Monday, July 13, 2009

Why are 60-85% of the comments on any Boston Globe article disgustingly racist?

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Boston Fire Department: Another Reason Why Boston is a Poorly Run City

The Globe publishes a very interesting article claiming that Boston spends $452 per resident per year for fire suppression, ranking it first in per capital spending among U.S. cities. Mechanics in the department make an average of $134,000. There are all sorts of interesting undertones here; most interesting is that the unions own city hall and raid its coffers for their own benefit.

Take a good look at that link above. It is 10:00 a.m. on the dot, and there are 104 comments posted on the article. Let's see how that number increases when more union members respond. It'll be just like the ongoing police detail battle: members of the police union using the Globe website to publicly threaten citizens' safety. Remember, you're either with them or against them, no matter what the cost.

I look forward to wayward union yahoos commenting here as well.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Next Round of Suburban Thought versus Boston

Downtown Crossing, Boston's once-vibrant central shopping district, is a resounding failure. Long-vacant storefronts line the sidewalks, and new stores seem to fail regularly. Lonely pushcart vendors never appear to sell anything. There is always a disturbingly high police presence. And by seven p.m., seven nights a week, twelve months a year, the heart of Downtown Boston is totally abandoned, a lonely and uninviting concrete tomb.

But the Globe has a solution: in the words of Universal Hub's Adam Gaffin, "turn Downtown Crossing into a parking lot."

That's right. Who needs a pedestrian mall to serve the shopping needs of city residents, when we can create a vehicular pipeline for suburbanites? We can safely assume that many city residents don't have cars--and the ones who do own cars are already using them to shop in the suburbs. The people who visit Downtown Crossing today are that strange breed of transit-using citizen, the uncanny mix of the working poor and the car-free by choice (the latter group includes me). The Globe seems to suggest that replacing these people with, yes, suburbanites, would make it all better. Never mind the tens of thousands of suburbanites who work blocks away but avoid the shops of Downtown Crossing at all costs, lured away by the malls of home.

Let's go ahead and reopen Downtown Crossing to vehicular traffic. We can then judge Downtown Crossing's success not by the tax revenue it generates or the quality of life offered there but by the number of suburbanites parking on the streets, dooring bikers, and standing in the middle of the sidewalks in large numbers. Or, once it's reopened to auto traffic, we can pretend that Washington Street is just another silent downtown street and put the failure of Downtown Crossing behind us.

I think the blight of Downtown Crossing is a real problem. After staying in the neighborhood during a conference, several of my colleagues vowed never to return to Boston again. Downtown Crossing has to do better, but the bottom line is that trying to compete with or emulate the suburbs is not going to make the city center work better. We need less suburban thought, and fewer bad ideas, from our elected officials and our newspapers.
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Now, here's a good idea. Back in 2005, I wrote about a Globe article comparing the number of Business Improvement Districts in Boston (zero) to the number in New York (over 50). In New York, these ideas really work, by helping local businesses invest in everything from neighborhood beautification to hiring the employees who beautify, maintain, and provide security on the streets. BIDs turn neighborhoods like Downtown Flushing in Queens and Fordham Road in the Bronx into tremendously successful shopping districts. Amazingly, Boston can't pull this off in the middle of downtown. But it's not like anyone's trying. It's all talk and millions of dollars spent on consultants.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Massachusetts Super Transit Authority?

Check this out: State Senate would create transportation superagency.

Via UniversalHub. You'll want to read the comments. Only recently have I realized why the Globe previously did not allow comments, well after its parent NY Times did: townies! The battle on this article is not so bad, but I've seen others go horribly wrong.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Big Dig adds new layer of coddling for suburban commuters.

As if the $15b price tag, increased carbon emissions, and huge encouragement of driving to work alone were not enough, the Big Dig will now pander to drivers who use cell phones--by allowing all cell phone customers to pay $7.6m to add reception-providing cables to the tunnel walls. The Globe reports that many drivers who "multitask" may now "be able to chat on their cell phones uninterrupted." Massachusetts Turnpike officials, who stand to gain a lot of rent from this development, claim that cell phones in the winding tunnels won't create threats to safety. But the Globe reported on an activist's investigation into the tunnels' high crash rate on July 24 and published a reader's letter supporting the activist's work on July 25.

We need to get people out of their cars. We need to cut down emissions in Urban Boston. We need to encourage safer driving through a statewide headset-only law. This development makes accomplishing any of those goals seem a little less possible.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

WHAT IS WITH THE POP-UP ADS ON BOSTON.COM?

Not just the regular pop-up ads, but the "adult content DriveCleaner" ones that minimize and hide your browser windows until you click them. How could a respectable newspaper subject its readers to this garbage?

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Friday, June 15, 2007

And just after I link to a good article in the Globe,

I spot the phrase "three-wheel bicycles" in this article. That's a linguistic impossibilty. Idiots!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Secret LNG terminal being constructed off of Boston?

There sure has been a lot of offshore construction activity northeast of Boston Harbor recently. Could it be that one of the two natural gas (LNG) terminals proposed for that area has been approved? Has construction started? The media is silent--well, most of it. In the past, when it came to covering LNG battles between fishermen, self-appointed human representatives of mammalian ocean-dwellers, other citizens, and giant energy companies, The Globe was always there.

Obviously something is being built off of Gloucester right now. So when I use Google News to search for "gloucester lng," why does the only relevant article come from the Norman, Oklahoma Transcript?

It contains Salem Daily News content. The Globe archives are suddenly silent. I also received word that the marine industry trade magazine MarineLink published a press release showing that a Boston company had won a 20-year contract to support LNG vessels at the secret Gloucester terminal--and had commissioned two multimillion dollar new tugs for the project.

We almost definitely need more than the four LNG terminals the country now has. And we're almost definitely getting a new one (three more LNG terminals are proposed for Massachusetts alone).

Shouldn't the media educate us about this relatively clean and safe form of energy and our own need for it? Shouldn't the media do more than cover epic battles against infrastructure? Or stop inciting fear about the extant LNG terminal in Everett?

To talk about infrastructure--the reality that supports our reality--gets you branded a weirdo or a terrorist. But I think that there are still people who are genuinely curious about how the mechanical side of our society functions.

I'm one of them. Please keep me in the loop.

Furthermore, if people are to make educated decisions about needed infrastructure being built "in their backyards," the media should help educate them (us) about our needs.

Silence implies that we are either too stupid to understand or that our opinions don't matter anyway.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Boston [Globe] Terror Envy, Continued

On the heels of the alleged JFK Fuel Tank Plot (perpetrated by some very dumb-sounding Carribean Muslims), today's Globe must immediately connect the almost-news to Logan and the significance of Boston to 9/11:

Terror threats have particular resonance at Logan Airport, where terrorists boarded the two planes that struck the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

Keep in mind that the article explicitly states that DHS officials informed Governor Patrick that no credible evidence suggested a new threat against Logan. Additionally, if you weren't sure where Logan's fuel tank facilities were or how they worked, now you know.

Do we really need every purported threat connected to our hometown(s) so we can panic along with the rest of the country?

All this means is that harbor photographers like myself will enjoy even more harassment down at the waterfront. Let freedom ring.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Terror Envy and LNG Hysteria (but mostly just terror envy)

The week of the recent Mooninite disaster, a Joshua Glenn, writing on an "ideas blog" apparently hosted by the Boston Globe, made the audacious but mostly true claim that
Bostonians remain, in some sick, twisted way, jealous of New York because terrorists deemed a NY landmark world-famous enough to be targeted for attack. Anyone who followed local news coverage in the days after 9/11 knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Last week, in an unusual piece of schlock, the Phoenix ran as its cover story a piece of fiction about WHAT COULD HAPPEN if terrorists struck an LNG tanker in the harbor. Exhibiting severe symptoms of terror envy, author/douchebag Stephen Flynn suggested that terrorist "mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who just today claimed "responsibility" for 9/11 and the beheading of that WSJ guy) would
[like] the symbolism of striking so close to Logan airport, which had served as one of the stepping-off points of the 9/11 attacks.

Let's get something straight, particularly what Boston had to do with 9/11. Because dimwitted private security guards at Logan Airport let crazy Muslims with boxcutters on airplanes, 2,752 people in New York were killed. That's it. That's the significance of Boston to 9/11.

Since then, Lite Brites cause city-crippling bomb scares. I am detained and questioned for taking a picture of a tugboat, but Trusted Media Outlets like the Globe can regularly publish photos of real threats like this (also published today)...



As Boston tries to find its terror target significance, I have to wonder: is it envy or is it really just guilt? Perhaps a mix of both.

UPDATE: Now that I've sort of slept on this, I think the conclusion is too narrowly focused. I guess the average citizen has every right to be scared (combine "average" intelligence + "culture of fear" media...). And the scary things are: 1) Boston's hypocrisy (claiming to be a top terror target while allowing energy corporations to send 900-foot LNG tankers through downtown). 2. Standard-practice overreaction (again, check out Mooninitegate....what's to come?). 3. Fake, or mostly fake, empathy for New Yorkers. Well, maybe that just scares me.

UPDATE #2: PANG OF CONSCIENCE: I shouldn't have forgotten about the Bostonians on the planes that attacked New York. They were murdered, too. But it still seems to me that Boston is always seeking to have had a greater role or significance in 9/11. Is that something anyone but a first responder should want?

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