People in authority had better get serious about the 100-year-old railroad tunnels under the Hudson River connecting New York City’s Penn Station with New Jersey and everything south all the way to Florida. The parallel tunnels are now handling rail traffic at near capacity, about 24 trains an hour during the busiest times of day. But they were flooded by super storm Sandy, causing serious damage. If one of the tunnels is shut down for repairs, the remaining tunnel would have to accommodate two-way traffic, reducing to six the number of trains per hour that could pass through in both directions. The estimated cost for new tunnels? Sixteen billion. But it’s got to be done. According to one source, a complete shut-down of the tunnels would cost economies on both sides of the river a total of $100 million per day. Per day!
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When I was a kid — and, yes, that was a long time ago — almost all the stores and businesses in West Hartford, Connecticut, closed on Sundays and Mondays. The local movie theater was open, of course, and I suppose the pharmacy, but everything else was dark. I suppose that was because most of those businesses were family owned and those folks needed a couple of days off every week. Today, of course, that’s all changed and most of the big retailers will be open on Thanksgiving. The big bosses are going to be home with their families, of course. It’s the ordinary folks are the ones who end up working on the holidays. Minimum wage, at time-and-a-half.
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What is the appeal of Southwest Airlines? I keep hearing about people who won’t fly any other airline unless they absolutely have to. I haven’t ever flown on Southwest. If pressed, I guess it would be because Southwest, not wanting the competition, lobbied heavily against the original proposal for a high-speed train linking Houston, Austin and Dallas. Also, and I admit this is personal, they have poorly produced and unimaginative television commercials which are run relentlessly eight or 10 times during telecasts of every Red Sox game … and there are close to 200 of those, counting Spring Training. By the time the season is half over, I am reduced to grabbing the remote, muting the TV and averting my eyes when their spots appear.
And, finally, I offer for your contemplation Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma. He is of the opinion that no one has produced any scientific proof that higher global temperatures are going to cause us any problems. “In fact,” says the senator, “it appears that just the opposite is true: that increases in global temperatures may have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives.” As a result of last Tuesday’s election, it would appear that Senator Inhofe will be the new chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.