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Black and White vs. Shades of Gray

A friend tells me that one of the biggest problems of our time is that we see everything in black and white, and have no respect for shades of gray. An example might be the ‘greens’ who in an attempt to ensure that New York City doesn’t sink beneath the Atlantic are working to instantly destroy life as we know it on our planet. The hysteria we see daily at meetings like the COP23 being held this week in the UAE, push a black and white agenda. You must do this ‘or else.’

Strangely, virtually none of the predictions made by COP conferences over the past 20 years have come to pass. In fact, in many cases exactly the opposite.

When I drive home from the office I pass a mural painted on the side of a strip center. Its shows a family of farmers, husband, wife, small child, holding up their hands to stop a freight train marked “GMO” plowing forth from an industrial mess of a city. The message: “stop genetically modified organisms.”

Not regulate, not consider, not ensure that all is OK, but full Stop. Black and white.

They don’t consider what genetically modified rice has done in preventing blindness in kids in southeast Asia, that genetically modified wheat enables farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to grow food for their families, what genetically modified vegetables here in the US allow us to grow crops without the use of pesticides and grow enough to feed most of the world. And more cheaply. The poor amongst us can purchase fruit and vegetables for up to 30% less that so called “organic” food.

But the artist who painted the mural on the strip center was living in a world of black and white. All or nothing.

I’m sure that GMO is one of the reasons that the percentage of people on the planet living in starvation has reduced from 90% to 20 % in the past century, even though the number of people on earth has increased what, 10 fold.

These are just a few examples of how black and white thinking stops most progress. We don’t need to shut everything down, just take some time, consider all the aspects, and then mix a nice happy medium, a nice shade of gray.


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Colonialism, Disproportionality, Refugees

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and a classicist and historian at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a Greek scholar and all round smart guy. In a column the other day he called on the reality of history to describe just how idiots rioting in the streets around the world supporting Hamas simply don’t know what they are talking about. You can read the column here.

For the first time in their lives, many of the ignorant protesters suddenly professed concern about refugees, colonialism, disproportionality, innocent civilians and the rules of war.

But none could explain why the Palestinians who fled Israel in 1947-48 still self-identify as victimized “refugees” when 900,000 Jews ethnically cleansed from Middle East Arab cities about the same time do not.

The 200,000 Greek Cypriots driven out from northern Cyprus by Turkey apparently do not warrant “refugee’’ status either.

Few protesters knew that Jews have lived in present-day Israel for more than three millennia. The longest colonialist presence there were Muslim Turks who brutally ran the Holy Land for 300 years until they lost World War I and were expelled.

How exactly did it happen that the eighth-century A.D. Al-Aqsa Mosque was built within King Herod’s earlier Second Temple enclosure?

The pro-Hamas crowd has little appreciation that colonizing Arab Muslims have one of history’s longest records of “settling” other countries far from their historic birthland.

They “settled” and “colonized” the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Middle East, Berber North Africa and southern Spain. Millions of Middle Easterners migrated to — “settled?” — supposedly infidel European cities, where they often self-segregate, and do not assimilate fully with their magnanimous hosts.

VDH points out that ‘disproportionality,’ one of the major concerns of the Hamas supporters, is a major goal in all wars. What protesters are most concerned with is that the IDF is better at being disproportional than Hamas.

Targeting innocent civilians? Hamas is among the current greatest offenders in the world. It rockets Israeli cities without warning. It mass murders Jews in their beds during peace. It exposes Gazans to mortal danger by impressing them as human shields. Hamas shoots those who refuse.

The “rules of war” are violated by Hamas daily. Such protocols require combatants to wear uniforms not to blend in with civilians, not to use them as shields, not to murder noncombatants, not to rape them, not to mutilate them and not to execute civilians without trial

It is strange that these protesters take to the streets against Israel, but never mention the Sudanese Arab mass killers in Darfur, Chinese oppressors of the Muslim Uighurs, Russians targeting civilians in Ukraine, or ISIS, Syrian and Yemeni murderers of fellow Muslims.

VDH notes that “all of these terrorist killers are guilty of the very charges the protesters falsely attribute to Israel. But they are all not Jewish — and that explains the pass given them by our antisemitic, pro-Hamas street.”

In a couple of weeks, Christians around the world will celebrate the birth of their savior, a Jew who was born in the west bank city of Bethlehem. Ironic isn’t it. That was 600 years before Islam was founded.


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PIE 2024 It’s Amazing

I never cease to be amazed at the quality of seminars that have been planned for Parking Industry Expo 2024. We are told that our presentations are outstanding, and who am I to argue. I won’t list them all here, but suffice it to say that Commercial parking, universities, cities, and airports will be pleased with the variety and depth of the more than 30 seminars that we will present at the Schaumburg convention center in less than 100 days.

I have been asked just how we come up with such varied presentations. It’s rather simple. We don’t do a ‘call for papers.’ We determine just what our attendees will find interesting and then reach out to speakers we know will do the job. I have always felt that a so called ‘call for papers’ (although we have done it in the past) can be self serving and we would end up with vendors and consultants pitching their products and services rather than having panels and seminars that solve problems for out attendees.

You can go on line to pieshow.parkingtoday.com and see a descriptive list of seminars. We are still firming up some.

Of course, we will have a ‘boffo’ exhibit hall with upwards of 125 exhibitors from all over the world sharing their parking wares and technology, a fantastic party with, dare I say it, all types of gambling, and our traditional speed networking and this year a mentoring program for new companies arriving on the parking scene.

Take advantage of ‘hugh’ discounts in attendee registrations. Go on line and register for PIE 2024 today.


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Thanksgiving 2023

Often when we think of Thanksgiving we often think of a Norman Rockwell painting, of the family, three generations, sitting around the dining table with the grandmother bringing in the turkey. The table filled with all the trimmings. It is entitled “Freedom from Want.” The painting was created over 80 years ago, before our entry into WW ll. Its title comes from a speech by President Franklin Roosevelt.

We have come a long way in those eight decades. Although many in America experienced ‘Freedom from Want” in those pre war years, most of those living on earth did experience want. They were poor, hungry, many sick, and without housing. Nearlyl 90% of the world’s population lived this way.

Today, even thought global population has grown seven fold, the number living in extreme poverty has shrunk to around 10%. For that we can be thankful.

For those of us fortunate enough to live in first world countries, we can also be thankful for tremendous advances in medicine. An example might be repair of faulty heart valves. A century ago such a diagnosis was most likely a death sentence. Today, an outpatient procedure. There are many such examples. For that we can be thankful.

Although headlines may cause one to think differently, we are living in a time of relative peace, longer than any time in recorded history. For that we can be thankful.

Take a walk through Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, or your local supermarket and you see the abundance by which we are blessed. For that we can be thankful.

If Norman Rockwell had painted “Freedom from Want” today, the picture would have been different. The folks sitting around that table would have been black, native, white, Hispanic, Asian, gay, and a wonderful mixture of all. For that we can be thankful.

Don’t get me wrong. Life isn’t perfect. However, it gets better every day.

Take a minute between games this Thursday and consider how much better life is than it was. Spend this long weekend contemplating the reality of your life. Be Thankful. Rest, recharge, and prepare for the life to come. It wlll be wonderful. And for that we can truly be thankful.

And remember to thank the good Lord, in you own way. The tools we use to get where we are didn’t just magically appear.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at PT.


Veterans in Parking

I spent an hour with Doug Cram at the California Parking and Transportation meet this week in San Jose. I sort of knew what Doug was doing, but it turns out I was a bit off course. What Doug has is a labor of love. He won’t get rich, he won’t have something to sell and retire. He has a program to help veterans leaving the service find jobs in the parking industry.

As I consider this Veteran’s Day, I think about the vets who serve, those who don’t return, and those who, like Doug, actually do something rather than put up a flag one day a year.

After listening to his story, I was embarrassed that we weren’t doing more. Yes, he thanked me for our help, but what we do is minimal.

He had tears in his eyes as the told the story of Veterans in Parking and how its funded (don’t ask), how much work it takes to get a single vet hired, and how little the military does on their end to help those who exit the service.

His problem isn’t lack of trying. He says that the officers that are supposed to help when a vet’s time is up, hear ‘parking’ and think ‘no, I need a real job for these men and women.’ He says he does as much PR for the industry as he does seeking out openings and listing them on his web site. (www.vetsinparking.com.)

These are people who have been taught how to work, how to think clearly, how to show up on time and be responsible. And, Doug says, they are ‘mission oriented.’ Give them a goal, they know how to get there.

Doug is basically a one man band. If you have ‘webmaster’ skills contact him. He needs the help. If you are good at PR, or outreach, or simply want to help, this kind man would love to talk. admin@vetsinparking.com.

Make this veteran’s day more than just a salve for your conscience. Actually, DO something for veterans. Doug has the infrastructure, give him a hand.


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You can Lead a horse to water but…

The EV crumbling has begun. General Motors and Honda have pulled back their EV programs and cut drastically the number of such vehicles they are projecting to sell in the next few years. Toyota, which has been vocal since the beginning about the efficacy of EVs vs hybrids are putting their force behind the Prius and hybrids.

It seems the initial group of EV enthusiasts, those who bought EVs for personal reasons (technology, save the planet, simply to show their neighbors that they are “with it”) have bought their cars. The rest of us are simply going along doing our thing and buying what we want, not what we are told to want.

Back in the day of the introduction of HCs (horseless carriages), no one had to pass laws telling us not to sell or buy horses. We put a horse next to a Ford Model T and the Model T took the day. The marketplace filled with gasoline stations, stables became garages, and the paradigm shift took place. In less than two decades, cars flooded the streets and horses were retired to live out their lives in suburbia. No one forced anyone, no one had to have huge influx of government dollars to be sure there were enough pumps to fill the car’s tanks. It just happened. The marketplace did its job.

Corporations like GM, Ford, Honda and Toyota simply aren’t prepared to lose billions of dollars a year because the government tells them to do so. Their stockholders won’t stand for it. Because it doesn’t make sense.

The common man (or woman) is not an idiot. He (or she) knows that the EV is not the end all to reducing greenhouse gases. It simply moves the place where the electricity is created. Wind farms and solar panels don’t create enough energy to replace power stations. The making of an EV is a very messy business, and the environmental mess simply cannot be ignored. The purchasing public knows this.

Why buy a car that requires at best 30 minutes to fill its fuel tank 80% full when you can zip in and out of a gas station in less than 10 minutes and get a full tank? And remember, that’s with a lever 3 charger, one that runs on the highest voltage and one that can cost between $50K and yes, a $Million (look it up) to install. Most of the chargers being installed are Level 2 and drive that charging time well into hours, rather than minutes.

When your industry is dependent on an unlimited amount of government money, competition goes away. No one is motivated to provide a better mousetrap, simply get those chargers in the ground and move on. Oil companies were required to provide an infrastructure that ran from the well head to the gas pump. And they did.

Pumps work. If they break, they are fixed instantly. Fuel is delivered to the pumps as required. If the government stays out of the way, there is no problem. However what is the motivation of the charger companies to be sure there is an infrastructure to keep the chargers working, or to be sure that there is enough electricity to fuel the chargers. As long as there is an infinite amount of government money and no real competition, there is none.

The latest survey shows that upwards of 25% of the public chargers are off line at any one time. The EV driver’s frustration level is growing exponentially. That’s not good.

If there was no government money involved, the EV fuel suppliers would have to charge the true cost of supplying the electricity, the true cost of the installing and maintaining the chargers, the true cost of the electricity. Folks would find that charging their EV cost about the same as filling up their ICE vehicle, and frankly, was more inconvenient. Whoops.

What do ‘our betters’ think. Do they think that if there is a charger on every street corner that we will all rush out and buy EV’s. They seem to, but I doubt it.  It looks like the market for EVs is cooling and I can’t help but wonder just how it is going to heat up again. An ICE vehicle isn’t a horse. Placing it beside an EV isn’t the same as putting a Ford next to a four legged critter in 1900. The benefits of one over the other just aren’t there. Or at least they aren’t obvious.



Am Yisrael Chai

The People of Israel Live

This is a blog that should have been written last week, but I’m having great difficulty expressing the feelings the events have brought forth. First we must put things in perspective. Based on the relative size of our countries, Israels loss is the equivalent of America losing over 40,000 in one attack. It is unimaginable.

I cannot express the horror one feels when they hear about the attacks that took place last week. This wasn’t a few rockets lobbed across the border, but it was a calculated disaster that brought death to many, a large number who were simply attending a concert. Parents watched as their children were killed and kidnapped. Children watched as their parents were taken from them forever. This is not something one ‘gets over.’

The news coming out of Israel is not only horrifying, but heartbreaking. Our sorrows remind us of other attacks, of the holocaust, the deaths of six million at the hands of another set of monsters. My apologies, but I don’t have the skill to express the feelings one gets when their friends are threatened. It’s just too hideous…

I have never understood the concept of ‘antisemitism.” It seems to be hatred simply because someone exists. The only thing I can grasp is the concept of jealousy and lack of personal self confidence. I can’t do it, so I must hate those that can. Think what people could do if all the energy spent in hatred was focused on their own lives. But that’s a conversation for another day.

Through a number of trips we have made lifelong friends in this tiny country. There is the founder of TIBA, and also the owner of Central Park. There are companies like Ganis and HTS, plus the editor of the country’s parking magazine.  We have met the managers of parking in Tel Aviv, architects in Jerusalem, been to factories in the shadow of the Golan Heights and yes, toured the ancient cities built by Jews thousands of years ago. We were in the Israel when the US moved our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and felt the excitement and thanks that permeated the populace.

This is a kind country. It accepts other religions. There are churches and mosques as well as synagogues. It has Arabs in its government and honors them as members of the Knesset. The people love their families. You can feel the respect the young have for their elders when you see families walking together along the boulevards of Tel Aviv. Israel is a democracy with all benefits and the discomfort that goes with it.  All that being said, there is something just below the surface, that something is a saying: “Never Again.”

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has fought defensive wars against monstrous regimes, made peace time and time again.  It is time for that to end. Israel will wage all out war, and it will not stop until the monsters who attacked it are gone. As a country we must support our ally. As individuals we must silence the hatred we hear coming from opposition groups here at home.

We must ensure that all the support we have goes to Israel, and we must pray that they are successful in their awful endeavor.


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It Boggles the Mind

Who would have thought that a business transaction in the parking industry would involve the number $1.5 billion? What venture capitalist would consider dropping that kind of change to purchase a parking operator? It boggles the mind.

Yet, apparently it has happened.

Four years ago Reef parking appeared on the scene and using nearly a billion purchased more than half a dozen operators. I’m not certain just how all the hype at the time turned out, but the concepts of ‘changing’ parking and converting garages to kitchens to assist Grub Hub and the like in their ilk in food delivery have not appeared to be overly successful. I remember one operator calling me and asking about the spending spree.  He wanted to know if he should consider himself “prey.” That having been said, Reef is one of the largest operators in the country.

What we have seen this week is different. Metropolis has attracted the capital and signed an agreement to purchase SP+. SP+is one of the larger companies in the operator business, with 3300 locations and 160 airports under its umbrella. Metropolis has some unique technology running around the country that can replace much of the revenue control equipment in those 3300 locations doing away with credit cards and cash, and many of SP+’s 20,000 employees.

Wags in our industry are predicting that this could cause a paradigm shift in how parking is run in commercial operations. It appears doubtful that it will affect university or on street municipal parking, at least in the short run.

However, if your add together the other larger operators (LAZ, ABM, Reef, and Ace) you  come up with over 11,500 locations. I seriously doubt if those companies and the hundreds of other smaller operations around the country are going to go quietly into that dark night. These companies have shown themselves to be able competitors to SP+

I will say that Alex Israel’s Metropolis is not a company to be sneezed at. It was just over five years ago that four people sat around their dining room table and began work on the ideas and technologies that became Metropolis. In those five years it grew to 450 locations and enough technology to attract more than a Billion and a Half in VC money. That is impressive.

It will be fun to watch what happens next year at SP+. It will go from a public company to a privately held company with a focused CEO who has proven successful. You can only wish them the best.


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The Wheat from the Chaff

I am periodically overwhelmed with information. My computer desktop is exploding with everything from special deals from Costco to what is happening in the parking world in Singapore. I wonder if it is all worth it. How does one separate the wheat from the chaff?

Let’s face it, it is impossible to sort your way through all this information. However, if you rely on someone else to do so and this give you a list of what to read, you are filtering your information through their prejudices. Not a good thing.

Dennis Prager, radio talk show host and philosopher, believes that you can become overwhelmed. And when you do, your ability to understand any information is threatened. So he takes a day off each week. For one day a week (in his case Saturday) he talks to no one, turns off the computer and TV, and simply relaxes and lets the information in his brain percolate. He says the chaff simply goes away, and the wheat remains. The brain works in mysterious ways.

He is in a high information business and it’s important to him to get as much input as possible so he can carry on conversations on his talk show. However, he is not afraid to admit to a caller when he doesn’t know anything about the topic the caller brings. He then is in a perfect position to ask good questions and learn from his listeners.

It’s an editor’s job to sift through all the chaff and publish only the wheat. The problem is that you have the same issue. Back in the ‘day’ editors were hard bitten realists that required at least three sources to confirm a story. Technology has changed all that. Stories move so quickly that there is simply no time to edit. A person catches a story on their cell phone and it can be flashed around the world in seconds. No one thinks to look at the pictures or question what happened. (An editor’s job).

Here at PT we give it our best shot. We have an aggregator that publishes around 10 to 15 stories about parking each day. When you look at the story, you see the headline and the first couple of sentences. You can then decide what you want to read. It’s called parknews.biz.

Astrid and I worry daily over what stories we are including in PT and hopefully select those that interest you. If we don’t, let us know. Our goal is to keep the clutter minimized.

I read somewhere that only about 5% of the people that read on line social media (facebook, X, Linkedin, etc) actually comment on what is there. I’m not exactly sure what that means, except that perhaps the information we receive on line is so vacuous, that it doesn’t intrigue us enough to comment about it. Or it could be that you are so overwhelmed with information that you simply don’t care enough comment.

I would commend Dennis Prager’s approach to you. Take some time away from the media, all of it, and let your mind relax and do its sifting. Who knows? Maybe you too can separate wheat and chaff automatically.


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The Law of Unintended…

The law of unintended consequences is typically used to describe activity found in our government. It seems to work at all levels, however the higher ones goes, the more you see it.

Our President is walking a picket line with UAW auto workers. It seems the UAW is concerned, amongst other things, with the fact that it conceivably takes fewer workers to put together an EV than it does an ICE auto. They see a potential of considerably job losses on the horizon. My favorite law kicked in as the President and co are doing everything possible to support EVs, yet are at the same time walking the picket line supporting the UAW. Hmmmmm

When the new administration took over in Washington, gas prices skyrocketed almost instantly. This was reflected in inflation in all sectors of the economy. The folks in DC seem adamantly opposed to drilling for oil and gas and are doing most everything they can to make it difficult. Thus gasoline prices are up, in some cases as much as $3 a gallon. Unintended consequences? Maybe not.

The Germans have switched over to ‘green’ energy.  They are relying on wind to supply power to their industrial powerhouse. They have closed their nuclear power plants and are relying on gas from Russia (whoops). All this has caused the price of energy to go through the roof and many of the factories in Germany are closing or moving out of the country. This, of course, means higher unemployment. One wag noted that the onetime powerhouse of Europe may be heading for another Weimar republic. Unintended Consequences…

Here in California and in other western states, lumber companies have been prevented from thinning forests and clearing undergrowth. Seems that destroys the natural state. However it also keeps a high level of fuel so wildfires can burn quickly out of control and are almost impossible to stop. Of course wildfires have been happening since the beginning of time, but thinning around towns and cities might not be a bad idea. Unintended Consequences.

We don’t seem to think things through to their natural conclusion. Wind farms kill birds and cause havoc with folks living nearby. Whales are dying near offshore wind turbines. GMO is outlawed so farmers in poorer countries have difficulty with their crops and must use insecticides that GMO replaced, and we can’t alter rice so kids in Southeast Asia are going blind with Vitamin A deficiency. So called “organic” vegetables are at least 25% more expensive than ‘non-organic’, thus making them more difficult for those with lower incomes to buy. Unintended consequences.

The list is endless.

Is it just me, or is the ‘green’ movement built around ignoring unintended consequences.  Well, that’s a blog for another time