Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Marathon Pundit: The emptying of Detroit and

Briefly today we're going back to Detroit thanks to John Ruberry over at Marathon Pundit. His recent post focuses on the depopulation of Detroit that is only exasperated by current economic conditions. Even worse a website @ is about an unemployed skilled pipefitter who is seeking to leave Detroit and using his website to beg. How unfortunate!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 Cracking the Education Monopoly

Continuing indirectly on how I concluded yesterday's post on Detroit on how the pressure brought to bear by the teacher's union there forced the school board to reject $200 millions to open some independent schools. In this case we're talking about the parents in Los Angeles who seek to turn a local high school into a charter school. The problem is that the teacher's unions are opposed to it.

Well that's what this video is about from

Monday, September 28, 2009

Detroit: The Death — and Possible Life — of a Great City from Time Magazine

Detroit: The Death — and Possible Life — of a Great City

Today let's go back to Detroit. Well I won't be going back physically, but Time magazine gives us a picture of today's Detroit. A city that is in Ruins although I can't say I had too much of a picture of that during my one night stay there in July. Even then, however, downtown Detroit wasn't looking that great unfortunately. Just couldn't offer an opinion on the neighborhoods.

You know let's focus on who the author of this article blames for the condition Detroit is in today:
Most of us thought Detroit was pretty wonderful back in the '50s and early '60s, its mighty industrial engine humming in top gear, filling America's roads with the nation's signifying product and the city's houses and streets with nearly 2 million people. Of course, if you were black, it was substantially less wonderful, its neighborhoods as segregated as any in America. On the northwest side, not far from where I grew up, a homebuilder had in the 1940s erected a six-foot-high concrete wall, nearly half a mile long, to separate his development from an adjacent black neighborhood. Still, white Detroit believed that the riots that ravaged Los Angeles in 1965 and a number of other cities the following summer would never burn across our town. Black people in Detroit, enlightened whites believed, had jobs and homes, and even if those homes were on the other side of an apartheid wall, their owners had a stake in the city.

Some did, but too many others, invisible to white Detroit, did not. The riots that scorched the city in July 1967, leaving 43 people dead, were the product of an unarticulated racism that few had acknowledged, and a self-deceiving blindness that had made it possible for even the best-intentioned whites to ignore the straitjacket of segregation that had crippled black neighborhoods, ill served the equally divided schools and enabled the casual brutality of a police force that was too white and too loosely supervised.

The '67 riots sent thousands of white Detroiters fleeing for the suburbs. Even if black Detroiters with financial resources wished to follow, they could not: the de facto segregation was virtually de jure in most Detroit suburbs. One suburban mayor boasted, "They can't get in here. Every time we hear of a Negro moving in ... we respond quicker than you do to a fire."

Soon Detroit became a majority-black city, and in 1973 it elected its first black mayor. Coleman Young was a talented politician who spent much of his 20 years in office devoting his talents to the politics of revenge. He called himself the "MFIC" — the IC stood for "in charge," the MF for exactly what you think. Young was at first fairly effective, when he wasn't insulting suburban political leaders and alienating most of the city's remaining white residents with a posture that could have been summed up in the phrase Now it's our turn. But by his third term, Young was governing more by rhetoric than by action. These were the years of a local phenomenon known as Devil's Night, a nihilistic orgy of arson that in one especially explosive year saw 800 houses burn to the ground in 72 hours. Violent crime soared under Young. The school system began to cave in on itself. When jobs disappeared with the small businesses boarding up their doors and abandoning the city, the mayor seemed to find it more useful to bid the business owners good riddance than to address the job losses. Detroit was dying, and its mayor chose to preside over the funeral rather than find a way to work with the suburban and state officials who now detested him every bit as much as he had demonized them.

When Young finally left office in 1993, he bragged that Detroit had achieved a "level of autonomy ... that no other city can match." He apparently didn't care that it was the autonomy of a man in a rowboat, in the middle of the ocean, without oars.

But Young isn't the only politician to blame. In 1956, when I was 8 years old, my Congressman was John D. Dingell. There are people in southeastern Michigan who are still represented by Dingell, the longest-serving member in the history of the House of Representatives. "The working men and women of Michigan and their families have always been Congressman Dingell's top priority," his website declares, and I suppose he thinks he has served them well — by resisting, in succession, tougher safety regulations, more-stringent mileage standards, relaxed trade restrictions and virtually any other measure that might have forced the American automobile industry to make cars that could stand up to foreign competition.

By so ably satisfying the wishes of the auto industry — by encouraging southeastern Michigan's reliance on this single, lumbering mastodon — Dingell has in fact played a signal role in destroying Detroit. He was hardly alone; if you wanted to get elected in southeastern Michigan, you had to support the party line dictated by the Big Four — GM, Ford, Chrysler and their co-conspirator the United Auto Workers. Anything that might limit the industry's income was bad for the auto industry, and anything bad for the auto industry was deemed dangerous to Detroit.

The UAW had once been the most visionary of American unions. As early as the 1940s, UAW president Walter Reuther was urging the auto companies to produce small, inexpensive cars for the average American. In 1947 and '48 the union even offered to cut wages if the Big Three would reduce the price of their cars. But by the early 1980s, the UAW had entered into a nakedly self-interested pact with the auto companies. After the union's president joined GM's chief congressional lobbyist to defeat a tougher mileage standard in 1990, the lobbyist declared that "we would not have won without the UAW." It was, he said, "one of the proudest days of my life."

The union really can't be blamed for pushing for fabulous wages and lush benefits for its members — that game required two players, and the automakers knew only how to say yes. But the union leadership's fatal mistake was insisting that workers with comparable skills and comparable seniority be paid comparable wages, irrespective of who employed them. If a machinist at a prosperous GM deserved $25 an hour, so did a machinist who worked for a barely profitable Chrysler or for a just-holding-its-own supplier plant that made axles or wheels or windshield wipers.

This defiant inattention to market reality not only placed the less healthy firms in peril, but by pricing labor so uniformly high, it also closed off Detroit to any possible diversification of its industrial base. When the automakers' inattention to engineering, style and quality caused them to crash into a wall of consumer indifference, there was no other industry that could step forward and employ workers who would have been thrilled to make even a fraction of what they once earned. Now nearly 1 in 3 Detroit residents is out of work — and not many of the unemployed have a prayer of finding a job anytime soon.
 I saw this earlier in the article and it infuriates me!
The school system, which six years ago was compelled by the teachers' union to reject a philanthropist's offer of $200 million to build 15 small, independent charter high schools, is in receivership.
Infuriating! If any quote shows who is only in it for themselves it's this quote. And you know what the section on blame that I posted above that quote are probably just as potent an example as this one!

GO READ THE WHOLE THING! The conclusion is worth a read for certain!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

VIDEO: How To balance the Obama budget

Courtesy of Political Math:
For the purposes of the video, I combined what the CBO calls “mandatory spending” (which is mostly entitlement spending like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) and interest payments on the national debt into a single “mandatory spending” amount because both these parts of the budget are automatic and neither of them can be changed through the normal budget channels.

The next piece of data is the distribution of spending according to agency. In order to estimate how much we would spend on various departments and agencies, I took the latest projected data from President Obama’s budget, which is for 2014. I then calculated that, if we split up spending proportionally the same way in 2017 as we do in 2014 we would end up with the money distribution you see in the video (give or take a few cents).

Then, for the part where I take away the money until the budget is balanced, I simply looked at the amount of money we would have left over after we take care of all the mandatory spending with the receipts we expect to have.
President Obama, despite his best intentions, will not sign a “deficit neutral” bill.

This is because entitlement programs always start out with the best intentions and with rosy predictions. They almost always fail to meet those predictions, costing far more than was originally estimated. The problem is that the programs go on auto-pilot and neither the president nor Congress can do a damn thing to pull back on the costs.
Great video, what do you think about how this current debate over health care is portrayed in this video?

My thoughts? Well I think the correct statement is that if another entitlement is created (especially with the best of intentions) politicians will be very unwilling to remove it. It may not be politically expedient to do so, especially if the public at large generally take it for granted. Even if these entitlements are only working on borrowed time.

Right now it looks like America is fighting a battle. That battle is over the importance of positive rights. The rights to have certain services provided for you and guaranteed by government such as health care, education, housing or even a livelihood. The question is how much money is anyone willing to spend for these particular provisions?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sam Zell's dodgy sale of the Chicago Cubs

I suppose RealClearMarkets even had to find a comment on the drawn out story regarding the sale of the Chicago Cubs from the Tribune to the Ricketts family!
The Chicago Cubs aren't going to win anything this year despite having one of baseball's largest payrolls. But their bankrupt owner, Sam Zell's Tribune Co., may be about to hit a home run -- at your expense.

Zell, whose tax dodging is a frequent topic of mine, is trying to unload the team in a deal that would divert almost $300 million from taxpayers to the creditors of Tribune, the nation's second-biggest newspaper company.

The proposed Cubs deal, involving a "leveraged partnership" using lots of borrowed money, is so aggressive that a leading tax expert, Robert Willens of Robert Willens LLC, expects the IRS to challenge it. "The IRS has expressed hostility to this sort of transaction," he said.
It's a huge mess apparently and it's only a baseball team!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Case for an Employer Tax Break

Hey this makes sense to me, but the current environment it seems policy is not going to head into this direction:
The tools are at hand. Modest changes to corporate tax policy can spur job creation. Create the jobs and we'll create consumers to spur growth.

The good news is that the corporate sector as a whole has come through this recession considerably stronger than in the past. Today, leaders of the best companies have proven once again their ability to adapt proactively to a changing environment.

Shareholders have been the beneficiaries. Most companies have handily beaten earnings expectations through much of this year. In the second quarter alone, three-fourths of the S&P 500 beat consensus estimates, and a similar number have rewarded their investors with stock price gains since the beginning of the year.

The true test of success will be measured by delivering growth over several years, not several quarters. Business leaders will have to walk a tightrope—rewarding shareholders in the short term without forsaking investments needed for future growth. Pushing too hard on productivity savings today may mean less investment for tomorrow, particularly investment in a company's most precious resources—its people and products. Ultimately, in a nation where the consumer comprises 70% of economic activity, demand-based growth must be the key to longer-term performance.

This leaves us with a dilemma: Companies need more robust consumer spending to justify increased payrolls, but without increased payrolls, the consumer is less likely to spend. The way to break out is by enacting temporary tax credit for companies willing to reinvest in jobs.

To earn the credit, companies would have to demonstrate an increase in their U.S. employment levels (excluding the impact of acquisitions and divestitures) year-over-year. And to most effectively encourage businesses to hire new workers, the tax offset must come very close to equalling the additional payroll costs incurred, so the effect on company earnings is negligible. We remain in an environment where there is a reluctance to hire for long-term growth if it means short-term earnings dilution.
Read the whole thing! It may well be worth your time.

Via RealClearMarkets!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

School bus fight, a case of bullying or hate-crime?

Dawn Turner Trice on the story about the white student beaten by two black students for taking a seat next to them on a school bus and the laughing and jeering on the bus along with the driver's refusal to stop. Is this a racial incident or was this just plain bullying?

I think this was an incident where race played a role. How significant though? Was this a case of a white student attempting to sit with a black student who didn't want him there? Whatever the reason this was more than just over a seat!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bill Grimshaw on the late Mayor Harold Washington

This video from YoChicago features Bill Grimshaw who is the husband of newly installed CTA board member Jacky Grimshaw talking about Mayor Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago from 1983 to 1987. The YoChicago blog featured a number of videos of Grimshaw as discussing a number of subjects. Especially important is that the Grimshaws live next door to the First Family and have put their Hyde Park/Kenwood home for sale recently. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Former Cub says education debt claim 'a formality'

Damn it Dunston!
Shawon Dunston played for six teams in his major-league career, but he always considered himself a Cub at heart.

So news that Dunston sent a handwritten letter to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware objecting to the decision to place the team in bankruptcy was surprising.

Dunston, who works part time for the San Francisco Giants, wrote that he was "entitled to college scholarship funds" from the Cubs that were part of his original contract.

Reached in his San Francisco-area home Thursday night, Dunston explained that a financial adviser told him to write the letter and that he has no intention of going to college at this stage of his life.

"It was just a formality," Dunston said. "When I signed the contract [in 1982], they said they'd pay for my college tuition if I ever went. It was part of my signing bonus, but I never used it. My adviser asked me about it, and told me to send a letter by the 16th [of September], so that's what I did. I have nothing against the Cubs."
Another thing that could hold up this sale. Sorry Dunston, I don't see the point of pursuing something that you have no use for. This claim can only seem frivolous, although who knows the Cubs might actually honor that clause especially if the new and old owners are ready to conclude this deal!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Comment by JJ Abrams

He directed the recent Star Trek movie which was a top draw during the past summer. That film has left a lasting impression on me with the re-invention of Star Trek. I look forward to seeing it on Blu-Ray or DVD in the near future.

In the meanwhile I have to settle for this Time magazine interview that was published around the time the movie was finally released. Ironically I only saw it because I was at the dentist office and it had a big Republican elephant on it discussing the problem with today's GOP especially with Obama in the White House. This comment that I'm sharing with you I find very interesting:
You've created several original TV shows, but your movies have been TV remakes. Is television more receptive to new ideas? Forrest Karbowski NEW YORK CITY

Because of the risk in budget, because films cost as much as they do, it's simply harder to find opportunities to take those kinds of creative risks in film. For right now, I think TV might be a place where there are more unexpected stories being told.
NOTE: The question wasn't placed in italics in print. I did that to distinguish the question from Abrams' answer.

The next question would have to be why do films cost so much today?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

VIDEO: Brutal school bus beating!

EDIT: Read the write up at!

This fight was purported to be racially motivated, however, did anyone notice that there were some cool headed students who attempted to break up the fight. I know I did, but that gets lost amongst the cheers of those students who were excited about the fight on the bus.

Rich Miller noticed it at least:
Dear Belleville police spokesman Don Sax,

Announcing to the media that a fight between teenagers on a school bus was “racially motivated” after simply reviewing a videotape was obviously a stupid thing to do. Didn’t you notice that it was black kids who broke it up? Drudge, thankfully, took down the gigantic, blaring headline after you corrected yourself.
Let me just say the excitement of those students, not much different than my time in high school. There were some students who were excited about and flocked to the fight. Perhaps that was better than being at school I suppose!

Lorraine Motel

OK, I'm going to post some more pics of this site tomorrow. This is the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee built around the former Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in March 1968. There was a National Baptist Convention taking place this past weekend as well and there were certainly some visitors from that event as well. In fact the museum would normally be closed at 5PM, but closing time was extended another hour!

This sign was on Mulberry Street.

The motel's facade was largely kept in tact.


The wreath marks the spot where Dr. King was shot to death on that fateful early March day in 1968

Looking back across the street one of those buildings were where the fatal shot was allegedly fired.

These two cars-a 1950s Dodge and a 1960s Cadillac-are not the originals, however, they represent the two cars that were supposed to take King's party to dinner. Sadly we already know how this story ends!

Not only did the exterior of the Lorraine survive but so did the parking lot. The parking lot is only home to those two cars now. The rest of the parking lot is for pedestrians who are seeing a historical relic. A very important one at that!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Amtrak Runs Off The Rails

I left Memphis via Amtrak on board The City of New Orleans on Friday night. The train ride was nice as always, unfortunately I was left cold on the train because I had the misfortune of leaving my 10 year old sweatshirt in Mississippi unknowingly (although I'm glad to know that I will eventually see it again since my country relatives were able to retrieve it). Well what I mean is that the climate controls on the train goes up and down and thankfully it wasn't left stuffy however it was too cold for me!

Anyway this mention of a train ride back from the south allows me to talk about Amtrak and I found this great article from a man who is an American who have lived in Switzerland for nearly two decades now. Basically, he talks up what he likes about Amtrak, but is somewhat cynical about the government investment that has been inserted into Amtrak since the Obama administration took over.

From Matthew Stevenson at New Geography:
Even though the American freight-train business has enjoyed a renaissance in the last twenty years — companies like the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and CSX are admirable for their competitive spirit and financial results — I am skeptical that Amtrak is the company that can lead the way to the re-birth of U.S. passenger service. Freight, let's remember, only flourished when Conrail was privatized and the industry deregulated.

To be clear, the $8 billion appropriated for high-speed corridor service has yet to be earmarked, and is best understood as discretionary funding that can be doled out to the states, if not to loyal unions. For his part, Senate majority leader Harry Reid hopes to open a drawbridge to fund high-speed rail service between Anaheim and Las Vegas.

Somehow, it is hard to imagine that the U.S. can restore its economic prosperity by rushing heavy rollers to the blackjack tables in Vegas.

Now in its thirty-ninth year of operations, the government-controlled Amtrak provides good service between Boston, New York and Washington, and Los Angeles and San Diego. Elsewhere, it’s a land cruise company.
Beyond the corridors, Amtrak plies routes that were hastily drawn in 1971 to insure that they touch as many congressional interests as possible. That means meandering sleepers from New Orleans to Los Angeles, or Chicago to Seattle, which are a delight to vacationers (myself included), but inconsequential to the business of America, which drives or flies in order to get somewhere. Amtrak handles less than 1% of America’s intercity travel.

To defend Amtrak for a moment, it has been chronically under-funded, owns little of the track on which it operates, defers its schedule to freight interests, and is hostage to union rules, Congress and microwavable food. European trains get more subsidies in a year than Amtrak has gotten in its lifetime.
While I am all for spending stimulus money, or any money, on American passenger service, I have yet to see anything remotely like a good strategic plan for its restoration. The glossy maps projecting new corridor services depend on the states, not Amtrak, to realize the dreams.

Nor am I sure that throwing money at the Amtrak model will do much more than refurbish some Amfleet coaches and make congressmen look good in mid-term elections. The railroad, like many in American history, strikes me as better at delivering pork than passengers. The current chairman is a former small-town, Illinois mayor, and Joe Biden’s son was a board member until February 2009.

Perhaps equally important, where is Amtrak’s passion for railroading? Why hasn’t the route map changed in forty years? Where are the car-carrying trains, the elegant stations, the sleepers that cater to business people with showers and wi-fi, or even the special tourist trains that would take travelers across America to Civil War battlefields, major league baseball games, rock concerts, or national parks?

Why do cities like Phoenix or Louisville have no trains at all? Where are the creative railroad financiers, selling sleeping cars as timeshares or condos? If it’s truly a government-run corporation, why aren’t there more investment-grade Amtrak bonds in world markets?
I would love to think that for $8 billion, corridor service would flourish and that German-style trains would pop up around the country. Heck, I would love to ride a Romanian sleeper between New York and Bangor, Maine.

Despite my hopes, my fear is that the transportation stimulus money is probably going to end up on a roulette wheel in Vegas.
You know many years ago I described taking a long distance Amtrak train in exactly the way Stevenson described, "land-cruise". I more or less described such a train as a cruise ship on land. Meals are made aboard the train and there is a diner in addition to literally having rooms aboard the train. Although perhaps cruise ships aren't the only example to compare a train to.

I think that's Amtrak's asset. Besides you can't have on the plane what you have on the train. I like the idea of a sleeper car and getting a full course meal in the dining car. On the train you have to spend a lot of time riding, but one could either sleep or enjoy the scenery. Of course for some they don't want to spend a lot of time doing that. Their time is best spend getting there as soon as possible.

The question that could be asked after reading this article is whether or not their are entrepreneurs out there who can make train travel appealing again? This is something I should ponder, but what do you think out there. Should Amtrak eventually be privatized with the possibility that an Amtrak network could eventually expand and do record business?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

After Labor Day excursion

I was in Mississippi from Wednesday until Friday night. This was more or less an excursion to record some of my roots, well family roots.

In fact most of my grandparents had some roots in Mississippi, but both of my parents were from Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Basically I took video footage of the rural areas where my dad's family resided. There's no one there now and no structures that I would have recognized from the times that we have been out there in the past. Also those lands had been sold off a few years ago.

Apparently my mother and grandmother found a significant part of their family roots. Further East along Mound Bayou Road which is paved to a certain point and then unpaved towards the Sunflower River is a road, Lombardy go north, and you will find evidences of woodenshacks (quarters for either slaves or workers) then a big mansion that may have been a focal point for a significant plantation. I got it all on video tape even the name of a previous owner made of metal and stuck in the dirt (to be sure I'm not sure what you would call it, but it had the man's name on it).

This man my grandmother often referred to as a nice man. Another man who her father (my great-grandfather) had to deal with she referred to as nasty. The name I saw in front of that "plantation" rang a bell as it seemed that she only knew his last name, but there was a first name as well now and that rang a bell as well. Apparently this area (again across the Sunflower River) was where my grandmother was born so many years ago.

Also before we left on Friday night we arrived back in Memphis where we waited to take a train back to Chicago. We saw a gentrifying area of town that apparently once upon a time was home to a significant low income population. Mostly black at that, but these days it's home to new condo development and boutiques and home to Memphis' trolleys.

The station, Central Station was once a significant rail terminal but since the days of major rail traffic has passed it's home to condos, retail, Amtrak, a city bus terminal, and a police station. This could have been the terminal where people could have taken a train directly to Mound Bayou had there been not only demand for service, but if there were actually still train tracks into town.

Also in the immediate area was the National Civil Rights Museum. It seems to me that most of the facade of the former Lorraine Motel was razed and around it was a musuem with exhibits within the structure of the hotel. In addition to that there are old signs all around this place, signs that are hard to come by these days. Across the street the buildings where the shots that killed Dr. Martin Luther King was fired. Today you can go up and visit one of those buildings where the shots were allegedly fired there is a museum exhibit up that way as well.

BTW, there is a protester there. She apparently was upset about being forced out of the motel years ago. She believes this monument to Dr. King is a disgrace to his memory. There is even a count of how long she has been out there, approximately 21 years.

Well I'll talk more about her later, I never talked to her but I should have. At that there were others who were interested in what she was demonstrating against, but at the same time decided that she was a nut not worth talking to.

Certainly there are several posts to be issued here that includes pictures and video(s) so stay tuned for the sharing here!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cubs sale clears antitrust regulators

Federal antitrust regulators have approved Tribune Co.’s $800 million sale of the Chicago Cubs to the Ricketts family.

The approval appears on a Sept. 4 Federal Trade Commission list of pending mergers and acquisitions that have been cleared by antitrust officials. Analysts had not expected any antitrust challenge to the deal.

The clearance is another step in Tribune’s two-and-a-half-year quest to sell the ball club. It still needs approval from a bankruptcy judge and Major League Baseball owners. Both approvals are expected this fall.
This deal is getting close to being done!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Home-schooler ordered to attend public school

I don't think I'll rant and rave on this one. I sympathize with home schoolers at the same time the father of this child went to court to get his daughter into public school. Of course the only possible direction this can turn is that there are other attempts to restrict those parents who want to homeschool.
A New Hampshire court ordered a home-schooled Christian girl to attend a public school this week after a judge criticized the "rigidity" of her mother's religious views and said the 10-year-old needed to consider other worldviews as she matures.

Ever since the judge's ruling came out in July, the case has aroused the interest of home-schooling groups nationwide, who have asked why a court has the power to decide whether someone's religious views are too extreme.

The girl's mother, Brenda Voydatch, has engaged the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., to contest the ruling, in which the judge granted a request by the girl's father, Martin Kurowski, that the girl go to a public school.
I think I may have misunderstood the point of this article. It wasn't necessarily about homeschooling, but whether or not a court can decide the potency (if that's the right term for it) of a person's religious POV. There are those who's religious POV that I couldn't agree with, but it's not up to me to make that determination. In fact it's easier for me to vote with my feet.

Too bad that this is piggy backed on whether or not this little girl should either be homeschooled or sent to a school.

Via Newsalert! Asking the question: "Does John Dewey's philosophy own you?"

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Pictures of a sleeper car roomette

Going back to the vault. This time republishing some posts that I made at My Mind's Eye (The Eye). Remember that blog, I would do some things differently over there and try to be more creative. Thinking about reactivating that site, but for now I want to post some other blogs from there. This post was published on December 28, 2006. Enjoy!

You may want to know how much this costs. Basically you have to pay an accomodation fee in addition to a coach seat fare. And the final price depends on when you purchase a ticket or when you make a reservation. It may be expensive if you're planning your trip say a month or so in advance but the closer to the trip you get the cheaper a sleeper room will be. I am talking about first class after all.

In any case, you may be able to buy a ticket and start with a coach fare but say if you give them your contact info and/or if you ask, they'll allow you to change your accomodations before your trip. In addition to that if you're already on the train you can change your accomodations while you're actually on the train. Who can beat that right?

Well what does having first class accomodations mean on Amtrak anyway, other than the usual bed on a train instead of a coach seat. Well your first class charges will include complimentary meals (breakfast, dinner, and lunch) and complimentary bottled water, orange juice, and coffee. No more going to the lounge car for those basic things, although if you need a snack you still have to go back there and get that.

I will say next time I'm either going to get a room by myself or get a larger room. It'll be fun. Or perhaps I should get used to a small roomette for a while longer.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

The brother of Ousted governor speaks out

A Sun-Times exclusive!

I can believe that Rod Blagojevich was only being a good brother to Ousted governor when he asked him to head his campaign fund the summer before he was arrested by federal agents. It seems like a thankless job or even an untouchable job because of the investigations swirling around Ousted governor at that time.

Perhaps Mr. Blagojevich, was blindsided by the moves made by the feds on that morning Dec. 9th. The CapFax infact refers to him as defiantly naive. Perhaps there isn't a huge difference between the brothers.

At the same time, I'm starting to think Rob was caught up in something that would only drag him down with is younger brother.

It's really unfortunate because many believe Ousted governor would take as many people down with him as possible because of his own inability to take responsibility for his own actions. If the feds chose to to after either Ousted governor's Wife, Patti or his brother harder just to get Ousted governor himself to flip it's possible that it would never work. He'll just continue the whole I've done nothing wrong and people were out to get me, instead of just saying I screwed up somewhere.

Still I want you to read this interview of Rob Blagojevich and tell me what you think!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Spelmanite killed by stray bullet

I just found out about this morning. I quickly Googled her name and found this article.

In incidents like this the story is rarely very different. Someone got mad and decided to pull out their weapon then started firing at random. It doesn't matter what reason, what matters is the knucklehead with the gun decided to use this gun in this fashion.

The result 19-year-old Spelman student Jasmin Lynn was murdered early this morning by a stray bullet by this individual with poor impulse control! She became another victim of senseless urban violence.

I'm not trying to retrace Ms. Lynn's steps. Accounts indicate that she was close to Woodruff Library on her way back to Spelman's campus. I was often at the library but rarely late, but if I had remained at Morehouse I would be there to witness the various after effects of this incident.

What's tragic was because of poor conflict resolution it resulted in the death of an innocent bystander. To be sure there have been shootings around that campus before and students have been killed in the West End neighborhood where the AUC resides. I just hope that there won't be anymore tragedies like these and will take the lives of any students who goes to school there.

EDIT: I also forgot to note that the semester is only a week and a half old. It's very unfortunate that the semester starts off in this way!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I just opined in my Tweet that September crept up on me quick this year as August didn't last any time. The summer is just about over to my disappointment since it's mostly been a mild summer and the weather at current is cool.

I saw at Tom Mannis's blog, Chicago News Bench a music video posted there from Earth, Wind, and Fire of the song September. I just gotta say that I was ahead of the curve last year. lol