n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.
“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”
Police officers are trained to de-escalate highly charged encounters with aggressive people, using deadly force as a last resort. Citizens, on the other hand, may act from emotion and perceived threats. But “stand your ground” gives citizens the right to use force in public if they feel threatened. As the law emphatically states, a citizen has “no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground.”
During one debate, one of the law’s proponents suggested that if a citizen felt threatened in a public space, he should not have to retreat and should be able to meet force with force. I pointed out that citizens feel threatened all the time, whether it’s from the approach of an aggressive panhandler or squeegee pest or even just walking down a poorly lighted street at night. In tightly congested urban areas, public encounters can be threatening; a look, a physical bump, a leer, someone you think may be following you. This is part of urban life. You learn to navigate threatening settings without resorting to force. Retreating is always the best option.
An excerpt from a former Miami police chief NYT op-ed calling for the repeal of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Within all of this debate about meeting force with force when threatened. I wonder what would’ve happened to Treyvon if he stood his ground and the reverse had happened. Judging by the call to his friend he did feel threatened as if someone was stalking him. I wonder if the police would’ve released him without charges.
Space exploration is a force of nature unto itself that no other force in society can rival. Not only does that get people interested in sciences and all the related fields, [but] it transforms the culture into one that values science and technology, and that’s the culture that innovates. And in the 21st century, innovations in science and technology are the foundations of tomorrow’s economy.
I could stand in front of eighth-graders and say, ‘Who wants to be an aerospace engineer so you can design an airplane 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the one your parents flew?’ That doesn’t usually work. But if I say, ‘Who wants to be an aerospace engineer to design the airplane that will navigate the rarefied atmosphere of Mars?’ because that’s where we’re going next, I’m getting the best students in the class. I’m looking for life on Mars? I’m getting the best biologist. I want to study the rocks on Mars? I’m getting the best geologists.
What [the president] needs to say is, ‘We need to double NASA’s budget because not only is it the grandest epic adventure a human being can undertake, not only would the people who led this adventure be the ones we end up building statues to and naming high schools after and becoming the next generation’s Mercury 7 as role models, not only will there be spinoff products from these discoveries, but what’s more important than all of those, what’s more practical than all of those, is that he will transform the economy into one that will lead the world once again rather than trail the world as we are inevitably going to be doing over the next decade.’
Ladies and gentleman, bid farewell to the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. They’re both being tabled and sent to legislative limbo. How did that happen when just a few days ago it seemed like debates about the bills only existed online? Join us for a trip through time as we exami…
And I continue to be amazed at the fact that there are people out there who continue to risk destroying their party by believing that they simply would not get caught. Can you imagine if Edwards got the Democratic nod or Weiner took a…
People worrying about the US losing its lead to China should stop the nonsensical talk about declining math SATs, and look to the difference in our investments in high speed rail. The know-nothing GOP have cut our investments to zero, but that’s lunacy:
Just as building the interstate highway system a half-century ago made modern, national commerce more feasible in the United States, China’s ambitious rail rollout is helping integrate the economy of this sprawling, populous nation — though on a much faster construction timetable and at significantly higher travel speeds than anything envisioned by the Eisenhower administration.
Work crews of as many as 100,000 people per line have built about half of the 10,000-mile network in just six years, in many cases ahead of schedule — including the Beijing-to-Shanghai line that was not originally expected to open until next year. The entire system is on course to be completed by 2020.
For the United States and Europe, the implications go beyond marveling at the pace of Communist-style civil engineering. China’s manufacturing might and global export machine are likely to grow more powerful as 200-mile-an-hour trains link cities and provinces that were previously as much as 24 hours by road or rail from the entrepreneurial seacoast.
Zhen Qinan, a founder of the stock exchange in coastal Shenzhen and the recently retired chief executive of ZK Energy, a wind turbine producer in Changsha, said that high-speed trains were making it more convenient to base businesses here in Hunan Province. Populous Hunan has long provided labor to the factories of the east, but its mountains have tended to isolate it from the economic mainstream.
Mr. Zhen ticked off Hunan’s attributes: “Land is much cheaper. Electricity is cheaper. Labor is cheaper.”
Around China, real estate prices and investment have surged in the more than 200 inland cities that have already been connected by high-speed rail in the last three years. Businesses are flocking to these cities, now just a few hours by bullet train from China’s busiest and most international metropolises.
Meanwhile, a shift in passenger traffic to the new high-speed rail routes has freed up congested older rail lines for freight. That has allowed coal mines and shippers to switch to cheaper rail transport from costly trucks for heavy cargos.
Because of this shift, plus the construction of additional freight lines, the tonnage hauled by China’s rail system increased in 2010 by an amount equaling the entire freight carried last year by the combined rail systems of Britain, France, Germany and Poland, according to the World Bank.
The bullet train bonanza, and the competitive challenge it poses for the West, is only likely to increase with the opening of the 820-mile Beijing-to-Shanghai line, which will create a business corridor between China’s two most dynamic cities. The railway ministry plans 90 bullet trains a day in each direction.
The trains will barrel along at initial speeds of 190 miles per hour, with plans to accelerate to 220 miles per hour by the summer of 2012, if the first year of operation goes smoothly.
Even at the initial speeds, they will take less than five hours to cover a distance comparable to New York to Atlanta — which requires nearly 18 hours on Amtrak.
China’s huge investment in high-speed rail may be instructive to the United States, whether for proponents of federal rail investments or critics who consider bullet trains a boondoggle.
President Obama, who has proposed spending $53 billion on high-speed rail over the next six years, faced a setback in his budget deal in April with Congressional Republicans, who eliminated money for that plan this year.
Last fall, newly elected Republican governors in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin turned down federal money their Democratic predecessors had won for new rail routes, worrying that their states could cover most of the costs for trains that would draw few riders.
We need to start building an infrastructure connecting our major cities that scales to what is needed in a post-automobile economy. Imagine a 5 hour train ride between Chicago and New York, or a 1 hour train ride between Boston and New York.
The entrenched mindset of cars and highways is an impediment to real cost savings for business and new opportunities for innovation. There is no possible way to have trucks moving goods or cars driving people at 220 miles per hour, but it is totally possible with trains.
We are also at the perfect time for this investment since the US can borrow money at 2%, which is the lowest it has ever been, and likely to be cheaper than we will see in decades. I won’t even mention the benefits of employing a few hundred thousand unemployed people building the lines and the trains.
And let’s not forget that the US has fallen behind in the maintenance of the current, now obsolete highway infrastructure to the tune of at least $1.6 trillion as of 2008, more like $2 trillion at this point. And most of that is unfunded, so the bridges, on ramps, and streets are falling apart.
“If I’d written the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people—including me—would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.”—