CityBeat‘s whiny rant about driving and parking downtown

This week, CityBeat published a bizarre editorial about how hard it is to drive and park downtown. It appears the author was unaware that Taste of Cincinnati—an event attended by approximately 500,000 people every year—was going on, and was shocked to find that Fifth Street was closed and all the parking garages were full or expensive.

Brian Griffin of Cincinnati Blog writes:

Get out the big box of tissues! CityBeat‘s Maija Zummo is upset about the Pony she got. Her pony, in this case, is the vibrant Downtown/OTR we had last weekend, with about a thousand things to do. She had two things she wanted to do and didn’t seem to be aware of the other 998 things going on, and therefore is pissed that traffic and parking were problems for her.

As downtown Cincinnati starts accumulating more things to do, parking is going to keep getting harder. This is especially a problem for older cities like Cincinnati that were planned before cars existed and simply don’t have enough room for every resident and visitor to park a car. The answer, of course, is that we need quality transit to move people around quicker and easier.

CityBeat was sold to new owners in March, and they’ve already made some staff changes. It’s possible that the new owners are intentionally trying to focus less on downtown and cater more toward suburban readers. That would be terrible timing, since even the most extreme anti-city media outlets are finally admitting the success of downtown.

Still, a part of me thinks this article was a work of satire.

Mastered for iTunes Offers Boost in Digital Sound Quality

Mastered for iTunes unofficially began last year, when producer Rick Rubin was frustrated with his inability to make the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ I’m With You sound as dynamic in the AAC format as it did on a CD. Working with Apple, he tinkered with the master recording, landing on a higher-than-usual bit rate – so when he sent it to iTunes for encoding, it sounded considerably better than a typical compressed audio file.

A great example of realizing digital is the future and embracing the change.

States looking at new tolls to repair crumbling roads

It’s been nearly two decades since Congress last increased the federal gas and diesel taxes that have historically paid for highways. Meanwhile, the cost of road and bridge construction has gone up and the purchasing power of fuel taxes has declined by more than a third. Revenue is also down because people have been driving less due to the uncertain economy and because cars are becoming more fuel-efficient.

SNL Needs to Get Over Television

Mick Jagger hosted the finale of Saturday Night Live last weekend, and despite the offbeat paths the show could have followed—maybe an Exile on Main Street parody set in a puke-stained mansion along the French Riviera?—it stuck mostly to satirizing this season’s preferred target: television.

Of the 152 live sketches aired this season, a whopping 58 percent (88 sketches) were television parodies of some sort, whether political debates, game shows, or fake newscasts. Of course, SNLhas skewered television since its inception. As “Baba Wawa,” Gilda Radner gleefully lampooned the popular broadcast journalist’s speech impediment; Dana Carvey’s Church Lady hosted aTonight Show for the devout; Wayne’s World poked fun at amateurish cable access fodder; and even dimwitted Hans and Franz somehow landed an exercise show in which they mainly flexed and chastised their girlie-man viewers. But the world has changed since the days of Baba Wawa, and SNL’s present-day devotion to mocking its own medium feels anachronistic, a lazy holdover that prevents the show from fully satirizing society as it exists today.

Bring back more original characters. Fewer political parodies.

What Kind of Country

This episode of This American Life put many of the thoughts I’ve been having, but couldn’t figure out how to express, into words.

So many Americans are currently stuck in the mentality of yelling and screaming “smaller government!” without thinking about what that actually means. Like in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where citizens voted down a tax increase, and as a result, the city had to make drastic cuts, like laying off firemen, turning off street lights, and closing down parks. Some citizens were willing to spend their own money to turn street lights back on, even though they were paying significantly more for these services than they would have paid in taxes.

Council member Jan Martin:

He had just written a check to the city for $300 to turn all the street lights back on in his neighborhood. And I did remind him that for $200 if he had supported the tax initiative, we could have had not only streetlights, but parks and firemen and swimming pools and community centers. That by combining our resources, we as a community can actually accomplish more than we as individuals.

I understand that people get frustrated when they feel like they aren’t getting anything in return for their tax dollars. But, as this example shows, that’s not the case. People are getting mad because… I don’t know, because the government exists, I guess? If that’s the case, here’s a list of places where you might want to consider moving.

Stop for a second and thing about the big picture. What kind of country do we really want?

Downtown Cincinnati population up 12%

Gina Gartner of Downtown Cincinnati, Inc.:

In addition, the growing residential community, from The Banks to Over-the-Rhine, is actively engaged in making downtown a great place to live.

This is the key. Everyone I know who has moved to Downtown or OTR loves those neighborhoods, loves the positive changes that continue to take place, and is involved in activities that help the city keep moving forward.

A lot of people in my generation grew up in places where there was not really a “neighborhood”. And now they’re discovering how awesome it is to feel like you’re part of a real community, have lots of friends nearby, have fun things to do within walking distance, and be surrounded by great architecture and history every day.

City haters are going to keep on hating, but they can’t change the facts.

It’s extremely hard to find apartments for rent downtown. The 300 units at The Banks filled up as soon as they opened. And I don’t see any reason why new units won’t continue to fill up as they become available. Mercer Commons will bring 155 more residental units to OTR. Future phases of The Banks and other 3CDC projects will keep the number growing. And there are several buildings downtown that could be converted to apartments or condos when the demand gets to that point.

We’re even starting to get to the point where the mainstream media is taking notice. Of course, they often follow it up with a sensationalist anti-city story, but we’re headed in the right direction. They’re realizing that you can’t write off the city any longer. And that you can’t have a strong region without a strong urban core.

Not all arguments are equal

Some media outlets are so afraid of looking biased that they don’t fact-check politicians’ claims and simply report both sides as equal arguments. Unfortunately, this mentality is also creeping into coverage of scientific issues.

Author Seth Mnookin tells NPR’s On The Media:

I think you see that a lot in science coverage and medicine. You have someone making an outrageous claim, and even if everyone in that field lines up on the other side, it’s presented as scientists’ debate.

Mnookin blames the media for giving credit to the theory that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The scientific paper that is often cited to back up this theory was published in 1998 but publicly retracted in 2010, after it was found to be flawed and fraudulent. As a result of more parents refusing to vaccinate their children, measles infections have hit a 15-year high. (On the bright side, some pediatricians are ‘firing’ families that refuse to have their children vaccinated.)

Fortunately, there is at least one field where journalists have not sunk to the all-arguments-are-equal level:

You don’t see it in business. If someone came along and said, “Hey everyone, my company is actually as valuable as Apple,” no business reporter would write a piece saying, “John Doe, who just started this company, claims that his company is as valuable as Apple. Apple Computer says, actually, it has more cash than any other company in the world,” because it would be ridiculous. But you do get that in science and medicine and in politics.

DVDs and Blu-rays will now carry two unskippable government warnings

An ICE spokesman tells me that the two screens will “come up after the previews, once you hit the main movie/play button on the DVD. At which point the movie rating comes up, followed by the IPR Center screen shot for 10 secs and then the FBI/HSI anti-piracy warning for 10 secs as well. Neither can be skipped/fast forwarded through.”

As John Gruber put it:

So to encourage people not to engage in piracy, they’re going to force everyone to watch yet another annoying, time-wasting, gratification-delaying warning screen that can only be avoided by engaging in piracy. They’re purposefully making the movie-playing experience worse for honest paying customers.