Saturday, July 16, 2011

Silly Sustainability Saturday: Carmageddon, Tea Partiers against manatees, and Butterbeer

I've collected a handful of really goofy stories with sustainability and food angles this week that deserve their own post instead of being buried in part three of a sustainability news linkspam, so I'm introducing what might become a regular feature here. Besides, I like the alliteration of the title.

First up, Carmageddon.

Los Angeles is set for chaos this weekend as a busy stretch of Highway 405 is getting widened. The event could displace as many as 500,000 motorists.

It's such a serious event it's been dubbed Carmageddon.

Celebs with big twitter followings have been asked to help get the word out and minimize confusion. Jet blue is offering a cure for Carmageddon that is as convenient as it is planet-unfriendly: $4 tickets from Burbank to Long Beach.

Carmageddon will only last for the weekend. But even after the 405 reopens, Angelinos might still find bad traffic a fact of life.
$4 plane fares from Burbank to Long Beach and back? I'll say that's planet-unfriendly! Unfortunately, it was a very successful marketing stunt, as USA Today described yesterday.
The Los Angeles Times says that "in less than four hours, JetBlue Airways sold out all" of the special flights. The Press-Telegram of Long Beach has an even quicker estimate, writing that JetBlue's Carmageddon flights "sold out within two hours of the airline's announcement."
I lived in Los Angeles until 1989, when I moved to Michigan. It's stories like this that make me glad I don't live there anymore. As I tell my students, "there is a reason the place is called La La Land and it's not just because the initials are L.A."

It's not all bad news for the planet. As USA Today also reported, a bicycle club decided to challenge Jet Blue to a race.
Will JetBlue's special "Carmegeddon flights" between Burbank and Long Beach really help Los Angelinos get across town faster during the city's fear 405 freeway shutdown?

That may be hard to judge, but a group of L.A.-area bicyclists plans to put the airline's crosstown flights to the test in a "bike vs. airplane" race between the airports.
I just watched the end of Rachel Maddow's show, and she bet $1 on the cyclists "For the Schwinn." I would, too.

As for JetBlue, they didn't miss a beat.
[JetBlue spokeswoman Allison] Steinberg says "we're thrilled that the Los Angeles Cyclists want to race us from Burbank to Long Beach."

And, she adds: "If they're too tired to ride back home, bikes fly free with us for the month of July in celebration of Tour de France. Enthusiasts can even kick back in our comfy leather seats and watch live coverage of the 2011 Tour de France in-flight."
Score one for JetBlue for PR, even if the planet loses.

Finally, the cyclists promise to "fight fair."
For the details, says: "All riders will depart from the same location, the Burbank Airport, at the same time, and be required to follow all traffic laws."
This will be a hoot.

Now for a news item that would be hilarious, albeit unintentionally, if it weren't for the fact that the political movement responsible has real power.

St. Petersburg Times: Tea party members tackle a new issue: manatees
By Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Everybody knows what the tea party members oppose. High taxes. Big government. Obama's health care plan. High-speed rail.

Now, for at least some local tea party members, there's one more to add: manatee protection.

A Citrus County tea party group has announced that it's fighting new restrictions on boating and other human activities in Kings Bay that have been proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We cannot elevate nature above people," explained Edna Mattos, 63, leader of the Citrus County Tea Party Patriots, in an interview. "That's against the Bible and the Bill of Rights."

Federal officials "want to restrict the entire bay," she contended. "They don't want people here."

Last week, Mattos, who says she has 800 members signed up on her group's website, and other tea party members picketed outside a public hearing on the new rules. Because they weren't allowed to bring their signs inside, she said, "my anger took over" and she sent a sharply worded e-mail to thousands of tea party members across Florida, urging them to write to Congress to block the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Then, on Tuesday, Barbara Bartlett, who identified herself as a tea party member, told the Hernando County Commission that the federal wildlife agency had no business sticking its nose into Citrus County. But parts of Kings Bay have been a federal wildlife refuge since 1980.
To Mattos, what the agency has proposed will erode private property rights. She predicted they will prevent people who own waterfront land from tying up boats at their docks "because you can't have anything that interferes with the manatee because they'll get trampled on."
Current regulations have helped boost the manatee population from 100 to 500, so clearly they're sufficient, Mattos said. In fact, in her view, the manatee rules tie in to global development issues.

"We believe that (federal regulators') aim is to control the fish and wildlife, in addition to the use of the land that surrounds this area, and the people that live here and visit. … As most of us know, this all ties in to the United Nations' Agenda 21 and Sustainability."

Agenda 21 is a program, adopted by the U.N. in 1992, to encourage countries around the world to promote only development that does not harm nature. Pundit Glenn Beck and other conservatives have attacked it as an attempt to impose world government's rules on every aspect of American lives. The Citrus County tea party group's website says Agenda 21 is "designed to make humans into livestock."

Mattos said she enjoys showing off the manatees to her grandchildren, but she had little use for the Save the Manatee Club, explaining, "If some of these environmental movements had been around in the days of the dinosaurs, we'd be living in Jurassic Park now."
I think Mattos needs to loosen up the Reynolds Wrap lining her tricorn hat. Until she does, I give you this response in the spirit of "a picture is worth 1000 words."

Finally, I leave you all with this bit of happy food news from Huffington Post.

Butterbeer: How the Harry Potter Beverage Was Made Real
By now, even the dimmest of Muggles knows that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a smashing success. Ever since this theme-park-within-a-theme-park opened at Islands of Adventure at the Universal Orlando Resort, people have been raving about the "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" attraction as well as Hogsmeade's highly-themed shops and restaurants.

But when you get right down to it, what's the most successful aspect of The Wizarding World? 'Forbidden Journey''s state-of-the-art ride system? The dazzling effects that theme park visitors experience whenever they visit Ollivander's wand shop? Or -- for that matter -- the overall look of Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade Village? Which make you feel as though you've stepped inside one of the "Harry Potter" movie?

And the answer is... none of the above. Based on surveys that UOR employees have done, the greatest Guest Satisfier in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, that piece-of-the-magic that people most wish that they could take home and share with friends and family... is a beverage. Butterbeer, to be precise.
Sustainable? Hardly, but it is a fun read and the most interesting food news I've read all week.

With that, I'm going to play Rift with my wife. See you some time after noon.

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