Corn Wars: The farm-by-farm fight between China and the United States to dominate the global food supply. The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI now contend, in effect, that the theft of genetically modified corn technology is as credible a threat to national security as the spread to nation-states of the technology necessary to deliver and detonate nuclear warheads. Disturbingly, they may be right. As the global population continues to climb and climate change makes arable soil and water for irrigation ever more scarce, the world’s next superpower will be determined not just by which country has the most military might but also, and more importantly, by its mastery of the technology required to produce large quantities of food.
Fans of Richard Pryor (previously) may be interested in a new, free online archive devoted to providing a peek at the Illinois town where the comedian spent his first two decades. “Richard Pryor’s Peoria,” a collaboration between biographer Scott Saul and Stanford University’s Spatial History Project, "digitally unites 200 primary sources—from aerial maps of Pryor’s hometown to his elementary school report cards—for anyone with an internet connection to explore. The site ... presents one of the first full-fledged extensions of a traditional biography onto the web—an affirmation of historian Edward L. Ayers’s suggestion that “history may be better suited to digital technology than any other humanistic discipline.”
"The administration of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, in rejecting Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment without demonstrating cause, and in doing so only after the appointment had been approved and courses had been assigned to him, acted in violation of the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the university’s own stated policies on the subject." The American Association of University Professors has issued its report on the Salaita case. [more inside]
“Parts & Recreation” by Jeff Greenwald
“What makes people devote hours to the frustrating task of gluing together pieces so small you have to pick them up with tweezers? And does this obsessive hobby even matter anymore? To find out, a devotee of the art dives into Revell’s world of plastic models.”
"It’s about readers and their trust in us." Dave McKinney, longtime Chicago Sun-Times political reporter, resigns after the paper appears to cave to pressure from billionaire Illinois Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner to punish McKinney for writing an article that portrayed Rauner as a thug. After supporting McKinney publicly but attempting to remove him from the political beat, the paper reversed its three-year-old policy of not endorsing candidates by endorsing Rauner, who until recently owned 10% of the company that owns the paper.
Former Virginia Tech professor Steven Salaita's blocked appointment to teach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has ignited a debate over academic freedom. [more inside]
Fans book burial plots to be near jazz greats. "Nearly all the 70 burial plots which were advertised for sale earlier this year in 'Jazz Corner' – right behind the shiny, granite gravestone of Miles Davis, etched with his trumpet and bearing the honorific 'Sir' to mark the knighthood bestowed on him by the Knights of Malta – have already been taken." Other jazz greats interred at Woodlawn: Celia Cruz, Illinois Jacquet, Duke Ellington. Jazz at Woodlawn, June 11, 2014; Photos from the concert. (Previously and previously, in comments.)
My Child Ate... (poop, grandma's medicine, something around the house, nature, honorable mentions)
The Case of... (the tube switcheroo, the secret ingredient, the wrong container) [more inside]
The Case of... (the tube switcheroo, the secret ingredient, the wrong container) [more inside]
A new 3D printed membrane acts like an artificial pericardium to continuously monitor and regulate the heart's beating
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia has ruled that Texas' ban on the recognition of marriage equality is unconstitutional. The ruling comes days after the launch of Freedom To Marry's Southern Campaign, and almost a week after a judge in Illinois ruled that gay and lesbian couples there had the right to marry immediately, rather than June 1, as the legislature had previously passed. The Texas ruling has been stayed pending appeal.
WorldStar HipHop has released a 40 minute mini-documentary on violence in Chicago and the young rappers who are a part of the scene surrounding it. The Field: Chicago features appearances from up-and-coming rappers such as Lil Durk, Lil Reese, King Louie, Lil Bibby, Katie Got Bandz, and more. [more inside]
It was 1942 and pork was one of several commodities to be rationed by the U.S. government. Navy recruiter Don C. Lingle made a deal with a farmer friend for chops. What he received instead was a piglet which would go on to become an American hero: King Neptune, a stocky red-and-white Hereford hog who served as a mascot for the Navy's war bond effort, and who raised over $19 million (more, even, than did Betty Grable). [more inside]
With the bill approved by the Illinois House of Representatives, Illinois will become the 15th marriage equality state. [more inside]
"Maria Ridulph was 7 when she was kidnapped from a street corner in Sycamore, Illinois, on December 3, 1957. Her kidnapping and murder is the nation's oldest cold case to go to trial. It required family members to turn against one of their own and haunted a small town for 55 years. Even now, the case may not be over." CNN: Taken: The Coldest Case Ever Solved [more inside]
"We were basically incorporated to be a sewer." The small village of Monsanto, Illinois was incorporated in 1926 to be a low-regulated tax haven for Monsanto Company's chemical plants. These days it's named Sauget, after the family which runs virtually every aspect of it—its real estate, its minor league baseball team (which plays on Sauget Field), and several of its nightclubs, of which there are so many that they are collectively known as the Sauget Ballet. The town's pollution has led to numerous lawsuits, and inspired the song Sauget Wind by alt-country group Uncle Tupelo. [more inside]
On July 1, 1913, a group of automobile enthusiasts and industry officials established the Lincoln Highway Association "to procure the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description without toll charges," and to be a lasting memorial to Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Highway efforts started about three years before the first federal road act would provide funding to states to improve the broad network of roads. Never officially finished, the first transcontinental highway eventually became renumbered as various interstate and US routes. To celebrate its centennial, there was a cross-country tour in June. [more inside]
Today is the last day in session for the Illinois House before the summer break, and LGBT advocates are hoping that when they convene at 10:30am, they will address and vote on SB10, legislation already passed by the state Senate to enact marriage equality in the state of Illinois. [more inside]
In 1960 or so, Professor Perry C. Van Arsdale was helping his 7-year-old granddaughter researching the Santa Fe trail. He found his granddaughter's textbook to have some number of errors. He set off to create a map of pioneer history (prior to the 1900's), using his own knowledge and information from judges, sheriffs, and descendants of historical figures. This was his start in creating the Pioneer New Mexico map, which would contain 300 towns that no longer exist, old trails of all sorts (including the three historic Santa Fe trails and various camel routes), locations of minor squabbles and major battles, and because he couldn't fit everything on the maps, he also included extensive notes in the corner of the map. [more inside]
For this April the first, NPR has a touching story on the efforts to record the stories of retired Navy dolphins.
Between July 28 and November 10, 2003, Ron Haines canoed down the entire length of the Mississippi. Eight years later, he wrote it up as a series of blog posts with lots of interesting photos and observations: Lake Itasca to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Minneapolis-St. Paul to St. Louis. St. Louis to New Orleans. He also wrote up his logistics and some of the press coverage he got along the way. [more inside]
Dawn Clark Netsch dies at 86. Dawn Clark Netsch was a woman of many firsts: she integrated the dorms of Northwestern University in 1949, graduated first in her class from Northwestern's School of Law (as the only female graduate), joined the Law School faculty in 1965 as the first woman law professor in the United States, elected Comptroller as the first woman to a state-wide office in Illinois in 1972, and was the first woman to run for governor in Illinois. [more inside]
The state of Illinois is facing a $95 billion (and rising) unfunded pension liability. Governor Pat Quinn, in a bold attempt to get Illinoisians excited about pension reform, has unveiled a new mascot: Squeezy the Pension Python [YouTube]
Chicago's WBEZ has created an interactive map of the city and where its various gangs operate, using data provided by the Chicago Police Department. Chicagoist considers the map and its implications while Progress Illinois discusses the changing nature of gang violence.
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., son of revered civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, Sr., has been missing from the public eye since June 10th, failing to cast votes and making no public appearances. After weeks of vague statements raising more questions than answers about his mystery illness, Jackson's office has stated that he is seeking treatment for "debilitating" depression at the Mayo Clinic. Jackson's office denies alcoholism or drug addiction. [more inside]
John Daker is going to sing a song that's very popular nowadays, it's Christ The Lord Is Risen Today, and he's going to do Amore too, okay? There is a subtitled and animated version also.
In 'unusual' turn, Cook County state's attorney supports lawsuits questioning constitutionality of gay marriage ban
"The fight for same-sex marriage rights in Illinois took an unprecedented turn Thursday as Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez conceded that the state's ban on gay marriage violates the Illinois Constitution, essentially agreeing with a pair of lawsuits her office was expected to oppose. It marks the first time a state has refused to contest a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of a gay marriage ban. The Illinois attorney general's office, which would be next in line to defend the state's constitution, already had announced plans to file a brief in support of the lawsuits brought by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois."
"Downstate families are tired of Chicago dictating its views to the rest of us." Two Downstate Illinois state legislators, Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) and Rep. Adam Brown (R-Decatur), have proposed a bill to make Cook County its own state. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done.
On the morning of November 13, 1909 there were around 500 men and boys working in the St. Paul mine in Cherry, IL. It would be more than six months before the last body was recovered. [more inside]
The Burton Holmes Archive has information about Burton Holmes, the travel writer who became the first person to make filmic travelogues. More importantly, they also have a lot of film clips by Holmes and his associate, André de la Varre, who was also a great travelogue maker himself. Watching these clips is not quite time travel, but it is as close as we can get. Take a look at Reykjavík, Iceland, in 1926, Lake Michigan in 20s, Cairo in 1932 and the 1955 Rio de Janeiro carnival. The later films have sound and narration, but I prefer the silent ones. [Burton Holmes previously, André de la Varre previously, and the Travel Film Archive, which runs Burton Holmes site, previously]
Over the past couple of months, there have been a series of scandals that have rocked the legal education community. First, there were tandem lawsuits against Thomas M. Cooley School of Law and New York Law School for misrepresenting jobs data. Then, Villanova University and the University of Illinois were found to be fudging their employment numbers. A legal team is now preparing to sue 15 different law schools because of misrepresentations made to students regarding job and salary data.
Former Illinois governor Rod "Blogo" Blagojavich has been convicted of 17 counts, including trying sell to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder. This links to the Chicago Sun-Times. Former Illinois governor Rod "Blogo" Blagojavich has been convicted on 17 counts, including trying sell to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder. A "not guilty" verdict was returned on one count. Richard Roeper's column and the Editorial reaction links are good reads. And the home page has photos up currently.
Tomorrow will be the first time gay and lesbian couples will be able to enjoy civil-unions in the state of Illinois. The full text of the Bill can be read here. In response, Catholic Charities is ending foster care and adoption services to avoid serving same-sex parents.
It's not quite the Nile, but there is political strife there too. The Illinois river town of Cairo (KAY-row), IL, is surrounded by the Ohio and the Mississippi, and is in danger of being flooded. The Army Corps of Engineers wants to activate a flood mitigation plan by breaching some levees into spillways designed to mitigate such a flood. Unfortunately, those floodways are in Missouri, and they would rather not have a bunch of farmland flooded just to save some little town in Illinois. Judge Limbaugh (yes) gave the OK, but the battle isn't over yet.
Open Letter TO JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. The Democrat from Springfield responds to the Chase CEO's letter to shareholders.
IL Gov. Pat Quinn—formerly a strong supporter of capital punishment—today signed into law the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois. This comes eleven years after Gov. George Ryan—also a former supporter of capital punishment—signed a moratorium on the death penalty, commuting the sentences of 167 death row inmates to life (including ten men who had made false confessions under torture directed by police commander Jon Burge [previously here and here]). Between 1977 and 1999, Illinois executed 12 inmates, while freeing 13 innocent men from Death Row. [more inside]
Curt Teich (1877-1974) was a printer who immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1896. Curt Teich & Company, opened in 1898 in Chicago, was the world's largest printer of view and advertising postcards. Teich is best known for its "Greetings From" postcards with their big letters, vivid colors, and bold style. Flickr user amhpics has archived nearly 2000 Teich linen postcards in his set Vintage Curt Teich linen postcards 1930s-1950s. [more inside]
"When we started Windy City, it was a means to an end, because there wasn't a distributor in Chicago that wanted to touch craft beer," Mr. Ebel says. "We went around to bars and they said, 'Great beer. How many free cases can you give me?' We just had to walk out of those accounts, set a price, and stick to it. And nobody asks us that anymore." Pay-to-play contreversy in the Chicago beer scene, with appearances from a who's who of Midwest beermeisters: Tracy Hurst of Metropolitan Brewing Co., Deb Carey of New Glarus Brewing Co., the Ebel Brothers of Two Brothers Brewing Co., and Josh Hall of Goose Island Brewing Company
Out of the blue, Sufjan Stevens, most famous for his epic indie symphony Illinois (which can be streamed from this link), released an "EP" called All Delighted People. It's 60 minutes long, you can play it all online for free, and the title track is a deliriously gorgeous 12-minute epic. He's also announced an upcoming new album, scheduled for release this October, called The Age of Adz. You can stream its first single, I Walked. [more inside]
On August 28th 1990, between 3:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. a devastating tornado ripped a 16.4 mile-long path through portions of Kendall and Will counties in northern Illinois. At its strongest, the tornado was rated F5, the highest rating a tornado can be given. A total of 29 people were killed and 350 more were injured. [more inside]
FOX Chicago News runs a story that suggests closing down public libraries as a means of fixing the state's ongoing budget issues. The Public Library Commissioner responds.
Cairo, Illinois is mostly abandoned. It was once a thriving city of 15,000, but the Mississippi barges don't stop there anymore, and racial turmoil, including a three-year boycott of white-owned businesses that refused to hire black workers, killed the town's economy. The Cairo Project, from Southern Illinois University, is a good overview of Cairo's history and its current situation. Can punk label Plan-it-X start a rebirth by moving to Cairo and opening a coffeeshop? If it helps, there's still good barbecue.
Mr. Kearney, who says he has spent thousands of dollars renovating the leased building, said: “If these people had such fond memories of this place, then they should be ashamed — because it was falling apart.”Bob Kearney, an out-of-work electrician, and his partner, Travis Funneman, have turned the former Pioneer Elementary School at Zike's Corner, east of Neoga, Illinois, into a strip club. [more inside]
ComEd/Exelon is offering to buy a profit guarantee from the state of Illinois for $500 million, at a time when lawmakers are struggling to produce a budget in the face of revenue shortfalls. [more inside]
A 34 year old man took some pills from his roommate, thinking they were Valium®. Turns out they were diabetes medication; the patient is now comatose and having seizures because his blood sugar is so low. A grandparent called because she gave her grandson his heart medication approximately 90 minutes too soon. He is supposed to get it every 12 hours.A caller ate a sandwich with lunchmeat and only after eating it, realized the meat expired 7 months ago.A mom called because she accidentally gave her 2 year old 5ml of liquid methadone, having mistaken it for ibuprofen suspension.
All this in a day in the life of the Illinois Poison Center [more inside]
All this in a day in the life of the Illinois Poison Center [more inside]
In Illinois, a political ad is airing on the radio. In it, former Republican Party candidate Andy Martin says current Illinois congressman Mark Kirk is a homosexual. Another ad claims Kirk is a "de facto pedophile." Jack Roeser, an Illinois businessman, is quoted in one ad as saying there is a "solid rumor" regarding Mark's sexuality. What says Roeser about Martin? "I have nothing to do with that SOB."
A wonderful artist, longtime booster of Route 66, and all around good guy, Bob Waldmire died at 8:30 this morning.
Asian Carp update: since 2003(previously), the inexorable advance of Asian Carp up the Mississippi delta has brought them to within 6 miles of Lake Michigan. These invasive "100-pound Zebra Mussels" suck rivers clean and starve native fish. Asian Carp are now 97% of the fish biomass in the Mississippi delta. The "electric fence" across the canal didn't stop them. The poisoning of the canal won't stop them. Closing the Chicago sewage canal locks is the only way to be sure. But the Army Corps of Engineers have the jurisdiction. Feel safe? [more inside]
Aunt Feminina Boots's Char-Broiled Book Club — Feminina Boots has been experiencing a lot of difficulty lately trying to find a book club where she can say things that aren’t just going to upset people. [more inside]
President Obama pencil topper. Olympic Mayor Daley. Parachuting Rod Blagojevich.(Acrobat PDF) Mayor Daley Parking Meter.(Acrobat PDF) Paper sculptures by illustrator and animation artist Joe Fournier.
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