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18 December 2009


Matins: From a look at the impact of the "recession" on Ohio's manufacturing towns:

Tom Szykulski finishes raking and comes inside. Dinner is in the crockpot and the furniture smells faintly of lemony wax. Debbie Szykulski must clean as maniacally as her husband rakes. But the order is deceptive. The Szykulskis have lost their jobs and are down to Tom's unemployment benefits check. He is 53 and she is 55. They have just joined the ranks of Americans without health insurance.

"I feel like we've been thrown away," Debbie says, sitting at the kitchen table. Tom is quiet. He adjusts his cap. The company where he worked for 24 years, Indalex Aluminum Solutions, shut down last year, and he lost his $40,000-a-year union job. He was lucky to pick up work as a laborer at Wheatland Tube Co. for $12 an hour, but when business slowed, he was laid off from there, too.

Unemployment is a national disgrace created by overzealous faith. Government may screw things up from time to time, but nobody beats financiers at catastrophe creation. (Washington Post; via MetaFilter)

Lauds: Shipley, meet Ripley. Sigourney Weaver talks to Speakeasy about Avatar. She finishes with a Trick-or-Treat TREAT.

And the obligatory ďGhostbusters 3″ question: yea or nay to the potential new movie?

I might do it; I didnít realize I was in it. So Iím going to read the script. I was happy to discover, though, that my little baby son [from "Ghostbusters 2"] has grown up and become a ghostbuster. I think that Ivan [Reitman] wants our little grouplet together. I think itís a lovely idea to have another generation of people discover the characters. I remember i was opening the door for some trick-or-treaters last Halloween and a bunch of ghostbusters came to door. And one woman was [my character, Dana Barrett], and because I was at a friendís house, it was a complete accident. Might as well feed them a new movie.

A snip of Rene Rodgriguez's review of Avatar slipped beneath our eyes: "When the ride is over, though, youíre still left hungry for a movie." We were afraid of that.

Prime: British banking authorities plan to do away with checking by 2018. (Yahoo; via Marginal Revolution)

The use of checks has fallen drastically in the past 10 years as more consumers transfer money electronically, by direct debit or with debit and credit cards. Last year, around 3.8 million checks were written every day in Britain, compared to a peak of 10.9 million in 1990, the council said.

It costs about one pound to process every check.

"The next generation probably won't even have a checkbook," said Addy Frederick, a spokeswoman at the payments council.

But while many UK supermarkets, high street retailers and petrol stations have stopped accepting checks, they are still a popular form of payment among elderly people, many of whom find the idea of using automated cash machines intimidating.

Our one venture in online bill-paying was a very, very expensive fiasco. We don't write very many checks, though.

Tierce: Four really backward-looking road-construction projects. Of one of them ó the I-710 extension near Pasadena.

The Ports have invested billions of dollars in an improved Alameda Corridor to allow the shipment of goods via rail. If more products were moved via train instead of truck, congestion would decrease significantly.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles has invested hundreds of millions of dollars extending the Gold Line light rail corridor into the affected area in recent years. A convenient road would do nothing more than shift many of the people who began taking transit back into their cars. Thatís hardly a transportation solution for the 21st century ó especially at such a huge cost.

No new roads! Not for trucks and automobiles, anyway. (The Infrastructurist)



Nones: In the Chronicle of Higher Education: "Scholars Nostalgic for the Old South Study the Virtues of Secession, Quietly."

To listen to those lectures posted online is to hear a rarely told side of the American story: Abraham Lincoln is not the Great Emancipator; he is Dishonest Abe, a president hellbent on creating a big central government, even if that meant waging war. Reconstruction could be seen as a Yankee power grab that did more harm than good. Secession itself did not cause the Civil War. (Mr. Livingston said in one lecture that "war is actually caused by forced attempts at unification.")

We used to think that the United States was wrong not to let the South go in 1861. Now, we're more inclined to think that the Northeast was wrong to remain within the Union. (via The Morning News)





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