Richard Nelson

Archive for the ‘notes and observations’ Category

“Misidentification and the Court System”

In notes and observations on 2010 September 7 Tuesday at 00:14:33

As he says, chilling, though perhaps not surprising.


“David Kelly: the rise of a conspiracy theory”

In culture, notes and observations, politics on 2010 September 6 Monday at 17:52:05

A lengthy blog post by Richard Webster on the hypothesis that David Kelly was murdered rather than self-murdered, on the medical evidence against that hypothesis, and on the role of the media (particularly the Daily Mail) in promoting or contesting the hypothesis. This last made me think of Nancy Nall’s recent post, quoting Roger Ebert, on the “strategic silence” that permits folks to believe the oddest things about Barrack Obama. I particularly liked this paragraph from Webster:

A more imaginative and more economical solution, appropriate to these straitened times, would be for a campaign of disinformation to be met by a campaign of information. The climate in which it has become acceptable to advance implausible and sometimes bizarre theories about the death of Dr Kelly is one which has been created, very largely, by irresponsible journalism. That climate could very easily be reversed if a concerted effort was made by newspaper editors and broadcasters to replace one-sided campaigning with informed debate.

“Debt load weighs on Alameda Corridor”

In economics, notes and observations on 2010 September 4 Saturday at 22:32:10

This article from The Los Angeles Times gives a pretty fair view of my most important client, the Alameda Corridor Transportation Agency. The Corridor was originally intended to smooth transit of intermodal containers from tidewater to the two big railyards east of downtown Los Angeles. As the article says, the rise of “transloading” facilities inland has diverted traffic not so much from rail as from the Corridor. The tariff that underpins the Corridor was written before transloading became a notable factor in overseas trade.

As an aside, one thing the article gets wrong is that comment about “lighter” containers. Most maritime goods are carried in containers 8 feet wide, 8½ feet tall, and 40 feet long—yielding 2720 ft³. Intra-continental trade, whether by road or rail, can be carried in containers still 8 feet wide but 9½ feet tall, and 53 feet long, i.e., with a volume 48% greater at 4028 ft³.

Transloading is typically taking goods from particular production locations (e.g., Barbie dolls from factory X, women’s shorts from factory Y) carried in containers directly from those locations, and putting them in containers bound for particular consumption locations (e.g., some Barbie dolls and some shorts in the same container, bound for a Wal-mart in the Kansas City suburbs).

Probably the only real “solution” (if such it be) is to encourage the construction of transloading facilities very close to tidewater—which means in Wilmington and western Long Beach—so that it would be economical to “dray” the containers to the facilities, and then take them by train to their inland destinations. This would have the incidental effect of reducing the truck traffic on the Long Beach Freeway (I-710), one of the festering political issues of Los Angeles County. (The ports, to their credit, have been investigating more innovative—some might say wild—ideas for moving containers inland. Although taken individually they may seem candidates for the Golden Fleece Award, I take them more as relatively inexpensive investments in bread cast upon the [almost literal] water—rather like the projects of the Long Range Foundation in Heinlein’s Time for the Stars.)

No Mother’s Day for me

In notes and observations on 2005 May 15 Sunday at 19:45:00

A week late, I know, but Nancy Nall’s column on Mother’s Day triggered this.

I’m glad I don’t have to write a column. But I have to suffer through gratuitously saccharine Mother’s Day references in our local papers and even on the Psychedelic Psunday programme on local hard-rock radio.

You could probably divide M.D. columns into two categories—those that are just out and out gush from the get-go (“You were always there …”); and Belated Appreciation (“I never realized how important you were …”), triggered either by the birth of one’s own children or the death of Mother Aforesaid.

One of these days I should write something for those of us with hateful mothers we do not remember fondly and that we do appreciate, unfortunately, for what they really did for us.

My mother had a sad and loveless life herself, but she hurt her five children a lot. Just this past March I was sitting in an Arctic Circle in a suburb of Salt Lake City while my fifteen-year-younger sister told me yet more horror stories—really horrible movie-of-the-week stuff our mom did to her. So no Mother’s Day sob stuff for her.

street names

In notes and observations on 2004 July 13 Tuesday at 21:11:00

[written July 13/04]

I’ve been thinking about street names. In the 19th century, many of Toronto’s mundane or utilitarian street names were lost in a kind of obeisance to the British aristocracy: Lot Street (what could be more mundane than that?) became Queen Street, Hospital Street became Richmond Street.

In the first half of the 20th century, particularly in the years after each world war, it was common to name streets after generals or perhaps battles. Toronto has no fewer than three Byng avenues (named after the British general in command of the Canadian Army Corps at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, arguably the most important overseas battle in Canadian history, and then Governor General during a constitutional crisis), a Currie Avenue (named after Canada’s first full General), and a Dieppe Avenue and Park.

During my lengthy work-outs this weekend in the Niagara Peninsula I was contemplating this when I ran along Jellicoe Avenue (presumably named after John Jellicoe, commander of the Grand Fleet during the Battle of Jutland) in the small industrial city of St Catharines – soon followed by Evangelista Court. I wondered: named after Linda Evangelista, St Catharines’ most famous native?

In Hamilton, Crerar Park was renamed Mahoney Park. Harry Crerar was a somewhat egotistical Canadian general who was viewed heroically at the close of World War II. Still he was an important figure, G.O.C. 1st Canadian Army and so on. And now his name is lost to the children of Barton Street.

I hope it’s just a stochastic cluster!! :-)

In notes and observations on 2004 July 9 Friday at 19:37:00

An epidemic of public urination this week. I never see anyone peeing in public, and I’ve seen 3 folks this week: on Monday I saw a woman only semi-squatting in the lane that parallels Sherbourne Street opposite Moss Park – I thought she was spilling a cup of water! Yesterday, a man was bellied up to a sapling (a sapling!) in St James Park. And this morning a guy had it whipped out on Richmond Street, nonchalantly peeing onto the wall of our building. Wow. And yuck.

This is really an argument against running, I think. The things you see …