Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Dad’s second-most-recent visit down here was back in ’07; he took Amtrak. He left with a vow never to take Amtrak again, since he spent something like thirty hours on a route that was supposed to take only twenty-four or something. From what I hear, this is a common experience on Amtrak, much of which runs on borrowed rail that belongs to Union-Pacific…or somebody. And so I found it curious when, after Joe Biden’s announced selection as Barack Obama’s running mate, I was looking up his entry in Wikipedia and stumbled across a paragraph extolling the Senator’s virtues as a regular Amtrak rider. Joe Biden’s awesome! He rides Amtrak! Yay! (I see now, the tone is different, applying more focus to Biden’s five-year stretch as a single-dad and the tragedy that started said stretch; but that creates more questions than answers, with the high fallibility involved in Amtrak schedules.)
I thought back to this, briefly, when I read George Will’s excellent column called “Why Democrats Love Trains.” It’s all about one word: dependency.
Yesterday, I immersed myself in the dependency class. I rode the light rail downtown, looped back up North-ward, used my mountain bike spun in to the University district and caught the light rail back home again. I still haven’t made up my mind whether this is a humbling experience, or the reverse. I’m very fortunate to enjoy a three-mile commute Monday through Friday, and to live in an area with a much higher per-household income compared to what surrounds us. I consider my horizons to have been broadened by the unpleasantness.
It makes me look at my own single-dad-ness much differently. You’ll notice, all across the political spectrum we make much of the idea that people should not judge other people, and it becomes doubly wrong to judge people based on a superficial glance. So I try not to. But then again, we also make much of the idea that something called the “environment” has a state to it, and we should avail ourselves of every opportunity to think about that state and our effect on it as we pass through it; try to keep it as it is, avoid making it worse, maybe even make it better.
Well guess what. You have to judge people in order to do that. If, as a parent, you’re going to be adding some.
And this thought, as is the case with the thought above, comes down to that one word dependency. Again.
It impresses me that, as I pass through this big valley, these wide swaths of ground where I’m thinking “must get the fuck out of here before dark, must get the fuck out of here before dark,” the ones whose names show up in the newspaper where the murders happened, overlay with remarkable precision the places serviced by light rail and by bus lines. It’s true in Sacramento, in Seattle, in Detroit, and every other “big” place I’ve ever lived or visited. I’m given to entertaining the thought that this is a testament to good design. People in humble areas need to get to work, they don’t get to pick and choose where that work is going to be, and many cannot afford cars.
The problem with that theory is that it accounts only for an approximation. I’m seeing much more than an approximation here; I’m seeing the sort of precision you see when your hand is covered by a latex glove. A light rail system cannot evolve; at least, not easily. This system reachs a terminus in my district, in downtown Folsom. It’s then up to me to saddle up again and cycle the remaining four miles home, regardless of which of the last three stations I chose. It’s as if, the day they were laying track, someone said “Okay, I just saw three houses in a row worth more than such-and-such, so we stop here.”
You simply can’t walk through how that would work. Tearing up track is exorbitant, and the same goes for laying new track. Not an everyday occurrence. So the route is static. If it were dynamic, how would the heavy demand in humble areas, and the lighter demand in more affluent areas, translate into a force on this supposedly-dynamic track? The market forces are light: A two-hour pass for $2.50, all-day ticket for $6.00. Light rail systems, by design, are to be a rebuke against the free market anyway. It’s hard to think of a profitable one, even harder to think of one that remains profitable for several years in a row. So they’re not situated well to flex, to accommodate the signals of supply and demand. This theory is not in healthy shape, and its health deteriorates further when I throw more observations at it — that’s a sign that the theory isn’t a good one.
Besides of which, after I got myself a nice day’s exercise and a quality sunburn, the first station I hit on Power Inn road, wasn’t selling tickets. The machine was busted. I chose to ride on eastward and buy a pass at the next one. My fellow “passengers” at this location, did not have such an option and they didn’t very much care. They were hopping the turnstyle. Of course they were; whadya think they’re gonna do? Wonder if the regional transit authority knows the machines are busted here? The repairs looked inexpensive, to me. One machine complained specifically of its paper roll being empty. The other might consider accommodating if the customer could pay the six dollars in coin.
I know, from experience, how this works. The dependency-class is dependent. It depends on a service, and because it is dependent, anybody who denies the service, by action or inaction, is infringing on a fundamental human right. And, should this take place, this imbues the dependency-class with new rights it would not otherwise have. And so The System, which denied the service by inaction and failing to keep the machines in good working order, has it comin’. The rail hoppers will enter, again, that surreal region in which a crime is to be committed, but not really, because it is a “gettin’ even” for another crime that was committed. A written law will be violated, as redress of grievances for the violation of some other unwritten law.
So I think back to the four possibilities that arise with correlation:
A. X causes Y
B. Y causes X
C. An unseen-as-yet Z, causes both X and Y
D. It’s all a coincidence
And so I slip down to the next on the list, which I like better. It is in healthier shape, after I get done assaulting it with observations and facts. This other theory says the crime and the blight and the dysfunction, start with the rail system and radiate outward. Y, the rail, causes X, the rancor, weirdness, borderline-mental-illness, diminished skill. That would explain the neat precision overlay on the map.
A dependency relationship, we see once again, is toxic. We are very slow to catch on to this when we are given evidence of it, because we are taught a great deal to the contrary. We are taught “no man is an island,” that communities that thrive and prosper, are communities in which people depend on each other. That may or may not be true. But I think what has to be realized here, is that there is a difference between people depending on each other, and people putting together a system and then other people coming to depend on that system. A community filled with inter-dependence relationships is personal; a leviathan system providing spotty, splotchy, unreliable service to a dependency-class of vengeful moochers, is impersonal.
You know, I think it comes down to that old saying about democrats. There can be no denying how much they love poor people — all their policies keep them that way, and create more.
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