Very snowy holiday greetings from Finland, everyone! While here visiting my in-laws and friends, I wanted to take a quick moment and share an interesting observation about the way Finns handle the incessant layers of snow that blanket their chilly winter country. It seems that aside from limited access highways and some primary arterials, the Finnish standard for snow treatment is to plow to a reasonable depth, but not worry too much about an inch or two of snow base layer covering streets. Some streets get sand treatment as well, but salt is used very, very sparingly.
The growth in hybrid car sales is a welcome sign that a major change in the automobile industry is afoot. The shift to transport infrastructure that is not based on the archaic complexity of an internal combustion engine, with its hundreds of moving parts and compressed fuel explosions, has been long put off by an automobile industry, happy with status quo, partnered with oil cartels with the power to price their product as if it were in endless supply. But with smack-in-the-face-reality fuel prices last summer, the collapse of the so-called “Big Three” over the winter, and the simultaneous heralding assertion of alternative energy technologies (Daimler AG bought a 10% stake in Tesla Motors last month!), the fallout of western economic near-collapse has changed everything we’ve known to be sacrosanct; Leonard Lopate even waxed nostalgic about the “Death of the Car Song” yesterday on National Public Radio’s local station, WNYC.
Once upon a time public rights-of-way were simpler; they made sense. The mobile laws of society were black and white. Streets were for cars and sidewalks were for, well, walking on the side of the street. You know, out of the way? At some point recently though things have started to blur, and it's starting to get just a little bit out of control. It's hard to put one's finger on it, but lately there's been this funny notion that the street itself, long the gift to man-and-machine, is supposed to be shared with people who just can't seem to keep themselves on their side of the curb. Woe is me, in some instances there isn't even a curb anymore! What's worse, it seems apparent that our public officials, the very people we elect to represent us an