Monday, December 16, 2019

Batavia Lyceum Event: November 25, 2019

If you have never had an opportunity to attend a Batavia Lyceum event and wondered what all the fuss was about, here's your chance. This video is just a small snippet of what the event is like. Of course, the topic changes every month. You'll hear some noises in the background: that's food and drink being served by the great staff at Bar Evolution!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

December 15th: Bill of Rights Day

Today is Bill of Rights day. It's a pity there are no local Bill of Rights day celebrations. My little town chooses to celebrate Flag Day and the somewhat creepy Loyalty Day. In my humble opinion (which no one cares about) the Bill of Rights is far more important to us than the flag or some vague concept of loyalty.

My favorite amendment happens to be one we don't hear much about: the Ninth Amendment.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
This  amendment shows the genius of James Madison. If I may be so bold to paraphrase it says: "Just because it's not in here [the Constitution] doesn't mean it's not your right." People mention "privacy" isn't explicitly mentioned as a right in the Constitution. Technically correct. But, Madison knew that rights are not granted by government - rights are inalienable, granted to us by a power higher than government.

He was also smart enough to know he couldn't know everything (if only tRump was that self-aware). He knew he could not foresee all developments in the future. It's not a big stretch to think he would be shocked at the government's and corporations' ability to gather data on citizens in our day.

Read the Bill of Rights every December 15th. Put it on your calendar. Don't take them for granted. Our government has been chipping away at them for decades (the Patriot Act - what an Orwellian name). Stay alert. Do something.

Graphic courtesy of the Bill of Rights Institute (

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Why I Like Aurora's Venue for Concerts

The Venue, in Aurora (21 S. Broadway Ave. [US Rte 25], Aurora, IL 60505) is a great place to attend a concert. Why? 5 reasons (OK, maybe 4 - you'll see):

1. It's a cool space. They have comfortable chairs, no matter the ticket price. If you upgrade for the better seats you get a table for your drinks and snacks.

2. Did I mention drinks?

3. It's a great setup for the musicians. A nice stage, high quality sound system and lighting. It all makes for a great show. 

4. Did I mention drinks? I know I have a problem. But, another plus is they have ample parking. That's good - right?

5. They have cool merchandise. The musicians usually have CDs and other stuff for sale. The Venue has cool t-shirts and, wait for it... harmonicas! Really, where else can you get harmonicas in cool colors for only $5? (Prices subject to change, don't yell at me if they're no longer $5 by the time you read this.)

Featuring mostly Chicago area talent, the Venue in Aurora is a great place for a night out. There's good restaurants nearby, Hollywood Casino, all within walking distance. Make a night of it!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Hammered Dulcimer Christmas Carol

The Fox Valley Music Foundation started filming a documentary about the Fox Valley's Bill Robinson. Bill builds and plays the hammered dulcimer. Bill, joined by Katie Moritz and Greg Ferguson, played a short concert so we could hear the dulcimers in action. One of the tunes was Joy to the World, which seemed appropriate given the season. We hope to have the documentary done sometime after the holidays.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Dreary Day in Geneva, IL

Metra at Geneva station eastbound to Chicago

Metra at Geneva station eastbound to Chicago

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

5 Reasons I Like the Batavia Lyceum

Rosemary Fuerer in action!
Last night I attended the latest rendition of the Batavia Lyceum. Rosemary Feurer, a history professor from Northern Illinois University presented: A Brief History of Socialism in the United States. I had a great time and I wanted to tell everyone why I like this event.

  • Interesting Topics : It’s not always politics, but it is always illuminating. Some of the topics:
    • Nov 19, 2018 (note: already done!) – Reform, Innovation & Defense of America's Most Dangerous Game – all about the history of football safety, from way back when the league started to now!
    • Coming up on May 18, 2020 – Julie Bayer – Opera: The queen of the night tells untold tales – An evening with Julie Bayer – a welcome break from election year politics!
  • Knowledgeable Speakers: This month we had a professor of history from NIU. Last month it was a political science professor explaining the polling statistics regarding the upcoming primaries and election. The football safety presentation was from a history teacher / defensive coordinator from Batavia High School. These people know what they're talking about!
  • No Hecklers: The crowd is polite during the presentation; they allow the speaker to present without rude interruptions. If you think everyone agrees with the presenter, think otherwise.
  • Civilized Discussion: After the presentation, usually around 45 minutes, there is Q&A / Discussion time. It can get quite spirited. Do I believe in socialism? No! And I let my views be known, as did others who disagreed with me. No one got personal, or unpleasant. There is no name calling and it’s good to talk about issues in a civilized manner. (I may have raised my voice a little trying to convince someone that Norway is not a socialist country, so perhaps “civilized manner” is overstating the case.)
  • Comfortable Bar; Great Drinks: The location is wonderful. The room is comfortable; the chairs will not cause pain for a couple hour event. The bartenders make a great Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or pour a nice beer or wine. The prices will not bankrupt you. Food is available. It’s a great location for an event like this.

Next Month: Dec 30, 2019 – Matt Holm – Thick Description From Low-down Gentlemen: Chicago Urban Blues and the Civil Rights Movement

Save the date now. Get it on your calendar.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Waited For Trains That Never Came

I waited an hour and ten minutes and not a single train, not even a Metra commuter train.

Looking Westbound at Sunset Park in Geneva, IL

Looking Eastbound at Sunset Park in Geneva, IL

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Book Review: Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream by Nicholas Lemann

Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American DreamTransaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream by Nicholas Lemann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this book. It looked at the relationship between politics and economics in US history. It starts with the Organization Man era (when giant corporations were dominant), then the transaction man era (the ascendancy of finance and Wall Street), and today’s network man era, which is still in progress. But the final chapter, the Afterword, had the greatest impact on me. The discussion about special interest politics resonated strongly with me. I have, for quite a while, attributed the rise of right-wing politics to their superior ability to organize and influence. I compare the success of the Tea Party to the failure of the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Or, I compare the success of the NRA to the groups that advocate gun control. Some groups are better at getting organized to make a difference than others; the ineffective groups talk a lot, but don’t get anything accomplished. It’s hard work, and makes politics messy – but if you want to get changes made you have to do it right.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Autumn 2019

Fall usually happens twice for me. Most of the leaves fall in what I consider the traditional fall months. But not the trees on our parkway. Those leaves always fall after last leaf pickup and usually after the first snow. This year was a little different in that fall occurred on a single day! But, the parkway trees have held true to form.

Birch on the left - Parkway maple on the right. The maple leaves usually fall sometime in December.