Friday, November 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Chicago sinkhole, a possible recreation site

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Florida has sinkholes that materialize suddenly, swallowing cars, houses and, most recently and tragically, a person. The rest of the country regards these and other natural disasters – Burmese pythons, giant stucco-eating snails, hurricanes and atrocious attendance at Florida Marlins games – as a fair trade-off for warm weather and no winters.

But now Chicago is being afflicted by sinkholes. This week, a 20-by-40-foot sinkhole abruptly opened up on the city’s southeast side, swallowing three cars and narrowly missing a fourth.

Florida’s explanation is that the state sits on carbonate rock that is gradually being eaten away by acidic groundwater. Funny, you don’t read about that in the real estate brochures.

Chicago, as befitting its blue-collar image, explains the sinkholes on failures in its ancient sewer and water system. Small comfort when your brand-new SUV seems to have set off on its own on a journey to the center of the Earth. That addition to the excitement of big-city living doesn’t seem to be a real-estate selling point, either.

Conservative websites don’t exactly blame the sinkholes on Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s friend and one-time chief of staff, but they certainly indicate that he deserves them.

Chicago has been spared an infestation of Burmese pythons, but the city is under siege from another invasive species, the flying Asian carp, a fish of up to 40 pounds that comes flying out of the water when it’s disturbed. It doesn’t take much more than a passing boat to disturb the fish, which has an alarming tendency to smack local anglers.

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Thus, the obvious solution would seem to be to allow these sinkholes to flood and let the local fisherman have at it. They’re almost certain to catch a flying carp. If they’re lucky, they might land a not-too-badly damaged SUV – and, if they’re even luckier, an entire bungalow with attached lanai room.

Scripps Howard News Service

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