Former New York MTA Chair Kiley dies

Robert Kiley, the fifth chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), died Aug. 9 at the age of 80.

Kiley served as MTA chairman from 1983, when he was appointed by then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, to January 1991.

He was a “principle catalyst of the system’s remarkable transportation — from a symbol of urban decay to today’s modern and vital economic engine,” said MTA officials in a press release.

One of Kiley’s most enduring legacies was the removal of graffiti throughout New York City’s subway system. He also was instrumental in advancing MTA New York City Transit’s fare system from tokens to the MetroCard.

Kiley put in place the first and second MTA capital programs, overseeing more than $167 billion worth of investments in the city’s transit network. He focused the investments on the network’s core infrastructure such as trains, buses, track, signals and thousands of components that most riders never see, MTA officials said.

“Bob’s leadership helped the MTA focus on dramatically improving the safety and reliability of the network, led directly to the record ridership levels we see today and was central to the state’s increased growth and prosperity,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast. “He assembled a team and created a vision that brought the transit system back from the brink of disaster and under Gov. Mario M. Cuomo helped rebuild our region’s economy.”

Although his legacy will be the revival of New York City’s subway system, Kiley also revived subway and bus systems in Boston and London.

Kiley’s cause of death was due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease, according to his family, The New York Times reported.

Browser Notifications on News

Today we’re launching a feature that will show instant notifications for new comments and likes — even when you are not actively using Browser notifications give you a real-time sense of your readers’ reactions, allowing you to stay more engaged with your audience. Notifications will show up in Chrome or Firefox in the same location where each browser normally displays notifications. They will appear whether or not you have open, as long as your browser is running.

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You’re in complete control. You can enable browser notifications from the notifications page of your personal settings. If your browser supports them, you’ll see an option at the top of the page to enable browser notifications.


Browser notifications are supported in the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox — if your browser isn’t up to date…

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The Arts Mechanical

Technology is not magic and sometimes in the rush to get the latest toys we forget some simple truths.  The biggest is KISS.  As Sipp points out here.

This is the latest in a long and entertaining series about having to deal with a clog and the worst part of pluming and waste removal.

Thanks to the way that plumbing is modular and that even century old pipes can be repaired with stuff that fits into the old pipe, the job was straight forward as plumbing ever gets.  Of course all too many plumbing tasks are not straight forward. Sometimes plumbing tasks get made less straight forward by succeeding generations of plumbers.  I would really like to know which plumber removed the shutoff valves that were installed in  my shower to enable the washers to be changed.  That one turned a ten minute DIY job into a plumber…

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Update: Writers will be needed soon, Ranking #3 at Blasting News

A Writer for Words

Hi everybody,

I’m back, and while there is still website work to be done, I took a brief vacation, and have also managed to start getting more ideas together for this website about content direction.

So, I will be hiring some writers to help me out with writing some articles soon, and while everybody is free to contribute anything related to writing experiences or writing items, software, platforms, etc, that can help other writers, I also have a list of items I want to conquer.

And remember, if you are in need of work as a writer, don’t be shy to reach out to me—not necessarily writing for the website, but just because I’m here to help and can guide you toward some opportunities that should allow you to get paid for your work pretty quickly and continuously.

While the website was down, I kept on going at Blasting News…

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Why a raven is like a writing desk?

Perspectives on Life, the Universe and Everything

It creaks, It has legs, It is black,
It eats paper, creates litter, lots of slack
frustrates you if you are a sitter
It is very very bitter
It can knock you out
lets you walk about
It is curious to the hilt
Has a very strong built
And it doesn’t wear a kilt
It is not made of plastic
Its finish is fantastic
as I make things up
drinking tea in a cup
with my friend mad hatter
whose question is the matter
he seems quite pleased
riddle’s answer finally released
Raven suddenly flies far
contemplation left ajarIMG_0057.JPG

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A Good Inside Look At How Ransomware Operators Work

The Arts Mechanical

This is a post series on cyber crime. For more posts click here or the cybercrime tag below.

Francis Turner has some good stuff about how ransomware operators work here.

This post on Krebs sort of puts numbers to the equation.

Apparently the same people who created the CryptXXX variant of malware started with reveton.

So the operational level setup is pretty much the same. What’s changed is the software they spread.  Which they did not develop themselves.  As I point out in this post.

In a way, being in the malware business is a red queen’s race.  You keep having to change to keep up.  After all, there are a raft of security companies keeping an eye out for your “product” and shutting the product down ASAP.  For every exploit that a malware uses the time for a return on investment is low.  the typical exploit has about…

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New York’s Subway Expansion: A Disaster Only Government Could Create….An Op-Ed View

New York’s Subway Expansion: A Disaster Only Government Could Create

Even those who love liberty often concede that the construction and maintenance of infrastructure are among government’s “legitimate” duties. As for folks who idolize the State, forget it: “But—but who would build roads and—and highways and bridges?” they quaver when confronting the idea of a stateless society.

In New York City, that infrastructure extends to another “public good”: its world-famous subways (or –infamous, if you’ve languished between stations on these noisy, crowded, dirty trains). The design and implementation of this rarely rapid transit dates from the early 1900s—and it shows.

Neither politicians nor straphangers can decide the SAS’s “worth” since only buyers spending their own money determine whether an exchange is equitable.

Then, in 2007, the City’s rulers undertook the “first major expansion of the subway system in over 50 years” with the Second Avenue Subway (SAS). “When fully completed, the line will stretch 8.5 miles along the length of Manhattan’s East Side… The line is being built in phases…,” with the first one convulsing nearly 30 blocks of Second Avenue for almost a decade now.

The Worth of a Bad Idea

Unfortunately, when government involves itself in a project, its agenda supersedes the rights of everyone affected—a multitude of folks in this case since infrastructure is, by definition, “the fundamental facilities and systems serving a country, city, or area…” Construction of “Phase 1” has destroyed businesses along its route, evicted residents from their homes, and gobbled $4.45 billions in taxes thus far. No doubt the remaining “phases” will match the first one’s havoc.

Is it worth it? The politicians who brag about providing faster commutes for the 200,000 passengers expected to ride Phase 1 each day would say yes. Those riders might agree. But they aren’t the ones tossing sleeplessly as explosions blast tunnels through Manhattan’s bedrock, nor have they watched their favorite restaurants close and their homes plummet in value.

No wonder “business owners say their sales are down 20 to 40 percent.”

Neither politicians nor straphangers can decide the SAS’s “worth” since only buyers spending their own money determine whether an exchange is equitable. New York City spends our money, and those 200,000 commuters benefit from that largesse without cost (beyond the nominal fare, now $2.75). We might better ask, “Could private enterprise—truly private, without government supervision, subsidies or involvement of any kind—have built the SAS without such trauma?” Turns out that bar’s so low that any developer, however corrupt and callous, could jump it.

The Carnage of Bureaucratic “Wisdom”

The SAS’s “long and inglorious history,” as even municipal bureaucrats call it, “spans most of the 20th century and into the 21st century with minimal progress.” Government first announced plans for the SAS in 1929—yet 87 years later, it’s still a-building after several false starts and real stops. Along the way, the City borrowed half a billion dollars in 1951, back when that sort of money still awed taxpayers (over $4.6 billion in today’s terms. Alas, by 1957, the usual political bickering and pilfering had whittled that amount by half, indefinitely delaying the SAS). And in the 1970s, the City decimated East Harlem by ripping up its streets preparatory for constructing the SAS (again to no avail: New York declared bankruptcy shortly thereafter—partly because of the $500,000,000 previously borrowed).

But the pains of construction may exceed those of postponement. New York City is a pedestrians’ paradise, with the businesses that line every block catering to and heavily dependent on them. Yet Phase 1’s construction “has shrunk ordinarily wide sidewalks into smaller, temporary walkways” often meandering 10 or 15 feet from stores that formerly sat flush with the sidewalk. Bridging the gap are narrow ramps that discourage anyone elderly or the least bit unsteady on his feet. No wonder “business owners say their sales are down 20 to 40 percent.”

Ditto for automotive traffic. “’Before the construction began, a lot of my customers drove and parked right outside, bought their shoes and clothing,’ [an owner of two stores] said. ‘But now they aren’t able to do that.’” He added that “’sales at both stores are down 20 to 30 percent.’”

Retail isn’t the only industry Phase 1 has wounded. Also bleeding profusely is New York’s favorite preoccupation: real estate.

Many residents of Second Avenue rent their apartments. Phase 1 inconveniences them while harming their landlords: “Rents are falling even further on Second Avenue … as the ongoing construction for the Second Avenue Subway has made residing there less desirable and doing business there substantially more difficult…” One landlord estimated that his rents had “decrease[d] … about 30 percent since complaints about construction began.” New York’s grotesque rent-control pits landlords and tenants against one another, but the former must turn a profit all the same, if only to pay the exorbitant real-estate taxes New York City demands. Few enterprises can survive a 30% hit.

People who own their apartments also suffer from declining values. Homeowners able to endure through completion should enjoy an increase in their basis. But others won’t. Anyone whose new job, new spouse, or retirement forced him to relocate during construction sold his condo or co-op at a loss.

Meanwhile, the City evicts renters and owners alike, some briefly and others permanently. One victim who “received a temporary relocation notice informing [him that he] will have to be out of [his apartment] for 30 to 60 days due to construction … for the … Second Avenue subway project,” wailed, “This is devastating. I don’t want to move. … I have been in this apartment for 10 years and have always paid my rent and I just can’t believe something like this could happen…”

So when statists insist that only government can build and run subways… they’re right.

If misery loves company, he’s got plenty of it. Phase 1 “seized 24 properties through eminent domain” from 2007 through 2014.

A Disaster Only Bureaucrats Could Create

A “long and sordid history,” indeed. But how could it be otherwise? The State relies on force, not persuasion and cooperation, for achieving its purposes.

Which again prompts us to ask whether private developers could build the SAS without bankrupting, annoying and depopulating whole neighborhoods. And the answer is they certainly could—but they probably wouldn’t.

Why? Because from the beginning, the subway was a “public-private partnership.” Or, as “John T. Hetrick…of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company” explained in an article for The Independent on October 20, 1904, “…the New York Subway was a business proposition” from “business men, … the lessees of the system for a term of fifty years,” with “the Finance Department of the city” having the final check on all expenditures…” since “the Subway is public property…”

These “businessmen” stepped in “after years of agitation and two unsuccessful attempts had been made to get capitalists interested in the project … [F]inanciers interested in the great railroad systems refused to undertake the project of tunneling through rock-ribbed, New York in close proximity to the foundation walls of skyscrapers down-town. Capital was afraid.” And with good reason. “Capital” realized that it must charge passengers so very much to cover this mammoth feat of engineering that the subway wasn’t feasible—and indeed, to this day, taxpayers heavily subsidize New York City’s transit. Operating subways honestly, without robbing taxpayers, would push fares so high few could afford them.

So when statists insist that only government can build and run subways… they’re right.

The Foundation for Economic Education

5 Ways to Make Sure Trump Loses

Over the past few days, a number of polls have come out showing Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump nationally by double digits, including in blue collar states like Michigan (10%) and Pennsylvania (11%). If you are a Clinton supporter and have felt a sense of relief when you saw these numbers, your shoulders suddenly relaxing and an audible “phew” coming from your mouth, if you got excited that your belief system was now reassured that there was no chance your fellow Americans will vote for a narcissistic misogynist, then you just became part of the problem — and why Donald J. Trump could actually win on November 8th.

Please do not think for a second this election is over or in the bag. There are three long months to go. If you think that all we have to do is just let Trump keep shooting himself in the head – that “Trump will beat Trump” and the rest of us just have to sit back and watch with glee – well, you are playing with fire. And you’re looking for a way to get out of doing any work. Clearly you’ve forgotten this election is not about whether there are more people “for” Hillary or Trump. Of course there are more people for Hillary! She will lead in the opinion polls from now until Election Day.


Because this is not a popularity contest decided by polls (or in this year’s edition, a contest over who you dislike the least). As I’ve said, if people could vote from their sofa via their Xbox or remote control, Hillary would win in a landslide. But this election is only about who SHOWS UP to the VOTING BOOTH on November 8th (or to early voting or by absentee ballot). The election this year is not being held as usual on the first Tuesday of November; it’s happening in the second week of the month, so if you live in the top half of the country, that means a greater chance for snow or icy rain — and that means a lower turnout. A lower turnout helps Trump.

This election is ONLY about who gets who out to vote, who’s got the most rabid supporters, the kind of candidate who inspires people to get out of bed at 5am on Election Day because a Wall needs to built! Muslims are killing us! Women are taking over! USA! USA! Make My Penis Great Again! Hillary is the Devil! America First! Fetus First! First in Line at the Polls!

So instead of feeling better this week because of the new polls (BTW, only one of these polls is of “likely voters” – the Reuters Poll – and in that one, Hillary leads by only 4 points), or regaling over Trump’s insanity (so insane, he raised $82 million last month in mostly $10-$20 contributions, stunning the Clinton campaign, because Bernie never had a grassroots month anywhere near that), I would like to suggest a different response. I’d like to ask those who love Hillary to hold off on the victory party ’til the wee hours of November 9th. Please, can we all agree that now is NOT the time to do this:

Let’s stop the early celebrating and the gloating over Trump’s Bad Week. No premature end zone dances. If you are serious about this election, and if you are smart enough to still take Donald Trump seriously, then here’s 5 things to do – four for you, and one for Hillary:

You Are Responsible for Getting 50 People to the Polls November 8th. Start making your list now. Create this list on your smart phone of the people you will personally make sure show up to the polls on November 8th. Enter their email addresses and cell phone numbers. Call it your “November 8th Project.” Add a name to it every single day between now and November 8th until you have 50 people – 50 names in 90 days. Focus on nonvoters. Then, on November 7th and 8th, call, text and/or email every one of them and remind them to vote. Offer them a ride. Offer them lunch. Offer to watch the kids. Offer to mow their lawn. Plan a get-together or a party for everyone after going to vote. You must remind even those people who you think don’t need reminding. This election isn’t about you voting — it’s about you getting 50 others to vote.

From Today Until November 8th, You Are in the French Resistance. Imagine what it was like to be in the French underground while the Germans invaded France. The only possible way to win was an unrelenting, round-the-clock commitment to defeat the Nazis. There was no time for one of those 3-hour French dinners. They did not take vacations. They did not sleep in. They did not have time for “playdates.” The Germans were coming! The Germans were there! Well, friends, our fascist (Drumpf!) is coming! That’s the mind-set you need to be in. For the next three months, the kids have to get themselves to soccer! Work on your marriage in December! There’s no time for hot yoga! No one in the French Resistance ever said “I can’t blow up that Nazi train today ’cause I feel like I might be coming down with a cold!”

You Must Be Supportive of the Depressed Voter. So many people have given up on our system and that’s because the system has given up on them. They know it’s all bullshit: politics, politicians, elections. The middle class in tatters, the American Dream a nightmare for the 47 million living in poverty. Get this straight: HALF of America is planning NOT to vote November 8th. Hillary’s approval rating is at 36%. CNN said it last night: No one running for office with an approval rating of 36% has ever been elected president (Trump’s is at 30%). Even in these newer polls, 60% still say that Hillary is “untrustworthy to be president.” Disillusioned young people stop me every day to tell me they’re not voting (or they’re voting 3rd Party). This is a problem, folks. Stop ignoring it. You need to listen to them. Chastising them, shaming them, will not work. Acknowledging to them that they have a point, that Hillary Clinton is maybe not the best candidate, and then promising them that you will join them on November 9th in a political revolution that will demand Clinton enact her platform, that might go a long way to getting them to vote. They don’t have to change their opinion about Hillary. They just have to reluctantly vote for her and be allowed to feel very bad about doing it – and very good that we will fight on their side after the election.

Hillary Must Slyly Stick Trump with a Comedy Shiv During the Debates. Bill Maher and I will help Hillary with this (Hill, call us!). I’m sure Amy Schumer and Chris Rock would chip in, too. Clinton actually has a good sense of humor, but keeps it mostly hidden (here she is back in the ’90s, sparring with a Republican leader of Congress: Trump has very thin skin. If she can slide the perfect line of satirical ridicule just under that thin skin of his, he will implode. On live TV. And that, my friends, will be the moment it’s over for him. A complete mental meltdown on a stage without his cheering man-fans in the room. BOOM!

I Hereby Appoint You Precinct Captain in Your Neighborhood, in Your School, and at Your Place of Work. Yes, you. Tell them Michael Moore personally named you. Not because I have any authority to do so. Just because I said so. And you said so. Please, friends, do not depend entirely on the “Democratic Party” to pull this off in November. It is often, depending on where you live, an apparatus of numskulls, hacks and former high school student council rejects. Quick, name the local chair of the Dems in your county. They are not of the people. If we depend just on them, we lose. We usually do. Obama had a brilliant campaign team, was a beloved candidate, and that’s why he won. Hillary’s campaign lost 22 states to a 74-year old socialist who had neither a comb nor 50 bucks in his pocket — and was unknown to everyone except me and some hippies in Vermont! Hahahaha! Here’s a tweet this week from one of Hillary’s “top advisers”, the chair of the “Campaign for American Progress”, just to give you a clue as to the brain trust surrounding her:

Michael Moore, Michael Moore’s Website