This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

94 needs a third lane. Or more.

Posted by: James Lileks under Gripes, Praise Updated: May 12, 2014 - 12:25 PM

It’s a miracle there isn’t a 40-car pile-up every day on 94 between Rogers and the Twin Cities. For years I’ve taken Highway 10 up to Fargo, because I like the drive, the small towns, the sense of being in Minnesota instead of gliding through it like a plastic pellet. But time was short and the construction was minimal, and the speed limit’s 70, so it was 94 up and back. I knew the road would thicken after St. Cloud. I’d forgotten what it’s really like: damned near bumper-to-bumper for 40 miles, traveling at 65 MPH with less room between each car than the thickness of an issue of Newsweek.

Some studies say it'll be like this from the Twin Cities to the North Dakota border by 2040.  Yes, even if we built a high-speed train. That might push it back to Feruary 2041.

The congestion has three sources: trucks, which are operating at a safe speed and maintaining safe distances, which confuses the cars that think no more than 100 yards in advance, if that; B) the amount of traffic coming home on Sunday; C) the fact that the highway’s two measly lanes, when it should be three at the least. I know, I know: adding lanes doesn’t reduce the congestion, some studies say. You just get more cars. Well. It’s impossible for there to be more cars, and if there were three lanes there wouldn’t be the opportunity to think “this is the fast lane! Must get in it now!” and leave the right lane, adding to the density of the fast lane, which stalls because half the people from the right lane got in the left lane. Then the right lane looks faster, so people switch. About one out of five lane changes requires someone to break, which means red lights, which spreads all the way back half a mile.

If you had a third lane the slow-but-steady crowd would be taken out of the equation.

On another note: The entrance ramps jam things up even more, since there’s limited space to merge. At one point I was in the fast lane; a car on my right was puttering along, oblivious; a car was trying to merge, and the only way it could do so was to accelerate, which it seemed hesitant to do, or wait for the car in the right lane to get ahead of it. Neither was happening. I took my foot off the accelerator to drop back, in case the car in the slow lane was hit by the merging car, or needed to get out of the lane quickly. This irritated the large pickup behind me, which was already angry I wasn’t doing 107 MPH; the pickup was so close behind the driver could read the station on my radio dial.

This combination - lack of foresight and the conviction one is both immortal and entitled - characterized about every mile of the road, and it’s been that way for years. We need another lane. It wouldn't help to have better drivers, but that requires reshaping human nature, and we all know how that usually works out.

MAD MEN Although it is possible to turn your life around, cut back on the drinking, and find your better nature asserting itself - as we saw on last night’s episode, where Don Draper seems to reasserting the qualities that made the character intriguing. What’s the secret of his success? Having the script-writer on your side. Once you have that, all things are possible.

Other notes: pity about Ginsburg. I’ve no idea why they decided to turn his character into a joke, and have him go Van Gogh for the sake of providing the season with a Lawnmower Moment. At least we got to see things through his eyes for a few moments, providing a Kubrick callback in the computer room that will keep the recappers busy for days. Doesn’t that mean that Ginsberg was HAL, who also lip-read, and was going crazy too? If so, it’s a missed opportunity; he could have locked the door to the office, and Don would have had to ask him to open the door, just like in “2001,” which would mean . . . well, nothing. Like most of the show. I still enjoy it, but it’s just a soap.

Best recap, as usual, by MZS at Vulture,

URBAN STUDIES A look at an enormous 19th century Ghost Ad, restored on a building in England. Just to give you an idea of the scale of advertising in those days.

ART Another collection of “Alternative Movie Posters,” and some of them are remarkably good. But there’s the usual problem: unlike actual movie posters, which try to tell you something about the film, these assume you know the movie’s plot, or meaning, or role in popular culture. For example: remember that horror movie about the guy who was running away from something horrible, a possible future where he might be stretched out dead on the ground?

It’s good, but perhaps it's time to leave Saul Bass behind as an inspiration.

VotD In case you’re one of the 4 million people who have not witnesses the French chat run into an invisible glass door, or saw it yesterday, watched it ten times, then forgot about it:

Why did this one get such sudden popularity? At the risk of overanalyzing the obvious, it’s short; it reminds you of the essential role sound can play in achieving a comedic effect; it’s from a show that had nothing to do with cats whatsoever, and seems unconcerned with the concussive outcome. It does not stop and apologize and reassure everyone the cat’s okay. 

I'm sure the cat's okay.

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