Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Pretty Sneaky, Sis.
Call me crazy…but near the end of last night’s speech, did it sound to you like President Bush implied that anyone who flies an American flag on Monday will be showing support for the war in Iraq? This line made me scream at the television. I wouldn’t say that I bleed red white and blue, but you would hope a man could put up an American flag on the 4th of July without joining the Republican party or endorsing neo-con policies.
As for the speech – it reeked of political panic. Invoking 9/11 five times to make the case for Iraq is just plain offensive at this point. More thoughtful reaction can be found at Slate, Juan Cole, and a great piece in the Los Angeles Times.
Monday, June 27, 2005
I've got Grokster on my Scotus!
Best Coverage of the Day Award: CNet is all over the Grokster case.
Runner Up: Wonkette. "Supreme Court Swings Both Ways on Hot Church-State Action"
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Tim Russert Scores Free Tickets to Live 8
Guess who followed Donald Rumsfeld on Meet the Press? Make way for Bono! Awwww yeah... Bono went one-on-one with Tim Russert (aka, lil' Big Russ) this morning for a lengthy chat on global poverty, AIDs, Africa, debt relief, and who's a better producer: Brian Eno or Daniel Lanois? U2's frontman is doing the media rounds to promote higher financial commitments to African aid at the upcoming G8 summit in Scotland. I know this is where I am supposed to ironically insult Bono for his save-the-world attitude, but I have to admit the man is damn good at his job (move over Barack, there's a new heart throb in town). Bono has become quite savvy with his politics - and he openly admits that the US cannot and will not be scorned into giving more money. His new plan of attack: Love. He heaped the love on Bush - claiming the President wants to help out, but his advisors just won't let him. It's just so fun and easy to blame Rove.
Big Bird and Armstrong Williams walk into a bar...
Friday, June 24, 2005
In the future, there will be an open bar!
But your liver will be periodically scanned.
I attended the opening reception for Wired Magazine's NextFest last night. It's billed as a showcase for visionary technology from scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs. There was definitely some cool stuff - a hybrid train locomotive, a robotic arm that changes your records (old skool, meet new skool), and brain fingerprinting. It's a fun event, and I highly recommend it for those of you in Chicago this weekend. My favorite display had to be Paro, a robotic baby harp seal (you heard right). This thing responds to your touch, wiggles around, and basically breaks your heart. Apparently it is designed for human interaction and has been used to reduce anxiety among Japanese elderly. It can recognize sound, so it will learn to respond to any name you give it. Let's just say my cat's job security is in serious jeopardy.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Take My House, Please
Oh, the problems of the first world.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Seriously, I really think they might be different from you and me.
Are you rich and damn tired of feeling guilty about it?
A lot of magazines come across my desk at work. My new favorite has to be Money. It's like Sassy for yuppies. It has one mission: hard hitting coverage on the plight of the upwardly mobile. This month there are some great tips on how to avoid paying your fair share of the tax burden (p. 44 and 54), how to get rich in real estate without leaving home (p. 66, really!), and a guide that tells you which BMW can be considered a justifiable indulgence (p. 110). And I read it cover to cover.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Four Horsemen Named Editors
Just imagine the all staff meetings.
What is up with the Atlantic Monthly? For the second time this year, their cover story tells the dark tale of our not-so-distant future - as told from the perspective of someone further in the future (yes, this confuses me too). You may remember Ten Years Later, Richard Clark's sunny picture of coming catastrophic terrorist attacks, which appeared in the Jan 2005 issue. This time it's Countdown to a Meltdown, James Fallows' look back from the year 2016 at the collapse of the American economy. Next month's guest editor: Buck Rodgers.
The Man is trying to mess with my radio!
Carl Kasell and Peter Sagal prepare for Senate hearings on federal funding for public radio.
As public broadcasting experiences a new round of political attacks, it's time to sign another petition. Hopefully we won't be receiving emails about this one for the next 20 years. For all you die hard pubradio fans out there, I came across an interesting article in Current, a public broadcasting trade newspaper. It turns out that in 1967, Congress was planning to pass the Public Television Act - a bill that totally omitted funds for public radio. The article tells the behind the scenes story of how radio was lobbied for, and eventually included in the final bill that created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Move along, no substantial macroeconomic implications to see here.
What do you do when you really really want that perfect house, but just can't afford it? One option is to take a mortgage that has nice low fixed payments for the first few years before being hit with an adjustable rate. Well join the club, buster - you've got friends. The New York Times is reporting that this type of loan is so popular that by 2007, $1 trillion of our nation's mortgage debt will transfer to adjustable rates. Depending on what interest rates do, mortage bills for some people may nearly double. How many homeowners out there are ready for that possibility?
The Economist also chimes in with a look at global housing prices in this week's edition (via The Housing Bubble)
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Do you remember our national nightmare of peace and prosperity?
It's all coming back to me.
I just started reading The Survivor, the new political biography of Bill Clinton by John Harris of the Washington Post. Oh, how we used to love him so (you have to recall, this was years before we met Barack). The early chapters chronicling the 1992 primaries have been a trip down memory lane for me, taking me back to my political adolesence. I was a young idealist and the "seven dwarves" were all we had to choose from: Tsongas, Simon, Clinton, Brown, Wilder, Kerrey, and Harkin. What was a young college sophmore at Santa Cruz to do? Oooh how I hated that Tsongas from the get go. Wanted so much to root for Rhymin' Simon, but please - I was 19. Never really knew exactly who Wilder was (or is). So I went with the natural choice of someone in my demographic: Moonbeam Jerry Brown!!! Man, that was a wild ride. After all the other chumps threw in the towel, it was left to JB to make Clinton work off all those big macs. I even attend a rally for Brown, featuring the left wing stylings of Mr. Jane Fonda himself, Tom Hayden. We fought hard, but Clinton wanted that coffee bad and he knew how to close the deal. Anyway - the moral of this story is that in the spring of 92, Clinton was far from my idea of a first choice for the nomination. It wasn't until well after the convention that I found myself feeling any real enthusiasm for the campaign. Now, we tend to look back as if we loved him at first sight. Not so. We saved that for a skinny kid with a funny name from the south side of Chicago.
Why settle for 3/5ths when you can shoot for zero?
Monday, June 13, 2005
You've been ruining everybody's lives and eating all our steak.
Do you love sidewalk cafes? If so, I have some bad news: my summer plans include destroying your way of life.
I hate sidewalk cafes. First of all, I hate eating outside. It's windy, there's bugs, its dirty and hot - I generally believe no enjoyment can from the experience. And then there's the issue of the sidewalk. You, my friend - as you enjoy your $18.95 entree on the same patch of pavement where Patrick the local junkie relieved himself early this morning - you are in my way. I am a pedestrian and I would like to pass. Unfortunately, your dinner party, the waitress, the busboy, and all those tables and chairs seem to be in my path. You see, I was taking a walk and I thought I would use the sidewalk. What? Oh, you say this fine establishment has a permit from the city of Chicago and you claim it is following all the rules and regulations? Okay, I'll let it go this time. But remember, I have a lot of free time this summer and I plan to bring your reign of terror to an end. Until then, enjoy the meal - and I hear the bbq southwest sushi is to die for!
Saturday, June 11, 2005
If You Build It....
In the NYT Op-Ed today, John Tierney observes that most big city mayors in America seem to think their main responsibility is to transform their cities into great entertainment centers. Tierney mainly focuses on NYC and Bloomberg's attempt to get a west side stadium built, but this syndrome has afflicted our good mayor as well. Mayor Daley gets alot of credit for cleaning up the city - but my question is, for who? River North, Navy Pier, and now Millenium Park are all great for getting Chicago mentioned in travel magazines, but are we - the good denizens - any better off for it? (yes, I did just diss our beloved Millenium Park. I love the Bean too, but lets all just admit the park is part of a larger problem) And sure, there are economic benefits from stadiums, tourist attractions, and convention centers. But in Chicago, you just know that most of the money never makes its way into the public coffers.
And remember, vote Daley.
Blogging and Radio: Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter
You can listen to the blogosphere show here.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
My Life, The Story. Chapter 1
This is the first in a series of excerpts from my autobiography, written at the age of 12. The original spelling, punctuation, and grammar is reflected in the text.
I was born on February 19th at the Evanston Hospital. When I was little I was very serious and had a dry sense of humor.
My favorite toy was a small stuffed animal named Floppy. He was a brown dog with white ear. He was missing an eye. I used to sleep with Floppy every night. I finally out grew Floppy and then came Joe. Joe was a big gorilla. He protected me from monsters at night.
When I was young one of the things I liked to do was watch cars go by. I would sit in my frontyard and watch for cars I would like to own when I grew up.
Wow! I think it's fair to say I was a prodigy. I always wondered why Papa used to call me "little Johnny Steinbeck". I really captured the changes we all go through when we move from a small town to the big city. We outgrow our innocence and treat our first love like a toy, only to dump them as soon as we realize everyone is laughing because they're wearing an eye patch. The next thing you know you're sleeping with a big gorilla named Joe and dreaming about that new 'Benz.
Bloggers Killed the Radio Star
Eugene Volokh (The Volokh Conspiracy) and Henry Farrell (Crooked Timber) will join Gretchen Helfrich on Odyssey today to discuss exactly what, if anything, the blogosphere is contributing to society. Jump here to find out if your public radio station carries Odyssey, or listen to the live stream at noon CDT at the Chicago Public Radio website.
Update: You can listen to the audio here.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man
So I recently found an autobiography I wrote for a school assignment when I was 12. It's called, My Life: The Story, and it's a fantastic read. I don't usually blow my own horn, but "toot toot". Earlier tonight, my wife was so affected by my prose that she was moved to tears (she has a bit of an accent, so her sobs can easily be mistaken for mocking laughter). Looking through this literary treasure, I couldn't help but notice that my teacher gave me a C. Total bullshit. Everyone's a critic. Anyways...over the course of the next week or so I plan to bring you some choice excerpts.
No Amnesty from the Amnesty Debate
Tear Down This Porch!
Room with a view.
Chicago has seen a number of back porches collapse in the last few years, some resulting in fatalities. Thankfully, the condition of my back porch is intentional. In reaction to these incidents, the city has increased building inspections, and landlords - like mine - are making sure they are up to code. In our case - we'll be getting a brand new open air porch to replace the old enclosed one that had a 15 degree slant to one side. Nice.
Rich in Tradition, Modern in Style....
Monday, June 06, 2005
The Second Rule of Housing Bubble
Deep Throat who?
So this last week one of best kept political secrets of our time was finally let out of the bag. No matter! The editors at Time stuck to their guns and went with more urgent breaking news for their cover story: the housing market! I don't know if any of you have heard the news, but apparently people are making a killing just by buying and selling overpriced real estate! But seriously, there is a little side story about the changes taking place on one block down the street from me, here in Chicago.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Mishandling the Mishandling
The Lazy Left
Gulag: Approximately 20 million passed through the Gulag. The population at any one time was generally around two million.
GuantÃ¡namo: 750 prisoners have passed through the camp. The current population is about 520.
Number of Camps:
Gulag: 476 separate camp complexes comprising thousands of individual camps. By the end of the 1930s, camps were located in each of the Soviet Union's twelve time zones.
GuantÃ¡namo: Five small camps on the U.S. military base in Cuba.
Reasons for Imprisonment:
Gulag: Opposition to the Soviet regime's forced collectivization, including efforts to hide grain in cellars; owning too many cows; need for slave labor to complete massive industrialization and mining projects; political opposition to the Soviet system; being Jewish; being Finnish; being religious; being middle class; being in need of reeducation; having had contact with foreigners; refusing to sleep with the head of Soviet counterintelligence; telling a joke about Stalin.
GuantÃ¡namo: Fighting for the fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan; being suspected of links to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Deaths as a Result of Poor Treatment:
Gulag: At least two to three million. Mass burials were often employed to keep death rates secret (camp commanders sometimes received permission to remove gold fillings before burial). In some particularly brutal periods, camp commanders simply executed thousands of prisoners. But deaths due to overwork were much more common. It is estimated that 25,000 gulag laborers died during the construction of the White Sea Canal in the early '30s. One convoy of "backward elements" destined for the Gulag in 1933 included about 6,000 prisoners; after three months, 4,000 were dead. "The survivors had lived because they ate the flesh of those who had died," according to an account cited by Anne Applebaum in her book, Gulag.
GuantÃ¡namo: No reports of prisoner deaths.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
And you thought the lines for were bad for Star Wars....
The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels
Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
Quotations from Chairman Mao, Mao Zedong
The Kinsey Report, Alfred Kinsey
Democracy and Education, John Dewey
Das Kapital, Karl Marx
The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
The Course of Positive Philosophy, August Comte
Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche
General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes
It's worth taking the jump to the site - the honorable mention list is just as good.