Thursday, March 30, 2006

Corridor character

by Andrew Swift, DI editorial writer

For Iowans who grew up north of Iowa City along I-380, the I-80 and I-380 interchange has been a fact of life. The treacherous loop system, constructed some 30 years ago, contributes to many a harrowing exit onto west I-80. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, take I-80 east until I-380. You'll see for yourself highway-engineering planning at its finest.)

The Iowa Department of Transportation recently released a proposal to eliminate the loops; I would assume with a more conventional exit system replacing them. Now, I know the loop system is notoriously dangerous. But there's a part of me that doesn't want to see it go.

You see, successfully navigating the loop is an art. Masters of the merge and/or exit take great pride in their skills. I've always viewed getting through the loop as the last benchmark of the trip from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City. It represents a victory over the incompetent designers who planned the system in the first place. I simply can't imagine making the drive without hurdling the last obstacle in my path.

Thankfully, the project will not be finished until years down the road, when I shall be long gone from the Hawkeye State. Nevertheless, a part of my youth will be taken from me forever. Long live the Loop.

African reading

John Heineman's column today shines light on a subject that gets extremely little press and little recognition in foreign policy circles: Africa. Sadly, the continent faces crises (civil wars and ethnic conflicts, widespread famine, AIDS, etc., etc.) of all kinds, and little action is being taken by the First World to alleviate these problems.

Heineman provides a simple request towards the end of his column: “I only ask you to be aware of Africa's problems, engage in an intellectual discussion, or just say a prayer.” In light of that request, I'd like to encourage anyone to watch the brilliant film Hotel Rwanda. For those who seek a deeper understanding of the modern history of Africa, I highly recommend Martin Meredith's The Fate of Africa.

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