The danger of rail

A wonderful quote turned up on the website: The Ponderings of Woodrow: on a blog post about bad predictions:
“Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as ‘railroads’ … As you may well know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.” — Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1830
Another from a page: Famous Authoritative Pronouncements

“Rail travel at high speeds is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.”
Dionysius Lardner, Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at University College, London, and author of The Steam Engine Explained and Illustrated
Finally:
Great Quotes from Great Skeptics
“What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?”
– The Quarterly Review, England (March 1825)

Another player in traffic information

From New York Times: Microsoft Introduces Tool for Avoiding Traffic Jams
The key components for any valid system is data. In most cities, there is no real traffic information on side streets. Developing “personalities” for streets is a nice idea, but without real-time data, it is all guess work.
Bill Gates got his start creating traffic counters, with his company Traf-O-Data, so this may be an idea dear to his heart.

Do Trash Cans Induce Garbage?

From the San Francisco papers a while back, I saw a headline “”City rids streets of hundreds of garbage cans: Mayor says high number led to trash overflows””
An article about this: Trash cans cut back on city streets / Mayor defends policy but supervisors, residents complain
On its face, eliminating garbage cans will not eliminate garbage, so what is the mental model Mayor Newsom has?
(a) by increasing the transportation cost of disposal, people will create less waste? (The induced demand argument.
(b) people/businesses are free-riding on public trash receptacles, and that by cutting back, people will fund their own receptacles?
The question needs to be asked why were public trash receptacles initially deployed? One suspects public dumping of waste and littering were problems, otherwise a solution would never have been proposed. Public dumping and littering are not mere aesthetic issues, there is also a significant public health problem. To sustain a large population in a small area, waste must be managed.
The example of Amsterdam may be worth visiting. Receptacles there are port-holes into a much large waste storage dumpster under the ground that is cleared every morning by giant mechanical cleaning machines in a fascinating example of advanced technology for seemingly mundane uses. This applies to recycling as well.

Four pictures I took in Amsterdam of waste collection in 2003

Amsterdam 2003 - - 96-thumb Amsterdam 2003 - - 95-thumb Amsterdam 2003 - - 43-thumb Amsterdam 2003 - - 17-thumb
Pictures of recycling bins in Amsterdam from Pushpullbar forum
Some more pictures here:
Christelle: Another Dutch thing… Garbage!
and
Christelle: Another Dutch thing… Garbage part 2

Construction Season

An article in the St. Cloud Times announces the 2008 MnDOT construction program, including replacement of the DeSoto Bridge.
The state list includes 135 projects
The Metro area list is given in the Pioneer Press

IKEA Train

On Gizmodo: Comfy IKEA Train Makes Me Want to Move to the Subway