Chicago - Nov. 9, 2019
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A discount-store employee is time-warped to a medieval castle, where he is the foretold savior who can dispel the evil there. Unfortunately, he screws up and releases an army of skeletons. (tvguide.com)
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The [Tuesday] Papers

"High water levels on Lake Michigan this summer have been freaking people out," WBEZ reports. "They've battered the Chicago shoreline, submerged walking paths and swallowed up whole beaches around the lake. They also inspired one anonymous Curious Citizen to ask: How will climate change affect Lake Michigan water levels?"

Good question - and one the media failed to answer (or even ask) in August when they noticed the Lake Michigan shoreline is shrinking.

The WBEZ answer: "Climate Change Is Already Impacting Lake Michigan."

"At least one feature of a changing climate is already affecting the Lake Michigan shoreline, coastal scientist Charles Shabica told the station. "The . . . warmer atmosphere means more intense storms, and more intense storms mean large waves, and large waves mean more damage to structures along the shore."

My former Newsweek colleague Peter Annin, author of Great Lakes Water Wars, told WBEZ: "What we are seeing with climate change now in the Great Lakes region is more rocking and rolling in water levels - higher highs and lower lows and a much more rapid transition between the highs and lows. And that's what's driving people crazy as they try to interface with the Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan."

Annin left Newsweek to dedicate himself to environmental journalism and advocacy.

Also, from WBEZ: "In addition to shoreline erosion, intense storms are predicted to increase agricultural runoff and sewage overflows, both of which contribute to pollution."

More, please.

China's Chicago Spy Trains
"America's next fight with China is unfolding at a glistening new factory in Chicago, which stands empty except for the shells of two subway cars and space for future business that is unlikely to come," the New York Times reports.

"A Chinese state-owned company called CRRC Corporation, the world's largest train maker, completed the $100 million facility this year in the hopes of winning contracts to build subway cars and other passenger trains for American cities like Chicago and Washington.

"But growing fears about China's economic ambitions and its potential to track and spy on Americans are about to quash those plans. Congress is soon expected to approve legislation that would effectively bar the company from competing for new contracts in the United States, citing national security and economic concerns. The White House has expressed its support for the effort."

Leave the spying to Facebook and the NSA!

"This summer, CRRC replaced the Chinese flag outside the factory with a Chicago flag. It has also retained two Washington lobbying firms, Squire Patton Boggs and Crossroads Strategies, to plead its case in Congress.

"It may be too late. Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said he helped sponsor the bill to prevent the American transit system from being 'controlled by a foreign country that is not particularly friendly to us.'

"'They spell out in black and white they're going to use foreign investment as a weapon, and we're taking action to defend ourselves,' Mr. Brown said."

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"CRRC Sifang, a subsidiary of a Chinese rail car company, employs 78 people at the recently opened facility in Hegewisch that it built to make rail cars for the CTA. Once production has fully ramped up to handle the $1.3 billion, 10-year contract, the facility could employ as many as 170 people," the Tribune reported in August.

"The proposal would not affect the current CTA contract, which calls for building up to 846 new 'L' cars at a cost of $1.6 million each, according to both CRRC and the bill's supporters.

"But if the measure becomes law, it would interfere with CRRC's plans to grow its business by taking orders from transit systems across the country. It would deflate the great expectations for the plant, which was hailed by Chicago officials at its 2017 groundbreaking as marking the return of CTA rail manufacturing after a 50-year absence.

"CRRC has already put in a bid to build rail cars with the Long Island Railroad in New York and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency in Washington, D.C., said Marina Popovic, human resources director and legal counsel for CRRC. But no new work would mean no need for workers."

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"U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly, a Chicago Democrat whose district includes the Hegewisch factory, voted for the National Defense Authorization Act, which included the Chinese rail car ban, but declined to comment on it, according to a spokeswoman."

Well, not just according to a spokesperson. She refused to comment.

"U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, another Chicago Democrat and the most senior member from Illinois on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, also voted for the bill, though a spokesman said the vote was not based solely on the rail car language.

"The entry of Chinese State-Owned Enterprises into this country poses a huge threat to America's economic livelihood and national security," Lipinski said in a statement. "We need to be focused on figuring out how to create a thriving domestic transit and bus rolling stock industry right here in the United States as well as protecting our domestic freight supplier industry."

"But Lipinski added that he is aware that the CRRC factories in Chicago and elsewhere provide good-paying jobs to hundreds of people. 'We need to be careful about taking any action that could affect their livelihoods and families,' Lipinski said."

So Lipinski wants to have it both ways.

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From the Trib in March 2016:

"A monumental overhaul of the Chicago Transit Authority's rail car line was launched Wednesday with the approval of a $1.3 billion contract to replace about half of its fleet - the biggest car purchase in the agency's history.

"The new generation of 846 rail cars will be built at a new manufacturing facility on the Southeast Side.

"The winning bidder to build the 7000 Series cars is CSR Sifang America, whose partners include the Chinese state-owned rail car manufacturing company CRRC Qingdao Sifang and CSR America, which handles North American operations. The same manufacturer is currently building cars for the Boston transit system."

I guess that's a big deal. Then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel certainly tried to make the most of it, but that's not exactly a confirming piece of evidence. Still:

"In a buoyant news conference at CTA headquarters after the board's vote, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the deal historic and said he hoped the facility could also be used for other rail car orders from around the country. He expects suppliers to be drawn to the Hegewisch facility, bringing even more jobs. He said the deal was an example of the city using its purchasing power to create local employment, as it did when Chicago police ordered its new cars from the South Side Ford plant."

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Then in July 2018:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel is going this week to Asia, where a contingent of city officials plan to meet with business leaders amid a trade war between the U.S. and China.

"At the top of Emanuel's agenda is visiting a Chinese business that has a $1.3 billion contract with the CTA to manufacture train cars on the South Side.

"CRRC Sifang America hopes to replace about half the CTA's fleet of train cars at a new manufacturing facility in the Southeast Side Hegewisch neighborhood. But certain parts for the rail cars, which are expected to be delivered starting at the end of 2019, will be made in China. Emanuel told the Tribune he wants to make sure the deal isn't damaged by [Trump's] trade dispute."

Good luck. From last July:

"A monumental overhaul of the Chicago Transit Authority's rail car line has gotten caught up in the nation's trade war with China.

"Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Chinese products are driving up the price of the project, which involves replacing about half of the CTA's fleet. The transit agency and the manufacturer of the new cars disagree about who will bear the additional costs. If the CTA has to pay more, riders could eventually end up footing the bill through higher fares."

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Holy Fuck
"Astronomers have discovered the most massive example yet of the dead stars known as neutron stars, one almost too massive to exist, a new study finds," Space reports.

"Neutron stars, like black holes, are corpses of stars that died in catastrophic explosions known as supernovas. When a star goes supernova, the core of its remains collapses under the strength of its own gravitational pull. If this remnant is massive enough, it may form a black hole, which has gravity so powerful that not even light can escape. A less massive core will form a neutron star, so named because its gravity is strong enough to crush protons together with electrons to form neutrons.

"Neutron stars are as mysterious as they are fascinating," study lead author Thankful Cromartie at the University of Virginia and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, both in Charlottesville, Virginia, said in a statement. "These city-sized objects are essentially ginormous atomic nuclei."

"Ginormous, a humorous blend of gigantic and enormous, owes much of its recent popularity to its appearance in the 2003 movie Elf, where it is enthusiastically uttered by actor Will Ferrell," Merriam-Webster notes. "However, when Merriam-Webster added it to the Collegiate Dictionary in 2007, editors made note of the fact that it could then be found at least as far back as 1948, when it was recorded in a dictionary of military slang. Recent research has found the word used in British newspapers as early as 1942."

What could have been, Kim Deal . . .

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The Lincoln Park Camel
It turns out there's a Chicago camel.

lpcamel2.jpg

Not sure if there's more than one, but this fellow/lady was spotted by my sister-in-law Sue Rhodes when she was in town with my brother last week.

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"Contrary to popular belief, a camel's hump doesn't hold water. Instead, the hump serves as a reservoir for energy-rich fat, which the camel can metabolize for energy when food is scarce," the zoo says.

What? Nothing is true, anymore! The whole world is a lie!

I mean, how can that be?

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This I like, though: Camelus bactrianus.

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ChicagoReddit

A bag of unattended carrots on the bus today from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Rock Lobster.

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Iraq Lobster.

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BeachBook

Sick Of Scam E-Mails? Just Forward Them To Re:Scam And Enjoy The Show.

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Here's What's Brewing In The New Smithsonian Beer Collections.

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The Mellvins at Bric-a-Brac on Saturday.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tipshit Line: Take a dip.



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Posted on September 17, 2019


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