Tag Archives: chicago

Review of “Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West,” by William Cronon

If this map fascinates you, Nature’s Metropolis is the book for you:

The entire sweep of Nature’s Metropolis is included in this cartograph. The establishment of the city in onion fields, and the final purchasing of the land from Indian tribes. The successful conquest of Chicagto’s conquest of the (older) State of Illinois, and Chicago’s establishment of her “near abroad” (Illionois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa). The epic struggle against St. Louis, the firewalling against New York, and the unification of the Great West as Chicago’s periphery. And finally a historical moment that could not last.

I’ve tried to write this review a number of times, and unfortunately have never been able to do this book justice. It is a history of Chicago. It is a deconstruction of the “Frontier Thesis” in terms of net cost of transportation. It is an economic-determinist history of the United States in the 19th Century.

Nature’s Metropolis is a brilliant book. Buy it today.

Human Rights and the Obama Administration

Today I saw this video on MSNBC, which shows an honor student in South Chicago being beaten to death by local thugs.

Of course, the mother should be charged with child abuse.

What person in their right mind would send a child to education in a Homeland school district? Seriously, considering that simple probability tells us that around 17% of the crowd shown in the video suffer from familial mental retardation, what is an honor student even doing in that environment?

What woman hates her child so much to send him to “school” in a bantustan like south Side Chicago?

Like in apartheid South Africa, zones of many cities in the United States suffer from policies of seperate development. These policies create a segregation of police services, such that youth in ghettos have to form criminal gangs for their mutual protection against others. In the video, the specific criminals, of course, are the thugs that killed the honor student. His mother is of course guilty of child abuse, for allowing her child to grow up in such an environment. More broadly, the government of Chicago and politicians who have benefits from its perks (including Barack Obama) are just as guilty of enabling a racist, evil regime as were men such as P.W. Botha and Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

It is often fashionable to criticize President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China for human rights abuses. Before Americans do this, however, they should consider the role President Barack Obama has (and still) plays in keeping nightmares like South Side Chicago going.

Horizon Group Management

This statement by Horizon Realty raises serious questions regarding ethical use of the law-courts to settle disputes

“We’re a ‘sue first, ask questions later’ sort of organization,” said Jeffrey Michael of Horizon Group Management is statement regarding the matter that appears in the Chicago Sun-Times.

via Horizon Group Sues Woman Over Single Tweet on Twitter – Associated Content.

This reminds me of an earlier controversy regarding Dozier Internet Law — one almost lost to google do to extensive astroturfing.


I’m currently in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, waiting for the United Express flight home. The trip went well, and involved time travel (arriving in the US before we departed from China — timezones are sweet!).

The plane shook more than any I was one — a steward next to me loudly called “down” and the he and the stewardesses were on the floor, attempting to prevent liquids (or themselves) from tumbling over.

I was frisked both in Beijing and Chicago. In China all wand-wavers are female, while in the United States the frisker is the same sex as the friskee.

Also, unlike at the beginning of my trip, I am now waiting in a domestic as opposed to international section of the airport. Not only is this wing less crowded, electrical outlets are plentiful and actually powered. My laptop loves it!

From Omaha to Chicago

As happened to me in China (when I saw a gorgeous Hindu-Buddhist temple), the most beautiful parts of my journey hit me when I was without my camera. (Ironically, I do see a Hindu-style temple outside Chicago.)

I had a four-hour layover in Chicago, and hoping for some distraction I checked my bags into a locker and proceeded to explore the neighborhood.

My Only Picture of Chicago

It turns out that the Chicago Greyhound station borders the financial district. It is just blocks from Union Station and the Sears Tower. I spent the $11, took the ride up, and enjoyed one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful sites of my life.

Visibility was “zero,” our guides warned us, so I was prepared to be disappointed. Indeed, as for much of the beginning of the trip I was all alone, I figured the view must be terrible. How wrong I was. To see thick, billowy clouds shredded by the tops of skyscrapers — to see the sea of the sky underlit by a great American city — is beyond my ability to describe.

The people were wonderful and friendly, too. I met a Taiwanese man and his American son, where a small faux-paus (tdaxp: Ah yes, Taipei — the greatest city of the Republic of China. Man: Peking is the greatest city in the Republic of China!) begin a friendly encounter. Or the former space engineer, proud of his work on the Hubble Space Telescope but grumbling of the “politically-driven” selection of the Galileo Mission over his own company’s proposal.

Yet no photographs remain of that. So what continues below is from the journey, and is far less photogenic. I had a great time on my Greyhound trip, and even the schizophrenic woman damning us to hell was taken in good humor (well, humor — not all of it was kind) by my fellow passengers.

A friend drove me to the Omaha greyhound station. It is on the edge of downtown, and so features a view of the Woomen Building (made famous in the movie About Schmidt). Other towers in the background are obscured by a very thick fog. The fog continued until about five in the evening, making the drive to even faster.

The bus for the journey to the Windy City, getting ready.

The first leg of the trip goes fast, and soon we are in (foggy) Des Moines. Guster’s Ganging Up on the Sun and Johnny Cash’s American V kept me company. Sitting across from me were a man and woman who led parallel lives, and discovered they knew a lot of the same people.

The bus stopped in Des Moines for a few minutes, and I went out of the vehicle for a walk and to fetch supplies for a fellow passenger. Road engineering signs reminded me of China, specifically the ‘shan’ character from Fragrant Hills.

Our bus leaves familiar Iowa over the Mississippi River at Davenport.

A sight to see: a UAW union hall. Those won’t be around for much longer.