14.2.20

FASCHING.



Prosit!

A VALENTINE FOR FERROEQUINOLOGISTS.

In 1956, a coal-hauling, narrow gauge steam railroad called the East Broad Top ceased business.

The mines were worked out, but the owners never tore up the tracks.  Part of the railroad continued to operate as a tourist attraction from 1960 until 2011, when the owners sought a buyer.
When EBT closed that year, it was the last remaining narrow-gauge common-carrier railroad in the Eastern United States. It was bought by the Kovalchick Salvage Co. of Indiana, Pa., which in 1960 reopened a segment for tourist service in connection with a local bicentennial celebration. Under the Kovalchick family’s watch, including that of Nick’s son Joseph Kovalchick, EBT ran as a tourist railroad for a remarkable 52 seasons, closing at the end of 2011.

His father, Joe Kovalchick said Friday, went to 13 banks before finding one that would agree to loan him money for the down payment in 1956. Not having a toy trains as a child was the motivation for Nick purchasing the railroad, and when he bought it, he wanted to see it run again.
The good news is, a consortium of buyers emerged.
Among those who worked to organize the foundation were Lawrence Biemiller, longtime East Broad Top historian and frequent guide for shop and roundhouse tours; David Brightbill, EBT’s office manager; Brad Esposito, 20-year employee of the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad and new general manager of the EBT; and Stephen Lane, entrepreneur, Amtrak employee, and volunteer at the Everett Railroad.

The foundation will be governed by a 10-member board. Three members represent the group’s founders, three represent the railroad and presentation industry, three represent outside or community interests, and one member will be named from the Kovalchick family.
The railroad representatives are Bennett Levin, who is long active in railroad preservation, and longtime professional railroaders Charles "Wick" Moorman and Henry Posner III. “The East Broad Top is a remarkable survivor from the age of steam railroading,” says Moorman. “I’m delighted to have the chance to be a part of its revival, both for the preservation of such an important part of our industrial heritage, and for the economic benefits that it will provide to an area of Pennsylvania that is so closely linked to the railroad industry.”

Good news. “With its main line through the mountains to the mines,” [longtime Pennsylvania ferroequinologist] Dan [Cupper] added, “its 1900-era machine shop, and its original-to-the-site steam engines and rolling stock, EBT combines three of Pennsylvania’s touchstone industries — coal, steel, and railroading.”

That machine shop is itself worth the price of admission, there's not a punch card or a transistor to be seen.

One branch of East Broad Top was rebuilt as a standard-gauge track for Pennsylvania interurban cars, including the twin of the Electroliner now in Union, Illinois.  The Pennsylvania train is being restored in its Philadelphia colors.

Consider supporting both preservation efforts, people in railroad preservation aren't in the habit of sending renewal notices as if they were Life subscription invoices.

NO PURITY TEST TOO RIDICULOUS?

Now the national Democrats are slagging on Cheri Bustos, a Member of Congress representing the North West Frontier of Illinois.
The top echelon of staffers at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee left their jobs Monday, a shakeup following a pair of Politico stories detailing deep unease with the party’s campaign apparatus over a lack of diversity.

On Monday morning, Allison Jaslow, DCCC executive director and a close ally of Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) — chair of the committee — resigned during a tense meeting at the party’s Capitol Hill headquarters. And in the next 10 hours, much of the senior staff was out: Jared Smith, the communications director and another Bustos ally; Melissa Miller, a top DCCC communications aide; Molly Ritner, political director; Nick Pancrazio, deputy executive director; and Van Ornelas, the DCCC’s director of diversity.
The story is from late July, and no doubt the campaign committee have other items to deal with since then.

Note, though, how the representative (her district is to the west of mine; DeKalb is where two districts, one each held by a Democrat and a Republican abut) sounds like she's been through a struggle session.
“Today has been a sobering day filled with tough conversations that too often we avoid,” Bustos said. “But I can say confidently that we are taking the first steps toward putting the DCCC back on path to protect and expand our majority, with a staff that truly reflects the diversity of our Democratic caucus and our party.”
That will likely please the commissars in Chicago and the other teeming cities. Whether that will play as well in districts such as Representative Bustos's, with a different demographic and socioeconomic profile, remains to be seen.
POLITICO reported last week that top lawmakers in the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus were furious with Bustos, saying she was short-changing minorities by excluding them from her senior staff and failing to live up to promises she made during her campaign for the chairmanship. Bustos surrounded herself with loyalists, eschewing the typical campaign hands who run major party apparatuses.

“Today, I recognize that, at times, I have fallen short in leading these talented individuals. To my colleagues, who I have the upmost respect for, I hear your concerns, and we can and must do better,” Bustos said.
That's after the commissars sent her to the sensitivity gulag.
Bustos held a tense call with staffers on Saturday before deciding to fly back and address the committee in person on Monday. On the call, Bustos “briefly” apologized for offending people by describing her husband and children as being of “Mexican descent” and announced she will undergo diversity and inclusion training in the coming weeks, according to multiple sources.

“I have never been more committed to expanding and protecting this majority, while creating a workplace that we can all be proud of. I will work tirelessly to ensure that our staff is truly inclusive,” Bustos said Monday night.
In so doing, will the central committee forfeit those swing districts, in the hope that demographic transition comes bundled with tax-'n-spend policies, gun confiscation, and pronoun protocols?

THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH OF THAT GRAND ROMAN QUALITY IN PUBLIC BUILDINGS.

That's been an implicit message of mine where railroad stations are concerned.


On occasion, I've alluded to the Academic Gothic style as contributing to the image of a university, whether it be ivy-covered and old or relatively new and a converted normal school.


It would be easy enough for me to pivot and point my camera at an undistinguished administration building or a Brutalist (not "riot renaissance") art and music complex but that would spoil the mood, wouldn't it?

Now comes perhaps the most unlikely advocate for Institutional Solidity, and he has a pen and a 'phone.
The squeals of outrage by the architectural profession at President Trump’s proposed executive order, Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again, were entirely predictable. The order—if promulgated—makes the classical style the default for new federal buildings in Washington, together with a preference for classical and other traditional styles elsewhere.
Sound the alarm! Albert Speer is on the loose, and Independence Avenue is going to look like the Alexanderplatz!  Rod Dreher provides an excellent roundup, with rebuttals, of the hysteria.
That’s an actual Yale University historian claiming that the White House’s desire that future federal buildings be constructed according to the Classical (Greco-Roman) style which is already standard in historic Washington buildings is a sign of the coming Nazification of America. (Note well: actual Hitler, and actual Mussolini, built horrible Modernist buildings as their signature styles.) If you don’t build this ugly-ass modern crap that nobody but professors and architecture critics like, you’re a Nazi!
I'll limit my observations to two: those monotonous look-alike buildings housing Mr Roosevelt's alphabet agencies date to the same era as the fascists, and Milwaukee's Acropolis, which is to say, the columned courthouse atop the hill that was laid down by the glacier forming Lake Michigan, is a "Rooseveltian pile."  (I forget where I saw that expression, but I like it.  And the solidity of the courthouse.)  Here's Strong Towns's Charles Marohn on the symbolic value of solidity.
There is something subtly innate expressed in classical architecture. Over a decade ago, my oldest daughter and I were driving through downtown. She pointed at the historical county courthouse and asked me, “Daddy, what is that building?” Being a dad, I asked her what she thought it was. “I don’t know. A church?” I then circled around the block and pointed to the new county courthouse. “What do you think that building is?” Neurons were being rewired. She said, “A target?”

In her four-year-old mind, she associated the classical architecture of the old courthouse with a community building of significance, something she could pull out of her limited catalog of such places. She also associated the new courthouse with simple utilitarian function. She might be brilliant (I certainly think so), but she was still a child with a child’s mind. No matter; she was right.
The new Brainerd courthouse is a low building with a parking crater, it sure looks like a big box store.

Elsewhere in that essay, he invokes that Grand Roman Quality, and the jarring position he's been trolled into.
Yes, the Nazis liked classical architecture. So do the millions of non-Nazis who have walked up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial, stopping at the place where Martin Luther King gave his I Have a Dream speech, before proceeding to a reading of the Gettysburg Address, all while pondering in reverent silence the humble sacrifices and many implications for humanity.

Let me put forth a supposition: Very few lovers of classical architecture want their brand spokesman to be President Donald Trump. That’s not a partisan comment; you can support or oppose the president and still reach that conclusion. It’s more an observation that, if I were picking a celebrity spokesman for a brand I loved, I would want someone non-controversial, widely embraced, and easy to admire. In general, politicians make terrible brand representatives. This is especially true in a time of extreme political polarization.
On the other hand, perhaps it takes the bully pulpit of a president to call attention to the clique of prestige architects who would rather assault the eye than oh, provide a proper setting for a trial, or a workshop, or a serious game of chess, or boarding a train.

Here's Mr Marohn again.  There's a lot more in his post, including links, that will reward careful study.  I'm attempting to stay on one point here.
Indeed, one of the most controversial aspects of the executive order among vocal architects, their organizations, and their supporters isn’t the banning of Brutalist of Deconstructivist styles but the notion that when the U.S. General Service Administration holds a design competition for a new building, the panelists providing feedback on the designs would not come from this exclusive clique. They would represent, in effect, the general public (those who are actually commissioning the building).
"Exclusive clique" is not exaggeration.  Here's Theodore Dalrymple.
The totalitarian sensibility of much modernist architecture is to me so obvious that I fail to understand how anyone could miss it. For lack of any other means to achieve grandeur, it deliberately employs sheer size and inhuman coldness of materials to achieve prepotency, in the process reducing the individual to insignificance, as mere intruders or bacteria in a Petri dish.
Yes, and like tenure music, it exists in order that insiders can validate other insiders with their awards and prestige contracts.
The order will give renewed courage to patrons of architecture, who for a long time have been cowed by the architects’ mastery of high-sounding verbiage and gobbledygook to promote their inhuman work, so much of which these days looks like a snapshot taken of a huge shack in mid-collapse during an earthquake. Patrons, like the courtiers of the Emperor with no clothes, have hitherto been afraid to confront architects for fear of appearing ignorant and unsophisticated, but will no longer have to accept the dictation of architects. Examples will show that things can be done differently, that patrons do not have to accept what Thom Mayne, the architect responsible for some of the worst of recent buildings, called “demanding art-for-art’s-sake architecture that only other architects can appreciate.”

The order will also free architects and teachers of architecture from the groupthink which undoubtedly afflicts the profession, not only in America but in Europe and elsewhere. It will serve to increase, not reduce, choice, and with luck will restore public confidence in its own taste and right to pronounce on architectural matters, as well as its influence over what is built in its name. After all, it is the public that has to live with architecture. Architecture should not be a secret garden into the beauties of which only architects may enter.
Everybody else scuttles in like a rat.  Here's more from Rod Dreher.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes me more likely to sympathize with Trump than his enemies. Donald Trump, the building of Trump Tower and various casinos, is nobody’s idea of an architectural good-taste-haver, but good grief, when the academic and cultural elites accuse him of being a fascist simply for questioning the horrible buildings they uglify the public space with, using taxpayer money, then I’m all for him. Note well: if Trump wanted to build federal buildings in the style of condo towers or casinos, I’d be all against him. He’s talking about making federal buildings look like the classical style that most everybody loves and associates with the federal government.
The newer buildings, however, might provide a better visual picture of Big Government.
The post-1950 buildings in Washington are almost uniformly hideous. They make you want to hate the government. When I first moved to DC, I would look at the old Classical buildings, and feel a sense of civic pride, of elevation. Then I would look at the more recent federal buildings, and feel that the state was nothing but a faceless hulk that wanted to crush people.
Truth in packaging? "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."

The current dispensation?  Shorter Catesby Leigh in City Journal: the trendy stuff sucks.
Small wonder that historic preservation got national traction after the modernist takeover of the architectural profession. Alas, modernist dominance of our cultural institutions has reached the point where the National Trust for Historic Preservation has itself come out against the proposed executive order.
It came to this when we lost this.


The good news is there's an insurgency under way.
A classically oriented architectural counterculture emerged in the U.S. several decades ago. Impressive institutional work is now being done in demanding traditional modes, including Collegiate Gothic. Over the last two decades, Alabama has seen the erection of three classical or Art Deco U.S. courthouses that, while not brilliant achievements, are vastly superior to their modernist counterparts. The nation would benefit handsomely if the federal government made it a policy to offer humanistic alternatives to the dehumanized anomie afflicting our contemporary architecture.
Put another way, there are limits to how much citizens are willing to pay to have Distinguished Experts assault their eyes or their ears.

THAT TWO-FRONT WAR FOR THE OLD ESTABLISHMENT.

It's been amusing, and it's only more amusing to see the likes of James Carville making common cause with the Never Trumpers from 2016 urging the Democrats to nominate anybody, anybody, not named Bernie Sanders.  Yes, run a hostile takeover of the Democrats if necessary!  Take our Big Gulps away if you must!
"James, in all due respect, is a political hack," Sanders said. "We are taking on Trump, the Republican establishment, Carville and the Democratic establishment. But at the end of the day, the grassroots movement that we are putting together — of young people, of working people, of people of color — want real change."
I'm skeptical of this blending of working people and people with roots in the Southern Hemisphere as somehow automatically a constituency for soak-the-rich taxation or for socialism.

For the moment, though, watching the establishmentarians trying to fight populists of the libertarian and of the socialist stripe at the same time is great entertainment.

THE CANADIAN-ONLY TRANSCONTINENTAL ... ISN'T.

The two historic Candian railways, pioneer Canadian Pacific and onetime government agency Canadien National (as they would have it in Quebec), once operated from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  Canadian Pacific's routing east of Montreal reached Saint John, New Brunswick, cutting through Maine.  (For a while, that line belonged to one or another regional companies, it has recently been acquired again by Canadian Pacific.)  Canadian National operated an all-Canada line as far as Halifax, following the St. Lawrence River to the north.

Thanks to the ongoing insurgency (or is it a protest against moving oil by any method?)  Canadian National are embargoing service throughout eastern Canada.
“With more than 400 trains canceled during the past week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our main line, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our Eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protestors,” said CN President and CEO JJ Ruest. “This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders, as these protests are unrelated to CN’s activities, and beyond our control. Our shutdown will be progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely.

“Unfortunately, intercity VIA Rail service will be discontinued across our Canadian network. However, commuter rail services, such as Metrolinx and Exo, can keep operating so long as they can do so safely. I would like to thank our customers, international supply-chain partners and industry associations for their support to get this unprecedented ordeal resolved.”
Canadian National are attempting to run more freight trains across their lines than they can really fit, including into the sidings, and the passenger service has long been hammered by the resulting congestion.

As yet, the sympathy protests appear to be confined to First Nation populations within Canada.  Whether the sovereign nations within the United States will participate in solidarity remains to be seen.

IT IS UNDIGNIFIED TO MOCK THE ITINERANT CIRCUS IN THIS FASHION.

Apparently, somebody with a suitable advertising budget has unleashed the bill-posters at Times Square.
The video ad mocks leaders in the Democratic Party by putting their heads on the bodies of clowns at a circus.

The "DC Clowns" circus show features "Crazy Joe Biden," "Bernie Socialist Sanders," "Nervous Nancy Pelosi," "Shifty Adam Schiff," "Wacky Elizabeth Warren," "Lil Jerry Nadler," and "Clueless Chuck Schumer."
I wonder if any of those scolds could keep ten plates spinning, or juggle six clubs.
Perhaps that's my recent career as a model circus impresario, with opportunities to interact with circus professionals, revealing itself.  Or perhaps that comes from my understanding of the educational role of the itinerant circus.  Clowns and elephant trainers work hard at their craft; contemporary area studies types mail it in.
The Karlson Brothers Circus will be showing again in 2020, starting five weeks from today, in Delavan.

Find yourself a circus and go to it.

The political follies will still be there when you get back.

13.2.20

THERE AREN'T ENOUGH PATRONAGE JOBS ON THE TOLLWAY.

Our Political Masters in Springfield have done everything they can to drive Illinoisans out.  It's not enough to stiff medical professionals on their payments (a single payer with no means to pay is the end stage of socialism) and impose additional taxes for the privilege of operating a business.  It isn't enough to add a graduated income tax to the proliferation of special property tax districts, sales taxes, and assorted fees, even if that requires amending the state constitution.  Additional sales taxes on gasoline require only legislative action, and with Democrats controlling both houses of the legislature and the governorship, that's in place.

Now, though, drivers might have to pay even more, for the privilege of having a gas station attendant (probably not that smiling man who wears the Texaco star) fill it up.

It's. For. Your. Own. Good.
The free market experiment of letting people pump their own gas is over. It failed. That appears to be the message behind a new piece of Illinois legislation that would prohibit self-service gas stations.

"No gas may be pumped at a gas station in this State unless it is pumped by a gas station attendant employed at the gas station," reads the Gas Station Attendant Act, which was introduced last week by state Rep. Camille Lilly (D–Oak Park).
The representative says she's introducing the bill to start a conversation.  "HB4571 is concept legislation that creates safety and convenience at the pump. It is not intended to pass as is. The bill seeks to create options for self-service, service by gas station attendant, and jobs." What's the over-under on the operator of gas stations at the Oases having to be full-service only?
Lilly's desire to create jobs is also a poor justification for either banning self-service gas stations or mandating staffing levels.

The more consumers have to pay for a service they don't want, the less money they have to spend on other things that they do want. Higher staffing costs leave gas stations with less money to pay vendors or reinvest in their businesses.

The effect is to make the economy poorer and less productive. That's not a win for capital, labor, or consumers.

The one silver lining in Illinois' proposal is how much people hate it. In Oregon and New Jersey, motorists have strong negative reactions to rolling back their state's full-service mandates. Illinois residents are clearly having the opposite reaction.
Many of the residents of the northern counties of Illinois, where Oak Park is, get to Indiana or Wisconsin for business or pleasure sufficiently frequently that they're already avoiding the state's gas tax.

ELYSIUM WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FICTION.

I'd call it dystopian fiction, except that the residents of the dystopia figured out how to procure the rights and privileges of the Laputans for themselves.

Perhaps that got the people with the means to get away from a less-than-livable Earth thinking about getting farther away.  "There's growing speculation that the the trend for billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to research space travel is more than just 'boys and their toys' – it could be a lifeboat to escape a dying Earth." To the Moon, or Mars?

Elysium?  Just a way station.  "In a New York Times article entitled The Rich Are Planning to Leave This Wretched Planet, Michael Suffredini, who is spearheading the creation of a new 'luxury' space station called Axiom, revealed the details of his designer orbital habitat."

The real goal might be Mars.  "Elon Musk has made no secret of his plan to establish a permanent settlement on Mars. He has stressed the importance of ensuring that humanity is a multi-planet species so that there will be seem of us left behind if the worst should happen."  It's unlikely that transportation to Mars will be like transportation to Massachusetts Bay, or Botany Bay.
Douglas Rushkoff has written that the overall direction of technological development was about creating an escape route for the super-rich.

He pointed out that combat robots would serve very well to guard the bolt-holes of billionaires remaining on Earth once climate change reached its end-game and described Elon Musk’s planned Mars colony as “less a continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.”
Perhaps so, although there are, as far as I know, no Wampanoag or aborigines on the Moon or Mars to help the settlers develop the resources. Everything will have to be transported, and the same sort of insurgency that can block a rail line would probably be able to block the supplies getting through to the space port.

But then, the niggling details of division of labor have long been a weak spot in science fiction, dystopian or otherwise.

12.2.20

MAKE THE DEMOCRATS RENOUNCE THE PUBLIC UTILITY HOLDING COMPANY ACT.

The upcoming Democratic National Convention will take place in Milwaukee just after Bastille Day, and the successor company to The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Electric Company, currently trading as WE Energies, will underwrite extended hours of service for the new Milwaukee streetcar.

There is a mayoral election in progress in the Cream City, and the streetcar continues to be a, well, political football.
One of [mayor Tom Barrett's]  opponents was quick to blast the streetcar news.

"The money that is going to be used on that streetcar could be used to address the poverty in our community," mayoral candidate Tony Zielinski said. "It could be used to address the plight of the African American population. It could be used to address public safety issues."

Riders remain divided about the future of the streetcar.

The Hop continues to be free after the city could not install fare collection equipment in time when the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's free rides expired.

The casino pledged $10 million to support the streetcar system.
The continued operation of the streetcar, and possible expansion beyond the Near East Side routing, remain to be determined.

Once upon a time, the Power Company and the Transport Company were one company, but a New Deal reform intended to prevent future Enrons (see what I did there?) required the separation of  electric power companies from electric railway companies.

Is it too much to ask that one of the Hop cars (which bend the corner around) be wrapped in a way as to honor a past series of Milwaukee streetcars that also bent the corner around?



Green above the belt rail, yellow with a touch of orange below.  Interior car cards with the National Recovery Administration Blue Eagle optional.

THE ROADS ARE PRODUCTIVE ASSETS.

Perhaps, after they've tried everything else, local politicians will figure it out.

In the past few years, residents of the Fox River Valley to the west of Chicago have received some new river crossings, including a Fabyan Parkway bridge that makes it possible for somebody headed from West Chicago or points east to either Kaneville or Elburn to avoid the congestion of downtown Geneva and the retail clutter at Randall Road, and a McDonald Road extension that's almost an expressway as built.

A third such bridge is under construction upstream from Elgin.
The Kane County Board on Tuesday morning approved a 95-cent toll for most vehicles utilizing the bridge on the Longmeadow Parkway, which is slated to open in 2022, according to the Daily Herald.

Those living in unincorporated Algonquin and Kane County can also apply to pay a flat annual fee of $200, which will allow them to cross the bridge an unlimited number of times, according to the article.

The money from the toll will go to pay off the $28 million bridge construction project, the Daily Herald reports. Once the debt is paid off, the toll funds will go into a special account meant for the future maintenance of the bridge.
A county supervisor from the Algonquin area saw the toll as an undue hardship on his constituents, offering an amendment to impose tolls on the Stearns and Fabyan crossings.
That last-minute amendment came from county board member Chris Kious, who said the Longmeadow Parkway tolls represent an unfair cost to his constituents. He pointed to the Stearns Road and Fabyan Parkway bridges as two county projects that allow toll-free crossings.

"By passing this (toll), you are subjecting the residents of the northernmost part of this county to pay an extra tax/user fee for the use of this Kane County bridge, which they have to use to access each side of their own villages," Kious said. "No other roadway in the county has such a toll."

To be fair, he said, people who use the Stearns Road and Fabyan Parkway bridges should also pay a toll.

That proposal drew a stampede of "no" votes from all board members except for Kious and fellow area representative Jarett Sanchez.

"I appreciate the political statement, but this is, frankly, ridiculous," said board member Drew Frasz. "We should all vote 'no' on this as soon as possible."
Yes, let's continue to pretend that we can live at the expense of others, or hope for a future Member of Congress from Illinois to have enough clout to put these pet projects into an omnibus infrastructure appropriation.

Here's why critics of government will say "more like a business."

The owners of employee-only parking lots are beginning to figure out that they have assets that are productive outside business hours.
These are all lots that are owned by private businesses—a law firm, a credit union, a gym. Now the public can pay to use them—through a simple electronic pay station, with cash or a credit card, all managed by a middleman company who takes a cut of the proceeds. No attendant is on site. Technology has made this arrangement easier than ever for anyone who owns a patch of asphalt.

In the very recent past, most of these lots were reserved 24-7 for those businesses' employees. This meant that at dinner time on Saturday, there would simultaneously be, on the one hand, a huge number of cars cruising for on-street parking spaces and snarling up traffic. But on the other hand, a huge number of empty parking spaces existed that were off-limits to that public, owned by businesses that were not open at 7 p.m. on Saturday (or at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, for that matter).
We are talking, literally, about $100 in the street, waiting to be picked up!
People who come downtown now mostly expect to pay for parking. But because of this expectation, they go straight to a lot (often one of these privately-owned ones) or garage or metered street space, instead of circling for ten minutes. Cheapskates like me who don't mind walking a few blocks know where the free parking is: on the fringes of downtown where demand isn't high enough to justify meters. We go there, park easily for free, and walk.

What will happen if we reach a point where all of those private surface lots have been developed? (I'd love to see us get there, because it would mean a much improved walking experience and a livelier downtown.) I expect larger office buildings that own their own garages will start doing the same thing: renting out their excess space for a bit of profit.
Slowly, they learn.
There is no such thing as free parking, the use of a parking space is exclusive and rivalrous, and it would be salutary for political economy to get people thinking that paying for a parking space ought be no different from paying for a hamburger or a seat at a concert.

There is no such thing as a freeway, either.  The extension to treating those roads as productive assets ought to be straightforward.
In addition, recognizing that space devoted to parking affects the kind of housing that occupies a lot might mean a pattern of land use with more housing, and perhaps lower land rents.
The great thing about this is that it exposes the trade-off that is using valuable downtown land for the low-value use of parking. The market will provide parking, but only where it's a profitable endeavor, which means the price of that parking is determined by the opportunity cost of using the land for something else (like housing or office space). In places where land is cheap, it may be profitable to provide parking for next to nothing. In places where land is incredibly expensive, parking will cost a lot more. So be it.

I have literally never been anywhere where there was, in fact, "not enough parking." What people really mean when they fear that there won't be enough parking is that there won't be enough free parking exactly where they want to go.

I get it: when you're used to having something subsidized for you, taking the subsidy away feels like an imposition. But it's a necessary step toward reclaiming our cities. We'll get over it. And I bet we'll even like the results.
Slowly they learn.

UNDERMINE THEM WITH MOCKERY.

One of Rush Limbaugh's regular tricks is to identify what emerges as a media talking point, or perhaps an attempt to be funny.  Last night, a surprise horse showed in the New Hampshire primary.
GLORIA BORGER: Is there Klomentum?

ANDERSON COOPER: Klomentum.

ALISYN CAMEROTA: There’s Klobusurge. There’s Klobucharge. And there is Klobmentum.
Barrel. Fish.
RUSH: Yeah, and when you look at the word like I have it here on the official transcript, it looks like a constipation ad that you would see on the internet or on TV. Just Klobe — you know, Klobe, Klo, Klob — Klobmentum. And then you start with Klobusurge? That could be the laxative version of it.
Yes, or an emetic effect on your bank account.

THE NATIVES ARE RESTLESS.

There's a low-level insurrection going on in Canada.
Canadian National says a shutdown of significant parts of its Canadian network is imminent “unless the blockades on its rail lines are removed.”

The blockades, which Feb. 6 near Belleville, Ontario, have spread to other locations throughout Canada. They are in response to and support of an indigenous group’s protest over construction of a pipeline through the territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia.

CN is dealing with blockades at Belleville — the only eastern link between Eastern Canada and Western Canada, and between Eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest, the railroad notes — as well as its line in British Columbia between Prince George and Prince Rupert. The Belleville blockade has also disrupted VIA Rail Canada service between Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.
Canada might be the local exemplar of Eurostyle policies that self-styled progressives in the United States point to, but the country has trimmed its Passenger Rail network in a way that Amtrak's most active detractors can only gape at.  That north shore of Lake Ontario corridor from Toronto to Ottawa or Montreal (the lines divide near the Quebec border) is the most thickly settled part of the country, and it comes nowhere near close to Acela Corridor levels of frequency or speed.

At the moment, the blockades are making Alberta's oil interests suffer, perhaps even more so than cheap fracked oil does.
Alberta’s crude oil is predominantly bitumen, a thick, low-grade crude that must be diluted with extremely volatile petroleum gases for transportation by rail or pipeline. Projects to increase pipeline capacity have been frustrated by popular and government opposition across Canada and in the U.S., where the Keystone XL pipeline has been mired in climate-change controversy for years.

Meanwhile, oil prices are plummeting due to oversupply and weak demand. Immediate prospects for more CBR out of Alberta have never looked worse.
I thought Kurt Schlichter's People's Republic series was fiction, but perhaps it's prescient in a way he didn't anticipate.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the national government is “very concerned” about the railway shutdown, but added that responsibility for enforcing court orders falls to provincial governments. British Columbia’s government is an avowed opponent of expansion of both pipeline and tank train transportation of Alberta petroleum products to Pacific ports.

Alberta’s desperation to export its gas and oil via unwilling provinces is visibly tearing at the country’s social cohesion, and now its economic well-being as well. CN’s [president J. J.] Ruest advised that the blockades are “being felt beyond Canada’s borders, and is harming the country’s reputation as a stable and viable supply chain partner.”
So far, Donald Trump has not proposed to add a new state, North Montana.

HOW DID BALL STATE GET ITS NAME?

Yes, it used to be the habit of tycoons to name universities after the family, e.g. Carnegie - Mellon, Duke, Stanford, Vanderbilt, but the sale of naming rights by public universities today is too much for today's academy.
Brands appearing on buildings and stadiums is an increasingly common sight at college campuses across the country.

The State Farm Hall of Business houses Illinois State University’s business school. Iowa State University named its genetics research building the Hy-Line Genetics Research Building after receiving money from genetics company Hy-Line International. The University of Memphis has the FedEx Institute of Technology, which houses two classrooms and the graduate school offices.

“What may have seemed kind of tacky 30 to 40 years ago is normal,” said UW-Madison marketing professor Thomas O’Guinn, who is an expert on branding. “Buildings cost a lot of money, so opening it up to businesses makes it a lot easier to find donors. From a development standpoint, it’s smart.”

Adding company names to academic units, such as a medical school or academic department, has the potential to be more problematic, he said. Perceived or actual conflicts of corporate interests interfering with academic research could arise.

“It all comes down to the perception of how much influence that company will have,” O’Guinn said. “You don’t want a company preventing you from doing science in the public interest. It’s in everybody’s best interest that the production of knowledge stay walled off from government and corporate interests.”
Yes, back in the day some members of the late 1960s insurgency were so triggered by the presence of an Army Mathematics Research Center on the Madison campus that they bombed it.

On the other hand, dear reader, should you be receiving alumni newsletters, and should those newsletters be bragging on the latest haul of grants from the National Science Foundation and awards from the national endowments, ought you be displeased on the basis of that wall being breached?

9.2.20

THE ONGOING DEMOCRAT CRACKUP.

The failure to get a proper tally from the Iowa caucuses might be simple incompetence, although Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi isn't prepared to rule out malice.  "After a vote in Iowa that reeked of third-world treachery — from monolithic TV propaganda against the challenger to rumors of foreign intrusion to, finally, a 'botched' vote count that felt as legitimate as a Supreme Soviet election — the Democrats have become the reactionaries they once replaced." Mr Taibbi once lived in the Soviet Union, and his generalization from his own experience might be accurate. Pig looked from man, and man to pig, and all that.  By all means read the article, particularly if you believe the national Democrats learned the wrong lesson from George McGovern being wiped out, followed by Walter Mondale.

The possibility that the caucus is a symptom of an underlying power struggle doesn't go away.  Here's an anonymous meme-composer was thinking along the same lines.  The picture made the cut at a special Power Line Mid-Week in Pictures post.


Unattributed image retrieved from Power Line.

Symptoms of the fissure proliferate.  The Nation's Jeet Heer (no, at the breakfast bar) didn't like the narrow focus of the recently concluded partisan impeachment.  "[House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's] main goal has been to frame an impeachment acceptable to the most conservative members of her caucus—one that is so carefully confined to issues of national security that it might even win over some moderate Republicans." By that standard, it's a moral victory, in that Utah's Senator Romney voted to convict on "abuse of power." (And a Wisconsin team that was wiped out by Michigan State, 51-3, got that field goal on their opening possession.)

Put another way, it's an attempt by the traditional Establishment to continue the Washington Consensus.
Yale history professor Samuel Moyn is skeptical that Pelosi’s version of impeachment offers any basis for energizing mass politics. “Why the narrow charge, and why the parade of figures who basically represent Cold War foreign policy business as usual?” he asks. “The pageant in Washington lately has been playing on expected outrage that the president didn’t follow hostility to Russia as the rational course. It doesn’t seem like it’s been organized in Washington as a larger grassroots strategy. Just the reverse.” Impeachment, he worries, will be a way for moderate Democrats to join forces with never-Trump Republicans for a “centrist restoration.”

Centrists are using impeachment to cast the Trump years as a regrettable detour in American history, one that is soundly rebuked by Washington professionals who uphold a Cold War consensus that will again become the norm after he is out of office.
By "mass politics," both the author and his interlocutor are hoping (the article being in The Nation) for the Vanguard to Take to the Streets.  "Is it really possible to transform this centrist impeachment into something more ambitious and far-reaching—a people’s impeachment? And can such an impeachment hope to achieve the success of the mass actions seen in Puerto Rico and elsewhere?"

Lovely.  A third-world demographic shift, third-world levels of corruption, third-world levels of competence.  I can't slag them for the guillotines being carried, as that came later.

As an aside, Mr Heer notes another phenomenon that's relatively new.  "Progressives favoring impeachment have to fight a war on two fronts: against moderates in their own party and against Republicans."  I recall an observation by a conservative, don't remember who, responding to a question from a Democrat about what would happen to conservatism now that the Soviet Union is gone.  His response was something like "we had to fight the Soviet Union with one hand and the San Francisco Democrats with the other.  Now we have both hands free.  What we did to the Soviet Union was business.  With you, it's personal."  For the first time in contemporary politics, it is the self-styled progressives fighting both the Establishment and the conservative populists.

How nasty could the fight between the left and the Democrat establishment?  Let's start with a bartender who is not sharing her tips with the bus-boy.  "Congresswoman from New York withholds dues from the party machine and launches a new PAC to help insurgent left-wing candidates."  This could be interesting, she gets primaried by an establishment Democrat while she's fundraising to contest primaries against establishment Democrats elsewhere. "I don't see the sense in giving a quarter-million dollars to an organization that has clearly told people like me that we're not welcome."  National Review's Mairead McArdle characterizes the representative's move as "frustrating House Democrats."

Perhaps that couldn't happen to a better bunch of people.  Here's Hamilton Nolan for The Guardian.
Fortunately, the Democratic party is no longer going to be defined by its establishment powers. It is going to be defined by the people who are inspired to come out to vote. For the past four years, it has been clear that Sanders and Trump each represent a direct response to the severe (and warranted) disillusionment of average Americans, who have seen the American dream of economic mobility die during their lifetimes.
We'll see. This morning, Meet the Press featured Mr Buttigieig and Mr Sanders: once the transcript becomes available I will argue that moderator Chuck Todd was generally gentle toward the mayor, and in truculent chipmunk mode, apostate Democrat setting, toward the senator.  Neither Mr Biden nor Mrs Warren agreed to appear, they, along with the mayor, did appear on This Week, where former Democrat operative George Stephanopoulos could be depended on not to bite any ankles, including social democrat ankles.

Speaking of the socialist alternative, well, they see the fix being in where the fix is in.
The leadership of the Democratic Party can only be described as pathetic. As their incompetence in Iowa is front page news, Trump struts in his State of the Union address. Meanwhile all Nancy Pelosi can offer to millions of enraged Americans is transparent theatrics, ripping up his speech.

The truth is that while the Democrats say their priority is getting rid of Trump, their real number one priority is to stop the growing movement behind Sanders, the candidate with the best chance of defeating Trump! They scream about “unity” and “vote Blue no matter who” all while they sabotage Sanders and prepare to engage in every manner of dirty tricks on behalf of their ruling class masters against the emergence of a working class political force.
I'm not sure what's unfolding here, but, years ago, when I taught a survey of public policy class, one of my organizing themes was Intelligent Design confronting Emergence.  I didn't use those words: one never stops learning.  I used a supplementary reader (Gott im Himmel: $60 new???) that attempted to offer Conservative, Liberal, and Radical perspectives on selected policy issues.  It's useful, as former students will attest, to not map those classifications onto Republican (because of the business class rent-seekers) Democrat (because inter alia deregulation began in the Carter administration) or Socialist (because the presentation of Radical ideas was crummy).  And here we are: Trumpian populism has been surprisingly libertarian, did anybody ever expect a sitting president to say "failing government schools" in the State of the Union?  The Wise Experts of the old Establishment are deciding that their agreement on their Suitability to Tinker transcends party labels.  Then the people who would rather allocate resources by political processes rather than rely on markets might be capturing the machinery of the Democratic Party.

7.2.20

HE GAVE THE VOICELESS A VOICE.

On Monday, longtime radio conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh informed his audience that he was being treated for advanced lung cancer.  Sooner or later, he, his fans, and his detractors, must recognize God calling in a loan.  Public reaction took the forms you might anticipate from the quarters you would expect.

Tuesday, he was supposed to begin evaluation for treatment, and then he turned up as an honored guest of Our President at the State of the Union broadcast.  There apparently was a lot of logistical maneuvering to make that happen.  Again, public reaction took the forms you might anticipate from the quarters you would expect.

Over the years, Mr Limbaugh has gotten into trouble when his "demonstrating absurdity by being absurd" schtick crosses the line.  (Anybody else remember how short his hitch as color man with ESPN lasted?)  On the other hand, you don't have to be a ditto-head to grasp the salience of Undeniable Truth of Life No. 24.  New York Times columnist Jennifer Weiner validates it.  "Women watch a 15-minute show featuring elite entertainers and, in some cases, end up feeling bad about ourselves."  (Because those elite entertainers are on the high side of forty and on the hot side of hot.  The rest is elaboration.)

Last night, though, a Chicago area talker noted that radio has seen a lot of failed and obscure radio talkers in small markets who don't last too long as their content is too heavily weighted by the derogatory and nasty.  Pajamas Media's Bryan Preston explains that the heavy hand of Regulation in the Public Interest limited the scope of ideas that were Worthy of Broadcast, and that's the real basis for the Limbaugh show.
Rush Limbaugh gets an opportunity in radio just as everything is about to change. In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission repealed the long-standing Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine, adopted in 1949, was one of our more Orwellian regulations. It prevented much political free speech from being broadcast on our airwaves nationwide by requiring that any political broadcast must present “both sides” to a given issue. That’s a recipe for some staid, boring broadcasting. The FCC held much more power over broadcast licensing in those years than it does now, thanks in no small part to the Fairness Doctrine. Its power to grant and revoke licenses was nearly unchallengeable. Opponents of the doctrine long argued that it chilled free speech. It was certainly not enforced on the major TV newscasts of the day, of which there were only three, and all three had a liberal bent to one degree or another. The nightly news plus the major newspapers held nearly unchallenged power to shape narratives nationwide. The “fairness” was always less than met the eye.
The major networks might have had a "liberal bent," or it might have sufficed that the major networks shared the Establishment Consensus.  That would have been fine, had the Establishment Consensus not suffered from some serious flaws.  No victory in Vietnam or on Poverty.  Despite all the new Cabinet departments, no improved health, no improved education, no improved transportation, no cheaper energy.

All Mr Limbaugh had to do was point those things out, things that people could see with their own eyes, experience in their own lives, validate the reality they lived, a reality that the Establishment Consensus denied.  That is, when they weren't openly contemptuous.
There are two pillars in the Rush Limbaugh message. One is that so-called progressive policies have failed. The other is that advocates of those policies are frequently arrogant and condescending. Put another way, they're stupid about being smart. And that stupidity was on display for fourteen million viewers Wednesday night.
That is, when the usual nostrums no longer apply.  When the Wise Experts come across as more interested in their perquisites than in, oh, demonstrating expertise productively.

The Rush Limbaugh show might soon be ending.

The Trump presidency might end in November, or be bogged down in investigations and impeachments until early 2025.

The discontent with the failed experts, and the insurgency, perhaps including that of the Sanders voters assailing the Expert Consensus on another flank, will not so easily go away.

THESE GRIM, HUMORLESS PEOPLE HAVE A PLAN FOR YOU.

Pajamas Media's Rick Moran summarizes the Iowa caucuses.  "Democrats can't do anything right."

His article includes a picture of Team Warren gathering to be counted.


Associated Press photograph by Charlie Neibergall retrieved from Pajamas Media.

It looks more like an audition to pose in a Grant Wood painting.  There's exactly one person looks like she's enjoying herself.  You'd think assembling in a high school named for the patron saint of technocracy (Hoover High) in Des Moines would make these people willing to take up the mantle of Franklin Delano, or something.

All that's missing is some Shostakovich music and somebody beating them with a stick and repeating, "Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing."

ANTICIPATING OVERLORD?

I suppose History Channel's Vikings bringing in a gender-bending eunuch or a lesbian affair between a queen and a shield-maiden or a nun openly and notoriously violating her vows is to be expected, this being an era of celebrating transgressivity.

Why, though, invent a totally ahistorical invasion of Norway by their Russian cousins, who have already converted to the Orthodox, in order to pit Ivar's anticipation of the Higgins boat (being offloaded from hand-cranked sternwheelers??) delivering the first wave onto a beach guarded by Bjorn's Belgian gates, with bouncing bombs waiting up on the dunes?

It's all a bit much for Forbes reviewer Erik Kain.
At least there are only ten episodes left. Whatever happens will happen. The vikings seem to be utterly defeated, though, so that should make for an interesting twist on history.

“The gods abandoned you a long time ago, my brother,” Ivar says to Bjorn. “There’s no way you can win. Believe me. No way you can win.”

I sort of feel the same way about Vikings.
I'm not sure how much is real, how much is dream, and how much is an echo of Ingmar Bergman's chess game with Death.  Let's see what comes in the final ten episodes.

I'd still like to see Floki conceal that Holy Grail somewhere off the coast of the Golden Land.  Perhaps he can hide an extra large bowl there, too, the only Super Bowl a Viking has ever possessed.

IS THERE NOTHING DONALD TRUMP CANNOT DO?

I'm not a fan of Savannah Guthrie, political interviewer.  She, along with anybody not working with Simmonds-Boardman or Kalmbach, gets a pass on covering events on the rails.  Whatever goes on during Today in the morning doesn't have to concern me.

Then comes Stacey Matthews at Legal Insurrection.  "[Former vice-president Joe] Biden became visibly agitated when Savannah Guthrie noted the impeachment process 'has ensured that everyone knows about Hunter’s dealings with Ukraine.'"

I've seen speculation around the right-populist side of the internet that Our President might have risked the impeachment inquiry (and a not-unexpected rebuke from Senator Romney of Utah) to damage the mainstream Democrat with the best shot at winning in November.
This whole issue has backfired spectacularly on Democrats but especially on Biden. By dramatically calling for Trump’s impeachment and then consistently being dodgy and belligerent with reporters anytime they go near the subject of Ukraine and his son, Biden has only invited more questions about the who, what, when, where, and why even from media outlets that are usually friendly to Democrats.
Yes, and it's not a good look for him getting angry with Savannah Guthrie. Rick Santorum understood that.

3.2.20

GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL'S LATEST E-T-T-S (LITERALLY) MOMENT.

City Journal files this Seth Barron story under its "The Social Order" category.  Social disorder is more like it.
On a slushy, snowy December day, the lower concourse of Grand Central Terminal, which includes a mall-style food court, is packed with tourists, commuters, office workers eating lunch—and homeless people, some sleeping upright on benches, some parked at tables with bags and belongings, some wandering around or standing still. Recent reports suggest that business is not good for many Grand Central food vendors. Proprietors point to issues like constant renovation, high rents, mice, and the awkward and cramped space, but they also cite the homeless presence. “If I had known this before I sunk all the money into this space, I wouldn’t have done it,” reports one discouraged restauranteur, [c.q.] according to the Wall Street Journal.
There's enough commuter train traffic that both levels of the terminal are active, particularly during rush hour. In the declining days of Penn Central, the decay of what remained of the New York Central and New Haven intercity service, and the suburban service using decrepit multiple unit cars, echoed conditions in the terminal.
After World War II and the end of the golden age of railroad travel, the station entered a long decline that paralleled the fortunes of New York City generally. In the 1970s and 1980s, as public spaces throughout the city became increasingly disorderly and dangerous, Grand Central deteriorated into squalor, with derelicts inhabiting the once-grand waiting room. In 1973, Grand Central’s operators announced that the terminal would begin closing for several hours overnight; they blamed declining passenger service, but news reports also cited “problems with prostitutes, vagrants, derelicts and alcoholics.”
What is it about cities run by Democrats and aggressive panhandlers?
In recent years, though, New York City has begun to fray around the edges. The city has decriminalized a host of public-order offenses, including marijuana possession and public urination. And the problem of untreated seriously mentally ill people has grown acute—even as Mayor de Blasio has directed hundreds of millions of dollars instead to ThriveNYC, a general mental-health awareness initiative. Subways, parks, and sidewalks—increasingly occupied by disturbed homeless people or drug addicts—repel pedestrians.

Grand Central, in many ways the heart of New York’s comeback story, is also suffering from the city’s growing disorder. The terminal is a long way off from its troubled 1970s days; it remains a jewel of New York. But the growing homeless presence in Grand Central signals a troubling retreat from the city’s remarkable resurgence.
And that, dear reader, is one reason suburban development is still a thing.

WHY NOT GET IT RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Years ago, when I worked in a factory, I recall a popular side-of-toolbox and workbench sign that went something like "Why is there never enough time to do it right in the first place and always plenty of time to do it over?"  That seemed to be the reality on the shop floor more often than the green-eyeshade crowd would have liked.  The job gets moved to the top of the queue, and it must be ready to ship by LUNCHTIME ... and then something turns up wrong upon review or at the test floor, and then it really isn't urgent that it be ready to ship by Miller Time.

So too let it be with the Democrats' partisan impeachment show.  Without irony, a Huffington Post writer called Matt Fuller writes about the aftermath of the likely acquittal.
Rather than a question of whether the House will subpoena [former national security adviser John] Bolton, the real issue may be whether he will abide by the order to testify.

Bolton’s initial refusal to testify in the House impeachment investigation scared off Democrats from entering into a potentially long court battle to force him to appear. While the courts have previously ruled that other officials ― like former White House Counsel Don McGahn ― must comply with congressional subpoenas, Bolton’s lawyers indicated that a subpoena for him would require a separate court case because of the classified and national security implications of his testimony.
Somehow it was so urgent for those Democrats to draft articles of impeachment in a basement of the Capitol and deliver them to the Senate faster than Santa Claus could complete his rounds.  Oh wait, it was more fun to have every Democrat operative with a byline going on about "witnesses and documents" and otherwise delaying the beginning of the trial until the Republican majority in the Senate said, "OK, Democrats, have it your way."

Now, though, the Democrats in the house have all the time in the world to issue subpoenas and have the Administration litigate them in court, you know, the way things worked during the Watergate inquiry.

I suspect we're going to see additional articles of impeachment issuing forth from the House, possibly including an attempt to relitigate the abuse of power request-a-favor-of-Ukraine again.  This time, though, it might suffice to keep raising dust about the existing president and hope enough swing voters turn out in November.
House Democrats have thus far avoided calling outright for a Bolton subpoena because they wanted to keep the pressure on the Senate. They didn’t want to give GOP senators the excuse to claim they didn’t need to hear Bolton testify because the House would.

“We shouldn’t be going to the ifs,” Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told HuffPost. “Because, well, sure, the House can do that, just like we can wait for Bolton’s book to come forward. But the responsibility is with the Senate to actually call him as a witness, and nobody should allow them to get away with shifting the attention to anybody else.”

With the Senate voting down witnesses, however, and the impeachment trial nearing its expected end, that dynamic in the House will shift significantly.
We have much to look forward to.

PACKER NATION ENJOYS PART OF THE SUPER BOWL STORY.

Kansas City head coach Andy Reid was once an assistant to Mike Holmgren in Green Bay. This was the Super Bowl moment Andy Reid deserved.  In fact, his coaching style led to the win.  I must confess that prior to the game, my view was there was no way Kansas City could spot the 'Niners ten, let alone fourteen or 24 points, and win.
Reid deftly pushed the right button in the fourth quarter when he went to a hurry-up offense in an effort to tire the 49ers defense and light a fire under his offense. His team, too, followed his even-keel demeanor and never panicked when it looked like the game was about to be over.
Here's how New York Post columnist Mark Cannizzaro puts it.
If we’re going to criticize Reid for the blown leads in previous postseason games, then we must credit him for the Chiefs overcoming a 24-0 deficit to the Texans to win 51-31 in the divisional round.

And for winning the AFC Championship against the Titans after trailing 17-7 in the first half.

And for Sunday night — a third comeback from a second-half deficit of at least 10 points in this magical postseason ride for the Chiefs — an NFL record.
I wasn't aware that "deficits overcome in each game of each playoff round" was a category, but, heck, it likely exists and there's likely a bet on which quarter it happens in and what the over-under is.

Enjoy the win, Kansas City.

2.2.20

THE ART OF THE HEAVY INTERURBAN.

It's been ninety years since the North Shore Line and South Shore Line finished upgrading their fleets of steel interurban cars for the last time before Depression and the motorcar took their toll.  Now the East Troy Electric Railroad is raising money to restore one such car from each interurban.
Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Car 761 ran on the North Shore Line between the Loop in Chicago and downtown Milwaukee from 1930 to 1963.

Chicago South Shore and South Bend Car 6 ran on the South Shore Line between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, from 1926 to 1983.

Both cars need work before they can run on the East Troy Railway.

“Restoring both of these cars is a priority for us, each for a different reason” said Ryan Jonas, president of the East Troy Railroad Museum. “We depend on our South Shore fleet to run our popular special event trains, like the Bunny Trains and Christmas Trains. South Shore Car 6 will give us a backup in case one of the other South Shore cars needs repairs. We want Car 761 back in service so we can showcase another interurban car with Wisconsin history.”
The museum are capable of running multiple-car South Shore trains already, and on busy fall weekends as many seats as are available come in handy.  The North Shore car has returned to its State Line haunts after serving at least two different preservation railroads in Michigan.

I'm treating these preservation projects as an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, and encourage readers to support the preservation railroad's efforts.

THE RENT SEEKERS MAKE COMMON CAUSE WITH THE PURVEYORS OF FREE STUFF.

Reason's Christian Britschgi breaks down the latest infrastructure bill the Congress will take up.  "The 'Moving Forward Framework' includes some sensible reforms alongside expensive, dubious policy proposals."

First, because the framework originated in the Democrats' caucus, you know there's somebody going to call congestion pricing or tolling or urban driving permits regressive.
The Democrats' Moving Forward Framework calls for spending $434 billion on highways and public transportation over the next five years. Congressional authorization for the current road and transit programs expires at the end of 2020. The plan released today suggests that some means of paying for infrastructure repairs and expansions could be curtailed. It calls for "tighter standards around tolling and congestion pricing."

Wider use of traditional tolls and congestion pricing (whereby motorists are charged an additional fee as a means of moderating traffic congestion) would be one way of getting the users of road infrastructure to pay for it directly. By placing additional federal limits on tolls and congestion fees, the federal government would be even more dependent on traditional tax revenue.
Presumably there is enough income and wealth for the likes of a president named Warren or Sanders to extract that fair share of taxes from millionaires, billionaires, and corporations.  It's probably politically inexpedient for a Democrat to suggest that the road commissions run the roads like businesses.  If I were in charge, I'd send it back for more work.  "Perhaps we start by contemplating the fiscal drain that those open roads represent, and asking the beneficiaries to bear the burdens."

The essay appears in Reason, and it exhibits the usual blind spot transportation essays originating there have about Passenger Rail.
In addition to the highway and transit portions, the House Democrats' proposal calls for $55 billion in order to expand passenger rail service. That includes worrisome language about building "higher-speed passenger rail corridors" and continuing to subsidize Amtrak's money-losing long-distance routes.
If by "higher-speed passenger rail corridors" we mean Free Rein to 110, the simplest way to get a lot of that is to repeal or modify the regulations that limit most passenger trains to 79 mph: with positive train control a lot of that trackage is good for 110 right now; and, leaving aside the accounting fiddles that make it look like the long distance routes are money losers, well, they'd lose less money with additional frequencies.

Now, if the Democrats were serious about giving people incentives to drive less, emit less carbon, and ride more trains, wouldn't they recognize that additional tolling and congestion pricing do just that?

WHY CALCULATING MARGINAL PRODUCTS ISN'T AS EASY AS IT LOOKS.

To borrow a line from Alchian and Allen's University Economics, we have to speak of the marginal productivity of five players.


The Northern Illinois women's team have struggled all season and it might be the case that impetuous shot selection hurt them.  Note, though, at forty seconds into the clip the announcer notes that everybody had touched the ball, and in the concluding sequence, establishing the lead that held up, commentary on the replay (not in the above clip) noted the team's "patience."  That's good news.  As far as that sequence, Courtney Woods, who holds the team record for career three point shots, passes to Gabby Nikitinaite, who had the hot hand in the game, who draws defenders away from Ally May, who got the good look at the basket.

It's a lot more fun to sign autographs for children of all ages after a win.


Both Northern Illinois basketball teams were at home yesterday, with one of the pay-per-view CBS sports channels on hand for the men.


Why sports broadcast networks don't issue lapel mikes to their talking heads remains a mystery.

In the game that followed, the men also got a win, with Eugene German becoming the first male wearing a Northern Illinois uniform to record two thousand career points.

PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

An Oxford academician takes seriously the apocalyptic mind-set of his environmentally conscious charges.  What happens next is instructive.
Two students at St John’s College wrote to Andrew Parker, the principal bursar, this week requesting a meeting to discuss the protesters’ demands, which are that the college “declares a climate emergency and immediately divests from fossil fuels”. They say that the college, the richest in Oxford, has £8 million of its £551 million endowment fund invested in BP and Shell.

Professor Parker responded with a provocative offer. “I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice,” he wrote. “But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal.”
Woke students: you're having us on, aren't you?
Professor Parker responded to that note saying, “You are right that I am being provocative but I am provoking some clear thinking, I hope. It is all too easy to request others to do things that carry no personal cost to yourself. The question is whether you and others are prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve the goals of environmental improvement (which I support as a goal).”
Put another way, the vanguardist ought to be setting the example, rather than telling others to go first.
Professor Parker’s response focuses the mind on the fact that this isn’t a game. There are significant costs to real people associated with eliminating fossil fuels. Natural gas, for instance, isn’t something we can simply cease using overnight or even in ten years. If we’re not careful about how we proceed, a lot of people could get hurt. So a fair response to people demanding an end to the use of fossil fuels is the one the professor put to these protesters: You first.
Particularly as this particular set of vanguardists has been prophesying doom in ten to thirty years for the past fifty years.