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The [Thursday] Papers

", the first low-cost, intercity express bus service with fares from $1 via the Internet, [Wednesday] increased the number of trips between Chicago and Madison, Milwaukee and Minneapolis," the company announced.

" now offers eight daily departures between Chicago and Minneapolis, four trips between Chicago and Milwaukee and up to 13 daily trips between Chicago and Madison."

Effing Ridiculous
Spirit Airlines got some media play for capitalizing on the Blagojevich verdict with a new commercial bragging that their fares are effing golden. Maybe the airlines wanted to drown out this news:

"Spirit Air, which has been leading the charge when it comes to airfare add-ons, has one upped itself. Passengers will now have to pay $5 if the airline prints out a boarding pass for them."


And that's not all:

"Spirit isn't done with the charges," CBS8 in San Diego reports. "There's a $30 fee each way for carrying on a bag to put in the overhead compartment. If you want to pick out a window seat ahead of time, that's another $10 each way. Suddenly the fare, including one carry-on bag and a window seat is $269.40 . . . Most airlines charge for beer and wine, but Spirit charges for soda too, $3. And forget about free pretzels or peanuts - you can buy snacks starting at $2."

The Panacea That Isn't
"In recent years, there have been investigations in states, including California, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which found charter school CEOs taking money from their own schools, putting unqualified relatives on their payrolls and engaging in other questionable activities," NPR reports.

"On Monday's Fresh Air, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Martha Woodall details her ongoing investigation into Philadelphia's charter school system, where 19 of the 74 charter schools operating in the city are under investigation for fraud, financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest."



"Charter Schools Trail In State Test Results."

Turning Japanese
"The Yomiuri Giants have acquired third baseman Josh Fields from the Rockies, according to a Sponichi report. Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along the news and says we should expect an official announcement in a few days (on Twitter)."


And on the ex-Cub front:

"Triple-A Iowa infielder Bobby Scales soon will be joining former Chicago Cubs teammate Micah Hoffpauir on the Nippon Ham Fighters after the Japanese team purchased his contract Monday."


I like the Cubs playing in Japan more than the ones playing here. Matt Murton is also over there.

End the NEA
"Even as Congress and the White House tussle over a Fiscal 2012 budget, the National Endowment for the Arts has spent the last of its Fiscal 2011 cash in a series of grants announced last month in which a number of Chicago organizations picked up federal bucks," WBEZ reports.

"Chicago theater industry recipients are (in alphabetical order): Barrel of Monkeys Productions ($8,000), Chicago Children's Theatre ($20,000), Chicago Shakespeare Theater ($75,000), Child's Play Touring Theatre ($20,000), Goodman Theatre ($100,000), Emerald City Theatre Company ($10,000), League of Chicago Theatres Foundation ($10,000), Light Opera Works ($20,000), Redmoon Theatre ($50,000), Storycatchers Theatre ($7,000) and Trap Door Productions ($5,000).

"In addition, another 33 NEA grants went to institutions supporting music, dance, traditional arts, presenting and arts education ranging from the American Library Association ($20,000) to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra ($20,000) to the Jazz Institute of Chicago ($20,000) to the River North Dance Company ($10,000) and Sones de Mexico Ensemble ($35,000). Even the City of Chicago got some NEA cash, with a grant of $75,000 to the Chicago Cultural Center Foundation, a last legacy of the old Department of Cultural Affairs and its former Commissioner, Lois Weisberg.

"In all, Illinois organizations received 43 grants totaling $2,280,400."

You know what? I'm sure these are all fine organizations but maybe the NEA has outlived its usefulness. At the time it was established (1965), our nation's civic and cultural leaders were (presumably) concerned about supporting arts and media (such as public radio and television) that might not otherwise get seeded and nurtured within the confines of a capitalist economy. And that may have been the right move back then.

But now?

Let's just call it Mission Accomplished and move on. Because, for one, an awful lot of dollars go to elite institutions patronized mostly by elites. For two, who is the NEA to judge what projects are worthy of taxpayer support?

The world has changed. Over the years, the conservative critique of such public funding rang hollow, paranoid and small-minded; it never seemed to be about money.

But a liberal critique might ask whether we really need to kick in some extra dough to institutions such as the Goodman and the CSO instead of, say, struggling indie record labels (or to redirect the funds to a new initiative like green jobs or scholarships to turn poor city kids into computer programmers or to a program like this).

More to the point, the government needn't any longer be in the arts and media business. It was a good idea once; it worked as far as I can tell. Now it's time to move on.

Drink Up, My Friends
Please welcome the newest contributor to our Life at Work feature: Wrigley Beer Man. From his inaugural column:

"People often ask me what the worst part about my job as a Wrigley Field beer vendor is. ('You mean, other than watching maddeningly mediocre baseball year in and year out?' I always want to ask.) For me, this is an easy one. It's not lugging my product up and down the aisles like some 21st-century pack mule. It's not even the drunk and sometimes staggeringly rude fans. Without question, it's the hour-and-a-half I'm forced to spend before each game mindlessly waiting for the day's assignment with my fellow grizzled and unwashed vendors."

Outfield Origami
In Carl's Cubs Mailbag.

Why The Cubs Can't Blame Injuries
Because nearly every team ahead of them has it worse.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Injurious.


Posted on June 30, 2011

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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