Fact-Checking the "PRT Boondoggle" Blog
A project of the PRT NewsCenter

Friday, July 29, 2005

The O.C.

Originally published at "PRT Is A Joke" IS A JOKE v.1
Words written with wildcards (***, !!!, etc.) was the way we originally wrote
Ken Avidor, Ken, and Avidor.

*** doesn't just oversee the PRTJ website and The *Blog, he's also busy telling other people what they should (and shouldn't) have on their pages (especially if it means more mentions of him and his quality work). It's almost like he can't help it--

:: "Click on the "news" link on these websites for the latest PRT news. Anything about the Taxi 2000 vs J. Edward Anderson lawsuit?"[1]

:: "For once you are right... Are you the only PRT website that's mentioned the lawsuit? Did I miss any others? How about a follow up on... the Pioneer Press article you linked to (but did not discuss)?"

:: "what's the deal with your Google News Search? Why does it exclude the LRN website and my website?"

:: "You should have a disclaimer saying so[2] on your Google search button. (Source, plus comments 3 and 4)

:: "That's really interesting... you should explain what you mean by this on your web site."

:: "All the usual boasting about their non-existing system... the flashy animation [ellipses included]" (Source, plus comments)

:: "The PRTers... don't even want to spell my name for fear that someone will do a Google search on me and my PRT skeptic web site."
(Source, Background)

:: "we are kicking PRT keyword butt on google, yahoo, msn, wiki,everywhere." Source

He does love his Google linkage points. One sure hopes that *** never Googles PRT, and then repeats it while excluding links to his pages. One further hopes that he never calculates that the hit-differential is about 1.5% (the difference between this and this). One hopes that for his sake. Because we care.


A. tBlog informs me that PRTJJ has already received 434 visitors. And this is only the first week! Note to self: Apparently technology and humor sells.

B. Editorial decision: from now on, Get On Board! PRT will be abbreviated "gPRT." Like this:



[1] Incidentally, Get On Board! PRT does not have a News link, it has a "What's New" link, which leads to a "New" page. S is a very important letter, you illy anti-PRT wea el .

[2] that Get On Board! PRT has an editorial policy against linking to information that is known to be false.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Originally published at "PRT Is A Joke" IS A JOKE v.1
Words written with wildcards (***, !!!, etc.) was the way we originally wrote
Ken Avidor, Ken, and Avidor.

Our friend *** at the "PRT is Bogus" tBlog recently posted the following, which includes a reference to Minneapolis City Councillor Dean Zimmerman (emphases):
"Green Party-endorsed candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis, Farheen Hakeem told me she had suspicions about Personal Rapid Transit. She also said she was not supporting Dean Zimmermann." Source

If true, so much for party unity. Amateurs. But oh how I wish I could have heard that conversation. Maybe it went something like this:

Administrative Assistant: Ms. Hakeem, there's a *** ****** on the phone again.
Farheen Hakeem: Not again!
AA: Do you want me to-
FH: That guy just won't let go of that Personal Rapid Transit. It's suspicious, I tell you...
AA: He can hear you.
FH: What?
AA: He isn't actually on hold. The line is open, I just thought since you were standing right here-
FH: How many times have I told you!? The hold button is your friend!
AA: I'm sorry. [Cups hand over receiver]
FH: OK, gotta think. He's gonna want to get me on the record about PRT...
AA: And Dean Zimmerman.
FH: Zimmerman! Cripes! Why is he only obsessed with Zimmerman? That's suspicious too! What about Aaron Neumann and all those other pro-PRT Greens? OK, just tell ****** I'm not Dean Zimmerman's mother. I'm not supporting him financially, am I? He's a grown man, he has his own place...
AA: Got it. Ahem. Hello, Mr. ******? Sorry about that. Ms. Hakeem wants you to know that she has suspicions, and she's not Dean Zimmerman's mother.

Interesting, don't you think, that ***'s embrace of Ms. Hakeem coincided with a clumsy attempt, by smearer or smearers unknown, at painting PRT supporters with the anti-Muslim brush (comments by person using the alias "The_PRT_Mafia").

We attach no significance to the fact that it took *** 3 days to respond to the slur in a meaningful way--or that he enabled it by titling his comments "PRT Extremists."


Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Originally published at "PRT Is A Joke" IS A JOKE v.1
Words written with wildcards (***, !!!, etc.) was the way we originally wrote
Ken Avidor, Ken, and Avidor.

Yesterday we mentioned in passing that "PRT is Bogus" had begun barring non-tBlog members from posting comments. Well apparently *** has had a change of heart, because today the July 26 entry has a new comment by an outside user. The impact of PRTJ2 is already being felt!

Update: This morning's commenter in PRTJ's tBlog wrote, "Calling PRT a joke doesn't seem like much of an argument." Not only isn't it much of an argument, it's not even much of a joke-- all setup, no punch line! Poor delivery, no pacing...

Guide to a Brief Reading List

Originally published at "PRT Is A Joke" IS A JOKE v.1
Words written with wildcards (***, !!!, etc.) was the way we originally wrote
Ken Avidor, Ken, and Avidor.

This is a brief guide to the contents of the See How He Distorts Library over at Get On Board! PRT.

The library is a series of responses to just a few of the many false claims about PRT by *** and his follower.

See How He Distorts was written to formally debunk claims by *** that PRT must be big and ugly, and that a study by the light rail-friendly consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff "proves" PRT may be unfeasible from an engineering standpoint. See How He Distorts cites evidence that disproves those claims (warning: contains the alarming words "Boston's Big Dig").

A series of analytical papers followed soon after:

Follow The Money, dealing with claims that PRT is some sort of conspiracy backed by shadowy "anti-transit" interests. The truth is, Skyweb Express designer J. Edward Anderson and North Korean dynastic scion Kim Jong Il are old drinking buddies, but Kim has no financial interest in the technology whatsoever.

See How He Makes It Up, refuting the bizarre claim that the two leading PRT designs don't incorporate air conditioning units. The designs do in fact have AC, as well as loft bedrooms, kitchenettes and an exercise room with 24-jet jacuzzi-- $400 move-in special this month only!

See How He Ignores Context, in which *** is shown to have latched onto fairly standard investing statements as "proof" that PRT may be "unworkable." ***'s attempt to backpedal on this claim is also documented, as well as the identity of the important character who dies at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

See His Answers Become Nonresponsive, which analyzes and refutes ***'s claim of having proof that the Taxi 2000 PRT company accepted a large sum of money from a highways contractor, as well as ***'s evasion of the issues when challenged. A rare photo is included of *** with his fingers in his ears, going "la la la la la la la la..."

Two outside links are also included:

See How He Argues, a Wiki page that analyzes a story *** wrote for the website Light Rail Now. ***'s arguments are compared to classic examples of bad logic, including Argument From Ignorance, the ever-popular Straw Man, and "[Saddam had] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."

See How He Argues II, a link to a page at ***'s own web site. *** has placed the head of a female Minnesota legislator on the bodies of[1] a saint holding a fetus, a dominatrix, Margaret Hamilton, and Lynddie England. The legislator is also portrayed as if about to french another lawmaker, posing with Hitler, and mud wrestling Charisma Carpenter.


------------------------- --
[1] See if you can pick out the joke in the next sentence and a half.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Welcome From the Editor

Originally published at "PRT Is A Joke" IS A JOKE v.1
Words written with wildcards (***, !!!, etc.) was the way we originally wrote
Ken Avidor, Ken, and Avidor.

Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) advocacy is a serious international movement. It is comprised of dedicated people from many nations, various walks of life, and many points on the political spectrum. They are united by a common interest in implementing PRT, an advanced transit technology that will extend the reach & popularity of public transit, save time, offer greater convenience, broaden mobility, reduce congestion, reduce the need for new roads, and be better for the environment.

PRT and its advocacy are serious. But the PRT Is a Joke Is a Joke blog is not! This blog is about discussing PRT--and defending it--but with wit and creativity.

At the outset, the focus of our mirth will be PRT Is a Joke,1 a fantasy website (and its companion tBlog). But instead of gnomes, dragons, unicorns, and damsels in various stages of distress, the fantasy of PRTJ comes from conspiracies that are dreamed up by its main, um, creative force, a person who makes no apologies for his hatred of PRT.

This person hates it when you discuss him without mentioning his name (remind me to tell you sometime about his explanation for that), so I'll freely disclose that his name is ***.

***'s primary weapon is the Unsubstantiated Claim, and he does it in a way that reminds the Editor of Karl Rove. Not that *** is a pasty, pudgy incarnation of evil, but rather that he makes false claims and then repeats them over and over. In short, *** has Talking Points and sticks to them, despite all evidence to the contrary.

*** and I have fought a number of engagements on the cyberspace ocean for some time now and, speaking charitably, the U.S.S. PRT Is a Joke Is a Joke has sunk ***'s battleship every time. But he keeps refitting and coming out of port for more.

I would continue with the naval motif with some remarks about having defeated the enemy in his own territorial waters, or sinking him in his own harbor, but sensing the reader's impatience I will proceed instead to my first point, an answer to the question, "Why this blog, and why now?" Well, it's simple: *** has decided he's not going to talk to me anymore (comment 3). Apparently, your Editor is a slanderer, defamer, and "a raving crack-pot." And here I just declined the chance to label him pasty or pudgy! Also, *** now allows only tBlog members to post comments. So since I had to register, I might as well have a tBlog too!

And now for my second and final point for today: PRT Is a Joke Is a Joke is a ship of- a blog of one thing: peace. Actually, of two things: peace and humor. I would mention a third thing, but I do not wish to be any further derivative than I may have already. Been.

Wit is highly piscine in its ability to wriggle away from attempts to define and characterize it. So we can't promise the content of PRT Is a Joke Is a Joke2 won't stray into jejune or even sophomoric territory. Think of yourselves as intrepid explorers crossing a new frontier of humor-based advocacy blogging. Remember what Lewis & Clark said: "Hey Sacajawea! Hey! Hey lady! Laaaaaaadeeeeeeee!!!"

1. editorial decision: let's just call it PRTJ
2. editorial decision: PRTJJ, or PRTJ2

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Original PRTJJ Glossary

Originally published at "PRT Is A Joke" IS A JOKE v.1
Words written with wildcards (***, !!!, etc.) was the way we originally wrote
Ken Avidor, Ken, and Avidor.

***, a/k/a *** ******, PRTSkeptic, Kendall, Kenwood, Kenton, Kenworth, Kent, Avibore, Avismores, Avisnore, Avidork, Aviscorn, Avigolemono, Labridor, Lubridor, Lugubridor, Kiln Ovendoor, Klose Opendrawer, Undiedrawer: the author of "PRT Is a Joke" and "PRT Is Bogus." He hates it when people don't mention his name. So we don't.

Balatro: "fool" (Latin)

*Blog, The: "PRT is Bogus", the blog of ***

gPRT: "Get On Board! PRT," the home page of this blog (see PRTJJ)

LL: "Lloydletta," a blog *** has joined

LTO3: Lies Told Over and Over and Over. See also: Talking Points, ***

PRT: Personal Rapid Transit

PRTJ: the "PRT Is a Joke" website

PRTJJ, PRTJ2: "PRT Is a Joke" Is a Joke

"PRT Is Bogus": See The *Blog

SWE: Skyweb Express PRT system

Talking Points: See LTO3

T2K: Taxi 2000 PRT company, maker of SWE

ULTra: Urban Light Transport PRT system

Not Laughing? Me Either

Originally published at "PRT Is A Joke" IS A JOKE v.1

They may not be funny, but they sure are jokes-- the PRT Is A Joke website and its associated tBlog, "PRT is Bogus", that is.

Interested in the reality of Personal Rapid Transit? Then visit these pages for all your "PRT Is A Joke Is A Joke" Deprogramming Needs:
:: Get On Board! Personal Rapid Transit, featuring See How They Distort and other PRTiaJ-debunking analyses.

:: Real PRT News from Sound PRT.

:: Accurate pictures of what PRT will look like, from Skyweb Express, ULTra, and Advanced Transit Association.

Finally, for liberal commentary on subjects other than Personal Rapid Transit, be sure to visit the main opinion-page, Mr_Blog!


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

See His Answers Become Nonresponsive

Originally published ©2005 Get On Board! PRT

Non-denial denials

The Minnesota anti-PRT activist is paranoid about who he imagines is working on PRT. For a long time he has been claiming that PRT is "a stalking horse" for dark forces—at various times the auto industry, the highway lobby, and other "anti-transit" groups.

Finally, he thinks he has some substantiating evidence. On June 28, 2005 he wrote:
"According to the court record of the Taxi 2000 vs J. Edward Anderson lawsuit, Taxi 2000 received as much as $400,000 from SEH [contractor Short Elliott Hendrickson] "without compensation other than 12,000 shares." Source (Comment 2)

The Minnesota anti-PRT activist states this under the lead-in "What does the Taxi 2000 Corporation and SEH (the engineers for the The Excess Project [Interstate 35W Access]) have in common?" He then lets it dangle, it figuratively screaming PRT is with the Highway People who are against transit!

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that companies that build roads can also build rail systems.(Research: SEH actually donates more to Democrats!)

Lawsuit background

There is an unfortunate lawsuit going on at present, between Taxi 2000 and its founder and chief designer, J. Edward Anderson. A disagreement over the company's strategic direction and, it seems, a personality conflict between Anderson and CEO Morrie Anderson (no relation) led to a parting of the ways. Litigation is underway that concerns some of the company's intellecual property. Papers have been filed. Lots of papers.

Birth of a distortion

In May 2005, the Minnesota anti-PRT activist first went public with allegations about Taxi 2000-SEH connections:
"The court records in the Taxi 2000 vs Ed Anderson case have clear evidence of that. ...according to one exhibit in the case, SEH, the engineering firm for the I35W Access Project gave $400,000 "without compensation" to Taxi 2000." Source

Then again on June 14:
"It may be a coincidence, but according to court records in the Taxi 2000 lawsuit, SEH, the engineers for the 35W Access Project gave a lot of cash to Taxi 2000... hundreds of thousands of dollars." Source

What a source says about the $400,000

This analyst contacted a person with access to Taxi 2000 and the Skyweb project, and then attempted to set the record straight on June 23:
"You might want to fact-check this claim.

A reliable source... tells me that SEH actually contributed in-kind services and time, not cash, and far less than hundreds of thousands of dollars worth."
 Source (Comment 6)

This analyst again attempted to correct the record on June 28. According to the same source:
"an SEH person guessed in an email that maybe they had spent that much TIME on Taxi 2000 (again, NOT cash). SEH had a number of people go to T2K a number of times on planning work. Some of that is what they'd do to learn about ANY prospective project, some was probably as a favor. But they never assigned a dollar value to it or asked T2K for anything in return." Source (Comment 3)

Round 2

But the Minnesota anti-PRT activist makes the claim again, with embellishments, on July 5, 2005:
"From another document from the Taxi 2000 vs J. Edward Anderson Trial:

"As we have discussed in the past, SEH has invested about $400,000 in Taxi 2000 over the past several years without compensation other than 12,000 shares of stock..."

"Accordingly, I intend to notify Taxi 2000 Corp. that all of the images used in their promotional literature, web site, etc. are copyrighted materials, owned solely by SEH."

So the brochures and the PowerPoint presentation [Councilman Dean] Zimmermann has been giving to community groups over the last few years were mostly prepared by SEH who are the engineers for The Access Project and the Lake Street Reconstruction Project"

This analyst responded again, again after consulting the well-placed source:
"Regarding the pictures and literature... SEH had a professional photographer take some photos, and supplied some banners. T2K used some of the photos and displayed the banners at the state fair exhibit. That's it. Powerpoints and brochures were created by T2K-- so the speculation about Zimmerman's handouts is flat-out wrong." Source (Comment 2)

The '$400,000 email': irrelevant

The key to this entire allegation is the phrase "according to one exhibit in the case"It comes from an exhibit filed by one party to the case—it is not even a finding of fact. It is a copy of an e-mail.

In other words, the material upon which the Minnesota anti-PRT activist bases his speculations is not relevant to the issues being contested: intellectual property (specifically, nondisclosure/trade secrets). Which can encompass a host of things, including the innocuous.

Challenged, his "rebuttals" were non-responsive to the issue of the exhibit's relevance and context:
"The court papers are public. Anyone can look at it and copy everything... including you or one of your PRT pals in the Twin Cities. you can even post all of it on your website so folks don't have to come here to read it." Source (Comment 3)

This analyst asked, "Is that your answer?"  He was again non-responsive, even making up his own question:
"Your comments are so convoluted and long-winded... Ask a simple question... Question: "What document is this from?" Answer: Copy of an e-mail from an SEH employee, dated February 9th, 2005, Subject: "Memorandum of Understanding - SEH/Taxi 2000". Source (Comment 5)

An e-mail subject-line is supposed to be proof of something? One supposes the contents of said memo could begin 'With regard to our secret conspiracy to defeat light rail and build more highways...'.  However, it could just easily (and more likely) be, 'SEH hereby agrees to take some photos, print some banners, and provide Taxi 2000 with some staff support on a pro bono basis.'

Distortion; uninformed speculation; fabrication; revisionism. And now, as Ben Bradlee might say, the'nondenial nondenial.' What will we see next, from the Minnesota anti-PRT activist

See How He Ignores Context

Originally published ©2005 Get On Board! PRT

Transparently disinformative

"If those people want to pursue PRT with
their own money, that's okay with me."

—the Minnesota Anti-PRT Activist
(Seattle P-I, cached comment #356)

The Minnesota anti-PRT activist is at it again. This time he is claiming that the leading U.S. PRT company knows PRT is "too risky." Here's his latest distortion, aimed at discouraging private investment in PRT.
Taking out the context
What he's doing this time is regurgiating the following passage from a "Risk Factors document" (!) filed filed by Taxi 2000 with Commerce Department of Minnesota (!).
Taxi 2000 Document Reveals Safety Concerns Can Make PRT Systems "Unworkable".

...The following are excerpts that show that Taxi 2000 itself believes that PRT is a very risky investment.

"Federal and State safety regulation of automated transit systems can make PRT systems unworkable. Since there are no examples of our technology currently in operation, we cannot predict what sort of state or federal government safety regulation might apply. At this juncture, the Federal Transit Administration - which would exercise whatever regulation might apply at this level - has left the matter up to the states. Management believes the states will look foremost to the work of a committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which has developed a set of safety standards for "Automated People Movers" (APM's). We have been following that work and think at this point it will pose only one problem: eg., "brick wall stopping" requirements for the control system (borrowed from railroad signaling practice). The requirement is that if one vehicle stops instantaneously, the next vehicle must be able to stop before hitting the stopped one. That requirement would inhibit the sort of minimum vehicle headway used in our design, but it would not affect operation of the first, lower density systems. In the context of PRT, "headway" means the nose-to-nose time spacing between two sequential vehicles. Setting a minimum allowable headway determines the maximum carrying capacity of the guideway. We will work to have the headway requirement amended, since we believe it is inappropriate to PRT technology, but there is no guarantee we will be successful in that regard." Source
He makes no other comment, leaving the reader to think that PRT can be sunk if regulatory agencies and organizations don't change certain rules.

Context is so important, and this is a textbook case. The above paragraph is not some earth-shaking secret admission of a fatal flaw. In fact it is a fairly standard "safe harbor" statement, something all companies that offer stock are required to do, to apprise prospective investors of every conceivable risk, no matter how remote. In this safe harbor, Taxi 2000 is merely saying 'ASCE rules may not allow us to use as short headways as we are capable of, and we're going to seek a rule change because our technology overcomes the reason for the "brick wall" standard.'

Every public company has safe harbor statements in their prospectuses, annual reports and 10-K filings. So if everyone gave full, literal and equal weight to everything in safe harbors, no one would ever invest in anything.

That said, it is important to note that incompatibility with safety regulations is not the only thing theMinnesota anti-PRT activist has been claiming about the Risk Factors document. He has been portraying it as much more dire.

Watch him backpedal
For a long time the Minnesota anti-PRT activist provided no quotes from "Risk Factors," only his characterization of the contents. But recently, when pressured by this analyst to provide an actual quote from the document, suddenly his interpretation underwent a subtle revision:
June 30: "By popular request, I post an excerpt from the Taxi 2000's Risk Factors Document that acknowledges the Personal Rapid Transit headway problem is a major safety concern that would prevent a nose-to-nose PRT system from operating under current safety regulations." Source

That's not quite what the Minnesota anti-PRT activist used to say!
Late May 2005: "There is certainty that PRT is impossible and it's in Taxi 2000's Risk Factors document filed with the State of MInnesota [sic]. It says the headway problem[...] can only be solved by asking the ASCE for a change on their guidlines [sic] for APM's. ... something that's highly unlikely because professional engineers are unlikely to relax a safety recommendation that would surely result in crashes, injuries and deaths." Source

June 23, 2005: "I really doubt that this "project "will get more than a glance from Bill Gates. Like the rumored PRT project in Dubai, this stuff is meant to impress the suckers - investors and politicians. A savvy investor would ask to see the Taxi 2000 "Risk Factors" document filed with the State of MInnesota [sic]. The Risk Factors document clearly states that the headway problem is a problem that no technology can fix." Source

June 13, 2005: "If you want to know the real deal on PRT, read the Risk Factors document that the Taxi 2000 Corporation filed with the State of Minnesota. It says one of the risk factors is the headway problem (which cannot be solved by any sort of advanced technology). It instead suggests that Taxi 2000 would ask to have the guidlines [sic] for headways changed to allow pods to stop on a dime and subject passengers to gut-wrenching g-forces." Source
For the record, this is how PRT has really been designed to deccelerate:
"If all passengers are seated, simple experiments show that a 0.5g [a HALF g] deceleration will not throw a passenger out of the seat... requirements of PRT safety is that the vehicle be designed for all passengers seated."
Safe Design of Personal Rapid Transit Systems, Journal of Advanced Transportation, 28:1, 1994
So: just as when the Minnesota anti-PRT activist made the audacious claim that the Skyweb Express and ULTra PRTs don't have air conditioners, then nitpicked 'well, are there air conditioners installed in the vehicles in these photos?', he is backpedaling again. He's changing his earlier, sweeping claims that 'short headways are impossible, it can't be overcome by technology,' dropping the part about technology and just saying 'current regulations might not allow short headway'.

Hardly in the same class as Newton's First Law or the speed of light, as he had earlier led you to believe.
Distortion; uninformed speculation; fabrication. Now revisionism is in his bag of tricks!