🛣 Headlines About California Highways – March 2021

Hard to believe, perhaps, but one quarter of 2021 is in the books. I had hope to get out a highway page update in March, but it is slower going than I expected. So I get to add one more headline post to the mix, slowing it down even further. On the plus side, the first of the Moderna shots has been achieved, bringing closer the day that I’ll go out for a roadtrip. So here are the headlines and other things of interest that I collected during the month of March. As I always say, “ready, set, discuss”.

[Ħ Historical information | Paywalls and other annoying restrictions: SDUT/San Diego Union Tribune; OCR/Orange County Register; VN/Valley News; PE/Press Enterprise; LBPT/Long Beach Press Telegram; DB/Daily Breeze; LADN/Los Angeles Daily News; LAT/LA Times; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; FB/Fresno Bee; MODBEE/Modesto Bee; MH/Monterey Herald; SONN/Sonoma News; SJMN/Mercury News; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; SFG/SF Gate; EBT/East Bay Times; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee; SBJ/Sacramento Business Journal; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; MIJ/Marin Independent-Journal; NVR/Napa Valley Register; PD/Press Democrat; AC/Argus Courier; RBDN/Red Bluff Daily News; AD/Yuba Sutter Colusa County Appeal Democrat; DNT/Del Norte Triplicate; NW/Newsweek; UKT/The Telegraph (UK) ]

  • Driving apps divert motorists to dangerous mountain road. The U.S. Forest Service warned people not to trust their driving apps and GPS devices after hearing from motorists the apps were diverting them to Salmon River Road. That happened after people posted on social media they were searching for alternative routes to a stretch of state Route 96 that is partially blocked by a mudslide.
  • /DNT Significant slide activity continues to hamper Last Chance Grade. U.S. Highway 101 was open to one-lane travel Tuesday night after another week of landslide activity blocked the road at Last Chance Grade. Crews have been working on the road since last week, when precipitation caused the hillside above the highway to crumble down, blocking both lanes for extended periods of time. As of Tuesday evening, crews warned motorists of possible 30-minute delays overnight, as well as three-hour delays scheduled between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to allow for removal and prevention work.
  • ‘The Big Sur we all dream about’: Why some residents are delighted that Highway 1 collapsed. In late January, an atmospheric river dumped heavy rains over the Dolan Fire scar, triggering a debris flow in Big Sur that overwhelmed drainage infrastructure and carried a giant chunk of Highway 1 thousands of feet down the cliff and into the sea. The dramatic slide left behind a 150-foot chasm where the road once was at mile marker 30, another beautiful stretch of California land reclaimed by the elements. Friends and family members living on opposite sides of the hole were separated. Residents living to the south were cut off from basic services, schools and jobs in the north. The postmaster had to start going the long way around, as did angry tourists attempting to visit from or return to LA. And yet, for some residents, this “disaster” was exactly what they had been waiting for.
  • State Route 84 Ferry Service Restarts After Temporary Closure. Caltrans has restarted the State Route 84 ferry service after the ferry boat – The Real McCoy II – passed its inspection required by the Coast Guard every five years. The ferry is classified as an extension of State Route 84. It provides service to Ryer Island residents and its visitors by crossing the Cache Slough to Rio Vista.
  • Did You Know That the 101 Freeway Widening Project Has an Aquatic Resource Biologist?. In this, the Journal’s third profile of the people who work behind the scenes in the biggest infrastructure project to hit Montecito in recent memory, we meet Sarah Sandstrom, Caltrans’ aquatic resource manager. According to Tim Gubbins, Caltrans District 5 Director, Sandstrom is a key player in the agency’s effort to protect the environment as it widens the 101 freeway. “Sarah is a highly educated and trained biologist,” Gubbins said. “She is a valued member of our biologist team and focuses her skills on helping our project meet high environmental standards and improve wetland and habitat areas as part of this larger congestion-relief project. Our construction projects benefit the larger community in many ways, and our work on improving wetlands and habitat areas near the freeway is important for all of us.”
  • PCH: Climate change threatens California’s ‘highway at the edge’. Soaring mountains on one side of the road and the Pacific Ocean on the other: It was 1956, and Gary Griggs was experiencing California State Route 1 for the first time. He was a child, but in the following decades he would drive this scenic stretch of road, called the Pacific Coast Highway, dozens of times. He also would learn how fragile it is. In 2017, Griggs consulted on a major repair to the highway as an erosion expert. Now, he says, the iconic road’s days may be numbered – at least in its current form.

Read More …

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📰 Kill the Pig?

I know, I’ve been listening to too many podcasts about Carrie — The Musical, but that’s not the reason for this post. Rather, a friend shared on FB an article about a supposed movement to cancel Miss Piggy: this is when I realized that this diversion and distraction about “cancellation” is going to far. For those jumping to the conclusion that he’s going to talk and complain about cancel culture — well you’re wrong as well.

Let’s get this straight: The owner of intellectual property has every right to do with that property what they will until it is in the public domain. They can withhold it from the public (as the Seuss estate is doing with six books); they can put it in context (as TCM is doing with a number of “classic” movies), or they can do nothing. That’s not the supposed cancel culture: that’s a business making a business decision about how continued marketing of their product will impact their future business and how their brand is viewed in the future.

But let’s turn to the question of Miss Piggy, and her behavior in contrast to another recent discussion topic, Pepe Le Pew. I think this comparison leads to some interesting and important conclusions about how the owners of the IP should behave. It also sheds light on what the Suess IP owners should do, and what similar IP owners should do.

Question 1: Is the problematic aspect of the character the only aspect of the character? Is the character one-note? For Pepe Le Pew, that’s certainly the case. The entire joke around the character is a skunk (which looks like a cat with a white stripe), falls in love with a cat with a white stripe, who wants nothing to do with the skunk. Remove that, and you have no character. If you just had a skunk with a French accent, placed in other situations, there would be no joke. What makes the Le Pew character is his clueless advances. The same is true for a character like Speedy Gonzalez. What makes that character is the accent and characterization. Remove that, and you essentially have the Road Runner.  On the other hand, take Miss Piggy. Her chasing after Kermit is only one aspect of her character. Other aspects, such as self-love and bossiness, can exist independently. Indeed, her lust for Kermit has been toned down in recent portrayals. They’ve eliminated the problematic behavior and an interesting character still remains. Thus, there is no need to cancel “Miss Piggy”; indeed, her change can be viewed as a lesson in itself.

Question 2: Who is the audience for the character? Although the Looney Tunes shorts were originally aimed at adults in the 1940s, they rapidly became children’s cartoons. That’s where they exist today. And little kids don’t have the maturity to put things in historical context. That’s the problem with the Suess illustrations and problematic Looney Tunes. They are aimed at little kids. That’s why the fresh publication of these problematic characters is ceasing. But the older images remain, and adults can look at them and put them in context. But Miss Piggy? Although she has been on Sesame Street, the oldest episodes of that series where she chased Kermit are long out of circulation. Kids aren’t seeing them. They are seeing the new Piggy. Her other appearances? [Edited: Piggy was never on Sesame, although she appeared with some of the characters] [Muppet movies and the Muppet non-CTW TV productions] are aimed squarely at adults (secondarily at children), who can put past behavior in context. Audience and its maturity matters.

What we are doing now: Reexamining past art, and recognizing when it was reflecting wrong attitudes, is a good thing. Making clear the context of the art, when the intended audience of the art can understand placing it in context, is a good thing. It can serve to teach, and to show us how we have changed and when we need to change. But if the intended audience can’t understand the art, it is reasonable to rethink whether it is still worth putting out there. It is also appropriate for businesses to think about how what they put out in the present day reflects the values and morals of their business. Past portrayals and images, no matter how cherished by older customers, may not be appropriate today.

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👩🏼👨🏾👧🏾🧑🏼👩‍🦰 You Have To Be Carefully Taught

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

I have some news that may be surprising for you. We’re finally becoming adults. We’re finally realizing that we did some stupid things when we were young. We’re finally realizing that perhaps we don’t have to keep those pictures that we took of ourselves drunk, naked, and peeing on a car available to the world on our Facebook page (and don’t go looking for them. They do not exist). When we grow up, realize we did something stupid, and change our behavior and repudiate what we did in the past, that isn’t “cancel culture”. That’s finally being an adult.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Mary McNamera does a great job of saying it in the LA Times:

Look, I am a white person raised in the United States of America, albeit by fairly liberal parents, and I can say from personal experience that it is very hard and disappointing to realize that beloved books, music, movies and brand packaging once considered perfectly acceptable were and are in fact racist, sexist, homo/transphobic or otherwise offensive. That many of these “classics” were and are tools used, intentionally or unconsciously, to reinforce stereotypes that have allowed one group to dehumanize and dominate other less powerful and less privileged groups in many ways and for far too long.

I loved “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” as a child, and though I can’t remember noticing the Asian character in it, that’s probably because, unfortunately, offensive caricatures of all sorts of people were considered perfectly normal when I was a child … and a teenager … and a young adult. The Asian character, or the African ones in “If I Ran the Zoo,” didn’t register because their portrayals were consistent with much of what I saw in the culture around me. A culture that was just beginning to realize that “Whites Only” signs were not only unacceptable but a facet of the same problem.

It’s disturbing and mortifying to realize that those Butterfly McQueen-as-Prissy imitations I did as a child were completely and horribly racist, or that Charlie Chan, whom I also adored, was a double-edged sword. Yes, he was one of a very few Asian characters allowed to be a hero lead, but only when saddled with a welter of stereotypical traits. Turns out that “Ah-so, number one son” is not something Chinese people actually said; who knew? Well, every Chinese person in America, for starters.

But being embarrassed or feeling threatened or deprived of a beloved object when the offensiveness of certain images, stories or words is pointed out doesn’t give you an excuse to perpetuate or even defend them. Neither embarrassment nor that kind of deprivation is on par with the pain of living in a society that continually presents demeaning versions of people who look like you. Failing to realize that something you enjoy or take for granted is racist doesn’t necessarily make you a racist; but doubling down and getting all defensive after this racism has been pointed out — well, now, in the words of my faith, you are sinning with full knowledge of the sin.

The  removal from publication of 6 Dr. Seuss books, by the owner of the books, is entirely within their right. I recall reading somewhere that the author was uncomfortable in later life with the racist work he did in his youth (and yes, Geisel’s early work was racist). An article I found noted:

Like many political cartoons from this period, some of Geisel’s political pieces are, today, considered racist—particularly toward Japanese people. While Geisel did not outright express regret over these pieces, contemporary critics believe that his later works—many of which revolve around themes of tolerance—atoned for these mistakes. Still, his early attitudes cannot—and should not—be dismissed. “We all have blind spots,” Richard H. Minear, the author of Dr. Seuss Goes to War, explains. “I use that as a teaching moment—even Dr. Seuss went astray.”

We tend to romanticize our upbringing. We recall only the innocence of what we read in our childhood, and of those times. The lovely family unit of Leave It to Beaver or Father Knows Best (both of which were in all-white small town America). The early days of Disneyland (with its depictions of colonizers, sub-human African natives, white men and Indian villages, etc.). Our children’s books, like those by Seuss, and Curious George and … Going to Sambos for pancakes. All of these had images that were accepted at the time, but looking back we wince with horror at the messages we were sending our children.

Were these authors and artists wrong or bad people? Probably not. They were reflecting the attitudes of their times, and were trying to do good and entertain. But we look back now, with newer ideas, and those attitudes we realize no longer hold. Settlers in America in the 1600s believed that many women were witches and burned them. We now view that as antiquated. They put Jews in ghettos. We know that is wrong. They taught the earth is flat, and that bleeding someone could cure disease. We know both aren’t true, and no longer teach that.

It holds up with children’s books as well. Beloved series of old don’t hold up to modern standards. Have you ever read Mary Poppins and seen its attitudes towards negros?  Seuss comes as no surprise at all. Depending on how the authors estates handles this, they may be reworked to redraw problematic art, fix some language.

For adults, we can put things in context. Adults can confront the racism and racist images in some (but not all) of Dr. Seuss’ work. With older children, we can explain why the racist stereotypes used to illustrate Asian people (slanted eyes, wielding chopsticks), African people (monkeylike) and Arab people (man on a camel) are wrong. We can do like TCM, and place discussions around classic movies about both what they get right, and what they get wrong. Adults can understand this stuff.

I have a large music collection. Over 49,000 songs. I know that some of the songs in my collection are racist, or have a problematic past. That happens with folk tunes. That happens with pieces written before we were aware. But I’m also old enough to recognize that context. I can separate the tune from the words, and recognize the problems with the words. I’m an adult. I have that capacity.

But our littlest kiddos? Those under 5-6 — where these Seuss books were aimed — don’t understand context and nuance. They are sponges. They absorb the imagery, internalize it, and believe it without question. For them, the answer is simply to pull the materials. Perhaps when they are older bring out an archival copy in context. But when they are young… This is why — as beloved as these pieces might be in memory — the owners of the material are right to keep them in the vault. We don’t need the smiling Chinese man in a pointed hat carrying rice, or Brer Rabbit and the happy slaves. Geisel’s estate can keep those books in the vault, just as Disney can keep Song of the South locked away. Owners of material can do what they want with the material they own, for whatever reasons they want. Especially when we are working with young children, we need to be careful of what we are teaching them, and the images we are presenting.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Rogers and Hammerstein, who wrote those lyrics for South Pacific, also developed the culturally insensitive Flower Drum Song. It is difficult from any artist from any area not to have reflected the values and images of the times. That’s why we must teach carefully. It is worth nothing that the R&H estate authorized updating Flower Drum Song to adjust the sense and remove the stereotypes.

We can learn. We can change. We can see that things in our past were wrong, and decide not to perpetuate our mistakes. We have to remember we are under no obligation to remind the world that we were young and stupid once.

P.S.: For those who bring up Hasbro’s decision to rebrand the Potato Head line: Please note that Mr. Potato Head remains a Mr. What is changing is the name of the product line: Hasbro decided it made no sense to call the line Mr. Potato Head when it included a Mrs., and so they dropped the title from the line. That’s it.

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – February 2021

Another month, another bunch of headlines. February was quieter. Here in Southern California, it was mostly dry and quite windy. In Northern and Central California, it was a different story. But beyond that, it was the new new normal. So recovery from COVID-19 as the numbers stabilize and the vaccine rollout continues, and the big news from DC was that there was no real big news. Nice for a change, to have the blustery hot air to be coming from the high desert.

Here are your headlines for February. As always: Ready, set, discuss.

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls and  other annoying restrictions: SDUT/San Diego Union Tribune; OCR/Orange County Register; PE/Press Enterprise; LBPT/Long Beach Press Telegram; DB/Daily Breeze; LADN/Los Angeles Daily News; LAT/LA Times; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; FB/Fresno Bee; MODBEE/Modesto Bee; MH/Monterey Herald; SONN/Sonoma News; SJMN/Mercury News; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; EBT/East Bay Times; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee; SBJ/Sacramento Business Journal; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; MIJ/Marin Independent-Journal; NVR/Napa Valley Register; PD/Press Democrat; AC/Argus Courier; RBDN/Red Bluff Daily News; AD/Yuba Sutter Colusa County Appeal Democrat; NW/Newsweek; UKT/The Telegraph (UK) ]

  • /LAT 23 miles of Highway 1 near Big Sur close, require repairs. Caltrans officials say landslide repairs will keep Highway 1 south of Big Sur closed for months, rewriting travel plans for anyone who had been hoping to make a coastal road trip from Southern California in early spring. Beyond that, “It is too early to establish a timeline,” Caltrans spokesman Kevin Drabinski said. Though Monterey County officials partially lifted a storm-related evacuation order in the area Monday afternoon, the debris flow in some places “is still active. … And we have rain coming as soon as tonight.”
  • Peninsula Avenue interchange revamp returns. San Mateo city officials presented residents on Wednesday with updated information about its Highway 101/Peninsula Avenue Interchange Project, designed to improve public safety and reduce traffic while removing the Poplar ramps to the south. The project would address long-term safety and traffic operations and reduce travel times within the Peninsula Avenue interchange area for San Mateo and Burlingame residents. It would include improved bicycle and pedestrian travel options on Peninsula Avenue from just west of North Humboldt Street to North Bayshore Boulevard. City officials said the project would improve safety in the area near schools, reduce travel times and accommodate future traffic. San Mateo expects to have a significant traffic congestion reduction in the area during peak hours in the morning and early evening.
  • /PD Work starts on final phase of 20-year $750 million Highway 101 project in Sonoma-Marin counties. Blink and you might miss the recent lane shift on northbound Highway 101, just west of the dog park at Deer Creek Village in north Petaluma. In mid-January, Caltrans redirected northbound traffic onto a pair of lanes in the median, just as the highway begins a gentle incline and crosses over the SMART railroad tracks. Most drivers probably don’t even notice that subtle shift, which allows workers from Ghilotti Construction in Santa Rosa to keep widening that section of freeway from two to three lanes. To those tracking the progress of the Marin-Sonoma Narrows Project, that lane shift was a very big deal. It marked the beginning of a final part of this 20-year undertaking which, at long last, is on the homestretch.
  • /SJMN Storm could complicate Highway 1 slideout recovery. As crews continued working to assess the scope of the Highway 1 slideout south of Big Sur while starting clean-up and repair work, this week’s anticipated storm could make those efforts more difficult. According to Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers, additional rain and runoff in the wake of last week’s atmospheric river storm that drenched the Big Sur coast could delay progress being made on the 150-foot section of washed-out highway at Rat Creek about 30 miles north of the San Luis Obispo County line. “Any additional runoff or rain could create a scenario of more time to clean up, (and) more slide activity,” Shivers said. “Water is pooling in areas above the highway and we need to deal with that. Dryer conditions allow for more steady progress.”
  • Highway 101 at 135 bridge replacement to start Feb. 1. A project to reconstruct the bridges on US Highway 101 at the Interchange with State Route 135 in Los Alamos will begin on Monday, Feb. 1. Motorists will encounter one-way reversing traffic control on State Route 135 between Main Street and San Antonio Boulevard Monday through Friday from 8 am until 4 pm and during the overnight hours from 8 pm until 6 am.
  • /SDUT Caltrans seeks public input on widening state Route 67. Caltrans is seeking public comments to bolster its environmental studies that will be used to determine the practicality of widening state Route 67, including portions connected to Poway Road. Also under consideration for project inclusion are bike lanes plus human and animal crossings.
  • North Coast Corridor Program: Reflection and anticipation for 40-year vision. The North Coast Corridor (NCC) program jointly operated by SANDAG and Caltrans is a balanced set of transportation, environmental, and coastal access projects to improve the quality of life for residents, create a stronger local and regional economy for the future, and enhance the north San Diego County coastal environment. The $6 billion, 40-year vision is an implementation blueprint for developing and building projects as part of a holistic and connected system of mobility facilities. These efforts align with SANDAG’s vision for the 2021 Regional Plan, which reimagines how people and goods could move throughout the region in the 21st century, fundamentally shaped by five key strategies for mobility, collectively known as the 5 Big Moves—Complete Corridors, Transit Leap, Mobility Hubs, Flexible Fleets, and the Next OS.

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👩🏼👨🏾👧🏾🧑🏼👩‍🦰 From Mistakes and Missteps Comes Learning and Realization

For some reason, the whole mess at Gimlet Media related to the Reply All Test Kitchen series and its fallout, which I wrote about in my last post, has continued to fascinate me. I’ve been reading tweet threats by those involved and related: Eric Eddings, Starlee Kine, PJ Vogt, Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Alex Goldman, the Gimlet Union, Emmanuel Dzotsi, and others. As a long time listener, I never quite understood what the Union drive at Gimlet was about. One sees a company by the image they project, and I viewed Gimlet through the eyes of the Startup Podcast and Reply All, through Science Vs and Little Known Facts. This incident has made me realize that what I saw was a facade. More importantly, looking back, it showed they didn’t listen to what they were reporting.

As I noted in my last post, at the time of the starting of Gimlet, Alex Blumberg noted that there were major problems with diversity in Gimlet’s staff. They planned to do something about it. In an episode of Reply All that I cite to this day, they explored why diversity was so important in the workplace: when you hire people from the same background and the same institution, you always get the same view and the same answers. Yet even with that reporting, the recent Test Kitchen series and the subsequent fallout made clear that Gimlet didn’t learn. They hired the team and people from other podcasts they knew: from This American Life and Planet Money and NPR — all of whom had the same views and background and cliques. Just like the Bon Appetit situation they wrote about (at least from what I’ve been reading and hearing), they didn’t give spaces for the other voices. Well, perhaps they did for a short time, but they didn’t last. It was tokenization, not representation. At least, that’s from what I’m hearing and reading. I’m a long time listener, not a podcast. Just like with live theatre: I’m an audience member, which is vital for the industry.

But what is more disappointing is that this pattern of behavior is common across the podcast industry. Helen Zaltzman and the Allusionist podcast left Radiotopia. Why? Zaltzman cited a lack of racial diversity at the Radiotopia: “I have raised this fact repeatedly, recommended existing shows or potential showmakers to approach, questioned the excuses given for why the line-up stayed very white – small capacity and limited resources and insufficient money were frequently cited. So I offered money. And now, in case it makes more space and resources available, I’m removing myself.”

The problem is real. Stephanie Foo wrote a piece in 2020 about diversity problems in public media. It was her third time having to write the article, because people were not learning.  She first wrote it in 2015. In the introduction to that article, she noted: “It’s about time that public media came to terms with the fact that it does not serve the public as a whole. More hosts and program directors realize that a market of POC exists — and if they don’t cater to it, they’ll fail to grow their audience. And I’m glad the people in charge are realizing that when it comes to attracting minorities, throwing some hip-hop beatz as a transition between stories is about as effective and transparent as Mitt Romney’s spray tan. Finally, finally, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the solution to our diversity problem is hiring producers of color, and that diversifying your business is smart from a content perspective.” But did people listen? Did they really change their workplaces? Evidently not.

Back in 2015, Wired wrote about the lack of diversity in podcast voices: “Don’t replicate the stale listenership of public radio, and offer yet another way for the same culturally dominant demographic to tell each other their ideas. Rather than build a wider network of white male voices and listeners, let’s take the momentum and support of networks to promote some podcasts featuring everyone else.” There was an article on this in 2016. This was pointed out again in 2017: “Diversity is another huge challenge faced by the podcast industry, according to the report. As of mid-2016, only a few of the top-100 iTunes podcasts — shows like “Code Switch” and “Snap Judgment” — were designed to amplify diverse voices. Most podcast hosts are also male.”

But just as with theatre: diversity in the hosts at the front is only the visible tip. Diversity needs to be throughout: from the researchers to those pitching the stories to those producing to those editing to those marketing to those … The Reply All podcast perhaps said it best back in 2016:

LESLIE says that Twitter’s lack of diversity doesn’t just affect the workplace atmosphere, but it goes straight to the heart of the product itself.

LESLIE: Obviously if you don’t have people of diverse backgrounds building your product, you’re going get a very very narrowly focused product that may do one or two things really well or just may not do anything really well. And if you look at Twitter as a product, it doesn’t a lot of the simple things. It doesn’t do direct messaging well. It doesn’t do media sharing well, right? And if you had people from diverse backgrounds, you may have been able to expand, you know, what what you thought was possible?

GOLDMAN. Let me ask you this how must of your desire to see diverse workplaces comes from the fact that it’s just morally correct to have diverse workplaces versus it will make your product much better.

LESLIE: Yes. The answer to that question is yes. It’s going to, you know, diverse teams have better outcomes, that is, there’s so much has been written on that in the last 30 years I don’t even know why we’re talking about it. And and I think, you know, I hate sounding like, you know, like a total socialist, but arising tide lifts all boats.

Looking back at this transcript, you know what stands out at me? Who did the interview. Alex Goldman. Not PJ.  And in the latest problems at RA, who was there arguing for diversity and its benefits and the union. Goldman.

As audience members — as listeners to podcasts — I’m starting to wonder if we are hearing but not listening. The problems with diversity have been there. People have been talking about them for years. They have been writing about them. But I’m not sure we have been hearing. But they have been coming to the foreground now. We are learning about the problems at Radiotopia and Gimlet. It is just like how in mid-2020, we because to learn and understand about the problems in the Broadway theatre, and that we needed the diversity throughout.

So what can we — as the audience — do. I think we need to let the podcasting companies — Spotify, Earwolf, NPR, etc. — know we want diversity throughout. Not a host here and there, but in the research, writing, producing, and technical staffs.  We need to find podcasts that exhibit those characteristics and make it know that we are going out of our way to listen to them, and that we want those diverse viewpoints. Although I’m pretty backed up on podcasts, I’m open to recommendations for podcasts that fit this mold.

I also hope that Gimlet uses this incident to do what it does best, and what it did when it started: Turn that microphone on itself. I’d like to see the remaining hosts at RA — Alex and Emmanuel — explore how diversity went wrong at Gimlet, going back to when the problem was first cited in 2015, to when RA touched on the importance of structural diversity back in 2016, exploring the diversity problem in the podcasting industry. They might even be able to salvage some of the Bon Appetit story. But most importantly, I hope they can talk about how the problem is being solved, and being solved in a permanent, long lasting way.

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📰 Diversity, Gimlet, and Hindsight

As you know, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Fewer, since I’ve been working from home; but still, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Today on my walk, I made a special effort to listen to an episode of Reply All from Gimlet about the mess at Bon Appetit, the first episode of “Test Kitchen”. This came about because an article in the LA Times talked about how Reply All had discontinued this podcast after episode #2 of 4. Why? Here’s a quote:

The decision comes after a former Gimlet staffer accused two members of the “Reply All” team of creating a “toxic dynamic” at the company. Eric Eddings’ allegations went viral on Twitter earlier this month and prompted the departures of host PJ Vogt and senior reporter Sruthi Pinnamaneni.

After this, one of the remaining hosts Alex Goldman posted a 2 minute message that noted:

We now understand that we should never have published the series as reported. And the fact that we did was a systemic editorial failure.

So, although I had been waiting to listen to the episode for a while, thinking it would be similar to a series from The Sporkful, I now understood this was different. And listening to it with the benefit of the additional hindsight, it took on additional meaning.  But more importantly, it made me think back to an episode of Reply All from 2016 that I loved, about the importance of diversity in the workplace. It explored diversity at Twitter. It made me think of an episode of Gimlet’s Start Up podcast that explored diversity at Gimlet, where the host noted:

If you were to walk into Gimlet HQ, there are a few things you’d probably notice right off the bat. First, it’s crowded – like a grungy dorm room. Second, the lighting… it’s not great. Not many windows. Third, it’s white. Really white. 24 of Gimlet’s 27 employees are white. In this episode, we look at diversity (or lack thereof) at Gimlet. And we try to figure out what diversity should mean for the company going forward.

It goes to show: you can talk about diversity all you want, but if you don’t learn the lesson … if you don’t make that workplace better .. you fail.

I look forward to future Reply All episodes where they address this.

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – January 2021

And with the flip of a calendar page, the first month of 2021 is in the books. This year was supposed to be better—and in some ways it is. We have competent leadership again, with scientists and smart people using facts to make decision. But the COVID related impacts continue, and the vaccine rollout is slow. Roadtrips will likely still be day trips, if they happen at all, and they won’t be until the summer at best. Theatre? Although I’ve got a few shows ticketed, I expect them to cancel and reschedule until June or later. The COVID waiting pattern continues…

But our highway workers are essential workers (and thank you to them). Our highway planners can work remotely. As such, the headlines continue unabated. Here are your headlines of various articles and other things posted related to California Highways during January 2021.

[Ħ Historical information | Paywalls and other annoying restrictions: SDUT/San Diego Union Tribune; OCR/Orange County Register; PE/Press Enterprise; LBPT/Long Beach Press Telegram; DB/Daily Breeze; LADN/Los Angeles Daily News; LAT/LA Times; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; FB/Fresno Bee; MODBEE/Modesto Bee; SONN/Sonoma News; SJMN/Mercury News; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; EBT/East Bay Times; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee; SBJ/Sacramento Business Journal; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; MIJ/Marin Independent-Journal; NVR/Napa Valley Register; PD/Press Democrat; AC/Argus Courier; RBDN/Red Bluff Daily News; AD/Yuba Sutter Colusa County Appeal Democrat; NW/Newsweek ]

Highway Headlines

  • Historic Patton Depot demolished. The Santa Fe Kite Route Patton Depot on Highland Avenue, just west of Patton State Hospital was recently emolished for safety reasons after it was found to be structurally unsound. According to San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which owns the building and property, demolition of the building began on Monday, Dec. 14, after the city of San Bernardino issued a demolition permit. Demolition work is expected to continue through the middle of January. The Moorish brick train station, opened by Santa Fe Railroad in 1898 as part of the historic Kite Route, connected several San Bernardino Valley towns and Los Angeles area cities with passenger and freight service.
  • SANDAG to Enforce SR-125 Toll Violations for First Time Since Last April. State Route 125 toll violations will begin to be enforced Tuesday for the first time since the San Diego Association of Governments officially waived them last April in light of economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The SANDAG Board of Directors voted late last month to approve the reinstatement of toll violations for the South Bay Expressway. Those tolls, along with the practice of placing vehicle registration holds for nonpayment of violations, had been suspended for the remainder of 2021. FasTrak monthly maintenance fees were also suspended.
  • Downey Freeway Fighters Hang NO MORE LANES Banner over 5 Freeway. This morning, freeway fighters hung “NO MORE LANES” banners on a pedestrian overcrossing over the 5 Freeway in the city of Downey. “No more lanes” is a slogan used by the Happy City Coalition, a group that recently formed to oppose Metro and Caltrans’ plan to demolish hundreds of homes to widen the 605 and 5 Freeways. Last summer, Metro project staff announced the demolitions. In October, in response to community concerns, the Metro board directed Metro staff to study less destructive alternatives.
  • /OCR Busy year ahead in Orange County transportation construction. People staying home during the coronavirus pandemic led to emptier streets and freeways and sped-up roadwork schedules in 2020, and that progress will continue in 2021, transportation officials said. The year will start off with completion of a key project for south county drivers: the new Oso Parkway bridge is expected to open this month, said Samuel Johnson, CEO of the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which operate the toll road system including the 73, 133, 241 and 261 routes.
  • /FB Highway 41 deaths lead to construction, closure near Fresno. Changes are coming next week to a stretch of Highway 41 south of Fresno, what officials vow will lead to other improvements along a six-mile stretch of two-lane highway that’s been the site of numerous accidents – many fatal. State Assemblyman Jim Patterson and Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes held a news conference in November with family members of those killed along the highway and members of Facebook group Widen Highway 41 to push for changes. The politicians held another Wednesday with transportation leaders to announce Highway 41 between Excelsior Avenue and Elkhorn Avenue will be permanently designated a no-passing zone.
  • San Diego leaders open portion of new West Mission Bay Drive bridge. Crews started work on the new West Mission Bay Bridge in the summer of 2018. And now nearly three years later, the project is halfway finished. With the cutting of ribbon, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Council President Jennifer Campbell unveiled what the new West Mission Bay Bridge looks like. Though the project isn’t completed, motorists will be allowed to drive on the finished portion starting Tuesday evening.

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🛣 Changes to the California Highways Web Site covering October-December 2020

And with that, 2020 comes to a close. What a year it has been. We started out thinking this was going to be a somewhat normal election year. What we ended up with was a dumpster fire: a year consumed by a pandemic, with far too many deaths, far too many trips curtailed, and an election that seems to never want to end. There are some things you don’t want to see in your rear view mirror, such as a CHP cruiser with red lights flashing. But there are somethings that are best in the rear view, receding away. 2020 is in that latter group.

But as we enter 2021, we can take some comfort in that we’ve been rebuilding the roadbed, and that rebuilt foundation should be strong. We need to watch out for the fringes of the road. If they continue to deteriorate, they can weaken the stability of the entire road. But if we take care to not let the fringes (on either side) overwhelm us, and if we follow both the written and unwritten rules of the road, we should be able to travel safe. May 2021 see us all arrive at our destinations safely, and see us back on the roads and byways of this great land.

On to the updates.

Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the papers (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum (Ꜳ). This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(1), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail or ꜲRoads) from Michael Ballard(2), Nathaniel B(3), Mark Dierking/Metro.Net(4), Tom Fearer(5), Andy Field(6), Kurumi(7), John Lumea(8), Scott Parker(9), Joe Rouse(10), Chris Sampang(11), Joel Windmiller(12): Route 1(1), Route 3(5,9), Route 4(1), I-5(1,5,2), Route 11(1), Route 12(1), Route 20(1), Route 25(1), Route 29(1), Route 33(11,9), Route 36(5), Route 38(1), I-40(1), US 48(5), Route 49(1,5), US 50(1), Route 51(12), Route 52(1), Route 55(1), Route 57(1), Route 58(1), Route 60(1), Route 71(1), Route 74(1), Route 76(1), Route 78(1), I-80(1,3,8), Route 91(1,5), Route 92(1), Route 96(1), US 97(5), US 99(2,5,12), US 101(1), I-105(1), Route 108(1,5), Route 120(1,5), Route 125(1), Route 140(1), Route 156(1), Route 172(5), Route 180(5), Route 219(5), Route 221(1), Route 254(5),  Route 262(11), Route 263(5), Route 265(5), Route 271(5), I-280(7,9), US 395(1), I-405(1), I-580(1), I-605(1), I-680(1), I-710(1,4), Route 740(1), I-880(1), Route 905(1), County Sign Route A12(5), County Sign Route A28(5), County Sign Route G15(5), County Sign Route S21(1).

Added a link for the newly created Historic Highway 99 Association of California to all the appropriate places. Added a page on the US Bicycle Route System, as County Sign Route S21 was about to be designated as part of USBRS Route 95. Added a link to the 1935 State Highway Map(5). Update the page on exit numbering(6,10).

Reviewed the Pending Legislation page, based on the new California Legislature site. As usual, I recommend to every Californian that they visit the legislative website regularly and see what their legis-critters are doing. As many people are unfamiliar with how the legislature operates (and why there are so many “non-substantive changes” and “gut and amend” bills), I’ve added the legislative calendar to the end of the Pending Legislation page. A new legislative session started after the November elections; all of the 2019-2020 bills are dead. For the 2021-2022 legislative session, this is extremely early in the session and there were very few bills to review, and even fewer related to transportation.

I checked California Transportation Commission page for the results of the California Transportation Commission meetings from October through December 2020. As always, note that I tend not to track items that do not impact these pages — i.e., pavement rehabilitation or replacement, landscaping, drainage, culverts, roadside facilities, charging stations, or other things that do not impact the routing or history, unless they are really significant. As such, the following items were of interest:

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