Monday, April 30, 2007

The Worst Summer Job

When the heroes go off the stage, the clowns come on. -- Heinrich Heine

The Old Town School of Folk Music is hiring:
Clowning Instructor

The Summer Camp Program at The Old Town School seeks a part-time clowning teacher for its theater camp, which runs from July 23 through August 17. Responsibilities include teaching three morning classes per day, Monday through Friday, participation in mandatory weekly teacher meetings and pre-camp orientation, and attending a final student performance on the evening of August 17th.

The ideal candidate will have experience teaching clowning, mime or physical comedy to children ages 5 through 10, excellent communication skills, a demonstrated love of teaching theater to children, and exceptional classroom management skills.

All applicants must be available Mondays through Fridays, 9:00 a.m. through 12:30 p.m., July 23rd through August 17th.

Please fax or email resume and cover letter to

Old Town School of Folk Music
Attn: Human Resources
4544 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
Fax: 773.506.2414
Please, no phone calls.

The phone number at the Old Town is 773.728.6000.

Bush's International Sex Czar: Screw As I Say, Not as I Screw

From your Chicago Tribune:
Randall Tobias, head of the Bush administration's foreign aid programs, abruptly resigned Friday after his name surfaced in an investigation into a high-priced call-girl ring, said two people in a position to know the circumstances of his departure.

It was Tobias' own decision to resign, according to one of the people, who said the issue came up only in the past day or so. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.

Tobias submitted his resignation a day after he was interviewed by ABC News for an upcoming program about an alleged prostitution service run by the so-called D.C. Madam.

ABC reported on its Web site late Friday that Tobias confirmed that he had called the Pamela Martin and Associates escort service to have women come to his condo and give him massages. More recently, Tobias told the network, he has been using a service with Central American women.

Tobias, 65, who is married, told ABC News there had been "no sex" during the women's visits to his condo. His name was on a list of clients given to ABC by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who owns the escort service and has been charged with running a prostitution ring in the nation's capital.
But the report in France's International Herald Tribune does not support the novel idea of "no sex" Central American call girls.
Deborah Jeane Palfrey has not been at all shy about it: For more than a decade she ran an escort service that catered to upscale clients in the U.S. capital, sending college-educated women to men's homes or hotel rooms. For about $300, she provided about 90 minutes of what she has described as a discreet "legal high-end erotic fantasy service."
At $200 per hour -- that must have been quite a massage.

The IHT also gives us the lowdown on Tobias' role in the Bush administration:
Tobias, 65, is a former chairman and chief executive of Eli Lilly and of AT&T International. He was chairman of the board of Duke University from 1997 to 2000. He has been a major donor to various Republican campaigns.

Tobias, who was the director of foreign assistance and the administrator of the Agency for International Development, ran agencies that required foreign recipients of AIDS assistance to explicitly condemn prostitution, a policy that drew protests from some nations and relief organizations.
Opportunists on the Left will no doubt rush to point out that this latest example of moral hypocrisy is quite typical of the Bush administration.

But we must not over look the feature that distinguishes this from prior Bush prostitution scandals: The gender of the prostitutes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
The U.S. Marines have dropped the 18-year-old Cary-Grove High School student whose controversial essay got him a disorderly conduct charge from McHenry County authorities.

Allen Lee, a straight-A honor student, had enlisted, passed all of the tests and was scheduled to start basic training in October in California.

He was "crestfallen" when his recruiter called him with the sad news Friday that Marine regulations say the criminal charge makes him ineligible, said his attorney, Dane Liozzo.
Although this kid's life has been completely upended, your Chicago Tribune editorial board says we shouldn't question the brain-wizards behind the decision to pursue Lee's alleged Thoughtcrime:
It's tempting to second-guess the authorities here. But the Cary-Grove administrators are experienced educators who don't fall to pieces every time a student acts surly.
According to the Sun-Times' account, the "experienced educator" who gave Lee this assignment -- and who set off the system-wide overreaction that culminated with Lee's arrest -- is "in her first year in the classroom."

But enough of the facts, lets go back to the wise Brahmans of the Trib editorial board:
And the prosecutors who filed the charges know they will face a heavy burden of proof to persuade a judge or a jury that an English paper amounted to a criminal offense rather than harmless adolescent trash talk.
It boggles the mind to consider that the very editorial page calling for citizens to bow-down to the better wisdom of prosecutors with regard to this student's offense of Thoughtcrime is the same editorial page that, on March 25th of this year, wrote the following with regards to wise prosecutors and the offense of Capital Murder:
The evidence of recent years argues that it is necessary to curb the government's power. ***

We have learned much *** about the criminal justice system's capacity to make terrible mistakes. Who gets a sentence *** is often a matter of random luck, of politics, of geography, even a matter of racism. Mistakes can occur at every level of the process. ***

The system is arbitrary, and the system just plain gets it wrong.
One would hope that a newspaper's editorial board would recognize the imperfections when it comes to the wheels of justice crushing a student for exercising his speech and expression -- but one would be disappointed by the Chicago Tribune:
Maybe he should have gotten off with a stern lecture and some time in detention. But after Blacksburg, he and other kids may find that the boundaries of acceptable behavior have changed for good.
And apparently the press' traditional concern for the freedoms of thought and expression embodied in the First Amendment of the Constitution has "changed for good" at the Tribune.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fine Line

"I'm not a nut. I'm an activist."

"Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But We Also Have a Zero Tollerance Policy Regarding Words"

A buddy of mine has suggested that the "Kill 'Em All" tee-shirt that I wore to high-school might not pass muster today.

Guess he's right.

From the your Sun-Times:
Police Thursday released portions of an essay used to charge a Cary-Grove High School student with disorderly conduct, leaving several experts puzzled at an arrest based on such schoolwork.

Asked to write about whatever he wanted in a creative writing class, would-be Marine and honors student Allen Lee, 18, described a violent dream in which he shot people and then "had sex with the dead bodies.''

But then he immediately dismissed the idea as a mere joke, writing, "not really, but it would be funny if I did.'' ***

Lee said Thursday he was "completely shocked'' to be arrested Tuesday for his essay, especially because written instructions told kids not to "censor'' what they wrote.

Continuing their policy of punishing students for following directions, the entire Cary-Grove wrestling team was arrested on battery charges.

But seriously, it's important that the "educators" at the Cary-Grove High School help their students learn from this teachable moment.

I would suggest that they do so by assigning them Eric Arthur Blair's classic.

The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed — would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper — the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you. ***

Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.

Perhaps you think that "death" is an exaggeration, but let's ask the boy who's life was smashed by a creative writing assignment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bill Moyers: The Power of Myth

Tom Shales of the Washington Post:
Tonight's edition of "Bill Moyers Journal" on PBS is one of the most gripping and important pieces of broadcast journalism so far this year, but it's as disheartening as it is compelling.

It's always depressing to learn that you've been had, but incalculably more so when the deception has resulted in thousands of Americans dying in the Iraq war effort.

In this 90-minute report, called "Buying the War," Moyers and producer Kathleen Hughes use alarming evidence and an array of respected journalists to make the case that, in the rage that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the media abandoned their role as watchdog and became a lapdog instead.

Gee, I had no idea.
Moyers does not set out to attack anyone himself; instead he tries to find out why journalists -- electronic and print -- behaved in ways that are supposed to be anathema to a free press in a free nation. The show asks: Did the Bush administration benefit from having an effective collection of accomplished dupers -- a contingent that Washington Post investigative reporter Walter Pincus calls "the marketing group" -- or did the outrage of 9/11 made the press more vulnerable to being duped?

Pressures subtle and blatant were brought to bear. Phil Donahue's nightly MSNBC talk show was virtually the only program of its type that gave antiwar voices a chance to be heard. Donahue was canceled 22 days before the invasion of Iraq, Moyers says. The reason was supposedly low ratings, but the New York Times intercepted an in-house memo in which a network executive complained: "Donahue represents a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war. At the same time, our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity."

Dissent was deemed not only unpatriotic, Donahue recalls, but -- perhaps even worse -- "not good for business." ***

Even if this Moyers report tells you some things you already knew, it puts the whole story of the media's role in the war into one convenient package -- a story of historical value that is also frighteningly rife with portents for the future and for what will pass as journalism in months and years to come.

Seriously folks, set the Tivo.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Alias: Captain United

click the image for an explanation

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This for the People Of The Sun

I wasn't sure about posting this due to the video-audio sync problems, but the power of one voice and one acoustic guitar -- and harmonica -- can not be denied.

Naisy Dolar for the 50th Ward

By Demand: Todd Scalzo for Wheaton

Monday, April 16, 2007

Todd Scalzo for Wheaton City Council

I've got rare and good news for the residents of Wheaton, the red heart of DuPage County: In addition to voting against right-wing nut-jobs tomorrow, you have the opportunity to Vote for Todd Scalzo for Wheaton City Council.

The Close of the Neolithic and the Dawn of a New Age

Anticipating Bernie Stone's appearance on Political Shoot-Out yesterday, Jeff Berkowitz, Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," reminds us that, even in the closing days hours of the 50th Ward Race, Stone refused to face Naisy Dolar:
By the Way, talking of Roeser’s guests, Roeser’s Political Shoot-Out call in show [featured] journalist and attorney Russ Stewart, who has forgotten more about Chicago aldermanic politics than most journalists could hope to know, along with always colorful, Berny Stone, the 34 year incumbent 50th Ward alderman who is in the race of his life with Naisy Dolar. Dolar, who was the runner-up to Stone in a tough, five-candidate race on February 27th, hopes to become the first Asian-American alderman in the Chicago City Council. The Jewish 79 year old Stone has argued, on Public Affairs, February 11, 2007, that he is facing anti-Semitism and ageism in the race.

Ald. Stone argued on Craig Dellimore’s At Issue [WBBM 780 AM Radio, Sundays, 9:30 am and 9:30 pm], last week, that the Asian-American community is supporting him over his Asian- American opponent. Dolar, for her part, argues that she has local Asian-American community support but also has the confidence of the 50th Ward “to be the representative for the entire community.” Stone countered on “At Issue,” that the “Jewish community [the largest minority group in the 50th] was told, ‘Hey, pack up, and get the Hell out of here.’ That’s what the newspapers have told them. The Jewish community will go unrepresented if she is elected… “

Stone-Stewart should be interesting. However, if Stone is calling in, Dolar should do so as well, and I would imagine Tom Roeser would give her equal time. When Berkowitz invited Stone, recently, to come back on Public Affairs, but this time to make it a joint appearance with his opponent, Naisy Dolar, Ald. Stone declined. Not very sporting and not very good for democracy. Perhaps, Roeser can correct that situation tonight.
The Dolar Election Day Press Room indicates that, to no one's surprise, Roeser didn't correct that situation.

Stone Walling Muslims in the 50th?

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
The Chicago chapter of the Islamic Center of North America says Ald. Bernie Stone (50th) acted inappropriately last week when he stopped the painting of a peace mural by an internationally known artist and a group of 20 high school students.

Muralist Mohammed Ali was in Chicago through a program with the Arts Council of England, said Mahmood Khan, ICNA president. On Friday morning, he and the teens were painting a skyline and the word "salaam," which means "peace," on the side of ICNA's building in the 6200 block of North California when Stone drove up and shut down the project. ***

Khan said he's also concerned because of comments from Stone that implied the letter "m" in the mural looked like the World Trade Center towers crumbling after the 9/11 attacks.

"I said some of the people were complaining that's what it looks like," Stone said.

A commenter provided me with this YouTube excerpt of CNN's report on Mr. Ali's work in Great Britan, making public art with folks of all faiths to beautify and build unity in their communities:

Friday, April 13, 2007

Chicago Forecast: Rage

From the Coalition of Immokalee Workers website:
The "Rally and Concert for Fair Food" will be taking place at the House of Blues, located at 329 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60610, from 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

The rally and concert will feature Tom Morello and Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine performing together for the first time in seven years, along with a top line-up of musical guests and speakers, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, Bishop Manz of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Eliseo Medina of SEIU.

While we are extremely pleased to be able to secure the House of Blues as an alternative venue, the late date of the change did not allow us to find a location large enough to accommodate the several thousand people expected to attend the original Carnaval. As a result, participation will be limited to ticket holders. Tickets are free, but you must act quickly if you are interested in attending this once-in-a-lifetime event. Email us at: now to get your ticket.
So with only half the members will they perform as Half-Rage?

Tantrum Against the Machine?

Tom and Zach's Pissed-off Experience?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It Wasn't Just the Racism.

Does anyone doubt that if a d.j. called this team of young women "some bleach-blond skanks," that d.j. would have been fired as well?


"No one could have imagined using planes as a missile." -- Condi Rice

A mention in Gapersblock, prompts me to post this star-studded -- and imaginative -- trailer for the 3DO video game, Duelin' Firemen.

It's Time for the 50th to Move Out of the Stone Age

"Four of the 12 Chicago aldermen running in the April 17 runoff employ relatives or other loved ones on their publicly funded ward staffs, costing taxpayers more than $400,000 a year. While laws in other major cities prohibit this practice, Chicago politicians say there's nothing wrong with hiring people they trust and think their relatives deserve the same chance as other applicants."

The Beachwood Reporter has taken a long look at nepotism among the sitting Chicago aldermen, including in the 50th Ward:
"So I'm guilty of nepotism, how about that?" said Stone, one of the longest-serving aldermen on the 50-member Chicago City Council.

His opponent, however, doesn't view this hiring practice in the same way. [Naisy Dolar] says an alderman's personal staff should be regulated like any other city office, where government workers and elected officials are banned from hiring their family members. Since the mid-1980s, the city's ethics ordinance has prohibited aldermen from employing relatives on their committee staffs, but no such ban exists for their ward offices.

"It is the alderman's responsibility that we hire the most qualified people and reflect the diversity of the neighborhood," Dolar said.

Stone employs his daughter, Ilana Feketitsch, as his chief of staff. Feketitsch said her 12 years of working for her father, who's been in office since 1973, makes her qualified for the position, which earns her $63,804 annually.

Be sure to read the whole piece -- The Beachwood's account of aldermanic family members bellying up to the public trough is simply staggering.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut.

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”

After 84 years, Kurt Vonnegut has left the planet he called home.

So it goes.

"Heroic or Meritorious Achievement"

From the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund website:
On Friday March 30, 2007 at around 3:00pm, Mr. Kuldip Singh Nag, a Sikh American who was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the U.S. Navy during the first Gulf War, was at his home in Joliet, IL when a local police officer noticed that a van parked on Mr. Nag’s private property had expired registration tags. Upon being confronted with this, Mr. Nag’s wife, Vera Kaur Nag, informed the officer that the van is parked on their driveway and was inoperable.

Mr. Nag then came outside to answer the officer’s questions regarding the van. The Joliet police officer then demanded that Mr. Nag park the van inside his garage and not on the driveway, to which Mr. Nag responded to the officer that it was not possible and that regardless, the van is parked on his private property and he has a right to park it on his driveway.

At this moment, the officer pulled out his pepper spray and attacked Mr. Nag. As Mr. Nag screamed in agony, the officer removed his baton and violently struck Mr. Nag numerous times until he fell to the ground. While the assault ensued, the officer was reported by both Mr. and Mrs. Nag as saying, “You f****** Arab! You f***** immigrant, go back to you f****** country before I kill you!”

Mr. Nag's wife and six year-old child both witnessed the violent assault, which resulted in Mr. Nag immediately being admitted to the hospital where he stayed for five days due to complaints of intense pain and head trauma.
The Bronze Star may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. When awarded for bravery, it is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces, just above the Purple Heart.

Stone Throwing in the 50th Ward

Chicagoist, "a website about Chicago", takes a look at the 50th Ward race:
Naisy Calls Bernie on his BS.

In the 50th Ward, Naisy Dolar has refused incumbent Alderman Stone's most recent offer to debate her. According to the Dolar campaign in "February, Berny Stone told the Chicago Reader that he would debate his opponents one-on-one, and this was reiterated in a WBEZ-FM story later. He has since had two opportunities to appear at a debate: 1) the West Rogers Park Community Organization's Candidates’ Forum (video link) on March 11; and 2) on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight," (video link) PBS Channel 11, on April 2. He failed to appear at the first, and backed out of the latter."

Now his campaign wants to set up a debate for April 12, five days before the vote. Dolar claims that this is too late for the local press to adequately cover the event. She is also raising questions about the legitimacy of the debate, charging that the neutral community groups Stone claims are sponsoring it aren't actually involved. No word yet on Stone's side of the argument.
Your Chicago Tribune reports that Stone is desperately resorting to name calling:
Stone recalled his father was a house painter and union member, and contrasted that with his opponent, saying she was born "with a silver spoon in her mouth." Dolar, who was born in the Philippines, is the daughter of two doctors.
But Stone did not address the issue of parental privilege as it applies to this race, i.e. if the 79-year-old Stone wins, will he step down and hand his seat on the city counsel to his silver-tongued daughter Ilana?

Spotted in Oakbrook

I'll bet the charmer who owns this car has many beautiful girlfriends.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


See if you can guess which day Boing Boing linked to this blog?

Somewhere out there, there are 250 very disappointed internet surfers.

Monday, April 09, 2007

"Here's to alcohol, the cause of -- and solution to -- all life's problems."

From the Mind Hacks blog:
A research report published in Applied Economics has found that the number of patients with violence-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms is related to the price of beer.

The paper is available online as a pdf and is from Cardiff University's Violence and Society Research Group.

The researchers examined admissions to 58 hospital accident and emergency departments over a five year period and found that as the price of beer increased, violence-related injuries decreased.

In general, studies have found that alcohol consumption increases both the risk of being a victim of violence and the perpetrator of it.

There are three main theories on why alcohol and violence are linked: i) due to the drug effects on the brain; ii) because people use alcohol as an excuse for violent behaviour; iii) because people who use alcohol might be more likely to be violent, perhaps due to personality factors like sensation-seeking, impulsivity or risk-taking.

Of course, these theories are not in competition and all the factors are likely to have some influence, but researchers are keen to find out how they interact to better understand the problem.

Interestingly, the Applied Economics study also looked at a number of other factors linked to violence and found that increases in poverty, unemployment, diversity of ethnic population, the summer months and major sporting events also independently predicted an increase in violence.

Cautionary Note: At the local filling station, a 24 oz. can of Miller High Life cost 25 cents less than a 20 oz. bottle of Coca-Cola.

Is That All You've Got?

The Republican National Committee is honoring Senator Obama's appearance on David Letterman's program with what they're calling Obama's Top Ten Fabrications.

The whole thing is pretty weenie -- OMG! He misremembered a magazine photo from when he was nine? -- but take a good look at numbers four and two:
  • "Obama's Campaign Claimed His High School Friend Tried To Extort Money From Them"
  • "Obama Had Heated Discussions With A High School Friend Named "Ray" About Racial Issues"
Friends, in order to squeeze-out a list of ten, the GOP has stooped to dredging-up the assertions of a destitute ex-felon and admitted drug abuser.

Fully twenty-percent of the Republican talking points are based on the word of a guy who's living in his another guy's car.

No doubt the RNC has already filled out the paperwork to form "The Narcotics Felony Veterans for Truth."

Dude, They're Giving It Away on the Internets!

Someone should have told this guy to change his Google filtering preferences -- it would have saved him a bunch of time and trouble.

Chicago Aldermania: Let's Get Ready to Ruuumbllllle!

In today's issue, your Chicago Sun-Times both endorses Joe Moore (49th) and Naisy Dolar (50th) in the Chicago City Council runoffs. The S-T also reports that the Dolar campaign has raised more money than her entrenched opponent.

And Laura Washington takes a look at who's making the possible shake-up the City Council possible:
Thanks to the Big Box debate, the tide may be turning in the moribund Chicago City Council. The April 17 aldermanic runoffs have served up a cornucopia of financial peccadilloes. The labor unions are showering key candidates with big cash. That means some do-nothing aldermen who have been perennially snoozing their way to re-election may finally get booted off the public dole.

The unions are leveling the playing field long dominated by Mayor Daley's cash machine and the largess of his developer chums. ***

Lest we forget -- unions represent workers -- actual constituents who deserve representation. That's a silver lining I can live with.

Finally, here are two videos concerning a couple of the more hotly contested races.

The first is a television ad from Joe Moore that ties 70% of his opponents campaign cash to an SOB that funded the Swift Boat ads.

The second isn't an ad for Naisy Dolar; it's actually a long-scheduled candidates forum on WTTW11's Chicago Tonight.

But it can't help but seem like an ad for Dolar since her opponent didn't even bother to show up.

"Science always uses metaphor." -- James Lovelock

In your Chicago Sun-Times, Neil Steinberg knocks down a logical fallacy repeatedly employed by global warming deniers:
Current conditions do not refute long-term trends.

A bum can find a $20 in the street and think, "I'm rich!" But he is not rich, he's a poor man with $20.
This analogy so simple and strong that it may even be understood by Sun-Times' Canucknuckle-headed denier Mark Steyn.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

“Well you know something, Mean Gene!”

This video of a screaming match between Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera is creating quite a buzz on the internets

Maybe I'm over cynical or I've watched too much professional wrestling -- or both -- but that looks like a fake confrontation orchestrated for hype to me.

'Cause all that is missing is Gean Okerlund holding the microphone, brutha.

Monday's Letterman Show: Too Sexy By Half

In your Chicago Sun-Times, Lynn Sweet reports that Monday's "Late Show with David Letterman" may exceed the federally recommended levels of comeliness:

"Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama guests on CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" on Monday night. Actress Halle Berry -- of "Perfect Stranger" -- shares the star billing."

When asked last May if she'd endorse him for President, Halle Berry replied, "Oh, my God, yes! I'll do whatever he says to do. I'll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear."

But one must still wonder how she will react to being in the unprecedented role of the second most attractive guest on the program.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Irresponsible Blogger Strips Context from Aldermanic Candidate's Comment

"Yes, right, I'm a longtime racist -- my parents are racists" -- 49th Ward candidate, Don Gordon

Freedom's Song

Planted on a lonely hill
with his name unknown
Freedom's child was laid to rest
singing freedom's song
-- Billy Joe Shaver

A commenter on YouTube said it best: "If Billy Joe shot that dude, then that dude needed shootin'."

"The Power of Christ Compels You."

This Family Circus cartoon is odd enough. But just try to figure out what happened in the ten seconds proceeding this moment...

What events transpired to put these characters in this position?

Why is Thelma wielding the crucifix like that?

Is Thelma trying to cast a demon out of Dolly?

That would sure explain a lot about Family Circus.

Happy Easter

"You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me." -- John 12:8

I'm still praying for the resurrection of the Jesus Lizard.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

SSN-Times Exclusive

As your Sun-Times reports Lt. Col. Richard A. Rodrigues is heading to Iraq after 14 years as a civilian.

Don't you imagine that a 55-year old grandfather who is preparing to ship-off to a war zone would have plenty of complications on his plate without adding something as pernicious as identity theft to the mix?

Me too.

That's why the photograph of Lt. Col. Rodrigues I've posted does not include his social security number.

Unlike the photograph on page nine of your Chicago Sun-Times.

Safety, security and good luck to Lt. Col. Rodrigues and his family.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Honky Tonk Hero

Got a good Christian raisin'
and an eighth grade education
Ain't no need in y'all a treatin' me this way
-- Billy Joe Shaver, Georgia On A Fast Train

The Associated Press reports:
Country singer Billy Joe Shaver surrendered Tuesday after a weekend bar shooting that wounded a man, police said.

Shaver turned himself in at the McLennan County jail in Waco and was released after posting $50,000 bail, said Lorena Police Chief John Moran.

Shaver, 67, was charged with an assault and a weapons charge. His attorney, Joseph A. Turner, has said Shaver shot the man in self-defense after he left the bar and followed Shaver into the parking lot Saturday night. Turner said that Shaver did not know the man and that the stranger was drunk, aggressive and had a knife.

The shooting occurred Saturday evening outside Papa Joe's Texas Saloon, according to Lorena police. The victim was reportedly shot in the cheek. ***

"Billy Joe Shaver is an icon in the country music industry. We're not going to turn our back on him at all," [Mathew Knowles, president and CEO of Music World Entertainment] said. "I personally wanted to tell him that, which is what we talked about today."
I just hope I'm still shooting knife-wielding drunks in saloon parking lots when I'm 67.

Chicago Papers: Aspiring to Pig Slop Relevance?

"You have to give the audience what it wants. Put the slop where the pigs can get at it." -- Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times

In a related note, your Chicago Tribune sits down with their new insect overlord new owner Sam Zell and discuss his vision of Tribune journalism:
An avid reader of newspapers who doesn't read news online or own a BlackBerry, Zell believes quality "relevant" content is the key to Tribune's future, whether it is on television, in newspapers or online. ***

"If you are relevant, people are going to buy the newspaper," he said. "If you're not relevant, then people will stop buying the newspaper and stop advertising and we'll all be in a stew of trouble.

"I use that word 'relevant' and I'll be the first to tell you I don't know what it means other than, in effect, ultimately just like anybody, you have customers, and some way or another we have to find a way how to service them. I don't have an opinion as to what you write, believe it or not, other than what you write has to be truthful and relevant. And if it is, then I think the customer is there for you, and that translates into viable businesses." ***

Asked about the relationship between editorial excellence and profit, Zell said quality matters. But he noted: "I really believe you can be relevant and editorially spectacular. And I think you can be irrelevant and editorially spectacular. The name of the game is to be the former and not the latter."
And now the really depressing part.
Zell said his favorite columnists are Charles Krauthammer, whose syndicated column runs in the Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times' Thomas Friedman and David Brooks.
Note to Trib writers: Conventional Wisdom + Big Idea Facade = Happy Boss.

Zell also spoke briefly about Trib management's policy of "improving" the newspaper by slashing its news gathering capacity:
"I'm a great believer in a meritocracy," he said. "My standard is they've just got to perform.

"To be honest with you, I don't know anything about job cuts. My focus is not to look at this thing and see how we can eliminate one more table leg, because, frankly, eliminating a couple more of this or that isn't going to make this work. What's going to make this work is raising revenue."
Although the piece was informative, it did leave some significant exchanges on the cutting room floor:
Q: What about going public again? Is that something you've thought through?

Zell: I think we've thought about this thing that we're going into a 10-year investment, at a minimum. We haven't thought at all about a liquidation strategy, and I don't think one is required.

Q: You look at Tribune as a business just like any other one?

Zell: You guys come up with extortionist theories about everything. You think I think about my barge business the same way I think about the waste-to-energy business? Every business is different, OK? But if it isn't based on economics, there is no business. Businesses that fail to learn that lesson don't exist any more.

Q: But there's not another business like a business that's full of reporters?

Zell: You ever been in the department store business? They make reporters look good. And that's really hard to say. ***

Q: If we wrote up a profile of you that just got under your skin and made you mad....

Zell: You already did, you already did.

Q: But you weren't chairman of the company.

Zell: It wouldn't make any difference. You'd still [omitted] me off.

Q: What can we expect if that were to happen?

Zell: The same thing that happened the last time -- Nothing.
And if nothing else is clear from the Trib's interview with the new boss, it is that Zell shares Steinberg's pig slop philosophy of journalism: "[I]f you write pieces that attract people's attention, that's relevant."

Does this mean that future coyote-in-the-Quiznos stories will be on the front page of both papers?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards and God

From Newsweek:
Jonathan Alter: You've kept God out of the public discussion of your situation. Why?

Elizabeth Edwards: I had to think about a God who would not save my son.

Wade was—and I have lots of evidence; it's not just his mother saying it—a gentle and good boy. He reached out to people who were misfits and outcasts all the time. He could not stand for people to say nasty things about other people; he just didn't want it. For a 16-year-old boy, he was really extraordinary in this regard. I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't.

You'd think that if God was going to protect somebody, he'd protect that boy. But not only did he not protect him, the wind blew him from the road. The hand of God blew him from the road. So I had to think, "What kind of God do I have that doesn't intervene—in fact, may even participate—in the death of this good boy?"

I talk about it in the book, that I had to accept that my God was a God who promised enlightenment and salvation. And that's all. Didn't promise us protection.

I've had to come to grips with a God that fits my own experience, which is, my God could not be offering protection and not have protected my boy.

Jonathan Alter: You didn't lose your faith, you changed your faith? Or did you lose it for a time?

Elizabeth Edwards: I'm not praying for God to save me from cancer. I'm not.

God will enlighten me when the time comes. And if I've done the right thing, I will be enlightened. And if I believe, I'll be saved.

And that's all he promises me.
Ms. Edwards' view of God is compelling, but I think I will continue to worship an invisible Santa Claus who lives in the sky.

Update - From the Guardian:
Elizabeth Edwards said Tuesday that she got some good news: She has a type of cancer that is more likely to be controlled by anti-estrogen drugs. ***

Mrs. Edwards had her first post-diagnosis doctor's visit Friday and emerged encouraged. She said her doctor expected she had the most aggressive "triple-negative'' cancer, but testing found that she had two of the three key hormonal receptors - estrogen and progesterone. She said her the original diagnosis was "slightly estrogen heavy,'' but this time it's a strong marker and she also has the second marker.

"I consider that a good sign,'' Mrs. Edwards said in an interview in an art classroom before appearing with her husband at the Prairie High School gymnasium. "It means there are more medications which I can expect to be responsive.''
Three cheers for modern medicine and Invisible Santa!

A Buck a Band Ain't Bad

If you are only going to see one concert this summer -- you probably don't like music that much and should save your money for something you really enjoy.

But for the rest of you, Lollapalooza tickets have gone on sale -- three days of music in Grant Park, Chicago for a mere US$165.

And there don't seem to be as many glitches in the buying process as there were during their earlier super-cheap pre-sale.

Breaking: Art Student Offends the Easily Offended!

From the Associate Press:
He wears Jesus' robes and a neon blue halo, looks like Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and is causing a stir at a Chicago art school. An undergraduate student's papier mache sculpture of Obama as a messianic figure -- entitled "Blessing" -- went on display Saturday at a downtown gallery run by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

By Monday, word of the piece had spread on political blogs, and the school had been flooded with calls. ***

Obama's campaign worked Monday to distance the Illinois senator from the artwork.

"While we respect First Amendment rights and don't think the artist was trying to be offensive, Senator Obama, as a rule, isn't a fan of art that offends religious sensibilities," said Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Well crap, I suppose the Sentator won't be a fan of my art -- "Blessing 2" -- either

"The barrier to high-speed rail isn't economic or technical. It's political."

DJW has the scoop on a French rapide superbe train that goes 150 mph 250 mph 350 mph!

And what high-speed rail -- train a grande vitesse -- could mean for the U.S., i.e. State and Madison to Madison Square Garden in about 3 hours.

Jagged Little Humps

Monday, April 02, 2007

Chicago Police De-Cline

From your Chicago Tribune:
Embattled Police Supt. Philip Cline announced his resignation this morning at Chicago Police Headquarters. ***

As recently as last Friday, Cline indicated he wanted to stay on the job for a while longer before heading into retirement.

"I still have some things I want to get done, but I serve at the pleasure of the mayor," he said.
And "I serve at the pleasure..." pulls away from the pack in the 2007 Phrase that Pays sweepstakes.


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