Friday, February 25, 2005

Yeah, but Will There Be Robots?

There's a fairly comprehensive vision for what the CTA can become by 2055 on Gaper's Block. I've seen smaller versions of these types of plans on other site's, but this one includes much more, and -- always a good thing -- it has pictures! This vision is not nearly as flashy as the "I, Robot" movie with Will Smith, but it's probably a more realistic sense of what Chicago might be like in 50 years.

Also on Gaper's Block, check out 'Ask the Librarian' about the Chicago connection to the last man on the moon. Did you catch that pun? It was a complete accident. There's no way I could plan that. I usually head to Gaper's Block late in the week to catch up on 'Revenge of the Second City'.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Definition of Surreal

Be careful what you read online. You might come across something truly strange. Law-speak can make sex seem almost passe. From the article linked above:

But the judges agreed with the lower court's decision to dismiss fraud and theft claims against Irons.

They agreed with Irons' lawyers that she didn't steal the sperm.

"She asserts that when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift — an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee," the decision said. "There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request."

When is there EVER an "agreement that the original returned upon request"?

You've really got to get the whole story to understand how freaky this whole thing is. Both...uh..."participants" were doctors, and she was married to another doctor at the time. The "participants" never had intercourse, but she "acquired" his sperm and impregnated herself with it. DNA tests proved that the child was his.


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Monday, February 14, 2005

Just Another Monday

Really, this year February 14th is just another Monday. I've never been overly sentimental about Valentine's day. As a kid, it was just another excuse to get some candy. Later, it often was just a reminder that I was alone. Now, with a family, preparing candy bags for my daughter's class takes some of the fun out of it. Okay, my wife actually put together the bags of candy, I just held them shut while she taped them closed. I think she would not be doing this if we had more than one child, but we'll have to wait for another child to confirm that belief.

The great aspect about the mostly free flow of information on the internet is that you can get information about almost anything. Take the New York Times online, for example. Today, you'd find an article debunking some of the Valentine's Day mythos with a little history:

Popular celebrations of Valentine's Day gained ground in the late 17th century, but not until 100 years later did most Europeans and Americans begin to agree that marriage should be based on love and young people should freely choose their own partners. Even in the 19th century there were still many defenders of traditional marriage who predicted that the new vogue for "marriage by fascination" instead of hardheaded negotiation would undermine the social order, and that high expectations of marriage would lead only to discontent.

They had a point. High expectations of married love can lead to huge disappointments, and free choice means that an individual can refuse to settle for a marriage where love is absent. Thus modern marriage almost inevitably brings higher divorce rates. Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, for instance, could have had a very stable marriage if she had not refused to live with the traditional disconnect between love and marriage - a disconnect that both Charles and his new fiancée, Camilla Parker Bowles, were prepared to accept 20 years ago (though presumably not today).

See, it makes perfect sense that I want to maintain low expectations in my marriage. I'm pretty sure that in the 10 years I've known my wife, including the last 7 in...uh..."wedded bliss", I haven't observed Valentine's Day. Of course, our anniversary is the week before, which gives me some leeway to claim joint gifts. In retrospect, it might have been better to have our wedding a week after Valentine's day. In that situation, you'd always be getting the post-holiday sale prices.

Oh yeah, love is in the air.

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Blogger Cyrus said...

You, my friend, are beginning to border on misanthropy (I have yet to find the spell check in the post enviornment). It is ironic that as the enlightenment gained in its ascendency, romantic idealism would enfeeble the marital institution with such notions as -- love. After all what is love but Eros with its wings clipped and blunted arrows? Give your wife a kiss, your daughter a hug, pay the bills, pack those candy bags, pour yourself a nice cold can of Coke and watch the Matrix -- the power of love baby.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Cyrus said...

I've blogged and I can't get out.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Michael M. Davis said...

Ah, yes, my friend. Very interesting, but I would also posit that seeking love in marriage could have been as much a matter of overthrowing the systematic oppression of women within the martimonial bond. "Love" empowered women as decision-makers.

11:40 AM  

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Other People's Posts

The new OPP? Not nearly as intriguing, though.

Anyway, there's a very good post on The Washington Note about private accounts for kids as a wealth-building technique instead of the current Social Security replacement put forth by President Bush. The best point is actually from an article in the Washington Post:

Perhaps a good way to begin debate on President Bush's bold and commendable ideas for an "ownership society" would be to ask, "Who owns America?" After all, if ownership policies further concentrate the ownership of assets for those who already own a lot, while doing little for those who own nothing, what's the point?

So, I'm quoting a quote from another blogger. Objection, your honor, that's hearsay!

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Set the Phase-out to Annihilate

The Talking Points Memo has a pretty good take on the president's plan to change Social Security. It simplifies, and thus clarifies, some of the verbiage about the proposed changes. It is particualarly compelling from a philisophical standpoint by addressing what Social Security is and how it fits within a balance retirement plan for Americans. Interesting read.

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Sign O' the Times

The New York Times, that is. I seriously doubt that anyone at the New York Times is reading this blog, but this article about redistricting hits on the same points that I made here last week.

Actually, it's most likely that few people outside my family members have ever read this thing, but at least I'm not filling my family members' in-boxes with email links to all this kind of stuff.

Two quotes stand out for me. First, from Nathaniel Persily of the University of Pennsylvania Law School: "There is a problem when the turnover in the United States House of Representatives is lower than it was in the Soviet Politburo."
Second, toward the end of the article: "... redistricting contributes to polarization, as map-drawers cluster like-minded voters into the same districts. That makes it less likely that a candidate will work to appeal to swing voters."

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Friday, February 04, 2005

Really, Must-See TV

I just read an article about "Slavery and the Making of America," airing on PBS Feb. 9 and 16 at 9 p.m. EST. The money quote from the article:

'Slavery wasn't the sideshow in America, it was the main event in American history.'

Interesting links from the article:

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Banned! in Fargo?

How cool would it be to have your name on a do-not-admit list for a presidential visit to your city? Especially if you're in high school! It seems pretty silly, but this article contains the information:

Among the 42 area people on the do-not-admit list: two high school students, a librarian, a Democratic campaign manager and several university professors.

Who cares what the reason for inclusion on the list is, it would just be really cool to have been prevented from attending.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Freaky Name Recognition

Until recently, the name Michael has been consistently the number one name given to boys in the United States. So, it's not too surprising that I've run into a number of guys with whom I share a name. There was a guy in high school, two in college -- I was on the football team with one of them, and usually a couple in each company that I've worked for, which makes the email thing pretty interesting. On a side note, I've even mistakenly sent email to the other guys because I forgot to include my middle initial. There's a juggler named Michael Davis who has appeared on Saturday Night Live a couple of times (like 20 years ago). He used to juggle ping-pong balls with his mouth.

Anyway, I got started thinking about all this because a Chicago Tribune article about a potential increase in the GI Death Benefit begins with information about the family of Donald Davis, which happens to be my brother's name. A google search of "Michael Davis" "Morehouse College" brings up web sites documenting hazing incidents including the deaths of a Morehouse student and a student at another college named Michael Davis. It also brings up information on one of the guys who attended Morehouse at the same time I did.

It's just a little freaky.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Knit picking

When I was a kid -- maybe seven or so -- my sisters decided to take up knitting. They are both older than me, and I jumped on the bandwagon. The three of us went to knitting classes not too far from our house, but eventually, I gave it up. I think I may have finished a scarf, but that was about it.

I hadn't really thought about knitting until this past year, when my wife started to crochet baby blankets for a number of her friends. She's finished two or three blankets for expectant mothers, and she's planning a few more. She's also looking to create a rug for my brother and his wife. So, my wife and I would end up at Michaels or Hancock Fabrics for her raw materials: yarn and crochet hooks. This past month, while on one of these yarn buying excursions, I thought about taking up knitting again, but I definitely wanted to keep it to myself. Today, in a Chicago Tribune article, a trend of men knitting is addressed. It's almost surreal that I would come across this article so soon after I had started knitting again, and the article mentions Russell Crowe and Laurence Fishburne as knitters. Suddenly, I'm struck with the image of Morpheus saying: "Neo, you must knit two, purl two to create the ribbing pattern." Okay, I admit that it was funnier in my head.

My sister, Theresa, has consistently knitted since she first started. She's made a few fairly intricate blankets for our mother and my daughter. I doubt that I would ever be that involved, but then again, I hadn't thought that I would take it up again at all.

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Blogger Peace, Love, Joy, Hope said...

Dearest Progeny Michael: If anyone hassles you about knitting, inform them it's all a part of your Psychiatric therapy! I'm referring, of course, to my story about teaching male clients at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital to knit as a way of defusing their anxiety and getting them to focus. Don't look for Fitzsimmons; it no longer exists, but it is where President Eisenhower was hospitalized following a heart attack in the 50's. The other claim to fame for Fitzsimmons is that I met your Father there!

10:04 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Actually, I knitted as much as you did. I think I finished a scarf, also, but then stopped knitting. I've been crocheting since shortly after we moved to Chicago. I ran out of people to make afghans for, so now I make other things (bookmarks, doilies, sweaters, hot pads, sachets, whatever). Right now I'm making a summer sweater for myself out of crochet thread. When I'm finished with that, I'm going to finish the sweater I started for Mom over a year ago (most of the front and back are already finished). She can take it back with her after she visits. We can only send packages that are smaller than a VHS tape.

5:15 AM  
Blogger Michael M. Davis said...

Great, now my mother will have people thinking that I'm mentally unstable and in need of therapy. Sure, many people probably would come to that conclusion on their own, but there's no need to have everyone thinking it.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Peace, Love, Joy, Hope said...

Sorry, Darling # 1 Son! Your alleged Psychiatric Therapy was stated as a joke to relate your knitting expertise to my experiences as an Army Nurse Corps nurse at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver, Colorado.
Well, think of this, if EVERYONE now thinks you are unstable & in need of therapy, at least they will be aware that you are lacking in anxiety with a great deal of focus in your life! LOL, MOM

8:12 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

You ARE mentally unstable. Turn in your man card. Go buy some power tools and be a man for pete's sake!!!! Men do not KNIT. We build with wood, metal, maybe clay. BUT NO KNITTING allowed. (cooking is acceptable and encourage, extra points for using a BBQ).

Get off your buttocks and fix the apartment you are in. Did you ever put the heat/ac vent in Mikala's room?????

3:18 AM  
Blogger Michael M. Davis said...

Alright, I'm going to resist the urge to just delete your comment, Mike.

I wasn't ever issued a man card, but maybe I just got in the wrong line.

I HAVE power tools, and I already put the vent in the kid's room. And for your further information, I installed light fixtures on the porch, which necessitated running the wire through the conduit. This past year, I also helped Donald cut and lay tile in their new kitchen.

I'm willing to put my "man" credentails on the line here. I lettered in Football and Basketball in high school, and played two years of Division II football in college. I can fix the house, and, oh yeah, I can lay some pipe. Wink, wink. I'm certain that I deserve the respect a man should receive, knitting or not.

I hope that doesn't come off like I'm bitter or hostile, I was really trying to be funny.

5:30 PM