July 5, 2020

Chicago is, its civic leaders worry, a place of deep income divides — from deeply impoverished Grand Crossing (median income $21,135) to wealthy West De Paul (median income $148,113), as a browse of Statistical Atlas reveals.  It’s a city where those leaders fret that the middle class is leaving, leaving a sharp divide between the rich and poor, and it shows up as one of the “most segregated cities” in the United States (for example, #4 in USA Today, assessing metro… Read more

June 26, 2020

Sometimes I write about politics. Sometimes I have things I want to say that I want to communicate, that I want others to hear, that I want to persuade people of. Other times I know that I offer no particular expertise on a subject but just want to get something off my chest. But I am aware that I haven’t said much about Trump lately.  The words I’d use to describe the situation, well, require a lot of finger-stretching to… Read more

June 23, 2020

Should a man who: was a member of the Nazi party, pressured ghetto-confined Jews to sign over title to their factory, used ghetto-confined Jews as labor without paying them a wage, and sold wares to the German military, be honored as a “righteous man,” not merely by means of a statue but a movie celebrating him, a movie used to teach the Holocaust to schoolchildren? We all know the rest of the story — that Oskar Schindler came to see… Read more

June 22, 2020

Remember when Pluto was demoted from planetary status and given the name “dwarf planet,” confusing everyone for whom the name implies that it is indeed a planet, albeit a small one? OK, maybe I betray my age.  But it was a peculiar sort of label:  “yes, it’s a dwarf planet.  No, it’s not a real planet.” Or on my Forbes site, I write about social insurance, and I say that it may have the word “insurance” in its name, but… Read more

June 16, 2020

One Cupich. Two weeks ago, Cardinal Blase Cupich announced that the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago would be responding to the George Floyd killing by including the item in its curriculum: In an in-person interview at the rectory at Holy Name Cathedral, Cupich said the archdiocese’s goal is to have all Catholic school students participate in a discussion about Floyd’s killing and its aftermath. “I think we need an educational piece in our parishes, in our schools, in… Read more

June 12, 2020

Here’s a bit of an anecdote from the life of Jane the Actuary: I own a vintage sewing machine — a Kenmore model 158.904 from the 60s which I bought for $25 at a garage sale when it was already old, and have taken along with me from apartment to home to move-up home, since then.  It is sorely lacking in bells & whistles — it has cams (templates for making custom stitches) and a buttonhole-making device, but a modern… Read more

June 3, 2020

Have you had to write goals as a part of your company’s performance review process?  Reader, I hated this — as a consulting firm we had some goals which were prescribed (largely around billable time) and were supposed to, in addition, some up with additional goals by which to be judged at the end of the year.  Sometimes they were dictated to me, sometimes I was told to come up with them myself, sometimes they made sense within the context… Read more

June 1, 2020

Author Megan McArdle is fond of saying, “the existence of a problem does not imply the existence of a solution.” (Is this an insight original to her?  I don’t know.  Here’s one cite for this, but she’s said this repeatedly.) I’d go a step further:  that a given individual is particularly empathetic towards people who face a particular problem, or is indeed personally affected by that problem, does not mean that he or she is any more likely to know… Read more

May 29, 2020

Yes, I reveal my age. Reader, imagine that I was a very precocious child, rather than a young adult, when these events happened:  first, in late April – early May of 1992, the riots in Los Angeles sparked by the jury verdict acquitting the police officers who had beaten Rodney King, and, second, the beating death of Malice Green of Detroit, on November 5, 1992. Now, unlike the King case, two of the officers involved in Green’s death were convicted… Read more

May 8, 2020

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen a pseudo-inspirational report of someone making face masks or collecting for a food pantry or sending letters of encouragement to first responders . . . well, to be honest, I’m getting rather tired of them; you can keep the nickels. Here’s a tweet, like so many others, that came across my twitter feed just now: the lockdown is the closest most americans now living have come in spirit to the… Read more

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