Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend Reading

A few readers have suggested the following articles might be of interest, as you kick back this weekend with a few spare minutes:
  • "Why Dictators Tend To Babble." An excerpt: So why do dictators like to babble? Time is something that dictators see as a tool in their arsenal, like torture chambers and armies. It is there to be played with, manipulated. Many arrive late to events, to keep things unpredictable. Read more...

  • Author and scholar D. Bradford Hunt, who opposes 100% low-income housing and commends mixed-income housing, is the subject of a piece in the Reader called "They Didn't Think of the Children." Read it here, and check out his appearance at the Harold Washington Library on October 6th.


  1. Interested in the 2nd article. I just finished "American Pharoh" about the first Mayor Daley and his battles over public housing. Its horrible how politics played into the public housing towers and the disasters they became.

  2. "Hunt wants to make it clear that he doesn't blame "families for having lots of kids, or single mothers. The tenants are the victims here,"

    Why not? It sure has hell doesn't help the already combustible situation.

    I agree with a lot of this article, but his politically correct conclusions almost void his whole hypothesis. There is plenty of blame to go around with the CHA, but constantly labeling the tenents victims does not create self pride, it creates anger. Seems to me there has been way to much anger in the CHA over the years and not enough PRIDE.

  3. I believe there's always some measure of accountability for anyone's behavior but I also believe the City has some accountability for setting up dynamics that encourage failure. My problem with 100% low-income family housing in elevator buildings is that it doesn't support parents in the rearing of their children. We know it doesn't work and research shows it, but there are some who believe that low standards for housing are acceptable. I'm all for low-income family housing, but it must be done to standards that we now understand to be conducive to the rearing of children.

    I went to the Winthrop Family reunion recently and for those of you not aware of it, it was one block set aside for African-American families on the Northside. It was done purposely because it made it more convenient for the white wealthy families to pool from this area for their servants. It was a sad time in our history.

    However, as these families shared their history of living on this one block, they spoke time and time again of the way all the adults on the block knew what every child living there was up to. These children, who are now in their 50's and 60's, said that if they did anything wrong, their parents knew about it before they even got home. There were no high-rises.

    Certified urban planners now understand that design does influence the way people behave. It's pay-to-play politics and irrational thinking that allow these mistakes to get made over and over again. Everyone suffers in the process.

  4. No discussion of the history of CHA in Chicago is complete without a mention of Elizabeth Wood. Like Jane Jacobs of New York, Ms. Wood constantly warned about the dangers of (a) racial segregation; (b) hi-rise developments with regard to publicly-funded housing for low-income residents. But of course the powers-that-be ignored Ms. Wood and went their own way, with disastrous results.