Enclosing the Commons

According to the Strib, the City of Minneapolis is trying to keep strangers out of alleys:A back-alley approach to fight crime in Minneapolis. The alleys will essentially become private streets for the residents.
From the article ‘”If you don’t live there on that block there’s no reason to be in the alley,” said Killebrew, who proposed the ordinance to the city attorney.’
Well I can think of reasons, namely taking a walk and looking at the backs of houses, which provides lots of entertainment for law-abiding folks in the summer, doubling the amount of entertainment that can be had from simply looking at the fronts of houses.
I just don’t understand how this is supposed to help. If you have already broken the law (or intend to), the alley ordinance doesn’t seem like much of a disincentive. Neighbors might now report more suspicious activity (where “strangers” in the alley are suspicious), but nosy neighbors are pretty good at that in Minneapolis already.
See enclosure and private road.

Selling your place in queue

Via TechCrunch: SuperOyster: Monetizing the Waiting List, which is a lot like the idea of reservation pricing (See Appendix G) with trading. If only we could figure out how to make the transaction in a dynamically changing system with roads and cars.

Traffic control

An interesting article on the history and present state of traffic control, focusing on LA: Cabinet Magazine Online – Blocking All Lanes
— dml

The Thick Of It

I have just started watching The Thick of It on BBC Four and BBC America. A weird combination of Yes Minister and The Office, it hilariously captures the rise of public relations over substance in the bureaucracy. It reminded me of the politically hyper-sensitive reign of current Congressional candidateElwyn Tinklenberg as Transportation Commissioner in Minnesota during the Ventura administration.
My favorite quote of course is in Episode One when the then Minister of Home Affairs is being told to resign, and he suggests the Transport Minister resign instead, and the political aide says something like “We can’t fire him. Transport, that’s important stuff, you know, cars, trucks, roads” and the doomed Minister of Home Affairs says “I know what Transport is”.
— dml

A Dream of Fields

Minnesota’s Governor Pawlenty signs Twins stadium bill , bringing to an end the incessant pestering/lobbying/threatening by the Minnesota Twins for a new ball field at the public’s expense.

Continue reading

Conferences and Laptops

I just attended NetSci 2006 , which was an interesting conference with physicists and social networks people claiming the title “Network Science” (I believe I was the sole representative of physical networks: transportation, electricity, telecommunications, etc.).
What was most remarkable about the conference was the especially large number of audience members who used laptops while someone was speaking, especially if the speaker was not a “name” or an especially experienced. Why bother showing up if you are going to pay more attention to your computer screen than the speaker?
One can understand the next speaker reviewing their powerpoint perhaps, but I think for something like this more communications channels (free wireless) is less, diminishing the effectiveness of the conference by having less common ground among the audience to discuss common issues (i.e. the presentations in the last session).
— dml

NetSci 2006

I will be at NetSci 2006 in Bloomington, Indiana over the next few days. This should be an interesting interdisciplinary conference. I will be presenting The Evolution of Transportation Networks written with my former student Lei Zhang.

Fast bus, slow train?

From today’s Strib … “Proposed light rail slower than express bus”.
Of course the comparison should not be with the express bus (with no local stops), nor should it be with today’s locals, which stop every block, but with a similarly designed local bus with just as many local stops (and just as good a signal prioritization).

DC Commuter Tax

The Washington Post notes Supreme Court Declines D.C. Commuter Tax Case. I am sure the court is right that the framers gave Congess full authority over the district. It is just too bad DC cannot exploit its monopoly power as national capital to tax those who live outside the district to pay for District services. This notion of “taxing foreigners living abroad” is a politically elegant way of off-loading costs in the toll-road context.
— dml