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ALARMS AND DIVERSIONS FOR THE THINKING PERSON

Forum File

Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 12:01 am

The reading list

“From Beijing to Berlin, and in cities across America, food carts have become hot attractions. Regulars visit them every day. Tourists seek them out. Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Austin, New York … all enjoy a thriving mobile-food trade.

“Chicago has some food carts too, a few operating legally, despite the city doing everything possible to discourage would-be vendors.

“Why would a city with the best hot dogs anywhere make it illegal to serve them from a cart on the sidewalk? We can't think of a good reason.

“As for a bad reason to ban street food, that's easy: Vested interests in the restaurant business reliably resist any new competition.

“A word about the nomenclature lawyers use: A food cart serves prepared food and a person can move it; this category includes pushcarts as well as two- or three-wheeled motorized vehicles. A 'motorized food truck,' by contrast, travels here and there on four wheels to serve customers.

“The Chicago City Council finally approved a licensing program for motorized food trucks in 2012, after years of restaurateurs' laments. Still, the special-interest politicking ensured that the program would be strict and limited: As of mid-April, Chicago had just 74 licensed trucks, down from 114 trucks one year earlier, shortly after the ordinance went into effect.”

From “Food carts face rough path in Chicago” at chicagotribune.com

A quiz

What is considered the most isolated population center on earth?

Wisdom of the ages

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

Current wisdom

“The reality is our customers don't anticipate drinking water that's been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir.” – Portland, Ore., Water Bureau Administrator David Schaff, as city officials prepared to flush millions of gallons of treated water because a person urinated in a city reservoir.

Quiz answer

Hawaii, which is 2,390 miles away from the nearest continent.

Snob words

picayune (pick-ee-YOON), adj. – of little value or account; small; trifling; petty, carping or prejudiced, as in: “The editorial writer disagreed with the councilman that the tax increase was a picayune issue.”

Today in history

On this date in 1775, the American Revolution began at Lexington Commons with the shot “heard round the world”; could use a little revolution these days. In 1897, the first Boston marathon was by John McDermott of New York with a time of 2:55:10.

Now you know

A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids, who need an average of nine to 10 hours of sleep each night.