Living the Jams


Facing an extreme level of traffic everywhere and all the time, I have even considered giving up driving. That’s how tired I am of a ten minute commute taking three times as long, maybe more. I am sure I am not alone in feeling this. (It’s another story that I actually haven’t.)

The point is, something needs to be done. Steps towards a concrete solution are direly required. No, mention of concrete does not mean a new road, which has sadly become the go-to for traffic problems from what I observe in Lahore at least. Building and/or expanding roads, bridges, underpasses, highways, might actually be not the solution as the following article from the NY Times’ Economix by Nancy Folbre explains.

The actual piece, with all its links, is pasted below:

Sometimes, trying to get someplace faster, we end up slowing one another down. Traffic jams try our patience, waste our time and worsen the quality of our air.

Urban congestion exemplifies the larger problem of effectively coordinating individual decisions to use largely unpriced goods like roads. Drivers are adept at anticipating delays and factoring them into decisions on whether and when to hit the road. But, absent tolls, they are not compelled to factor in the delays their driving imposes on others.

One recent estimate puts the price of commuter delays alone at more than $100 billion in the United States in 2010, or nearly $750 for every commuter in the country.

Some efforts to solve the problem, paradoxically, make it worse.

For instance, a recent article in The American Economic Review by Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner shows that road construction in the United States typically leads to a proportionate increase in utilization, leaving congestion unchanged. Build more roads and more cars will come.

As a clever summary posted on Streetsblog.org (a fascinating platform for debates on urban transportation) waggishly puts it, “Roads cause traffic.”

Similarly, adding more taxis in an urban area can slow not just cabs but all traffic, making urban driving less efficient for everyone.

A new plan to increase the number of cab medallions — and hence the number of taxis — in New York City has been greeted with enthusiasm. But the plan could backfire.

The economist Charles Komanoff has developed a computer model that estimates the impact of the planned addition of about 2,000 taxicabs (all of them wheelchair accessible) to Manhattan streets.

Cars in the central business district of Manhattan, already hampered by traffic, currently average about 9.5 miles per hour, a speed that many bicyclists can match. Cabs spend far more time than private cars cruising the streets. Mr. Komanoff estimates that adding one cab to the transportation mix is the equivalent of adding 40 private cars.

His model predicts that a 15 percent increase in taxi traffic (equivalent to the planned increase in cab medallion sales) will cause travel speeds across all of Manhattan south of 60th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays to fall by 12 percent.

Called by Wired magazine “The Man Who Could Unsnarl Manhattan Traffic,” Mr. Komanoff has long been developing his model of the city’s transportation system. He makes a passionate and detailed case for a congestion pricing policy — essentially a toll to drive into congested areas — that would discourage auto trips to the city’s central business district.

Many economists favor the concept of congestion pricing (sometimes called road pricing) because it requires private users to pay for delays they impose on others. A clever animated version of the arguments in its favor is available online at Streetsblog.org.

London, a city that resembles New York in many ways, introduced congestion pricing in 2003. The widely heralded results include a decrease in traffic, improvement in air quality and expansion of bus travel and biking. Two-thirds of Londoners express support for the policy, including members of the business community, who were initially nervous about its possible effects.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pushed hard in 2008 for New York City to put a congestion pricing plan into effect, but opposition was fierce from those living or working in other boroughs, and the state Legislature never came close to authorizing the plan.

Mr. Komanoff asserts that this opposition could be overcome with a clear plan to use the revenues to expand and improve public transportation in the city. His proposal would impose a price of $8 to $10 on cars entering the central business district, with lower rates for nonpeak hours and weekends.

Modern electronic toll collection systems make it easy to accomplish important details. Deliveries of food and other supplies to the area could be timed at nonpeak hours. Other policies, like reducing bridge tolls that do not help improve traffic flow, could help buffer the economic impact. Drivers would be allowed one free trip a month.

More than $1 billion in projected annual revenues from this plan could significantly improve the bus, subway and bike-lane systems that many New Yorkers rely upon. The resulting changes could make it easier for residents of the boroughs and suburbs to get into and out of the central business district.

Sometimes, paying money upfront saves everyone money in the end. Not to mention saving time, air and the energy we need to solve a variety of other environmental jams.

Why can’t we at least think like this?

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Top Ten Reasons Blogging Is Bullshit


Reblogged from: Top Ten Reasons Blogging Is Bullshit by Kate Forster
  1. Nobody really reads it, not even your friends or family.
  2. Nobody ask you any questions anymore because they read your blog, Facebook and Twitter. They know all about you and your bunions already.
  3. It takes you away from your real job and responsibilites.
  4. Your overinflated sense of self importance does not need to be recorded online.
  5. You will regret sharing that opinion, especially if you have blogged when you are tired, depressed or frustrated.
  6. Nobody really cares about your opinion, especially if you are tired, depressed or frustrated.
  7. Blog posts are mostly fastfood; all sugar and no nutrition.
  8. Blogs don’t make money unless you are Arianna Huffington whose winged (celebrity) monkeys write content for free and then can say they are published.
  9. Blogging does not mean you get to be an expert. Anyone can use Wikipedia.
  10. Updating for the sake of updating, even though you have nothing to say, like this post right here.

Kind Of Love


This poem is a re-blog from: Kind Of Love

by planaquarium

I want that cardigan and sweater kind of love
That I’ll hold your umbrella in bad weather kind of love
The opening of Buick doors and visiting hospital floors,

I want that trembling, heart-arresting kind of love
That morning ambling, afternoon of resting kind of love
The paying when you said you would and saying that my cooking’s good,

I want that burning 50-yearing kind of love
That turning up my hearing aid to hear you kind of love
The I’ll let you hang up that elk if you will dance to Lawrence Welk,

I want that memory of agile kind of love
That growing stronger even when it’s fragile kind of love
The knowing where your pills are kept and slowing down for pain-filled steps,

I want that sweeping, you can’t fight it kind of love
That sweetening your tea because you like it kind of love
The folding of your sheets and whites to hold your aching sleepless nights,

I want that wrinkled, call-of-duty kind of love
That when I look at you, I still see beauty kind of love
The veined and spotted holding hands now chained and locked in tarnished bands,

I want that cardigan and sweater kind of love
That better, worse, together now forever kind of love…

For Sale: Batteries (Batteries Not Included)



What the TV Commercial Shows

What the Commercial Would Have You Believe

What Happens in the Real World

A whole family enjoying their fried chicken dinner, smacking their lips and smiling throughout Loudly eating one’s food somehow constitutes acceptable behavior at the table. “If you smack your lips one more time you will get no dessert. It’s been a long day. Just eat quietly or Mommy will get upset again.”
A car driving along a winding country road If you buy this car, you will experience the pleasure that can only be had by handling a precision-engineered roadster in welcoming scenery. If you buy this car, you will experience the same traffic and frustration as you do with your current model, only with less money remaining in your bank account.
A highly visible name-brand, well-groomed men and attractive women The mere presence of a particular beverage at your event, however humble, will make everyone associate you with attractiveness, and of course everyone will have a great time. You will spend slightly more money on the brand featured in the commercial, but not much else will change.
Teenage boys giving one another high-fives upon discovering a certain beverage in the refrigerator The parents who chose to purchase the beverage must be the coolest people on the face of the Earth. Your children will complain that you bought the “wrong” brand no matter what you do.
A daughter asking her mother about that “not-so-fresh” feeling Daughters routinely discuss their intimate habits and icky moments with their mothers. Daughters would dive into a swimming pool filled with razors and lemon juice before they would discuss intimate matters with Mom.
A celebrity recommending or enjoying the product By purchasing this product, you associate yourself with the greatness that the celebrity represents. By purchasing this product, you associate yourself with all the other suckers who think there’s some actual association between the celebrity and you.
People chatting freely on their mobile phones, blithely unconcerned with cost Join this cellular plan and enjoy meeting your telecommunication needs without the stress of a complicated or expensive payment plan. You forgot to read the fine print, and the advantages offered in the commercial don’t actually apply to you.
A veritable army of action figures, elaborately laid out, with several excited, happy children clearly having a great time using them These toys will keep your kids occupied for hours on end with good, clean, creative fun. Three words: Each Sold Separately.
Lithe, scantily clad models with faraway looks Buy this fragrance and transform all your human encounters into sexual adventures. The knock-off brands at CVS are just as good and a LOT cheaper. Plus, the checkout girl there is kinda cute.
A jumbo jet cruising gracefully along above the clouds, with the sun glinting appropriately off various parts of the fuselage Choosing this airline will get you to your destination quickly, reliably, affordably and comfortably. TSA agents are paid to make your life miserable, you coach-ticket-buying prole.
A smiling customer with an overloaded shopping cart, examining her receipt with a gratified look The low, low prices at this supermarket will transform the mundane act of buying groceries into retail Nirvana. The low, low prices at this supermarket are made possible by lousy service, crowded aisles, defective carts and the entire population of your region descending on the store exactly when you wish to make your purchases; then some jerk will nonchalantly amble into the “10 items or less” checkout lane with a cartful of stuff and play all innocent.
Tropical beaches; tanned, sexy people in swimsuits; palm trees This vacation destination has everything you want, and then some. Getting sand in your swimsuit, not to mention your unmentionable parts, is horrible. The humidity will encase your skin in a permanent layer of sweat. You will break the bank getting there and back, and when it’s all over you have to go back to work, if you even still have a job. Oh, and the airline lost your luggage.
Snappy lines from a new comedy now in theaters This film will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter. The lines in the commercial were the only remotely amusing ones in the whole movie.
Politician X looking important, accomplished and concerned for Americans Like You Politician X is the right choice if you want safer streets, better education for your children, a strong military, secure retirement, growing economy, sound foreign policy and restored national pride. Politician X is a low-life, womanizing, corrupt, venal Machiavellian with good hair.
Stylish people romping or relaxing in stylish clothes with other stylish people in stylish clothes These clothes will make you stylish, especially if other people can see the brand-name label on them. Nobody worth spending your time with will assign any importance to the label on your clothes.
Reblogged from MightierThanThePen.

When You Can’t Find The Straw…


..Because you think you can find it without looking.

Imagine yourself with a group of friends sitting at a coffee shop, discussing some philosophical ideas, or maybe just talking about how the guy you have a crush on completely ignored you today.  Thinking that you are too cool for coffee, you decided to go for a lemonade instead, just to stand out.

Suddenly, the conversation gets good. Eyes are directly on the person speaking. But then, someone reaches for their coffee cup and takes a sip. You see, a sip is one of those things that people follow naturally when we see others doing it. Sort like yawning, or the likeliness to cross the street last minute if we see someone else do it first. I see it all the time when the professor is about to end a lecture, and there is always that one person who starts shuffling papers before everyone else.. sometimes even extra loud, just to trigger others to look at the clock and start putting their things away. This is serious stuff, people.. I’m actually having a serious discussion about this as I type. But anyway, just as since everyone is reaching for their coffee cup, you reach for your lemonade. Nobody looks down at their cups, so naturally (just found out the term for such action is imitative impulse), you don’t either. It wouldn’t be a big deal.. but you’re using a straw.

You must sit there, moving the cup around to try to blindly aim the straw into your mouth. Or you might even do it the other way around (by moving your mouth around in order to find the straw), which isn’t any better; you’ll end up looking like a cow trying to eat invisible grass. Where is the darn thing?!

Finally, you give up and look down. Ah, there it is.

Sip. . . ah.. kward.

Reblogged from: Awkward List #90

The Miniature Earth


If we could turn the population of the earth into a small community of 100 people, keeping the same proportions we have today, it would look something like this:

61 Asians

12 Europeans

14 Americans (from North and South America)

13 Africans

01 Australian (Oceania)

50 women

50 men

10 are homosexuals

33 are Christian (Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox)

18 are Muslims

16 are Hindus

16 are non-religious

6 are Buddhists

11 practice other religions

41 live without basic sanitation

16 live without an improved water source

6 people own 59% of the entire wealth of the community

13 are hungry or malnourished

14 can’t read

only 7 are educated at a secondary level

only 8 have a computer

only 4 have an internet connection

1 adult, aged 15-49, has HIV/AIDS

Of the village’s total annual expenditures of just over US$3,000,000 per year:

US$ 181,000 is spent on weapons and warfare

US$ 159,000 is spent on education

US$ 132,000 is spent on health care

If you keep your food in a refrigerator, and your clothes in a closet…

If you have a roof over your head, and have a bed to sleep in…

You are richer than 75% of the entire world population.

If you have a bank account you’re one of the 30 wealthiest people in the community.

25 struggle to live on US$ 1.00 per day or less…

47 struggle to live on US$ 2.00 per day or less.

 

Work with passion

Love without needing to be loved

Appreciate what you have

And do your best for a better world.

*These statistics are from at least 5 years ago.  It would be interesting to see updated numbers, but I didn’t find any.*

Re-blogged from: A Curious Wanderer