Will they pave paradise and put up a parking lot?

2017 is Cleveland’s Year of Vibrant Green Space! Hooray!

Last year, 2016, was the Year of Sustainable Transportation. Highlights included:

  • New bike lanes on West 25th that make no sense whatsoever (okay, that was actually in 2015);
  • Starting construction on a $300,000,000.00 highway that goes from the East 55th station on the Red Line to the Cedar Hill (University Circle) station on the Red Line… instead of, you know, potentially upgrading the Red Line at far less cost; and
  • Opening the renovated Public Square, bisected by a stretch of Superior Avenue built only for buses… but blockading the bus lanes.

I don’t mean to be critical or anything, but I can’t help imagining how well this year will go. Will they cut down all the trees along MLK? Spray the zoo with Agent Orange? Pave over the Downtown Mall?

The possibilities are limitless!

 

 

I'm pretty sure Rumsfeld would endorse this.

Can we be clear on this one bit of meta-bullshit?

Suppose hypothetically that I am telling you that your hair is on fire. By that I’m really saying two things:

0. Your hair is in fact on fire.
1. I know for a fact that #0 is true. I’m not just guessing.

Now if I randomly tell a stranger their hair is on fire without even bothering to look at their hair? That’s a lie EVEN IF their hair happens to be on fire.

When Trump says that X number of people voted illegally, the fact that he has no idea whether that’s true or not doesn’t make it not a lie. It’s a lie because he’s asserting knowledge that he absolutely doesn’t have.

Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns

Remember this fantastic statement by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld?

[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

Trump here is going into a new quadrant: The unknown knowns! These are the things we supposedly know, but we have no way of knowing we know them.

(Oddly, Wikipedia has a really interesting analysis of this thing called “the Johari Window” that applies.)

Tom Friedman has a new book.

Look, Thomas “Suck. On. This.” Friedman has a new book out! It’s called Thank You For Being Late and I’ll let you google it yourself.

Just to make one thing clear, okay? I’m not so much a fan of Friedman ever since he used his New York Times column to make the case for invading Iraq because it would make the United States look badass:

But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world.

Aside: That’s not one simple reason, that’s three. The first of the three stated reasons is simply evil. The second one is arguable at best, and the third one makes no damn sense at all. I mean by the standard of being “right in the heart of that world” we should be going after Israel too.

But this is how Friedman writes. I’m afraid it’s how he thinks. He can’t hold one coherent thought in his head long enough to make a short paragraph out of it without contradicting himself.

What’s worse is that somehow this guy has become influential in big media circles even though he often makes literally no sense.

My disgust is further enhanced by the honorary “doctor of humane letters” (!) granted to Friedman six years later by my alma mater. What the hell, Grinnell? (I tried to organize a protest at the time but couldn’t get anyone else to join in.)

Long story short: Friedman writes nonsense. He’s dangerously stupid. Too damn many people take his stupid thoughts seriously. And it’s embarrassing that Grinnell College thought it was a good idea to endorse and reward him for a career of spewing oversimplified nonsense that conveniently always supports everything that’s wrong with the status quo.

My "angry white Florida man" story.

WATCH: Angry white Florida man cries racism after deli serves ‘dark-skinned guy’ before him

This reminds me of something that happened several years ago at the Utilities Building in Cleveland. It still makes me laugh.

I was paying my electric bill at the last minute or something (instead of mailing it in) and had taken a number like everyone else. Probably about 3/4 of the people waiting were black. We were all sitting around, you know, talking and looking at our phones and stuff.

I happened to be standing not too far inside the front door, and there were these two black women, kind of conservatively dressed, maybe both a little over age 60 or so, also waiting to take care of their utility bills.

Then this white woman strides through the front door, she’s thirtyish, she’s all professionally dressed, she’s got some blonde highlights and a sharp-looking camel coat, and she’s completely oblivious to the fact that everyone else has a number. She’s not even slowing down, blowing past the three of us at the entrance, not remotely noticing the crowd waiting with their numbers, and going right up to the teller window.

Everyone is really quiet. Staring. Including my two neighbors who clearly have no idea what to say or do.

I look over to the teller window, I look at my awkward neighbors, I look down, and I shake my head. And shrug very slightly. And look down and mutter… “White people.”

My awkward neighbors explode with laughter. I’m pretty sure I said exactly what they were thinking.

Really bad reason for not supporting Bernie Sanders

I don’t know why people keep saying this.

Another on my list of “things people fervently believe and argue on Facebook that do not make any sense at all.”

Stated:

I’d love to support Bernie but he’s so far left he won’t get anything done with Congress.

Why that makes no sense:

Continue reading “Really bad reason for not supporting Bernie Sanders”

Cab companies: It's not "the sharing economy." It's you.

While I understand the labor-oriented objections to “ride-sharing” services, you know what? What customers really get out of sites like Uber is a convenient mobile app, an easy way to pay online, an assurance that someone is actually on the way to come get them, and relatively quick service in urban areas.

In Cleveland, the cab companies never did (and still don’t do) ANY of these things, and it’s not “the sharing economy” that’s stopping them. Their management simply didn’t bother because (they thought) they had a captive market and (they thought) the old ways were good enough.

Cab companies are getting beaten badly because they’re poorly managed and they suck at the ONE THING they’re supposed to do: coordinate safe, efficient, timely rides for strangers.

Basic Bus Station Design

I went to Chicago (it’s a Grinnell thing, you wouldn’t understand) the last week in September. This is what the Greyhound station looked like when I was waiting to head back.

You’d think there would be a clock. Why is there no clock?

Chicago Greyhound station
Where the heck is a clock? It’s a bus station for heaven’s sake.

Nope. No clock visible from the spot where you charge things. Huh.

Edit: I looked again, turning myself about 120 degrees to the left, and spotted a grayish digital clock over Gates 1 through 12. I suppose that works, but it wasn’t that noticeable and… hey, bus station. People do need to know what time it is!

Here’s the other thing. Sadly, I was unable to snag a clearer photo of this particular design flaw because a rather aggressive police officer told me that “for security” I can’t take pictures there. (It probably is indeed illegal, because the world is still crazy over fake “terrorism,” but what a stupid law.)

Greyound station in Chicago, zoomed view
These gate numbers look nice, but they block your view of the buses’ destination signs.

Anyway, the other thing I’m trying to show you is visible in this zoomed-in image. Do you see the horizontal panel highlighted by my green rectangle? Okay, those are the express (red) gate numbers. Guess how high off the ground they are.

I don’t know either, but they’re at exactly the same height as the destination signs on the buses themselves. Come on. From across the room I might see that there’s a bus at Gate 15, but I can’t tell where it’s going. They could have raised or lowered the red panel, or left it out entirely.

Clearly, the “user experience” part of this design was not thought out. The architect made something pretty and modern but missed badly on some practical issues.