21.10.19

TAIL TRACK.

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

DIXIE'S NEUBAUSTRECKE?

I thought about such a thing a few years ago.  Perhaps the people who can appropriate the money will implement it.  "One day, you could board a fast train in Atlanta and get off in Washington, D.C. (and ultimately Boston.) How’s that sound?"

The project is still in the early talking stage, and it's been some years since anybody talked about the Chicago to the Quad Cities train that would diverge from the Way of the Zephyrs near Wyanet, and I have yet to see any connecting track built.

STARTING WITH THE RIGHT QUESTION, ANYWAY.

Washington Post editorial page editor (that is not a redundancy) Fred Hiatt asks, "Why do we put up with a transit system that kills, maims and wastes hours of our time?"  It's probably asking too much of a Post guy to have him call out road socialism, and yet a twisting road will get you to Moscow.
Imagine a transit system that kills more than 260 people every year in one metropolitan area, maims and seriously injures another 2,600 or more, and forces those who survive to waste more than two hours every week in unscheduled delays.

We would demand an immediate shutdown, of course, followed by a radical change in culture and ­oversight.

Except … we have such a system, and we demand no such thing. It’s the system of roads and highways in and around the nation’s capital. And it’s not all that different from the system of roads and highways in any other metropolitan area.
That's long been an environmentalist talking point, the implicit human sacrifice that accompanies the go-anywhere-anytime automobility, at least when not everybody else is also trying to go there.  Then come the brake lights, road rage, and traffic reports.
The state transportation officials who can grill the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority general manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld every two weeks at Metro board meetings rarely have to answer questions themselves for congestion or safety lapses on the roads.

And, besides, who exactly is to blame for that congestion and those safety lapses? Is it the state officials? Congress, for failing to approve an infrastructure bill? The driver whose truck broke down in front you? The truck’s owner, who failed to maintain the vehicle?

The truth is we have come to accept both traffic deaths and congestion as part of the natural order of things. That doesn’t make the United States unique — more than 1 million people die worldwide in road crashes every year — but Americans are more than twice as likely to die as people in other wealthy countries.
I repeat, it's probably too much to ask of a Post guy to make the connections. What Washington mostly subsidizes is rent-seekers, including the infrastructure lobby, and it gets a lot of those rent-seekers. Indirectly, Washington subsidizes traffic congestion, and it gets traffic congestion.  Perhaps in ten or twenty or a hundred years it will occur to somebody at the Post to suggest that the roads be run like a business.

IF YOU'RE NOT WITH US, YOU'RE WITH THE TERRORISTS.

President George Bush, the younger, offered the leaders of other countries that binary choice shortly after the September 2001 terror raid on the east coast.  No doubt there were doubters at the time, perhaps even among the Purveyors of Expert Opinion, who could raise a number of objections, including those along the lines of there being people sympathetic with some of the aims of militant Islam yet willing to help root out the most dangerous militants, who would be put in a bad place with such talk, because they'd not be fully with the "us" being set up.

So it often is with binary choices.  But a few weeks after suggesting that a Warren presidency would be just another Technocratic Failure, David Brooks (formerly of the late Weekly Standard but more recently given to rating presidential hopefuls on a sartorial basis) goes straight into George W. Bush rhetoric.
This is a memo for the politically homeless. It’s a memo to those of us who could never support Donald Trump but think the Bernie-Squad-Warren Democratic Party is sprinting too far left. It’s a memo built around the following question: If the general election campaign turns out to be Trump vs. Warren, what the heck are we supposed to do?
If you live in a state that's likely to go for one of the majors, a third-party vote is a possibility, nicht wahr? If you live in a battleground state, voting for what you want and not getting it might be better than going along with the lesser of two evils.

But if you want to keep on being a face, rather than a heel, on Meet the Press, you've got to peddle the false binary.
And yet, if it comes to Trump vs. Warren in a general election, the only plausible choice is to support Warren. Over the past month Donald Trump has given us fresh reminders of the unique and exceptional ways he corrupts American life. You’re either part of removing that corruption or you are not. When your nation’s political system is in danger, staying home and not voting is not a responsible option.

Politics is downstream from morality and culture. Warren represents a policy wrong turn, in my view, but policies can be argued about and reversed. Trump represents a much more important and fundamental threat — to the norms, values, standards and soul of this country.
Hang on, if politics is downstream, what has already changed in morality or culture that made Donald Trump possible, let alone plausible?  Mr Brooks ducks that, suggesting all the blame is with Our President.
In their book “How Democracies Die,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt argue that authoritarians undermine democracy in several ways. They reject the democratic rules of the game, the unwritten norms we rely upon to make the political system work. They deny the legitimacy of their political opponents, using extreme language to deny them standing as co-citizens. They tolerate or even encourage violence, threatening to take legal action against critics in rival parties.
There's enough of that going around, from enough corners, that maybe the presidency isn't where the healing will begin.  Particularly when, as USA Today columnist Michael Smith notes, you don't insult your way to the presidency. "Progressives have long denounced America as hopelessly retrograde and racist. Naturally, they’re talking about everyone except themselves."  He concludes, "No one deliberately votes to be despised."  Mr Brooks has spent too much time on Paradise Drive, apparently, and in that bubble despising deplorables is de rigueur.  Fine, let him be mugged again by reality.

FIRST, RECOGNIZE THAT YOU'RE IN THE SAME BUSINESS.

Matt "Dean Dad" Reed visits his son, who matriculated at the University of Virginia, and used his column to a number of purposes, including asking for resources.
I just wish we could direct some meaningful fraction of those resources to the state and community colleges that together educate the majority of college students. Every student deserves an experience that good. Community and state colleges work wonders on shoestrings, but could do far more with actual resources. And that wouldn’t just benefit the few.
I have been riffing on this phenomenon for years.  "[W]e contend that the way to compete is for the state flagships to spend some money on strengthening their faculties generally, and for the regional comprehensives and the mid-majors to strengthen programs that might already have a decent profile."

I've diagnosed the funding problem, repeatedly.
It took [Atlantic scribe George Packer] long enough to get to the point, which is that the U.S. News problem exists in part because the universities less favorably ranked have created academic gulags that do little to help young people seeking a way out of that dim world, all in the name of Access.
Shrinking enrollments and angry normals are real. Never mind that one of the functions of the community colleges and the regional comprehensives is to provide second chances, when the people running those institutions err too far on the side of admitting unprepared people and calling it access,  while attempting to emulate the Oberlins and Antiochs when it comes to wokeness, they're going to get called on it, and defunded.  Meanwhile, the U.S. News guides continue to sell well.

THE CASE FOR SOCIAL CONSERVATISM.

Two paragraphs in a Scott S. Powell essay suggesting Our President is precisely the Right Guy for our time, a premise that I will not engage, as it reeks of that Presidential Cult, lay out the principles.
Few can deny that the ascendance of the United States from colonial poverty to the world’s top economic and military superpower in just 200 years is a historic miracle. It is attributable to a few key differentiating factors: Judeo-Christian beliefs and work ethic, family values and the rule of law enshrined in the founding documents of Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Essentially, America was unique in its birth creating a system of limited government and the empowerment of its citizens to take risks, innovate and build.
The passage reads more like a Credo than a summary of social scientific or historical research laying down a chain of causation. That chain of causation might exist, but that's not the issue today.

The following paragraph develops a familiar Cold Spring Shops theme, namely, that you deconstruct institutions of long standing at your peril.
And so it should come as no surprise that America’s social and cultural decline that has accelerated in the last 50 years has coincided with growing secularism, a loss of respect for and practice of religion (and that is overwhelmingly Christianity), the decline of traditional family values and work ethic, as well as the fraying of the U.S. Constitution and the corruption of the nation’s law enforcement and judicial order, culminating in a two-tiered justice system.
Or, as I once put it, "Fast-rewind to the thinking of the Scottish Enlightenment. Those older values have their champions, and those champions well might be interpreting reality correctly."  The fun part might be that it was precisely the Contemporary Geniuses denying coherent beliefs that made a Trump presidency possible in the first place.

18.10.19

SWEETEST DAY.

Frankie Yankovic, Just Because.


"High maintenance" was a concept before the expression entered common parlance.

WHY SHOULD CSX OR NORFOLK SOUTHERN PUT ANOTHER PENNY INTO TRACK IMPROVEMENTS IN GEORGIA?

Motorists in the Macon to Atlanta corridor will be spared the aggravation of the overtaking dance of the restrictively governed semis.  Now the semis will have their own two lanes to play with.
The I-75 Commercial Vehicle Lanes project will improve mobility and safety for freight operators and passenger vehicles by constructing two barrier-separated commercial vehicle-only lanes northbound along I-75 from approximately the I-475/I-75 Interchange near Macon to the McDonough area. The new lanes will be non-tolled and spans across five counties: Henry, Spalding, Butts, Lamar, and Monroe.
It's not safe to mix commercial and passenger vehicles on busy roads. Note, though, that the beneficiaries do not bear the burden.

17.10.19

BRING THE STEAMERS TO THE PUBLIC.

Trains editor Jim Wrinn notes that preservation railways have opportunities to share their steam experiences.
The thing about No. 611 at Strasburg (and Nickel Plate Road 765 at Cuyahoga Valley next month, the Gramlings’ tank engines, and others) is that the British have been doing this for years. They move engines from one preservation railway to another often. It’s a way to keep things fresh in a country the size of Michigan. And it helps to create new constituencies. So, if you visit No. 611 while she’s in the Keystone State this fall, keep in mind that you’re participating in a very British activity in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country.
Union Pacific have the resources to send Big Boy 4014 (and the other steam locomotives it operates) all around the country.

There are a lot of people living in the Official Region and not too far from the Strasburg Rail Road.  (Driving there is not necessarily fun, particularly during apple and pumpkin season.)

The Rail Road billed the 611 visit as a reunion.  One of the active steam locomotives there is a century-old Norfolk and Western Mastodon, 475.


The principal power last Saturday is an almost-as-old Decapod, Notable Ninety, from the Great Western of Colorado, a railroad built to haul sugar beets on the eastern plains of the state.


East Coast railroads post location numbers along platforms, the better to be able to stand close to your assigned sleeping car for more convenient boarding, and it's straightforward enough to work in a Harry Potter reference.  Yes, Strasburg are a working rail road, and yet they understand that the tourists might be there for the pop culture, or for the Thomas visits.

The visiting star was doing short turn-around runs between the regular trains.


Years ago, I rode behind 611 at track speed on former Wabash and Nickel Plate tracks between Monroe, Michigan and Fort Wayne and return.  A short ride would be anti-climactic.


Fort Wayne, 20 July 1985.

Last weekend, a more sedate ride on the regular service train was my choice.  The train will stop at a picnic grove that is hard by a tourist farm with the largest bounce-houses I've seen.  Apparently family excursions including a picnic and a stop at the tourist farm are a regular part of the Strasburg experience.


Some years ago, The Pennsylvania Railroad set aside a few of their steam locomotives for conservation, although they had neither the will nor the wallet to follow through the way Union Pacific did.  (They also scrapped the Q and T series duplex drives and the J series Texas steamers before anybody thought about setting any aside.)  The surviving steamers became the nucleus of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania collection, now across the street from the Rail Road.


Imagine having Union Pacific style resources to bring to bear on one of the few remaining M1 Mountains, which The Pennsylvania Railroad built as a mixed traffic upsizing of the K4 Pacifics.



The prototype GG1, which wasn't even the Railroad's first choice of large electric locomotive design, could also use some care.

NOW GIVE THEM FREE REIN TO 110.

There's nothing quite so durable as a day coach, properly taken care of.
If you haven’t traveled by train in a while, Amtrak is summoning you to a new level of comfort on the rails.

For coach trips on Midwestern routes, Amtrak is introducing refurbished Horizon cars that make some riders mistakenly think they’re in business class. From the carpets on up to leatherette seats that promise more lumbar support, it’s an overhaul of cars that have been around since the 1980s. “These cars are workhorses. You’ll find them all over the Midwest,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

On overnight runs to the East Coast, Amtrak is now using remodeled coach cars, also dating from the 1980s, with plusher reclining seats, suitable for sleeping on the cheap. Called Amfleet II, they still have legroom that puts airlines to shame. “This is like first class but it’s coach,” said Roger Harris, executive vice president at Amtrak.

For those who book the sleepers, the railroad is getting a new fleet with more room for luggage, softer linens, a sturdier pullout table and more power outlets.

The smallest accommodation, the roomette, no longer has a toilet in the compartment in the new Viewliner II railcars. Amtrak executives said passengers never liked the in-room toilet anyway because it took up precious space and your traveling companion had to scram if you wanted privacy.
Reclining-seat leg-rest coaches were regular on Western long distance trains long before Amtrak; the Amfleet II cars still cram more seats with less legroom between them than those cars offered, and the the seat pitches on the Horizon cars are still tight by railroad standards. In addition, those cars are generally set up with half the seats facing in each direction, so as to conserve on the work required to turn them at the end of the line.

The roomettes might be reconfigured (and there's a lot less plumbing to freeze up this way) but who is going to want to pay the extra fare when there's no food service on offer?

Without additional frequencies and more 110 mph running, what value will the upgraded coaches add on the regional routes?

DICK WOLF'S CONTINUED ACTS OF CONTRITION.

I've suggested previously that the Dick Wolf Chicago-based procedurals are NBC's way of acknowledging that the Tragic Vision has some purchase.  Last night, they offered a crossover episode, meaning the shows might appear out of order, with some sort of linking event for each part of the cast.

It started with the first responders mostly enjoying a common day off, which happened to include the Bears hosting the Packers for a daylight opening game, and lots of opportunities to wear Bears gear and burn some bratwurst.  We were spared the sight of yellow mustard being slathered on those sausages, or Aaron Rodgers delivering yet another dagger on that crappy Soldier Field turf, as a very sick man collapses not far from where the Fire crew are tossing a football around.  "I’m not sure when the last time viewers saw all of our favorite One Chicago characters just kicking back and having fun, but the beginning few minutes were the type I want to see more often."

That wasn't going to happen, as the man was ill with a virulent bacteria infection, and the fire house had to make plans to participate in Chicago's Oktoberfest parade which was going to coincide with the Cowboys coming into town to play the Bears.  (Yes, the real Oktoberfest takes place to the north, but taking liberties with Midwestern things is common in the series.)  Then a fire breaks out at a research laboratory on the mythical Central Chicago University, which has enough elements of UIC, The University, and Chicago State to provide for any plot complication.

There is a connection between the fire and the sick man, but that has to wait until a large number of cases of virulent bacteria turn up at Chicago Med.  That gives the hospital administrator a chance to say what nobody dare say to Chuck "Truculent Chipmunk" Todd.  "[S]he had to deal with so-called journalists that wanted to spread fear, a mayor who cared about how the situation would affect his approval rating above all else, and [Detective Sergeant] Voight's insistence on questioning terrified people while they were being held in quarantine."  Meanwhile, the firehouse crew have to protect a local taqueria that was being mobbed account their food truck was on the stadium grounds not far from where the first patient collapsed.  Fake news can still be used to virtue-signal, at least there didn't appear to be any mob members in red hats.

Now it's up to the Intelligence crew to figure out what's going on and why a number of patients come from the same building.  It transpires that somebody had masqueraded as an exterminator.  That somebody was a university biomedical researcher who was even helping out at Med.  "The company first mentioned in Chicago Fire by the initial carrier of the virus, BRT, refused to give [researcher] Seldon funding for his research because it wasn't profitable."  Notice ... the sponsored research scam getting an indirect mention.  Rather than randomly infecting people at the Oktoberfest parade (the one thing the show got right is that Chicago doesn't give an Oktoberfest parade and nobody comes) the disgruntled researcher decides to kill off the board of the company if they don't restore his funding.

Real academic science is probably not that blatantly corrupt, and yet, calling attention to sponsored research corruption to accompany run-of-Chicago political corruption (where the stories are a bit more lurid on television than they are in real life) and the seamy side of life away from Wrigleyville and the museum campus is probably a good thing.  I wonder how many of the additional watchers caught any of that.

THEY'RE JUST ASKING TO BE DEFUNDED.

Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds recently characterized the people in charge of higher education as "rebellious adolescents."  But they apparently take their role seriously.  Here's a Rhode Island neuroscience student making the case for "business genderqueer" in the open-source house organ for polymorphous perversity business as usual.
At conferences, there's a stronger expectation of formal dress. I see a lot more suits, ties, skirts, dresses and button-down shirts at conferences than I do in everyday gatherings of professors and graduate students. This is where I start running into real problems. Once we get more formal than T-shirts, which exist in "unisex" cuts, and athletic attire, where even cisgender women regularly buy from the men's section, clothing gets much more strongly gendered. I'm nonbinary. Now what?

I see a few main options.

One option is to ignore the expectation of formal dress entirely. And yes, I've done this. There is an existing picture of me in a T-shirt, shorts and no shoes at a conference, from the day I presented on one panel and moderated another one.
We have much to look forward to. But it gets better.
Another option is to do drag. In situations where openly playing with gender is accepted, I can enjoy dressing up as another gender, but that's not ideal for conferences where I'd be doing drag while pretending that I'm doing no such thing. So, while I recognize the option, I don't like to use it for conferences. (You could argue that I used the drag option for the beginnings of my math classes, though -- everything visible came from the men’s section on those days, including the dress shoes.)

I don't think there's just one answer to that question. There may be as many answers as there are people who need to answer it, plus some extra for people who find multiple solutions. But for me, mixing and matching is one answer. Get a suit out of the men's section, but replace the dress shirt with one of the rare dresses I can wear. Dress shirt and suit jacket from the men's section, basic black skirt. Because people tend to assume strangers are one binary gender or the other and femininity is more marked than masculinity, I still get misread as a woman when I use these combinations … but that's likely no matter what I wear. Even when all my visible clothing came from the men's section, I was misread as a woman, and it still felt like doing drag because I'm not a man, either!
Fine. Good luck getting a date, or a job.

Meanwhile, with Hallowe'en approaching, it's likely that the deanlets of Student Affairs will caution against, and prepare to issue sanctions on, any Normal guy who dares dress up as Transitioning Bruce Jenner or as Corporal Klinger.  Insensitive, insensitive! Mocking the Binary!  Whatever.

One commenter gets it.  "I feel badly for people that have to agonize over this. Really badly."

Perhaps it is time to stop subsidizing the foolishness. "There's nothing better than the sounds of pocketbooks snapping shut to bring a bit of sanity to college administrators."  Furthermore, it's time to undermine these allegedly sophisticated people with mockery.  "This is the deflated, self-loathing bourgeoisie coming together to project their own psycho-social hang-ups on to society at large. They must be criticised and ridiculed out of existence."  Indeed.

TRUMP DERANGEMENT RIDES THE RAILS.

At Raw Story, a degradation of Amtrak service becomes the restoration of the Gilded Age.  "Separate and unequal train service returns on Trump’s Amtrak."
Team Trump forced Amtrak to limit dining car access on four long haul routes to passengers who paid for roomettes. More routes will be affected in the future.

Those in the cheap seats are now barred from the dining cars.
Those in the sleeping cars have a mostly empty space in which to partake of their boxed meals.  But because another Republican effort to do away with long-distance trains appears to be offering benefits to the carriage trade, it's evil.
Historically Amtrak dining cars had tables with linens, prepared meals cooked to order and took reservations for seating time. Passengers who paid a premium for private roomettes had the cost of meals built into their fares.  All other classes were also welcome in the dining car, they just paid for their meals.

Team Trump is ending integration of economic classes and denying the ability to purchase dining car meals for coach passengers.
Yes, and if the common carrier railroads had been more effective at knocking off the dining cars, there might not have been an Amtrak in the first place. But if you're D. C. Johnson, it's easier to see the separate dining experiences as somehow Favoring Privilege, when what it's really doing is making the sleeping car passengers, who might or might not be Privileged, less likely to favor continuing Amtrak as it exists.
Those meals for passengers paying premium prices include red wine braised beef as well as creole shrimp and andouille sausage. The first beer or glass of wine is included.

But even these premium passengers will no longer enjoy table linens. And instead of freshly cooked eggs for breakfast they will get a “deluxe” continental breakfast. That means sugary and starchy breads along with hard boiled eggs.
That might be, but even a hardcore ideologue has to recognize reality.
Economic segregation and degrading meal service will almost certainly suppress ticket sales at all fares. That will likely result in fewer people riding Amtrak, especially long haul trains.

Making Amtrak trains less pleasant encourages more people to travel by car and airplane, transportation modes which contribute more to global warming than relatively fuel-efficient trains.
Not to mention, the airways and the roadways are government properties, meaning they're illustrations of how the government subsidizes traffic jams and flight cancellations.

YOU CAN ONLY TAKE THIRTEEN TRICKS.

It's not Saturday, and I don't consider what follows any sort of a bridge column, as there are no teaching points.  Do your research: the newspaper columns are generally about making do with what looks inadequate, or how best recover when "eight ever, nine never" runs afoul of Pascal's Triangle.

But when the simulation deals you  A K 10 2 ♥ K Q J 8 5 ♦ A K J 8 with the north bot, my partner, opening 1 Club, maybe some fun things can happen.  I respond with Two Hearts, bot tries Four Clubs, I offer Four Hearts (the simulation offering instructive explanations of what these bids mean) and the partner bot offers Four No Trump, which doesn't mean calling for Aces, as there's no agreement on a suit yet.  I just dial up Six No Trump, as several of the bid explanations are offering the Ace of Clubs, and everybody passes.

The closed hand for this game is ♠ 3 ♥ A 3 ♦ Q 5 2 ♣ A K Q J 6 5 3.  I suspect in expert play the declarer simply reveals the hand and says, "Plus one, let's play a more interesting hand."  Fourteen top honors plus enough little ones to switch between holdings.  The opening lead is the ♠5, win on the board, cash the  King, little one to the Ace, cash the three top Clubs, back to the board for the remaining Hearts, and then file a claim.

It's like almost any other activity, every so often something goes just right, just enough to go back and keep trying, even though most days there will be winners you can't get to, just as in sailing there were days when the wind just wouldn't cooperate.

14.10.19

SOMEWHERE CHARLIE SYKES IS CHUCKLING.

His Prof Scam is thirty years old, and still relevant.  The remnant deanlets and deanlings of the ancien regime still aren't catching on, notes Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds.
Whom the gods would destroy, they first make crazy. And higher education has become objectively crazy. It’s not a shock that taxpayers think their money might be better spent elsewhere than on subsidizing enclaves of insanity. It’s especially true when universities spend so much of their time attacking so many of the Americans who pay taxes to support them, from Trump voters, to Christians, to gun owners and businesspeople. It takes a lot of chutzpah to slap someone in the face and then put your hand out for money, but that’s what universities have been doing for decades and with special force over the past few years.
Yup.

Perhaps the reckoning is coming.
So am I blaming the victims for these budget cuts? Basically, yes, with the proviso that the victims are also perpetrators. For decades, higher education has, often quite consciously and openly, set itself against the larger society in which it is embedded while still expecting support, much like a rebellious adolescent who still expects parents to cover the cellphone bill. Now much of the larger society is having second thoughts, and universities will have to decide whether they want to change or shrink. Sadly, I’m beginning to doubt that they’re smart enough to change.
It's more likely they'll use all manner of rodomontade rhetoric to make it look like a bunch of mean Know-Nothings are picking on them.

IT"S JUST A DIFFERENT SORT OF EVIL.

Columnist Tom Nichols, who some time ago publicly broke with the Republican Party over Donald Trump's hostile takeover thereof, now pleads with the Democrats to not unleash their kind of crazy.
I'm not telling you to go win the votes of old racists wearing MAGA hats; I’m telling you to make sure that the people who helped you in 2018 don’t simply stay home in 2020. And the first thing you can do to avert this, which will result in another supermajority win on the coasts while losing the Electoral College, is to stop handing issues to the Republican culture warriors.

Take it from a former member of the GOP tribe, they’re waiting for you. They are praying, you should pardon the expression, that you will do something stupid and pointless so that they can take the spotlight off of Trump. They will do anything to change the subject, so that you cannot run on the simple platform that Trump is an emotionally unstable ignoramus who is endangering our national security and  trampling on the Constitution. Why help them?

You’ve told me many times, as we’ve sat together in front of the television, that the Democrats can advocate for very liberal social justice positions and still strategize to beat Trump. I have squeezed my eyes tight, and I have wanted to believe you. And in fairness, you did a great job in 2018. If there’s any chance of impeaching the Mad King, it’s because you and your compatriots held back on the fringey stuff and elected a lot of solid, moderate candidates who flipped a lot of seats. My fears back then were unfounded.
Those solid, moderate candidates do not represent the Democrat base. But a guy who wrote about the death of expertise understands he can only get away with disrespecting the stereotypical Trump voters.

FREDERIC BASTIAT TRUMPS ROBERT C. BYRD.

The late senator was instrumental in getting money written into the Federal budget for road projects all over West Virginia.  Now there arose over the Senate a leader who knew not (Robert) Moses or Lyndon, and the bill is coming due.
Route 9 West in the Eastern Panhandle stretches 27 miles from Martinsburg to Berkeley Springs.

It’s a busy road, home to large commercial operations such as a Macy’s distribution center, FedEx and General Motors as well as residential homes, farms and smaller businesses.

The small, rural two-lane expressway carries a lot of traffic daily. With a speed limit that’s between 45 and 55 miles per hour, it’s often backed up during peak traffic times and sees a fair amount of accidents.

“We’re getting slammed up here, and we need some major help,” said Elaine Mauck, a Berkeley County Council member who has been vocal about her concern over Route 9 West.

“People fail to realize the big issue about Berkeley County is we are within 500 miles, any way you shake it, of two thirds of the population of the United States,” she said. “That's why we are attracting business and people.”

Route 9 West began experiencing its boom in use about 10 years ago, Mauck said, and the congestion is only worsening as more drivers use the road.

Mauck isn’t alone in her concern over Route 9 West. Many residents in the area, including the Berkeley County Development Authority’s Executive Director Sandy Hamilton, share concerns over the road.
Although there are ways to write capital grants into so-called infrastructure bills, maintenance is still a local responsibility.
Aaron Gillispie, the chief engineer for the West Virginia DOH, said West Virginia has one of the largest transportation systems in the country based on the number of miles of road in the state.

“We’re little old West Virginia, but we are the sixth largest,” Gillispie said. The state has 36,000 miles of roadway, largely maintained by the Division of Highways

In West Virginia, only 14,000 miles of roadway are eligible for federal dollars. The rest must come from state tax dollars like tolls, DMV fees and gasoline tax.

The money is collected in the State Road Fund, which combined with state and federal dollars, takes in about $1.2 billion each year. Gillispie said road projects are funded based on need, and there’s never enough dollars to go around.

“Our needs far outweigh our means,” he explained. “And every year we get further and further behind as a whole. We have a high demand and a limited supply, so therefore, we do have to prioritize.”
Yes, and raising tolls is probably harder to do than see if the state can shift some money around.

Just don't dare put any money for passenger trains in the budget.

IDENTITY POLITICS GIVETH, IDENTITY POLITICS TAKETH BACK.

Some years ago, vocal members of the Italian emigrant community of These United States argued that a celebration honoring a famous Italian of years past, Cristoforo Colombo, might help restore ethnic pride.  Or something.  That meant the Sons of Norway got involved.

Now, it's the Natives, or expatriate Siberians, or however you roll asking for their turn.
Columbus Day is not a symbol of oppression, but a symbol of American pluralism, the acceptance of a new influx of Americans from Columbus' native Italy. Just as the 13th Amendment corrected a historic American evil by abolishing slavery, so this holiday helped combat the anti-Italian prejudice behind a horrific lynching.
That's probably too much to ask. You'll likely see some murals painted over in the Minnesota State House and the Indian Treaty Room renamed first.

9.10.19

HOW TRADE-TESTED BETTERMENTS WORK.

Sometimes, the best way to do more with less is simply to bet on emergence.  "[E]conomic growth in a mature economy does not necessarily increase the pressure on the world's reserves of natural resources and on its physical environment. An advanced country may be able to decouple economic growth and increasing volumes of material goods consumed. A sustainable economy does not necessarily have to be a no-growth economy."

It's called lowering the material intensity of the economy, a phenomenon we've documented previously.

Note, the phenomenon of lowering the material intensity is not yet universal.
American consumption of plastics, which is not tracked by the USGS, is an exception to the overall trend of dematerialization. Outside of recessions, the United States continues to use more plastic year after year in the form of trash bags, water bottles, food packaging, toys, outdoor furniture, and countless other products. But in recent years, there has been an important slowdown.

According to the Plastics Industry Trade Association, between 1970 and the start of the Great Recession in 2007, American plastic use grew at a rate of about 5.2 percent per year. This was more than 60 percent faster than the country's GDP grew over the same period. But a very different pattern has emerged in the years since the recession ended. The growth in plastic consumption has slowed down greatly, to less than 2 percent per year between 2009 and 2015. This is almost 14 percent slower than GDP growth over the same period. So while America is not yet post-peak in its use of plastic, it's quickly closing in on this milestone.
Perhaps without any of the corporate hoopla about "restructuring" or "right-sizing" or any of the other attempts to spin a deteriorated service as an efficiency gain.

SOON THEY'LL BE SLIDING DOWN THE RENT GRADIENT OF REALITY.

In Portland, the Sightline Institute notes, "The city's own analysis shows that bans on car-free homes are catastrophic for housing affordability."  It's the same problem that arises when zoning codes require parking spaces in thickly settled areas.  "Parking requirements, which constrain land use to include parking spaces to go with the eateries, dwellings, offices, and server farms, raise the effective rent on the land devoted to the uses the parking is incidental to."

Sightline author Michael Andersen gets to the heart of the matter.
As long as parking isn’t necessary, the most profitable homes a developer can build on a lot like this in inner Portland would already be within the reach of most Portland households on day one.

But if we require parking on these lots, we block this scenario. If every unit has to come with an on-site garage, the most profitable thing to build becomes, instead, a much more expensive townhome.

When people say cities can choose either housing people or housing cars, this is what they’re talking about.
Yup. "Remove the constraints, watch the reallocation to housing and office towers commence."

At least they're thinking about the constraints, and the effects of relaxing them.
The bad news is that it’s far from certain that many developers—or, more to the point, the banks that issue developers’ construction loans—would actually choose to build 32-unit buildings without off-street parking. It just isn’t easy enough yet to get around Portland without a car.

If banks decide they simply have to have off-street parking in order to sell these homes, goodbye stacked flats; hello townhomes. Goodbye, affordable community land trust homes. Goodbye, market-rate homes for the middle class.

That’s depressing, and it’s one of the many reasons cities should be investing heavily in making low-car life possible for more people.
It was public policy that made the stacked flats the choice, what is the simplest way to reverse the effects of the public policy?

Give emergence a chance.

AFTER THEY'VE TRIED EVERYTHING ELSE, WILL THEY RECOGNIZE THE RENT-SEEKING?

Margaret "University Diaries" Soltan hopes that the current election-influence imbroglio might lead to serious thinking about the way the Swamp operates.  Peter Schweitzer wrote a book, Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends. about the Swamp People you won't see on reality TV.

By all means read his column in full, but consider, dear reader, whether another Comprehensive Reform will really fix anything.
The personal financial disclosure rules for American public officials should be expanded to include details concerning all their immediate family members (and not just their spouses, as the law currently states), and any dealings with foreign governments.

To the public, closing a loophole this glaring seems anodyne, a no-brainer. But lawmakers set the system up this way for a reason; they will not stop the foreign cash influence game voluntarily. That’s why we need a Washington Corrupt Practices Act, one that clearly shuts down foreign influence and self-enrichment for some of America’s most powerful families on both sides of the aisle.
I suppose it's too much to ask that the corrupt practices be expanded to include domestic lobbying and reporting activities. Chelsea Clinton and Jenna Bush as national TV personalities without any seasoning in Little Rock or Longview or LaCrosse.

I also doubt whether laws that make it more difficult to cash in will discourage people connected to the political class from attempting to cash in.  Whether you agree with me, dear reader, on the usefulness of Technocratic Expertise, or not, consider that the spending of public money generates incentives to seek rents (or get in on the bezzle?) whether we're talking about setting the location where the Sierra slope begins, which affects payments for the construction of the Pacific Railroad, or whether we're condemning properties for a casino, or, for that matter, doing anything in Illinois.

TIME TO REDISCOVER NOTIONS OF PROPRIETY.

An alumnus of Penn State, Johnstown resident Dave Petersen, asks the football coach to field a less scruffy team, and a woke-fest of monumental proportions ensues.
Petersen said he did not intend for the letter to have a racist message.

"Was not the intent at all," Petersen told the [Johnstown] Tribune-Democrat. "I would just like to see the coaches get the guys cleaned up and not looking like Florida State and Miami guys."

Petersen added that his letter "wasn't threatening or anything. I was just disgruntled about some of the hairdos that we're seeing. You think of Penn State as a bunch of clean-cut guys. And you do see so many who are clean cut. But the tattoos and the hair -- there are a lot of guys with hair coming down their backs and it just looks awful. And it's the same for the NFL and NBA, too."

Regardless of whether it was Petersen's intent, the Penn State football players have taken the letter as an attack on them and who they are.
Mr Petersen may have a point.
Do hip-hop style and prison tattoos and idiosyncratic pronunciations of even more idiosyncratically spelled names confer any evolutionary advantages to practitioners within a culture, let alone to adopters (appropriators?) from outside?  Or does possession of any or all of these elements of social (or is it cultural?) capital serve as a proxy for indicators of poor performance, of drug use, of welfare dependency?  Or perhaps as markers for schools that will disillusion even the most idealistic of teachers?

Dial back the misguided authenticity and perhaps the human capital will gain value.
In sports, though, perhaps it doesn't matter.

Penn State's spokesmen stand with their players.
Penn State issued a statement on Twitter: "While we don't know the source of this letter or the authenticity, obviously its content does not align with our values. We strongly condemn this message or any message of intolerance."

Sandy Barbour, Penn State's vice president for intercollegiate athletics, added her own tweeted statement: "I stand with our Penn State student athletes and appreciate how they represent PSU in competition, in the classroom and in the community. Their dress, tattoos, or hairstyle has no impact on my support, nor does their gender, skin color, sexuality or religion!"
Perhaps Penn State have more reason than many universities not to put a lot of weight on coaches attempting to present a well-scrubbed image: both successful women's basketball coach Rene Portland and legendary football coach Joe Paterno encouraged that sort of public face.

Moonbattery's Dave Blount is thinking more generally.  "For preferring a clean-cut look to the repulsively skeevy appearances some athletes now cultivate, Petersen has been subjected to the Two Minutes Hate."  He's not wrong to raise the issue of looking skeevy and calling it authentic.

8.10.19

AFTER THEY'VE TRIED EVERYTHING ELSE, INFRASTRUCTURE DIVISION.

Listen Up, Washington: No. New. Roads.
One thing that we know for sure is wrong is the way this country spends money on transportation. Whether it’s North Carolina destroying a small town to widen a highway, Louisiana running a new highway through the middle of a neighborhood, or any number of similar crazy projects moving ahead in zombie-like fashion, there is seemingly no end to the destruction being wrought with federal transportation dollars.

And while, sure, there is the occasional sidewalk or bus route that gets a little bit of money, the tradeoff for those crumbs is literally billions in spending on some of the lowest returning, most destructive projects imaginable. We’ve long called for #NoNewRoads — a freeze on all new transportation spending until there is significant reform — and fought against those in the Infrastructure Cult who self-servingly call for for more transportation spending, even when the numbers supporting that call are ridiculous.
There's more here.

I did not see any calls to treat the roads as assets, but perhaps that, too, will change.

AFTER THEY'VE TRIED EVERYTHING ELSE?

In the midst of a defense of properly-structured "college success" courses, Matt "Dean Dad" Reed recognizes why such courses might now be useful.
We can’t assume that students have picked up the folkways of the professional middle class at home or in high school. We can’t assume that they come in knowing exactly what they want and/or that they have infinite time to figure it out. They’re too embedded in the realities of daily life where the rules are often different.

If that portrait of the typical student is substantially true, then learning the folkways of higher education specifically, and the professional upper middle class more broadly, is often a sociological challenge of a high order. It’s the sort of challenge that requires study, and that merits credit.

I’m intrigued by the Ethnographies of Work model developed by JFF and adopted by CUNY and the New Hampshire CC system, among others. Brookdale is running its own version this semester, and early reports are encouraging. Spelling out the rules of what has become a sort of alien culture, and having students do actual research and fieldwork in that culture, is exactly the sort of transferable skill that has come to be the model of gen ed. It acknowledges that the students of today are different from the students of 100 years ago, because they are.
That's what fifty years of deconstructing bourgeois norms gets you.  It might be a useful first step to recognize that navigating a university is part of the cultural capital of the middle class, though.
The kind of course I have in mind isn’t the old “do a scavenger hunt to find the library” model. This is more like applied sociology. But it starts with the assumption that students are located in a political economy and that they’ve been isolated from certain kinds of knowledge.
We can take up the root causes of that isolation, or the more general ways of working the problem, another day.  Perhaps that includes taking the trepidation out of faculty office hours.
Students often don't know what office hours are – or what they're for, or how they're different from class time.

They're part of what some students say is a hidden curriculum – the set of rules on a college campus that no one ever tells you about. And then, what students do know is that you have to meet one-on-one with your professor, which in some cases means talking to the smartest, most powerful person you know (remember, professors are the ones giving out the grades!).

I've had dozens of current college students describe office hours to me as "intimidating" or "terrifying."
I'll leave to readers still active in higher education to weigh the arguments in the article; my own strategy was to encourage students to take advantage, and when I knew there would be a large turnout, to seek a larger space. (I actually got into some trouble once for using an otherwise unused area of the student center for such a session!)  I'll even let a Harvard guy have the final word on office hours.
For students who are still wary, Harvard's Anthony Abraham Jack has this advice: "Never, ever, be afraid to ask for help: It is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength."

Plus, he says, when you go to office hours, you're letting the professor do their job.
Exactly.

SHOULDN'T CONSUMPTION RATES CHANGE LESS RAPIDLY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF EQUILIBRIUM?

There's a reason the Marshallian Cross is a useful teaching device.  US unemployment rate hits a 50-year low even as hiring slows.  I have enough suspicions about the legacy press to be just a bit fearful that somebody is interpreting reported figures in such a way as to raise recession fears.

Here's the lede.  "The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in September, the lowest level in nearly five decades, even though employers appeared to turn more cautious and slowed their hiring."  Burn your economics textbook if you ever read something like "there is a price at which the production and consumption rates are the same," let alone something that suggests "in the neighborhood of equilibrium those rates are unlikely to change by much."

Here comes the editorializing.
The economy added a modest 136,000 jobs, enough to likely ease worries that an economy weakened by the U.S.-China trade war and tepid global growth might be edging toward a potential recession. The government on Friday also revised up its estimate of job growth in July and August by a combined 45,000.

Still, a drop-off in the pace of hiring compared with last year points to rising uncertainty among employers about the job market and the economy in the face of President Donald Trump's numerous trade conflicts. Pay growth has also weakened, reflecting the hesitance of employers to step up wages.
Large increases in hiring accompany the first few months of recovery from recession, or they might be markers of a rapidly growing sector that well might turn into a bubble.

It might be that tightness in the labor market is manifesting itself in the form of different contracts.
Julia Pollak, a labor economist at jobs marketplace ZipRecruiter, said the pay that employers are advertising has declined this year after rising sharply in 2018. And she noted that the number of part-time workers who would prefer full-time work has risen over the past two months.

Those trends "show that employers are increasingly risk-averse as global uncertainty and recession fears rise," Pollak said.
Possibly, although in an environment where there's a lot of labor force participation by women and a lot of talk about work-life balance, perhaps employers are rethinking their one-size-fits-all terms of employment.

In addition, we might be seeing employers in some sectors looking for ways to make use of people who might not have the usual credentials.
The big gains last month were in health care, which added 41,400 jobs, and professional and business services, which include such higher-paying areas as engineering and accounting but also lower-paying temp work. That sector added 34,000 positions.

Friday's jobs data underscored the benefits of a hot job market for lower-paid Americans and traditionally disadvantaged workers. The unemployment rate for workers without high school diplomas fell to 4.8%, the lowest level on records dating to 1992. The rate for Latinos fell to 3.9%, also a record low.

Amy Glaser, senior vice president at Adecco USA, a staffing firm, says companies are still willing to raise pay for blue collar workers. Some are also paying retention and signing bonuses and in some cases double pay for overtime.

"We're still seeing strong demand, we're still seeing more job opportunities out there than candidates," Glaser said.
The so-called broadly shared prosperity of the Victory Dividend years was in part a consequence of manufacturing technologies that could augment the powers of people with modest skills (at the cost of a lot of soul-deadening jobs) in a way that made those people richer. I suspect the incentives to develop such technologies are still present, if, perhaps, harder to find, in the presence of new information technologies.

MIKE ROYKO NOTICED THE PROBLEM YEARS AGO.

I've referenced his observation previously.  "He had written a column about the proliferation of beggars in the Loop, in which he suggested that closing the asylums and condemning the flophouses in the name of urban renewal provided the cause."

What's it going to take, a full-on outbreak of the bubonic plague before the Smart People catch on?  "America abandoned a custodial approach to mental illness a half-century ago, and the results have been obvious in the nation’s streets and public spaces ever since — and never more so than on the Bowery early Saturday morning." "Bowery," dear reader, is New York for "skid row," and, although it has always been with us, New York Post columnist Bob McManus is making the same point Mr Royko made about Chicago, in the pre-digital era.  (The Tribune might slowly be putting a digital archive of Royko columns together, but Cold Spring Shops is unlikely ever to subscribe.)
Beggars, addicts, scammers of every stripe and the helpless, severely mentally ill have overwhelmed the city’s boulevards, parks and mass transit.

Thus it has been to one degree or another for 50 years, ever since ideologically inspired mental-health policy makers began to shut down large state insane asylums — those words used to mean something — in favor of non-coercive, so-called community-based treatment.

The new policies, made possible by advances in psychotropic-drug therapy, largely were driven by 1960s-era “liberation” activists not dissimilar to today’s so-called ­“social-justice” zealots.

They subordinated clinical needs and realities to ideology, and the new ways led directly to concentrations of blighted hotels and shelters for drugged-up, non-functional former patients; long prison terms for those who ­reacted violently to the pressures of unsupervised life; the legions of hopeless street dwellers and, inevitably, to homicidal subway pushers and associated maniacs.
It's somebody else who ends up paying the price for the virtue signal.  The best we can do might be to add "progressive" mental health policy changes to all the other failed technocratic impulses of the past fifty years.

Heather MacDonald is not afraid to point out exactly what went wrong, in San Francisco, where you're less likely to meet some gentle people there.
For the last three decades, San Francisco has conducted a real-life experiment in what happens when a society stops enforcing bourgeois norms of behavior. The city has done so in the name of compassion toward the homeless. The results have been the opposite: street squalor and misery have increased, even as government expenditures have ballooned. Yet the principles that have guided the city’s homelessness policy remain inviolate: homelessness is a housing problem; it is involuntary; and its persistence is the result of inadequate public spending. These propositions are readily disproved by talking to people living on the streets.
Everything that follows, and it's a full-length article, is elaboration.
The combination of maximal tolerance for antisocial behavior, on the one hand, and free services and food, on the other, acts as a magnet. “San Francisco is the place to go if you live on the streets,” observes Jeff, the 50-year-old wino and drug addict. “There are more resources—showers, yeah, and housing.” A 31-year-old named Rose arrived in San Francisco from Martinez, northeast of the city, four years ago, trailing a long criminal record. She came for the benefits, including Vivitrol to dull the effect of opiates, she says woozily, standing outside a huge green tent and pink bike at Golden Gate and Hyde, surrounded by the Hondurans.

Suggesting that some of the homeless are making a choice is heresy in official circles. Longtime San Francisco pol Bevan Dufty, formerly director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Opportunities, Partnerships and Engagement, now president of the BART board of directors, says that it is “B.S.” to call people service-resistant. “The lies that people tell are disgusting—‘people don’t want services,’ ‘they come here to be homeless.’ These lies are to make you blame the victim.”
All across the nation, such a strange vibration, it starts with the mellow flower children and it ends with the reality-challenged, enabled by the so-called enlightened.
The viability of cities should not be held hostage to solving social breakdown. Carving out a zone of immunity from the law and bourgeois norms for a perceived victim class destroys the quality of urban existence. As important, that immunity consigns its alleged beneficiaries to lives of self-abasement and marginality. Tolerating street vagrancy is a choice that cities make; for the public good, in San Francisco and elsewhere, that choice should be unmade.
By their fruits shall ye know the deconstructors of bourgeois norms.

HEY, CHI-COMS, BAN THIS!

"You gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you want to suck on the warm teat of China."

HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU?

The Sunday "public affairs" shows are pro wrestling for nerds.

Last Sunday's cage match featured Chuck "Truculent Chipmunk" Todd with Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson, a businessman with enough F.U. money to win a Senate race, and it was the usual format with the Republican guest on a remote site.
Why would Republican appear on the "mainstream" Sunday shows? You could wonder after Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) was disgusted by moderator Chuck Todd's "very biased opening" segment on Meet the Press, and Todd openly fought with him and wouldn't let him finish a point as Johnson tried to tell him what he should ask John Brennan later in the show. Brennan received gooey sympathy.

Todd moaned and groaned and then said “I have no idea why Fox News conspiracy propaganda stuff is popping up on here. I have no idea why we’re going here." When Johnson said this is why people hate the media, "This is not about the media! Senator Johnson, please!!” As in "please stop criticizing the heroic press."
Once upon a time the Sunday shows might have been the way for the Permanent Bipartisan Government to set the boundaries of Acceptable Disagreement and work toward some kind of compromise. Fifty years of Failed Technocracy, though, isn't a good environment in which to hold a simulacrum of a public administration seminar.  The cage match draws the eyeballs.

But the Truculent Chipmunk is self-aware enough that from time to time he gives away the game.

Last Sunday, they again had Senator Johnson at a remote site, while a tame Democrat from Connecticut was in studio.
Todd turned to liberal Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy, who's used to softball interviews. Murphy was allowed to uncork long 180-word answers without Todd interjecting. Then Todd complained to Murphy, like they were teammates: "We have a major problem here. I mean, the-- the comfort level that the senator had to character assassinate the show and us-- in this-- in this bizarre, personal way I think shows you where we're headed. What do we do?"
As the Blogfather has it, just think of the main press as Democrat operatives with bylines, and you're not far wrong.  Mr Todd might be playing his role as a pro wrestling heavy, but his masters realize they have a problem.  When I hear the latest "Real News, real reporting" tagline from CBS or the similar slogan from the Peacock, I'm tempted to ask "who are you trying to convince?"

I also suspect that the Republicans are often on that remote set-up because they are doing something in their actual states, which are a few day's hard riding from the Swamp, as well as the remote set-up making misunderstandings or Don Lemon-style plug pulling easier.

5.10.19

HERE I STAND, I CAN DO NO OTHER.

Gary Varvel does not disappoint.

Not to mention we were all supposed to be extinct by now.

SLAM.

Today's not a regular Saturday bridge column features a game in which the simulation and I were able to get together on a proper contract for six tricks.


With 23 high card points, a long Club suit, and the wrong distribution for a No Trump bid, I open with Two Clubs.  Partner bot responds with Two Diamonds on seven high card points and five Diamonds.  From among the available choices I essay Two No Trump, which the simulation characterizes as "invitational" in a variety of ways, and the partner bot responds with Three Hearts, something the simulation describes as a signal of strength in the minors.  That gets interesting with no Hearts in Hand, and my response of Three Spades is similarly idiosyncratic, but gives the bot several options, and Four Diamonds follows.  That, the simulation tells me, is a serious bid (the ones that are intended as signals or cues get highlighted with a red border).  I bid a game of Five Clubs and the bot overcalls with Six Diamonds.

In previous experience with the computers, I've often found myself in an impossibly optimistic contract.  But not this time.  Because the North bot declared Diamonds, the lead is in East: ♣7, bottom of a sequence.  Perhaps attacking Hearts might have sufficed to set the contract.

The closed hand is North: with proper play there are four good Spades, and the Three a candidate discard on the long Club suit controlling the board.  There are no Hearts in hand, but it might be prudent to lead the two from the board and trump them in hand.

There are four Diamonds headed by the Seven outstanding.  The fourth row of Pascal's Triangle tells us that eight of the sixteen possible combinations of four cards will be three to one side.  I'm going to want two in hand to take care of the Hearts.  In Clubs the board assures no losers in the hand, but I'd better not find myself in a position where I'm leading those little ones.

Win the opening lead with the ♣Q on the board, lead the ♦6 back toward the ♦8, there's no reason to cash the high ones when the little ones suffice, then lead the ♦5 to the ♦J with West showing out.  The odds are that East will hold more than two Hearts, lead the ♥Q and trump it with the ♦9; then the ♣10 to cash the ♣K followed by the ♥10 trumped with the ♦10.

Now I require six of the remaining seven tricks.  The lead is in the hand.

In hand there are ♠ K J 9 7 3, ♦ K, ♣3.

On the board, ♠ A Q, ♦ A Q, ♣ A 5 4.

There's nothing quite so frustrating as having potential winners and not being able to activate them.  This time, no problem: ♣3 to the Ace; ♣5 to the ♦K (and just in time with East pitching a Heart); ♠9 to the Ace; two rounds of Diamonds draw that outstanding ♦7 with the two low Spades discarded; now cover the ♠Q with the King and the ♠J picks up two Hearts (including the Ace) and that little Club.

Plus One, and it's Oktoberfest time.

THE LAST TRADITIONAL INTERURBAN CARS BUILT?

That might be an accurate description of the 451-460 series of cars built by St. Louis Car for the Chicago Aurora and Elgin.  Several of the cars were preserved in a quasi-rapid-transit and museum role at a Cleveland area mobile home park, and one of them went as far east as Scranton, Pennsylvania, until museum curators there decided to concentrate on conserving rolling stock from closer to home.

That car, 453, is now at Illinois Railway Museum, in good mechanical condition although requiring cleaning and painting.

The Trolley Dodger decided to tackle the definition of an interurban car.
It has often been stated that the ten curved-sided CA&E cars were the “last” interurbans built in the United States. To accept this, some caveats come into play.

First of all, what constitutes an interurban? Depending on how you define this, why wouldn’t the PATCO Speedline, which runs between Philadelphia and Camden County, New Jersey qualify as an “interurban,” even though it did not begin service until 1969?

What about the double-ended cars built by St. Louis Car Companyfor the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co. (aka Red Arrow) in 1949? They ran on the line between Philadelphia and West Chester, which is generally considered an interurban. But they resembled PCC cars, although they had conventional motors and were not “offically” considered PCCs.

Actual PCC cars were used in interurban service by Pittsburgh Railways, to Charleroi and Washington, PA until 1953.  Some of these cars were built in 1949.
That Lindenwold High Speed Line probably wouldn't qualify as an interurban, what with rapid-transit style high level platforms at all stations, turnstiles creating a paid fare area in each station, and grade-separated rights of way.  On the other hand, there are newer cars on the South Shore Line, where you still find cars running in city streets, and a few crossroad shelters to flag down a train (setting a rolled-up newspaper afire at night optional.)  But do contemporary commuters think of the South Shore as an interurban?
Perhaps it is fair to say that the CA&E cars were the last classic or conventional interurban cars built in the United States. There have been other interurban cars built since 1945 outside of the US, such as the cars operated on the South Shore Line.

An interurban is as much a sociological concept as anything, and has come to represent a particular era in American history. Pacific Electric ran an interurban between Los Angeles and Long Beach until 1961. But when service between those two cities was restored in 1990, via the Blue Line Metro, it was called light rail, even though much of the line runs in the same alignment that Pacific Electric used.

For that matter, is the South Shore Line, the so-called “last” interurban that survived, still an interurban?  Or would most of its riders today think of it as commuter rail?
For the moment, there is enough interurban tradition on the South Shore that I still think of it as such, those full-size coaches and trailers notwithstanding.  A longer train of Roarin' Elgin steel cars on the Illinois Railway Museum main line is pretty cool, too.