The Amtrak Philly commuting branch! Oh baby…

This idea would take Amtrak right through my town allowing me to travel directly to NYC without a transfer at 30th. I salivate at the prospect. My commuting options by train open up exponentially.

The good news is that there is a place where such a connection could be built. It’s near Woodbourne station on the West Trenton line. South of this station, the West Trenton line tracks pass under the former Pennsylvania Railroad Trenton Cutoff, which connects with the main Northeast Corridor line at Morrisville, just across the Delaware from Trenton. A two-track flyover there from south of the crossover to east of it would allow for the through Commuter Tunnel service Previdi would like to see. Build that, and restore the catenary from the junction to Morrisville, and we’re in business.

via The One Big Problem With Bringing Amtrak to City Hall | News | Philadelphia Magazine.

Cops and their toys

Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (“‘This my property!’ he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.”) Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone“?

via Police militarization in Ferguson, Missouri – Overlawyered.

Well, I guess the terrorists have won. Because of our completely irrational response to the 9/11 tragedy, we spent like drunken sailors to turn our local police forces into storm troopers. Why are suburban cops wearing camouflage? Why do they have armed personnel vehicles? What’s next? Abrams tanks?

Getting out of my face

bye bye facebook
I am now largely Facebook-free. I keep a discrete account there which I use primarily to maintain access to the RoadsideOnline page, but otherwise, I’ve left the building. I choose now to focus more of my social media consumption here on Google Plus, where I mostly use it for the feeds that reflect my personal and professional interests. I’ve found that most of what I subscribed to on Facebook also has a presence here.

Essentially, I grew tired of Facebook’s intrusion into my online experience and manipulation of my timeline. When I “like” something, I expect that I will receive any and all posts from that source, not the one’s that Facebook thinks I’ll find interesting.

I’ve largely left behind about 250 “friends”, of which, I most hear from only about a couple dozen on any given week. Most of the time (and I say this with peace and love), I find it either uninteresting at best or downright infuriating at worst. I had taken to “unfollowing” a large percentage of these friends.

Oddly enough, most of the chatter seems to gravitate towards politics, and sadly, I’ve lost a few of these friends over political disagreements. My attitude towards all this is simple: I really don’t care if you disagree with me. I care more about your attitude and your intellectual curiosity. I’ve learned that people’s stances on things tend to come from their own experiences, and it is incumbent upon me to at least learn that story before I cast judgement. Off-the-cuff and combative remarks like “fuck him in the ear” bespeaks of a lazy mind first of all, and a dangerous intolerance. I’m done with that, especially from people I call my friends.

This isn’t the first time I jumped off the Facebook train, and I won’t say that I won’t go back. This move does force me to focus better on my tasks at hand. I found that whenever I hit a lull in my workflow, I would automatically check on my Facebook timeline. That, of course, could waste anywhere from five to fifteen minutes each time. Lord knows how much that totals, but my sense tells me that it was killing my productivity.

Google Plus has some downsides as well. My actual friends and family don’t use it all that much, so I can’t interact as often. Again, I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad thing, but it does make me feel somewhat out of touch. Also, I have many iOS apps that all-but-require a Facebook account to work, which is another reason why I do maintain an account. At least I don’t feel like Google Plus wants to take over my life

Overall, however, Google Plus gives me a better balance of information — at least for now. It also has a MUCH better interface.

I have by now means left “The Grid”. I still have Beeblehead.com and my email addresses, not to mention my AIM and Skype handles. I just can’t endure the noise generated by Facebook which has, in effect, turned everyone into a publisher, editor, and broadcaster all in one.

“Potential ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ in Iraq”

I have an idea. How about we send George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condy Rice over to Iraq as “Special U.S. Envoys” to guide the U.S. effort — and then promptly forget about them as Baghdad inevitably falls to an insurgency that makes the Khmer Rouge look like Up With People.

Earnest said the United States would cooperate with the Iraqi military and Kurdish authorities in the volatile region, but he declined to respond to questions about whether the U.S. would consider other types of military action to protect refugees fleeing advancing Sunni militants.

via U.S. weighing response to potential 'humanitarian catastrophe' in Iraq – LA Times.

White flags on bridge as threatening as Boston bombers?

Cops sure like to show force and justify all the toys that 9/11 bought them.

The police response is better understood in terms of spectacle. The flag swap itself was a spectacular act. The perpetrators left no trace of an explanation. Bleached-out star-spangled banners might evoke ideas of pacifism and anti-US imperialism, but no communiques have confirmed nor even hinted at an intended message. What is certain, however, is that with this very visual act, the tricksters showed a crack in the fortress of New York infrastructure. Regardless of the harmlessness of the act, the NYPD can’t let the bold illustration of their own vulnerability go unpunished. Bullies are never more vicious than when embarrassed.

via NYPD's Aggressive Hunt for the Brooklyn Bridge Pranksters Is About Embarrassment, Not Counterterrorism | VICE News.

The Internet: Scrap it and start over

Enough is enough. Scrap it and start over. We need a newer, safer, more secure internet.

I highly recommend reading over Hold Security’s announcement, as it goes into a lot more detail about the numbers and paints a more realistic picture of this disaster. For instance, 4.5 billion records sounds like a lot, but there’s a LOT of duplication in it. They’re saying it looks like it’s closer to half a billion individuals affected, and even then, many of those records may be hopelessly out of date – stolen passwords that are years or decades old, or temporary, or defunct.

via 4.5 Billion Records Stolen in Massive Cyber Theft.

And while we’re at it, don’t let the Russians and Chinese in.

Face off

I elected to close (or suspend) my Facebook account again. I may go into greater detail at a later date, but suffice to say this is merely an attempt to turn down the noise in my life. I have another rant building within, but I’ll forgo for now.

You can still reach me here or at my Google-Plus page.

The T-Mobile Test Drive

My T-Mobile #TestDrive took us into the Poconos last weekend, and I’m sorry to report that the carrier has a great deal of work to do north of Bethlehem, even along the major highways. Streaming music became impossible along I-78 and up I-33 into Stroudsburg while my AT&T service remained pretty robust.

Also, keep in mind that if you do this, you’ll spend the first of your seven days just setting up the phone. T-Mobile sends you text message with links to guide you along, but for me, these didn’t come along until three or four days into the test.

I do like the iPhone 5s, but it really isn’t significantly faster than my iPhone 5. The camera has some nifty features, and I think the image quality is better, but you can decide for yourself.

iPhone 5:

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iPhone5s

20140804-075455-28495626.jpg

Speeding up the game — finally!

This is long overdue. Too bad it only affects Atlantic League games, but it’s a start.

These are the five measures the Atlantic League is implementing to speed up the game:

• Teams will be limited to three defensive timeouts a game for visits to the mound or conferences on the field. The timeouts are to last 45 seconds, and a ball will be called against a team that delays the resumption of play.

• The number of warm-up pitches at the start of an inning, or when a reliever enters the game, will be reduced to six from eight, and will last no longer than 60 seconds. Limiting time between half-innings to 90 seconds could trim 10 minutes off an average game.

• A manager will signal to an umpire if he wants a batter intentionally walked, and the umpire will award the batter first base without four pitches being thrown.

• Umpires will restrict batters stepping out of the box between pitches and give pitchers 12 seconds between deliveries, if the bases are empty.

• Umpires are being reminded this week that they should adhere to the entire strike zone, which is defined as "that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The strike zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."

via To Keep Fans, Atlantic League Will Speed Things Up – WSJ.