Barring signal troubles, links to any posts of substance ought to work.


Cold Spring Shops have been on holiday, checking out real trains that run on rails, for much of the past week.

The occasion was a trip to Boston to gather information relevant to the model railroad, and to ride the Boston and Maine to Glosta for chowda and a lobsta.  Missions all accomplished.

They are decking the Great Hall in Chicago Union Station for the season, and the Polar Express excursions that will run (using gallery cars and diesels, sorry, no steam) between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

At the food court, I chatted briefly with the engineer of the Lake Shore as far as Toledo, who mentioned that Norfolk Southern are now implementing some sort of artificial-intelligence dispatching algorithm.  It reduces the train dispatcher to an appendage of a machine; his responsibility apparently being to put in the estimated starting time of the train, its destination, power and tonnage, and the algorithms work out an optimal path for the train given the power, conflicting trains, the ability of the receiving yard to receive the train, the probability of a penny on the rails, and unusual occurrences not otherwise indexed by number.  The algorithms are also supposed to be adaptive, although he quipped something to the effect that they haven't seen much learning yet.  On the other hand, he noted, it was Sunday.

But it is Norfolk Southern and you know what is going to happen.

First, though, let's chill in the new Metropolitan Lounge until train-time.

It's on two levels now, with an upstairs entrance, if Amtrak are able to spend the money on staffing it.  And that upstairs room, also decked for the season, is called The Pennsylvania Room, honoring one of the three original railroads that owned Union Station.

So what will we see first, restoration of a through Chicago - Pittsburgh - Philadelphia train, or the construction of a from-scratch new T1, or should I just stick to improvising in my basement.

First, though, let's go for a train ride.

Amtrak 448-48 Lake Shore Limited, Chicago to Albany and on to Boston, 12-13 November 2017.

Genesis diesels 177-60
Boston cars: new baggage car 61067, Viewliner sleeper 62004, Business Class lounge car 48171, Amfleet II long-distance coaches 25060, 25108.
New York cars: Amfleet II coaches 25118, 25124, 25063, 25025, Amfleet I dinette conversion 28005, which the carrier calls Diner Lite (Less filling?  Tastes good?), Viewliner sleepers 62005, 62039, new baggage car 61002.

Away OK at 9.30.  It's Sunday, thus there's no adult beverage sale once the lounge car opens, as that opening is close to the Indiana state line.  Car attendant has made down my upper.  That's a recommended option on Viewliners as the uppers have windows.  Rolling well until just past Gary, then it's time for the algorithm to learn a lot.  Watch a South Shore train pass eastbound.  Still waiting.  Watch a South Shore train pass westbound.  Want to doze off, but dozing off while aggravated over delays isn't easy.

My best guess:  Elkhart wants to send the per diem trains west, but the algorithm incorrectly hopes that a per diem train off one of the western carriers can get into Elkhart without laying out the Lake Shore too badly.  No such luck: we spent more time stopped than rolling between Chicago and Elkhart, and you know you're in trouble when the first call for breakfast comes just east of Sandusky, Ohio (due out at 4.12.)  Worse, that late running puts the train into a signal maintenance window on CSX between Ashtabula and west of Buffalo, meaning we're doing the stop-and-proceed, or, at interlocking signals, the "after stopping authorized to proceed at restricted speed ..." and all the passengers intending to connect with regional trains or buses at Boston are screwed as those have all been long gone by 1.13 Tuesday morning, when we reach South Station.

I also have to wonder if Amtrak's use of the business class and lounge car as the food service on the Boston and Albany isn't engendering some ill will.  The attendant announces a closure, eastbound out of Albany, westbound out of Framingham, of the cafe section in order to serve the sleeper passengers supper or lunch.  It's a train, and people mostly don't get too worked up about stuff ... the over-wrought sorts are up in the air, or perhaps they're on the Acelas.

Missions accomplished, time to head home on Thursday.  Rainy day, thus no car details, plus the dining car crew offered to seat the Boston sleeper passengers during the Albany stop, where that was an across the platform walk.

Even so, why does it take the better part of an hour to combine the two parts of the train at Albany?  The Boston cars are at left, and motors 103 and its follower will run through to Chicago, whilst the dual-mode 709 will come off.  The odd layout of the train, with sleepers at both ends, means there's only one cut (the New York motor) and one shove (the Boston cars onto the front of the New York cars) and off we ought to be able to go.  It would take three cuts and four shoves to assemble a train in the proper order (baggage, coaches, lounge, diner, sleepers) and current regulations on the inspection of passenger cars after coupling and uncoupling make for a more complicated evolution than docking the Command and Lunar Modules.

That operational convenience, though, means that the Boston sleeper passengers have a lengthy walk from the diner back to their accommodation, and we had some older and infirm passengers along.  They managed, but there has to be a better way.

Overnight, my impression is that the train was waiting for time at Rochester, at Erie, and possibly at Toledo.  Elkhart coming up, and yes, the fun begins.  An hour late into Chicago, but the passengers intending to go further west today did make their connections.

And Amtrak sent me a link to a survey, my impressions of the eastbound trip.  I hope there's a section to comment on those delays west of Elkhart.

We hope to resume regular commentary over the weekend.



In my continuing quest to understand the ways the punditocracy come to terms with the surprise election of Donald Trump, I devote Book Review No. 26 to Mark Lilla's The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.  (I got it on the cheap as the local book store, which opened not so long ago, is going out of business.) Mr Lilla, a professor of humanities at Columbia, has advanced parts of his thesis previously, with some push-back from the people supposedly on his side.  And the identitarian faction that argues with, then mostly votes for, Democrats, continues to advocate for more of the same.


Of course it is, and a determined proprietor at Esther's Hobby Shop in Millvale, Pennsylvania is determined to keep it that way.
Like Esther’s, Millvale is a town in the middle of transition. The transition that appears to be going well, considering everything that has gone wrong for this town over the past few decades: job losses, a flood that wiped out half of the Main Street businesses, an aging population that was dying off.

For years, people have been writing off the town as mired in the past and unable to grow – sort of like model railroading, for which story after story suggests the hobby is dying and unable to sustain itself.

Both stories are only partly true. For 30 years, Millvale had been on the decline but — given its proximity to the river, a trail that connects to Washington, D.C., and its charming Main Street grid filled with historic buildings graced by unique architecture — young people noticed and started investing in the town.
And model railroading is no longer -- if ever it was -- a niche business for obsessive craftsmen only.
Bob Leonard of Ft. Lauderdale visited the store on his way to Altoona, Pa., for a structure show. “What they have done with technology today to help the hobbyist to construct buildings is transforming the industry,” he explains. He and four friends marvel at [proprietor Bob] Mehler’s stock as they walk up and down the aisles of the store.

Technology now allows savvy enthusiasts to run their trains from their iPhones, and 3-D printing will soon empower hobbyists to create scenery, custom trains, and track systems.

Mehler raised six children on the third floor of his business that kept them all fed, educated, and safe. He chokes up, recounting the highs and lows of his life here behind the counter of this hobby shop, from the struggles his mother faced to the loss of the love of his life nearly two decades ago.
That reference to running trains from smart 'phones is correct. I saw a control system called Blue Rail at a recent convention. The application allows for control of the train from the swipe pad on the 'phone, and the sound of the locomotive comes from the 'phone, obviating the speaker and sound module that would otherwise have to be hidden somewhere in the model.

With Christmas coming, may there be trains under and around your trees.


The more extensive the market, the finer a division of labour is possible.  That's generally for the good, but what happens when the s**t hits the fan?
Small, local producers, who make up for their lack of quantities of scale and their higher labor and environmental standards with shortened supply-chain, now see their competitive advantage systematically wiped out with each transportation network investment. With both political parties supporting massive infrastructure spending, the market has adjusted to this new reality by focusing on educating the next generation to be specialists with a worldwide market that can support even the narrowest niche skill-set, rather than generalists who can flexibly serve local needs.

Like a cavity that starts at the enamel and eventually hollows out a whole tooth, so too has the larger economy been hollowing out the local capability to be self-reliant.  On the surface, everything looks the same: we still have grocery stores, hardware stores, and all manner of services. What we don’t see is the fact that ownership and production of those things is no longer local. Global economies are finding more and better ways to replace local capabilities with alternatives that require us to rely on distant, disconnected companies using efficient supply-chain deliveries. Even our own two feet have been replaced with cars as we have redesigned our cities to replace the 20 minute walk with the 20 minute drive. The result is that cities and basic needs are physically spread out to the point that most of us are reliant on the products and deliveries of the global economy to gain access to basic needs.

So when do we notice this hollowing out? As long as goods still stock the shelves and we can easily access them, why does this phenomenon even matter? The answer is simple: we might not always be able to rely on these global supply chains, particularly in a real crisis when it matters most.  As gas stations and grocery stores rely on multiple deliveries daily themselves, should the supply chain be interrupted for an extended or unknown period of time, such as in a wartime situation, it would not be long before the products we rely on disappear.
That might be a case for maintaining a bug-out bag and stockpiles, and establishing neighborhood watches.  As I noted previously, there is enough embedded knowledge of the technologies of the 1870s or the 1920s that such a disruption isn't going to bring back the aftermath of the Thirty Years War.

Cities are, however, particularly vulnerable to deliberate and focused sabotage, and a modicum of preparation might be wise.  "Just as the huge militaries of the early 20th century were vulnerable to supply and communications disruption, cities are now so heavily dependent on a constant flow of services from various centralized systems that even the simplest attacks on those systems can cause massive disruption."  That the majority of the world's population now lives in urban areas (and correspondingly relies for its food and fuel on the efforts of a relative few) makes rendering the supply networks antifragile a desirable thing.  To the extent that the cities and supply networks are themselves emergent, rather than the fruits of Intelligent Design by Wise Experts, their chances are better.


Chicago's Tribune enthuses over the addition of a second track to parts of the South Shore Line, and to the future incorporation of what we used to understand as the Gary Railways into the fold.
Back in 1927, representatives of the South Shore railroad discussed adding a second track to speed travel times, add trains and attract more passengers.

It took 90 years, but Indiana officials think that a double track for the South Shore from Gary to Michigan City, along with a line extension from Hammond south to Dyer, could finally happen. The state along with northwest Indiana counties and municipalities have pledged half the money for the nearly $1 billion project — now it needs the rest in federal grants.
In 1927, the Public Utility Holding Company Act had not yet broken the ties between the Electric Railway and the Light. That's something I've long lamented.

Those ties made it possible for Northern Indiana Public Service and the South Shore to put together a transportation corridor with provision for a second track, even if that track never went in east of Gary.

Ogden Dunes, December 1972.
Note the pole lines, and span brackets in place for a second track.

There's a cardinal rule of railroading, which is that two trains cannot safely occupy the same track at the same time.
The electric trains, which run on regular freight tracks, start in Chicago on Metra Electric District tracks, then switch to the South Shore's own tracks in about 14 miles. The line has two tracks until just after the Gary downtown stop, when it goes to single track for most of the next 25 miles to Michigan City.

The single track creates problems, [transit district president Michael] Noland explained. It limits the number of trains the South Shore can run. If a train has a problem, it will hold up the trains behind it.

"We're running two-way traffic on a one-way street," Noland said.
Yes, and as ridership has increased, so has station dwell time and "This train is running approximately  (pause) four minutes late due to (pause) heavy passenger loadings." (Yes, that's a Metra announcement, and there's something of the preacher scolding his Easter congregation for being in the sanctuary about it.)  Thus, the rigorously timed meets that go with keeping a single track interurban (or the 110 mph section of Amtrak in southwestern Michigan) humming are undone.

Sheridan siding, Michigan City, Indiana, 13 August 1966

For years, the siding at the west end of the Michigan City street running was the traditional meeting point of the electric cars.  But as loadings increased on the east end, that began to disrupt the weekend schedules in particular, which attempted to offer a two-hour headway between Chicago and South Bend.

Sheridan siding, late July, 2006

When all is going well, the westbound train coming off the street is in view as the eastbound train about to head onto the street have close-up views of each other.

Additional rail service appeals.  But Michigan City as a less expensive Naperville, with a lake?  Michigan City currently has more character than Naperville ever had.

As you see from this 1927 poster, which hangs in Cold Spring Shops headquarters, there are still service improvements missing, namely improvements that might be fitting of an upscale, waterfront suburb.

South Bend, 13 August 1966

Keep praying to the Patron Saint of Traction.


Almost a half-century after the moon landings, Mount Marilyn gets its due.
When Neil Armstrong steered the lunar lander to the Sea of Tranquility in 1969, one of the landmarks he eyeballed before settling on the moon's surface was a triangular-shaped mountain.

It was called Mount Marilyn on his NASA map.

A year earlier, when astronaut Jim Lovell was preparing for the first flight to the moon on Apollo 8, he noticed the geographical formation and named it after his wife, whom he met in the Juneau High School cafeteria in Milwaukee.

Mount Marilyn became a key landmark for the Apollo 10 and Apollo 11 moon missions. It was printed on maps, mentioned in the Tom Hanks blockbuster "Apollo 13"  and recognized by Google. So when efforts began in 2014 to get the spot officially named Mount Marilyn, it seemed to Lovell it would be a slam dunk.
Process-worshippers gotta process-worship.
But the International Astronomical Union's nomenclature committee said no.

Seems the same group that ignominiously dumped Pluto from its roster of planets ruled that Mount Marilyn didn't fit its naming criteria, which includes using names of only dead people. Also, there were worries it would set a precedent for Mars when astronauts finally arrive on the Red Planet and start naming things.

But this summer, Lovell, 89, got word that the IAU had relented. Lovell broke the news to his 87-year-old wife in a way befitting a Navy pilot and veteran of several Gemini and Apollo space voyages.

"I told her we accomplished the mission," Lovell said in a phone interview from his Lake Forest, Ill., home.
Never mind that craters on the away side of the moon bear the names of astronauts, and that there's no longer a Burma-Shave competition to send in 900 empty jars for a trip to Mars.
In 2014, lunar scientist Mark Robinson was trying to correct annotations on features while helping make new maps of the moon and he realized that some of the names made during the Apollo expeditions had never been made official, including Mount Marilyn. He submitted the names for approval, something that's done periodically.

"It got turned down and there was a long torturous explanation why, which I never fully understood," said Robinson, a professor at Arizona State.

He let the matter rest for a while but realizing the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 was coming up he decided to resubmit an application for Mount Marilyn, which included the radio transcript of when Buzz Aldrin mentioned the landmark. Mount Marilyn is roughly 500 kilometers from the Apollo 11 landing spot.

"One of them called it out because it was an important landmark. It's an unusually shaped mountain that sticks up out of the (Sea of Tranquility) so it's easy to spot," Robinson said. "As far as I'm concerned, if Jim Lovell wants that mountain to be named Marilyn, based on his contributions to science, it should be named Mount Marilyn."
And so it was. But there are certain eternal truths, including the agonies of high school.
Marilyn Gerlach grew up in Milwaukee, attended 27th Street Elementary School and Juneau High School, where the boy who would someday become an astronaut noticed her as he worked in the school cafeteria. She was a freshman, he was a junior.

"The prom was coming and I had to invite some girl to the prom, you had to invite junior girls. I invited a girl, but when she found out I wasn't going to be prom king she dropped me like a hot potato. I didn't have anyone else, so I invited Marilyn," Lovell recalled.
From the bottom of the ocean to the mountains of the moon, the junior who dropped the future astronaut is unknown.



The CSX Transportation Company continues to spin its downsizing as productivity improvements.
The railroad aims to end container sorting at its busy intermodal terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio, by Nov. 11. And CSX will not build the Carolina Connector, a similar $270-million terminal planned for Rocky Mount, N.C., Trains News Wire has learned.

The railroad also pulled out of the long-sought project to raise clearances in the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore. The tunnel is a barrier to double-stack service to and from the Port of Baltimore, as well as on CSX’s Interstate 95 Corridor linking New Jersey and Florida.
There's going to be some political fallout from the change of plans in Baltimore: perhaps this is a ploy to get taxpayers to share more of the costs.

Elsewhere on the railroad, we're seeing a variation on the old theme of freight trains cutting cars at isolated side tracks for pickup by other trains.  (There's likely a management case study in that practice somewhere, as these days the freight conductor must verify that the train is intact and the end of train device working, which sometimes entails a taxi ride from head end to hind end.)
A spokeswoman for the Maryland governor’s office did not return an email seeking comment.

It is not clear what direction CSX will take with its intermodal network as Harrison rolls out Precision Scheduled Railroading across the system.

This much is clear: The railroad has not closed any intermodal terminals that originate traffic, despite scaling back hundreds of lanes. And CSX is relying much more on intermodal block-swapping, both to increase efficiency and to replace the sorting performed at North Baltimore.

Analysts expected the railroad to provide details on its intermodal strategy at an investor day, but the Oct. 30 event was postponed after management changes were announced on Oct. 25, including the pending departures of CSX’s chief operations and marketing executives.

The Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal opened to much fanfare in 2011 as the $175-million centerpiece of a new intermodal strategy that included sorting containers for Chicago interchange, as well as smaller markets such as Louisville, Ky.; Columbus, Ohio; and Detroit.

As recently as July, CSX executives said North Baltimore was a proven concept that would be extended to the Carolina Connector. Executives also had discussed the potential for adding a third intermodal sorting hub near Atlanta.
We'll see how that plays out.


Nicely called out by Daniel Payne for The Federalist.
Here is a gentle tip for the nominal adults nominally in charge of American campuses: if your students disrupt a scheduled event, or storm the stage of a school function, or take a classroom hostage (particularly on an exam day!), do not give in to them. Instead, have security escort them out immediately. If they resist, arrest them. If they persist, expel them.

Putting one’s foot down will not be easy or pleasant. But it is necessary—unless you wish to surrender your campuses and careers to mindless, fanatical zealots.
When the house organ of the Democrat-Academic-Entertainment Complex runs a lament by a university president mugged by reality, in this case Oregon's Michael Schill, "The Misguided Student Crusade Against ‘Fascism’."
Fundamentally, fascism is about the smothering of dissent. Every university in the country has history classes that dig into fascist political movements and examine them along very clear-eyed lines. Fascist regimes rose to power by attacking free speech, threatening violence against those who opposed them, and using fear and the threat of retaliation to intimidate dissenters.

By contrast, American academia is dedicated to rational discourse, shared governance and the protection of dissent. Historically, fascists sought to silence, imprison and even kill university professors and other intellectuals who resisted authoritarian rule. So the accusation that American universities somehow shelter or promote fascism is odd and severely misguided.
Perhaps Mr Schill is not familiar with Critique of Pure Tolerance, the diversity boondoggle's Mein Kampf, or with the origins of no-platforming in the Sixties practice of "verbal terrorism" (otherwise known as shouting down speakers taking unpopular positions).  What the student crusaders were doing is the practice of liberating tolerance, being directed against university administrators whose defense of the protection of dissent becomes the continued protection of reactionaries with truly fascist ideas.
Undoubtedly, the term “fascism” has an effective anti-authoritarian ring to it, so perhaps that is why it is thrown around so much these days. But from what I can tell, much of what students are protesting, both at the University of Oregon and elsewhere, is the expression of viewpoints or ideologies that offend them and make them feel marginalized. They are fed up with what they see as a blanket protection of free speech that, at its extreme, permits the expression of views by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I am opposed to all these groups stand for, but offensive speech can never be the sole criterion for shutting down a speaker.
Actually, liberating tolerance, or progressive intolerance, makes suppression of reactionary speech the sole, and most important, criterion for shouting down a speaker.  In time, though, the zealots begin to turn on each other ("sectarianism" being perhaps the worst thought-crime in much of the intellectual left) and thus do we get some sort of hierarchy of oppression.

Until then, though, the zealots get free rein to mau-mau the bourgeois and stick it to the man.


Milwaukee's Charlie Sykes, who has gotten himself a new act as "dissident conservative," recently offered A Guide for Frustrated Conservatives in the Age of Trump, unsurprisingly, NBC published it.  There's been a lot of soul-searching about what conservatism really means, and the ways in which Mr Trump's populist approach (if that's what it is) differs.  And Mr Sykes notes that there's more to a conservative stance than winning elections.  "Most important of all, we will take the long view, recognizing that electoral victories do not change eternal verities or the essential correctness of traditionally conservative insights into man and society."

But the forces in opposition to Mr Trump appear not to have figured out that hectoring, condescending, deplorable-shaming and posturing hasn't changed many minds.
People also feel destabilized, uncertain and disillusioned by everything that was supposed to lift us up, like entertainment and sports. Hollywood has been mocking Middle America for 20 years; every awards show is a debutante ball of shame and scold directed at half of the country.

That they have done this behind smiling masks while hiding the open secret of debauched treatment of women is repulsive.

Sports — football, in particular — was the last remaining force that crosses the cultural divide but has now been forever damaged.
Thus, Salena Zito continues, the conservative insights might manifest themselves in an emergent, decentralized way.
Rebuilding trust should most likely begin at the most local level: in neighborhood banks, at local businesses and with reporters who live in our communities — interactions whose authority Americans can trust to be fair, removed from coastal or cosmopolitan biases.

Trust at the peer-to-peer level can help repair our divide; it does not mean that, if you feel strongly that police reform is needed, you avoid the issues. But instead of making a big social media statement, why not make a difference through civic involvement, volunteering and serving the community on the issue?
Unfortunately, twenty years of information-technology-enabled concentration, whether of the national banks or the national press, leaves much of civil society in the hands of precisely the hectoring, condescending, deplorable-shaming nachalstvo.

For example, consider David Brooks, here ably called out by Robert Merry.
It is the Trump constituency that is responsible for all the divisions between rich and poor, white and black, educated and less educated, right and left. He doesn’t quite call these people deplorable, but he comes close. If they would just stand down and give up their tribal ways, we could get back to being the America of our past and our heritage—a “universal nation” drawing unlimited immigrants to our shores in the service of a national mission to spread “democracy and dignity” around the world. Sounds like a return to George W. Bush.

This is policy folly based upon a myth of America. The divisions Brooks laments with such invidious intent won’t vanish until the fears and concerns of Trump voters are addressed in ways that can alleviate, at least to some extent, those grievances. That’s a reality that David Brooks, for all his clever locutions, can’t wish away.
But the Democrats, and those of their fellow-travellers and court intellectuals who haven't yet been caught up in a Hillary scandal or a Hollywood starlet's p***y continue to carry on with the hectoring and the deplorable shaming.  That's not impressing Rod Dreher, who, like Mr Sykes, is no fan of Our President.
I’ll end up voting Republican out of pure self-protection, and to protect the job prospects of my children, especially my sons. Good job, Democrats.  You are telling straight white people that they are second-class citizens who don’t deserve fairness. You’ll continue to find self-hating liberal whites who are willing to accept this garbage, but many more aren’t falling for it — and know what kind of world Democrats are preparing for them when and if they take power again.

As a registered Independent whose economic and foreign policy views are to the left of the average Republican’s, I would love to have the chance to consider voting Democratic in a national election, especially with the GOP in such a mess. But out of self-protection, I can’t take that chance.
And Roger Kimball warns the Permanent Bipartisan Establishment that their process-worshipping investigations are sending the Trump voters the wrong message.  "I suspect that evidence of the real collusion—to deprive the United States of its lawfully elected president—will point in only one direction."

Taken together, there is a lot going on that might not end well.


The public universities of the midwest have been engaging in a price war, the better to be able to boost enrollments.  Used to be, the universities were going after out of state students by comparing their tuitions with the Ivies, or they were attempting to keep graduates in state afterward.

The price war has become more interesting, with the end of out of state premiums for matriculants at Northern Illinois University.
Sol Jensen – NIU vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications – said this is not a new practice, and many other state universities have taken similar measures. Universities in neighboring states also have implemented these changes to entice Illinois students.

"We feel like now is the right time to be making our changes, as well, mainly because of all of the benefits we project NIU to take, including enrollment," Jensen said. "There is literature that shows students are more likely when they graduate to stay in the same state, at least for the early part of their career, so we can bring in more students that could potentially work here."
"Potentially" matters: Illinois governor Bruce Rauner's re-election campaign includes an advert in which governors of neighboring states are thanking general assembly speaker Mike Madigan for preserving Illinois's status as an anti-business tax hell.  For now, though, Chicago is still a destination for degreed professionals from the rest of the Big Ten, and beyond.

The university's announcement is redolent of corporate-speak.
The high quality of our faculty and academic programs—in such areas as business, engineering, education, nursing, the humanities, the sciences and the visual and performing arts—is well-known beyond the borders of Illinois. And we want students nationwide to experience our unique brand of hands-on, engaged learning.
I have yet to sound out my colleagues still in the classroom on their impression of this initiative. I fear, though, that "engaged learning" with continued cutbacks for classroom supplies, telephone and internet connections, and deferred maintenance and deferred pay raises is so much pokazhuka.


Pajamas Media's Susan L. M. Goldberg, "We’ve Forgotten How to Understand Stay-at-Home Moms."  Her essay is a call for sisterly solidarity.  "Women, especially those who delay motherhood in favor of a career they return to almost immediately after giving birth, simply can’t comprehend what it means to stay at home with a young child all day, every day."

Read on, though, and you see the laws of conservation in political economy at work.  "Many women do spend at least part of the day at home with their children while they’re young. However, economic changes forced onto our culture by second-wave feminism and the “greed is good” era have made two working parents the rule, not the exception."

You could substitute "You go, grrl" for "greed is good" and you get the same thing, when you expand labor force participation.  "Thus, to hope that a family can 'get by' on one income with current levels of labor force participation by women is to hope that the laws of conservation in economics don't work."

And getting by, Ms Goldberg notes, involves outsourcing much of the dirty work, sometimes to cheap labor.
What’s worse, career culture has forced us to outsource the care and feeding of babies as young as six weeks old to women barely out of high school. These women earn minimum wage. In other words, we think changing diapers, making bottles, pumping breastmilk, feeding, clothing, playing with, educating and maintaining the general physical, mental and emotional health of a human being is worth approximately $7.25 per hour.
That's reality for a lot of people. Power couples with large incomes -- to the extent that they're not reconsidering whether it's worth it -- still have the means to farm out their spawn to Harvard Prep Day Care.



Columnist Kimberley Strassel gave a talk at Hillsdale College, "The Left’s War on Free Speech."  Her children got into a spat, in the way of children, and she attempted to make a teachable moment.  First the oldest, then the middle, explained what they understood free speech to be.


When the Tsar's troops march in, Modest Mussorgsky writes a commemorative overture.

It's less dramatic when it's trains arriving in Uzbekistan to provide a southerly alternative to China's Silk Road Railroad.
The 849 km [527 mi] BTK [Baku, Azerbaijan - Tblisi, Georgia, Kars, Turkey] programme is central to plans to create a rail corridor from the Caspian Sea to Europe via Turkey. It involved upgrading infrastructure in Azerbaijan and Georgia, rehabilitating 153 km [95 mi] of unused 1 520mm [Soviet 5 foot] gauge line from Marabda to a break-of-gauge facility at Akhalkalaki, and building 110 km [68 mi] of 1 435 mm [standard] gauge line to Kars via a 4·4 km [2.7 mi] tunnel under the Georgia-Turkey border at Kartsakhi.

This completes the missing link between Georgia and Turkey, replacing a route through Armenia which has been out of use since the crossing between Turkey and Armenia was closed in 1993.
Yes, there is a break of gauge and a transloading on this line, which runs through former Tsarist lands, as is the case on the Silk Road Railroad.

The closed line is to the south.

Although the railroad appears to be a way for Turkey and a number of the former Soviet republics to exchange cargo without dealing with Armenia, the connection is also a play for the China to Europe traffic.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan said the BTK railway had become a reality because of the friendship of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia. He said shipments from China would be able to reach Europe in 15 days using the BTK route, and the initial capacity of 6·5 million tonnes of freight and 1 million passengers per year was expected to increase to 17 million tonnes and 3 million passengers per year in 2034.
That's time-competitive with the Silk Road Railroad. I wonder if that new tunnel is tall enough for double-stacks, as much of this railroad is currently diesel hauled.


Last week's feel-good story was the rescue of two women, supposedly missing at sea since sometime in May, turning up alive and well with their dogs along, somewhere off Japan.

One of the sailors, Jennifer Appel, joked years ago about things going wrong at sea.
Appel said she was reminded of a conversation about sailing she had with an acquaintance some 10 years ago.

“I was joking with someone,” she said. “And they said what happens when you go out to sea and you get broken? I said, ‘Oh, the Navy will come save me.’ ”
And these intrepid mariners have in fact been at sea since May.
The rescued women had departed May 3, intending to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti, [Joyce] Appel said, but her daughter’s phone was lost overboard the first day she was at sea, and she hadn’t been able to call since.

Then the women lost their engine in bad weather in late May, but believed they could still reach Tahiti using their sails.
But there's something, er, fishy, about that 'phone going in the drink.
Parts of their story have been called into question, including the tropical storm the two say they encountered on their first night at sea in May. National Weather Service records show no organized storms in the region in early May.

When asked if the two had the radio beacon aboard, the women told the AP on Friday they had a number of other communications devices, but they didn't mention the [I'm Sunk Near Here device].
Apparently Mrs Appel never told her daughter to be careful about picking up sailors in bars.
Key elements of the women's account are contradicted by authorities, weather reports and the basic geography of the Pacific Ocean. The discrepancies raised questions about whether Appel and her sailing companion, Tasha Fuiava, remember the ordeal accurately or could have avoided disaster.

The Hawaii residents reported that their sailing equipment and engine failed and said they were close to giving up when the U.S. Navy rescued them last week, thousands of miles off course. They were taken to Japan, where they didn't immediately respond to an email and call seeking comment Monday.

The Navy said they do not investigate incidents like this and they were only there to render assistance. The Coast Guard said its review of the case is ongoing, but that there is no criminal investigation at this time.

The two women met in late 2016, and within a week of knowing each other decided to take the trip together. Fuiava had never sailed a day in her life. They planned to take 18 days to get to Tahiti, then travel the South Pacific and return to Hawaii in October.

On their first day at sea, May 3, the two U.S. women described running into a fearsome storm that tossed their vessel with 60 mph (97 kph) winds and 30-foot (9-meter) seas for three days, but meteorologists say there was no severe weather anywhere along their route during that time.
Let's be grateful they didn't go to Davy Jones, and wait for the television dramatization that is likely to follow.

Sometimes, south seas adventures don't end so well.



Two court intellectuals for the Democrats offer their perspectives on the 2016 presidential results, and their efforts provide material for Book Reviews No. 23 and No. 24.


Will the proposed double-tracking of the South Shore Line lead to neighborhoods going upscale on the east side of Gary?  "As area residents on Wednesday passed through the Marshall Gardner Center for the Arts in the Miller neighborhood, they expressed generally positive views of the South Shore Line's plans to double-track its railroad between Gary and Michigan City, and to improve stations along the route."  There's a little bit of transit-oriented gentrification near the current Miller station, as well as a plan to turn the flip-back trains at a new coach yard, rather than on the center siding at Gary.
The rail infrastructure would include two realigned South Shore tracks, gauntlet tracks for passing freight trains, two storage tracks and two new bridges east of the station. The storage tracks would be used for trains that will start the morning commute at Miller. Currently those trains begin service at Metro Center, where they're stored between rush hours.
Unfortunately, current Federal Railroad Administration regulations obviate cuts and adds.  The protocols are only slightly less complicated than those governing rendezvous and docking of Project Apollo command and lunar modules, and defeat the purpose of electric multiple unit cars (refresher rant here, if you wish).  Thus we're not likely to see a Sunset Express dropping cars at Miller to cover the Duneland stations, and cutting unnecessary cars at Shops, the way things worked in the era of the orange arks.

But one holdover from the era of orange arks remains.  I had hoped to catch a presentation of the Rail Rangers interpreting the social history of the South Shore on Saturday.  But their show might have been preempted by football specials.

I was aware that University of Southern California fans chartered special trains for their clashes at Notre Dame.  Former Northern Illinois University coach Dave Doeren made it through a rough patch at North Carolina State and brought a ranked team into South Bend, with enough followers to charter a Passenger Extra departing ten minutes ahead of the scheduled train, and there were plenty of fans aboard the scheduled train as well.

I hope there were enough of these virtue-signalling busses to get all the fans to the shadow of Touchdown Jesus in the two hours between arrival and kickoff.  The regular train ran a few minutes late account passenger loadings and adjustments to track use with scheduled maintenance and preparation for the double tracking under way.

The Rail Rangers hope to be offering programming most Saturdays through the end of this year and into January.  But be guided by this advice.  "Please check this page on the morning of your planned departure if you are riding just to experience our onboard program."


I started this post five years ago, when Hope and Change were still the Orders of the Day, and even then, argued William H. Young for the National Association of Scholars, trendy postmodernism in higher education might have been eating the seed corn.  "Postmodern multicultural higher and public education has produced younger generations with limited capabilities and prospects for taxable income to sustain such obligations." His focus was on the political economy of a welfare state that failed to generate future economic growth -- there being limits on what factor augmenting technical change can get you when the population growth rate is no longer predictably constant. And privilege-shaming mathematicians isn't likely to end well.  Perhaps we could have anticipated somebody like Donald Trump emerging.  Mr Young was working on a series about the connections between the rot in education and the decline of living standards.  "Next week’s article will examine the worsening plight of the middle class," he promised.

But at the house organ for business as usual in higher education, it was all about the vocationalism, and how bad that can be.
With Americans now experiencing acute anxiety over jobs, money, and our larger future, policy analysis and public discussion of higher education—from the White House down—have focused with laserlike intensity on the connections between college and earnings. The U.S. Department of Education has led this effort with its "gainful employment" regulations—ostensibly aimed at for-profit excess, but all too clearly a blunt instrument waiting to be used on all parts of postsecondary education.
I don't recall if that article came out before or after then-president Barack Obama got his dig in at art history majors.  But when things get difficult for higher education, the defenders fall back on precisely the traditions they have been so actively deconstructing or deeming toxic or excessively privileged.
The fact is that society needs many kinds of talent and knowledge development from the nation's colleges. This is a global century, so wherever a student enrolls and whatever the major, college needs to help build citizens' global intelligence—the knowledge and skills to navigate an era of economic interdependence and cross-cultural intersection. This is a science- and technology-fueled century, so everyone needs science, technology, and mathematical savvy and experience. This is a democracy, so students' ability to engage in collaborative civic problem solving is, in the long run, just as important as their capacity to engage in job-related problem solving. This is an economy where innovation is all-important, so students must develop adaptive and problem-solving skills in addition to critical thinking and quantitative capacities.

In short, whatever students choose as their particular majors, we need to ensure that their choices—majors and core studies combined—help them develop all these capacities. We need to make sure, in short, that college provides students with an opportunity-creating education—a liberal and liberating education—and not just with knowledge specific to a particular field.

Even if we focus strictly on the learning needed for success in the economy, employers who advise the Association of American Colleges and Universities' work on educational quality emphasize that the major is only a part of the job-success equation.
Put another way, maybe the Canon and the Curriculum and the Great Books had their value.  "Wage studies that look only at the graduate's choice of major may well accelerate the narrowing of the American mind at the very moment in history when multidimensional learning—liberal learning—has become essential to success."  I believed that, and -- has it already been twenty years -- participated in some campus-wide programming that even got faculty among colleges working together on -- precisely strengthening students' abilities to make connections among disciplinary themes.  Like so much else, that was all great for a few years and then either the funding or the administrative emphasis or something gave up: plus I kept on working with the same people, and after a while, many of us appeared to tire of being punished for being cooperative and returned to our own pastures.

That didn't mean we quit, and Johann Neem put forth the case for the trivium and quadrivium for their own sake and without regard to practical utility.
In a democracy, however, we cannot afford to leave the liberal arts to the elite. In a society in which we expect all people to be effective citizens, all people need to have access to the liberal arts in order to have the knowledge and moral foundation that they need to think about what is a good life and a good society, and the skills necessary to help them work to achieve it here in our democracy. Today’s students need to know a lot about how the human and natural worlds work and they need not just knowledge but the capacity to evaluate — that is to determine the moral value of — different goals, ideas, and policies. This evaluation requires moving well beyond the economic calculus to questions of what is worth it and to understanding our cultural traditions.
Yes, and to have a functioning jive detector. "Gentlemen, nothing that you learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life -- save only this -- that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education."

Better, though, that kids who struggle with difficult stuff, including algebra, not feel marginalized and left out, while the kids who can handle it not be given a false sense of privilege or get too full of themselves.  Yes, this was from five years ago.  But when the theorem of Pythagoras becomes an impediment to anyone not Greek learning plane geometry, well, the rot was setting in five years ago.
I don’t know how many eighth graders should take algebra, but I’m entirely persuaded, first, that we need to be ever vigilant about not lowering our expectations for disadvantaged kids, and second, that we need to be ever vigilant about not lowering our expectations for our most gifted students. Do these goals conflict? I hope not.
(An aside: twenty years ago, I recall our Russian tour guides, probably with their Intourist training showing, referring to "all the elements of the periodic table of Mendeleyev." There was even a wall mural of this tool in St. Petersburg. But Russian chemistry plus Soviet failure equals Soviet failure.)

Meanwhile, we had Victor Hanson calling to account the fabulism of one Barack Hussein Obama.
I had a lot of Obamas in class. They sat in the front of the room, posed long eloquent questions, mellifluously interrupted the lectures with clever refinements and qualifications, often self-referenced all that they had read and done -- and then pow!: you grade their first test and there is simply nothing there: a D or F. It was quite stunning: how could a student be so confident in his rhetoric and so dismal in his performance?
And again, a foreshadowing, if we had but seen it. "To the degree there is a gender crisis, I think it may be more young working-class men without college degrees who simply cannot find jobs in the muscular industries and for whom society apparently has little need."  Ultimately, though, it's about the absence of a working jive detector.  What we get in politics is what we've been getting from the area studies types, diversity weenies, and virtue signallers cluttering the academy.  "It is all bottled piety without truth."

But at Newmark's Door, back on 22 October 2012, comes a warning that the vocationalist pressures on higher education might not be so easily deflected.  "There is a lot of--admittedly mostly anecdotal--evidence that recent job losses are due to deep structural changes in the U.S. economy."  Yes, and there is a premium on technical skills, including mathematical reasoning, amongst those structural changes.



We're going to sever a railway link.  And Latvia is going to pay for it.

Not so fast: the Lithuanians only hurt themselves.
State railway Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai expects to start work shortly on reinstating the 19 km cross-border railway from Mazeikiai to Renge in Latvia, Managing Director Mantas Bartuska announced on October 18.

Earlier this month the European Commission fined LG €27·9m for dismantling the line in 2008, on the grounds that this had hindered competition in the freight market by limiting the ability of other potential operators to serve Orlen’s refinery. It was also ordered to ‘bring the infringement to an end’, which Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager suggested during a recent visit to Lithuania could best be solved by reinstating the line.
It appears as if the Lithuanian railroad didn't want to short-haul itself on shipments of refined product to ports at Ventsplis and Riga in Latvia.  The article doesn't mention any Lithuanian ports, which would provide the most effective way for the railroad to keep the line haul to itself, although there are lots of possibilities for railroads and shipping lines to tweak rates such that long-distance rates are equal from origin to destination no matter the routing, the port, or the modal split.
Asked about the possibility of Latvian operator LDz Cargo, the port of Riga and Orlen lodging claims for compensation, Bartuska told local media that these could not be ruled out, although he did not think there were substantial grounds. LG was already in negotiation with Orlen in an effort to avoid litigation, and expected to speak to the Latvians soon.

LDz spokesman Maris Ozols said the railway was still assessing the potential loss caused by the breaching of the line. While it did not rule out seeking compensation from LG, its priority was to get the link reopened as soon as possible, he insisted.
Somewhere Cornelius Vanderbilt and Thomas Scott are sharing a cigar and a smile.


That's retired Northern Illinois University composer Jan Bach, who has a drinking song and a steel pan toccata to his credit.
Jan Bach of DeKalb shares more than his last name with classical music composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Jan Bach, 79, also is a composer, writing music professionally for more than 40 years.

Through his years with the U.S. Army Band, Bach played for both President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson, and at Kennedy’s funeral. One of his operas was performed by the New York City Opera, his tuba quintet was performed at Carnegie Hall, he was nominated six times for the Pulitzer Prize in music, and a CD with one of his pieces, “Oompah Suite,” won the Roger Bobo Award for excellence in recording.
Yes, "Oompah Suite" sounds more like something Peter Schickele might have turned up, or perhaps a medley for the Freistadt Alte Kameraden Band.  And yet a good teacher can summarize, succinctly, the criteria by which a musical composition might have a lasting effect on listeners.
I think that good music tells a story. A good piece has highlights, climaxes and a satisfying ending. Good music will last over time because it is clear and has a story to tell. It also has variations in dynamics, tempo and texture, which most pop music doesn't have. I try to include those parameters in my writing.
Yes, and if it's anything like writing prose, there's a risk of overdoing the variations ("a fog of elegant variation") that will also ultimately discourage listeners.


But being a professor of education means you can deny reality with a straight face.
[University of Illinois's Rochelle] Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans."

Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.

“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.
I'm not sure by what magic being good at maths, and using maths to write winning grant proposals, turns into unearned privilege.  Fifty years ago, the complaint against the mathematicians was complicity in the military-industrial complex, which is to say, using one's skills to batten off a corrupt order, but these days, holding a scarce skill and profiting by it becomes privilege.  Egad.
Further, she also worries that evaluations of math skills can perpetuate discrimination against minorities, especially if they do worse than their white counterparts.

“If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”
Good grief. And so soon after Hollywood released a movie honoring the previously hidden talents of a few talented women that got the numbers right for the early space program.

Want to lower the salaries of math jocks?  Practice solving lots of integrals.


Many of the firearms used in Chicago's ongoing carnage come from Chicago area stores.
The Tribune reported on the study, a collaboration among the mayor’s office, Chicago police and University of Chicago Crime Lab, in advance of its official release.

The report found that “roughly two out of every five of Chicago’s crime guns come into the city from Illinois source dealers, making Illinois the single largest source state for Chicago’s illegal guns.”

The report also found that nearly one-fourth of guns recovered at crime scenes over a recent four-year period came from just 10 Chicago-area businesses.

Since Chicago does not have gun stores operating within city limits, the revelation that guns used in crimes here have come from outside the city is not new. But [Chicago police superintendent Eddie] Johnson said the new data are evidence the state can do more to regulate gun shops from surrounding areas.

“Details in this report clearly highlight the need for additional legislative action to help stymie the illegal flow of guns in Chicago,” Johnson said.
Apparently, contra Chuck Todd, it's not smuggling from Indiana.  But there's probably more at work than more stringent statewide constraints on firearm sales.
Johnson argues that the legislation is part of a broader attempt to put together “a comprehensive solution” to the gun crime problem. He pointed to New York and California as states that have stronger regulations on guns and whose cities don’t have the same levels of gun crime as seen in Chicago.
That sounds like opportunities for additional research.



Among the items in a recent Railway Gazette round-up, this.
Liverpool Lime Street station fully reopened on October 23 after Network Rail completed a 23-day project which included replacing 2 000 m of track, lengthening platforms and adding two platforms. Further work next year will enable an extra three trains per hour in and out of the station to be operated from 2019.
That says "fully reopened": perhaps the operators maintained as much of the schedule as feasible, with some trains cancelled, and possibly some diverted, as was the case with the summer rehabilitation of track in New York's Pennsylvania Station.

Lime Street is at the west end of the London to Liverpool corridor, and there is an extensive regional service out of it.  I wonder if "three trains per hour" means something other than creative pathing of the current trains, in which some platform tracks will be occupied by two or more sets of diesel rail cars, with the outermost set arriving first, turning quickly, and leaving to release the next set.


I tend to cringe whenever I read corporate-speak that attempts to sugar-coat an abuse as an improvement.  The latest illustration, this gem from CSX, deciding to limit how much they link thirteen great states to the Nation.  "CSX told customers the changes were being made 'to improve service, efficiency, and better align product demand.'"  It sounds a little like having to destroy the village in order to save it, but perhaps investors will be happy.
CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle says the changes are part of a review of intermodal operations as the railroad implements Precision Scheduled Railroading.

“We are working to identify opportunities where we can improve service to our intermodal customers by leveraging other parts of our scheduled network to provide faster and more efficient service,” Doolittle says. “In some cases, this may mean using scheduled merchandise trains to support some intermodal customers’ requirements, and reducing the intermediate handling of intermodal traffic when possible, creating more reliable service and faster transit times.”
On one hand, your trailer might get to you a little faster, as it will move on the next train out. On the other hand, as we noted previously, your drayage expenditures might have just increased.
The railroad will curtail service between the Southeastern terminals and smaller markets in the Northeast, including Cleveland, Buffalo, and Syracuse, N.Y., as well as Montreal.

The changes are related to scaling back container sorting at the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal. The unique terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio, is a key to the hub-and-spoke strategy CSX has used to serve lower-volume intermodal markets. But its days as a sorting hub are numbered, sources have told Trains News Wire.
Game on, with Norfolk Southern and the regional railroads possibly soliciting for the traffic.


Union Pacific haul a lot of containers and automobiles, and that commerce is eased by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“I think that the impact of the U.S. pulling out of NAFTA would be disastrous,” [Union Pacific] Chief Executive Officer Lance Fritz told Reuters. ”The conversation we need to be having is how do we enhance the NAFTA trading bloc’s capability of competing globally and specifically America’s ability to compete globally.

“We are in a death match for jobs and growth against lots and lots of competitors around the globe, and we are positioned to win,” he added.
Mr Fritz is willing to deal with Our President on corporate taxation, however.
“What we really care about is the growth impact that a sensible corporate tax structure would have on the United States,” he said. “That is very meaningful to us as a company as we compete for shipping that business.”

Union Pacific’s CEO said the railroad would like to see corporate tax rates decline, but wants meaningful, long-term reform instead of a quick fix.

“Don’t make it something that can expire in five years or 10 years,” he said.
Big Boy 4014 is likely to be back in steam before any relatively permanent change to the tax code is at hand.


The latest franchise operator of trains on Britain's West Coast Main Line is a joint venture of three overseas companies.

The trains will run, however, under the brand London Northwestern.
The new West Midlands franchise is scheduled to start on December 10, succeeding the current franchise held by Govia which operates under the London Midland brand.

The incoming franchisee said the London Northwestern name was ‘a reverential nod’ to the pre-1923 London & North Western Railway, ‘formerly the largest railway in Britain and the predecessor of the current West Coast Main Line.’

Services operating around Birmingham are to use the West Midlands Combined Authority’s West Midlands Railway branding, with a view to facilitating the possible future devolution of responsibility for these services from the national Department for Transport to the authority.

West Midlands Trains Ltd said the two brands would have a shared management board, while being ‘closely aligned to their specific regional and route requirements.’
London Midland refers to the post-1924 Grouping company, London Midland and Scottish, the 'ell of a mess, which is not an inapt description of the corporate arrangements and cooperations with regional Passenger Rail authorities.