Mencken Break!

March 6th, 2014 by matt

“The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”

Water Mains

February 24th, 2014 by matt

An interesting article in this weekend’s Buffalo News about the high cost of repairing the century-old water mains in Erie County this winter. With the extremely cold weather we’ve had, most of the local water authorities are seeing twice as many breaks as usual.

Our entire area is serviced by gas lines, sewer lines, water mains, and other public infrastructure that’s a hundred or more years old. And nobody’s even planning to replace and upgrade this stuff; it’s all just break-fix to keep it together for another year. As in so many things, we’re living with the infrastructure that our great-grandparents built. Let’s hope it doesn’t all start failing at once.

I-81

February 18th, 2014 by matt

Syracuse, our somehow even snowier neighbor to the east, is having an interesting argument about Interstate 81 — should it stay or should it go? This mirrors the discussions about the Skyway here in Buffalo, the Inner Loop in Rochester, the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls, and the other urban freeways that were installed to enable suburban existence at the expense of the cities themselves.

It will be interesting to see what they do.

Packard

February 13th, 2014 by matt

How much would you pay for an abandoned auto plant? Forty acres of abandoned factory in the middle of Detroit?

How about $405k?

New Stadium

February 11th, 2014 by matt

Governor Cuomo has empaneled a committee to come up with a plan for building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Interestingly, the committee includes Mayor Brown (Buffalo), Mayor Dyster (Niagara Falls), and former Mayor Duffy (Rochester). I guess Rob Ford wasn’t invited to attend.

I wonder how many hundreds of millions of additional taxpayer dollars will be thrown at this project. Meanwhile, most of the roads around here look like they’ve been subjected to extended mortar fire. Good priorities, people.

Worst Ride Of The Year

February 10th, 2014 by matt

“This year’s Bad Weather Bicycle Ride has been cancelled due to weather.”

That sounds about right.

Flurrious!

January 30th, 2014 by matt

The Flurrious! Festival is in Delaware Park this weekend; they’ve got face painting, beer tent, snowman building contests, and a bunch of interesting sports going on. Perhaps best of all, there’s a snow bike race at 1:00pm on Saturday.

The race is laps on the unplowed cinder running track inside the ring road.

I did it the first year of the festival, and it was a blast. Anyone else interested? I might swap the mountain tires onto my bike and ride over for it.

Importing Pollution

January 24th, 2014 by Pitt

Years of demand for cheaply- made Chinese good has wrought a completely unforeseen and utterly unpredictable side effect: Pollution from loosely-regulated factories in, say, Beijing isn’t just hovering over Beijing. It blows- literally- over thousands of miles away, and seems to be, according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, increasing smog in Los Angeles and other areas in the Western U.S.

I wonder if all those ineffective-looking face masks people are wearing these days are made in China, too?

Polar Vortex

January 8th, 2014 by matt

It’s the Polar Vortex Blizzardgeddon End Of The World! Everybody PANIC!

Things weren’t too bad here in the city; lots of wind, icy roads, but that’s about it. Cold as heck, though. Dean got a couple of snow days.

How’s everyone else doing?

Alan Turing

December 24th, 2013 by matt

Alan Turing has been officially pardoned for his 1952 conviction on charges of homosexuality. That conviction, of course, led to his chemical castration by means of injected female hormones and his suicide two years later.

“Thanks for being a genius and perhaps the single most important figure in the defeat of the Nazi war machine. Sorry about the torture. LOL!”