Car Thefts are the Least Part of Scandal in Juvenile Justice

Democrats in Connecticut insist that there is no crime wave in the state and that concerns about crime are Republican contrivances. But it’s nice that the state’s minority party is pressing any issues at all, and Connecticut lately has had some criminal atrocities that really should be learned from, especially some involving juveniles. One of those atrocities unfolded last week in Manchester, when a 14-year-old boy was charged with the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl last June. News reports about the arrest discovered that state law prohibits the boy from being tried in open court and, if he

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Metamorphosis

Don’t look now, but we’re making history.  The changing forces now at work in our society, including our transportation network, will have a profound effect on our lives for decades to come.  THE BIG QUIT: According to federal statistics, 4 million people quit their jobs in July of this year, with almost 11 million jobs nationwide now unfilled.  As a result, our ports are jammed, the supply chain broken and holiday purchases seem in peril.  Don’t expect any bargains for Christmas. Why the huge turnover in jobs?  I think a lot of it has been soul-searching amid the pandemic as

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On Learning Your Life’s Work Amounts to Nothing

No weapon’s more devastating than learning your life’s work amounts to nothing. Psychological experiments on how humans respond, when their reasons for labor are diminished, test the “Sisyphean condition.” Folks work harder when their purpose seems meaningful, a relationship between significance and motivation often ignored. Mythology’s Sisyphus was punished by Zeus for ruthless, inhospitable behavior towards travelers. Generosity and good treatment of foreigners and guests (i.e., Xenia) was a moral obligation in ancient Greece. Sisyphus’ hubris violated that code. For eternity in Hades, he was forced to roll a boulder uphill, only to have it tumble back again before reaching

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Leaves vs Locomotives

It sounds like a question on a kid’s quiz show: “How do you stop a train?” A) Hail it like a cab? B) Pull the emergency brake? C) Put wet leaves on the track? If you chose “C”, you were correct… and you must be a regular commuter on Metro-North. This is the time of year that tries train engineers’ souls and commuters’ patience. On a single day one recent fall, 60 rush-hour trains were delayed by “slippery rails” when wet leaves caused trains to “slip-slide” on their usually solid tracks. You may not realize it, but the flanged wheel

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Covid-19 Mandate Ignores the Science

Biden Administration generals are fighting the last war. Last Thursday, they mandated that large businesses and health care facilities require that their workers get vaccinated for COVID-19. The next day, Pfizer announced an antiviral pill to treat the virus. Pfizer’s pill is 89% effective. A Merck antiviral pill for COVID-19 (with only about 50% effectiveness) is already in use in Britain. COVID-19 treatment pills destroy any vestige of logic or justification for Biden’s vaccine mandates. No matter how someone contracts the virus, these pills prevent serious illness – hospitalization and death. With double lines of defense against the coronavirus –

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Only a party with perverse notions of ‘Patriotism’ and ‘Freedom’ Would Oppose Vaccinations and Mask Mandates

Cognitive bias studies reveal humans are far-removed from Enlightenment ideals of rational beings objectively weighing scientific facts, deduction and high moral tenets against their beliefs. Not that absolute truths and irrefutable evidence don’t exist on which majorities of people can agree and form consensus, even in the U.S. But, this is an unprincipled, irrational time in American history. Cultural-evolution is regressing. Lost probity, distrust in institutions and decades of political rancor, stoked by Republicans and Democrats alike, have spawned extremist subcultures that, to our collective detriment, refuse to be taught or follow advice from qualified experts. Arguments rarely have equally

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Tell the Cities to ‘Think Big’? They Did and Only Got Poorer

What do you do when state government policy doesn’t work? In Connecticut the answer is simple: You do more of it. So disaster may be the most likely outcome of a new state program that aims to reserve $175 million per year in bonding for improvement projects in 34 of Connecticut’s poor and distressed municipalities. A spokesman for Governor Lamont hopes the program achieves “generational” change, and a news report about the program says the distressed municipalities are being encouraged to “think big.” But thinking big is what Connecticut’s three biggest, poorest, and most distressed cities have been doing for

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Good News for Transportation

Last week was a good one for our transportation future, on several fronts. First, of course, was Congress finally passing the massive infrastructure bill.  This once-in-a-generation, trillion-dollar package will bring a massive rebuilding of our crumbling bridges and highways as well as expansion of the nation’s power grid and internet infrastructure.  It will also invest in the ways we must prepare for the impact of global warming. The bill will also mean thousands of construction jobs over the next decade, what the White House called a “blue collar blueprint” for  decades-delayed repair and enhancement of the nation’s infrastructure. For rail

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Juvenile Crime Wave Compels Gov. Lamont to Strike a Pose

Even as his party’s leaders in the state Senate kept insisting that Connecticut has no serious crime problem and that the crime clamor is a Republican contrivance, last week Governor Lamont called a press conference at the state Capitol to acknowledge the issue and pledge to act on it. The governor, a Democrat, said he would appoint more judges to address the purported backlog in Connecticut’s secret and thus grossly unaccountable juvenile courts. If more judges don’t solve the problem, at least they will provide patronage opportunities. The governor also described having just met privately with the mother and grandmother

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Corrupt, Sheepish Adherence to the Status Quo Begets an Aftermath of Wolves

Pursuant to federal duties prescribed in the Constitution, nothing embodies commerce more than transportation, communication and energy access. Yet, America’s electrical grid is near-obsolete, broadband distribution is poor and 1/4 U.S. highway miles and 1/3 of our bridges dangerously need replacement or repair. Linked to proposed infrastructure fixes is a transformative, 2,465-page reconciliation bill, comprising the Build Back Better Act ─ “BBB,” desperately needed to combat climate change and save our middleclass by expanding citizen safety nets. Just as record heat waves, floods, mudslides, high winds and wildfires turn tax-paid edifices into rubble, poverty is corrosive to society. Already weakened

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Saving Money on Metro-North

Are you paying too much to ride Metro-North?  Maybe. As we slowly return to semi-regular commuting by commuter rail in Connecticut, ridership on Metro-North is about half of pre-COVID levels, below the railroad’s hopes and its consultants’ predictions… but not mine. But however often you’re taking the train these days, here are some money saving tips.   First tip:  always buy your ticket before boarding the train.  Conductors can charge you a hefty on-board surcharge up to $6.50 (but not for seniors) if you don’t have a ticket.  That’s a rookie mistake you’ll only make once. If you buy your ticket

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Less Reliance on Imports Will Generate Locally-Sustainable Economies and Jobs

As inoculations against SARS-CoV-2 lag, U.S. death tolls, topping 725,000, continue to climb. By year’s end, if vaccine-recalcitrance continues, more Americans will have died from COVID-19 than combined U.S. war fatalities, excluding WWII. Many infections, resulting from unheeded mandates and advisories, and resistances to fact, were preventable, dwarfed by domestic firearms murders (1.6 million since 1968), surpassing U.S. mortalities from 1918 flu. Final tallies depend on vaccinations. Tuesday, countervailing anti-vax propaganda, Fox News correctly debunked misinformation about the death of Colin Powell. Despite being vaccinated, Powell passed away from preexisting conditions and a “breakthrough infection.” Countering anti-vaxxers, Fox correctly reported

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The National School Boards Association PR Disaster, and Why it Happened

On October 11 and 12, Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed public records requests with the leadership of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asking for emails related to a NSBA letter to President Joseph Biden. The September 29 letter warned the president of the “immediate threat” posed to school boards by parents protesting, among other issues, critical race theory (CRT), hypersexualized literature, and the general icing-out of parents from educational decisions affecting their children.  Purporting to represent the NSBA, President Viola M. Garcia and CEO Chip Slaven requested federal law enforcement intervention. The danger, they wrote, was dire: “As these acts of

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Lunch Pail Issues

Ned Lamont went to Washington last week. He visited the White House, with whose occupant he shares much in common, especially on the “lunch pail” issues of gas prices and jobs. Biden’s policies have already pushed gas prices to record seven-year highs. Lamont’s gas price hikes are only an ambition right now, since the Connecticut General Assembly has not yet approved Lamont’s proposed new gas tax, aka the multi-state Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) – emphasis on “yet.”  All summer and early fall, Connecticut Democrats talked about convening a special session to approve TCI, yet they couldn’t quite convince themselves to

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Train Service Door to Door

Imagine this:  using an app to book a car, a train ride and another car to your destination in one step.  Such a service has just been announced by the innovative Brightline rail service in south Florida. It’s the “last mile” that’s always been a challenge for would-be rail riders.  Assuming you can get to your “home” train station (maybe if you’ve waited 5+ years for a parking permit), when you get off the train in an unknown town, how do you get to your final destination? Visit the smallest town in Europe and on arrival at the train station

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So Why Did No One Outbid Alden for Tribune Papers?

More complaining about Alden Global Capital’s dismemberment of the storied newspapers it recently acquired from the Tribune chain appeared this month in a long and — to journalists, anyway -– infuriating essay in The Atlantic magazine by its reporter McKay Coppins. This dismemberment, Coppins noted, includes the Chicago Tribune’s former headquarters, the landmark Tribune Tower, which has been converted into an apartment building. But at least what remains of the newspaper still has modest offices in an industrial area across town near the newspaper’s press. Another former Tribune property, the Hartford Courant, no longer has even that much. Somehow Alden

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Democracy Won’t Keep Pace When Celebrity Justifies Press Attention

Bedeviled by disinformation, advertising and political deceit within our own species, only ethologists, such as I, preoccupy ourselves with deviations between perception and reality among other animals. How senses evolve to narrow that gap with increasing resolution is amazing. Visual communication on land is seriously constrained by light scattering, creating veils between objects of interest and observers’ eyes, as anyone with cataracts can relate. Because shorter wavelengths (blue) scatter more than lower-energy light (red), diurnal and aquatic animals, living in shallows, adapted accordingly. Filters in front of photoreceptor surfaces selectively reduce transmission of shorter wavelengths like specialized camera lenses. These

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Republican Senators Leave Juvenile Court Unaccountable

Success in politics is often believed to require making a lot of noise purporting to address issues without really doing anything about them, since doing anything might upset people invested in the status quo. Introducing their juvenile crime proposals last week, the state Senate’s Republican minority followed this formula. The juvenile crime issue exploded in Connecticut in June when a man jogging on a sidewalk in New Britain, Henryk Gudelski, was run down and killed by a stolen car apparently driven by a 17-year-old boy who had been arrested 13 times in the last 3½ years. Though some of the

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Cars Versus People

A friend of mine got hit be a car last week, walking crossing a local street.  He’s OK, but could have been killed.  Motor vehicles are linked to over 38,000 deaths each year in the US.  That’s almost 730 deaths a week… 100 a day. If a hundred people die in a plane crash, we go nuts.  (Never mind that COVID deaths average about 1400 per day).  But if they die on our roads we see it as the cost of doing business.  As one blogger put it… “it’s high time to stop sacrificing safety on the altar of speed”. Just listen to I-95 or

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A Citizen’s Action Plan to Keep CRT Out of Schools

Here’s a four-point action plan for citizens who want to resist the efforts of teacher unions and the Biden administration to force Critical Race Theory (CRT) into public schools. The plan recommends four resolutions that citizens can propose that local school boards adopt and school board candidates endorse. With less than three weeks to election day, it enables voters to determine where school board candidates stand on this controversial issue. Resolution number 1: This school board will not accept, nor utilize any material, from The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which argues that slavery is the central theme of U.S.

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Enjoying Vermont By Train

Like many, I love Vermont.  But I’m not crazy about getting there. From my home to Burlington VT is about 300 miles.  By car, that’s at least five hours and about $50 in gas roundtrip.  Flying may seem quicker, but with the airport drive it’s not much faster and will set you back about $250. But there’s another alternative: Amtrak. There are actually three trains a day that will take you to (or close to) Vermont: THE VERMONTER:          Your best choice, this train runs daily from Washington DC to St Albans VT (right next to Burlington), coming through Stamford at

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‘Two Connecticuts Lament’ Misdiagnoses the Problem

For decades the state’s intelligentsia has lamented that there are “two Connecticuts,” a prosperous one in the suburbs and a poor one in the cities being oppressed — by disparities in property tax rates; by state government’s not spending enough on education and welfare programs, though such spending long has been increasing; and, now, by “systemic racism.” Hearing this an outsider might assume that Connecticut is a stronghold of reactionary Republican politics — that it twice chose Donald Trump for president, that it has been electing Republicans to Congress and the General Assembly since anyone can remember, and that government

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Expect Germany to Surge Ahead in Sustainable Energy

Pivotal to Olaf Sholtz’ recent election as German chancellor was climate change, enabling progressives to win large swaths of parliamentary seats from competing conservatives. With Angela Merkel departing, Germany, like the Netherlands and other EU countries, has a diverse range of political parties and perspectives from which to form coalitions, headlined by Social Democrats and Greens. Expect Germany to surge ahead in sustainable energy, zero-emission travel, and other investments in the future, perhaps even hydrogen aircraft. Electric vehicle (EV) shares of the auto market are already soaring in the EU. In Germany, it could reach 90% by 2040. In the

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Five Worst Ideas for Solving Traffic

Have you noticed how terrible our traffic is lately?Not just in comparison to the empty roads and blue skies during the pandemic lockdown, but even compared to pre-COVID times. The rush hour on I-95 starts earlier and runs later, pretty much all day long.  The increased volume is due in large part to the return to the office but by car, not mass transit (where ridership is still only 50% of the good old days). If there were easy answers to this congestion, they’d have been implemented by now.  Look… this is really a matter of supply and demand: too much

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A Medley on Matters of Ongoing Concern

China behaves abroad, but not at home. Last week in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, committed to stop building noxious coal-fired power plants abroad. However, Xi said nothing about halting the ongoing construction of coal plants at home in China, which emits one-third of global greenhouse gases and whose emissions continue to increase. In contrast, U.S. emissions are less than half of China’s and have been decreasing for over a decade, on the strength of replacement of coal plants with plants fired by natural gas extracted by fracking, an inconvenient truth for U.S. environmentalists.

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Connecticut’s Hidden Tax on Electric Bills May Be 20%

Strange that most of the clamor about electric rates in Connecticut is directed at the state’s electric utilities and so little at state government. For the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and the state’s leading electric company, Eversource, agree that 15-20% of the typical Connecticut electricity customer’s monthly bill doesn’t pay for electric generation and transmission at all but for charges imposed by state law and policy. (Connecticut’s other major electric company, United Illuminating, did not reply to a request for its own estimate.) While the charges imposed by state law and policy are collected by the electric utilities, they are

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Pedestrians Rule

Some big changes are coming for pedestrians and motorists alike starting this week:  a new set of Connecticut laws giving far more power (and, hopefully, safety) to those traveling on foot vs vehicles.  Long before we had cars (or even horses) and trains, folks took to the roads on foot to get where they were going.  But with motorized transport came the inevitable conflicts. Why the new laws now?  Because something like 1500 pedestrians and 500+ bike riders get hit by cars each year in this state.  Many towns don’t even have sidewalks and those that do still seem to

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Viruses Don’t Buckle to Obstinacy, Just Soundly Applied Science and Good Sense

Government investment is one of two main functions of authority. For 5,400 years, to keep peace internally, governments have kept populations cohesive by monopolizing force, resolving squabbles and forbidding violence by citizens to settle disputes. Historically, successful confederations, city-states and nations have learned to redistribute individual wealth, not to enrich a privileged few and upper-crusted strata, but to promote the common good by investing in the future, that is, well-considered, proactive aims and goals. Deriding government investment as “communist” or “socialist” is not only fallacious, but ideologically moot and irrelevant to problem-solving. American life would be intolerable without Medicare, social

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Immigration — America Can Do Better by Embracing Freedom of Choice

The mess at the Southern Border has been ongoing for numerous administrations and is spiraling out of control. Shifting patterns of immigration have brought 300,000 from countries not normally associated with immigration to the southern border since mid 2019. We need a fair and enforceable immigration law that allows access to the U.S., protects migrants for exploitation and humanitarian crisis, and also protects the public from unsustainable social and financial burdens. Recently, I have had the opportunity to speak with a number of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe, as well as Central and South America. I am thrilled that

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Trouble With Schools, Kids Hints at Connecticut’s Future

Frogs have gotten a bad reputation from the story about their supposed failure to jump out of a pot of water if its temperature is slowly raised to boiling, eventually killing them. For the story was meant as a metaphor to mock the tendency of people to accept gradually worsening conditions until it is too late. This month Connecticut has been making those metaphorical frogs look superior. First New Haven’s schools began requiring students at sporting events to be accompanied by their parents because brawls broke out at a high school football game. Then Waterbury’s Board of Education was told

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