Inside Out: whinging away the critic

Of late there seems to be a willingness to label anyone arguing that a program is violating the public process a “bully”. Of course the very fact that the srgument is made in fact to empower the public not only renders the labeling nonsensical, it illustrated the use of projection; the ad hominem is being employed in fact to bully the public advocate into ceasing their advocacy.

The essence of bullying is forcing another to engage in conduct not in the other’s interest. Arguing against governmental action, especially where that action may be problematic, is not bullying in any sense of the word.

Then there is the claim that any public argument is bullying as it seeks to bend another to the arguer’s will. Of course that posits that the other is vulnerable, helpless, or incompetent. How do we make the marketplace of ideas safe for those not equipped to deal with adult conversation? It also chills completely public discourse – and that of course is the intent of such ad hominem.

This kind of attack is most perfidious when used as one of two favored responses by public officials to marginalize or discredit competent evidence. The other, potentially more effective, is simply to ignore the issue in the hope that it wint generate enough public interest to warrant any response.

The public process is just that. In a heterodox society the oublic process is there to resolve conflicting public interests. Insisting that public assets be managed through a public process is all about protecting those whose voices are not being heard from bullies who want what they want and reject the concept that someone who is not insane disagrees.

Passing thoughts…

Hidden in plain sight
Heard only in the winds sigh
Felt where never touched

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

That which might not be
Hovers above and below
Couldn’t possibly

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

I gave them all bikes
Young men needing ways and means
They have all left us now

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

Just a speck of dust
Rising from a lonely flame
Infinitely one

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

He left so quickly
I wonder how he’s doing
There upon the winds

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

Shall we not know Ulysses by his dog?
Argos he is named
And famed
For his arete
But as he lay
Flea bitten at deaths door there was no fog
Before his eyes
Between the two no lies
Ulysses too has left
And warp and weft
Knot the time away
With a tear Ulysses offers thanks
And so must we when closing ranks


Safe Spaces

If I say that our use of the 85th%ile rule is killing people (and I think the data shows that it is – a point I think the NTSB has acknowledged), is that “aggressive and argumentative”? Does that allegation render some space “unsafe”? That would appear to be the claim of the new acting head of AMATS, the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation metropolitan plan organization.

Let’s face it, all I am pointing out is that our planning and design concepts from the foundations up are in fact the reasons people die on our highways. While many have known and argued this for years, it is particularly illuminating when traffic engineers like Charles Marohn are attacked professionally over it.

No area of study predicated on the premise that humans act rationally can ever be seen as rational or science-based because we have oodles (that’s oodles in the scientific sense) of evidence that this IS NOT the case.

So, would you say that someone arguing for streets to be “safe spaces” being called out for making “unsafe spaces” by way of his requests, “double speak” ? Is it intended to lead to “double think” ?

I recently chatted with a DOT employee who was asking why I would suggest that local municipal ordinance mandates the planning department collaborate with community councils on any plans, and that municipal staff working with AMATS who refuse so to do are violating the spirit as well as the letter of the law (not to mention the offense it does to the bylaws of community councils that were forced upon them by ordinance). Don’t you find it strange that despite the clear language about the roles of community councils in developing plans at all stages, that folk involved in metropolitan planning should questioning efforts to engage councils?

A conversation with a municipal employee about disagreeing agreeably brought the matter into focus for me. Aside from the mathematical impossibility of agreeing to disagree (yes, there IS a peer reviewed paper on that ) my question is how to be agreeable over something like the implications of the 85th%ile rule, or claims made when records requests show no basis for the claims. If I say, “Well Donald, your statement is demonstrably inaccurate based on these well documented facts”, why should Donald get upset?

I want people to stop dying on our roads. The NTSB has made it very clear that people are dying on our roads because of poor planning, design, and enforcement. How does my municipality, any municipality deflect that? Well, in large part we dissemble (some suggest that is the polite way to argue mendacity); we don’t adequately enforce, we don’t properly plan, and we design and construct with reckless abandon. While whinging against corporate personhood when it comes to rights, we seem happy the avoid any personal responsibility by blaming all on the corporate body.

Offering our state DOT staff a challenge; I agreed that if their engineers would run all the roundabout crossings of one of their roundabout highway intersections (2 roundabouts and numerous crosswalks) without stopping or slowing down I would cease carping about roundabout safety. Of course no one took me up on the challenge as it would not be safe, and yet the same agency prints materials claiming that those self same crossings are safe. You just can’t have it both ways.

People should be safe from terrible bodily injury sustained on our roads and streets. That injury is in no small part the result of the actions of AMATS staff. That may be disagreeable and uncomfortable, but it is true. That should make one feel unclean, not unsafe. I suppose the contra argument AMATS makes is “we only plan; we don’t design”. The unfortunate parallels to those claims are too low hanging to bear repeating here.

One of the guys who actually gets our roads and trails maintained and I frequently meet, and he, like some others, thanks me for calling and encourages me to continue despite the fact that I suppose I AM very critical. What do you think is the differential between someone like that and someone who claims to be afraid to talk to me via zoom?

Having been told that words hurt, let me suggest they don’t hurt as much as getting hit by a truck.

Aumann, Robert J. “Agreeing to Disagree.” The Annals of Statistics 4, no. 6 (November 1, 1976): 1236–39.
Barrera, Devora. “Dowling Road/Seward Highway Interchange Reconstruction.” Bike Anchorage (blog). Accessed January 25, 2022.
Herman, Edward S. Beyond Hypocrisy: Decoding the News in an Age of Propaganda : Including A Doublespeak Dictionary for the 1990s. Montr??al: Black Rose Books, 1992.
National Transportation Safety Board. “Bicyclist Safety on US Roadways: Crash Risks and Countermeasures.” Safety Research Report. Washington, D.C.: NTSB, November 5, 2019. Https://
Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. New York: Millstone Editions, 1949.
Schmitt, Angie. “The 85th Percentile Rule Is Killing Us.” Streetsblog USA (blog), August 11, 2017.

The Prayer of Common Books

At the risk of repeating myself ….

I think it intriguing that while a major reason for public education, at least in the US, being to ensure that everyone, through familiarity with a literary canon, shares at a minimum some basic memes, the public can become so outraged at the very concept of a literary canon.

A literate nation is not about being able to decode words in a third grade reader; it is about being able to comprehend the exchange of ideas among the members of the polity. It means that when I hear the lyric, “Just ask Alice”, a broad range of maps are brought to bear because I have the key to the references. To paraphrase Barth, the key to the treasure is the treasure.

Silly lists are first and foremost silly lists, but they give us pause, at least those of us willing, to stop and reflect on the “canon” and our shared experience.

EJ Dionne argues effective that we have lost all sight of any sense of community, and the lack of shared literary exposure is part and parcel of that loss.

I certainly am not a fan of “mandatory reading”, but I also realize that I wasted much of my educational time in no small part because my teachers were not able to shift my voracious literary appetite beyond a few genres. Decades later I discovered how to manage that and I think it unfortunate we do such a poor job at that…

Today you can read just about anything you want at little or no cost on any smartphone. We have text readers and audiobooks. But we spend our time passively plugged into multi sensory media.

We need to read more.

We need to read what others read.

We need to read that which challenges us.

Another Fiasco: The Draft Anchorage Non-Motorized Plan

Read the piece. Sign the petition.


The people of East Anchorage DO appreciate the opportunity to comment on the AMATS Non-Motorized Plan. We have long identified two high priority, long-standing goals for non-motorized connections within our community, which goals have focused not only upon greater community connectivity but also upon increased access to the community:

  • An East-West link bringing the Chester Creek Trails to the foothills at or about Chanshtnu Park, and.  

  • A North South trail running along Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (in or out of the base) connecting “the curve” to North East Anchorage by the Powerplant and thence to the bike path north of the highway.

which goals should include at a minimum the following “projects”:

  • Construction of bridges in Chanshtnu Muldoon Park

  • Connected and upgraded trail along the South Fork of Chester Creek from Cheney Lake Park through the existing easement to Patterson Street (private funding has already been ​​ sabotaged by Parks and Recreation once with the statement that this was planned for future paved development, though no such development is apparent in the Plan).    

  • Designation of some form of ROW and usage agreement, as well as eventual trail development along the MOA JBER boundary or in JBER

The people of East Anchorage have also endorsed additional projects, such as the completion of a second tunnel under DeBarr as set forth in the Russian Jack Springs Master Plan for decades, further connection above or below the Glenn Highway connecting the Northeast communities to the bike path on the North side of the highway, integration of our most eastern neighborhoods with non-motorized connectors, facilitating seamless access to school and services as recommended by a number of east side persons to the Community and Economic Development committee of the Assembly in February.

The people of East Anchorage have been at pains to pursue these plans through their councils’ CIP listings, political efforts, and external grant development, as well as individual and private group efforts, but the Plan largely ignores the interests of the entire East side of Anchorage. ​​ It does this in one way by eschewing any interaction with the voices and channels of the public as set out in the Municipal Charter and Ordinances, the community councils being designated just for such purposes. Frankly, the drafters’ admitted rejection of the lawfully constituted voice of the public ​​ on the East side ​​ at a minimum raises substantial questions about the value and efficacy of the public participation that the Plan alleges and at worst emphatically argues that the Plan is wholly defective. Yet, the Plan includes among its top six projects items that have never been vetted by the public (for example, despite the fact that the Campbell Creek Trail crossing at Lake Otis has been shown to really be a matter of little consequence see, somehow this has become the second most important aspect of Chapter 6 ​​ of the Plan (see pg xiv) suggesting that the drafters while not responding to the public, responded to select private interests.

The people of East Anchorage applaud the Plan’s recognition in Chapter 2 that Anchorage lags way behind other northern cities in addressing non-motorized users, and likewise applauds the recommendations that the MOA affiliate or join NACTO, but we are fully aware that the Assembly could have addressed these matters anytime over the last decade, and within the last several months outright refused to address the recommendation that the MOA affiliate with NACTO. Moreover, the draft, in failing to reject prior management and design which inappropriately rejected protected bike lanes and placed total reliance on paint as the most important aspect of providing safe infrastructure for non-motorized users, appear to endorse a policy of “more of the same”, which does little or nothing to make Anchorage safe for “All Ages and Abilities”. The perfect example of this is the Pine St. projected which expended some $100,000.00 for an unsafe design that can only possibly be useful 6 months a year based on paint alone where operating speeds are over 35 mph which is still heralded as a “success” though it is one of Anchorage’s most dismal failures and a huge waste of funds.

Yes, the people of East Anchorage appreciate the opportunity to “comment” on the Plan, but absent community council ​​ involvement as its foundation, the Plan is fundamentally defective and inadequate, and the the people of East Anchorage would have to place themselves in the role of the drafters, and demand appropriate staffing and funding, to fully address every detail and concern which the Plan fails to manage because of its inverted process, not to mention an additional year of development.

The people of East Anchorage cannot support or endorse the current plan. While some of the aspects of the Plan may be laudable, the process by which the Plan was developed, and the totality of the product is on the whole not a product that the people of East Anchorage can endorse as appropriate. We need a lengthy public input process regarding this and all future Non-Motorized Plans, that eschews private interests and encompasses a recognition that the current Assembly has silently declared war on the public.


“Citadel of Freedom and Liberty”

A friend opines,

“Why do Democrats believe that the citadel of freedom and liberty rests with government instead of with the people?”

And I respond,

“Curious you use the phrase MacArthur used 1 to refer to Manila on his departure…”

But the phrase is iconic and symbolic; semiotics being perhaps the last standing claim Homo sapiens has to uniqueness, it is strange that one of that species not understand the equivalence he questions. How did “America” become “a city upon a hill”? How did the Statute of Liberty become a symbol of American freedom? What renders the US at all remarkable is not the people, who are as loathsome as any other humans, but their republic… Why do some, ignoring that fact, focus on the foolish factionalism that the propounding pops decried as the death of that republic.

The drafters of our Constitution were steeped in the canon of the day: Greek and Roman literature which condemned the hoi polloi; the very name of the Senate conveys the founders intent to safeguard the union through the good offices of patricians who stood above mammon and mountebanks. Nevertheless, the fearful demanded an amendment to specifically provide the means to extinguish, militarily, insurrections (which were a very real contemporaneous problem).

The seat of that republic is, if there is such a thing, the Capitol, which was specifically designed and constructed to that end; the very essence of the republic for which it stands.

The myths of America while woven out of whole cloth, provide genres that arguably explain the delusions of a substantial minority of the polity. Today we are as conflicted over these shadows as de Tocqueville was almost 200 years ago.

A Fresh Start?


How about a collaborative effort to actually propose an objective decision matrix for re-opening face to face in person instruction?

We can of course use quantitative gates as well as qualitative gates. For example, no ventilation and filtration data is an absolute stopper, while available data could indicate that certain kinds of usage would be available.

PPE can be scored. Gowns, PAPRs, gloves and decon unit all prepped with staff practiced in full usage? Full marks! No PPE? Well, no score.

And in no case does an ASD administrator get to input a subjective score (a la the mess presently known as the current matrix,lol!)

You put it ALL in a publicly available tool (like Google sheets) so everyone can see the various inputs and how they are analyzed and evaluated.

Et voila! Instead of hot air we have a hard function.

You’d think the district having already done tens of hours of the most advanced study (sounds just like Trumpettes, doesn’t it) that such a tool would be at hand, and the fact that we have to start from scratch should tell us a thing or three.

So what is the greatest impediment? Here are my case notes:

Case No. 2020-576/b

Mark Stock on Objective Criteria

Mendacious Mark was at the top of his game at this week’s Board meeting, talking down to, well everyone, because they could not understand that it was impossible to adopt an objective criteria for school opening.

Of course, he was putting on airs because most everything he said was false.

In fact just a few weeks ago ASD had a very workable objective matrix that everyone fully understood and which worked just fine.

What Mark was really arguing is that objective criteria would prohibit his boss Dr. Deena, “the DeVosserRaptor”, from engaging in arbitrary and capricious conduct that could get thousand killed and who knows how many subject to as yet unknown long term disabilities.

Indeed, we could develop a very effective and transparent objective decision matrix pretty quickly. But that would of course mean that the Administration would have to come back to the community every time they wanted to deviate from it, AS WELL THEY SHOULD!

While Stock is a bloviating hack and could be expected to do what he was hired to do (did you notice the cute little game he and Deena played at the Board meeting referring to each other as Doctor – like watching the 3 Stooges) what is inexcusable if watching the Board get buffaloed