Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mike for Mike - Dukakis Endorses Capuano

Two Greeks and an Italian walk into this pub...

Ethnic humor doesn't bother former Gov. Mike Dukakis. In fact, he seems to delight in such allusions to his Greek heritage, as he did today when he endorsed U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano in the race to replace the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy. While the causes he champions are complex and serious, the Duke is one funny guy.

Today at the Washington Square Tavern in Brookline, it was that blend of jokes, sincere affection and serious statements all around. After the banter though, Dukakis drew strong parallels between Kennedy and Capuano in endorsing him. He used that to explain why this was the first time he ever endorsed a candidate in a Democratic primary.

First though, there was good humor starting with warm ribbing of Kitty and Mike Dukakis. They have been married for 46 years and seem to have a great time of it. He described himself as an example of the ancient Greek ideal of nothing in excess and everything in moderation, adding "with Kitty, it's everything in excess, nothing in moderation." In her introduction of her husband, she had said to hoots of Brookline residents that "All of you who know both of us know that Michael always listens to me."

She noted that she had endorsed Capuano on November 11th at his Open Mike rally at the Park Plaza. Today, she said of her husband, "It took him a little while to catch on."

When Mike Dukakis got down to the praise and reasoning, he showed he had indeed synced with his wife. Key in his comparison with Kennedy were:
(Ted) had a gut understanding of average men and women, their concerns, their battles and the things that collectively we can do to make sure that every single one of them had a piece of the American Dream...He felt that and sensed it instinctively. And so does Mike Capuano.
You didn't have to tell (Ted) how to vote or where to be on the critical issues that face the country and the world. He was there over and over and over again. And so is Mike.
The former governor said he was pleased with the field in the Dem primary. He implied that the other candidates may have the potential to grow into the job, but that Capuano was a sure thing.

YouTube option: The endorsement vid is available here.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Lawn-Sign Gap

Ah, the risks of relying on empirical knowledge. In my tiny world, Mike Capuano owns this Dem primary to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Allegedly — according to small polls conducted by the likes of the Boston Globe and candidate Martha Coakley's campaign — the gate-bolting early leader retains a strong plurality. Yet in my apparently isolated world, Mike is king.

After numerous attempts to figure out what she is really about by reading the news, raking her campaign site, sitting through those debate-like objects with my clipboard and pen, and trying to get her as a guest on our Left Ahead! podcast, I finally gave up. In contrast, Capuano's people came to me. They invited me to blogger round tables, he came on our podcast, his folk had me to the big Open Mike rally at the Park Plaza, and they gave me a yard sign. Back to Martha, her campaign appears to have two components:
  1. Announce early to get the edge in contributions and endorsements
  2. Don't take any risks by unnecessary public exposure or meaningful debate
If I've gotten any indication of how the candidates might handle constituent services from all this, Martha will be behind a high wall.

The polls would suggest Martha's avoidance is working in a very foreshortened race. It only has to hold through December 8th. The Dem nominee is then a virtually certainty to roll over the virtually certain Republican nominee state Sen. Scott Brown.

So with just a little over a week to the primary and lots of media coverage, I have been steeling myself for the Martha signs and literature. My new neighborhood was awash with signs, mailbox stuffing, doorbell ringing, standouts and more for the September and November votes. Hyde Park may not be Jamaica Plain in political activism, but it didn't seem too far behind.

Instead, Mike owns Fairmount Hill and seemingly the whole area. I put his sign up and was the first to do so, but by far not the last. Huge and wee, the signs are everywhere. More to the point, there are fewer than one Coakley equivalent.

Yesterday, I finally saw a law sign for Martha. I went on a 35-mile bike ride to cover my Thanksgiving excesses to come. After pedaling by numerous Capuano signs, on the way home, I did encounter one Coakley one in Dedham. I have yet to see one in Boston.

In the same vein, I posted a call to the bloggers and other readers at Blue Mass Group, calling for their endorsements in the race. While I revealed mine after the call, I included a poll about whom they endorse. In this very unscientific finding, at last count one minute ago, it was running:
  • Capuano - 46 votes (63.89%)
  • Coakley - 16 votes (22.22%)
  • Khazei - 7 votes (9.72%)
  • Brown - 2 votes (2.78%)
  • Robinson - 1 votes (1.39%)
  • Pagliuca - 0 votes (0%)
The comments and revealed endorsements were strongly pro-Capuano.

From these two maybe non-definitive indications, I have to wonder:
  • Are BMG's readers and my neighborhood's residents so left-wing they are outliers in this election?
  • Is Coakley's support so soft that it rests in name recognition and will not translate into votes?
  • Is her support out in the burbs?
  • In a likely very low turnout election, who'll be able to get supporters to trot to the polling places?
  • Do these tiny indications suggest that his supporters are real and hers not?
I had really hoped to chat with Coakley and see if she had any substance. She blew me off as she did so many other chances elsewhere to make her case. She apparently figures that minimal exposure is her safest route to the Senate. Yet, we already have a cautious Senator in John Kerry. He has been the counterpoint to the courageous Ted Kennedy. I don't think we need a pair of those.

My endorsement of Capuano nootes that he doesn't say we should just trust him to turn into a dynamic and visionary legislature, as Coakley asks of us. He already has shown those traits for 11 years. It is risky for us all but will be fascinating to see on December 8th how many voters will be willing to take a flier on her instead of going with a sure thing.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Endorsement: Capuano Only Proven Candidate

Michael Capuano is by far the best choice to replace U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. In the special election primary on December 8th, go with the only candidate sure to do the job and do it right.

This job would be a moderate step up for Capuano. With six years between elections and almost certain re-election, he would gain a freedom to advance policies and forge alliances much more effectively than he can in the House. There, he has been founding and joining progressive caucuses to reach for goals piecemeal.

Who can predict whether anyone from Massachusetts would ever approach the influence and accomplishments of Senator Ted Kennedy. Out of the four Dems and two Republicans this time, we have a very good idea who isn't ready. We would be taking a huge gamble on any of the other five.

Because of my association with the weekly Left Ahead! podcast, I've been holding onto neutrality, but it has become increasingly obvious what to do. Capuano is the only one with Congressional experience. Moreover only Republican Scott Brown has any legislative experience at all among the others, and his is an undistinguished five years in each house of our General Court, as well as his being wrong-headed politically.

In his 11 years in the U.S. House, Capuano has had:
  • A solid impact in all major debates as well as delivering services and programs back to the commonwealth
  • A consistently progressive record of voting for women's rights, larger civil rights, LGBT concerns, and sane foreign and domestic policy in insane times
  • Multiple courageous stands speaking out and voting against such blunders as involvement in Iraq and the PATRIOT Act

Overall, with any of the other candidates, we would be taking a high-risk gamble. We would have to suspend doubts and trust magically that any of them might somehow morph into a worthy Senator. It is a much surer projection that Capunao will go from a solid Representative to a solid Senator. As others have said endorsing him, this is not the time for on-the-job training. Ted Kennedy may have started out green 47 years ago, but we don't have to take that chance in replacing him.

I should be plain that I like Mike's candor as well as his votes. Moreover, not only do I know from his voting record and public statements what he stands for, but I agree with him on nearly everything. He is a true progressive.

The three other Dems seem bright enough and pleasant enough. Yet, with Capuano's record, you don't have to knock them to build him up.

Touching briefly on them, consider:
  • AG Martha Coakley has hidden from numerous media and blogs instead of exposing her ideas and principles to examination. I had hoped to know her better before endorsing anyone, but clearly she does not see the future in openness. She has been a pretty good, but not stellar AG, and was an OK DA. Neither of those in any way qualifies her for this job.
  • Alan Khazei seems damned smart and probably has the most fleshed out policy statements on what he might theoretically go for in the Senate. More than Coakley's, his experience with City Year was impressive, but might or might not predict anything about his performance as a Senator.
  • Stephen Pagliuca has managed to make a lot of money as a venture capitalist, but has no germane experience. Moreover, he doesn't seem to be a leader, grunting and agreeing with the other three Dems.
Honestly, there's no choice. One of the candidates has relevant experience, with an unimpeachable progressive voting record. One of the candidates has repeatedly shown courage and leadership on legislation and policy. One of the candidates can obviously make the transition to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. Mike Capuano is that candidate.

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No Breakthroughs in Senate Race

The candidate who gets the most loyal voters to the polls on December 8th wins. Polls to date say the Dem who'll run in the January 19th final for Ted Kennedy's seat will be AG Martha Coakley. For the life of me, I can't understand why. She needs to show more to get my support.
Personal whine: We at Left Ahead! had hoped and tried to have her on a podcast, but requests to numerous people from her campaign staff as well as direct appeals to her have been ignored for many weeks. Each of us will have to judge whether that says more about the insignificance of LA to her, of her fear of any possible misstep or exposure or her campaign's decision on how to mete her time. Regardless, we got U.S. Rep Mike Capuano but not her for your listening and analysis.
In last evening's final scheduled TV-broadcast debate on GBH's Greater Boston, we got too much Emily Rooney but still plenty of the four candidates. The style of the five should have given voters all the info they had lacked before. Despite Rooney's waste of a lot of time with silly, parochial questions, the candidates showed their stuff.

For one stumble through the woods, Rooney demonstrated her provincialism by pounding on Rhode Island R.C. Bishop Thomas Tobin's demand that U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy not take communion because he favored women's choice including abortion. She asked the hypothetical about what the candidates would do if their local prelate wrote the same letter to them. Not only is that out-of-state, but it has little other relevance to this race or the role of the Senator.

As an Episcopal, Steve Pagliuca was obviously delighted to be above this manufactured dust up. Then all four of them smeared rhetorical oatmeal on the wall — their religion is between God and themselves.

The glib Globe, whose reporters seem to be moderately favoring Coakley in articles, ran coverage of this Q&A as though it were the key part of last evening's debate-like-object. If you have any doubt it was not, do watch the show at GBH.

Rooney also alluded to two heavy recent pieces in the Globe, one slamming Capuano and one Coakley. The lengthy profile of Capuano made him out from the lead sentence to be a potential dog killer, someone you'd not want to meet on the streets of Somerville at night. He did a pretty good job last evening at turning that around, referring to himself as the reasoned, yet passionate candidate. Speaking of Congress, he added, "The lack of passion to me shows a disconnect with the real lives of regular people."

The Globe also broke with their normally gentle and even effusive coverage of Coakley. While many voters and others call her cold and opaque, today's article typically said of her answers that "the attorney general mostly stayed above the fray." Instead, I saw her has far less involved and substantial than the others, on a par with the spongy Pagliuca.

Yet to its credit, the Globe did run an article on how she gave eventually convicted pedophile priest John Geoghan a bye. When she was Middlesex DA in charge of child abuse cases, she did not aggressively prosecute him as an abuser. To this day and last evening, she claims she didn't have the evidence and wouldn't change anything. To those who would say gathering such evidence was clearly part of her job if she had strong reason to suspect the evidence was there, she says she did the right thing. That he was protected and shuffled around parishes by the R.C. hierarchy, while abusing boys all along, seems coincidental to her.

Oddly, Rooney brought this up and gave Coakley a chance to try to shift blame to the church. She (and the Globe) did not note that this seems a similar pattern to AG Coakley's decisions not to go after corruption in local government, which turned out into federal indictments of a House speaker, a senator and a city councilor.

The three other candidates did not ask her why voters should think she'd be a strong Senator when she seemed a hands-off DA and AG. Media wisdom has said that they avoid acting like three male bullies beating up on the woman.

For my occasional shallowness, I found myself distracted by Rooney's appearance and mannerisms. Of substance, she not only asked some nothing questions, but she repeatedly spoke over the candidates while not moderating the discussion meaningfully. How nice for her that she thinks her points are more important than those of the candidates, but she wasted a lot of time cutting off candidates as soon as they began answering her questions. That was exasperating.
Petty aside: At the risk of reading like Cintra Wilson, I think Rooney needs a makeover and some advice. My shallowness overwhelmed me as Rooney's purse-lipped appearance and clumsy behavior dominated. Most obviously, with apologies to Sarah Palin, Rooney didn't go rogue, but she did overdo rouge. Her clown makeup goes on top of skin that looks like she spent her life on a fishing boat or in a tobacco field. Moreover, she wore a plunging blouse that exposed far too much flesh that looked like it had lichen growing on it. As a blond and fair skinned (think pink), I empathize a bit, but she should be more self-aware.
I don't know how many folk listened last night or will head to the Greater Bostons site. There's a fair chance few viewers would change their mind, but the show might help some of those 50% or more undecided. Some might pick a candidate and others might decide to vote.

My own takeaways from the show, by the alpha order in which they sat, include:
  • Capuano —In appeals to both mind and emotion, Capuano owned the stage. That may or may not play well. I find him refreshingly candid as well as highly principled. Others seem put off by his passion.
  • Coakley —She remained too cool and too evasive. She liked the trope that her favorite animal is a giraffe (as is mine), that she sticks her neck out. Listening to what she said were risks, I envision a turtle instead, with very little exposure. I didn't know her any better after this session than before.
  • Khazei —Set aside his flares of Ralph Nader style self-righteousness about society's duties, he was both highly reasoned and personable, a likely good dinner companion. He clearly likes to lay out and follow road maps to policy destinations. It remains surprising that he carries the red lantern in polls.
  • Pagliuca —Stayed pretty much a me-too candidate. His big effort was to contrast himself with Coakley and Capuano in how he'd vote on health reform even if it contained abortion-funding restrictions (he'd pass this essential bill). He seems like a good soldier, which isn't enough. Also, his admission that the recession impacted him only through knowing some people (unlike him) not thriving didn't help.
If you turned in liking your candidate's style, nothing much happened yesterday for you. The cool giraffe was there, as was the impassioned fighter. On the other side, a policy wonk and some rich guy roil the waters, likely helping Coakley, who polls report may have 10% gonad voters supporting her because of gender.

We don't have any measure of voters who go with one of the three men because they would rather not have a woman in the office. We can reasonably surmise that it is fewer than Coakley's gender-driven supporters. She will have at least that edge if her candidacy gets them to the polls in two weeks.

The U.S. Senate could certainly use more women, as it would benefit from more members of color. There's no way to vote in this race for someone with Capuano's decisiveness and voting record who meets those other criteria.

We'll likely not get another chance at the candidates. The wild card is whether Coakley answers the 18 questions journalist/blogger Bill Dinsmore collected and provided. She skipped in and out of a coffee shop in North Adams, not taking any live questions. He sent that list, which should be to her campaign's liking — they can squirrel away and spin and spin. Her press secretary and political director got the list yesterday. They may be batch processing all 18 and take a couple of days, but here's betting the answers are squishy. I hope she (they) prove me wrong and, to invert Gertrude Stein, there's some there there.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Tax By GPS

Do you want to recalculate? Like most GPS boxes, ours can ask that in various tones, languages and as man or woman. It's an apt question for the efforts to implement driver fees based on miles traveled instead of per gallon of gas.

In a post (also at BMG) about recently ex-transportation secretary of Massachusetts James Aloisi, I was certainly not surprised by what to me was nitpicking and literalism. I think though to those commenting, they were trying to add value, much as Talmudic scholars refine concepts through argument.

The mention of VMT (vehicle miles traveled) systems and pilots was one of Aloisi's proposals for transportation fixes that seemed most upsetting. At the least, there were calls for solid proof that this was viable technology.

The basic idea is simple enough. Cars in Massachusetts would get GPS chips installed, likely at annual inspection if they did not already have one. This miniature computer would report on how far the driver went at various times and total. The commonwealth would charge a fee in lieu of increased gas taxes that would be more for distance, more for traveling at rush hours, and less for rural distance.

That last part is a strong selling point. Those in Western Massachusetts and other exurban areas are given a break on the turnpike tolls with free travel out there. Yet, they still pay disproportionately for gas taxes in the sense their required commute, shopping and average trips are longer than in urban areas. Let's ignore that their housing and many other costs are lower than those of urban folk.

Another important objection would be the Big Brother aspect of the GPS. The pilots in Europe and the Puget Sound show that it is very easy to track the miles and times with no record of where a vehicle was or went, just how far and when.

Yet, the underlying question for me is why the devil bother? Short of a break for rural drivers, the current gas tax does the job. Drive more, pay more...flat and not increasingly as the natural gas and electric people hit us.

Unfortunately, there is a solid reason for looking at a GPS-based VMT system. Our General Court collectively lacks the vision and courage to raised the gas tax. It has been the same for 18 years, is lower than most states' and has not kept pace with inflation or the Consumer Price Index. As a driver as well as cyclist and mass-transit user I should likely bite my tongue, but we are underpaying. As a result, we are getting fewer road and T improvements and less maintenance. We suffer from the legislators' cowardice.

Our lawmakers are too incestuous and insular. They seem to have spread the no-new-taxes virus one to another. They believe that is what keeps them in office — cushy, well-paid, powerful employment.

While none of us wants to pay taxes, much less higher taxes, the lessons our parents and grandparents taught us seem to have gotten lost. Most important, delaying the essential is generally dumb, destructive and asking for worse in the future. Thus after Gov. Michael Dukakis, a series of Republican governors sang in a chorus with bipartisan legislators, "No new taxes! No new taxes." To accomplish this, they did such dumb deeds as deferring maintenance on highways and bridges. Now that infrastructure is in such bad shape and costs have inflated so much, we face crushing bills to do the minimal repairs that would have been much cheaper earlier.

Voters should be mad at both the government and themselves.

So even now, the legislature has turned down every funding source Gov. Deval Patrick proposes, including gas taxes. They instead look to the lie and failure of casino gambling and other fantasy fixes that have failed to provide lasting solutions anywhere.

Perhaps the fairly equitable VMT might pass the cowering, self-protective incumbents' test. They might enact that instead of the much easier, more obvious and long overdue gas-tax hike.

Truth be told, the VMT with GPS will layer expensive technology and a new accounting bureaucracy to accommodate it. Heck, the price of inspection would probably bump up to for the extra steps and materials.

We have an in-place system for collecting by distance traveled without the VMT system. That's the gas tax. Moreover, to be fair to rural drivers, we could give them a break at tax time, as state and federal governments do with various housing, sales tax and other accumulated expenses.

It's really time for the lawmakers to stop the silliness and raise the gas tax. We have other transportation issue to address.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Act Now on MA Transportation Podcast

“The days of highway expansion in Massachusetts are over,” declares James Aliosi, who stepped down last month as Secretary of Transportation. He said now is the time to act and particularly to level the playing field by developing passenger rail and public transit.

In our podcast today, he ticked off such benefits as sparking industrial development and job creation, improved public health and safety, and increased energy security. He figures that the federal government under President Barack Obama is ripe for aiding just such development. What we need here is a coalition of the affected group in all those areas, including transit specific, health, our legislative and executive branch leaders, energy and more.

We discussed some of the key issues in his 12-page exit letter he sent to Gov. Deval Patrick. These include funding rail projects, getting the MBTA solvent, shaking votes and funding from the legislature to enable transportation improvements, and making multi-modal transit practical for all of us.

Aloisi is not shy about proposing innovations. He’s a proponent for VMT (vehicle miles traveled) payments, as proven in other states. That is big here, where the legislature is frightened of raising the gas tax to pay for existing highway needs, much less 21st Century problems. He also talked about the leadership and support he had from Lt. Gov. Tim Murry on making commuter and freight rail real and viable for us.

Podcast note: Click the arrow to play. Go to Left Ahead! to download.

He calls for courage and leadership. Those should be on the part of the transportation and other activists he worked with and hoped to empower as secretary. Also that would be our governor, lieutenant governor and a cadre of state and U.S. legislators who are champions of these goals. He also named commonwealth mayors who already fight for improved transit and equitable funding. He says that the public really hasn’t been broadly sold on this shift, but that they are hungry for such change and for the leadership to get us there.

We dealt with funding issues, which are at the core of many of our transit woes here. He has no patience with what he calls the gimmicks, like refinancing unmanageable T debt. He calls that delaying the day of reckoning and hiding the problem so the the public isn’t aware of it and our lawmakers don’t have to deal with it. Instead, he said there needs to be a restructuring of that debt (including relief of the $2 billion Big Dig portion laid on the T, with that VMT and some combination of sales-tax allocation to make the system workable).

He calls for public pressure and now, not in five or two years. Listen in as he talks about what has to be done. Many progressives can bring these issues to their own organizations and be part of that catalyzing coalition he envisions.

Cross-post note: This appear at Left Ahead! and Blue Mass Group.

Confusing Doctors Again

Not much funny about breast cancer, eh? However, the medical community is giving us a big yuk on mammogram schedules.

Like the ending of G.I. Joe cartoons, the moral of the episode invariably included, "And now we know...and knowing is half the battle." In this case, the U.S. Preventive Health Task Force announced new guidelines for routine breast-cancer screenings. Fundamentally, instead of annual mammograms from 40, the new rule would be every other year from 50.

Alas for the medical community, this is only the latest care that exposes its frailty, its reliance on fungible vetting for diagnosis and care. Truth be told, most doctors have as much to do with medical science as pop journalists do. They wave the current perceived wisdom, call, "Aha!," and congratulate themselves.

So in the media including talk shows, they find women to say this is putting their lives at risk. They find doctors who say they are confused. They find researchers who were behind the previous perceived wisdom implying that a massive die-off of U.S. women will follow. A few alarmists also say this is all insurance companies need to deny annual breast-cancer screens to women who want them anyway.

The joke here is that this is common, if less dramatic and less discussed, in the profession. With a herd instinct, nearly all non-specialist doctors have to rely on the best guesses from the most accepted reports and studies. That means they end up continually circling back pretending that each change of diagnostic or treatment protocol is a breakthrough and G.I. Joe style new knowledge.

I became aware of this first when I was in elementary school. My mother ran Red Cross chapter, putting her in charge of and teaching first aid, home nursing and such, with the accompanying textbooks. I remember her alternately laughing and complaining when the national organization revised those manuals every year or even less as the American Medical Association changed its mind.

One trigger was burn treatment. It was cover or leave exposed to air and use gooky medicine or let it form a scab on its own. Back and forth it went with one major reputable study after another.

With the imprecision of care and the reality that most primary care physicians — PCPs or what we used to call general practitioners or family practitioners (GPs or FPs) — are not particularly good diagnosticians. They reply on plugging symptoms into their experience or searching software or a book for the most likely fit. In all likelihood, they end up treating symptoms with drugs and never diagnose anything. That means 1) the body cures itself, 2) symptom relief is coincident with improvement, or 3) yet another patient on a long-term regimen of a drug which may or may not address the cause of the complaint.

We really can't fairly call that medical science. Yet, we do cut docs some slack here. Much of the time they are pretty much the best health gamble around. We know they are not likely to discover or cure underlying causes, particularly of chronic problems. We also know that the system requires them to move a lot of patients through, so that they really don't have time to muse or deeply investigate or even research beyond reading current medical journals. They aren't scientists.

Moreover, they are easily misled by extrapolations from the research on which they rely. An obvious example is the silly reliance on body mass index (BMI) for individuals. While useful as a broad-brush measurement for big groups, it is often invalid per patient. Thin looking folk with little muscular development may have fine BMI but have organs swimming in their fat. Athletes with well developed muscles are often obese or overweight by BMI while being very healthy and having a great body fat level, much more meaningful than BMI.

It is easy to see how PCPs can fall back on the lazy solution of BMI though. Plug in a height and weight and there's a number for comparison. Doctors worthy of their oaths would look at and palpate patients. They would take the same two measurements, but put them into a hand-held body-fat analyzer instead (those are very accurate and inexpensive at $25 to $50). Then nutrition and exercise recommendations would be meaningful. Oops, let's not forget that most PCPs know little about diet or exercise.

So we are stuck with a system that hurries docs along, encouraging them to be reliant on easy ways out for diagnosis and treatment. We end up with increasingly unrealistic guidelines in many areas, while the population gets widely wide and heavy. Those guidelines have not resulted in greater longevity either, we struggle around 17th in the world, despite our disproportionate health-care cost and use of prescription drugs.

Treat Cause or Symptom?

A real solution would be a hard one, finding and treating underlying causes for conditions. As our system is now, that would happen only if considerable research was done asking such questions as is the mid-term and long-term outcome for patients better with treating symptoms pharmaceutically or changing the underlying cause of their problems. In a country where nearly all medical research is funded directly or secondarily by drug companies, you can imagine how likely it will be for such massive studies to occur.

In many areas, the research that our docs rely on seems misused as well. Consider for one, the famous Framingham Heart Study. It is a massive, on-going and very useful project, even though it has the limit of covering only men, only in a age range, and with rebutted results in the British Medical Journal among other places. Yet is is a hook to hang a medical hat on and as such used for various guidelines.

One such is that acceptable blood pressure has dropped from 140 to 130 to 120 to 115 upper number, for example. One effect is from the study that the recommendation is that over 90% of men should be on anti-hypertensive drugs by 60.

You needn't be the worst cynic around to question the relationship between drug companies, doctors and that guideline. Think in contrast if PCPs worked with patients to reduce body fat, up potassium intake, reduce stress and such. would the patient be better off than a remaining lifetime of one or more drugs?

What would G.I. Joe say? Maybe, "Well, we'll never know and not knowing leaves us unprepared for the battle."

Cross-post note: I have other medical rants at Harrumph!, where I'll put this.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blogs and Togs

Woe to us weaklings with political or personal blogs! In high fashion, bloggers have lately become the willing and quite capable tools of designers concerned with the hem and cut of your garments.

In fairness, I snootily sequester myself. I rarely watch TV and generally disdain trends and other ephemera. I am not strongly attune to pop culture. I don't know which celebrities have married or bedded each other, much less how the cognoscenti decree I should dress. If I wear something the rag trade favors, that's coincidence.

With amusement and delight, I turned to a full page in today's Financial Times headlined 'I'm in the front row with Anna!'. (The online version has a mundane head, Style bloggers take centre stage.) While not at all identifying with the chic, I do feel an affinity with other bloggers.

The article shows that previously noisome wanna-be fashion commentators are welcome and sought-after now. They sit with the traditional print rag press. Moreover, designers love the instantaneous live blogging of fashion shows.

Ex-fashion photog Scott Schuman has watched the rapid rise. He has a pic blog, The Sartorialist, that is fundamentally a graphic record of folk he sees and shoots in Manhattan. Before you finish snorting at the triviality of that, consider that he gets 225,000 unique visits per day there. Similarly, 13-year-old self-defined "dork that sits inside all day wearing awkward jackets and pretty hats" Tavi has a huge following and likely blog-launched lifetime in the field.

The FT quotes Schuman as saying, "In the beginning, people (in luxury) were afraid of the internet and the (idea of bloggers') comments. Now they are going after the blogs ful-steam. The whole thing with Dolce & Gabbana and (bloggers) in the front row. it's like they realized that if you can't control it, you might just have to learn to deal with it."

British Vogue's fashion editor, Harriet Quirk, expanded that by noting that blogs are "a way of reaching new audience with a minimal outlay."

Our politicians aren't quite as savvy, perhaps because their products have slower turn and less obvious margins. Our local governor, Deval Patrick, used to get netroots and bloggers. He now seems indifferent, but not hostile. Occasionally, he'll have his folk send a post to Blue Mass Group, but his staff holds most other bloggers at fishing-pole distance. The closest he came was doing a cameo over the summer at a BBQ, apparently thinking that's all Massachusetts bloggers needed to keep loving him. Harrumph.

Likewise, in the U.S. Senate race for Ted Kennedy's seat, front runner AG Martha Coakley actively hides from bloggers. Her staff won't even respond to a podcast request from Left Ahead! In contrast, the far more approachable and populist U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano has held in-person and phone blogger round tables as well as spoke with LA and other bloggers.

Risking publicly without necessarily being able to control is coming, but we're not quite a decade into our newest century. Some get it quicker than other.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Few, the Special-Election Voters

OK, December 8th:
  • Gen. George Washington led his retreating army across the Delaware River from New Jersey (who of us haven't fled from Jersey?) in 1776
  • Coaxial cable patented in 1931
  • In Japan, it's the annual Enlightenment of Buddha Day
  • Massachusetts has some election in 2009
Surely this shouldn't be amusing that we who pride ourselves on political savvy and civic engagement are missing at least the last observance. Pity it would be, young Jedi, decided this race by voters few.

The word at the Herald and WHDH on the Suffolk U. poll is that we don't know squat about the special election primary to put a new butt in Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate chair. (Suffolk seems to be running on college time and doesn't make the whole poll available on its site yet.) According to the tabloid's Jessican Van Sack:
An astounding 93 percent of Democratic voters couldn’t pinpoint the exact date of the Dec. 8 primary - and 73 percent didn’t even know in which month the primary will occur, according to a 7News/Suffolk University poll conducted over four days beginning Nov. 4.
We who eat this race on Wasa every day for our political diet are mildly astonished. Moreover, as a city poll worker, I intend to back both a good book and a couple of FT cryptic puzzles for the primary.

Granted, there will be another six weeks following the primary before the January 19th (Robert E. Lee's birthday coincidentally and probably without meaning). Yet, it should make a difference to us. The winner of the Dem slate will have the thrill of crushing the Republican (certainly Scott Brown and not Jack. E. Robinson).

Our senior Senator following Kennedy's death is about as dynamic as I — not very. Unfairly, we should want someone with the personal power of Ted. Hence, we should migrate as a massed electorate to decide this on the two dates, those being 12/8 and 1/19, ahem.

Over at Left Ahead!, we got Mike Capuano. We're angling for Alan Khazei soon. So far, Martha Coakley's people have ignored us, but we'd happily let her make her pitch. We honestly do think this primary is important.

Moreover, John Galligan at Chimes at Midnight commented a few weeks ago when he was a guest that voters likely will choose the Senator on different criteria than Boston's Mayor or Councilors. He analyzes that on-the-job-training is less acceptable for national slots.

That remains to be seen. What has been important so far is that Coakley bolted from the gate early, gathering momentum. Also, the slick broadcast presentations from Khazei are racking up his favorable ratings. Meanwhile, Steve Pagliuca appears to be running only a vanity race.

The polls so far say this is Coakley's. Experience makes Capuano the only logical choice. Yet Khazei seems to entrance those put off by Coakley's coldness and Capuano's brusqueness.

Probably Capuano's best day would be if only a few voters showed. They would likely be older and those who tend to vote for proven candidates. Coakley need only avoid any more major blunders and hope that those who give her mild huzzahs convey their butts to the polls to convey hers to the January final.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Capuano Captures Crowd

As no huge surprise, as it was his Boston rally, U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano rocked the Park Plaza tonight. The emcee claimed over 1,200 there.

I had a live blog at Left Ahead! and Kate Donaghue did hers at Blue Mass Group.

Going home afterward, I thought of what I told his aide, Monica Crane, when she asked what my impressions were. Over the continuing din of cheers from the crowd, I shouted to her that I admired the elegant way he timed his anti-Martha Coakley points and wove them into his statements and his answers to questions.

Those would be first that Coakley blew the hypothetical vote on the health-care issue. She was afraid to debate or even take strong positions. She is in weak contrast to someone who has done the legislative job for over a decade.

He didn't pound the points. He just made them and let the audience stomp, cheer and call out in chorus.

Conventional wisdom in this race says any and all of the three men running for the Senate seat would be fools to slam the sole woman verbally. Capuano did it and didn't do it. It will be intriguing in this last month to see whether he can make his big points without seeming like an ogre.

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Not OK in ME and MA

Not OK:
  • It is not OK to impose your personal beliefs on any group of fellow humans.
  • It is not OK to attempt to legislate your religion on larger American society.
  • It is not OK to select portions of your sacred texts to justify harming others.
  • It is not OK to use mob rule by ballot initiatives to replace representative democracy.
  • It is not OK to proclaim yourself as judge of people who are different from you.
  • It is not OK to deny to and jerk back civil rights from other humans.
The deeply disappointing finish in the sprint to save and implement marriage equality in Maine carries an underlying warning. The most vocal leaders of the anti-LGBT and anti-civil rights forces intend to remain relentless, cruel and ruthless. Any thought of playing nice with them is masochistic.

As Left Ahead! co-host Ryan Adams said in our post-election roundup podcast (about 6 minutes in), it is time for the pro-equality movement to be more aggressive. Voters who say jerking back legal rights from any group is not discrimination, not bigotry need to be called out.

We saw and heard it all in Maine — with spillage into Massachusetts — this week. In the cowardly euphemistic people's veto, voters overturned same-sex marriage before the law could take effect. As in half our states, that is the way initiative, referendum and override procedures can work. That is still not OK.

I have ranted before at Marry in Massachusetts about the befuddled form of direct democracy. We should not be surprised that many of the same folk who have befuddled forms of Christianity are the strongest advocates for this form of mob rule. They can't win by logic or compassion or national interest. These bastardized forms of plebiscite are their shot to win on emotion.

What we need to keep before us is that these folk are as relentless as they are cruel. In contrast, those who honestly believe and act on the underlying principles of virtually all religions are not like that. Think of the Talmudic early statement of what Christians call the Golden Rule. That which is hateful to you, do not do to another.

Instead, the Yes on 1 people, the Massachusetts Family Institute leaders, and particularly the hateful National Organization for Marriage live the axiom that those whom they hate and fear are fair game.

If you're feeling timid or unsure about speaking up, consider the emotions, thoughts and words of the uncloseted anti-equality folk:
  • Matt Barber, Liberty Counsel and Liberty Alliance Action — Here’s the bad news. The margin of victory could have been greater. Many behind the ‘Yes on 1’ campaign, rather than simply telling the truth, chose the Neville Chamberlain approach. They merely circled the wagons around the word "marriage," even suggesting that "domestic partnerships" ("gay marriages" by another name) are acceptable. This makes no sense. If that’s a viable compromise, then why not simply allow 'gay' duos the word "marriage"? It’s an incongruity that demands an explanation. This is an historic battle for the minds and souls of our children – for our very culture. The mealy-mouthed approach must end. This is not just about "marriage." It has everything to do with forced affirmation of homosexuality – under penalty of law.
  • Kris Mineau, Mass. Family Institute — This is a great victory for the people of Maine, but once again a bittersweet moment for us here in Massachusetts. It is appalling that in the so-called 'cradle of liberty' the people have never been allowed to speak on the definition of marriage. With marriage vote victories being 31 for 31 states across the country, there is no doubt why the homosexual special interests groups spent so much money and time in denying the citizens of Massachusetts the opportunity to vote on our Marriage Amendment...We certainly have never given up on finding the opportunity or making the opportunity available for the citizens of Massachusetts to vote. It’s by no means decided in Massachusetts.
  • Bill Donohue, Catholic League — The people have spoken. The time has come for homosexuals to pack it in.
  • Brian Camenker, Mass Resistance — Right now, we're all happy for a great victory. But given the close calls in recent "gay marriage" statewide elections, this debate needs to continue.
  • Christian Civic League of Maine — Victory over the radical homosexual agenda does not consist in a temporary rejection of the concept of homosexual marriage. It means faithfulness to God's laws pertaining to marriage and the family, and a return to the Biblical truth about homosexuality. Victory will only be realized when the public returns to an awareness that homosexuality is a sin.
  • Michael Heath, solar cooking guy and former head of the CCL — In the interest of protecting and affirming all of Maine's people, especially our children and grandchildren, we must repeal domestic partnership laws that provide benefits on the basis of homosexuality, we must defund the so-called "civil rights teams" and remove "sexual orientation and gender identity" from the Maine Human Rights Act and the Maine Civil Rights Act. It would also be prudent to reinstate Maine's anti-sodomy law that was quietly removed from our criminal code in the late 1970s.We must not stop fighting until Maine's laws are once again just, and equal rights are guaranteed to all Maine citizens on the basis of good conduct, not sinful behavior. For the sake of our children and grandchildren we must fight this evil. And we will fight. We will never surrender. There is too much at stake.
Have no doubts. The self-appointed leaders of the anti-equality forces intend to continue to hamper, hinder, hurt and harm.

They may feign religious ideals of love, but their actions are as far from Christian teachings as possible. The voters whom they influence are not yet fully aware that saying the hateful things many times at increasing volume does not make those messages true. Instead, it means the speakers are loud, repetitive liars.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Boston Commuter Rail Rant

The charm quickly peels awayfrom Boston's atavistic transit system. Like the crappy Pennsylvania Turnpike, we have the hemisphere's oldest subway. It seems like it.

Series note: This is part of the Rail-Volution inspired post set.

At the weekend's conference, I was surprised and pleased to learn about the Fairmount Corridor from two key players. Marvin Martin, who drove this city-train revolution as executive director of the Greater Four Corners Action! Coalition (no website) and Gail Latimore, who heads the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corp., spoke.

I had sort of paid attention, but not enough, to the news over the years. This has been percolating for nearly two decades and is happening as we speak. I'll post details in a few days. However, the key concept it that Martin led largely African-American Bostonians between lower Hyde Park and South Station in indignation. A perfectly good commuter-rail line zipped through their neighborhoods, making the trip in 8 minutes. Read carefully to be fully aware that it made two stops on the way (Morton Street and Uphams Corner). In fact, there were no other stations for it to stop at over 8 miles, by design, where most people lived.

The bus or bus/subway alternatives for this large swath inhabited largely by lower-middle, poor and middle class residents of color was different. It took an optimum 45 minutes and more likely 60 to 90 for the same trip from where people live to where they work. There are four stations (New
Market/ South Bay, Columbia Road, Four Corners, Talbot Avenue, and Cummins Highway) \in the works in an activists' effort that started in 1987 and has continued relentlessly.

pigI must be a typical American. I paid attention when it meant something personal. Moving to Fairmount Hill in Hyde Park after 21 years in Jamaica Plain, I was pleased to hear from the previous owners here that the Fairmount line at the bottom had a commuter rail. In a pig's eye it does.

Until the Indigo line is complete and the MBTA keeps its promise to increase trips, it is still a white commuters' line. Specifically, inbound, four trains are scheduled for Fairmount between 6:38 and 8:28 a.m. Likewise, outbound, there are four from South Station from 5:10 to 6:30.

Throughout the day, a few may stop if the conductor notices anyone flagging the train from the platform. The last possible train from South Station leaves at 9:30 p.m. and will stop to discharge only if passengers ask the conductor and that conductor remembers to tell the driver.

Weekends? Forget about it!

Moreover, this in unlike a real city transit system for pricing. With a Charlie Card fair of $1.70 for subway and $1.50 for bus, the irregular and inconvenient Fairmount is $4.25 each way, with no provision for transfers, even to buses.

I figure to go to Mike Capuano's function Monday at the Park Plaza from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. That should be a good time to see how to get from here to there and perhaps even back.

First, note that the MBTA trip planner truly stinks. On Universal Hub and numerous blogs, they have depressing examples of being routed absurd ways to go short distances. In this case, I also found the T doesn't use fuzzy logic and requires silly specifics to find the most basic locations. For example, it can't find Back Bay Station without its ZIP code added, and it knows Milton Ave., but not Milton Avenue, but again only with a ZIP and not just the neighborhood. Lame.

For giggles, I asked about getting to and from the event. By the bye, the number 24 bus through Mattapan Square and up to Ashmont stops a half block from my house. The T doesn't seem to know that.

The T would have me spend $5.95 each way, with trip times from 63 to 97 minutes. Those using the commuter rail also indicate a flag stop for the train, which I don't trust from previous experience seeing trains pass vigorously waving potential passengers.

future Indigo Line

I know from a son who commutes to Latin Academy that a shank's mare version is quicker. A 10 or so minute walk to Cleary Square get a 32 bus in a minute or five, for $1.50. I gets to Forest Hills in 15 to 20 minutes. Then the Orange Line thumps to Back Bay Station in a similar time, for $1.70. So, for $3.20 and under an hour, I'd be done each way with a vastly more flexible schedule than any of the combinations the T suggests.

Were I still on crutches from my leg operation earlier this year, I'd do the 24 close by. I could take it from very close to Ashmont, then the Red Line subway to the Orange Line and get off by the hotel. That would be maybe 90 minutes, or T time.

In other words, it's expensive and slow, practically mandating a car trip with a pocket of quarters and driving around Back Bay for an open meter. That would be when people are leaving so it wouldn't take long.

That's not as significant as the many thousands who live between the Orange and Red Lines with no viable commuter rail. It is inconvenient and unnecessarily expensive.

I think of the much larger, longer, wide and more stop-filled NYC subways. In Manhattan alone, you can travel the 14 miles from the Battery North to Washington Heights local or express and get damned close to where you want fast. The city fare is $2.25 and trains go from where people live to where they work and play. All lines run all the time, frequently and on weekends as well.

Back to Boston and down to earth, we're never going to be a 24-hour city or have a fast and frequent subway system. However, we can do better.

Through the efforts of Martin and the CDCs, the Indigo Line is coming. I remain to be convinced that the schedule will be convenient. I'd love to be able to go into town day and night on a convenient line.

There's no reason other than inertia or indifference by the T that we don't have real urban transit. There's also no reason other than arrogance why its zone system puts so many parts of the actual city of Boston in zone 1 at $4.25 for what should be the same as a $1.70 subway ride. Absurd and provincial.

Of course, for the upper middle and upper class commuters, these are not problems. The trains run at to- and from-work times. They buy commuter rail passes so they don't feel the per-trip cost. All the rest of the riders subsidize them and make do with the few off-rush-hour trains.

I see a parallel here with computer software. Most of it requires that the users be programmed for the quirks of the applications. We had to learn absurd commands and procedures to do basics. Likewise, T riders are supposed to adapt to the T's edicts and caprices.

We oldsters and early adopters recall illogical Ctrl-k sequences for Word Perfect and such. Here, we're accustomed to transit that just stops at night, trolleys that can't operate over fallen leaves, and commuter rail that doesn't accommodate where people live or when they want to arrive.

That future post will discuss how a indefatigable set of activists changed that for the Fairmount Corridor. At Rail-Volution, attendants from around the country could not stop raving at how sophisticated and effective that effort has been. It gives a Bostonian hope

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

One City Council Spark Unlit

Boston went status quo yesterday, literally at the mayoral level and both literally and figuratively at the council level. That's not bad, just kind of conservative and old fashioned, well, like an old town.

First, I accept my lump on Andrew Kenneally, one of my endorsements for council at large. That's trivial for what must be his exhausted disappointment at not snatching one of the two newly open seats. He and we deserved his victory. I think very highly of him politically and personally. I hope he is inspired to stay in Boston and end up as a councilor or legislator.

Traditionally, council candidates lose one or two times before winning. Because of the two seats with no incumbents running as Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon stepped down in mayoral tries, two newbies, Felix Arroyo (no, no, his son) and Ayanna Pressley, stepped up. So Andrew goes back to the start of the line in the traditional path in the traditional town.

At its most extreme, voters re-elected District Councilor Chuck Turner over challenger and reform candidate Carlos Henriquez by about 60% to 40%. That was not as big as his normal margin but plenty convincing. His voters are not tired of his self-serving wind and don't seem to believe he is a crook as the feds allege in his corruption indictment that has yet to come to trial. Let us haul out the perennial allusion to James Michael Curley, re-elected as alderman while in jail for corruption. We have a history here in many senses of the term.

The only sad part is that this was in the pattern of votes from mayor down where voters rejected chances for change and improvement. They went with comfort level instead. Not too much, not too quickly, thank you.

As I noted in my posts here, I think both new council winners are likely up to the task. A small good too is the obvious cultural and racial pluses. Just having a bit more diversity on the council should be good. If nothing else, voters may feel increased ownership in the government whose public personae look more like the city itself.

I do think that Kenneally would have been a better choice than either of the winners. If nothing else, he had specific goals and methods to get there.

Too much of the council does constituent services well but are vague and not driven in the big issues. Thus after each year, too little big change occurs or is even proposed. They just don't know where to go, how to get there or whom to buddy up with on the trip. We need some Andrew Kenneally types to lead the sluggish.

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Downer Down East

I felt like Bugs Bunny late last night — "A got a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad feeling about this," he'd say. Sure enough I awoke to find that Maine's same-sex marriage law had been overturned before it could start in a people's veto.

As reported in the Bangor and Portland papers, the count will end up being something like 53% to 47% for repeal. After clerking from before 6 a.m. until nearly 9 p.m. at a Boston poll yesterday, I headed to bed before midnight as the no on question 1 lead had shrunk from two points to next to nothing. I wasn't masochistic enough to hang on for the inevitable.

Regular readers here know the disdain I have for treating statewide issues as town meeting in ballot initiatives. That is particularly true for those who claim to be for democracy but who try to overturn laws passed by their representative democracy, their legislature. In a case where they intend to remove existing rights from a class to suit their prejudices and personal religious views, I have no respect or patience.

That written, it became plain early on that this was a national battle. The anti-gay types definitely wanted have another delay in the inevitable marriage equality crawl to civil rights, a la California's Prop 8. The pro-equality sorts were of a mind that Mainers talked and fought very long, very loudly, very widely and very hard to decide whether to pass the SSM law. It was Maine's business.

Of course, it ended up not being, or not being just Maine's business.

Donations of money on both sides came from out of the state and region. Support to keep the law apparently was largely from individuals, progressive sorts. For the repeal, one national anti-gay group was the almost exclusive funder. Yet amusingly enough, the repeal folk screamed foul when out-of-state donations to keep SSM began matching their out-of-state repeal funds.

Regardless, Maine has been around this bush before. It repealed mild gay-rights legal protections a couple of times before it kept them in another ballot. They surely will not be one of the two regressive kids on the New England playground (with arch-conservative governor led Rhode Island) for too much longer. But the anti-gay forces have won this go and likely delayed SSM in Maine by three years.

It's a shame about Maine, but we can be hopeful by history about Maine.

It doesn't even roil me the anti-gay forces will crow about this and make all manner of political prophesies. They claim victories where they have none. So when they actually do get a win, we know what to expect.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Who Needs Stinkin' Bike Racks?

I surely make too much of this, but it is my nature to expect much from those who promise much. Where are the bike racks for the snazzy convention center at Ft. Point Channel?

In its very subtle way (click thumbnail for large squint), there is one, one short one for the entire center plus the gigantic Westin adjoining it. They're a package deal, don't ya know, but they better not have more than 10 cyclists at a time anywhere around.

It's amusing and disappointing because:

  • Boston has a nifty program under bicycle czarina Nicole Freeman to plant racks wherever they will be useful and encourage cycling. This includes an interactive map of where the city has planted racks.
  • The conference I went to at the hotel and center was about transit, specifically about non-motor-vehicular transit.

Yet, in a typical room, when the speakers asked who was from the Boston area, about half the hands went up. While Rail-Volution is annual with a thousand or more attendants, it invariably pulls in more local wherever it happens to occur.

One might expect with hundreds of folk likely within a dozen miles of the complex that a bunch of us would, well, show off transit cred. I was the only jerk who did. I rode the 10 miles from the bottom Hyde Park through some of the town's densest traffic to and from the conference three consecutive days.

I checked the convention center and hotel websites. Neither said anything about racks or any biking accommodation. Check the Westin amenities in the above link — cribs, check; pets (under 75 pounds), check; valet parking (cars), check; Starbucks, check; and wait, there's more. The hotel folk knew nothing about bike racks. I tried the afternoon before at the center, but the switchboard shut down at 5 p.m. and I was out of luck. Then I located one on the city bike-rack map at the shared address of the Westin and center.

The next morning though, I didn't see one at either the center or the hotel. I asked uniformed minions, first at the hotel, but they didn't know. Then one of the center's red jacketed lads said he thought there was a rack behind the trees over there.

I had pedaled by and didn't see them. I did again and didn't again. Then I removed my sunglasses and in the figurative mist, there it was.

Sure enough, it was a Ribbon Rack. Yet unlike the standard, which is black, this is gray against a gray sidewalk and gray wall. The kind word is subtle. Cloaked is more like it.

Likewise, the rack is fully exposed, which became important in the rain on one day. I did remember to tuck in a cloth to wipe down the seat, frame and rims where the brake pads hit. This is even more peculiar than hiding it by color. The convention center (see the image in the link above) has a huge roofed overhang with vast unused space underneath, ideal and standard in bike-friendly areas.

In short, folks, likely from both the city and convention center had decided to hide this rack. Like the envelope in Poe's The Purloined Letter, the rack was hidden in plain sight, this time camouflaged by color and placement. They had also placed it where the bikes parked there would not be weather-protected in the slightest.

The twist is that for three days mine was the only bike in the rack, as in the image above. so the question comes whether if you provide it they will come or if there is so little demand that only a single cyclist used the rack, isn't one anywhere around a major convention center adequate?

I bet it's the former. If Nicole's elves put two or more racks in colors that contrast to their background under the overhang, cyclists will feel encouraged and when they attend event at either the hotel or center, some will leave their cars or SUVs in the driveway.

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Transit Posts Warning Notice

Lever pullers, keyboard punchers, paper shufflers and tool users alike tend to short horizons. We have deadlines and uncertain careers, thinking in terms of days or months. Alternatively, I swam deeply from Thursday evening through Sunday morning with the long-view folk who attended Rail-Volution.

Those involved in big transportation issues and projects necessarily cross over into government funding, housing issues and public approval or comment. The design phases alone are often in many years, as are the implementation ones. The rest of us are living practically new lives when these folk are just finishing one thing.

This transit conference has been perking for 15 years. This was my first, although I've been attending the Massachusetts Moving Together conference for pedestrian/motor vehicle/cycling for seven years. There's an overlap, but as its name suggests, Rail-Volution loves its trains.

I'll post several times here and cross-post at Marry in Massachusetts about what I learned down on the waterfront in the Westin. That will include a book review and a surprising link to my new neighborhood at the bottom of Hyde Park in the bottom of Boston.

Posts include:

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