Adventures in Huntingdon County

This past weekend I went off in search of some authentic Pennsylvania history with a very good friend.  During my years of research on the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, I learned of a second rail tunnel through Sideling Hill.  Although the Abandoned Turnpike / South Penn RR history is fascinating in its own right, what we sought had nothing to do with either.  And thanks to a recent surge in interest in the Abandoned Turnpike (which I hope I’ve been at least a small part of), fewer Pennsylvanians have probably heard of our destination:  The East Broad Top Railroad.

Remember that with the exception of the Allegheny Mountain & Lehigh Valley tunnels, all of the PA Turnpike tunnels were once railroad tunnels for the never-finished South Penn.  The concrete shell you see today was built sometime between the late 1930s and early 1960s, depending on whether you’re travelling through the newer twinned tubes (mostly eastbound) or the original tunnels (mostly westbound).  All of the original tunnels date back to shortly after the Civil War.  I point this out only because in today’s Interstate-highway- and jet-based world, it’s easy to forget that railroads were once the dominant force in our economy.

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On Content Moderation

(Important note:  I am not a lawyer.  Nothing on this site, including this post, constitutes legal advice.  Everything in this post may be completely inaccurate; in fact, you should assume that it is.  Always consult a qualified attorney for legal guidance.)

There is a long-standing (and incorrect) Internet Urban Legend that has spent well over a decade misleading people who should know better.  The legend in question pertains to sites that contain user-submitted content, such as — for example — PennLive.  The legend goes something like this:

“If you edit, delete, or otherwise modify user-submitted content, you become responsible for said content and any legal ramifications it brings.”

This wildly-inaccurate assumption is regularly dispensed by Armchair Internet Lawyers and dime-a-dozen consultants.  And it needs to die.

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What Just Happened Here?

Browsing through today’s PennLive, counted not one, not two, not three, but seven (and a half) crime stories pertaining to Harrisburg from the past 24 hours:

A woman was mugged in the River Street Garage (the one on Second; no idea why they chose to name it after the small alley that runs behind it rather than the major thoroughfare that runs in front of it, but I digress), a c-store clerk was robbed, a guy was mugged with a brick, a dude was assaulted in a park near Italian Lake, a teen’s laptop was stolen while he was using it, some dude kicked a woman in the face and stole her purse, and a guy was stabbed while walking around.  The “and a half” comes from a Harrisburg guy who was charged with breaking into an apartment in Carlisle.  And again, this was all reported in a 24-hour period.

Naturally, the PennLive West Shore Trolls did not hesitate to blame this on Linda Thompson / Barack Obama / the Democrats / the Liberals / “those people” / people who don’t listen to Glenn Beck.  But the real question remains unanswered — what just happened?

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Tea-Turfing 2010

I normally don’t get into national politics on here, but this was so laughably bad it just had to be pointed out.  So without making this about any one particular youth-, tech-, or idea-challenged political party, I’m going to make this a tale of caution to social media marketers everywhere.  When you want to create the illusion of mass support for your cause, you have to put at least several seconds’ worth of effort into the execution.  Otherwise, your propaganda gets lost in the cacophony of Internet laughter.

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