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Showing posts from July, 2017

Visiting Chicago

In May, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Chicago after judging at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals competition at Michigan State.  I took the Amtrak from East Lansing to Chicago - Union Station, then the "L" ("elevated") train the rest of the time.  There was one issue when I tried to get out to the University of Chicago which involved missing a bus connection and having to be rescued by my friend, but aside from that, public transit was a breeze.

Chicago overall was a really fun city: not too big as to feel overwhelming, but with great transit around the downtown Loop area, perfect weather at the end of May, and lots to see and do.  I'm already looking forward to going back.  I made myself a Google map of the city with an ambitious number of places to visit, but thanks to my patient friends, I was able to check off most of the places.  The others will have to wait 'til next time.  Here's the run-down of what I was able to see.

Day…

Book Review: City of Quartz

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990, updated Preface from 2006) by Mike Davis is a strange book.  Honestly, I still have no idea what the title is about.  As the back of the book notes, it's a work of "sociology/urban studies," meaning some of it is about urbanism, and some of it is a social history.  I also have to admit that several of the chapters, the social history ones, had little interest for me; they chronicled a specific moment in LA history that, as a non-resident, doesn't seem to have a lot of interest or general usefulness now.  But several of the chapters described a city wrestling with the effects of suburbanization and affluent NIMBYism that were the precursors to today's continued urban problems, and those in particular are worth a read.


Davis is an academic and a Marxist, approaching his topics with a clear view as to questions of social and economic equality, which colors much of his commentary.  But his analysis of local L…