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Beechview's Canton Avenue has bike cred

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

 
Beechview’s Canton Avenue makes the grade in John Metcalf’s Atlantic Cities article today, “The 10 Most Hellish Hills for America’s Cyclists.”
 
He cites Waipio Valley Road in Hawaii as what Lance Armstrong claimed is the “steepest climb I’ve ever seen on a bike.” Canton Avenue comes in at No. 2. The YouTube video above is of the 2010 Dirty Dozen race here.
 
Canton and the next four steepest grades, all in Los Angeles, might challenge many people’s expectations that America’s steepest cycling challenges are in San Francisco or the Rockies, he writes.
 
The ranking was created by Fixr, which the article says describes Canton as the “steepest public street in the United States.” Interestingly, a street in East Hills, Dornbush, comes in at No. 8, ahead of the top two in the Pretty City by the Bay, which are numbers 9 and 10.
 
San Francisco’s rankings rankle its natives, who take issue with having the ninth and 10th steepest grades, according to the article. C'mon, Frisco, your housing prices are steep enough. Why do you want to go trying to hog all the honors? 
 
As for the top ranking, Waipio Valley Road is described as “a tortuous climb of 800 feet in six-tenths of a mile. With sections slanted at a 45-degree grade, and access given only to cars with 4-wheel drive, just looking at the muscle-shredding lane can make rivers of sweat start to flow.”
 
Canton is a little monster, one block long between Coast and Hampshire avenues. If I'm on two wheels, I’d stay away from it until spring.

 

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Poll shows revolution in views on gays

Written by Peter Smith on .

If the personal is political, as they say, then the sexual revolution is indeed a revolution. That was in evidence in Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of a bill that would have effectively allowed business owners a stronger legal defense if they refused to provide services to same-sex couples.

It wasn't that long ago that such legislation would have been a sure winner. Now it's a loser even in a state like Arizona, whose immigration laws have hardly lent it an air of political correctness.

We also noted recently that a federal judge in Kentucky said attitudes against homosexuality may become as anachronistic as those justifying legal discrimination against racial minorities and women. That's happening sooner rather than later.

A new poll shows as much. Taken by the Public Religion Research Institute, it shows how a solid majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage, whereas more than two-thirds opposed it back in 2003 when Massachusetts was legalizing it under court order. In Pennsylvania, 61 percent support same-sex marriage, mirroring other recent surveys.

The poll would indicate that conservative groups, both political and religious, are paying a price for their historic opposition (if not outright hostility) to gays and lesbians. Gay marriage is looked on more favorably by younger adults (though it's growing among all age groups), and people tend to perceive Catholic, Mormon and evangelical churches as especially unfriendly to gays and lesbians. Of those who left their childhood religion, a quarter said it was partly because of their religions' treatment of gays, and the figure is higher among younger adults, who are also more secular. Something to consider as liberal churches, who have long debated and finally approved ordaining gays, begin to consider endorsing same-sex marriage. Such proposals are coming before the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s General Assembly this June.

Certainly many conservative churches feel they have to take the stand they do on eternal principles rather than poll results, but the results do show the price they're paying at least in terms of public perception. One could also point out that the liberal churches who are most open to gays are actually suffering some of the worst membership losses.

 

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From Watergate to 'House of Cards': Journalists not always true-to-life on film

Written by Kim Lyons on .

Kate-Mara-in-House-of-Cards

Zoe Barnes, played by Kate Mara in "House of Cards."

SPOILER ALERT: If you're not caught up on the current season of House of Cards, mild spoilers ahead.

Much has been written about the portrayal of journalists in the Netflix series "House of Cards." For the most part, the show's fictional reporters are examples of what not to do; they sleep with sources in exchange for information, contact shady computer hackers (whose portrayal is a whole other level of fiction) to help them break the law, and promise to print whatever a source tells them, among other things. One older editor even decries the rise of blogs and Twitter (he's actually a slightly more realistic character, a version of whom a few print reporters have likely come across).

As any reputable journalist knows, most of the antics of HoC's girl reporter Zoe Barnes would get a real reporter fired.  The only truly realistic journalists in the series are the real-life journalists who appear as themselves (Matt Bai and Ashleigh Banfield).


But there is a long history of potraying reporters in movies and on television as more interesting and less realistic than we really are. If you tried to make a movie about what the average reporter does on a given day, it would likely involve a vending machine lunch, waiting for return phone calls, staking out a crime scene in the freezing cold, waiting for a police spokesman to take pity on you and tell you what's happening, and cursing at the computer that has crashed (AGAIN) and lost the 1,000 word story that's already way past deadline.


Not the sexiest job in the world.


The venerable Bob Woodward once said sometimes when people meet him they are disappointed that he doesn't look more like Robert Redford, who portrayed Woodward in the 1976 film "All the President's Men." That movie was, of course, based on the book Woodward co-authored with fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein (played by Dustin Hoffman in the film), about their reporting on the 1972 break-in at the Watergate Hotel and subsequent coverup by members of President Nixon's administration (read your history, kids).
But All the President's Men was a mostly realistic portrayal of how the reporters got the story.

With the Oscars coming up this weekend, we were thinking about other movies that depict journos, good, bad and otherwise. Newscastic put together a pretty decent list of 10 Movies Every Journalist Should Watch (even though the headline isn't in AP style), and the PG's Barb Vancheri  wrote about the topic of unrealistic journalist movies back in 2007.


Which newsroom-based movie is your favorite, and who's your favorite fictional reporter?

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Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford as Bernstein and Woodward in "All the President's Men." You can see clear evidence of fast-food dining, sadly a staple of many a reporter's diet...

 

 

 

 

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Tell PennDOT where to go with Parkway East

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

 

376PennDOT wants to hear from you about the Parkway East corridor.

An online survey is being offered for comments about what people like and dislike and suggestions for improvements, as one of the early steps in a comprehensive strategy to improve safety and traffic flow through the corridor. The survey and a project website are here.

A statement on the website says the project “is not just a study. PennDOT is committed to making real improvements in the corridor.”

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The average price of a gallon of gas in Western Pennsylvania went up 9 cents last week, reaching $3.65, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. That’s about 20 cents higher than the price in mid-December and 22 cents higher than the current national average. The national average price per gallon is 35 cents below the average at this time a year ago.

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PennDOT’s plan to fast-track replacement of at least 500 smaller bridges through a public-private partnership has attracted plenty of interest. Five teams that include some of the heaviest hitters in the international construction world have submitted statements of qualification. The department will evaluate the statements and invite the highest scoring teams to submit detailed proposals this spring.

Here are the entrants:

Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners: Plenary Group, The Walsh Group, Granite Construction Co., HDR Engineering, HNTB Corporation and Infrastructure Corp. of America

Keystone Bridge Partners: InfraRed Capital Partners, Kiewit, Parsons, The Allan A. Myers family of companies, DBi and American Infrastructure

Commonwealth Bridge Partners: John Laing Investments, Fluor, American Bridge Co., Traylor Bros. Inc., Joseph B. Fay Co., STV Inc. and Infrastructure and Industrial Constructors

Keystone Bridge Builders: Macquarie, PCL, Conti Enterprises and Stantec Consulting Services
Pennsylvania Crossings: Meridiam, Lane Construction, AECOM, Trumbull, Wagman Cos. and Cofiroute.

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tunnelpark

The project to raise the roof of the J&L railroad tunnel at SouthSide Works has copped two awards: It was named the Project of the Year by the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania and received the Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania.

The project increased the vertical clearance in the 130-year-old tunnel, which passes under the appropriately named Tunnel Park, to accommodate double-stack freight trains. It was completed last year and the park surface has been restored.

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menatworkRight-lane closures are possible on the Liberty Bridge in both directions from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. weekdays through March 7.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike will be closed in both directions between Butler Valley (Exit 39) and Allegheny Valley (Exit 48) from 11:59 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday for removal of beams from one of the old Route 910 bridges that cross the turnpike. Traffic will detour Routes 8, 28, 910 and Freeport Road. UPDATE: THE CLOSURE HAS BEEN POSTPONED FOR ONE WEEK BECAUSE OF BAD WEATHER THAT IS EXPECTED. THE NEW SCHEDULE CALLS FOR CLOSING IT AT 11:59 P.M. MARCH 8 TO 5 A.M. MARCH 9.

Test bore drillings on the bridge that carries Route 136-West Newton Road over Gillespie Run in Elizabeth Township will cause alternating one-way traffic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays through next Wednesday.

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Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian pitches motivation through memes at CMU

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

In 2005, the year he started a microblogging site Reddit with his friend Steve Huffman, Alexis Ohanian had no idea what he was doing.

Evidence: he drew Reddit's ubiquitous robot logo, "snoo," before hashing out the site's mission or direction. "I'm Alexis," he said. "I start companies and draw mascots for them."

He shared this story, all the while harping on the benefits of entrepreneurship, on Tuesday night to a crowd of about 200 people at CMU's McConomy Auditorium. His presentation was in equal parts focused on motivational speaking, Reddit history and power of the Internet.

Oh, and it contained plenty of memes about the divide between digital immigrants and digital natives, who, he said, now possess a huge advantage.

Alexis Ohanian Carnegie Mellon University February 2014 Ethan Magoc Post-Gazette 3

He is an evangelist for learning to write code, calling it "the most valuable skill of this century," though he was largely preaching to the choir at a campus like CMU.

At one point, he asked for a show of hands: "Who is working on a Web project?" Many shot up, and he called to the stage Jackie Vesci, who pitched her Pittsburgh conversation site, 3HourLocal.

He was often self-deprecating in trying to show those in attendance that the road to success is rarely smooth. Besides almost calling Reddit "Snoo" — hopefully prompting the frequent question "What's snoo?" — he also worked toward the end of his college career on an ill-fated startup known as My Mobile Menu.

The acronym? MMM...

Alexis Ohanian Carnegie Mellon University February 2014 Ethan Magoc Post-Gazette 2

While Ohanian is on a nationwide college tour selling his book, he attempted to personalize his pitch with slides like these. With the Tartan mascot, he said, "I was expecting something a little different (than the Scottish terrier)." More like that guy. (Ethan Magoc/Post-Gazette photos)

"I still do not know what I'm doing most of the time," Ohanian said. "There's no paint by numbers for life."

He left the crowd with an old-fashioned, albeit interactive, gimmick. Write down your address and a month-long project or goal you're working on, he said, and leave it with me. In a month, he's paying for the postage and mailing them back.

Alexis Ohanian Carnegie Mellon University February 2014 Ethan Magoc Post-Gazette 4

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