An open letter of apology

…to my friends and family around the world. As I read the news that the US will pull out of the UN Human Rights commission, and that my country is committing an atrocity against children defended or tolerated by far too many of my fellow countrymen and women, for the very first time in my life I am heartbroken at being an american. I wish I could say that this is not who we are, but, like individuals, a nation is the sum of its collective actions and sins.
The nation was founded on sins, like slavery, but also on virtues, such as the creation of a system that once ascended, albeit in anguished fits and painful starts, towards ideals of human freedom and dignity; Women, racial and religious minorities, the disabled, elderly, LGBTQ rights and equality. For many years I sat in homes and bars, on park benches and cafes around the world defending america as that shiny city upon a hill. I condemned and fought against the over-representation of greed and money guiding the nation against the interests and will of the people.
I railed against the loss of diverse ideas under media consolidation. I have written and spoken against america’s xenophobic and unhealthy support for Israel regarding the Palestinian issue. It makes Israel less safe to be in a perpetual conflict without any impetus to compromise and make long term peace with former Palestinian friends and neighbors(Pre-1948) as long as Israel can always run to big protector-America.
I was equally vehement again ideological cohorts who were so tunnel-visioned in their critique that they failed to see opportunity, possibility or beauty in the nation and its people. America was always a work in progress, as we all are; as I am.
I criticized America aggressively, but always to make it better. America has now turned its back on progress, which requires an outward looking self analysis and honesty. Instead, in now looks inward towards isolation and an egotism not based upon accomplishment, but defined instead by hating everyone else: nationalism. Rather than wave a flag as a beacon and example, it waves the flag as a threat and with a sense of malice and hubris.
I lived in and travelled through the former-Yugoslavia as it collapsed into bloody civil war. I lived for a time under the regime of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic who insulated too many Serbs on a poison cocktail of nationalism as a scheme by a few to enrich themselves. They and Milosevic proclaimed they were saving and protecting Serbia and her culture, when in fact they ran the nation to ruin.
I grew up amid the tumult of the 1960s, the sexual revolution, the civil rights movement, women’s liberation, Vietnam, the drug culture, Rock and Roll, the Cold War, Gay Rights, the first landing on the moon. I remember my aluminum factory worker father coming home from work in a sweat and dirt stained tee shirt, blue work pants, with a mason jar of Seagrams 7 and 7up, watching the news in early 1968 remarking that Martin Luther King Junior was a great man. This year, after he passed away my brother relating a time in which he saw my father cry, looking out across a valley from his Texas home and remarking how he never believed he would ever own a home with such a view. It was, for a retired union man, with Social security and a modest pension, part time fire fighter, who never finished grade school, brew up during the Great Depression and World War 2 the realization of the proverbial American dream, something he feared, as the nation changed, might prove difficult or impossible for his children or grand children to attain, let alone maintain.
Now the nation that I loved and still love has turned against its own character in favor of a deeply flawed and thoroughly self-interested individual. His illusion is to reconstruct that flawed but ascendant nation into cray paper fakery. That illusion, amplified by for-hire media antagonists, is blared from every direction, pulsing and blinding, obscuring all but the fear of the world, or one another of each other. The din or crying fire in a crowded nation leaves little rom for thoughtful skepticism or reflection, only reaction. We are loaded via that strategy on national cattle cars to certain ruin that may well leave the promise of this nation a distant relic to the detriment of all humanity.
I am sorry. I am sorry for my nation, and for not having done more. I am sorry for the indifference of the nation towards the cries and complaints of people of color, whether citizens or not. My soul bleeds for every Syrian and Palestinian child suffering war and oppression, and for the lonely and terrified children in american internment camps. I am sorry for the refugee from war, from oppression, from the economic policies that allow exploitation from this country, from the women raped and scarred by violence. I see them, so desperate for the promise and hope, the truest fundamental blessings of america, that they travelled thousands of miles, braved death and desert, rivers and oceans, sometimes without shoes, clinging to tires in shark infested waters to reach our borders. I am sorry that the most affluent nation in history, which spends billions on fast food, lawn care, porn, video games and pet supplies, much of which is often simply discarded but says it cannot afford the tired, the frightened and the weary. I am sorry that we chose embittered and predatory self-interest over self-reflection and self improvement. I am sorry that the pain and struggle of the world, of the working poor is topic for mockery or accusation by fellow citizens. to my friends and family around the world, I…I…am sorry…
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The Secret Kids Contest: A new national children’s writing competition that offers young authors and illustrators a chance to win their own book deal

The Secret Kids Contest: A new national children’s writing competition that offers young authors and illustrators a chance to win their own book deal

Media Contact: Emily Mullen, Re-naissance Agency Publicist

(347) 705-3294; emilymullen@re-naissanceagency.com

Chicago, ILMacKenzie Press and Stone Soup magazine are thrilled to announce a new competition that celebrates children’s literacy and encourages a whole new generation of young authors and illustrators. The Secret Kids Contest will offer cash prizes, as well as the opportunity for the winning authors and illustrators to have their books professionally published by MacKenzie Press.

The Secret Kids Contest is a national book-writing competition for children that will be open to both writers and illustrators. The contest will be separated into three age ranges: elementary school, middle school, and high school. Aspiring young authors and illustrators can submit everything from picture books, middle grade fiction, and young adult novels to graphic novels and science fiction and fantasy.

Manuscripts will be judged by the MacKenzie Press publisher and Stone Soup staff. Finalists will then be chosen from each category who will work with MacKenzie Press to edit and rework their manuscripts. One winner(s) will then be chosen from each age range.

The contest was born from Nancy’s many conversations with children who all wanted to know the “secret” to becoming an author. “I am always humbled and amazed by the creativity of kids when you give them a pencil and paper, and permission to let their imagination run free,” Nancy explains. “Literacy is one of the most magical gifts you can give a child—it is the gift of their own voice, and a way to gain self esteem and express themselves, apart from social media.”

Though there are several contests that have and do exist for children writers and illustrators—such as “The Kids Are Authors” contest from Scholastic, and “The PBS Go Contest”—there is no other contest that actually publishes the contest winners’ books as a commercial book to be sold and distributed throughout bookstores. Nancy hopes that the Secret Kids Contest helps to inspire young writers and illustrators everywhere to realize their dream of becoming an author or illustrator, but she insists “the real secret is that any kid who participates in the creative process of writing or illustrating are developing gifts that will benefit them their entire life.”

The full entry guidelines and submission forms can be found at anancygeebook.com.

Submissions deadline is October 1, 2018.

Submission fee for contest is $30.

ABOUT NANCY GEE:

Nancy Gee is the author of The Secret Series of children’s picture books, and the founder of MacKenzie Press. She is a passionate advocate for children’s literacy, working tirelessly on reading and writing programs with schools, libraries and hospitals in Chicago and beyond. With her #ThroughLiteracy campaign, Nancy has developed many successful corporate book donor programs for non-profits serving children and families in need. For more information, visit Nancy’s website at

www.anancygeebook.com.

ABOUT STONE SOUP:

Stone Soup is the literary magazine and website by and for kids aged 8 to 13. Founded in 1973, its archives contain 45 years of creative output by children, and it continues to inspire, support and connect creative young writers and illustrators all around the world.

For more information about submitting, subscribing, or donating to Stone Soup, visit stonesoup.com.

 

 

Jeff Sessions’ Bible and examples of anti-Jewish laws in Nazi Germany …America in 2018

Jeff Sessions’ Bible and examples of anti-Jewish laws in Nazi Germany …America in 2018

On Wednesday, a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church said that separating mothers from their babies was “immoral.” Sessions quoted the Bible in response to anyone questioning the law, saying, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

I thought he could use some perspective. Below are “laws” passed legally against Jews by the German State under Chancellor Adolph Hitler, the legally chosen representative of the German state. Note the incremental nature of these inhuman laws over 6 years…Source, the American Holocaust Museum.

1933

April 25
Law against Overcrowding in Schools and Universities limits the number of Jewish students in public schools.

July 14
De-Naturalization Law revokes the citizenship of naturalized Jews and “undesirables.”

October 4
Law on Editors bans Jews from editorial posts.

1936

January 11
Executive Order on the Reich Tax Law forbids Jews to serve as tax-consultants.

April 3
Reich Veterinarians Law expels Jews from the veterinary profession.

October 15
Reich Ministry of Education bans Jewish teachers from public schools.

1937

April 9
The Mayor of Berlin orders public schools not to admit Jewish children until further notice.

1938

January 5
Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names forbids Jews from changing their names.

February 5
Law on the Profession of Auctioneer excludes Jews from this occupation.

March 18
The Gun Law excludes Jewish gun merchants.

November 12
Decree on the Exclusion of Jews from German Economic Life closes all Jewish-owned businesses.

November 15
Reich Ministry of Education expels all Jewish children from public schools.

November 28
Reich Ministry of Interior restricts the freedom of movement of Jews.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 650 children were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border during a two-week period in May. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that she hadn’t seen Sessions’ comments but affirmed that the Bible did back up the administration’s actions. “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” she said. “It’s a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.”

Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, and courtesy of the AP, Associated Press http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/sessions-cites-bible-to-defend-separating-immigrant-families/ar-AAyF52Q?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=ASUDHP

HEY FOODIES, HERE IS YOUR LINE-UP FOR COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS BY CELEBRITY CHEFS AT TASTE OF CHICAGO, JULY 11-15

HEY FOODIES, HERE IS YOUR LINE-UP FOR COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS BY CELEBRITY CHEFS AT TASTE OF CHICAGO, JULY 11-15

LIFEWAY FOODS TASTE KITCHEN HOSTS COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS BY CELEBRITY CHEFS AT TASTE OF CHICAGO, JULY 11-15

New Themed Day Demonstrations will feature Bravo’s Top Chef Season 15 Winner Joe Flamm of Spiaggia, Kevin Hickey of Duck Inn and Jeff Mauro of Food Network’s Sandwich King among others

 Media Contact:            Mary May, mary.may@cityofchicago.org, 312.744.0576

 Christine Carrino, christine.carrino@cityofchicago.org, 312.744.0573                       

The Lifeway Foods Taste Kitchen at Taste of Chicago, July 11-15, will dish up a full menu of cooking demonstrations by notable local and national celebrity chefs on Buckingham Fountain Plaza. Lifeway Foods is the leading U.S. supplier of kefir cultured dairy products and the kitchen area will feature chefs who will share their trade secrets each day from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“It’s a privilege to showcase the creative culinary uses of our kefir and recipes from my book alongside some of the region’s finest chefs during the Taste of Chicago,” said Lifeway President and CEO Julie Smolyansky. “As one of our city’s premier summertime events, the Taste of Chicago allows us to reach a large audience of hungry foodies and educate them on the versatility of kefir and how can be an incredibly healthy addition to any meal.”

NEW this year, the Lifeway Foods Taste Kitchen will feature a different theme each day. Highlights include chef Kevin Hickey of Duck Inn on Wednesday, July 11, at 2:30 p.m. during Chicago Neighborhoods day representing Bridgeport. Chef Yanitzin Sanchez of Bar Takito will be part of a lineup of Wonder Women chefs on Thursday, July 12, at 12:30 p.m. Bravo’s Top Chef Season 15 Winner and executive chef Joe Flamm and sommelier and beverage director Rachel Lowe of Spiaggia will be talking about food and wine on Friday, July 13, at 12:30 p.m., as part of the lineup for Perfect Pairings day. On Saturday, July 14, Save Room for Dessert  will feature chef Leigh Omilinsky of Nico Osteria at 1:30 p.m. and chef Dana Cree of Pretty Cool Ice Cream at 3:30 p.m. On Sunday, July 15, 1-5 p.m., the Emmy-nominated chef Jeff Mauro–Food Network’s “Sandwich King”–will be hosting Sandwich Smackdown featuring friendly showdowns with two chefs battling it out for sandwich supremacy. 

2018 LIFEWAY FOODS TASTE KITCHEN

Full Schedule Chefs–subject to change

 Wednesday, June 11 – Chicago Neighborhoods

11:30 a.m.       Jeni Wahl, Dia De Los Tamales (Pilsen)

12:30 p.m.       Darnell Reed, Luella’s Southern Kitchen (Ravenswood)

1:30 p.m.         Kaushik Guha, Hakka Bakka Indian Kati Rolls (Lincoln Park)

2:30 p.m.         Kevin Hickey, Duck Inn (Bridgeport)

3:30 p.m.         Chesaree Rollins, CheSa’s Gluten Free Food Truck (Pilsen)

4:30 p.m.         James Lintelmann, Baptiste & Bottle (River North)

5:30 p.m.         Arun Sampanthavivat, Arun’s Thai Restaurant (Albany Park)

Thursday, June 12 – Wonder Women

11:30 a.m.       Rain Truth, The Cultured Vegan

12:30 p.m.       Yanitzin Sanchez, Bar Takito

1:30 p.m.         Gloria Hafer, After School Matters Chicago

2:30 p.m.         Sr. Alicia Torres, Mission of Our Lady of the Angels and Champion of Food Network’s Chopped

3:30 p.m.         Katie Dong, Strings Ramen

4:30 p.m.         Ying Stoller, Ying’s Kitchen, Inc. and author of Ying’s Chinese Cookbook, Authentic but Simple

5:30 p.m.         Maisha Wynn, LiveToWynn and author of The Wynning Way

Friday, June 13 – Perfect Pairings

11:30 a.m.       Jorge Russomanno, Texas de Brazil

12:30 p.m.       Bravo’s Top Chef Season 15 Winner Joe Flamm with Rachel Lowe (Sommelier & Beverage Director), Spiaggia

1:30 p.m.         Cedric Harden, River Roast, and Carolina Diaz, Terzo Piano

2:30 p.m.         Corey Rice, Chef Corey’s Kitchen

3:30 p.m.         Mario Palaggi, The Red Palm Bar, Grill and Banquets

4:30 p.m.         Andrea Lyons Dillon and Kendall Anthony Dillon, Bon Manger Catering & Events

5:30 p.m.         Evan Robinson, Evan The Chef and MasterChef Junior Season 5 Top 6

Saturday, June 14 – Save Room for Dessert

11:30 a.m.       Wilbert Jones, The Wilbert Jones Company

12:30 p.m.       Chris Tong, My Private Chef, Inc.

1:30 p.m.         Julius Russell, A Tale of Two Chefs, Inc.

2:30 p.m.         Erin Patsiopoulos, The Chopping Block

3:30 p.m.         Dana Cree, Pretty Cool Ice Cream and author of Hello, My Name is Ice Cream

4:30 p.m.         Leigh Omilinsky, Nico Osteria

5:30 p.m.         Joe Dela Pena, Warm Belly Bakery

Sunday, June 15 – Jeff Mauro’s Sandwich Smackdown

Noon               Sunday Brunch with Henry Hill, Hank’s Fish and Chips

Jeff Mauro’s Sandwich Smackdown

1p.m.               Italian Sub Smackdown: JP Graziano Grocery v. Tempesta Market

1:45 p.m.         el Mejor Jibarito: La Bomba v. 90 Mile Cuban Cafe

2:30 p.m.         The Rueben Rumble: Steingold’s v. Manny’s Delicatessen and Cafe

3:15 p.m.         The Battle of Da Beef: Harry Carey’s 7th Inning Stretch v. Buona Beef

4 p.m.              The Patty Melt Mix-Up: Lou Mitchell’s v. Edzo’s Burger Shop

5 p.m.              Sunday Supper with Anne Lanute, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

Taste of Chicago is produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in coordination with the Illinois Restaurant Association, which manages food and beverage operations. The festival is sponsored in part by 93XRT, CH Distillery, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Tribune, CLTV-Chicagoland’s Television, Communications Direct, Eli’s Cheesecake, Goose Island Beer Company, IL Lottery, Lifeway Foods, Pepsi, Shoreline Sightseeing, Southwest Airlines and WGN-Television.

 The 38th Annual Taste of Chicago is July 11–15 in Grant Park with hours 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Wednesday–Friday, and 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. For more information on the FREE admission festival, call 312.744.3316 or visit tasteofchicago.us. To plan your trip to Chicago, visit choosechicago.com. Join the conversation on Facebook at Taste of Chicago and follow us on Twitter, @TasteofChi (#TasteofChicago) and Instagram, @ChicagoDCASE (#TasteofChicago).

 About Lifeway Foods, Inc.

Lifeway Foods, Inc. (LWAY), recently named one of Forbes’ Best Small Companies, is America’s leading supplier of the probiotic fermented beverage known as kefir. In addition to its line of drinkable kefir, the company also produces frozen kefir, specialty cheeses, probiotic supplements and a ProBugs line for kids. Lifeway’s tart and tangy cultured dairy products are now sold across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Learn how Lifeway is good for more than just you at Lifewaykefir.com. Find Lifeway Foods on Facebook: http://facebook.com/lifewaykefir. Follow Lifeway Foods on Twitter: http://twitter.com/lifeway_kefir. Watch clips on YouTube: http://youtube.com/user/lifewaykefir

Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

Eclectic Theatre’s Fuddy Meers and the great questions of life, like, what do you get when you cross Jerry Lewis with Pee Wee Herman…

Eclectic Theatre’s Fuddy Meers and the great questions of life, like, what do you get when you cross Jerry Lewis with Pee Wee Herman…

And I thought my family had issues. And where was this “psychogenic” amnesia when I scratched my dad’s car, was late with term papers or when I may or may not have cheated on a girlfriend in college? Unless you’re casually perusing DSM V while reading this, I’ll get to what that means in a moment.

I got a sneak preview of Eclectic Theatre’s new play, Fuddy Meers, a quirky comedy by David Lindsay-Abaire, opening Saturday June 9th and running through July 8th at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago. there are some phenomenal performances here, and one brilliant must see performance, but I’ll get to all that in a moment as well.

Let’s start with Jeremy Hollis’ set design, which, mind you, has to move the story comfortably between a rural kitchen, cluttered basement, car chase and a kidnapping. Together with Katherine Siegel’s seamless direction of freeze-pane action, it all gives Fuddy Meers something of a graphic novel feel. All in all, the stage design was, in the context of this mad cap story, a glorious ode to all of us who proudly celebrate our uniquely American White Trash Heritage!

The story revolves like a hurricane in this 90 minutes performance around Claire, just Claire, played by the lovely Lisa Savegnago, whose memory has mysteriously disappeared. Each morning Claire’s somewhat befuddled husband Richard (Joe Cattoggio) presents her with a journal; cliff notes of her life, which she is bound to forget the moment she falls asleep again. Siegel and the cast don’t dawdle over the unimportant details. The story moves swiftly as a disfigured stranger with a limp surprises her while Richard is away, warning that if she remains with him that her life is in danger.

Andrew Pond as the “Limping Man,” is an absolute pleasure to watch as he moves along the fringes of criminal insanity and subverted, sometimes overt, rage. Pond manages to pull off the part of sympathetic villain, as Claire slowly pieces together the true and shocking catalyst for her affliction, and the reason for the Limping Man’s hideous disfigurement. Pond’s performance redefines the role for the Brand.

It was, for me, hometown actor Kirk Osgood as Millet, the Limping Man’s halfwit accomplice who steals the show. Osgood, who has performed from Navy Pier to Lyric Opera, renders Millet…well, imagine if Jerry Lewis and Pee Wee Herman had child whose alter-ego was a foul-mouthed and brazenly honest sock puppet. Osgood’s Millet is simply one of the most memorable and hilarious characterizations I have seen in 25 years Chicago Theatre. Brilliant.

The story sailed by to a fun and satisfying payoff by a cast who genuinely appeared to have as much fun on stage as the audience did watching them. I wouldn’t wait too long to get tickets. Once the word gets out about this play seats will go quickly.

Fuddy Meers, plays tonight through July 8th at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 North Southport in Chicago. For tickets visit eclectic-theatre.com or call 773-935-6875.

Kerri and I are working on a book about Art and the search for the one true Universal Language. Here is an excerpt…

Kerri and I are working on a book about Art and the search for the one true Universal Language. Here is an excerpt…

…which came first, design or aesthetics, aesthetics or the tool? In other words, did an innate, perhaps universal sense of symmetry drive a comprehension that led to conscious and deliberate design choices in making the first tools or in creating the first Art? On the other hand, did the comprehension of the potential utility of various shapes, like a point, for example, inform our understandings of design? Or, can we find evidence for an innate evolutionary imprint throughout the animal kingdom that lays the groundwork for deliberate and conscious design choices and innovation? Moreover, what does that say for human aesthetics, design and Art as our Mother tongue?

The use, the rudimentary use of tools in the animal world is hardly uncommon. Bottlenose dolphins use sponges to scrounge for food on the ocean floor, while orangutans have been known to arrange leaves to make whistles to fend off predators, a skill apparently communicated or taught by other orangutans. Aesthetics, or imprinted aspects of design inform the building of nests throughout the animal kingdom, and often plays a critical role in mating rituals as intricate designs created to impress mates by the Satin Bowerbird bird. Many species of Spider not only display incredible design capabilities in ornate webs, but also are masters of marketing in the insect world. They build webs where they might attract insect prey, but also often situate them in such a way to minimize threats from predators such as birds; Go where the business is while minimizing risk. Marketing 101!

What is unique to Human’s alone, at least on this planet, is in seeing natural objects for their alterable potential. That may be obvious, as with a long straight stick capable of accurate throwing, or semi-abstract, as with pieces of wood arranged, say, as a seesaw. Then again, it may be extraordinarily abstract, as with the creation of Bronze from Copper and Arsenic, first seen in what is now Iran in the 5th Millennium BC, or the fission of atoms to generate Nuclear power. It is as true for making a spear or arrow as it is for conceiving of an Aluminum automobile bumper from a mined chunk of bauxite. It is one thing for a Chimpanzee to plunge a stick or reed into an ant hill for an insect snack, and another thing to alter a stick by rubbing, burning and chipping the stick to a sharp point, or to affix a sharp stone to the end with sinew or strands of young bark. the cognitive and technological leap is immense, and underscores our original question.

Later, we will explore the Anthropic Principle which posits that sapient intelligence was a predicted consequence of a universe whose laws, structure and physical constants, such as gravity, the mass of a proton and why governing laws of nature arose in one way rather than any other, and why those constants seem precisely ordered to guarantee that life. There are flaws to the argument, but there are interesting potential realities. Basically the Anthropic Principle describes how if any one of those characteristics were changed or eliminated the likelihood that life, let alone intelligent life would be much less likely or eliminated altogether. It is more philosophy than science, but philosophy has often laid the groundwork for scientific discovery, and often lays the moral and ethical backdrop for science. In the context of searching for the Mother Tongue, it is more than valuable discussing whether there is a physical and structural basis for a truly universal Mother Tongue. If so, it would be a thread binding all living things throughout the Universe.

Perhaps the underlying structure, paraded as an anthropomorphized view of the Anthropic Principle, is natural symmetry and our innate understanding of symmetry; a harmonious expression of balance. In the early 1990s I studied under the late sculptor Milton Horn, a close friend of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Our amiable arguments in the dusty study of his 19th Century Chicago home often centered on Horn’s disdain for modern Art and sculpture. But one concept was absolutely clear of Art and sculpture, regardless of style, and that was our understanding and rendering of balance and symmetry was based upon our comprehension of balance and symmetry found in nature and of the Human body. As diverse and seemingly infinite as sculpture may seem, it is guided by symmetry defining realities of mass, balance, material strength and gravity, leading to the conclusion that the universe and nature is as much a partner and factor in artistic and architectural constructions as the talent and imagination of the Artist.

But how much of our assertions and assumptions of Art, Design and Aesthetics are in fact informed and guided, indeed, ruled by fundamental natural principle, and how much is driven by the Human mind, and is simply asking the question an ultimate exercise in futility and hubris?

 

 

 

Chicago ain’t broke, it’s BROKE!

From last year, but curiously nothing has changed in the city budget(Except your taxes went up): Chicago’s annual budget tops out at $8.9 billion. Going through the budget line by line, one finds a curious lack of …workers…Everyone is a director, assist director,, deputy assistant to the director. The city spends hundreds of thousands on postage, tens of thousands on departments that don’t need to spend $10 or $15,000 on postage, hundreds of thousands on stationary, millions on leases and leases equipment and on bloated and grossly overpaid public employees. Slashing 15% in pork would not impact the essential city services, but management always cuts from the rank and file-the production line first. Just in a cursory assessment I could trim $1.3 billion off the top easily without touching rank and file cops, fire or education, nor services for the poor.
Sifting through the Chicago budget is so fascinating The Chief Administrator for the “Independent” Police Review Authority, IPRA makes almost the same as a US senator. His assistant in this do-nothing department makes $147,000, plus an assistant commissioner, essentially the assistant to the assistant makes almost $94K . Then there is the apparent double-dip job of a department paid officer making $60k with IPRA as something called a “Timekeeper. Located in the old Goldblatts building, 1615 west Chicago, the secretary makes $74k, $20k above the local public-sector average, and nearly double the national average. They also have a programmer analyst at 81k, PR person at $84k and their own janitor at $64k. It is just a vacation posting costing Chicago taxpayers more than $800k annually, for a position that amounts to a Public Relations shock absorber for the mayor when it comes to police abuse. However, Rahm did cut the overtime budget??? from $200k to a paltry $100k. Think that’s bad? I haven’t even gotten to the office budget: $70k for leases, $21k for telephones??? $30k in stationary and office supplies… for 8 people??? $15k in postage…in 2016??? have they never heard of email?
Again, Chicago is not broke!!! The current, supposed, Chicago budget deficit is $580 million. Diverting 1/3 of Rahm’s TIF funds would cover that almost fully. Cutting 10-15% would put Chicago comfortably in the black with at least a $1 billion surplus, which could go to schools, shoring up pensions, or hiring exterminators for CPS lunchrooms. Just doing very simple math. Of course that would mean that a couple hundred directors, assistant directors and assistant to the assistant deputy directors, all making over $120,000 annually in duplicate positions might have to find actual real employment.