Know Nothing Know It All #2

albert - January 22, 2010 @ 12:12 am

I heard on NPR the other morning that the group studying tolling in the planned waterfront tunnel has figured out how much they’ll need to charge to pay for the City’s share of the thing.

$4 at peak.

For a ride that’s something like 4 miles long. They claim that in the scenarios they studied, people won’t divert to the surface streets in most cases during peak hours because the tunnel will be the least congested option. But I don’t know, $4 is a lot. I grew up right next to the Dulles Access Road (now the Greenway) and the alternative always had terrible traffic but we still never took the toll road.

They better be sure about those diversion numbers because we’re not going to have the money to provide improved transit or surface road improvements. Everything that’s left after the 520 bridge is getting sunk into this tunnel, down into the mudflats. Whatever people are saying they’re willing to fund besides these projects is going to disappear when the cost overruns start. That’s my prediction.

Know-nothing know-it-all #1

albert - January 21, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

I’ve been looking around for more information on why our healthcare is so expensive and does such a poor job of covering the people who need it the most and found a really informative article from 2006. This bit in particular blew my mind:

 A mere shift of power from Republicans to Democrats would not, in itself, be enough to give us sensible health care reform. While Democrats would have written a less perverse drug bill, it’s not clear that they are ready to embrace a single-payer system. Even liberal economists and scholars at progressive think tanks tend to shy away from proposing a straightforward system of national health insurance. Instead, they propose fairly complex compromise plans. Typically, such plans try to achieve universal coverage by requiring everyone to buy health insurance, the way everyone is forced to buy car insurance, and deal with those who can’t afford to purchase insurance through a system of subsidies

Amazing right? I didn’t see it coming but apparently it was easy to do so.


“Billions Wasted in Pointless TSA Screening Methods”

albert - December 29, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

Patrick Smith is one of my favorite writers. I highly recommend his “Ask the Pilot” column at Salon. He tells stories about his history as an airline pilot, weighs in on crashes and incidents, talks about the Simpsons. I think I like it because I loved planes as a kid — the technology, the romance, all that. Also because he’s got a good voice and I’m interested in professionals describing their craft.

Anyway, this article regarding the inanity of TSA screening procedures caught my eye this last week. It came out before all the Christmas excitement, which only helps to underline its message. I think Patrick is spot on that we’re pointlessly obsessed with the tactics that worked in September 2001, which were never going to work again after that morning and are generally showing little common sense in our quest for airline security.


Justice is just Justice

albert - December 28, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
- Abraham Lincoln

Several nights ago I heard a report on the BBC world service about the plight of Yemenis imprisoned in Guantanemo. Yemen has apparently been pushing for the release of its citizens for several years now. The BBC was reporting that there were concerns (don’t remember who they were attributed to) that many of the prisoners would go directly into the ranks of Al Queda. Further, the concern was that even though many of the prisoners had done nothing wrong, they had been radicalized by their years in military prison and would now be willing to fight against the United States. Was it a good idea, the report wondered, for the US to release these prisoners, knowing that there was a good chance they’ll end up taking up arms against us?

Well? So what? Can these men be charged with a crime? Have they been given a fair trial and sentenced to be held? No? Well, are they prisoners of war per the Geneva Conventions? No? Then how are we legally or morally justified in keeping these men imprisoned? The only morally defensible position is that these men must be released.


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