29.9.20

LOOK, UP IN THE SKY.

House arrest is a little easier to take when the skies are clear and the planets are putting on a good show.


Mercury more favorably placed for viewing than Venus, 23 May, 9.19 pm.


Saturn and Jupiter bracketing the moon, the whole works playing hide and seek in the clouds.
28 August, 10.33 pm.


Mars is making the transition to being up all night.
At high enlargements, there might be a green dot which is Uranus showing up; at times a visible planet.
14 September, 11.27 pm.

Check out Naked Eye Planets for much more information on all things orbital and sighting opportunities.  You, too, can calculate when each planet goes retrograde, should you have to chart a course to Mars or come up with the best time to take a life-altering action such as getting a coronavirus shot (just kidding about the latter.)

There was also an opportunity to observe an afternoon moonset.


There's often haze or glare or cloud, and the waning gibbous moon gets washed out around midday.
12 August, 12.13 pm.

Now comes fall and winter.  The leaves are starting to change and the corn harvest is in on the other side of the mile road.

27.9.20

ENJOY THE GEAR NOISE.

Here's the epitome of pre-War model railroading technology, a recently scrubbed up Lobaugh Challenger.


That's a similar frame structure and transmission design to that in the Andreyev 4-14-4, which is another reason I persevere.

Note, also, the high display shelves on the walls of this layout.  I saw that at a number of layouts I visited over the years, it is those shelves that inspired the powered display track featured in earlier posts.

SPOT THE DISPROPORTIONATE IMPACT.

"Any one of the states of California, Massachusetts and Illinois has more power than the four continents of Asia, South America, Africa and Australasia combined." Should you fret, dear reader?

UNPRODUCTIVE COLLATERAL.

I've long been of the view that roads are productive assets and highway departments treat them accordingly, as sources of revenue.

That's not how some cash-strapped municipalities in quarantine-strangled California see it.  "[T]wo cities in California are issuing bonds with their own city streets as collateral to pay down their unfunded pension liabilities." Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. "[T]hey’re not turning their streets into toll roads, or giving bond-buyers the ability to 'foreclose' or take control either now or in the future."  There's a procedure for that.
They’re using a bond-issuing mechanism called “lease revenue bonds.” We’re all used to cities paying for public works, stadiums, and the like by issuing bonds which are paid off by a dedicated revenue source — sewer bills, hotel taxes, etc. But lease revenue bonds are different. Here’s the layperson’s description at Charles Schwab:

“Lease revenue bonds are a unique structure in the muni market. Instead of issuing long-term debt, like general obligation bonds do, to finance improvements on a public facility, the municipality may enter into an arrangement that uses lease revenue bonds. Often a trust, not the municipality, issues bonds and generates revenues to pay the bonds back by leasing the facility to the municipality. The municipality will generally appropriate money during each budget session to meet the lease payment.

“Bonds backed by structures with lower essentiality and limited protections for appropriating funds will usually be lower-rated and have higher yields. Our opinion is to be cautious of bonds backed by lease revenues, as these bonds should be viewed more like general government bonds, not revenue bonds.”
I think that's a fancy way of saying "junk bonds" or perhaps it's a financial can being kicked down a crumbling road.
Despite the fact that the streets are nominally being “leased,” the bondholders will not have any particular rights to lay claim to the streets; despite their status as “collateral,” the bondholders can’t take them over and charge tolls if either city defaults on their “rent” payments. The city will simply pay the “rent” based on their ordinary tax revenue rather than any special purpose taxes. The “lease” component then becomes little more than a gimmick, a loophole, a way to use the existing “menu” of bond choices available to them in the most advantageous way possible, especially since, at least in California, “general obligation bonds” require voter approval.
As long as everyone is in on the grand fiction ...

Maybe, after they've tried everything else, they'll get permission from Congress (because without those federal matching funds, there wouldn't be anywhere near as many roads and expansion project) to make their collateral productive.  "Congress Needs to Get Serious About Enabling Tolling So States Can Rebuild Highways."  Get out of the way, and faster, please.
The most troubling provision in the [House bill] was the requirement for every toll project to have a separate, federally-approved tolling agreement. This inserts the federal government into state and local transportation projects, runs counter to previous attempts to mainstream tolling, and, given that the law would have made the projects ensure that air quality, mass transit, environmental justice, and equity were taken into account, one has to wonder if it is designed to provide a way for opponents of infrastructure projects to derail needed improvements across the country.

The Senate’s [bill] was a somewhat better proposal but also had its own limitations as it mostly sought to maintain the failing status quo, which brought us to this funding standstill. In terms of tolling, [it] would have expanded the Interstate highway tolling program to urban areas but would not have removed the restrictions on tolling Interstate highways that deter many states from considering all options.

Given that states own their portions of the Interstate system, Congress should not micromanage how states fund roadways. If states have some form of users-pay/users-benefit funding source that does not inhibit interstate commerce, Congress should not stand in the way. It’s no wonder that some states would like to stop sending state gas tax money to Washington and replace the federal gas tax with an equivalent state gas tax that stayed in those locations.
Deregulate. Devolve.
By easing tolling restrictions Congress could allow states to be the laboratories of democracy, unlock a new, reliable funding source that enables them to pay for needed infrastructure and have sufficient revenue to fund responsible stewardship of their roadways.

As Congress continually fails to identify sources for long-term transportation funding, tolling should be viewed as a critically important tool that can be used to help rebuild the aging Interstate Highway System. The next federal surface transportation reauthorization bill should not restrict tolling. Rather, Congress should unlock an important funding option that can be implemented with some common-sense guardrails to protect taxpayers.
Maybe it's time for the states to recognize that they are offering multiple, sometimes competing, sometimes complementary transportation services, and it's as silly to attempt to allocate some taxes for road projects only or rail projects only or any other attempt at segregating the money, and simply price the bundle of services they offer (whether those are roads, freight railways serving critical facilities, or Commuter Rail or Amtrak's regional services) in a way so as to most efficiently cover the costs incurred.

MAYBE THE DEMOCRATS SHOULD DO MORE TO COURT THE VOTES OF RURAL VOTERS.

There's been an interesting back and forth among members and hangers-on at Outside the Beltway, a group effort of political scientists.  I cribbed my post title from James Joyner, one of the long-time members of that effort, where there is currently a conversation going on about structural reforms to government to deal with the composition of the Supreme Court, the representativeness of the Senate, and the size of the House of Representatives, which also has an effect on the presidential electoral vote.

I'm not sure, in reading through the posts, how much of the discussion is positive political theory, i.e. "under conditions X, voting procedure Y and apportionment method Z will yield an outcome that best reflects the public preferences on that bundle of policy positions," as opposed to a more normative stance, i.e. "Democrats are competing at a disadvantage and these rule changes will benefit them."  Nor am I aware of a line of research in political theory akin to what plagues economics, viz: there exists a set of conditions X' that is arbitrarily close to X under which voting procedure Y and apportionment method Z yield an outcome that's not even close to what the public preferences are.  The little we do on voting in economics involves single-peaked or multiple-peaked preferences over relatively small bundles of choices: in real life does anything have essential elements that can be modelled as X or X'?  Then observe the major parties' treatment of Greens or Libertarians and grasp how instrumental a view their strategists have of their court intellectuals.

Here's Steven Taylor, another member of the effort, addressing the tension.
As I outlined yesterday, and as I constantly write about, it is my assessment that we have a profound and growing problem of basic representativeness in our national government that we lack the willingness (often even the understanding) to fix. Worse, the party that is currently benefiting from the deficit of representativeness is willing to continue to manipulate the system to its advantage.

Which, by the way, is what we should expect. Actors who benefit from a system are not likely to want to reform that system. Worse, they are often willing to try and further make that system serve their interests for as long as they possibly can. Since the Republicans have an incentive to continue to exploit lack of representativeness in the system, Democrats need to find ways to expand it. Hence, my views on the topic at hand.

I do want to be clear: my ultimate goal in increased representativeness in our government. It is not a specific policy outcome nor is it power for a specific party.
Look, I'm just an econ guy, or maybe the Master Mechanic at Magnitogorsk. Where's the Pareto improvement, that is, a rule change or set of rule changes that are beneficial both to the political class taken together, and to the voters? For instance, terms for Justices, something that apparently surfaced on Friday, have the effect of making the turnover of seats on the High Bench predictable. Likewise, expanding the size of the House (it's been at 435 voting members since Arizona and New Mexico arrived in 1912) attenuates the electoral vote anomalies and the creation of additional districts might make possible majority-minority districts that don't look like anorexic salamanders.

I fear, though, that the boundary between positive theory and normative statements is porous.  Here's an statement (via Matthew "Fruits and Votes" Shughart, who is a long time reader of Cold Spring Shops) by an Elliott Morris.  "This week’s newsletter will be brief, but I wanted to touch on how Democrats are unlikely to get what they want from the Court in the long-term. Because of the way America’s electoral institutions are set up, they will have a hard time winning enough Senate seats to confirm a liberal justice — which, of course, also requires them to overcome the rural and Republican bent of the electoral college and win the presidency."  It's not clear whether that's a positive statement, or a lament for the predicament of the Donks, although a subsequent passage clarifies.  "Many people have suggested adding Puerto Rico and DC as states to confer extra power in the Senate to Democrats. I think these quick fixes are more intended to make Democrats feel good than it is about solving the root ills of our government. I say this to make clear that I think the only way to fix our elections and Americans’ faith in their government is to scrap the equal representation of states in the Senate."

That theme also appears in a different Steven Taylor post.
I would note, that the constitutional mechanism designed by the Framers did not envision westward expansion as it ultimately occurred. Just look at the geographic size of the 37 states added over time, and compare them to the first 13. And think about how large, largely peopleless (in a relative sense) states like Wyoming, Idaho, and the Dakotas distorts the EC and the Senate (institutions that already distort majority influence). And, on the other end of the spectrum, how vast, highly populated, states like California and Texas also distort the original design.
There's a lot the Framers didn't anticipate, including future developments in voting methods and apportionment, in part because they were making it up as they went along, and in part because the techniques for carving states out of territories evolved over time.  In Shughart, Taylor, et. al., A Different Democracy you'll see occasional references to those early adopter effects.  I submit, dear reader, that perhaps an institutional structure that has held together through two centuries even with testing in the form of secession, global war, and periodic partisan discontent with specific institutional effects (how quickly the Republicans quit carping about that 250 electoral vote lock the Democrats started with changed, for instance; the Congress was a Democrat preserve from the New Deal until 1980 for the Senate and mostly for the House until 1994; and does anybody remember the proposal for a state called Superior carved out of Michigan's upper peninsula, some of Wisconsin north of 64, and parts of the Minnesota arrowhead?) might not be overturned lightly.   Decide for yourself, dear reader, whether talk of splitting up California or spinning Downstate off from Chicago mean a new flock of light and transient causes are in the air, or whether a long Train of Abufes and Ufurpations is crushing the electorate.

Yes, that's a Tory sort of position.  Survivability despite secession, several forms of totalitarianism, and new developments in governance structure might be evidence of robustness, in much the same way that despite the sale of indulgences, the Holy Inquisition, and the occasional discovery of pedophile priests there are still the four layers of management between parishioner and Pope that the early Roman Catholic Church had.  Here's Kevin D. Williamson, concurring in part.  "Even the antidemocratic elements of U.S. government, such as the Bill of Rights, which put certain questions beyond the reach of mere temporary majorities, came out of democratic institutions and were implemented through a democratic process. It is from that that they derive their legitimacy. Democracy has its shortcomings — mostly rooted in the fact that human beings are universally fallen and in the majority savage — but the alternative is bonking each other over the head over every disagreement."

Or perhaps, it's not the professors, philosphers, or priests who have the closing arguments.  Rather it might be the pragmatists.  Consider Michael Barone.  "A more practical and speedy response, and one that doesn't violate norms, is to modify your political positions and rhetoric. It may satisfy liberals' pride to pile up votes in California and the coastal Northeast by denouncing deplorables in the flyover states. But it's also feasible to win more votes there."  National Review's James Geraghty is thinking along similar lines.
If Democrats want to win more races in more rural and sparsely populated states, they should run candidates who do a better job of appealing to voters in those states! Alternately, the rest of the party could at least try to not communicate anything that could be construed as contempt for “flyover country” or rural Americans.
We recently noted Democrat operatives modifying their message in recognition that "coalition of the ascendant" is not the same thing as "majored in culture studies."  That might mean less deplorable-shaming, and perhaps additional Democrat voters outside the cities.

The onus ought to be on the Republicans as well to compete more effectively in the thickly settled or densely populated states. By way of an old example, an obscure state senator called Barack Obama was for all intents and purposes unopposed when he sought federal office for the first time.  There has to be a way to compete against the party of excessive lockdowns and macroeconomic torpor in the states suffering the most from those lockdowns and that torpor.

HIGHER EDUCATION'S PRIVILEGE ON DISPLAY.

An Inside Higher Ed stringer called Adriana Dominguez gets irritated because Anybody could have cut the cake but Everybody thought Somebody Else could Do It and Nobody Did It.
After about a solid five minutes of inaction, I finally took the steps toward the cake area. Other meetings were scheduled that afternoon and, as it was clear that no one else was going to do it, I did it. I went to the cake area and proceeded, with two non-tenure-track female colleagues of color, to cut and serve the cake. Everyone enjoyed their cake and went about socializing while we wiped frosting off our hands before taking our first bite; we were the last to be served. We even laughed and joked among ourselves about how interesting it was that no one else stepped forward to cut and serve the cake.

This experience significantly affected me as the only faculty woman of color on the tenure track in my department. It reinforced what I have contended with my entire professional career: that a brown woman is always going to be expected to serve her fellow faculty members. Now, I am not new to the department (although if I were, that shouldn’t be an excuse, either) and I did not organize the event, so I had no real role in cutting and serving the cake. Yet there I was, piling the cake onto plates and measuring the slices to make sure that everyone at the event got one.

Yes, I could have stood there inactively like my colleagues. I could have waited (potentially forever) until someone else was guilted into the serving position. Yes, I could have said something out loud to encourage others to cut the cake. But I didn’t. For one thing, I didn’t want the individual being honored to feel like an imposition. And for another, I could feel the weight of my color at that event along with the expectation of me taking on that role. And although we would all like to believe that there are no politics in higher education, as a junior faculty member, I also felt an additional level of expectation to cater to the senior members of the faculty. (Other junior faculty members were present, as well -- just not faculty of color.)
Seriously?

I've cracked wise about faculty members being scared of power tools, but being reluctant to use a kitchen knife takes the cake.

SAY NO TO THE ARBITRARY LOCKDOWNS.

San Francisco's Archbishop, Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, JCD, has this Sunday's homily.  "Americans’ Right to Worship Is Being Denied by Governments. I Won’t Be Silent Anymore."
We Catholics respect legitimate authority, and we recognize that the government has a right to impose reasonable public health rules, just as we recognize its right to issue safety codes for our church buildings. But when government asserts authority over the church’s very right to worship, it crosses a line. Our fundamental rights do not come from the state. As the authors of our Declaration of Independence put it, they are “self-evident,” that is, they come from God.

Even this injustice, though, is not as hurtful as the simple lack of compassion. I sometimes wonder whether the increasingly secular elites imposing these restrictions understand the pain they are unnecessarily inflicting. The sacraments as we Catholics understand them cannot be live-streamed. People are being denied the religious worship that connects them with God and one another. For hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans facing the simultaneous challenges of a pandemic and economic downturn, the church is their key source of spiritual, emotional and practical help. I worry about the poor, the jobless and especially the addicted whose major access to community help is the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings formerly held in churches all over the city and the country.
I'm pleased to report that Chicago's coronavirus version of Mass for Shut-Ins now has a few live congregants to do the responses.  Plus one of the functionaries included in today's thanks gratitude that the White Sox were in the playoffs.  In the interest of comity, he also acknowledged the Cubs.

26.9.20

ON MY WORKBENCH.

It's been a while since we last looked at the Andreyev 4-14-4.  Rest assured, I've been debugging a number of annoying short circuits and binds in the mechanism, plus an unforced error in putting the tender trucks under the tender backwards (must be a senior moment, years ago I painted the port side ends of the axles red; then I put them on with the red marks to starboard.)

What can be more Soviet than hero project steam locomotive in front of a steel mill?


Stalin couldn't make it disappear: perhaps his curse is that any model of it will be as difficult to get running as the real thing ever was.  That's where a little Yankee stubbornness and a few choice cuss words (take your pick, Slavic, German, Anglo-Saxon) come in handy.

PRODUCTIVITY FINANCES HEALTH CARE.

Chicago Boy Kevin Villani weighs the gains and losses from the continued house arrests.
In the case of the COVID 19 political pandemic the data was scarce, misleading and frequently mis-interpreted the existing models seriously flawed or inapplicable, medical understanding imperfect and learned from scratch, and understanding of how it spread continuously revised. But even had CDC epidiimological scientists had perfect knowledge and foresight, for them COVID 19 lives are implicitly priceless and other lives not counted as outside their area of responsibility. Executive decisions have to be made regarding national health.

Allocating resources to COVID has caused a crisis of infant mortality, and a host of other problems, from cancer to suicide. A quarter of those in the age group with the highest value of life seriously contemplated suicide. The COVID 19 forced consolidation is predicted to permanently raise future health care costs. While total deaths are still above trend line due to COVID 19, this may reverse in future years as a delayed response for these other causes.
Taken together, though, worse health care now, and reduced productivity later.

DECONSTRUCTING THE CULT OF SMART.

The American Conservative's Clayton Trutor reacts to Frederik deBoer's Cult of Smart (introduced here.)
In this often thoughtful and compelling work, deBoer sounds an awful lot like Charles Murray in Coming Apart and Real Education. Like Murray, deBoer is responding to the world that No Child Left Behind hath wrought.Moreover, deBoer shares Murray’s belief that educational resources ought to be deployed in pursuit of realistic and tangible goals for students who are not college material. The main difference between the two men’s educational philosophies arises primarily from their differing views of political economy.

A classroom teacher turned English PhD, deBoer opposes the equation of one’s scholastic skill with one’s value as a human being, a widespread view among the nation’s academically gifted aspirational classes, which he describes as “the cult of smart.” He regards the kinds of cognitive skills that are rewarded in the modern school system as largely genetically inherited and views the idea of scholastic meritocracy as a dynamo of social inequality. deBoer describes schools as not a key to success in life, as politicians from George W. Bush to Barack Obama have described it, but a lock which keeps students with lesser intellectual abilities from gaining access to the social and economic opportunities which educational attainment provides.

In his fire-and-brimstone introduction, deBoer buries the high-pressure “collegiate arms race” faced by university-bound high school students, the erroneous assumption that every student has the capacity for book learning, and the notion that a college education is the only path to a respectable and fulfilling adult life. The author also does a number on the group he regards as his real enemy within the American educational system—the self-replicating, progressive cultural elites first described in David Brooks’ Bobos in Paradise. deBoer blames them for walling off social mobility to much of society by taking up all the seats at the elite colleges, marrying only one another, and spending every waking hour within the confines of their cultural set—all the while signaling their cultural enlightenment and broadmindedness through performative social gestures.
That sounds like The Meritocracy Trap as well, with so many of those waking hours spent at college or at work with the other survivors of the positional arms race.  "While deBoer is trying to make the orthodox Marxist point that private inequalities seep into the public sphere, he instead makes as strong a case for the intricacy, imperfectability, and variety of human experience as anyone this side of Russell Kirk."

I have so many books to consider reading that I'll never lack for work.  Just heard about another one,  by the way: Tyranny of Merit, by Harvard's Michael Sandel. There's something smacks of archers-to-the-ramparts-pull-up-the-drawbridges in all these senior Ivy Leaguers decrying the very means and methods that got them there.

THE HEIRS TO LEON TROTSKY KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT MEMORY HOLES. AND PURGES.

World Socialist Web Site authors Tom Mackaman and David North bring the smack on the agitprop masquerading as New York Times history.
The Times’ “disappearing,” with a few secret keystrokes, of its central argument, without any explanation or announcement, is a stunning act of intellectual dishonesty and outright fraud. When it launched the 1619 Project in August 2019, the Times proclaimed that its aim was to radically change what and how students were taught about American history. With the aim of creating a new syllabus based on the 1619 Project, hundreds of thousands of copies of the original version of the narrative, as published in the New York Times Magazine, were printed and distributed to schools, museums and libraries all across the United States. A very large number of schools declared that they would align their curricula in accordance with the narrative supplied by the Times
It was a crap project then, it is a crap project now.  At Quillette, Phillip Magness of the American Institute for Economic Research has the receipts the projects' propagandists tried to hide in the memory hole.  This week's Power Line Week In Pictures has a fitting visual aid, as long as we're on the subject of Stalin making things disappear.


Fortunately for the people running the (Failing?) New York Times, and those of us capable of thinking for ourselves, quality control involves market tests, rather than chekist justice.
The Times is now obligated to issue a public statement acknowledging its distortion of history and the dishonest attempt to cover up its error. It should issue a public apology to Professors Gordon Woods, James McPherson, Sean Wilentz, Victoria Bynum, James Oakes and all other scholars it sought to discredit for having criticized the 1619 Project. To be perfectly blunt, Mr. Silverstein and his confederates in the editorial board of the Times should be dismissed from their posts.

Furthermore, the Pulitzer Prize given to Hannah-Jones this spring in the field of commentary for her lead essay, in which the false claims about the “true founding” and the American Revolution were made, should be rescinded.

The 1619 Project was never about historical clarification. As the WSWS warned in September 2019, the “1619 Project is one component of a deliberate effort to inject racial politics into the heart of the 2020 elections and foment divisions among the working class.” As revealed in a leaked meeting with Times staff, Executive Editor Dean Baquet believed that it would be helpful to the Democratic Party to shift focus after the failed anti-Russia campaign.
It didn't. "By repudiating and denigrating the American Revolution and Civil War, the New York Times has provided an opportunity for Trump to fraudulently posture as a defender of the great democratic legacy of America’s revolutions in the interests of his neo-fascist politics." Trotskyites have to write that way. Reality is socially conservative, even if their doctrine won't have it.

SO LET IT BE WITH CALIFORNIA'S COMMUNISTS.

"We all should know when to pass the baton to a younger generation."  What do you mean "we," Mike Lofgren?
In 1981, the dawn of the Reagan revolution of gerontocracy, the average age of a senator was 53. House members have aged similarly: in 1981 the average age was 49, now it is 57. The incumbent president is 74, challenged by a candidate of 77; the speaker of the House is 80; the majority and minority leaders of the Senate are 78 and 69, respectively.
"Reagan revolution of gerontocracy." Seriously?  It has long been a conservative talking point that an incumbent in Congress has a better chance of staying in office than a member of the Supreme Soviet.  Until there ceased to be a Supreme Soviet.  "It is difficult not to conclude that for at least several decades, the Silent and Baby Boom generations have sat atop the rest of society like a monstrous stone idol that demands worshipping."  For Team Lofgren, though, that's a feature.  "As Young Democrats, these three were likely caught up in the cult of the New Deal. The people have changed over the years, but the cliches, and the faith in Governance by Wise Experts, is still the same."

Turf them out.

HUMANS ARE NOT HAMSTERS.

Reason's Matt Welch says, "Unlock the Damned Playgrounds, Already!"  The civil disobedience to the completely senseless quarantines continues.
Another old baseball-coach friend of mine, as I mentioned on The Reason Roundtable this week, has taken to organizing a kind of Prohibition Little League, complete with lookouts, code words, and so forth. More pervasively, in two trips to Southern California over the past month I experienced a palpable sense of fearful people being at their absolute wit's end, reporting crisis-spike levels of irritability, anger, and depression. Minus the apocalyptic fires, it reminded me very much of New York City three months ago…when the playgrounds were still closed.

Back then, my 5-year-old would routinely say eerie/ominous things like, "How do I know I'm even a person anymore?" Her very first post-lockdown playmate, first visit to the playground, first trip (via COVID-car!) outside the city, first day of summer day camp, were all experienced as moments of tear-inducing liberation.
Let's hope those frustrated Californians will turf out the Wise Experts who have kept them confined to quarters and off the beaches and out of the to-lots for far too long.

THE TRENCHANT OBSERVATION OF OUR TIMES.

"Experts, not commonsense citizens, have been failing America."  V. D. Hanson, at National ReviewRead and understand.  Then bet on emergence.

24.9.20

WHEN HAUTEANS RODE THE ELECTRIC CARS.

Apparently, that's the noun describing residents of Terre Haute, Indiana, according to a report filed by Tribune-Star correspondent Mark Bennett, who paid the Illinois Railway Museum a visit.
The Illinois Railway Museum bought the streetcar in 1993 “to make sure it wasn’t lost,” [restoration guru Frank] Hicks said. Indeed, the museum rescued it from the rainy weather of rural Washington. It had sat in a forest for nearly three decades. Its last 18 years of activity were spent as Car No. 4003 on the streets of Portland, Oregon, from 1940 to ‘58.

The museum bought the car and restored its exterior to its original orange and dark green, instead of the dark blue and carmine red Portland colors. It also now wears its Indiana Railroad number, 205.

“It looks like it did in Terre Haute because we’re a Midwestern museum,” Hicks said.Car 205 lived multiple lives, with different numbers, owners and color schemes. Built in 1927 at Cleveland’s G.C. Kuhlman Car Company, the streetcar and five others initially operated in Louisville, Kentucky, running routes to the Indiana towns of Jeffersonville and New Albany across the Ohio River until 1934. Car 205 and its sibling vehicles then sat idle in storage in Scottsburg until the Indiana Railroad decided to modernize them for inner-city duty in Terre Haute. Mechanics in Anderson did the upgrades.
If the Hauteans are able to come up with half a million bucks, the car can be put in a state of good repair.

LET THE EMPIRICAL RESEARCH BEGIN.

At the end of July, Power Line's John Hinderaker suggested that Wisconsin got the better of Minnesota in the Wuhan coronavirus policy responses.
These two adjoining states are of comparable population, demographics, history and geography. A Wisconsinite is basically a Minnesotan without the smugness.

On the coronavirus, the states parted company on May 13, when the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down that state’s “Safer at Home” order. Minnesota, meanwhile, continued under a lockdown, eventually in modified form, to the present day. To an observer, the difference is obvious: Wisconsin is open for business. Minnesotans cross the St. Croix to eat out and hang out in the restaurants and bars on the Wisconsin side of the river. Wisconsin isn’t quite South Dakota, but compared with Minnesota it is a bastion of freedom.
A commenter got off the obvious wisecrack that the smugness reverses where Super Bowl results are concerned, and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers silenced that goofy horn going on a fortnight ago, but yes, Wisconsin residents seem to be more successfully going about their business.

Toward the end of August, Victory Girl Nina Bookout suggested, "Blame States For Lack Of Economic Recovery, Not Trump."  She continues, "Arbitrary rules by Governors who would rather blame Trump for all their woes instead of realizing that it has been THEIR mandates, THEIR rules, and THEIR temper tantrums that are killing the local economies.

I don't have much to add to the polemics.  Rather, let me direct attention to the most recent seasonally adjusted unemployment rates issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  These are the base unemployment rate, or U1, reported unemployment as a fraction of people in the labor force, whether in work or seeking work.  Do your own digging if your preferred measure treats people in part time work as underemployed, or counts in discouraged workers.  But let me highlight a few entries.
  1. Illinois: 3.8% in August 2019; 14.5% in June 2020; preliminary August rate 11%
  2. Chicago-Naperville metro area: 3.5%; 16.1%; 12.4%
  3. Iowa (less drastic executive orders): 2.8%; 8.4%; 6%
  4. Minnesota: 3.2%; 8.6%; 7.4%
  5. South Dakota (primarily voluntary mitigation): 3.3%; 7.2%; 4.8%
  6. Wisconsin: 3.4%; 8.6%; 6.2%.
A separate table lists the historical low, historical high, and current unemployment rates by states.  Illinois, currently at 11%, hit its historical high of 17.2% in April 2020, coming off a historical low of 3.4% in February 2020.  The corresponding figures for Iowa are 6% with a historical high of 11% in April 2020; their historical low of 2.4% occurred in March 2000.  In Minnesota, their 7.4% is bracketed by a high of 9.9% also in April 2020; their historical low was 2.5% in February 1999. South Dakota's 4.8% is off an April 2020 high of 10.9%; they were also doing well at the turn of the century, reporting their historical low of 2.4% in July 2000.  Wisconsin's 6.2% followed an April 2020 high of 13.6% (better than Illinois, worse than Minnesota) and their historical low was 3.0% in December 2018.

It's going to take some more careful work to identify any effects of the lockdowns and riots on unemployment, economic recovery, or labor force participation rates, but senior papers now have some base material to work with.

THE CASE FOR THE LIBERAL ARTS.

Yes, I'm tilling familiar soil.  Even the most alert among you could benefit by a modicum of repetition.  Take it away, Matt "Dean Dad" Reed.
The term “liberal arts” wasn’t intended to contrast with “conservative arts.” It contrasts with “servile arts,” which are the techniques for producing goods for exchange. The terms are revealing. Aristotle’s notion of politics was based on the exclusion of people whose days are consumed with economics, whether that meant women or manual laborers; as he saw it, people who were too engaged with the muck of life couldn’t raise their sights enough to deal with public things. The trivium -- generally recognized as the source of our liberal arts -- was for those who had the time for it.

The literal meaning of “liberal arts” is the “arts of liberty.” They’re supposed to be the skills necessary for participation in a democratic society as a self-determining citizen. As historians of political thought (hi!) never tire of pointing out, the history of democracy as a lived idea is a history of exclusions, expansions and battles over who gets to be included. It’s also, globally speaking, a history of brief flashes. Although Americans like to think that representative democracy was ordained from on high, in the scope of history, it’s very much the exception. And even where and when it exists, it rests on exclusions. The concept of “us” only makes sense if there’s a “them” for contrast.

The story of American democracy that I prefer is of a series of battles over widening, or narrowing, the circle of who counts as “us.”
His training is in political science, and the essay he's reacting to invokes a resistance to "authoritarianism," thus the direction he takes ought not surprise. Let the record show, though, that trade unites and politics divides.
The arts of liberty are inevitably social. Free speech means nothing to one person on a desert island. Although Americans constantly misunderstand this, the purpose of individual rights is social. They are to enable us to live together in ways that allow an ever-greater share of us to be who we are, or who we want to be. They rely on reciprocity, or the recognition of the other. The greater the reach of reciprocity, the stronger the liberty.
The Adam Smith of Theory of Moral Sentiments could not put it any better.  Reciprocity is something that kindergarteners sharing crayons might understand at an intuitive level, and yet, even the most precocious of kindergarteners will benefit by ... repetition and elaboration.  "The point of teaching literature classes to someone who works at Jiffy Lube is recognition that working at Jiffy Lube isn’t all that person is. Dignity and talent are everywhere. We prove that we mean that by supporting the institutions that allow that dignity and talent to flourish."

FOUR HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

Mayflower set sail for Jamestown, sometime in late September 1620.  Navigational aids and steering gear weren't what they now are, and in November the ship made landfall off the Cape of Cod.  I had forebears aboard, who lasted long enough to sign the Mayflower Compact and be fruitful and multiply and produce descendants to fight in the War for Independence and further descendants to migrate to Wisconsin.  The anniversary of the landing merits contemplation.
The Mayflower compact is a significant historical document, the "wave-rocked cradle of our liberties", as one historian evocatively put it. Signed by the Pilgrims and the so-called Strangers, the craftsmen, merchants and indentured servants brought with them to establish a successful colony, it agreed to pass "just and equal laws for the good of the Colony". The first experiment in New World self-government, some scholars even see it as a kind of American Magna Carta, a template for the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Yet scholars at the Constitutional Center in Philadelphia suggest it had largely been forgotten by the time the Founding Fathers gathered at Independence Hall. Nor did the Pilgrims' belief in what Robert Hughes once called "the hierarchy of the virtuous" square with the more secular poetry of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Besides, the Mayflower compact started with a declaration of loyalty to King James.
Human institutions only take their final form immediately on a blackboard, and those plans tend not to survive first contact with reality.  I'm not sure, though, about this draft of history (it is one of Her Majesty's subjects writing the column, dear reader):
After Washington triumphed at Yorktown against the British, and this fledging nation started to assert itself in the world, the early drafters of the American story preferred to begin their histories with Christopher Columbus, even though the Italian explorer never set foot in North America. A new country that had just expelled the British did not want to be defined by its Englishness. Downplaying the Mayflower became an early act of decolonisation.
The Columbus legend might have come later, with more widespread immigration from Italy, but OK. (Weren't there French settlers in Quebec and what we understand today as Michigan and Wisconsin?)  What might matter more is that Puritan, or is it Calvinist  (or might there be a bit of Zwingli in it?) work ethic.
Taken together, though, the legacy of the pilgrims and the puritans is foundational. The work ethic. The fact Americans don't take much annual holiday. Notions of self-reliance and attitudes towards government welfare. Laws that prohibit young adults from drinking in bars until the age of 21. A certain prudishness. The religiosity. Americans continue to expect their presidents to be men of faith. In fact, no occupant of the White House has openly identified as an atheist. Also the profit motive was strong among the settlers, and with it the belief that prosperity was a divine reward for following God's path - a forerunner of the gospel of prosperity preached by modern-day television evangelists.
There's more in the essay, some of it in a less charitable vein. Fine. Read, reflect, then count your blessings.

NOAM CHOMSKY IS JUST BEGGING TO BE OWNED.

He, along with fifty-odd other relics of the Sixties, have issued a manifesto.
Not voting for Biden in swing states won’t bring on a revolution. Not voting for Biden in swing states will not make anyone the slightest bit more progressive, radical, or revolutionary. Not voting for Biden in swing states will not grow or solidify the ranks of opposition. But not voting for Biden in swing states risks immeasurably enlarging the obstacles that opposition will thereafter face.

So, it comes down to this. Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden. Vote for Biden at least in swing states—and urge others to do so as well. And then get on with building grassroots movements for ongoing fundamental change.
Nice country you got there ...

Robert Koehler is also issuing threats.  "And so the public action—the people power—needs to put as much pressure on Biden as it does on the Republicans."

Biden victory: temper tantrums continue, and maybe the mob gets some of what it wants.

Trump victory: the temper tantrums started even before he was sworn in.

OKTOBERFEST IN THE NORTH GERMAN STYLE.

The United States occupied what might be the fun parts of Germany, i.e. Munich and the Alps, and the original Oktoberfest took place in Bavaria, thus it's no surprise that most Oktoberfests Stateside have that Bavarian feel to the theming and the music.

That doesn't mean the people with roots in Pomerania or East Prussia don't get in on the fun.
We may debate whether German potato salad — with the saucy push-pull of vinegar, sugar and bacon — should be served hot, warm or at room temperature. Or whether the best cabbage dish is pickled, steamed or braised. Beyond that? Enthusiasts of German history and culture add fondness for regional specialties that might seem foreign to the rest of us.

Consider Pommerscher Verein Freistadt (the Pomeranian Society of Freistadt), which keeps alive the heritage of Pomerania, a province in Prussia that became Germany after unification in 1871. The area was at Germany’s far northern edge, along the Baltic Sea.
Thanks to the health restrictions, there's all of a one day gathering tomorrow afternoon, and what with the Illinois quarantine rules, travel might not be prudent.

I would  note, though, that the Pomeranian style of folk-dance is more energetic than the Schuhplattler you usually see at a Bavarian themed Oktoberfest, and the music has a seaside, and Slavic feel to it.

THE BADGER HERALD WAS ONCE MADISON'S CONSERVATIVE NEWSPAPER.

To be more precise, some students who wanted a campus newspaper that would pay attention to what was going on in the classrooms and on Greek Row, and confine the editorial commentary to the editorial page, rather than report only the latest on the strike, demonstration, and rioting scenes, set up The Badger Herald and announced that their editorial page would be more mainstream.

At the time of the founding, the editorial page crew noted they did not want to be seen as "ideological nymphomaniacs" (their term, not mine.)  In fifty years, a lot can change.  "UW-Madison student newspaper fires conservative columnist after refusing to run his op-ed"  What could be more 2020 than the Young America's Foundation calling out one of their onetime campus media allies for censorship?

22.9.20

A HUNDRED YEARS FROM THE BIG FOUR TO THE BIG FOUR?

In the aftermath of the first world war, the Powers that Be in Great Britain grouped all the privately owned railroads into four companies: the Southern, comprising primarily the suburban services to the south of London; the Great Western, which, alone, kept its pre-grouping identity although it got a bunch of coal mine railroads in Wales to go with their principal services to Birmingham or Land's End; the London and North Eastern, which meant no Great Northern in England; and the London Midland and Scottish, which some wags dubbed "ell of a mess" as it was sort of a Conrail without the nationalization.  The nationalization came after the War.  But the Western Region still kept its personality, and the works were turning out Modified Halls and Black Fives despite there being a set of standard designs based on best German (!) practice and Electro-Motive Division having a series of export locomotives based on the F series and the GP-7.

The British government eventually privatized the railroads, although rather than selling of coherent parts, say as a Great Western and a London and North Western or what have you (in the style of Conrail, which went from public company, nationalized Penn Central, to private company; then Norfolk Southern and CSX carved it up to get the system that made the most sense in 1958, only this happened in 1998, but I digress) somebody got the idea of turning the railways into open-access highways and conducting Demsetz auctions for slots to operate individual trains, presumably the operators of commuter trains would be willing to pay more for those slots than would the operators of corridor trains, and the freight haulers would buy the overnight slots, thus reducing the freight train interference.  It worked until it didn't.  The powers that be have recognized that it didn't.
The UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “The model of privatisation adopted 25 years ago has seen significant rises in passenger numbers, but this pandemic has proven that it is no longer working. Our new deal for rail demands more for passengers. It will simplify people’s journeys, ending the uncertainty and confusion about whether you are using the right ticket or the right train company.  It will keep the best elements of the private sector, including competition and investment, that have helped to drive growth – but deliver strategic direction, leadership and accountability. Passengers will have reliable, safe services on a network totally built around them. It is time to get Britain back on track.”
The article does not spell out what that new framework will be, a single track operator for the country, or operating companies with dedicated track (I have some ideas how that could be done) or if this is British Rail 3.0.

The ticketing problem is one of the side effects of competing carriers on the same line.  My railpass was good wherever I went, but a Briton holding a Central Trains ticket had to ride one of their motor cars rather than Grand Central's de luxe diesel trains.  Developing.

BRING TO MADISON THE SMACK THEY BROUGHT TO PRINCETON.

That is, Princeton's president made a ritual confession of institutional racism, whatever that is, intended to evoke the Proper Sentiments among faculty and donors, and the Department of Education asked for its money back.

Now it's time to make an example of Wisconsin.  Retired economics professor and New Frontier staffer W. Lee Hansen continues to take issue with the misappropriation of state property going on under the rubric of diversity.
Consider first [current chancellor (holding tenure in economics) Rebecca Blank’s] concern about the need for a more welcoming campus climate. She fails to recognize that this problem arises in part because non-minority students resent the preferential treatment given to minority student applicants during admission. This resentment is compounded by the many minority student programs created to assist these students after enrollment. Non-minority students and their families are not fooled by the supposed neutrality of “holistic” admission standards. The widely used term “targeted minorities” is a dead giveaway, and its use is demeaning as well.

Chancellor Blank also provides no convincing evidence that any of her proposed “commitments” are able to deal effectively with these larger social problems, or that the “training” will be effective in promoting a more welcoming campus climate. She refers to a list of fifty briefly described, ongoing minority student programs, labeled as “diversity and inclusion” programs. But what effect have any of these programs had in making the UW-Madison campus a more welcoming place for minority students? If any of them have been successful, we surely would have heard about that by now.
I suppose it's always possible to argue that the pilot programs were not successful because they were not funded adequately, but then we hear that stuff out of Amtrak at the same time that they antagonize sleeping car passengers.  But I digress.  Perhaps not so far as the Diversity Weenies have in Madison. "Among them are the following: Replace the Lincoln Monument in front of Bascom Hall with someone who stands for “justice for all,” adopt the Teaching Assistant plan for resuming instruction, defund and then abolish the UW police force, see that all student demands from 1969 to 2020 are met, implement permanent funding to support student organizations that serve marginalized groups, create an organized framework to respond to acts of oppression, and improve the support system for marginalized students."  You mean the troops aren't home from Vietnam, the mathematics research for the Army hasn't been moved, and Dow is still making napalm?  And that Leo Burt, should he still be alive, be told to come out of hiding as all is forgiven?

And here the professor (with whom I have interacted on matters involving public finance research and economic education) says the quiet part out loud.
Not so incidentally, this grant on its face is in direct violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits such discrimination, as would the $2 million scholarship proposal by UW-Madison student athletes, a plan that restricts eligibility to “students of color”. These are but specific instances of such violation—one might legitimately indict the entire diversity program on such a ground.
Thus, either the university administration are using money to violate the civil rights acts, or they are confessing to ongoing violations of the civil rights acts. Is somebody on education secretary Betsy DeVos's staff paying attention?

TODAY'S CHALLENGE.

National Review's Andrew McCarthy, "Systemic Racism? Make Them Prove It."  They can't.
The best we can do is what we are trying to do: Operate our justice system, our educational institutions, our government, businesses, and society in a manner sufficiently sensitive to racism that concrete examples of it are few and far between. The regnant ideology never cites real-world examples. Its disciples would have us believe our society and its institutions — the very society and institutions that have promoted our elites to their lofty heights — are irredeemable.
Almost makes one wish for the concept of face. High public official makes confession of racism, then guts himself.

SELF-STYLED PROGRESSIVES REDISCOVER ASSIMILATION.

Two  Democrat operatives, I. H. L√≥pez and Tony Gavito, suggest "This Is How Biden Should Approach the Latino Vote."  They have their pet projects to push, to be sure, although they also note something encouraging, particularly if it's New York's Times not memory-holing it.
Progressives commonly categorize Latinos as people of color, no doubt partly because progressive Latinos see the group that way and encourage others to do so as well. Certainly, we both once took that perspective for granted. Yet in our survey, only one in four Hispanics saw the group as people of color.

In contrast, the majority rejected this designation. They preferred to see Hispanics as a group integrating into the American mainstream, one not overly bound by racial constraints but instead able to get ahead through hard work.

The minority of Latinos who saw the group as people of color were more liberal in their views regarding government and the economy, and strongly preferred Democratic messages to the dog-whistle message. For the majority of Latinos, however, the standard Democratic frames tied or lost to the racial fear message.
Put another way, maybe it's past the time to let Student Affairs types get away with pushing their cultural poison into the general culture, let alone on campus.


I couldn't go to Wisconsin for Oktoberfest this year, but this message is as valid now as it was when I first posted it. "[G]ive these kids an America to buy into, and an America that buys into these kids, and we'll be OK."

First, though, maybe the Democrat court intellectuals ought buy into the idea of buying into America.

THEY'RE SO INCLUSIVE NOBODY GOES THERE ANY MORE.

So, supposedly did Yankee catcher Yogi Berra crack wise about some famous night spot on Manhattan.

Rich Lowry argues that contemporary Democrats have committed a similar error.  "Democrats have made themselves so hateful to rural voters that they despair of reliably holding the Senate going forward."  There's more to the column but I promised not to comment further on judicial appointments.

A recently-mugged-by-reality academician called Bo Winegard (via Newmark's Door) sees the same thing.  "Democrats have become the party that promotes the interests of the hyper-educated by allowing them to signal their moral and cultural superiority over average Joes."  That post also bears on the dangerous side effects of the Cult of Smart just noted.

END THE CULT OF SMART.

The house organ for business as usual in higher education gave Frederik deBoer a platform to argue "Some Students are Smarter than Others (And That's OK)."  It's behind their usual paywall.  Fortunately there are academic observers who have read the article, and raised their objections.  I mean, a humanities scholar channelling John D. Rockefeller ("Some seeds are meant to spawn taller plants. That is the way of things.")  Seriously.  Matt "Dean Dad" Reed expands.
The point of public higher education, and especially of open-admissions institutions, is to give people the chance to show (or discover) what works for them. Sometimes that’s obvious from the start; sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error. Good teachers know that; we’ve all seen the proverbial lightbulb go on over a student’s head when something that seemed hopelessly opaque suddenly clicks. If a student who struggles for a long time suddenly gets it, which part of the journey reflected their true underlying nature? It’s a hard question to answer because it’s the wrong question.

I agree with deBoer that college should not be the only plausible route to a decent living. But that’s not fundamentally about colleges; that’s about the economy. As a decent human being, I’d much rather see an economy in which all sorts of people could afford to live economically secure lives in decent homes without fear of medical bankruptcy. But that’s a political question, not an educational one.

Yes, we’ve all seen students who got it right away, and others who never did. Nobody denies that. But going from “that didn’t work” to “that can’t work” is unwarranted and inaccurate, and it aligns with some pretty horrible history.
Note, neither columnist is asserting that institutions of higher education not have standards.  It's not clear whether Mr deBoer is arguing that standards are necessary at the prestige institutions (and not elsewhere) or that it's OK to weed some people out of college (and even the most patient of special education teachers might run out of tricks.)

Neither, though, is suggesting that perhaps young people see other ways to reveal their talents.  Darren "Right on the Left Coast" picks that thread up.  "One of the worst things we do in K-12 education is tell students they have to go to college. Not everyone can or should."  Yes, and the college-only track turns some kids off.

He commends, for additional reading, J. L. Wall's Escaping the Cult of Smart.
The American left and right continue to inch toward measures of economic success that account for dignity as well as growth. To do this, deBoer insists, a thorough re-imagining of the goals of American education policy must follow. That’s because schools don’t just sort. As he reminds us, they teach us what and how to value.
If we're talking about the common schools, perhaps it's time to contemplate a wall of separation between school and state.

In higher education, the Brookdales and Northern Illinoises and all the other community colleges, regional comprehensives, and mid-majors ought understand they're in the same business as the Ivies, if that requires being a little more patient on introducing the finer points of comparative advantage or Weierstrass limits or general relativity, fine, but teach that stuff all the same.

POLITICS DIVIDES.

I'll limit my musings about the confirmation fight that is soon to come to this USA Today observation by Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds.  "When your political system can be thrown into hysteria by something as predictable as the death of an octogenarian with advanced cancer, there’s something wrong with your political system."

The author is a law professor with libertarian tendencies.  Read this excerpt and understand.
When Congress decides an issue by passing a law, democratic politics can change that decision by electing a new Congress. When the Court decides an issue by making a constitutional ruling, there’s no real democratic remedy.

That makes the Supreme Court, a source of final and largely irrevocable authority that is immune to the ordinary winds of democratic change, an extremely important prize. And when extremely important prizes are at stake, people fight. And get hysterical.
It's always possible to amend the Constitution to revoke that final authority, although that's hard to do (by design) and the direction of constitutional amendments tends to be to expand governmental powers, and not in a good way.

20.9.20

ON MY WORKBENCH.

It's been a while since I reported on the S-2 project.  It's useful to have the collection of the Illinois Railway Museum to use as ready reference, say, in laying out the cab interior.


I could probably modify a brake platform as that cab step.  The seats are almost back to the windows.


I'm also getting the drive components squared away.


Here's what I'm attempting to emulate.


Unattributed photograph supplied by a fellow Boston and Maine enthusiast.  No, I'm not going to tackle that Talgo train.

IT'S NOT QUITE THE RIGHT METAPHOR.

Whilst looking for higher education's official response to the investigation of Princeton's failure to comply with the civil rights laws, I found this in one of the house organs for business as usual. "'A scene out of Gladiator': Big Ten Football Players Get Daily Coronavirus Tests, But Other Students Don't."  Well, yes, how is that any different from the athletic departments hiring nutrition coaches while there are food pantries for other students?

It's worth remembering that the gladiators, if the reference is to the Roman epic, were either political prisoners or from captive populations.  Did the gladiators get extra rations and privileges that the general populations did not?  Is that the image the Chronicle writers are after?  Why not do something more productive, like, oh, asking about what's going on in the neighborhoods from where many of the athletes are recruited.

LET'S GO FOR A TRAIN RIDE.

The Illinois Railway Museum has been able to resume running trains, with due regard for masks, maintaining spacing, and hand washing, and that included a bit of evening running yesterday.

Hicks Car Works had photographers on the premises yesterday, who were able to watch the steam locomotive before it suffered a bearing failure. The Cold Spring Shops team got there in late afternoon, in time to help out with some of the documentation.


Stephen Karlson photograph retrieved from Hicks Car Works.

The museum has cars from the first series and final series of Chicago Aurora and Elgin cars posed, as if outside the Wheaton carbarn.


Wood car 36 is from the first series of cars, all even-numbered, that the Aurora Elgin and Chicago began service with.  Steel car 460 is the last traditional interurban car built in the United States, there are three cars from that fleet in varying stages of rehabilitation at the museum.

It's useful to have three cars' worth of seats in order to keep family groups in pods and individual riders at what the boffins view a safe physical distance from each other.  Oh, and being able to open the windows probably helps dissipate the germs.


Yes, there are four cars in that consist. The one closest to the camera is not yet in active service.  The closed-off center door and the roof free of ventilators mark it as one of the early Cincinnati steel motor cars (Chicago types call them "baldies") that were first taken out of service and rebuilt as service cars and there aren't as many of them in preservation, let alone being put back in passenger carrying shape.  The three cars ahead, which have roof ventilators, were "plushies" (because of the seating) which were the last cars to go out of service, concurrent with the conversion of the Evanston service to third-rail power collection.  Thus, there are a lot of those in service, in Illinois, Wisconsin, and maybe a few other places.

One of these days, the entrance to the museum will be through a visitor center and the visitor will step out into a replica Chicago street scene (there is an actual commercial strip that somebody has in mind, commercial buildings not exceeding three stories) with a streetcar line running through it.


In the neighborhoods, the L was a surface level operation.  Still true at the outer ends of the Evanston, Ravenswood, and Douglas Park lines.  Thus, the visitor could board a streetcar and ride it to the local steam railroad station, or walk to the L station.


Yup, see you that four car steel train and raise you four wooden cars, each of which required a LOT of work to be in the shape you see them.


Same cars, almost the same spot, September 1967, John Karlson photograph.

Helps to have an indoor shop to work on the cars and indoor storage space to protect them from the elements.  The cars made the final late night run of the day, loading and discharging at 50th Avenue, which is closest to the exits, although there was space to board a few passengers at the East Union station.


I opted to head home rather than go for a ride, the cash paying visitors are riding by reservation and museum members who ride on passes will get other opportunities.  I'll close, though, with one of the compromises railway preservation forces on us.  Do you see it?


In real life, the Santa Fe sign was atop a building on the west side of Michigan Avenue, and the Illinois Central suburban trains (there's a set in the gloaming on the west track at 50th Avenue) were in a trench on the east side of Michigan.  A commuter could see the front of the Santa Fe sign.  Here, the Illinois Central cars have passed to the east of what was the west side of the sign.  Sometimes you just have to compromise.

RULES ARE FOR THE LITTLE COLLEGES.

The powers that be at Princeton still don't understand what being made to play by their own rules means.  Here's Power Line's Paul Mirengoff.  "Princeton will have to thread the needle between [president Christopher] Eisgruber’s admissions of systemic, embedded, and damaging racism at the university on the one hand, and its legal obligation not to discriminate on the other."

The first reaction from the house organs of business as usual in higher education is ... nothing yet from Inside Higher Ed and something hiding behind a pay-wall at the Chronicle of Higher Education.  I got a glimpse of the article before the carp-about-ad-blocker-circuitry kicked in and it included some professor griping about politically motivated standards.  As if there's anything that involves public money that doesn't involve politically motivated standards.  If Princeton don't like being held to federal standards as a condition of getting federal money, let them emulate Hillsdale College and refuse to participate in any federal funding that has strings attached.  Princeton, being one of the finishing schools for Official Region high rollers, likely has the endowment and fundraising chops to make that happen.

Oh, and don't even bother mentioning censorship.
Dear reader, the use of public funds to support any sort of content delivery is censorship per se, and it has been the obligation of the faculty and the trustees to exercise their powers properly.  How many times must I remind you.  "Set up no machinery of repression you would not entrust your most severe critic to operate."   Even the most perceptive among you will benefit by a modicum of repetition.  "Professional protesters misuse academic respectability for non-academic ends."  Put another way, higher education's Republican problem, or Trump problem, or whatever it is, is self-made.
It's not as if Donald Trump is antagonizing his core constituency on the Princeton faculty.