Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy New Year from TLATL

As usual, our punctuality is impeccable. Happy 2010 everyone! By the way, do you say "twenty-ten", "two-thousand ten" or something else? I like twenty-ten myself.

While our title pays homage to two great mid-Western cities from which a lot of our writers and readers hail, our content rarely covers news from our namesake cities. So I thought it would be nice to kick off the year with a review some news coming out of The Lou.

About a month ago, Highway 40 re-opened after a two-year long closing (the first year it was closed from I-170 to Kingshighway, the second year from Ballas to I-170). Although massive traffic delays and economic catastrophes for businesses were predicted by some, the project went about as smoothly as could be expected. I have to admit that I was pretty surprised when a large-scale government infrastructure project actually finished slightly ahead of schedule. From The Lou's KSDK:
MoDOT leaders are calling the project, which involved demolishing and completely rebuilding a 10 mile stretch of Highway 40, a huge success. It was finished three weeks ahead of schedule and $11 million under budget. It is the largest single construction contract in MoDOT's history and cost more than a half-billion dollars.
Dude, MoDOT is making AfghanistanDOT look like a bunch of chumps.

How do you know if someone isn't from the Lou? They refer to the highway as I-64, not Highway 40. They're like, "Yeah, so I was heading down I-64..." and you think to yourself, "I-64? Oh, man. Did he really tell me he's from Indianapolis? 'Cause I just pegged him for Parkway Central. Aw, snap."

Anyway, take a spin on the new central corridor and I'm sure you'll appreciate the job they did. In all seriousness, it's a great improvement.

And while you're out on the roads, check out the billboards. You may see some advertisements for a smoke-free Ballwin or Kirkwood coming near you.

I've long been disappointed in my state for not being as progressive as our eastern neighbors and others, but it appears that the barriers to smoke free public buildings are slowly coming down... or should I say, drifting away. The argument that making Ballwin, for example, smoke-free will cause patrons to flee to neighboring towns, negatively impacting Ballwin restaurants/bars and thus Ballwin tax dollars just doesn't hold water with me. There are enough people nowadays that will actually drive the extra mile (or miles) to a smoke-free establishment.

That said, there will undoubtedly be some bars that will go under if the neighboring towns don't also follow suit. Hopefully the trend continues quickly, or their patrons are loyal enough to smoke outside.

Speaking of outside... it's cold!! Remember that incredibly mild summer we had? Well, we're paying for it now, as predicted by the Farmer's Almanac.

And lastly, a former Cardinals first baseman made the news recently from his home in Southern California: Gregg Jeffries is coaching high school baseball!!

I'm sure everyone is aware of Mark McGwire (finally) admitting to steroid use. The announcement was necessary and long overdue. We've covered McGwire and the era before, and I don't think McGwire's announcement changes the opinion I posited in that post. It's good for baseball that he took this step, and I hope his tenure as the Cards' hitting coach is long and successful. I haven't seen his interviews yet, but read some transcripts. I think McGwire is a good man, and I think he's genuinely remorseful for what he did, but he did seem to be using injuries to excuse his actions just a little...  Oh well, it's just a game.

I do recommend you check out Bernie Miklasz's interview with McGwire. Bernie has now been the lead sports writer in St. Louis for 20 years, and I think St. Louis sports fans are lucky to have him here.

God bless everyone in 2010!


Ryan said...

Happy New Year as well to all TLATL stakeholders!!!!!!

I've been saying the full two thousand and ten, but I"m liking the 20-10 better.

SO much packed into this post.

I thought the highway experiment, for as hard as it was o neveryone, was a big success (from afar). It was also cool that they let everyone run (wasn't there a race) around on the open highway the day before it opened for traffic. My sister joked she wanted to speed out to the highway and get in an accident at 12:01 to be the first recorded accident on the highway. The new overpasses look great.

McGuire's admission fulfills many a prophecy from the writers and readers of TLATL. I was skeptical that he'd do it, but it looks like it became a win-win-win situation.

I used to be against the smoking bans, in spite of the fact I don't really smoke. I used to be against it because of notions of liberty and freedom, but I think as long as the ordinances or laws stay locally controlled, they can work.

Minnesota went totally smoke free a year or two ago, and it's been controversial. Some folks in teh TC's ahve been grumpy about it, but it's mostly well received in teh city. It's really nice not to be in a bar full of smoke, although I do think that many small towns have been hit hard by it, since a lot of places only have one or two bars period for 50 miles or more in any direction, and that's the main social spot for everyone, and in some places, most folks smoke.

SO even state laws can be too broad, however I think they're amending the law for exceptions.

I had heard the practical argument as well that it would affect business poorly, but it's a weak argument at least in the city. ALl the anecdotal evidence from the local area has shown more people going to places they wouldn't normally go to, not the other way around.

I do wish more places would accommodate smokers somehow. It's sort of sad you can't go out to a bar and smoke a cigar and drink a beer with friends. ONe of the main good things about smoking, it's the social aspect of it, and now smokers are sort of being ostracized in a heavy handed, bandwagon fashion.

Coovo said...

Great post Roller. Kind of makes me wish I still blogged.

I too drove down 40 on my recent visit to the Lou (does this mean I'm from St. Louis?). Since we took 270 in I didn't even know it was done until I was visiting some friends. I was supposed to get off at Hanley, but when I saw it was finished, I really wanted to and did cruise that extra .4 miles to Big Bend. Totally worth it.

The feedback I always got from my family was that 40 being closed wasn't that big a deal. People seemed to adapt very well. The news that it finished early and under budget, well, that just isn't heard of in government. Well done Lou.

Ryan, there is part of me that agrees with you about the freedom of people to not only do what they want, but for owners to allow what they want in their establishments. In particular those places where non-smokers rarely frequented before the laws came into effect. I vaguely remember some loopholes in the first chicago law (might be current IL law), where you could smoke if certain sales percentages came from tobacco. On campus here at U of I, there is a tiny tobacco shop on Green St. (the main drag on campus) that on occasion is filled with smoke from the patrons inside.

The immediate gratification is the smokeless environment, but the laws staying power is that second hand smoke is harmful to ones health. Just think if they prove that the smell of beer is bad for your liver.

Ryan, as the only person I know of who started smoking after the age of 25 and you being from a sound economic background, is the smoking backlash having a negative effect on the economy? I know companies like Phillip MOrris have diversified. But aren't certain areas of the south dependent on tobacco farming? Just a curious thought.

I think there are a lot of segments of business that if streamlined or simplified could put a lot of people workers out of business. Taxes, health care, pro wrestling. Think about it. Now that baseball is cleaning up its steroid act, dirty doctors and crooked pharmaceutical reps have nowhere else to go besides Big Poppa Pump. Where have you gone Joe Canseco? Our nation mourns its pimply hairy back for you?

Doughboy said...

Thanks for getting things started again Roller.

I have to admit, I was extremely disappointed by the way McGuire handled the admission. Even if it was true that he started using steroids to help him return to playing faster after an injury, he knew that by doing so, he was engaging in an activity that was going to result in increased muscle bulk giving him an illegal advantage in his sport. He cheated at his sport and he knows he did. Any excuses at this point are worthless including that fact that tons of other people were doing it too. The part of this whole thing that bothers me the most is that he has had so much time to get this admission and apology right. When he took the job with the Cardinals, he knew that he was going to have to do this. He has had months (actually years) to get this right but he still missed the mark by a long shot.

As far as the smoking thing goes, I agree with Roller that these nonsmoking laws continue to pass. I am not bothered by the curtailment of civil liberties when smoking is not allowed. To me, the social costs of allowing people to smoke in bars and restaurants are too heaviliy born by those who don't smoke or have health conditions that are negatively affected by such exposure. Going outside to smoke or going to a designated smoking area is a much lesser social cost for smokers to bear. At any rate, while I don't go to too many bars anymore, I appreciate the lack of smoke whenever I do.