nussbaum"?

No, Avidor didn't notice, and I'm not surprised in the least. I mean, if he can't even understand the concept of a dated satellite photo, is he ever going to grasp a high tech crime like identity theft? Of course not. So when I read that Avidor claimed he had no idea about Knapp, I believed him 100%. I'll even testify on his behalf if he wants me to, that's how convinced I am of Avidor's complete lack of skill as an investigative reporter.

Now, given that he didn't know about Knapp's criminal behavior beforehand, I started wondering what it looked like when Avidor finally found out. I think this photo captures it perfectly:



I just received this email from Ken:

Michael Carrato,

You have made serious, false and defamatory statements concerning me in this blog post:


You may be liable for spreading false and misleading information about an ongoing criminal investigation.

The authorities have been contacted. You may want to consult an attorney.

Jeez, here I am, sticking my neck out, telling the world that I believe that Avidor knew nothing of Knapp's alleged wrongdoing, and what do I get in return? Avidor threatens me! No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose.

And no, I won't be contacting my lawyer.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

He Really Believes He's a Sleuth

Ken Avidor has dramatically announced "the end of the road" for me. He claims I "slipped up" in revealing my IP address.

The real fact is, I've been dropping clues for months. I left a trail of breadcrumbs so obvious that an 11 year old hacker could have tracked me down in 15 minutes. But months later, Avidor still hadn't figured it out, so I had to get more obvious.

So a few days ago, I left this comment as "Mike C" on Streetsblog in which I basically revealed myself:

David Gow and I are enthusiastic about all forms of well-conceived public transportation, not just those which happen to be large vehicles gliding on precisely 2 rails. :-)

Notice that "enthusiastic" and "transportation" are in italics, and there's a smiley at the end. Get it? "A Transportation Enthusiast." How much more obvious can that be? Does that look like a "slip"?

So, Ken, congratulations on finally realizing the obvious. And, now that you know my true identity, surely we can commence our debate, right?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Hypocrisy of TreeHugger.com

"TreeHugger". The name is synonymous with in-your-face environmentalism - the kind of activism that stands up to corporate abuses in defense of nature's majesty.

So imagine my surprise at seeing Lloyd Alter, one of the most active members of TreeHugger.com, acting at the behest of corporate construction interests!

Allow me to explain. In one corner, there is personal rapid transit, PRT, a promising new green transportation technology. A PRT system is currently being built at Heathrow Airport in London. For the uninitiated, here are a few facts about this system:

  • Phase one is on budget and on schedule to open next year as a parking lot circulator, with plans in place to extend it throughout the airport and beyond.

  • The system features light, automated, battery-driven vehicles which run on demand on a dedicated guideway, and initial versions will move 1200-4800 people per hour, equivalent to buses running every 1-3 minutes.

  • Vehicles produce no local emissions, using batteries charged from the electrical grid.

  • Vehicles consume the equivalent of a 100 mpg automobile, and are even more environmentally friendly than that because they run off grid power, and can therefore take full advantage of advancements in clean power generation.

  • The system is more energy efficient per passenger than any other transit mode.

  • Construction and operating costs are significantly less than light rail, and PRT provides no-wait, non-stop, private travel, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

  • The system meets Kyoto sustainability targets today - 35 years ahead of schedule.

Now, if you are a true environmentalist, what possible problem could you have with a system like that?

So that's PRT. In the other corner, there is traditional light rail transit. Now, I'm as much a fan of rail as anyone - I'm amazed by metro/subway systems like NYC and Toronto - but light rail is not a panacea. There are many situations where PRT is a much better option than light rail.

The problem is, light rail has its proponents, and those proponents see PRT as a threat. Light rail construction firms and consultancies stand to lose BILLIONS of dollars if a new technology like PRT cuts into their monopoly on city transit, so it is in their best interest to see PRT fail.

Which brings us to the Light Rail Now (LRN) website. LRN is a corporate astroturfing website - basically a site that presents itself as a grass roots effort, but is in reality just an undercover marketing campaign - in this case, underwritten primarily by three rail companies.

LRN has a somewhat famous "analysis" of PRT called "Cyberspace Dream Keeps Colliding With Reality". It was written anonymously, never published, and only exists on the LRN website in its "FACTS" section. It's basically promoted as a scientific analysis of why PRT would not work.

One problem: it's complete fiction. It's not a scientific analysis, it's marketing fluff, written to disparage PRT and preserve light rail's monopoly on city transit. Here are four separate, detailed rebuttals which debunk every major point in the "analysis".

But even though the LRN report is not accurate, it's very effective. Responsible journalistic entities wouldn't touch it - they know better than to trust anonymously written marketing fluff from an astroturfing site - but the LRN report gets plenty of circulation in blogs and forums, where transit activists who've never heard of PRT quickly buy into the criticism and spread it further.

Which brings us back to TreeHugger. Lloyd Alter apparently got a stack of propaganda from Ken Avidor, including one of Avidor's cartoons and a link to the LRN report. But Lloyd is not a journalist, so it didn't occur to him that an activist sending out propaganda should not be trusted to provide the full truth. Lloyd basically parroted Avidor's campaign verbatim.

But bad journalism is not necessary hypocrisy - maybe Lloyd was just being lazy? Nope. I posted a comment to that thread which outlined Ken Avidor's association with LRN, and LRN's association with corporate rail interests, but my comment never appeared. Then I sent an email to the TreeHugger editor detailing my concerns - no response.

And then there's this comment from Lloyd, in which he sarcastically acknowledges the objections. So Lloyd certainly cannot claim ignorance to the evidence.

No, Lloyd and TreeHugger have clearly chosen to ignore fact and support corporate rail. He's been shown the potential environmental benefits of this new technology, and he knows it's being built as we speak at Heathrow, yet he's still touting the rail company line.

Pure hypocrisy.

So the next time Lloyd goes on and on about the importance of biodegradable flooring, ask him why he is bashing the most environmentally friendly transit solution since the bicycle. Ask him why he has such a problem with a transit technology that can provide ultimate convenience and availability, and can also get us to Kyoto energy levels 20 years ahead of schedule.

It's obviously a question he's trying to evade.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ken Avidor's Propaganda Resurfaces at TreeHugger

Ken Avidor has supposedly "retired", but his anti-PRT campaign lives on. Someone named Lloyd Alter at TreeHugger has revived his campaign, complete with links to Avidor's Greatest Hits: a Road Kill Bill anti-PRT cartoon, and the much debunked Light Rail Now PRT attack.

I left a comment there, letting them know that Ken Avidor was the originator of all that disinformation - he's even one of the anonymous authors of that unpublished "Cyberspace Dream" pseudo-scientific analysis. I also pointed out that Light Rail Now is a backed by light rail construction interests who stand to lose $Billions if PRT succeeds, and that Alter had been snookered into believing the words of a single cartoonist with an agenda, who just happens to be in bed with corporate rail interests.

But - surprise surprise! - my TreeHugger comment never appeared, despite 13 other comments being approved (mostly mindless criticisms from people who know nothing about PRT) - so why is my comment being suppressed? Perhaps Lloyd Alter was advised by his "source" to suppress my comments?

TreeHugger is yet another example of idiot journalism - a collection of untrained, unprofessional writers who take the words of those with an agenda, and present them as unaltered, unswerving fact. Did Lloyd Alter bother to investigate Avidor's claims? Of course not! If he had, he would have found responses from others which answer every single one of Avidor's talking points.

He would have also discovered that the "Cyberspace Dream" paper had been thorougly debunked multiple times - including corrections to basic 11th grade physics mistakes - yet it still appears in its original unaltered form. Did it ever occur to Mr. Alter that an anonymously written "analysis" posted on a competitor's web site might not be accurate - indeed, that it might be nothing more than marketing fluff?

No, none of this crossed Mr. Alter's mind, because he is not a journalist, and TreeHugger is not a journalistic entity. Like the Twin Cities Daily Planet and the DumpBachmann blog, TreeHugger is nothing more than a megaphone for propagandists like Ken Avidor.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Another Attempt at Getting Past Eva Young's Censors

I've just posted a comment to this DumpBachmann post. Given the long history of censorship at DumpBachmann, you might question why I would continue to waste my time posting comments there. But what can I say, I must be a glutton for punishment. :-)

Let's see what excuse they use to suppress this comment. They're pretty creative in their censorship rationalizations so I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with today...

Update: My comment appeared - 5 hours later and with an immediate response from Eva. And of course, they waited long enough so that my comment conveniently didn't appear on the recent comments list - more manipulation of the moderation system. I've just posted another comment (very much on topic) so we'll see what games they play to hide it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Watch the DumpBachmann Censors - Live! (Recorded earlier)

My little experiement in political censorship and comment manipulation at DumpBachmann is now complete, but feel free to browse the blow-by-blow account below (remember, read from the bottom up!)

Final Update, 10:45pm EST: But wait - we have our answer! As I was typing the last update, Eva posted a comment here at Weiner Watch which confirms that she has no intention of allowing my latest comment in the DumpBachmann thread! In other words, she freely admits that she's censoring my response, and she thinks she can avoid charges of censorship by posting it here - edited of course, with her own comments interspersed.

Unlike Eva, I'll keep her comment as is - I have nothing to hide. Specifically, I'm not hiding the inconvenient fact that my contributors are using my blog to advance the financial interests of light rail construction firms.

But this will be my final update, because my point is made: Eva Young is a censor who manipulates her discussions to advance her causes. In my particular case, her "cause" is promoting light rail by smearing PRT, and when I point out the obvious flaws in her propaganda, she uses comment moderation to manipulate the debate in her favor.

Lesson: Do not trust political hack blogs like DumpBachmann, and, more generally, never trust any forum moderated by propagandists like Eva Young and Ken Avidor, especially in cases like this where they have a possible financial conflict of interest.

It's too bad that the task of criticising Michele Bachmann, a politician overripe for criticism, falls into the incapable and corrupt hands of the DumpBachmann folks.

Update, 10:21pm EST: My second comment seems to have been ignored, much as the first was for nearly 6 hours. Since I posted the second comment almost 2 hours ago, two other comments from "friendly" jonerik have appeared on the DB, while my comment is still in limbo. Maybe Eva's editing it as we speak, or maybe she's holding onto it for a few more hours until it's stale enough that it doesn't appear on the "recent comments" list.

Update, 8:38pm EST: I have just submitted the following comment to the comments section. Let's see how long it takes to appear. Anyone want to start a pool? :-)
Two questions: (1) Why did it take 6 hours for my comment to appear, and (2) Why did you intersperse your response with mine?

DumpBachmann's comment policy is a joke:

- "moderation" that suppresses comments for hours or even days

- comments (when they finally appear) edited to include inline responses from DB contributors

- premature "closing" of comments sections that are unpleasant to you (this is not even a day old and you are already implying that you will accept no more comments)

- manipulating critical comments so the don't appear on the "recent comments" list on the front page of your blog.

You are all hypocrites for claiming to be open and accepting to all non-abusive comments. This is a propaganda site, pure and simple: you advertise open debate even while secretly manipulating comments behind the scenes. Shame on DumpBachmann, and shame on you Eva.

Update, 8:02pm EST: Now things get interesting! My comment finally appears - but not in its original form! It's been edited so that Eva's response is interspersed inline with my own!

And, of course, her comments don't deny anything, but simply repeat the same old Eva/Avidor anti-PRT talking points. For example, Eva uses the ridiculous tactic of associating PRT with creationism. This tactic was borrowed from Ken's corporate light rail buddies at Light Rail Now, who derisively refer to PRT proponents as "gadgetbahners" and "zealots". She also questions why there would be an "attack blog" against a "private citizen" - conveniently ignoring the fact that Ken Avidor has plastered his image across the Internet as the so-called "leading skeptic" on PRT.

Also notice that my comment has appeared with the original timestamp of nearly 6 hours ago - meaning that it appears way down the list of "recent comments". This is Eva's way of burying my comment so readers can't see it. Contrast this with official DBTO dare2sayit.com, whose comment was approved immediately and appeared at the top of the "recent comments" list.

Eva closes her comment manipulation with this decree:

Further comments on this matter can be taken to weiner watch - not here.

In other words: Eva won't engage in a debate which she cannot win, so even though the original post is less than a day old, she has closed comments.

But I'm not willing to let it end there. Stay tuned. :-)

Update, 7:28pm EST: We're well into our 6th hour waiting for my comment to appear. In the last hour, two additional comments have been approved: one from DB supporter "Doug", and also one from critic "dare2sayit.com", who nicely fills the role of official DumpBachmann token opposition (DBTO).

See, Eva Young wants you to think she allows criticism in her blog comments. So she's found an idealogue blogger from the other side - the official DBTO - whom she regularly props up as evidence that she's not a censor. She even has a link to DBTO's own blog displayed on DB.

Why was dare2sayit selected as DBTO? Simple: because dare2sayit has strong, extreme opinions that are easy to attack and debunk. They'd never have me as DBTO, because my opinions are not extreme, nor do I post ideological rants. My posts are centered in fact, and often debunk their own inflammatory rhetoric.

In short: I will never be DBTO, because they don't want you to see what I write.

I often wonder if dare2sayit is actually a plant - i.e. one of the DB contributors posing as opposition to make the other side to look bad. Normally I wouldn't jump to such conclusions (I like to think that most bloggers are above such petty manipulations), but DumpBachmann contributor Ken Avidor has a long history of such deceptions.

In any case, we now have a total of four comments approved since I submitted mine over five hours ago, including one from the official DBTO, yet mine is still censored.

Update, 6:08pm EST: Exactly four hours have passed, and my comment is still censored. But it's early yet - in the past I've waited days for critical comments to get past the DumpBachmann censors.

Update, 4:55pm EST: Going on three hours now, and my comment is still censored. No other comments have appeared either... I wonder how many other critical comments are "awaiting moderation" along with mine?

Update, 3:58pm EST: Nearly two hours later, and my comment has not yet appeared. In the meantime, two supportive comments from "Eric Z" have appeared on other DumpBachmann posts, so obviously someone is moderating. Conclusion: my comment is currently censored.

Initial post, 2:08pm EST: Ten minutes ago, I submitted a comment to this absurd DumpBachmann post. Now lets watch the DumpBachmann "moderators" (censors) at work.

I'll post updates throughout the day. We'll see how long it takes for my comment to appear, and how many other supportive comments get approved while my criticism is held back. Updates will appear at the top of this entry, so hit the refresh key often!

For reference, here is the comment I posted:

Silliness! Ken Avidor and Eva Young continue to obsess over this one single issue, as if everything can be traced back to PRT. Eva and Ken are obsessed with PRT and anyone involved with it - why is that? Why does this dead issue (dead in Minnesota, at least) continue to inspire Eva and Ken to draw a crooked line from every single politician's failure back to PRT?

What is their motive in all of this? What is the point? Can anyone honestly say that this is the most compelling message to come out of yesterday's newsworthy day in politics?

This blog has an agenda - to discredit PRT and everyone associated with it. I don't know for sure what drives that agenda, but in my experience usually a financial motive is at the heart of such obsessiveness. And we already know that Ken is involved with light rail corporate interests through the astroturfing Light Rail Now site.

What I do know is this: for whatever reason, this relentless agenda has persisted for nearly half a decade, and it is filled with nonsense like this latest post.

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