Bleader | Chicago Reader

Friday, February 29, 2008

"Social networks are like the eye"

Posted By on 02.29.08 at 11:43 AM

"In addition to my training in social science, I was trained as a hospice doctor. When I was at the University of Chicago (until 2001), I had a very special clinical practice that involved taking care of people in their own homes, and on Sunday afternoons I would take my little black bag to the South Side of Chicago and visit people who were dying. I had a sort of schizophrenic practice. About a third of my patients were very educated people associated with the University of Chicago, and two-thirds were indigant people from the South Side.

"I have the very distinct image in my mind of experiences of myself driving to a borderline safe community, parking my car, looking around, walking up the short steps to the door, knocking, and waiting for what often seemed like a very long time for someone to come to the door. And then being led into people's homes often by the spouse of the person who was dying. There were often other relatives around and my primary focus as a hospice doctor was not just the person who was dying, but also the family members. I became increasingly interested in this.

"I began to see in a very real way that the illness of the person dying was affecting the health status of other individuals in the family. And I began to see this as a kind of non-biological transmission of disease — as if illness or death or health care use in one person could cause illness or death or health care use in other people connected to him."

Nicholas Christakis, a physician and sociologist, discusses social networks and the Facebook Project. Hospice care is something I've been interested in for quite awhile. (h/t ptb)

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Chicago's 171st Birthday Party 3/4

Posted By on 02.29.08 at 10:57 AM

The History Museum celebrates Chicago's 171st birthday with a free party featuring historical reenactments, performances by the Chicago Children's Choir, Chicago-style hot dogs, and birthday cake Tuesday from 10 AM-1 Museum admission is free during the party.

William Buckley

Posted By on 02.29.08 at 09:40 AM

I never had the pleasure of William F. Buckley's company. As a kid in the midlands immeasurably distant from Buckley's brandy and cigars, I had no way to measure him but by what he wrote. And as the New York Times recalled in its long obituary, the National Review, which he launched in 1955, asserted itself "by lining up squarely behind Southern segregationists, saying that Southern whites had the right to impose their ideas on blacks who were as yet culturally and politically inferior to them." This was not a momentary position. Let me quote myself in 2005 quoting the National Review of the next decade:

"In the 60s [federalism] grew fat on segregation, taking up the states' rights argument for allowing jim crow to die in bed. The Tribune couldn't countenance the [1963] Birmingham bombings, but William Buckley's National Review, which would champion Barry Goldwater for president the following year, was able to. 'Let us gently say,' it said, 'the fiend who set off the bomb does not have the sympathy of the white population in the South; in fact, he set back the cause of the white people there so dramatically as to raise the question whether in fact the explosion was the act of a provocateur--of a Communist, or of a crazed Negro.' The magazine said some evidence supported this possibility.

"'And let it be said,' the National Review declared, 'that the convulsions that go on, and are bound to continue, have resulted from revolutionary assaults on the status quo, and a contempt for the law, which are traceable to the Supreme Court's manifest contempt for the settled traditions of Constitutional practice. Certainly it now appears that Birmingham's Negroes will never be content so long as the white population is free to be free.'

"Fourteen months later the National Review weighed in on the murders of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney in Mississippi. It noted that a federal grand jury in Neshoba County had returned indictments against local police officers. 'It is everyone's impression, including ours, that some, at least, of the Neshoba police are a crummy lot,' said the magazine airily. 'But we pause for reflection. Are "violation of the Civil Rights Act" and the even more tenuous "conspiracy to violate" going to become a catch-all charge by which the Federal Government can get its hands on nearly any citizen?'

"In the view of this conservatism, which has slowly taken over the country, the cure for jim crow was far worse than the disease."

The Tribune's editorial Thursday saying farewell to Buckley observed that "he tutored and inspired numerous young conservatives, including George Will, David Brooks, and Jonah Goldberg." As chance would have it, on the next page was a column by Goldberg, today an editor-at-large at the National Review. Goldberg was pondering  "loose ties" reported between Barack Obama and former Weatherpeople William Ayers, now a professor of education at UIC, and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, now director of the Northwestern University Law School's Children and Family Justice Center. "What fascinates me," wrote Goldberg, sniffing at the company Obama was keeping, "is how light the baggage is when one travels from violent radicalism to liberalism." Ayers and Dohrn had planted bombs and were unrepentent! "Shouldn't this baggage cost something?" Goldberg wondered, and he urged reporters to ask "America's foremost liberal representatives [Obama and Hillary Clinton] why being a radical means never having to say you're sorry."

Even before Buckley died an argument was being waged over whether he'd ever said he was sorry for his magazine's support of jim crow. Ezra Klein of The American Prospect offered a March 2006 interview with Buckley at as evidence that he'd admitted his mistake: "Buckley said he had a few regrets, most notably his magazine's opposition to civil rights legislation in the 1960s. 'I think that the impact of that bill should have been welcomed by us,' he said."

Biographer John Judis tells me that Buckley "did specifically say that he was wrong," and gave as a reason for his segregationist views his southern mother and winters in South Carolina. An exchange of e-mail with Michael Kinsley of Slate in 2001 shows Buckley parsing his folly. Buckley said of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, "I'd have voted against the bill, but if it were out there today, I'd vote for it. . . . I'd vote with trepidation, however, for the obvious reason that successful results cannot necessarily legitimize the means by which they were brought about."

I doubt if these second thoughts come anywhere close to the order of hand-wringing Goldberg has in mind for Ayers and Dohrn. Not that a comparison should be forced. Ayers and Dohrn opposed a war that deserved opposing, but did so egregiously, violently, and ineffectually. To whom should they apologize -- the members of the nonviolent but equally ineffectual resistance whose name they sullied by association? Buckley supported the greatest institutional evil of 20th century America, however only with words and money. To whom should he apologize -- God? The truth is, Americans aren't much for apologizing -- in large part, I'll surmise, because the demand for an apology is so often so patently political. What we do instead is move on, and in the end the obit writers kick us around just as little or as much as they want to. Buckley took a fair number of odious positions in his life, but eulogists are reminding us he was fervent and nonpartisan in friendship. In the end the pleasure of his company won out and the baggage of segregation cost him nothing at all.

The Tribune editorial on Buckley acknowledged his warts but framed them oddly, allowing that "like any long-lived commentator, Buckley took positions that today are hard to excuse, such as his indulgence of Southern segregation in the 1950s, his defense of Joseph McCarthy and his proposal, during the early years of the AIDS epidemic, that the infected be required to get tattooed to alert potential sexual partners."  Buckley was 82 when he died, but his long life had nothing to do with his support of McCarthy and Jim Crow -- those were positions he took when he was a young man making his presence felt. The editorial insulted all long-lived commentators who never did anything of the sort.

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Commonplace links

Posted By on 02.29.08 at 09:04 AM

Voice Literary Supplement: Eyes Wide Shut

"These days, with more squares than ever clamoring at the gates, assuming styles before hipsters have had a chance to try them on, it's very hard indeed to remain untouchably self-selected. That's why Pabst Blue Ribbon became the hip beer: It was unclaimed, a blue-collar vestige without a living constituency. The choice of hip shibboleths has become a process of elimination." (h/t ptb)

Tips pour in in missing bear case :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State

"Because Truffles is valued at $300, the theft is classified as a felony, she said."

PopMatters | Columns | Rob Horning | Marginal Utility | The Design Imperative

Gold credits the imperative to design with having “created most of the bounty around us”, and regards design as a product’s way of saying “I care about you”.

Local Projects : Memory Maps

"Reminiscent of a subway car wrapped in fluorescent construction mesh, Memory Maps was a system of enormous street maps of New York City."

50 crime writers to read before you die - Telegraph

"After a debate that left senior members of the Telegraph's literary staff with pulled hair, black eyes and, in one case, an infected bite, we this week present our list of the 50 great crime writers of all time."

Chris Harrison - Visualizing the Bible

"Different colors are used for various arc lengths, creating a rainbow like effect. The bar graph running along the bottom shows every chapter in the Bible and their respective lengths (in verses). Books alternate in color between white and light gray."

johninnit » Blog Archive » Live and let Livesey

"Big shame, as this museum is a real gem, and the only one like it I’ve ever found. They only have one exhibition a year (numbers last year, now maps), but it’s a biggie"

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kids brunch free Saturday at Weather Mark Tavern

Posted By on 02.28.08 at 05:18 PM

Saturday from 10:30 AM to noon, kids up to age ten eat brunch free at Weather Mark Tavern in the South Loop. The offer's good on the first Saturday of every month.

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When news reporters stop being nice and start being real

Posted By on 02.28.08 at 03:24 PM

Steve Patterson reports on Two Percent Todd:

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has the votes he needs to raise the sales tax high enough to balance the county budget.

But he’s rejecting that compromise because he wants an even higher sales tax hike to prevent him from having to ask taxpayers for more funds in 2009 and 2010, when he’s up for re-election.


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Heads Up: This week and beyond

Posted By on 02.28.08 at 02:19 PM


France and the U.S. face off yet again at a French vs. American wine dinner (PDF) at Kiki's Bistro today at 6:30 PM to benefit The Chicago Lighthouse. One wine from each country will be paired with each of the four courses, with wine critic Craig Goldwyn discussing them. $75.

This week's free tasting at WineStyles, today from 6-8 PM, honors Leap Day by "tell(ing) winter to take a leap," offering bold, complex reds to "kick this season out the door."

Mag Mile businesses want people to spend the extra day this year shopping; to this end they’re offering champagne-themed Leap Day specials and samples including champagne kisses at the Hershey’s Store and a free glass of champagne for shoppers at Marlowe on Friday. The Swissotel Chicago is pairing champagne with items on an a la carte menu such as beef tenderloin with vanilla cream sauce, lobster canapes, and chocolate-dipped strawberries; Angela Roman of the John Hancock Center’s Signature Room at the 95th will give a lecture on champagne at 5 PM. For a complete list of special offers, click here.

Saturday at 10 AM, Alliance Francaise hosts a class on how to make pain perdu (aka French toast) in some inventive variations. In addition to flamed caramel-banana pain perdu, there'll be some with scallops and cilantro. $85. Also at 10 AM, local chef and food writer Louisa Chu, a producer of the PBS show Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, gives a talk at Kendall College titled Behind the Scenes of Food Television. Among her topics: what it was like to lead Anthony Bourdain on a tour of wholesale meat markets in Paris, where she drank absinthe before the ban was lifted, and what the food tastes like on Iron Chef America, where she judged an episode that hasn’t aired yet. $3.

Bill Kurtis of Tallgrass Beef signs The Prairie Table Cookbook Saturday at 1 at Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook; there'll also be a lunch buffet featuring Tallgrass Beef dishes created by chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris. $35.

Sunday at 1 PM, the Highland Park Historical Society hosts high tea with actress Leslie Goddard, in character as Titanic survivor Violet Constance Jessop, who died in 1971. Over raisin scones with jam and clotted cream, sandwiches, apple-rhubarb pie, petits fours, and tea, Goddard will recount how Jessop survived the sinking of not only the Titanic but also its sister ship, the Britannic, and her experiences as a stewardess and nurse on the two ships. $45.

Chef Melina Kelson Podolsky, an instructor at Kendall College, discusses sustainable agriculture and cooking at the Evanston Public Library Monday at 7 PM. 

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Chicago Jazz Festival highlights announced

Posted By on 02.28.08 at 02:05 PM

The Mayor's Office of Special Events has announced some of the highlights of this summer's Chicago Jazz Festival, which runs from August 28 to 31. It's the fest's 30th year, and to acknowledge this milestone the Jazz Institute of Chicago seems to be trying to book an extra-special lineup. Saxophonists Sonny Rollins (pictured) and Ornette Coleman, arguably the two greatest living artists who were active in the bebop era, are among the headliners, and Chicago's own Edward Wilkerson Jr. will be the artist in residence. Additionally pianist Vijay Iyer, trumpeter Dave Douglas, arranger and pianist Gerald Wilson, and Chicago trombonist T.S. Galloway (who's currently based in Amsterdam) have been commissioned to write new pieces for the festival.

Today's playlist:

Lightning Dust, Lightning Dust (Jagjaguwar)
Sir Douglas Quintet, The Prime of Sir Douglas Quintet (Westside)
Vladimir Ussachevsky, Electronic and Acoustic Works 1957-1972 (New World)
Ned Rothenberg's Sync, Inner Diaspora (Tzadik)

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Ski Wrigley Field!

Posted By on 02.28.08 at 12:41 PM


The Tribune reports that the Cubs want to turn Wrigley Field into Margaritaville again. Fine by me, but I'm surprised that they have no ideas for making money over the winter. It's not like there's no precedent.

That's from a 1944 Norge Ski club jump. Wrigley's not the only famous Chicago stadium to host ski events, either. In fact, that gives me a brilliant idea:

More info at the UniWatch blog.

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How beef-portobello bread pudding was born

Posted By on 02.28.08 at 12:11 PM

Dave Zino makes sure there's a big bowl of fruit at all times in the staff kitchen of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association recipe testing facilities. This week in Omnivorous I wrote about Zino and his staff of eight (plus a half-dozen part-timers), who beaver away every day high above Michigan Avenue trying to figure out ways to get consumers to eat more beef. I went in imagining they'd all be hunched over in a collective perpetual gut clutch for all the cow they consume, but everyone seemed upright, cheerful, and happy to be in the service of Big Red Meat.

Here Zino further describes the birth of a typical recipe that he and his crew would develop for the NCBA's promotional juggernaut: "They're gonna say, 'We want a roast recipe,' 'We want some appetizers,' or 'It's a spring color page and we want a steak salad.' So we'll come up with concepts, the program manager will approve them, and then we'll go into the kitchen and start working. Every recipe is tested extensively. We test on gas, on electric. If it's a grilling recipe, we'll test it on charcoal and gas. We've got a coal stove back there, electric range, flattop, and gas. Once we get it to the point we're comfortable with, we turn it over to another tester who comes in kind of like the consumer. They just take the recipe, and they create it, and then come back with feedback."

He says the average recipe takes about six days to develop.

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