Cynical Synapse

Mon, 28 Jul 2008

Road Construction Cones Set by State Budgets?

Filed under: Behavior, Driving, Michigan, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 10:12 pm

It’s not unique to Michigan, but those of us who live in the mitten state think of 2 seasons—winter and road construction. Michigan residents know global warming is fact because the winters are shorter. Road construction starts earlier every year and extends well into the fall season.

How many road construction zones have you seen, with countless cones, but no actual working going on? I’ve come to the conclusion that state budgets are set, not on tax revenues or expenditures but, on the number of construction zone cones required to disrupt efficient traffic movement.

In spring of this year (2008), MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) closed I-75, the major north-south freeway in Detroit, for the so-called “Gateway Project.” This plan builds new interchanges between I-75, I-96, and the Ambassador Bridge, which connects the US with Windsor, Ontario.

In June, MDOT closed 2 of 4 lanes on I-696, both west and east bound, to repair joints and other flaws. The project was completed before July, but now half the eastbound lanes are closed again in the same area. Why? I can only presume it must be there are a certain number of cones required by the state budget…

Do the transportation engineers, managers, and elected officials not realize John Q. Public can see the miles of closed lanes (using those contracted barrels) with no real work going on? And why does a major metropolitan area, like Detroit, end up with lane or full freeway closures that virtually make getting around impossible?

So, I-75 is closed for the Gateway Project in southwest Detroit. And, despite June’s construction along I-696, the northern tier artery suffered 2 of 4 lanes closed for construction. There are also several bridgework projects on I-75 bridges in the metro area. I-94 is closed at I-96. So, the major north-south route is closed, the alternate includes a 50% reduction in capacity, and the east-west route has to funnel into the north-south route.

Kinda gives new meaning to the concept of “you can’t get there from here,” doesn’t it?

Wed, 09 Jul 2008

Not passing the common sense test

Filed under: Behavior, Economy, Justice, Michigan, People — cynicalsynapse @ 12:37 pm

Saturday night, two men attempted an armed robbery of a Salvation Army Thrift Store. I know economic times are hard and Michigan has got it the worst in the nation, but a Salvation Army store? How much money do you think they have in the till from selling used clothes and stuff that day?

Maybe the thieves thought quite a lot, since the store is located in a city with a median income of $51,376 per household. But that seems to me like false logic. How many of those households do you think are buying their kids’ clothes at the Thrift Store?

We won’t know how much money was involved since the thieves were unsuccessful. For obvious reasons, Salvation Army won’t say how much the crooks tried to steal. Tragically for the man’s family, one of the robbers was killed when police responded. The other bad guy was caught after running and failing a carjack attempt.

You have guns, it’s a charity resale store, and employees call the police, who arrive while you’re still there? Maybe armed robbery isn’t your best career choice.

Something’s wrong with this

Filed under: Patriotism, Politics, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 11:20 am

Last week I saw a commercial on TV for a collector’s 9/11 silver $20 commemorative from National Collectors Mint. Now, you see those ads all the time, so I tend not to pay them much attention. Cleverly, this one breaks the $20 value into two denominations–9 and 11. Nice touch.

Here’s the rub. Those private strikings often say they’re legal tender, but I was skeptical because this one’s rectangular in shape. So, it caught my ear when they said it was legal tender. When they added “in Liberia,” I got irked. Granted, my first thought was it’s wrong for an Arab or Islamic state to be a part of tugging at Americans’ hearts. Lest there be any concern, I don’t have any issues with Arabic people or the religion of Islam. Fundamentalists, however, scare me and the attackers on that fateful day were radical Arabic extremist Islamists.

I often think of Liberia and Libya as being similar. Libya is 97% Arabic and they almost all practice Islam. Libya used to be involved in a lot of terrorism until a couple of near misses caused Gaddafi to get religion. So you can understand my initial reaction. But a trip to Wikipedia reminded me the two countries are nowhere near each other. It also taught me Liberia is not Arabic and Islam is practiced by only about 10% of the population. So, my initial reaction was misplaced.

Still, why should Liberia be making money off of an American tragedy?

Tue, 08 Jul 2008

Affordable Bankruptcy?

Filed under: Behavior, Economy — cynicalsynapse @ 9:57 pm

Have you ever noticed those signs by the side of the road? You know, the ones that have the answers to life’s most serious problems, like dating or health insurance?

Wish I had a picture of it, but last week I saw one of those signs that said “Affordable Bankruptcy” and then a phone number. Immediately, I thought of the comedian Gallagher and his oft-stated comment, “You people aren’t thinking of this.” Bear in mind, now, that Gallagher postulated the question, “Why would the bank charge you more of what they already know you don’t have any of?” in regard to non-sufficient funds checking account fees.

So, if I’m bankrupt, how can that be affordable? If I had money, I wouldn’t be bankrupt, but if I’m bankrupt, obviously I don’t have money. Seems like mutually exclusive terms to me. And, it reminds me of the comedian, Gallagher. “You people ain’t thinking of this.”

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