Monthly Archives: April 2013

Commutageddon II: The Re-Commutening

There has been little to no communication about it from the CTA, but this weekend starts phase two of the Wells St. bridge replacement project.  It’s the same plan as the last time.  Brown Line trains won’t be going into the Loop.  Purple Lines won’t be leaving Evanston.  The Red Line or bus is the only choice for the North Side to get into the Loop.

Even though phase one was a breeze, I predict disaster this time around.  At least on Monday.  While the CTA didn’t do a great communication job last time, they at least had people out the week before telling riders about the upcoming construction.  Nothing this time.  Beware!

Book Review: The Warmth Of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Ratings for reviews will appear above the fold, while the review itself will appear below the fold to avoid spoilers for anyone that wants to go into it with a blank slate.

Jean-Paul’s rating: 5/5 stars

Oh, the indignities we inflict on our fellow man.  Oh, the indignities we can endure.

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We Could have Housed 32,000 People But Instead We Built A Destroyer

I really need to learn more about Dwight D. Eisenhower.  By all accounts, he was a remarkable man. Army General.  Supreme Allied Commander.  President of the United States.

Somehow, though, his words and warnings are lost on the present batch of politicians at a time when they should be most listened to.  For example:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. … We pay for a single fighter plane with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

Beautiful in its simplicity.  That’s from Eisenhower’s “Chance for Peace” speech.  The numbers in the title of this post are the adjusted for 2013 numbers.  It is amazing what this country could do for the advancement of freedom if we just sacrificed a modicum of our security.

Movie Review: The Place Beyond The Pines

Ratings for reviews will appear above the fold, while the review itself will appear below the fold to avoid spoilers for anyone that wants to go into it with a blank slate.

Jean-Paul’s rating: 3/5 stars

Hello, I’m Ira Glass.  Today on This American Life, we look into the relationships that fathers have, or don’t have, with their sons in three acts.  Act one:  “The Place Beyond the Pines”.  Stay Tuned.

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Two Terrorist Acts, One Prosecution

Nothing gets to the heart of the huge double standard in U.S. society between labor and business like the events of the past few weeks.  First we had the Boston Marathon bombings where three people were killed and over one hundred were injured.  This is obviously an act of terrorism.  Then we had the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion that killed at least 15 and also injured over one hundred and also leveled a town.  Was this an act of terrorism?  Turns out yes it was.

As Eric Loomis points out, anyone that is stockpiling more than 400 lbs of ammonium nitrate must report the stockpile to the federal government.  To not do so violates federal anti-terrorism laws.  How much was West Fertilizer stockpiling at their plant?  604,000 lbs!  West Fertilizer either willfully or ignorantly violated anti-terrorism laws.  Shouldn’t the owners of the company be charged with acts of terrorism?  They willfully stockpiled an incredibly dangerous component often used in bomb making in the middle of a small town.  They did so without notifying the federal government as required by law.  The ammonium nitrate blew up.  More people were killed and injured than the Boston Marathon bombing.  And nothing.

I guarantee you that if a farmer had 401 lbs of ammonium nitrate stockpiled in a barn for fertilizer and it accidentally blew up causing his cows to be killed, the farmer would be treated like a terrorist.  And if that farmer happened to look non-white, there would be calls by Republican lawmakers to ship him to Guantanamo.  Our society allows businesses to commit grave harm to society and simply pay a fine for the harm caused.  That fine is often less than the profits gained from causing said harm.  This has to stop.

Another lesson we should learn from this disaster is that the federal regulatory process is in complete disarray and needs to be fixed.  The West Fertilizer plant was last inspected in 1985.  In that inspection, many serious violations were found at the plant.  The fine for these violations?  $30 and no followup inspections.  Remember West, Texas the next time you complain about the federal government’s “strict” regulations against business.  Yes, there are regulations that seem ridiculous, but most are there to protect the people of West, Texas from companies like the West Fertilizer Company.

Why Are These Criminals Not In Jail?

Most of you have probably forgotten about the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 oil workers.  If you haven’t forgotten about it, you likely think that it’s a thing of the past.  The oil was cleaned up.  People were paid for their hardship.  The ecosystem has recovered.  Wipe off your hands, pat yourself on the back, get back to business.

Yeah, not so much.

Would it surprise you to know that BP executives lied to Congress about how much oil was spilled from the disaster?  Would it surprise you to know that BP plead guilty to lying to Congress?  Would it surprise you to learn that BP was warned that the dispersants used to hide the oil spill from the public was known to cause serious health issues in humans and BP ignored and hid those warnings?  Would it surprise you to learn that hundreds, if not thousands, of humans who helped in the clean up now suffer major health complications likely caused by the use of the dispersants?

Would it surprise you to learn that no one has gone to jail for these crimes?  Me either.

Movie Review: 42

Ratings for reviews will appear above the fold, while the review itself will appear below the fold to avoid spoilers for anyone that wants to go into it with a blank slate.

Jean-Paul’s rating: 3/5 stars

A mediocre movie about a monumental man.

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Mysteries Of Manhood

Why do men spit in the urinal before, during, or after urinating in said urinal?  I’d say the incidence of occurrence is close to 50%.  There has to be some psychological reason for this.  I am at a loss to explain it, though.  Any insights?  Is there a female equivalent?  These are the burning questions that need to be answered.

Mama Mia, Antonin Scalia!

Justice Antonin Scalia is allowed out in public.  I would say this is a good thing if the words he used in public were able to be used against him to get him kicked off the Supreme Court.  Alas, they are not.

This time, Justice Scalia is praising the virtues of the very long history of women being excluded from jobs like CEO and such.  Always looking for a silver lining in a bad situation, Justice Scalia exclaimed:

Every cloud has a silver lining, and one of the benefits of the exclusion of women from most professions was that we had wonderful teachers, especially the women who today would probably be CEOs.

Tune in next week when we’ll hear Justice Scalia say:

  • One of the benefits of slavery was the blacks were able to learn a really good work ethic.
  • One of the benefits of smallpox blankets was the indians were able to develop an immunity to the virus.
  • One of the benefits of lynchings was the blacks moved to better paying jobs in the north.
  • One of the benefits of rape is the woman learns what bad sex feels like.
  • One of the benefits of me opening my mouth is that everybody can see what a dick I am.