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The [Tuesday] Papers

I have nothing insightful to say about the Virginia Tech shootings. Except that you'll be hearing from a lot of other people who also have nothing insightful to say in the coming days, but will insist on saying it anyway.

Suburban Spy
"A Des Plaines man accused of spying in the United States for the regime of Saddam Hussein was convicted in U.S. District Court Monday and faces up to 40 years in prison," the Tribune reports.

"He spied on this community, judge," federal prosecutor James Conway said in court. "It's very, very serious. We're talking about a spy."

That's what I say. We're talking about a spy! The real deal, it seems, unlike, say, the yahoos in Miami with delusions of blowing up the Sears Tower who sparked a media frenzy. I guess the absence of alarmist gibberish and the words "Sears Tower" dampens the enthusiasm of editors for a story like this, but here's the kind of guy who actually might have been activated to do real damage. After all, this case actually held up.

And guess what? He worked as a gate agent at O'Hare.

"Prosecutors had called the case remarkable, a 'sleeper spy' sent by Iraq to settle in the U.S. and await orders," the Tribune account says.

Remarkable indeed. Perhaps even front-page news - in an alternate Chicago universe.

Fast Eddie Rides Again
"Checks indicate link between Zaryczny, Vrydolyak in 32nd Ward Race."

Three Links
* Business is fucking with your mind. (via Consumer World)

* A sweetheart deal for AT&T.

* The Internet is the greatest thing ever invented. The revelation of just how much creative talent and brains are out there puts the oldstream media to shame, and exposes them as the dullards they are.

Olympic Obama
Barack Obama calls for a new kind of politics in which the mayor doesn't lie about Olympic financing. Oh wait, that didn't happen. Instead he joked that the Washington Park stadium would be within walking distance of his $1.65 million home. His biggest opponent is cynicism.

Daley Dose
Bill Daley, the mayor's brother, writes an Op-Ed in the Trib today (using the name William to sound more intellectual) titled "Line Blurs on Fact, Fiction."

Daley, a senior adviser to Obama, isn't writing about Olympic financing, nor his brother's penchant for not telling it straight. Instead, he's upset abou the mix of politics and entertainment. An interesting topic, but when he concludes that "If we want more people of all ages to participate in politics, then let's clean it up, take it seriously and give it the level of respect it deserves," I have to conclude that he's actually playing his piece for laughs. Indeed, the line has now fully blurred.

Prosecutorial Discretion
"If we replace non-partisan public service with blind political loyalty, we will have sacrificed one of the core values of our judicial system," writes outgoing (sadly) federal prosecutor Patrick Collins in a Trib Op-Ed today.

Reader Comments
Reaction to yesterday's items about Debra Pickett and Neil Steinberg were particularly strong - and I suspect I have strep throat. Good enough reason to turn the rest of today's column over to the best of the lot and go back to bed. While I am generally opposed to anonymous comments, in the cases that follow labeled "Identity Protected" I know who the writers are and they have good reason for wishing to remain anonymous. I frankly lost track of who sent me the final comment, but I think it's worth using anyway.

1. From [Identity Protected]:

Another of the (many) problems in Debra Pickett s piece is this line:

"Recently, an informal poll - OK, I asked the people in line with me at Starbucks - revealed that more than half the people who live here had missed entirely the February municipal election . . . "

She's not the only one doing this so-called research. One Tribune columnist recently wrote about her scientific doggedness in asking people at her local coffeeshop whether they watched The Sopranos. I've seen Julia Keller do this, too, only instead of making a joke about polls/scientific methods, she used the phrase impromptu jury and other, similarly stupid labels to cheerfully acknowledge her reporting consisted of talking to people sitting near her in the movie theater.

What's up with this? How lazy can they get? They all write something that they think sounds cute as a way of excusing their lack of actual reporting, then go ahead and talk to whatever local bozos are nearby. I don't care what Jack, an investment broker who's buying a latte, thinks. I don't know Jack. Jack probably doesn't know jack. Since when did it become acceptable for writers to do half-assed reporting along with half-assed writing? Do they think two half-asses will make a worthy whole ass?

2. From [Identity Protected]

As if Debra Pickett, of all people, has any business pretending she knows if Matlak has the worst aldermanic hair in the past twenty years. She probably didn't even know what he looked like until recently, and I know she doesn't know what anyone else looks like. Sheesh.

3. From Lee Sandlin:

Re: Neil Steinberg, you say: "So we shouldn't expect him to write about about politics, sports, or popular culture any more?"

You forgot to add high culture. In his Vonnegut tribute, he writes: "Vonnegut may not have been a great writer, if being a great writer means penning the 50 pages of unreadable religious gibberish that Tolstoy slaps onto the end of War and Peace."

There is quite a lot of dull stuff about the nature of history towards the end of War and Peace, but Steinberg is making up the "fifty pages of unreadable religious gibberish." Of course, since he says they're unreadable, he must not have read them, and so it's unfair to expect him to know what's in them.

4. From Anonymous:

You forgot to mention the news that the Daleys gave just $13,690 out of $363,647 to charity for tax year 2006. That's a miserly 3.8%.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Don't be a miser.


Posted on April 17, 2007

MUSIC - December In Chicago Drill.
TV - Don't Weaken Media Ownership Limits.
POLITICS - Another SRO Crisis.
SPORTS - TrackNotes: Mom.

BOOKS - How Stereo Was Sold To A Skeptical Public.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicago Footwork King's Bail Battle.

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