The week (July 14th): Nobody asked me, but…

As New York’s great newspaper columnist Jimmy Cannon used to say, nobody asked me, but…

BOSTON’S TRAGIC BIG DIG TUNNEL ACCIDENT serves to highlight the incestuous relationship of Big Government and Big Business during America’s most-expensive public works project ($14.6 billion and counting). A concrete panel fell from above and killed a woman traveling through the I-90 connector tunnel Monday night.

In a tough column, Margery Egan of the Boston Herald quoted local politicians (Republicans and Democrats alike) who found themselves given the cold shoulder when they criticized the management of the project. Big Dig critic Joe Malone was told: “This is about keeping the money flowing.” And, as Egan notes: “And flow it did. To law firms. Public relations firms. Ad firms. To neighborhoods and small businesses upset about Big Dig dust and traffic. Remember “mitigation measures”?”

Sadly, many Bostonians were not surprised by the accident, nor by the news that scores of additional flaws have been discovered.

The Boston Globe provided a small window into the “No Show” culture of entitlement that has festered for years in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts public safety commissioner yesterday suspended 20 state building and engineering inspectors for refusing to accept cellphones equipped with global positioning systems.

Why did they refuse? The lame excuse, seemingly backed by the inspectors’ union, was “invasion of privacy.” One of the inspectors told the Globe that they “had a litany of questions that were never answered. This GPS says how fast you’re going, how long you took to stop and eat your lunch. The GPS is an invasion of privacy.”

A government spokeswoman argued that the cellphone policy “is about accountability.” ‘She added: “If you’re doing your job well, there shouldn’t be any concern with it. This allows the Department of Public Safety to ensure that taxpayers’ money is being spent in an appropriate way.”

According to the Globe, these are the inspectors responsible for “overseeing construction, as well as the maintenance of boilers, air tanks, and amusement rides.”

A WELCOME FREE SPEECH VICTORY as Apple Computer has decided not to appeal its rejection of attempts to “to unmask whoever leaked details about a still-unreleased music accessory.” (As CNET reported, in May, the California state appeals court “rejected Apple’s arguments that the independent reporters were not true journalists. ‘We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes ‘legitimate journalism,” the court said, ruling that California’s journalist shield law would protect the Web reporters.) These developments are heartening news for independent journalists, bloggers and all those exercising their First Amendment rights on the Web.

BRILLIANT FEATURE BY WIL HAYGOOD ON FRANK SINATRA, JR. in the Washington Post, “Frank Jr., the Unsung Sinatra: He’s Got a Big Heart and His Pop’s Voice, but Just A Shadow of His Success.” Nancy Sinatra got most of the press attention, and other than a 1963 kidnapping episode, (his father paid the ransom, although the kidnappers were later caught and convicted) Frank, Jr. has been out of the limelight.

Haygood brings us along as Sinatra croons in front of his father’s faithful fans, and, he tells us, stirs a few ghosts.

WILL THE INTERNET SAVE EDITORIAL CARTOONING? With cost-conscious newspaper publishers eliminating staff positions for editorial cartoonists, it seems the only growth prospects for the art form center on the web. Daryl Cagle’s website is top-notch, and the Washington Post offers an interesting Toles v. Toles feature of Tom Toles’ published and rough-sketch cartoons. Now, Inside Higher has added a regular cartoonist, Matthew Henry Hall, in a feature they call “Teachable Moments.”

DON’T IGNORE BRUCE ARENA’S RECORD OF SUCCESS as he parts ways with U.S. Soccer and steps down as national team coach. Arena won at Virginia, he won with D.C. United and he won with the U.S. team (a 71-30-29 record, two World Cup appearances, including taking the U.S. to the quarterfinals in 2002.) Look for him to lead the last-place New York Red Bulls to the Cosmos-like Promised Land.

If Juergen Klinsmann isn’t interested, why not Steve Nicol, former Liverpool star, of the New England Revolution, and his assistant Paul Mariner, another English great? The Revs play an attractive, up-tempo soccer with a bit of an edge.

THE “DATABASE OF INTENTIONS” is technology writer John Battelle’s clever term to refer to the “collective history of Internet searches.” But as David Leonhardt of the New York Times noted in his article “The Internet knows what you will do next,” sometimes those intentions aren’t so lofty, as search engines have surfaced them.

Thanks to Google Trends, the mayor of Elmhurst, a Chicago suburb, has had to explain why his city devotes more of its Web searches to ‘‘sex’’ than any other in the US (because it doesn’t have strip clubs or pornography shops, he gamely told The Chicago Sun-Times).

I am not making this up, I assure you…

;;;;; ;;, ; ; ;
Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders
All rights reserved

Add to Technorati Favorites!