Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Ways to Improve Urban Transportation

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Traffic author Tom Vanderbilt asks for suggestions on Slate for ways to improve urban transportation.

The solution is simple, if difficult to get to from here. Consider the parameters: Mass transit is ineffective and inefficient because of the density (or more accurately the lack thereof) at which most Americans live. Thus, the solution is to increase density until mass transit is effective, which would involve that which the public finds so abhorrent: A change in our collective lifestyle.

As such, any efforts to change that – increasing subsidies of mass transit, decreasing subsidies of automotive transit, increasing land taxes, etc – will be met with political adversity and be dead in the water or, like strict land use plans, shelved indefinitely or immediately undermined with loopholes.

I mean, we could wait until all land is developed a la New Jersey, but, y’know… New Jersey.

Seriously Wrong

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Sitting at home during mandatory furlough day.

Watching First Blood on AMC. Commercial comes up: “Worried about the problem of oil on the beaches in the Gulf? Then vacation in Florida! Our beaches are clean!”

This is what the state government spends its money on?

It means a lot when First Blood is the least stupid thing on the channel.

Fly the Friendly Skies

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Patrick Smith doesn’t know how to solve the problem with airlines’ clogging major hubs with a flood of small, regional flights introduced over the last two decades as part of an on-going war between carrier.

I may have a suggestion or two. The first, conceptually, is easy:

  • A lot of regional flights in Europe have been dropped entirely in favor of high speed rail.

So build high-speed rail lines in the Boswash megalopolis. Any system that knocks regional jets from hubs and/or eliminating smaller point-airports is a good thing. This should have been a priority for the supposedly forward-thinking folks of our current administration, but apparently only China does large public works projects anymore.

The second has more to do with the parallels between the issues here and, say, the highway system: It’s something like the suburbanization of air travel. Emphasis put on flying by the hour when the market isn’t there means airlines fly the same number of passengers in more flights on smaller planes, expending more fuel, running right up to the runway capacity of large airport hubs, and shooting themselves in the foot with undercutting. Generally speaking, the airports would find it much easier to have the same number of flights as twenty years ago with larger aircraft than with more flights. So,

  • Regulate the number of flights per carrier that go from hub to hub, dependent on market share, with a view towards limiting them.

Government control, to be sure, but then again nobody builds airports or rail lines anymore except government agencies, so in terms of efficiency it would behoove government to prod the airlines to use the capacity properly.

Damned If You Do


Women can’t be too ugly or too pretty, it seems, else they’re bad for business. So, in other words, in order for them not to be distracting, all women must promptly conform and be men.

Grab your strap-ons at the door, one per.

She’s Right, You Know

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Helen Thomas may have made a tactical error by pointing out the 800-lb gorilla in the room, but it was her right as a respected elder and a respected journalist – indeed, perhaps the only one worthy of the title amidst the White House correspondents.

She said that the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” to a Long Island rabbi at a Jewish heritage event. “Where should they go?” “Home.” “Where’s that?” “Poland. Germany. America.” The rabbi is aghast and offended. Immediately the left acts like they didn’t know her and the GOP attack her as if she mailed a noose to the NAACP. Her backers drop her and she’s forced into retirement.

But seriously, now. Let’s go back to that 800-lb gorilla. Israel is building illegal settlements, in direct violation of UN and US stipulations, in disputed territory as per the 1967 agreement, usurping and undermining all peace talks with Palestinian authorities. Israel’s right-wing Likud party, further, refuses to recognize the state of Palestine – their rationale for the settlements – until the Palestinian authorities recognize Israel. Hamas recognizes Israel on the stipulation that it keeps to the 1967 borders, which it is clearly not, because Israel hopes to move the borders by dint of filling the region with Jewish immigrants – itself a form of ethnic cleansing not unlike China’s contemporaneous efforts at filling Lhasa, Tibet AR and Urumqi, Uyghur AR, with Han Chinese, and not terribly dissimilar either to America’s and Germany’s respective lebensraums – on the assumption that, once built, those settlements would be especially difficult to uproot and the population balance will alter politics in their favor. Those immigrants filling the new settlements in Palestine come from Eastern Europe and America, taking advantage of Israel’s diaspora/dual-citizenship policy.

Or, to put it succinctly, Jewish immigrants from Poland, Germany and America are illegally settling in Palestine and they should get the hell out if we’re ever going to get anywhere with Israel. That wasn’t so hard, now, was it?

Bull Fucking Shit

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We made a mistake,”

So says Principal Jeff Lane of Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott, Arizona. “The school district made a mistake and shame on us if we can’t say shame on us,” says superintendent Kevin Kapp, in reference to the controversy over demanding that muralist R.E. Wall lighten up the darker complexions of some of the characters on it.


“Get that nigger off the mural” isn’t an “oops” moment. It’s not a mistake when you meant it. This is the same bullshit apology akin to “I’m sorry you took offense.” Racist pricks.

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