B12 Solipsism

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Chicago Officials Want to ride on Obama Coattails

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Hey, why not? Not sure exactly what specific benefit to the city we can expect, but we can hope nonetheless

Killing People Is Rude

President-elect Barack Obama will be the first White House occupant in years to hail from a major city, which is stirring hopes that he’ll deliver a boost to urban areas.

Chicago-area governments, like cities and states across the nation, are facing budget crises and cuts in federal money as the economy slumps and revenues fall. Officials said they hope an Obama administration will help improve the situation despite the grim federal financial picture. Businesses of all sizes hope to capitalize — as does the effort to lure the 2016 Olympics to Chicago.

Mr. Obama “has lived and worked in a city and understands the urban issues,” said Mayor Richard M. Daley. “He understands how important education is — it’s the cornerstone of building our cities. He doesn’t need to be educated about urban America. He’s already educated.”

Federal funds for urban programs were slashed during the Bush administration. The financial crisis is further straining city budgets, pushing them to look toward

plus there is this more important aspect

Chicago’s hopes aren’t confined to government. Second City, Chicago’s popular sketch-comedy theater, expects to see an increase in ticket sales, particularly from overseas visitors who planned trips after seeing thrilling scenes from Grant Park.

“Barack has been our meal ticket for two years,” said Second City Vice President Kelly Leonard. “Being a Chicago institution, it can only mean good things for us.”

A Second City show that ran last year called “Between Barack and a Hard Place” was the best-selling show ever for the theater. Mr. Leonard has aspirations of bringing the troupe to Washington for a special performance. “Our goal is to be the official sketch comedy troupe of the White House,” he said.

[From Chicago Officials Hope a Favorite Son Can Lift City’s Fortunes, Lure Olympics – WSJ.com]

[Digg-enabled link to article for non-WSJ subscribers]

Click here for some other posts discussing the 2016 games

Written by Seth Anderson

November 6th, 2008 at 11:34 pm

Bookmarks for August 21st through August 22nd

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A few interesting links for August 21st through August 22nd:

  • Anne Trubek on Why We Should no’t Still Be Learning Catcher in the Rye – "If Salinger needed to acknowledge Dickens in 1951, today any new adolescent coming-of-age tale must go through “all that Holden Caulfield crap.” In the 19th century, a bildungsroman showed the growing maturity and self-awareness of a young person. That remains more or less true, but now the equation for the modern bildungsroman is more like, as a friend puts it: “Horny plus bored minus transportation divided by the whole of one’s interior life, multiplied by an inverse ratio of miles to a city or a place where there is anything at all to do.”"
  • Hacker: Gymnast He is 14, not 16 – Salon Olympics Daily – Salon – Close readers of our blog already saw this story, but now national press has sniffed something is not right in IOC-land.
    "Stryde found some Excel spreadsheets hosted on Chinese government Web sites that contain He's name and the birth date 1-1-94. During the two-day process, these spreadsheets have had a habit of disappearing as fast as Stryde can find them, but readers are downloading and saving the files as fast as they can."
  • PKD's Obscure 18th Century Philosophical Allusion of the Day – After finding a mysterious strip of paper that reads SOFT-DRINK STAND instead of an actual Soft-Drink Stand in one of Dick's most amazing scenes ever, Time Out of Joint's protagonist Ragle Gumm expresses an interest in studying philosophy, saying to his brother-in-law Vic, "I've read some [philosophy], in my time. I was thinking of Bishop Berkeley. The Idealist. For instance -"…
    Bishop George Berkeley was a 18th century philosopher/metaphysic who developed a very complex notion of subjective reality, dubbed by him as 'immaterialism' and later termed by others subjective idealism, which contends, in part, that no object exists without someone perceiving it. In other words when a tree falls in the woods and no one's around to hear it, it doesn't make a sound [although that's a simplification since the tree falling in the woods riddle is basically a vocabulary problem that depends on the definition of the word 'sound'].

Written by swanksalot

August 22nd, 2008 at 10:00 am

Posted in Links

Homes Not Games

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Homes Not Games, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

From last year, a bit of Canadian Olympic commentary…

Actually in Victoria, BC.
Olympics are scheduled for 2010 in Vancouver
www.vancouver2010.com/en

Written by swanksalot

August 21st, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Bookmarks for August 20th from 13:17 to 20:48

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Some additional reading August 20th from 13:17 to 20:48:

  • Debunking two anti-Obama e-mails | Salon News – Luckily, we haven't seen too many of these fake emails. In case you have been, bookmark this page for later.
  • The Happy Hour of Aquarius – Awesome, vintage advertising.
    "Are you having trouble getting drunk? Are your mixed drinks not having the proper effect, fast enough, or perhaps engendering too large a hangover? Does your choice of drink preclude picking up the partner you truly desire and deserve at your local bar?"
  • What Makes for a Good Blog? | 43 Folders – "As I think about the blogs I’ve returned to over the years — and the increasingly few new ones that really grab my attention — I want to start with, ironically enough, a list. Here’s what I think helps make for a good blog."
    I doubt B12 would fit into anyone's definition of a 'good blog', but I'm not paid by the word like some of the more popular blog plantations, and what ends up on a page reflect my current obsessions. A little of this and that, the same things I would tell you about if you sat in the cubicle next to me. I like if you read me every day, but if you don't, I won't cry, much.
  • Tell Zell – Sam Zell is not popular with Tribune employees (journalists, and others), especially not with the ones he has fired.
  • Sonic Youth Silver Session for Jason Knuth – Discovered my copy of this CD stuck in between some other CDs. There was a typo in the suicide prevention hotline phone number, ooops!
    "a note on the music: silver sessions were taken from an evening when sy had to do vocal overdubs for 'a thousand leaves' — the band upstairs was hammering out some funky metal overdrive and we couldn't "sing" properly (?!) — we decided to fight fire with molten lava and turned every amp we owned on to 10+ and leaned as many guitars and basses we could plug in against them and they roared/HOWLED like airplanes burning over the pacific — we could only enter the playing room with hands pressed hard against our ears and even then it was physically stunning — we ran a sick outmoded beatbox through the p.a. and it blew out horrendous distorted pulsations. Of course we recorded the whole thing and a few months later we mixed it down into sections, ultra-processing it to a wholly other "piece"
  • Stryde Hax: Hack the Olympics! – "There's been some widely publicized controversy regarding the competition age of the Chinese women's gymnastics team recently. Rather than be too CNN, I decided to take a page from my friend Johnny and investigate on my own. I have an Internet connection, that means I should be able to verify the age of the gymnasts in question with primary state-issued documents and find out for myself if someone's cheating, right? Right. Let's go to work."
  • TSA security theater | MetaFilter – "Two commercial pilots find themselves on the no-fly list. One pilot sues after having his flight privileges revoked, while the second pilot (and a five-year old sharing his name) note they can bypass the watchlist by checking in using their initials instead of their full names. TSA has also found themselves in the news this week for disrupting 40 flights and damaging 9 planes during an overzealous security check. "

Written by swanksalot

August 21st, 2008 at 3:01 am

Posted in Links

Bush officials sneak-attack on Endangered Species Act

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Assholes, all. As someone commented somewhere “What did the planet do to Cheney that he hates it so much?”

In the excitement of the Olympics, the run-up to the presidential conventions and the flurry of late summer vacations, it was easy to miss the Bush administration’s stealth attack on the Endangered Species Act last week. A proposed regulation would simply eliminate independent scientific reviews that have been required for over 30 years.

“I have been working on the Endangered Species Act for 15 years and have never seen such a sneaky attack,” declared John Kostyack, executive director of wildlife conservation and global warming at the National Wildlife Federation.

In a proposal, first reported by the Associated Press, biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service would no longer have input into the actions of many other federal agencies in evaluating projects that could impact endangered species.

Essentially it would be up to officials at agencies like the Forest Service, the Minerals Management Service and the Department of Transportation to decide for themselves if a new timber allotment, mining project or road would harm endangered animals and plants, without consulting third-party biologists from Fish and Wildlife.

Many of the agencies, which would now be making decisions affecting the fate of species themselves, don’t even have biologists on staff to make such determinations. The proposal presents a conflict of interest, which could effectively gut the Endangered Species Act, by asking the very agencies the act regulates to also enforce it. A 2008 Fish and Wildlife Service memorandum obtained by environmentalists states that when agencies regulated themselves in the past, they consistently violated the Endangered Species Act.

If the new regulation is approved by the Department of the Interior in the next couple of months, it would undercut the authority of the Endangered Species Act. “With this change, the Bush administration threatens to undo more than 30 years of progress,” said Kostyack. “This move is consistent with other efforts by the administration to cement industry-friendly policies before leaving office in January.”

[From Bush officials sneak-attack nation’s wildlife | Salon ]

I hope they aren’t allowed to get away with this brazen act of ignoring the wishes of the public.

Green Zone

Announcing the proposal last week, the Department of the Interior asserted that greenhouse gas emissions are exempt from regulation under the Endangered Species Act. It stated the “proposed rule is consistent with the FWS [Fish and Wildlife Service] current understanding it is not possible to draw a direct causal link” between the fate of a species, like the polar bear, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmentalists say the Bush administration’s motive is to preempt environmental groups from suing the government in the name of protecting the polar bears when the feds do things that would increase greenhouse gas emissions, like approving new coal-fired power plants.

To add insult to injury, the Bush administration said it will accept public comment on the proposed changes for a mere 30 days, and itwill not accept such comments via e-mail, which is the common way that many environmental groups activate their memberships to fight egregious policies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now accepting public comment about the proposed changes through Sept. 15 on the Regulations.gov Web site.

Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.V., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, called the proposed changes to the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act “deeply troubling.” Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Environment and Public Works committee, said that they’re “illegal.” The senator from California has legal precedent for that charge. In 2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved hundreds of pesticides for use without consulting either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Services about their implications for endangered wildlife and sea critters. When environmental groups sued, a federal judge ruled against the EPA.

“It takes great hubris to resurrect an issue the court has already definitely struck down,” stated Patti Goldman, an attorney for Earthjustice. “This is like a zombie movie … their proposal to toss the Endangered Species Act over the cliff died, but now has somehow come back to life.”

Written by Seth Anderson

August 20th, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Posted in environment,government

Tagged with ,

Putin and His Puppy Named Bush

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Dr. Alterman speculates what the media frenzy might be like if a Democrat “lost China”, err, Georgia

Does anyone doubt that if the President of the United States were a Democrat who tied us down in a costly, counterproductive war based on lies and forged documents and destroyed the respect and sympathy enjoyed by this country in every civilized nation in the world — or even if he did none of those things, but was merely a Democrat — that this column by proud New York Times pundit William Kristol and this editorial by the editors of The Wall Street Journal would have included vicious attacks on that same Democratic president for weakness and incompetence bordering on the criminal — and thereby blame him for inviting Russia to invade its democratic neighbor without having to worry about the opinion of the no-longer-respected-nor-feared United States of America? Now, imagine that said Democratic president had informed the press that he had looked into the invader’s soul and decided he was a good guy because the old KGB hand said he believed in God. (If God really existed, and took an interest in the day-to-day doings of those of us on Earth, he’d let me play poker with a chump like that.) OMG, even the Georgian troops were in Iraq. Putin to Bush: “Go away, silly little boy.” (Bush to Putin: “Thank you, sir, may I have another?)

[From Media Matters – We’re so sorry, Uncle Vladimir …]

Seems as if our President is more interested in attending the Olympics than actually doing anything productive. I guess that’s actually a good thing: less Bush incompetence is better for the country, but couldn’t he at least fake being President with as much diligence as he has since 2001?

David Corn writes:

The opening ceremony was rather impressive. Talk about organization and competence: two thousand and eight Tai Chi practitioners forming a perfect circle and maintaining it through a series of elaborate moves.

That was some counterpoint to George W. Bush. Later that night, during the parade of nations, he was practically slumped in his seat, toting a small American flag–was it made in China?–with a bored expression on his face. Prior to the games, there was a debate over whether he should attend and further legitimize the repressive Chinese regime. But as he sat there, that debate no longer seemed so relevant, for he looked irrelevant. There was no one next to him but his wife. And the question was, didn’t he have anything better to do with his time? The apparent answer: no.

This all raised the question in my mind: what does Bush want to get done before the W. years are over. Not much, it seems. He has not pushed a major domestic issue since his Social Security flop. He has not addressed the climate change crisis. He has not taken any decisive steps regarding the sliding-into-a-quagmire war in Afghanistan. He has taken no significant moves regarding health care. It’s as if he is not merely a lame duck but the clockwatcher-in-chief. And is it possible that the last major overseas action of the president who during his second inaugural address said that the mission of the United States was to stand with “democratic reformers” against their “oppressors” will be waving a mini-Stars and Stripes at the Chinese games? How harmonious, as the Chinese say.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 11th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Dog Meat is Hot

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Dog Food

I’ve never had the urge to sample dog meat, probably for the same reason that I am mostly a vegetarian. I’ve lived on a farm, so I have an inkling of an idea where meat comes from: pig meat, cow meat, even chicken flesh all originates from the body of a friendly critter. In the US anyway, most of our meat comes from factory farms.

THOSE who hope to taste dog meat when they visit Beijing for this summer’s Olympics may be disappointed. The Beijing Catering Trade Association has ordered all 112 designated Olympic restaurants to take dog off the menu, and has strongly advised other establishments to stop serving it until September. Waiters have been urged to “patiently” suggest alternative dishes to customers who ask for dog. It’s all part of a wider campaign to avoid offending foreigners during the Games. (Beijingers have also been told to line up nicely, to stop spitting and even to avoid asking tourists questions about their ages, salaries and love lives.)

The order is not likely to bother many residents. Though dogs have been raised for food in China for thousands of years, you have to hunt around to find the meat on modern menus. Certain regions, like Hunan and Guizhou Provinces, are known for their canine predilections — but even in these places, dog is a relative rarity. And in Beijing itself, you hardly find it except in a few Korean and regional Chinese restaurants.

Dog eating, in any case, tends to be a seasonal pursuit. According to Chinese folk dietetics, which classify every food according to its heating and cooling properties, dog is one of the “hottest” meats around, best eaten in midwinter, when you need warmth and vital energy, not in sultry August.

That eating dog is seen as an issue says more about Western preoccupations than Chinese habits. Since time immemorial, Westerners have had a morbid fascination with the weird fringes of the Chinese diet. Marco Polo noted with distaste that the Chinese liked eating snake and dog; modern Western journalists just love to get their teeth into a juicy story about some revolting delicacy like the assorted animal penises served at the Guolizhuang restaurant in Beijing. And for gung-ho foreign tourists, a skewerful of deep-fried scorpions in the night market in central Beijing has become a rite of passage.

[From In Beijing, It’s Too Hot for Dog on the Menu – Fuchsia Dunlop – NYTimes.com]

Spectators in Ketchikan

Speaking on that topic, there’s a show dedicated to such conspicuous consumption of oddities called Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmer (blog here). We watched several one day, an oddly fascinating travel show.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 4th, 2008 at 8:14 am

Posted in Food and Drink

Tagged with ,

links for 2008-07-01

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Written by swanksalot

July 1st, 2008 at 3:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

links for 2008-06-05

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Written by swanksalot

June 5th, 2008 at 3:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Drill Bit Building

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Not too sure if this proposed Big Screw building will ever even be built, but certainly is an unusual structure. Seems like it might unbalance the skyline, but the other proposal was for two bulky mid-rise buildings without much style. So, in a binary world, I’d choose the funky over the prosaic. If this were a binary decision, which I don’t think it is.

In Chicago, Plans for a High-Rise Raise Interest and Post-9/11 Security Concerns – New York Times:
In a city known for its skyscrapers, in an era when tall buildings have become targets, can the skyline handle one more that stretches the limit? In Chicago, it seems, the answer may be yes – if the architect is a “starchitect” like Santiago Calatrava.
…Living in the Calatrava tower would not come cheap, by Chicago standards. Mr. Carley said he expected one-bedroom units to sell initially for at least $600,000, with full-floor units of some 7,200-square-feet topping out at $5 million.

The twisting design, which was recently tested in a wind tunnel in Canada, would disperse Chicago’s gusting winds, Mr. Carley said. And Mr. Calatrava designed the interior so that posts and columns would be toward the structure’s center, to allow balconies on some floors and maximize the floor-to-ceiling views.

and the Tribune:

A far less well known developer, Chicago’s Christopher Carley, will unveil his proposal Wednesday for a slender, 115-story tower with a steel spire that could soar higher than 2,000 feet.

Designed by superstar Spanish-born architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, the skyscraper would rise next to Lake Shore Drive and near the entrance to Navy Pier. Its tapering glass facade would ripple like folds of drapery.

For Carley, the chairman of Fordham Co., the planned hotel and condo tower would be taller than the combined height of his last three previous projects: two towers of roughly 50 stories and an eight-story structure.

Financing for his latest project has not yet been arranged, and will largely depend on achieving prices rarely seen in a downtown market. “Is this going to get done?” Carley said. “It’ll be market-driven.”

But the ambitious proposal, to be called Fordham Spire, would dramatically shift the focus of Chicago’s skyline, and it likely faces community opposition and the challenge of obtaining financing in what some are calling an overheated real estate market.

The Tribune revealed in May that Carley was working with Calatrava–the architect of the bird-like Milwaukee Art Museum addition, the Athens Olympics sports complex and the planned transportation center at Ground Zero–to design a tower on at least one of two sites along the west side of Lake Shore Drive and the north bank of the Chicago River.

Under Carley’s plan, those sites would be combined into a single 2.2-acre parcel at 346 E. North Water St. The area is now an unruly patch, filled with overgrown grass, gravel, trees and a construction trailer.

From it would sprout a tower utterly different from the boxy forms found elsewhere on the Chicago skyline: A skyscraper with gently curving, concave outer walls attached to a massive reinforced concrete core.

Each floor would rotate a little more than 2 degrees from the one below. The floors would turn 270 degrees around the core as they rise, making the building appear to twist.
..
Carley and Calatrava noted that the skyscraper’s thin profile–it would have just 920,000 total square feet, compared with 4.5 million for Sears Tower–would make it a benign, not overbearing, presence along the city’s lakefront.

That is far better, they maintain, than two towers of roughly 50 and 35 stories, which current zoning allows. Towers of that size would be far more bulky and cast greater shadows, the developer and architect argue.

“The tower is without any doubt tall, but it is not big. It is very slender. It is extremely slender,” Calatrava said.

also Eric Zorn weighs in:

Our other major skyscrapers – the Hancock Center, the Sears Tower, the Aon Center and even the upcoming Trump Tower (see the Trib’s Trump Cam for progress) — have a sturdy quality that fits nicely with our town’s nickname, “The City of the Big Shoulders.”
Now what are we supposed to be? “The City of the Big Screw”?

Written by Seth Anderson

July 26th, 2005 at 11:24 am