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The [Monday] Papers

"Corporate borrowers across the world have defaulted on $50B of debt so far this year as the number of delinquent companies accelerates at its fastest pace since the financial crisis in 2009."

There's nothing magical about the private sector. Companies go bankrupt all the time. Companies fail. Companies screw up. Companies harm people. Running government like a business is a meaningless concept: Do you mean running government to turn a profit? Do you mean investing hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D? Do you mean ping pong tables and air hockey for Secretary of State employees? Do you mean back-stabbing office politics? Surely you don't mean being more fiscally responsible. Because that's not what the private sector is.

Mission Critical
"What's required of Eddie Johnson, Chicago's new police chief, is nothing short of perfect balance. He needs to offer just enough reassurance to Chicago's African-Americans that he has heard the message so they'll start to trust police. At the same time, he needs to show the men and women on the force who risk their lives every day that he has their backs," Greg Hinz writes for Crain's.

False binary framing. One doesn't need to be balanced by the other - unless by "having the backs" of the rank-and-file means giving them permission to kick the shit out of anyone whenever deemed necessary, which is some folks' idea (Hinz, perhaps) of what is necessary to police the city. Which puts us right back at square one.

Note: This is the description of Hinz's column in the Crain's morning e-mail; I hit the paywall and couldn't read the whole thing. But even if I'm missing some caveats, this is not an uncommon notion. The primacy of reform gave way to the need for reassuring the troops as quickly as Rahm switched from Cedric Alexander to Eddie Johnson.

Also, it's not about reassuring African Americans with messages of trust. As the mayor's task force - and oodles of evidence over decades - shows, it's about systemic institutional change.

Bring On The Watermelons
"Earlier this month, a couple of inventive young go-getters at BuzzFeed tied enough rubber bands around the center of a watermelon to make it explode. Nearly a million people watched the giant berry burst on Facebook Live. It racked up more than 10 million views in the days that followed," media columnist Jim Rutenberg writes for the New York Times.

"Traditional journalists everywhere saw themselves as the seeds, flying out of the frame. How do we compete with that? And if that's the future of news and information, what's next for our democracy? President Kardashian?"

What nonsense. Newspapers have a long history of blowing up watermelons. They still friggin' run horoscopes, for godsakes. Find new watermelons, newspapers!


Those watermelons, by the way, help fund BuzzFeed's investigative reporting, which is always the way it has been. The business model isn't broken, it's been forgotten.


"When I met with Mr. VandeHei and Mr. Allen, they were tight-lipped about their next venture. They would only describe it in the broadest terms, as 'a media company' that will focus on news and information, exist largely on mobile devices and social media, and not directly compete against Politico.

"But that was O.K. for my purposes. I was more interested in hearing what this venture wouldn't be doing."

Really? That's an awfully backwards way of doing your job. Wouldn't readers be better served if your purpose was to find out what the venture will be instead of what it won't be? A bit too clever by half, to suit your purposes, which seem to be to fit into a preconceived narrative.


When Rutenberg's own paper discovered watermelons:

"Mr. Sulzberger reshaped The Times. In the mid-1970s, another financially difficult period in which he might have chosen to retrench, he expanded the paper to four sections from two, creating separate sections for metropolitan and business news and introducing new ones oriented toward consumers.

"They were a gamble, begun in the hope of attracting new readers, especially women, and advertisers.

"Some critics dismissed the feature sections as unworthy of a serious newspaper. But the sections - SportsMonday, Science Times, Living, Home and Weekend - were an instant success, without compromising the paper's hard-news core. They were widely imitated.

"Over the next two decades, a billion-dollar investment in new printing facilities made still more innovations possible, among them a national edition, special regional editions and the daily use of color photos and graphics."

That's always been the formula - not "getting people to pay for news." News isn't a commodity. It's very difficult to find a price point for an article about a shooting or a proposed museum or a city council meeting. Newspapers sold a bundle - and cheaply.


Not only that, but Rutenberg's piece could have been written 10 years ago. Please advance the ball.


The watermelon explosion was joyous, and not at all the same as the cynicism behind the media's obsession with and mutual exploitation of covering the Kardashians.


Mission Accomplished
"Two months ago, then-interim Chicago police Supt. John Escalante handed down a one-year suspension to a detective involved in the botched investigation that cleared former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew of David Koschman's homicide," the Sun-Times reports.

"Since then, Escalante has signed off on a deal that will allow the detective, Nicholas Spanos, to shave as much as 10 months off that suspension, according to a city inspector general's report released Monday."

Message: We've got your backs.


SportsMonday: Q & Kane
Coffman has questions.

The Cub Factor: Scar Tissue
If the rest of the season keeps going like this, how can any fan hold on to that anger of the past?

The White Sox Report: Hitless Wonders
Near-perfect pitching, upgrade in smarts propels team to strong start. But man, they still can't hit.

100% Guilty
Political corruption is a social disease that eats away at our society as much as any other criminal activity. It feeds off the participation of some and the tolerance of others.

$1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies
"Using an 'opaque and secretive network' of subsidiaries in tax havens, top American corporations have stashed $1.4 trillion offshore, a new report from Oxfam shows.

"With 'a range of tricks, tools, and loopholes,' for tax avoidance, the 50 largest U.S. companies, including well-known names like Goldman Sachs, Verizon Communications, Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM and Chevron, raked in $4 trillion in profits globally between 2008 and 2014."

See also:

Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

Mr. Politician, What Is Your Pre-Rehearsed Soundbite To This Question . . .
Answer the fucking question.

Today: Among The Wild Mulattos
Questioning the idea of human uniqueness.

Cook County Bird Of The Month
The Wood Duck - a unique parent!

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The OBN IIIs, The Wild Feathers, El Vy, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Yo Gotti, Peter Murphy, Lisa Loeb, Ana Gabriel, Local H, Will Hoge, Joe Satriani, Rihanna, Kevin Gates, Johnny Clegg, Jesse Clegg, SonicSoul, and K. Michelle.


Note: Apparently Facebook made a recent change to their embed code and it's showing up all kinds of weird here, so I'm just doing the best I can while looking for a solution.

A Chicago Man's Wish: 'I Pray To God That He Takes Me Soon.'


How A Philanthropist Saved A Tax Loophole That Billionaires Love.


Futuristic McDonald's With All-You-Can-Eat Fries.


Redhead Piano Bar Owner Dies.


The Web We Want.


Thunderfrog: "Chicago," at Variety Records.


A sampling.




The Beachwood Tip Line: Trust issues.


Posted on April 18, 2016

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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