The Central Electric Railfans' Association offer a photo essay on the fiftieth anniversary of the Skokie Swift.  In its first incarnation, ancient Rapid Transit cars ran into empty country, even after the Second World War.

Central Electric Railfans' Association archive photo.

I wonder if that white two-story store building is still there, or if that went for something newer.  Readers? Bueller?

The intermediate Rapid Transit stations remained until the North Shore's abandonment, to be removed before the opening of the Swift.  The above-track headhouse at Asbury remained as a business until sometime in the 1970s.

Central Electric Railfans' Association archive photo.

Both Electroliners are in preservation (one in its Philadelphia incarnation, in Pennsylvania).  Other curved-side articulated cars also ran on the Swift.

Central Electric Railfans' Association archive photo.

I have to do an essay on the Jitterbugs.  All four of them went into preservation, but one was scrapped when a museum encountered financial troubles (this happens) and another is to become a parts source for the Illinois Railway Museum to restore its unit to operation.

These units had nearly the coach seating capacity of an Electroliner.  The fourth section of the Electroliner had the tavern-lounge.  You can't get a Smokie Link on the Skokie Swift.  That's an airfoil on the power collector.  No conductor putting the trolley pole on the wire on the fly the way the North Shore did: the operator hit a button in the cab to lower the collector inbound, or to raise it outbound, and the airfoil helped maintain contact between collector shoe and wire.

A recent Chicago History Today essay on the Swift illustrates that sometimes the remote control didn't work.

J. R. Schmidt photo courtesy Chicago History Today.

That damaged stucco above the southbound track wasn't from the Polar Vortex.  Apparently North Shore collectors would sometimes have troubles getting the pole down, and it would smack into the Asbury station.  The motorman on a Swift car didn't have the positive signal from the conductor (and on longer North Shore trains, the collector [trainman, in North Shore-speak]) and his first clue that the (electrical) collector was still up would be a loud BANG on the roof.  But Transit Authority shop forces could sometimes find repair parts for Swift pantographs and collectors on the ground at Asbury.


I really shouldn't use Chris Hedges as a punching bag again, but he's really beclowned himself.
America’s vigilante violence, rather than a protection from tyranny, is an expression of the fear by white people, especially white men, of the black underclass. This underclass has been enslaved, lynched, imprisoned and impoverished for centuries. The white vigilantes do not acknowledge the reality of this oppression, but at the same time they are deeply worried about retribution directed against whites. Guns, for this reason, are easily available to white people while gun ownership is largely criminalized for blacks. The hatred expressed by vigilante groups for people of color, along with Jews and Muslims, is matched by their hatred for the college-educated elite, who did not decry the steady impoverishment of the working class. People of color, along with those who espouse the liberal social values of the college-educated elites, including gun control, are seen by the vigilantes as contaminants to society that must be removed to restore the nation to health.
So much of a stretch to associate yet another weekend of gang warfare in Chicago with a sagebrush rebellion in Nevada.

There is a simpler explanation, along the lines of the college-educated elite, who, beginning with the Kerner Commission report, treated the white working-class as collateral damage in the War on Poverty.  Yes, I'm simplifying aggressively, there's material here and elsewhere in my project list to elaborate on.  That the people of color might be the most tragic casualties of the pretensions of the college-educated elite is also material for another day.  It's not enough for Mr Hedges to voice his own hysteria, he has to call on Richard Rorty.
All the sadism which the academic Left tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.
Some of the badly educated Americans are themselves college graduates, tired of being harangued by the freakazoids. In normal, every-day life, it is not necessary to apologize for being normal. And yet, the Perpetually Aggrieved may not rest until the concept of normality is a thought-crime.
Muslims, undocumented workers, homosexuals, liberals, feminists, intellectuals and African-Americans will increasingly suffer the wrath of vigilante violence as the nation becomes more restive. Liberal institutions, their credibility shredded because of their myopic support for neoliberalism, will become irrelevant. Chauvinism, violent retribution, a perverted Christianity and the celebration of a mythic Anglo-Saxon history will sever sections of the population from reality, enticing them into an American fascism. This is what is coming. It cannot be fought with counterviolence. It can be fought only with ideas.
We have much to look forward to.


The professors have nothing to lose but their chains.  I'm being hyperbolic, but only slightly so.  A professor with a more eclectic career than mine explains the ways in which higher education goes wrong.
I’ve worked at a state university’s top 25 academic medical center and pharmacy school, an elite private research university, a teaching-intensive, historically-Black college/university in a large state university system, and am now a half-time writing professor (in a department of English) at a state land-grant university. I also work half-time as a science communications director for a state natural sciences museum. The emphasis on teaching vs. research at each institution has varied. I’ve earned tenure twice, once in the traditional fashion at the 7th year of an assistant professorship and again at appointment as a professor and department chair.
With David Letterman also pulling the pin, we must look elsewhere for Top Ten lists.

Let's start with the second gripe.
Research universities, medical schools in particular, are highly-dependent on federal research funding to pay faculty salaries. So, you have to raise anywhere from a quarter to 100% of your salary. Some research universities typically hire more faculty than they can afford with the assumption that research project grants will generally cover a relatively stable percentage of faculty salaries. The National Institutes of Health has recently announced that it’s expected universities to step up over the next 20 years.
Thus, faculty in the laboratory sciences and medicine have the stresses of being entrepreneurs, in the presence of government funding that is presumably infected with the same bending-the-cost-curve mentality that is wrecking physician morale.  Alternatively, there are sources of corporate funding for such research, but that may be Big Business attempting to put an objective face forward by having Mr Chips rather than Dr Frankenstein designing the drugs.  That business model, however, brings in conflicts of commercial interest on top of the tournament to be doing frontier research because everybody else is, and University Diaries has never lacked for work documenting those conflicts.

Turn the sponsored projects into a private business and then the professor is now an entrepreneur meeting payroll and covering capital costs, not generating indirect cost recovery for the rent-seekers to dissipate.  But I antagonized one former dean by pointing out that doing consulting on my own time during the summer was not subject to any of the constraints that would apply to ordinary grants.  Not that he had a particularly convincing rejoinder.

That research entrepreneurship, which allows the professor to keep his Mr Chips image and builds the university's research prestige, collides with access-assessment-remediation-retention. "Many US universities operate under a customer service model while accepting students unprepared for college-level coursework."


"Too many professors are being expected to make up for the deficiencies of public high school education." And it's the talented and striving students without the means or the connections to get into the U.S. News - endorsed signalling mills that get screwed.

And the presence of the reserve army of unemployed Ph.D.s only tightens the screws.
I have seen some tenure-track faculty actually be threatened by their supervisors with being replaced by such adjunct faculty if they can’t score grant funding. The abuse of adjunct faculty by US universities is a travesty.
Somewhere,  Charlie (ProfScam) Sykes is chuckling.  A quarter-century ago he called out the famous universities for advertising their Nobel-worthy faculty yet exposing the freshmen to freeway flyers or inexperienced graduate assistants.  Nothing has changed.

This afternoon, I had a conversation with some students about Ph.D. programs and I stressed, this is a risky course of action and the job market is unlikely to get better.  But without an industrial reserve army to exploit, the deanlets and deanlings will have to improve the working conditions of the faculty.

At the same time, though, Virginia Postrel offers four specific questions that prospective students and their parents ask of the universities they're considering.

"Do you have a 'free-speech zone'?"  The best answer is "No."  Any "yes" is likely to introduce an elaborate rationalization full of pomo-babble and diversoid-speak.

"What is the administrator-to-professor ratio?  How much has that grown in the last 10 years?"  Is that before or after one-fifth of the long-term faculty and staff was pushed into retirement?


Brought to you by the Medicare monopsony.
Patients — and physicians — say they feel the time crunch as never before as doctors rush through appointments as if on roller skates to see more patients and perform more procedures to make up for flat or declining reimbursements.

It's not unusual for primary care doctors' appointments to be scheduled at 15-minute intervals. Some physicians who work for hospitals say they've been asked to see patients every 11 minutes.

And the problem may worsen as millions of consumers who gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act begin to seek care — some of whom may have seen doctors rarely, if at all, and have a slew of untreated problems.

"Doctors have one eye on the patient, and one eye on the clock," said David Rothman, who studies the history of medicine at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons.

By all accounts, short visits take a toll on the doctor-patient relationship, which is considered a key ingredient of good care, and may represent a missed opportunity for getting patients more actively involved in their own health. There is less of a dialogue between patient and doctor, studies show, increasing the odds patients will leave the office frustrated.
So help me out, dear reader.  Wal-Mart bends the cost curve by squeezing its vendors and having the help do work off the clock, and it's a bad thing.  Congress authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue regulations to squeeze vendors and have the help do work off the clock, and it's in the public interest.
No one knows exactly why 15 minutes became the norm, but many experts trace the time crunch back to Medicare's 1992 adoption of a byzantine formula that relies on "relative value units," or RVUs, to calculate doctors' fees.

That was a switch for Medicare, which had previously paid physicians based on prevailing or so-called usual and customary fees. But runaway inflation and widespread inequities dictated a change. RVUs were supposed to take into account the physician's effort and cost of running a practice, not necessarily how much time he or she spent with patients.

The typical office visit for a primary care patient was pegged at 1.3 RVUs, and the American Medical Association coding guidelines for that type of visit suggested a 15-minute consult.

Private insurers, in turn, piggybacked on Medicare's fee schedule, said Princeton health economist Uwe Reinhardt. Then, in the 1990s, he said, "managed care came in and hit doctors with brutal force."

Doctors who participated in managed care networks had to give insurers discounts on their rates; in exchange, the insurers promised to steer ever more patients their way. To avoid income cuts, Reinhardt said, "doctors had to see more patients — instead of doing three an hour, they did four."
Typical quantitative nonsense. It's easier to measure patients seen or patients per physician hour than it is to measure additional years of healthy life.  It's the error, though, of measuring inputs, not outputs.

Give an assist to  Craig Newmark, who anticipates that full implementation of Obama "Care" will require ever more aggressive efforts to end mutually beneficial trades between physicians fed up with the Obamanopsony and patients who will self-insure and pay the tax.  As it must, because in the eyes of the Anointed, universally lousy health care is preferable to any regime in which some citizens receive better care than others.



Thanks to my colleagues in Economics, Econ Illinois, and the Center for Economic Education for a good 28 year run.

Hired out 15 August 1986, pulling the pin 29 June 2014.



Fifty years ago this weekend, trains began running on the Skokie Swift.

The first time Rapid Transit trains came to Dempster Street was in 1925.

I've shown the history of this Rapid Transit service elsewhere.  At the time of construction, the Rapid Transit and the North Shore Line were affiliated private companies, and the line to Skokie provided connecting tracks to a Rapid Transit repair shop conveniently located alongside a Chicago and North Western line that has since been abandoned, as well as the jumping off place for the North Shore Line's bypass of street running through the wealthy communities along the lakefront.  That bypass might have been the first step toward today's 300 km/h bullet trains.

In 1964 there were not yet Federal capital grants for mass transportation projects, and the Chicago Transit Authority and the Housing and Home Finance Agency together could only swing acquisition and rebuilding of the North Shore Line as far as Dempster Street.  The Authority had done a traffic study in the late 1950s, in contemplation of operating rapid transit trains as far north as Lake-Cook Road, or possibly Great Lakes Naval Training Station.  That study showed relatively light passenger loadings at the stations north of Dempster Street, in part because suburbanization had not filled in the spaces between the towns to the north, in part because the North Shore stations were within convenient driving distances of Milwaukee Road and North Western commuter trains.  Even then, though, the suburban trains became standing room only from Glenview toward Chicago, and traffic volumes on the Edens Expressway south of Dempster anticipated what they are all over Chicagoland these days.

Concurrently with the opening of the Swift, the old Rapid Transit stations between Dempster and Howard were demolished in order to present a cleaner railroad.  The station at Oakton has recently been replaced.  Extension of the Swift north toward Lake-Cook Road or Great Lakes seems unlikely, though, owing first to the North Western buying some of the North Shore's tracks for their own use, and more recently to opposition from the neighbors.


Bardiac complies with a new university mandate that students receive a midterm grade report, which does address the common student complaint that feedback is often slow in coming, but which requires the little darlings to figure out percentages.
I'm filled with despair at how many students can't figure out basic percentages.

And I'm filled astonied at how many students are totally and completely flabbergasted at where their grade stands at this point, even though I've given back every single graded piece of work and my syllabus lays out how much each assignment is worth.
But one day Bardiac's complaint about percentages will be out of line.
I know that some instructors are woefully bad at returning graded work in anything like a timely manner.  I do indeed think that students need to get back work reasonably quickly, and that instructors need to explain how they grade.  I just think it's not unreasonable to expect college students to do percentages.
Expecting people to be able to do percentages is ABLEISM!  The Perpetually Aggrieved will not rest until it's eradicated.



Hand-spiked switches take a while to install.  But I progress.

Here's the state of things last week Friday.  There's not a lot more to show this week.  But once the ladder track is finished, the next stages of construction will go very quickly.


Western Washington University president Bruce Shepard has become a figure of fun for equating whiteness of the student body with mediocrity.  The story even got some play on Fox News Channel's Red Eye.

The president's logic is more troubling than his choice of words.
It is our internal capacity to change at the rate required that I find myself most thinking about during those 3:00 a.m. staring-at-the-ceiling times.

It begins with our culture.  Lately, I have been hearing the occasional comment that gives me pause; for example, expressing a concern about the Admissions Office letting standards slip.  (Facts are, mean entering high school GPA's have remained relatively constant over the last six years, but dispersion—standard deviation—has increased as we take more students at both the higher and lower end.)

But I want to shout, "get those heads out of the sand."  Unless you want us to choose the path of the much smaller, elite-serving university I earlier rejected, our incoming students are more and more going to be coming from families where parents have not gone to college and where academic preparation will likely not have been as high a priority.

These future students have all the smarts, all the potential, the invaluable active minds driven to change lives.  But they will be testing our ability to perform in new ways.  Part of the cultural change will be to go from bragging about (or worrying about) what we start with to bragging about the levels to which we take our students.
Glass half full: higher education ought to be higher, and students at Western Washington deserve the same intellectual challenges that students in the Ivies get.  Glass half empty: the common schools are still getting away with producing Distressed Material or enabling dysfunctional behavior and excusing it as cultural differences.

Might it not be more effective for Western Washington, or anyplace else, it's attracting students from diverse backgrounds by stopping the patronizing talk and simply challenging the students who enroll?

But Mr Shephard, if a previous statement is still operative, may have drunk too much identity politics Kool-Aid to even consider that option.
We have learned that the campus climate experiences reported by women, by racial and ethnic minorities, and by gays, lesbians, transsexuals, and bisexuals are different from the campus climate reported by majority counterparts.  Different in unacceptable ways.
Rather than suggest that the Perpetually Aggrieved get busy and study some economics or lab science or higher mathematics, he Blames. America. First.
There is nothing to be embarrassed about in the data per se, in finding that we are a part of a society with resilient sexist, racist, homophobic, and heterocentric forces. The only thing to be embarrassed about when a challenge is documented is to do nothing about it. Just as the hiring data reflect what has to be a campus wide commitment and campus wide action, so too must be efforts to address the campus climate issues. We need the help of everyone on campus in figuring out how to improve and in improving this situation.
Keep placating the Perpetually Aggrieved and the freakazoids, Mr Shepard.  The United States will lose the competition for the "developed talent essential to replace the retiring baby boomers" by default. But the United States will have the most culturally competent underemployed graduates in the world.



Genoa officialdom is not pleased that Amtrak to Rockford will go by way of Belvidere.
“The whole way this was handled was disgraceful,” Genoa Mayor Mark Vicary said. “We just found out about this [Thursday] night. It's a travesty, and it was taken away from us in the darkness of the night.”
Did anybody in Genoa work with people at CNR to encourage the railroad to work more cooperatively with the Illinois Department of Transportation?  With CNR attempting to assimilate Illinois Central and Elgin Joliet and Eastern, in part to move more agricultural products, ethanol, and possibly Alberta oil around Chicago, not through it, a little willingness to help provide additional trackage and some passenger platforms might have gone a long way.
The Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce was sending letters to members last week encouraging them to reach out to Quinn to voice their support for the city stop.

“We had no idea this was something that was going to happen,” said Cortney Strohacker, the chamber's executive director. “We were looking forward to the economic development opportunities it would bring, and were looking forward to not only having Amtrak available for us, but for others who wanted to come to Genoa.”

The service was originally planned to run on Canadian National Railway tracks, but after years of failed negotiations with the Montreal-based company, officials were able to finalize an agreement to switch to a new route that used tracks owned by Metra and the Union Pacific Railroad.

Guy Tridgell, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said because negotiations with Canadian National were unsuccessful, officials went with their second option.

"Our preferred choice all along was to go to Genoa using Canadian National Railway [tracks], but we were unable to reach an agreement on that,” Tridgell said. “Negotiations were not as fruitful as we had hoped, and in order to get this important service to Rockford, we decided on another option.”
That passage doesn't say "no local communication with CNR." Neither does it give unambiguous evidence of local communication with CNR.


Tenured Radical identifies three critical losses of productivity that follow from institutions of higher education relying more heavily on cheap and contingent labor with less stake in a specific institution's reputation.  First, finishing seniors and graduates contemplating a career move have fewer mentors to provide proper letters of recommendation.  Second, students receive a more standardized, more rushed, advising that "isn't about getting real advice."  Third, the faculty are working with far too many students, often at more than one employer, sometimes without proper office space, to provide proper guidance on assignments or after-action reviews of examinations.  Each "threatens the educational outcomes for a student."  And yet, somewhere in the institutional boiler-plate, no doubt, there is an assertion of student-centered-ness.


Friday's dead tree version of the Chicago Tribune included an article, still behind the paywall, about new developments in producing that perfect cup of coffee. An accompanying photo gallery has an unrestricted link.

Elsewhere in the gallery is a pour over rack in use "to maximize extraction of oils."

I must have been twenty years ahead of my time, again.

Fire up the kettle, put a scoop or two of grounds in a cone filter, wait patiently.  Comes in handy on days when I don't anticipate consuming the contents of a full pot.


Northwestern Mutual Insurance employees gave chairman Edmund Fitzgerald a four-foot long model of the Great Lakes ore carrier that bore his name.  The model became property of his son, Edmund B Fitzgerald, whose estate has donated the model to the Zeidler Humanities Room at the Milwaukee Central Library.  That room is the latest incarnation of the Local History and Marine Room, home to several other ship models, and at one time, the repository of all things local railroading that were too precious to circulate.
It is fitting that the intricately detailed model would end up in the collection, because Edmund Fitzgerald was the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society's first president. The society's archives include thousands of photos of Great Lakes ships, nautical charts, an online database, paintings, memorabilia and ship models.

"A lot of people don't think of the man, they think of the ship," said Peter Hirthe, president of the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society. "This unveiling is to spotlight the man."

Fitzgerald's family tree is loaded with Great Lakes ship captains, including many of his uncles and great-uncles. In 1912, when he was a senior at East High School, now Riverside, he published a paper about Great Lakes shipping in the yearbook.

"Within five decades, he had a Great Lakes ship named after him," Hirthe said. "The layers of this family's involvement in the Great Lakes is incredible. He was just carrying on the tradition."
The Humanities Room have a brief guide to the maritime collection.



Union Pacific use Metra money to get a third track from the west side of Geneva to Elburn, and federal infrastructure money to turn the Alton Route into an expressway for trailers faster than Route 66.

Now the state calls in the favors in order to expedite restoration of Passenger Rail to Rockford.
The still unnamed, Amtrak-operated service will use a combination of Metra’s Milwaukee District West commuter line and UP’s Belvedere Subdivision. A connection will be built between the two near Metra’s Big Timber station west of Elgin. The move comes after several years of protracted negotiations with Canadian National, whose tracks had been designated as the preferred route for proposed Chicago-Rockford-Dubuque, Iowa, service.

Switching to the new route will ensure that service begins in 2015 and isn’t held up by continued delays, the state says. Preliminary improvement to the UP route will accommodate trains at 59 mph by the end of next year. Final improvements are planned to be completed in 2016, at which point speeds will increase to 79 mph and a second Chicago-Rockford round-trip will be added. The state will continue to work with CN to extend the corridor to Dubuque, with intermediate stops at Freeport and Galena.

The $223 million, funded primarily through Gov. Pat Quinn’s “Illinois Jobs Now!” capital program, will include expenditures of almost $14 million to build a temporary station on 7th Street in Rockford, as well as money to help Belvedere and Huntley build stations. The CN route would have by-passed populous Belvedere, home of a Chrysler assembly plant.

The fact that Illinois was able to strike a deal with Union Pacific for signal and track upgrades west of Elgin can be credited to the presence of the factory as well as the partnership the state and the railroad already have in increasing speeds on UP’s Chicago-St. Louis corridor. The decision to use Metra’s West line allows Rockford-bound trains to use the same tracks that Amtrak’s Milwaukee-bound trains travel out of Union Station through the Western Avenue interlocking as far as Pacific Junction, then utilize Metra’s existing station at Elgin.
Thus far, I have seen no reaction from residents of Genoa, or from Northern Illinois University or DeKalb-Sycamore interests, all of whom have expressed their preference for the former Illinois Central Land O'Corn routing through South Elgin and Genoa.  That one train a day, most likely timetabled for the benefit of business or recreational travellers to the Loop, is unlikely to be of much use to Northern Illinois students or faculty seeking an alternative to the Reagan Tollway east at weekends.  Better to work with Union Pacific to extend that third track to DeKalb.


A recent Oberlin College statement enshrining the prejudices of the freakazoids elicits a scornful reaction from Rod Dreher. "'Cissexism'? Honestly, I wish Putin would invade and occupy Oberlin."  Yes, except that Oberlin would either confer a Doctorate of Humane Letters on Tsar Vladimir, or appoint him a visiting professor of international relationships.

The statement, however, did not go through proper channels of faculty governance, and in the ensuing mockery, the faculty may be rediscovering its spine.
Marc Blecher, a political science professor at Oberlin, told me he had never heard of his college’s trigger warning guidelines until he read about them in The New Republic. The language came from a task force appointed in fall 2012 to review Oberlin’s sexual offense policy, but Blecher said the new policy had been mentioned only vaguely at faculty meetings. At the time, no one “realized that what was going to come out the other end was so central to our academic mission.”
Typical administrative power-grab. At least the REMFs appointed the task force during the academic year. The real chicken-s***s get their sycophants lined up during the summer, when real faculty are catching up on the research they can't do because of all the administrative scut-work that accumulates at the same time they're dealing with the course management software and all the record-keeping.
When he did realize, Blecher began talking to other colleagues, who also hadn’t heard of the trigger warning policy, and they quickly set up informal meetings with various deans and administration officials. These discussions culminated at a previously planned listening session where Blecher says around 30 to 35 faculty members showed up to voice their displeasure at the new rules.
I love it. "Listening sessions." It's the same word-noise as when the mealy-mouths call for dialogue, otherwise understood as "We'll hector you, and when you attempt to rebut us, we'll call you mean-spirited." Implicit in the above is the complete surrender by the faculty of its management prerogatives, more properly carried out through standing committees and college and university councils, where deans or provosts might preside, but the majority rules, and voting isn't on Leninist principles.
In the faculty’s eyes, trigger warnings threaten not just academic freedom but the intrinsic nature of the liberal arts educational model. “We need to … challenge students, to conduct open inquiry in classrooms, to make students feel uncomfortable,” explained Blecher. “Making students feel uncomfortable is at the core of liberal arts education.”
Too often, that "feel uncomfortable" is with "ideas on your right." There is no hope, dear reader, of obtaining meaningful viewpoint diversity on the faculty without faculty control of curriculum. Thus, even in the hothouse environment of Oberlin, a reassertion by faculty of its rights and responsibilities is encouraging.

The stupid policy in question was just another Abuse of Power by deanlets, deanlings, and the weenies in student affairs.
Aside from one professor who is also the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Sexual Offense Policy Task Force is made up completely of students and administrators. “Anybody who was seriously engaged with it on the faculty would have seen what was going on and would have started to make the arguments we made in reaction to it.”
Let us hope so. Otherwise, the only recourse available to the civilized world is to contine to laugh the freakazoids to scorn.


The women would have no more children.
More and more US women are forgoing motherhood and getting their maternal kicks by owning handbag-size canines.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a big drop in the number of babies born to women ages 15 to 29 corresponds with a huge increase in the number of tiny pooches owned by young US women, reports the business-news site Quartz.

Dog-crazy New York ladies told The Post that they aren’t surprised by the findings — and that they happily gave up diaper changes, temper tantrums and college funds for the easy affection of their doggy “child.”
And the men lost reason and faith.



This past winter has given the impression of the University of Wisconsin as sports factory, with women's volleyball making the national title game, football playing again on January 1 (going to the moon appeared easier from the perspective circa 1974 than playing in a Rose Bowl), both hockey teams appearing in the national tournament (from that 1974 perspective, any outcome other than a national title is a disaster) and men's basketball being an empty possession away from the title game (the coach in 1974, John Powless, having gone on to a spectacular third act as a tennis player).

Now comes the Project on Fair Representation, seeking to bring a class-action lawsuit against Wisconsin, Harvard, and North Carolina for unconstitutional discrimination in the name of affirmative action.  Yes, there are any number of universities that could be named in such a suit.  In order for such a suit to have any effect on admission practices, though, the university so named must be depriving applicants of a service not easily obtained elsewhere.


Progressive Railroading reports on Louisiana Department of Transportation efforts to develop Passenger Rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The last such service expired before Amtrak: just over two hours to go 80 miles inclusive of four intermediate stops, on the Kansas City Southern.

The Louisiana approach draws lessons from the Hiawatha service.
In 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) turned away federal high-speed dollars for a Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago high-speed link at the insistence of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Today, WisDOT instead is focusing on upgrading the Milwaukee-Chicago portion of the corridor, over which Amtrak Hiawatha trains operate. A study is being conducted to determine options for adding three additional round trips, for a total of 10, between the two cities, says [transportation consultant Alan] Tobias.

“Because the corridor is only 90 miles long, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to save a lot of time, so the focus is on increasing frequencies so people have more options,” he says.
Just as I have been suggesting for years.

On a relatively short corridor, there are still opportunities to run the trains fast.
Many states still are interested in high-speed rail — HNTB [a transportation planning firm] is involved in “quite a few studies across the country” that prove it, says Tobias — but in many regions, an incremental approach might make more sense.

“We tend to get hung up on that high-speed number, and it is appealing,” says Tobias. “But the best way to go faster is to not go slow. You can make incremental improvements to conventional services that help to improve travel time, increase frequencies and improve reliability, and sometimes that’s just as important, if not more.”
Exactly. On the Hiawatha service, four three-car rakes on 92 minute timings with two intermediate stops have bloomed to seven six-car rakes on 89 minute timings (often 84 minutes in practice) with a third intermediate stop, and that with a few stretches of track now good for 79 mph rather than 70.  In steam days, The Milwaukee Road was contemplating a 60 minute nonstop timing for Hiawathas.

Give the Hiawathas free rein to 110, or 125, and post those 60 minute schedules (Airport at 0:10, Sturtevant at 0:18, Glenview at 0:42, Chicago at 1:00).  Is it too much to ask for a bar car?

In Louisiana, start with two or three trips on times more suited for business than for the beginning or the end of the business day (and for Louisiana State games, where the bar car will do a brisk business) on timings faster than those posted by the old Flying Crow, and develop from there.


Title Nine of the 1971 Civil Rights Act requires universities to spend money on athletics in proportion to their enrollment of male and female students*. Administrators have to optimize along several margins, one of which is fielding a competitive enough football program for men to preserve the illusion of financial fitness for the sports enterprise. Thus, the number of basketball scholarships is twelve for men's teams, and fifteen for women's teams. Cue the Law of Unintended Consequences.
[Big Sky conference commissioner Don] Fullerton said one factor that has the potential to "ruin" the NCAA tournament as we know it is squad size. Men's basketball teams in Division I can have 13 scholarship players; women's teams have 15. Because the top women's teams can stockpile more of the game's top talent, there is less parity. That's evident year after year in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament; this year the average margin of victory was 19.2 points.

"All you have to do is look at the women's tournament," Fullerton said. "I could pick who's going to be eliminated and who's going to make the round of 32 and round of 16. You can already see, quite frankly, a declining interest in the women's basketball tournament because of that. We have a petri dish to look at – what just two or three scholarships will do to you."
The validity of Mr Fullerton's statement depends on the supply elasticity of basketball players. Yes, the teams that get to the elite eight have enough reserves on scholarship to complete yet another team, but those players also have to calculate their chances of getting any playing time on the elite teams, and the coaches of the other teams use the promise of starting minutes as a recruiting incentive. But additional scholarships call forth more effort, and also-ran teams can benefit from a larger pool of high-performing players.
Fullerton said squad size warranted "a very pointed discussion. That's one of the bright lines." Gavitt, the man tasked with running the NCAA tournament, agreed that if it were ever increased, it would [further] affect the tournament's parity.

"Where the line gets much more difficult is if we ever get to a point where squad sizes and scholarship limits change," he said. "If that were to ever come to pass. Now, (for example), that the major schools can have a 20-player team, those extra eight kids who would otherwise be at mid-major, low-major programs, are now kind of pining away on the bench at a major program. That would have the potential to upset the competitive balance."
Again, though, that presupposes the inducement of additional scholarships to be a reserve at Connecticut dominates the opportunity to get playing minutes at Duke or Stanford.

Perhaps, though, it is the propensity of women's teams to develop senior leadership that perpetuates Them that Has, Gets.
This was the fourth straight Final Four appearance for Notre Dame, the seventh straight for Connecticut.

It would not be a surprise to find both teams back in the Final Four next year, even if both lose two key players:  [Kayla] McBride and Natalie Achonwa of the Irish, [Stefanie] Dolson and Bria Hartley of the Huskies.  In the past five years, both have had a stockpile of talent.

“You know which teams are going to win pretty much all the time,” Auriemma said.  “There’s a reason for that.  All our players stay pretty much four years.”
That, dear reader, is a gibe by Mr Auriemma at the d-league model that has taken over the men's tournament.

*Yeah, we can call out the Defenders of Civil Rights for their cis-sexism, but one windmill at a time.