My dad moved recently. I feel sorry for him, with his sad history of living in these kinds of places:
It turns out, though, that he now lives less than 2 km from a Peet's. So it's not as bad as it seems from the photos.
Today's Chicago Tribune explains that while the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has serious problems funding its daily operations, it has an even bigger problem finding the $6 billion required to make capital improvements:
The CTA says it is more than $6 billion short of adequately modernizing its rail and bus lines, a staggering number lost in the debate as the agency lurches from one "doomsday" to another searching for the tens of millions of dollars it needs to keep operating.
The result is that more than 500 CTA buses, one-fourth of its fleet, have been on the road for 16 years, logging an average 580,000 miles apiece.
The cost of repairing and maintaining the old buses is soaring. The CTA said it spends $16 million a year to keep the old buses in running order, more than five-fold the $3 million cost for upkeep on newer models.
Reporter Jon Hilkevich does examine some of the reasons for the funding shortfall:
Increasing amounts of the CTA's capital budget -- more than a combined $150 million since 2003 -- have been diverted to operations to help balance annual budgets and reduce the threatened service cuts and fare increases under the CTA's doomsday plans.
At the same time, capital funding to the CTA has fallen by almost $200 million a year since the Illinois FIRST infrastructure program expired almost five years ago.
Without the state launching a successor to Illinois FIRST, non-federal capital funding to the CTA during the next five years is projected at one-tenth the level in 2002, according to CTA budget documents.
Economist Paul Krugman gives us a heads-up on the lies we're going to (continue to) hear about the U.S. health care system:
The United States spends far more on health care per person than any other nation. Yet we have lower life expectancy than most other rich countries. Furthermore, every other advanced country provides all its citizens with health insurance; only in America is a large fraction of the population uninsured or underinsured.
You might think that these facts would make the case for major reform of America’s health care system—reform that would involve, among other things, learning from other countries' experience—irrefutable. Instead, however, apologists for the status quo offer a barrage of excuses for our system's miserable performance.
It's worth a read.
I've been walking around the last few days noticing the fall colors in Chicago and thinking, "how odd, it's November, the trees should be bare." Turns out I was right:
Intense heat in late summer and early fall delayed the changing of the leaves in the area, with peak colors not arriving until last week, about two weeks later than normal.
The former Illinois governor goes to jail tomorrow:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens today rejected former Gov. George Ryan's final, long-shot bid to remain free on bail while he fights to overturn his corruption conviction before the nation's highest court.
The ruling means Ryan must report to a federal prison camp in Oxford, Wis., by 5 p.m. Wednesday to begin serving his 6½-year sentence.
A federal jury convicted Ryan in April 2006 on charges that, as secretary of state and governor, he doled out sweetheart deals to co-defendant Lawrence Warner and other friends, and used state resources and employees for political gain.
Via my dad, the New York Times Frugal Traveler visited Chicago recently:
What was this city, then, if such as myself, on a low budget, could essentially see, do and eat whatever I wanted without straining my wallet? Were the skyscrapers merely a prairie mirage, a veil for the cheap, accessible delights hidden at their feet? If I asked John, he'd surely cite Descartes's deceiving demon, while Tiffany would, I bet, simply shrug the question away.
Thursday afternoon at the Rotary Club of Evanston meeting I met Don Frey, the lead Ford Motor Co. engineer who designed the Mustang. He brought one of the original cars with him:
See? Rotary, always worthwhile, is sometimes cool.
I can't remember the last time Chicago got all the way through October without a freezing day. This year, even by November 2nd, we still haven't officially had a freeze.
Also, tomorrow has Chicago's latest sunrise: 7:25 am. For those 33 years old and under, it's the latest sunrise ever. (During the 1973 energy crisis, Chicago didn't return to Standard Time in the fall.)
Delayed edit, 11:05pm: Moments after posting this, O'Hare recorded its first freezing temperature since April 16th.