- Date #3 with Brown Eyes! Indian food, no boozes, much chat, very happy-making. I left one of my gloves in her car (and the other just outside it), thereby accidentally setting up date #4 on Monday night.
- M'boy left my lake place on Thursday instead of Friday and left me the car.
- I got my driver's license back. Soon I'll have two copies, but w'evs.
- Remember A, the crack seamstress whom I dated? She's interested in the skirt commission.
- My ex and all my self-employed artist & writer friends aren't in immediate danger of losing all access to health care.
The other day I received a letter letting me know that Kent and Medway Wheelchair Services is being privatised (they were worried about this happening when I went through the system last summer). Now in theory it shouldn't make any difference to the service I receive, but, as I noted on Twitter, it does mean someone now expects to make a profit out of my needs/my wheels.
Today the new franchise holder followed my twitter account. Now admittedly it's a new account, but they're following a grand total of 7 accounts, only two of which are individuals, and the other one is Tanni, aka Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson, parliamentarian, multiple paralympian and the most famous wheelie in the country.
The scary thing is I didn't mention where I lived. They must have pulled it out of the #wheelchair stream from a week ago, figured out I was talking about them and made a note to follow me once their account was up.
Of course that's not remotely likely to intimidate someone from freely discussing the service they depend on.
Nope, not one bit.
(Well, not if you know me, but other people...)
If you're going to post something marked 'Urgent, please do not ignore' through a letterbox, maybe spend 5 seconds to make sure you have the right house?
And they weren't even close, I live at 41, the letter was addressed to number 49, which is literally the first house in the street...
I just tottered down the road in the freezing rain to put it in the right letterbox. (So of course the rain has now stopped).
*I know it was hand delivered, because a) no stamp and b) I heard them knock and them put it in the letterbox about 6PM last night, but given at that point I'd already gone to bed because of the whole sinus bug thing and was asleep not long after I wasn't about to get up to answer the door and didn't actually see it until this morning.
How to Discuss Race With Black People: FAQ Part 1 — Beginner "So. You’re a white person looking to hop into a discussion about race with black people."
How To Discuss Race With Black People: FAQ Part 2 — Intermediate "Now you’ve got a good grasp of the basics. [...] Q: No offense, but what about black-on-black crime?"
How To Discuss Race With Black People: FAQ Part 3 — Advanced "At this point, you’ve realized that acknowledging your privilege doesn’t mean that you are evil, nor does it mean that you have not struggled, worked hard or experienced hardship."
Why Lemonade Is For Black Women by Dominique Matti. "There is a specific betrayal in a Black man failing his daughter. [...] Even if she transcends them, even if she rises above the smoke, makes a phoenix of herself, a small girl inside of her will overcompensate for the parts of herself she believes to be intolerable — unlovable, disrespectable."
The Writing Life of A Disorganized, Antisocial, Black Single Mom with ADD by Ijeoma Oluo. "I sit and “listen” online, in person, on tv, in articles — to what isn’t being said, and I ask myself why."
- K across the street (Which street? I live on a corner and was afraid to ask.) was at the pro-immigration protest a few weeks ago. I'm pretty sure we chatted on the bus home.
- C, who recognized me from the late, lamented Electric Tea Garden, one of my favorite places to shake my booty. She says I left a "sweet impression" on her. What's astounding - OK, maybe not, ETG's been closed for a few years now - is that I don't remember C at all, despite her being kinda cute. That would explain why I talked to her, though.
File this under S for sheesh.
First of all, what is zipper merge? It's the idea that when lanes merge, the traffic should cluster up at the merge point, where cars will take turns merging. Some variants include active signage to signal which car should go next, but mostly not. This is compared to "early merge", where people start to get over as possible as soon as possible.
Outside of some specific situations (2 lanes going down to 1 where neither lane is obviously the one going away) this has never made much sense to me. Humans overbrake, amplifying any slowdown. Encouraging gradual merging over a long distance, where cars can slow down enough to let others in just by coasting, seems obviously better. And calmer, and more polite. Also, to be fair, the kind of people who are really vocal about zipper merge tend to put me off. But I know better than to trust my gut reaction on such things -- that's what we have science for! So what does the science say?
Under various names, late merge has shown up in papers as early as 199015. The idea really started to take off after some work in the Netherlands in the late 90s.13 Of the later work, two things really stand out to me. First, they almost all are only talking about 2 lanes merging down to 18, 9, 10, 16. Also, many of the papers8, 15, 16, 17, 18 are primarily reporting on simulated results or are lit reviews12, 14 like this post.
The number of lanes in question seems key to me. In the situation of just 2 lanes going down to 1, zipper merge certainly makes a lot more sense. The problem here is that these results are over-generalized to apply to any merging scenario. The entrance to the express lanes on N I-5 in downtown Seattle is a prime example of this. There, a lane becomes exit-only that many people want to take. Many of them apply late merge techniques, zooming up to the front of the line and then trying to merge. In doing so, they block an entire lane that would otherwise be open, and this sometimes carries over to slowing down even the next lane, as people dodge out around the blockage. This is the core of my objection to zipper merge -- it encourages people to be jerks.
The simulation issue is also critical. The simulations are all calibrated using real world data, but that mostly extends just to things like measuring the average time it takes to change lanes. The distinction between real world measurements and simulated results are often lost in later citations, such as in the heavily cited McCoy 200114 paper. It states that "Early Merge has been found to increase travel times", while only referencing two simulation studies15, 16 -- and the second citation only provides parameters for simulating a late merge system that hadn't been implemented yet at the time of publication!
Overall, the results seem pretty muddy to me. Of the others, one9 lacked a control and another10 had neutral results. There are several papers that do find pro-zipper11, 17, 18 results, but those are qualified as being tied to specific traffic volumes and/or the presence of active signage. This is a hard problem to investigate, since it involves changing habits of a large number of people. It shouldn't be surprising if the results are inconclusive.
Does any of this matter? I think so. Look at the news articles promoting zipper merge -- "science says to stop being polite" is a common theme. We should always be extra dubious when evidence seems to justify us doing what we wanted to do in the first place.
1: Minnesota DOT
2: Kansas City DOT
3: Nebraska DOT
4: Missouri DOT
5: Why Last-Second Lane Mergers Are Good for Traffic, New York Times, October 12, 2016
6: All hail the zipper merge: How Canadian politeness is killing the efficiency of our highways, National Post, January 23, 2017
7: Have you ever heard of the zipper merge technique?, Houston Chronicle, July 25, 2016
8: Wakita, Y., et al. "Comparison of zipper and non-zipper merging patterns near merging point of roads." Nature-Inspired Computing Design, Development, and Applications. IGI Global, 2012. 221-231. OPEN ACCESS
9: Grillo, Lia, Tapan Datta, and Catherine Hartner. "Dynamic late lane merge system at freeway construction work zones." Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2055 (2008): 3-10. PAYWALL
10: Idewu, Wakeel, and Brian Wolshon. "Joint merge and its impact on merging speeds in lane reduction areas of construction zone." Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2169 (2010): 31-39. PAYWALL
11: Kurker, Michael, et al. Minimizing User Delay and Crash Potential through Highway Work Zone Planning. No. FHWA/TX-13/0-6704-1. 2014. OPEN ACCESS
12: Walters, Carol H., et al. Understanding road rage: Summary of first-year project activities. No. TX-01/4945-1,. 2000. OPEN ACCESS
13: Dijker, Thomas, and Piet HL Bovy. "Influencing lane changing at lane drops." Transportation Research Board 1999 Annual Meeting CD-ROM. 1999. NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE
14: McCoy, Patrick, and Geza Pesti. "Dynamic late merge-control concept for work zones on rural interstate highways." Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 1745 (2001): 20-26. OPEN ACCESS
15: Mousa, Ragab M., Nagui M. Rouphail, and Farhard Azadivar. "Integrating microscopic simulation and optimization: Application to freeway work zone traffic control." Transportation Research Record 1254 (1990). PAYWALL
16: Tarko, Andrzej P., Sreenivasulu R. Kanipakapatnam, and Jason S. Wasson. "Modeling and Optimization of the Indiana Lane Merge Control System on Approaches to Freeway Work Zones, Part I." Joint Transportation Research Program (1998): 345. OPEN ACCESS
17: Ramadan, Ossama E., and Virginia P. Sisiopiku. "Evaluation of merge control strategies at interstate work zones under peak and off-peak traffic conditions." Journal of transportation technologies 6.03 (2016): 118. OPEN ACCESS
18: Kang, Kyeong-Pyo, Gang-Len Chang, and Jawad Paracha. "Dynamic late merge control at highway work zones: evaluations, observations, and suggestions." Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 1948 (2006): 86-95. OPEN ACCESS
Yep, that's the Minister of State for Disabled People celebrating World Downs Syndrome Day by saying how 'inspiring' it is that a young woman with Downs Syndrome actually has a job. Disabilityconfident she isn't.
I may have been inspired to a rant about the objectification of disabled people as 'inspiring'.
AKA I came down with another inner ear bug over the weekend. Fairly mild, I'm just very slightly dizzy when I move around, but annoying as I've a few errands I want to run now there's hints of spring in the weather and there's no way I could safely drive. I think I've had one bug or another more than I've been bug free this year, and that may well be true as far back as last September, which is getting boring.
So I mostly spent Monday dozing in bed, which seems to have helped, and there was an interesting sequential dream to keep me amused. 'Sequential' as I woke up several times during it, but the dream picked up once I'd dozed off again.
Slightly futuristic setting, the characters were the high command of Singapore's space navy (?!) until an attack with a WMD took out the top man, at which point his deputy has to take over, said deputy being something of a joke and alleged former crook. Unfortunately for the bad guys he's also Bruce Willis. So cue thorough reprisals, both individually against those who plotted the attack and collectively against them as a nation - I never did work out who the bad guys were, but my subconscious is saying South American. Some of the reprisals were slightly Cthulhu-esque, probably a result of the Laundry Files re-read I've been doing. It's interesting the places my dream-director chooses to go.
Hopefully I'll be over this buf soon, but if not I'll settle for a few good dreams.
- M'boy needed my help to close his savings account that we opened when he was a minor. I ended up leaving my driver's license in the bank branch at the other end of Seattle, near Ex's. Good thing my passport is valid: I used it to get into the Mercury last night. (More about which shortly.) I got to try out Lyft for the first time too - I nuked Uber for awful labor practices and its support of 45.
- My bathroom sink backed up right before I needed to put on makeup for said trip to the Mercury. Drāno works great if you let it work overnight. Ahem.
- I didn't have time to put sheets on my bed before I left last night.
- Right before I left for dinner with m_cobweb & co. I found out that I have a flat tire. Luckily, m'boy won't be using the car until at least Tuesday, and truth be told he can cope without it.
- Stuff broke at work last night. I was on call, but I was also on a date. I didn't get alerted, so somebody else found the problem and took care of it. I'm not sure whether that's bad or not.
Oh yeah: she drove me home to the north end, and took me out to Blue Star for a badly needed and quite tasty breakfast. That's right: I walked into a breakfast joint in Wallingford wearing a sheer top, corset, short skirt, red fishnets, and Fluevog heels with leather laces up the back. No makeup, though, because what Brown Eyes didn't kiss off me I'd removed. I did notice one white-bearded gent giving me a good stare.
Did my usual morning workout, got my apartment put back together, and crashed. Was late for m_cobweb, about which I'm not proud. However, the owner of the late, lamented Night Kitchen was there. I got to tell her about how a bunch of us ate there the first night of my new life as a woman. She loved that story. She also drove me home (!) when she found out I would have otherwise had a really long bus ride.* I kind of wondered what she was doing after the Night Kitchen closed, and the answer is, embarking on a tech career. I wish her all happiness; she brought much happiness to her customers, including me.
*The 41 from Lake City, near Seattle's northeast corner, all the way downtown, and thence to an E, which goes back north up the middle to my place. Stoopit, right? About the only east-west routes in the north end are the ones going to the UW, and they don't intersect with the 41.
As alatefeline says, put together specifically to highlight the voices of the LGBTQIA+ elders who are still with us and teach us how they have done survival activism and superb art in a time and place that hated them.
Essays, art and opinion exploring the lives of people living with disabilities at the New York Times, via jesse_the_k.
This is a weekly column, so there are a lot of articles to browse through. Here's one that spoke to me: Love, Eventually by Ona Gritz.
Welcome To The Anti-Racism Movement — Here’s What You’ve Missed by Ijeoma Oluo. A primer for folks just starting out with anti-racism, and a good reminder for the rest of us white & privileged folks. "Racial privilege is like a gun that will auto-focus on POC until you learn to aim it."
Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In America by Chris Ladd. "Americans with good jobs live in a socialist welfare state more generous, cushioned and expensive to the public than any in Europe." (Of course, those good jobs are meant for white men.)
The Problem With Facts by Tim Hartford, via supergee. How the tobacco industry intentionally sowed doubt to continue profiting from a cancer-causing product, and how their tactics are being used by the current US administration. This one makes me sick to my stomach.
Always Go To The Funeral by Deirdre Sullivan, via a friend on the occasion of a former coworker's unexpected death. I was surprised how many of our former coworkers planned to go to the funeral, and she pointed me to this. I have felt extremely awkward at funerals where I felt I didn't belong, so I think it can go both ways. But the larger message stands.
In going to funerals, I've come to believe that while I wait to make a grand heroic gesture, I should just stick to the small inconveniences that let me share in life's inevitable, occasional calamity.
You may also recall that building manager P has been around my lake place lately to replace my water heater. (Yay!) But what you definitely can't recall is that P noticed the sign and asked about it, so I told him what I just told you.
I'm happy to say that P thinks 1552 is piffle. What I'm less happy to say, though, is that he said something like, "You look fine," as if that's material to the question of whether I should be beaten to death for using a public women's restroom.
I didn't point out that it isn't material. Was that wrong? The calculation that I made in that split second is that it isn't. I'm trying to spare myself and everyone like me one of those aforementioned beatings, and I need all the help I can get, including that of an octogenarian building manager, who is, all things considered, not a bad guy.
It speaks, I think, to the idea that there is a hierarchy of needs for societies as well as for individuals. If your community can barely feed and defend yourselves, any morality that says outsiders are equal to group members in humanity, and in their right to the resources necessary to survival, is a morality that will lead to the death of the community. Such a community cannot afford to allow group members to act in a way that does not support the immediate needs of the community; dissension is death.
But a community that outproduces its needs is a community that can afford charity, that can afford to see interactions with outsiders not as zero-sum, if-they-gain-we-lose, but as an opportunity for both sides to gain. It is a community that can afford to view outsiders not as enemies, but as potential allies, and it is a community that can afford to have group members question and argue against the prevailing norms.
And the wealthier a community becomes, the more it is able to view differences not as threats but as strengths. The more it is able to welcome outsiders into the fold, and allow them to contribute to the wealth of the community, increasing the speed of the feedback loop. The more it can afford to look at the group members it has repressed in the past, and extend to them more and more of the privileges afforded by default to the "core" members.
It's important to acknowledge, of course, that what the community can afford will always outpace what the community will allow, for a variety of reasons, most of them selfish. From the history of our own community, slavery persisted long after it made economic sense, which itself was longer than we actually needed slavery in order for the community to prosper. Women's suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, LGBTQ rights, giving women the right to control their bodies themselves, have all lagged criminally behind society's ability to accommodate them.
All of which is a longwinded setup for my actual statement which is this:
The current administration and their collaborators in Congress are not only trying to roll back all the moral progress we have made since WWII (or even longer) as a society, as a nation, and in the world, their attempts to wreck the economy, if successful, will also destroy a great deal of our ability to afford that moral progress. To, in effect, go back to the days when blatant and overt racism, sexism, homo- and trans-phobia, are not only tolerated, but expected and encouraged.
We've seen, over and over again, the right try to block or roll back the rights that have been so hard-fought and won by non-rich, white, straight, cis men.
We've never that I can recall seen the right actually, credibly attack the engines of economic prosperity that allowed those rights to win through.
The rich sycophants to the Trump regime don't care if the pie gets smaller, as long as they get a bigger share. In fact, they'll actively conspire to shrink the pie. And the working- and middle-class white folks who voted for him appear perfectly happy to accept that they're going to lose out "bigly", as long as the folks they look down on are punished even worse.
This is big. This is important. This is not normal.
We need to prevent this from becoming normal.
* in Niven and Pournelle's _Lucifer's Hammer_, if I am remembering correctly.
** I learned much later of MLK's statement, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice", which I think is an observation of the same phenomenon.