A vision for high-speed rail in the USA.

What do you think the chances are that the Republicans will let this plan survive?

The Federal Railroad Commission has published it’s vision for High Speed Rail in America. Thanks to the Administration’s emphasis on infrastructure projects, the department is working with the States to plan, develop or upgrade lines to connect major cities across a number of rail corridors throughout the U.S.

The Federal Railroad Commission's vision for high-speed rail in America, as a map of current and proposed lines.
The Federal Railroad Commission's vision for high-speed rail in America, as a map of current and proposed lines.

Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination. Imagine what a great project that would be to rebuild America.
                                                                      – President Obama.

I’m all for it, rail is my favorite way to travel. The only think I think is missing is a fourth line across the south to connect DC to the West Coast.
What do you think the chances are that the Republicans will let this plan survive?

Schneier on Terrorism & Aviation Security

Bruce Schneier, one of the foremost experts on Network & Information Security, dares to point out the glaringly obvious truths about our government’s current anti-terror strategy.

Bruce Schneier, one of the foremost experts on Network & Information Security, has written an essay on terrorism and aviation security that’s currently running on CNN.com, and he spent a bit of time recently with Maddow, as well.  The essay on CNN.com is a bit long, but definitely worth the read. He dares to point out the glaringly obvious truths about our government’s current anti-terror strategy.

The best defenses against terrorism are largely invisible: investigation, intelligence, and emergency response. But even these are less effective at keeping us safe than our social and political policies, both at home and abroad. However, our elected leaders don’t think this way: They are far more likely to implement security theater against movie-plot threats.

This type of “security theater” was something the American Public readily accepted during the early post-9-11 period; we were scared to death, and thinking with all the rationality of an injured animal. Today, however, even pilots are questioning the reactionary security measures the TSA has implemented. Schneier’s take on the new measures is even more contemptuous; he terms them “magical thinking”.

Schneier opines that by acting out this “security theater”, our governments are simply empowering the terrorists to accomplish their ends. I find his opinion on how we should treat terrorists refreshing, intuitive and logical:

By not overreacting, by not responding to movie-plot threats, and by not becoming defensive, we demonstrate the resilience of our society, in our laws, our culture, our freedoms. There is a difference between indomitability and arrogant “bring ’em on” rhetoric. There’s a difference between accepting the inherent risk that comes with a free and open society, and hyping the threats.

We should treat terrorists like common criminals and give them all the benefits of true and open justice — not merely because it demonstrates our indomitability, but because it makes us all safer.

The White House and officials at the TSA and Justice Department need to stop and listen. Our current strategy has largely kept terrorists from hitting targets on US soil – if not abroad – but terrorism and extremist rhetoric is on the rise. The Christmas day episode over Detroit is being interpreted as a stark warning that the current system is far from perfect. I think the real question should be “In the long view, is it working at all?”

National Shame

AaronAkins.net: Thoughts From A Queer Techie Gamer Professional in the DC Metro Area.
National Shame
May 6th, 2009
by AaronAkins.
[Edit]

I know everyone in DC has heard this before, but I’m about to say it again, because someone has to keep it in the public eye. The state of the National Mall is a disgrace to our nation.

I know everyone in DC has heard this before, but I’m about to say it again, because someone has to keep it in the public eye. The state of the National Mall is a disgrace to our nation.

 
My father and I spent this last Sunday Morning in a cold rain walking The Mall under umbrellas. Dad hadn’t been to The Mall for 20 years. I got to show him the WW2 and Korean War memorials. We both spent minutes unable to speak without voices cracking after we passed a Vietnam Vet standing, unmoving and uncovered at The Wall, tears mixed with the cold rain running down his face. At the Lincoln memorial, we both went first to the Second Inaugural Address, then to the Gettysburg address. Dad showed me that you can walk all the way around the Lincoln Memorial and see the guardian statues on the bridges over the Potomac.

Unfortunately, a day that should have lingered in memory and inspired patriotism, hope and pride through the weeks to follow is completely marred by absolute disgust. The National Mall is as much of a mess as our National Economy. The whole mall looks like a giant footpath – grass barely holding on, mud all over the place, scattered gravel and mismatched pavement. The Reflecting Pool looks like a watering hole – a dirty, shallow pool surrounded by mud. The Constitution Gardens look and smell like a pig wallow. The Tidal Basin’s walls are cracking and falling into the river.

I was so ashamed when I realized that almost every foreign visitor to Washington, DC is going to see our National Monuments in these conditions. Mr. President, Representatives and Senators, get your acts together and get this fixed.

Retreating

Company retreats – everybody’s been on one. I confess to finding them slightly amusing, if only for the chance to watch my coworkers commit career suicide with company-purchased alcohol. This year we’re in Williamsburg, VA at the Anheuser-Busch owned Kingsmill Resort & Spa. The weather was beautiful for the first couple of days – cool breezes, sunshine and barely above 75 degrees.

Kingsmill Resort

This morning, a storm blew in out of the Atlantic. It’s very gray, and quite chilly now… definitely “Earl Grey & a Book” type of day. I’m currently camped out in Moody’s Tavern on the top floor of the main building, watching the storm blow down the James from the Chesapeake.