Saturday, January 22, 2005

Weather

Well, its 1 degree in South Bethlehem, Pa, so I've been keeping my eyes out for an impromptu speech by Algore on global warming.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Mass Transit Missive

This is a rant I've needed to write for a few days now. If you don't want to read something that amounts to one long complaint, pick another post. I'll finish my post on my Inauguration experience tomorrow. Really, I will. I have a lot I want to blog about. I just need to find the time and energy... well, that and my writing muse is not being cooperative at the moment. So, if it takes complaining to get me writing, I'll take it. I'm gonna be one crotchety old man, though...

There's just something about unreliable mass transit that really irritates me. Of course, I'm referring to the Washington, DC MetroBus system. I have yet to have any problem with the trains here, except for one time later at night when I had to wait 20 minutes for a train. Though I dislike that, I don't find it unreasonable at that time of night. At least Metro has an electronic sign to announce when the next train will arrive, unlike New York, when the next train could come in the next decade.

I think my harsh judgement on mass transit, though, comes from two things. First, I've been in the position of having to rely on it, and not being able to and having no other options is immensely frustrating. I really dislike putting both my punctuality and my way home in the hands of others in general and those who have shown their incompetance in particular. That actually reminds me of a line from Jurassic Park, the movie this time. Hammond says to Nedry (who was perfectly cast with Wayne Knight), "Our lives are in your hands and you have butterfingers?" My second issue is now that I've been to Japan, I've seen mass transit done right. Anything less is just unacceptable to me.

Washington makes a stark contrast with Japan. Mind you, I'm only basing this on the Keihan buses I used around Kyoto and Osaka, so I don't know how things are in the rest of the country. Note that Keihan is a private company, while Metro is run by a consortium of local governments. The key problem with Metro is that you never know when a bus is coming and none of Metro's literature or signage is the least bit helpful. You go to a bus-stop, but you have no way of knowing which bus-stop you're at, and most of them don't even have the route numbers that go by there on them. Only some stops have a schedule posted, but it's only a schedule for one route that uses that stop, and it's never the route I want. Even more unacceptable, at the terminus point of several routes, at the Metrorail station closest to where I'm staying, there are also no schedules. The buses themselves have route maps and timetables available to take in them, but they're never for the right route!

They expect you to figure everything out through their website. Normally, I'd be fine with that, if the bus schedules didn't just take you to confusing PDF files where you still have to know which stop is which. When you get out on the street, though, there's no way of knowing which stop is which and which side ofthe road you need to be on or which way is Northbound or which is Westbound without being familiar with the area already. That reminds me of something that I resolved to do when I was getting turned around in New York: whenever I visit a new city, I need to make sure I have a compass with me. I forgot this time. Next time, though.

But that's not all. I guessed today might be a special day regarding bus and train service, but I figured it would all be in the "Riding the Metro to the 55th Presidential Inauguration" pamphlet I picked up. All the train changes were in there, but lo and behold, there was nothing about the buses, so I figured it was a normal day. Turns out they were running on a Saturday schedule! No notice of this anywhere. Not in the pamphlet, not on the website, not in any Metro station, or at any bus-stop. Just ridiculous. So, for the second day in a row, I had to just get on the first bus that came by and go to some Metro station way out of the way, screwing up my schedule.

It was even worse Wednesday when I missed a meeting because of the stupid buses. Well, it wasn't entirely Metro's fault. We got some snow in Washington on Wednesday, and I don't think I have ever seen a town that handled it worse. This was 2" of snow. That's nothing in Colorado. But here, gridlock! No plowing, no sanding, no salting until well after noon from what I could tell. No one knew how to drive in the snow. No one had snow tires. And none of the buses could move. Amazingly pathetic. This is what happens when your metropolitan area is run by Democrats.

I waited an hour for two buses that never came Wednesday and finally just got on one that took me in the opposite direction I needed to go (and very slowly due to idiot traffic) because it would evetually get to a Metro station. I cannot describe this system as anything other than incompetant, with, as I said above, the notable exception of the trains.

Contrast this with the Keihan buses in Japan's Kansai region. Every stop is marked as what the stop is. Every stop has a timetable that they keep to lamost flawlessly. Every stop has the routes that serve it on it. At the terminus, the routes are clearly labeled. The bus doesn't need exact change because it has an automated change machine on the bus itself that can even change bills. There are no delays getting on the bus because everyone pays when you get off. Signs and route information are fairly clear, and if I as a gaijin (foreigner) could figure it out, then they have to be pretty good.

US mass transit could learn a great deal from Japan, and it should if it ever wants to be successful, useful, efficient, and profitable. Until then we'll continue to have to deal with crap like Washington's Metrobus.

Four More Years!

Happy Inauguration Day, my fellow Americans! It's that happy, festive day every four years when a peaceful transition of power takes place in the United States.

Well, unless the president gets re-elected.

And my guy did! :)

David was fortunate enough to be there in person but I had to watch from the comfort of my bedroom. I enjoyed the Fox News coverage, even though they frequently cut the camera to the Clintons. If I had to put a thought bubble over Hillary's head, it would say, "Muwhaha yes, that will be ME in another four years!"

I had class this afternoon and the short walk from my car to the political science building put a smile on my face. As I strolled past the small parking lot behind the building, I noticed John Kerry For President, Kerry/Edwards, and Defend America, Defeat Bush signs on the back of two cars. I also passed by the dumpster, where the "Fermez la Bush" sticker is still proudly displayed. I had to laugh. I wanted to put a little "Happy Inauguration Day!" note on those windshields. Also, I couldn't help but think of all those Michael Moore protesters who got within two inches of my face and screamed "FOUR MORE DAYS!" I wonder if they are crying today. I could help them out and give them some advice on how to cope with the inauguration of a president you don't really like. I still remember Clinton's 1993 inauguration well. But I don't think they need my help. As Rush has been reporting recently, a lot of Florida's liberals are in therapy for post-election depression. When they introduced Mrs. Laura Bush, I thanked God that I was not hearing "Mrs. Teresa Heinz Kerry" being announced. Yes, my fellow Americans, today was a great day.

I would like to comment on Bush's speech, but not right now because I have to take a shower and do some reading for Amidon before bed. Let's just say I wasn't overly impressed and I agree with Peggy Noonan that at times, it was a bit grating. Definitely not some of his best work. But there was one particular line that I liked very much, so much that I thought, "Wow, I wish I was the speechwriter who came up with that!" but so memorable that I can't recall it at the moment.

What I would like to share, though, is how happy I was that Chief Justice William Rehnquist was able to administer the oath of office. It's something he wanted to do very much and I was so happy to see him at the ceremony, even for just a few minutes. Antonin Scalia is my favorite justice on the Supreme Court, but Rehnquist is a very close second. I have always admired him for voting against Roe vs. Wade and for subjecting the Constitution to strict interpretation. I was very upset to hear about his battle with thyroid cancer and I know that he will probably not be on the court much longer, but I appreciate all his years of service. And, even more than George W. Bush, I applaud him today. He has such a deep respect for the laws of this land and the history of America. He very much deserved to be there today and I wish him the best with his cancer treatments.

Party hard tonight, my conservative friends, for we know not what the next four years will bring.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Sanity in DC

There is some sanity in DC with all the craziness of liberals attacking a legitimated inauguration. Condoleezza Rice has been nominated as our next Secretary of State and I look forward to seeing what she will do with the position. She is an incrediably bright and talented woman who will be excellent for the job and she also has the presidents confidence which is important. On another note Michael Newdow the crazy atheist who tried to remove the words “under God” from our pledge of allegiance had his petition rejected by the Supreme Court. Sorry Michael but it looks like the president can have a prayer said if he wants to. The minorities in this country are very well protected by our constitution but we cannot bend the will of the country for the desires of a small group of people. Mr. Newdow needs to realize this and move on with his life. Sadly this leftist loon will be far from our last issue to deal with on the struggle between religion and atheism.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Raising the Bar Yet Again

Hooray for me, I updated my IE from version 5.0 to version 5.5, the most cutting edge browser available for Windows 95. With that comes the added bonus of all those tool features I lost on the blog a few months ago. No more HTML codes for links, now I get to be lazy again!

I caught this little piece of news online tonight and once again, I'm all fired up. It seems like every few days, some record is broken and an even older woman is giving birth to a baby.

First of all, why would any 66-year-old woman in her right mind want to be pregnant and have a baby? Why? I just can't understand it. Just thinking about all the uncomfortable aspects of pregnancy makes me wince and I am a healthy young woman. Loading your body up with hormones so that you might have a chance at reversing the natural aging process makes me shudder.

But aside from that, I am just constantly blown away by the selfishness of human beings. When this woman's daughter turns 18, she will be 84. That's older than any of my GRANDPARENTS and I am TWENTY. It's bad enough when a child loses a parent at young age but to purposely stack the deck and increase the odds of that happening because you are eligible for Social Security is just plain wrong. (Yes, I know the woman in this article is in Romania and not receiving money from the U.S. government, but there are plenty of American women who are choosing to do the same thing.)

I would like to personally encourage any post-menopausal woman who is reading this and desperately wants a baby to consider the hurdles that a child with a mother old enough to be his grandmother will face throughout his life. And if that still is not enough to deter you from following your dreams, save yourself the pain and expense of in vitro treatments and adopt instead. I would much rather see a baby adopted by an elderly woman than fall victim to abortion. But it is just senseless to deliberately create life when there is a good chance that the child will be motherless before finishing high school or face the burden of caring for an ailing parent at a very young age.

(On a completely unrelated note, I am amused by the fact that the spellchecker on this thing doesn't recognize the word "blog". How ironic.)

I Always Liked Rumsfeld's Take on Media Bias

Nothing new in institutionalized bias at the New York Times. I always thought Donald Rumsfeld summed up how the MSM distort news through headlines extremely well when he said this last year:

There are two ways, I suppose, one could inform readers of the Geneva Convention stipulation against using places of worship to conduct military attacks. One might be to headline saying that "Terrorists Attack Coalition Forces From Mosques." That would be one way to present the information.

Another might be to say: "Mosques Targeted in Fallujah." That was the Los Angeles Times headline this morning.
Of course this was the Los Angeles Times, but they may in fact be worse; the New York Times just gets more attention paid to it because of the reputation they spend every day ruining.

Interestingly, Hugh Hewitt points out that the LA Times has begun a new column that will feature people critical of the newspaper and its views. I think this will be a weekly thing, but I'm not sure. They've titled it "Outside the Tent" and Mickey Kaus was given the first shot. Hugh will eventually get to wite one as well.

Hugh's definitely right that most MSM outlets could use this. I can only imagine the great stuff we would get if the New York Times would invite people like Jonah Goldberg, Thomas Sowell, Brent Bozell, and Charles Krauthammer to take them on in their pages on a regular basis. Their readers might learn something for a change.

Time for the New York Times to be Ignored

Well I have reached a new level of disgust in my life. I just finished reading Journalistic Fraud: How the New York Times Distorts the News and Why it can no longer be trusted” by Bob Kohn. I have always read the Times with a grain of salt and at times had to throw it out. Their coverage of the Iraq War was ridiculous and they made it out to seem like we were losing the entire time which could not have been further from the truth. The Jason Blair Scandal was another dark chapter on the paper and one that is focused on a decent amount in the book. What has made me finally realize that I will never pick up a times again is the way that articles are systematically arranged. As Bias clearly showed how the CBS station tries to influence politics, Journalistic Fraud does the same. Mr. Kohn operates on the assumption that we are all aware the New York Times is baised and then goes on to show how they bais the news through various tactics. I will include here a list of chapters because that is what shows it best.

Bias, Slander and Fraud
The Purpose of a Newspaper
Distorting the lead
Distorting the headline
Distorting the Facts
Distorting with Opinion
Distorting with Labels
Distorting with Loaded Language
Distorting with Crusades
Distorting with Polls
Distorting with Placement
Distorting the War Coverage
The Future of the New York Times

Each one of the distorting chapters focuses on how the New York Times changes its stories and what it could say differently in each case. The book does an excellent job of proving systematic distortion and I found the headline section particularly disturbing. The final chapter focuses on the future of the paper and what it will need to do to regain its reputation and the threats that are currently facing it.

Most of us do not need convincing that the New York Times is a biased paper however this book does have the ability to sicken and disgust even those who are aware of its bias. For those who think it is possible to look past the bias that the New York Times exhibits we all have to wake up and realize this paper influences news across the country and they must be held accountable for what they do. Hopefully this book will help to raise awareness of the New York Times fraudulent behavior but if not then the general readership will have to wake up and realize we are entitled to News not opinions.

Aid and Israel

In December of 2003, a strong earthquake destroyed the ancient Iranian city of Bam and killed tens of thousands of people. I've been thinking about that lately because of the tsunami in Asia and because the thing I remember most about the Iranian earthquake was the country's official position: everyone, please, send us aid because we need it, oh wait, everyone except Israel.

I have a lot of mixed emotions about the tsunami relief efforts, especially in countries where anti-American sentiments run high. One lefty lawyer wrote an op-ed in the local paper this week. Apparently, there are some people out there who are still whining that President Bush didn't give a sappy, empathetic public address as soon as he was notified of the tsunami, as if that would have reversed geology and, like the staff of Moses, parted the seas and pushed all the water back.

But then it came out that Sri Lanka didn't seem to want help from the Israelis, either. Since Israel is closer to the Indian Ocean than Europe and the United States, they could have been an immediate help with rescue and relief efforts. Steve Yuhas has a fantastic column about this episode. His closing line, "Hate is too powerful an emotion to overcome with reason," is very true. I have little to add, except I would go one step further. I said it back in 2003 after Iran's earthquake and I will say it again now: if a country has experienced a catastrophic disaster but refuses aid from an American ally able and willing to give it, that country should be able to get along without support from the U.S. But I know this stance won't be taken by our government. It's not in the American spirit. Our country is generous and giving, but I think those characteristics have the potential to be our downfall.