Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Tunnels Below Our Feet

Here's another obsession. There are secrets below us. Secret tunnels. Well, not usually "secret" but unknown to most of us. In Chicago we all know about the old small gauge rail network that was used to deliver coal and the like to buildings. We know about this from the Great Chicago Flood of 1992. It is not open to the public, but it is a pretty cool thing.

Apparently in New York there may (or may not) be some very, very cool tunnels. Apparently there are (or are not) cow tunnels under parts of Manhattan. They were (or were not) used to move live cows from the Hudson to slaughterhouses without interfering with traffic. The problem is that nobody is really positive if they are there. Perhaps more information on this later. But it is pretty cool.

By the way, National Geographic has a very cool graphic and media cross-sectioning a street in New York (without cow tunnels).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Worst Euro Insult of Bush Yet

We all know that the Europeans did not like G.W. Bush. However, left wing German politician Joschka Fischer, while seemingly complimenting Bush may have said the most insulting thing EVER in today's New York Times:

"We Germans, we love principles," he said. "Principles are fine, but in the moment of crisis even George W. Bush transformed himself into an American Lenin and nearly nationalized banking.

American Lenin? Not in Texas we don't, boy. Hell, American Lennon would've been an insult. American Lenin would give the right a fit (if Fischer were relevant).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jus Sanguinis

It turns out that a Dutchman is not a Dutchman when his family has been gone for three hundred years, and have been citizens of the British Empire and (at least) two different states in South Africa. What, you may ask, am I talking about?

Well, the Monitor reports that there is a smallish group of Afrikaaners seeking status as refugees and/or Dutch citizenship. They are afraid that South Africa will turn into Zimbabwe and white farms will be seized. Interestingly, Facebook seems to be their main avenue for pursuing this. It seems as if one of the main benefits of being declared refugees is that they would presumably get aid in the country of refuge. Citizenship is also beneficial in that it keeps people from becoming eternal "others" not allowed to work etc.

So, here's what's so interesting. First, the Facebook page is almost entirely in English. It may have more Latin than Afrikaans. Second, the people on this page are actually interested in European-wide solutions. In other words, depending on the nationality of your forefathers you may actually want to utilize French or German law to have a right to return to either of those countries. In all cases, the theory of nationality seems very . . . apartheidisch. The advice is to trace your ancestry to your stamvader (patriarch might be a good translation) and use that as proof that you have a "blood right" to return to that country. The 300 years in Africa are irrelevant, apparently. Third, some of these people seem incredulous that the Dutch are more willing to take in Muslim refugees than Afrikaaners. Clearly they expect that the Dutch ought to be more motivated by racial (and to some extent) religious affinity.

I don't know how this will play out. I suspect that many of these people will emigrate to the English-speaking world (United States, Canada, the UK, Australia). This will be sort of ironic because it will almost certainly mean the end of Afrikaans as a language and culture. I would also guess that the people who do make their way to the Netherlands or Germany will be surprised that their extremely proud, extremely race-conscious identity will be so poorly received in Europe. As a native Chicagoan I know whereof I speak. It would almost be easier for these people to emigrate as a group to the rural Canadian prairie provinces, or one of the Dakotas. They could retain their "Boer" identity and nobody would care that they were there . . .

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Party?!?

Today on my way to work I stepped up the curb in front of my building and noticed . . . an open condom wrapper and a cigarette in the gutter. I thought, "someone had a party."

Then, and I am not making this up, a guy got out of a cab behind me. He was wearing a shiny silver shirt and was carrying silver bowling pins. And I continue to not make this up, he walked across Columbus WHILE JUGGLING, got into a car and drove away. Seriously. What happened at Columbus and Wacker over the weekend? Cigs, condom wrappers, juggling walks of shame . . .

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Lawrel

Today I got to go past the Lawrel at Lawrence and Elston. There's a picture on the foto blog.

Since I posted about this naming convention I have had suggestions pouring in. I guess what interests me is where the name is derived from the streets, but that is not painfully obvious. The Belford rocks because of the history. The Lawrel and Elmont are cool. Golf Mill shopping center at Golf and Milwaukee is clever. I guess for some reason Dev-Ridge at Devon and Ridge is not. I guess I know it when I see it.

UPDATE: I got a pic of the Norford "hotel" at . . . North and Pulaski. Very niiiice. On also got a pic of the Brynford Bible Church at Bryn Mawr and Pulaski. The best part of this is that Crawford became Pulaski sometime between 1933 and 1952 (there was a lot of litigation that ended in 1952), and this church was almost certainly built after 1952.

Update 2: Douney's Har-Hig Sports Bar at . . . Harlem and Higgins. Maybe the worst name yet.

Monday, May 03, 2010


For some odd reason L does not enjoy Sunny as much as I do. Really though, I just find Charlie unbearably funny and the rest of the show fine.