What I learned this week, February 28, 2014

I have written below about a presentation I attended concerning a small piece of freeway near Dallas’ Downtown. It was an important and interesting meeting, but what I wrote about it goes on a little long, and I wanted to write a little about what I think is the real crux of the matter.

I’ll write more at length about it later, I need to do some thinking and some research and some more thinking first.

This is the speaker, traffic planner Ian Lockwood’s presentation. Watch the whole thing. His talk should be available on youtube soon.

What jumped at me in particular were two slides (13 and 14 in the presentation). The first, printed from a book, was this statement:

In his 1911 book The Prinicples of Scientific Management, Frederick Winslow Taylor, a pioneer in the efficiency movement, wrote: “The goal of human labor and thought is efficiency. Technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgement, in fact human judgement cannot be trusted because it is pagued by laxity, ambiguity and unnecessary complexity. Subjectivity is an obstacle to clear thinking…. That which cannot be measured either does not exist or is of no value….The affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts.”

The bolded part of the quote was underlined, with a handwritten note and arrow that said, “THE BEGINNING OF THE END.”

The bullet at the bottom of the slide emphasized the point, “That which cannot be measured either does not exist or is of no value….The affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts.

This is contrasted to the next slide, which is a quote by Thomas Jefferson:

“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.”

Thomas Jefferson September 28, 1820

The contrast, the frisson between the two ways of looking at the world illuminated by these quotes is an amazing concept. If I learned nothing else, this was worth taking the train downtown after work.


I-345 near downtown Dallas

I-345 near downtown Dallas

Dallas has this nasty, falling down 1.4 miles of freeway on the east side of downtown. It’s name is I-345, though nobody knows that. It is an elevated monstrosity that is an ugly barrier between the city center and Deep Ellum.

It also needs replacing. A movement is growing to remove the freeway instead of rebuilding it.

How Dallas is Throwing Away $4 Billion

The more I thought about that idea – the more sense it made.

Of course, the government has no imagination and soon, this headline came out.

TxDOT to Repair, Not Tear Down I-345: Lipstick on a Traffic-Fed Pig?
TxDOT tells Dallas it will repair and not remove the highway separating Deep Ellum and downtown
TxDOT has decided to keep the highway separating Deep Ellum and downtown, but Mayor Rawlings hasn’t

This pissed a lot of people in Dallas off, including me.

So I found out about a meeting at D Magazine (Great write-up about it here) with a presentation on how the modern American Urban High Speed traffic system is killing the city. I sent off for a ticket and rode the train downtown after work. I was more than a little ragged after a tough day at work and felt out of place – but the talk by Ian Lockwood was more than interesting.

They were taping the talk and I think I heard someone say it would be going onto Youtube. I’ll put it on here if I find it, but in the meantime, this one covers most of what he said. I know it’s long, but take the time to watch it if you can, it’s a revelation.

Here’s another photo I took of a typical day on I-345

Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.

Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.


Hall & Oates “Rich Girl” wasn’t about a girl after all.

I feel as if I have been living a lie all my life.

“Daryl wrote it,” John confessed, talking about his other musical half. “It was about a guy who was the heir to a fast food fortune.” We can’t help but feel like everything we know in life is a lie now. “He realized ‘Rich Girl’ sounded a lot better than ‘Rich Guy.’”


11 Books That Will Definitely Disturb You


This is an interesting list – there are some amazingly strange films on this. And they all can be piped directly into your living room.

The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Instant (My Version)


10 Awesome Bottle Openers

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