Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Long March

Turkmenistan began the Olympics with a strong showing, remaining tied with traditional athletic power Canada in the medal count at the end of week 1. Disappointment ran red in the streets of Ashgabat on Saturday when Canada shattered the tie by capturing its first medal of the Beijing games. Canada took bronze in the women's 200,000 meter race walk. The event began in Szechuan province shortly before the opening ceremony and crossed the finish line in the Bird's Nest, Saturday AM, Beijing time.

High points from today's NY Time's week in review:

In Malcontents Need Not Apply, Nicholas D. Kristof recounts his Borat-like attempt to apply for a permit to conduct a protest march in one of Beijing's new protest zones. His cause - China's inadequate preservation of historic architecture. The permit application procedure was so demanding he gave up without even filing an application, but at least he didn't get arrested, unlike more than half a dozen other would be demonstrators. Kristoff concludes the protest zones are a step forward because they constitute official acknowledgement that the possibility of protest exists??? The PRC promised expanded freedom to land the Olympics, set up the zones as sop to the IOC and then used them to ensnare nascent dissidents without allowing an actual protest. Mr. Kristoff seems to be covering the 1984 Olympic Games. If only he had pushed his application a little harder, the world would have seen years of columns written from inside a Beijing jail - As Good As News smells a Pulitzer opportunity missed.

Sunday Opinion covers NYC transport, as Hope Cohen wants to speed traffic by banning parking lanes on crowded routes, thus opening extra lanes for moving vehicles - a great idea if combined with the construction of many, many multi, multi story parking garages. David Rakoff proposes rules for pedestrians. The time has come for this idea, at least in midtown where foot traffic jams rival those on the road. Seriously, let's start with the prime directive - Walk On The Right (implicit in Rakoff''s command to pass "on the left" but it needs to be said - this is NYC not London). Let's keep it to two abreast, enthusiastically accept Rakoff's strictures on tailgating, changing lanes without looking and texting in traffic and move on to the big question - enforcement. Apply the rules between 31st and 50th streets, from 8th Ave. to Lexington. Post the rules on signs every few blocks. Give traffic and parking enforcement officers authority to issue written warnings. If the warnings don't get pedestrians organized, then change to fines (I'm thinking small fines, but I have been victimized by pedestrian conduct that deserved 5-10 in Attica) and authorize the officers to issue citations. It's not all the pedestrian's fault - ban the peddlers that cut the busiest sidewalks to a single lane, ditto the outdoor restaurant tables. Take some of those parking lanes Ms Cohen is eliminating and turn them into extra wide sidewalks. Move it NYC and if you don't like it, As Good As News has a protest zone in Beijing where you can protest march randomly while texting to your heart's content.

No comments: