Monday, May 30, 2005

Udderly Unthinkable

And they say our nation's ports are vulnerable....

In today's NY Times Op-Ed, Lawrence M. Wein, a professor of management science at Stanford Business School, basically writes a how-to guide for terrorists looking to destroy America. He shuns the usual tools - planes, nukes, or anthrax. His weapon of mass destruction... cows.

To Do: Put Cass Sunstein's Theories to the Test.

In his book, the University of Chicago's Cass Sunstein frets that the internet will lead to the fragmenting of political discourse - a dark distopia where we only read the news sources that align with our politics, or share our opinions with those who agree with us. Slate brought to my attention a posting from Crooked Timber where they put together a little empirical analysis of popular political blogs to test out Sunstein's theory.

"Overall, it would be incorrect to conclude that liberal bloggers are ignoring conservative bloggers or vice versa. Certainly, liberal bloggers are more likely to address liberal bloggers and conservative bloggers are more likely to link to conservative bloggers. But people from both groups are certainly reading across the ideological divide to some extent."
I hope Cass will be sleeping better now.

Friday, May 27, 2005

A Sight for My Sore Eyes

Finally, a new construction that doesn't stand out like a sore thumb. I came across this project in the 2000 block of W. Iowa. Chicago has seen countless new condos built with no sense of scale or aesthetic tradition of a neighborhood. They are usually 4 story monstrosities that dwarf their neighbors. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this single family house being built. What we need is more of this, along with better zoning.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

No Plans to Quit the Day Job

Juan Cole has an interesting post on his blog today about the emergence of advertising on blogs. (It also appeared today on CNet News ). He outlines how Madison Avenue is trying to apply old standards in gauging the value of brand exposure on blogs. Cole argues that the habits of both blog readers and blog publishers make old advertising strategies moot. As for worries that advertising will corrupt the medium - he doesn't see much of a threat. It's an interesting piece, and an essential read for all you greedy bloggers out there.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Chicagoist, Master of the Obvious.

Maybe Chicagoish would be a better name?

I read blogs. Lots of blogs. One of them is Chicagoist, which is the windy city's franchise of the Gothamist family of blogs. Now I find this blog to be useful and informative when it comes to covering upcoming concerts, festivals, etc. But too often it feels like whoever edits this blog has just moved to Chicago. Dare I say not a good tone to strike if you call yourself Chicagoist? Take yesterday's post about Stanley's Fruits and Vegetables. Apparently the author has just recently learned not only that Stanley's exists, but it has (gasp!) cheaper vegetables than Whole Foods!!! Come on, anyone worth a damn knows this, and you don't have to waste your time and mine by posting it and pretending it's some sort of news flash. It sounds like you don't know a thing about this town. I can't wait for tomorrow's special feature on the "El Train" that rides on special tracks and moves people all over the city. Or this weekends expose on how Wicker Park is changing.

If this is your first housing bubble, you must buy.

We all know the first rule of housing bubble is you do not talk about housing bubble.

Both the NY Times and Chicago Tribune had front page stories about the housing bubble this morning. This follows a bleak outlook from a WSJ article last week. 2/3rds of all mortgages last year were either variable rate or interest only loans. Housing prices rose sharply last month and for the first time the median price for homes in the U.S. has surpassed $200K. The Tribune article paints a rosier picture, assuring all home owners not to worry, because the Midwest housing market never ever fluctuates as wildly as our friends on the coasts. I guess they haven't walked around West Town lately. See no evil, speak no evil. 2nd rule of housing bubble is you do not talk about housing bubble.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Oh, it's on...

Welcome to The American Sector.

I'd like to start our relationship on a note of openness and honesty. I am hoping this blog to be a constructive outlet for what has become a major pastime of mine: screaming in frustration at the world around me. This usually occurs when I am behind the wheel of my car. While these incidents are often instigated by slow traffic or careless driving, I have come to the realization that my bellows of ire have numerous origins - and they go beyond the confines of the two-lane blacktop.
You will se that my rage has many targets; American politics, the housing market, poor urban planning, the state of journalism, careless gentrification, the cost of broadband internet....and the list goes on and on. You may find along the way that I can be a walking blob of contradictions, a sneaky hypocrite, loose on the details, unwilling to take a strong stand, and hesitant to join a political movement and actually make a difference. But I hope now I will sleep better knowing that I have at least written down for you what it is I see in this world. Maybe someday I will say something out loud. Thanks.