"Hartgen’s report recommends that the state cut back state support for local transit systems, while ensuring that riders pay more for transit service. Local transit officials should also rewrite their mission statements and long-range plans to reflect their key role in helping people who need mobility. The report also calls for more privatization of transit systems, and it asks the General Assembly to delay funding for light rail systems in Charlotte, the Triangle, and the Triad until Charlotte’s South Boulevard corridor confirms usage expectations. The 10-mile Charlotte light rail line, currently under construction for $428 million, is expected to open in late 2007."
That's probably a good idea. More:
"Overall, the 10 transit systems studied contribute just 0.28 percent of the overall daily regional travel miles, according to Hartgen’s report. That’s the figure you get when you factor in bus riders who have no cars. Greensboro (0.15 percent) and Winston-Salem (0.19 percent) both fall below the average.......
"While the state and federal transportation bill is growing, the transit systems are not drawing people away from the cars that clog city roads, the report says. A typical trip on a public transit system is slower than a trip by car. Many transit riders are lower-income workers who have no access to cars.
“'Riders use the systems primarily as ‘stepping stones’ for improving personal mobility,' Hartgen said. 'The systems serve less than one-half of 1 percent of regional commuting and impact about one-quarter of 1 percent of regional air pollution or congestion.'”
With the high price of gas, you'd expect city buses to be standing room only. That they're not is evidence that Americans are willing to pay whatever it takes to maintain their "personal mobilty." I think the assumption on the part of many local governments is that if more services are provided, more people will use public transportation.
That's a tough strategy in a market where practically no one rides the bus just because it's there.
.....I just sat around last night, reading and watching the Phillies-Giants game on TV. Every now and then I would glance up to see if Barry Bonds was coming to bat. I realized this really could be the night that Bonds ties Babe Ruth's
home run record. I asked myself if this is something I really wanted to see. What the hell, I told myself. If it happens, it happens.
In my ongoing effort to be an open-minded human being, I asked myself why I don't like Barry Bonds. I don't know him, and I personally don't know whether or not he used performance-enhancing drugs, in spite of the evidence that he did. A big part of it is the fact that I've never really cared for his team.This dislike goes back to the old MLB alignment, when the Giants were the Reds' divisional rivals. It seemed as though the Reds always had a tough time winning in Candlestick Park.
Just looking at Bonds is tough, too. Anybody disagree that Bonds radiates arrogance? Listening to his three-man cheering squad of Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Peter Gammons talk about how frustrated Bonds has been over fan reaction during the Giants' road trip didn't help matters any. Poor Bonds, I thought to myself.
Fortunately, Michael Sokolove's N.Y. Times review
of two books on Bonds helped ease my conscience a bit.
In case you haven't heard, 'Game of Shadows' alleges "that Bonds participated in a sophisticated doping program that resulted in a late-career offensive surge unheard-of in baseball history. Over his first 13 seasons, Bonds hit a home run every 16.1 at-bats; from 1999 through 2004, he hit one every 8.5 at-bats.
"The book is economical in its character study of Bonds, which is wise because what the authors do include just confirms his well-established reputation for boorishness. Its real strength comes in the connections it makes between the baseball doping scandal and the wider culture of drugs in international sports. "
Meanwhile, Jeff Pearlman's 'Love Me, Hate Me' "tracks down Bonds's former teachers, scout leaders, neighbors and teammates from Little League up through the majors — more than 500 people total. The legwork is impressive, but nearly everyone says a version of the same thing — that Bonds is a thoroughly miserable guy. The kind of person who throws sweat socks on the floor just to watch the clubhouse attendant stoop to pick them up."
OK, I feel better. But I hear what you're saying: If it bothers me that much, I should just change the channel.
Friday, May 05, 2006
......Interesting N&R editorial page this morning.....
Starting off, George Will has a less than flattering perspective
on the life and work of John Kenneth Galbraith
"......The Affluent Society, published in 1958, was a milestone on liberalism's transformation into a doctrine of condescension. And into a minority persuasion.
"In the 1950s, liberals were disconsolate. Voters twice rejected the intelligentsia's pinup, Stevenson, in favor of Dwight Eisenhower, who elicited a new strain in liberalism -- disdain for average Americans. Liberals dismissed the Eisenhower administration as 'the bland leading the bland.' They said New Dealers had been supplanted by car dealers. How to explain the electorate's dereliction of taste? Easy. The masses had been manipulated, mostly by advertising, particularly on television, which by 1958 had become the masses' entertainment.
"Intellectuals, that herd of independent minds, were, as usual, in lock step as they deplored 'conformity.'.........Galbraith brought to the anti-conformity chorus a special verve in depicting Americans as manipulable as clay. Americans were what modern liberalism relishes -- victims, to be treated as wards of a government run by liberals. It never seemed to occur to Galbraith and like-minded liberals that ordinary Americans might resent that depiction and express their resentment with their votes."
Right next door, Clarence Page discusses
the poster boy of liberal resentment and condescension, Al Gore:
"If ever there was a time for the author of 'Earth in the Balance,' Gore's powerful 1992 book on global warming and other environmental threats, to say ' tried to warn you,' this is it."
I loved the next line:
"Gore's book drew ridicule from George H.W. Bush, who called Gore 'Ozone Man' in 1992 and in 2000 from George W. Bush, who admitted without embarrassment that he had never read it."
Without embarrassment? OK. Page should know by now that showing embarrassment is not President Bush's strong suit, never mind the implication that 'Earth in the Balance' is required reading.
I guess 'Earth in the Balance,' like 'The Affluent Society' 50 years earlier, is on the list for the enlightened book club. Personally, I'm gleaning quite a bit of enlightenment reading Namath
, despite the fact that Broadway Joe's life of booze and broads is in stark contrast to my life of beer and wife.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
....Lots of hand-wringing over the lost generation
Hey, I hang out with plenty of disconnected adults right here in tony Fisher Park.They're still intelligent, successful people. For whatever reason, it hasn't made a difference in their lives whether or not they know that the border between North and South Korea is the most fortified in the world. I guess it depends on what you do for a living, too. If you're a plumber making a bunch of money digging through the rich earth of Guilford County, why the hell do you need to find India on a map?
I wouldn't say the questions were all no-brainers, either. OK, you should know Mississippi and Louisiana by fifth grade. Perhaps answering that the U.S.-Mexico border is the most fortified is collective wishful thinking. What's the most widely-spoken native language? Trick question.
Now I did know about the earthquake that killed 70,000 in Pakistan when it happened. But I kind of forgot about it.
is one of my favorite terms.......
.....Council polygraphs off to inauspicious start
"Concerns about council members' stress levels being raised by questions from reporters before the sessions — and possibly skewing the results — led to the location for the test being switched twice. "
But hey, council members (with the exception of Diane Bellamy-Small, who flips the bird to polygraph tests and local media) set themselves up for elevated stress levels.
This was a bad idea, period. When politicians try to appear honest, they end up looking silly. The best example I can think of is President Clinton's proclamation that he would oversee the "most ethical administration in history." Red flag right there.
That's why I vote Republican: No pretext of honesty whatsoever.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
......Immigrants take to the streets
Is this not proof that free speech and dissent are alive and well in this country?
Monday, May 01, 2006
....Red Sox re-acquire Tim Wakefield's personal catcher
The Times' Jack Curry also provides some insight into what it's like to catch a knuckeball. Let's
put it this way: John Flaherty, a 14-year veteran, so he wouldn't have to catch Wakefield's knuckler:
"It took Flaherty two innings to decide that he could not spend a year chasing those knuckleballs. Two innings in a meaningless spring training game, 20 minutes of feeling vulnerable because he did not know where Wakefield’s next floater would dip or dart.
"Flaherty, who played in 1,047 games, was unnerved by the thought of catching Wakefield with a runner on third at Yankee Stadium."
Though he tries to reassure his catchers, you get the feeling Wakefield is a bit of a sadist:
"If a catcher has difficulty, that is a sign to Wakefield that he has a good knuckleball. If a catcher is not scrambling like a 5-year-old digging for quarters in a sandbox, then Wakefield becomes worried that his knuckleball is ineffective."
I've been watching quite a bit of the Red Sox this season, mainly because ESPN has become Red Sox Network. Is it me, or do the Sox have a more clean-cut look this season? No Mark Bellhorn, no Johnny Damon, no Bronson Arroyo (thank goodness
But still Manny Ramirez. My guess is the Red Sox, basically a conservative ballclub, would still get rid of Ramirez of they could because he's not a good image. But they can't, because his contract is too big. Cut your hair or get cut doesn't work if the team has to pay the bill and get nothing in return. Ramirez' paycheck allows him to wear his hair the way he pleases.
Damon's doesn't, though. He's more handsome than I thought, too.
.....I read with interest yesterday's N&R article
on the possible sale of land in the Uwharrie National Forest. As I posted
last week, I recently spent some time enjoying Uwharrie's beauty, so I don't take this issue lightly.
Of course, when I saw Jeri Rowe's byline, I expected an emotional plea on behalf of Uwharrie residents not to sell 2,317 acres of forest land. But on the whole, the piece was restrained and contained quite a bit of useful information for citizens to research and decide for themselves how they stand on this issue.
Still, a counter point of view was pretty much missing. There's got to be someone out there besides me and President Bush who don't think this is the worst idea in the world.
Fair enugh, Rowe does point out that "high-priced developments have helped diversify the county's tax base and fund services that would've been hurt by the county's job losses."
But I think the best case to make the deal came from Billy Myrick, owner of Myrick's Produce:
"There's nothing here. We've got no jobs. No textile jobs. And if they do want to come here to North Carolina, they want to go 60 miles up the road.
"And I hear it every day. 'I can't afford to get there.' And when your unemployment checks and jobs run out, what are you going to do?"
With Myrick's comments in mind, is it unreasonable to believe that limited development on former forest land would spur economic growth, especially in the fledgling eco-tourism industry? Is it not a good thing to improve the public's access to Uwharrie by providng them with places to stay and a bit of civilization after a day in the outdoors? Yeah, a lot of people like to fish, hike and mountgain bike. But a good many want a good meal and a soft bed afterwards.
Here's the way I look at it. One of my favorite places is the Creek House, located on the waterway just south of Myrtle Beach, the poster city for unlimited development. I've spent hours sitting on the deck of the Creek House at sunset, enjoying the waterway's natural beauty. Within sight are existing homes and homes under construction. They don't take away one bit from the waterway's beauty. I'm thankful for the access, and I'm glad others want access to such a wonderful place.