Doin’ Work

Admittedly, I don’t often take or use Uber or cabs to commute around. I generally use my feet, bike or utilize public transit. So my experience is likely limited but I ran into an egregiously different experience between that of using Uber and that of a traditional DC cab over the weekend. My experience, while anecdotal, gives strong evidence that the cab companies of yesterday probably wont be around much longer and really, after this experience, it couldn’t come quicker.

See this post on ArlNow for the backstory.

TL’DR – Basically, Arlington County Gov installed a “no pedestrian crossing” sign where there have been numerous close calls between pedestrians and cars, specifically between the Whole Foods and Starbucks.

This is ultimately a failure of urban design. The sign is just evidence that the planners failed to see how these spaces would be used. It’s a lazy quick fix to a much bigger problem of prioritizing cars over people in urban environments.

The surface parking lot in front of Whole Foods is the most likely culprit in causing this problem, although there are a number of designs in that area that contribute to the jay walking issue. People want to take the shortest distance regardless of what sign you put up or the path you pave or the law they break, they are lazy and stressed. Their decisions are going to reflect this. You can mitigate some of this through rules enforcement but that comes at the expense of resources that could be used on more important problems. So the best solution is to build environments so people dont have to make these decisions.

The surface parking lot forced the entrance to be pushed back off the street front, there by creating a more suburban design and forcing people to walk through some portion of the parking lot and creating a rather round about walking path to get to the entrance. Pedestrians are left with two decisions to cross, risk a short walk across Clarendon directly to the entrance or guarantee a slower walk waiting for a light to cross, to then have to deal with cars turning into the surface lot, to then finally making it to the entrance. Remember, people are lazy. Had the entrance to the Whole Foods been placed on the street front or better yet at the corner of Edgewood, pedestrians would be much less likely to attempt crossing because their perceived choices would make more sense. Instead of short risky cross vs. long circuitous, eliminate the choice through better design and the problem would likely fix itself.


Jeans are or seem to be an essential part to many folks daily wear. If only I could get my hands on jeans that have already been destroyed by a lion. And check.

Via PBS News Hours, Recent UC Berkley study shows somewhat questionable behavior associated with a persons perception of their wealth.

The quality and production since the Sun Times switch is not terribly shocking, For some back story, Chicago Sun-Times will train reporters on ‘iPhone photography basics’.

Short rant. Jobs report was announced today. Economy added jobs. Media says we didn’t meet expectations. Every writer and journalist added their own spin on the missed expectations (See short list of news stories below) and therefore causing a slight turmoil within the market. Sounds about the status-qua now. The thing about jobs reports, there isn’t very much to look into on any one specific job report as it takes time for economies to show change. They need to be reviewed across a large frame of time. The jobs report is actually one of the places were the numbers from the past are revised to be more accurate. If you read this months report, you’ll see that the last two jobs reports have been amended, both with lower jobless rate claims. Media says nothing of this.

Our media in their relentless pursuit of the truth will likely never be satisfied with the results. In fact, I don’t ever remember having the media and the economists meeting with any sort of mutual understanding of one another. Will we ever meet their expectations? I realize investors use the jobs data to further predict the market behavior but the media has no business speculating. Are they reporting on investor attitude or are they reporting the jobs information? I’m skeptical the media even bothers to make predictions or have expectations. What would they expect? Make more money? They seem to just react the same way regardless of the report being given. They call fire. If you were to skim headlines and take the media at their word, you would miss the inclusion of the previous jobs reports amendments, noted above. For future jobs reports, please, just take whatever news you hear and notch it down a couple degrees. It will serve you much better and will probably be as accurate as the news reports or just read the report yourself.

A new baseball season has arrived, predictions have been made, players traded, cleats cleaned and the only team I’ve rooted for has changed leagues. The Houston Astros, officially made their American League debut this last Sunday. They won, 8 – 2, beating the Texas Rangers, their long standing bitter rivals…, no, no I don’t remember that. Anyway, the Astro’s season as a whole will likely resemble a cat cooking pancakes. On the upside, their new ownership has made great strides in rebuilding, trading for and drafting youth. It should result in a very competitive team in the long run. I can agree with this approach. It has succeeded for many teams. It is, however, concerning for the MLB to require the Astros change leagues. It takes baseball in a direction that fundamentally changes the game.

First, moving the Astro’s from the NL to the AL doesn’t make sense unless you buy into the Ranger’s vs Astro’s rivalry , you’re Bud Selig and insist geography was the main contributing factor, or your Bud Selig and this is the only ‘logical relocation’. More on Selig and his nonsense. I can understand if the players want the leagues even to make playoff chances distributed evenly. That make sense. But there is no ‘logical’ explanation to have moved the Astros instead of the Brewers. Lance Berkman,

“I think it’s a travesty,” [Berkman said.] “It’s a National League franchise. I think if they were going to do something like that, Milwaukee’s the choice to go back to the American League; they’re historically an American League franchise. “
via Houston Chronicle

Second, interleague play was introduced in 1997 as a new way for the two leagues to play one another prior to the World Series. Fans loved it and it was a great success for the MLB. It has slowly expanded to more and more games each year from this success. Now, Bud Selig insists the leagues should have an even number of teams. Historically, the leagues have had an uneven number of teams, mandating some teams play and some teams rest. Moving the Astro’s into the AL, puts 15 teams in each league thus an equal number of match-ups, 15 vs 15. Selig wants to make sure that no team goes unmatched during any given day. It should be noted the AL and the NL normally do not play one another during the regular season because they have different rules. The AL uses the designated hitter and the NL does not. Eventually, if the teams are playing enough, won’t the subtle difference be eroded away if the two leagues use the same rules? We’ll lose one of the styles of baseball. I don’t think that’s beneficial to the fans or baseball in the long run.

The two leagues are uniquely different. By moving the leagues to be more similar, Selig reduces part of what makes baseball, baseball. The oddities of the game. The autonomy of each team. None of the other sports have these traits. A great example of this are the different baseball stadiums around the country. Each team is allowed to construct and design their field as they see fit with a handful of guidelines. This creates very unique fields and quirks that add to the whole picture of baseball. Would Selig think it’s beneficial to force all future baseball stadiums and domes to have the exact same foul lines and fence lines? Do you think fans would be upset if the “Green Monster” in Boston had to be taken down or “The Ivy Wall” in Chicago or the weird hump that currently sits in center field of the Astros stadium? I bet the fans would be upset and I bet Selig would pay attention to the fan-bases. The fan bases cherish the lore of baseball.The lore and these little differences make the game. They give it it’s character.

Obviously, moving a single team to another league isn’t going to change baseball overnight but it will reduce some of what originally made it so beloved. The emphasis on the individual as part of a team. The unique differences between the teams, the fields and the rules they play under. Moving the Astro’s to the NL is a small step in finally doing away with what I refer to as ‘real baseball’. The DH is lazy. It’s financially driven and it changes the game. I’m ok with the American league playing this way. I think it’s a great counter to the National League style which is much closer to the baseball we play as kids. Everyone hits. Not literally, but the nine in the field are the nine to bat. They are individuals playing as a team. In contrast, the DH is a hired gun who shows up and leaves as his presence is requested. He doesn’t play in the field, he just bats. AL baseball is a more free market style of game and I think it is fascinating to watch when an NL team plays in AL team. The rules they have to adjust to and who they decide to be their DH and vice versa.

I tend to think moving the Astro’s is an entirely financial based decision, maybe it’s not? Maybe the DH hits more home runs and draws more fans, maybe he doesn’t. Is that risk worth it to homogenize the two leagues? Is the money worth it to alienate a league that is already fighting public disasters from the performance enhancing drugs debacle. It trivializes the whole game to assume that moving teams around will generate more fans or create more dynamic match ups. It fails to recognize how the game is played and what it means to be a fan of baseball.

Image via Deadspin