Wednesday, December 5, 2007

1st\NW Quadrant 12\10 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of December 10, 2007

Adults Only "Sesame Street"

According to an earnest warning on Volumes 1 and 2, “Sesame Street: Old School” is adults-only: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”

Alistair Cookie, played by Cookie Monster, used to appear [in “Monsterpiece Theater”] with a pipe, which he later gobbled. According to [Carol-Lynn] Parente [the executive producer of “Sesame Street”], “That modeled the wrong behavior” — smoking, eating pipes — “so we reshot those scenes without the pipe, and then we dropped the parody altogether.” (NY Times)
(Photo courtesy of Kevin Van Aelst)

Con Ed
Indian Manhole Covers

Eight thousand miles from Manhattan, barefoot, shirtless, whip-thin men rippled with muscle were forging prosaic pieces of the urban jigsaw puzzle: manhole covers.

Seemingly impervious to the heat from the metal, the workers at one of West Bengal’s many foundries relied on strength and bare hands rather than machinery. Safety precautions were barely in evidence; just a few pairs of eye goggles were seen in use on a recent visit. The foundry, Shakti Industries in Haora, produces manhole covers for Con Edison [roughly 2,750 a year] and New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, as well as for departments in New Orleans and Syracuse.

Manhole covers manufactured in India can be anywhere from 20 to 60 percent cheaper than those made in the United States ... Workers at foundries in India are paid the equivalent of a few dollars a day, while foundry workers in the United States earn about $25 an hour. (NY Times)

The NY Times has a very engaging multimedia presentation on this topic.
(Photo courtesy of J. Adam Huggins for The New York Times)

Replacing Amtrak Blog

Amtrak is a colossal failure. I [Joseph Vranich, editor of Replacing Amtrak] was one of the people who worked to create Amtrak in 1970-71. The railroad today bears little resemblance to what was promised. Federal subsidies to Amtrak now exceed $30.7 billion (and states have provided several billion more), Yet Amtrak remains in dire straits and has yet to launch major reforms. Anthony Haswell, sometimes acknowledged as the "father” of Amtrak, agrees with my views and praises the book “End of the Line.”

Joseph Vranich is author of End of the Line: The Failure of Amtrak Reform and the Future of America's Passenger Trains (AEI Press). He worked to create Amtrak in 1970-71. He later served as an Amtrak press spokesman, President of the High Speed Rail Association, and a U.S. Senate appointee to Amtrak Reform Council. While at Amtrak in the 1970s his arguments to expand service on high-potential routes such as Los Angeles-San Diego, Sacramento-Oakland, Seattle-Portland, and Chicago-Milwaukee fell on management’s deaf ears. Were it not for later initiatives by the states of California, Washington, Illinois and Wisconsin, these now-popular routes would remain under-served because of Amtrak's never-ending, costly quest to preserve market-irrelevant, long-distance routes. (Replacing Amtrak)

Ted Kennedy Memoir

The youngest and last surviving brother of the country's most famous political siblings has sold the rights to his memoirs to the Hachette Book Group.

Financial terms aren't being released, but a publishing official says the deal is comparable to ones given to other politicians recently. Hillary Clinton got eight million dollars for her book, while former British Prime Minister Tony Blair received nine million for his upcoming memoir.

Kennedy has the same agent as Clinton and Blair. The Massachusetts senator says he's been fortunate to have "a front row seat at many key events" in the nation's history. He wants the book to give a "more in-depth picture" of the Kennedys.

The autobiography is slated to come out in 2010. (ABC News)

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