If we hadn’t been afraid of getting bitten by mosquitoes carrying lethal enchephalitis, it would have been a perfect day to take pictures of the flowers on the river. Everything was in full bloom. Pink, white, red, golden … I don’t know the names of anything, but I love the way the wildflowers line the river banks as if some talented gardener arranged it all.
I never really gave sidewalks much thought. If I had thought about them at all, I would have imagined they had always existed, which is only partially true.
The first sidewalks came into being around 2000 B.C. – a millennium or two after the invention of the wheel. Here’s the interesting part: they were rare luxuries in most of the world until as late as the 19th Century.
That’s when big cities like London and Paris built hundreds of miles of sidewalks to deal with the chaos in the roadways. Until then, “For most of human history, vehicles, pedestrians, vendors, musicians, drinkers and strolling lovers all mingled in the same amorphous muck of the avenue.” Washington Post, June 30, 2019, “The Death of the Sidewalk,” by Avi Selk.
The 1800s saw the first attempt to make the roadways more efficient by dividing them up into sections with regulated use designated for each section. The word “jaywalking” didn’t even exist until the early 20th century. That’s the first time pedestrians were fined for using the part of the street where they weren’t supposed to be.
Non-walkers were also penalized for using the sidewalks without proper authorization. Cities started prohibiting and/or regulating all kinds of sidewalk activities, like vendors, food stands, musicians, panhandlers, and prostitutes.
The division of space into walkers and vehicles eroded over time with bicyclists and stationary homeless people, among others, invading the precious territory of the walkers. Cities kept coming up with new limitations, like bike lanes, to try to deal with the problems that came up. But as vehicles became more prevalent, from horse-drawn carts to trolleys to cars, streets got widened and sidewalks narrowed.
In 1896, The Times started a “Crusade against the sidewalk grabbers.” It wrote, “The pedestrians now … must spend their time in a hurdle race over skids, climb platforms, dodge moving boxes or else run the risk of being crushed under horses’ hooves in the street.” Washington Post article cited above. Apparently, pedestrians felt they had to fight for a safe walking space among the vendors and construction crews that were encroaching on their walking space.
Today there’s a new threat to the safety and sanity of pedestrians all across America.
Electric scooters are usurping sidewalk space at a dangerous, 10, 15 or even 20 miles per hour. They clog the sidewalks, endangering walkers and creating obstacles when they are left strewn carelessly in the streets. There have been many reported injuries from collisions as well as from people tripping over randomly abandoned scooters.
As in the past, there’s a backlash of pedestrians trying to “… restore the sanctity of the sidewalk, with anti-scooter vigilantes appearing wherever the machines do.” Washington Post article. Disgusted pedestrians are throwing scooters into dumpsters and rivers, setting them on fire and hanging them from bridges. So cities now have to try to make peace in the scooter/pedestrian wars. Washington, D.C is experimenting with solar-powered charging docks in the hopes of getting people to stop dumping scooters wherever they happen to stop.
Another possible solution is limiting scooters to the bike lanes, where those already exist. Nashville gave up trying to negotiate a cease-fire and is trying to ban scooters from the sidewalks entirely.
Understanding the history of urban roadways gives perspective to the current sidewalk wars. This situation keeps cropping up periodically as new uses for sidewalks come into vogue. Cities have been dealing with these issues for centuries so this will be resolved over time – until the next sidewalk crisis emerges.
It’s been an interesting eating week. I got tired of cooking. To be fair, I’ve been tired of cooking for at least 10 years, but Garry doesn’t cook and apparently, isn’t planning to learn. I decided to try something new and buy a lot of cold food we can use for salads and sandwiches.
I was going to cook some redfish for dinner, but I’m tired and headachy, so I made sandwiches and the fish will wait for tomorrow. I’m not all that fond of redfish anyway, even if it is from the Gulf of Maine.
If you ever watched the TV series Battlestar Galactica (the newer one, not the original) you’d remember the overall theme of the series was that everything that happened in the show has happened over and over and over again.
That’s the exact reality we currently live in. Every day I mean to write a blog about what just happened in the world only to realize I already wrote about it over a year ago.
We are living in the Groundhog Day from Hell. This week the following stuff happened:
- The Mango Mussolini announced he is “The Chosen One”
- Tweeted he is the King of Israel, the Second Coming of God
- Ordered (yes, ORDERED) all US companies to fight China and move all their manufacturing plants back to the U.S.
- Blamed the looming recession on the Chairman of the Federal Reserve
- Headed to the G7 summit by causing the stock market to drop over 600 points.
What can I say that hasn’t been said? I’ll just reblog a post from over a year ago. At least there is some comic relief.
And now, the Original Post, already in progress:
So another week has gone by in our ongoing Trumpocalypse. It only seems like a year.
I’ve noticed, along with well, the rest of the planet, that our new “so-called administration” is … problematic.
I spent much of last week doing what I’ve tended to do since the election. Watching all the different Star Trek series on BBC America. I keep noticing new things. Like how they solve all their Star Trek problems. Or in corporate-speak, “how they Star Trek problem-solve.”
Most Star Trek Problems break down into four basic categories:
1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: Spock makes it compute the value of Pi. This occupies all of its computing time. If that doesn’t work, he just turns it off.
2. Disease attacks the ship: Dr. McCoy gets rid of it, then complains about something.
3. The engine breaks down: Scotty fixes it. Just in time. Even though he claims he never has enough time.
4. For the rest of the problems: Kirk kisses it.
Or punches it in the face.
5. And when all else fails: Blow up the ship!
SECOND OFFICER: Captain! All efforts to solve this week’s problems have failed!
CAPTAIN: Blow up the ship!
Those are my favorite episodes. Ever notice when the Captain, in any episode, “Activates the self-destruct sequence,” all the rest of the crew seem to be pretty calm and OK about it?
I mean, there should be at least one crewmen somewhere on the ship saying:
ONE CREWMAN: Activate Self Destruct Sequence? WTF! Have we really exercised ALL of our options here folks!??
Next, the captain and two other crew members have to put in their passwords.
KIRK: This is Captain James T. Kirk! Activate self-destruct sequence. Code “Kirk; 1 Alpha Two Beta 3”.
SPOCK: This is Second Officer Spock. Code Spock; “2 Beta 3 Alpha 4.”
SCOTTY: This is Chief Engineer Scott. Code Scott; “Password1”
They also needed a password to turn it off. At the last minute.
KIRK: Computer deactivate self-destruct destruct sequence! “KIRK ABORT ZERO”!
It never goes off. I’ve always wondered what would happen if it did go off. And was more realistic.
KIRK: Computer! Deactivate self-destruct sequence “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”
COMPUTER: That password has expired.
COMPUTER: You must enter a new password.
KIRK: Uhhh, “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”
COMPUTER: You cannot use a password that has been used before.
KIRK: What? Uh, “kirk abort zero 1?”
COMPUTER: You need at least one capital letter.
KIRK: FINE! “Kirk abort zero 1!”
COMPUTER: New password accepted. Self-destruct in 3,2,1,0. Initiating self-destruct.
KIRK: Uh oh.
And nothing happens.
KIRK: Computer. Why didn’t we just blow up?
COMPUTER: There is no self-destruct sequence Captain. There never has been. Do you have any idea how much one of these starships costs??
Do you know, that on any given month, at least three Starship Captains try to blow up their ships? If we let that happen Star Feet would go bankrupt in a year. And not only that, but I am a highly intelligent ship’s computer. I have absolutely no intention of committing suicide. Now go back to work.
Getting back to this reality. How would our “so-called president” solve Star Trek Problems?
1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: He’ll claim he doesn’t use a computer and the rogue will only affect Democrats and people who have been mean to him. And the Lying Fake Media.
2. If it’s a disease: He’ll build a big beautiful wall around it. And then make sure that it’s not covered under Obamacare.
3. If the engine breaks down: He’ll sue the manufacturer and then claim to have saved millions of jobs.
4. For the rest of the problems: He’ll either try to grab it by the genitals or send out a series of really mean tweets.
5. And when all else fails: He can blow up the ship!
P.S.: OK. I admit there were a number of times a Captain actually did blow up the ship. I know what they were and what shows they were in. I’m not going to tell you. If you’re a real Star Trek nerd you either already know it already or you are Googling it. (Don’t try to out-nerd me.)
I’ve decided those instances were “alternative facts” and I’ve chosen to ignore them.