Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Warning: Chicago cops targeting Lakeview bicyclists

Readers of my personal journal will of course know that I recently became Chicago's newest bicyclist, and am so far really enjoying it. Regular readers will also know that in Chicago, bicyclists are considered motorists in the eyes of the law - with the same rights as any car-based motorist, but also responsible for the same traffic rules. Well, I guess not enough bicyclists in the yuppie-friendly Lakeview neighborhood seem to understand this, because the Chicago police have started pulling them over for such things as failing to stop at stop signs and traffic signals. They're just letting people off with a warning right now, but starting next month they'll be issuing $75 tickets, just like a car driver would get for breaking such laws.

And I say it's about time, man! If bicyclists want to be respected by all those on the road driving those three-ton killing machines known as cars, they have to adhere to the same rules those car-drivers are required to adhere to as well. And as long as we have bicyclists zooming through red lights, riding on the wrong sides of streets, riding on sidewalks, and not yielding to pedestrians (things I see every single day as a fellow bicyclist in Lakeview), car drivers are never going to respect the rights of bicyclists while on city streets. If you are a bicyclist in Chicago, you owe it to yourself to read up on the legal responsibilites you have as such. And if you're not going to do it voluntarily, it looks like the cops are going to do it for you anyway. (Thanks to Chicagoist.com for bringing this to my attention.)

Medical book: "Some entrepreneurs just can't help being a**holes"

There's a new book out called The Hypomanic Edge, by John Gartner, a professor at John Hopkins Medical School, which is positing a pretty interesting theory: that most entrepreneurs and most self-proclaimed religious prophets actually share the same personalities, and maybe even the same genetic structure. And this is both good and bad, according to him:

GOOD: Both have grandiose visions and high energy; both are risk-taking and impulsive; both tend to get manic about their single-mindedness, and are able to convince others to share their vision. (And I love this quote from the author: "Hypomanics don't think outside the box, because they don't even see the box.")

BAD: Both tend not to listen to others' suggestions; both are impatient with other people; both are prone to making disparaging remarks about others without realizing that those remarks will hurt people's feelings. (In other words, their brains are hard-wired to be a**holes.)

The book also gives some tips for hypomanics on how to better do their managerial jobs within such an entrepreneurial environment, like listening to others, deliberately slowing down the decision-making process, and not assuming your company will be an instant success. Anyway, it sounds like a really intriguing read, especially to such admittedly borderline-hypomanics like myself; I'm going to check it out in more detail the next time I'm at the bookstore. (Thanks to Fortune Small Business for pointing this out.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Chicagoans, come out and support city WiFi plans

Did you know that Chicago is considering offering free WiFi to all three million of its citizens? There's a plan on the books right now, in fact, for the city to invest in over 5,000 WiFi broadcasters, one for every streetcorner in the city, all of it paid for and maintained with government money. The plan was first announced a few months ago, and the committee in charge of the project has finally moved to the public-hearing stage; the first will be at Truman College (1145 W Wilson), room 3641, this Thursday (the 21st) at 6:30 pm. If you'd like to speak at it, you can call Aileen Kim at 773.736.5594. I'll be there myself, and will be posting another entry that night on how it went; if any of you are going to be there and would like to meet up after the hearing, just drop me a line at ilikejason at hotmail dot com. (Thanks to Gapers Block for bringing this to my attention.)

Fischer's "Chess960" starts getting some respect

There's a pretty fascinating article up at Wired right now, about a new game chess legend Bobby Fischer has invented called "Chess960." (Well, actually he invented it in 1996; the article is about how the game is finally starting to get some respect among the rest of the chess world.) It works almost exactly the same as normal chess, except for one profound change - instead of the pieces being lined up in their traditional order at the beginning of a game (rook, then knight, then bishop, etc), they are instead lined up randomly. (The name of the game comes from the fact that there are 960 different ways to line up the pieces randomly.) The reason for the random lineup is simple - because Fischer believes that chess has become much more these days about memorizing opening moves, than utilizing a natural sense of creativity and intelligence. With the pieces appearing in a random order at the beginning of each game, all those giant "strategies for opening moves" books instantly become obsolete, giving even part-time amateurs a shot of competing against seasoned professionals.

Hey, sounds good to me! Anyone want to play a game soon?

"Fast Company" wants your contributions

Business magazine Fast Company's blog is about to celebrate its second anniversary (on August 8th and 9th, to be specific), and the editors are once again holding what they call a "BlogJam," where the blog's readers themselves contribute stories from their own lives concerning leadership, innovation, and other related topics. Last year's Jam netted over 100 entries, and they're hoping to do even better this year; you can click here to learn all the details yourself.

The latest blog trend - group suicide

The Christian Science Monitor has this utterly fascinating story up right now, concerning the latest hot new online trend in Japan - blogs that coordinate group suicides among strangers who don't want to die alone. I had no idea before reading the article, but it turns out that suicide is becoming a huge problem in that country, with more than 30,000 reported cases every year for seven years straight now - a per-capita rate more than twice of America's, and the highest level of any industrialized country on the planet. And according to the article, just in the first three months of 2005 alone there were twenty confirmed cases of group suicide organized via blog, resulting in 54 deaths.

So what exactly do we call this new class of blogs? "Anti-social networking?"