Evanston RoundTable, March 7, 2019 Five times in our nation’s history, including twice in the last generation, the will of the people has been subverted by a process that is obsolete and undemocratic. I am referring, of course, to the Electoral College. It is hard to justify its continued existence. Every four years it disenfranchises a minority of citizens in any given state, whose electoral votes are wiped out by the “winner take all” system. “Too many Americans don’t believe their vote matters,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer in introducing a bill in 2016 to abolish the Electoral College. She called it “an outdated, undemocratic system that doesn’t reflect our modern society.” The system was devised for a number of reasons (preserving slavery may have been one), principally James Madison’s fear of “factions,” that is, domination by special interest groups, and Alexander Hamilton’s concern that the presidency should never fall to any man “not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” In addition, the system was designed to “balance” rural America vs. the more heavily populated urban regions. Some people—currently a third of those polled—evidently think those are still valid reasons. Let’s examine them one at a time. Clearly … Continue reading →
Evanston RoundTable, Nov. 17, 2016 The death two months ago of a Northwestern freshman on her bicycle underscores the seriousness of the recent heated debate in Evanston about how far to go to protect cyclists from cars and trucks. Chuyuan Qiu, 18, a first-year student from China, died after hitting a cement truck Sept. 22 on Sheridan Road. For those who missed the debate (reported in recent issues of the Roundtable), it involves protected bike lanes, which have been installed on Dodge Avenue from Church Street to Howard Street and on Church and Davis Streets downtown. Protected (or separated) bike lanes, so-called because cyclists ride next to the curb, with parked cars to their left to protect them from street traffic, are the latest approach to bicycle safety. In many cities they are replacing conventional bike lanes, in which cyclists ride between painted corridors just to the right of auto traffic and to the left of cars parked along the curb. While there are many reasons drivers give for disliking the new protected lanes, two points seem incontrovertible. Pitting a 20-pound bike against a two-ton car is no contest. And putting a line of parked cars between a cyclist and … Continue reading →
Evanston RoundTable, March 28, 2013
This was my contribution to our annual April Fools’ Day issue. (Leonard F. Slye was Roy Rogers’ real name.) The published story deleted most of the specifics in the fourth and fifth paragraphs to the controversy, which are true.
By Leo F. Slye
With mounting pressure to repudiate John Evans for his role in a notorious Indian massacre years after helping put Evanston on the map, the City Council last week issued a media advisory saying the real namesake of the City was none other than Dale Evans, famed TV cowgirl and wife of the even more famous TV cowboy Roy Rogers.
Ms. Evans, who passed away in 2001, could not be reached for comment, but the advisory pointed out that the actress was also an accomplished, singer, songwriter and best-selling author. From 1951 to 1957 she co-starred with her husband in the TV hit “The Roy Rogers Show.” “As to this other Evans, the one who arrived here in 1855, where is the proof [he also founded the City]?” the advisory asked.
The surprising action was taken shortly after the City Council went into a closed-door emergency session to deliberate, after which white smoke could be seen emanating from the building’s chimney. Neither the Mayor nor any Aldermen could be reached to elaborate on their somewhat-cryptic announcement.Continue reading →
Evanston RoundTable, March 1, 2012 The conductor gives a sharp downbeat, and the orchestra of 60 responds as one, flooding the practice room at Northwestern’s Pick-Staiger Hall with a richness and depth of music (Dvorak) that is breath-taking. The conductor is both calm and furiously busy. His eyes dart across the room, watching for precise bowing in the strings, proper breathing in the winds and brass. He listens for balance, intonation and dynamics. He waves his arms to show the beat, emphasize accents and provide cues. His face is alive with information: a smile for a nicely executed phrase in the flutes, a frown at a late entrance from the violas. As the music picks up, he bobs with the beat, shaking his fist to emphasize a sforzando. He chides, prods and encourages the young performers. Then he stops. “No, no.” he says, turning to the first violins. “The vibrato has to come before you move the stick, so when you catch the bow, it is already hot.” The rehearsal is hot – alive and exciting – no surprise because it reflects a lifetime in music. The conductor is Victor Yampolsky, maestro extraordinaire and Carol and Arthur Rice University Professor of … Continue reading →