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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for March 16th, 2020

Ending the Gerrymander

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By Elkanah Tisdale (1771-1835) (often falsely attributed to Gilbert Stuart)[1] – Originally published in the Boston Centinel, 1812., Public Domain,

I am a regular reader of “This is True”, an email newsletter. Its author, Randy Cassingham also has a podcast. If you read my recent post, you will know that I am not a fan of podcasts, but Cassingham does things differently. He publishes his podcast with a transcript, so you can read it if you prefer and in this case provides lots of links to the original material.

The United States is bedevilled by broken voting systems. One of the oldest is the practice of allowing party politicians to redistrict elections to give their party an unfair advantage. It has long bothered me – and many other people – that since both parties have been doing this for a long time, getting the system reformed seemed highly unlikely. But Colorado has managed that. And you can read about that, or listen to the podcast at and follow the links there to the original material.

Well done Randy. Well done Colorado. Other states please copy.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 16, 2020 at 6:10 pm

Don’t Bail Out Cruise Ship Companies

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Eurodam at Vancouver BC
my photo

Capt. Don Marcus, President

International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots 

(representing U.S. sea captains, deck officers and other mariners)

Opposing a Federal Bailout to Cruise Ship Industry

“We should not give one dime in stimulus money to 

‘flag-of-convenience’ party boats…”

President Trump has floated the idea of providing financial assistance to the cruise ship industry, hard hit by the spread of COVID-19. We should not give one dime in stimulus money to ‘flag-of-convenience’ party boats; they should be the last on the list for a federal bailout.

The major cruise lines have owners who live in the United States, but they register their vessels in foreign countries and sail under foreign flags. They utilize flags-of-convenience laws to avoid hiring American crews and adhering to American labor laws and standards, as well as environmental codes. These “operators” depend on the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard for protection while avoiding paying taxes to the U.S. Treasury.

Over the weekend, Vice President Pence described the cruise lines as “great companies.”  They’re not. American taxpayers should not be sending their hard earned dollars to an industry that freeloads off of our government and is notorious for exploiting low-cost foreign crews.

If Congress and the White House want to protect American interests, foster an economic recovery, and help the maritime community, monies would be better spent assisting ferry systems such as the Alaska Marine Highway System now taking a double blow from the economic downturn and the decline in oil revenue. Assistance also should be offered to commuter ferries such as the Washington State Ferries and Staten Island Ferry that have suffered a loss of commuter traffic. The domestic ferry systems employ American workers, and they are an essential part of our transportation infrastructure.

The virus crisis and our dependence on foreign trade also highlights our nation’s overreliance on foreign cargo fleets, especially those of China, Hong Kong and South Korea. Congress should increase incentives for cargo vessels that fly the American flag for reasons of both national security and the free flow of commerce.

For more information on the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, please visit

Written by Stephen Rees

March 16, 2020 at 11:59 am

Posted in Transportation


with 3 comments

This is very much a personal issue for me. I have had insomnia for a long time and I have tried all sorts of things – but not medications. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is now being shown to be effective. There is a podcast from the Guardian today.

I have to say that I hate podcasts. I think they work better for other people, but I much prefer to read rather than listen, and this podcast demonstrates very effectively what I find annoying. Firstly there are all sorts of musical interruptions. Secondly it is not one person reading, it is two people having a conversation. And talking about a lot of stuff I already know. Including how, when you go to your doctor, you only have ten minutes per appointment, so you do not want to hear from her what you already know. Just like this ****ing podcast! If I was able to scan down a page of text I could find the information I want. Yes it is in the podcast but towards the end (of course).

Worse than that, the woman on the podcast actually says, “There is a Long Read. Go to the website.” So I do that, and I cannot find a Long Read section of the Guardian – or even a link to the one she is presumably referencing – but I do find all sorts of other stuff not one of which is a Long Read. There are however things called “Long Read Podcasts” – which to me is an oxymoron.

So what I have found so far is this older piece from the Doctor that they talk about Colin Espie which contains a link to a website FOR PEOPLE IN ENGLAND ( so I am not actually linking to it so you don’t waste your time.

The short answer to what you need to do is set the time you need to get up and stick to that every day. So if you need to get up at 7am on work days, do that every day without variation. Don’t lie in. Don’t nap. Do not lie awake for hours trying to go to sleep: that doesn’t work. Get up and go read. There is some evidence (not mentioned in the podcast) that using screens (computers, tablets, phones, Kindles) that the light will keep you awake, so choose a good dead tree book. The idea is that will stop the squirrel treadmill your mind has been running on. Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep. If your get up time is going to be 7am and you want 8 hours of sleep go to bed at 11pm every night too. And when you go to bed, get up if you haven’t fallen asleep within 15 minutes.

I am going to try this, and I will report back in due course on how it works out for me – but I am not expecting instant results.

I have also learned that and Long Reads on the Guardian are two different things.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 16, 2020 at 11:44 am

Posted in personal thoughts

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