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August 31, 2020

SportsMonday: Treading Water

Did you say it? Did you say something along the lines of, "Just when I think I've seen everything in baseball . . . ?" Because just when you think you've seen everything in baseball, the Cubs played a game (a 10-1 victory over the Reds) on Sunday in which each of their outfielders hit two home runs. Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber's blasts added up to a major league first.

It was also a game in which after six innings the Cubs had hit five home runs but had only six runs. That is not easy to do.

But most of all it was a game that gave the Cubs a needed series split in Cincinnati a little more than two-thirds of the way through a long road trip. If they take two-of-three in the upcoming series in last-place Pittsburgh, they break even over their previous 10 games on the road. Breaking even on the road the rest of the way probably puts them in position to hang on to the top spot in the Central.

They are now 20-14. The North Siders are 6-10 over the past two-and-a-half weeks, but they are still reasonably well out in front thanks to their hot start.

The lead is 3.5 games over the Cardinals, but that is more than a little weird of course because the gents from St. Louis have seven games in hand, i.e., they actually lead the Cubs in the loss column by a game (they have 13 setbacks). The Cubs are ahead of the Brewers by 4.5 and the Reds by 5.

Sunday's game also almost certainly served as the bridge from Tyler Chatwood in the starting rotation to Jose Quintana moving back in. And Quintana looks like he is ready to have at it after he turned in another solid three-inning stint on Sunday. In his first appearance for the Cubs in Chatwood's previous start, Quintana pitched three great innings but then tried to go four and gave up two hits and a walk. Casey Sadler then came in and immediately gave up a grand slam.

Chatwood was pitching much better this time around but he hurt his arm in the third inning and it didn't look good. If it is a serious injury, Chatwood's almost utterly star-crossed stint with the Cubs will almost certainly be over. If so, happy trails to a stand-up guy whose stuff was almost too good (a stretch of wildness always seemed to be lurking even when he was getting outs). Sometimes baseball is a bitch. In fact, it is a bitch a lot of the time.

At the other end of the spectrum, perhaps the coolest thing about the team right now is that Jason Heyward is as hot as he has ever been. My wife the bitter Red Sox fan (seriously, how could six-billionaire John Henry have essentially given away second-best player in baseball, Mookie Betts? She isn't going to get over it for a long, long time) said over the weekend that if there is one Cub she wants to do well it is Heyward.

Safe to say many of us feel that way. And not just because he is the only Black regular in the Cubs' lineup - which put him in a tough spot this past week. By Sunday it seemed as though Heyward had convinced most people that he didn't want the rest of the team to sit out in the middle of the week when athletes of all ethnicities in three major sports went on wildcat strikes. But he was in a tough spot when he sat out solo against the Tigers and will continue to be so.

It is an accepted fact that Heyward is a respected, quiet leader. But he has also underperformed his extra-large contract so far in his Cubs career. Heyward has always led by example at least in terms of his work ethic. It would be a glorious thing if he could go ahead and lead with his bat for a while.

Heyward's batting average is now .286; his OPS has skied to .962. And thank goodness for all that because other than Ian Happ no one else on the team is hitting better than Anthony Rizzo's .235.

I know David Ross thinks he will be admitting he is "panicking" if he changes the lineup, but for gosh sakes man, you need to get Javy Baez (.202) out of the three-hole. You are now moving on from the Reds' Great American Ballpark that is actually the Great American Bandbox and you can't count on six home runs in any one game again any time soon.

Time to take on the Pirates starting tomorrow (Tuesday) evening. Hopefully a well-rested Cubs squad can notch a couple wins against a team with perhaps the worst lineup in baseball.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:59 AM | Permalink

Running Bases

We called it Running Bases. Other kids might have known the game as Hot Box. Whatever its name, as few as three kids could play, and the game could go on for hours.

Two bases, maybe 60 or 70 feet apart, could be anything from squares drawn with a stick in the dirt or a couple of those orange floppy rubber bases common to our PE classes. Two basemen and one runner. The object was to get caught off base as the fielders tossed the ball back and forth and then to reach either base safely. If you were tagged out, you traded places with a defender. Advancing to the base where you didn't start would earn you a point.

This could be exhausting because the runner's stops and starts, feints and dodging required stamina, creativity and dexterity. The game frequently was interrupted when one or more participants wound up writhing on the ground, gasping for air, and laughing uncontrollably.

Which was similar to my reaction Friday evening as the White Sox botched a game-tying rundown in the ninth inning against the Royals.

In case you missed it, the Sox led 5-4 with closer Alex Colomé seeking a four-out save. After a one-out walk, Maikel Franco hit a ball to left-center, figuring he had a certain double. But, then, he's not so familiar with Luis Robert, who raced over to cut off the ball. An overconfident Franco bounded past first base as the relay came from Robert to Tim Anderson and then to second baseman Danny Mendick, who had a clear shot at Franco now caught between first and second.

Hence the game of Running Bases ensued. Let's freeze right there and do some simple math. As we all know, the distance from home plate to first base is 90 feet. However, Mendick, standing at second, was 127 feet, 3-⅜ inches from home plate with the tying run now ensconced at third. Therefore, every step toward first base, assuming Mendick would run Franco back from whence he came, would bring Mendick and the ball closer to the plate in the event that pinch runner Bubba Starling had any intention of scoring the tying run.

There was, however, a problem. Mendick immediately threw a bullet to José Abreu who had no choice but to start running Franco toward second, which is exactly where Franco thought he was going in the first place. And, of course, with each step, Abreu was moving farther away from home plate.

Let's pause again simply to say that quirky plays like this one are what makes the game so interesting, unpredictable, breathtaking and pleasing. It's one reason why we keep watching. You never know what's going to happen.

Nearing second base, Franco almost simultaneously dove at the bag while Abreu lunged to tag him, and the umpire ruled Franco safe. In this video age of replays and challenges, catcher Yasmani Grandal looked to the dugout to see if Sox manager Rickey Renteria was going to appeal the play at second. Problem Number 2: No one had called time out. So while Grandal's attention went elsewhere, Abreu, realizing that he was on the seat of his pants in the middle of the infield, threw the ball home from a prone position even though Starling remained motionless at third base.

José made a lovely throw, a one-hopper right on the money. Problem Number 3: Grandal wasn't looking. His attention was on the Sox dugout. The ball rolled right between his legs, and since Colomé's participation in this circus was strictly as a spectator, the sphere rolled to the backstop as Starling sped home with the tying run.



Fortunately for the Sox and Grandal, all was forgotten and forgiven moments later in the bottom of the ninth when Yasmani deposited an Ian Kennedy pitch far up into the right-field seats for a 6-5 White Sox walkoff victory.

Then, Robert connected in the 10th inning on Sunday for a three-run shot to complete two weekend exhilarating victories over the hapless Royals.

*

With a team that's posted 11 wins in its last 13 games and finds itself tied for first place with Cleveland, why focus on the one play that made them look downright silly on Friday night? Like I said, the game's goofiness, even when the victim is your hometown club, creates memories, stories, and head-shaking moments. Like Gordon Beckham's knockdown of his third baseman on a routine infield popup a few years ago. Man, that was something!

And it doesn't just happen to the White Sox. Look no further than Saturday afternoon in St. Louis where Cleveland eked out a 2-1 win over the Cardinals. In the bottom of the 10th with one out, Yadier Molina was on third base representing the tying run. Yes, the same Yadier Molina who is a 17-year veteran catcher no doubt headed for the Hall of Fame.

Matt Carpenter hit a bouncer toward first that hugged the line. Carlos Santana easily fielded it and stepped on the base for the second out. But wait. Santana got so enthused that he juggled the ball upon seeing Molina calmly standing stone-still halfway between third and home. Santana secured the ball and did exactly what he's supposed to do - run across the diamond directly at Molina, who apparently thought the ball was foul. He was tagged out to end the game.

The Cleveland-St. Louis game was getting plenty of attention in the White Sox TV booth as Jason Benetti not only was describing the Sox game but also telling us what was going on in St. Louis as well as in Detroit where the Tigers were beating the Twins in a doubleheader.

There used to be a saying in baseball, "Act like you've been there." Some of the greatest players - Joe DiMaggio comes to mind - rarely showed any emotion regardless of their memorable heroics. Hit a game-ending homer? Maybe a smile, but the modus operandi was, "What did you expect? This is what I do."

However, even with a month left in the season, Benetti isn't only scoreboard watching, he's giving us a play-by-play of the teams the Sox have to beat. If this were the final weekend of the season and the Sox were in the race, I could understand that. But now? By far the most important result is what the Sox do. If the boys keep winning, the Twins and Indians matter not at all.

But, in fact, the Sox haven't "been there before." At least not for a long time. And this is a very different era for all kinds of reasons. Not only are the Sox winning with a delightful mixture of youth and experience, but they're doing so with a theatrical potion of guys like Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito.

After his majestic no-hitter last Tuesday against the Pirates, in which only one batter reached base on a walk, Giolito certainly gave shoutouts to catcher James McCann and his mates' defense, but he also said, "After the seventh I was like, I got six outs left. I'm gonna make this happen. I knew it was in there. I knew it was possible that I'd be able to pull one off."

You didn't hear "I was just fortunate out there today," or "I have to thank the good Lord above," or "I'm just lucky to be here." Vocalizing confidence and exuding belief in oneself are acceptable behaviors today. Guys like Giolito might have had these thoughts, but they didn't disclose them in years gone by. One cliché after another is becoming enshrined in the past along with hard slides at second base and brushback pitches. We even have seven-inning games. As long as the White Sox keep winning, who cares?

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

August 30, 2020

The Jolie Laide Of Philosophy

Stylishly disillusioned and angsty, I started wearing turtlenecks and tweed blazers regularly when I was 16. Not so coincidentally, that's when I also gravitated to Existentialism. I was a high school student taking classes I didn't care for; forced into a routine I was strangled by; had responsibilities I was burdened with shackled to my ankles. I searched for a meaning, a reason, an excuse to justify my stagnated life. Surprise: I didn't find much of an answer. "That's just how it is" or "We all had to go through it, too" was the comforting counsel of some adults. Others tried to convince me that these were the necessary growing pains one had to endure to eventually comfortably take strives as an adult. But I felt I was wasting my youth in preparation for an adulthood I was not interested in. I was not just confused as to why things were the way they were; I was angry. My anger brewed into bitterness until I grew tired, not just of raging in vain: I had grown tired of life. Melodramatic? Excessive? Prematurely flinging myself into an emotional crisis? Perhaps. But I very much doubt that the core of my teenage rage is shared among many, across all age groups. At that age, I relished too much in the aesthetic of Existentialism to actually read deeply into the philosophy. Little did I know that the answer I was so desperately looking for was underneath my nose, in the very aesthetic and philosophy I claimed to live by.

Existentialism is more a movement than a rigid set of doctrines. Nineteenth-century philosophers Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are credited as the founders, but other important figures include Camus and Sartre from the 20th century. The leaders and writers who are regarded as Existentialists, though, seldom share identical philosophies; instead, they share a concern with the Human Condition, the relationship between existence and essence, and predetermined meanings ascribed to life.

The key questions Existentialism poses are, "Why am I here?," What does it mean to be human?" and "How should I live my life?" Such questions often lead to depressing answers (or no answers at all), leading to recurring themes of death, boredom, the absurdity of life, and nothingness. The absurdity, Camus argued, is that humans long for order in an disorganized world, and they long for meaning in an meaningless world. From this notion arose Camus' famous The Myth of Sisyphus, in which the Greek mythological figure is forever condemned to roll a large stone up a hill only to have it roll back down just as he gets it to the top.

Sartre's claim that "Existence precedes essence" suggests that human life has no central, predetermined meaning to it. It is entirely up the humans to create their own. Life cannot be served a definition on a silver platter, with either religion or some other ideological system standing as the diligent server. That burden plops unapologetically and unavoidably into the lap of mankind. For this reason, people often think Existentialism is an atheistic philosophy. While it certainly can be for some, the movement can also take on a theistic reading. With his famous "Leap of Faith," Kiekegaard cooly sidesteps using facts and logic to prove there is a God by reiterating that life is not rational, so rationality is a useless approach to solving dilemmas. Instead, he says, irrationality should be approached with an equally irrational leap of faith.

One ought to not confuse Existentialists with Nihilists. That's like confusing a Frenchman for a German; it can only ever end in blows. While both believe there is no objective meaning to life, Existentialists take the slightly more optimistic route that humans can ascribe a personal meaning to their existence. Nihilists are steadfast in their belief that not even a subjective meaning can be ascribed.

Existentialists believe we are "condemned to be free." Freedom seldom is associated with something as negative as condemnation, but in this scenario, freedom is not really free - it is neither "carefree" nor "hedonistic"; rather, it is burdened with responsibilities which we cannot escape, "which can lead to despair and anguish; even questioning the point of living. The classic 'existential crisis.'"

In the atheistic version of Existentialism, the absence of God means there cannot be a universal set of values, distinction between right and wrong, and explanation for what is good and what is evil. Responsibility, however, must still be assumed; choices must be made. However, because there is no God there is no explanation for why the world is the way it is, leading to the aforementioned absurdity. This leads to the conclusion that though humans are free, "whatever we do is ultimately meaningless" and that nothing can "ultimately satisfy us." The theistic reading suggests that because life and all it has to offer has not yet filled "the void," humans must turn to a higher being. There is, nonetheless, the "existential paradox," which says humans are separated from God (thanks to Adam and Eve's munchies getting them banished from the Garden of Eden), but humans remain "Godward." In other words, we yearn for what we are separated and kept away from.

Angst is also a common theme in Existentialism, deriving from "understanding how many choices we face and how little understanding we can ever have of how to exercise the choices wisely." It is, in a way, analysis paralysis: we have so much to choose from, and we know we have an abundance, but we're crippled by our fears and ignorance from making the right decision. This evokes anxiety and anguish.

Kierekegaard urges us to "wake up and give up our cozy sentimental illusions." Modern life, with its materialism, consumerism, societal expectations, and pseudo-moral stances, is just a sorry attempt to distract humans from the bottomless abyss of meaninglessness that we are thrown into by modern life itself.

If Existentialism were a woman, she would be described as being jolie laide, which Merriam-Webster defines as being "attractive though not conventionally pretty." While there might not be a bright sparkle in this movement, there is still a sort of beauty one might see if they look closely enough. Yes, many of our lives are meaningless; however, that is because we chose to live in a meaningless way. Just as we chose that route, we can just as easily choose to transition into a set of values, principles, and responsibilities that are meaningful to us. Here one won't find glass castles built on sand. No rose-tinted glasses. No ideals that are bound to fail. With its emphasis on freedom, action, and responsibility, Existentialism offers a reality that you can control. It's not setting you up for failure with an overly ideal worldview; it tells you how it is, but gives you a way to cope.

Congratulations: You're free! You can create your own meaning. Daunting though this might seem at first, Existentialism offers mankind an out from the preconceived notions and designs society thrusts upon us. One's life meaning might change overtime. Existentialism offers the flexibility most people need with their lives. The person we are as children is not the same as the person we are as teenagers, which certainly isn't the same person we are as adults. How could we possibly fit into one life meaning throughout all the variable stages, priorities, and values we're experiencing? Since Existentialism believes only humans can create their meaning, this inherently gives us the power to throw away whatever "meaning" we're living by now and search for a new, more appropriate one. In the hyperactive society we live in, where we're constantly told to prepare for the future, Existentialism lets us take a moment to examine who we are today, and live by those standards. If you choose the right kind of responsibility, it no longer is a burdensome obligation as many of our socially prescribed responsibilities are; rather, it is something greater to which you can devote yourself. Choosing a responsibility that you're keen on allows you to approach accountability and dedication in a new light. You're not being forced to pick up this personal duty; you decided to do it all on your own. Existentialism gives us refreshing self-autonomy, authority, and maturity.

Though the Existentialists might be convinced humans are "condemned to be free," the individualism, responsibility, and action this movement champions erodes any sort of condemnation attached to freedom. Life is in our hands; we are the masters who decide what flies and what doesn't. One cannot outrun life and the responsibilities it carries; however, by accepting that fact, buckling down to pick up a value system one believes in, and taking action on responsibilities one sees fit, the inevitable condemnation is being embraced and twisted to work for us. No longer is one told something is out of their control. Existentialism gives us the tools we need to embrace the condemnation and make it work for us.

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Previously by E.K. Mam:
*
How Studying History Made Me A Stoic.

* Dear High School Students And Recent Graduates . . .

* Tunes To Remedy Any Existential Crisis.

* Flex You.

* Simply Cynicism.

* Suffering With Stoics & Cynics.

* Machiavelli's Prince Charming.

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Comments welcome.

-

1. From Robert Hagedorn:

"There is, nonetheless, the 'existential paradox,' which says humans are separated from God (thanks to Adam and Eve's munchies getting them banished from the Garden of Eden), but humans remain 'Godward.'"

The snake convinces Adam and Eve to disobey their only commandment from God, and eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The commandment they disobey is God's commandment to them in Genesis 1:28 to "Be fruitful and multiply." But Adam and Eve disobey the commandment by eating from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of from the forbidden tree's next-door neighbor in the midst of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). They eat from the wrong tree. Thus, they commit a double disobedience: they fail to procreate by doing what they are forbidden to do, while at the same time, they fail to procreate by not doing what they are commanded to do. Both failures occur simultaneously.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:38 PM | Permalink

Patronizing Evil: The Nonprofit Sector Perpetuates The Worst Legacies Of Capitalism

On August 20th, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around the country, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donated $10 million to Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research. On its face, Dorsey's donation looks like a demonstration of his commitment to social justice. But Dorsey's company spent nearly 15 years profiting off of hate speech. And the racist tweets that Twitter peddles have real world consequences; a 2019 NYU study found a connection between hateful tweets and real-life hate crimes. It was only last month that Twitter finally took real action on hate speech - after Dorsey accumulated $8.3 billion in wealth from the platform. Dorsey's antiracism donation is only one hundredth of a percent of the money that he made by monetizing hateful content.

Donations by the one percent to nonprofit causes have always held a place of reverence in American society. The nonprofit sector is seen as something like the angel on the shoulder of the American body politic, while the for-profit sector is the devil on the other shoulder. American philanthropy is seen as a countervailing force that makes us feel like we live in a generous society.

The reality of the nonprofit sector is nowhere near angelic. The purpose of the nonprofit sector writ large is not to solve social problems, but to perpetuate them. Nonprofits provide political cover for the rich to exploit people as much as possible while minimizing what they are required to invest back into social welfare. Jack Dorsey is allowed to make billions promoting hateful content, so long as he makes a high-profile donation every once in a while.

The nonprofit sector does prevent further harm. Without it, people would feel capitalism's harsh realities much more acutely. More people would starve, more people would be homeless, and more people, frankly, would die. But nonprofits are a part of the system, not a solution. The nonprofit industry keeps the damage done by the rich to a socially acceptable minimum by providing scant relief to the very worst off among us.

Like Dorsey, wealthy people deflect attention from their mistreatment of workers by giving to charitable causes. When Elon Musk faced criticism for busting unions at Tesla production facilities, for example, he gave to the Sierra Club and asked the Sierra Club's executive director to publicize his giving to deflect attention away from his harmful activities. (The Sierra Club complied.) When Jeff Bezos faced criticism, and potential legislative action, over Amazon headquarters kicking off Seattle's housing crisis, he gave $97.5 million to nonprofits providing homeless services. Major donations change the conversation by providing good publicity. They also ensure that nothing fundamentally changes.

Homelessness is a perfect example of how nonprofits perpetuate, rather than fix, problems. As Erica West writes at Socialist Worker, nonprofits frame the terms of what solutions are "appropriate." The fact that homeless shelters exist perpetuates the idea that shelters are the appropriate solution to homelessness, rather than more radical organizing or changing the economic model of housing. Homeless shelters often fail to serve the people most in need, such as trans youth, because they rely on categorizing people based on gender to meet their target demographics, missing need on the ground. The very fact that homelessness still exists is a testament to the fact that nonprofits aren't meant to solve problems; the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that it would cost $20 billion to end homelessness entirely. Bezos's gift was almost 20% of that sum, but it would be ridiculous to say that homelessness is anywhere near "ended" today because of it.

Charitable giving isn't even as "good" as it seems at face value. America's philanthropic system is centered on the needs of the rich, not the needy, by design. The backbone of the American philanthropic system - the charitable tax deduction - was established alongside the federal income tax in 1917. It was meant to incentivize the wealthy to continue to fund public services despite having to pay the new tax. Wealthy individuals like Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller had been funding research, museums, libraries, and programs for children. The government didn't want them to stop because, if they did, the government itself would need to provide those services to its citizens.

The result was a system of charitable giving that robs the government of much-needed taxpayer money. For every tax-deductible dollar given to charity, taxpayers lose between 37 and 57 cents in tax revenue. Only the richest people in America can avoid taxes through the charitable deductions. In 2017, just over 10 percent of taxpayers were able to use the deduction. Today, the rich cheat the taxpayers out of necessary government funding for the services that the rich were intended to provide, all while looking generous. Instead of a strong social safety net, the people are left with a patchwork of privatized social services provided by nonprofits. Essentially, nonprofits exist because of a tax loophole that benefits only the rich.

The charitable tax deduction means that money that should be allocated through a democratic decision-making process is left to the whims of individual donors. More often than not, the rich choose not to give to social-service nonprofits at all. According to Slate, more than half of large donations by the very rich went to the already multibillion-dollar endowments of their alma maters. In 2015, the universities receiving the most money in "charitable" donations - Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, John Hopkins, and Yale - already had endowments of more than $5 billion. After ultra-rich private universities, the top "charitable" causes of the wealthy are museums, cultural art centers, and high-end hospitals, all of which serve the rich, not the general public.

When money does filter down to fund privatized social services, it comes heavily burdened with restrictions. The resulting system is referred to as the nonprofit industrial complex, which is defined in the anthology The Revolution Will Not Be Funded as "a set of symbiotic relationships that link political and financial technologies of state and owning-class control with surveillance over public political ideology, including and especially emergent progressive and leftist social movements." Nonprofits are funded by grants from either the government, private foundations, individual donors, or a combination of the three. Government and foundations set the rules for how money will be distributed and used, preventing nonprofits from doing more radical work or from working on specific issues entirely.

Ultimately, funding dictates that nonprofit work must ultimately be capitalism-maintaining, not reforming or reimagining. Social justice-oriented advocates who want to create real change are prevented from doing so through the very structure of the nonprofit funding model. As a result, their energy is diverted from grassroots organizing and leftist movements and siphoned into organizations financially obligated to maintain the status quo.

The fact that nonprofits are dependent on private foundations is particularly troublesome. Private foundations are funded by private wealth, and private wealth in America is deeply rooted in slavery. The profits of slave labor formed the nest eggs of many American dynasties that continue to this day - the Byrds, the Carters, the Roosevelts, the Cabots, the Du Ponts, the Forbes'. These "old money" families all made their fortunes in slavery, and, today, these families use that money to run the charitable foundations that then run the American nonprofit sector. The "new money" families in America - the Bezos's, the Waltons, the Mars', the Kochs - made their fortunes through a less-extreme form of worker exploitation than slavery, but worker exploitation nonetheless, through union-busting, long hours, unsafe working conditions, and low wages.

It is important to note that all of the richest people in America are white, and a disproportionate majority of them are male, meaning that billions of dollars of funding are entirely controlled by white people. A significant portion of this money was literally made off of the backs of enslaved people, and the rest of it was made largely through worker exploitation. Foundation funding then goes to the nonprofits themselves, where the overwhelming majority of nonprofit leaders are white. The highest-funded nonprofits, with multimillion dollars of funding, are disproportionately run by white men. These realities are particularly disturbing when you consider that most social justice nonprofits exist in order to serve the needs of low-income communities of color.

Only 8 percent to 9 percent of grant-making from foundations actually goes back into communities of color. And women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people are relegated to the lower levels of the nonprofit workforce, with no real power or decision-making authority. As a result, the dollars made from the exploitation of mostly black and brown people throughout centuries of American history are kept out of reach, swirling back and forth among the upper echelons of America's white elite, all in the name of "philanthropy." The nonprofit superstructure keeps money at the top, through trustee fees of hundreds of thousands of dollars and nonprofit pay scales commensurate with the corporate sector.

Meanwhile, the people nonprofits are meant to serve are exploited on promotional materials and funding pitches, with the most tragic stories told by upper-level executives in order to secure more money. As activist Ashlee Marie Preston points out, nonprofits essentially market and monetize the misfortunes of other people to the rich, who then absolve themselves of their guilt through large, one-time donations.

The internal politics of large nonprofits are often directly opposed to their public work. In 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that works against hate groups in the U.S., ousted its founder over persistent racial- and gender-based harassment of staff. Michael Johnson, the first Black CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, an organization purportedly dedicated to empowering individuals, was forced to resign in 2018 after he was racially harassed by his board of directors. (In 2018, during my internship at the ACLU, I witnessed discrimination against trans employees at the same time the organization was filing the court case that would enshrine the rights of LGBTQ+ people to not be discriminated against at work.)

Just like the for-profit companies that generate money to fund them, many nonprofits rely on exploiting their workforce. Throughout the industry, workers are underpaid for working long hours. Lack of compensation for demanding work, with little institutional support and, too often, the stress of workplace discrimination, results in high turnover at nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit leaders refer to the "2 1/2 year" lifespan of an employee at a nonprofit. Compared to for-profit companies, nonprofits are also more likely to emotionally manipulate their employees, by calling their workplace a "family" or expecting employees to do additional unpaid labor to demonstrate their commitment to the cause.

Nonprofits are not spaces of liberation or even career-building for employees. Since most nonprofit employees are women, and many are women of color, the nonprofit model relies on the feminization of the profession and racist stereotypes about the value of black women's labor in order to continue to economically disadvantage already economically disadvantaged groups. It is well documented that women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals and other oppressed groups experience discrimination in nonprofit workplaces based on their identities. For example, Vox found that one nonprofit was paying its disabled workers in gift cards. Worker exploitation keeps frontline workers at the bottom, often only one paycheck away from being in need of the very services that they are providing.

All of this is not to say that all nonprofits are exploitative, or that nonprofit workers should be blamed for the sins of management. On the contrary, smaller nonprofits and grassroots organizations are often doing community-sustaining work. Rather than the rich, it is low-income communities that provide for their own needs. As The Atlantic reports, the poorest Americans give the most. While the wealthiest Americans donate only 1.3 percent of their income, the poorest donate 3.2 percent on average, and less affluent zip codes give more relative to their richer neighbors. While the rich give to museums and rich universities, the poor actually fund the social services that their communities need.

The nonprofit system is not the antidote to the excesses of American capitalism - it is an essential component of capitalism. Indeed, the nonprofit and for-profit sectors operate in tandem in the furtherance of the brutal concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, at the expense of the many. The nonprofit sector isn't the angel keeping the for-profit sector's devil in check. Both sectors are better understood as the demonic twins of capitalism, profiting off of and perpetuating the pain of marginalized communities, all the while keeping any real solutions permanently out of reach.

Alexi Jenkins is a freelance writer who works in the nonprofit sector. This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 AM | Permalink

August 28, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #319: Business As Usual Is Canceled

Made us look. Plus: The Giolito Shuffle; Cubs Hit Rough Patch - Except Financially; Bears' Broken Backfield; Crow Dough; Chicago Skyward; Fire Torch Orange & Blue; Gold Stars For Red Stars; and The NU/ND Report.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #319: Business As Usual Canceled

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* 319.

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:39: Making You Look.

Michael Wilbon.

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The NBA and voting.

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The Baltimore Ravens.

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Joe Walsh.

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Mets-Marlins.

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Anthony Rizzo.

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Jason Heyward.

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Laurence Holmes.

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Danny Parkins.

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Jason Goff.

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33:24: The Giolito Shuffle.

* Plus: The White Sox Lumber Company.

* And: Two Aces.

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38:44: Cubs Hit Rough Patch - Except Financially.

* Coffman: Maybe The Cubs Should "Panic."

* Gonzales: Cubs Cutting Scouting And Player Development Departments.

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53:40: Bears' Broken Backfield.

* David Montgomery has a groin.

* Hoge: Foles More Adequate Than Trubisky.

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58:44: Crow Dough.

* Crawford: Playing Time More Important Than Money.

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1:01:13: Chicago Skyward.

* James Wade Has Strong Words About Jacob Blake Shooting.

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1:02:06: Fire Torch Orange & Blue.

* A look at the Fire's goals.

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1:04:25: Gold Stars For Red Stars.

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1:04:39: The NU/ND Report.

* Rutter: Evanston's Golden Child.

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STOPPAGE: 6:17

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Me and Jim "Coach" Coffman discussed Kenosha and the ensuing events on our sports podcast today, check it out.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #319: Business As Usual Is Canceled
Made us look. Plus: The Giolito Shuffle; Cubs Hit Rough Patch - Except Financially; Bears' Broken Backfield; Crow Dough; Chicago Skyward; Fire Torch Orange & Blue; Gold Stars For Red Stars; and The NU/ND Report.

If you click through, remember to scroll down for the Show Notes.

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Programming Note
For completists and archivists, there was no column Wednesday or Thursday because the census buried me.

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Real Death Toll
"The official COVID-19 death toll in Illinois may not account for at least 1,000 fatalities - and potentially far more - that could be attributable to the pandemic, according to a Tribune analysis of federal data."

From everything I've read up to now, it's deep into the "potentially far more" category. But let's see what the Trib has to say.

Through July 25, Illinois had officially recorded 7,397 COVID-19 deaths. But public health experts say that for a fuller picture of the pandemic's toll, it's important to look at so-called excess deaths - or deaths beyond the number that would typically occur during a given time period.

Examining excess deaths can help capture both COVID-19 cases that went uncounted and the greater numbers of deaths from conditions exacerbated by the pandemic, such as untreated heart attacks or fatal drug overdoses . . .

From Feb. 2 through July 25, Illinois had officially recorded 10,252 more deaths than typically would be expected, according to historical data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Helping explain much of that excess are the 7,397 COVID-19 deaths reported during that period. But that still leaves an additional 2,855 deaths beyond what is typical.

In essence, that's 1 in 4 "excess" deaths in that period not explicitly labeled as being caused by COVID-19.

That's a lot of death that far too many seem numb about. Just let those number sink in.

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You'll have to click through for the nitty-gritty of the data, and a number of charts, but I'll highlight this:

Regardless, the data shows the toll has fallen heavily on nonwhite residents. In early May, for example, Hispanic residents of Illinois saw three times as many deaths as has been typical for that period - with most, but not all, of those extra deaths blamed on COVID-19.

It might seem trite to say, but can you imagine the response of this city, this state and this country if rich people saw three times as many deaths as typical?

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The Status Quo Was Uncivil
"The Chicago Police Department is preparing for a potential wave of weekend protests in the wake of civil unrest north of the Illinois border, sparked by the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake," the Sun-Times reports.

Can we stop using the phrase "civil unrest?" Say what you mean: protests in the wake of shootings by police and a teenage militia member that have left two dead and one severely wounded.

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"Civil unrest" is not just a vague, antiseptic piece of jargon; it makes the protesters the protaganists of the "unrest," instead of the police, whose actions have caused the protests. If anything, people are protesting police unrest, but it's not just unrest, it's a spate of state-sponsored murders. That's just the fact, Jack, and that's what our business is about.

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"The department's new Critical Incident Response team, consisting of about 200 officers, will be deployed downtown. 'Arrest teams' outfitted with helmets and shields will enter crowds to arrest alleged 'agitators,' [police chief David] Brown said."

In other words, no lessons have been learned. The biggest reason why public opinion has shifted so dramatically so quickly in favor of the BLM movement is because nice white people can no longer deny what they've seen with their own eyes: That the main agitators are the police themselves.

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"The department also conducted its 'first of many tabletop exercises' on Thursday night with an emergency safety drill downtown, following two waves of looting in the Loop."

Here's how those ended, which doesn't give me a lot of confidence:

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Chicago Weather Forecast Is WAP
Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Remembering Justin Townes Earle
Once a Rogers Park resident, always in our hearts.

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How The World's Billionaires Are Cashing In On COVID-19
Oxfam calls it "pandemic profiteering."

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Where Have I Heard These Trump Lines Before?
From the KKK, that's where.

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Kenneth Copeland Loses Gig
Hipster megachurch replacement also a piece of work.

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Evanston's Golden Child
"You can already peer over the hill and see that titanic neighborhood struggle. If Notre Dame or hometown Northwestern beats out the other for him, the loser will be depressed. The only way it would worse for the Irish is if long-hated Michigan wins the battle," our very own David Rutter writes.

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Chicago: American Medina
Muslim Chicagoans share their stories of faith, identity, and personal journeys.

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Harlem Globetrotters' New Mobile Game
Including cameos by the Washington Generals.

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ChicagoReddit

Does anybody know where star lounge used to get their almond croissants? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Fender Custom Shop 1952 Telecaster HS "Chicago Special"

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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It just goes on and on and on.

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Maybe he meant crime in the executive branch.


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I despise Chicago Exceptionalism.

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The Beachwood Grip It And Rip It Line: Rip it good.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2020

Harlem Globetrotters Release New Mobile Game

In partnership with developer Cosi Games and publisher Gamejam Company, the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters have announced the release of a new iOS and Android game called Harlem Globetrotters Basketball.

The Harlem Globetrotters are worldwide icons, synonymous with family entertainment and great basketball skills, and represent 90-plus years of breaking down barriers, acts of goodwill, and a commitment to fans that goes beyond the game.

The Globetrotters on the court feature some of the best athletes on the planet, unmatched fan interaction, incredible ball-handling wizardly, rim-rattling dunks, and laugh out loud family entertainment. The Harlem Globetrotters Basketball mobile game brings the excitement of a Globetrotters experience to millions of consumers through their mobile devices.

HGI20_Web_Mobile_NewApp.jpg

"Since we are in an extended timeout at the moment, we are excited to offer a new way for fans to interact with and experience the Harlem Globetrotters through the release of this new mobile game," said Jeff Munn, executive vice president and general manager of the Harlem Globetrotters.

The new Harlem Globetrotters Basketball mobile game is designed as a free-to-play casual game. It offers users the challenge of sinking consecutive shots in order to advance to new levels, while attempting to overcome an increasingly difficult set of obstacles.

As users progress through the game they enter different settings, such as a playground, a gymnasium, and a beach court.

The game features several actual, current stars of the Harlem Globetrotters, as well as a couple of cameo appearances from the Washington Generals, the Globetrotters long-time on-court opponent.

"It is a real joy to develop a game based on a brand with such legacy as the Harlem Globetrotters," said Joshua Blitz, CEO of Cosi Games. "We hope users of all ages will enjoy the gameplay and have fun on the journey with the Globetrotters."

The Harlem Globetrotters Basketball game is available for immediate download by visiting either the Apple App Store for iOS devices or Google Play store for Android devices, or by clicking here.

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Previously in the Harlem Globetrotters:
* Harlem Globetrotters Bring It All Back Home.

* Dizzy Grant Dribbles Chicago.

* Give Globetrotter Goose His Due.

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And:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:14 PM | Permalink

Chicago: American Medina

"This introductory video for American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago (October 2019-May 2021) greets visitors as they enter the gallery.

"American Medina draws from more than 100 interviews conducted with Muslim Chicagoans sharing their stories of faith, identity, and personal journeys.

"Dozens of objects from local individuals and organizations, such as garments, artwork, and photographs, as well as videos and interactive experiences expand on how and why Chicago is known as the American Medina."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:06 PM | Permalink

Kenneth Copeland Loses Gig

"The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), a worldwide television network that for years has aired a number of controversial prosperity preachers, says that as part of its 'new vision' and changes to the lineup, it will no longer air Word of Faith teacher Kenneth Copeland, whose Believer's Voice of Victory broadcast had been a part of TBN for 40 years," Christian News reports.

"Airing in Copeland's stead will be Steven Furtick, a hipster megachurch preacher who reportedly lives a lavish lifestyle and often preaches man-centered sermons."

Here's all you need to know:


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See also: Kenneth Copeland Says Anyone Who Doesn't Vote for Trump Is "Guilty of Murder."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:51 PM | Permalink

Where Have I Heard These Trump Lines Before?

Rory McVeigh wrote The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, a study of the KKK in the 1920s, in 2009 - long before Donald Trump became president. But it could almost be about Trump today.

In the 1920s, white, male, U.S.-born Protestants worried they were losing status, economic clout and political power.

Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe were settling in large numbers in industrial cities, where they took unskilled, low-paying manufacturing jobs in large plants. Simultaneously, many African Americans were moving north for industrial jobs. More women were working, too.

Many of the anxious white Protestants were skilled laborers or small business owners. Large companies, chain stores and the Sears catalog were out-competing them throughout the country.

Feeling squeezed out by the changing economy, the KKK framed American jobs as the rightful property of what they called "100 percent Americans." They wrapped themselves in the flag, claimed immigrants were stealing jobs, and attempted to deny African Americans any further mobility.

risekkk.jpg

You've heard that "stealing our jobs" line before.

It was true that the structural changes from industrialization hurt many small businesses and skilled laborers in the 1920s, just as neoliberal globalization hurt many workers and their communities more recently.

Yet instead of confronting this economic system, hardline nativists then and now sought to preserve the livelihoods of white people by depriving everyone else - playing on the fears of white Americans to gain their support.

Here's a sample comparison of 1920s KKK and Donald Trump quotes.

KKK: "Klansmen believe that the time is at least near when American citizenship must be protected by restricting franchise to men and women who are able through birth and education to understand Americanism."

Donald Trump: "We're looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby - congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen . . . It's frankly ridiculous."

KKK: "Fifty thousand Mexicans have sneaked into the United States during the past few months and taken the jobs of Americans . . . All of the Mexicans are low type peons."

Donald Trump: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."

KKK: "The negro was brought to America. He came as a slave. We are in honor and duty bound to promote his health and happiness. But he cannot be assimilated . . . Rushing into cities, he is retrograding rather than advancing."

Donald Trump: "Nobody has done more for black people than I have." But also: "The Suburban Housewives of America" should "no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood."

McVeigh wrote, "Black men who dared to associate with white women, or who dared to challenge racial inequality in any of its dimensions, were immune from the Klan's paternalistic protection."

Donald Trump wrote, "Bring back the death penalty" for the Central Park 5, a group of five Black men falsely accused and imprisoned for assaulting a white jogger.

And, of course, when Black people protested police brutality, Trump threatened them with "vicious dogs" and tweeted: "LAW & ORDER!"

One hundred years apart, they are saying the same things. When I quizzed a friend on who said what, she said she could only tell them apart because the Klan's grammar was better than Trump's.

Job losses and other economic pains must be addressed, but we can fix these problems in a way that's inclusive, not violent and divisive. Instead, white nationalists from the Klan to Trump glorify a past in which white men had more power than everyone else, casting themselves as protectors of white America against inferior "others."

Jill Richardson is pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This post was distributed by OtherWords.

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Previously by Jill Richardson:

* Seinfeld's Tired Take On Women And Marriage.

* Fixing The ADA.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:56 PM | Permalink

How The World's Billionaires Are Cashing In On COVID-19

This month Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of the asset management firm BlackRock, was heralded in the financial press as the highest-paid boss in his industry. Already a billionaire, Fink's annual remuneration rose to $25.3 million. That's more than 500 times the median salary of workers in the United States.

This is the same Larry Fink who is one the most outspoken advocates of "corporate purpose" - the idea that corporations should create value for all "stakeholders." In Fink's own words, it is the responsibility of the corporate world to "address pressing social and economic issues."

trump_blackrock_coronavirus.jpgPresident Donald Trump greets BlackRock CEO Larry Fink at the beginning of a policy forum in the State Dining Room at the White House in 2017/Chip Somodevilla, Getty

Massive personal financial gain might on the surface seem at odds with an espoused social justice agenda. After all, inequality is the political problem of our age. Look a little deeper and there is no contradiction. This is all part of a new corporate political populism that appeals to progressive politics while benefiting from widening economic inequality.

Cashing In On COVID

Fink is not alone. COVID-19 has been of a boon for the billionaire class. While workers are suffering job losses, employment insecurity and wage stagnation, the 1% are raking it in. Oxfam calls it "pandemic profiteering."

Among the big winners: Amazon chief Jeff Bezos's wealth grew by $48 billion between March and June this year; Tesla's Elon Musk gained $7.2 billion; and former Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer $15.7 billion.

The 634 people on the Forbes billionaire list increased their wealth by $685 billion between March and April. That's up by around 25% to a staggering $3.7 trillion. Meanwhile across the world inequality is widening as working people take on more and more debt.

Corporate Social Purpose

The world's financial elites taking the lion's share of the value created by other people's work is of little surprise. What is much more notable is that this is happening at a time that these very same people are on the front foot promoting "corporate social purpose."

Larry Fink is a paradigm case. For years he has been hectoring other CEOs about how they need to take over from the failures of government when it comes to the provision of public goods. Back in 2018, he urged his fellow corporate chiefs to not just focus on their financial returns but to care about "the prosperity and security of their fellow citizens."

Under COVID-19, Fink is on record as saying that "stakeholder capitalism is only going to become more and more important," with the successful companies being the ones that focus on "their clients, their employees, the society where they work and operate."

CEO Socialism?

Corporate-purpose warriors like Fink have been vilified in the conservative press for practicing "corporate socialism" or "woke capitalism." The claim is that business people should stay focused on the direct pursuit of commercial goals. Messing around with public purpose is simply none of their business.

Right-wing conspiracy theorists have come out in full force. Some believe that the corporate world has been hijacked by a "leftist agenda." Others say that corporations are "succumbing to progressive ideologies."

Corporations like BlackRock are portrayed by the reactionary right as having been infiltrated by latte-drinking snowflake liberals hell-bent on undermining the future of capitalism.

Corporate Political Populism

The fact is that so-called woke capitalists like Fink are profiting handsomely while COVID-19 devastates the economic well-being and security of too many working people. Woke capitalists are not socialists in disguise; they represent a very real and dangerous side of contemporary capitalism.

By tipping their hats towards progressive causes, billionaires are fast becoming corporate populists, trying appeal to what they see a shifting public sentiment. Whether it be climate change racial justice, LGBTI rights or mental health awareness, the CEOs of major corporations are increasingly wanting to position themselves as good-hearted and socially responsible citizens.

This is the perfect distraction. As their personal wealth increases in a world beset by exacerbating inequality, the CEO billionaires stand proud as they profess deeply caring progressive values.

Don't Be Fooled Again

Like other kinds of populism, corporate populism appeals to people's anxieties. In this case, it is the anxiety that selfish and greedy corporate elites will hoard the world's wealth for themselves, pillaging the planet along the way. The bitter irony is that this appeal is actually helping them get away with it.

Carl Rhodes, no relation to Steve, is an organizational studies professor at the University of Technology Sydney. His most recent books are Disturbing Business Ethics: Emmanuel Levinas and the Politics of Organization (Routeldge, 2020) and CEO Society: The Corporate Takeover of Everyday Life (Zed Books, 2018, with Peter Bloom). He is currently writing a new book, Woke Capitalism: Democracy Under Threat in the Age of Corporate Righteousness (Policy Press).

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See also:

* As Trump Pushes New Tax Cuts For Wealthy, Analysis Shows U.S. Billionaires $800 Billion Richer Since Pandemic Hit.

* It Is Time For A One-Time Pandemic Wealth Tax On Billionaires' Windfall Gains.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:25 AM | Permalink

Remembering Justin Townes Earle

"Justin Townes Earle may have had a top-notch pedigree, but his music connected with people precisely because he came across as one of them. The son of one alt-country trailblazer (Steve Earle) and the namesake of another (Townes Van Zandt), he imbued his artful narratives with humility and deep empathy. While his well-crafted songs are inseparable from his own story, what mattered most was that his characters' desolation felt real," Marc Hogan writes for Pitchfork.

"Ranging freely across country, folk, Americana, Western swing, Memphis soul, and more, he built up a prolific discography as a rootsy, down-to-earth songwriter's songwriter. He sang with a gentle rasp that made commanding a stage seem as no-big-deal as bumming a cigarette outside the venue. Upon the heartbreaking news of Earle's passing, here are five songs that can serve as an introduction to his humble gravitas."

Click through to get started.

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JTE was once on Chicago's Bloodshot Records. Here's owner Rob Miller's remembrance.

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Justin Townes Earle in the Beachwood over the years.

June 5, 2009
Beachwood Briefing: Justin Townes Earle

Beachwood Music: You lived in Chicago years ago. Where did you live, and what are your memories?

Justin Townes Earle: I was there when I was 17 for maybe a little over a year. I'd hang around the Old Town School of Folk Music. It was a bunch of really artistic people attempting to live this artistic life. I stayed on the east side of Rogers Park on Touhy and Greenleaf. At the time, it was a perfect neighborhood for me. It was rough, and there was a lot of dope. All the trouble was all right there.

Beachwood Music: I'm a former Rogers Park resident. Which places did you favor in the neighborhood?

Justin Townes Earle: Red Line Tap. Morseland. But my whole life revolved around whatever it is you call Bucktown now. On Western Avenue there was this bar that I don't even want to talk about now.

Beachwood Music: How was Chicago good to you? What made you leave?

Justin Townes Earle: For me, it was about being on my own. The friends I had in Nashville, I grew up with. Chicago was my first chance to be somewhere that no one really knew anything about me. I was able to get friends on my own terms.

But I got into a lot of trouble in such a short period of time, like a lightning flash, and all of a sudden I'm back South.

Beachwood Music: You self-released your debut, Yuma. Talk about your relationship with Bloodshot Records, which has released The Good Life and Midnight at the Movies.

Justin Townes Earle: A friend of a friend gave me an address for some guy's house, Rob. I must admit when I went over there it took me a few hours to figure out it was Rob Miller (co-founder of the label). He came and saw me play, and it all kind of happened from there. It all fell together.

Bloodshot's been nothing but good to me. Never once did they hear any of my records before I sent them to be pressed. No advance tracks, nothing. They sign people because they trust them. That's the beautiful part.

These bigger labels . . . They don't give a fuck about music anymore. Everybody who works at Bloodshot Records, especially Rob and Nan Warshaw, are huge music fans. They absolutely love what they do.

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September 25, 2009
Bloodshot Briefing: Exene's Back

Good fortune for music lovers in Southern Illinois.

Both the Bottle Rockets and Jason Isbell, formerly of the Drive-By Truckers, happen to be in Carbondale this Sunday. Brian Henneman's never played this town before. No better person to share your virginity with than Isbell, who played with Bloodshotter Justin Townes Earle in Chicago this summer.

Speaking of Earle, he won the New & Emerging Artist of the Year award at last week's Americana Music Festival. The GQ-modeling country crooner sported a maroon suit with a bow tie.

Next up for Earle is a Grammy nomination. He's fastly becoming the Main Street face of Bloodshot, and for all the right reasons.

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January 24, 2010
Bloodshot Briefing

Artist: Justin Townes Earle
Album: Midnight at the Movies
Review: "On his 2008 debut, Justin Townes Earle, son of rebel troubadour Steve Earle, seemed like he was getting up to speed with classic country and folk forms," Rolling Stone wrote [link dead; no replacement found]. "But he sounds like a natural-born honky-tonker on his new album."

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January 7, 2011
Justin Townes Earle Hearts NY

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May 31, 2011
The Weekend In Chicago Rock
At Millennium Park.

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May 14, 2012
The Weekend In Chicago Rock
At Park West

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August 7 2015
The Week In Chicago Rock
At City Winery.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2020

Evanston's Golden Child

Meet the future.

His name is Sebastian Cheeks.

He has played four varsity high school games as a linebacker at Evanston High, and won't play another until spring when Illinois resumes prep sports.

He won't be a collegian until 2023. He is a hope for someone's future, including his own.

Want a sure future bet in a business where there are none? He's the most likely kid on Chicago's North Shore to be a college star.

The programs that must bet they can uncover gems in their childhood all have said they want him. He's the Golden Child.

Oh, by the way, it's Sebastian. Not Seb.

Northwestern wants him. Notre Dame added itself last month to a list of suitors that already included Michigan, Wisconsin, Boston College, Iowa State, Maryland and Syracuse among others.

Illini recruiters are apparently in a coma. Illinois fans can hope for their return to consciousness.

You can already peer over the hill and see that titanic neighborhood struggle. If Notre Dame or hometown Northwestern beats out the other for him, the loser will be depressed. The only way it would worse for the Irish is if long-hated Michigan wins the battle.

Landing him might mean a program's defense would be settled for a full recruiting cycle. Every coach is looking for core difference-makers. Cheeks appears to be that sort.

Though he's barely put into a cameo appearance so far, the talent raters at 247Sports rate him a 4-star prospect and the 11th-best outside linebacker in the country. It's also possible he could become a premier running back because he creates havoc around the ball. We'll see.

Cheeks already was wooed by the Irish when he was a freshman and had not played a single down on the varsity. Reputations rise fast in the recruiting business. So Notre Dame and Cheeks are developing what they call a "relationship" in recruiting vernacular.

As of this summer, Cheeks is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound rocket who plays everywhere on defense. He is a heat-seeking missile, and ran back two interceptions for touchdowns in one of his first games.

Fast. Agile. Hostile. And smart.

He has the prototype body muscle configuration that projects into 6-foot-3, 235 pounds.

As Evanston coach Mike Burzawa told the trackers at Irish Sports Daily, Cheeks was a special case even as he turned into a teen.

"It was kind of amazing seeing him in eighth grade coming into Evanston. He looked like a man when he was coming into high school physically," Burzawa said. "He does an outstanding job in the classroom, in the hallways. He's an awesome kid. He's respectful. He cares about his teammates. He's a deep thinker and thinks things through. He really wants to get an understanding."

And more to the point, he is a destroyer on the field.

Mark his name as you would have Butkus when he was 15. And whatever you do, don't call him "Seb."

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was Thom Brennaman's Heart. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Ostensibly a day off from the census - some minimal tasks I needed to attend to - so now turning my attention back to this space. How in the world do I catch up? You should see my read-later file, it was already bulging at the digital seams. Now it's openly mocking me.

Let's just take a spin through my inbox, first.

"You Must Now Wear A Mask While Ordering Food, Talking To Servers When Dining Out, State Mandates," Block Club Chicago reports.

"Officials hope the new rule will protect servers and other hospitality workers, who have, for months, expressed concerns about customers not being required to wear masks when speaking with them."

It's hard to believe this hasn't been the rule up 'til now. The evidence has grown substantially in recent weeks and even months that the primary source of virus transmission is through aerosols. The virus is airborne; not so much a threat from sitting on surfaces. The reason for that, as I understand it, is in part due to the viral load that can collect in the air. One way to keep up on some of this is to follow the Twitter feed of Second Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins.

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"Could Trump Carry Illinois?" Greg Hinz of Crain's wonders, based on no evidence to suggest it's even a possibility but instead because that's what Illinois Republican Party Chairman TIm Schneider is spewing.

To be fair, Hinz doesn't write the Crain's e-mail headlines, and I hate myself for rewarding Crain's with a click - hey, wait, no I don't, I hate Crain's for it - but it's silly "reporting" anyway.

"The president can win in Illinois," said Schneider, a former member of the Cook County Board who got the job leading his party at the behest of then-Gov. Bruce Rauner. "Sitting here, 71 days out, I'm not saying that he will. But there is a lot going on."

Yeah, not so much.

"Speaking from the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where he's one of just two Illinois delegates attending, Schneider argued his optimism has a basis in fact - though I've talked privately to numerous Republicans who dispute that - and the GOP actually could do rather well in this blue state in the fall," Hinz writes.

The chairman of the state party is just one of two delegates attending the national convention, and fall is a week away if you count fall as meaning September, like I do, and there are so many other things to report on, but sure, do your stenographic thing.

See also:

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Chase Bank will open its branches on September 1, according to the e-mail they just sent me. I do all my banking online anyway, pandemic or not. I don't like breathing bank air.

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Shia Kapos "reports" in her Politico Illinois Playbook that at the RNC yesterday "Charlie Kirk, the 26-year-old co-founder of Turning Point USA (and an Illinois native), called the November election 'the most important in our lifetime.' It would be a phrase that was echoed throughout the night."

Really? That's a phrase that has been echoed throughout the nights of every election the United States has ever had - and it's obviously almost never true.

The most consequential (pre-Trump) elections, by the way, in my lifetime, were the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan and the 2000 "election" of George W. Bush. Reagan because he was an old, trigger-happy warhorse of a joke who ushered in the crazed right-wing world we live in now, and Bush because he clearly lost not only the popular vote but the Electoral College if all the ballots had been counted fairly. Who knows what direction this country would have headed had Al Gore, whom I was no big fan of, had become president. Perhaps 9/11 wouldn't have happened, as the incoming Bush administration ignored the Clinton administration's admonishments that al-Qaeda represented the biggest threat to America. Perhaps we'd have gone further down the road on climate change. Perhaps we'd have a better Internet, and we'd be more technologically advanced. Or perhaps none of that, but Bush was an illegitimate president, and getting re-elected in 2004 doesn't change that.

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"Arizona and North Carolina are no longer on Chicago's quarantine list," NBC Chicago reports.

Shoot, I had them going to the Final Four, now my brackets are all screwed up.

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OK, that's it for now, I'm gonna try to catch up so the census won't swallow me the rest of the week, and you can always find me on Twitter.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

A Guide To The Sleazy Tactics Used By Union-Busting Law Firms
The top firms each have a Chicago office, and operate within the "gray area" of labor law.

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Boomers Are The Real Reason Millennials Won't Be Buying Homes Anytime Soon
It's not because they're buying too much avocado toast.

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Work-At-Home Reshipping Scam
"Think about it: What legitimate company is going to send you items in somebody else's name and ask you to ship them? Why wouldn't they just do it themselves?"

By the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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New from the Beachwood Sports Desk . . .

Thom Brennaman's Heart
"Getting caught being a discriminatory jerk comes with rules. Call them cultural sentencing guidelines. You are normally required to admit fault," our very own David Rutter writes.

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Crosstown Cupboard Bare
"I kept wondering if A.J. Pierzynski's jaw was sore all over again for all the times I saw reruns of Michael Barrett punching him," our very own Roger Wallenstein writes.

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SportsMonday: Maybe The Cubs Should "Panic"
"David Ross made an obvious, rookie mistake last week," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #318: Crosstown Cruise
Chicago baseball is having a moment. Plus: Blackhawks Bleak; Boylen-Free Bulls Begin; Breaking News From Bears Training Camp: Everybody Looks Great!; College Football Collapse; Sky High; Fire Below; and more!

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ChicagoReddit

The Austin Food Mart Pop UP - review from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

A mixture. 2953 W Belmont Ave. Avondale.

A post shared by Brick of Chicago (@brickofchicago) on

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ChicagoTube

"Burning Spear" / The Soulful Strings (1967)

"The Soulful Strings were an American soul-jazz instrumental group formed in Chicago in 1966. Predominantly a studio band, the project was created and led by Richard Evans, a staff producer and musical arranger with the Chess Records subsidiary Cadet Records.

"As of October 2014, the Strings' catalog remained out of print, although their biggest US hit, 'Burning Spear,' was included on the 2004 Chess compilation Chicago Soul."

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Four on the floor.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:31 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2020

Work-At-Home Reshipping Scam

"Think about it: What legitimate company is going to send you items in somebody else's name and ask you to ship them? Why wouldn't they just do it themselves?"


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Previously:

* Vanishing Vending Machines.

* Item: Art Fraud Bust.

* Janene Gordon, Postal Inspector.

* Happy Birthday, U.S. Postal Inspection Service!

* U.S. Postal Inspection Service 2018 In Review.

* Mailbox Fishing.

* History Of The U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Maybe The Cubs Should "Panic"

Maybe those comments about lineup changes feeling like panic in the clubhouse weren't exactly the right thing to say there, Mr. Manager.

David Ross made an obvious, rookie mistake when he floated that theory last week. And now, when at the very least Willson Contreras must be moved up in the lineup and Javy Baez back, Ross has boxed himself in. How can he make a change when he has forecast such a dire outcome?

Yu Darvish is the bomb and the Cubs avoided catastrophe with their 2-1 victory on Sunday. Yes, "catastrophe" might be a bit strong but I'm not the one who started this conversation with chatter about a basic baseball adjustment inducing "panic."

By avoiding the sweep the Cubs held onto their comfortable lead atop the NL Central (which my son the White Sox fan can make a pretty convincing case at this point is by far the worst division in baseball) and didn't completely cede baseball superiority to the South Side.

But come on, the Cubs have serious issues. The White Sox are much, much better than the North Siders right now. They easily won the series without using their ace, Lucas Giolito. They hit so many balls into the stands over the weekend a bleacher fan could have torn his rotator cuff throwing them all back.

At this point, the Cubs are down to one hitter in the lineup who is having a starring season. That would be Mr. Ian Happ, he of the OPS still over 1.000. Everyone else is a disappointment, and with Anthony Rizzo having slumped massively of late, this team is about as punchless as punchless can be.

Yes, they are still going to the playoffs and, yes, if the season ended today Darvish would be the National League Cy Young. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Darvish by the way? His other-worldly strikeout-to-walk ratio since the middle of last year. He is well over 12 and no other pitcher in the majors reaches 10.

And the Cubs have clearly figured out that the best way to go with their ace is to let him take absolutely as much time as he wants between pitches. Yes, he puts his fielders to sleep with his slow pace, but when you are striking out about half the guys you face, it doesn't matter as much.

And the defense is still stellar as well, although it has also taken a hit of late. Len Kasper was right on the mark late in the week when he pointed out that so far in his career Baez has been remarkably good at not letting hitting slumps impact his awesomely good defense . . . until lately.

Yes, there were a few other promising developments on Sunday, primarily Kyle Schwarber shooting a double down the left field line in one plate appearance and then launching the critical two-run homer to center the next. The problem is that Schwarber's overall numbers once again make the case, as they have for his entire career, that he is a platoon player. There was no way in the universe he should have been in the lineup Friday against Dallas Keuchel, and the Cubs' atrocious hitting performance in that one set the tone.

The Friday game also featured Ross leaving Lester in the game far longer than he should have (into the fourth) and resulted in the rapidly aging lefty giving up four home run bombs for eight earned runs. Ross should have taken him out earlier but it wouldn't have mattered with the Cubs batters flailing away lifelessly against Keuchel inning after inning.

The Cubs now set their sights on a weekend series against the Reds. Just two of three in that one would be just the tonic for what ails this crew.
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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

Crosstown Classic's Cupboard Bare

You look and listen for the smallest signs, the indicators that provide a speck of hope that we're turning the corner. Rarely can you find them on TV or the newspaper where information about vaccines and remedies for this monster virus are slow to develop and are months, if not years, away.

So the other day when I looked from my fifth-floor balcony at the basketball court across the street, I stopped and made sure I wasn't being deceived. But there they were. After being summarily removed months ago along with all the other hoops around the city, the rims and nets hung conspicuously from the backboards. It was as though they had reappeared by magic, clandestinely in the night or certainly at a time when no one was watching.

There was no announcement. A crowd didn't gather. If the mayor had made any proclamation, I hadn't heard it. But there was no mistaking what I saw.

Was this a sign? Did this mean that social distancing protocols could be relaxed? In the few days since the rims were reinstalled, the sounds of bouncing basketballs, though far fewer than in recent summers, had filtered into the air. Can normalcy be far behind?

Answers are scarce these days, and if you were depending on the weekend's intercity series - the Crosstown Classic or whatever you want to call it - between the Cubs and Sox, the cupboard was bare.

Some aspects were very familiar, especially leading up to Friday's first pitch on the North Side. Because the games meant something for both clubs, the series was receiving almost as much attention as the Bears' prospects at tight end with the addition of Jimmy Graham.

The Cubs were leading the Central Division of the National League by four games over the Cardinals while the surging White Sox had just swept a four-game set from Detroit, in which they outscored the Tigers 31-9 while banging out 12 home runs. Sox pitchers chipped in with an ERA of 2.00 in the quartet of victories.

NBC Sports Chicago ran clip after clip of past highlights. I kept wondering if A.J. Pierzynski's jaw was sore all over again for all the times I saw reruns of Michael Barrett punching him. Homers by Pierzynski, Paulie, and the Big Hurt pervaded my viewing experience. And, of course, no publicity for the weekend series could be complete without Eloy Jimenez's ninth inning, game-winning, two-run homer a little more than a year ago at Wrigley.

No one needed a reminder that the trio of games would be played in an empty Wrigley Field. Acres of deserted seats have become a staple of sporting events that are played in the Pandemic Era. The ghost-like cutouts, sprinkling the box seats, are a stark reminder that we're living in a time none of us could have conceived less than a year ago.

Nevertheless, an hour before Sunday's tense 2-1 Cub victory, the souvenir stands around the ballpark displayed their inventories, albeit much different than usual with Black Lives Matter banners, masks, and a few White Sox items in addition to Cub paraphernalia. Party buses pulled up to dispense patrons intent on paying hundreds of dollars for a rooftop seat. Corner lots still wanted $20 for parking spaces that normally would have gone for three times as much. A smattering of fans, both Cubs and Sox, partially filled the surrounding watering holes and eateries.

Souvenir Stand.jpg

The marquee at Clark and Addison informed fans as it always does, Cubs vs. Sox at 1:20 as though 40,000 fans would be filing through the turnstiles. But, of course, they didn't come. The gates were locked.

The White Sox did everything in their power - and I mean power - to add to the weirdness of the times. A team that ranked 25th in home runs last season set all kinds of milestones and records last week. They hit 27 dingers in seven games going into Sunday. No team had ever done that. They homered six times Friday in thrashing the Cubs 10-1. The next evening they slugged four more, including three from José Abreu in as many at-bats in the late innings of a Sox 7-4 win.

The Cuban first baseman took Yu Darvish deep in his first at-bat Sunday for four straight. It was the team's lone marker after scoring in bunches during its seven-game win streak.

Darvish, who taunted the Sox with an assortment of breaking and off-speed pitches, managed a smile as Abreu circled the bases with the ball settling just below the left field video board. "How you get this sumbitch out?" he seemed to say.

My friend Steve, whom I've known for 50 years and has been a Cub season ticket holder since the Pleistocene Age, e-mailed, "If Abreu isn't put on the seat of his pants next time up, Ross should be fired tonight."

Sorry, pal, guys are swinging at 3-0 pitches in the late innings with the bases loaded and a seven-run lead. Pete Rose punishing Ray Fosse at home plate in that All-Star Game is ancient history. Players from opposing teams routinely have friendly conversations at first base. Bob Gibson is enjoying retirement in Omaha. Darvish's first pitch to Abreu in the fourth inning was a swinging strike, low and away. On the third pitch, Abreu grounded out to second. It's a kinder, gentler game.

Abreu's homer Sunday was the 55th the Sox have hit. Only the Dodgers with 59 have more. As entertaining and titillating as this power barrage has been, it's also unsettling for those of us who have watched the White Sox for decades. Can this really be our team?

In my lifetime, which is markedly longer than most people reading this, the Sox - at least when they've been most successful - have been built on pitching, defense, speed and execution. This home run stuff is foreign to this franchise.

When the team has thrived, the arms of Wynn, Pierce, Peters, Horlen, Dotson, McDowell, Buehrle, Hoyt and many others have led the way. Guys like Fox, Aparicio, Berry, Lemon, Agee, Landis, Ventura, Rowand and Uribe made the pitchers better by picking up the ball behind them. Of course, we were thrilled when Frank Thomas or Paulie hit one far into the night, but that was frosting on the cake.

However, winds blow from different directions. No one could have predicted that baseball would be played this summer in vacant ballparks. We knew the Sox offense had been upgraded, but the prognosticators never envisioned what we saw last week.

At the same time, this is an unfinished product. Due to injuries and Michael Kopech opting out of the season, starting pitching is almost non-existent after Dallas Keuchel, Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease. Rookie centerfielder Luis Robert has been a boon to the defense, but recent lapses like Yoan Moncada's two errors on one play Sunday indicate that improvement is required.

Meanwhile, we seem to be living inside a giant overinflated beach ball, bursting at the seams. The big stuff remains sequestered inside while small amounts of what we know and trust, like some of the scenes from last weekend's ballgames, are escaping along with an isolated basketball hoop across the street.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

A Guide To The Sleazy Tactics Used By Union-Busting Law Firms

American companies have been very successful at preventing their workers from organizing into unions in recent decades, one of the reasons unionization in the private sector is at a record low.

What you may not realize is that a handful of little-known law and consulting firms do much of the dirty work that keeps companies and other organizations union-free.

IKEA, for example, turned to Ogletree Deakins, one of the largest law firms that specialize in so-called union avoidance activities, to help it crush unionization efforts in Stoughton, Massachusetts, in 2016.

Google hired IRI Consultants, a firm known for its anti-union activities, for advice on how to deal with growing worker unrest.

And just this summer, two liberal-leaning organizations - the Scholars Strategy Network and ACLU Kansas - recruited the services of Ogletree when their employees tried to form unions.

I've been studying these firms for two decades and have chronicled the key roles they have played in undermining an American worker's federally protected right to organize.

Their tactics, abetted by weak labor laws, have turned what should be a worker-driven process into essentially a choice being made by companies.

Avoiding Unions 101

A lack of effective federal reporting requirements means there isn't a lot of data on this union-busting industry. We do know that a lot of companies are using it.

According to a Cornell labor expert, about 75% of all U.S. employers have engaged the services of a consultant or law firm to stymie efforts by workers to organize - and are spending an estimated $340 million a year to do so.

Three of the biggest law firms that do this work are Littler Mendelson, which has a Chicago office; Ogletree, which also has a Chicago office; and Jackson Lewis, which of course has a Chicago office too.

These firms have grown from regional operations into global union avoidance behemoths.

Consultants such as IRI and the Labor Relations Institute have also developed a reputation for union avoidance expertise in recent decades, even offering a "money-back guarantee if its efforts weren't succesful.

Screen Shot 2020-08-24 at 8.41.30 AM.png(ENLARGE)

Here's a closer look at the main services they offer clients, which occupy the gray areas of labor law.

Monitoring Unrest In The Workplace

One major reason companies hire these firms is to conduct union vulnerability audits, intended to analyze a workforce to see which departments, locations or demographic groups are most likely to organize.

The tactic has been around since at least the mid-20th century. Management professor Sanford Jacoby documented how Sears Roebuck used vulnerability audits to beat back unionization as early as the 1940s, while labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein showed how Walmart has used similar tactics to remain union-free since the 1960s.

Today's audits, however, are more sophisticated and data-driven. Anti-union monitoring software can help management squash organizing before it starts, while heat maps that collect data from a wide variety of sources reveal granular detail about where the biggest risks are.

Amazon recently used heat maps to show which of its Whole Foods grocery stories and distribution warehouses were most at risk of unionization.

Union Inoculation

The anti-union firms advise companies to treat unions like a "virus" and to "inoculate" employees with messaging about the purported consequences of organizing early and often.

Another important service these firms provide is supplying companies with anti-union materials, which can be anything from managerial training and websites targeting employees to "vote no" buttons and anti-union billboards - strategically located on the way to work.

For example, Nissan, Volkswagen and other carmakers have used billboards as part of their campaigns to prevent unionizing at plants in the U.S.

And last year, Delta Airlines put up posters advising employees that buying a video game console would be a better way to spend money than on union dues.

Rite Aid, as part of an effort to stop workers at a warehouse in Lancaster, California, from organizing beginning in 2006, hired Oliver J. Bell & Associates to provide its managers with training resources, according to a report by labor rights organization Jobs with Justice.

Captivating Workers

A third technique is what union avoidance consultants call direct explainer activity, such as conducting mandatory anti-union staff meetings.

Workers who experience them describe these "captive" meetings as a form of legalized intimidation, which is one reason many other democratic countries, such as Germany and Japan, restrict them.

Law firms generally avoid engaging in activities that involve direct contact with employees because, technically, it must be disclosed under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959. This has created an opening for other types of consultants to specialize in this kind of persuasion. Weak enforcement means that reporting is patchy, even among consultants who talk to employees.

As the pandemic and concerns of benefits and safety has prompted more workers to try to organize, firms have continued to conduct these meetings.

HCA Healthcare reportedly hired consultants to run meetings at a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, as part of its recent campaign to prevent 1,600 nurses from forming a union.

Using these and other tactics, consultants claim overwhelming success rates in preventing unionization, often 95% or higher. While it's impossible to empirically verify these claims, most labor relations researchers believe they are highly effective.

John Logan is a labor professor at San Francisco State University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

Build Back What?

Almost as bad as "I'm With Her." Bollocks! Build Back Bollocks! It's happening again, isn't it? I'm not sure I can do four more years.


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Previous Pie:
* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics.

* Occupy Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Where Is The War Against Terrorble Mental Health Services?

* Progressive Pie.

* The BBC's Bake-Off Bollocks.

* Pie Commits A Hate Crime.

* Pie Interviews A Teenage Conservative.

* Jonathan Pie's Idiot's Guide To The U.S. Election.

* President Trump: How & Why.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! All The News Is Fake!

* Happy Christmas From Jonathan Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! 2016 In Review.

* Inauguration Reporting.

* New Year: New Pie?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! A Gift To Trump?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Strong And Unstable.

* Pie & Brand: Hate, Anger, Violence & Carrying On.

* Socialism Strikes Back!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Carnage.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Papering Over Poverty.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Queen's Speech.

* Showdown: North Korea vs. Trump.

* Time For The Royal Scroungers To Earn Their Keep.

* Cricket vs. Brexit.

* The Real Jonathan Pie.

* A Hostile Environment.

* Jonathan Pie | Trump's America.

* Pie: Putin's America.

* Amazon And The Way Of The World.

* Horseface, Ho-Hum.

* Of Turbines, Trump And Twats.

* Breaking: Trump Still Racist.

* It Says Here.

* The Real Climate Crisis Hypocrites.

* Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trial.

* We're Fucked, Mate.

* The Tale Of Dominic Cummings.

* Jonathan Pie's Black Lives Matter Report Brilliantly Illustrates The Point Of Jonathan Pie.

* The Myth, Mirth, Malarkey And Magic Of Glastonbury And The Arts.

* Put A Fucking Mask On.

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Previously in Pie's Lockdown:
* Jonathan Pie: Lockdown: Low-Footprint Content.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 2.: Spare Bedroom Shithole.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 3: Tele-Vision.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 4: A Trump Drinking Game.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt 5: Madness Sets In.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 6: Question Time.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 7: Back To School.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

Boomers Are The Real Reason Millennials Won't Be Buying Homes Anytime Soon

Excerpted from Ok Boomer, Let's Talk, published by One Signal/Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

It's hard out there for a Millennial. Our earnings took a huge hit as a result of the Great Recession of 2008, from which we may never recover. Younger Millennials were at the dawn of their working lives and older Millennials were entering our prime earning years when we were slammed again, this time by a pandemic that plunged the economy into a recession that many fear could rival the Great Depression. Now, with massive unemployment projected to dog workers for years, there's evidence that Millennials, and particularly Black and Hispanic Millennials, will bear the brunt of the 2020 economic crisis.

One of the reasons Millennials are so broke is that we are much less likely than our Boomer parents or Gen X siblings or even our Silent Generation grandparents to own our own homes - and we don't own our own homes because we're broke. Close to half of Boomers were homeowners by age 34; today, 75 percent are. By contrast, only 37 percent of Millennials owned a home by age 34. Today, only 32 percent of us are homeowners.

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This is not because we're buying too much avocado toast. Instead, it's because Millennials are 56 percent white, and African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics have been alternately left out and pushed out of the American housing market.

Our nation was founded on chattel slavery, which designated Black people as property. The country carried out centuries of housing discrimination, including redlining of Black neighborhoods. Racial segregation and discrimination in endless other forms made it much more difficult for African American and other families of color to build wealth. The results of these policies now ripple out to children and grandchildren.

We know that there is a direct link between having a parent who was a homeowner and being a homeowner yourself: children of homeowners are 9 percentage points more likely to buy their own place as adults than are children of parents who rented. This is in part because of passed-down values, including the belief that buying is better than renting, but it's more because of the real passed-down dollars and the knowledge of how to buy: how to save, how to boost your credit, how to fill out all the mortgage forms, what a good interest rate is, how to refinance. And more directly, homeowners can pass on their actual homes to their descendants, making homeowners of the younger generation without those young people having to do much of anything.

This has all been very good for white families, and pretty bad for people of color, including the significant proportion of Millennials of color. Today, white millennials are almost three times as likely as Black millennials to own their homes. And it's getting harder for African Americans: according to New America, the homeownership rate for Black Millennials is lower today than it was for African Americans of the same age in 1960. An African-American member of the Silent Generation, born between the late 1920s and early 1940s, and living, as an adult, in an era in which Jim Crow laws were still enforced, was more likely to own a home than a Black Millennial is now.

That's a particularly striking statistic when you understand just how difficult white Americans have made it for African Americans to own homes and live in safe, supported communities throughout the entirety of American history. As some African Americans slowly and with exceptional bravery pushed across the neighborhood color barrier in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, whites moved further away.

And that white flight to suburbia was also federally subsidized by massive investments in suburban life, including sewer system and highway construction, tax incentives for developers, and tax breaks for homeowners. A hefty investment in a national highway system was approved in 1956, a year before the peak of the baby boom. By the time most Baby Boomers were in their teens, 42,000 miles of expressway crisscrossed the nation, built by bisecting and sometimes bulldozing urban communities of color. The highways made it easier to ferry better-off whites to the city's sprawling and racially-exclusive suburban outskirts, neighborhoods that also enjoyed significant government investment. Black and immigrant families remained concentrated in neglected urban communities.

Close to half of Boomers were homeowners by age 34; today, 75 percent are. By contrast, only 37 percent of Millennials owned a home by age 34.

Through the first half of the twentieth century, racial covenants formally excluded nonwhites from white suburban communities. After those efforts were struck down by the courts, zoning regulations took their place. Zoning laws were leveraged to bar affordable housing from being built in wealthy areas, and to restrict the construction of apartment buildings and condos in neighborhoods where white-owned single family homes dominated. Though racially neutral on their face, these laws reinforced racial segregation, solidified white wealth, and pushed Black families further into financial insecurity. And in today's diverse and growing city centers, these ill-conceived laws are creating a new wave of disaster: housing shortages, outrageous rent hikes, and gentrification that pushes out longtime residents.

For a moment, things seemed to be looking up. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Black homeownership was on the rise. By 2004, it was nearing 50 percent, an all-time high - still lower than the proportion of white families who owned a home, but a mark of significant progress. Some of these gains came from government programs like the Community Reinvestment Act (1977), which sought to reverse the history of discriminatory lending and promote homeownership, lending, and investment in traditionally underserved communities; in the 90s, the Clinton administration scaled it up with new regulations to root out racial bias from lenders and investors. But too much of what looked like progress came about because Black families were about twice as likely as white ones to be targeted by shady subprime lenders. Predatory lenders retained the right to adjust interest rates to farcical degrees; these adjustable-rate mortgages offered initially low interest rates, only to ratchet them up (often beyond what the homeowner could pay) a few short years later. Some mortgages were even interest-only, which meant that people might spend their whole lives paying the mortgage on their house only to own zero percent of it.

Then came the financial crash.

Families of color lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 billion because of the housing market collapse and the mass foreclosures that followed. The Obama administration attempted to cauterize some of the wounds, requiring, for example, that areas receiving federal aid dollars make efforts to racially integrate their neighborhoods. Those were swept away when Trump came into office. By 2019, the gains of the 1990s and early 2000s were wiped out, and Black homeownership hit a low, even as homeownership among white, Hispanic, and Asian families grew. Today, prospective Black and Hispanic buyers are denied mortgages at twice the rate of their white counterparts.

While redlining was theoretically done away with a half-century ago, its impact persists: three-quarters of neighborhoods so designated are still financially hurting today. Even when you control for income, loan amount, and neighborhood of the prospective house, African Americans are still far more likely to be denied loans than their white counterparts. And African-American renters pay more in rent than white renters, even for the same kind of housing in the same kind of neighborhood.

Now, Millennials are trying to navigate a constricted and racist housing market and a nation with outdated urban infrastructure, so much of which is out of line with what we want and what we need to remain gainfully employed, financially stable, and moderately happy. As we plunge into a second recession, Boomers are, on the whole, better off than those of us under 40. They're also the ones designing the recovery packages and bailout plans. As young people march for racial justice and community investment, it's Boomers who fill a majority of the seats in Congress, on the Supreme Court, and in state legislatures. Millennials and Gen Zers are watching this all unfold and realizing that, again, our futures may be mortgaged so that the wealthiest Baby Boomers can continue to live large.

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See also:
* Newsday: Long Island Divided.

* CNN: If You Care About Racial Equality, This Will Disturb You.

* Forbes: How Zoning Laws Exclude Black Families From Areas Of Economic Opportunity.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 AM | Permalink

August 23, 2020

Thom Brennaman's Heart

Are you sorry? I sure am sorry. Sorry as all get-out.

We say we're sorry a lot.

But don't worry. We don't mean it. Not at all. We're just required to say "I'm sorry" because there are rules invented by others who have nothing else to do with their time. We don't believe in the rules. Or thinking deep thoughts. Or any thoughts.

Dignity? Respect? Human solidarity? Self-accountability? Nah.

But we're really sorry for using all those words. We probably could be better people if we didn't and knew why, but it's hard work to be a decent person. So we won't.

Getting caught being a discriminatory jerk, however, comes with rules. Call them cultural sentencing guidelines. You are normally required to admit fault.

It's what members of the Catholic Faith used to call an "imperfect act of contrition." That's when you are sorry because you got caught, and know what the punishment will be.

When this happens, we hire professional counselors and therapists to teach us to plausibly pretend we are not a bigot. But our apologies make us look like a sharp knife is poking at our spleen.

Sometimes in life, we cannot tell a lie. Other times we can't tell the truth. Sometimes you can't tell the difference.

But you're not actually sorry in the penitential sense. Inside his head, exiled Fox/Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman is going to be the same Thom Brennaman he's always been. That is unless he takes a deliberate, different path.

Given the habitual requirements of offensive language, there is almost no chance he was using the gay slur the first time. They are not stored in a frontal lobe file cabinet under "Words I Never Use."

The words all are connected to judgements of how we value others, and whether we value others. When an angry man yells "BITCH" at a woman, he is yelling at every woman who has told him "No." He in effect is yelling at every woman.

He is telling all of them who they are in relation to who he is. He counts more than them as a human being.

Anti-gay slurs, especially by men, seem to leap all cultural boundaries. When sainted Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for the same slur in 2011, he was making a judgement, too.

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah got fined $50,000 the same year for the same word. A year later, Amar'e Stoudemire was fined $50,000 for the same word. Indiana Pacer Roy Hibbert similarly had a $75,000 divot taken from his bank account.

In Kobe's case, he made a public case that his slur was wrong. As he told an irritated Twitter fan in 2013 about his behavior; "That wasn't cool and was ignorant on my part. I own it and learn from it and expect the same from others."

So let us presume that Bryant figured out the mechanism of bigotry and decided not to be part of it.

For every sports star who takes a progressive stand, there is another who worries that gay teammates are unwelcome as a "distraction." This is the "I don't want gay dudes looking at my junk" faction.

The various slurs all are words yelled from mobs and jealous ex-husbands before they killed a person who is different.

Those words are triggers for those who receive the words. They are weapons, and meant to be.

The word Brennaman used also shows up in at least 70 percent of homophobic violent hate crimes, a growing phenomenon. It's a terror word.

The National Crime Victimization Survey, a household-based survey administered by the U.S. Census Bureau, reported 200,000 hate crimes last year.

Almost all of them include the word Brennaman employed.

It's a word meant to demean the masculinity of every gay man by calling him fundamentally inferior. By inference, the authors announce they believe themselves to be more manly than gay men.

It's cheap chest-thumping.

The word is meant to dismiss others for their theoretical differences from you. Calling someone else the "F" word - rhymes with "maggot" - also implies that you are not gay. Glad we cleared up that.

It's a singular, powerful value judgement - at least intended that way - which often oddly originates in pro sports from black men. They have been judged this way for centuries for their skin color.

Words matter. A surprise? Too late in the day for a professional announcer to claim otherwise. If he actually is ignorant of how the word functions, he shouldn't have been given a broadcast microphone.

In these public floggings, a relative must stand forth and announce: "This does not represent the Thom Brennaman I know."

But of course it does represent your mind and heart, which is why the words are so often ugly. The words we use represent exactly who we are.

Too bad.

We can choose to keep the words, or dispense with vocabulary that hurts people. You can cancel whatever parts of your culture you wish.

Life is not an inanimate object.

So Brennaman will be punished. Even the Cincinnati Reds want income from gay fans. Gay fans will buy beer at the stadium whenever crowds return.

Gay people do those things, too.

Brennaman does not seem to have been keeping up much with current affairs.

When Brennaman used the word, he was telling those gay customers that he cared more about casually insulting them than he cared about the Reds.

Or perhaps he was thinking what most men are thinking most of the time. That would be nothing.

If I were a Reds owner, I would have fired him for that alone. He was not only biased, he was stupid.

I would have been sorry.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was THE Glenn Beck. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #318: Crosstown Cruise

Chicago baseball is having a moment. Plus: Blackhawks Bleak; Boylen-Free Bulls Begin; Breaking News From Bears Training Camp: Everybody Looks Great!; College Football Collapse; Sky High; Fire Below; and more!

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #318: Crosstown Cruise

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SHOW NOTES

* 318.

1:40: Blackhawks Bleak.

* Coffman: Blackhawks Blown Out Of Bubble.

* Golden Knights in White Satin.

* Here comes the Kraken.

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15:01: Cubs Cruising.

* Coffman: "All hail David Bote!"

* Clemens, FanGraphs: I Respect You Too Much To Make This Title An Ian Happ Pun.

* Wittenmyer, NBC Sports Chicago: Cubs Should Drop Bryant From Leadoff Spot Until He's Well.

* Dorsey, Sun-Times: Is Craig Kimbrel Returning To Form?

* Bastian, MLB: Yu Darvish Slowing Down, Having Success.

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32:28: WKRP in Chicago.

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Venus Flytrap.

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Kelly Leak.

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40:44: Boylen-Free Bulls Begin.

* Sam Smith's Mock Draft.

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45:42: Breaking News From Bears Training Camp: Everybody Looks Great!

* Why that's really bad news.

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50:50: College Football's Collapse.

* Noah not that upset.

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56:52 Sky High.

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59:00: Fire Below.

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STOPPAGE: 1:09

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 PM | Permalink

August 20, 2020

THE Glenn Beck

News note: "Hall of Fame Indicts Glenn Beck."

Wait! Hold on. I misread that. It's "Hall of Fame INDUCTS Glenn Beck."

That does not seem real, does it? Do you mean THE Glenn Beck?

Why, yes. Yes, I do mean THE Glenn Beck, the white-haired reptile human impersonator.

My confusion was reinforced partly because I did not realize at first that's not a real Hall of Fame.

This is the Chicago-based Radio Hall of Fame which is the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.

Founder Bruce DuMont spent 40 years using its him-driven awards to stroke right-wing political friends. He honored Ronald Reagan for five years as a part-time sports DJ in Iowa. And professional homophobe pot-stirrer James Dobson. (He cures the gay on radio).

He spurned Howard Stern for decades until relenting, at which Stern counter-spurned the invitation. Dumont did provide Stern with many years of on-air material: "There is no Radio Hall of Fame. It's just a guy in his basement giving out awards. His name is Bruce DuMont, and he has nothing to do with radio other than the fact that his family made radios years ago."

But the post-Dumont era Hall topped itself in 2019 by inducting "Radio Host And Pianist" John Tesh. Yes. THE John Tesh.

But wait. It gets better.

Tesh took the award home, and he promptly sent it back in a peeve.

Though that ceremony was not televised, the producers bum-rushed Tess' wife, Connie Sellecca, off the stage during her extraordinarily long, tedious and sappy introduction speech for him. Even the Radio Hall of Fame is struck occasionally by an attack of good taste.

So Tesh flies home from New York with the award in hand. And then. And THEN . . . He realizes he is outraged and mortified. And sends the trophy back with a loud, public raspberry because, well, he has to, or else.

Did we mention he was REALLY miffed about the insult to his wife after he had a chance to think about his miffness?

Shortly thereafter, Sellecca reportedly returned Tesh's balls to the "radio host and pianist."

After that fiasco, the "Hall" needed something akin to an Earthquake/Titanic/Fast and Furious/Pandemic disaster movie to surpass itself.

And darn if elevating THE Glenn Beck to the dais doesn't simulate a Vin Diesel Gone Bad movie.

As a Norwegian politician once remarked of him: Beck is a "vulgar propagandist," a "swine" and a "fascist."

And that's just his good days.

The more likely truth is that no manipulative vulgarity is beyond Glenn Beck if Glenn Beck decides it's good for Glenn Beck. The business is first and forever THE Glenn Beck.

He knows his audience. That's how succeeds by passing along anti-Semitic tropes about George Soros. Or by calling a bystander Saudi student the bag man in the Boston Marathon bombing. Or by accusing Barack Obama of racism, sparking an advertiser exodus from his FOX News show in 2009.

"This president," he had said, "I think has exposed himself over and over again as a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture . . . I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist."

His best-selling books all are ghost-written by someone else. His fans are so devoted that they buy the books just because his name is on the cover.

Stephen King once described him as "Satan's mentally challenged younger brother."

That's harsh and unfair to Satan's younger brother, but you wonder what sort of broadcasting standards are applied to honor Glenn Beck - using the term "honor" In the loosest way.

Regardless of celebrity, inductees to Halls of Fame generally are well-regarded for skill, and just as much for their positive transformative contributions. This is why Alex Rodriquez won't make the Baseball Hall of Fame until everyone who knows him has died.

Is Glenn Beck anything more than a Face in the Crowd Andy Griffith huckster knockoff?

Well, no, he's not. But there's no Huckster Hall of Fame, so the Chicago Hall will have to do.

But then how is he a real Hall of Famer even in a hall devoid of respectability? That's the obvious question to which there's an obvious answer.

This Hall lets citizens vote on showcase awards. So any guy with a devoted audience and a national network microphone has an edge.

Vote for me!

It was much harder for network commentator and NPR innovator Cokie Roberts to finally get noticed. She had to die.

The Radio Hall of Fame has experienced technical difficulties with every permutation of voting it has tried. At one time, it was presumed the only one casting votes was DuMont, which was literally true.

But the Hall settled on the least reputable method available - limited democracy.

It's a hall of fame version of your hometown newspaper's annual vote for the "Best Pizza Place In Town." These "best of" votes are promotional advertising scams.

That's how Beck rode in.

As he announced on his website: "The votes for the Radio Hall of Fame are in and I'm humbled to announce that I've been inducted! I can't say this enough: You are the BEST AUDIENCE THERE IS! To everyone who voted for me, I thank you so much. This is a victory for all of us!"

Indeed, it's one giant leap for man and one small step for small-minded semi-literate barbarians.

But I feel, in writing this, that I need a small vacation, as Alexander Zaitchik did during research for his biography of Beck, Common Nonsense.

Listening to Beck's audio/visual archives can damage a brain, which normally is not a skill worth granting permanent enshrinement.

"Every morning for many months, his voice was often the first thing I heard after waking up in the morning, and the last thing I heard before going to sleep.," Zaitchik told the Washington Post. "There were a few moments where I almost cracked. I moved down to Tampa [from Brooklyn] so I could write the book without any distractions. But there were days when I wanted nothing more than a large distraction. Such as global thermonuclear holocaust."

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Previously in Rutter on Beck: Glenn Beck's Turn In The Volcano.

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Recently by David Rutter:

* Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick.

* Mansplaining To A Millionaire.

* Status Check: Chicago Sports.

* The Week In WTF Redux: Blago Is Back Edition.

* What Is A Chicagoan Anyway?

* Glenn Beck's Turn In The Volcano.

* Only Science Will Bring Back Sports.

* I Loathe The Lockdown Protestors.

* Reopening Books.

* A Return To Abnormalcy.

* I'm Having A Down Day Emotionally. Here's Why.

* So Long, Jerry.

* A Special "Trump's Bible" Edition Of WTF.

* 5 Things An Angry Old White Man Wants To Say.

* An ANTIFA American Hero.

* The Fonz Lives And Franco Is Dead: News You Can't Use.

* Gone With The Wind: My Lost Cause.

* How To (Pretend To) Negotiate A Labor Deal.

* The Mystery Of Mitch's Missing Motivation.

* Dave's French Foreign Legion Tour Of Chicagoland.

* Remember The '85 Bears? Actually, No You Don't.

* On Boredom.

* Wherever Rod Moore Is, I Hope He's Safe.

* Blackhawk's Life Mattered.

* A Blackhawks Proposal.

* Launching College Football.

* Tom Hanks Meets His Match.

* The Truth About Hamilton.

* Goodbye, Columbus.

* Who Mourns For Basie?

* The Hamburglar Of Passion.

* Da Region's Unabated Crime Spree.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

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Programming Note
It's really go-time at the census. OT has been approved and I'll actually be in the field a couple hours a day the next few days, as will most supervisors, working some particularly tough cases alongside regular supervisor stuff.

I had planned to write about this today.

Now you will have to read and talk amongst yourselves.

*

P.S.: There was a late column Wednesday that also wasn't really a column.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

U.S. Pandemic Funds Slow To Reach Public Health Agencies
As of June 30, Illinois had allocated just 14.4% of its federal dollars; Chicago 44.9% and Cook County just 5.3%.

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Washington Football Team Hires University Of Chicago And Northwestern Grad To Be NFL's First Black President
"[Jason] Wright spent seven years as a running back in the NFL with stops in San Francisco, Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, where he was the Cardinals' team captain and union representative during the league's 2011 lockout.

"Upon his retirement from the gridiron, he received his MBA, graduating with high honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and building on his undergraduate studies in psychology at Northwestern University, where he was also an Academic All-American and captain of the football team."

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Adults Need Vaccines, Too
"An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 adults in the United States die from vaccine-preventable infectious diseases or their complications each year."

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ChicagoReddit

Team Captain Talks About Chicago Origins of America's First All-Black High School Rowing Team from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Grant Wood's American Gothic

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BeachBook

Photographer Reveals Unglamorous Behind-The-Scenes Shots Of Magical Instagram Photos.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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*

*

It's a really good piece and y'all should click through and give it a read.

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The Beachwood Tip O' The Rib Line: Rib it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:01 AM | Permalink

Politics Slows Flow Of U.S. Pandemic Relief Funds To Public Health Agencies

As the coronavirus began to spread through Minneapolis this spring, Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant tore up her budget to find funds to combat the crisis. Money for test kits. Money to administer tests. Money to hire contact tracers. Yet even more money for a service that helps tracers communicate with residents in dozens of languages.

While Musicant diverted workers from violence prevention and other core programs to the COVID-19 response, state officials debated how to distribute $1.87 billion Minnesota received in federal aid.

As she waited for federal help, the Minnesota Zoo got $6 million in federal money to continue operations, and a debt collection company outside Minneapolis received at least $5 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to federal data.

It was not until Aug. 5 - months after Congress approved aid for the pandemic - that Musicant's department finally received $1.7 million, the equivalent of $4 per Minneapolis resident.

"It's more a hope and a prayer that we'll have enough money," Musicant said.

Since the pandemic began, Congress has set aside trillions of dollars to ease the crisis. A joint KHN and Associated Press investigation finds that many communities with big outbreaks have spent little of that federal money on local public health departments for work such as testing and contact tracing. Others, like Minnesota, were slow to do so.

For example, the states, territories and 154 large cities and counties that received allotments from the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund reported spending only 25% of it through June 30, according to reports that recipients submitted to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Many localities have deployed more money since that June 30 reporting deadline, and both Republican and Democratic governors say they need more to avoid layoffs and cuts to vital state services. Still, as cases in the U.S. top 5.2 million and deaths soar past 167,000, Republicans in Congress are pointing to the slow spending to argue against sending more money to state and local governments to help with their pandemic response.

"States and localities have only spent about a fourth of the money we already sent them in the springtime," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week. Congressional Democrats' efforts to get more money for states, he said, "aren't based on math. They aren't based on the pandemic."

Negotiations over a new pandemic relief bill broke down in part because Democrats and Republicans could not agree on funding for state and local governments.

KHN and the AP requested detailed spending breakdowns from recipients of money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund - created in March as part of the $1.9 trillion CARES Act - and received responses from 23 states and 62 cities and counties. Those entities dedicated 23% of their spending from the fund through June to public health and 7% to public health and safety payroll.

An additional 22% was transferred to local governments, some of which will eventually pass it down to health departments. The rest went to other priorities, such as distance learning.

Screen Shot 2020-08-20 at 1.04.59 AM.png(ENLARGE)

So little money has flowed to some local health departments for many reasons: Bureaucracy has bogged things down, politics have crept into the process, and understaffed departments have struggled to take time away from critical needs to navigate the red tape required to justify asking for extra dollars.

"It does not make sense to me how anyone thinks this is a way to do business," said E. Oscar Alleyne, chief of programs and services at the National Association of County and City Health Officials. "We are never going to get ahead of the pandemic response if we are still handicapped."

Last month, KHN and AP detailed how state and local public health departments across the U.S. have been starved for decades. Over 38,000 public health worker jobs have been lost since 2008, and per capita spending on local health departments has been cut by 18% since 2010. That's left them underfunded and without adequate resources to confront the coronavirus pandemic.

"Public health has been cut and cut and cut over the years, but we're so valuable every time you turn on the television," said Jan Morrow, the director and 41-year veteran of Ripley County health department in rural Missouri. "We are picking up all the pieces, but the money is not there. They've cut our budget until there's nothing left."

Politics And Red Tape

Why did the Minneapolis health department have to wait so long for CARES Act money?

Congress mandated that the Coronavirus Relief Fund be distributed to states and local governments based on population. Minneapolis, with 430,000 residents, missed the threshold of 500,000 people that would have allowed it to receive money directly.

The State of Minnesota, however, received $1.87 billion, a portion of which was meant to be sent to local communities. Lawmakers initially sent some state money to tide communities over until the federal money came through - the Minneapolis health department got about $430,000 in state money to help pay for things like testing. But when it came time to decide how to use the CARES Act money, lawmakers in Minnesota's Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House were at loggerheads.

Myron Frans, commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget, said that disagreement, on top of the economic crisis and pandemic, left the legislature in turmoil.

After the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the city erupted in protests over racial injustice, making a difficult situation even more challenging.

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz favored targeting some of the money to harder-hit communities, a move that might have helped Minneapolis, where cases have surged since mid-July. But lawmakers couldn't agree. Negotiations dragged on, and a special session merely prolonged the standoff.

Finally, the governor divvied up the money using a population-based formula developed earlier by Republican and Democratic legislative leaders that did not take into account COVID-19 caseloads or racial disparities.

"We knew we needed to get it out the door," Frans said.

The state then sent hundreds of millions of dollars to local communities. Still, even after the money got to Minneapolis a month ago, Musicant had to wait as city leaders made difficult choices about how to spend the money as the economy cratered and the list of needs grew.

"Even when it gets to the local government, you still have to figure out how to get it to local public health," Musicant said.

Meanwhile, some in Minneapolis have noticed a lack of services. Dr. Jackie Kawiecki has been providing help to people at a volunteer medical station near the place where Floyd was killed - an area that at times has drawn hundreds or thousands of people per day. She said the city did not do enough free, easy-to-access testing in its neighborhoods this summer.

"I still don't think that the amount of testing offered is adequate, from a public health standpoint," Kawiecki said.

A coalition of groups that includes the National Governors Association has blamed the spending delays on the federal government, saying the final guidance on how states could spend the money came late in June, shortly before the reporting period ended. The coalition said state and local governments had moved "expeditiously and responsibly" to use the money as they deal with skyrocketing costs for health care, emergency response and other vital programs.

New York's Nassau County was among six counties, cities and states that had spent at least 75% of its funds by June 30. [Chicago had spent 44.9% of its funds by June 30; Cook County just 5.3%.]

While most of the money was not spent before then, the National Association of State Budget Officers says a July 23 survey of 45 states and territories found they had allocated, or set aside, an average of 74% of the money. [Illinois had allocated just 14.4% of its funds.]

But if they have, that money has been slow to make it to many local health departments. As of mid-July in Missouri, at least 50 local health departments had yet to receive any of the federal money they requested, according to a state survey. The money must first flow through local county commissioners, some of whom aren't keen on sending money to public health agencies.

"You closed their businesses down in order to save their people's lives and so that hurt the economy," said Larry Jones, executive director of the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence, an organization of public health leaders. "So they're mad at you and don't want to give you money."

Screen Shot 2020-08-20 at 1.29.20 AM.png(ENLARGE)

The winding path federal money takes as it makes its way to states and cities also could exacerbate the stark economic and health inequalities in the U.S. if equity isn't considered in decision-making, said Wizdom Powell, director of the University of Connecticut Health Disparities Institute.

"Problems are so vast you could unintentionally further entrench inequities just by how you distribute funds," Powell said.

'Everything Fell Behind'

The amounts eventually distributed can induce head-scratching.

Some cities received large federal grants, including Louisville, whose health department was given $42 million by April, more than doubling its annual budget. Because of the way the money was distributed, Louisville's health department alone received more money from the CARES Act than the entire government of the City of Minneapolis, which received $32 million in total.

Philadelphia's health department was awarded $100 million from a separate fund from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Honolulu County, where COVID cases have remained relatively low, received $124,454 for every positive case it had reported as of Aug. 9, while El Paso County in Texas got just $1,685 per case. Multnomah County, Oregon - with nearly a quarter of its state's COVID-19 cases - landed only 2%, or $28 million, of the state's $1.6 billion allotment.

Rural Saline County in Missouri received the same funding as counties of similar size, even though the virus hit the area particularly hard. In April, outbreaks began tearing through a Cargill meatpacking plant and a local factory there. By late May, the health department confirmed 12 positive cases at a local jail.

Tara Brewer, Saline's health department administrator, said phone lines were ringing off the hook, jamming the system. Eventually, several department employees handed out their personal cellphone numbers to take calls from residents looking to be tested or seeking care for coronavirus symptoms.

"Everything fell behind," Brewer said.

The school vaccination clinic in April was canceled, and a staffer who works as a Spanish translator for the Women, Infants and Children nutritional program was enlisted to contact-trace for additional COVID-19 exposures. All food inspections stopped.

It was late July when $250,000 in federal CARES Act money finally reached the 11-person health department, Brewer said - four months after Congress approved the spending and three months after the county's first outbreak.

That was far too late for Brewer to hire the army of contact tracers that might have helped slow the spread of the virus back in April. She said the money already has been spent on antibody testing and reimbursements for groceries and medical equipment the department had bought for quarantined residents.

Another problem: Some local health officials say that the laborious process required to qualify for some of the federal aid discourages overworked public health officials from even trying to secure more money and that funds can be uneven in arriving.

Lisa Macon Harrison, public health director for Granville Vance Public Health in rural Oxford, North Carolina, said it's tough to watch major hospital systems - some of which are sitting on billions in reserves - receive direct deposits, while her department received only about $122,000 through three grants by the end of July. Her team filled out a 25-page application just to get one of them.

She is now waiting to receive an estimated $400,000 more. By contrast, the Duke University Hospital System, which includes a facility that serves Granville, already has received over $67.3 million from the federal Provider Relief Fund.

"I just don't understand the extra layers of onus for the bureaucracy, especially if hundreds of millions of dollars are going to the hospitals and we have to be responsible to apply for 50 grants," she said.

The money comes from dozens of funds, including several programs within the CARES Act. Nebraska alone received money from 76 federal COVID relief funding sources.

Robert Miller, director of health for the Eastern Highlands Health District in Connecticut, which covers 10 towns, received $29,596 of the $2.5 million the state distributed to local departments from the CDC fund and nothing from CARES. It was only enough to pay for some contact tracing and employee mileage.

Miller said that he could theoretically apply for a little more from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but that the reporting requirements - which include collecting every receipt - are extremely cumbersome for an already overburdened department.

So he wonders: "Is the squeeze worth the juice?"

Back in Minneapolis, Musicant said the new money from CARES allowed the department to run a free COVID-19 testing site Saturday, at a church that serves the Hispanic community about a mile from the site of Floyd's killing.

It will take more money to do everything the community needs, she says, but with Congress deadlocked, she's not sure they'll get it anytime soon.

AP writers Camille Fassett and Steve Karnowski contributed to this report.

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Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

Adults Need Vaccines, Too!

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and a yearly reminder of the importance of vaccines. During National Adult Immunization Week, the American Lung Association reminds to help protect themselves from potentially serious lung diseases such as influenza (the flu) and pneumococcal pneumonia.

An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 adults in the United States die from vaccine-preventable infectious diseases or their complications each year.

As a preventive healthcare measure, vaccines work by teaching the body's immune system to recognize and defend against harmful viruses or bacteria before getting an infection and reduce the chance of getting certain infectious diseases. Most vaccine-preventable diseases are spread from person to person, which means that if one person in a community gets an infectious disease, they can spread it to others.

Older adults and those with weakened immune systems or certain chronic health conditions -like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - are especially vulnerable to infectious disease. In fact, for adults 65 and older living with COPD, the risk for contracting pneumococcal pneumonia is 7.7 times higher than their healthy counterparts, and those with asthma are at 5.9 times greater risk.

Different than a bad cold, influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia are potentially serious infectious diseases that may be prevented by vaccines.

Pneumococcal Pneumonia, the most common type of bacterial pneumonia, is often spread through coughing. The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia can come quickly and may include high fever, excessive sweating and shaking chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and chest pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee recommends that all adults 65 years or older receive pneumococcal vaccination.

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious virus that is usually spread through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms can impact the entire body and may include fever, headache, muscle aches, a dry cough, sore throat and nasal congestion. Health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older receive an influenza vaccination every year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2020 goal for influenza vaccination is 70 percent for adults 18 and older, but rates are currently at 45 percent as of December 2017.

In addition, the Healthy People goal for any pneumococcal vaccination for adults 65 and older is 90 percent, but rates are only around 62 percent as of 2018 - well below the national goal. Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.

The American Lung Association, in partnership with Pfizer, is urging adults to talk with their healthcare provider about pneumococcal and influenza vaccination, with more information available at Lung.org/pneumococcal and Lung.org/influenza, or call the American Lung Association's Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

Washington Football Team Hires University Of Chicago And Northwestern Grad To Be NFL's First Black President

The Washington Football Team announced Monday that they have appointed Jason Wright team president. In this role, Wright will be responsible for leading the organization's business divisions, including operations, finance, sales, and marketing. He will join Coach Ron Rivera, who maintains all on-field responsibilities and football decisions, in reporting directly to team owner, Dan Snyder.

"If I could custom design a leader for this important time in our history, it would be Jason. His experience as a former player, coupled with his business acumen, gives him a perspective that is unrivaled in the league," Snyder said. "We will not rest until we are a championship caliber team, on and off the field. Jason has a proven track record in helping businesses transform culturally, operationally and financially.

"He is a proactive and assertive advocate for inclusion of all people and will set new standards for our organization, and for the league. There could not be a better duo than Jason Wright and Coach Ron Rivera as we usher in a new era for Washington Football."

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"From football to business school to McKinsey, I have always enjoyed building exciting new things and taking on the hard, seemingly intractable challenges that others may not want to tackle," Wright said.

"I especially love doing this with organizations who have deep history and values that set a firm foundation. This team, at this time, is an ideal opportunity for me. The transformation of the Washington Football Team is happening across all aspects of the organization - from football to operations to branding to culture - and will make us a truly modern and aspirational franchise. We want to set new standards for the NFL.

"As a DMV local and fan, I've been watching this team with interest long before I knew I could become part of it. I believe in Dan Snyder's vision for this organization, and I am looking forward to partnering with Coach Rivera, who is a champion for the players and one of the great minds in football. Together, we will define the future of the Washington Football Team."

"I remember Jason as a player," Rivera said, "and it is no surprise to me that he went on to achieve the caliber of success that Jason has in his time in the business world. From my conversations with his former teammates and coaches plus my own with Jason, I have come to see that we share many of the same core values and beliefs. Because he knows the NFL firsthand and how fast it moves, I am excited to have him on board to head up the front office and operations, so that I can focus on what's most important to the fans in our community - winning football games."

Wright spent seven years as a running back in the NFL with stops in San Francisco, Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, where he was the Cardinals' team captain and union representative during the league's 2011 lockout.

Upon his retirement from the gridiron, he received his MBA, graduating with high honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and building on his undergraduate studies in psychology at Northwestern University, where he was also an Academic All-American and captain of the football team.

Wright went on to global strategy and management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where he quickly ascended to being named partner in the Operations Practice, based in Washington, D.C.

In addition to steering some of the world's most influential Chief Human Resources Officers, Chief Financial Officers and Chief Security Officers to transformed environments, modernized operations and increased business value, he spearheaded the Black Economic Institute at McKinsey, where he additionally co-piloted their anti-racism and inclusion strategy.

Wright is also a trustee for the Union Theological Seminary, where he helps the institution better equip students with community organizing and social entrepreneurship skills.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2020

Blackhawks Blown Out Of Bubble

There was only one thing left to do - put the Blackhawks and their fans out of their misery.

After thoroughly dominating their first-round playoff series with the Hawks, the Golden Knights mercifully pulled the plug with a 4-3 victory in Edmonton late Tuesday night. That gave them a 4-1 series victory that wasn't that close.

And anyone around here trying to put any sort of positive spin on this series was not paying close enough attention. The Hawks saved a little face with a 3-1 victory to avoid the sweep in Game 4, but Vegas even dominated that game, outshooting their foes 49-25.

A Golden Knights team that one must remember is still in only its third season of existence is way, way better than the Blackhawks. The Knights appear poised to make a deep playoff run two years after they went all the way to the finals at the end of their debut campaign before bowing to the champion Capitals. The Knights lost in the first round of the playoffs last year while the Hawks sat out.

Who among the young Hawks who played sizable minutes in this series strikes you, Ms. or Mr. Blackhawks fan, as a future centerpiece of the organization? Adam Boqvist? Kirby Dach? They are both too young to draw any big conclusions but other than brief flashes, neither was anything special. Actually Dach appears to have a potentially above-average size and speed combination but there is much work to be done to bring that to fruition.

Dominik Kubalik you say? I say he sure looked a lot like Alex DeBrincat, who burst on the scene with 41 goals in 2018-19. Of course this past season's stats have to be largely discounted because of the massive break in the schedule from March to July, but does anyone believe that DeBrincat didn't take a huge step back this time around (18 goals and a second-worst-on-the-team -10 plus/minus)?

And then there is the goaltending. Corey Crawford returned to the team at the last possible moment before bubble play began. Nevertheless the Blackhawks had so little confidence in their other options that Crawford, who is now 36, played every minute of every game in Edmonton.

Crawford is now a free agent. The Hawks' salary cap issues will only be exacerbated by the coming plummet in revenues (along with everyone else's, I realize, but everyone else isn't on the hook for several more years of high salaries for a crew of veterans who would have made it three non-playoff years in a row this past spring but for the league adding additional teams to the bubble postseason).

In the front office, Danny Wirtz is now the team's president, a position the team insists is temporary. Until a new president is hired, however, the Hawks will be led by a fourth-generation legacy. It was Danny's great-grandfather Arthur who was actually successful enough in other fields to buy the team and build it up. Disastrous Dollar Bill Wirtz inherited the squad, as did his successful son Rocky.

Unless they are keenly aware of their own shortcomings, legacy owners are far more likely to fail than the guys who have proven themselves in ways other than winning the birth lottery. The keenly self-aware Rocky didn't waste time when he took over, quickly hiring outsider John McDonough as team president.

Plenty of the Hawks' success between 2010 and 2015 flowed from that single decision. That and the fact that former general manager Dale Tallon took advantage of a series of high draft picks (as a result of the team sucking for most of the 2000s) to draft the team's stars. And he capped off his tenure as GM by signing Marian Hossa as a free agent shortly before he was fired in 2009.

Tallon was fired by the Florida Panthers as their general manager earlier this month. Is a reunion in Chicago possible? Not bloody likely but it would be far from the worst thing that could happen.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 PM | Permalink

Chicago's Quirky Patron Saint

"This thrilling story of a daughter of America's foremost industrialist, John D. Rockefeller, is complete with sex, money, mental illness, and opera divas - and a woman who strove for the independence to make her own choices. Rejecting the limited gender role carved out for her by her father and society, Edith Rockefeller McCormick forged her own path, despite pushback from her family and ultimate financial ruin," SIU Press says.

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"Young Edith and her siblings had access to the best educators in the world, but the girls were not taught how to handle the family money; that responsibility was reserved for their younger brother.

"A parsimonious upbringing did little to prepare Edith for life after marriage to Harold McCormick, son of the Reaper King Cyrus McCormick. The rich young couple spent lavishly. They purchased treasures like the jewels of Catherine the Great, entertained in grand style in a Chicago mansion, and contributed to the city's cultural uplift, founding the Chicago Grand Opera. They supported free health care for the poor, founding and supporting the John R. McCormick Memorial Institute for Infectious Diseases. Later, Edith donated land for what would become Brookfield Zoo.

"Though she lived a seemingly enviable life, Edith's disposition was ill-suited for the mores of the time. Societal and personal issues - not least of which were the deaths of two of her five children - caused Edith to experience phobias and panic attacks. Dissatisfied with rest cures, she ignored her father's expectations, moved her family to Zurich, and embarked on a journey of education and self-examination. Edith pursued analysis with then-unknown Carl Jung. Her generosity of spirit led Edith to become Jung's leading patron. She also supported up-and-coming musicians, artists, and writers, including James Joyce as he wrote Ulysses.

"While Edith became a Jungian analyst, her husband, Harold, pursued an affair with an opera star. After returning to Chicago and divorcing Harold, Edith continued to deplete her fortune. She hoped to create something of lasting value, such as a utopian community and affordable homes for the middle class. Edith's goals caused further difficulties in her relationship with her father and are why he and her brother cut her off from the family funds even after the 1929 stock market crash ruined her. Edith's death from breast cancer three years later was mourned by thousands of Chicagoans."

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Via Wikipedia:

"On November 26, 1895, she married Harold Fowler McCormick from Chicago, a son of Nancy Fowler and Cyrus Hall McCormick, the inventor of the mechanical reaper.

"The married couple spent their first two years living in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where Harold managed a branch of his father's business. They later moved to Chicago.

"In 1912, they hired prominent architect Charles A. Platt to build a mansion on their large country estate, located directly on Lake Michigan in Lake Forest, Illinois, which they named Villa Turicum, and which had extensive architecturally landscaped gardens."

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"Edith helped fund the juvenile probation program of Chicago's pioneering Juvenile Court system when it was revealed that, although legislation set up the system, there was no provision to fund the probation officers.

"Edith began support of the Art Institute in 1909 as a charter member and supported it with monetary contributions and loans from her extensive personal art collection.

"She and Harold, along with other wealthy patrons, founded the Grand Opera Company, the first in Chicago, in 1909 . . .

"In 1919. McCormick donated land she had received from her father as a wedding gift to the Forest Preserve of Cook County, to be developed as a zoological garden, later to become Chicago's Brookfield Zoo."

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"In 1925, she and other wealthy Chicago women including Miss Helen M. Bennett, Mrs. John V. Farwell, Mrs. Silas Strawn, Mrs. John Alden Carpenter, Mrs. B.F. Langworthy, Mrs. Florence Fifer Bohrer, and Mrs. Medill McCormick sponsored an international exposition to celebrate the progress and achievements of American women - the first Woman's World's Fair, which was held at the American Exposition Palace on Lake Michigan in April 1925, and was held again each year in Chicago in April or May from 1926 to 1928."

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See also: Edith Rockefeller McCormick Reigned As A Queen Of Chicago's Elite - And As A Quirky Visionary.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:56 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Census kicked my ass again today.

You people have no idea.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Remembering FBG Duck
Did his job better than Lightfoot does hers.

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Blackhawks Blown Out Of Bubble
Future not bright so no need to wear shades.

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Chicago's Quirky Patron Saint
Her name was Edith.

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Cold Kills Way More Than Heat
UIC study says.

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ChicagoReddit

Covid Tourism? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Mississippi Governor Responds To Chicago Mayor

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BeachBook

Two Men Charged In Cold Case Death Of Jam Master Jay.

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Study: Painting Eyes On Cow Butts Wards Off Predators.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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Is that what Jesus would do?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Gucci gulch.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:51 AM | Permalink

Remembering FBG Duck

"The mother of Carlton Weekly, better known by his stage name FBG Duck, called for peace after her son was shot and killed in the Gold Coast neighborhood," the Crusader reports.

"The call comes after comments by Mayor Lori Lightfoot that labeled the rapper as a member of a gang who 'fancies himself a rapper,' a description the family refutes."

Well, you fancy yourself a mayor so I suppose anyone can fancy anything they want about themselves, but Weekly was better at his job than you are at yours.

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FBG in the Beachwood:

-> FBG Duck: Life On The Low End
February 1, 2018

-> CPD Gets Downstate FBG Duck Shows Shut Down
April 3, 2018

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FBG Duck Thought About Getting Killed "All Day, Every Day" in Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:31 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2020

Cold More Deadly Than Heat

With the number of extreme weather days rising around the globe in recent years due to global warming, it is no surprise that there has been an upward trend in hospital visits and admissions for injuries caused by high heat over the last several years. But cold temperatures are responsible for almost all temperature-related deaths, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research.

According to the new study by researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago, patients who died because of cold temperatures were responsible for 94% of temperature-related deaths, even though hypothermia was responsible for only 27% of temperature-related hospital visits.

"With the decrease in the number of cold weather days over the last several decades, we still see more deaths due to cold weather as opposed to hot weather," said Lee Friedman, associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences in the UIC School of Public Health and corresponding author on the paper. "This is in part due to the body's poorer ability to thermoregulate once hypothermia sets in, as well as since there are fewer cold weather days overall, people don't have time to acclimate to cold when those rarer cold days do occur."

Hypothermia, or a drop in the body's core temperature, doesn't require sub-arctic temps. Even mildly cool temperatures can initiate hypothermia, defined as a drop in body temperature from the normal 98.7 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When this occurs, organs and systems begin to shut down in an effort to preserve the brain. The process, once started, can be very difficult to get under control; however, people who are more regularly exposed to lower temperatures are better able to resist hypothermia.

"People who were experiencing homelessness in the records we looked at were less likely to die from temperature-related injury," Friedman said. "Because they have greater outdoor exposure, they acclimate better to both heat and cold."

Heat-related issues are more likely to self-resolve by getting to a cooler place or by hydrating, Friedman said.

The researchers looked at inpatient and outpatient heat- and cold-related injuries that required a hospital visit in Illinois between 2011 and 2018. They identified 23,834 cold-related cases and 24,233 heat-related cases. Among these patients, there were 1,935 cold-related deaths and 70 heat-related deaths.

Friedman said government data systems that track temperature-related deaths significantly undercount these deaths.

"We found five to 10 times more temperature-related deaths by linking the hospital data to data from the National Weather Service and medical examiner's data," he said. "There are a lot more people dying from temperature-related injuries than is generally reported."

Friedman and his colleagues also found that cumulative costs associated with temperature-related hospital visits were approximately $1 billion between 2011 and 2018 in Illinois.

Adults older than age 65 and Black people were almost twice as likely to be hospitalized due to temperature-related injuries. Individuals who visited a hospital due to cold temperatures also commonly had multiple health issues, including electrolyte disorders, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.

"Currently, the public health community focuses almost exclusively on heat injury. Our data demonstrate that improved awareness and education are needed around the risk for cold injuries," Friedman said.

Chibuzor Abasilim, Rosalinda Fitts and Michelle Wueste from UIC are co-authors on the paper.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

I got a day off from the census and I prepared something special for you: The first online version of my 2000 Chicago magazine story, Lord Jim, about the post-governorship of Big Jim Thompson, who died on Friday. It's pretty damn good.

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Also new on the Beachwood today . . .

The Real Texas Rangers' History Of Violence & Racism
'Calls have surfaced for the Texas Rangers name to be stricken from the modern-day Texas Department of Public Safety investigative agency, North Texas's major league baseball team, and college mascots. Meanwhile, historians and public officials are at odds over how to reconcile the law enforcement unit's racist historical acts with its long-running exalted place in Texas history and culture.'

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Some folks are just now learning that much of the history we're taught is flat-out false; that America inculcates its citizens with self-serving propaganda as much as any other country. Perhaps, have some have suggested for decades, it's even more insidious here because in Russia, say, people know they're getting fed bullshit.

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ChicagoReddit

How Chicago's Skyline Would Look With All The Rejected Skyscrapers

How Chicago's skyline would look with all the rejected skyscrapers from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Five Chicago Restaurants Cited For COVID-19 Violations

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Big Bang Line: Inflate and expand.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:46 PM | Permalink

Lord Jim

Upon the death of Jim Thompson on Friday, I decided to dig out the profile I wrote about him and his post-governship for Chicago magazine in 2000. Because it's not online, I had to retype it here and take camera photos of the art. (Original photography by Tom Maday.) Enjoy!

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Once thought to be Presidential timber, former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson instead has struck it rich as a power lawyer, ubiquitous board members, and big-gun-for-hire lobbyist. Although he hasn't held public office since 1991, he now wields more clout than any other Chicagoan not named Daley.

One day last December, 31 Chicago power brokers gathered in the grand oval lobby of the Old Courthouse Building in River North. It was a uniquely broad coalition of politicians and legal luminaries - a prime selection of clout rallying to the cause of Cook County Criminal Courts judge Thomas Fitzgerald, who was running for the Illinois Supreme Court. Among those standing behind Fitzgerald on a three-tiered riser were former Cook County assessor Thomas Hynes, civil rights lawyer James Montgomery, Democratic grand dame Dawn Clark Netsch, and author Scott Turow. It was a formidable cast for any occasion.

But one man, planted in front and just a shade off center - visible behind the left shoulder of each person who stepped up to speak - towered above the rest, and not just because of his six-foot-six frame. Big Jim Thompson, the swashbuckling four-term Republican governor who left office in 1991, was mentioned in the official remarks that day almost as often as Fitzgerald.

Netsch, who had known Thompson for three decades, drew the honor of introducing him. She pretended she didn't know who he was. Reading from note cards, she joked, "Let's see, it says here he was governor. U.S. Attorney. Statesman. Statesman?

The crowd laughed, but in fact she had a point. Once talked about seriously as Presidential material, Thompson had not exactly spent his post-government years on statecraft, something he seemed to acknowledge. "C'mon, say it, say it," Thompson good-naturedly pleaded. "In my next campaign, I'm going to say, 'Dawn Clark Netsch called me a statesman."

Thompson can afford to roll with the joke. Sure, he hasn't become President. And he hasn't ascended to the role of political wise elder, like former U.S. senator Paul Simon, or even Thompson's successor, Jim Edgar. Both of those men hold dignified academic post. Instead, Thompson has gotten rich.

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Big Jim spent the nineties as a man of supreme influence. In his day job, he is chairman of Winston & Strawn, the politically connected blue-chip law firm. And with Thompson at the helm, Winston & Strawn has grown tremendously in size and revenues. But Thompson's true life's work may simply be this: being in on the action. He sits on ten corporate boards. He sits on nine civic boards. He has doled out more than $1 million in campaign contributions since leaving the governor's office. The state and federal judiciaries are stuffed with his old friends and former colleagues. He counts Governor George Ryan (once Thompson's lieutenant governor), state senate president James "Pate" Philip, and state house minority leader Led Daniels as "exceedingly good friends." His ties to Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, go back to Hastert's first political campaign in 1980.

Thompson is also a go-to lawyer of the power set, though his client list reads in part like a cast of public villains, from state supreme court justice James Heiple, to ComEd, to liquor kingpin William Wirtz. When George Ryan, as a sitting governor, needed a lawyer to defend him in two lawsuits arising from the driver's licenses-for-bribes scandal, he called Thompson.

The former governor leaves virtually no public or private arena of note untouched. He's even involved in Big Labor, as chairman of the Public Review Board overseeing the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, formerly run by a friend and political supporter, the late Edward Hanley. Hanley was forced out after a federal corruption investigation uncovered irregularities in his administration of union funds.

The Thompson network is hot-wired. It's hard to think of anyone in Chicago outside of Mayor Richard M. Daley with more juice. "Thompson was governor for 14 years," says Pual Green, director of the School of Policy Studies at Roosevelt University. "He not only knows where the bones are buried; he probably buried some of them."

Thompson, of course, protests any suggestion that he belongs at or near the top of any list of power brokers. "I'm way down on the list," he insists. "I hold no office; I don't have any patronage; I'm not governor; I don't have any power. Influence is overrated."

That from a man who has made influence his calling card (and whose pull is such that the license plate on his 1991 Mercedes reads simply "8").

"He's always had connections," says Robert E. Hartley, author of the 1979 biography Big Jim Thompson of Illinois. "He's always been at the center of things. He's always had his minions at work. But I never thought of Jim Thompson as a sinister figure. Intriguing, but never sinister. He did a lot of things that other people wouldn't do, and essentially he got away with it. It all sort of tumbled in his direction."

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The view from Thompson's 46th-floor corner office in the Leo Burnett Building, where Winston & Strawn's world headquarters occupies the top 12 floors, is almost as compelling as the artwork on his walls - mostly 20th-century decorative pieces by local artists. Looking east, Thompson takes in Navy Pier and notes he attended college there when the University of Illinois at Chicago was the University of Illinois at Navy Pier. As governor, he remembers, he delivered $150 million to Chicago's new mayor, Richard M. Daley, to revive the pier and turn it into the tourist magnet that it is today.

Thompson - no matter what you think of him, it's hard to resist calling him Big Jim - likes to reminisce about projects like that. In a conversation focused on his most recent accomplishments, the words he repeated most frequently were "When I was governor. . . . " And nearly every sight outside his windows and every memento inside the office seem to kindle another memory of those days of living large, when the mansion in Springfield was party central and he once sat astride a horse at the capitol.

Thompson has rushed back to his office on this day, the day before New Year's Eve, and he's a little late and a little frazzled, despite his pre-holiday casual attire. He tells of getting caught in the mad millennial rush of North Michigan Avenue shoppers, as if he is not used to mingling with the masses. And yet, Thompson is affable and relaxed. He does not smell of money, though his hourly rate is $550. He still has a slight awkwardness that belies his almost bottomless reservoir of charm. His blue jeans are too blue and out of style. The color scheme of his sweater resembles fruit salad mush. He puts his brown loafers on the coffee table; his feet are huge. His hair is graying at the temples, but his laugh is still hearty - sudden, loud, and barking, in contrast to his soothing, calm speaking voice. He laughs a lot. His life has been charmed.

James Robert Thompson, now 63, grew up in Garfield Park. His father was a doctor who worked in a tuberculosis lab by day and made house calls at night. His mother largely raised the three Thompson boys and their sister. Jim's ties to his family were so strong that when they moved to St. Louis for a year he transferred to Washington University there, returning to attend law school at Northwestern when his family moved back to Chicago. His résumé since then is a slice of Illinois history - falling under the spell of conservative legal theorist Fred Inbau; prosecuting obscenity cases, including Lenny Bruce's appeal, while working in the Cook County state's attorney's office; winning a conviction against the Chicago Seven on contempt of court charges (a victory that proved Pyrrhic when the judge refused to enter a sentence); and eventually becoming a self-styled corruption-busting U.S. attorney, putting two prominent Democrats - former governor Otto Kerner and Chicago alderman Thomas Kean, Mayor Richard J. Daley's floor leader and City Council finance chairman - behind bars.

Thompson rode the acclaim to election in 1976, although he found Springfield too sleepy for his appetites. Instead, he largely led the state from his Chicago office, careening from crisis to crisis, spreading the pork far and wide, leaving legacies good (the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency), bad (Comiskey Park), and ugly (the state of Illinois building in the Loop that now bears his name).

He's happy to talk about it all, but ask him what accomplishment he is most proud of since leaving the governorship, and you get an uncharacteristically long silence. His head appears to tighten with the strain of the search. "It's hard to pick one thing," he finally says. "I'll have to think about that." (A month later, when I ask him again, he says, simply, "Building this law firm.")

Perhaps that suggests some ambivalence about his current work. After all, when I met with him in his office he had just wrapped up a remarkably successful legislative session in a new role - superlobbyist - representing clients like ComEd and Blackhawks owner and liquor distributor William Wirtz. But he still sees the world through the eyes of a governor. Only minutes into our conversation, he mentions George Ryan's embarrassing standoff against Philip over a gun control provision in a proposed second version of the Safe Neighborhoods Act. "We would have had a compromise," Thompson says, remarking on his own ability to work with Philip when he was governor. "It never would have gotten this far." Philip, in a later interview, agreed.

But Thompson is no longer governor, and though he has a lot of business in Springfield, the Safe Neighborhoods Act is not the sort of project he now takes on: There was no corporate client to pay the freight. "I don't think Jim Thompson, when he was governor, ever positioned himself to be an elder statesman when he left office," says Jim Howard, executive director of Illinois Common Cause. "As a governor, he positioned himself to become a lobbyist on his issues. His style as a governor was as lead lobbyist. What he's doing now it's a big change, except that he's not the governor. He's ended up as that which he always was. He's the consummate lobbyist."

And that makes some people wonder: Is this any way for an ex-governor to act?

bigjimnetwork.jpg(ENLARGE, then click on the image anywhere you'd like and use your sliders to move around the graphic.)

When Thompson declined to run for a fifth term and left the governor's office in January 1991, people still speculated that one day he would try for national office. But the window on a Presidential ticket had closed. Thompson, the tried-and-true moderate, had not foreseen the rise of Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party's right wing. "He has no party," says Paul Green. "He can't run as a Democrat because he's a Republican. And he can't run as a Republican because he's a moderate." He reportedly was on George Bush's short list for Vice-President in 1988, but Bush chose Dan Quayle. It was time for the private sector.

Thompson's casual style - he made a virtue of campaigning in jeans and T-shirts - may have seemed like an odd fit for an old-line, button-down law firm like Winston & Strawn, but his sharp legal mind and his ability to attract top-dollar clients quickly swept him into the chairman's office.

The timing wasn't great. Like many other law firms, Winston & Strawn was in a period of retrenchment. Between 1991 and 1994, the firm laid off 44 partners and associates. Then managing partner Gary Lee Fairchild humiliated the firm and was forced out for embezzling more than $784,000 in a scheme involving false expense reports. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud and income tax evasion and spent 21 months in prison. (The Fairchild saga presented a typically complex Thompson web: Thomas Reynolds Jr., president of Thompson's political fund and his predecessor as Winston & Strawn's chairman, had brought Fairchild to the firm, and Anton Valukas Jr., a Thompson protégé who followed him as U.S. attorney, defended Fairchild in court.)

As chairman, Thompson led Winston & Strawn's comeback. He reformed the firm's management structure along the lines of a corporate model, making the new managing partner, James Neis, the chief operating officer responsible for internal administration and taking for himself the more visible role of chief executive officer. Today, Winston & Strawn is larger (655 lawyers) and more lucrative (more than $280 million in revenues for 1998) than ever. The firm grew more than 13 percent last year, and each of its 269 partners generated an average $710,000 in profits, according to Vault.com, a business research Web site. Thompson spent much of the last year opening the firm's sixth office, in Los Angeles. He personally helped make the hires - an art he perfected in his U.S. attorney days. "The best talent I've ever had is choosing good people," he says.

Thompson has also restocked the firm's legislative units in Springfield and Washington, D.C., breathing new life into the firm's lobbying and regulatory work, which steers clients through the thickets of governmental bureaucracy. (Winston & Strawn also has won more than $1 million in state contracts since Ryan became governor.) Thompson hired a crew of aggressive young lawyers and eventually returned to Springfield himself to rejoin the game. "I kinda missed the action, I guess," Thompson says. "It's fun being back."

And while he doesn't spend much time in the courtroom anymore, he can still occasionally be found arguing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. "He's a working lawyer," says Neis. "He's not just a hood ornament around here."

Thompson's triumphant return to Springfield began in 1997 when he defended Justice Heiple in impeachment proceedings before an Illinois House panel. At the time, Heiple was likely the most unpopular public figure in Illinois. His ruling in the Baby Richard custody case was so widely despised that he became a national symbol for out-of-touch jurists. Then he was accused of trying to use his position to avoid traffic tickets and to influence a subsequent investigation. Even Governor Jim Edgar, a fellow Republican, spoke out against him.

But Thompson had at least as much goodwill stored up as Heiple had bad. Big Jim was back, hailed by legislators as a returning hero, backslaps and war stories about the good old days echoing through the capitol. His first order of business was to meet with senate president Pate Philip, in what the Chicago Tribune's veteran Springfield reporter Rick Pearson called "a situation akin to having a defense attorney meet with a judge before an indictment has been issued."

The notion that a law firm chairman would defend a sitting chief justice of the state supreme court - where seven pending cases were being handled by Winston & Strawn lawyers - was unsettling to some people. Also unsettling was the fact that a former governor was arguing before a panel containing some of the very legislators with whom he had worked for many years. Still, even Frank J. McGarr, a former federal judge who, as the House panel's special counsel, led the case against Heiple, praises Thompson's defense to this day. But, of course, McGarr has known Thompson a long time: He was the first assistant to state attorney general William Scott in 1969, when Thompson headed Scott's criminal division.

Clearly, Thompson's return to his old political arena creates plenty of questionable appearances. A walking conflict of interest, some call him. But among Thompson's dealings in Springfield, only his defense of Heiple gives Netsch pause. "Heiple had a right to an attorney, but that was potentially unseemly," she says.

Of course, in the end Thompson was his usual persuasive self. He didn't waste time defending Heiple on the facts. Instead, he cut to the argument that the allegations, even if true, weren't serious enough to warrant impeachment. He won easily, though Heiple later stepped down as chief justice.

Later that year, Thompson returned to Springfield to represent ComEd in a complicated and controversial deregulation bill. "He played a pivotal role in bringing the parties together at the end to make the bill float," says, Martin Cohen, executive director fo the Citizens Utility Board, a consumer watchdog that supported the final version of the bill.

During the negotiations, Thompson displayed a mastery of detail and argument, says Senator Kirk Dillard, a Republican (and, for five years, Thompson's legislative affairs director): "He really does sell the product. He doesn't just walk in a room." And even though Thompson's client was ComEd, says Cohen, he helped craft a bill beneficial to a number of interests - which didn't please all the players. "He ruffled some feathers," Cohen says, "His role was similar to his role of governor - something that could have been played by Jim Edgar, who was the governor at the time."

It was the Thompson philosophy at work. "Nobody wins or loses absolutely in politics, except on election day," he says. "You're gonna have to deal with Republicans and Democrats. You've got to find common ground with constituent groups. You're always campaigning one way or another to achieve an end."

Thompson continues to represent ComEd, which was a stalwart contributor to his election campaigns. Last spring he pushed through a dozen new deregulation provisions for his client. "ComEd is not in a position to move legislation by itself," Cohen says. "It doesn't have the power in Springfield that it used to. But people trust Thompson in ways that some of the other lobbyists, wouldn't be trusted."

The pièce de résistance had yet come, however: A bill was moving down the pipe that was almost as unpopular as Heiple himself, the most thoroughly reviled piece of legislation in years. It would be Jim Thompson's job to make it law.

Thompson's phone rang about midnight at his Gold Coast midrise condo near Rush Street. It was James Fletcher, a former Winston & Strawn partner who had left to open his own ship, and is today considered the top dog among Springfield lobbyists. "He said, 'There's this bill out there having to do with liquor, and I want you to help me kill it,'" Thompson recalls. It was the Illinois Wine and Spirits Fair Dealing Act, which would make it extremely difficult for liquor and wine makers to fire their distributors. "He didn't tell me whose bill it was. My ears went up, and I said,' Uh, Jimmy, this wouldn't have anything to do with Wirtz, would it?"

William Wirtz's Judge & Dolph is one of the state's largest liquor distributors, and Wirtz, a long-time client of Winston & Strawn, wanted the bill to shore up his eroding empire.

About an hour after Fletcher called, the phone rang at the Thompson residence again. It was Wirtz. Thompson stuck by his old client, and squared off against Fletcher in the Super Bowl of lobbying.

Thompson likes to say there were 30 lobbyists on the Wirtz bill, and he was the 30th. But few doubt he was the most important. "For the number of lobbyists that Bill Wirtz bought for that bill, can you name five?" asks Jim Howard of Common Cause.

Never mind that once passed, the law would turn out to be an unmitigated disaster, questioned by a federal judge and abandoned by Governor Ryan, not to mention sticking Illinoisans with higher liquor prices. "[Thompson] is a hired gun," says state senator Dan Cronin, a Republican who voted against the Wirtz bill. "His job is to pass legislation. His job is to make an argument and persuade people. In the final analysis, his job is not to be right or wrong. His job is to win."

Thompson made the rounds inside the capitol. "I lobbied everybody in sight," he says. And he found ways to reach legislators he did not personally get to. "He would get groups of affected people to plead his case, to come see me," says Cronin. "He was very, very clever. He was getting constituents from my senate district who worked for Judge & Dolph saying, 'You gotta vote for this or I'll lose my job.'"

It wasn't an easy victory for Thompson, but it was a victory. "He physically camped out in Springfield for days on end," says Dillard. "He walked up and down the stairs, to individual legislators' offices, like when he was governor. I'm sure he didn't like being stuck in Springfield for an extra eight to ten days. Tough to stay at the Hilton instead of the mansion."

Illinois governors have rarely faced the question of what to do after leaving office. "There have been very few young enough to do anything or who've left without a cloud," says Green. "Thompson left young and unscathed." So the sight of a former governor - whose first campaign featured a flier claiming "Nobody owns Jim Thompson" - lobbying the legislature is unusual, and it stirs a range of reactions. Good government advocates instinctively sense evil. Academics are largely ambivalent. Politicians think it's great - or at least don't see any impropriety.

"He has a right to earn a living that way," says Netsch. "It's the [lobbying] process itself that is greatly discomforting."

Lee Daniels points out that Thompson purposely put some space between the governorship and his lobbying career. "He felt he had been respectfully gone long enough so people wouldn't look and say, 'The only thing you really bring is being governor.'"

And Green, a Thompson admirer, adds there's nothing wrong with a former governor as lobbyist. "Why should it be unseemly? For 14 years he served the state of Illinois. He probably could have made a lot of money in that time. People are much too envious."

Still, it's not hard to find critics who think a former public servant should stay above mere politics and money. "Here you have a governor elected to keep the public trust, and now he's traded in his public trust to serve private interests," says William McNary, co-executive director of Citizen Action Illinois, a liberal advocacy group. It would be refreshing, McNary adds, to find Thompson lobbying on behalf of, say, starving children.

"You can run a law firm and have clients and not do any lobbying," says Thompson's biographer Hartley, who now writes books from his home in Westminster, Colorado. "There are choices there. I'm a little surprised that he's lobbying the legislature directly. Just because he no longer holds public office doesn't mean we don't hold him to a reasonably high level of citizenship.

Edgar, Thompson's anointed successor, hasn't followed him into the lobbying game. "It would have to be something I felt comfortable with," Edgar says. Instead, Edgar is now lecturing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. But he won't criticize Thompson. "I don't view my approach as any more noble than his approach," he says.

Some of Thompson's harshest critics have been caught on the opposite side of his issues. As executive director of the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, based in Rockford, Illinois, the Revered Tom Grey opposed Thompson when he brought gambling to the state in 1990 and has continued to cross paths in Springfield with the former governor. "There's something unseemly to me about political leaders who build a trough and then go feed off of it," says Grey. For years, Thompson represented Arlington International Racecourse's Richard Duchossois and Rosemont mayor Donald Stephens, who have both sought riverboat casinos. Stephens finally got his license last year.

Thompson says there is a misconception about his involvement in the controversial Rosemont gambling bill, which gave the city a casino. "I got credit for working on the gaming bill, and I had nothing to do with it," Thompson insists. "I simply was there. I spent a lot of time in Senator Philip's office waiting for my other bills to be called and the press just assumed. I was part of the general melee." (Philip says Thompson spent a lot of late afternoons in his office drinking orange soda and talking about old times.)

Thompson dismisses any notion that he has an unfair advantage as an ex-governor. "It's not a conflict; it's just a fact of life," he says. "The business culture is to form relationships and friendships and rely on them when you need them."

Grey remains unappeased. "Thompson seems to continually appear in places where there's money to be made, when things need to be finessed, or covered," the minister says.

Jim Thompson was in the Zurich airport, on a stopover from Geneva, Switzerland, heading back to Chicago, when he felt the cold bug hit him. "I tried echinacea, vitamin C with zinc, all the folk remedies," he says, now relazing in his office on a mild February day. "I took them religiously during the ten-hour flight. It didn't work. It's a real humdinger."

Forgive Thompson for being a little run down - he is in the midst of a 30-day travel schedule that includes not only Geneva but also New York, London, Dublin, Paris, Baltimore, Washington, New York again, and Tampa. All business. He's been on seven flights in ten days, his walk is stiff, and to say he's got the sniffles and a cough is an understatement.

But he is dressed smartly today, looking like the dandy chairman of a law firm: blue suit, blue and gold tie, white collar, blue cuff links, red suspenders decorated with dancing couples from the Roaring Twenties. Later this afternoon, he will fly to Springfield to introduce the chairman of Norfolk Southern railroad (a Winston & Strawn client with hundreds of miles of rails in Illinois) to Ryan for a discussion of a proposed merger between competitors. "The other side had already been there!" Thompson says the next day.

When he is not globetrotting or making important introductions, Thompson and his wife, Jayne, a principal of the Dilenschneider Group, a public relations firm, can be found grabbing a late dinner on Rush Street at restaurants like Carmine's, any number of neighborhood pizza joints, or Gibson's - if they are entertaining a guest who hasn't been there before. "It's big theatrics for out-of-towners," he says with a laugh.

Thompson's annual invitation-only Christmas party, which now flies under the Winston & Strawn banner, is big theatrics, too. Held at The Drake, it is always packed with "lawyers, politicians, judges, all the movers and shakers," says Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed. "You can get a million items out of one event because everyone is there."

The Thompsons have a Gold Coast condo, but in the summers they spend time at their home in Harbert, Michigan. Last year, they missed their summer vacation, so they planned to take it in March, joining their daughter, Samantha, a 21-year-old Georgetown University senior, in Florida, where she would be spending her spring break. After graduation Samantha may volunteer for the George W. Bush campaign.

For Big Jim, it's a whirlwind life, but he has no intention of slowing down. "It takes a lot of work and a lot of time, but I love it," he says. "Otherwise I wouldn't do it. It makes my life interesting, and challenging, to go from one to the other, to go from working a bill in Springfield to a city corporate board to something for the law firm, doing a lot of travel, going to Europe, New York, or Washington, doing a speech. It presents an amazing variety."

When Thompson left the Governor's Mansion, he still had a shade over $1.5 million in his state campaign fund, Citizens for Jim Thompson. As of last June, Citizens for Jim Thompson had dwindled to $20,507.66 - the result of a decade of giving, mostly to the state's major Republican domos like Philip, George Ryan, Daniels, and attorney general Jim Ryan. "That's where his power comes from," says McNary. "It's not just because he's Big Jim Thompson, former governor. He can dole out political contributions. If legislators do what he asks them to do, they know they will be repaid in kind."

Citizens for Jim Thompson shares its South Michigan Avenue office with America 2000, the federal fund Thompson formed upon leaving the governor's office, fueling speculation that he would one day launch a Presidential bid. Instead, America 2000 has doled out $97,500 since its inception, mostly to Republican candidates for national office. True to Thompson form, however, several Democrats have also benefited from their place in his extended web of important relationships, including former U.S. senator Alan Dixon, former congressman Dan Rostenkowski, and Mayor Daley (Judge Fitzgerald is also a Democrat).

Last year, America 2000 dispensed just $2,500, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But the fund is likely to be more active as the fall elections approach. "Chicago's been discovered as a place to come and tap into the local folks," Thompson says. "It used to be just New York and Los Angeles. Now it seems like there are candidates for the Senate here every other week, or candidates for governor in other states."

Thompson also makes campaign contributions from his private stash. In 1999, he personally gave $1,000 to George W. Bush (Thompson is on Bush's national finance committee) and $1,000 to Bill Bradley. He gave to Bush "out of commitment" and to Bradley "out of respect to a client, a long-time personal friend close to Bradley who asked me to," Thompson says. (He would not name the client.)

Of course, it can't hurt to hedge your bets. Winston & Strawn's political action committee gives almost equally to congressional Democrats and Republicans. As the firm's Web site reminds prospective clients: "We are prepared to provide effective client service on both sides of the political aisle."

One afternoon in January, yet another uniquely broad coalition of politicians and legal luminaries gathered. The time, it was to honor the ascension of U.S. District Court judge Ann Claire Williams to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Chief judge Richard A. Posner emceed the ceremony. U.S. senators Richard Durbin and Peter Fitzgerald offered greetings, as did congressman Bobby Rush. The oath was administered. And then a man sitting front and center rose to begin the day's remarks.

It was Big Jim Thompson, who got to know Williams - also president of the Federal Judges Association, which is represented by Winston & Strawn - when she worked for his successor, Sam Skinner, in the U.S. attorney's office.

Thompson's speech was moving, eloquent - and extemporaneous, save for a few words scribbled on a matchbook-size piece of paper. Even Big Jim seemed to choke up talking about Williams's inspirational climb to becoming the first African American to sit on the Seventh Circuit bench. The performance was heartfelt and powerful, bringing out the best in the former governor. One might even call it statesmanlike.

"I used to say he loved being governor much more than governing," says Netsch, a Democratic state senator throughout Thompson's tenure. Thompson retired after four terms, and his national potential was never realized, but perhaps he has found a way to stay in the job he really loves. He has remained, in many ways, the governor of Illinois.

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SIDEBAR
RYAN'S HOPE
Mired in a scandal that got him sued, Illinois's governor tapped an old friend for help.

When Governor George Ryan got slapped with lawsuits in the licenses-for-bribes scandal, he hired his old pal Jim Thompson to defend him. So far, Thompson has come through - the first suit hasn't gone anywhere. But a dispute embedded in the litigation once again illustrates the questions raised by the former governor's complicated universe.

In January 1999, just after he took office, Ryan was sued in federal court by the Better Government Association, which argued that Ryan, as secretary of state, had derived unfair political advantage from the bribe money that ended up in his campaign fund after some of his workers sold driver's licenses to unqualified truckers. The BGA contended that the scam had deprived Illinois voters of the right to a fair election. Thompson, as defense lawyer, won the first round when U.S. district court judge James Zagel dismissed the case, in essence ruling that the BGA's claim was a stretch.

The BGA obviously did not like the ruling, but it also felt cheated because of the man who made it: Zagel had held two positions, first as director of revenue and later as director of the state police, under Thompson. Zagel also coauthored two legal textbooks with Thompson in the 1980s.

"Let's face it," says J. Terrence Brunner, the former federal prosecutor who is now the BGA's executive director. "Everybody in this city who knows the law knows that Jimmy Zagel and Jim Thompson are close buddies from way back when. There's no way Jimmy Zagel was going to find against Jim Thompson."

Zagel denied a BGA motion that he pass the case to another judge (recuse himself, in the language of the law), saying that he had searched his conscience and found that he could rule fairly. Any debt he owed to Thompson, Zagel wrote in his opinion, had been "discharged long ago." Zagel also noted, "It is true that Mr. Thompson had a great deal to do with my appointment to this bench. I suspect there are at least a half a dozen or more judges of this court about whom the same could be said."

Thompson says, "Zagel and I have been friends for years, but lots of lawyers are friends with judges. I don't expect anything from Jim Zagel." (Another friend is the district court's chief judge, Marvin Aspen, a classmate from Northwestern law school and a colleague from the Cook County state's attorney's office.)

The BGA appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where it was rejected by a three-judge pandel. One of the judges on the panel was William J. Bauer, a former U.S. attorney whose first assistant was Jim Thompson.

"It's just one big happy family over there," Brunner says. "The public is ill-served by these things. It's just one more example of how the fix is in. And when George Ryan hires Jim Thompson to defend him, the fix is in."

And yet, right or wrong, the strands of politics and law are so deeply entangled, particularly in Illinois, that the courthouse might have to shut down if connections of this sort led judges to recuse themselves from cases. "Simple friendship, past friendship, or past association has never been thought to be grounds for disqualification," says Steve Lubet, a professor of legal ethics at Northwestern University School of Law. "You can't turn the former governor into some kind of legal Typhoid Mary where he no longer could appear in court."

The BGA is planning to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court - where Thompson doesn't have any close friends. (Ryan's campaign fund has already paid Winston & Strawn more than $72,000 in legal fees for the case.) In the meantime, the BGA is attending to the separate suit filed against Ryan in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the bribe scandal. Thompson is defending Ryan in that case, too. (The BGA has raised no complaints about Ellis Reid, the judge hearing it.) "Jim Thompson, at the same time, is Ryan's governor, Ryan's lawyer, his counselor, and confessor!" gripes Brunner. "This is like bringing in the pope."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

The Real Texas Rangers Have A History Of Violence And Racism

Growing up in Monahans in the 1960s, Arlinda Valencia said she was used to hearing about the valor of the Texas Rangers in school and on television.

"I grew up watching The Lone Ranger," she said, referring to the 1950s Western drama series. "The Lone Ranger was a hero, and that's what we grew up with, thinking that the Texas Rangers were heroes."

But when Valencia learned from a relative that the Texas Rangers took part in killing her great-grandfather, Longino Flores, and 14 other unarmed Tejano men and boys in the 1918 Porvenir massacre, she slowly began to re-evaluate her long-held perception of the law enforcement agency.

Screen Shot 2020-08-17 at 8.42.16 PM.pngArlinda Valencia, 68, holds a photograph taken in 1918 of her great-grandfather Longino Flores, left, great-grandmother Juana Bonilla Flores and aunt Rosa Flores Mesa/Joel Angel Juarez, Texas Tribune

Now Valencia, 68, is spreading word of the massacre in hopes of shedding light on a piece of Texas history that historically has not been given widespread attention: the Texas Rangers' racist and xenophobic past. She developed a website that details the massacre and has organized screenings of Porvenir, Texas, a 2019 documentary about the killings.

This year's prevalent and ongoing anti-police brutality protests have added resonance to Valencia's cause as calls have surfaced for the Texas Rangers name to be stricken from the modern-day Texas Department of Public Safety investigative agency, North Texas's major league baseball team, and college mascots. Meanwhile, historians and public officials are at odds over how to reconcile the law enforcement unit's racist historical acts with its long-running exalted place in Texas history and culture.

Founded In Hate

The Porvenir massacre is one of many past acts of violence committed by the Texas Rangers against people of color in the state, including indigenous Texans, Black Texans and Tejanos, or Mexican Americans from the South Texas region, from the 19th century through the 20th century.

As a law enforcement agency, the Rangers were unofficially founded in 1823 for the purpose of a "punitive expedition against a band of Indians," according to the Texas State Historical Association. They continued to drive indigenous people from their homelands during the Cherokee War in 1839, as well as the Council House Fight and Battle of Plum Creek against the Comanches in 1840.

In the mid-1800s, the Rangers captured runaway enslaved Black people seeking freedom in Mexico through the Callahan Expedition, according to the historical association.

In 1918, the Rangers slaughtered Tejanos during the Porvenir massacre, said John Morán González, a literature professor and the director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas-Austin. The massacre occurred when a group of Rangers, U.S. Army soldiers and ranchers arrived at the Porvenir village near El Paso in pursuit of revenge for a series of cattle raids by Tejanos along the border.

There was no evidence implicating the Porvenir villagers in the cattle raids, but the Rangers nevertheless separated 15 men and boys from their families and executed them.

Decades later, in the mid-1950s, Rangers helped the Texas governor, Allan Shivers, resist a federal court order for Mansfield High School to desegregate.

The Department of Public Safety investigative agency did not directly comment on calls to change its name, but wrote in a statement that it is "aware of recent stories about the history of the Texas Rangers and defers judgment on the veracity of those depictions to Texas historians."

"The modern-day Texas Rangers are comprised of principled men and women of great skill and integrity who are fully committed to the rule of law," it said in a statement.

Doug Swanson's 2020 book Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers prompted the removal of a statue of a Texas Ranger from Dallas's Love Field Airport in June by city officials.

Meanwhile, progressive activists have petitioned for the Texas Rangers baseball team to change its name.

("While we may have originally taken our name from the law enforcement agency, since 1971 the Texas Rangers Baseball Club has forged its own, independent identity," said John Blake, a team spokesperson. "The Texas Rangers Baseball Club stands for equality. We condemn racism, bigotry and discrimination in all forms.")

And ahead of the DPS investigative unit Texas Rangers' bicentennial celebration in 2023, historians and activists are advocating for a more comprehensive portrayal of the law enforcement entity in the public eye.

Historians like González believe the Texas Rangers name should be retired entirely from the modern agency, the baseball team and local mascots, like that of San Antonio College, which decided to change its mascot's name last month. Along with Benjamin Johnson, a Loyola University Chicago history professor, González co-founded Refusing to Forget, an organization that hopes to educate people about state-sanctioned violence against Tejanos in the early 20th century.

"I just think it's impossible to talk about this particular organization and use the word 'ranger' without invoking this 200 year-old actual history of violent policing, especially against communities of color," Johnson said.

But Jerry Patterson, a former Texas land commissioner and former state senator, said he believes scrapping the Texas Ranger name from various organizations is "total bullshit."

Screen Shot 2020-08-17 at 8.45.03 PM.pngFormer Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson holds up a Winchester Model 1895 carbine, a model favored by the Texas Rangers/Eddie Gaspar, Texas Tribune

Patterson, 73, said he has seen nationwide public perception of the Rangers move "like a pendulum swing," from glorifying the Rangers to demonizing them - both of which he believes are misguided approaches. Instead of taking down statues and changing names, Patterson said, Texas historians and activists should portray the multidimensional history of the Rangers, which he said was his goal when he worked on the Porvenir, Texas documentary.

"We have to tell the story, the complete story, warts and all, good, bad and ugly, and that's not what's being done," he said.

The Role Of The Media

González, 54, remembers watching Walker, Texas Ranger in the early '90s - a television series starring Chuck Norris and one of many examples of mass media that he believes has exalted the Texas Rangers and gifted them with an almost mythical position in Texas culture.

As a child growing up in Houston, Johnson, 48, recalls reading books about the Rangers that would lionize them, "telling these stories of heroism and bravery and apprehending various criminals and fighting various people" while ignoring the carnage.

"To put it more simply, that glorification of the Rangers, it's built on a lot of blood," said González, who is half-Tejano and was raised in Brownsville.

Byron Johnson, the director of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, a state-designated historical center, said there are thousands of books, hundreds of films and a handful of television programs about the Rangers, making them a "legendary" force in Texas history and culture.

But the museum has been the subject of controversy among historians and officials who are concerned it only presents the positive aspects of the Texas Rangers.

"They lionize some of the murderers that our scholarship has looked at and that have come to light in recent years," said Benjamin Johnson, the Loyola history professor. "They simply ignore critical takes so you can't find [in the museum] any critical books, of which there have actually been a lot for decades and decades."

Swanson, the journalist and author, agreed. He said it's important to acknowledge the Rangers' positive contributions to Texas - such as fighting the Ku Klux Klan and saving Texans from lynch mobs. But, Swanson said, the museum ignores the perspectives of Native Americans, Hispanic Texans and Black Americans, and omits the Porvenir killings from its website.

Byron Johnson, the museum's director, said its current and rotating exhibits have covered the Porvenir massacre and women, Hispanic people and Native Americans in the Texas Rangers.

"However, exhibit space and resources have limited what needs to be covered in the exhibits," he wrote in an e-mail.

He added that in March, the museum approved a contract to review its programs and consider expanding its exhibits that will "involve a diverse group of citizens, historians, authors and Texas Rangers."

Valencia, the great-granddaughter of Longino Flores, said the museum needs to hold itself accountable for portraying an accurate history of the Rangers.

"I think they should keep the museum, but they need to put the people that are responsible for all these deaths, they need to 'fess up and there needs to be in that whole thing a section of the dark past," she said.

Reforming Texas History Curricula

Benjamin Johnson said that Refusing to Forget wants Texas education officials to incorporate more events that happened between 1910 and 1920 along the Texas-Mexico borderlands into Texas history classes that are required for fourth- and seventh-graders. The Porvenir massacre is currently not explicitly mentioned in the curricula.

"We would like these episodes to be represented," he said.

He and González want Texas history curriculum to include more perspectives on the Rangers.

"[State history education] has been part of the process of glorifying the Rangers," González said. "Even starting at those early moments where the true history of the Rangers and their role in promoting white supremacy has to be made clear."

But it is up to individual school boards and teachers in the state to decide what aspects of the Texas Rangers to include and what history books to use.

"Districts have the ability to choose from the state-adopted materials or use their funding to select something that was not State Board of Education-adopted, so they're not all using the same book," said Georgina Pérez, the secretary of the Texas State Board of Education and a board representative from El Paso.

Pérez added that it is possible that certain teachers in conservative areas may choose to teach lessons on the Texas Rangers that present them in a more heroic light than others.

"I think that in fourth grade I can almost guarantee everyone is taught like [the Rangers] are heroes or it's just not addressed, perhaps because of the [students'] age," she said. "Whereas in seventh grade, it's, it's a bit more likely that a teacher feels comfortable teaching both perspectives."

Pérez said the State Board of Education approved a Mexican-American Studies high school elective course in 2018 that she says paints a more accurate portrait of the Texas Rangers than the fourth- and seventh-grade curricula. Recommended lessons for the course include one on the Porvenir killings. But Pérez said offering Mexican-American Studies as an elective in high schools is not enough - she wants to see it become integrated into the general history curricula.

"I'm not a fan of making Mexican-American Studies an 'other' versus mainstream history," she said.

Modern Issues

The modern Texas Rangers, an investigative agency within the state's Department of Public Safety, evolved from the historical police force but no longer carries out the same duties. Today, Rangers focus on investigations as a unit within DPS.

Swanson said there is still much progress to be made in terms of diversifying the force and reckoning with its complex history. Of the agency's 157 members, there are currently seven Black, 31 Hispanic and four women rangers, according to the agency.

"As late as the 1960s, 1970s, there were many Rangers - high ranking Rangers - who were quite hostile to the idea of having women and Blacks," Swanson said.

Swanson said the Rangers were "quite tardy" in diversifying their ranks.

"The first African American was in 1988 and that was only after an NAACP complaint," he said. "The first two women were in 1993 and that was when Ann Richards was governor and so she pushed very strong for that. The first Hispanic or Latino Ranger of the modern era was in 1969."

The modern Texas Rangers say they value diversity in the agency. "The department is in continuous pursuit of qualified minorities and women to serve as Texas Rangers," a spokesperson from the agency wrote in an e-mail.

Valencia now lives just outside El Paso, where she says anti-Latino violence is alive and well, especially in the aftermath of the Walmart shooting that killed 23 people and injured 23 others just over a year ago. She hopes the Rangers will publicly apologize for their history of racism and xenophobia against Latinos and other communities, which she said they have not yet addressed.

"If they want to keep their name, keep it, but you need to step up and say, 'This is what we did in the past, and we apologize,'" she said. "That's what I want. I want them to apologize for what they did to all those people."

The El Paso Times, San Antonio College, Texas State Historical Association and University of Texas-Austin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization where this post originally appeared that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

I'll tell you this, too: The polls are actually distressingly too close, even with Joe Biden's relatively large leads in swing states. It's alarming, and I don't see the situation likely to change.

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Programming Note
Today was supposed to be a day off from the census for me, but then the bosses had to schedule not one but two conference calls. And then I will have a ton of information to relay to my team, and then . . . well, let's just say a proper column isn't likely to happen (again). And for completists, there was no column on Friday because . . . well, same reason, basically. Just think, I'm missing the big Jussie Smollett news! (Actually, Kim Foxx's office royally screwed that case up, which I can say confidently without even having read the Webb report yet. But like Hillary's e-mails, which were a real issue, it's not nearly as significant as the Kassian cultists make it out to be. That office deserves to be knocked, and I've always thought - and written - that Kim Foxx might not be quite up to the job, but it's like Chicago's Benghazi. If that's all you got, well . . . maybe turn your gaze to your own "side" for perspective.)

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Good In The Clubhouse
Our very own Roger Wallenstein will take a team full of bad attitudes any day if they perform.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #317: Sick Sad World
Another solo effort by me with Jim "Coach" Coffman at an undisclosed location, possibly working on a COVID-19 cure.

Killing in the name of. Plus: Blackhawks' House Money Running Out; The Infectious Cardinals Way; More Cubs Truths Emerge; The Return Of Ricky Rentamanager; Kollege Football Kills; Bye, Bye Boylen; More Bears Truths!; Sky & Fire; and The Weight Of Gold.

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ChicagoReddit

All interested in renting electric scooters heads up from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

The History Of Negro Leagues Baseball On The South Side Of Chicago

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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I stopped paying attention to Robert F. Kennedy several years ago.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ride, Postman, ride.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:20 AM | Permalink

Good In The Clubhouse

An amusing baseball story, since debunked, featured the greatest leadoff man in history, Rickey Henderson. Seems that in 2000, when Rickey signed with the Mariners as a free agent, he encountered first baseman John Olerud, another fine player, who always wore a batting helmet in the field because of a brain aneurysm he suffered in college.

Olerud explained his situation to Henderson, who said that was such a coincidence because he knew a guy he played with on the Mets who also wore a helmet in the field.
"That was me, Rickey," said Olerud.

Henderson may have reached base about 40 percent of his plate appearances while scoring more runs and stealing more bases than anyone in history, but the interchange with Olerud also disclosed another aspect of Henderson that the sabermathemeticians can't measure. The game was all about Rickey, whose ego barely fit into the stadiums in which he performed, perhaps explaining why he played for nine different teams in his 25-year career.

Being "good in the clubhouse," a term bandied about today as often as slashlines, RBIs or ERAs, clearly wasn't a skill Henderson possessed. Rosters today are sprinkled with marginal players who may hit .220 or have an ERA north of five, but their positive contribution to team morale apparently keeps them in a big league uniform.

The still-developing White Sox, who have now won half of their 22 games, by necessity have featured athletes who donate more to team camaraderie than what they chip in on the field.

Ryan Goins, a career .229/.278/.333 hitter eight seasons, was released on July 19 by Oakland and signed again by the Sox four days later. This was Goins' second go-round with the South Siders, having split last season between 35th and Shields and Charlotte.

Jason Benetti and Steve Stone mentioned the "good in the clubhouse" mantra when discussing Goins' value. At the same time, another clubhouse darling from last season, Yolmer Sanchez, might have been available. After winning a Gold Glove in 2019 at second base - Sanchez also can play third and shortstop - Sanchez has disappeared from the radar with the San Francisco Giants. In addition to his defensive prowess, Yolmer hit .252 and led the team in bases on balls last season. However, the Giants opted to go with Donovan Solano at second base, and he's currently hitting .433, sealing Sanchez's fate.

Sanchez was an entertaining fellow. Who can forget the great reviews he received for pouring the Gatorade jug over his own head? However, his $4,625,000 salary - worth far more than a season's supply of Gatorade - and the emergence and potential of Nick Madrigal made him exceptionally expendable. Besides, Leury Garcia, who now is lost for the rest of the regular season with a torn thumb ligament, was slated to fill Sanchez's role, plus he also can play the outfield.

With Madrigal mending from a shoulder separation, Danny Mendick has inherited second base by default. No word yet about his clubhouse behavior, but we assume he's an agreeable, cordial guy.

But let's face it, ballplayers with above average talent are most valued whether they play well with others or not. The designated hitter on the champion 2005 team was Carl Everett, acknowledged as a genuine pain in the posterior in all of the eight clubhouses he called home during his 14-year career. He made Bleacher Report's Most Despised Teammates In Major League Baseball History, a listing of ill-tempered individuals the website compiled a few years ago.

However, I doubt that his teammates weren't happy to have Everett's 23 dingers and 87 RBIs in that magical season.

A.J. Pierzynski's clubhouse reputation was anything but stellar with the Twins and Giants when he came to the Sox in 2005. He was a .301 hitter in five seasons with Minnesota and had a solid year for San Francisco in 2004, which earned him his release. Clubhouse demeanor rarely, if ever, was mentioned about A.J. once he got to the Sox because he played the game with intelligence and skill.

One of the criticisms of manager Chuck Tanner in the early '70s was that he had a separate set of rules for Dick Allen, who no doubt deflected his mates' negative feelings by winning the MVP award in 1972. That's what leading the league in homers, RBIs, walks, OBP, slugging and OPS will do for you.

Don't forget that the Sox signed badboy Albert Belle, a notorious pill by all accounts, to a two-year $20 million contract in 1997. That was a huge deal then, and Belle, a prominent member of that Bleacher Report list, responded with 93 home runs and 268 RBIs in his two seasons with the Sox.

Superego Manny Ramirez played briefly for the Sox in 2010. The phrase "Manny Being Manny" was coined because of Ramirez's aloofness and his contrary attitude. He once refused to play left field in Boston. Taking one for the team for Manny meant ordering another cocktail.

But don't forget that Ramirez played on 11 teams that went to the post-season where he hit 29 home runs and drove in 78 runs in 111 games. I'm confident that his teammates were just fine with that. (And the Cubs later hired Ramirez to work as a hitting instructor in their minor league system.)

In any profession, relationships between workers can be complex and contentious. Just because people play on the same baseball team or work in the same office doesn't mean that everyone gets along hunky-dory.

The most effective bosses (managers in baseball) are adept at team-building and getting the most out of their employees, while solving clubhouse conflicts when they arise. The description "family" too often is used to describe professional sports teams because the truth is that athletes have a life removed from what they do on the field or court.

You need look no further than last week when Cleveland pitcher Zach Plesac hooked up with his homies and left the team's hotel in Chicago for dinner and a night hanging out. After missing the 10 p.m. curfew, enacted because of the coronavirus threat, Plesac's actions earned him a ride back to Cleveland via automobile rather than on the team plane. Teammate Mike Clevinger, who accompanied Plesac, joined him on the restricted list.

Making matters worse, Plesac took to Instagram to blast the media for criticizing his immature and selfish behavior. Keep in mind that teammate Carlos Carrasco is a leukemia survivor and manager Terry Francona has a plethora of health issues.

"They hurt us bad," Cleveland pitcher Adam Plutko told the assembled media after a loss to the Cubs last week. "They lied to us. They sat here in front of you guys and publicly said things they didn't follow through on. So those 'grown-ass men' can sit here and tell you guys what happened and tell you guys what they're gonna do to fix it. I don't need to do that for them."

Oh, boy, talk about "good in the clubhouse."

This is when the abilities of a manager like Francona come into play. He missed the three-game series against the White Sox a week ago that the Indians won 2-1. The team then dropped two to the Cubs. However, they swept the Tigers in a three-game set over the weekend to up their record to 13-9, good for second place in the division behind the Twins and two games ahead of the White Sox.

All without Plesac and Clevinger, who had a combined 2.09 ERA in six starts this season. Plesac's 1.29 puts him third among all pitchers.

Could it be that adversity has brought the team closer together? They had some practice with turmoil last season when pitcher Trevor Bauer went ballistic on July 28, hurling a baseball into the centerfield stands in Kansas City when Francona lifted him after he was bombed by the Royals.

Francona and the front office weren't impressed even after Bauer gave an emotional apology. He was traded to the Reds three days later.

Jason Kipnis, then with Cleveland and now with the Cubs, who seriously seems "good in the clubhouse," said then, "It's no fun for our clubhouse. I'm sure it wasn't any fun for the front office. It's [the trade] a hard trigger to pull. Hopefully we'll get some guys here who are ready to compete and ready to fit in and ready to buy into what we're doing here.

"No one has to be best friends here. No one has to hang out off the field. It's still a business. It's still work, and I think guys come and they're professional about it. I don't think you have to love everybody you play with, but you will respect everybody in here, and you will fight alongside them and for them and he was doing that."

And that, my friends, is being good in the clubhouse, and just about everywhere else.

TWIWSB Notes
The White Sox had their own mini-drama last week when Dallas Keuchel called out his teammates for a lethargic performance on Monday in a 5-1 loss to Detroit. The boys responded with two wins on Tuesday and Wednesday before dropping a doubleheader on Saturday to the Cardinals, who hadn't played in 17 days. Sunday's 7-2 whipping of St. Louis featured Keuchel's six strong innings and four straight homers by Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Eloy Jimenez and José Abreu off Roel Ramirez, who was making his first big league appearance. Ouch!

Whatever you want to call it - growing pains, inexperience, lack of intensity - this team is on a rollercoaster in this 60-game folly. You never know who's going to show up.

Much has been written and said about the team's leaders like Keuchel, Abreu and Tim Anderson. As good and effective as they and others might be off the field, there's no substitute for hitting with runners in scoring position, picking up the ball, and getting people out. If the attitude in the clubhouse is positive and helps in these areas, that's just lovely.

But there have been lots and lots of guys who are not loved by their teammates who can do all these things on a daily basis better than anyone else. I'll take a clubhouse full of 'em.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:15 AM | Permalink

August 15, 2020

Brain Scientists Haven't Found Major Differences Between Women's And Men's Brains In Over A Century Of Trying

People have searched for sex differences in human brains since at least the 19th century, when scientist Samuel George Morton poured seeds and lead shot into human skulls to measure their volumes.

Gustave Le Bon found men's brains are usually larger than women's, which prompted Alexander Bains and George Romanes to argue this size difference makes men smarter. But John Stuart Mill pointed out that, by this criterion, elephants and whales should be smarter than people.

So scientists' focus then shifted to the relative sizes of brain regions. Phrenologists suggested the part of the cerebrum above the eyes, called the frontal lobe, is most important for intelligence and is proportionally larger in men, while the parietal lobe, just behind the frontal lobe, is proportionally larger in women. Later, neuroanatomists argued that, instead, the parietal lobe is more important for intelligence and men's are actually larger.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, researchers looked for distinctively female or male characteristics in smaller brain subdivisions. As a behavioral neurobiologist and author, I think this search is misguided because human brains are so varied.

Anatomical Brain Differences

The largest and most consistent brain sex difference has been found in the hypothalamus, a small structure that regulates reproductive physiology and behavior. At least one hypothalamic subdivision is larger in male rodents and humans.

But the goal for many researchers was to identify brain causes of supposed sex differences in thinking - not just reproductive physiology - and so attention turned to the large human cerebrum, which is responsible for intelligence.

Within the cerebrum, no region has received more attention in both race and sex difference research than the corpus callosum, a thick band of nerve fibers that carries signals between the two cerebral hemispheres.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, some researchers found the whole corpus callosum is proportionally larger in women on average while others found only certain parts are bigger. This difference drew popular attention and was suggested to cause cognitive sex differences.

But smaller brains have a proportionally larger corpus callosum regardless of the owner's sex, and studies of this structure's size differences have been inconsistent. The story is similar for other cerebral measures, which is why trying to explain supposed cognitive sex differences through brain anatomy has not been very fruitful.

Female And Male Traits Typically Overlap

Even when a brain region shows a sex difference on average, there is typically considerable overlap between the male and female distributions. If a trait's measurement is in the overlapping region, one cannot predict the person's sex with confidence. For example, think about height. I am 5-foot-7. Does that tell you my sex? And brain regions typically show much smaller average sex differences than height does.

Neuroscientist Daphna Joel and her colleagues examined MRIs of over 1,400 brains, measuring the 10 human brain regions with the largest average sex differences. They assessed whether each measurement in each person was toward the female end of the spectrum, toward the male end or intermediate. They found that only 3% to 6% of people were consistently "female" or "male" for all structures. Everyone else was a mosaic.

Prenatal Hormones

When brain sex differences do occur, what causes them?

A 1959 study first demonstrated that an injection of testosterone into a pregnant rodent causes her female offspring to display male sexual behaviors as adults. The authors inferred that prenatal testosterone (normally secreted by the fetal testes) permanently "organizes" the brain. Many later studies showed this to be essentially correct, though oversimplified for nonhumans.

Researchers cannot ethically alter human prenatal hormone levels, so they rely on "accidental experiments" in which prenatal hormone levels or responses to them were unusual, such as with intersex people. But hormonal and environmental effects are entangled in these studies, and findings of brain sex differences have been inconsistent, leaving scientists without clear conclusions for humans.

Genes Cause Some Brain Sex Differences

While prenatal hormones probably cause most brain sex differences in nonhumans, there are some cases where the cause is directly genetic.

Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 3.27.16 AM.pngA half-male, half-female zebra finch/National Academy of Sciences

This was dramatically shown by a zebra finch with a strange anomaly - it was male on its right side and female on its left. A singing-related brain structure was enlarged (as in typical males) only on the right, though the two sides experienced the same hormonal environment. Thus, its brain asymmetry was not caused by hormones, but by genes directly. Since then, direct effects of genes on brain sex differences have also been found in mice.

Learning Changes The Brain

Many people assume human brain sex differences are innate, but this assumption is misguided.

Humans learn quickly in childhood and continue learning - alas, more slowly - as adults. From remembering facts or conversations to improving musical or athletic skills, learning alters connections between nerve cells called synapses. These changes are numerous and frequent but typically microscopic - less than one hundredth of the width of a human hair.

Studies of an unusual profession, however, show learning can change adult brains dramatically. London taxi drivers are required to memorize "the Knowledge" - the complex routes, roads and landmarks of their city. Researchers discovered this learning physically altered a driver's hippocampus, a brain region critical for navigation. London taxi drivers' posterior hippocampi were found to be larger than nondrivers by millimeters - more than 1,000 times the size of synapses.

Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 3.30.18 AM.pngSome London taxi drivers do not use GPS - they know the city by heart, a learning process that takes three to four years on average/Carl Court, AFP

So it's not realistic to assume any human brain sex differences are innate. They may also result from learning. People live in a fundamentally gendered culture, in which parenting, education, expectations and opportunities differ based on sex, from birth through adulthood, which inevitably changes the brain.

Ultimately, any sex differences in brain structures are most likely due to a complex and interacting combination of genes, hormones and learning.

Ari Berkowitz is a biology professor at the University of Oklahoma. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2020

The Pandemic May Be The Least Of It

Since March or so, a running joke - or perhaps wry observation is the better term - has been that each month seems to last about a decade. In early spring, the COVID-19 pandemic came to utterly dominate the news cycle, only to be pushed aside by unrest in America's cities as throngs took to the streets to express outrage over police killings of Black citizens. One could be forgiven for thinking that we might not make it to August.

And so it was somewhat surreal to be reading Toby Ord's book, The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, during this tumultuous time, because Ord's concern is whether our civilization can hang on to last millions, or perhaps billions, of years.

Ord's premise is straightforward: He believes that we are living in a unique moment in human history, and that the decisions we make in the coming decades will determine which of two fates awaits humankind.

In one scenario, our numbers diminish, our buildings crumble to dust, and eventually the Earth forgets that we were ever here.

In the other scenario, we continue to flourish, safeguarding what we have created against both natural and human-made risks so that we last as long as the planet itself; perhaps our distant future will see us populating the galaxy.

the-precipice-hr.jpg

While the perils of the present day are not to be dismissed, Ord, a philosopher at the University of Oxford, has his sights clearly set on our long-term prospects, and draws on voluminous research and the latest science to weigh the risks that humanity faces - and urges us to confront these risks head-on.

Early in the book, he states that "safeguarding humanity's future is the defining challenge of our time." The 20th century gave us the capacity to destroy ourselves, but for Ord, such a catastrophe would mean much more than just the demise of the nearly eight billion humans currently on the planet. The more profound tragedy is that it would destroy "our entire future and everything we could become."

And what, exactly, might bring about our downfall? There are natural risks of course: A comet or asteroid might collide with the Earth; the clouds of ash unleashed by such an impact could circle the planet for years, leading to mass extinctions.

A "supervolcano" (like the one underneath Yellowstone National Park) could erupt, darkening our skies and triggering a "volcanic winter" that could be as bad - or worse than - the aftermath of an asteroid impact.

A nearby star could explode in a supernova, unleashing a deadly burst of radiation and triggering deadly chemical changes in our atmosphere.

As worrying as these catastrophes are, Ord believes that human-caused, or anthropogenic, risks are the greater concern. There is the risk of nuclear war, of course (metaphorical as the notion of a precipice may be, he says we've been sitting on it since the day of the Trinity nuclear test on July 16, 1945).

Climate change is, not surprisingly, another paramount concern, as are pandemics. (Here it should be pointed that although pathogens would exist even in a world without human beings, Ord asserts that human activity has exacerbated the frequency and the severity of pandemics.)

Perhaps the greatest catastrophe to strike humankind thus far was the Black Death of the 14th century; it eventually killed between one-quarter to over one-half of the population of Europe, and possibly as much as 20 percent of the entire population of the world.

There is no mention of COVID-19; Ord presumably finalized his manuscript shortly before the severity of the outbreak was recognized. But, interestingly, he doesn't think that even a severe pandemic would spell the end of civilization; there would be enough survivors to eventually rebuild whatever was lost.

Ord's sober analysis of such horrifying events raises many questions. For example, how many people need to die before there is no longer any hope of rebuilding? Even if some catastrophe killed off 50 percent of the population, it would likely not spell the end.

Here he cites his mentor, the philosopher Derek Parfit, who asked his readers to consider the difference between a disaster that swept away 99 percent of the population, and one that killed off 100 percent.

Either scenario implies the deaths of billions of people - but the second scenario is unfathomably worse, for it kills off our future as well. This difference, Ord writes, is what makes existential catastrophes unique, and "makes reducing the risk of existential catastrophe uniquely important."

And so we come to what Ord sees as the greatest risk of all - that of unrestrained artificial intelligence. In particular, he is concerned with AI systems that may strive toward goals that are very different from our own: what he terms "unaligned AI."

He estimates the risk that unaligned AI will end civilization within a century at one in 10. Adding up the various risks, he gives us a five in six chance (83 percent) of making it through the next hundred years.

Ord is hardly the first to explore this territory. In his 2003 book Our Final Hour, astronomer Martin Rees similarly argued that we are at a unique moment: If we get through the next hundred years or so, we may very well succeed in populating other planets, greatly reducing the risk of annihilation. Slightly more pessimistic than Ord, Rees pegged our chances of making it to the end of the current century at 50-50.

And in his 2016 book Homo Deus, historian Yuval Noah Harari presented a slightly different argument: His concern is that humans, together with our technology, are evolving at such breakneck speed that it will soon be unclear what we mean by "human."

Ord's book appears to be more thoroughly researched than either of these. His appendices and end-notes run for some 170 pages, roughly two-thirds the length of the main text, drawing on scholarly books, journal articles from the physical, environmental and social sciences, websites and media analysis. And he is more sharply focused on the issue of existential risk, with an eye on the kinds of disasters that could end the human adventure once and for all.

In spite of the book's heft, however, there are a few places where important questions are given only brief treatments. Can the nations of the world work together to ward off the various catastrophes that he has cataloged? This issue could be a book in itself; here, it receives a few pages of discussion. And how realistic are our prospects for colonizing the solar system, or beyond? And if we did succeed in such a staggeringly ambitious undertaking, how much security would it bring? This, too, could be a Ph.D. thesis and then some; here, it gets about a page worth of analysis.

Since Ord is a philosopher, it is perhaps not surprising that some of the deepest questions he raises are philosophical ones. What do we owe to our descendants? This is a remarkably difficult problem. What did the builders of the pyramids owe to us?

That question defies the imagination; those people, dead for 50 centuries, could not have conceived of the world we now live in. Our lives would have been beyond their comprehension, and likely beyond their caring. What do we owe to those who will live 50 centuries from now?

No amount of introspection seems to make the answer any clearer. We watch the evening news and scroll through our social media feeds, and struggle to think of events that lie more than six months in the future, let alone six years.

But this book argues, rather persuasively, that we should at least occasionally lift our heads up from our screens and consider our more distant future - and work toward ensuring that it arrives.

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Previously by Dan Falk:

* Three New Books On Consciousness To Blow Your Mind.

* A Physicist's Grand Tour Of The Universe.

* Immigrants And Epidemics.

* The Loss Of Normality.

* Data-Driven Police Reforms Have Failed.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 PM | Permalink

Guitar Villain? Ubisoft Patents Basic Teaching Techniques

In 2012, Ubisoft launched an educational video game called Rocksmith. The idea was simple: why get good at playing a toy guitar, as in games like Guitar Hero, when you can use - and learn to play - the real thing? Their game helps beginner musicians identify the skills they need to work on, and then helps them improve those skills by providing gradually more complex songs and exercises.

These steps will sound familiar to anyone who has tried to learn an instrument. A teacher offers exercises, evaluates your performance, and adjusts the difficulty of the lesson to match your ability - keeping you from being bored or overwhelmed. This cycle of feedback is an example of a well-established teaching technique that many educational programs use to help users hone other skills, from language fluency to typing proficiency. Educational games, like Mario Teaches Typing (1992), have been using many of these techniques for several decades. Is adding a guitar to the picture really that innovative?

According to Ubisoft, one of the world's largest game developers, this idea is so innovative that it's worthy of a patent. The company managed to claim this idea in US Patent No. 9,839,852, titled "Interactive Guitar Game," even though the date of Ubisoft's supposed "invention" was November 21, 2008 - three years after Guitar Hero was released.

Ubisoft's patent says the claimed invention offers benefits beyond other learning materials like CDs, books or even private instructors. But these benefits require seriously understating the efficacy of those well-established teaching materials.

For example, the patent slams music books as "necessarily static" materials that "provide a limited instructional capability," and private instructors as so "limited in both time and depth" that learning from them "may limit the student's creativity and spontaneity."

Even if these statements were true, they are irrelevant: benefits like flexibility and limitless capacity are benefits that come from advances to computer and networking technology - not anything Ubisoft developed for its particular game.

The claims of Ubisoft's patent don't include anything that could be inventive. The first claim is for a computer program that performs basic steps: it presents fingering notations on a display device, receives signals back from a guitar input device that a user plays, assesses the user's performance of the song, changes the difficulty level, and generates "at least one mini-game." That's it.

This program sounds like most educational video games - it evaluates a player's performance and generates engaging ways to improve. While using your actual guitar to play some kicking ska bops sounds totally rad, Ubisoft's patent doesn't say anything about how to do that. It just combines old teaching techniques with old video game technology. Is this really something that can be patented?

That question was raised in 2018 when Ubisoft sued a Finnish startup called Yousician Oy, which developed a phone app for learning to play musical instruments. Ubisoft, an industry giant with over $1 billion in revenue, claimed that Yousician's learning software infringed their "interactive guitar game" patent. If Yousician lost the suit, the company would have been required to pay damages to Ubisoft, and could have been required to cease offering interactive guitar lessons altogether. Yousician countered that the case should be dismissed because the patent's subject matter was not eligible for protection under Section 101 of the U.S. Patent Act.

Section 101 may be familiar to readers of our Stupid Patent of the Month posts. This part of the Patent Act helps ensure the patent system promotes innovation by limiting what can be patented. Section 101 prohibits patents on laws of nature, things that exist in nature, and abstract ideas. These are basic building blocks of science that no one could have invented, and all of us need to fuel further innovation.

These limitations are powerful weapons against software patent trolls. Software patents often claim an old idea in very broad terms, and add something non-abstract in technical jargon that effectively means "on a general-purpose computer." Many of these patents should never have been granted, but trolls earn money from them anyway. In part, that's because so many companies - especially smaller ones without deep pockets - settle out of court rather than risk losing more money in legal fees by challenging a patent.

In 2014's Alice v. CLS Bank decision, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that courts can reject patents under Section 101 early in a case before the expensive discovery stage of litigation begins. That has made it possible for many small businesses to fight back, including many who have shared their experiences in our Saved by Alice project.

The Ubisoft case shows how Section 101 can also protect smaller companies and consumers from bogus monopolies the patent system would otherwise create.

On August 9th of last year, the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of North Carolina agreed with Yousician, holding that the Ubisoft patent doesn't claim patent-eligible subject matter. Ubisoft appealed this decision, arguing the court had oversimplified the patent, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the decision this June, and the district court closed the case on July 20th.

The Federal Circuit rejected Ubisoft's attempt to patent old teaching techniques by putting them into a video game. "Here, the claims recite nothing more than a process of gathering, analyzing, and displaying certain results," wrote the three-judge panel. "The mini-game generation step is . . . no different from the ordinary mental processes of a guitar instructor teaching a student how to play the guitar."

Cases like this are important in ensuring the U.S. patent system actually does what is meant to do - promote the advancement of knowledge and ensure its accessibility to the public.

In the past year, we've fought back against patent trolls, powerful interest groups, and big pharma companies, all of whom are seeking to weaken Section 101 so they can monopolize and profit from knowledge that is, and should remain, available to us all.

The patent system is supposed to benefit the public as a whole, not be a bludgeon for powerful entities trying to amass and maintain monopolies.

When the patent system puts the preferences of patent owners above the public's interest, we lose options as consumers as well as the freedom to create, tinker, and play.

That's why EFF will keep fighting for a robust, strong Section 101. Let's ensure that companies can't monopolize old ideas by just waving their hands at basic computer technology the public has used for decades.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 PM | Permalink

Public Health Officials Are Quitting Or Getting Fired Amid Pandemic

Vilified, threatened with violence, or in some cases suffering from burnout, dozens of state and local public health officials around the U.S. have resigned or have been fired amid the coronavirus outbreak, a testament to how politically combustible masks, lockdowns and infection data have become.

One of the latest departures came Sunday, when California's public health director, Dr. Sonia Angell, was ousted following a technical glitch that caused a delay in reporting virus test results - information used to make decisions about reopening businesses and schools.

Last week, New York City's health commissioner was replaced after months of friction with the police department and City Hall.

A review by KHN and AP finds at least 49 state and local public health leaders have resigned, retired or been fired since April across 23 states. The list has grown by more than 20 people since the AP and KHN started keeping track in June.

Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the numbers stunning. He said they reflect burnout, as well as attacks on public health experts and institutions from the highest levels of government, including from President Donald Trump, who has sidelined the CDC during the pandemic.

"The overall tone toward public health in the U.S. is so hostile that it has kind of emboldened people to make these attacks," Frieden said.

The past few months have been "frustrating and tiring and disheartening" for public health officials, said former West Virginia public health commissioner Dr. Cathy Slemp, who was forced to resign by Republican Gov. Jim Justice in June.

"You care about community, and you're committed to the work you do and societal role that you're given. You feel a duty to serve, and yet it's really hard in the current environment," Slemp said in an interview Monday.

The departures come at a time when public health expertise is needed more than ever, said Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

"We're moving at breakneck speed here to stop a pandemic, and you can't afford to hit the pause button and say, 'We're going to change the leadership around here and we'll get back to you after we hire somebody,'" Freeman said.

As of Monday, confirmed infections in the United States stood at over 5 million, with deaths topping 163,000, the highest in the world, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The confirmed number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped 20 million.

Many of the firings and resignations have to do with conflicts over mask orders or shutdowns to enforce social distancing, Freeman said. Despite the scientific evidence that such measures help prevent transmission of the coronavirus, many politicians and others have argued they are not needed, no matter what health experts tell them.

"It's not a health divide; it's a political divide," Freeman said.

Some health officials said they were stepping down for family reasons, and some left for jobs at other agencies, such as the CDC. Some, like Angell, were ousted because of what higher-ups said was poor leadership or a failure to do their job.

Others have complained that they were overworked, underpaid, unappreciated or thrust into a pressure-cooker environment.

"To me, a lot of the divisiveness and the stress and the resignations that are happening right and left are the consequence of the lack of a real national response plan," said Dr. Matt Willis, health officer for Marin County in Northern California. "And we're all left scrambling at the local and state level to extract resources and improvise solutions."

Public health leaders from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, down to officials in small communities have reported death threats and intimidation. Some have seen their home addresses published or been the subject of sexist attacks on social media. Fauci has said his wife and daughters have received threats.

In Ohio, the state's health director, Dr. Amy Acton, resigned in June after months of pressure during which Republican lawmakers tried to strip her of her authority and armed protesters showed up at her house.

It was on Acton's advice that GOP Gov. Mike DeWine became the first governor to shut down schools statewide. Acton also called off the state's presidential primary in March just hours before polls were to open, angering those who saw it as an overreaction.

The executive director of Las Animas-Huerfano Counties District Health Department in Colorado, Kim Gonzales, found her car vandalized twice, and a group called Colorado Counties for Freedom ran a radio ad demanding that her authority be reduced. Gonzales has remained on the job.

In West Virginia, the governor forced Slemp's resignation over what he said were discrepancies in the data. Slemp said the department's work had been hurt by outdated technology like fax machines and slow computer networks. Tom Inglesby, director of the UPMC Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins, said the issue amounted to a clerical error easily fixed.

Inglesby said it was deeply concerning that public health officials who told "uncomfortable truths" to political leaders had been removed.

"That's terrible for the national response because what we need for getting through this, first of all, is the truth. We need data, and we need people to interpret the data and help political leaders make good judgments," Inglesby said.

Since 2010, spending on state public health departments has dropped 16% per capita, and the amount devoted to local health departments has fallen 18%, according to a KHN and AP analysis. At least 38,000 state and local public health jobs have disappeared since the 2008 recession, leaving a skeleton workforce for what was once viewed as one of the world's top public health systems.

Another sudden departure came Monday along the Texas border. Dr. Jose Vazquez, the Starr County health authority, resigned after a proposal to increase his pay from $500 to $10,000 a month was rejected by county commissioners.

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, a county commissioner who supported the raise, said Vazquez had been working 60 hours per week in the county, one of the poorest in the U.S. and recently one of those hit hardest by the virus.

"He felt it was an insult," Vera said.

In Oklahoma, both the state health commissioner and state epidemiologist have been replaced since the outbreak began in March.

In rural Colorado, Emily Brown was fired in late May as director of the Rio Grande County Public Health Department after clashing with county commissioners over reopening recommendations. The person who replaced her resigned July 9.

The months of nonstop and often unappreciated work are prompting many public health workers to leave, said Theresa Anselmo of the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials.

"It will certainly slow down the pandemic response and become less coordinated," she said. "Who's going to want to take on this career if you're confronted with the kinds of political issues that are coming up?"

Weber reported from St. Louis. AP writers Paul Weber, Sean Murphy and Janie Har and California Healthline senior correspondent Anna Maria Barry-Jester contributed reporting.

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This post is a collaboration between KHN and The Associated Press. Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:57 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #317: Sick Sad World

Killing in the name of. Plus: Blackhawks' House Money Running Out; The Infectious Cardinals Way; More Cubs Truths Emerge; The Return Of Ricky Rentamanager; Kollege Football Kills; Bye, Bye Boylen; More Bears Truths!; Sky & Fire; and The Weight Of Gold.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #317: Sick, Sad World

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SHOW NOTES

* 317.

:33: Blackhawks' House Money Running Out.

* Powers, The Athletic: Defensive Breakdowns Around Net Continue To Plague Blackhawks.

* Lazerus, The Athletic: It's Time For Alex DeBrincat To Step Up Before Blackhawks Get Swept Out.

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7:42: The Infectious Cardinals Way.

* Screwing both Chicago teams.

* Rhodes: "I'm not enjoying this season. It's too infectious. The season is too infectious to enjoy."

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9:05: More Cubs Truths Emerge.

* Gonzales, Tribune: Ian Happ Seizes CF Job.

* Albert Almora MIA.

* Bernstein, The Score: Hoyer: Cubs 'Always Looking To Bolster Bullpen.'

* Wittenmyer, NBC Sports Chicago: Why Cubs Say 'Nothing's Going To Faze Us Now' After Historic 12-3 Start.

* Sharma, The Athletic: How Kris Bryant Is Tapping Into His Natural Athleticism At Third Base.

* Mooney, The Athletic: 'I'm El Mago' - Javy Báez And The Back-To-Basics Approach For The Red-Hot Cubs.

* Will Venable: "On September 6, 2017, he was named a Special Assistant to Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein. He served as the first base coach of the Chicago Cubs in 2018 and 2019. He was shifted to third base coach for the Cubs, prior to the 2020 season."

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23:34: The Return Of Ricky Rentamanager.

* Detroit News: White Sox Ace Dallas Keuchel Tees Off On Entire Team For Losing To Tigers.

* Wallenstein: Pitchers Can't Catch.

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26:41: Kollege Football Kills.

* Mull, The Atlantic: College Football Is Falling Apart.

* Hagar Holtz The Horrible:

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36:40: Bye, Bye Boylen.

* ESPN: Bulls Finally Fire Boylen.

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38:25 More Bears Truths!

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #316: Breaking Bears Truths! (41:56).

* Dickerson, ESPN: Bears' Roquan Smith Is Rejuvenated After Mediocre 2019.

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42:06: Sky & Fire.

* Meh.

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42:32: The Weight Of Gold.

* 'Olympic Athletes Are Dying.'

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:29 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2020

Da Region's Unabated Crime Spree

John Buncich only seemed a burly, powerfully connected Indiana sheriff. That's who he seemed for 16 of the past 20 years.

He officially ran the Democratic Party in Lake County. He was a Big Shark who wore expensive suits.

But events have shown he was only a small fish in a barrel.

Mr. Fish, meet Mr. Guy with a shotgun.

With slightly reduced charges, Buncich got 151 months in his second and likely final sentencing last Wednesday, which is survivable if you are 30 but not if you are 74. It's a death sentence by another name.

Buncich's sentencing curtain call marks another in the series of tableaus examining how theoretically smart people do really dumb things. Is there a patron saint of hubris?

For 30 years in cop work, Buncich watched compatriots in the FBI and Northern Indiana federal prosecutor's office snag lowdown public officials and dispatch them to prison. All of them. It was an assembly line.

They busted cops of all stripes, ex-congresswomen, county officials, well-wired township trustees, county council folks, city councilmen, judges and even mayors - all Democrats. They imprisoned almost literally every person in the modern political history of East Chicago.

No one escaped in seven decades of federal pursuit.

The only technical exception was Frank Kollintzas, an East Chicago city council bagman who stole millions of dollars before being caught.

But he fled before sentencing and has been hiding in Greece for 15 years. The land of Socrates does not return foreign crooks to other countries if they have joint Greek citizenship, which Kollintzas' immigrant parents provided Frank.

He went to O'Hare two days before his sentencing, bought a Swissair ticket at the counter, and was never seen again. His precipitous migration has made it all but impossible for corruption inmates to be freed pending sentencing.

If the feds were to catch him now, he'll be 77 and likely will spend the rest of his life in federal prison, too. He had $25 million stashed away then. The feds snatched it before his wife could.

By financial comparison, Buncich was small fry - usually a few thousand at a time from local bidders. But because Buncich expressed shocked dismay at his conviction, no one could tell how long he'd been stealing. He didn't think of corruption as stealing; it was just politics. You'll remember Mr. Blagojevich.

This common attitude stokes a more or less perpetual crime spree, and public suspicion that every elected official there is a crook. When political kings die in Da Region - such as East Chicago's mayor Robert Pastrick four years ago - their funerals are like Mafia circuses with jugglers, dancing bears and someone in a clown costume belting out the Pagliacci aria.

Steel is not Lake County's primary product. It's chiseling public officials.

Every time they get caught, officials there are shocked, which likely proves they either are great actors or none of them is as smart as they thought.

Yes, but that can't happen to me because I'm a clever crappie, and can't be caught. If fish could think, that's what they would be thinking, too.

You can almost hear Buncich muttering those words which, in fact, was very close to his public defense. The FBI had undercover videos of Buncich stuffing wads of cash in his pocket - actually stuffing loot - while selling county vehicle towing contracts.

Buncich's defense was: Who are you going to believe, me or your eyes watching the video? Plus, this is how Blagojevich did it and no one ever had a problem with him, right?

After a 13-day trial, the jury took five hours to convict and convert Mr. Smart Fish into a lifer.

When Buncich walked out of court in Hammond last week, he was just an old man who limped back into the world's largest senior assisted living center: America's federal prisons. He returned to the fed lockup in Springfield, Mo.

He joins 5,000 other 70-plus-year-olds nationally likely to die in their federal cells.

He got 12 years and six months for being a political maestro turned bribery extortionist. When you are 74 and suffering from ever-advancing health complications, that is essentially the end.

Some old friends wept when they saw him appear for the resentencing. He was no longer the fearsome physical force he had been.

Federal prisoners usually serve 80 percent of their time because of sentencing rules.

In Buncich's case, he is unlikely to live for that long. Federal prison is not a loving environment for the elderly.

Unless unforeseen intervention occurs for him, you will not see John Buncich again. Even the Supreme Court said no to him.

Do you not wonder why a man of advanced years would be tempted to that fate by money? He was making $165,000 in salary alone; that's $2.6 million over his four-term elected life.

Not one result of Buncich's current pitiful state was a surprise, particularly where justice occurred and who was pointing the shotgun into the barrel.

No one who has ever been a cop in Lake County could be honestly unmindful of that risk. So, it's merely greed.

Once the FBI nabs a crooked politician in Lake County, he or she is going away. The only legal presumption is how long the federally guided sentence will be.

That's partly because local FBI practitioners have mastered the art of catching the targets lying to them - a felony.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Indiana through both Democratic and Republican national guidance has not lost a conviction in that category for at least 70 years. Fish in a barrel meet guy with a shotgun.

That string of convictions might be longer, but no one was paying attention to metrics in the 1940s when the FBI was more interested in Nazi spies and Commie labor instigators.

But in modern contexts, Lake County offers frequent flyer miles to federal prisons across the country.

In the current crop, former East Chicago Mayor George Pabey, who got five years for taking $14,000 from the city, went to Duluth, Minnesota.

Former Calumet Township Trustee Dozier Allen, sentenced to 18 months for stealing $143,000 from the township, went to Ashland, Kentucky.

Former East Chicago Controller Edwaurdo Maldonado, sentenced to more than eight years for stealing $25 million from the city, went to Duluth.

Former North Township Supervisor Robert Cantrell, sentenced to six-and-a-half years for stealing $68,000 from the township, as well as tax and insurance fraud, went to Ashland.

Former county clerk and coroner Thomas Philpot, sentenced to 18 months for stealing from the county, went to Milan, Michigan.

Former Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist, sentenced to four years for theft, went to Thomson, Illinois.

Former Lake County Surveyor George Van Til, sentenced to 18 months for using county resources for his campaign, went to Terre Haute.

When he was initially convicted two years ago and sentenced to 188 months, Buncich was literally amazed that day. "This is the darkest day of my life," he said then.

So his legal team spent two years squirming and wiggling and finagling to get him leniency he had never offered anyone in his jail. They earned their money, and got the time reduced.

But there was no one who saw Buncich in court last week who believes he will survive the experience.

He was a fish in the barrel.

And he is not getting out alive.

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Recently by David Rutter:

* Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick.

* Mansplaining To A Millionaire.

* Status Check: Chicago Sports.

* The Week In WTF Redux: Blago Is Back Edition.

* What Is A Chicagoan Anyway?

* Glenn Beck's Turn In The Volcano.

* Only Science Will Bring Back Sports.

* I Loathe The Lockdown Protestors.

* Reopening Books.

* A Return To Abnormalcy.

* I'm Having A Down Day Emotionally. Here's Why.

* So Long, Jerry.

* A Special "Trump's Bible" Edition Of WTF.

* 5 Things An Angry Old White Man Wants To Say.

* An ANTIFA American Hero.

* The Fonz Lives And Franco Is Dead: News You Can't Use.

* Gone With The Wind: My Lost Cause.

* How To (Pretend To) Negotiate A Labor Deal.

* The Mystery Of Mitch's Missing Motivation.

* Dave's French Foreign Legion Tour Of Chicagoland.

* Remember The '85 Bears? Actually, No You Don't.

* On Boredom.

* Wherever Rod Moore Is, I Hope He's Safe.

* Blackhawk's Life Mattered.

* A Blackhawks Proposal.

* Launching College Football.

* Tom Hanks Meets His Match.

* The Truth About Hamilton.

* Goodbye, Columbus.

* Who Mourns For Basie?

* The Hamburglar Of Passion.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

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Programming Note
I actually have the day off from census work, at least technically, but I've had real life stuff to do and it's already almost 4 p.m. as I write this, so I'll talk to you tomorrow. Maybe.

(And for completists, there was no column yesterday. I actually spent part of my day in the field observing one of my new enumerators. It's not easy counting y'all, let me tell ya.)

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Da Region's Unabated Crime Spree
Mr. Fish, meet Mr. Guy with a shotgun.

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ChicagoReddit

Free Antibody Testing (At-Home) as part of Northwestern University study from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

Hope for change #colorsdoyougood #chicago

A post shared by SuzEd (@suzedchef) on

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ChicagoTube

Juice WRLD - Back in Chicago

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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It appears he has since unretweeted it.

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The Beachwood Anti-Tipline: Anti.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2020

Machiavelli's Prince Charming

When I was 16, I had unusual ambitions: assuming political and popular power; kindling a cultural revolution; and overthrowing the remaining monarchies of the world, starting with the British (don't ask). Like any power-hungry teenager, I consulted (quite ironically) Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince.

Written in the 16th century by the Italian diplomat, the guide for assuming, using and maintaining power has been criticized for its brutality, immorality and despotic rage. Many are disgusted with the coolness and frankness Machiavelli deploys in this 71-page text, suggesting one do whatever is possible to maintain their power. Others, however, are refreshed by this text. Not because they're relieved at finally having found a guide for themselves; rather because they've finally come across a political text that lays out the world as it is, not as it should be. Whether a cynic or not, even the most optimistic ones have to admit that dreaming for what can remain only in dreams becomes exhausting.

Machiavelli was not the first to suggest such ruthless tactics in obtaining power; he was just the first to cut out the fluff and faff in naming it. What The Prince does is lay down the cards for what the game really is. It doesn't pretend to live in a utopia, and it doesn't waste the reader's time by giving in vain a guide to achieving utopia. It calls out the world for what it is, and gives the reader a fighting chance to play along, because that is the only alternative to perishing. But of course, that's how us cynics would look at the matter . . .

Machiavelli understood better than anyone that nice guys finish last. Certain that goodness and traditional Christian virtue would only hinder the Prince, Machiavelli urges the would-be monarch to use goodness merely as a front. Deception, manipulation and sly tricks are all to be learned and used if necessary. As a School of Life video describes, "what citizens most need from their rulers is effectiveness, which may well call upon some 'darker arts.'"

It might be cynical to assume great things cannot be achieved only through goodness and kindness, but it is a position I'm willing to stand by. Those two virtuous traits have the nasty tendency of quickly becoming blind spots that are later used against those practicing them. To reiterate, the virtue and morality Machiavelli warns against are those championed by Christianity.

It was common in Machiavelli's day to hear how a good ruler was the same as a good Christian. The political theorist, however, was not convinced. In An Analysis of Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince, Ben Worthy and Riley Quinn elaborate on Machiavelli's belief that morality hampers a ruler's ability to rule effectively, which is really all that matters. To him, so long as the ruler is able to maintain and further encourage the glory of the State, all is well. Whatever means the ruler uses are completely justified - granted the means are calculated, thoughtful and without alternative.

For this reason, Machiavelli's suggestion of using cruelty is coupled with the warning that cruelty must be husbanded for only when it is absolutely essential. Worthy and Quinn summarized the naivete of a moral ruler with, "But in a world where people are willing to be ruthless, a moral prince would make himself, and his state, vulnerable. His morals might make him hesitate to act - and this could cost him everything."

Machiavelli knew this, and wrote this text precisely to warn against the religious habit of confusing good rulers for good people. As the essay "A Critical Analysis of Machiavelli's The Prince" describes, "In Machiavellian opinion, Christianity should not constrain any political activity. The matters of government should be solely secular." As such, Machiavelli dismisses the constricting and vulnerable-making Christian way of ruling and focuses, instead, on a cold and calculated way of doing things.

Uncomfortable though it may be to read the two-faced suggestion, Machiavelli's strategy on effective ruling relied upon facades, smoke and mirrors. As he states in his guide, "It is not essential, then, that a Prince should have all the good qualities which I have enumerated above, but it is most essential that he should seem to have them; I will even venture to affirm that if he has and invariably practices them all, they are hurtful, whereas the appearance of having them is useful. Thus, it is well to seem merciful, faithful, humane, religious, and upright, and also to be so; but the mind should remain so balanced that were it needful not be so, you should be able and know how to change to the contrary."

Succinctly put, "It is essential, therefore, for a Prince who desires to maintain his position, to have learned how to be other than good, and to use or not to use his goodness as necessity requires."

When the Prince must rely upon underhand tricks, cruelty and cunning, the rate at which he executes is imperative. It is essential that the blow is laid quickly and all at once to ensure two things: firstly, that the enemy is completely crushed. Secondly, the list of blows is short and concise, which Machiavelli thought would make the Prince less hated, as opposed to drawing out the attacks. Machiavelli advises " . . . the usurper should make haste to inflict what injuries he must, at a stroke, that he may not have to renew them daily . . . "

To smooth out whatever hate must be boiling in the veins of the usurped, Machiavelli suggests to " . . . win them over by benefits . . . little by little, that so they may be more fully relished."

By now it must be crystal clear to the reader that Machiavelli was not one to sugarcoat things. Indeed, he states quite bluntly that the Prince runs the risk of not being loved by his people. He assures that so long as the Prince is not hated, he is not in danger. Being loved is not necessary; in fact, it may be better for the subjects to fear the monarch. The most famous line, perhaps, is also one of the most crucial to understand: "[S]ince love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved."

Humans are so deeply flawed that their love may not even be something worth fighting to gain. If you're to take anything away from this column, it's to not bother over gaining someone's love if they're "thankless, fickle, false, studious to avoid danger, greedy of gain, devoted to you while you are able to confer benefits upon them, and ready, as I said before, while danger is distant, to shed their blood, and sacrifice their property, their lies, and their children for you; but in the hour of need they turn against you."

Machiavelli agreed with me, and warned precisely for this reason that humans are always in a position more advantageous to the Prince when they fear their ruler, not love them. "Nevertheless," Machiavelli chimes, "a Prince should inspire fear in such a fashion that if he does not win love he may escape hate."

The best way is to construct an environment where the subjects feel a dependency upon their Prince. It's suggested that "a wise Prince should devise means whereby his subjects may at all times, whether favorable or adverse, feel the need of the State and of him, and then they will always be faithful to him."

Through a manufactured sense of necessity, Machiavelli assures the reading would-be Prince that his subjects, however much or little they might love him, will always turn to and be loyal to him. I'd be lying to you if I said I looked forward to drinking my multivitamins; however, I simply have no other alternative than to continue consuming them, lest I keel over from slightly less-than-ideal dietary choices. The principle is similar when running a State.

Machiavelli tells the reader that there are two types of threats when running a State: one is external, the other is internal. The latter is always worse than the former. To prevent domestic conflicts, the Prince is advised to not only keep his subjects from hating him, but to "show himself a patron of merit." Honoring the arts and entertaining the subjects with festivals and shows are sound ways to keep the people distracted from what's really going on. So long as the people's need for the State is coupled with carefully weighed benefits, rights, and entertainment, the subjects shouldn't be a problem. What's that old saying? Panem et circenses . . .

Now that I'm slightly older, not much wiser, but retired from my political ambitions (the British can finally rest), I'm able to see Machiavelli did two things: he very well may have armed would-be tyrants with a step-by-step guide, but he also disarmed them by giving the general public the same guide, giving the people knowledge of what to expect. That is what most people fail to realize when reading this text: this work is just as much of a guide as it is a warning. The power-hungry may be taking notes as they flip through The Prince as their bedtime story as I might have done in my youth, but the ever-prudent people, now finally getting a glimpse of the cards the beast holds, are also taking notes.

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Previously by E.K. Mam:
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How Studying History Made Me A Stoic.

* Dear High School Students And Recent Graduates . . .

* Tunes To Remedy Any Existential Crisis.

* Flex You.

* Simply Cynicism.

* Suffering With Stoics & Cynics.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Yeah, this is old news by now. I've been in a census cave all day. The column I started this morning is outdated. Best I can do; busy counting heads. Or, more like, supervising a team of folks counting heads.

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My landlord called it Treemaggedon, which surprisingly is not a thing on Twitter. #Original

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Meanwhile, "unrest" . . .

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Machiavelli's Prince Charming
"When I was 16, I had unusual ambitions: assuming political and popular power; kindling a cultural revolution; and overthrowing the remaining monarchies of the world, starting with the British (don't ask). Like any power-hungry teenager, I consulted (quite ironically) Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince," our budding philosophy correspondent E.K. Mam writes.

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ChicagoReddit

Chicago Sportsbetting from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Duck Derby: Artist JC Rivera

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BeachBook

How An Artist Found Out He Was Pablo Escobar's Son.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Treemageddon Line: Treemageddon.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2020

The Hamburglar Of Passion

The Steve Easterbrook Story should be a movie soon on Hallmark, as soon as Hallmark develops an X-rated romance channel.

The movie? Call it "The Hamburglar of Passion."

In the meantime, we must console ourselves with unintended real-life comedy taken to the heights - or maybe lowest depths - of American capitalism.

Occasionally it's good to be reminded that some people have everything. And you? You have nothing and are worthless. But the world always finds a way to get even.

Money can't buy smarts, when sex is involved.

Easterbrook's tale is a real schadenfreude knee-slapper, and amusingly ironic in an era when elected officials gather ominously at microphones, and lecture everyone about greedily hoping for extended $600 unemployment benefit checks.

In any case, Easterbrook's tragedy is hilarious, and I enjoy slapstick comedy as much as any connoisseur.

Easterbrook is Charlie Chaplin in better suits. Easterbrook is also a Brit comic.

First things first. In 2018, McDonald's and its 2,000 headquartarians moved into the new glistening nine-story world headquarters at Randolph and Carpenter Streets.

Goodbye, Oak Brook. Hello, West Loop. Huzzah!

Easterbrook was the ringmaster of the profitable circus for nearly five years.

As Easterbrook proclaimed that day: "Our move back home to Chicago is about more than a building - it's symbolic of our journey to transform our brand and become more closely connected with our customers."

"Symbolic journeys" always "transform." It's a rule, I think.

Well, there's the nut of the problem, right there.

When Easterbrook talked about "more closely connected," he was not intentionally referring to the CEO having sex with almost everyone in the company who would say yes. Easterbrook was, as they say, busy.

So McDonald's fired Easterbrook for a single inappropriate relationship, bad judgement, and dispatched his $17 million salary package late last fall.

Easterbrook's paycheck that year - plus the $60 million he'd gotten as CEO for five years - constituted the most expensive consensual sex in the history of consensual sex.

That's SOME expensive piece of . . . well. It's a lot of money per orgasm.

McDonald's might have trouble with pickles and ketchup. But sex? That's sort of a surprise.

But McDonald's wasn't so morally outraged by the "sex problem" that it denied Easterbrook a $40 million golden parachute.

Other fired workers get perp-walked to their cars in the park-ing lot by an armed security guard. Easterbrook's exit was somewhat more genteel. For that parachute, there's little chance he'd return in a huff wth an Uzi machine gun and settle scores.

No accusatory "fired for cause." Just leave. So he did. And thanks for playing.

He did have to turn in his key to the executive washroom.

Easterbrook's exit was logistically convenient. He was within walking distance of his $2 million bachelor apartment in the Loop.

But now McDonald's has found what it says is evidence of three other in-house doinking situa-ions with Easterbrook. And, horrors. Easterbrook lied about it all.

McDonald's, viewing itself as both police and court, says such evidence was withheld from the jury. The bailiff is Ronald McDonald. Mayor McCheese will serve as judge.

So McDonald's wants its $40 million back and is suing to get it. The legal theory, one supposes, is that we were too mindless to pay attention to what you were doing. How were we supposed to know you were untrustworthy, except that's why we fired you in the first place?

We can anticipate that Easterbrook's defense will be some version of "finders keepers, losers weepers."

There appear to be massed phalanxes of well-heeled board members and senior managers at McDonald's who don't pay much attention to anything. Or perhaps don't wish to pay to attention, because it's messy.

This all happens in a contentious period for a company that is being sued by employees for condoning sexual harassment in the workplace.

Florida McDonald's workers have filed a $500 million class-action law-suit against McDonald's, alleging the fast-food giant has a "systemic sexual harassment problem." The suit was filed for 5,000 women who worked at the 100 corporate-run McDonald's locations in Florida since 2016.

There are similar lawsuits in virtually every country where McDonald's put up its golden arches.

McDonald's defense? We don't allow that sort of thing. But it appears that McDonald's did allow that sort of thing, if your name was Steve Easterbrook.

But the culture under the Golden Arches - now under command of crisis management paratroopers - poses another question.

Capitalism implies that Easterbrook deserved his money in part because the job was so complex and all-involving. Only an obsessively focused business genius could do it.

That theoretically is why we pay generals more than corporals.

But that supposedly was also true for the career of media big-wigs Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes and Matt Lauer.

Big job. Big money. How difficult were their media jobs?

Jobs might not be as complex as we've told when there is plenty of spare time and energy to chase sexual partners on the job. How busy were these guys, aside from sexual pursuits?

Notwithstanding scruples and damage to employees, it's a time-management question.

It makes me tired just thinking of how much work it might take to manage three romantic affairs simultaneously when you're keeping them all separate.

But don't expect the fun of an Easterbrook civil trial.

The Easterbrook imbroglio has "settled out of court" written all over it. The "non-disclosure agreement" will be written in O-Negative blood with a plasma chaser.

The genius "Hamburglar of Passion" is safe. He and Chaplin will waddle into the sunset each carrying a satchel of money.

And they'll probably laugh at the zany joke.

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Recently by David Rutter:

* Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick.

* Mansplaining To A Millionaire.

* Status Check: Chicago Sports.

* The Week In WTF Redux: Blago Is Back Edition.

* What Is A Chicagoan Anyway?

* Glenn Beck's Turn In The Volcano.

* Only Science Will Bring Back Sports.

* I Loathe The Lockdown Protestors.

* Reopening Books.

* A Return To Abnormalcy.

* I'm Having A Down Day Emotionally. Here's Why.

* So Long, Jerry.

* A Special "Trump's Bible" Edition Of WTF.

* 5 Things An Angry Old White Man Wants To Say.

* An ANTIFA American Hero.

* The Fonz Lives And Franco Is Dead: News You Can't Use.

* Gone With The Wind: My Lost Cause.

* How To (Pretend To) Negotiate A Labor Deal.

* The Mystery Of Mitch's Missing Motivation.

* Dave's French Foreign Legion Tour Of Chicagoland.

* Remember The '85 Bears? Actually, No You Don't.

* On Boredom.

* Wherever Rod Moore Is, I Hope He's Safe.

* Blackhawk's Life Mattered.

* A Blackhawks Proposal.

* Launching College Football.

* Tom Hanks Meets His Match.

* The Truth About Hamilton.

* Goodbye, Columbus.

* Who Mourns For Basie?

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:36 AM | Permalink

Modesty: A Fashion Paradox

'Dubai-based fashion writer Hafsa Lodi takes a deep dive into the expectations and debate surrounding modest fashion.'


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From Neem Tree Press:

"Modest fashion has been gaining momentum in the mainstream global fashion industry over the past half-decade and is now a multi-billion-dollar retail sector. Its growing and now consistent appearance on high-profile fashion runways, on celebrities and in the headlines of fashion publications and news outlets, has shown that the modest fashion movement is hugely relevant to consumers.

"This is particularly true for millennials who are attracted to the feminist influences behind concealing your body, follow faith-based dress codes, or are attuned to social media, where more and more modest fashion bloggers are using imagery to inspire their followers."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

Pitchers Can't Catch

Pitchers are terrible fielders. If confirmation is requested, the first couple of weeks of this shortened season provide more than enough evidence.

Thankfully for the White Sox, much of this ineptitude has been displayed by the opposition, helping the local crew to an 8-8 record thus far after losing a 5-4 decision in 10 innings to Cleveland on Sunday night.

Go back to August 2nd in Kansas City in a 2-2 game in the top of the seventh. After Nicky Delmonico, who last week was demoted to practice time in Schaumburg, singled in two runs, reliever Glenn Sparkman was summoned to stop the bleeding with two outs and two men on base. All Sparkman had to do was retire Danny Mendick to keep the Royals in the game.

Mendick complied by hitting a dribbler just to the left of the mound, which Sparkman, a 4-year veteran, easily fielded before launching a soft toss far over the head of first baseman Salvy Perez as Eloy Jimenez and Adam Engel scampered home. The Sox added another run to go ahead by the final count of 9-2.

Last Tuesday against Milwaukee in a tense pitching match-up between Lucas Giolito and the Brandon Woodruff, the Sox led 3-2 thanks to a mammoth two-run homer by Jimenez and José Abreu's go-ahead single, which turned out to be the deciding blow.

Woodruff and Giolito had long since departed when lefthander Brent Suter came out of the Milwaukee bullpen to pitch the eighth and ninth innings. He held the Sox in check on a yield of just one hit, that being a slow roller toward the mound in the top of the ninth off the bat of Luis Robert. Suter gloved the ball but threw off balance past first base, allowing Robert, who was credited with an infield hit, to race to second base. Suter, who has been an effective reliever since his debut in 2016, then retired the next two batters.

Sox pitchers contributed their own porous defense last week. Closer Alex Colomé, who's converted all four of his save opportunities, emulated Suter in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday after retiring the first two hitters. Ryon Healy, who runs like an ox, topped one back to Colomé, who had to move a step or two to his right.

Having successfully fielded a comebacker with his bare hand a few days prior, Colomé appeared undecided whether to repeat the technique on a ball he easily could have handled with his glove. Or, heaven forbid, with two hands. Instead, the ball escaped his grasp and squirted toward third base. Healy generously was credited with an infield hit.

Omar Narvaez, who can still hit but can't catch, followed with a base hit, and suddenly the verdict was in doubt when our fellows should have been in the clubhouse celebrating. However, Ben Gamel hit a smash to Abreu who retired him unassisted to keep Colomé's success streak intact.

The Sox weren't as fortunate on Friday night against Cleveland when Aaron Bummer was summoned by manager Ricky Renteria to protect a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning. That may seem a bit early for a set-up man as talented as Bummer, but he was making his 23rd appearance when called upon to get four or more outs.

Renteria should not be second-guessed because the Indians had a pair of their best hitters - Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana - coming to the plate, and starter Dylan Cease, while he held Cleveland scoreless over five innings, had thrown 99 pitches while walking five and hitting a batter.

Bummer got a double play to close out a scoreless sixth before retiring the first two hitters in the seventh. He then walked Delino DeShields but got Cesar Hernandez to hit a one-bouncer just to the left of the mound. Bummer had plenty of time to get the runner but he hurried his throw, which bounced far in front of Abreu, who couldn't handle the missile.

One pitch to José Ramirez was all it took for Bummer to signal that his arm was aching, and that was the end of his night. In fact, after a diagnosis of a "strained bicep," the Sox put their star pitcher on the 10-day IL. Many of us, this writer included, have strained a bicep raising a beer mug, but by the next morning, not 10 days later, we've felt no ill effects. Bummer's injury appears far more serious than the Sox are disclosing.

Questions also can be raised, such as, did the lefthander hurt his arm on the throw to first? If not, had he made an accurate toss to end the inning, would he have exited the game injury-free? Exactly when did Bummer hurt his valued left arm?

Retreating back to my original premise, Bummer had plenty of time to field the ball, set his feet, and make a throw to first. But he's a pitcher, a species seldom noted for its fielding prowess. Consider that during spring training, pitchers spend a decent amount of time practicing covering first base. But how much emphasis is placed on fielding ground balls and comebackers? While infielders handle hundreds, if not thousands, of ground balls, pitchers are busy throwing simulated games, side sessions, and working on their repertoire.

Once the season begins, the other eight defenders are given instruction and practice during pre-game drills. Not so with pitchers, and it shows. With the season a quarter completed, pitchers have made 42 errors compared to 39 for shortstops, who handle far more chances.

Pitchers' inability to catch and throw is somewhat baffling if you consider that the most outstanding pitchers - those who keep advancing to the next level - in youth baseball often are the best players on their teams. Many of them play another position, frequently shortstop where defense is paramount. Not only that, but the majority of the elite pitchers in sandlot baseball also can hit. Can it be that once they're paid for their services, they become unidimensional, concentrating only on their ability to throw strikes while developing a variety of pitches?

Jon Lester is pitching in his 15th big league season and has won almost 200 games, yet he can't throw to first base. He's the poster boy for non-fielding pitchers.

Of course, there are outliers. Mark Buehrle helped his cause mightily when he pitched for the White Sox, winning three Gold Gloves and another with Miami in 2012. Jim Kaat pitched 25 seasons in the big leagues and won 16 Gold Gloves along the way, while Greg Maddux, winner of 355 games, was voted best fielding pitcher 18 times, including 13 in a row from 1990 to 2002.

This is impressive, but it also shows that over an extended period of time, no other pitchers could challenge guys like Kaat and Maddux. Adept fielding pitchers were and are few and far between.

The best one today probably is Zack Greinke, now in his 17th season with six Gold Gloves - all in the past six seasons - under his belt. Greinke, who continues to pitch effectively for the Astros, is as versatile as they come notwithstanding Shohei Ohtani. Greinke owns a lifetime batting average of .225. As a Dodger in 2013, he slashed .328/.409/.788. He must have been a terror as a Pony Leaguer.

Don't look for any defensive improvement on the part of pitchers any time soon. You won't find coaches tapping out ground balls hours before the day's opening pitch the way they do for infielders. Pitchers simply are too fragile. There's no time or dedication to making pitchers better fielders. Just make sure the other eight guys can catch and throw.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

The Family Guy (Virtual) Panel At (Virtual) Comic-Con 2020 Is (Virtually) Really Funny

Featuring a virtual table read from a 4th-season episode.


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Previously in Family Guy:
* Family Guy Jesus.

* Scoring Family Guy.

* Family Guy God.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

Why We Should Cancel Black Grads' Debt

Soaring unemployment and underemployment, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, are forcing college borrowers to defer loan payments to make room for things like food and rent.

Back in March, student loan borrowers received a reprieve with the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which included provisions that suspended loan payments.

But those provisions are set to expire next month.

The effects of the pandemic on economic activity will last well beyond the end of the social distancing, as my Brookings colleagues have pointed out. Many economists predict a long, drawn out recovery, spanning years. Even if borrowers defer their loans for an extended period of time, the albatross of debt, which weighs heavier for borrowers of color, will continue to be a drag on the overall economy.

A move to cancel student debt for borrowers, especially Black and Brown students, who could not draw upon the equity in a family home or other savings will put more spending money in people's pockets at a moment when the economy desperately needs it.

Student borrowers, like others who are struggling to cope with acute economic and health crises, need immediate and permanent relief. Congress needs to enact bold, structural changes to the economy: It must cancel student debt for borrowers who have yet to recover from the epidemic of structural racism. More debt equates to less spending; if we cancel student debt for those who carry the most, it will free up more income that can be used in the marketplace in ways that expand regional and national economies.

Otherwise, student borrowers without wealth - the sum total of the value of assets minus debt - to fall back on could face decades of hardship. Black people know this truth all too well.

Related: Black students default on college loans at a higher rate than others, study finds

Past anti-Black federal policies and practices in housing precluded Black people from building wealth, forcing a higher proportion of Black borrowers to take out loans for higher education. A 2016 Brookings Institution study found that upon graduation Black college graduates owe, on average, $7,375 more in student loans than their white peers ($23,420 versus $16,046). Importantly, that difference increases with time.

Examination of Black and white college graduates four years after graduation showed that the loan gap more than tripled during that period, to $52,726 versus $28,006, a difference of nearly $25,000. By cancelling student-loan debt for low-wealth individuals, we help create wealth among Black and Brown people who have historically been denied access to it.

By helping restore the wealth that has been extracted by racism and ethnic bigotry, not only will we right previous injustices, we will stimulate growth to the economy. A move to cancel student debt for borrowers, especially Black and Brown students, who could not draw upon the equity in a family home or other savings will put more spending money in people's pockets at a moment when the economy desperately needs it.

The burden of college debt has an outsize impact on Black college graduates: Where a college degree improves the long-term finances of white college graduates, the same is not true for their Black counterparts. A 2017 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Monthly Labor Review, found that from 1989 to 2013 the median net wealth of white college-educated households increased by $31,343, while that of Black college-educated households fell by $19,816. A post-secondary degree shouldn't just help people gain higher incomes. Removing student debt will help historically marginalized groups gain requisite wealth to achieve the American Dream while stimulating the economy.

Congress can begin to right past wrongs while stimulating the economy by helping low-income families break cycles of poverty and contribute more to state coffers. This should be in the next relief bill. Unfortunately, the current GOP proposal won't help relieve student debt in the short or long term.

College attendance has evolved to become an essential rung on the economic ladder toward the American Dream for most Americans. If we work hard in college and get a degree, we should be able to get a good job, buy a home or start a business. What's hidden in the American Dream narrative is the reality of anti-Black policies that throttled the economic potentials of generations of Black and Brown families.

Investing in people who have suffered economically from past discrimination is a stimulus plan we have yet to try.

This post was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger's newsletter.

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Previously by Andre Perry:
* Black And Brown Kids Don't Need To Learn 'Grit,' They Need Schools To Stop Being Racist.

* Why Black Lives Matter Should Take On Charter Schools.

* Don't Be Surprised If Colin Kaepernick Prompts More Schoolchildren To Sit For The Pledge Of Allegiance.

* "Wraparound" Services Are Not The Answer.

* Youth Aren't Props.

* NOLA's Secret Schools.

* Poor Whites Just Realized They Need Education Equity As Much As Black Folk.

* Letting Our Boys Onto The Football Field Is A Losing Play.

* America Has Never Had A Merit-Based System For College Admissions.

* Don't Ever Conflate Disaster Recovery With Education Reform.

* Black Athletes Can Teach Us About More Than Just Sports.

* Charter Schools Are Complicit With Segregation.

* When Parents Cheat To Get Their Child Into A "Good" School.

* Any Educational Reform That Ignores Segregation Is Doomed To Failure.

* Dress Coded: Rules And Punishment For Black Girls Abound.

* When High School Officials Suppress Students' Free Speech.

* Disrupting Education The NFL Way.

* The Voucher Program We Really Need Is Not For School - It's For After.

* Charter School Leaders Should Talk More About Racism.

* Bold, Progressive Ideas Aren't Unrealistic.

* White Coaches Pick The Wrong Side When They Talk Down To Their Black Athletes.

* The Importance Of The 1619 Project.

* Black Athletes Have A Trump Card They Are Not Using Enough.

* Making Elite Colleges White Again.

* When Acceptable Attire Depends On The Color Of Your Skin.

* White Parents Should Have 'The Talk' With Their Kids, Too.

* What's Wrong With White Teachers?

* Defund Private Schools.

* Don't You Forget About Them: Custodians, Cafeteria Workers, Bus Drivers And Substitutes.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:04 AM | Permalink

'Olympic Athletes Are Dying'

"Olympians including Michael Phelps, Apolo Anton Ohno, Jeremy Bloom, Shaun White, Lolo Jones and Sasha Cohen are opening up about their mental health struggles in a new sobering documentary about suicide and depression among the world's greatest athletes," AP reports.

"Many of the athletes are sharing their pain for the first time in The Weight of Gold, on HBO. The documentary aims to expose the problem, incite change among Olympics leadership and help others experiencing similar issues feel less alone."

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The Weight of Gold trailer.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:54 AM | Permalink

Joan Mitchell's City Landscape

'In City Landscape, painted in 1955, a tangle of various colors - pale pink, scarlet, mustard, sienna and black - evoke the streets of a bustling metropolis. The spontaneous energy conveyed in the composition is at odds with Mitchell's slow and deliberate process.'

I paint a little, then I sit and look at the painting, sometimes for hours. Eventually, the painting tells me what to do.


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From Janina Ciezadlo's "Joan Mitchell's Life and Art - Brutal and Beautiful" in New City, 2011:

[An] extraordinarily detailed biography on Joan Mitchell will be particularly compelling to Chicagoans for the picture it offers of a financially and culturally privileged girlhood on the Near North Side during the 1930s and ['40s].

Mitchell, the daughter of an overbearing doctor, who "wanted his daughters to compete like boys, but also, confusingly, to behave like little ladies," grew up with mixed messages. Her mother was an editor for Harriet Monroe's modernist journal Poetry and friends with Chicago artists like Manierre Dawson.

Her maternal grandfather, Charles Louis Strobel, a steel and wrought-iron engineer, a colleague of Louis Sullivan, John Holabird and Sylvia Shaw Judson, among others, constructed the rolling bascule bridge at Van Buren Street.

Mitchell grew up in Streeterville, on East Chestnut Street, and later the family acquired a floor of a building at 1530 North State Parkway close to the lake. They "summered" in Lake Forest.

However, her years at the progressive Francis Parker School, the Art Institute and Ox-Bow were formative. She was, if I have this correctly, while studying at the AIC, simultaneously a member of the Communist Party and listed in the Chicago Blue Book, the social register.

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Via Wikipedia:

"Mitchell is recognized as a principal figure - and one of the few female artists - in the second generation of American Abstract Expressionists.

"By the early 1950s, she was regarded as a leading artist in the New York School. In her early years as a painter, she was influenced by Paul Cézanne, Wassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and later by the work of Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning, Jean-Paul Riopelle, among others."

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Joan Mitchell, Lady Painter.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:24 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

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The President Of The United States

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Hamburglar Of Passion
What the sex scandal at McDonald's tells us.

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Pitchers Can't Catch
"Once the season begins, the other eight defenders are given instruction and practice during pre-game drills. Not so with pitchers, and it shows."

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Joan Mitchell's City Landscape
'The art of a privileged Chicago woman of the '30s who was simultaneously a member of the Communist Party and listed in the Chicago Blue Book, the social register.'

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Olympic Athletes Are Dying
"Olympians including Michael Phelps, Apolo Anton Ohno, Jeremy Bloom, Shaun White, Lolo Jones and Sasha Cohen are opening up about their mental health struggles in a new sobering documentary about suicide and depression among the world's greatest athletes."

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ICYMI: The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #316: Blackhawks, Baseball Barely Back
Me, solo, with "Coach" out of town . . .

Deflections and denial. Plus: David Ross Week; The White Sox Are Also Playing; Boylen Not Over; Breaking Bears Truths!; Sky & Fire; Smashville; 22-Year Temper Tantrum Approaches Endgame, and more!

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Why We Should Cancel Black Grads' Debt
"Black college grads end up with $25,000 more in loans than whites. Canceling those loans for people who have been denied wealth-building opportunities is a moral and economic imperative."

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The Fashion Paradox Of Modesty
'Dubai-based fashion writer Hafsa Lodi takes a deep dive into the expectations and debate surrounding modest fashion.'

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The Family Guy (Virtual) Panel At (Virtual) Comic-Con 2020 Is (Virtually) Really Funny
Featuring a virtual table read from a 4th-season episode.

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ChicagoReddit

How long does it take for animal control to respond? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Worker Nails Trash Can Trick Shot

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BeachBook

50 Purchases Buyers Almost Always Regret.

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Why Isn't The UP Part Of Wisconsin?

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

To some, it represents everything wrong with Chicago and America.

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The Beachwood McMasters & Johnson Line: Mixed meta.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #316: Blackhawks, Baseball Barely Back

Deflections and denial. Plus: David Ross Week; The White Sox Are Also Playing; Boylen Not Over; Breaking Bears Truths!; Sky & Fire; Smashville; 22-Year Temper Tantrum Approaches Endgame, and more!

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #316: Blackhawks, Baseball Barely Back

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SHOW NOTES

* 316.

1:13: Blackhawks Make Playoffs Again.

* Second time this season!

* Powers and Lazerus, The Athletic: Observations From The Blackhawks' Game 3 Win.

* Lynch, Blackhawk Up: 3 Takeaways From Game 4 Win Against Oilers.

* King, NBC Sports Chicago: How The Blackhawks Upset The Oilers In The Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

* NHL: Maple Leafs Pull Off The Impossible Comeback In Thrilling Stanley Cup Qualifier.

* Rhodes: The cardboard fans went crazy!

* Eckardt: Burst into flames!

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10:54: Baseball Is Barely Back.

* Sullivan, Tribune: Cubs-Cardinals Series Postponed Amid More COVID-19 Positives.

* MLB: 'Field Of Dreams' Game Canceled.

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16:36: David Ross Week.

* The Score: Happ: Ross Is 'Right Guy For This Team.'

* Levine, The Score: Epstein Credits Ross For Creating Energy, Harmony.

* Misener, Cubbies Crib: Maddon Makes Inexcusable Move With Sho-Oh.

* Fletcher, Orange County Register: Maddon Believes Angels Clubhouse Is Free Of Drug Issues.

* TWIC Notes:

* Levine, The Score: Cubs' David Bote Flashing His Defensive Prowess.

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35:07 The White Sox Are Also Playing.

* Eloy.

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39:38 Boylen Not Over.

* Cowley, Sun-Times: Financial Concerns Likely Will Keep Jim Boylen As Bulls Coach.

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41:56: Breaking Bears Truths!

* Emma, The Score: Bears Believe More Mature Miller Ready For Breakout.

* Fishbain, The Athletic: What Can The Bears Get From Second-Year RB David Montgomery?

* Rhodes: Hell, I've opted out of the grocery store. I'm about to opt out of the sidewalk . . .

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49:33 Sky & Fire.

* Meh.

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50:14: Smashville.

* World TeamTennis: Chicago Smash Help Set Team Tennis Viewership Record.

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51:20: TrackNotes: 22-Year Temper Tantrum Approaches Endgame.

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Bonus clips:

* KHN: Forced Sports Timeout Puts Squeeze On College Coffers, Scholarships And Towns.

* The Conversation: Why A Canadian Hockey Team's Name Recalls U.S. Civil War Destruction.

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:43 AM | Permalink

History Of The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

An in-depth look at the rich history of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - the oldest federal law enforcement agency.


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Previously:

* Vanishing Vending Machines.

* Item: Art Fraud Bust.

* Janene Gordon, Postal Inspector.

* Happy Birthday, U.S. Postal Inspection Service!

* U.S. Postal Inspection Service 2018 In Review.

* Mailbox Fishing.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

To Understand The Misogynistic Veepstakes Backlash, Watch TV

Joe Biden's promise to name a woman running mate has prompted familiar debates about gender and power.

Are these potential vice presidents supposed to be presidential lackeys or understudies to the leader of the free world? Should they actively seek the position, or be reluctant nominees bound by duty?

After Senator Kamala Harris's name emerged as a short-list favorite, CNBC reported that some Biden allies and donors "initiated a campaign against Harris," arguing that she was "too ambitious" and would be "solely focused on eventually becoming president."

Claiming that people who want to be president make bad vice presidents might seem ill-conceived if your audience is Vice President Joe Biden. And pundits and journalists quickly pointed out that the argument was racist and sexist - like, really, really sexist.

So why were Democratic party insiders spouting it?

One clue can be found in the way we tell stories about women politicians. In our book, Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture, communication scholar Kristina Horn Sheeler and I examine how fictional and actual women presidential figures are framed in news coverage, political satire, memes, television and film.

Our close reading of these diverse texts reveals a persistent backlash that takes many forms: satirical cartoons that deploy sexist stereotypes; the pornification of women candidates in memes; and news framing that includes misogynistic metaphors, to name a few.

But in our chapter on fictional women presidents on screen, we found something particularly relevant to the coverage of the Democratic Party "veepstakes." Women who are politically ambitious are presented as less trustworthy than those who don't actively seek the presidency.

There have been six series' on U.S. television that follow a woman president for at least one full season: ABC's Commander in Chief; the Sci-Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica; Fox's 24; CBS's Madam Secretary; Fox 21's Homeland; and HBO's Veep.

It may seem like a small point, but when showrunners want to create a "likable" woman president, they go out of their way to demonstrate that pursuing the presidency isn't her life's goal.

The women presidents in Commander in Chief and Battlestar Galactica didn't campaign for the office. They ascended to the presidency as a result of tragedy.

In the former, the president dies of a brain aneurysm; in the latter, a nuclear attack takes out the first 42 people in the presidential line of succession, leaving the Secretary of Education to fill the role. (To be fair, this did seem like a woman's likeliest path to presidential power in 2004.)

Each character is portrayed as an ethical and effective leader - not perfect, but plausibly presidential.

Conversely, series' like 24 and Homeland feature women candidates who aggressively seek the presidency. In both cases, the women start out as principled politicians, but their true nature is revealed as weak and duplicitous. Their presidential tenures end up being ruinous for the nation, and order is restored by a white male - 24's Jack Bauer and the male vice president in Homeland. HBO's Veep takes the premise of a craven woman politician to an absurd extreme, with actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus winning six consecutive Emmy Awards for her burlesque send-up of the familiar female trope.

Interestingly, both 24 and Homeland have important connections to real-world presidential politics. Both series' portray the first woman U.S. president as a veteran politician and middle-aged white woman. They bear strong resemblances to the only woman who has been a major-party presidential nominee: Hillary Clinton. Appearing in 2008 and 2017, respectively, the storylines were clearly planned to coincide with what could have been Clinton's first term as U.S. president.

Screen Shot 2020-08-08 at 4.11.02 PM.pngPresident Allison Taylor of 24 ends up being exposed as Machiavellian/20th Century Fox

Yet 24's and Homeland's depictions of fictional women presidents align with communication scholar Shawn J. Parry-Giles's findings that the media framed Clinton as inauthentic, Machiavellian and, ultimately, dangerous.

Screen Shot 2020-08-08 at 4.13.06 PM.pngPresident Elizabeth Keane of Homeland is a craven politician who has a ruinous tenure in office/Showtime

That brings us back to our current veepstakes.

Criticisms of women vice presidential prospects echo cultural scripts that insist women who want to be president shouldn't be trusted. Understanding the resistance to Harris - and Elizabeth Warren, Stacey Abrams and others who announce their eagerness to serve - requires recognizing the diverse forms that backlash against women's political ambitions can take, which span from calling a congresswoman a "fucking bitch" on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to portraying women presidents as Machiavellian on television dramas.

Did pop culture cause those Biden funders to try to undermine Harris?

No. But the stories we tell ourselves on screen have taught us that women who actually want to be president can't be trusted. That might be why people like Ambassador Susan Rice, who's never run for office, and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, who has said she doesn't want to run for president, landed on Biden's short list to favorable coverage.

"At every step in her political career," the New York Times wrote of Bass, "the California congresswoman had to be coaxed to run for a higher office. Now she's a top contender to be Joe Biden's running mate."

Men who run for president typically have to demonstrate the requisite desire - the so-called "fire in the belly."

Bizarrely, women are supposed to act like they don't even want it.

Karrin Vasby Anderson is a communications studies professor at Colorado State. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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See also:

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

Infinite Corporate Greed Is Literally Killing Us

The combination of greed and power often spin out of control and challenge the enforceable rule of law and the countervailing force of the organized civic community.

When greed and power are exercised by giant multinational corporations that escape the discipline of the nation-state, the potential for evil becomes infinite in nature. Enough is never enough.

Global giant companies, aided and abetted by their corporate attorneys and accountants, can literally decide how little taxes they are going to pay by shifting profits and expenses among different tax haven countries such as Ireland, Luxembourg and Panama.

These same companies then proceed to lobby any nation, including most prominently the United States. Congress and the White House are pushed to cut formal tax rates, pack the tax laws with loopholes, and lower further the effective tax rate. The formal top tax rate for billions of company profits is now 21%, while the actual tax rate is lower - much lower for banks, insurance companies, drug companies, and behemoth tech companies like Apple that master tax avoidance.

"Generous" is not a word one can associate either with Apple or it's avaricious CEO Tim Cook. One of the first moves Tim Cook made after replacing legendary Apple Founder, the cancer-stricken innovator Steve Jobs, was to arrange a $378 million, 2011 compensation package for himself and launch the biggest stock buyback in corporate history.

Apple, which is worth $1.5 trillion, has spent $327 billion since 2013 to buy back 2.5 billion shares of stock. Yet Apple has done little to produce productive investments, remediation of used and very toxic Apple products when discarded, or increase pay for the 350,000 serf-labor workers in China toiling under its merciless contractor Foxconn.

Apple made $104 billion in the last 12 months, puffed up by tax-avoidance, tax cuts and a no tariff deal with Trump on its Chinese imports, yet Cook has rejected pleas to spend a little over $2 billion (deductible) to award a full-year's pay bonus to the 350,000 Foxconn workers who build Apple's iPhones and iPads.

Apple's massive stock buybacks have, however, increased the metrics to set compensation levels for Tim Cook and his executive sidekicks. Unfortunately, stock buybacks do little to tamp down excessive prices for Apple products.

The massive stock buybacks also send a message that Apple's management has no other uses for its corporate cash - not for R&D, not for improving the nature and security of its workers' pensions, not for investing in curtailing the damaging side effects of Apple products on the environment, and not for reducing other offloaded damage to society.

Cook and Apple are also stingy, given their vast wealth, with charitable contributions; so stingy that Apple's bosses do not even come close to the company's charitable deduction limit of 5 percent of adjusted gross income.

In 2018, Apple gave $125 million to charities. Apple's net income for 2018 was $59.53 billion - a tiny fraction of 1 percent!

Recently, the New York Times published articles showing how tiny the executive pay cuts were by the very few executives who announced and declared sympathy for their laid-off and impoverished workers.

The media has also been reporting illicit maneuvers developed by corporate attorneys to help chain stores get relief payments that should have gone to legitimate small businesses. (Why isn't the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) speaking out against this abuse and avarice?)

Replacing some of their greed with generosity could be directed to the estimated $6 billion to $11 billion needed this coming school year to give low-income students full equipment and connectivity to the internet for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

States and localities need $4 billion to assure the voting process will be fair and that all votes be counted and on time. The Republicans in the Senate are blocking the money needed to guarantee free and fair elections. Four billion dollars for the profit-glutted Silicon Valley giants Facebook, Google, Apple plus Amazon, and Microsoft, is peanuts. These high-tech digital giants could easily contribute the money needed to avert a widely predicted election-time disaster and weeks of understaffed counting after November 3rd. Imagine such a show of patriotism from these companies.

Then there are the matters of woefully inadequate supplies, facilities, and training programs to counter the spreading COVID-19 pandemic that is crumbling the economy. These record-setting profitable companies, with soaring stock prices due to their monopolistic powers or consumer-gouging, should return some of Trump's giveaway tax cuts of 2017 and the burgeoning corporate welfare payments from crony-capitalistic Washington, D.C. to help their afflicted or vulnerable fellow Americans. Many of these people are their own workers, friends and relatives.

Economists should develop a "Hedonistic Index" to rank the "greed-with-power" status of the 500 largest U.S. corporations.

People have the right to know how CEOs and major corporations do on the "Hedonistic Index" of greed and power. After all, at the end of the day, we are all paying the price of the full measure of the infinite avarice spiraling from these corporate supremacists and their private governments of controls.

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2020

Why You Should Think Twice About Showering

James Hamblin kicks off Clean: The New Science of Skin with a confession: He virtually stopped showering years ago.

Hamblin, a physician and staff writer for The Atlantic, still sprinkles water on his head from time to time, but shuns shampoos, conditioners, and the cavalcade of other products that march across American shower shelves.

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In polite company, Hamblin's confession tends to land like the Hindenburg, which reveals just how obsessed we've become with surface notions of cleanliness - and how reluctant we are to disavow them.

But Hamblin thinks the sensible-sounding idea that we should scrub up regularly is both simplistic and wrongheaded.

When you take a soap-slathered loofah to your greasy pelt, he says, you're actually destroying an interdependent microbial universe, or microbiome, on the surface of your skin.

"When we clean ourselves," Hamblin writes, "we at least temporarily alter the microscopic populations - either by removing them or by altering the resources available to them."

By chasing that born-again post-shower rush, in other words, we stymie one of evolution's best strategies to shield us from disease and keep out invaders.

This kind of context is particularly relevant in the era of COVID-19, a virus that often causes skin-related symptoms like rashes and hives.

A search for the origins of our cleanser and skin-potion worship leads Hamblin into a vivid exploration of the cleanliness-is-godliness movement that began hundreds of years ago.

After the Black Death and other devastating plagues, "a person's cleanliness could be taken as a marker of who was or was not dangerous," Hamblin writes. "Indicators of hygiene became proxies of status, and more was often seen as better."

In time, post-outbreak distrust of contaminants - as well as the discovery that cleansers helped stop disease spread - gave rise to early 20th-century branding campaigns that marketed soap as a life-saving and virtuous necessity (and to modern cleanvangelists like David Bronner, a soap company heir whose vibe Hamblin describes as "party but respect the mothership we call Earth").

But what soap hoarders and hawkers overlook is that wiping out our symbiotic microbes may make us more vulnerable to other, unexpected maladies.

First-line eczema treatments, for instance, include topical antibiotics, cleansers, and drugs that dampen immune response, but some researchers say these approaches can make the condition worse in the long run.

"Perturbing the skin barrier by washing or scratching can change the microbial population," Hamblin notes. "That can rev up the immune system, which tells the skin cells to proliferate rapidly and fill with inflammatory proteins."

This observation lines up with an older one that kids raised in highly sanitized environments are more prone to allergies than farm kids like the Amish.

Wipe the body's microbial slate clean too aggressively, the theory goes, and the unseasoned immune system roars back with a vengeance.

This kind of immune overreaction can also trigger what immunologists call the "Atopic March," in which one allergic disease - such as eczema, food allergy or hay fever - leads to another.

Though he sometimes veers off topic David Foster Wallace-style, Hamblin's distillation of the latest skin microbe science is both creative and incisive. He likens assaulting the skin microbiome with soap to crashing a house party: Your skin only has room for a certain number of microbial "guests," and you want to keep good microbes on the premises so there'll be less room for those that might trash the place.

Clean is also a user-friendly look at the broader field of microbiome science and its health implications. Research increasingly suggests that manipulating our onboard microbial universe in the right ways could lead to new treatments for conditions as diverse as eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and depression. (It's literally true that we'd be shadows of ourselves without this portable universe: For every human cell in our bodies, there's at least one microbial cell.)

The bad news, Hamblin reports, is that efforts to shore up the microbiome may not always work, since we can only switch out some of the microscopic party guests we already have.

At the beginning of our lives, the immune system "is like freshly poured concrete," he writes. "After that, we pick up microbes and we lose them, but the foundation stays the same."

This broad assertion masks unanswered questions about how skin microbes may interact with other communities like the gut microbiome; scientists don't yet fully understand how one microbial community influences the rest.

Still, researchers agree that changing your skin microbiome as an adult is probably an uphill venture - a reality that throws Hamblin's decision to forgo modern hygiene into question.

If, as Hamblin points out, we have limited latitude to change our skin microbes post-childhood, does it really make sense to take a drastic step like cutting out showers? Eliding hygiene comes with its own set of disease risks that are impossible to ignore in the midst of a global pandemic.

And while research shows that regular cleansing can affect skin microbe balance temporarily, it hasn't yet revealed whether the average person who chooses Hamblin's approach can expect ongoing, concrete health benefits.

The book's inherent limitation is that it is essentially a map of a new scientific territory, with all the sketched-out routes and undefined borders that implies. But that's also why Clean is worth reading. It doesn't make an airtight case for committing to Hamblin's shower-free credo, but it alerts us that we'll need to upend some of our cultural dogmas about cleanliness once the skin microbial landscape is fully mapped and characterized.

That's why Hamblin plans to continue his shower-free routine for now - as long as his odor doesn't send others fleeing from the room.

It hasn't so far, he reports: "I didn't smell like pine trees or lavender, but I also didn't smell like the oniony body odor that I used to get when my armpits, used to being plastered with deodorant, suddenly went a day without it."

Other shower-eschewers have reported the same, although research hasn't yet clarified why this might be happening. If retaining a thin layer of grime indeed proves to bolster our health and well-being over the long term, plenty of people might be willing to forgo smelling like artificial pine trees.

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Previously by Elizabeth Svoboda: Why Science Denialism Persists.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:30 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Facing steep budget deficits and escalating income inequality, Mayor Lori Lightfoot should consider a graduated payroll tax and other ways to make corporations pay their fair share," Curtis Black writes for the Chicago Reporter.

He's not wrong.

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Speaking of making corporations pay their fair share . . .

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Just me this week; Coach is out of town.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #316: Baseball, Blackhawks Barely Back
Deflections and denial. Plus: David Ross Week; The White Sox Are Also Playing; Boylen Not Over; Breaking Bears Truths!; Sky & Fire; Smashville; 22-Year Temper Tantrum Approaches Endgame, and more!

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ChicagoReddit

Grand/State at PM rush yesterday from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

At the Brown line. #cta #brownline #chicagoart

A post shared by Aaron Wooten (@aaronrwooten) on

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ChicagoTube

Fender Custom Shop Marauder Master Built by Carlos Lopez

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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More admirable than Fauci.

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Journos now mad that advertisers no longer getting ripped off.

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The Beachwood McPaper Line: It's Dinkytown, Jake.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:52 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

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Programming Note
It's 7 p.m. Thursday and I'm happy to report that I'm off from census duty until Sunday. They will have to count America without me. Behave accordingly.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

TrackNotes: 22-Year Temper Tantrum Approaches Endgame
"Unless a rumored group rides in to buy the jewel - at least physically - of American racing, it will become another array of condos, apartments and strip shopping that has already made Arlington Heights just so special," writes our man on the rail Tom Chambers.

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ChicagoReddit

DuPage County from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Ricardo Mondragon is a Mexican artist and music composer born and raised in Mexico City (1984). Ricardo graduated with a Post-Baccalaureate of Arts in Music Composition at Columbia College Chicago.

"Topics of his work include harmony, frequency, waveforms, vibrations, modulations, particles, color, and light. Ricardo's work finds harmonies and materializes them, making the invisible, visible through sculptures, paintings, and installations.

"Each work is an exact representation of harmonies, musical chords, intervals, and waveforms. When waves travel through space they create beautiful patterns that flow and resonate in our universe. With the help of different materials, these waveforms can take form and be perceived as a snapshot of time, unveiling new sensorial experiences that usually go unnoticed.

"Ricardo currently resides in Chicago, Illinois."

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find at @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood We Count Hedz Line: Ah-one and ah-two . . .

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 PM | Permalink

August 5, 2020

TrackNotes: 22-Year Temper Tantrum Approaches Endgame

Like a 5-1/2 furlong sprint, this won't take long. If I'm all over the track, well . . .

I'm sick of talking about Arlington Park and with the world going to hell anyway, it's inevitable.

Like a toddler on a 22-year temper tantrum, Arlington Park management, led by corporate mercenary William Carstanjen, got its 265th wind, stood up from its fetal finish-line blubbering, and kicked and screamed that the track will close for good, possibly after its coronavirus-truncated 2020 meet.

Unless a rumored group rides in to buy the jewel - at least physically - of American racing, it will become another array of condos, apartments and strip shopping that has already made Arlington Heights just so special.

Churchill Downs Inc. and CEO Carstanjen have taken the scorched-earth approach and it sounds like he wouldn't mind pushing the plunger before the snow flies.

Speaking of destruction, when CDI's decree came down, I first went to the local paper and found this. Godamighty, Lois! When in the hell are newspapers going to repeal the Five-Year Increment Anniversary Amendment to their Constitution that calls for a variant of the same story every five years? I know it gives a kid reporter a chance to think he's doing a major feature, but I'm fed up with this string about how Arlington "rose from the ashes." Also, where's the fire marshal's report on the exact cause of the fire?

As far as Chicago racing icon Richard Duchossois is concerned, while he did build Arlington as we see it today, he's also the guy who took his tack and closed the track and went home in 1998-99 when he couldn't get a tax cut on handle. The track reopened in May 2000, but just days later, really, the deal to sell the track to Churchill Downs was cut.

The tax boo-hoo continues today, although CDI is wrong when it throws around the word "tax." As part of Illinois' gaming legislation, all three race tracks were granted casino and sports book permits. Part of the requirement was that a percentage of casino revenues would be diverted into race purses. It's a fairly standard set-up, one that Oaklawn has parlayed into the quality racing CDI can only dream of, including at Churchill Downs itself. With other taxes, it would have been estimated at 17-21 percent.

Corporations like CDI don't like any taxation. And CDI sees racing as a nuisance, unless it gets everything it wants.

Full disclosure, I couldn't give you the year I was last there. 2010? 2012? By then, I was fed up. With horses dropping dead like flies because Arlington was lax in maintaining the far and stretch turns, the 2007 PolyTrack installed to ameliorate the problem had already turned black. The artificial is still there.

The economic model was called "The Baby Stroller" crowd and depended on higher parking and entry fees, high prices for truly inedible food - big breakfast at Lou Mitchell's and bring granola bars - and earsplitting metal music between races. Attendance, not quality racing or revenue through betting handle. Unready civilians, as post time approached, would take long minutes at the betting machines - strollers really did get in the way - with yuppie wiseguys burning stogies and doing Jimmy the Hat impressions.

Know the old saw of climbing the stairs at Wrigley or wandering the concourse at Comiskey and you get goosebumps over the immaculately manicured, verdant green?

I'd get to Arlington or Hawthorne very early and see the very tail end of morning workouts. The coolness of the morning, heat building, the muted diesel tractors, always working the track, the tote board all 999s, that's the feeling I always had. Same thing. At Arlington, while you could see the Chicago skyline, you missed 18 percent of the race because somebody likes willow trees, which block the view of the horses.

My mother loved willow trees, but even she knew when it was time to cut them down.

Territorial tribes of white people, who would declare general admission picnic tables for God, queen and the kingdom of Mount Prospect - and could bring in their own cooler filled with food and glassless drinks back then - would slit your throat if you grabbed a loose plastic chair to take a load off. "That's OUR CHAIR!!" Turf wars, and I don't mean the truly world-class Arlington turf oval.

For example, a seven-horse race would open with a range of odds from 2-1 or worse all the way to 24-1. By post time, the civilians would throw darts at the prices and bet all the horses down to 4-1 or 5-2, tops. You never got proper value on most of the horses.

Then, apparently Dickie D. and The Dont's never had any clout with Metra commuter service. The trains were never coordinated with first post or the last race.

The racing has sucked for years. Even the Arlington Million, touted as its "International Festival," became a parade of third-string Euros and Breeders' Cup wannabes, with the notable exception in recent years of Bricks and Mortar, The Pizza Man, and a win by Gio Ponti.

In its latest power move, CDI said it will race in 2021 "if it chooses." It's unsure what that exactly means. I interpret it as CDI abandoning its request for 2021 racing dates, which has already been submitted, or simply refusing to open next spring.

Again, CDI talks about "relocating" Arlington racing to some other location in Illinois. First of all, where? Secondly, CDI cares nothing about horse racing and with casinos already operating in any possible population center, where? Do they honestly believe we think they would build another race track? Horse apples smell so much sweeter than the shit these corporates deal us. Corporations think nothing of blowing smoke up any and all butts it can find.

Arlington turned its back on the casino and sportsbook it cried for for so many years, after jumping the gun by purchasing majority interest in Rivers Casino, Des Plaines.

Carstanjen has already said he's interested in selling or developing the Arlington Park property into cheap plasterboard suburban crapola that, you know, we need more of. I know where it is, but I'll never, ever go out there again.

As far as selling the track to anyone who who would continue racing there and maximize the casino permit, dream on. Churchill will never sell to such an entity. They've stated why.

Again, Churchill wants it all, including a casino in Waukegan. Don't ever think Churchill isn't greasing Illinois politicians, but giving a Waukegan license to someone else would be true justice.

Like an old movie palace or magnificent apartment building that "falls into neglect and disrepair," Arlington Park does not have bats flying inside, dripping ceilings, cracked tiles, peeling paint or boarded up windows. Nevertheless, all persons responsible for caring for the best racing plant in the country have been nothing but neglectful. They've sabotaged and let racing die on the vine, even after getting the gambling they cried for.

It's so goddamned sinister, there will never be forgiveness. Even for Saint Dickie D.

With the image of a wrecking ball in my head, I'm pre-pissed off. Nothing good, lucky or fortunate ever happens anymore.

And it sure as hell is not going to happen in Arlington Heights.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:33 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

What a freakin' day counting America.

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What a freakin' day trying not to die in America.

ME TO AN UNMASKED GROUP OF FOUR STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER ON LOGAN BOULEVARD AND CALIFORNIA: Thank you for wearing your masks. Sleep well tonight knowing you've killed people.

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I know the big danger is indoors and not outdoors, but I don't want to walk into the viral load of four unmasked people who also aren't social distancing, which tells me I can presume they are not being safe no matter where they are.

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ME TO TWO UNMASKED PEOPLE IN A BUS SHELTER ON CALIFORNIA: Ya know, masks are required on buses.

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I am so angry at America.

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I am neither making any political statements nor speaking for the census.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

How The South Won The Civil War
A (nearly) straight line through the West and the wealthy, traveled by William F. Buckley, Goldwater, Reagan, and the Bushes to Trump.

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Forced Sports Timeout Puts Squeeze On College Coffers, Scholarships And Towns
Reality is sinking in.

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Chicago Smash Help Set Team Tennis Viewership Record
Nail-biting super-tiebreaker championship a hit.

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Now You Can Speak At Your Own Funeral
"We see this becoming a 'thing.'"

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ChicagoReddit

Indian grocery stores near Logan Square? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Nike Air Jordan.1 Chicago Concept Art

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Not Tipper Gore Line: Not Tipper Gore.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 PM | Permalink

Forced Sports Timeout Puts Squeeze On College Coffers, Scholarships And Towns

On college football Saturdays, tiny Clemson, South Carolina (pop. 17,000), turns into a city of 150,000 when fanatics pour into downtown and swarm Memorial Stadium, home of the Tigers. Some don't even have a ticket to the game, but they come with money to burn.

"It's well north of $2 million in economic impact per game," said Susan Cohen, president of the Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce. Hotels sell out rooms at $400 a night; some shops bring in 50% of their year's revenue during the seven home-game weekends. Add in massive broadcasting contracts and apparel deals that enrich schools directly, and there are hundreds of millions of reasons that universities with large athletic departments and the towns they occupy don't want to lose even one season to COVID-19.

And that's just the dollars. There is also the intangible value of a community rallying behind a shared passion in particularly bleak times - to say nothing of the life-changing impact of scholarships to students who might have no other chance to shine or get a college education.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus dominates the conversation. Sports like football offer an ideal environment to spread a highly contagious disease: Players are in close contact for long periods inhaling one another's sweat and saliva droplets. Even with empty stadiums, players can still infect one another, their team staffs and the communities where they study and live.

College sports are a multibillion-dollar industry, but in 2020 they're being brought down by the same forces that have hobbled the rest of the economy. University presidents and athletic directors are playing defense amid the constantly changing landscape of the pandemic, rather than driving any sort of solid plan forward.

"We've developed seven different budget scenarios, ranging from pretty normal to sports being out of the picture for a long time, and one of those, hopefully, will be close to what we are ultimately dealing with," said Kevin Blue, athletic director at the University of California-Davis.

A loss of anticipated fall revenue will hurt athletic departments, especially at public schools, which spend most of their budgets every year. Uncertainty over the season has derailed the plans of scores of current and incoming college athletes.

When the NCAA in March canceled its upcoming championships, it granted the athletes in all spring sports an extra year of eligibility and eased some scholarship limits. The association could do the same if fall sports are canceled - but it's up to the schools to decide whether to offer extra scholarships. Some say they won't. "Those are dollars we don't have," Long Beach State University athletic director Andy Fee told the New York Times.

Christian Molfetta, a graduating senior and catcher on the Stanford baseball team, had scholarship offers from multiple schools to play for them next season as a graduate transfer. But with so many of those programs' older players now returning for another year, "most of those offers disappeared," Molfetta said. He plans to play for the University of Michigan, which will cover the cost of his books as he pursues a master's in kinesiology, he said.

Other athletes have been told they may return without their scholarships, which may range from a small stipend to tens of thousands of dollars, while some are getting money that would've gone to incoming freshmen, who are suddenly denied the financial aid they had been promised, Molfetta said. The trickle-down effect is wicked. "We're getting questions from kids in the 2023 and 2024 recruiting classes, asking if there's going to be any scholarship money for them," said Pat Bailey, assistant baseball coach at Oregon State University.

When the pandemic swept in this spring, college football cheered for business as usual. Americans are going to "rise up and kick this thing in the teeth," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney predicted in April. Then 37 of his players tested positive during one of the outbreaks that also have been documented at the University of Texas, Kansas State, defending national champion Louisiana State University and other schools.

Now, the reality of a fall without sports is sinking in. Already, the Ivy League and many smaller conferences have canceled their fall schedules. Members of the so-called Power Five conferences - the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC - have waffled, holding out for abbreviated seasons while discussing how to restrict travel and exposure.

The cost of regular COVID-19 testing for entire rosters of athletes, plus coaches, staff and support personnel, would swamp all but the largest university sports budgets. And what the tests reveal - and how quickly - means everything: If schools don't know on the day of a game who is infected, the idea of going forward is nonsensical.

Professional sports clubs can pay for all the testing they want, and they have the ability to closely monitor and control the movement of their players and staff. But "college sports occur on college campuses, where people arrive from all over," said Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta.

Testing an entire football team and staff to detect infection could cost anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000 a week, said Binney. Tests must be done the day before a game, with a quick turnaround of the results, or else they'd be meaningless, he said. "You would have no idea whether you were about to seed an epidemic on somebody else's campus."

The NCAA recently released guidelines that call for testing within 72 hours of competition in "high-contact risk sports" like football. NCAA President Mark Emmert stated recently that "the data point in the wrong direction," but his organization has been conspicuously absent from most of the conferences' conversations about the fall season, leaving university presidents and athletic directors to hash it out for themselves.

The result is a patchwork of conflicting decisions, and the dividing line is usually money. For conferences like the Patriot League, for which football revenue is not major, canceling the season was perhaps an easier call. "It is clearly the right thing to do," said Colgate University athletic director Nicki Moore, noting that athletes regularly travel to other campuses and may risk infecting others when they return.

For the Power Five, the cancellation of football would be a budget-breaker, with potentially $4 billion in revenue at stake, money that helps keep some athletic departments afloat while minimizing the annual losses of others. Still, many of these schools also have the resources to conduct repeated tests on entire rosters of athletes and staff, totaling more than 100 people - and have begun to do so.

Scott Swegan, director of communications for the Stanford football program, said athletes there have been tested regularly since returning for summer workouts July 1 "and will continue to be tested weekly throughout the season." The program is looking at several full face-shield or mask options to fit the players' helmets, should the Pac-12's plan for a shortened, conference-only season be realized, he said.

Any return to normalcy, of course, depends on COVID-19 and the nation's response to it.

"The virus doesn't care what you want or how much you wish you could do something. It does not care about your convictions," Binney said. "It only cares about opportunity."

This KHN story was first posted on California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

Now You Can Speak At Your Own Funeral

Have you ever thought about writing your own obituary? How about speaking at your own funeral? Now the public can.

A new Utah company (www.SpeakatYourOwnFuneral.com) allows consumers to literally speak at their own funeral - virtually. They will come to the client's home and create a five- to ten-minute video document that family can then show at the actual funeral or memorial service. They also give their clients a longer, less edited version with the additional details, stories and sometimes even humorous out-takes less appropriate for the funeral.

With a formula that is respectful, sometimes playful, but often profound and genuinely emotional - a great idea many have also found is vitally important. "It's what my family needs to hear," says Richard Brown, a recent customer, who is still very much alive, "I want my family to know that I love them and to give them some advice for when I am gone."

"No one should die without leaving at least a note to their loved ones," says CEO Rick Porter, who's been producing film and video for more than 40 years. "But these videos have a greater impact than a note. We live in an age when we can digitally record and archive records that can last for generations. And these, well, they are the most important records we can leave - a summary of all we experienced; life lessons that taught us, made us who we are. Not to do that is a real loss - a missed opportunity."

"I didn't know what to expect," says Brenda Johnson, a recent interview subject. "I was given the questions ahead of time and did a little preparation. I was nervous, but that all went away once we began. I felt like the camera disappeared, and we were just having a friendly conversation. Okay, maybe the camera did not completely disappear, but the result was more than worth it. I can't tell my children and grandchildren I love them enough. Now it will always be there whenever they want it."

The company is breaking new ground, attempting to connect the estimated 73 million Baby Boomers with their posterity to come. "This type of interview should be done by all those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or with a terminal illness," says Porter, "yet few know such a service exists or even can exist."

"The $1,000 cost is surprisingly affordable considering the quality of their work," states Paul Jones of Alden Keene & Associates, a Utah marketing firm.

Couldn't people just do this themselves with a smartphone? "Absolutely," says Jones, "and should, because these family records are invaluable and ought to be made. But having a great camera phone, a good microphone, lights and editing software doesn't guarantee you'll produce a professional result. But the number one reason people can but won't do this: procrastination," says Jones.

funeral1.jpg
funeral2.jpgCEO Rick Porter shooting a recent "Speak at Your Own Funeral" interview

Currently, the company has production teams in Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah, Chicago, Jacksonville, Florida and San Diego, California but will ramp up as demand increases.

"We see this becoming a 'thing'," says Porter, "It immediately draws on people's curiosity. It has that 'What a great idea' quality. But watch an example or two, hear the comments, the sincere and authentic sentiments, feel the emotions - then you too, will want to 'Speak at Your Own Funeral.'"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

Chicago Smash Help Set Team Tennis Viewership Record

CBS's live airing of Sunday's 2020 World TeamTennis championship, in which the New York Empire defeated the Chicago Smash on the last point of the super-tiebreaker 21-20, delivered 556,000 viewers, making it the most watched in the league's 45-year history.

The victory by the New York Empire earned them the King Trophy and $500,000 in prize money and marked the first time that the WTT's Finals have aired live on network television. During the event's "super-tiebreaker" that determined the 2020 Champion viewership peaked at 1.128 million viewers.

The previous viewership record for World TeamTennis was 484,000, also on CBS, which occurred on July 19 of the 2020 WTT regular season when the Washington Kastles, featuring Venus Williams, defeated the Vegas Rollers, led by Mike and Bob Bryan, 24-18.

The season was unlike any other in the league's 45-year history, with all nine participating teams staying in one location versus playing matches across the country in their home venues. Additionally, the league permitted up to 500 fans to attend its matches held at Center Court at Creekside, a 2,500-seat outdoor venue at Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.

The league completed 822 COVID-19 tests of all players, coaches, trainers, WTT staff and media covering the three-and-a-half week season at Greenbrier - all returning negative results for those participating in the event. In all, three COVID-19 tests were given: pre-arrival, arrival and midseason.

This year also delivered the most blue-chip sponsors in World TeamTennis history, with GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) as WTT's Official Auto Insurance Provider, DraftKings (Official Daily Fantasy Partner), Dolby (official Entertainment Partner), Guaranteed Rate (Official Mortgage Lender), Wilson (Official Racket and Ball), Har-Tru (Official Playing Surfacer), Weatherman (Official Umbrella), Zenni (Official Eyewear), Mack Weldon (Official Playoff Apparel) joining at the league-wide level, and UTR powered by Oracle, the USTA, Chosen Foods, EleVen, Greenbrier Tourism and KT Tape also coming on-board.

The season featured more television and online exposure than ever before for WTT. The playoffs aired exclusively on CBS Sports with the WTT Finals on CBS Television Network and both Semifinals airing exclusively on CBS Sports Network, which also aired 13 WTT regular season matches. The WTT 63 match regular season included first time broadcast/digital partnerships as well with 15 matches on ESPN2 (10 on ESPN+, which aired matches last season), 19 on Tennis Channel and five matches that streamed exclusively on the CBS Sports app and Facebook Watch.

WTT's nine franchises include the expansion Chicago Smash, New York Empire, Orange County (Calif.) Breakers, Orlando Storm, Philadelphia Freedoms, San Diego Aviators, Springfield (Mo.) Lasers, Vegas Rollers and Washington (D.C.) Kastles.

About World TeamTennis (WTT)
World TeamTennis showcases the best in professional tennis with nine teams competing in the innovative team format for the King Trophy, the league's championship trophy named after tennis icon and co-founder Billie Jean King.

Since the league's debut, virtually every major champion of the Open era has played WTT, including Andre Agassi, Venus and Serena Williams, Pete Sampras, Stefanie Graf, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Bob and Mike Bryan, Sloane Stephens, Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Naomi Osaka.

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How The South Won The Civil War

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Moyers on Democracy.

If you want to understand this moment in American politics, here's a suggestion for you: It's the must-read book of the year - How The South Won The Civil War, by the historian Heather Cox Richardson.

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Yes, the Civil War brought an end to the slave order of the South and the rule of the plantation oligarchs who embodied white supremacy. But the Northern victory was short-lived. Slave states soon stripped Black people of their hard-won rights, white supremacy not only rose again to rule the South but spread West across the Mississippi to create new hierarchies of inequality.

That's the story Heather Cox Richardson tells in How The South Won The Civil War, with echoes resounding every day in the current wild and fierce campaign for the presidency. Here to talk with her about America's ongoing battle between oligarchy and democracy is Bill Moyers.

BILL MOYERS: Heather Cox Richardson, thank you for joining me.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: Oh, it's a pleasure to be here.

BILL MOYERS: Will you take us on that long but vivid arc of how we got from Abraham Lincoln, describing the end of the Civil War as "a new birth of freedom," to Donald Trump describing America as "a land of carnage, a nightmare." From Lincoln to Donald Trump in 2016, what happened?

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: If you think about the Civil War as a war between two different ideologies, two different concepts of what America is supposed to be, is it supposed to be a place where a few wealthy men direct the labor and the lives of the people below them, the women and people of color below them, the way the Confederacy argued? Is that America? Or is America what Lincoln and his ilk in the Republican Party in the North defined the democracy as during the Civil War?

Is it a place where all men are equal before the law and should have equal access to resources? And of course, I use the word man there, but that's because that's the language that Lincoln used. But the principle is expandable of course.

It looked by 1865 as if that latter ideology, that of the Republicans and that of the idea of equality had triumphed. And certainly, the Republicans and Northerners who had fought for the United States government in that war believed that they had redefined America to mean equality before the law. They really believed that was the case.

And that they had defeated what they called the "slave power," the oligarchs who had gone ahead and taken over the system in the 1850s. After the Civil War, Easterners moved West across the Mississippi in really large numbers after 1865.

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BILL MOYERS: White Southerners went too, of course, and you argue they saw the West as the final frontier ruled by elites, just as elites, with violence and intimidation, had ruled in the old South.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: And in that West, they discover a land that is already susceptible to the idea of racial and gendered hierarchies, because it has its own history of them.

And it's a place out there where the new American system happens to be a really fertile ground for the Confederate ideology to rise again. And that's exactly what happens with the extractive industries in the West that encouraged the heavily capitalized cattle markets, for example, or mining industries, or later oil, or even agribusiness. You have in the West a development of an economy and, later on, a society that looks very much like the pre-Civil War South.

And over the course of the late 19th century, that becomes part of the American mythology, with the idea that you have the cowboy in the West who really stands against what Southerners and Northern Democrats believe is happening in Eastern society, that a newly active government is using its powers to protect African Americans and this is a redistribution of wealth from taxpayers to populations that are simply looking for a government handout. That's language that rises in 1871, and that is still obviously important in our political discourse.

But in contrast to that, in the West, you get the rise of the image of the American cowboy, which is really our image of Reconstruction. In a weird way, people think of Reconstruction, obviously, they think of formerly enslaved people. But the image that has obtained in our textbooks and in our popular culture is the American cowboy, who is beginning to dominate American popular culture by 1866.

And that cowboy - a single man, because women are in the cowboy image only as wives and mothers, or as women above the saloons in their striped stockings serving liquor and other things - is a male image of single white men. Although, again, historically a third of cowboys were people of color.

It's a single white man working hard on their own, who don't want anything from the government. Again, historically inaccurate. The government puts more energy into the American plains than it does any other region of the country.

BILL MOYERS: And also on land that had been taken from Mexico after the Mexican-American War, and on land that had been stolen from the Native Americans after genocide. I mean, it's this whole notion of, "I'm free to roam the land and become a self-made hero," which was the cowboys' image to those of us growing up in the '30s and '40s, was really a bastard idea.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: And part of that bastard idea, though, was so interesting. Because it is, in part, the Indian Wars of the Civil War and immediate post-war years that helped to both create the image of the cowboy, but also reinforce the idea that a few white men belong above subordinate groups like the Indigenous people, like Mexicans or Mexican Americans. Like Chinese Americans, like Fiji islanders, about whom they care very much in the late 19th century.

And that racial hierarchy and gendered hierarchy really gets tied into the image of the American cowboy. And popularized with this backlash against activism in the East, trying to help African Americans adjust to the new free labor economy.

But that image becomes enormously important after 1880. Because in 1880, the South goes solidly Democratic. And, of course, in retrospect, we now know it's going to stay Democratic for a very, very long time, indeed. But they don't know that at the time.

But what Republicans do note is that they must pick up Western votes if they're going to continue to dominate the White House and the Senate. After 1888, when we get the installment of Benjamin Harrison in the White House, he loses the popular vote by about 100,000 votes. But he's installed thanks to the Electoral College.

The Republicans under Harrison between 1889 and 1890, they let in six new states in 12 months. That was the largest acquisition of new states in American history since the original 13 and it's never been matched again. They let in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and then Idaho and Wyoming to go ahead and make sure that they would continue to control the Senate, and the Electoral College.

And they're not hiding this. They actually go onto their media which is their equivalent of the Fox News channel at the time and say, by letting in these states, we're going to hold onto the Senate for all time and we're going to make sure we hold onto the White House for all time.

But what that does is it begins to shift the idea of that human freedom. All of a sudden, the Republican Party, which has tried to continue to argue that it is standing in favor of equality, although that's negotiable. After 1888 and the admission of those new states, the Republican Party's got to start adopting that racially charged language in order to get the West on board. And that begins the change in American history that leads to a later union between the West and the South around this idea that really white men ought to be in charge. It's not just a Southern thing. It's a Western thing as well.

And they make up a voting bloc in Congress that manages to change a lot of the legislation of the 20th century.

BILL MOYERS: You write about how the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee in 1890, in South Dakota, was an atrocity brought on by politics. And that it played into the use of politics to reimpose inequality, and the use of force for malicious purposes.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: It did. What happens is that with the admission of these new states in 1889 and 1890, the Republicans believe that they are going to do very well in the midterm election of 1890. And the big thing on the table in America in 1890 is the tariff - high walls around the American economy that protect businesses inside America, they protect them to the degree that because they face no foreign competition, different groups can collude with each other to raise prices.

So in 1860, the Republicans insist that an economic downturn that's been happening is only because those tariffs aren't high enough. What happens in the election of 1890 is the Republicans think they're going to win and they lose dramatically. It turns out when these ballots are counted, a Republican Senate or a Democratic Senate hangs on the seat of South Dakota, on one Senate seat. And that Senate seat has pretty clearly been corrupted. There's a huge fight, then, in the legislature of who actually won. So there the situation sits.

BILL MOYERS: Sits there, for sure, with President Benjamin Harris needing to shore up his support in the Dakotas. So, he sends corrupt cronies out to replace experienced Indian agents and dispatches one-third of the federal Army as well.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: And with that movement of the Army into South Dakota in the largest mobilization of the U.S. Army since the Civil War, Lakota are trying to negotiate with the Army that increasingly wants to bring them into the reservation, to the agencies to make sure that they're under control. And over the course of the next few months, that situation escalates until a Lakota leader, Sitting Bull, is killed in December of 1890.

And then in terror after that, a group of Miniconjou Lakota move across the state. They actually find the Army, the Army doesn't find them. And in the process of corralling them and disarming them later on that month, the soldiers start to fire. And about 250 Lakota are massacred. So, it was a massacre that was really directly attributable to whether or not the Republican Party could control the U.S. Senate in order to protect its tariffs that promoted big business, and protected a few oligarchs.

BILL MOYERS: When Americans moved to the wide-open spaces of the West after the Civil War, they kept alive the same vision of the world that had inspired Confederates. What was their argument?

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: They certainly were not arguing at the time for a renewal of hostilities. But they did believe that America was one in which a few good hard-working white men should dominate women and people of color. And I think that's written all over the West, although we don't like to see that because we love our cowboys.

But inherent in Western society, Western politics, Western economy and the Western society after the Civil War was the idea that a few wealthy men should control the industries. Or at least, did control the extractive industries of mining and cattle, and agribusiness and oil. And they should also control politics. And that the legal system should defend their interests while the workers should work for the people in charge.

You know, these wealthy cattlemen, for example, were somehow the salt of the earth, hardworking little guys. That image was really in contrast to what was going on, which was the creation of a society that looked, in many ways, like the society of the pre-Civil War South.

And by the late 19th and early 20th century, the rise of industrialists in the North who took a lot of their power and their ideological power from the cowboy imagery and from the support that they received in the American West. And to some degree, from Southern leaders as well.

BILL MOYERS: So, the pre-Civil War South was an oligarchy.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: Yes. I was very careful with that word. Because there are obviously a lot of words we could use for a system in which a few people take over. But the way that I was using it was with the idea that an oligarchy was a small group, usually of men in that case, who controlled the money in society and therefore came to control the political system, and also the social system.

BILL MOYERS: In order to use government policies to shore up white supremacy and prevent racial equality, right?

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: And I think the echoes from that to the present are pretty clear, when you have again a small group of Americans now who define themselves that way, I think.

One of the things that I found interesting is with the rise of this small elite group of large planters in the 1850s, the ways in which they came to monopolize popular culture and popular literature so that they simply didn't say, "Well, we're hard workers and we've been lucky."

But they came to believe that they deserved what they had gotten. And that they were somehow better than everybody else. And you can see that through the pulpits, ministers starting to talk about how blessed they were to have these men in their congregations.

You can see it through literature, the rise of novels that talk about people who own large numbers of other people as somehow paternalistic patriarchs.

And you can see it through the construction of the other, the people who are enslaved, as being somehow almost sub-human. And that's a very deliberate construction in the 1850s.

And I would argue, you can see something very similar in America in the 2000 aughts.

BILL MOYERS: In what sense?

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: The emphasis in popular culture on how the people who were at the top really belong there. That they somehow are the best people. That they know more than the rest of us. That if you have a billion dollars, you must somehow be really much more special than those of us who don't have a billion dollars.

And I think that really shows in the way that President Trump talks about the people around him. He would appoint only the best people, who by definition, knew more than the experts did. And you look at the position that Jared Kushner has in this administration. I mean, he's a young man with really very little training in anything and he's supposed to be solving the Middle East crisis and handling coronavirus? And I don't even know what his portfolio looks like at this point. But I think that's a reflection that looks very much like that of elite Southerners in the 1850s when they simply thought by virtue of who they were, they could make things work better than anybody else could.

BILL MOYERS: And you write that as this Old South ideology moved West it influenced popular culture, especially in upholding white supremacy. There were Western movies like the classic Stagecoach, remember? A Confederate soldier joins with the U.S. Cavalry to defeat the "savage" Apache. And novels such as Little House On The Prairie and Gone With The Wind celebrating the union of Western and Confederate ideology.

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HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: Yes. And isn't it fascinating - if you think about, again, Laura Ingalls Wilder's a great example. People tend to dismiss her because they see it as a children's book. And yet, it's been enormously influential, enormously influential. And she writes about a world in which Pa takes care of the womenfolk and dominates the native populations around him.

And certainly there are passages in that book that are extraordinarily racist, not only toward Indigenous people, but toward African Americans as well. It's gotten her in trouble lately.

But the theme throughout that book is of individualism. Pa is doing it on his own. Pa is not doing it on his own. The reality of her life was that Pa was managing to keep the family together based on the fact his daughters and his wife worked because Pa could never manage to make ends meet.

And they're living in places that are habitable for white settlers like themselves only because of the protection of the U.S. government.

And, you know, even scenes like when Mary goes to college. And remember, they scrimp and save for years for Mary to go to college. And the implication in that book is that they are sending Mary to college. No. They're raising money for her train fare and her clothing. Her room and board is being paid for by the State of South Dakota. South Dakota actually, weirdly enough, had the highest rate of literacy in the country in that era. But you don't see that in those books. Because again, you have this wedding, if you will, of individualism to racism and this concept of women being taken care of by their men. It's a very popular trope in American history. But it doesn't reflect reality.

BILL MOYERS: So, when a group of slaveholders embraced the idea that they and they alone should control America's economic and political system, the Americans fought back, won the Civil War, and rededicated the country to equality. But when it happened a second time, when very rich men of property mobilized to take over America again, they largely succeeded by convincing voters that equality for people of color and women and minorities destroyed the liberty of white men. That's almost the drum beat in the background of American politics today.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: One of the things about that ideology that a few wealthy men should rule, it's not new to America. It's been around for a very long time. And what's really radical is the idea that in fact, all of us should have the right to self-government.

And the fact that we're still fighting about it in America today suggests to me that those two fundamentally different concepts of the role of the American government at least are still absolutely the question of what America really is about.

For all the frightening things that are happening in America right now, it's also exciting to get to redefend the concept of human self-determination, which is really what we've been doing all along on this continent.

BILL MOYERS: But as you write, the ideology of the Old South and its new Western allies found a powerful reactionary force to reimagine it. Let's go to the very opening scene of your book. It's July, 1964. The Cow Palace outside San Francisco, packed with cheering Republicans who've just nominated Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona as their candidate for the presidency. They came roaring to their feet when he declares, quote -

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

BILL MOYERS: Fifty-six years later, that scene still plays out in my head. Explain why you chose that moment to begin a story that spans America from the Civil War to now.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: Barry Goldwater at that point was known sort of as a cowboy character. And that moment when the State of South Carolina, the state that was responsible for taking the Confederacy out of the Union, when those delegates stand up, they were the ones to put Barry Goldwater over the top, as their delegate yelled when he announced the delegation's votes, it's that moment when you recognize that there is a new force in American politics. And it's the force of reaction against the liberal consensus that was widely shared by Democrats and Republicans both, that in fact, the government should be of the people, by the people and for the people.

And that's the moment when you had that reactionary voice saying, "No, that's not what America should look like." And it's that theory that in fact a few people should run the system and make decisions for the rest of us that has taken over America since '64. It came across as a racial argument. But of course, his skin was in the game for the end of business regulation.

BILL MOYERS: Regulation, right.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: That's what he really cared about. It's interesting the degree to which they harnessed the tradition of American racism and sexism as well, to their project of destroying business regulation.

BILL MOYERS: Goldwater's big bone was government, but that was all mixed up with opposing Civil Rights and keeping segregation, discrimination. This fear of government that Goldwater was stoking at that moment was the same fear that Southern demagogues had stoked to keep Blacks in their place, it was government that was at stake here. It was what you can do with government.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: Well, and I think you just hit the nail on the head there with the idea that all of this is about the proper use of government. Is the idea of the United States government to protect property, so that people can accumulate more and more of it, and thereby get the power and the education and the connections to go ahead and direct society in a way that's good for all us, which is their theory. Or is the role of government, in fact, to protect equality before the law, and to make sure that all men, in fact, and all, you know, all people are created equal and have equal access to resources and to opportunity? And those two questions are really the central questions of America.

BILL MOYERS: Ronald Reagan gave the conservative movement its present-day mantra:

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

BILL MOYERS: Now just imagine using that mantra today when the pandemic is rampant. And somebody knocks on your door and says, "My name is Fauci, and I'm here to help you." And they say, "But you're from the government. We don't want you."

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: I love the way you put it earlier when you said, "This is all a question of what the government should do." Coming out of World War II, we had a real resurgence of the idea that the government really had a responsibility to promote equality before the law, and to guarantee equal access to resources. And that was a principle that was shared across America, I think, from Republicans and Democrats both.

I mean, obviously you saw it with Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the New Deal. But you also saw it with Truman, of course. And then you also saw it with Eisenhower and Eisenhower's Middle Way. And the idea was that this American democracy stood against the fascism that had drawn us into World War II. And that FDR was so articulate about fighting back against.

You know, when he talks about Italy again and again, FDR talks about how, you know, American democracy's messy, for sure, but look, Mussolini was supposed to make the trains run on time and instead, his people are dying and they're starving to death. And we, us messy members of a democracy, are the ones feeding them. And he says this again and again. And coming out of that war, I think Americans really stood for that.

But even before that, there's certainly a group of reactionaries who look at the New Deal and at the Middle Way and they say, "We don't believe that the government should interfere in our businesses. We should have the liberty, the freedom to run our businesses as we see fit."

And they, in fact, really believe that the New Deal is going to be erased. They really thought it was a temporary measure, and that Americans would turn against that.

But, of course, Americans loved the New Deal. It had gotten us out of out of the Depression and it had won World War II. So they didn't have any intention of walking away from that.

BILL MOYERS: But Goldwater and Reagan were riding away from it. And both, as you know, loved casting themselves as cowboys, white hats and all. They wrapped themselves in the mythology of the cowboy as hero; a lone white man carving a new world for white people from a hostile environment.

So how did we get from Barry Goldwater in 1964, Richard Nixon, a Californian in 1968, invoking the Southern strategy of stirring up the resentments and fears and hatreds of white Southerners and Ronald Reagan who opened his campaign in 1980 in Neshoba County, Mississippi, just a few miles from where three Civil Rights volunteers had been murdered? And then George W. Bush buying a Stetson and a Texas ranch to prove he was a Westerner? Finally, to Donald Trump, the rich guy from Queens, not a part of the Southern culture or complex, who used the same racial fears, the same threats and promises that had been used in '64, '68, and '80?

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: Well, finally by 1951, you have that famous book by William F. Buckley Jr. called God & Man at Yale in which he says, "Listen, we got a problem. If we keep on trying to argue against the New Deal on the merits, we keep losing. So, we should stop trying to argue it on the merits. Because when we talked about what was best for most people, people voted for the New Deal."

So, he suggests that we needed to start from a baseline, saying that the government should only protect what he calls "free enterprise." That is, there shouldn't be regulation.

And it should protect Christianity.

You could wiggle around the edges. But you needed to have those two things.

Well, that doesn't really get much traction. And, of course, William F. Buckley Jr. is the son of an oil man. And he is bankrolled by some pretty serious money there. It's a vision of a very few wealthy men.

And it really doesn't get traction until after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954, when a unanimous Supreme Court, where this chief justice is a Republican and a former governor of California-

BILL MOYERS: You're talking about Earl Warren.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: Yes. He says the government needs to stand behind the desegregation of public schools. And with that, a door is open to resurrect the idea of the Reconstruction years. That any kind of government action in trying to level the playing field for African Americans in American society is a redistribution of wealth.

And in 1955, we get the formation of the National Review, of course, with the hiring of James Kirkpatrick, who's a Southern editor. Who hammers again and again and again on the idea that in fact, if you let government be an active government, to go ahead and intervene in things like regulating the economy, or in this case, promoting desegregation, what you are going to get is an attack on liberty, by which they mean tax dollars, your, in coded words, "White tax dollars" are going to go to African Americans. Who, in their eyes, had not earned that sort of entree into public schools. Which is gonna cost tax dollars. Among other things there were - needed to be troops to have that happen.

Well, that idea, that somehow an activist government, a New Deal government, an Eisenhower government was a redistribution of wealth from hard-working white people to first African Americans, and then that group of other is going to be expanded to eventually include, in the 1970s, feminist women.

But that argument is really established in the 1950s. And the people who adhere to it initially are not traditional Republicans. And they're certainly not Democrats. They self-identify as a group called movement conservatives. And they are not true conservatives. They are radical extremists. And they know it. They, a few group of capital "C" conservatives, are going to stand against capital "L" liberals. By which they mean virtually everybody else in America, Republicans and Democrats both.

Because they make no distinction between the liberal consensus of FDR and Eisenhower and Chinese communism. To them, those are the same kind of redistributions of wealth.

So that movement conservative argument that gets its roots in the 1950s and then is picked up by Nixon - I think he gets backed into a full-hearted embrace of movement conservatism because of the problems he's facing in 1970, with the Vietnam War and Kent State.

But by Reagan, you have Reagan fully defending that vision. And you remember, Reagan's initial ideas of cutting taxes were not popular. And it was not clear that that was actually going to happen. He has to put George H. W. Bush into his administration as vice president. And he had called that system "voodoo economics." But it's really after he's shot that he manages to get the popular momentum in Congress to pass his first tax cut.

And then he tries to cement the ability to hold those tax cuts through including Evangelicals into the political system on the Republican side, beginning really dramatically in 1986. But, also, by packing the court. So, you can see from there on, this vision snowballing.

And then in the 1990s, of course, you get Newt Gingrich becoming the Speaker of the House, and really deliberately purging the Republican Party of traditional Republicans, those he calls RINOs, or Republicans in Name Only.

By the time you get to Trump, that language is there. That whole set up is there.

But Trump himself is an interesting character. Because if you remember, he was the most moderate of the Republican candidates when he was running. So he had the racism and the sexism down.

But a lot of people who might have liked or might even have not liked the racism and the sexism loved the idea he was gonna make taxes fairer. He was gonna create a better health care system. He was gonna make wealthier people pay more. He was gonna promote infrastructure. All those things that went by the board. He's put movement conservatism on steroids.

And his platform in 2016 was stunning. It was William F. Buckley Jr.'s wish list, or Goldwater's wish list. And a narrative that, by the way, has taken off, and been extraordinarily strong since the rise of Reagan.

He was elected in 1980. And you have that cowboy individualism gone wild with the Star Wars series, which is the movie of 1977. That imagery, that one guy is going to do it on his own without the help of the government is a lovely image. It's a mythological image. It's one that Americans love, but it's not reality.

In fact, that image has enabled oligarchs like those really taking the reins of power under Ronald Reagan, to skew our laws in such a way that wealth has moved upward, opportunity has been taken away from the vast majority of us. The lives of most Americans, a majority of Americans, has gotten significantly worse, not better.

And now under Donald Trump with the coronavirus, but also with the extraordinary disjunction in the economy. Now, of course, we're looking at the recession because of the coronavirus. But even before that, with the booming stock market, and the reality that most Americans didn't have $400 in the bank to meet an emergency. I think people are really coming to realize there is this extraordinary gap between that image and reality. And beginning more to want to root their politics in reality, both to fight the coronavirus and to fight the economic recession. But also to give credit to the essential workers of color, and to the women who are keeping this country running.

I thought it was really interesting that one of the tropes from American individualism is, of course, that moms are home, right? Taking care of the kids. Over the weekend in Portland, moms went out and made a wall, a wall of moms to stand between the protesters and the federal troops.

BILL MOYERS: You say that the movement of women into politics rejects the construction of a society in which a few elite white men control the destinies of the rest of the country. And you find hope in that. But I wrote after your last sentence, "Yes, but white oligarchs and their mercenaries still have the power."

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: Yes, they do. And I often don't sleep at night.

But people ask me what gets me up every morning, and why do I continue to be optimistic. And I am because I believe in American democracy. I believe in the concept of human self-determination with almost a religious faith. And if I lose that faith, I feel like I will have broken that faith not only with the people around me today, but with all those people who came before us, and fought in wars, and who gave up their time and their money and their energy and did everything that they could to make sure that American democracy would survive.

So, we're in a very frightening time. But there are a lot of us, I think, who believe in this great American experiment, and will give it our all to make sure it doesn't end on our watch.

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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2020

Cancel Culture

It is the best of times for Chicago baseball. It is the worst of times for Baseball.

It was the best of times for Blackhawk hockey on Saturday. And it wasn't the worst that the team lost late last night to the Oilers (6-3), but it obviously wasn't good, as the best-of-five NHL play-in series evened up at one win apiece. Next game is Wednesday at 9:30.

I'll have a little more about the Hawks later but I'm going to mostly talk about baseball while I still can as the season teeters on the edge of cancellation.

I say cancel the Marlins first. And while you're at it, cancel the idiot Cardinals too. Or at least a lifetime ban for the players and staff who took a trip to a casino recently? A strip club? Some combination of the two? Wow is that some kind of stupid. A total of seven Cardinal players and six staffers had tested positive as of late Monday.

Do you love baseball or not? It is a simple question. If you don't, opt out. If you do, get your shit together. Yesterday. At the very least if I were in charge I would tell both those teams that if one more member of their standard traveling party gets the virus, they are relegated to AAA ball next year.

Or you could just shut them down and flip coins to decide who wins the rest of the Marlins' games. Do it for the Cardinals too and then put all those geniuses into three-month quarantine. If the Marlins and/or Cardinals seemingly qualify for the playoffs with their coin flip games they forfeit their first post-season series'. Get on it baseball commissioner Rob Manfred!

The Marlins haven't played since their opening series after an utterly bad ridiculous 18 of their players and several assistant coaches/staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The last of those infections happened after the team decided to play its third game despite multiple positive tests in the previous 24 hours. Manager Don Mattingly later said it didn't even occur to him to not play the game. If the overall season ends up canceled, Mattingly gets a six-month quarantine.

Meanwhile, heading into Tuesday's action the Cubs are riding the crest of one of their best winning streaks in recent memory, pandemic or no pandemic, to the best record in the National League (8-2). Sure they are beating up on bad teams but that's the way you at least qualify for the playoffs this year. Win a few against good teams and you are in the running for a top seed.

And the White Sox essentially stopped a bad start before it started with five wins in a row to give them six in their first 10 games.

Way to go Go Go White Sox! Now be quiet over there while I talk about the Cubs. OK, OK, I'll acknowledge that this Luis Robert character might actually be a true, five-tool superstar and that 10 games into his Major League career he is already establishing himself as must-see TV. Are you happy White Sox fans? No? Shocker.

Best of all last night we had some Javy gloriousness. The young man did what he does routinely and yet so extraordinarily with a magical tag on speedster Adelberto Mondesi trying to steal.

Mr. Baez executed this tag with his gloved left hand while giving Willson Contreras the OK sign with his right hand. Go back and look at it again.

I mean, seriously, how can a tag play at second be this awesome? It more than earns the tag (as in label) of Good ridiculousness! And as we always do around here at times like this, we pay homage to Devin Hester, the crown prince of good ridiculousness.

With Contreras throwing and Javy catching (at least some of the time), will any player successfully swipe second against the Cubs this season? (Yes, some goofy young Royal stole second on Contreras in the ninth inning when his run meant nothing. In this space I am officially scoring that defensive indifference.)

Contreras made some noise early last season about his primary goal being to be better than Yadier Molina, the longtime Cardinals catcher who, it seems clear to me, should be a first ballot Hall of Famer five years after he hangs up his spikes.

The Cubs catcher still has plenty to work on but he has improved so much from last year to this year. He drives me crazy at times when he doesn't run the bases his hardest and it almost costs his team outs, or when his pitch-blocking fundamentals break down. But he has been so good that you start to believe that he could be in a Most Valuable Player conversation at some point - at least if he can continue to improve like he has. Oh, and he also needs to avoid being a dim-witted hothead.

Oh, and the Hawks. Well, Chicago might have the better team in their series with Edmonton but the Oilers definitely have the best player.

Connor McDavid scored all of two minutes, 30 seconds into Game 1. But they the Hawks responded with a flurry of offensive greatness to take a 4-1 lead midway through the first and held on for a 6-4 victory over the weekend.

So what did McDavid do? He scored 19 seconds into Game 2 last night on his way to a hat trick of the sorts of stellar goals that make the young Edmonton forward just about the most exciting player in the game.

Still, Alex DeBrincat was great last night with a couple of sweet first assists and the game was closer than the final score indicated. Hang in there Hawks!

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:08 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

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Union Sundown
"Two unions at the center of Chicago life duked it out on the city streets Monday. The Chicago Teachers Union marched on City Hall to protest any plan that would bring teachers back to the classroom amid the pandemic. And the Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara waged a counterprotest telling teachers to get back to work," Shia Kapos writes her Politico Illinois Playbook.

"Tensions are high as educators and law enforcement face working around a highly contagious disease and during a time of social unrest and calls for criminal justice reform. Still, it's an odd turn of events to see two labor unions aligned in so many ways at odds with each other."

Not really. Those unions have always been at odds with each other. But the truth is that the police union stands alone; if they have other union allies in the city, I'm not aware of it and as far as I know it's not of significance.

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For years, I and others have wondered about a far more interesting union dynamic: athletic unions. Now that athletes have caught the social justice bug in numbers we've never seen before, will they seek to forge alliances with more traditional unions? When teachers go on strike, for example, we never see local baseball, football, hockey and basketball players will offer their support.

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Back to Kapos:

"The CTU and FOP do share one thing: a disagreement with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She's not left-leaning enough for the CTU and too liberal for the FOP."

That equation is really out of whack. Anyone to the right of David Duke is too liberal for the FOP (or Donald Trump, if you will). And while Lightfoot's politics may not be socialist enough for CTU leadership and some others in the ranks, every article reporting on the CTU's political standing should include the caveat that they demonized Lighfoot to their members to a point of no return and are now running their 2023 campaign.

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When you work for a place like Politico, it's incumbent on you to come up with concepts, themes and narratives. That's what they think makes you "smart." But it's all coming out of their imagination (or memory of past concepts, themes and narratives, or those they've seen others employ recently) but real life is far less clever and novelistic. That's what makes it real, and that's what we should concern ourselves with.

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Stick, Please
"Looking to crack down on a surge in coronavirus cases among young people in the suburbs, Cook County officials announced Monday they're urging restaurants to seat fewer diners at each table and bars to only serve customers outdoors," the Sun-Times reports.

Fitness classes offered in suburban Cook County should be reduced from 50 people to 10, Rubin said.

Though the recommendations are "basically voluntary" [Dr. Rachel Rubin, a co-leader of the county's Department of Public Health] said she hopes "most individuals will want to follow that guidance and understand why we're doing this now."

"Right now, we're sort of in the carrot stage, not the stick," Rubin said. "We really want people to get on board with this and to see that now is the time to decrease some of our openings and put mild restrictions in place for now on a voluntary basis."

Shouldn't we be long past the voluntary stage? Plenty of sticks in those forest preserves. Use them.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Cancel Culture
MLB should cancel the Marlins, Javy Baez cancels baserunners and Conor McDavid just might cancel the Blackhawks, Jim "Coach" Coffman writes.

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At Home Chicago Blues
At Home Chicago Blues 'Trading 4s' is a new pay-what-you-can Blues concert & conversation series hosted by acclaimed guitarist, Delmark recording artist and bandleader Dave Specter and streaming live on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month.

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Why A Canadian Hockey Team's Name Recalls U.S. Civil War Destruction
Sherman's March to Calgary.

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ChicagoReddit

"Open Face Sneezers to be Arrested" -Newspaper headlines from Chicago during the Spanish Flu from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

Painting these babies on Walcott and 47th

A post shared by Helen Sanz (@helensanzcor) on

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ChicagoTube

El Greco at the Art Institute.

See also: El Greco: Ambition & Defiance.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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ALL DAY LONG AT THIS RALLY . . .

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The Beachwood Mic Drop Line: Drop it good.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:39 AM | Permalink

At Home Chicago Blues

At Home Chicago Blues 'Trading 4s' is a new pay-what-you-can Blues concert & conversation series hosted by acclaimed guitarist, Delmark recording artist and bandleader Dave Specter and streaming live on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month.

This week's A-list session will feature sets and behind-the-scenes storytelling by Alligator Records' electric blues guitarist Toronzo Cannon, plus acoustic slide guitarist Donna Herula, vocalist Katherine Davis and Delmark's electric bassist Harlan Terson.

CBC-Home-Logo.png

WHEN: This Thursday, August 6, from 7 p.m. - 8pm and then the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month.

WHERE: Visit At Home Chicago Blues to enjoy songs and stories from the comfort of your couch, at peace on your porch or wherever you dig watching contemporary Chicago Blues greats practicing their craft. And if Thursdays don't work, past concerts also available for viewing anytime.

WHY: At Home Chicago Blues concerts are intentionally 'pay-what-you-can' so as to not limit access to anyone seeking a live concert experience during this tenuous time.

For those viewers who are able to contribute, a 'virtual tip' jar provides compensation for the performers in addition to supporting the Firehouse Community Art Center in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

Under the direction of Pastor Phil Jackson, its mission is to interrupt the cycle of violence among youth and young adults in North Lawndale through the power of the arts.

Nationally, monies also benefit The Blues Foundation's COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for Performing Blues Artists.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

Why A Canadian Hockey Team's Name Recalls U.S. Civil War Destruction

In 2017, I was in Calgary, Alberta, for a conference when I took an opportunity to see a hockey game between the Calgary Flames and the Ottawa Senators. There, as I sat high up in the seats with a beer and a burger, the word "Flames" was in the air, and a light show depicted flames on the ice and around the arena's perimeter. I wondered if I, an early American historian, was the only person in the place thinking about how a 21st-century hockey team connected with Gen. Sherman's 1864 Atlanta campaign and the destructive journey to Savannah.

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 5.45.34 AM.png

In September 1864, having conquered the city of Atlanta, U.S. Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman proposed marching his army to the coastal city of Savannah, Georgia, destroying railroads, factories, farms and other major sources of Confederate power along the way. Sherman's March to the Sea was an example of a military strategy called, in Sherman's words, the "hard hand of war," in which an army destroys not only military targets but takes supplies from the residents, leaving the civilian population demoralized and short of food and shelter.

The Sherman-authorized burning targeted Confederate military resources, including machine shops, railroad depots and arsenals. When the fires reached munitions housed in a machine shop, the explosion made the Atlanta night "hideous," Sherman wrote.

Despite orders that nonmilitary structures not be torched, Union soldiers drunk with either rage or with spirits went on to burn much more. As the fire spread, Sherman noted that "the heart of the city was in flames all night."

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 5.46.56 AM.pngAlexander Hay Ritchie engraving after F.O.C. Darley drawing

When Sherman and his army rode out of Atlanta on the morning of November 16, 1864, he and others looked back "upon the scenes of our past battles." There stood Atlanta, Sherman recalled, "smouldering and in ruins, the black smoke rising high in air, and hanging like a pall over the ruined city."

As they left the ruined city behind, a band "struck up the anthem of 'John Brown's soul goes marching on'; the men caught up the strain, and never before or since have I heard the chorus of 'Glory, glory, hallelujah!' done with more spirit, or in better harmony of time and place."

Ulysses S. Grant, the Union commander who would later become the 18th president of the United States, commented in his memoirs that Gen. Sherman's Atlanta campaign "was managed with the most consummate skill" and "was one of the most memorable in history."

Grant, like others, argued that its success contributed to Abraham Lincoln being elected to a second - and, as it turned out, fatal - term. "The news of Sherman's success reached the North instantaneously, and set the country all aglow," Grant wrote.

Southerners, of course, saw Sherman's fiery and destructive march differently. Southern writer Eliza Andrews, then 24, wrote in her journal during the war that "The dwellings that were standing all showed signs of pillage, and on every plantation we saw the charred remains of the gin-house and packing-screw, while here and there, lone chimney-stacks, 'Sherman's Sentinels,' told of homes laid in ashes. The infamous wretches[!]"

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 5.48.50 AM.pngIn November 1864, downtown Atlanta stood in ruins, with chimney stacks showing where buildings used to be/George N. Barnard, Library of Congress

According to Sherman biographer James Lee McDonough, Sherman's name would "come to symbolize that terrible time in Atlanta, when a deep and lasting scar, which rankles to this day, was created in the hearts of many Southerners."

A Wound That Still Burns

More than a century later, the National Hockey League decided to add a team in Atlanta, as well as one in New York. To select a name for the Atlanta team, its owner, the real estate developer and owner of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, Tom Cousins, held a contest in 1971 that received 10,000 entries.

The name chosen was "Flames," though hockey writer Stephen Laroche notes in his book Changing the Game: The History of NHL Expansion, that it got only 198 of the total ballots.

Even in the early 1970s the memory still burned of Union troops under Sherman's command setting fire not only to factories, farms and warehouses but also to homes and shops in the city center that were destroyed in the unauthorized fire.

By bringing the Atlanta Flames into the NHL, the league began its own march into the South. It was a slow start, but the sport would eventually win over fans in the former Confederacy. In the 2020 season, the NHL has teams in Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas and Florida - which has two.

But a group of Canadian businessmen led by Nelson Skalbania bought the Flames and moved the team to Calgary after the 1979-1980 season. They kept the name because some of the team's new owners were in the oil industry, which is also associated with flames.

Named For Calamity

Naming a sports team after a destructive event may seem uncommon. Strangely, it is not - especially when it comes to destruction by fire. I'm writing from a suburb of Chicago, where the Great Fire of 1871 killed 300 people, destroyed more than 18,000 buildings, and left homeless more than 100,000 people - a third of the city's population. It also provided scorching monikers for the professional soccer team, the Chicago Fire, the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames and the short-lived World Football League team from Chicago, also called the Fire for its one and only season in 1974.

Also, the Colorado Avalanche, the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Iowa State Cyclones are all named after devastating natural forces.

The Calgary Flames are unique, however, for being named after an intentional destructive event, not a force of nature or a natural tragedy.

The Civil War echoes elsewhere in the NHL, too, with the Columbus Blue Jackets - the only team from Sherman's home state of Ohio - which celebrates the Blue Jackets' goals with booming cannon fire.

As professional hockey resumes across North America, even fans newly aware of the country's struggle with racism and the legacy of slavery may not be thinking about their Civil War history. But the team names are there to remind them anyway.

Christopher J. Young is a history professor at Indiana University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

"The number of new confirmed statewide COVID cases and the percentage of tests that come back positive now have climbed to levels last seen in May, when Illinoisans were pretty much told to stay home unless absolutely necessary," Greg Hinz writes for Crain's.

"Yesterday, for instance, another 1,467 cases were diagnosed in the state, way above the figures in the hundreds on some recent Sundays. Over the last week, totals are averaging well over 1,500 and, perhaps more significant, the positivity rate has crept from just above 2 percent to nearly 4 percent.

"It's for reasons like that that Pritzker late last week described the state as 'at a danger point' that could follow many states in the South and West into rough territory unless something changes."

Turn the car around, governor, and drive us back to the previous phase. We deserve it for misbehaving.

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Oh Fish!
"Nearly 60 different types of fish are swimming in the Chicago and Calumet Rivers these days, up from fewer than 10 during the early 1980s, according to a new study of sampling conducted by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District," the Tribune reports.

Common carp are still the species found most frequently by district biologists during their annual monitoring of the rivers and connected channels. Last year they pulled a nearly 40-pound carp swollen with eggs out of the Little Calumet River.

But since 2001, biologists also have found 19 other species in the waterways for the first time, only one of which wasn't native to the area, the study found.

Among those netted were bluegill, catfish, largemouth bass and yellow perch - species less tolerant to pollution than carp that European immigrants deliberately introduced across the nation during the 19th century.

Why all the new fish? You'll have to click through - which I highly recommend!

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True-Up Blew Up
"The latest financial report by KPMG provides even more proof of what a great bit of business [the parking meter] deal was for the private investors, who hail from as far away as Abu Dhabi," the Sun-Times reports.

Click through for the latest grisly details, but it's really just more of the same - even in a global pandemic.

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No Mercy
"In the past year, the number of hospitals offering maternity service on the South Side of Chicago has dropped from seven to three, including two hospitals that suspended services temporarily to accommodate a crush of COVID-19 patients," Curtis Black writes for the Chicago Reporter.

"And with news that Mercy Hospital plans to close next year, the situation has suddenly become even more dire."

This is structural racism. The decision-makers (presumably) aren't bigots, but the results of their actions have a racist effect - meaning it disproportionately harms people of color - because of the socioeconomic structure of our city, state and country.

To wit:

"Even before the pandemic, Black women in Illinois were six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related conditions than white women, according to a 2018 report from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The gap here is twice as large as the national average. While this is a national problem, it's particularly acute in Chicago and Illinois. The vast majority of those deaths were preventable, according to the report."

Structural racism kills, even more than personal bigotry. And Chicago is particularly structurally racist.

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See also: Detailed Explainer On How America Was Segregated By Design.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

How America Teaches (And Doesn't) History
"Y'all don't want to deal with the fucked-up shit your ancestors did."

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Remembering Baseball's Historic 2020 Season
A future grampa talks to a future grandkid.

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Suffering With Stoics & Cynics
Coping with the dark truth of our existence.

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ChicagoReddit

Can I break My Lease Due to Bed Bugs? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

4945 S Halsted Ave. Back of the Yards

A post shared by Brick of Chicago (@brickofchicago) on

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Panthers vs. Texas Crush 60's

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BeachBook

In 1906, The Bronx Zoo Put A Black Man On Display In The Primates' House.

They JUST NOW apologized.

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Michael Phelps: 'I Can't See Any More Suicides.'

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The Sledding Team Trained Hard For Gold In 2010. Some Members Regret It.

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Sources Report Abuse At NBA China Academies.

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The War Frats.

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Scientists Just Proved That the Humanoid Lamb In The Ghent Altarpiece That Everyone Made Fun Of Is Supposed To Look Like That.

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Here Are 7 Delightful Stories Of Animals That Live (Or Work) In Museums, From A Dog Docent In Missouri To A Donkey Crew In New York.

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TweeWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood McTipLine: Boneless.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:22 AM | Permalink

How America Teaches (Or Doesn't) The History Of Race

"Y'all don't want to deal with the fucked-up shit your ancestors did."

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See also: Chicago-Area Leaders Call For Illinois To Abolish History Classes.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:05 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2020

Remembering Baseball's Historic 2020 Season

"Please, Gramps, tell me some stories about baseball and the pandemic, then I promise I'll go to sleep," pleaded the boy.

"Alright, as long as you're asleep by the time your parents come home," replied Grampa. "I don't think they'll let me stay with you again any time soon if they find you still awake at this late hour. What do you want to know about those times so many years ago?"

"Were the White Sox any good?" the youngster asked.

"Well, they hadn't been very good because of what they used to call a 'rebuild,'" Gramps began. "That wouldn't fly today because kids like you wouldn't stand for it. You'd start rooting for the Yankees or Dodgers. But anyway, the season of 2020 was Luis Robert's rookie season for what turned out to be a Hall of Fame career. I'm sure you've heard of him."

"Yeah, I've read about Luis Robert. He was from Cuba, right? He played a few seasons for the Sox before signing for a billion dollars with the Yankees. He musta been really, really good."

"Oh, he was one of the greatest players I ever saw," marveled Grampa. "You have to remember that teams were scheduled to play just 60 games when he was a rookie, so his numbers that season were rather modest, but he gave us a sample of things to come. The team had other good players, too, but they never had enough pitching to get to the World Series."

"What else do you remember about that season?" asked the kid, still wide awake and curious.

"Well, games didn't begin until late July due to the virus which killed hundreds of thousands in this country," replied Gramps. "And once baseball started, players were tested over and over again to see if they were infected. A number were, and games were either cancelled or postponed. It was a huge mess. And they also tinkered with the rules."

"That's crazy," said the kid. "What did they do?"

"Until that time, the National League didn't have the Designated Hitter," explained the grandfather. "The pitchers hit for themselves. So the commissioner ruled that both leagues should have the DH. Of course, today the National League still has the DH, but it also lets the pitchers hit. So instead of nine players in the lineup, you have ten while the American League hasn't changed for something like 125 years."

"You mean the pitchers didn't bat when the pandemic was around?"

"Oh, no. The pandemic was just the beginning of tampering with the game's rules. It was the first time extra innings started with a runner on second."

"Extra innings? What was that?" queried the grandson.

"I should have told you," said Gramps. "There were no tie games in those days like we have today. Football and hockey had tie games many, many years ago. But baseball always kept playing additional innings until one team came out on top. Games could go on forever, which the commissioner didn't like because they took too much time. Baseball had this inferiority complex. The powers kept trying to speed up things because they thought that's what people wanted. They said the game was boring, that people liked other sports which moved faster. Plus, extra innings required lots and lots of pitchers who sometimes pitched to just one batter. So they put in a rule that relief pitchers must face at least three batters unless they closed out an inning."

"How long did the games take? The Sox played the other day in an hour-and-a-half."

"That's another thing," said the old man. "In the pandemic season, because there were so many postponements, they had to play doubleheaders, and those became two seven-inning games, just like all the games today. Before the pandemic, every game was nine innings unless the score was tied, in which case they played extra innings."

"I guess that's why those players had so many home runs and RBIs," said the kid. "They played longer."

"You are a bright boy. That's absolutely right. People like the commissioner who controlled baseball kept making excuses about games taking three hours or more. At the time, tackle football, which you've never seen, was popular because of the violence and all the money that was bet on every game. Of course, fans saw maybe a half-dozen exciting plays during a game, but much of the time was spent in what was called a huddle when nothing happened.

"Football players kept getting severely injured and after a few fatalities, the league couldn't find enough athletes who wanted to play," explained Grampa. "So that's how flag football became a major sport, and baseball does just fine compared to that.

"Another thing to remember about 2020 is that there were no fans in the stadiums. Crowd noise was piped in, and cardboard pictures of people littered the seats. It was really tacky, but, like I said, they really messed with the game that season.

"What eventually happened is that when it came time to build new ballparks, the owners figured that the best way to fill them was to make them smaller," he continued. "The image of empty stadiums during the pandemic really scared them and reminded the owners that television was the best way to make money. Way back before I was born, there were stadiums in places like Cleveland that seated as many as 80,000 fans because many of these places were used for both baseball and football.

"Then the new stadiums were built for approximately 40,000, and today a big ballpark has a capacity of maybe 25,000, just like Reinsdorf Field where the majority of the seats are filled. Of course, tickets cost hundreds of dollars which is why your folks don't take you to many Sox games."

"Gosh, Gramps, it sounds like that pandemic season was the beginning of all kinds of changes in baseball. I love the game today just as it is. I hope nothing about it ever changes again. By the way, how did the season that year wind up? Did they play all the games? Who won the World Series?"

"I'll make you a deal," said Gramps. "You go to sleep now, and I promise to answer those questions in the morning."

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:46 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2020

Stark Rich-Poor Divide In How U.S. Children Are Taught Remotely

As the coronavirus pandemic spread through the country, a common (socially distanced) conversation among friends and families compared how many hours of remote learning kids were getting. Preliminary results from a new survey of school districts confirm what many parents learned through the Zoom grapevine. The number of hours your kids got varied wildly depending on where you happen to live. But the amount of time was not the only difference, according to a recent survey: the type of instruction students received also diverged dramatically.

Twenty-five percent of districts said children in kindergarten through second grade were supposed to receive more than three hours of remote instruction every day but another 25 percent of districts reported only one hour or less. The two-hour-a-day difference narrowed a bit in higher grades but even by high school, many students received 1.5 fewer instructional hours every day than others (3 hours vs. 4.5 hours). Over several months of school closures, the daily difference in hours added up to a lot of instructional time. My back-of-the-envelope calculation puts it at more than 100 hours. (My math: 2 hours a day x 5 days a week x 12 weeks of school closures = 120 hours.)

"One key question is why these differences occur and what do these differences mean for students," said Mike Garet, head of the survey team at the American Institutes of Research (AIR), a nonprofit research organization.

AIR presented early results from its "National Survey of Public Education's Response to COVID-19" at a virtual session of the Education Writers Association's national seminar on July 22. AIR sent out surveys to more than 2,500 of the nation's 13,500 school districts in May and plans to release results periodically to inform education policymakers during the pandemic. This early report represents a 19 percent response rate so far and includes data from nearly 500 districts across 49 states and covers a wide range of both urban and rural regions.

I was surprised to learn that the difference in instructional hours can't be simply explained by poverty. When researchers diced the survey data up by income, they discovered less than a half-hour difference in school time between low- and high-income districts. Understanding why schools made such different decisions on the amount of daily instruction during the pandemic is a mystery - for now.

Instead of hours per day, the survey revealed that it was how students were being taught that clearly varied by income. Low-income schools spent considerably more time reviewing old content. Wealthier schools were more likely to teach new material. Almost a third of high-poverty districts reported that their teachers primarily reviewed content taught earlier in the year to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Among low-poverty districts, only 8 percent emphasized review. Even for older kids in grades six through 12, nearly a quarter of high-poverty districts emphasized review. Among low-poverty districts, only 6 percent primarily reviewed previous material for older students.

Learning materials - paper versus screens - were another chasm. Nearly half of low-income districts distributed paper packets of worksheets to families while more than three-fourths of wealthier school districts distributed everything digitally.

This digital divide had enormous consequences for what instruction meant. Low-poverty districts offered far more live virtual classes, live one-on-one sessions with teachers and prerecorded classes for students to watch at their convenience. High-poverty districts were far less likely to offer any of these three things. For example, 53 percent of low-poverty districts offered live virtual support between a teacher and his or her student. Only 32 percent of high-poverty districts offered this.

It's worth noting that the AIR survey revealed that almost all school districts - rich and poor alike - dedicated much less time to instruction than they do in ordinary times. The average of 3.87 hours of instructional time per day for high schoolers across the nation was far less than the 6 hours a day that many states require.

Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, superintendent of the Peoria, Illinois schools, speaking at the conference session, said her district's data "aligned very closely" with the AIR survey results. She runs an urban district of more than 13,000 students, more than half Black and 70 percent low-income. "Our [instructional] hours were low," Desmoulin-Kherat said. "We spent a lot of time, as your data illustrated, reviewing content."

Desmoulin-Kherat described how her district was consumed with feeding children during the shelter-in-place order as many families relied on the school system for daily meals. She partnered with the Salvation Army and delivered 440,000 meals. Her district was also operating health clinics inside school buildings, so that children could continue to get their immunizations, and finding ways to address the mental health needs of staff and students. Even getting students to "check in" online for the limited hours of remote school was a challenge. Desmoulin-Kherat said school staff visited homes during the pandemic to help more families log in online. That eventually raised attendance rates to 70 percent at Peoria's low-income schools, she said. By contrast, she said, 95 percent of the students in gifted and talented programs checked in every day.

Peoria deviated from the national trend when it came to technology. Despite her district's high poverty, Peoria was in the middle of an effort to provide every student with a laptop and already had 10,000 laptops on hand when the pandemic hit. That allowed Desmoulin-Kherat to distribute 6,000 laptops to families at home. Still, she described how virtual teaching lagged as the district first had to train many teachers on how to use software for remote instruction.

This first glimpse of public schools' experiences with remote learning provides concrete evidence for why education experts are expecting a growing gap in academic achievement between rich and poor students. A recent McKinsey & Company report predicted that the pandemic's harm to student learning "could last a lifetime." More detailed results from the survey are expected in the fall.

This post was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for our Proof Points newsletter.

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Previously by Jill Barshay:

* When "School Choice" Leads Families To Trade One Bad School For Another.

* Punishing Bullies Doesn't Work.

* The Literacy Secret That Dolly Parton Knows: Free Books Work.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:27 PM | Permalink

Suffering With Stoics & Cynics

To mock or to remain indifferent? Convince the world they're wrong or change what's wrong about yourself? Cynicism and Stoicism are two ancient Greek philosophies that have a long history together, with the former influencing the latter. The colloquial terms "cynic" and "stoic" are both different from the classical meanings. Colloquial cynic refers to a distrusting and snarky individual, while colloquial stoic refers to a cold and emotionless individual. In this column, I'll be focusing on the classical definitions.

The Stoics believed in self-mastery through wisdom, courage, justice and temperance. Unlike the modern interpretation, classical Stoicism is not meant to eradicate all feelings; however, it aims to control the irrational, toxic emotions that lead to suffering.

Cynicism is marked by its disdain and ridicule of society, particularly the socially accepted conventions of fame, money and power. According to Cynics, indulgence, desire and ignorance are the three main causes of human suffering.

Stoicism hums a similar tune, as The Basics of Philosophy explains, unhappiness and evil are the results of ignorance. Both philosophies believe in living in accordance with nature, where neither "rank [nor] wealth" are important. Cynics practice this through self-sufficiency as a result of self-imposed poverty (regarded as Cynic Poverty), while the Stoics interpret this to mean living in accordance to " . . . the laws of the universe and of man's own essential nature, reason." The teachings of Stoicism might seem very similar to those of Buddhism, as The Basics of Philosophy notes, as both say that noble truth follows four principles, and fortitude and happiness may result:

1. All life is suffering.

2. Suffering is rooted in passion and desire.

3. Happiness is freedom from passion.

4. Moral restraint and self-discipline are the means by which one becomes free from suffering.

The Basics of Philosophy also notes how through the writings of Stoicism's most famous philosopher, Seneca the Younger, on universal emotion and anger, the core of Stoicism is revealed. Seneca was convinced that anger, or any emotion, can be overcome through logic, or "philosophical argument." Certain that anger arose from "overly optimistic ideas about the world," Seneca encouraged individuals to adopt a more pessimistic outlook on the world to better prepare us for the inevitable disappointments that await us.

Moreover, Stoics believed in indifference to external events, focusing instead on what was in their control. Their choice to not only disengage from the uncontrollable world but to remain unmoved by whatever happened can be summarized by the common, modern saying, "It is what it is." They controlled not only their emotions, but what they engaged in, giving them the power to overcome irrational feelings, and therefore mastering the concept of Apatheia, or self-conquest.

Cynical Cynics

Cynics were known ridiculing passers-by and preaching their philosophy in town centers. They were provocateurs; disturbers of peace. There is no point in going out of your way to disturb society just to feed into your ego, which is what I believe the Cynics did. They had to have an innate sense of superiority to motivate their juvenile indecency that aimed to change people's ways. Their flamboyant rejections of social norms was their way of claiming to take back control, to liberate themselves of social constraints. But why must their rejection of society invade my life?

Cynics were not modest in the slightest; they actively placed themselves before the public gaze and took advantage of that by acting in the most ostentatious and outrageous way possible. But what exactly is the point of all of that? It does not facilitate dialogue; it only fuels the disdain both parties have of each other.

As I mentioned in my last column, no one likes unsolicited advice. If the Cynics were looking to give advice to a society that did not ask for it, surely there was a better way of going about it without masturbating or defecating in public.

Enter the Stoics. "The Stoics believe humans are meant to live in societies and meant to treat each other with respect," according to the Daily Stoic. The Stoics understood two very important lessons the Cynics were oblivious to: First, that you cannot expect people to want to listen to you if you scream and shout. Second, that you cannot expect people to want to listen to you, period. There is no point in fretting over what is out of your control. The best thing you can do is respect that person's withdrawal from your advice and apply the advice to yourself, so that you might present the best version of yourself to society in your own attempt to change the world you live in.

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Previously by E.K. Mam:
*
How Studying History Made Me A Stoic.

* Dear High School Students And Recent Graduates . . .

* Tunes To Remedy Any Existential Crisis.

* Flex You.

* Simply Cynicism.

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Comments welcome.

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