Category Archives: humor

The Low Line | streets.mn

Cross-posted from streets.mn: The Low Line

The Low Line

Following on the heels of the successful High Line pedestrian path on a former railroad right-of-way in New York, Pedestrian and Bicycle Planners in Minneapolis are proposing a new subterranean “Low Line” bicycle and pedestrian path beneath an operating railroad right-of-way.Artist's Rendering of What Lies Beneath Minneapolis, The Sites to Behold on Proposed Low Line

While the High Line provides familiar views to easily amused Manhattanites, the new Low Line will give its users an opportunity to see the geological formations on which the city is built, up close, a uniquely educational opportunity. This will thus have educational advantages in training schoolchildren to be the geologists and petroleum engineers of the future.

The alignment for this is planned to be below the Twin Cities and Western Railroad. Planners noted an important advantage, since there is so little traffic on the actual train tracks, the 1 year construction plan for the Low Line will have no noticeable economic disruptive effects.

New York's High Line

Minnezona – Or a Solution to Our Climate Crisis |streets.mn

Cross-posted at streets.mn: Minnezona – Or a Solution to Our Climate Crisis

Minnezona – Or a Solution to Our Climate Crisis

March 32, 2014

In a joint press conference, Governors Mark Dayton of Minnesota (Pop: 5.4 million )  and Jan Brewer of Arizona (Pop: 6.5 million) announced a plan for a merger of their respective states to  lower costs, gain market share, and take advantage of  synergies. They announced they would be co-Governors, and meet jointly, via Google Hangouts, on a daily basis, with Dayton maintaining offices in St. Paul and Brewer in Phoenix.  This would soon create the 5th largest state (overtaking Illinois by 2020).

Generic picture of a high speed train with mountains in the background

The main advantage of such a merger, both Governors, reading simultaneously from the same teleprompter said, was  “a reduction in  energy costs.”

Every year, Minnesotans spend a fortune heating themselves in the winter, while Arizonans spend a second fortune cooling themselves in the summer. A few people, so-called “snow birds”, follow the lessons of our avian forbears and migrate from Minnesota to Arizona and back seasonally. But of course, when in Arizona, they miss all the social connections, work exchanges, and so on that are present in Minnesota. And when they return, they miss everybody left behind in Arizona.

Instead of a few lucky retired people being snow birds, the merger of Minnesota and Arizona into a single state would create the opportunity to mass migrate the entire states seasonally.

Brewer announced they would construct a “Nea Minneapolis” in the vast emptiness between the buildings of metropolitan Phoenix, and Dayton called for a “GNU Phoenix” in the interstices of sprawling metropolitan Minneapolis. Calculations in the technical report suggest all of the building of the two metropolitan areas could be overlaid without conflict, without requiring any more space. This would instantly double the density of each city, with all of the concomitant efficiency. Similarly, Tucson would co-locate with Duluth and Rochester, and Flagstaff with Saint Cloud. Metropolitan Phoenix/Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington would have 4.3M +3.8M = 8.1 Million people, ranking 6th in the US.

But how to get from here to there? In their detailed implementation plans, they noted  a seasonal migration of over 12 million people. This would initially be done with aircraft, 12 million people flying 747s holding 660 passengers in high density mode would require 18182 flights each season. At one departing flight every 2 minutes (and one landing as well) (or 720 departures per day), this would require 25 days of non-stop flights. Given the flight time from MSP to PHX is 3 hours and 20 minutes, and then back again,  estimated at 9 hours considering layovers, refueling, cleaning, minor maintenance etc., this would require 270 Boeing 747s in operation for this migration, (the report notes this is a significant fraction of the 1294 Boeing 747s built, but you could substitute other aircraft as needed). The cost of $200 per passenger per trip implies this would cost $2.4 billion per season, which frankly, the multi-millionaire Target Corporation scion noted, “is pocket change”, and well less than winter heating and summer cooling costs.

The report also priced out a longer term option, building a new High Speed Rail from MSP to PHX. The report notes Japan runs 13 high speed trains per hour at 320km/h (200 MPH) (i.e. just over 4 minute headways). This would be nonstop, at 2054 km (1276 miles). The report also assumes that the track would be run in a straight-line through the Rockies. At $100 million per mile to build, using strong Rearden Metal, it would be a mere $127,600,000,000. Governor Dayton reminds us that we just spent collectively in the two cities about 5% of that on sports stadia. Such a train system could carry 20,000 passengers per hour. In 25 days, it too could move 12 million people. Since we know the operating cost of HSR is free, this would be more cost effective than aircraft in a mere 27 years.

Dayton closed by stating “Every October, all of us Minnezonans would hop on the train in New Minneapolis and less than 7 hours later, hop off the train in New Phoenix. The train would instantly turn around, switch tracks, and fly like the wind back to Minnesota to pick up its next payload. Instead of looking forward to 8 months of snow, us Minnezonans could enjoy Spring Training, while continuing our business virtually uninterrupted.”

Brewer argued the state should be called Arisota.

Solving climate variability

March 32, 2014

People talk about climate change. Most climate variability is caused by seasonality. The variation of July (the hottest month) and January (the coldest), is nearly 30 degrees C in Minnesota. This dwarfs any of the variation caused by global climate change.

Temperatures

Seasonality is mostly caused by the axis of rotation of the earth, which is 23.5 degrees off. (Not too bad considering Uranus is 97 degrees off, and Venus is upside down … you know what the say, Earth is from Mars and Venus is from Venus).

As you can see the Earth leans left. This explains many of the political problems we have.

 

AxisOfEarth

In fact, this axis is changing over time, but it is not returning to an inclination angle of 0.

There is in theory a solution to all of this temperature variation, reduce the axis of inclination. If we straightened out, we could have much more uniform temperatures year-round. We would need less annual adaptation. This would save on construction and energy costs big time, itself perhaps enough to avoid climate change.

Atlas

So how might we straighten the earth? Tractor Beam. Nuclear Bombs, Volcanic Explosions, Give Atlas some pep pills? I believe the answer is the same as how we got here, Asteroid collisions. Harnessing some relatively large Asteroids and colliding them with Earth at the right location should reduce our tiltedness. I have seen many films (based on scientific fact) which have shown teams of aged astronauts go out into space to divert asteroids to avoid earthly collision, it should be a simple matter to divert asteroids to collide with the earth in just the right place. With some trial and error, I am sure we could get it right. This is a job for geo-engineering, astro-physicists, snooker players, astronomers AND astrologers to work on to perfect. (I’m just the ideas guy.) We need a crash program in this, so we can avoid more unnecessary winters.

Of course, all of the animals that have adapted to seasonality would now be un-adapted to unseasonality, but they should have thought of that before evolving.

Side effects include mass extinction and heartburn.

New Zeppelin Port Announced | streets.mn

Cross-posted from streets.mn: New Zeppelin Port Announced

New Zeppelin Port Announced

 

The following was released to Streets.MN

*************** EMBARGOED UNTIL MARCH 32, 2013 ***************

In line with Minnesota’s new statewide transportation plan and the City of Minneapolis’s recent push for slow travel via streetcar, the newly formed Metropolitan Zports Commission (jointly managed by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, with a 30% stake held by local entrepreneur Z. Wilf), along with the Foshay Tower, have announced a new Zeppelin Port initiative. The objective will be for people to ride comfortably in the clouds from downtown to downtown of major American cities. Service is expected to begin in August 2015 on a route between Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago, with a parachute drop over Madison.

Foshay (wikipedia)

Zeprobe http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2012/07/14/zeppelinology/

The Zeppelin will dock atop the Foshay tower, and board and alight via a newly constructedZipline between the Foshay tower roof and the 30th floor of the IDS Tower.

The marketing campaign is “It’s Zporting: Zip to the Zep today”.

************************************************************************************************

The Midwest High-Speed Rail Commission released a brief announcement indicating they opposed the 80 MPH Zeppelin, saying

“If you want slow inter-city transportation, High-Speed rail in the Midwest will undoubtedly be slower than a Zeppelin on trips from Chicago to Minneapolis, considering actual travel distances and stops”. 

Minneapolis Anti-Skyway Coalition supported the bringing of inter-city transportation downtown, but was disturbed by the construction of a non-street level zipline between the Foshay tower and IDS Center. Their main objection was removing potential customers from the street-level, and the possibility of aerial food-trucks powered by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) (the famous taco-copter) serving passengers hanging off the zip-line waiting to board the Zeppelin.

Minneapolitans Against Food In Air (MAFIA) were also opposed, suggesting that taco juices would rain down upon street-level pedestrians.

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak immediately endorsed the project as bringing vital jobs and conventioneers to the City, and suggested a second zipline (which he dubbed “The Hipline”) to connect to Target Field and the Vikings Stadium.

This brings the development of lighter than air craft full circle in the metropolis where Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin conceived of his namesake vehicle.

UrbanZipLine

tacocopter
 

Minneapolis, the Venice of the Upper Midwest | streets.mn

Cross-posted from streets.mn: Minneapolis, the Venice of the Upper Midwest .

 

Minneapolis, the Venice of the Upper Midwest

MilwaukeeRoadVenice

Special to streets.mn , April 1, 2012

The City of Minneapolis recently received Federal funding under the Advanced Quality Urban Waterways Initiative (New Starts) Retro-Transit program to investigate alternative scenarios for transforming city streets into canals. By revealing the underlying stream beds that have been paved over in more than 150 years of the city’s existence, the proposed Urban Waterways system aims to restore the natural habitat of the endangered Musk Beaver and the Yukon Green Frog within the city of Minneapolis. It is said this is 17 percent more effective than green roofs in filtering polluted rainwater before it drains into the Mississippi River.

In addition, the canals will create a distinctive urban form and enable the deployment of a new set of environmentally-friendly (green) water taxis. These water buses will be painted Chartreuse to aid in identification. Express water buses will stop only every other block. The aim is to eventually convert every street and avenue to a canal, so that all travelers will have to either walk on the Skyway system or use public water-based transit to reach their destinations. To avoid transfers, local public transit agencies plan to commission designs for amphibious water/land buses.

Federal grants

In addition to the AQUWI grant, Minneapolis is also happy to have received a “Swimmable Communities” grant from the US Department of Parks and Recreation to help pay for the study. This grant will focus on the feasibility of making the canals swimmable year round, through heating in the winter (and cooling in the summer). It is anticipated that heating will be in place during the winter months of August to July. Minneapolis Director of Canals, Dutchess Bridgewater, says “Initiativizing this project will put Minneapolis uniquely on the Map with our sister cities of Venice, Stockholm, and Amsterdam”.

Restoring historic environment

Archeologists have found that the land Minneapolis was built on was historically a swamp, dubbed the Eye of the Pig, that was filled in by native Americans around 1100 AD to form the capital of the civilization of Antonopolis. That civilization collapsed about a century later, for unknown reasons, but mysterious runes found in northern Minnesota suggest that an invasion may have been the cause.

 

A new Color Scheme for Public Transit

blues-tones copy
March 32, 2012
You may have heard recently of the decision of the
Metoopolitan Council to name all of the rail and express bus lines after colors. Not wanting to leave out the local bus routes, they made a decision to rename the bus lines after colors as well.
Therefore, bus routes that intersect with the newly named Blue line LRT will be named after shades of Blue. Some of the new routes are listed below:

  • Route 2 will now be referred to as the Sailor’s Delight line
  • Route 3 as Birds of a Feather
  • Route 5 as Midnight Clearing
  • Route 7 as Bluesday Afternoon

Similarly, all of the bus routes that feed the new Green Line LRT will be named after shades of Green.
These include the following changes:

  • Route 16 will now be referred to as Mr. Pistachio
  • Route 62 as Ribbet!
  • Route 65 as Lemony Lime
  • Route 87 as Cricket Hop Green

The Director of Interior Design at the Metoopolitan Council, Dr. Ronald “Dutch” Buoy, suggested that the system will aid navigability and reduce complexity associated with using buses. He also said that each bus will be repainted to indicate which line it will serve. He advised “Just look for the color of the bus that is going to your destination.” He further suggested “People don’t like numbers, Math is Hard!”
Critic of the decision, former Metoopolian Council Chair bell peters declared it was “Too Matchy-Matchy”.
Any routes that don’t intersect the LRT system will be discontinued once this system is deployed. And lines that intersect more than one LRT route will also be discontinued. “We aim to build a tree upon which the Twin Cities transit users can travel.” stated Metoopolitan Council director of Network Services Name Redacted. “It will also be easier to model, since there will be only one transfer point.”
We wish to learn the lesson of Transantiago and concentrate as much traffic on as few vehicles as possible. “Our plan is to just do this one day without notice, so as not to needlessly worry our customers.” the Metoopolitan Director of Public Relations suggested. People inconvenienced by the system are advised to change jobs to somewhere in downtown Minneapolis.
The press release did not include the full list of route changes. If you, my loyal Transportationistas, uncover any others, please post them to the comments section.

Ethical Ethanol

The Meetopolitan Council. Saint Paul. April 1, 2012
The Meetopolitan Council announced today the conversion of its entire bus and rail fleet to 100 percent pure Ethical Ethanol(™). Ethical Ethanol(™) is a type of ethanol that is carbon negative. All Ethical Ethanol is derived from plant stocks, usually corn, grown within 32.6 miles of its use.
The corn stalks are hand harvested by US citizens and wheel-barrowed to the nearest grain elevator. The wheel-barrows are made in northern Minnesota by indigenous wheel-barrow crafts-persons, using methods developed 600 years ago prior to the European colonization.
All corn is allowed to range free, no factory farms are admitted into the program. The corn is fed only locally-grown organic pork and beef waste, but is not permitted to be fertilized with waste products of older corn. This is intended to avoid Mad Corn Disease.
The advantages of Ethical Ethanol(™) are several. First it reduces electrical pollution resulting from electric vehicles and electric power generation. Second it guarantees Minnesota will not be subject to the vagaries of the international energy trade market.
To finance this conversion, an Ethical Ethanol(™) surcharge is being placed on all vehicle-vehicle transfers. This surcharge, a mere $4/transfer, is intended to help finance the conversion. Meeto Transit is also applying for a US Department of Energy grant to help pay for the conversion. “We are happy not to have to raise rates”, Council Chair Firebottom stated.
All vehicles which cannot be converted to Ethical Ethanol will instead be converted to fertilizer, as shown in the attached picture.
UnconvertedStreetcars

Image shows unconverted transit vehicles being converted to Ethical Ethanol fertilizer.

High-speed link between Rochester, Twin Cities could pay for itself, report claims  – Finance & Commerce

Finance and Commerce teases me: High-speed link between Rochester, Twin Cities could pay for itself, report claims  – Finance & Commerce:

“A high-speed rail line between Rochester and the Twin Cities would more than pay for itself with the extra economic benefits and tax dollars generated, according to a report released Monday by economic development officials in southern Minnesota. The report from Rochester Area Economic Development says a rail line would generate $27.54 billion in economic benefits, including …”

Alas, I don’t subscribe to Finance and Commerce, so I will have to make up the ellipsis
(1) $1 billion in added noise benefits. Since noise reduces property values, renters and new owners will be able to buy land for cheap.
(2) $10 billion in opportunity costs avoided. Since the HSR line will result in other bad construction projects avoided, and since we can’t afford everything, there is clearly a benefit here.
(3) $5 billion in added profits for the operators of the line. The line will cost billions to operate over time, so that must be a benefit to those paid to operate it.
(4) $3 billion in construction benefits. We are paying people to build the line, they benefit. Therefore all construction costs are benefits.
(5) $9 billion in development. There will be new development in Rochester and the Twin Cities. All of that can be attributed to the HSR.
(6) $.5 billion. There will be development taking place in Rochester that would otherwise take place in Mankato. That is another benefit.
(7) $35 billion. The Mayo Clinic won’t move to Phoenix.
Was I right?