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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Indecent


A Hummer stretch limo seen in Edgewater on Sheridan Road........there has to be some law that covers things like this. Something about aesthetic crime, or sense of proportion, something like that.

How about the anti-obscenity laws? I believe this vehicle could be defined as Obscene. I guess that's why the fuel efficiency numbers for this thing aren't available:some things are just too ugly to print.

Notice it's about the same length as the CTA bus next to it, but the bus is much more attractively styled.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

And We Wonder Why They Can't Balance The Budget......

Follow the title link to Classical Values and go to the post second from the most recent, and then wonder why we trust our elected officials to make the simplest decision. The post is a letter from an "yet to be named source", obviously a travel agent or reservations agent, who relates conversations with congressmen and senators that leave you wondering how our leaders could even make it past fourth grade, never mind reason their way through complex policy matters.

One Illinois congresswoman demonstrates her inability to grasp the concept of time zones, as illustrated by this quote:

"An Illinois Congresswoman called last week. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:30 am and got to Chicago at 8:33 am. I explained that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois , but she couldn't understand the concept of time zones. Finally, I told her the plane went fast, and she bought that."

Let's see.....
there are two women among the congressional representatives from Illinois. Let's hope this quote was from the other one. Even Jan Shakowsky is smarter than this.

And these are the people we trust to make life-and-death decisions concerning diplomacy, war, fiscal policy, and the allocation of trillions of dollars?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Chicago Free Cycle: Lots of Free Spam for Joining

Recyclers, be warned: if you join Chicago Free Cycle in order to dispose of your unwanted items in an environmentally friendly fashion, you will be opting in to more spam than you ever thought got sent out in all of cyberspace.

I was recently casting about for ways to find good homes for perfectly good items I want rid of, when I read about a Yahoo group called Chicago Free Cycle, where you can offer items you want to dispose of and look for items you want from things offered by other people, the idea being to recycle usable items and keep them out of landfills. What's not good about such a group?

I quickly found out. I joined on line, got five pieces of mail describing group terms and etiquette, and within two hours, my e-mail box was swamped with offers of items, as well as messages that other items were taken, or spoken for.

By the following day, there were over 300 new messages from Free Cycle members in my mailbox, and I have spent every day since deleting hundreds of messages that clog my box every time I check it.

Tonight, after deleting about 250 more newly arrived messages, I unsubscribed, and wrote a letter of complaint to them.

There has to be a better way to arrange things than to spam members to death with hundreds of daily e-mail messages, one for every item offered or taken on the exchange. Why not let members post them on a list on the Free Cycle site, like Craigslist?

If you know of any other organizations who offer this type of exchange, either online or by means of a local exchange flea market, please write.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Slummification of West Rogers Park




Thanks to Craig Gernhart over at The Broken Heart for bringing up this important issue on his blog a couple of weeks back. Say what you will about Gernhart, but he tends to be the first blogger to showcase important issues and alert the rest of us to the destructive and otherwise pernicious actions of our AlderBeast and other city pols, that we otherwise might have remained unaware of.

As we now all know, Moore has decided to zone the 7400 N block of Western Ave. as C1- commercial, one of the most permissive zoning categories, which allows "tattoo parlors, carwashes, auto garages, taverns, liquor stores, and the storage of construction materials."

In the pictures above, are some of the things at stake. West Rogers Park is one of the city's most beautiful neighborhoods, and is a treasure-trove of wonderful domestic architecture, as pictured above. This area is stuffed with single-family homes and multifamily buildings of absolutely incredible quality, mostly built in the 1920s, and absolutely irreplaceable. In the photos here, you can see a small sampling of what we stand to lose by the destruction of this fine neighborhood, which still has extremely low crime and a high degree of neighborhood cohesion, but which has suffered in recent years as the blight of east Rogers Park has pushed westward. As it is, crime has crept upwards, and a number of fine old buildings have become blighted and dangerous, thanks in no small part to our AlderCreature's permissive attitude toward slumlords who happen to be his contributors.

I've never been one for conspiracy theories, but I can't help but sense that the entire north end of the city has been targeted as a dumping ground for the city's most intractable denizens, so that the inner-city areas can be redeveloped as upper-bracket enclaves.An old friend of mine long ago told me many times that this is exactly the case. Once again, pay-to-play politics are allowed to trump market forces as Da Mare and his servile, lay-down aldercreatures hatch plans that will inexorably push the most troublesome elements of the population onto the moderate-income neighborhoods of the far north side, the better to sanitize the downtown area and nearby neighborhoods.

Angry Renters: Our Cup of Bitterness Runneth Over

Well, it looks like our pandering politicians and their desperate contributors, the banks and investment firms, will do whatever it takes to keep housing prices levitated at their current grossly inflated levels, the better to rescue over-leveraged lenders and bankers, investors facing deep losses, and buried homeowners who borrowed over their heads.

The Republicans are determined to bail out the financial industry at any cost to our currency and the economy as a whole, while leaving underwater homeowners to "take responsibility". This is the big problem with the Repugnants- their notion of "free enterprise" and "market capitalism" means rob the population at large in order to dispense Corporate Welfare by the billions to major corporate contributors, and free them from the normal business risk entailed in pursuing Free Enterprise, while passing on the losses to the population at large.

The Dummycrats, of course, are pandering to the Common Man after their usual fashion, by proposing that anywhere from $ 30 Billion in economic stimulus, to $400 Billion in funds to back up troubled mortgages, in a plan endorsed by both Clinton and Obama. The Dimocrats don't seem to be able to grasp that the money applied to propping up greed-crazed borrowers in houses they never had any business buying to begin with, is money taken away from the most disadvantaged people in this country, the extremely poor.

It is also money taken away from the renters of this country, who either couldn't quite afford to buy on the terms offered, or who were dismayed at the types of places they could afford on a mortgage that made sense. Once more, the honest and prudent are bailing out the unscrupulous, the greedy, and all the folks who wanted to Feel Rich for five minutes.

What this means is that people sidelined by the inflated prices will wait that much longer for an opportunity to buy, while their taxes help people like the Park Ridge couple I recently heard of from their neighbor, a friend of mine- they "bought" a house costing $900,000 on an income of $60,000. Such people will now get the benefit of tax-funded programs in which the government exchanges zero-coupon government bonds for the junk CDOs containing mortgages on properties worth half the face amount, or, via a new proposal, government agencies will refinance the underwater borrower via federally-guaranteed FHA loans in which a substantial percentage of the original loan is written down by the lender and a new one written and guaranteed with our tax monies, to the detriment of moderate-income borrowers who will have to pay more in insurance on FHA loans to offset the high default rate of these mortgages.

Market capitalism, permitted to work unhindered by politicians and bureaucrats, is swiftly forcing home prices down to their fundamental level, as determined by local rents and incomes. However, neither the "conservatives" nor the "liberals" will let the market do its work on the absurdly overpriced housing market, to the detriment of both the "free market" that the conservatives love to tout, and to the least advantaged populations that the "liberals" effect to champion.

Let honest market capitalism do its work on unscrupulous lenders and self-indulgent borrowers, so that we Angry Renters can get our chance at honest home ownership.