My wife and I live in the public space. We bike almost daily (we would hike but there was a dead crow in front of the place last week and I’ve not seen a blue jay all summer; West Nile is around and the only person that I know who died of it was a 73 year old physician; uncomfortably close, so this geezer is off long walks with exposed skin for now.)
In any case, we bike 20-35 miles and have 4 favorites, all on rails to trails or public roads.
Last Friday, in need of variety, we tried the White Pine. Good trail, but very crowded, even on a weekday.
On Labor Day Saturday we tried the Paul Henry and East West trails in Kentwood. I thought that the trails were pleasantly busy, but not scenic or long enough; Kris though them too busy. It was a holiday weekend, so being used is OK.
I thought I’d film the parks of Kentwood since most are adjacent to the trails but had only my android phone, but what powerful toy! I edited the complex result on phone that evening and uploaded it to Youtube that evening, soliciting comments from some trusted friends. I then did the definitive editing on my Mac, Here’s the result;
As we filmed the parks along the trails, it became obvious that a trend was developing and Kris suddenly became enthusiastic about filming the entire melange; she stared like a mouse hypnotized by a snake, so I have video on 15 of the parks, taken at a time when they should have been mobbed.
I’d been asking for data on park use for 3 years and been ignored. Kris and my spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon and got the answers for the Parks Department and for the commission at no expense to the taxpayer and learned a lot about smartphones.
The problem with economics and other soft sciences is that a series of unsubstantiated pronouncements constitute an argument. We have no reason to trust any of these explanations, much less the standard liberal bromide that we need to tax money away from savers and give to spendthrifts. All of these theories are propounded by Keynesians who got the Japanese and Europeans into the pickle in the first place. My problem is that we in the USA have exactly the same trajectory and Keynesians in charge as did the Japanese and Europeans. The throwing money at the dartboard to pick a solution has failed and no one has any better ideas.
Economics, as a “science” does not have the power that would justify allowing the Fed and Congress, or any other central power to engineer the economy. Capitalistic societies have booms and busts, deflations and inflations, localized collapses and even disappearances of productive life. Visit any ghost town or recall the 1840, 1870-90, 1930 deflations, the panics, most short lived and self correcting in the history of the USA.
There may not be anything wrong with deflation. Little people who save can gain by putting money under their mattresses and won’t lose it to inflation. Investors will need to be much more careful to be sure that their projects make sense, our government will struggle and be hampered in its attempts to “help” people.
Finally, under socialism, planned economies, welfare states and the like there are no booms, only chronic busts.
Sidewalks were first elaborated when dirt roads and horses reigned transportation. Women hated the dust, mud and semidigested oats from streets and so insisted that these be paved and swept daily. In commercial areas the merchants provided walkways for pedestrians to keep the two modes of transportation separate. Walkers could keep their shoes clean.
Later as cars took over the streets, most families did not have a second car but did have an icebox and so women walked to the grocery and kids to the local small school. Sidewalks made sense.
A very few folks still walk; dog walkers, The few using public transit, an oddball like myself who walks to clear his head. I’m alone when I walk from our condo, cross 28th street, and hit my usual haunts, all the while thinking. Occasionally when there is light snow, I emerge from my fog enough to notice that I’m usually the first person to walk on many sidewalks. I should take pictures next winter just to document this failure of government.
After my last blog on grass growing on unused sidewalks, it occurred to me to do a documentary now. We on the commission spent (?) $700,000 in the last few years to line 28th street with sidewalks; “It would allow walkers to patronize those businesses!” I voted in favor because it was “free” money from the Feds or someone.
I biked over and photographed a few segments….
I have included one picture because it is all I can load, but another shows a grape vine all but crossing the sidewalk on a segment opposite Roaring Twenties strip mall. Long grass is growing in cracks and over the edges in one year old sidewalks in front of Fruitland and Lazy Boy. Everywhere some grass grows despite a hot, dry summer.
They say that grass won’t grow on a busy street, but in Kentwood, our ideologically justified sidewalks carry legions of imaginary customers to shop along 28th Street. Images don’t need to step on the cracks, y’know.
Next, our planners will grind up the road and have fantasy horses trotting up and down our street producing fertilizer to encourage very real weed growth and mud just to infuriate the cleaning crews in the grateful stores.
On this Tuesday’s COW we are being asked about who should pay for the replacement of 4 segments of a sidewalk. There are a half dozen fuzzy pictures of the damage. As far as I can tell, the walkway is flat, there are no places where a skateboarder or a walker might trip, so I’m not sure why this an issue.
What does entertain me however, is grass growing out of the cracks where the sidewalk is segmented. No one uses this “walkway” which is at an intersection of two important streets (Jefferson and 44th.)
The sidewalk in front of my condo is also broken, but one person does walk on it, an older lady who is up at dawn wearing a robe and encouraging her dog to urinate on my patch of lawn. She does pace around, back and forth, once a day and so my sidewalk has no grass, but, of course, my grass has small brown patches (small dog.) I’d include a picture, but don’t want to offend pubic decency.
But returning to Kentwood’s stance. Why would anyone spend money for something as useless that is nothing more than a public conventional bromide, namely that we have to have “walkable communities”, or parks that are empty, or Farmer’s Markets staffed by hucksters?
I’m going to vote against this outrage.
We just got the proposed agenda for the 5 July meetings. Planning wants to put on its dog and pony show of how they propose to ease Kentwood back to the 20th century by willing businesses and builders to behave abnormally, but, I digress.
The one real muddle involves the necessary rebuild of Wing Avenue along with the upgrade of the infrastructure forcing the folks along it to hook up to utilities. This seems inevitable and will be unpopular.
The other yet longer term building project will be extending Breton Road seamlessly through to 60th Ave. It currently stops at 52nd , and folks have to stop, make a left turn, then a right turn at Wing to go through to 60th. The current vision is to build an entirely new road across an existing farm when that can be acquired, over wetlands with those bureaucratic headaches and necessitating two signals.
It’s occurred to me that there is a more compact way to solve both problems. Why not make two round and rounds on 52nd Ave, one at the south end of Breton, and the second at the north end of the newly rebuilt (maybe slightly widened and graced with a bike path that would preserve its scenic charm and make at least two commissioners happy.)? The traffic from either direction would not have to stop, but rather would be routed onto 52nd Street for about a quarter mile. Breton Ave would not have to be built through saving money and stress on the environment.
Since we’re into round and rounds, maybe also put a round and round at the junction of Wing and 60th Street?
It’s also possible to make what would technically be just one round and round on 52nd to be more of a long rectangle, but traffic and civil engineers get paid a hell of a lot to figure out small details like that.
I probably won’t be able to be at the meeting but will forward this to several commissioners; might make for some interesting conversation, and actual planning..
A valued constituent of mine, Thomas Webb, has just called me about at least the second attempt by the city planner to enter his property to count chickens. Seems that Tom keeps a flock and sells the eggs produced. An number invented by the city planner limits Tom to 50 chickens. Chickens is a slippery term as we know from the battles over adolescence-when does a teenager become a human? And when does a chick become a chicken. The nature of things is that chickens have to be replaced so eggs incubated and hatched, chicks raised and at some point these adolescent birds have “chickenness” conferred on them. But when? Another problem has to do with sexes of the birds. Males get the ax, but male not obvious until they are adults.
In any case, our city planner appeared at Tom’s door a few weeks back stating that he’d heard that Tom’s flock was larger than his sanctioned 50 and that he needed to count the birds. Tom asked whence the information, how did a waxing and waning number of chickens bother anyone much less cause the cosmic order to unravel? He wanted to know what sort of disturbance, anxiety, or nuisance was being caused upon another resident as he would address it immediately. He quite appropriately denied our planner access to his property, and told him beyond any doubt that if he wanted to count chickens on his land, he’d need a warrant from the court. Thursday our planner contacted him again asking to count the chickens and seemed surprised when Thomas made it clear he meant it when he denied him entry because there was no warrant.
It turns out that Tom is leaving Kentwood, (an enormous loss of a vigorous, informed and concerned citizen) and moving to Columbia, SC. The flock will be liquidated within a few days. Even if a warrant is sworn (and what judge would go along with this farce?) and carried out in the usual “government time” there won’t be anything to count.
There are two considerations here. The first concerns the harassment of Mr. Webb by city hall. He had run for mayor 3 years ago and for at large city commissioner last year. Our mayor spent a fair number of taxpayer dollars sending out a letter to voters alleging that it was necessary to correct one of Tom’s campaign issues, all the while ignoring an outright lie told by Tom’s opponent. Is this chicken episode part of a scheme to use political and government resources to pester a governmental official’s opposition?
The other issue has to do with our city planning. Would I be out of line if I were to question whether the $400,000 plus budget (sixteen hundred dollars per workday charged to Kentwood taxpayers) is budgeted to judge the maturity of chickens?
Orlando is being spun as a gun control propaganda opportunity. What really seems to have occurred is that a Moslem, supported by his family, wantonly murdered 49 mostly gay and Hispanic men and women-call it terrorism.
The speakers here have a number of problems. The main gun that was used was not an “assault weapon” but rather a semiautomatic rifle, the kind that my uncles used to hunt deer back in upstate NY when I was a kid. And he used not an AR15 but rather a Sig Sauer.
The authors also have no idea about why the 2nd amendment was introduced into our Bill of Rights. The founders had just rebelled-kicked out foreign riffraff- and knew that their own republic might need a similar enema somewhere down the road. The people needed the arms to overthrow their governments if that were necessary.
Furthermore, the founders knew that arms in the hands of the public could bully politicians to do the right thing-to correct lesser corruptions. In this latter case, 300 million guns in private hands serve to keep politicians from flaunting their bent ways; they occasionally get caught out in political scandals, and the unspoken but ever present force of arms ensures honest law enforcement to correct their errors.
The bullying effect also constantly weighs on politicians who would deprive us of the sharp teeth in the 2nd amendment that enforces our Bill of Rights.
The unspoken “existential phenomenology” in the USA is that we’ll let Democrats and foreigners whine and fantasize about how they’ll take away 300 million small arms. The truth here on the ground is that US politicians are terrified of the civil unrest that such a foolish move would unleash. They’ll grandstand to comfort some of their supporters and in the shadows zealously avoid passing those laws.
Arms in the hands of the people leads to occasional tragedies. Unarmed people suffered WWI, WWII, the unpleasantnesses of the Great Leap forward and the killing fields, poor unarmed individuals led the slaughter, defenselessly, by armed men.