Sunday, November 12, 2006

NOVEMBER 12, 2006 NEW YORK TIMES

There are three articles in today's New York Times that I want to discuss, not counting the Ethicist. I am not counting the Ethicist because it is clear that the world is out of ethics questions. It is the ethical equivalent to Fukuyama's end of history. I say this because someone actually wrote in to ask if it was ethical to get a public document to find out information someone was not forthcoming about. Well, there's an ethical dilemma! I can't even rip the Ethicist for that.

Anyway, the first article is about the town of Hamilton, Washington. Hamilton is on the Skagit River north of Seattle. The Skagit River periodically floods the town. It flood regularly enough that residents have their basic flood plan, which apparently starts with loading valuables into RVs and driving up a hill after putting nice furniture on the second floor (where applicable). Apparently lots of people live in "manufactured housing" so there is no upstairs. Anyway, apparently there is a movement afoot to move the town a quarter mile away, which is up a hill. That would mean the end of flooding. However, because the locals are assisted by FEMA after each flood, there are a number of residents unwilling to move the town. Understand, this isn't New Orleans, with a catastrophic flood every century or so. This is like every couple of years. Not good. FEMA ought to pay to move the town and save money, frustration, possessions, and maybe lives.

Second, there was an article about the tremendous spike in the number of bags lost by the airlines. This is due, in part, to the fact that people who insist on carrying liquids and gels (stupid tooth paste!) are required to check them. This means more bags. The average bags lost per 1,000 passengers has doubled, so it is not only a matter of more bags. It is also a greater efficiency at losing bags. This represents a real step forward for an industry that almost had people actually expecting to have their bags travel with them. Cramped, late, and bagless-God bless flying.

The Realty section had an article about the parking space/no parking space debate for condominium developments. I know that in New York it is common that condos not have deeded parking. However, in the Chi and many other cities there is a requirement-generally stated as a ratio of units, bedrooms, or other factors to provided parking spots. In other words, for each unit you must provide 1.2 parking spots, etc. The article points out a very interesting theory. Maybe one way to alleviate traffic congestion is to not require any spots. In fact, apparently San Francisco bars you from providing too much parking. This could, theoretically, allow more people to purchase housing, since the price is not artificially inflated by including parking. It also pushes the cost of car ownership on to car owners. In theory, it makes housing prices cheaper and parking costs higher. It is an interesting idea, although it requires a good public transit system. Still, intriguing.

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