High Speed Double Standards

A story about China’s new high speed rail line popped up in my custom NPR podcast feed today. As I washed dishes and listened to the snippet, I noticed a surprising double standard develop in the story.

The Chinese built a train that travels from Beijing to Shanghai (820 miles) in 48 minutes. If that were a train in the U.S., according to the NPR report, that same trip would consume almost seventeen hours of your day.

Putting aside the notion that such an efficient project could be implemented faster than scheduled here—the story schools the Chinese for debt and poor management, in a tone that’s rarely shown toward our failed Chinese debt-funded projects.

Host Lousia Lim: However, this project was plagued with corruption, with railway’s minister Liu Zhijun sacked for disciplinary violations, amid rumors about numerous mistresses.

During the construction of this track, $121 million disappeared. Then there’s the debt problem. The debt-to-asset ratio is almost 60 percent, and some believe the money from fares will never be enough to repay those loans.

I get that she’s “just reporting the story.” But our politicians rack up debt and affairs like it’s their only job and what do we have to show for it?

Philadelphia Public School Update

Great, detailed conversation about the state of public school in Philadelphia, including which services will be cut as a part of the $629 million dollar shortfall. It seems likely that any advances made to the quality of education in the past few years, in one of the country’s poorest cities, will be reversed.

Informing shows like this make me grateful for local public media!

{Radio Times}

Mario Clouds and Gutterballs

Great article on Internet-history aficionado Cory Arcangel, in the May 30 edition of the New Yorker. Andrea K. Scott summarizes Arcangel’s approach in a single succinct sentence:

Arcangel finds an abject beauty in the way that modern technology is doomed to obsolescence.

Some of Arcangel’s recent projects:

  • And a blog that automatically updates with that week’s New Yorker cartoon caption contest, with the same caption: What A Misunderstanding!