Archive for the 'Transportation' Category
Posted by Carl from Chicago on 25th May 2013 (All posts by Carl from Chicago)
Recently I had the opportunity to travel in London. This post covers some observations about transport from the perspective of a Chicago resident.
The Heathrow Express is a high speed train that whisks you from Heathrow Airport (the main international terminal for arriving visitors) into Paddington Station in downtown London in fifteen minutes, with no stops. The train leaves every 15 minutes during normal airport hours and is fast, clean and has free wi-fi. The downside is that it costs over thirty pounds for a round trip (about $45). Compared to the “Blue Line” in Chicago, which takes an hour to get to the airport with about 20 stops, the Heathrow Express is a royal way to travel. In the past I have taken the “tube” or subway from Heathrow to downtown which also works and costs far less, although it probably takes 45 minutes or so.
For the first time in London I took one of the ubiquitous traditional red buses that ply the city streets. Unlike the “Tube” which is relatively easy to navigate and follow, you need to do some research to figure out where the buses are going although they now have apps for everything, as well. It is great fun if you have some time on your hands to sit at the front of the top of the bus and watch the driver navigate through narrow streets incredibly crowded with traffic and pedestrians. You can use your “Oyster” card when you get on the bus and refill it at any Underground station.
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Posted in Britain, Transportation | 3 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 13th April 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
On April 8, 1838, the steamship Great Western..the first steamship to be purpose-built for the transatlantic passenger traffic…left Bristol for New York City. Four days earlier, though, another steamship, the Sirius, had left Cork for the same destination. Sirius had not been designed for the Atlantic run; it was a small channel steamer which had been chartered by the rivals of Great Western’s owners. This competitive enterprise had encountered delays in the construction of their own Atlantic liner, the British Queen, and had chartered Sirius to keep Great Western from scoring a win in the PR battle. Sirius did arrive at New York first, on April 23, but Great Western came in only 12 hours later…its crossing of a little more than 15 days was the fastest ever from England to America.
There were earlier crossings that had been at least partly steam-powered: the American ship Savannah in 1819 (which actually used only sails for most of the voyage), and the Dutch Curacao and the Canadian Royal William, which made their crossings in 1827 and 1833 respectively. But it was the Great Western vs Sirius race which marked the beginning of steam passenger and mail service across the Atlantic.
The paddle wheels and auxiliary sailing rigs of the early steamers gave way to screw propellers and total reliance on steam, and reciprocating steam engines were later supplanted by steam turbines…which in turn have now largely been replaced by diesels and in some cases gas turbines. Aircraft carriers and submarines still use steam turbines, though, with the steam generation done by nuclear energy rather than the burning of coal or oil.
Here’s the British actress Fanny Kemble, writing circa 1882, in annotation of her years-earlier comments about the difficulties and emotional pain caused by slow communications between the continents:
To those who know the rate of intercourse between Europe and America now, these expressions of the painful sense of distance from my country and friends, under which I suffered, must seem almost incomprehensible,—now, when to go to Europe seems to most Americans the easiest of summer trips, involving hardly more than a week’s sea voyage; when letters arrive almost every other day by some of the innumerable steamers flying incessantly to and fro, and weaving, like living shuttles, the woof and warp of human communication between the continents; and the submarine telegraph shoots daily tidings from shore to shore of that terrible Atlantic, with swift security below its storms. But when I wrote this to my friend, no words were carried with miraculous celerity under the dividing waves; letters could only be received once a month, and from thirty to thirty-seven days was the average voyage of the sailing packets which traversed the Atlantic. Men of business went to and fro upon their necessary affairs, but very few Americans went to Europe, and still fewer Europeans went to America, to spend leisure, or to seek pleasure; and American and English women made the attempt still seldomer than the men. The distance between the two worlds, which are now so near to each other, was then immense.
(The quote is one of several passages cited in my post Further Fannyisms)
Also: the ultimate development of the steam-turbine-powered passenger liner was represented by the SS United States. Sadly, this beautiful ship is in imminent danger of being turned over the the scrapper’s’ torches…to save her, the SS United States Conservancy needs to raise $500K in the next month and will welcome contributions.
Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Business, History, Tech, Transportation, USA | 3 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 6th February 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
These guys always seemed to be a bunch of juvenile, self-righteous assholes who enjoy the fruits of a modern transportation system while pretending to be above it all with their bicycles and simpleminded cultural leftism. The core of the Critical Mass experience are the massive traffic-fouling group bike rides on urban streets. By now CM is mainstream and tolerated by the powers that be with, I assume, the understanding that any daring transgressions will be restricted to off-peak hours. So it becomes just another annoying street event like the parades and art fairs and filming the hot TV show that are given dispensation to block traffic and inconvenience drivers. Of course I would never participate in such a thing. However, it turns out that some of my friends do these rides, and they asked if I wanted to join them. So I said, sure, sounds like fun.
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Posted in Diversions, Photos, Sports, Transportation, Urban Issues | 20 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 3rd February 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Grand Central Terminal is celebrating its 100th anniversary…see photo essay here. The station building itself is only the most visible element of a massive, courageous, and very profitable infrastructure project carried out by the New York Central Railroad.
In the late 1800s, hundreds of trains a day entered and departed Manhattan on the NY Central lines. All were hauled by steam locomotives, and large amounts of land in the vicinity of the terminal were used for yard and support facilities. People living in the vicinity of the tracks probably did not view steam trains, with their smoke and cinders, as being especially romantic. Indeed, the smoke was so thick at some points as to represent a serious safety hazard, impeding visibility of signals.
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Posted in Business, History, Transportation, USA | 9 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 29th December 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
Here’s a Rudyard Kipling poem which isn’t as well known as some of his other ones:
There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.
They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !
They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”
(read the whole poem here)
What reminded me of this poem?
Apparently, in 2012 the average time to complete a VA disability or pension claim was 262 days, up from 188 days in the prior year and far above the official target of 125 days. More at Nextgov.
I’m not very impressed with the excuses offered by the VA for this situation:
VA officials attribute the backlog, defined as claims in the system for more than 125 days, in part to higher demand by veterans returning from 10 years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with severe and complex injuries.
A Texas Veterans Commission official noted that the agency is caught in a “perfect storm” of claims from veterans of recent wars and those from aging Vietnam and Korea veterans whose disabilities are worsening.
But wasn’t this all predictable? Obviously wars cause injuries, and better battlefield medical attention means that more wounded soldiers will survive and hence need extended care. And wasn’t the higher claims rate “from aging Vietnam and Korea veterans” largely predictable from simple demographic analysis? I’m reminded of the saying about a British railroad from several decades ago: ”Despite its frequency and general regularity, Sunday morning seems to consistently catch this railroad by surprise.”
The above remark about the railroad notwithstanding, private enterprises generally seem to be able to deal with fluctuating demand and other problems quite well. There is almost always food in the supermarkets, despite droughts, crop failures, logistical problems, strikes, etc etc. The electricity is almost always on despite storms and electrical failures. And while businesses generally do a better problem than government at dealing with daunting arrays of problems, some government agencies do manage to deal with demand increases and fluctuations far better than the VA seems able to do with these disability claims. Somehow the FAA manages to conduct air traffic control safely and effectively despite the increased demand that occurs in holiday seasons and the varied and often nefarious effects of the weather. The military itself often manages to quickly deploy forces and equipment to far-distant locations. Why has the VA been unable to modify its processes to provide resolution of disability claims in a timely manner?
Sad and disturbing.
Posted in Aviation, Big Government, Health Care, Management, Tech, Transportation, War and Peace | 10 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 21st November 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
I live in suburbia. Like most of suburbia, all the streets in my suburb curve or wind to slow down traffic and break up lines of sight. I live on a cul de sac. It’s cozy and the kids can use the street at the “bottom of the bag” for football and other games without fear of being run over by through traffic.
I rather like it.
The people who don’t like it, are those who drive large service vehicles like the trash truck, the short school bus or delivery flat panel trucks. At least once a day, I am treated to the sight of large vehicle usually, a delivery truck, backing a filling several times to out of the cul de sac. When I hear air brakes and backup beeps and I know whats doing on. I’ve often wondered if there was a better vehicle to use, especially for the delivery trucks.
Yep, there is. While taking a constitutional down the street to the park, I saw one of these whizzing towards me full of packages. It turned into my cul de sac so I followed and asked the driver if she was UPS (because of her uniform.)
Yep, she was. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Business, Transportation | 19 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 1st October 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
The discussion of Islamic slavery in the discussion thread here reminded me of a great piece of writing by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. St-Ex was a pioneering airmail pilot who spend much time in North Africa. The events described date from the late 1920s or early 1930s.
“Hide me in the Marrakech plane!”
Night after night, at Cape Juby, this slave would make his prayer to me. After which, satisfied that he had done what he could for his salvation, he would sit down upon crossed legs and brew my tea. Having put himself in the hands of the only doctor (as he believed) who could cure him, having prayed to the only god who might save him, he was at peace for another twenty-four hours.
Squatting over his kettle, he would summon up the simple vision of his past-the black earth of Marrakech, the pink houses, the rudimentary possessions of which he had been despoiled. He bore me no ill-will for my silence, nor for my delay in restoring him to life. I was not a man like himself but a power to be invoked, something like a favorable wind which one of these days might smile upon his destiny.
I, for my part, did not labor under these delusions concerning my power. What was I but a simple pilot, serving my few months as chief of the airport at Cape Juby and living in a wooden hut built over against the Spanish fort, where my worldly goods consisted of a basin, a jug of brackish water, and a cot too short for me?
“We shall see, Bark.”
All slaves are called Bark, so Bark was his name. But despite four years of captivity he could not resign himself to it and remembered constantly that he had been a king.
“What did you do at Marrakech, Bark?”
At Marrakech, where his wife and three children were doubtless still living, he had plied a wonderful trade.
“I was a drover, and my name was Mohammed!”
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Posted in Book Notes, France, Islam, Middle East, Transportation | 7 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 28th September 2012 (All posts by Jonathan)
Posted in Photos, Transportation | 6 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 19th August 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
Weather permitting, the 200-year-old USS Constitution will be going for a brief sail today.
The ship’s website is here.
Posted in History, Transportation, USA, War and Peace | 1 Comment »
Posted by David Foster on 12th August 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
On August 12, 1812, the Middleton Railway put two steam locomotives into regular service, marking the beginning of the railroad era—the social, economic, and political consequences of which would be vast. The poet Heinrich Heine, living in Paris in 1843, vividly captured the sense of the smaller world enabled by the railroad:
I feel the mountains and forests of all countries advancing towards Paris. Already, I smell the scent of German lime-trees; the North-Sea breaks on my doorstep.
The August 1812 event marked the first regular use of trains which were mechanically self-propelled…railroad technology itself goes back much further, beginning with tracks cut in stone in ancient quarries and continuing with the use in Germany, circa 1558, of wooden rails for the movement of ore within mines and with the introduction in Britain, in 1604, of flanges for keeping wheel on rail. These “wagonways,” as they were called, allowed one horse to haul about 4 times more freight than the same horse could handle with wagons operating over conventional roads.
The Middleton Railway was created as a result of commercial pressures: in 1745, a mine owner named Charles Brandling was finding it difficult to compete with other miners who, unlike him, had access to water transportation. Brandling’s agent, Richard Humble, proposed the creation of a wagonway, which soon extended to a location near the River Aire. (About 35 miles.) The line was privately financed; Brandling did however obtain an act of authorization from Parliament, which gave him the power to obtain “wayleave,” which seems to have been a form of delegated eminent domain.
Although horsepower in the literal sense was the major prime mover in this railway’s early history, a stationary steam engine was applied to help the horses over a particularly steep hill. By 1808, though, the Napoleonic wars had caused the price of horse feed to rise and the resulting high costs of transporttaion were again making the Brandling colliery uneconomic. John Blenkinsop, the newly-appointed colliery manager, designed and patented the rack and pinion method of traction and contracted with a local foundry to build two locomotives, which were named Salamanca and Prince Regent. Steam operations continued until the 1830s, when the line reverted to horse-drawn traction (a couple of boiler explosions were involved in the decision, I’d also suspect changes in the ratio between the prices of horse feed and coal), switching back to steam in 1866. The Middleton Railway was used for coal-hauling until 1967, and is now operating as a tourist railroad. The railway held its 200th anniversary celebration in June of this year, commemorating the first public demonstration of its steam engines on June 24, 1812.
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Posted in Britain, History, Tech, Transportation, USA | 15 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 4th August 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
by Linda Niemann
(previously published under the title Boomer: Railroad Memoirs)
Originally posted 5/30/2005
What happens when a PhD in English, a woman, takes a job with the railroad? Linda Niemann tells the story based on her own experiences. It’s a remarkable document–a book that “is about railroading the way ‘Moby Dick’ is about whaling”, according to a Chicago Sun-Times reviewer. (Although I think a better Melville comparison would be with “White Jacket”, Melville’s book about his experiences as a crewman on an American sailing warship. Which is still very high praise.)
Niemann had gotten a PhD and a divorce simultaneously, and her life was on a downhill slide. “The fancy academic job never materialized,” and she was living in a shack in the mountains and hanging around with strippers, poets, musicians, and drug dealers. Then she saw the employment ad for the Southern Pacific railroad.
When I saw the ad in the Sunday paper–BRAKEMEN WANTED–I saw it as a chance to clean up my act and get away. In a strategy of extreme imitation, I felt that by doing work this dangerous, I would have to make a decision to live, to protect myself. I would have to choose to stay alive every day, to hang on to the side of those freightcars for dear life. Nine thousand tons moving at sixty miles an hour into the fearful night.
Niemann is hired by the Southern Pacific to work at Watsonville, a small freightyard whose main function is to switch out all the perishable freight from the Salinas Valley. Other pioneering women are also joining the railroad at this time, and Niemann soon finds herself a member of an “all-girl team,” assigned to work the midnight shift during the rainy season. Their responsibility will be to reorganize all the cars that have come in during the day, positioning them on the correct tracks and in the correct sequence. They will have at their disposal a switch engine and an engineer, but it will be their responsibility to plan the moves as well as to execute them–coupling and uncoupling cars and air hoses, setting and releasing handbrakes, throwing switches. Before work, they meet at a local espresso house.
It was an odd feeling to be getting ready to go to work when everybody else was ending their evenings, relaxed, dressed up, and, I began to see, privileged. They were going to put up their umbrellas, go home, and sleep. We were going to put rubber clothes on and play soccer with boxcars…
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Posted in Book Notes, Business, History, Transportation | 3 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 14th May 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
The hot energy story of the last few years has been the vast expansion in the available supplies of natural gas, and the very significant economic implications thereof. I though it might be interesting to take a look at the past, present, and future of this commodity.
The first known use of natural gas was by the Chinese, circa 500 BC…they captured gas from places where it was seeping to the surface, transported it in bamboo pipelines, and burned it for a heat source to distill seawater and capture the resulting salt and fresh water. The modern gas era began circa 1800 with the use of gas for lighting–initially of streets and later of homes and other buildings. Since there was no network of gas wells and long-distance pipelines, the gas used for these applications was usually not true natural gas, but rather “town gas,” made by heating coal. (Gas stoves seem to have become popular circa 1880, and apparently had quite an impact….I’ve read that the term “gas-stove wife” was enviously applied to women who were so fortunate as to have one of these appliances and were thereby spared the labor of tending a wood or coal stove, and hence had some leisure time available.)
The transition from coal gas to true natural gas had to wait on the build-out of a long-haul pipeline network, which took place mainly from 1920 to 1960. Although electricity became the glamor “fuel” and displaced gas in many cases for cooking and heating, the generation of electricity itself has in recent years become a major source of gas demand. Natural gas is also important as a feedstock for the production of fertilizer and of various plastics. By the early 2000s, there were serious concerns that the US was running out of natural gas–see for example this 2003 TIME Magazine story. The article cites Alan Greenspan’s concerns that high nat gas prices would make us uncompetitive in many industries, as well as citing direct economic pain inflicted on consumers. The only solution seemed to be large-scale imports of natural gas via LNG (liquified natural gas) ships. (Gas is far more difficult to transport than oil, because it needs to be liquified in order to make the volumes manageable, which in turn requires refrigerating it to very low temperatures.) In late 2005, US natural gas prices hit an inflation-adjusted level of almost $16 per million BTUs.
The price is now about $2.50 per million BTUs. What happened?
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Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Politics, Tech, Transportation, USA | 8 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 13th May 2012 (All posts by Jonathan)
Via sportsman extraordinaire Dan from Madison, this fascinating video shows the operations of a British bicycle factory in 1945. If the factory shown is not a composite it may be the Raleigh works in Nottingham. (The video shows Rudge branded bike frames being made. Wikipedia says that the electronics — now music — company EMI bought the Rudge name and produced bikes from 1935 until 1943 when they sold the brand to Raleigh.)
The video was a promotional effort on behalf of British industry. In hindsight it shows British industry on the cusp of postwar decline. But that’s hindsight. The bicycles shown are pre-war designs, variations of which are still used in much of the world. (Many of the bikes shown in the video would have been exported, perhaps mainly to what are now the Commonwealth countries.) Updated versions of these bikes were popular in the USA until the 1970s when they began to be superseded by more modern designs. Since then the Raleigh brand has passed through multiple acquisitions, and Raleigh bicycles are no longer made in Britain (I have no idea when the Rudge brand was last used).
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Posted in Anglosphere, History, Tech, Transportation, Video | 18 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 5th April 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
In Britain, an 83-year-old woman has been told that she must find a new medical practice, because travel to the one she has been attending for the last 30 years involves an unacceptable carbon footprint.
Posted in Britain, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Health Care, Transportation | 8 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 15th March 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
…a selection of the passages I bookmarked in the Kemble journals.
On American women
The dignified and graceful influence which married women, among us, exercise over the tone of manners, uniting the duties of home to the charms of social life, and bearing, at once, like the orange-tree, the fair fruits of maturity with the blossoms of their spring, is utterly unknown here. Married women are either house-drudges and nursery-maids, or, if they appear in society, comparative ciphers ; and the retiring, modest, youthful bearing, which among us distinguishes girls of fifteen or sixteen, is equally unknown. Society is entirely led by chits, who in England would be sitting behind a pinafore ; the consequence is, that it has neither the elegance, refinement, nor the propriety which belongs to ours ; but is a noisy, rackety, vulgar congregation of flirting boys and girls, alike without style or decorum.
On the absence of desperate poverty in America
This country is in (one) respect blessed above all others, and above all others deserving of blessing. There are no poor I say there are none, there need be none ; none here need lift up the despairing voice of hopeless and help less want towards that Heaven which hears when men will not. No father here need work away his body s health, and his spirit s strength, in unavailing labour, from day to day, and from year to year, bowed down by the cruel curse his fellows lay upon him. ..Oh, it makes the heart sick to think of all the horrible anguish that has been suffered by thousands and thousands of those wretched creatures, whose want begets a host of moral evils fearful to contemplate; whose existence begins in poverty, struggles on through care and toil, and heart-grinding burdens, and ends in destitution, in sickness, alas! too often in crime and infamy. Thrice blessed is this country, for no such crying evil exists in its bosom; no such moral reproach, no such political rottenness. Not only is the eye never offended with those piteous sights of human suffering, which make one s heart bleed, and whose number appals one s imagination in the thronged thoroughfares of the European cities ; but the mind reposes with delight in he certainty that not one human creature is here doomed to suffer and to weep through life ;not one immortal soul is thrown into jeopardy by the combined temptations of its own misery, and the heartless self ishness of those who pass it by without holding out so much as a finger to save it. If we have any faith in the excellence of mercy and benevolence, we must believe that this alone will secure the blessing of Providence on this country,
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Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Biography, Book Notes, Britain, Transportation, USA | 13 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th February 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
At the balloon festival in Abilene, Texas – 2010
Posted in Americas, Miscellaneous, North America, Photos, Tech, Transportation | 5 Comments »
Posted by Telegram from Innisfree on 15th February 2012 (All posts by Telegram from Innisfree)
Drudge is reporting that the US is headed to $5/gallon for gas. When I mention US prices to my Irish friends, they usually are either shocked or laugh. Our gas prices are still bargain basement compared to Ireland. Currently gas is about EUR1.55 per liter. Multiply by 4 to approximate a gallon = EUR 6.20. Multiply again by $1.30, and voila = $8/gallon gas.
When petrol is this pricey, it’s time to ditch the car. Yes, we lead the green life, although very unwillingly. Husband commutes nearly 2hrs to work each way – a ride that takes only 35 min by car. The kids and I walk to school daily, 23 minutes each way.
A few observations: 1. The idea that one somehow gets more fit from all of this walking is a joke and I am a living, breathing, zaftig testament to this truth; 2. Walking and taking public transit drains an enormous amount of time from one’s day, and one’s productivity; 3. Because I can only carry so much in my shopping trolley, I have to act as a hunter-gatherer, getting only so much food per day. Again – big drain on productivity. 4. Because we can’t afford a car, we’re not supporting all of the many businesses that build up around car ownership – insurance, gas, car washes, oil change services, tires, etc. So they lose out as well.
Here’s your future, America. May I recommend getting some good shoes?
Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Transportation | 20 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 30th January 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
Minneapolis is the head of commercial navigation on the Mississippi river. The city’s barge facilities handle about 600,000 tons of traffic annually–not huge by water-transport standards, but not trivial either.
Concerns about a predatory fish called the Asian Carp have raised the idea of permanently closing the locks at St Anthony Falls and hence eliminating Minneapolis’s industrial waterfront. Maybe this is necessary, or maybe there is an alternative way of dealing with the carp invasion–I don’t know. But I do think that the reaction of the Mayor to the potential termination of barge operations in his city is a little–jarring:
Get over it. Minneapolis does not need a port
What Minneapolis apparently does need, in the opinion of many real-estate developers and politicians, is a new swath of riverfront parks, condos, and restaurants.
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Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Politics, Transportation | 17 Comments »
Posted by Lexington Green on 20th December 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Music, Transportation, Video | 5 Comments »
Posted by Lexington Green on 4th December 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
James C. Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Challenge (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), and Michael J. Lotus (who blogs at Chicagoboyz.net as “Lexington Green”), are proud to announce the signing of a contract with Encounter Books of New York to publish their forthcoming book America 3.0.
America 3.0 gives readers the real historical foundations of our liberty, free enterprise, and family life. Based on a new understanding of our past, and on little known modern scholarship, America 3.0 offers long-term strategies to restore and strengthen American liberty, prosperity and security in the years ahead.
America 3.0 shows that our country was founded as a decentralized federation of communities, dominated by landowner-farmers, and based on a unique type of Anglo-American nuclear family. This was America 1.0, as the Founders established it. The Industrial Revolution brought progress, opportunity and undreamed-of mobility. But, it also pushed the majority of American families into a new, urban, industrial life along with millions of unassimilated immigrants. After the Civil War, new problems of public health, crime, public order, and labor unrest, on top of the issues of Reconstruction, taxed the old Constitution. Americans looked for new solutions to new problems, giving rise to Progressivism, the ancestor of modern liberalism.
America 3.0 shows that liberal-progressive solutions to the challenges of America 2.0 relieved some problems, and kicked others down the road. But they also led to an overly powerful state and to an overly intrusive bureaucracy. This was the beginning of America 2.0, the America we grew up with, which dominated the Twentieth Century.
America 3.0 argues that the liberal-progressive or “Blue State” social model has reached its natural limits. Even as it continues to try to expand, it is now dying out before our eyes. We are now living in the closing years of the 20th Century “legacy state.” Even so, it has taken the shock of the current Great Recession to make people see the need for change. As a result, more and more Americans are calling for a return to our founding principles. Freedom and individualism are on the rise after a century-long detour.
America 3.0 shows that our current problems can be and must be transcended with a transition to a new America 3.0, based on modern technology, decentralized communities, and self-reliant families, and a reassertion of fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally limited government and free market economics. Ironically the future America 3.0 will in many ways be closer to the original vision of the Founders than the fading America 2.0.
America 3.0 gives readers an accurate, and hopeful, assessment of our current crisis. It also spotlights the powerful forces arrayed in opposition to the needed reform. These groups include ideological leftists in media and the academy, politically connected businesses, and the public employees unions. However, as powerful as these groups are, they have become vulnerable as the external conditions change. A correct understanding of our history and culture, which America 3.0 provides, shows their opposition will be futile. The new, pro-freedom, mass political movement, which is aligned with the true needs and desires of Americans, is going to succeed.
America 3.0 provides readers a program of specific “maximalist” proposals to reform our government and liberate our economy. America 3.0 shows readers that these reforms are consistent with our fundamental culture, and with our Constitution, and will make Americans freer and more prosperous in the years ahead.
America 3.0 provides a “software upgrade” for the Tea Party and for all activists on the Conservative and Libertarian Right. It provides readers with historical evidence and intellectual coherence, to channel the energy and enthusiasm of the rising mass political movement to renew America.
America 3.0 shows that our capacity for regeneration is greater than most people realize. Predictions of our doom are deeply mistaken. We are now living just before the dawn of America’s greatest days. Within a generation, positive changes beyond what we can currently imagine will have taken place. That is the America 3.0 we are going to build together.
(Cross-posted from the America 3.0 blog.)
Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Announcements, Arts & Letters, Big Government, Book Notes, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, History, International Affairs, Politics, Predictions, Public Finance, Real Estate, RKBA, Science, Society, Taxes, Tea Party, Tech, Transportation, Urban Issues, USA | 18 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 15th November 2011 (All posts by David Foster)
“It makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than us, and Singapore having better airports than us. And we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth — that used to be us.” (Nov 3, 2010)
“America became an economic superpower because we knew how to build things. We built the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hoover Dam, and the Interstate Highway System. And now, we’re settling for China having the best high-speed rail, and Singapore having better airports? When did that happen? “(Oct 25 2011)
George Savage juxtaposes the latter Obama statement with his decision, only two weeks later, to delay approval for the construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, which was estimated to provide about 20,000 jobs, as well as having an obvious beneficial impact on America’s energy security. Indeed, it should be obvious at this point that the main inhibitors to the building of any large project whatsoever are regulatory overreach and complexity and the exploitation of the legal and regulatory environment by precisely the kind of activists that Obama the community organizer has spent much of his life encouraging. Obama’s complaints about us not building things resemble the plea of the defendant who killed both of his parents and then asked for mercy because he was an orphan. (More thoughts on large projects then versus now at my post like swimming in glue.)
But in addition to the above point, the kinds of projects about which Obama waxes enthusiastic (to the degree that any enthusiasm is contained in his rather flat emotional range) reveal much about the “progressive” economic worldview.
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Posted in China, Tech, Transportation, USA | 6 Comments »
Posted by Dan from Madison on 22nd September 2011 (All posts by Dan from Madison)
I say “I learn something new every day” all the time. Because I do.
With skyrocketing fuel costs, I have begun to do research on more fuel efficient ways to deliver product to my customers. I live in a rural area, so we are forced to reach out and get the business. I work about a sixty mile radius.
I came upon the Ford Transit Connect. This is an interesting vehicle because of the relatively low initial cost and the 27 mpg on the highway. I did a bit of cocktail napkin math and this vehicle would pay for itself in fuel savings alone in about two years when comparing it against some of my gas guzzling diesel trucks.
While doing research on this vehicle, I discovered what the Chicken Tax was. I read about it on wiki.
To circumvent the 25% tariff on imported light trucks, Ford imports all Transit Connects as passenger vehicles with rear windows, rear seats and rear seatbelts. The vehicles are exported from Turkey on cargo ships owned by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, arrive in Baltimore, and are converted into commercial vehicles at WWL Vehicle Services Americas Inc. facility: rear windows are replaced with metal panels and rear seats removed (except on wagons). The removed parts are then recycled. The process exploits a loophole in the customs definition of a commercial vehicle. As cargo does not need seats with seat belts or rear windows, presence of those items exempts the vehicle from commercial vehicle status. The conversion process costs Ford hundreds of dollars per van, but saves thousands over having to pay the chicken tax. Partly because of this, only the long-wheelbase, high roof configuration is exported to North America. In most places, the high-roof Transit Connect, like most Ford Econoline vans, is unable to access multi-story parking because of its height (6′-6″).
I understand what was written, but was baffled as to why on earth a tariff on light trucks would be called a Chicken Tax.
I got curious, so I ran the wiki on the Chicken Tax.
The Chicken tax was a 25% tariff on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks imposed in 1963 by the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson as a response to tariffs placed by France and West Germany on importation of U.S. chicken. The period from 1961–1964 of tensions and negotiations surrounding the issue, which took place at the height of Cold War politics, was known as the “Chicken War”.
Eventually, the tariffs on potato starch, dextrin, and brandy were lifted, but over the next 48 years the light truck tax ossified, remaining in place to protect U.S. domestic automakers from foreign light truck production (e.g., from Japan and Thailand). Though concern remains about its repeal, a 2003 Cato Institute study called the tariff “a policy in search of a rationale.”
As an unintended consequence, several importers of light trucks have circumvented the tariff via loopholes—including Ford (ostensibly a company the tax was designed to protect), which currently imports the Transit Connect light trucks as “passenger vehicles” to the U.S. from Turkey and immediately shreds portions of their interiors in a warehouse outside Baltimore.
I guess there is no real point of this post, other than to point out that yesterday’s thing that I learned was an interesting one. I now know what the Chicken War is, and also know what the Chicken Tax is.
Posted in Big Government, Personal Narrative, Taxes, Transportation | 12 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 28th August 2011 (All posts by David Foster)
A fascinating look at the electric car industry of the early 20th century and specifically the attempt to position these vehicles as particularly appropriate for women: Femininity and the Electric Car.
Lots of other interesting content on the web site on which this article appears, The Automobile in American Life and Society.
Posted in Advertising, Business, History, Tech, Transportation, USA | 9 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 20th August 2011 (All posts by Jonathan)
I was at the repair shop, waiting for my car. One of the mechanics saw me taking pictures in the parking lot and called me over to check out this beautiful relic. The electric fan isn’t original but you can pretend it’s not there. This was a 4-door and in very nice shape overall. It had what appeared to be an authentic window sticker that read: “Sangamon County DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE MAN”. The engine was, I think, a small V-8 (a 265? whatever the typical small block of the time was) and there was plenty of room to work under the hood. There were chrome rain gutters above the passenger windows, thick, solid sheet metal, chrome everywhere. The bumper looked like it would shatter on the most minor impact, but the playful styling made you not care. Are those breasts? It’s hard to imagine such charming curlicues on today’s cautiously styled cars, yet contemporary aesthetes decried ’50s designs as vulgar. What did they know.
UPDATE: There are some additional pics below the fold, and I’ve changed the main image to HTML so that Lex can see it on his phone.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Personal Narrative, Photos, Tech, Transportation | 17 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 9th August 2011 (All posts by David Foster)
A Ford assembly line for the Model T.
Related post: the automotive century and mass production
(video link via my mom)
Posted in Business, Management, Tech, Transportation, USA | 1 Comment »