A city isn’t built in a day

The recent bus rapid transit debate in London Ontario has me playing SimCity 4 again. In Simcity, as in the real world, the fastest way to bankrupt a city is sprawl with large amounts of traffic friendly roads, highways and low density development zones. However, if you assume the car is a person’s last choice for transit and develop the city around any transit mode but the car the city doesn’t struggle with the burden of road maintenance and other services being sprawled inefficiently.

In the current city I’m building I have left space for the subway system to expand. A city of 17,000 people with a subway line, a rail line connecting to the region, a bus grid, and a commuter airport. Mass transit requires a dense population to be efficient, which is why I never use low density development zones, at least for residential. Before any new zones are added to my cities i wait until the demand has made the previous zones use their full density potential, then I put the transit system in before adding the new zones. I also ensure everyone is meters from a park or some other green space, even when at work.

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Using a grid system to develop a city is thousands of years old. When geography gets in the way the grid dead ends but the rest wraps around or flows where geography suits. Simcity being a game is easier to have a focused plan to build a grid, no competing interests can highjack the player’s city. The messy world we live in has NIMBY groups, speculative developers, warring ideological tribes, and short sighted leaders looking to the next election victory.

Cities have evolved for security and cooperation, walls were built to keep flood waters and attackers out, and to bring the wealth of the hinterland in. Very few cities evolved without having transportation to the surrounding region or the wider world. Cities were founded on rivers, harbours, crossroads, canals, rail junctions, and stops for resupplying the travelers. A city that allows itself to become isolated or resistant to change is only visited by archaeologists. A city must work within and regionally to plan for survival.

For a century North American cities planned for automobile transportation with anything else as an afterthought. Cities were pulled apart like stewed meat to force the network of wider roads and highways in. Low density zones sprawled across valuable farm land and nature areas to serve the car, despite city services being stretched thin and costing more. Some of the services, such as public transit, were sacrificed to keep taxes down. Most urban mass transit was kept, but as an afterthought or limited to pre-1940s growth zones.

The current aim for many cities is to densify core areas and use rapid transit as the main mode of transit through and between the densified areas. Having looked at a few plans for this I’ve noticed some are reactionary rush jobs to catch up to the cities that have been planning the city around transit and densification for a decade or two. Some have completely redone their old network to serve the new network, while others are just dropping the new technology on existing networks. The more successful ones will be the ones that have planned long term and redone their existing networks.

A long term plan for a city needs to be integrated with all services available when a new area is zoned or opened to redevelopment. I recently noticed the City of London might expand the growth zone without expanding the transit system to the existing edge of the growth zone. London is also building low cost or subsidised housing in an area that is one or two buses away from the main transit zone. This is either poor planning or a plan to keep poor people in cars. In the city pictured above you might notice a subway stop next to a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. When i do expand that city the transportation is already there for construction workers.

I recently read the article Sexism and the City which offers me some new ideas for Simcity and shows how hostile cities can be for vulnerable people. I’ve already realized keeping residential and commercial close together cuts the need for transit and parks are in every block. The Mr. Peas can’t touch Ms Potatoes approach of urban planning the last century has failed to benefit many members in society. When there isn’t a bus waiting when a train/plane unloads or any convenient connection between transit options it only benefits more car sales. Cities should stop assuming the connections aren’t needed and permit more flexible combinations of residential and commercial zones with integrated city services.

Short direct trips are better, even with a transfer or two, than long convoluted trips, this is the benefit of planning a grid system of transportation. Another benefit of public transit going to a grid or grid/hub hybrid is ridership can increase as in Houston.  Houston is one of those cities that wasn’t exactly planned to a grid originally yet they have created one for the transit system. Many US cities are further ahead in correcting the transit systems than Canada. The Canadian cities that are working to improve transit are the ones growing beyond the capacity cars can carry and are attracting the investment from higher governments and individuals.

Internal transportation for a city is useless without connections beyond city limits. Cities that are distant from their neighbours and major population centres need to show they are ready for more expensive transit options such as high speed rail. As mentioned above if existing intercity transit methods are disconnected or poorly connected it shows the city is unready or unwilling to have the new connections. Ontario has a plan to connect Toronto to cities to the west by GO Train and high speed rail. Other versions of the Ontario plan has high speed rail going directly to Windsor or even Detroit.

Cities that wish to be included in larger transit systems, such as high speed rail, should work with surrounding communities to develop a local transit system to increase potential usership and show potential visitors local travel is equally convenient to the high speed rail network. Cities that continue to focus on cars or fail to fight for inclusion in wider transit networks have only themselves to blame when population drops below the minimum required to fund current services without massive tax or user fee increases.

Cities need long term planning for connecting within and beyond themselves. It takes many election cycles to get a city ready for transformation, especially if special interest groups seek to block any or all changes. Transportation is a form of communication and if it is to succeed communication is required. Communication doesn’t mean talking a lot to people about how the new system benefits but listening to what is lacking and what needs to be improved. Pushing new transit or growth areas while neglecting current transit and areas is a good way to get animosity and push back.

As I read in the Houston case, and the Ontario Transit Guidelines, there needs to be a constant dialogue with the riders, the drivers, and the public at large. Houston found a local community came up with a better route proposal than the was offered, that proposed route was immediately tested. City planners or transit system planners do not have a monopoly on all the facts or expertise. Riders, employers, and drivers have far more information about frustrations caused by existing systems and ignoring these stakeholders leads to bad transit decisions. Even asking nonusers why they don’t use a system may show the flaws in the existing orthodoxy.

If a city wants improved public transit, cycle networks, or better pedestrian paths tomorrow then the city should have started planning twenty years ago. A plan that should have a city wide network and that doesn’t leave areas out. One last thing I’ve learnt from Simcity, if a road is congested don’t widen it to reduce congestion, stick a toll booth on it. I’ve had cities where the tolls and transit fares subsidise health and education.

Buses & London’s petty civil war #Ldnont

I wasn’t going to post more on London’s bus rapid transit but the debate going on right now has me seeing red flags from both sides and I’m coming up with plenty of questions. The now entrenched camps have signs and funds making any form of compromise implausible. Where both sides are coming from is the past, the anti-BRT side wants to remain with cars, parking, and the status of being able to afford a car, while the pro-BRT side is stuck using a London transit map from c.1914.

Both sides in this debate are triggering my bull shit alarm. The down shifters are anonymous behind signs and tactics straight from the tobacco lobbyists of the late 20th Century. The pro side aren’t anonymous but they still haven’t shown how this will function, who is benefiting from it, nor how to protect BRT from future councils stacked with anti-BRT members. We’re in a Sergio Leone movie’s cemetery having a standoff, problem is both factions think they’re Clint Eastwood when they’re not even Eli Wallach.

Both sides of this polarized debate are focused on the transportation aspects and not the social justice. Some of the poorest people in London rely on a very inadequate LTC, BRT in the current plan will make little improvement and may make some people worse off. Already London has enforced car usage for those who work in the suburbs or industrial areas of the city. Reliance on the LTC is a guaranteed way to be denied employment, just check indeed postings. The anti-BRT people have offered nothing to change this, and the pro-BRT people have shown little evidence they even care.

My problem is not that we are trying to adopt BRT, its that BRT is stuck in the old mindset of bus routes have always gone through downtown, so must always go through downtown. Doctors who are taking new patients do not have offices within the main transit zone, nor do any of London’s blue collar employers, and most of the subsidized housing will be one or two buses beyond the BRT lines. All the research I’ve seen shows these big transit projects are for the convenience of affluent people.

I’ll give BRT advocates the benefit of the doubt that they’ve studied these questions, now please show us the findings:

  • How many poor households will need cars because of BRT?
  • How many poor households will be gentrified from the transit zone?
  • Will low cost housing be built in the transit zone exclusively?
  • How long will people’s commute be going from one suburb to another?
  • What is the city budgeting for increased policing costs of transit deserts, and how is the city going to prevent transit deserts from becoming ghettos?
  • Why can’t London adopt point to point transit? How many people would be diverted from the congested routes if alternative routes were available?
  • Why adopt a route system that is crippling/failing other cities and costing billions to correct? Will there be money put aside to correct these mistakes when hubs and spokes are overwhelmed by people being diverted to them?
  • What prevents bus lanes being turned to HOV lanes by future councils?
  • Why is a single point of failure built into the system? What is the diversion plan?
  • When BRT costs go up where are the guarantees the other routes won’t be sacrificed or the system be allowed to collapse from neglect?
  • Why is the city still spending money attracting industry to areas outside the transit zone?
  • Why is the airport left out?
  • How does this system integrate with the rest of the region/province/nation/global economy?
  • How much are the fines for driving in a bus lane? Will drivers lose their vehicle/licence?
  • How much will the city spend making roads durable enough for BRT?
  • If the goal is densification, why wasn’t it planned for 20 years ago?
  • Will a downtown congestion tax and car free zones make this easier to fund?
  • Were work locations, start times, and the actual drivers who are the public face of LTC consulted?
  • Are the thousands of people beyond the transit zone second class?

I make certain conclusions based on my research in the questions above, such as hub and spoke transit systems cannot work in cities sprawled like of London, the lack of service in the suburbs can have deadly consequences as in Paris and Chicago. My growing suspicion is that BRT, as currently planned, is nothing but a vanity project and a futile attempt at placating special interests. Now questions for the down shifters:

  • Where are your detailed, costed alternatives?
  • Why are you not more transparent with your members and funders?
  • Why are using tactics of the tobacco industry thirty years ago?
  • How will you prepare London for the cultural/demographical shift away from the automobile?
  • How will road widening in London not create more congestion as it has in every other jurisdiction that has tried it?
  • Are empty parking spots an efficient use of Space?
  • How will you keep the automobile from consuming the budgets of poor London residents? Would you support a city funded subsidy for these people to drive?
  • What happens if infrastructure money for roads, underpasses, and bridges becomes tied to public transit projects?
  • How will London fit into the global trend to abandon the internal combustion engine?
  • How much investment has London lost/losing because this system is now in jeopardy?
  • Is being one of the last cities in North America to have such mass transit attracting investments/talents?
  • Are people forced to spend a high percentage of income on their car spending the rest in downtown businesses?
  • How much are businesses outside the transit zone spending on employee/customer shuttles because of current poor LTC service?
  • Is “wait for future tech” code for “I like my Edsel”?
  • When was the last time you took the bus? Was it cheaper or more expensive than parking? Was Richard Nixon President of the United States?
  • Have you factored in the increased health care costs of continued use internal combustion engines?
  • If BRT isn’t built, and businesses still fail, who’s getting the blame? Amazon?

Both sides fail the smell test, and neither side has the high ground, in fact both would need to climb up to reach the sewers. The documents I’ve read on the proposed BRT system feel incomplete and lack evidence, while the opponents produce nothing but opinion pieces and fear mongering. Both sides are using the poorest, most vulnerable people in the city as pawns. If the BRT debate was really about social justice why not connect to where the poorest are and are most likely to find work? Or most likely to end up when the transit zone prices the poor out. Something neither side has explained as far as I can tell.

BRT is not a panacea nor the apocalypse, but the bitter debate could fracture London and destroy opportunities it needs to survive. This city needs to evolve, and primitive automobile technology, whether private car or bus, is not going to help London evolve. Both sides need to remove the blinders and see what is going on in the rest of the world, or at least beyond their bubble. It is frustrating and shameful that London can’t even connect cycle routes, walking routes, and plan a few bus routes without reenacting the Hatfield and McCoys.

If anyone outside London is watching this debate then they’re watching it as a poorly written farce. To be honest the farce over Hamilton’s LRT is more entertaining, and involves London tax dollars to connect Hamilton to Toronto’s boom. If London dithers to long or looks like its unambitious there is a line up of transit projects willing to spend our share of the money. London isn’t in competition with those cities, they beat London twenty years ago, now we’re just waiting for their scraps. A half billion dollar BRT system for the downtown isn’t enough to catch up, and doing nothing puts London further behind.

All those things London now claims as benefits will go where the people, money, and efficient transit are. Bitter debate over a bus system that should’ve been completed in 1989 will not keep it all here, nor attract new benefits. London has already been thrown under the bus, its called BRT, now some are trying to throw us under the car. London should have built a LRT/street car grid that serviced more than the downtown and went beyond city limits. But then people from St Thomas, Strathroy, Ingersoll, and Woodstock could conveniently travel into London to spend money.

A tale of two customer service experiences

Some people colour to relax or geocache but I prefer Lego. I have a casual collection of Lego Star Wars Minifigures and discovered noticed awhile ago the Rey figure had a cracked torso. I filled the web form at the Lego site and the replacement arrived today. I’ve made to purchases from their site directly and both experiences have been positive. The most recent order included free shipping at CDN$35 and a free poly bag Lego set, a police helicopter with a police woman. The replacement part came with an apology letter saying the quality control people were notified.

Lego allows me to use PayPal and won’t allow me to click on items that are out of stock. BattleFront, the company that makes the Flames of War miniatures game I play does not allow PayPal so I have to go through a local store. If I could order direct free shipping doesn’t happen until US$100(CDN$140) and there is no guarantee that what ordered is available. Almost everything on my order through a local store was out of stock and so the order was cancelled as what was in stock wasn’t enough for the free shipping. I cancelled the order and have no plans of making another.

The really extraordinary thing is this past weekend BattleFront launched version four of the Flames of War rules. Customers were supposed to trade the version three book for a pair of free version four books. As far as I know no one in South Western Ontario has access to these new rules except through bootleg PDFs. When I mentioned it to Battle Front on their forums they implied I had the wrong information about why my local store didn’t receive any books.

The BattleFront representative then said stores got good shipping deals at USD$300 and a small box was only USD$30 shipping. The claim of stores getting free shipping was refuted by a store owner responding saying USD$300 was $10 shipping and not free, if the stock was available to fill the order. The store owner was saying the stock problems were so bad they may have to drop BattleFront products.

So one company apologizes and says we have a department to keep this from happening, and the second company suggests customers don’t have all the facts and their policies are reasonable. Reading the BattleFront forums as often as I do I see stock problems and customer complaints almost weekly. The new editions to the line up were apparently shipped with incorrect items. Plenty of other posts about backorders, lost orders, and damaged orders.

I guess both companies could be used as examples of customer relations in some business program. I certainly wouldn’t invest in BattleFront if I money too, it strikes me as a company committing suicide. In fact I’m really hesitant of ever buying from them again.

Sanctuary Spaces #ldnont

A recent petition circulating around Farcebook got me angry. The petition calls for London Ontario Canada to not become a sanctuary city to illegal immigrants escaping the USA and elsewhere. A headline on the Montreal Gazette site mentioned Montreal couldn’t afford to be a sanctuary city and council shouldn’t have voted unanimously in favour of becoming one. The arguments of financial burden, our own people first, they’re all terrorists, and others are repeated widely and all sound hollow and heartless to me.

I get that people don’t want “those people” coming here draining our resources and maybe committing a crime. These people have been so programed to be paranoid that hard data will not overcome their blatant cowardness. Yet these same people are supporting the very systems that have created the migrant and refugee crises. They support companies and governments that are fueling corruption, exploitation, environmental destruction, armed conflict, trafficing, and ethnic cleansing.

Think about it, is buying stuff cheaper so important you would see entire populations exploited for their labour, resources, or simply destroyed to make way for others? Are a few short term jobs in dying industries so important that measures should be taken to deny good jobs to others in Mexico, Southern Asia, and Africa? What if high wage jobs in the BRICS and MINTS are the only way the Canadian economy could survive the century?

If you don’t want these people sneaking in, risking their lives and enriching criminals in the process, are you willing support the economies people are fleeing from? Are you going to put pressure to limit the arms trade so conflicts are starved of resources? Will you vote for politicians with a peace centred foreign policy? Will you demand an increase in our own military resources so we can deploy forces to help monitor and end these conflicts?

It easy to protest the move to sanctuary space, be short sighted and unempathic to those suffering. Maybe those who are opposed to sanctuary spaces have never need one. Never been in a domestic abuse situation, chased by bullies from school, had their homeland torn apart by a proxy war, been targeted for being a minority, and so on. If which ever group you belong to was criminalized, demonized, targeted, or forced to flee wouldn’t you want to seek sanctuary?

I remember hearing of King Zog of Albania inviting Jews into the mostly Muslim kingdom while the rest of Europe was anti-Semitic or indifferent to Jewish plight under the Third Reich. Even Canada was turning Jews away in the Thirties but Albania opened the borders, actively sought to bring them and protected them during Nazi occupation. Canada was on the wrong side of history in the Thirties, now we should be the example and not the accessory to genocide. Rescue in Albania article.

Another thing to remember is when we keep some of these refugees out of our society it feeds the anti-west narrative of the groups forcing many of them to flee. The lack of compassion we show could haunt us in the form of terrorist attacks. We know it doesn’t have to be an immigrant who threatens us, it may well be a domestic terrorist either inspired by the perverters of Islam or emboldened by a global environment of xenophobia and intolerance.

Canada & the failing state next door #Cdnpoli

I recently listened to a podcast which mentioned Hitler being so egotistical that if he had nuclear weapons he would have used them to take most of the world with him when the Soviets were entering Berlin. We are not repeating the events of the Twentieth Century, Trumpism isn’t Nazism, Trump isn’t Hitler, even if they share many similarities. We have an egotistical figure with a personality cult and, despite losing the majority vote, the reigns of power. We also have democratic leaders who are weak, divided, and focused on internal minutiae. Not a good combination.

History shows how the United States has arrived at the present situation. I don’t mean the rise of tyrannical regimes in Europe or Asia during the Twentieth Century, but the domestic history of a nation dying by a thousand cuts. Eisenhower started the trend to gain “Christian” votes by bringing God into the government sphere, adding it to the currency and the Pledge of Allegiance. Kennedy’s administration started the corporate hold on politics, especially the defence sector Eisenhower warned about. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy angered the Jim Crow states with Federally enforced equality. Since the late 50s and early 60s the reactionary forces of America have been rolling back any progress made. At all levels in the US strategic cuts to education, media regulation and responsibility, corporate oversight, public debating forums, and social services have left the United States fractured and divided.

The last few decades the world has been bombarded by the American extremist media , Hollywood films, and by political movements, that government is always evil and a threat. Add the glorification of violence as conflict dispute, militarism, demonization of compromise and diplomacy, and the diminishing role of citizens in decision making. The simplified binary view of the world; “with us or against us”, “right or wrong”,  “Black or white”, and the dismissal of anyone who wants to explore third options or understand causes and effects. The political world doesn’t have switches to turn on or off, or lines to slide left or right on, it has a circle with democracy at the top and communist, anarchist, libertarian, corporatist, religious, racist, or protectionist paths to the tyranny at the bottom.

These threats to American democracy are not unique to the United States, despite American delusion they’re not exceptional. Many nations are failing to fight the divisive forces within. We hear that if we challenge the status quo we’ll lose our jobs, trade opportunities or our freedoms. Similarly the political “outsider” promises something better if we abandon the political system and blame/punish convenient scapegoats. Are we going to sacrifice our democracy, ethics, rights, and futures for a few lousy jobs? Has greed become our state religion?

Canada should not be putting trade relations, jobs, or anything ahead of basic human rights. Our long term interests, or even or national survival, are not served by being cosy with the Trump administration. Trump’s recent extra-constitutional moves to ban people from seven mainly Muslim countries, dismissing judicial decisions, the possibility of secret prisons and torture, and the sabre rattling with China should be enough for Canada to treat the United States as a rogue state. We have in the past sanctioned governments and individuals for less than what is happening in the US.

We Canadians can not allow a leader like Trump freedom to complete his agenda. At best Trump is a kleptocrat, at worst he is the next Stalin wannabe. Canada needs to sanction Trump and his inner circle and find any ethical means to stop Trump from purging the US government of anyone who would oppose him. Right now Trump is using Twitter and media jibes, but if he isn’t challenged and feels he has immunity will he go this far? If Senator McCain, for example, keeps challenging him will the Senator have a mysterious death? If assassinations happen will Canada just shrug and issue another impotent statement? If peaceful protests are branded riots and put down with lethal force will we still worry about a few jobs? Will the equipment used be made in Canada?

To prevent the Putin/Trump brand of governance, democracies need to be vigilant. Germany has already voiced concern about interference in upcoming elections and most likely France is monitoring things in their upcoming elections. The Conservative Party of Canada should ask for RCMP, CSIS, and CSE assistance to prevent hostile interference in the leadership race. The Trudeau government should immediately criminalize political donations that are not made by citizens eligible to vote in the political jurisdiction, those used to bypass the ban should be charged with money laundering. With the changes at the top of the US security system it won’t just be Russia we will have to worry about interfering with our next election and we should take steps to prevent any interference in future elections.

I am a pessimist, difficult to be anything else when reading the news, but at the moment I will trust Americans will save themselves from this descent into madness and tyranny. If they don’t, Canada should be ready for refugees escaping the third US civil war (yes third, the Civil Rights Movement is considered the second), or a US treating us like Czechoslovakia in 1938, or a US that makes North Korea look like a more open, accessible society. The Quebec City terrorist attack proves we need to monitor extremist groups here with far more vigilance and resources as the threat to Canadian Muslims is higher than any threat from Canadian Muslims.

Going forward Canadians need to reject all politicians who use the language of taxpayers, average Canadian, consumers, real Canadian, or anything that reduces us or divides us. This post is making the Facebook rounds:

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2016…2017

My first thought is the worst is yet to come, though that maybe the cold filling my head with mucus or listening to Captain Beefheart without mushrooms or acid. Sure we have a ceasefire in Syria, for now, but with the rise of Putin and his patsy Trump our world is far more dangerous. Terrorism is being fueled by lack of arms controls, fears, and incompetent global leadership. Add climate change deniers being able to reverse any progress and we are going to have a 2017 filled with disaster, violence, and extremists of every flavour demanding a return to some idolized era of tyranny and division.

The 2016 highlight was the birth of my nephew, who should be bigger than me in a few days. I didn’t do much reading, nor finish the novel I started which might be because I merged three novel ideas into one, and the return to show poodle status jumping through hoops for social services. In modeling I finished my US infantry company and my South African tank company. Last month I impulse bought both X-Wing game starter boxes and a spare X-Wing, now I need Tie Fighters, so many Tie Fighters to swarm the Rebel Scum.

For 2017 I’ll keep my goals simple, finish novel, build a Soviet tank battalion for Flames of War, buy more Tie Fighters and Star Wars Lego minifigures, and maybe connect better with people. With the recent discovery that I have a 1 in 2 chance of prostate cancer I should finally get a doctor, I’m on a waiting list so I guess I wait. Why are there so few doctors that allow email appointments? It’s 2017 not 1897.

I’ll stop here, ADHD plus mucus brain syndrome is making me something something.

Who Benefits from an American Race War?

It almost blasé isn’t it? Another Black man is cooperating with the police and is shot for it. As routine now as sun rise, sun set, and celebrity gossip preempting it in the news cycle. It has been happening since The Emancipation Proclamation but it is getting harder for Americans to sweep it under the carpet. The KKK was outlawed so coopt the police, the prosecution services, the courts, and the prison industries to ethnically cleanse America of the undesirables.

Now that some Black men are fighting back, and the rise of white supremacy as GOP policy, we should ask the question: Who benefits from an American race war? In the Cold War the KGB targeted Black leaders, Dr King especially, because they were preventing a violent response to the treatment of African Americans. The Soviets wanted the US to tear itself apart in a civil war, and in many cases US government agencies were unknowingly assisting them in this. Seeing the peaceful leaders as a threat and targeting them nearly achieved Moscow Centre’s twisted aims.

Since the unfortunate, yet somewhat understandable, shootings of police officers I’m guessing US gun sales are skyrocketing. A race war would make arms dealers, and everyone else supplying the police industry, billions of dollars richer. The police themselves stand to gain from bigger budgets, more overtime, less public scrutiny, and cooler military grade gear. The tough love politicians will use a race war to pass laws that violate basic human rights, sadly to populist applause.

Not just internal US interests benefit from a race war. Smug liberal democracies can ignore their own racial problems by simply pointing to how much worse it is elsewhere. The preverters of Islam and other extremist terror groups will use a US race war to recruit more suicide bombers, terrorists, and raise more money. The world’s most brutal regimes will use a race war to question the west’s motives and cover up their affronts to humanity.

Some countries will use the distraction of a race war in America to bully their neighbours and expand their influence. Criminal syndicates will exploit the chaos of a race war to expand their petty empires and ruin more lives. Worse case scenario in a US race war is the US becomes a failed state that requires thousands, maybe tens of thousands of international troops to stabilize.

Whenever there are attacks by people claiming to be Muslim people demand all Muslims are to blame. I guess that logic comes from everyone in America is a criminal because a Black person stole a purse once. If we flipped that logic around and generalized all American police as racist, triggerhappy, untrained, power tripping, cowboys, would that be fair? No, but the police who say or do nothing about the corruption, racism, gratuitous violence, and mental instability are accessories.

Anyone who believes they have enough training is a threat to themselves and others. American police are in serious need of more training, away from gun ranges. All police services everywhere need to purge themselves of people who believe they are morally superior, or the hero in some action movie. If there are good police out there they should show us by arresting their rotten colleagues. The officer who shot the man in the above article should have been immediately disarmed by the other officer there. Maybe US police should go on half pay leave after every incident where they had to draw their firearm. Justify their actions with an automatic third party review. Or the victim’s medical bills have to be covered by the officer’s insurance.

The sensationalist, profiteering media who are another group ready to exploit a race war. Maybe they should be doing more stories of when police disarmed a situation without firearms. Or how about in depth stories on the relationship between police, politicians, and for corporations who supply the police. Why do police budgets need to rise at higher rates than inflation? Or ask why in other countries police shooting unarmed people immediately leads to public outrage, inquiries and police procedural reviews.

History is full of examples of police needing constant scrutiny and accountability or they become the threat to society they were meant to deal with. Every officer and police service must use the current attention to start a process of evolution. Instead of complaining about #BlackLivesMatter, complain the service has lax hiring processes that allow racists and sociopaths in uniform, or the poor support systems that have police doing the job of mental health workers or tax collectors. Challenge the orthodoxy of traditional policing, it appears to have failed spectacularly.

I doubt anything will really change in the US, Churchill said something about Americans only doing the right thing after they’ve tried all possible wrong options. Sadly a much higher body count will be needed before the wrong options are exhausted.