Wandering Eye: Baltimore Brew examines the future of the casino, Mother Jones puckers up for Martin O'Malley, and more

Esteemed former Sun scribe Antero Pietila on Facebook had this to say: The Baltimore Brew's "Mark Reutter is the man, the journalist of the year." Pietila was bouncing Reutter's piece about the potential fall-out in Baltimore of Caesars Enterainment Corp.'s looming bankruptcy. Caesars' recently opened Horseshoe Casino has numerous, long-term financial ties to the city of Baltimore, Reutter explains, and while bankruptcy may not have any immediate effects on jobs here, in the long term there are threats not only to jobs, but to the casino's ability to keep up its end of the bargain in financial arrangements with the city, meaning the gamble may not end up paying off for taxpayers as promised. (Van Smith)

 

Mother Jones puckers up lustily for outgoing Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, re-publishing Ben Alder's Grist piece that rolls all the carefully tended tropes of his political career into a single GO'Malley cheer for his likely-to-fail presidential bid. The incredible lede: "Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is nothing like any pop culture stereotype of a politician." Oh no! He's all about data. And the environment! Like every other O'Malley profiler ever, Alder goes to a "stat" meeting—in this case Climatestat—and is impressed by the hunk wonk's (hwonk’s?) grasp of all those complicated numbers: "That's awesome! That's a good use of GIS [geographic information system]," [O'Malley] exclaims over a map of tree coverage on the projector. (O'Malley likes data visualization; he later observes, "People under 40 communicate in charts and graphs.") It goes on like this. There is nothing about O'Malley’s sell-out to the chicken industry, bogus use of "black liquor" as "green power," or any kind of "to be sure" caveat. Well, to be sure, O'Malley is not that bad, compared to the Republican field or even up against Hillary Clinton. But those craving a deep and honest analysis of his gubernatorial legacy will have to wait. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

It can be easy to think that something as mundane as traffic design is a morally neutral thing. But in Dissent Magazine's "Injustice at the Intersection," Benjamin Ross gives a historical analysis of the ways in which engineering practices, thanks to generations of lobbying from the automotive and trucking industry, have evolved to favor car owners over pedestrians or cyclists, and picks apart the dull-sounding Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) to show the design biases toward cars, even if those design choices endanger pedestrians: "The rules for pedestrian crossings nationwide are set out in the [MUTCD]. Chapter 4C specifies when red lights can be installed. One rule concerns vehicle traffic that approaches busy highways from a side street. It takes 240 cars in four hours to justify a traffic signal. Under the same conditions, at least 428 people must walk across the main road before a red light can be installed. A pedestrian, in other words, counts for just under three-fifths of a driver." And these seemingly mundane design details can have serious implications for pedestrians—Ross brings up a case of a Georgia mother who was charged with vehicular homicide after her son ran out into traffic across a five-lane highway, even though, he says, the "true perpetrators [of his death] were poverty and traffic engineering." Pair Dissent's article with this blog post from a few months ago on The Society Pages about Apple's health app and the way its design shows a blatant disregard for certain populations—namely, women and people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorders or eating disorders. As that writer says, "The design of things—pretty much all things—reflects assumptions about what kind of people are going to be using the things, and how those people are going to use them. That means that design isn't neutral. Design is a picture of inequality, of systems of power and domination both subtle and not." (Anna Walsh)

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