Saturday, June 19, 2010

Trains and Maps

Trains are one of U's obsessions. In fact, transportation in general is an obsession of his. I like trains just fine, but I really like maps. When trains and maps come together, it is game on in our house. We already have this book that we sometimes flip through.n We are always on the lookout for more information.

There are a few basic models for classic transit maps. Some of the biggest transit systems also exercise considerable design influence on other systems. One basic model is New York's transit map. However, New York is redesigning its map. Here you can see the New York map over time. As can be seen, New York is maintaining the general style of its map. While the lines are not perfectly coordinated with the city above, effort is clearly made to integrate the subway with the street grid. The redesign simply updates some information, and zooms the densest area while de-emphasizing some less congested (though larger) areas.

In contrast, London's transit map is made without any reference to the street grid above. Instead, it is straight lines, and 45 degree angles. London is probably the gold standard for transit maps. In many ways Berlin (and 0ther major German cities) are modeled on London.

Montreal is one of a few cities that has a map that is base black and printed thereon. For the most part, it seems to be something Gallic, as the others with this color scheme are usually Francophones.

Interestingly, the current Chicago map is largely representational (like London), but includes angles that are not 45 degree angles. However, the CTA also issues a map that is much more closely tied to the street grid. To this extent it is more like New York. The general system displayed on the trains and in the stations is the representational version, but the street grid version is the star of the map handout available for home study.

Anyway, there it is.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Walking the Tightrope

I saw an article about a man who was a professor at my law school when I was a student there. I did not take any of his classes, since he had a reputation, deserved or not, of being a grade point killer and relatively unpleasant as a professor. I say again, that was all reputation, which may or may not have been deserved. Although, I think it probably was.

Anyway, if you read the article, it seems as if the professor and his family are a little litigious. In a case that was mostly dismissed on summary judgment there were 100,000 pages of discovery (!!!) and 100 hours of depositions (!!!). That is an enormous amount of lawyering to have all claims except pendant state tort claims dismissed on summary judgment. I have been involved in (literally) million dollar cases with 1/100th the amount of discovery and half the depositions (for both parties combined).

And the "tight rope" I referred to above? Please don't sue me for posting this, Mr. Professor.

Does Helen Thomas Know About This?

I won't rehash the Helen Thomas debacle. Her theory that Jews should leave Palastine and "return"to their "real" countries (e.g. Germany, Poland, and the United States) is . . . interesting. Interesting that she expressed it to a rabbi with a video camera. I guess it is safe to say that she is either off her meds, or didn't recognize why people would find that offensive.

Except. Except that the Christian Science Monitor has an article about just such a spot for Jews to "return" to. Apparently, in order to counter the Zionist project in Palastine (as it was then), Stalin created the Jewish Autonomous Zone on the Chinese border. It was growing in the 1930s, until Stalin turned on the Jews and ground the whole thing to a halt. Apparently there were never more than 18,000 or so Jews in the region, and now there are between 2,000 and 6,000.

So, why are we even talking about this? Well, first, the locals say that while 80 Jewish families left the region last year, 120 arrived. Some of this is reverse migration from Israel. Russian Jews who did not feel at home in Israel have come back to the Jewishest Russia they could find. Second, the Zone is a haven for Yiddish culture and heritage. Israel and the Zionists who founded it were, to some extent, anti-Yiddish. However, Yiddish has its partisans, and they may see this area as the only place where Yiddish isn't under extreme pressure from the local language (as in the U.S.) or official disapproval (as in Israel). Two very interesting reasons to think that the Zone might have an interesting future.

By the way, the official web page is here. Dig that crazy font! Looks very ethnic.