Los Angeles Union Station, which we visited in the summer of 2006, is to be rebuilt as a through station, and provided with new passenger amenities.

The platform tracks will be raised five feet, to provide clearance for the additional tracks.

The article observes that the future of the "exquisite and long-vacant" ticket office, which I characterized as "preserved as if the nave of a church," has not yet been determined.

(In that picture, I believe the clock was operational, even if the room was closed off.)

What intrigues is the plan for the concourse.

Artist's conception of rebuilt concourse, courtesy Los Angeles Times.

The article notes,
Today passengers leave the station's historic main hall and walk past a Starbucks and a Famima market into what is essentially a very long and very low hallway, with tracks reached by stairs on either side. In the Gruen-Grimshaw plan this space would be replaced by a largely open-air concourse, with sunlight filtering in from above and large landscaped planters with benches around their edges.
Such a plan suggests broader spacing between tracks. Under-track concourses tend to be enclosed spaces because the stairs lead to the platforms, and the tracks are tightly-spaced between platforms. And reinforcing the spaces under the tracks for commercial use is expensive, thus such passages are generally spartan.

Elsewhere in the Times, the same columnist notes that the renovation introduces a Golden Age of rail travel to Los Angeles.


Reason's Gene Healy, author of The Cult of the Presidency (reviewed here), reviews F. H. Buckley's The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America, which suggest that strong presidencies are instruments of tyranny.
The American presidency, with its vast regulatory and national security powers, is, Buckley argues, rapidly degenerating into the "elective monarchy" that George Mason warned about at the Philadelphia Convention. Despite their parliamentary systems, our cousins in the Anglosphere also suffer from creeping "Crown Government"-"political power has been centralized in the executive branch of government in America, Britain, and Canada, like a virus that attacks different people, with different constitutions, in different countries at the same time," he writes.
I'll leave it to political scientists to parse the relative merits of divided governments, U.S. style, that might not be able to accomplish much when gridlock prevails, or unified governments, Canadian-style, that can reverse course when a new coalition takes place.  But isn't a strengthening executive the outcome of a default position among opinion leaders that Expertise. Is. Best?


Preston Hutcherson goes slumming from Southern Methodist University.
I can no longer assume that office hours and compelling professors are the exclusive property of private universities. But of course, I cannot guarantee that they exist at every single college either. I can only claim this: I am a product of office hours and great teachers and truth-telling, and I would not pay for a class, be the cost $150 or $5,000, that doesn’t include the chance to find an open door and welcoming ear whenever the questions become too large to face alone. This is the difference between a degree and an education.
Go. Read and understand. And if you're still in the classroom, view the students in your charge as capable of academic success until they demonstrate otherwise.


We're still awaiting that next Spike Jones.  But people with bigger platforms than mine are catching on.
Many of you may be confused by the alternate labels used for the Islamists rampaging through Iraq and Syria. Some call them ISIL, some call them ISIS, and some call them Islamic State.

Right now, they are calling themselves the Islamic State, after previously using the terms ISIS or ISIL.

Now, I don’t really care what they want to be called. I stand with Winston Churchill on this, who was famous for mispronouncing words in the languages of his antagonists, including, of course, France. He’d probably call them “ISIS” and pronounce it “Asses.”

But I do care what our president calls them. Because by using the term ISIL, he is legitimizing their claim to a broader region than they currently occupy.
Well, that's President "Praise Allah and pass the Starbucks."
But this group deserves no respect. That they used to call themselves ISIL should be of no importance to our president.
I'm sticking with Sillies, but "ahsses" also appeals.


We’d like to see more of this, please. The Sillies are besmirching Islam, and there are Moslems objecting.


A new thesis nailed to Newmark's Door. "[I]nstead of lamenting how big business has gotten, why not greatly decrease what they can lobby for by limiting government?"


The site of the DeKalb County Fair occasionally receives requests from fast-food chains, most recently, Dairy Queen.
Dairy Queen requested that Sandwich, Illinois, and two other similarly named towns change their name to Wrap in honor of the fast food chain’s new chicken wrap 5 Buck Lunch.

In a news release, Barry Westrum, executive vice president of marketing for American Dairy Queen Corporation, said the company was “offering an opportunity for the city to break away from the pack and be the first in the nation to be named Wrap.”

The release went on to say Dairy Queen would donate to the nearest Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in the name of Wrap, Illinois, and would donate blankets to the city “to help the needy stay wrapped up and warm this winter.”

Lauren Simo of Pierson Grant Public Relations in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said the company doesn’t really expect anyone to change their name.

“This is kind of something done in really good humor,” she said. “It was kind of funny to ask them to change their name to Wrap.”
Previously, Campbell's wanted to change the town name to Soup and Sandwich, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, as the business was then known, parachuted a platoon of chicken colonels into the airport for inspection by the Sandwich Police.

But Sandwich has lost political influence.  Perhaps a fast-food business could stop a train.
Ironically, Sandwich wasn’t even named after a sandwich. According to the city history, Sandwich is named after Sandwich, New Hampshire, the hometown of “Long John” Wentworth, an influential Chicago politician who helped develop the community and got the Chicago, Burlington, Quincy Railroad to stop in town.
Inasmuch as the food item may or may not have been named for an English earl (the British locution "ploughman" suggests there's an urban legend), and the Quincy trains stop at Plano to the east and Mendota to the west, "Long John" and his successors must not have stayed bought.



I was in Tienanmen Square late in June of 1997, and on the Municipal Building was a large countdown clock anticipating the change in management of Hong Kong.

At the time, I was not sure whether one country, two systems, would work out for either the Communists or for Hong Kong.  In July of 2003, I noted differing perspectives on the compatibility of the two systems, at the time observing, "I suspected from all the construction in Peking, providing office space for lobbyists from Hong Kong corporations, that the notionally Communist government wasn't fully aware of what it was in for."  That notionally Communist government now wishes to vet local candidates for political office, and some residents of Hong Kong are having none of it.
The rapidly escalating protests are aimed at forcing Beijing’s Communist leaders to abandon newly declared powers to weed out any candidates in upcoming Hong Kong elections. Yet many on the streets proclaimed they are fighting for something even bigger: preserving a vision of Hong Kong promised 17 years ago when it reverted to Chinese rule.

At the time, Chinese leaders promised a state within a state, saying they would allow special hands-off provisions for Hong Kong such as elections and a degree of self-rule in policymaking. But protesters accuse China of reneging on the deal and trying to exert its control over every aspect of Hong Kong’s political affairs.

Too hard a crackdown could drive more people to the pro-democracy cause, which would embarrass Chinese authorities, who would never permit such a challenge on the mainland. Yet, by the same token, allowing the protesters some room risks encouraging others to question Communist control in the rest of the country over such issues as media freedom, economic development and minority rights.
What's that about a house divided against itself? (Not, mind you, that discomfited Communist leaders bother me particularly.)
The latest show of popular dissent represents one of the biggest threats to Beijing's Communist Party leadership since its bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy student protests in and around Tiananmen Square.

Today's young protesters are the first generation to grow up without direct memories of Tiananmen, an event still marked by an annual candle-lit vigil in Hong Kong.

Last week, students' tightly choreographed, citywide boycott of classes escalated into arrests after the storming of a barricaded public space in the city's Admiralty government quarter at the weekend and culminated in far wider demonstrations and public support.
The fellow-travelers at The Nation use the protest as an occasion to question the Chinese government's communist bona fides.
Beijing’s vision for Hong Kong is to follow in the path of other hyper-capitalist authoritarian states such as Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Since many of the problems in Hong Kong—gaping inequality, crony capitalism, astronomical housing prices and an exclusionary political system—are also rampant just across the border in mainland China, it is not difficult to guess the source of Beijing’s deep anxiety. If Occupy Central presents a major nuisance, the mere intimation of an Occupy Tiananmen is a horror that must be crushed at all costs.

Let the era of civil disobedience commence.
Particularly if the Sillies establish a foothold in Uighurstan?



A maintenance technician stands accused of sabotaging the Aurora Control Center.  As a consequence, planes destined to Chicago and a number of neighboring airports, including Milwaukee and Rockford, couldn't get in and therefore weren't able to get out.  And cross-country planes had to divert to other routes, if paths were available.  The center is so badly damaged that the Federal Aviation Administration warns travelers that full restoration of operations may not be finished until 13 October.

USA Today estimates that the air carriers will suffer losses reckoned in the tens of millions of dollars.

Put another way, your tax dollars contribute to the profitability of the air carriers.  Keep that in mind the next time someone gripes about direct subsidies to Passenger Rail.


Going into the 2014 baseball season, the Experts had the Brewers as an eighty win team.  They finished with 82.  But going from nineteen games above 0.500 to two is a disturbing way to come within the Experts' margin of error.  Let the introspection begin.



Passenger Rail advocates in the United States view the 300 km/h German express trains as one model for improvement of the United States network.  And yes, they are fun to ride, and generally punctual.

The modal German, however, rides an ordinary Inter-City train, or a regional train, or the S-Bahn.  Here's a midmorning view of all tracks in use at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof.

Hamburg, 2 September 2014.

At right, two rakes of the split-level coaches that make up the regional trains, generally in two- to six-car formations.  I'd call them dinkies, except that on the Racetrack you see twelve-car dinkies.  Perhaps scootchen will catch on.  In the center, an Inter City Express formulation, and a motor bringing in an Inter City conventional train.  Out of view to far left, the single-level electric units, some of which use a New York Central style third rail, that provide the Hamburg S-Bahn service.

While I was waiting trackside for my train to Köln, a German-style auto-train rolled through, enroute to Hamburg - Altona.

It's the Monday departure from Villach, Switzerland.  No worries about rock-throwers trackside, apparently.  The rake was about fifteen cars.  I don't see a lot of Escalades or Navigators on those racks, though.

My train to Köln is Inter-City 2327, made up of coaches that look like what European coaches should look like.  A diesel propels the second-class section (perhaps originating elsewhere, there are passengers aboard) into the station, cuts off, a few minutes later an electric with the first-class section and food service shows up.  The routing is via Bremen, Osnabrück, Dortmund, Wuppertal, into Köln.  The monorail in Wuppertal is somewhere distant from the main stations.  Perhaps a return trip is in order?

The Köln station is hard by the Dom.  (And yes, there are plenty of outlets serving Kölsch beer nearby!)

That's one of the fourth-generation Electroliners headed for the high-speed line.  Those locks on the railing are a German wedding custom: write a memory on the lock, secure it to a bridge railing, toss the keys in the river.  Yes, I'm standing above the Rhein here.

Trains are coming and going, but I did get one general view of the trainshed.

The scootchen are out of view underneath the shed.

Upstream, at Bonn, look who has the station catering concession!

Because of the volume of passenger traffic, passengers reach platforms either by overhead bridges, as at Hamburg, or through pedways that are sometimes part of the local sidewalk network, as at Nürnberg, Bonn, and Köln.  Sometimes, the passages are spartan, with perhaps a cigarette-vending machine along the walls.  At Köln, the passages would do the commuter concourse at North Western Station -- now that the French Market and some small stores have opened -- proud.

And, on occasion, the Scootchen run late.

Köln, 4 September 2014.

I'm early for my 0845 Thalys and two changes of train to Manchester.  The train is due out at 0747, and it's still in the station.  Stations tend to be busy all day, but during the commuter hours, even in Hamburg, the foot traffic is never as overwhelming as it is at North Western or Union during those hours of the day.  And at Hamburg, the only egress from the stations goes through the food courts.  Yet people manage.

One other vignette from the regional services: at Remagen, the dispatcher sent a container train north through the station at the time my train back to Köln was due.  The way that container train was rolling, though, the scootche would only delay it further.


The most recent Ken Burns collage on public television featured the Three Roosevelts.  As you might expect of Ken Burns and public television, the show comes close to violating the Second Commandment.  Stephen Moore dissents from the economic message.
The cruel irony of the New Deal is that the liberals' honorable intentions to help the poor and the unemployed caused more human suffering than any other set of ideas in the past century.

What is maddening is that thanks to this historical fabrication of FDR's presidency, dutifully repeated by Mr. Burns this past week, we have repeated the mistakes again and again. Had the history books been properly written, it's quite possible we would never had to endure the catastrophic failure of Obamanomics and the "stimulus plans" that only stimulated debt. The entire rationale for the Obama economic plan in 2009 was to re-create new New Deal.

Doubly amazing is that at this very moment, the left is writing another fabricated history — of the years we have just lived through. The history books are already painting Obama policies as the just-in-time emergency policies that prevented a Second Great Depression. I wonder if 80 years from now, the American people will be as gullible as they are today in believing, as my 12-year-old does, that FDR was an economic savior.
People believe in miracles: 72 virgins, or resurrection, or Activist Government, because they want to believe, not because of compelling evidence.

Amity Shlaes extends.
The contention of The Roosevelts is a plausible one: that this New York family altered the presidency forever, converting the office from a near-ceremonial post into one of near-regal responsibility for domestic policy. The Roosevelts both favored active progressivism and denied that any other presidential posture could do the trick. What “26” and “32” hoped, as one of the commenters in the film, George F. Will, notes, was that “the role of the central government from now on [would be] to secure the well-being of the American people.”

The Roosevelts got what they wanted. With the partial exception of Ronald Reagan, no chief executive since has dared to suggest that the economy might simply run itself. As the years have passed, the demand for progressive reform and federal oversight has only increased, especially when financial markets have turned. Citizens now expect, even demand, economic rescue from any chief executive. To demur and call for a reduced presidency would be to invite ridicule or worse.
Elsewhere in the series, Mr Will, the token Tory (and Cub fan?) in the roster of talking heads, observed that the subsequent practice of presidential hopefuls offering the people new and shiny things was a formula for disappointment and failure of the presidency.  Thus, calling for a reduced presidency in a campaign is, yes, going to antagonize Official Washington and the stuffed heads that sit around under pictures of the Capitol on Sunday mornings, but to campaign for Enhanced Governmental Power only creates attack ads.

Ms Shlaes notes, though, that rolling back the Cult of the Presidency is a long twilight struggle.
One documentary series, even one by Ken Burns, can reach only so many. But Burns is not alone. The new Advanced Placement history curriculum, which will touch a large portion of thinking high-schoolers, buttresses the myths of the 1920s as failure and the New Deal as rescue. Against such a lovable monolith, bound to influence our culture through multiple election cycles, conservatives and centrists offer — what?

The Roosevelts brings to light a failing in conservative investors and non-progressive educators: They don’t deliver enough serious history of their own. Frustrated at their inability to penetrate such institutions as PBS and the Ivy League, many abdicate, turning to the instant gratification of spin-cycle journalism or politics. Conservatives and classical liberals — indeed, anyone looking for true balance — might also devote attention and resources to filming, writing, and drawing a high-quality narrative. PBS might in turn surprise by airing such work: It did air Daniel Yergin’s history of the free-market movement, Commanding Heights. Through my own work I’ve attempted to supply a different perspective on the 1920s and 1930s. But an army of attempts is needed. Precisely at a time when they must decide whether to back yet further incursions by Washington, Americans can sorely use a more complete version of their own past — preferably one without thrones.
Yes. That's emergence in action. It may take the failure of one or more of the New Deal or Great Society or Hope and Change constructions to trigger the emergence.


That's Insta Pundit, linking to Sarah Hoyt's The Future Belongs to Those Who Question, which concludes,
That is because any belief, religious, scientific, economic, ANY BELIEF that would claim the allegiance of the whole of humanity must be tested and tested and tested. It must be able to withstand jokes and knocks and above all argument.
Indeed so, and as the essay, which focuses on the Excessively Earnest Environmentalists, there is much to make mock of.  And she mentions, passim, Andropov's Evil Empire, which gave President Reagan much material for jokes, as well as other, one-time scarier ideologies that also offered material for comic relief.

The formula has to be re-discovered every few years.  Consider an editorial in the 27 May, 1971 Badger Herald.  The paper was an improbable venture to introduce conservative thought into the People's Republic of Madison, where the university-funded Daily Cardinal provided training for future Nation correspondents.
For too long on this campus the Left held a monopoly on student expression, more by default than by design.  We've proved, we hope, that conservatives don't come old, grey, dull, reactionary, and filthy rich.  They come young, green, sprite, poor, and constantly laughing the rabid Left into impotence.  The heart beat of our editorial page is the simple assertion of the basic goodness and value of the individual in American society, as opposed to the retarding features in the guilt-ridden sheep who follow the collectivist impulse.
Each generation, collegians have to rediscover the formula: consider the Dartmouth Review at which Laura Ingraham and Dinesh D'Souza broke into media.  There was no Vietnam War to galvanize the left; there were plenty of excessively earnest professors and administrators well worth laughing to scorn.

The argument generalizes to other guilt-ridden sheep, perhaps sheep coerced by the Perpetually Aggrieved on campus, or perhaps at gun-point by the Sillies.  Before the Sillies were the Nazzies, who had a lot more going for them, organizationally and culturally, than the Sillies could ever hope for.  And yet in the middle of a titanic existential crisis, there were resources to mock the Nazzies.

Listen to the audio carefully, the singers deliberately mis-pronounce führer. And Winston Churchill said "Nazzies."  And President Bush the elder always said "Sadum."  Bombs they can take.  Economic privation they can take.  Mockery, whether it's applied to Hitler or the Evil Empire or the Perpetually Aggrieved on campus, or the Sillies ... that, they can neither take, nor in their excessively rigid mind-sets, can they easily respond to.

Charles Krauthammer may be right that defeating jihadism is generational.
Today jihadism is global, its religious and financial institutions ubiquitous and its roots deeply sunk in a world religion of more than a billion people. We are on a path -- long, difficult, sober, undoubtedly painful -- of long-term, low intensity rollback/containment.

Containment-plus. It's the best of our available strategies. Obama must now demonstrate the steel to carry it through.
Our President gets trash-talking. All basketball players learn it along with the crossover. I'm not convinced he has the touch to apply it to the sillies.

But hell, Emma Watson gives an excessively earnest speech about feminism in front of the United Nations, and the Federalist goes all mockus disappearus, choosing to respond to earnestness with earnestness.

Undermine Emma Watson for practice.  Then develop a new Spike Jones to mock the Sillies.


Chicago State president-for-life Wayne Watson is pretty repulsive, himself.

The University Professionals of Illinois, a bargaining unit at Chicago State, protests the trustees' decision to de-recognize the faculty senate.
Although the Faculty Senate is not constituted by the CSU/UPI Contract, it was created by the Faculty Constitution of 1965, which has not been superseded.  The Senate is, furthermore, a crucial element of university governance and faculty rights in such areas as academic standards, curricular review, etc.  Its apparent suspension also has implications for faculty evaluation, an important contractual matter; these are enumerated below.
The contract apparently provides for compensating university service, and the unilateral abrogation of the senate has the potential to cut faculty wages.  More importantly, though -- and the union's assertion isn't sufficiently forceful -- academic standards and curricular review are primary responsibilities of the faculty.  Deanlets and deanlings exist to ensure the delivery of proper teaching.  It is not their place to determine what proper teaching is.

The national office of the American Association of University Professors, ordinarily a body content to go along with administrative usurpations when done for the Proper Reasons, has alerted senior administrators of Chicago State that they have gone too far.  Developing.



Eight years on, and some things don't change.  Here, I was contemplating Northern Illinois hosting Iowa at Soldier Field, and Bowling Green hosting Wisconsin at Cleveland.
Although margin of victory doesn't figure in the bowl rankings the way it used to, there are still incentives for the Big Ten teams to run up scores on their Mid-American opponents. And in the end, the visibility gained may not be all that great. Bowling Green's experience is likely to be similar against Wisconsin.
That year, the Mid-American was selling wins to other conferences. Conditions have improved, with Northern Illinois defeating Northwestern and Bowling Green defeating Indiana earlier this season.  Against elite teams, however, different year, same story.  Northern Illinois went to Arkansas, where Brett Bielema is installing a Wisconsin-style running game, and it ended badly.  Bowling Green went to Wisconsin, where the Wisconsin-style running game did its best emulation of Third Army, at one time going on a 48-0 run.

Those are the divisional favorites in the Mid-American.  Elsewhere, the sideshow that is digesting Eastern Michigan went on, this time with Michigan State rolling up the score; and poor Massachusetts, re-thinking its presence in the Mid-American, got molested by Ped, er, Penn State.

Makes me wonder whether the student activity fee money is well-spent, when you know Kirk Herbstreit and the other nay-sayers are going to point to these results when Mid-American teams open their bowl bids in December.


The Chinese are learning this, the hard way.
The month of Ramadan should have been a time of fasting, charity and prayer in China’s Muslim west. But here, in many of the towns and villages of southern Xinjiang, it was a time of fear, repression, and violence.

China’s campaign against separatism and terrorism in its mainly Muslim west has now become an all-out war on conservative Islam, residents here say.
And in attempting to socialize or modernize or otherwise change behaviors, the authorities only strengthen that which they'd like to eliminate.
Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers.

The religious repression has bred resentment, and, at times, deadly protests. Reports have emerged of police firing on angry crowds in recent weeks in the towns of Elishku, and Alaqagha; since then, Chinese authorities have imposed a complete blackout on reporting from both locations, even more intense than that already in place across most of Xinjiang.
That's not the way to win friends and influence people.
China says foreign religious ideas — often propagated over the Internet— have corrupted the people of Xinjiang, promoting fundamentalist Saudi Arabian Wahhabi Islam and turning some of them towards terrorism in pursuit of separatist goals.
Give people something to buy into, and their behavior and appearance will likely change. Harass them with commissars, though, and they'll push back.
Some 200,000 Communist Party cadres have been dispatched to the countryside, ostensibly to listen to people’s concerns. Yet those officials, who often shelter behind compound walls fortified with alarms and barbed wire, appear to be more interested in ever-more intrusive surveillance of Uighur life, locals say.

In Shache, known in Uighur as Yarkand, an official document boasts of spending more than $2 million to establish a network of informers and surveillance cameras. House-to-house inspections, it says, will identify separatists, terrorists and religious extremists – including women who cover their faces with veils or burqas, and young men with long beards.

In the city of Kashgar, checkpoints enforce what the authorities call “Project Beauty” — beauty, in this case, being an exposed face. A large billboard close to the main mosque carries pictures of women wearing headscarves that pass muster, and those — covering the face or even just the neck — which are banned.

Anyone caught breaking the rules faces the daunting prospect of “regular and irregular inspections,” “educational lectures” and having party cadres assigned as “buddies” to prevent backsliding, the billboard announced. In the city of Karamay, women wearing veils and men with long beards have been banned from public buses.
But the rediscovery of medieval practices is, in a China that doesn't get assimilation, a way of subverting the dominant paradigm.
Until a decade or two ago, Xinjiang’s Uighurs wore their religion lightly, known more for their singing, dancing and drinking than their observation of the pieties of their faith. But in the past two decades a stricter form of the religion has slowly gained a foothold, as China opened up to the outside world.

While worship was allowed at officially sanctioned — and closely supervised — mosques, a network of underground mosques sprang up. Village elders returning from the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, brought back more conservative ideas; high levels of unemployment among Uighur youth, and widespread discrimination against them, left many searching for new ideas and new directions in life. The rise of Islam was, in part, a reaction against social inequality and modernity.

But Joanne Smith Finley of Britain’s Newcastle University, an expert on Uighur identities and Islam, says religion has become a “symbolic form of resistance” to Chinese rule in a region where other resistance is impossible.
The lesson for immigration policy-makers in the United States should be clear.
Not every Uighur in Xinjiang is happy with the rising tide of conservatism: one academic lamented the dramatic decline in Uighur establishments serving alcohol in the city of Hotan, while insisting that many young girls wear veils only out of compulsion.

But China’s clumsy attempts to “liberate” Uighurs from the oppression of conservative Islam are only driving more people into the hands of the fundamentalists, experts say.

“If the government continues to exaggerate extremism in this way, and take inappropriate measures to fix it, it will only force people towards extremism” a prominent Uighur scholar, Ilham Tohti, wrote, before being jailed in January on a charge of inciting separatism.
Yes ... how many civil rights activists of the early twentieth century turned to communism for lack of a more mainstream (libertarian?) option?


City officials in Tinley Park, on the Rock Island Line, seek express commuter train service to Chicago.
Tinley Park has two stops on the Rock Island line. Currently, a trip from the LaSalle Street station takes 57 minutes—but an express trip could zip commuters from Chicago out to Tinley in 35 minutes, said Economic and Commercial Commission member Curt Fiedler.
Yes, provided residents of Midlothian or Blue Island went along with modifications to their service.  Tinley Park is close enough to Blue Island to path a train running express into La Salle Street Station along the Main Line, whilst a Suburban Line all-stopper stays out of its way; and perhaps a Joliet  - New Lenox - Mokena fast could run four minutes behind it.  But on a two-track railroad, offering the same level of service is going to be difficult.
Other Metra lines currently offering an express service include: the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, which serves Aurora, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Lisle and Naperville, and the Metra Electric line serving the south suburbs, according to the report.
Yes. The Metra Electric has four tracks, Woodlawn to Chicago, and during rush hours, trains from further south pick up at two or three of the outer stations, and then run in streetcar fashion into Chicago, or reverse the pattern going south.  The Racetrack has three tracks, with crossovers from the outer, platform tracks to the center track at strategic locations.  Thus, for example, an express gets onto the center track at Naperville at the same time other expresses are crossing to the center track at Downer's Grove, Hinsdale, and Congress Park: and when those dock at Union Station on four-minute headways, stand clear of the dashing commuters!

The Overland Route also has three tracks, but until recently there were no crossovers between Elmhurst, where the triple track begins, and West Chicago.  With the installation of crossovers, Metra and Union Pacific are considering new schedules with express services in the Burlington style.  The benefit to Union Pacific will be a removal of the freight train curfews east of Elburn, and commuters will benefit from added fast trains.  Currently, some west-suburban commuters who live closer to the Overland  Route are driving to the Land of the Burlingtons for the faster trains ... and there is no more capacity for passenger trains on that line.

But a third track on the Rock Island Line?


The trustees at Chicago State University, in a move that Third World despots everywhere must recognize and respect, have done the bidding of President-for-life Wayne Watson and de-recognized the faculty senate.

A quick search of news aggregators turns up no coverage of this usurpation.  But when students or parents wonder why there are insufficient sections of classes being offered, or some new activity fee or unconstitutional acceptable internet use policy has been imposed, it is likely the case that faculty governance has been bypassed by deanlets and deanlings, if it hasn't been, as appears to be the case at Chicago State, dissolved.


According to The Washington Examiner and Politico, Congressional Democrats have lost confidence in Debbie Wasserman "Blabbermouth" Schultz.

It's more than her tendency to antagonize people.  Some in the party establishment object to her use of party funds to buy clothes.  (That might be an echo of a flap Congressional Republicans had whilst Sarah Palin was standing for vice-president, or it might be a made up gripe.)

But does anybody notice what the representative wears?

A little digging reveals that others have noted the resemblance.



My first full day back in country, last Friday, and here's Democrat shill Chris Matthews ending his show with a warning about political dynasties.

"Dynasties make no sense whatever."

That, at the conclusion of a show that included a friendly interview with Ken Burns about his latest PBS collage, The Roosevelts.  Yes, the show presents the family warts-and-all; it is, however, a paean to The Cult of the Presidency.  Nowhere in that segment does the evasion of the Constitution by Theodore or Franklin ever come up.  Bully.

"Why do we speak of dynasties with such affection?  Why?"

This from a man who is doing everything he can throw at his (smallish) audience to drag Hillary!'s pantsuited cankles into the Oval Office.

This from a man who regularly brings long-time Kennedy-worshippers on as guests (three aging Boomers, each agreeing with each other.)

Mr Matthews would make a real contribution by finishing with "Why do we look to Washington for everything?  Why?"



It is the nature of the Railroad for things to go wrong: weather, or wire breaks, or a cow on the tracks, or mechanical failures.  And although the railroads of Western Europe make a point of running on time, sometimes Reality gets in the way.

Case in point: Intercity train 90, which I rode from Nürnberg to Hamburg on the afternoon of August 31.  It was running on time.  The notice boards on the platform alerted that part of the formation was not in the order shown on the trackside posters (fixed-formation trains do make the creation of such posters easier), and the arriving rake was another of the two Electroliner successor trains coupled.  (I'm not sure if one of the sets was dropped somewhere for a different destination.)  Again, a seat reservation is useful, although a passenger boarding at Nürnberg had to move along when I showed up with a valid claim to a window seat.  Riders appear to take this in stride.  Leave Nürnberg 1732; Würzburg 1823 - 1833 (station dwell times are sometimes long), meet a longish train of covered hopper cars (unlike much of the UK, freight trains do get out on the main lines by day); excuse myself and head forward to the diner.  Grab a window seat at a 2+2 table, a few minutes later a couple from a forward car join me.  (No steward assigning seats, but everybody gets sharing.)  It transpires that they had once made a motor journey across Canada, and they had useful suggestions for a visitor to Hamburg.  During dinner, Fulda 1907 - 1909 and Kassel 1942 - 1944, 4 minutes down.

Dining car stock-outs aren't limited to Amtrak.  Despite a menu listing all sorts of German cuisine prepared under the tutelage of a highly regarded chef, all that remains are the Nürnberger bratwursts with a different kind of German potato salad.  And one of my table-mates had requested a starter, which the server never brought.  The dining car also appears to function as a kind of lounge, on the 1+1 table side of the car were  a few people nursing a drink and reading or working on their computers.  There was never enough traffic in the diner for the steward to rush people out, as can happen on Amtrak.  On the plus side, I didn't observe the train crew commandeering a 2+2 to use as their mobile office.

Thanks and good nights offered, and back to my coach.  Unexplained cross-over to the other main somewhere south of Hannover, no evidence of track-work or a train out my window.  Conductor makes an announcement setting our expected times back owing to delays; Hanover 2042 - 2044, Hamburg - Harburg (think Route 128 or Naperville) 2151 - 2153, arrive Hamburg Hauptbahnhof 2202, nine minutes down.  All credit to the good people at Royal Travel for setting up the hotels: the one at Nürnberg was an easy walk to the station (particularly once I figured out the pedestrian subways) and the one at Hamburg across the street from the main station entrance.

Some of this ride was on the central German high-speed line, with a lot of running in tunnels.  And I had the option of earlier, or later, departures from Nürnberg, something that's hard to come by in most of the Amtrak network.


Perhaps the secular crisis is catalyzing, to use an expression from The Fourth Turning.  In the New York Times, one Roger Cohen writes of The Great Unraveling.  (News flash: there's been unraveling for the past forty years or so, conditions are pretty much unraveled.)
Nobody connected the dots or read Kipling on life’s few certainties: “The Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire / And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire.”

Until it was too late and people could see the Great Unraveling for what it was and what it had wrought.
No, the rot has been setting in for a long time. There's strong disagreement, though, about what people ought coalesce around to fix it.  The same day, and apparently unrelated to the Cohen column, came Immanuel Wallerstein in Common Dreams, seeing The United States Heading for a Crash.
The United States is in serious decline. Everything is going wrong. And in the panic, they are like a driver of a powerful automobile who has lost control of it, and doesn't know how to slow it down. So instead it is speeding it up and heading towards a major crash. The car is turning in all directions and skidding. It is self-destructive for the driver but the crash can bring disaster to the rest of the world as well.
That "they" refers to the governing classes.  I fear, though, that forty years of enabling incompetence and celebrating crudity contribute to the unraveling.  It's no longer just about jihadis seeing weak horses and strong horses.  It's also something that Mr Wallerstein naively hopes can be fixed with another dose of process.
There are ways of tamping down this catastrophic scenario. They involve however a decision to shift from warfare to political deals between all sorts of groups who don't like each other and don't trust each other. Such political deals are not unknown, but they are very difficult to arrange, and fragile when first made, until they solidify. One major element in such deals coming to fruition in the Middle East is less involvement of the United States, not more. Nobody trusts the United States, even when they momentarily call for U.S. assistance in doing this or that.
That may be a way out of the morass in Asia Minor, simply to contain the Sillies by advising aid workers, journalists, curiosity seekers and assorted conscience-cowboys that the United States, or the United Nations, or the Civilized Powers, cannot guarantee their safety, and thereafter letting the conflicts burn themselves out.

That is not a way out of the crisis of confidence in the existing institutions.  Elizabeth "Anchoress" Scalia summarizes the situation precisely.
The long sleep induced by prosperity and power must now be broken. The choice to remain unengaged, fully tricked out with technology, is coming to an end, as is the easy habit of playing partisan games at the expense of human lives.

We cannot simply listen to the “strategic class” and trust that they know what they are talking about. If they ever did, those days have passed. Our “meritocracy” and “public service” have proved a recipe to rule for them, and ruin for us. We cannot return to office people who need turning out. We cannot keep operating as obedient automatons who need only the right buttons pressed to do the social and political bidding of living, breathing appetites of ambition.
There's more to that passage than a commentary on foreign policy in a fragmenting international order.  For years I've been griping about Process, Nuance, Failure.  Perhaps people are beginning to listen.

A number of recent Pajamas Media posts have provided the outline of a resolution.  Start with Robert Spencer.  He offers thoughts as advice on defeating the jihad, but there is much to rely upon in rebuilding the institutions.  Self-despising multiculturalism (to use my phrase) must go.
The U.S. today faces an even stronger enemy than the Islamic jihadists – and stronger than Russia and China as well. That enemy is the entrenched culture of self-hatred that denigrates anything and everything American, and exalts the most inveterate America-haters as heroic underdogs struggling valiantly against a brutal and blind behemoth. That entrenched culture is the foremost obstacle to our defense against jihad terror and Islamic supremacism, in a never-ending tale of obfuscation of a genuine threat and slander of those who call attention to it.

In the aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush should have called upon the education establishment to reject the revisionism and self-hatred that dominates the textbook view of American history and Western civilization today, and to recognize that Western culture and civilization are seriously threatened today and are worth defending.
Two long twilight struggles. Recall, though, that defeating the Evil Empire required patriots to fight Communism with one hand, and well-meaning domestic dupes with the other.

Then comes Dave Swindle, suggesting that in a war, there can be no victory without preparation for victory.
We need to develop the moral clarity to give our enemies the deaths they seek. Or this 9/11 will be just like the ones to come. We’ll always just sit here anticipating that we’re going to be hit again. I think we need to give September 11 a new meaning. Here’s my dream for today, who’s with me? Someday, maybe decades from now, the last territory under Shariah law and the final land living under a secular despot’s fist will be liberated. Someday 9/11 will not be a day of fear but of celebration as not just the United States sits under the protection of the First Amendment, but the entire planet.

Is there some more important long-term objective that I’m missing? I don’t see how anyone on earth can ever truly be safe from becoming a slave himself as long as slave empires are permitted to masquerade around as though they, too, were liberal democracies worthy of respect.
That's calling for two things: an end to Nagasaki syndrome, and a willingness to mock the Sillies.  (And more than a few Overly Earnest People in the west.)  Where is the modern Spike Jones?

Otherwise, Jon Bishop suggests, civilizations die.


The editorial board of The Northern Star request a revision of the university's unconstitutional internet acceptable use policy, pronto.
The Acceptable Use Policy is now facing revision, but there aren’t any dates on when those revisions will be finished.

The Computing Facilities Advisory Committee needs to provide students with deadlines and clear messages regarding updates to the Acceptable Use Policy.
There used to be a document entitled "Committees of the University" that listed the meeting times. It may still exist, online someplace. (I'm retired. Go do your own research.)

Because the policy took effect in the middle of summer, when the standing institutions of faculty governance are in recess, there's likely to be some walking back on the part of the deanlets and deanlings.

The students are correct, however, about the consequences of the policy.
Because the university’s reputation was damaged by rumors the Acceptable Use Policy was censoring students, committee members need to make these revisions a top priority. Without clear deadlines, it appears committee members are neglecting this priority.
Perhaps so, although rushing something through simply to have Done Something isn't necessarily going to help retrieve that reputation.



These days, the Marktplatz in Nürnberg is a gathering place for tourists, and there are farmers' produce-stalls, eateries that serve triple brats (by law, a Nürnberg bratwurst must be able to fit through a keyhole, they're about the size of a breakfast sausage in the State Line), and taverns that brew their own beer.

In the foreground, the Schönbrunn fountain, behind, the spire of the Frauenkirche.

The Frauenkirche clock puts on quite the show at noon.

The mechanism dates to the early sixteenth century. The seven Electors of the Holy Roman Empire thrice circle King Karl IV, turning to render their respects.

Put another way, though, you are looking at Regional Leaders of the First Reich paying homage to their Emperor.  Accordingly, the Marktplatz taking on the name Adolf Hitler Platz during the Nazi period has deeper significance.  At least until Nuremberg came under new management on Hitler's 56th birthday.

U. S. Army photograph courtesy Third Reich in Ruins.

Effective with the flag-raising, locals would refer to Eiserner-Michael-Platz, after Genl John "Iron Mike" O'Daniel, commanding 3rd Infantry.

Outside the city walls are what remain of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds.  The never completed Congress Hall echoed the style of Rome's Colosseum, only on a larger scale.

Had I gone further around the building to the right as in the photograph, I would have gone onto the grounds of the Nürnberg Folk Festival.  Had the weather been better, that's what I might have done, thus adding impressions of a German county fair to those I have posted for Illinois or Wisconsin.  But the jet lag and a train reservation that would get me to Hamburg at a decent hour triumphed.

The interior of the building, and the overall roof, were never completed.  The few renderings I have seen suggest it would have made a great set for the Borg.  A historical museum is at the end of one wing, and a recital hall for the Nürnberg Symphoniker at the other.

The hall is on the banks of a retention pond called Dutzendteich.  The weather militated against the paddle-boat rental stand opening, or any rowers or sailors practicing.  Note, though, at least one Laser in the boatyard.

That's the Congress Hall behind.

Keep walking along the nature trail, and you get to Zeppelin Field.  (There are helpful guideposts and interpretive signs, in German and English.)

The grandstands on the opposite side of the street are in rough shape.  The towers have a military look about them, but existed to shelter toilets, and the electrical apparatus for the spotlights that illuminated the night skies during rally days.

Dignitaries had a more substantial reviewing stand, which is I think on the east side of the complex.

At one time, there were colonnades the length of the stand, which were removed as unsafe in 1967.  During Occupation, the complex was called Soldiers Field (perhaps because a G.I. from Chicago noted a resemblance to a facility on the lakefront subsequently ruined by the insertion of a giant commode between the columns?)

I was in Nürnberg for the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Poland, which would also be the 75th anniversary of the cancellation of the Peace Rally scheduled for early September on these grounds.  The next military review to take place on these grounds would be in April of 1945.

Ninth Army raised the Stars and Stripes, did a march-past, then blew up the swastika that once adorned the reviewing stand.

(These events occur at about 1:10 of the video.)

The reviewing stand is open for exploration, at your own risk.

That's not the original speaker's platform.  A few seats in the stadium are usable; most are overgrown.  Behind the walls, the current soccer stadium, a sports complex; additional soccer fields where the Labor Service volunteers would do close-order drill with picks and shovels.

Nürnberg's government have a challenge in conserving these grounds.  To restore might send the wrong message.  To allow them to deteriorate to an unsafe condition might offer temptations to trespassers sympathetic to Hitlerism to claim the grounds as their own.

The night before was warm for late August, with fine weather.  At least one visitor (or party) had a rally of a different kind.

Wasn't me!  I had a pleasant encounter with some Austrians, also on holiday, at one of the eateries in the Old Town, that Sonnabend.  (And let me make the case for doing your overseas travel on your own or with companions of your choice ... make an effort to speak the language, mingle with the people, get a sense of what they enjoy doing.  The people on the package tours never quite get out of their bubble, and there's more to visiting a country than the pre-arranged meals, the art gallery, the up-scale shopping.  But that's material for a subsequent post.)

Elsewhere on the Party Grounds is the Luitpold Arena.  Here, the massed storm troopers would pledge their fealty.  An Army propaganda film that was ordered destroyed by Genl Eisenhower ended with one of the more dramatic transitions in propaganda movies.

A cut of Hitler and two cronies marching through the ranks; three GIs (the movie suggest they had walked from Normandy) on the empty field, then the swastika blown off the reviewing stand.

In contemporary language, that's spiking the football!


A recent installment of Insta Pundit's K-12 Implosion series leads to an Education Action Group Foundation discovery of what appears to be another PC atrocity, in this case the culturally unresponsive teaching of mathematics.  But one of the examples the foundation picks from the Culturally Responsive Teaching manifesto really calls for a better understanding of economics, not some new cultural competence.
Marilyn Frankenstein, in Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice: Conversations with Educators, tells a story she attributes to Marcia and Robert Ascher, in which a European explorer (presumably Francis Galton, the man who invented eugenics) agrees to trade an African shepherd two sticks of tobacco in exchange for one sheep. When he offers four sticks of tobacco in exchange for two sheep, however, the shepherd declines; the explorer later tells this story as evidence of the shepherd's inability to comprehend simple mathematical reasoning and as “proof” of intellectual inferiority on the African subcontinent. But, if sheep are not standardized units, as there is no reason to believe them to be, then doesn't it make sense that the second sheep might be worth far more than the first? And then doesn't our premise of 2 + 2 = 4 look awfully naive?
No. Numbers are dimensionless, whilst sheep and tobacco are from an n-dimensional consumption set in a real space. Once bargaining becomes involved, it's no longer simple arithmetic.  And even if the two sheep are otherwise identical, the underlying preference ordering might be one in which the exchange of two sticks for a sheep is Pareto-preferable to both traders, and the proposed exchange of four sticks for two sheep Pareto-preferable to Galton but not to the shepherd.

We don't have to get into planes and convexity to instill in students the notion that supply curves slope upward, thus the shepherd's reservation price for selling the second sheep might be higher, and demand curves slope downward, and the shepherd's refusal might lead, if Mr Galton is careless, into a new proposal from the shepherd, of three sticks for the first sheep.


While I was out of the country, one of my favorite ghetto politicians got arrested participating in another raise-the-minimum-wage protest.
[Representative] Moore later said in a statement she took “great pride in supporting Milwaukee workers as they risk arrest in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow for their families.” The congresswoman’s district includes Milwaukee.

Obama and congressional Democrats have made raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of the midterm election campaign.
That says volumes about what Milwaukee Public Schools and the Great Society have done for the jobs prospects of Milwaukee's poor.  A higher minimum wage would have a salutary effect on the fortunes of burger-flipping robot manufacturers (and there's a smart-phone app for your mocha latte already), and at one time Milwaukee produced the sort of blue-collar aristocrat necessary to properly manufacture such a machine.

And Representative Moore could still show her activist bona fides.  Management and labor at Otis Elevator could do well by appearing to do good, when elevator operators were minimum wage workers.


Let's hope that Culver's have more success in a Lincoln Highway location that has not been kind to previous restaurants.
The DeKalb Culver’s has a drive-thru and extended hours of 10 a.m. to midnight daily in hopes of enticing NIU students. The restaurant’s 85 employees are also considering staying open later during weekends when sports games are being held on campus, said owner Jeff Newkirk.
That's encouraging for October, when there are three Saturday afternoon football games. November, when class project deadlines loom and football goes to school nights, may be another matter.

One of the patrons interviewed noted that the new restaurant is within walking distance.  It's within walking distance of Cold Spring Shops headquarters, and hard by the Overland Route.


Nailed to Newmark's Door, a darkly humorous look at semi-literate student electronic mails.

Suggested responses:

"Treat electronic mail as professional correspondence, with proper attention to capitalisation, spelling, and punctuation."

"'Hey' is an improper form of address for a request."

"Get the information you seek from a classmate."

"No.  Grow up."

"Lack of planning on your part is not an emergency on my part."

Yes, you might get some push-back from the little darlings, but your job is to say No and uphold standards.

That is all.


Northern Illinois University's unconstitutional acceptable internet use policy will change, but the Northern Star reports, not with any sense of urgency.
Changes to the university’s Acceptable Use Policy have no set date, but they will be made by the Computing Facilities Advisory Committee and Brett Coryell, vice president and chief information officer, in the coming months.
I'm encouraged to see that standing institutions of faculty governance are in the loop, but less so to see coverage focusing on technology rather than on principles of open inquiry, or of faculty responsibilities properly carried out.



Two hundred years of The Star-Spangled Banner.

What other world power would use as a national anthem a song with an opening stanza that begins and ends with questions?

Or have so many nay-sayers seeking to deconstruct, if not ditch, the song?

Oh thus be it ever, where freemen shall stand.


Word reached Cold Spring Shops, early in the summer, about the planned closing of Hoffman's Playland in Colonie, New York.  I accordingly worked it into the list of stops to make enroute Rockland for the Lobster Festival.

These trains with trucks that look out of place under anything other than an F unit are becoming fewer and further between.

It's about 7 pm on a Thursday evening (July 31) and there are respectable crowds on the midway.  The junior roller coaster in the background apparently provided coaster enthusiasts with sufficient grounds to visit the park.

With the closing of the country's Kiddielands, the summer birthday party traffic, alas, is more likely to be diverted to the likes of Chuck-E-Cheese.  Jeeze.

And there's a good stock of vintage Jacksonville Iron to be sold.  Here's a Little Eli, there is also a Big Eli and a Scrambler on the grounds.

The reason for the park's closing is familiar: the owners want to retire, and the land is more valuable in a year-round use.
The Hoffmans, who met at the playland, said last year that they wanted to retire and planned to close the amusement park that has been part of many area residents' childhoods and parenting memories. Petitions and a Facebook page called for saving the playland, which first opened in 1952. Efforts were made to find a buyer, but the Hoffmans wanted someone to move the equipment elsewhere so they could develop the valuable land on Route 9 where the playland sits.

The area is booming with retail and residential development including the $50 million Village of New Loudon next door that includes a mix of residences and retail outlets. That land is where David Hoffman's uncles once ran businesses including a driving range, a miniature golf course and a snack stand.
The golf facilities are long gone, and the stores and eateries appeared to be doing a good business the evening I was there.  The article suggests a buyer for the attractions in toto might be in negotiations; the planned auction of the equipment piecemeal has been postponed.

Today is the last day of operation at Hoffman's, and it is going to be going out busy, the same way the Melrose Park Kiddieland did five years ago.

Although northwestern Pennsylvania isn't experiencing the same kind of commercial activity as the Capital Region, Conneaut Lake Park also face the problem of being unable to cover their opportunity costs.
Mark Turner, the [Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County] executive director, did not respond to several requests for comment. He has said park trustees will consider filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to stop the sheriff’s sale and freeze the park’s assets, according to The Associated Press. The redevelopment agency could then proceed with plans to renovate the park, transforming it from a summer amusement park and lakeside resort to a cultural destination that can earn revenue year-round.

“We have to convert the park from a 10-week business model to a 12-month business model, or we will not achieve self-sufficiency,” Mr. Turner said in June.

Developers would like to build a new lakeside performing arts center and outdoor amphitheater, and possibly condominiums, and would improve the hotel and amusement park already in place.
Condominiums and roller coasters don't mix ... let us call the roll of Nantasket Beach or Crystal Beach or Muskego Beach.  But the roller coaster at risk is a classic.

The Blue Streak celebrated its 75th birthday last year.

Immediately next to it is an even older, classic, carroussel (I'm using the spelling the park used to use.)

On this rainy Monday, August 11, there are few riders on the grounds.  The kiddieland section is in operation, as much of the crowd is the pre-school set.

That's a Junior Tumble Bug, and a number of the other junior rides are similarly classic.

The Little Dipper was available as training, for patrons not yet tall enough to ride the Blue Streak.

But many of the adult rides are property of concessionaires who, concerned about the prospect of a sheriff's sale, have been removing their rides, or stripping them for parts.
The other old rides still operating are the 1925 Tumble Bug, 1937 Blue Streak wooden out-and-back roller coaster and 1949 Tilt-A-Whirl. The coaster was not operating the day I visited, and I learned it often is shut down. There hasn't been a Ferris wheel on the grounds for several years.

The Tumble Bug is one of only two full-sized versions still operating in the U.S.; the other is at Kennywood near Pittsburgh. Chippewa Lake Park also had a Tumble Bug, and in my archives is a photo of Vaca sitting in one of its cars when we explored that park.
The Tumble Bug underwent a test before the park opened.

Properly, that's a Traver Tumble Bug as in the Traver Engineering that gave the world the Crystal Beach Cyclone and the Revere Beach Lightning.  But the water-park behind looks derelict.  This article provided the status of several resort attractions beyond the midway.

Next to the Tumble Bug, the Musik Express is partially dismantled (or never fully assembled?)

The base of the Round-Up, and the rusty water tower behind, lend a post-apocalyptic air not moderated by the overcast and a threat of rain.

And the train, similar to the one at Hoffman's, hasn't turned a wheel in some time.  The locomotive might have surrendered its driving wheel to keep some other amusement park train running.

Despite local boosters hope for a reprieve, the sheriff's sale is set for November.


It has long been a watch-word at Cold Spring Shops that Complex Adaptive Systems Do Pretty Much What They Darn Well Please.

Here's Charles Marohn of Strong Towns, suggesting that Experts in Their Disciplines respect the watch-word.  Expertise in your domain, he argues, does not grant special powers.
Domain dependence is the phenomenon that prompts people to adopt a different approach or worldview depending on the domain.

For example, cities are complex adaptive systems. When I point that out, there is general agreement. When I take the next step and explain how the natural inclination of planners to try and control these systems – to calculate growth rates, predict absorption rates, zone property based on their projections for market demand, etc… -- is folly, that it actually demonstrates their severe lack of understanding, readers here cheer. We need more humility in the face of this complexity, an understanding that would prompt us to think and act more incrementally.

When I say that traffic is a complex adaptive system, again, the feedback here is a general consensus. When engineers try to project traffic and model how real people will respond to their schemes, they are demonstrating their severe lack of understanding of complexity. I point that out and you applaud. Engineers need more humility in the face of complexity. They need to understand the limits of their knowledge and adopt a more modest, more incremental, mindset.
He extends the argument, to deal with the problems that arise when Politicians feel compelled to Do Something, and constituents sometimes want Something Favorable To Be Done For Them.
When we switch domains to the economy – the ultimate complex, adaptive system – the consensus vanishes. All of a sudden, our ability to project in the face of overwhelming complexity is considered sound, despite the horrific track record. Our confidence amid massive intervention away from anything resembling a market economy is supreme. There is no need for modest, no need for humility. We got this one under control, Chuck, and you sound like an idiot when you question it. (By the way, let’s not talk about 2008 – that was someone else’s mistake.)

A large reason for this switch is that, unlike cities or traffic, economics is deeply intertwined with our national politics. Or more precisely, with the rhetoric of our national politics (since both parties have overwhelmingly embraced our current monetary policy, relegating real criticism of the Federal Reserve to the likes of Rand Paul and Elizabeth Warren). The undisciplined mind can apply a humble logic to complex adaptive systems in one domain and then, when overwhelmed by their political sentiment, find themselves ungrounded in another.

The same thinking applies to other complex, adaptive systems such as the human body and climate change. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve avoided talking about the latter for five years now because, if your (politics-inspired) reaction on the economy is consistently like this, you’re going to go berserk when I explain either our (a) complete inability to predict climate change with any degree of confidence or (b) what a humble approach looks like in the face of that. If you’d like some insight on that line of thinking, read this from Nassim Taleb.
Indeed.  And pay careful attention to changes in the initial conditions, and to the equations of motion.
Even scarier, with a complex, adaptive system, the same input in similar circumstances at a different time could yield wildly different results. Just because you were right once – or a thousand times – doesn’t mean you will be right the next time. And when you consider what we’re betting here on being right, well….you should be scared too.

What drives me insane about most economists is the lack of humility, the supreme confidence in their own ability to understand what they are doing. It is the same thing that drives me crazy about engineers, planners, economic development advisors and the whole range of professions that profess to use simple equations to explain infinite complexity. They don’t know what they think they know.
Yes. And after the mocking that Secretary Rumsfeld took about his "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns," the folks who Make Policy for Our Good are going to err on the side of seeming certain, even if wrong.
I think history will someday look back at this entire period of time -- the “American Century” through to whenever the next economic order is established – as the age of hubris, a time where unprecedented affluence allowed society’s leaders to develop an Icarus complex, an unfounded belief in their own capacities, sowing the seeds of their own demise.
Perhaps, as Mr Marohn concludes, it is better to be asking the right questions rather than worrying about the right answers.