Wednesday, January 30, 2002
10:26: Why is it that when congress asks the Vice-President to provide information on who was involved in formulating public policy about energy, the VP argues that he won't provide it because he wants to ensure that anyone invited to the white house to provide insight will be assured that they can be candid and discuss things without everyone knowing about it?
And why is it that we're not crying "foul" to the idea that public policy of this nature can be crafted in locked rooms and private meetings without us having a way to know what wheeling and dealing was done? I mean, if these "advisors" to the VP are really passionate about their beliefs, and if the purported goal of these meetings is to find the best solution for the US's energy needs, then why would these people be unwilling to come forth? Or for that matter, why would ANY advisors be frightened by the idea of public release of information shared with the VP and the President in an inquiry?
I am a firm believer that if you're convinced of your position, the idea of public release of any opinions articulated in meetings for designing public policy should be of absolutely no concern. If you're scared that your viewpoint is going to get out, well then, perhaps there's something shady going on...
Thursday, January 17, 2002
15:55: I think I just bought an apartment.
I wonder how that happened...
Thursday, January 10, 2002
14:20: When Gannet moves out of your neighborhood and into your neighborhood...
The house Al Neuharth built got moved recently, from its former metal-and-glass home in Rosslyn to a new metal-and-glass home in McLean.
Now, for the we-friendly staff of UselessYay Today, the move doesn't seem to represent a change, at least not to their we-friendly ways. For me, however, it provides a good explanation for why my previously not-too-unpleasant, 20-minute, traffic-light morning commute to work from Arlington to Tyson's Corner now has a four-block stretch, at the very end, that can take 15 minutes to get out of. See, when you add 2,048 new cars to the daily traffic pattern, many of which must pass through the two-stall toll booth, stop at the 10-second light before turing left onto Spring Hill Road, and take a left-hand turn onto Jones Branch Drive after going under the Dulles Toll Road, you're going to have a little bit of a traffic problem. Add to those the ones that must exit from the other toll booth (coming from the densly-planned island town of Reston) and cut across four lanes of traffic to get to same Jones Branch Drive left-hand turn, and you have what in the planning world is called "a mess".
I'm sure that any of my friends with backgrounds in urban planning. would be able to quickly pinpoint the problems here. Erica once summarized it with one pithy remark: "Tyson's Corner is such a ridiculous place". Fairfax County allowed another faceless, car-centric office park at the triangle formed by three major highways with only four access points to get into and out of it, all of which were, only five years ago, two-lane semi-country roads or trees. One certainly can't expect to do this without major transportation alternatives. Walking, of course, was sacrificed as an option very long ago, when developers were given free reign over converted farmlands.
Then again, the fact that the Fairfax County "planning" committees is one of those groups that has the shamelessness inherent in off-the-cuff dismissals of proposals to cut down on congestion in Tyson's by supporting transit-oriented development alternatives tells us much about where their own interests lie. Never mind the obvious idea of building light rail along Leesburg Pike from Alexandria all the way to Leesburg (that would most certainly resolve a huge chunk of the problem), of improving bus routes, or of encouraging smarter forms of construction that don't force people like me to play frogger just to get a sandwich in an environmentally less-destructive way.
True, Free Market Power To The People Down With Elites As Long As We're Talking About Those Trying To Stop Me From Free-riding On The Commons, say that planning densely is elitist hogwash. To those, I suggest they spend a few days trying to get around Tyson's Corner at 9 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, 5 PM, and 7 PM, and then come along and try to tell me that sprawl, traffic and congestion are not problems inherent in their sprawl-friendly cheerleading, in which we have absolutely no Free Market choice. If Moms are pissed, it's always a problem, and it's a problem created by someone else who's reaping the financial benefits of shoveling us all into feeder-road-and-artery modes of suburban misdivelopment.
The Washington DC metropolitan area, including Northern Virginia, is running the risk of losing federal funding because our air is so foul. The sale of SUVs doesn't seem to be slowing down. I guess that when they spend so much time in traffic, they want to feel as if they're at least taller than every other poor fool stuck on the road, thanks to the failure to plan sensibly.
That, however, is most likely not something that will change Gannett's own cheerleading on its new behemoth.
How true--nothing has changed.
Friday, January 04, 2002
00:02: Continuing on finding real-life examples of irony: got a call from SprintPCS on my cell phone, offering to conveniently accept my payment immediately with a credit card.
Then the Customer Satisfaction Specialist complained that I was breaking up.