Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Thursday 3 September 2009

From the Economist:

The Economist's new audio guide, which you can hear on our website, takes travellers through the pitfalls of London life by explaining the right etiquette both for meetings and for pubs, and showing how to earn the approval of British counterparts. Hold off on the wine at lunch, shop for souvenirs at Fortnum & Mason, and if you do have to use Heathrow airport, consider taking the Underground. If you're delayed, you'll be able to curse the transport like any good Londoner.

Of course, I would like to have seen this before returning from London...

Thursday 3 September 2009 11:57:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography#

Via the Chicago Tribune, Budweiser has an ad running in Ireland shot in Chicago. It's kind of fun:

Thursday 3 September 2009 07:20:37 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cool links#
Wednesday 2 September 2009

I got so caught up in Parker Day yesterday I forgot to mention this bit of history:

[A] century ago Tuesday, on Sept. 1, 1909, State and Madison Streets became the base line of a new citywide grid system that changed virtually all addresses and also formed the basis for the street systems of many suburbs.

[Before then, t]he winding, bending Chicago River was the original start of the grid, but that meant addresses weren't consistent because they weren't based on a straight line, said Tim Samuelson, the city's cultural historian. When buildings were added, the city sometimes gave them numbers out of order. Street names were duplicated throughout the city, such as Lincoln Avenue and Lincoln Place.

The grid system means getting lost in Chicago takes a great deal of effort.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago has more:

The renumbering of Chicago's streets in 1909 and 1911 obviously required a great deal of preparation. Residents needing to notify correspondents of a new house number could find a variety of preprinted postcards in styles ranging from humorous to decorative to matter-of-fact. The August 21, 1909, Record-Herald headlined an article, "Postcard makers Reap Harvest on Change in City's House System."

Besides postcard makers, mapmakers also saw a dramatic rise in business as a result of the new system. This 1910 Rand McNally map shows that every eight blocks on the grid (starting from State Street and moving west) marks a major thoroughfare.

Getting someone's address in Chicago, therefore, becomes just a question of cross-streets. "I'm at 1060 W. Addison," someone says, and all you need to know to get there is, "What hundred north?" (3600, for those unfamiliar with the location.)

In fairness to cities where, for example, West Fourth and West Tenth intersect, Chicago got to start its street system from scratch—twice. Still, it does make living here seem that much more rational.

Wednesday 2 September 2009 08:46:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#
Tuesday 1 September 2009

I adopted the fuzzy dude three years ago today. And you can see why:

Tuesday 1 September 2009 07:07:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Monday 31 August 2009

Via Gulliver, a new study of taxes levied on visitors to U.S. cities finds Chicago in the lead:

The study provides several different views of travel taxes to help readers make informed choices. The top 50 markets are ranked by overall travel tax burden, including general sales tax and discriminatory travel taxes, and by discriminatory travel tax burden, excluding general sales taxes to count only taxes that target car rentals, hotel stays and meals. Separate data are offered for central city and airport locations, as the tax regimes are often distinct.

No word on cities overseas, though the story does mention that some cities tax visitors indirectly at much higher rates.

Monday 31 August 2009 11:56:13 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#

NPR's Morning Edition has a story today on a "tea party" rally in Nevada. Listening to the people interviewed, the only thing preventing me from recommending that no one be allowed to protest against the government without having taken a basic civics class is that I have taken a basic civics class.

Now, I know many people with center-right leanings who can make coherent arguments in favor of or against various policies. I enjoy those debates immensely. The people who spoke to NPR, though? Each had some different reason for yelling at their Congressman, ranging from self-interested fear to abject panic, while seeming immune to the basics of what the state actually does in this country.

Item: A woman complained that the EPA has wants to close a public road near her house for unspecified environmental reasons, which will prevent her "three little children" from riding all over the place on all-terrain vehicles. What gives the government the right to close a public road, she asks?

(More after the jump.)

Monday 31 August 2009 07:47:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Sunday 30 August 2009

From reader DK:

Sunday 30 August 2009 08:37:31 BST (UTC+01:00)  |  | Jokes#
Saturday 29 August 2009

Here are the Google Earth tracks of three walks and a riverboat ride I've done in the last two days.

That is all.

Saturday 29 August 2009 16:43:17 BST (UTC+01:00)  |  | Geography#

It's amazing what you can do for £20. You can ride a train that goes 200 km/h non-stop from London's King's Cross to Cambridge in 45 minutes, non-stop. Think: Chicago to Milwaukee in 45 minutes. Vroom.

Cambridge was certainly worth the trip. I didn't do the main touristy thing (punting down the Cam) but I did watch others do it:

(More after the jump.)

Saturday 29 August 2009 16:24:35 BST (UTC+01:00)  |  | Geography#
Friday 28 August 2009

I did three touristy things today: first, a stop at Westminster Palace for the official tour, during which I got to stand right in the Government benches in the House of Commons, less than a meter from where the P.M. sits when they're in session. No photographs allowed, I'm afraid; but now the whole setup makes a lot more sense to me. I'm all set for the resumption of Question Time, the comedy half-hour broadcast every Wednesday from the chamber.

Second, a direct boat trip down the Thames to Greenwich, with some wanderings through the Royal Observatory:

More after the jump.

Friday 28 August 2009 21:11:06 BST (UTC+01:00)  |  | Geography | Weather#
Thursday 27 August 2009

Three hours from the financial accounting mid-term, with images of balance sheets dancing in our heads, we're just about done with the first CCMBA residency. The last 12 days seem like 12 months. Many of us haven't left the hotel since Tuesday, except for dinner or a run near St. Katharine's Docks.

Six hours from now, we'll be done with the residency, and thinking about next week. Right now—back to the books.

Thursday 27 August 2009 10:00:36 BST (UTC+01:00)  |  | Duke#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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