On politics, local and national:
There's a meeting next Tuesday on a proposed Beacon St cycle track. I started to put together a long, involved analysis of why this is a bad idea, citing the Dana Laird crash
as an example of why Somerville's citation of Cambridge as a model for cycling infrastructure does not mean that we should copy Central Square as Somerville's proposal
suggests. Even Cambridge doesn't put cycle tracks in areas with so many cross streets; theirs are along Concord Ave and Vassar St where traffic is much more suitable. For safety, the Vassar St cycle tracks reenter the roadway for 250 feet before (and after) each intersection; if Somerville did this along Beacon St there would be hardly any cycle track left. I think that point alone is probably enough to kill this dumb idea.
Republican handwringing about the election seems to be coming to a focus on immigration policy, on which Boehner is signaling that he will now cooperate. Of course his choice is cooperate or receive a black eye for failing to do so, since Obama is sure to push Lindsay Graham's immigration reform proposal through the Senate. The chief opponent to this is Steve King (R-IA) whose phrasing makes it clear that he is not interested in anyone actually leaving, but rather that he wants to see the creation (or more cynically, the perpetuation) of a permanent, exploitable underclass. But apparently we can't talk about class in America so no one will acknowledge this. Still, getting the Republicans off the xenophobia horse will have the side effect of getting them off this particular class warfare horse too. Small steps, there being a large herd of such horses, but nice to see.
Democrats are talking about going over the "fiscal cliff" and then negotiating from there. I like this idea: No one has to violate any promises they made to Grover Norquist. I'd like it more if sequestration allowed the administration to ignore earmarks, but instead the earmarks are cut only proportionally. Still, this is a chance for a good tactician to get what the administration actually wants and cut down on the pork some. Maybe we can start by killing the Space Launch System, which is not only a solution in search of a problem but also a terrible design for a rocket even if there were a problem to solve.