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Rodricks: Real-time buses, asphalt aspirations, unconventional wisdom

With a real-time tracking app, MTA riders will be able to reduce the time they spend in rain and sweltering heat waiting for their buses to arrive.
With a real-time tracking app, MTA riders will be able to reduce the time they spend in rain and sweltering heat waiting for their buses to arrive. (Sun Staff)

Nobody asked me, but it’s marvelous that real-time tracking has finally come to more than 750 Maryland Transit Administration buses. Now, using the Transit app, we can know exactly when buses are coming, and I won’t ever again be left on the sidewalk, a block and a half from my bus stop, breathlessly cursing the driver who blows through eight minutes ahead of schedule.

By the way, an MTA bus is a great place to do what filmmaker John Waters suggests: Eavesdrop.

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Overheard on a recent ride: “That’s the way America is. We’re sneaky people. That’s why we rule half the world.”

And this: “You do it all the time! Stop blaming me.”

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And: “You know what creamer I like best? I like that International Delight Caramel Macchiato.”

Maryland crab houses hoping to get lucky in a bonus lottery for 15,000 immigrant guest worker visas mostly lost out again, meaning they will likely go the summer without their normal work force. The Eastern Shore picking houses supply most of the local meat sold in restaurants and stores.

Nobody asked me, but if the state is going to spend an extra $375,000 to promote Maryland crabmeat sales, we ought to bill the Trump administration. It changed the rules for awarding visas to Mexicans who come to the Eastern Shore each year to pick crabs. As a result, the crab houses do not have enough workers, and the state feels a need to give the industry a marketing boost. So send the bill to the Commerce Department.

And put some short-timers from the Eastern Correctional Institution on work release, let them pick crabs and earn a little take-home pay.

Or, even better, recruit a replacement workforce from among the Eastern Shore’s disaffected and economically anxious who made this presidency possible.

Nobody asked me, but those who think that Donald J. Trump’s obsessive rhetoric about immigrants represents the views of his fellow Americans will be shocked to learn what a national poll found: More than 80 percent of us support a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, including the “Dreamers” whose parents brought them here as kids. Only a deplorable 14 percent said “deport as many as possible.” Remarkable, sí? Even more so when you consider it was a FOX News poll.

The economics of recycling have shifted drastically over the past year, threatening the viability of single-stream curbside collection in Maryland and across the United States.

Nobody asked me, but recycling, once the subject of a steady and smart public education campaign, needs another dose of that stuff. So does trash disposal. It has been years since we saw consistent media messaging to remind people to recycle their recyclables and trash their trash.

Nobody asked me, but pundits who pooh-pooh postulations of a blue wave in Maryland discount the possibility of unprecedented personal purgations at the polls — that is, voting as catharsis. Democrats and independents could be so fed up with Trump, so sick of lies and humiliations, that they vote for anything blue. It could be the x factor in November’s gubernatorial election.

Of course, conventional wisdom says nah. Maryland Democrats might outnumber Republicans by 1.1 million, but many Democrats tell pollsters they like Larry Hogan. They see him as a moderate Republican who wisely distanced himself from Trump (and who probably scored more blue points last week by recalling the Maryland National Guard from Trump’s crackdown on immigrants at the southern border). While some grumpy Republicans might think their governor strayed too far from their president, Hogan won’t need the grumpies if enough Democrats vote red.

Democrats in deep blue Maryland are showing little enthusiasm for ousting Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in this fall’s election. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun video)

That’s the conventional wisdom. But there’s nothing conventional about these Trumpian times. So, I’ll just put it here: Democrats might approve of Larry Hogan; it doesn’t mean they vote to give him a second term.

Nobody asked me, but Democrats who claim they’re going to revive the Red Line through Baltimore are blowing smoke. Hogan turned down $900 million in federal funds when he killed the cross-city light rail project three years ago. That money is gone, baby, and so is any promise of transformative mass transit for the region. Hogan is a road warrior. His administration just committed another $890 million to extending express toll lanes on Interstate 95 into Harford County; the price of that project is now $1.1 billion. Last year Hogan proposed a $9 billion private-public partnership to add express toll lanes to the Capital Beltway, I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Maryland’s 21st-century transportation aspirations are asphalt.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's first campaign ad hits familiar tones - overstating his role in turning around the economy while reminding voters of the leadership he showed during the riots and character he showed during his fight with cancer.

Nobody asked me, but given the disastrous floods that have hit Ellicott City, the governor might want to avoid reviving attacks on the “rain tax” that helped get him elected in 2014. Alas, there it is again, in a campaign video describing how terribly taxed Marylanders were before Hogan took office. “Even taxing the rain,” the narrator says. It is as disingenuous now as it was then to ridicule efforts to raise money for stormwater management in Maryland’s 10 largest (and most impervious) jurisdictions. Equally disingenuous to say the effort was all about reducing Chesapeake pollution and had nothing to do with stormwater mitigation.

Nobody asked me, but, based on recent observations, Baltimore’s most popular snowball flavor — among adults, anyway — is still egg custard. Kids’ top choice: SpongeBob.

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Nobody asked me about the Orioles, and that’s fine because ... there are no words.

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