Monday, March 31, 2014

Check date, suspend belief

Chartreuse plan for Duluth’s Civic Center

Johnson Controls, Inc. has been selected by the Civic Center Commission to design and build a new Civic Center for Duluth.  Lee Nixon, chair of the commission, pointed out that these three buildings, at 78 and more years old, are outmoded, energy inefficient, and inaccessible.  Mr. Nixon estimated the cost would be about one billion dollars.

Johnson Controls (JCI) had been serving as advisor to the Civic Center Commission on the status of the Center.  JCI had two meetings with a focus group of thirteen and a half people.  After a marathon 24-hour second session, the focus group agreed that the Chartreuse Plan proposed by JCI should be adopted.

Rep. James Oberstar praised the Chartreuse Plan for creating thousands of jobs.  Mayor Don Ness was not so enthusiastic about this budget buster, but he admitted the demolition and construction would permit him to work from home and spend more time with his family.  Harry Welty held a press conference asking why there was no vote to determine who was on the Civic Center Commission, and he estimated the true cost would be two billion dollars.

In JCI’s first revision of the Chartreuse Plan, they stated that far more parking would be needed than in the original.  In order to provide adequate parking, the city and county would have to take by eminent domain the Radisson Hotel, the old KDLH building, and the News Tribune Building.  For some reason, A&L Development’s Phoenix building was not mentioned.  Senate hopeful Al Franken quipped that the parking was probably needed for all the plaintiffs in the suits against the Civic Center Commission and JCI.  Harry Welty held a press conference asking why there was no vote on this project, and he estimated the true cost would be three billion dollars.

Northern Lights Express renamed

Because of a major design change in the Duluth-Twin Cities passenger rail service, it has been renamed and scheduled for earlier availability.  It is now to be called the Big Bertha Express.

The Passenger Rail Alliance learned of the availability of two previously unknown Big Bertha howitzers used by Imperial Germany in World War I.  They were able to purchase them for $5,000 each plus shipping and handling.

The Alliance commissioned ordnance manufacturer Alliant Techsystems Inc. to provide special long shells that can be inserted on the specially armored back of railroad passenger cars.  When the passenger car is ready for departure, a technician pulls the lanyard on Big Bertha and off goes the car at an initial speed of 500 mph.  By the time it reaches the other end, it has averaged 150 mph, thus arriving in one hour.  Of course, the intermediate stops of Anoka, Hinckley, and Carlton had to be dropped.  Initial service will begin on April 1, 2009.

Passengers must have medical exams before boarding.

Barack Obama seals nomination with historic Veep pick

Barack Obama, to show that he is a uniter not a divider, made an unprecedented early vice-president choice.  He reached across race, gender, and party to select Christie Todd Whitman as his running mate.  Ms. Whitman was the Republican governor of New Jersey and later George W. Bush’s first head of the Environmental Protcction Agency.  She was forced out of that position because she took her job seriously and performed it well.

Pollsters are predicting a landslide for Obama in the remaining state primaries.  They say an unprecedented number of Republicans will cross over, that independents who wouldn’t have voted will show up in the thousands, and that Democrats who have tired of the long battle between Obama and Clinton will unite behind a team they think will move the country forward.

I submitted these to the Reader Weekly for the 2008 April Fool’s edition.  My title was “If you believe these, I have a Minnesota bridge I would like you to cross”.  All but one of these were intended for Minnesota readers.

I also submitted the following two items which are of more general interest.

Global warming skeptics rescued from Antarctic iceberg

A large group of global warming skeptics held a conference on the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica to underscore their contention that the “cooling of Antarctica disproves global warming theory”.  They were surprised when the shelf broke off into many pieces.  Many of the conferees were stranded and could not reach the ship that brought them.  They were eventually rescued by planes of the British Antarctic Survey.  Ironically, some of the conferees had called the BAS “leftist dupes” because the BAS had been warning of the eventual collapse of the some of the ice around the edge of Antarctica.

Chinese government forecloses on White House

In a surprise move, the Chinese government has foreclosed on the White House.  A minor official in the Chinese Department of Finance discovered that the U.S. Government had issued bonds to make extensive renovations to the White House, some of them dating back to the Time when Ronald Reagan had the solar panels removed.

The bonds were part of a large package of bonds that the Chinese government had bought from Bear Stearns several years ago.  The official discovered that the bonds were due in 2006 and no interest had been paid since 2000.

After long negotiations with the Bush Administration, the Chinese administration decided to foreclose.  They gave President Bush thirty days to vacate the White House.  The Chinese government hasn’t said what they will do with the property, but many speculate that the Chinese will make it their embassy.