Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A tale of woe but not a whisper about its cause

The figures below about ever-growing traffic congestion in the Boston area are quite distressing.  One wonders where it will end up.  Sadly, such jams are not unique to Boston.  There are similar tales in many parts of urban USA. And the waste of people's time is huge. Instead of sitting for hours in traffic, people could be doing productive or at least congenial things.

So the story below is eloquent in setting out the problem but where is any attempt to find its cause? As the article is from a Leftist paper, the major cause of the problem is just too incorrect to discuss:  If you keep taking in millions of immigrants, most of them are going to end on the road in cars.  That's how America works. 

So what are millions of extra cars going to do with a relatively fixed amounts of road-space?  There will be no room for them and traffic will jam up.  Governments will endeavour to build extra road space where they can but where so much land is already built on, that is going to be a slow and limited process.

How long will commutes have to be before Americans put the blame for delays where it belongs -- on immigration.  With some commutes already taking two hours each way, something has got to give soon

Barbara Mayer, a nurse from the South Shore, has been making the same drive to and from the Longwood Medical Area for five years. Today, the trip takes her a good 15 or 20 minutes longer than it used to, an hour and a half compared with 70 minutes, and that’s if there’s no Cape traffic.

“I used to have time to water the flowers when I got home,” she said.

It’s the same story on the North Shore, where the drive into Boston to meet clients sometimes takes etiquette consultant Jodi Smith two hours, twice as long as it did a decade ago. West of the city, in Waltham, the MBTA’s Route 505 morning rush bus to the Financial District is now allotted 63 minutes to arrive. It was allotted 47 minutes in 2007.

Even in a city that has long known traffic headaches, congestion in recent years has extended commutes to lengths that approach a breaking point, encroaching ever deeper into the lives of workers who say they have less and less time to spare.

With Boston’s commutes ranked among the nation’s most stressful, employers increasingly must woo workers by allowing them to work from home or at off hours, according to the global staffing agency Robert Half. Some workers are simply electing to quit rather than lose more time to the road.

Joel Richman of Boxborough left his job and started working from home when a company move from Newton to Boston stretched his drive to two hours each way.

“You end up planning your entire day around your commute,” he said. “I’d leave at 4:15 and everyone else was still cranking away. By the time I got home it would be almost six. I’d try and spend a few minutes with my daughter and then log back on to the computer.”

Even real estate agents are having to adapt, by changing the way they market their properties. “We used to say ‘20 minutes into Boston,’ ” Waltham broker Gary Rogers said, “but we don’t give the time anymore — it’s too dangerous. You don’t know if there are going to be delays.”

There are a few ways to measure how bad traffic has gotten. You can look at numerous studies showing that commuters are spending more time stuck in traffic than ever. One found the average Boston-area driver spending 60 hours stuck in traffic in 2017 — two more hours than in 2016.

You can think about the fact that Millennium Partners is proposing a $100 million gondola to fly workers over the clogged streets of the Seaport.

Here’s another way to see the change: Compare old bus schedules with today’s schedules, and notice that it takes buses — and cars driving on the same roads — a lot longer to cover the same number of miles than it did a decade ago.

“We had to revise the schedule to reflect reality,” said Colin Johnson, a vice president with DATTCO, which runs a commuter bus from Fairhaven to Copley Square.

Ten years ago, DATTCO’s 6:50 a.m. bus from Fairhaven hit Back Bay around 8:20, a 90-minute ride. Today’s commuters are on that bus for 130 minutes and don’t get to Copley until 9 a.m.

It’s a similar story from Southern New Hampshire. In 2008, the 7:30 a.m. Boston Express bus from North Londonderry, N.H., to South Station arrived at 8:35, a 65-minute trip. Today the express gets in at 9:10, 100 minutes after departing.

The MBTA has also changed its schedules, a reflection of the growing traffic and unpredictability of that traffic, according to the agency. In 2017, the morning express routes from Brighton and Watertown and Waltham took an average of 39 percent longer than they did in 2007.

With rush-hour traffic growing exponentially, every commuter interviewed spoke about the impacts on their lives and jobs, and the dreaded math of Boston traffic, in which a small delay in departure time can cost dearly in extra time on the road.

“If you leave five minutes late, it could take you 20 minutes longer to get to work,” said Mayer, the nurse. “Every once in a while, I’ll forget that I need to stop and get gas, and I’ll think, ‘Oh my God, I’ll never get there on time.’ ”

Just as we’re experiencing more extreme weather events these days, anecdotal evidence shows that the increased volume of cars on the roads is leading to more extreme traffic events.

The smallest thing — rain, construction, a game at Fenway, an accident on a feeder road — can cause a tie-up.

That makes people afraid to go to work in bad weather, for fear they’ll never get home in time to meet family obligations.

In Sudbury, on a day when one of the recent nor’easters was heading our way, new mom Jordan Haywood worked from home rather than head into the financial district. Her infant’s day care was closing early, meaning Haywood would basically go to work and turn right around.

“If you’re a half an hour late [for day-care pickup] it’s $7,” she said, mentioning that she’s still breast-feeding, and that when she runs late, not only does it cost her money, but her milk begins to build up, adding extra urgency.

Some of her fellow working and commuting mothers pump in the car while they’re driving, she said. “They say it’s a timesaver. They are multitasking.”

As the drives get longer, living in or close to Boston is becoming farther out of reach financially for average workers. An analysis of single-family home sales found that prices are rising much faster in or near the city compared with prices in far-flung towns, according to Timothy Warren Jr., chief executive of the Warren Group.

He looked at the prices of single-family homes in 285 Massachusetts communities and found that in only 10 have prices surpassed what they were in 2005 — a peak in the market — by 50 percent or more. Nine of those 10 communities were in or near Boston.

“Some of those communities were previously considered blue-collar and affordable, including South Boston, Jamaica Plain, Somerville, and Charlestown,” Warren said in an e-mail.

“Others in the top ten (Cambridge, Brookline, Newton, and Lexington) have always been high-priced, but have become dramatically more so in recent years,’’ Warren said.

This pricey housing means many people are forced to live far from work, a situation made more painful by the growing commute times.

Michelle Collins and her fiance settled in Saugus after not being able to afford anything closer to their jobs. She works as a lab technician in Newton. He’s a warehouse manager in Natick. That means an hour’s commute each way for her and sometimes a two-hour trip for him.

“No matter what time you leave you can hit these weird pockets of traffic,” she said.

If Collins doesn’t build in a cushion, she might arrive late and, she said, have minutes deducted from her pool of vacation, personal, and sick time.

“I’d rather spend the time on vacation than sitting on Route 128 southbound,” she said.


Student Shames Pro-Gun Americans, Then We Noticed What’s Wrong With Her Jacket

The most visible activists in the latest push to tear up the Second Amendment are getting a lot of attention… and not all of it is positive.

Parkland, Florida, students David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez have become the faces of gun control as they make the rounds in the media and at rallies, but viewers have noticed some troubling “red flags” with both of them over the weekend.

On Saturday, the teenage protester Gonzalez took the stage as part of “March For Our Lives,” and delivered a speech that blamed gun ownership for the tragedy which killed 17 people last month.

That by itself isn’t surprising, but observers quickly pointed out something odd and ironic about her attire.

While standing on the podium, the anti-Second Amendment activist wore an olive green jacket that appeared to be a military uniform, with military-style patches sewn onto the sleeves. There was not a single American flag anywhere on the fatigues.

There was, however, a Cuban flag patch on her right shoulder — exactly where the American flag normally is worn.

“You can’t even make this up,” commented one pro-gun Facebook page. “She is wearing a Cuban flag, a communist country that is well known for disarming its own people and then slaughtering them wholesale; while addressing the U.S. about gun control.”

That commentary isn’t wrong. There’s a deep and sickening irony to replacing the U.S. flag with the symbol of a communist, tyrannical country that has been ruled by dictatorship for 60 years… while essentially telling Americans to give up their gun rights.

“Hitler took several years to disarm the population using gun registration lists, but Castro moved against private gun ownership the second day he was in power,” explained Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America.

“He sent his thugs throughout the island using the gun registry lists — compiled by the preceding Batista regime — to confiscate the people’s firearms. Different tactics, same objective. A defenseless people don’t give the all-wise leader any lip,” Pratt continued.

That use of gun control by the oppressive Castro regime in Cuba is common knowledge among many who fled the island.

“In modern Cuba, firearms are regulated by the National Revolutionary Police, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. The private sale and transfer of firearms is prohibited. And Cubans continue to flee for the U.S. Surprised?” asked Luis Valdes, a Cuban-American gun rights advocate.

“We should never forget that purchasing a firearm is an important part of the American Dream,” Valdes explained.

“Gun ownership is the one few tangible acts that we can do when exercising our Constitutional Rights. When you hold that firearm in your hand, you’re holding a literal, physical representation of freedom,” he said.

Fidel Castro’s Cuba “murdered thousands upon thousands. The late R.J. Rummel, a University of Hawaii professor who tracked mass-killings by governments around the world, estimated as many as 141,000 people were murdered by the Castro regime,” reported Investor’s Business Daily.

“And that was  just through 1987. Since then, of course, thousands more have been killed,” the report continued.

Between Emma Gonzalez shunning the American flag to instead dress like a Cuban dictator and David Hogg throwing a stiff-armed salute that looked disturbingly like a Nazi gesture, there are many alarms about the not-so-subtle symbolism being used by these “organizers.”

That’s doesn’t automatically mean that they are themselves aspiring tyrants, but it does mean that they are shockingly ignorant about history and the real-life horrors of gun control… and that by itself should disqualify them as serious voices.


Is #MeToo Backlash Hurting Women’s Opportunities in Finance?

When my mother graduated from college in 1972, she interviewed at an investment bank where a manager told her that for certain positions, women were interviewed but never hired. Even in the late 1980s, she went on interviews with headhunters who would explicitly tell her, “They want to interview a woman,” with the emphasis on “interview”— as in, not hire. Through the decades, as she’s climbed the ranks to become a CFO of publicly traded company, I’ve often told these stories to show how much more opportunity exists in the workplace today.

In the aftermath of the MeToo movement around sexual harassment, I wonder how much progress we’ve really made; recently, several men have privately told me that they have no intention of hiring women for open roles, or of managing young women if they can avoid it. I now worry that the movement has already sparked a destructive backlash.

As someone who works in finance and is currently a student in the executive MBA program at the Wharton School, I’ve heard men say that they’re less likely to hire or associate with women as a result of the intensity of MeToo. Whether consciously or not, I am not sure how any man in America isn’t reassessing his hiring practices. I have heard directly from male executives at two prominent Wall Street firms that they are moving their female direct reports to report to female bosses.

Even if we could get past the troubling message this sends, this isn’t practical — women only make up about 25% of the executive team at the top Wall Street firms, and there simply aren’t enough women to sustain this model. I’ve also heard from male fund managers that they didn’t want to take on the “risk” of hiring a woman in their small shops. An employee of a large bank shared that any future women analyst hires should be “unattractive.”

This environment is particularly troubling for my female classmates and me if we want to obtain a job in financial services, which is what Wharton is known for. Even if I were smarter or more qualified than one of my male classmates, why would an employer hire me when the guy next to me is good enough and is less likely to make an accusation of harassment? Females make up just over 25% of my class, there is no short supply of male MBAs to hire. I have already heard from some men at small hedge funds that they won’t hire women because we’re too “risky,” and from men in VC that they won’t have one-on-one meetings with female founders.

But such candor is rare, and off the record, because such discrimination is illegal. And women may never know why they were passed over. In some ways, I think my mother was afforded a better interview experience — at least they were being honest when they flat-out told her they won’t hire women. I fear this spring will see many female MBAs interviewing at firms that wish to appear to be striving for gender parity, but have no real intention of hiring any young women.

To some, including the men I spoke with, it seems like the MeToo movement is not just about stopping harassment, but essentially trying to achieve the impossible: desexualize the workplace, which goes against Darwin. Chemistry between human beings can’t be stopped, so what’s the answer? To many men, that answer is protecting themselves by avoiding socializing with or hiring women. It may be illegal, but that won’t stop it from happening — most cases would never get to court, and even if they did, they’d  be really tough to prove.

My close friend, Vanity Fair contributing editor, Bethany McLean, views this fear as another excuse to exclude women. Before becoming a writer, she spent her days as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and certainly understands Wall Street culture. “That argument betrays a fundamental lack of respect for women,” she told me. “When men say that they’re afraid of being alone with women, what they’re actually saying is that there is a high likelihood that all women are crazy and will read something into a situation that isn’t intended. Women shouldn’t buy into the patriarchal point of view that women can’t be trusted.”

Her point of view is supported by a 2016 study on corporate sexual harassment policies. It found that most corporate sexual harassment policies were ineffective because employees interpreted them as protecting irrational or oversensitive women at the expense of men. “We found that the actual words of the sexual harassment policy bore little resemblance to the employees’ interpretations of the policy,” wrote one of the researchers. “Although the policy clearly focused on behaviors of sexual harassment, the participants almost universally claimed that the policy focused on perceptions of behaviors.”

Although men’s fears may be grounded in an unconsciously biased view of women as untrustworthy or irrational, I do think that the MeToo movement bears some of the blame for the backlash I’m currently seeing. The hashtag and media reports have had a telescoping effect, essentially blurring important distinctions between rape, groping, and clumsy come-ons. As a victim of sexual assault who lived through a U.S. federal landmark case, I want to support the movement, but when the social media waterfall started last fall, I couldn’t bring myself to share my experience — which brought me to the brink of depression for three years — under the same hashtag as women who were briefly fondled at a holiday office party. While neither sexual harassment and assault should be tolerated under any circumstances, they are not the same thing. But the level of condemnation offered to each now seems to be the same. As Sarah Chiche, one of the main authors of a French riposte to MeToo, told the New York Times, “Men whose only fault was sending a slightly salacious text message or email were being treated, on social networks, exactly the same way as sexual criminals, like rapists.” Watching the pendulum-swing of society’s reaction to sexual assault has been whiplash-inducing, and to me, worrisome.

I’ve heard many female peers say that they think the MeToo movement will speed gender parity in the workforce and create access to more executive positions. But we are not at a moment of celebration yet. As a society, we’ve worked so hard to try and take gender off the table, and now more than ever, it seems like it’s very much there.

The response to MeToo shouldn’t be to celebrate with expectations about the promise of this future. I don’t have the answers, but I do believe the start requires addressing the reality of how scared men have become to work with and hire women as a result, and that trust between sexes in the workplace is broken. If the MeToo movement allows us to address this openly and honestly, then society will be much better for it. My concern is this is not happening; rather, women are silently being pushed to the side, making the road to the C-suite and boardroom just as hurdled as it was for my mother 40 years ago.


Australian Police officers to undergo 'Muslim sensitivity training' to better understand Islam and combat the radicalisation of home grown terrorists

Wouldn't it be more appropriate to train Muslims into adapting to Australian culture?

Australian Federal Police officers will undergo three-day 'Muslim sensitivity training' to better understand the culture of Islam.

The AFP is tendering for a new provider to conduct the courses for officers across Australia, as the agency works to manage the threat of Islamic terror.

The agency will work to target Islamic extremism and prevent the radicalisation of young people in Australia.

The program will brief officers about current international conflicts and 'areas of interest', and aims to build relationships with Islamic community leaders.

The workshops will educate officers about all aspects of Islam, as Australian soldiers return from war-torn regions including Iraq and Syria.

The AFP told Daily Mail Australia the agency was tendering for a new provider, after offering the course over many years.

'The program has been delivered over many years by academic and cultural leaders within the community,' the AFP told The Australian.

'[It ensures] that AFP members are culturally aware and sensitive to the issues of the communities to which the AFP provides.'

The Australian police force has introduced a range of groups and commissions to tackle the threat of Islamic extremism since the September 11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.

The National Disruption Group (NDG) was formed to combat religious extremism and includes officers from the state police, the Australian Crime Commission, and national intelligence agencies.

The NDG worked with 'vulnerable individuals, particularly young people, to prevent them from committing terrorist-related activity or travelling overseas to fight with a terrorist group'.

The AFP will also focus on targeting encrypted messages sent over the internet to organise terror attacks.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said: 'The use of encrypted messaging by terrorists and criminals is potentially the most significant degradation of intelligence capability in modern times'.

'The use of cyberspace by terrorists and criminals presents an increasing challenge for our agencies,' Mr Dutton said at the ASEAN conference. 

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia on Monday, an AFP spokesman said Islamic Awareness Workshops were 'paramount in educating officers around the Islamic faith'. 

'Like many other cultural initiatives within the AFP and Commonwealth Government, ensures that AFP members are culturally aware and sensitive to the issues of the communities for which the AFP provides a service to,' he said.  

'The program is designed to educate them about Islamic culture and the history of Islam, including the current international conflicts and areas of interest. It also covers engagement with other law enforcement partners and community members and groups.

'The AFP is governed by ‘Commonwealth Procurement Rules’ and as such we are unable to release additional information regarding an RFT while it is in the evaluation period.' 

Meanwhile, Senior commanders report they are concerned about terrorism ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Undercover commandos will be at the heart of the massive operation to keep the Commonwealth Games safe, police have revealed.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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