American Elephants


There are Some Serious Objections to Obama’s Presidential Center. by The Elephant's Child

Back in mid-October, I posted a picture of former President Obama’s proposed presidential library in Chicago. It was to be built on the South Side of Chicago, and to do some neighborhood revitalization as well as be a park, a hub for artists like Springsteen, Chance, and Spike Lee. A lagoon would have paddle boats and skating in the winter, and Michelle wants a sledding hill, something she always wanted as a kid.

It is apparently not going to be a presidential library, but a celebration of Obama, and the papers and records will be somewhere else. The tall building looks like a takeout bag for a Chinese dinner, but I don’t know who the architect is. It has morphed from  a library into a 20 acre “private center.” The supposition is that the city will quickly approve it, since Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel used to be Obama’s Chief of Staff.

Well, not so fast. Behind the scenes, a heated battle is taking place.

Here’s our bottom line. If the Obama Foundation wishes to construct this center on Chicago’s South Side, that’s fine, but not on parkland held in public trust. The University of Chicago, which orchestrated the winning bid for the project, has plenty of land on the South Side that they could and should use. Instead, they’ve been adamant since day one that they must have historic public parkland for the purpose,” Charles Birnbaum, president and founder of D.C.- based nonprofit, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, told the Washington Examiner in a written statement Saturday.

There are other groups: Friends of the Parks, Jackson Park Watch, Openlands, National Association for Olmsted Parks, Save the Midway, Landmarks Illinois, and Preservation Chicago, all of whom have raised serious concerns about the project. Also 200 faculty members from Obama’s former employer, the University of Chicago, issued a formal letter stating its opposition to the presidential center being built at this location.

The Obama Foundation Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. will have to get approval from the Environmental Protection Agency under the National Environmental Policy Act and this is now the Trump administration’s EPA.

The problem is that this is historic parkland, originally designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, Sr., and Calvert Vaux (New York’s Central Park fame), designed in 1871 and Olmsted wrote in 1895 that the Museum of Science and Industry was intended to be the only “dominating object of interest in the park. There was another Section 106 compliance review in 2012, and officials decided it should not be touched. They said the remaining defining characteristics such as the overall plan depicted on the 1905 map must be respected.

The Obama Foundation has made dozens of changes including road closures within the park, a revamping of the landscaping, and a redesign of the main building which is now 23 stories tall. Since the presidential papers are to go somewhere else, the 23 story building must have some other purpose, like classrooms for teaching community organizing or for instruction on the effort to ‘fundamentally transform the United States of America’. That one didn’t work out so well.

If this seems like a continuation of the theme of power and how it corrupts, you are correct.

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The Dark Ages Weren’t Really Dark! by The Elephant's Child

Medieval, the Dark Ages, a time of plagues and starvation, and gloom. Where did we get those ideas? And what was the real truth? Here’s a little historical correction for us.



The Dark Ages? They Really Weren’t That Dark! by The Elephant's Child

Professor Anthony Esolen for Prager University. We’ve been told that the Middle Ages, also known as the Dark Ages, were characterized by oppression ignorance and backwardness in areas like human rights, science, health and the arts? We have been misled.



A Ten Hour Amish Barn Raising: in 3 Minutes 30 Seconds by The Elephant's Child

An Amish Barn Raising in Ohio. This is majorly cool!

Wow. Look at what can happen when you know what you are doing, and how to do it. The first building my father built many years ago—promptly fell down. Big mistakes, if you learn from them can be profitable. He learned his lesson, and the second attempt worked fine.

The important thing is learning from mistakes—not the mistakes themselves. Something we need to remember.

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)



Lessons in the Art of Plain Old Persistence, by The Elephant's Child

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A retired mathematician found a rotting cabin, dating from 1830, in sad shape, but he determined to restore it — proving once more that persistence pays. This is the original 1830 cabin, or what was left of it. Much was rotting, but he labeled and transferred as much of it as possible to the family’s land. See the amazing story below the fold.
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The New Skagit River Bridge Is Open for Business by The Elephant's Child

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The new permanent replacement span over the Skagit River has been rolled into place and reopened, though seven hours later than scheduled. It was expected to open at 7 a.m. but the cutting of steel plates took longer than expected, and then work crews had to wait for newly painted stripes on the roadway to dry.

Construction crews worked overnight to slide a new 915 ton bridge into place to replace a temporary military style span installed on June 19. We wrote about the collapse on May 24, to point out that it was neither “spectacular” nor was it one of President Obama’s “crumbling roads and bridges” as David Axlerod tried to claim. It is an important bridge on I-5 between Vancouver BC and all points south from Seattle to San Diego.

Perhaps it was a slow week, but the media wanted to jump on the event as a very big deal, envisioning a rushing river and spectacular bridge. Coastal River, not the Grand Canyon.  Good Job, DOT.



The Fry-Scraper: A Tale of Unintended Consequences by The Elephant's Child




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