Chicago - Dec. 2, 2020
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« October 2020 | Main | December 2020 »

November 30, 2020

The 26th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Goes Virtual!

The 26th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza is the largest and longest-running mariachi music festival in the United States. Each year, more than 1,000 student mariachi musicians and vocalists convene in San Antonio from throughout the U.S. to participate in musical workshops, national competitions and grand performances. The event culminates with a concert featuring competition winners and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza will go virtual this year with dozens of online educational initiatives and a fiercely competitive online vocal competition.

Continuing with the desire to keep youth engaged through these challenging times, the producers of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza hosted a national search that attracted top vocal talent from elementary to college age. Vocalists from throughout the nation responded, and 35 talented students from across the U.S. were selected to compete as finalists. Judges are members of the world's preeminent Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, who will select winners based on vocal technique, showmanship and overall performance excellence in the first online competition in this festival's 26-year history. Only one student will be named Grand Champion Vocalist of the Year and will be awarded the prestigious Gonzaba Medical Group Scholarship and represent the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in 2021.

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Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán- Recordando a Pedro Infante

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With over 50,000 students involved in school-based mariachi music programs nationwide, much-needed online educational materials will be rolled out in a virtual setting to include tutorials, audio and video podcasts and live discussions with members of the mariachi community. Expect to see vocal and instrumental tutorials for the harp, violin, guitar and trumpet released starting December 1 through the end of 2020. Student mariachi musicians and Mariachi Vargas fans will also be able to watch and listen to insightful interviews and discussions with members of Mariachi Vargas and key influencers in the mariachi community.

The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza is made possible with support from Gonzaba Medical Group and H-E-B - longtime sponsors of this annual music festival. The national vocal competition streams on YouTube Saturday, December 5 at 7 p.m. Register for the online newsletter at mariachimusic.com for a complete schedule.

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Previously: Take Five: Mariachi Sirenas.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 PM | Permalink

Dear Black Students: Don't Let Whites Fuck Up Your Shit

Dear Black students,

The last seven months have presented you with a whirlwind of challenges that undoubtedly disrupted your schooling: The coronavirus pandemic, police killings of unarmed Black people, uprisings for racial justice, Western wildfires and a contentious presidential election in which efforts to disenfranchise voters in Black-majority cities have been bold and deliberate. You have to make sense of misinformation campaigns by politicians who think saying "fake news" will make their lies go away.

With all the distractions and attacks, it may sometimes be difficult to recall our legacy. For generations, we have fought for freedom and freedom's antecedent, a quality education. Always, the upholders of white supremacy have tried to control us by obstructing our path to the schoolhouse through law, propaganda and duplicity. Now, they are doing it again.

Quoting his owner in his book, Life of an American Slave, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote, "[I]f you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave." Douglass knew that an undereducated populace will be controlled. What we witnessed during this election was evidence that miseducation doesn't just allow the continued control of Black people. The 57 percent of white people who cast their ballot for Donald Trump - who has yet to accept the truth and concede the election - represents a white achievement gap that marks a generation unfit for the workforce, college and democracy.

Even if half of America chooses ignorance, we should not.

Experts are predicting that you will experience significant learning loss as a result of this year's school closures. Certainly, the disruption this past year will impact academic achievement. But Black students, you must not fall prey to the duplicitous attempts by this administration to undermine democracy and undermine the idea of truth itself. And you must do all you can to fight for the education you deserve, one that will prepare you to be informed citizens, activists and leaders.

There are objective and subjective truths that we must uphold in spite of a federal government that disavows or ignores them. Speaking truth to power is our legacy. We've been truth whisperers for some time. When Thomas Jefferson and other drafters of the Declaration of Independence wrote that "all men are created equal" and then later designated Black people as three-fifths of a person in the U.S. Constitution, we understood the truth and fought every way we could until our full humanity was recognized. When those who wish "to make America great again," deny climate change, the basic math in our electoral counts and murder by police, we must continue to demand truth, because our lives depend on it. When lawmakers seek to control women's bodies, we will remind them that for centuries, Black bodies were controlled, and that we will not tolerate the corporal domination of anyone anymore.

Black people are not a monolith. We will disagree about politics and policies. However, we should not disregard facts, science and logic. We should embrace a democratic culture of informed debate and the democratic values of diversity, inclusion and equity, even when others seem willing to cast these aside in exchange for power.

Likewise, we must exercise our creed that it takes a village to raise a child, that we are indeed our brothers' and sisters' keepers. It's in this tradition that we must continue to demand that our leaders and our schools embrace these values, too.

Like previous generations of Black students, you must not only master language arts, social studies, math and art, you must do so while still demanding equal treatment and funding for schools, diverse teachers, safe and healthy learning conditions and rich curricular offerings, including the study of Black people's contributions to American history. And this year, you must do this with schools closed, amid a terrifying pandemic and an economic crisis the likes of which we haven't seen in a century.

While the current barriers to a quality education are new, they are not unprecedented.

I'm encouraging you to put the events of 2020 into the context of our legacy. Our struggle is not simply a quest for public education as an end; Black people's quest for education is rooted in former slaves' self-determination to form culturally literate communities.

The stakes are too high to stop fighting for truth, justice and the chance to learn. Illiteracy helped maintain the institutions of slavery and Jim Crow. Right now, we are seeing how cultural illiteracy across the nation is undermining democracy itself.

So stay vigilant, Black students. Although the struggle is long and hard, truth and justice will prevail and ignorance will wither away with the unsustainable falsehoods that carry it.

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.

* Why We Should Cancel Black Grads' Debt.

* When Bigotry Masquerades As Choice.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 PM | Permalink

Ralph Steadman's Life In Ink

Known for his distinctive ink-spatter style and contributions to "gonzo journalism," counterculture cartoonist Ralph Steadman's career is examined in a new 368-page hardcover book. Ralph Steadman: A Life in Ink ($60) is available now.

Screen Shot 2020-11-30 at 7.33.24 PM.png

"From his satirical political cartoons to his sweet and sincere children's books, Ralph Steadman has had a remarkable and unique career. Well-known for his collaborations with iconic writer Hunter S. Thompson, Ralph Steadman is part of the unlikely duo that created gonzo journalism in the 1970s with such now-classic books as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

"Since then, Steadman's art has appeared on everything from movie posters to sneakers, and he has created dozens of illustrated books, including illustrated editions of Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, and Alice in Wonderland. His work has been exhibited around the world and has won numerous international art awards.

"Now in his eighties, Ralph Steadman's popularity continues to grow. He was the subject of a recent documentary called For No Good Reason; he was featured in one of the last episodes of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown and provided the cover art for Bourdain's last cookbook, Appetites; he designed the cover art for Travis Scott's album Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho; and recently collaborated with Vans to raise awareness of endangered animals. He continues to create art every day in his studio in Kent, England."

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For No Good Reason Trailer 1.

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For No Good Reason Trailer 2.

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Excerpt.

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Steadman on Bourdain.

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appetites.jpg

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Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho.

220px-Huncho_Jack,_Jack_Huncho_cover.jpg

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See also:
* The Guardian: Ralph Steadman: 'We're Really Living A Hell Of A Year, Aren't We?'

* LA Weekly: "For the first time, the artist opened his studio and archives to create a book that encompasses his entire career."

* Smithsonian: Ralph Steadman's Earlier Work Shows The Artist's Abstract Streak.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #332: Losing Ugly
Outschemed, outsmarted, outeverythinged. Plus: Northwestern Also A Lie; The Fighting Five; The Honeymooners; and Bryant's Socks.

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ChicagoReddit

Willis Tower Twinkling last night, probably from a fire alarm test. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Bears Golfing

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

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The Beachwood Firing Line: Take a number.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:25 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #332: Losing Ugly

Outschemed, outsmarted, outeverythinged. Plus: Northwestern Also A Lie; The Fighting Five; The Honeymooners; and Bryant's Socks.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #332: Losing Ugly

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SHOW NOTES

* 332.

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Outschemed.

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Outsmarted.

"I saw that they dropped eight at the snap," Rodgers began. "So I knew I'd have a little bit of time. We ran a two-man concept to that side with Davante and Robert (Tonyan). And I was about 50-50 as to whether 'Te was going to stop his route and break it off at the top of the stem, which actually wasn't in the plan. But I thought he might make that reaction. He didn't. So I went to (Tonyan). And right when I was about to throw it, he slipped.

"So I reset back in the pocket because we had done a nice job on the right side and doubled Khalil (Mack) over there. And as I reset back in the pocket, I saw Davante kind of roll behind (Danny) Trevathan. And I knew based on the presnap, they probably wouldn't have anybody on the left side who would disrupt a throw in that area. So I just tried to put it high knowing Davante has such great leaping ability. Obviously he came down with it."

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Rhodes: "At least Foles misses the right receiver."

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32:06: Northwestern Also A Lie.

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45:45: The Fighting Five.

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50:54: The Honeymooners.

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58:06: Bryant's Socks.

* Not white.

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STOPPAGE: 3:06

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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 12:33 PM | Permalink

Benny From Dazed And Confused Starring In Christian Sports Cliche The Last Champion

Hey The!

I'm reaching out as we've just launched a feature film called The Last Champion on iTunes for pre-orders. The film is starring Cole Hauser (from Yellowstone and Dazed and Confused) and is set for official release on December 8th. Here's our trailer:


In a nutshell, a small-town wrestling star wins a gold medal at the Olympics, only to lose both his medal and reputation due to a poor decision. Twenty years later, he returns home after his mother's death to save his family house from foreclosure. There he gets the opportunity to coach his town's underdog wrestling team. Will he lead his team to victory or fall victim to his past?

The Last Champion is a classic feel-good movie about redemption, coming at a time when we all need a pick-me-up. We thought this would be a great fit for a story in your outlet. What do you think? I can connect you directly to Ivy (co-writer and co-producer) who can field assets for a piece, and additionally we've put together a quick press kit for you here.

Possible hooks:

* The Last Champion Is the Perfect Feel-Good Movie to Cap Off 2020

* Cole Hauser Stars in The Last Champion: a New Film About Redemption

Thanks for the time!

Penn Bradley
Howler Media

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See also: Cole Hauser as Billy McBride in Good Will Hunting.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 AM | Permalink

November 23, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

Hi! In case you missed it, the site is mostly on hiatus through the end of the year. However, that doesn't mean there won't be an occasional post and the occasional column - that's the mostly part.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour will also go on as scheduled, though we've shifted from recording and posting every Friday to recording and posting the morning after every Bears game - for now.

Also, wear a damn mask and don't leave your home unless you absolutely must. Vaccines are on the way, but we've still got a dark, deadly winter ahead of us, and the toll is already beyond heartbreaking. Just like Dalton said, it's gonna get worse before it gets better. Try to make it at least a little less worse, because we're already drowning in awful.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

How Illinois Democrats Accidentally Made Rutherford B. Hayes The President
Attempt to rig the 1876 election backfired.

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The Ventures: Stars On Guitars
"Witness the rise and influence of the electric guitar and the relevance of the band in pop culture still today while rocking out to the soundtrack."

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Newsmax: Why People Take Fox News's Betrayal So Seriously
YouTube note on this video: "The AP has called the presidential race for Joe Biden."

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The Strange History Of Binding Books In Human Skin
"As Rosenbloom crisscrosses the globe to confirm the purported origins of skin-bound books - a cracking detective story in itself - her journey offers unusual insight into what defines informed consent, what separates homage from exploitation, and how power disparities can breed casual inhumanity."

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Old Man With A Gold Chain
"This evocative character study is an early example of a type of subject that preoccupied the great Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn throughout his long career."

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From the Beachwood Sports Desk . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #331: Northworstern Now Northbestern
Not your father's punch line. Plus: Artie's Bulls; Bears Backups; and Theo Not All That.

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Georgia Senator David Perdue Privately Pushed For A Tax Break For Rich Team Owners
If the regulation had been altered as Perdue wanted, it would have been a boon for some of his largest donors. Perdue has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the owners of professional sports clubs, including now-fellow Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who co-owns Atlanta's WNBA team, the Dream.

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New Mexico Basketball Teams Flee To Texas COVID Hotspots
Evading guidelines meant to save lives because for some reason the games must go on.

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ChicagoReddit

Did they slow down the Divvy e-bikes? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

GTA 5 Chicago Trailer.

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BeachBook
Some recent posts.

The Most Common Passwords Of 2020.

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Don't Ice Sprains.

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

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The Beachwood McReuben Line: Never back.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:21 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #331: Northworstern Now Northbestern

Not your father's punch line. Plus: Artie's Bulls; Bears Backups; and Theo Not All That.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #331: Northworstern To Northbestern

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SHOW NOTES

* 331.

:19: Not Your Father's Punch Line.

* "As a linebacker for Northwestern from 1993 to 1996, [Pat Fitzgerald] won both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award twice as the best defensive player in college football. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008."

* Chicago Sports Radio Host Shits In The Studio, Flees The Building.

* Doonesbury frozen in time.

* The Fighting Rece Davises.

* Peyton Ramsey.

29:39: Artie's Bulls.

* Patrick Lee Williams.

* Marko Simonovic.

* Garrett Temple.

* Devon Dotson.

46:59: Bears Backups.

* Biggs Time.

1:00:52: Theo Is Not All That.

* Morrissey, gawd.

* Bleacher Nation: Theo's First Trade Was Incredibly Awful.

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STOPPAGE: 20:04

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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 1:06 PM | Permalink

Newsmax: Why People Take Fox News's Betrayal So Seriously

"Chris Salcedo examines the 'disloyalty' Fox News has shown to their faithful followers and why Newsmax TV welcomes them with open arms - via Newsmax TV's The Chris Salcedo Show."


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YouTube note on this video: "The AP has called the presidential race for Joe Biden."

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Newsmax on the Beachwood:

* October 25, 2010: The Papers.

"3. 'Tea party activists are exhibiting a fervor for budget cuts not seen in years, pushing to slash everything from Social Security to unemployment benefits in their drive to cut the burgeoning federal debt,' Newsmax reports."

* September 24, 2015: Local Book Notes: RAT BIT SLEEPING CHILD!

"As a young rabbi in Chicago, Eckstein was thrown out of a Torah learning center where he went to study each day, for his work with Christians . . . "

* August 19, 2017: Can Anyone Stop Trump's FCC From Approving A Conservative Local News Empire?

"Newsmax, a conservative website, has filed a petition with the FCC opposing the merger. Its CEO, Chris Ruddy, is a close friend of President Trump, and is often tapped by television bookers to fill viewers in on the sorts of things that might be running through the president's mind . . . "

* July 7, 2020: The Papers.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

The Ventures: Stars On Guitars

Vision Films presents the definitive history of instrumental rock and roll, The Ventures: Stars on Guitars, from director Staci Layne Wilson.

The documentary will be available on DVD and VOD across cable and streaming platforms in the U.S. and Canada on December 8, 2020.

A true labor of love, Wilson, daughter of The Ventures' founder Don Wilson, compiled over 35 interviews and assembled dozens of beloved and brand new music tracks to present the most comprehensive history of the band that still inspires generations of guitar players around the world.

Filled with fascinating facts, humorous stories and poignant memories, The Ventures: Stars on Guitars is told from the point of view of Don Wilson, the last original member of the band.

Trailer:

The Ventures have been thrilling music lovers with songs like "Wipe Out," "Walk Don't Run," and "Hawaii 5-0" for over half a century.

Started by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle in 1959, the band went from humble beginnings to worldwide acclaim, culminating as inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the #1 Bestselling Instrumental Rock and Roll Group of all-time.

Hear the history from those who know them the best: Billy Bob Thornton, music legends such as Jimmy Page, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, The Surfrajettes, Lalo Schifrin (Academy Award-winning composer, Mission Impossible theme), Randy Bachman, Josie Cotton, John Fogerty, and more.

Witness the rise and influence of the electric guitar and the relevance of the band in pop culture still today while rocking out to the soundtrack.

ventures.jpg

The documentary features seven original tunes and several versions by The Surfrajettes, The Neptunas, The Ninth Wave, Mick Radford, and Michel Perillard.

"Three years ago, I realized I had to make a documentary about my dad's band," Wilson says. "As their 60th anniversary approached, I wanted to make sure that there would be fanfare and celebration. This is my dad's story, and I am so proud to be able to bring it to the world."

The Ventures: Stars on Guitars will be available on: iTunes, Vimeo, Amazon, GooglePlay, Vudu, and Vimeo, and across hundreds of U.S. cable providers including Comcast, Spectrum, Charter, Cox, Dish, DirecTV and more. DVD retailers include Amazon and other major online retailers.

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The Ventures in the Beachwood:

* March 23, 2007: Here Comes The Country Sun.

"17. The Ventures, 'You Are My Sunshine.' The Ventures released a country music album, The Ventures Play The Country Classics. Who'd a thunk?"

* January 11, 2008: Stonehenge.

"23. Hampton Grease Band, 'Evans.' Described as a cross between The Ventures and Frank Zappa, 'Evans' is a truly obtuse, 12-minute jam from the album Music To Eat."

* July 31, 2009: Bloodshot Briefing.

"Dex Romweber: There's a place in Chapel Hill with a good jukebox. Lots of North Carolina artists. A couple of my records on it. If I had to pick . . . 'Ace of Spades' by Link Wray, 'Freight Train' by Elizabeth Cotten, 'Dark Night' by Flat Duo Jets, 'Ninth Wave' by The Ventures, 'Rocket' by George Jones."

* April 26, 2010: The White Sox Report.

"Endorsement No-Brainer: Paul Konerko's 1.2:1 R:BB ratio for The Ventures' contribution to surf-rock instrumental history 'Walk, Don't Run.'"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

November 22, 2020

Georgia Senator David Perdue Privately Pushed For A Tax Break For Rich Team Owners

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) privately pushed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to give wealthy sports owners a lucrative tax break last year, according to a previously unreported letter obtained by ProPublica.

After the 2017 tax bill championed by President Donald Trump passed, Mnuchin and the Treasury had to write rules on how the legislation would work in practice. Of the hundreds of pages of new regulations the agency developed, Perdue wrote about his concern with one extremely narrow rule: The owners of professional sports teams were being excluded from a valuable tax break being granted to many other businesses that are structured so that the companies don't pay taxes but the owners do.

"I hope you will reconsider," Perdue wrote in the 2019 letter.

Many such letters on regulatory matters are signed by multiple senators, sometimes dozens. But in this case Perdue alone wrote and signed the letter.

The Treasury ultimately declined to adopt the revision Perdue sought. If the regulation had been altered as Perdue wanted, it would have been a boon for some of his largest donors. Perdue has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the owners of professional sports clubs, including now-fellow Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who co-owns Atlanta's WNBA team, the Dream.

Perdue's office did not answer questions about why he sent the letter or whether he discussed the matter with any sports team owners.

Perdue and Loeffler, who was appointed to her role earlier this year, are locked in runoff elections to be held Jan. 5 with the balance of the U.S. Senate in play. If both Republicans lose, Democrats will take over the chamber, potentially allowing President-elect Joe Biden to implement more of his agenda than he would under a divided government.

Jon Ossoff, Perdue's Democratic challenger, has cast Perdue as a member of the Washington "swamp" who caters to the interests of corporate donors.

Perdue was one of the 2017 tax bill's biggest boosters, publicly describing it as a windfall for average Americans.

Before Perdue became a senator in 2015, he was a top executive for a string of companies, including Reebok, where in the early 2000s the company inked major licensing deals with the NFL, the NBA and the NHL.

A review of his campaign contributions shows that Perdue has taken more than $425,000 from the owners of professional sports teams and their relatives. Some of his top donors include the DeVos family, which owns the Orlando Magic; John Ingram, who owns the Nashville SC soccer team; Los Angeles Kings owner Philip Anschutz; and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

On the same day Perdue sent Mnuchin the letter, he received $3,000 in donations from three lobbyists at GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group, a lobbying firm that was representing the Atlanta Braves. Because of the Braves' ownership structure, it's unlikely the team would have been affected by the regulation, but around that time, MLB was lobbying on the rule, urging the Treasury to give its team owners the tax break.

Perdue's campaign expenditures suggest he was in Atlanta that day, Jan. 23, 2019. One of the lobbyists who contributed, John "Trip" Martin, said he couldn't recall if the contribution was made at a fundraiser but said he did not discuss the tax exemption with Perdue.

Another Perdue donor in the sports world is Loeffler. Before being picked by Georgia's governor to fill a vacant Senate seat in late 2019, Loeffler and her husband were prominent members of the business community and major donors to Republicans in the state and nationally.

Loeffler was chief executive of Bakkt, a financial services company, and remains a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream. Her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange.

Together, the couple has given about $70,000 in campaign contributions to Perdue. Mary Brock, who co-owns the Dream with Loeffler, has given Perdue more than $38,000.

Loeffler did not respond to questions about whether she discussed the tax break regulation with Perdue. A spokeswoman for the team also declined to answer specific questions, saying in a statement that "the Atlanta Dream is not a political entity, and we are in the business of sports and entertainment. We are focused on building a successful team on the court and creating a top fan experience."

Like many WNBA teams, the Dream has not been profitable. Reversing the regulation would have certainly benefited Loeffler if the Dream became profitable, but tax experts ProPublica spoke to were split about whether a reversal could have cut her tax burden even if the team remained in the red.

The landmark 2017 tax overhaul didn't just lower the headline tax rates for corporations such as Exxon or Facebook. It also included a more complicated but extremely valuable tax break for businesses known as pass-throughs. A pass-through is a corporate structure - anything from a solo graphic design operation to a large professional sports team - that doesn't pay taxes itself. Instead the income "passes through" to the owners, who then are on the hook for the taxes.

The new tax law granted a 20% deduction to most, but not all, of these businesses. The hastily drafted bill left open to interpretation which sorts of businesses would be eligible to get this tax break. With tens of billions of dollars per year at stake, that ambiguity set off a flurry of lobbying as the Treasury Department set about writing regulations.

A group of prominent tax academics who analyzed the bill warned that "complex rules governing this new deduction will invite gaming opportunities because there is no particular logic as to who clearly fits into the preferred categories. As a result, taxpayers will be incentivized to engage in aggressive and socially costly tax gaming to fall within the haphazardly drawn lines."

Perdue's January 2019 letter amounted to an effort to shift those lines to the benefit of sports team owners. He asked that Mnuchin "allow owners of professional sports teams to claim a Section 199A deduction," using the formal legal citation for the tax break.

It followed a similar push in October 2018 by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. In a letter to the Treasury, Manfred pleaded for the agency to let club owners take the tax break.

Perdue also spoke on the phone to Mnuchin while the regulation was being hashed out in late November 2018, according to the Treasury secretary's public calendar. The topic of the phone call is not specified.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:06 PM | Permalink

Old Man With A Gold Chain

"In this episode of Playing Favorites, Sam Ramos, Associate Director of Innovation and Creativity, tells viewers about an artwork he loves - a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn - and explains why he might be afraid to have the artist create his portrait."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:45 PM | Permalink

How Illinois Democrats Accidentally Made Rutherford B. Hayes The President

The first person to earn a third term as governor of Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes reduced the state debt and re-established the Board of Charities. His success immediately elevated him to the top ranks of Republican politicians under consideration for the presidency in 1876.

The Ohio delegation to the 1876 Republican National Convention was united behind him, and Senator John Sherman did all in his power to get Hayes the nomination.

In June 1876, the convention assembled with James G. Blaine of Maine as the favorite. Blaine started with a significant lead in the delegate count, but could not muster a majority. As he failed to gain votes, the delegates looked elsewhere for a nominee and settled on Hayes on the seventh ballot.

The convention selected Representative William A. Wheeler from New York for vice president, a man about whom Hayes had recently asked, "I am ashamed to say: Who is Wheeler?"

The Democratic nominee was Samuel J. Tilden, the governor of New York. Tilden was considered a formidable adversary who, like Hayes, had a reputation for honesty.

In accordance with the custom of the time, the campaign was conducted by surrogates, with Hayes and Tilden remaining in their respective hometowns.

The poor economic conditions made the party in power unpopular and made Hayes suspect he would lose the election.

Both candidates concentrated on the swing states of New York and Indiana, as well as the three southern states - Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida - where Reconstruction Republican governments still barely ruled, amid recurring political violence, including widespread efforts to suppress freedman voting.

The Republicans emphasized the danger of letting Democrats run the nation so soon after southern Democrats had provoked the Civil War and, to a lesser extent, the danger a Democratic administration would pose to the recently won civil rights of southern blacks.

Democrats, for their part, trumpeted Tilden's record of reform and contrasted it with the corruption of the incumbent Grant administration.

As the returns were tallied on Election Day, it was clear that the race was close: Democrats had carried most of the South, as well as New York, Indiana, Connecticut and New Jersey. In the Northeast, an increasing number of immigrants and their descendants voted Democratic.

Although Tilden won the popular vote and claimed 184 electoral votes, Republican leaders challenged the results and charged Democrats with fraud and voter suppression of blacks (who would otherwise have voted Republican) in Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina.

Republicans realized that if they held the three disputed unredeemed southern states together with some of the western states, they would emerge with an electoral college majority.

On November 11, three days after Election Day, Tilden appeared to have won 184 electoral votes, one short of a majority. Hayes appeared to have 166, with the 19 votes of Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina still in doubt.

Republicans and Democrats each claimed victory in the three latter states, but the results in those states were rendered uncertain because of fraud by both parties.

To further complicate matters, one of the three electors from Oregon (a state Hayes had won) was disqualified, reducing Hayes's total to 165, and raising the disputed votes to 20.

If Hayes was not awarded all 20 disputed votes, Tilden would be elected president.

Screen Shot 2020-11-22 at 9.39.32 PM.pngResults of the 1876 election, with states won by Hayes in red and those won by Tilden in blue.

There was considerable debate about which person or house of Congress was authorized to decide between the competing slates of electors, with the Republican Senate and the Democratic House each claiming priority.

By January 1877, with the question still unresolved, Congress and President Grant agreed to submit the matter to a bipartisan Electoral Commission, which would be authorized to determine the fate of the disputed electoral votes.

The Commission was to be made up of five representatives, five senators, and five Supreme Court justices. To ensure partisan balance, there would be seven Democrats and seven Republicans, with Justice David Davis, an independent respected by both parties, as the 15th member.

The balance was upset when Democrats in the Illinois legislature elected Davis to the Senate, hoping to sway his vote. According to one historian, "No one, perhaps not even Davis himself, knew which presidential candidate he preferred." Democrats in the Illinois Legislature believed that they had purchased Davis's support by voting for him.

Screen Shot 2020-11-22 at 9.38.04 PM.pngJudge David Davis

However, they had made a miscalculation; instead of staying on the Supreme Court so that he could serve on the Commission, he promptly resigned as a justice, in order to take his Senate seat. Because of this, Davis was unable to assume the spot, always intended for him, as one of the Supreme Court's members of the Commission. His replacement on the Commission was Joseph Philo Bradley, a Republican, thus the Commission ended up with an 8-7 Republican majority. Each of the 20 disputed electoral votes was eventually awarded to Hayes, the Republican, by that same 8-7 majority; Hayes won the election, 185 electoral votes to 184. Had Davis been on the Commission, his would have been the deciding vote, and Tilden would have been elected president if Davis and the commission had awarded him even one electoral vote.

Democrats, outraged by the result, attempted a filibuster to prevent Congress from accepting the Commission's findings.

As Inauguration Day neared, Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders met at Wormley's Hotel in Washington to negotiate a compromise. Republicans promised concessions in exchange for Democratic acquiescence to the Committee's decision. The main concession Hayes promised was the withdrawal of federal troops from the South and an acceptance of the election of Democratic governments in the remaining "unredeemed" southern states. The Democrats agreed, and on March 2, the filibuster was ended. Hayes was elected, but Reconstruction was finished, and freedmen were left at the mercy of white Democrats who did not intend to preserve their rights.

On April 3, Hayes ordered Secretary of War George W. McCrary to withdraw federal troops stationed at the South Carolina State House to their barracks. On April 20, he ordered McCrary to send the federal troops stationed at New Orleans's St. Louis Hotel to Jackson Barracks.

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Davis served only a single term as U.S. Senator from Illinois.

In 1881, Davis's renowned independence was again called upon. Upon the assassination of President James A. Garfield, Vice President Chester Arthur succeeded to the office of president. Per the terms of the Presidential Succession Act of 1792, which was still in effect, the President pro tempore of the Senate would be next in line for the presidency, should it again become vacant at any time in the 3½ years remaining in Garfield's term. As the Senate was evenly divided between the parties, this posed the risk of deadlock. However, the presence of Davis provided an answer; despite being only a freshman Senator, the Senate elected Davis as President Pro Tempore. Davis was not a candidate for re-election. At the end of his term in 1883, he retired to his home in Bloomington.

Upon his death in 1886, he was interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois. His grave can be found in section G, lot 659.

His home in that city, the David Davis Mansion, is a state historic site. At his death, some believe he was the largest landowner in Illinois, and that his estate was worth between $4 million and $5 million.

His great-grandson was David Davis IV (1906-1978), lawyer and Illinois state senator.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:15 PM | Permalink

New Mexico Basketball Teams Flee To Texas COVID Hotspots

Facing restrictive policies prohibiting team sports, the University of New Mexico's basketball teams have fled their home state, seeking refuge in Lubbock and Amarillo - two of the hardest-hit coronavirus hot spots in Texas.

UNM is relocating both the women's and men's teams, hoping to take advantage of laxer COVID-19 restrictions in the Lone Star State.

New Mexico is under a two-week shutdown of nonessential businesses, which started last Monday in an attempt to curb coronavirus spread. Under state guidelines, athletic departments don't allow games or workouts of more than five people, and anyone who comes from outside the state must quarantine for 14 days. These guidelines led UNM's football team to relocate to Nevada to practice and host games last month.

In Texas, where total cases exceed 1 million, Gov. Greg Abbott has allowed sporting events to go forward with 50% capacity in the stands, though most major university football programs opted to set their capacities at 25% this fall. Student-athletes and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus throughout the season, requiring several cancellations.

"We're an open-door community," Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said about the out-of-state team's move. "We want people to come in for whatever they need."

Parrish's interview with The Texas Tribune came less than an hour after his office announced he tested positive for COVID-19.

UNM's men's team will reside in Lubbock temporarily, though the school is still finalizing where the team will practice and play games. Parrish said he has no worries and that he trusts the university to take the necessary health precautions.

At West Texas A&M University, where the UNM women's team will play, an official said the school is "pleased to host" the Lobos.

"There are no concerns from my perspective. These are private basketball practices being held in a gym with student-athletes who are being tested 3-4 times per week for COVID, have daily symptom checks and basically live in a bubble outside of practice," said Michael McBroom, the university's athletic director, in an e-mail. "We will continue to exercise the responsibility and opportunity to serve our students and state as a demonstration of our thoughtful commitment to excellence."

In Texas's panhandle, home of West Texas A&M, the hospitalization rate is nearly 40%. Abbott said that hospital regions with more than 15% of capacity serving COVID-19 patients are considered severe enough that bar openings should be banned. In Lubbock, the hospitalization rate is nearly 30%.

Both areas also have some of the highest rates of COVID-19 per 1,000 cases in the state.

Eddie Nuñez, UNM's athletic director, considered a number of locations and chose West Texas because it was close to Albuquerque. The school's football team already moved out of the state to Nevada so it could play its games and salvage broadcast contracts.

This post originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 PM | Permalink

The Strange History Of Binding Books In Human Skin

In 2015, Megan Rosenbloom traveled to Harvard University's Houghton Library in search of a book called Des destinées de l'âme ("Destinies of the Soul") by the French author Arsène Houssaye. This copy of Houssaye's masterwork had a singular distinction: At the time, it was the only book on the planet proven to be bound in human skin.

For Rosenbloom, a librarian at UCLA, the trip served as her entrée into a field she'd studied for years: "anthropodermic bibliopegy," the practice of binding books in human epidermis.

It's easy to assume this topic is too restricted or too gruesome for a book of its own, but Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin proves that assumption wrong. As Rosenbloom crisscrosses the globe to confirm the purported origins of skin-bound books - a cracking detective story in itself - her journey offers unusual insight into what defines informed consent, what separates homage from exploitation, and how power disparities can breed casual inhumanity.

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Human skin-covered books have captivated literary audiences for centuries: A classic H.P. Lovecraft short story features "a locked portfolio, bound in tanned human skin," and a skin-bound volume drives the plot of Chuck Palahniuk's 2002 novel Lullaby.

Still, it appears so far that impostor skin books outnumber real ones. The Anthropodermic Book Project, of which Rosenbloom is a member, has identified only 18 books to date that live up to their human-skin billing. (By claiming a volume was bound in skin, book dealers of yore could juice their profit margins, creating ample incentive to lie.)

Authentic specimens, though rare, take on outsized importance because they betray a human willingness to obliterate consent, and even personhood, for aesthetic or supremacist ends. The books' "very ordinary appearances," Rosenbloom writes, "mask the horror inherent in their creation." Part of her goal in documenting anthropodermic books' origins is to restore dignity to those whose remains were sewn into bindings.

The blade of a doctor's scalpel, Rosenbloom observes, was often the prime instrument of this desecration. In the late 1800s, an upstart physician named John Stockton Hough harvested skin from the thighs of Mary Lynch, a woman who had died penniless of a combination of tuberculosis and trichinosis. Decades later, Hough, an avid book collector, used the preserved skin to cover several of his favorite books on female anatomy.

Other bibliophile doctors also helped themselves to skin from dead patients, sending the samples to professional tanners for preservation - a practice that revealed their lack of respect for their patients as human beings. The grotesque custom, Rosenbloom writes, embodied "The worst of what can come from the collision of acquisitiveness and clinical distancing."

While rumors persisted for decades about the provenance of books like Hough's, it wasn't until 2014 that a new analytic method allowed researchers to separate real anthropodermic books from the rest. The method, known as peptide mass fingerprinting, involves taking a tiny sample of a book's cover, adding the enzyme trypsin to digest its contents, and putting the sample in a mass spectrometer to see which peptides, or protein building blocks, it contains. Dried human skin might look a lot like stripped goat pelt or cow hide, but it has different peptides. (Because DNA degrades over time, DNA sequencing methods generally cannot determine whether older book covers contain human skin.)

It was peptide mass fingerprinting, Rosenbloom explains, that allowed Harvard to verify that its copy of Des destinées de l'âme was skin-bound. The Houssaye volume once belonged to the French physician and bibliophile Ludovic Bouland, and people had speculated about it ever since a collector found a cryptic note inside. "A book on the human soul," Bouland scrawled on one of the front papers, "merits that it be given human clothing."

When Houghton Library announced, in 2014, that peptide testing confirmed the book's long-suspected origins, people seethed with disgust. One critic opined that the only way forward was to detach the book's cover and give it a proper burial. "The binding is a macabre disgrace," another wrote. "Got any vintage WWII lampshades, Harvard?"

But if you're conjuring up shelves of Third Reich books cloaked in prisoners' skin, you're probably off-base. There's no concrete evidence that the Nazis actually created skin-bound volumes, Rosenbloom says, even though - like certain bibliophiles - they had no qualms about plundering the physical bodies of the least powerful. One widely told story about Buchenwald overseers Karl-Otto Koch and his wife Ilse Koch alleges they owned a human skin lampshade, but the lampshade itself has never been found.

Before becoming a librarian, Rosenbloom worked as a journalist, and she shows off her reporting chops in letter-perfect descriptions of the literary world's sordid corners. During a visit to a leather tannery to get a sense of how human skin might have been prepared for binding, she's hit with a stench so pungent it seems otherworldly. "It was not merely a smell," she writes. "It felt like having raw animal organs stuffed into my mouth and pulled through my nose." The stink so penetrates her shoes that she has to chuck them into the garbage. In another scene, she heads out in search of a skin-bound book and a librarian ambushes her with a desiccated, centuries-old Jesus tattoo.

But while shock value might pull readers into the narrative, what sustains it is Rosenbloom's incisive commentary on what contexts promote inhumane treatment of human bodies, as well as how such conditions persist today. She remains implacable in the face of criticism about her motives, convincing us that excavating our darkest impulses is one of the surest routes to understanding ourselves.

In an era laser-focused on appearances, Dark Archives also offers a timely reminder of just how much can lurk beneath a tidy-seeming exterior. It's likely there are plenty more human skin books "resting in library stacks, hiding in plain sight," Rosenbloom writes. "Even if you were holding one right now, you probably wouldn't be able to tell."

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Excerpt:

"As I read on, I was even more shocked to learn that doctors once made these skin books as luxury items for their private rare book collections. There was one doctor, Joseph Leidy, whose personal copy of his book, An Elementary Treatise on Human Anatomy, was bound in the skin of a Civil War soldier patient. In the letter that accompanied the book's donation to the museum, Leidy's descendant called it a 'most cherished possession.'"

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Previously by Elizabeth Svoboda:

* Why Science Denialism Persists.

* Why You Should Think Twice About Showering.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 PM | Permalink

November 17, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

The Papers - and the site - will appear sporadically through the end of the year as I once again review what the hell I'm doing with my life. It's also time to turn my attention to various financial issues and plan for 2021. Suggestions, comments, large checks and assignments welcome.

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+1.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Irreverence Polling Needs
"Elmo Roper equated polling to 'a stunt, like balancing cocktail glasses on top of each other or tearing a telephone book in two. It's impressive. It has a certain fascination. But it tells us very little that we wouldn't find out even if poll-taking had never been invented.'"

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #330: Nick Folds
Bears buffoonery. Plus: Epstein Exits, Unsatisfyingly; Masters Class; Northwestern Football Is Good This Year; and Mo Better Bulls.

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FCC Has One More Favor For Fox
New York City cross-ownership.

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ChicagoReddit

Quick COVID testing sites that are not completely booked? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Back In Chicago - Dead By Daylight Juke Montage

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BeachBook

Peter Frampton On Fame, David Bowie And The Simpsons

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

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The Beachwood Speedwagon: You get what you play for.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:11 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #330: Nick Folds

Bears buffoonery. Plus: Epstein Exits, Unsatisfyingly; Masters Class; Northwestern Football Is Good This Year; and Mo Better Bulls.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #330: Nick Folds

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SHOW NOTES

* 330.

* Rhodes: Bears not even finding new ways to lose. They keep losing the same way.

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1:55: Epstein Exits, Unsatisfyingly.

* Rhodes: "It has a feeling to me of mission not accomplished. It has a feeling of disappointment."

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17:51: Bears Buffoonery.

* Outcoached, outschemed, outsmarted.

* Pace and Nagy (Pagy?) finally on the clock.

* When Pace was hired six years ago they were in a win now mode.

* Corduroy Patterson.

* Nick Folds.

* Ryan Null.

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40:44: Masters Class.

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47:20: Northwestern Football Is Good This Year.

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1:00:45: Mo Better Bulls.

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STOPPAGE: 14:42

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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 1:23 PM | Permalink

The Irreverence Polling Needs

Polling is hardly a flamboyant field that attracts a lot of colorful characters. It is a rather reserved profession that now finds itself under siege in the aftermath of yet another polling surprise in a national election.

The field is buffeted by intense criticism - by even extreme claims that it may be doomed - following mischaracterizations in national polls that Joe Biden was bound for a blowout victory.

Many pre-election polls suggested it was to be a "blue wave" election in which Biden would easily take over the White House, while fellow Democrats would sweep to control in the Senate and fortify their majority in the House of Representatives.

The 2020 election was closer and more complex than most national polls indicated, and it marked the second successive polling surprise in a U.S. presidential election. In 2016, polls in key Great Lakes states underestimated support for Donald Trump, states that were crucial to his winning the White House.

In its troubled hour, polling could use a prominent, outspoken and irreverent character who knows the profession's intricacies and whose default isn't to defensiveness. Such a figure could place polling's latest misstep in useful and plausible perspective, and do so candidly, without seeming too haughty or arcane about it.

'To Prove We're Not Yellow'

Polling has no such colorful, outspoken character now. It did once, in Burns ("Bud") Roper, the Iowa-born son of a pioneer in modern survey research, Elmo Roper. Bud Roper was disarming enough to tell a newspaper reporter in the 1950s that "I guess the main reason we do these election polls at all is to prove we're not yellow," meaning cowardly.

Roper, who died in 2003, was in polling much of his adult life, entering his father's market research firm after World War II. He retired as the company's chairman in 1994. He was around when the Roper poll dramatically miscalled the 1948 presidential election, predicting that Thomas E. Dewey would defeat President Harry Truman by 15 percentage points.

Truman won re-election by 4.5 points, which meant Roper's polling error was a staggering 19.5 percentage points - almost as dreadful as the Literary Digest failure in 1936, when the venerable magazine's mail-in survey erroneously pegged Alf Landon to unseat President Franklin D. Roosevelt by a wide margin.

The 1936 debacle occurred at the dawn of modern opinion research and, as I write in my latest book, Lost in a Gallup: Polling Failure in U.S. Presidential Elections, it left a legacy of nagging doubt about the effectiveness of polling in estimating election outcomes.

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Nonetheless, it is also true that journalists, and the public, inevitably turn to polls - and the illusion of precision they offer - in seeking clarity about the dynamics of a presidential campaign. Even after the back-to-back embarrassments in 2016 and 2020, election polling is surely not destined for collapse or dissolution. Polling may be an unglamorous profession; it also is a hardy one.

Bud Roper's long career traced fairly well polling's entrenchment in American politics and culture. He once said that he entered the field when it was somewhere between "a kooky off-the-wall and an established industry."

In some ways, Roper's most noteworthy contribution was candor and a refreshing disinclination to take survey research all that seriously. In that sense, he was like his father, who began conducting pre-election polls in 1936 but came to doubt their value.

In the run-up to the 1948 election, for example, Elmo Roper equated polling to "a stunt, like balancing cocktail glasses on top of each other or tearing a telephone book in two. It's impressive. It has a certain fascination. But it tells us very little that we wouldn't find out even if poll-taking had never been invented."

Bud Roper similarly tended toward colorful outspokenness. He was not hesitant to call out his profession for its shortcomings and flaws.

'Largely Art'

In 1984, at a time when election polling was going through another rough patch, Bud Roper said in a speech to the American Association for the Advancement of Science that "Our polling techniques have gotten more and more sophisticated, yet we seem to be missing more and more elections."

Roper was frank about some of polling's unresolved headaches, such as differentiating between likely and unlikely voters - a determination crucial to a survey's accuracy.

"One of the trickiest parts of an election poll is to determine who is likely to vote and who is not," Roper once said, adding with characteristic frankness, "I can assure you that this determination is largely art."

The likely voter conundrum remains a defiant and persistent problem. It also is an important reason that election polling is a blend of art and science, which Roper liked to emphasize. In fact, he said it tended to be more art than science.

"I have heard it said that opinion research is half-art and half-science," Roper stated in an address to members of the American Association for Public Opinion Research at the close of his yearlong presidential term in 1983. "I would say that a good deal more than half is art and correspondingly less than half is science."

Roper held some out-of-the-mainstream ideas about polling. He was not enamored with surveys conducted by telephone, noting they too often interrupted respondents and disrupted their routines. Roper argued, somewhat vaguely, a solution to the sharp decline in response rates to telephone surveys was to "go back to personal interviews. Telephone won't do it, Internet won't do it, e-mail won't do it," he said late in his life.

He added: "I don't have all the answers as to how, but if [the problem of declining response rates] is not solved, I think the industry as we've known it is going to be - oh, it'll survive, but it's going to survive with worse and worse results every time we go up."

Taking Responsibility For A Bad Poll

Roper was not one to sidestep controversy. He conceded error without hesitation when, in 1993, his company conducted a survey for the American Jewish Committee that suggested 22% of Americans doubted the Holocaust had occurred.

It was a surprising, controversial and off-target finding that Roper soon questioned, noting the question's wording included a double negative and should have been rephrased. When the question was revised and posed in a separate survey, only 1.1% of the respondents said they doubted the Holocaust.

Roper said he regretted that the original poll's finding "served to misinform the public, to scare the Jewish community needlessly and to give aid and comfort to the neo-Nazis who have a commitment to Holocaust denial."

In saying so, Roper showed he could stand up and take responsibility for a bad poll. It's a lesson that has enduring relevance.

W. Joseph Campbell is a communications studies professor at American University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Previously from W. Joseph Campbell:

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

Outgoing FCC Plans One More Favor For Fox

The FCC announced plans late Friday afternoon to make the Fox newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership waiver permanent for the New York City market, where Fox Corp. owns two local television stations and one local newspaper.

Fox's request would make permanent waivers allowing the company to own WWOR, WNYW and the New York Post despite FCC cross-ownership limits that prohibit one company from controlling this many broadcast and newspaper outlets in a given market.

The outgoing Pai FCC tried to strike down those cross-ownership limits in 2017, but lost on appeal. The case is now before the Supreme Court.

The FCC's Media Bureaus opened a docket for public feedback on the Fox waiver, with an exceedingly short time frame for this important matter. Comments are due the day after Thanksgiving and replies are due by Dec. 4, 2020.

This means the outgoing FCC could attempt to issue a decision before the agency transfers leadership to a Democratic majority following the swearing in of the Biden administration in January.

The Pai FCC may try to engineer this despite a request from House Democratic leadership that the agency refrain from such controversial decisions before the transition.

"Chairman Pai wants to give more favors to media giants before he likely departs the FCC for good," said Free Press director of strategy and communications Tim Karr. "The Trump FCC's decision to grant a permanent waiver to Fox's New Jersey and New York stations is part of a pattern of bending over backward to put industry interests before those of the people Pai and his GOP colleagues swore to serve.

"Fox has routinely failed to live up to its obligations to provide locally responsive programming to communities in New Jersey and New York City. The last thing a lame-duck FCC should be doing is bending the rules once again, all to award the Murdochs with more control over the public airwaves.

"The Murdochs have never had the public interest in mind. Fox Television Stations, the Murdochs' local broadcast subsidiary, has a cookie-cutter approach to local news that has resulted in smaller newsrooms and fewer reporters at WWOR. This lack of broadcast coverage has hampered efforts to hold public officials across New Jersey accountable: The communities that WWOR is supposed to serve see little-to-no local reporting.

"The public hates the idea of media consolidation. The FCC needs to stop trying to ram through decisions like these that favor big media. It should instead study the impact these sorts of waivers have on diversity. The Pai FCC ignored its mandate to increase competition and diversity on the airwaves and provide more opportunities for local voices. Instead it seems intent on giving the Murdochs even more power."

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See also: Booker, Menendez Again Call On FCC To Ensure WWOR-TV Provides N.J. News Coverage.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

November 16, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

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ChicagoReddit

TIL Not all city neighborhoods have a 606 zip code from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Museum of Illusions.

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BeachBook

John Lennon's Most Revealing Album Was His Last.


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

Instead, how about a list of every "journalist" who granted these senators anonymity? Then let's ask them why, and if it was worth it.

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The Beachwood MC line: Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:26 AM | Permalink

November 13, 2020

The [Friday] Papers

"Hospitals are gearing up for the rise in COVID-19 cases. Public health officials continue to see numbers trending up. Black and brown communities are reporting the vast number of cases. In the last month, five Chicago area zip codes in Latino neighborhoods have seen the most confirmed cases in the state," WGN-TV reports.

"Little Village, Cicero, Brighton Park, Belmont-Cragin, Hermosa and West Lawn communities have each reported more than 2,000 cases. The 60629 zip code, West Lawn, reported the most with nearly 2,700 new cases since mid-October - about 90 COVID-19 cases a day."

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"Hospitals serving primarily low-income communities of color on the South and West sides expressed the greatest concern about the rising number of cases," the Sun-Times reports.

"[Roseland Community Hospital] has eight COVID patients, half of which are in critical care. After rising cases filled more than 20% of the hospital's 100-plus beds last spring, Roseland had no coronavirus patients for months, and then the rise began again in October . . .

"Roseland, which treats a predominantly Black and low-income population, has converted its lobby into a COVID care center and is seeing a large jump in drive-thru testing, he said.

"Sinai Health System, which serves the South and West sides, saw cases increase about four times in just two weeks, said spokesman Dan Regan. There are about 75 cases between Mount Sinai and Holy Cross, he said.

"John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County has stopped elective surgeries to free up hospital beds and is assessing other strategies, spokeswoman Deborah Song said.

"Ramping up staffing as the case counts rise is one of the hospital's biggest challenges, she added.

"Even big hospitals cite staffing as a challenge. Rush University Medical Center employs about 2,600 nurses but it needs more to keep up with the increase in COVID cases, officials there say. Rush is reaching out to retirees and other sources for additional staffing."

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"A group of nursing home workers is threatening to strike over COVID-19 concerns as the second wave of the virus is hitting," ABC7 Chicago reports.

"Hundreds of workers at 11 Illinois locations of Infinity Health Care Management nursing homes are planning to strike on Nov. 23. Nine of those nursing homes are in the Chicago area.

"Workers gathered outside City View Multicare Center in Cicero Friday afternoon, including certified nursing assistants, rehabilitation aides and housekeepers. They're demanding at least a $15 an hour wage and hazard pay with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Workers said they also want better testing protocols and proper PPE."

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"For COVID-19 survivor Brian Kuhns, life is hospital visits, physical therapy, and months after his rare double lung transplant at Northwestern Memorial, an effort to heal," ABC7 Chicago reports.

"I'm still not sleeping. I can't eat. I have no appetite, I can't taste anything. I'm eating 40 pills a day," Kuhns said.

"From March to September, Kuhns was in the hospital, isolated from friends and family, kept from work at his auto repair shop here in Schaumburg. He said he wants to save people from that same fate or worse.

"I just don't know why we're getting rising cases. People should know better by now," he said . . .

"After seeing everything he went through, I still don't understand why people are fighting the mask," said Nancy Kuhns, Brian's wife. "Actually you're taking someone else's life by doing this. What is so hard about wearing a mask?"

"You gotta wear it, boneheads," Kuhns said. "Do it for the other guy!"

"At the beginning of the year, Kuhns weighed 225 lbs., could walk normally, and had his own lungs. Then, he got COVID-19, lost 76 lbs., needed new lungs, and uses a wheelchair . . . The Kuhns family is now facing $2 million worth of medical bills."

At least he's still alive - unlike 10,504 Illinoisans. 10,504.

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Today, the governor announced another 15,415 cases. Just today.

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ChicagoReddit

Today I Learned: Jim Oberweis's record of unsuccessful election campaigns has earned him the nickname of "the Milk Dud" from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Alfonso Payán Y Asociados - El Chuy De Chicago (Con Tololoche) "Exclusivo"

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

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The Beachwood Anti-Line: Against the line.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:14 PM | Permalink

How To Cut Your TV Costs

As part of its efforts to help consumers cut their costs during the pandemic, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Illinois has released its 2020 Guide to Cutting Your TV Costs.

CUB's guide outlines consumers' choices in the current market, provides strategies for negotiating with a cable provider, and explains options for ditching cable service entirely.

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"One of the most common complaints CUB gets is about the cost of cable-TV service," CUB Communications Director Jim Chilsen said Friday. "TV is a key service for people during the pandemic, and we know people are concerned about cutting their costs. For consumers who are frustrated with their cable bills and considering alternatives to traditional TV, we hope this guide helps them get control of their TV costs, whether they stay with cable or cut the cord."

The guide gives tips on how to cut cable bills, outlines typical cable charges and summarizes popular streaming services. It includes possible options for cutting TV costs and a worksheet to help do the math on the cheapest plan possible to meet a household's viewing preferences.

This is the third edition of the guide. CUB reviewed more than 100 sources to find the tips to help consumers make the best choices for their TV service. To get e-mailed a free copy of CUB's Guide to Cutting Your TV Costs, visit this order form.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:06 PM | Permalink

November 12, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

"Indiana reported 6,654 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, shattering the previous record for daily cases, while also reaching a new record for hospitalizations statewide," CBS2 Chicago reports.

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"The spread of COVID-19 across Wisconsin is off the charts, literally," WMTV(!) reports.

"So many counties are so far past the Dept. of Health Services' highest classification for case activity, that it needed to create a brand new category. And, although its minimum cutoff is nearly three times higher than the old top category."

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"Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin reported nearly 25,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, which equates to roughly 1,000 new cases each hour - or a new case every four seconds - in those three states alone over the previous 24 hours," NBC5 Chicago reports.

"Each of the three states has set new records in their coronavirus metrics in recent days as the Midwest and the U.S. as a whole face what officials are warning could be the worst wave of the pandemic yet this winter.

"Illinois reported 12,657 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases on Wednesday, setting a record for the highest single-day report of new cases for the second consecutive day and lifting the statewide total number of cases to 523,840 since the pandemic began. Wednesday marked the sixth day in a row that Illinois has seen more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases each day.

"The state also reported 145 additional deaths Wednesday, the highest-one day loss since May 27, bringing the death toll to 10,434."

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Meanwhile . . .

"The Chicago Medical Society wrote a strongly worded letter saying their health is at stake if gyms are not allowed greater hours of operation," WGN-TV reports.

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And . . .

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Real Chicago police, too.

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See also . . .

* The Atlantic: How I Mastered The Art Of Ventilating My Home.

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On This Day . . .

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Lake Forest's Historic Midshipman
Meet Sydney Barber.

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ChicagoReddit

There should be an ordinance that prevents Starbucks from being built on corner lots. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Artist Spotlight: Jenny Lam

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BeachBook

Only One Factory In North America Still Makes Washboards, And They Are Flying Off Of Shelves.

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

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The Beachwood Anti-Tipline: Whatever you've got, we're against it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

Naval Academy's First African-American Female Brigade Commander Is From Lake Forest

The Commandant of Midshipmen announced the spring semester midshipman leadership positions Friday, which includes the selection of the Naval Academy's first African-American female brigade commander, Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber, of Lake Forest, Illinois.

The brigade commander is the highest leadership position within the brigade, and is the only "six striper" - a reference to the collar insignia worn on the midshipman uniform, the rank of midshipman captain. The semester-long position is currently held by Midshipman 1st Class Ryan Chapman and is selected through an application and interview process by senior leadership from the Commandant's staff.

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The first female brigade commander was then Midshipman 1st Class Juliane Gallina from the class of 1992, who served in the position during the fall of 1991. Barber will be the 16th woman selected for brigade commander in the 44 years women have been attending the Naval Academy.

Barber, a graduate of Lake Forest High School in Illinois, is a mechanical engineering major and aspires to commission as a Marine Corps ground officer. As a walk-on sprinter and hurdler of the Navy Women's Varsity Track and Field team, she has lettered all three years of competing and is a USNA record holder for the outdoor 4x400m relay.

She is the co-president of the Navy Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club, secretary for the National Society of Black Engineers, and a member of the USNA Gospel Choir and Midshipman Black Studies Club.

Barber served as the 13th company's executive officer this past Plebe Summer and currently serves as the brigade's 1st regiment executive officer.

"Earning the title of brigade commander speaks volumes, but the title itself is not nearly as significant as the opportunity it brings to lead a team in doing something I believe will be truly special," said Barber. "I am humbled to play a small role in this momentous season of American history."

The brigade striper selection board receives records of the top ranked first class (senior) midshipmen across the brigade for consideration for the most senior midshipman leadership positions each semester. The board's composition is made up of the deputy commandant of midshipmen, the six battalion officers, the brigade master chief and the current brigade commander.

Records are reviewed in detail and 30 midshipmen are selected for board interviews. Each member of the board utilizes an objective assessment tool to assess each midshipman and then rank them in order. Individual board member scores are combined and a resultant consolidated ranking is generated; Barber was the top-ranked midshipman out of this semester's board process.

"She is a catalyst for action, a visionary, a listener, a doer, and a person driven by compassion, by faith, by a fierce sense of passion and heart full of love," said Chapman. "Sydney is the perfect person to lead the brigade."

Barber completed a seven-week internship with the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory two summers ago, where she was instrumental in doing breakthrough research on bio-electrochemical uses for carbon nanotubes. Her research in developing legislative strategies to address education disparities in minority communities earned her selection as a 2020 Truman Scholar national finalist.

"Sydney stands out amongst her peers, for not only her exemplary record, but for her clear vision of how she intends to make the world a better place and her accompanying bias for action. We were incredibly proud to have Sydney represent the Naval Academy in her Truman Scholarship interview this year," said Lt. Cmdr. Darby Yeager, a member of the U.S. Naval Academy's Truman Scholarship selection committee.

Barber also initiated a STEM outreach program that leverages mentoring, literature, and service lessons to serve middle school-aged girls of color, and led a team to organize the inaugural USNA Black Female Network Breakfast to bridge the generational gap between current black midshipmen and alumni.

She most recently mobilized a team of more than 180 midshipmen, faculty, and alumni to develop the Midshipman Diversity Team to promote greater diversity, inclusivity, and equity within the Brigade.

She was recently invited to speak at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Visitors, the academy's congressional oversight committee. Barber discussed how she has negotiated her time as a midshipman in the COVID-19 environment, her activities as a midshipmen striper, leadership in Bancroft Hall, balancing activities over the summer and her experience at Leatherneck, the Marine Corps' summer training in Quantico, Va.

Barber was also featured in a Naval Academy Founder's Day video recently produced by the Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation, and discussed how the legacy of midshipmen who came before her is one of her motivations. (Barber can be found in video at minute marks 2:50-3:24 and 4:39-4:56.)

The announcement of next semester's leadership team was made to the Brigade of Midshipmen during the noon meal "anchor announcement," which is currently being held virtually due to the COVD-19 environment. Other brigade-level striper position billets announced Friday include Midshipman 1st Class Ashley Boddiford, of Oviedo, Florida., as the brigade executive officer; Midshipman 1st Class Tristan Anderson, of Ventura, California, as the brigade operations officer; Midshipman 1st Class Evelyn Berecz, of Downingtown, Pennsylvania., as the brigade training officer; Midshipman 2nd Class Taylor Forrester, of York, Pennsylvania, as the brigade sergeant major; and Midshipman 2nd Class Quin Ramos, of Lafayette, Colorado, as the brigade training sergeant.

"We are the architects of our future, and every day we earn the right to carry the torch that was once lit by the heroes, pioneers, and giants who came before us," said Barber. "I owe everything to every person who paved the way for me, so I now pour my heart and soul into blazing the trail for the generations to come."

Word of Friday's announcement spread quickly this past weekend after a social media post by the first Black female to graduate from USNA, Janie Mines.

Mines shared a photo of Barber and commented, "This brought me to tears. This young woman, Midshipman Sydney Barber, will be the first Black Female Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy. 40 years later. Thank you, Sydney! Love you!"

Mines graduated from the academy in 1980 with the first class of women, who were inducted in 1976.

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See also:

Sydney Barber on why she's proud to attend the Naval Academy.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 AM | Permalink

November 11, 2020

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Another 145 Illinoisans were reported to have died from coronavirus during the past day, and the state is advising everyone to stay home as much as possible during the next three weeks," Block Club Chicago reports.

"That's the highest number of deaths reported in a single day since June 8, when Illinois was just coming off its spring peak. In recent weeks, deaths have skyrocketed - as has the state's number of new cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations.

"By every metric, Illinois and Chicago are not in control of their coronavirus outbreaks, and the numbers are worsening by the day."

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I'm scared, and if you're not, you're a fool.

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Meanwhile . . .

"As Chicago is grappling with a second wave of coronavirus and despite department mandates, some Chicago police officers still refuse to wear masks on the job to prevent the spread of the virus," Block Club reports.

Given that the majority of the rank-and-file appear to be Trump supporters - as deduced by their choice for union president - this shouldn't be surprising. On the other hand, they are public servants who should be required to wear masks or face losing their jobs - which is, in part, to save lives, right?

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"[CPS spokesperson Sally] Bown said she could not provide information about how many complaints have been made or if any officers have been disciplined."

Of course she could. That information is readily available to her.

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Beyond that . . .

"Through Tuesday, 1,243 of the department's 12,000 officers have tested positive for coronavirus, [Bown said]. That's an increase of 293 confirmed cases since Oct. 1, when 950 officers had tested positive. Since the start of the pandemic, three officers have died from the virus."

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Nerds On The Bus
They say the point of law school is to teach you how to think like a lawyer. Well, the point of (a good) journalism school is to teach you how to think like a journalist. For example: Think for yourself! Groupthink kills - and is antithetical to journalism - yet is a dominating part of media culture.

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Fox News 2016 vs. 2020
Disingenuous people either lack self-awareness or shame.

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When Prophecy Fails
What a 1950s Chicago housewife tells us about our country today.

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Accelerating The Arches
McDonald's big plans missing a key ingredient.

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No Border Blues
"Each No Border Blues episode shines a light on the unique ways Chicago blues can be seen through different cultural lenses, and how people from very different countries and backgrounds adopt the Blues as their own."

This looks really cool.

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Formula One's Dirty Saudi Deal
Unabated sportswashing.

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ChicagoReddit

Illinois covid 19 and unemployment from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Visiting Artist Series: Ayanah Moor and Darby English

"Ayanah Moor (b 1973, Norfolk, VA) is an artist living and working in Chicago. Through her paintings, prints, drawings and performance, Moor operates within a visual field where notions of blackness and gender identity take shape. She utilizes existing material and cultural artifacts to generate alternative histories, often repositioning the subject as a corrective gesture or to create counter narratives. Vintage advertisements, athletic competition, reimagined slogans, and healing practices have fueled recent projects. Her work engages subversive and demonstrative displays of blackness that locate love, fear, myth and desire.

"Moor received a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Her exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the DePaul Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives-USC Libraries; Subliminal Projects, Los Angeles; Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland; and Proyecto 'ace, Buenos Aires.

"Darby English is the Carl Darling Buck Professor of Art History and Director of the Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture at the University of Chicago. He is also associate faculty in the University's Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.

"His scholarship focuses on ways that fine art and popular culture produced since 1964 have prepared us to welcome - or reject - the passing of difference as we have known it. English is author or coeditor of six books, including three monographs: To Describe a Life: Notes from the Intersection of Art and Race Terror (Yale, 2019), 1971: A Year in the Life of Color (University of Chicago, 2016), and How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness (MIT, 2007).

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BeachBook

Where Does The Term 'Lame Duck' Come From?

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

So I guess I thought a "ghost kitchen" was a kitchen that made stuff for a bunch of different places, which is why this announcement initially confused me. They're gonna make Red Lobster for a bunch of different places? I could order shrimp pops at some other restaurant and get served Red Lobster without knowing it - not that I would complain if I found out (to the contrary!). But in this case it's just a kitchen for delivery only. Let's go to the tape:

"A ghost kitchen is a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals. A ghost kitchen contains the kitchen equipment and facilities needed for the preparation of restaurant meals but has no dining area for walk-in customers. Restaurants that use ghost kitchens may have a different physical location for walk-in customers, or may be a delivery-only ghost restaurant."

Oh.

"A ghost kitchen differs from a ghost restaurant in that a ghost kitchen is not necessarily a restaurant brand in itself and may contain kitchen space and facilities for more than one restaurant brand."

Aha!

So I was right: This is a ghost restaurant, not a ghost kitchen. Get it together, Red Lobster!

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Look, MSNBC is really bad. It's not as equivalently bad as Fox, but it's bad. Joy Reid is a joke, and Rachel Maddow is just awful, and if you don't recognize that you haven't done your homework. This is where CNN has really failed - and where it really has an opportunity - given that, even if it's not as lucrative initially, it really has had a chance to establish itself as a gold standard news network that everyone sane could trust, and instead it's clowned it up just like everyone else.

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The Beachwood McDibs Line: The Ribstitution.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 PM | Permalink

The Journalistic Benefits Of Thinking For Yourself In An Age Of Polling

One reason we love the news business is that things seldom turn out as expected. In the 2020 elections, the voting process went surprisingly smoothly, with record numbers of Americans casting their ballots in new ways. The big failure of 2020, it turned out, was the political polling, which was so wrong in so many places that some people are now arguing that it's time to spend a lot less effort trying to divine how people will vote.

That argument misses the point. Polls have their uses, particularly when they are used to assess broad questions about what's on voters' minds or which issues resonated the most. They seem much less reliable in predicting the future, and that's okay. It means that we have to treat politics more like other subjects, in which we draw on data, interviews and our past experiences to shape coverage. The rise of the pollster as seer of all matters political is a relatively recent development, a corrective to an era when the "boys on the bus" covered politics largely by anecdote and gut instincts.

Certainly, reams will be written in the coming months and years about why the work of opinion research turned out to be way more art than science when it came to this year's balloting. The widely predicted blue tsunami was more like a modest midsummer swell. Many state polls were remarkably wrong; Republican Sen. Susan Collins trailed in every survey of Maine voters yet won handily. The estimated 8- to 10-point Joe Biden victory will more likely be 4% or 5% in the popular vote. The call on Saturday by The Associated Press and other major news organizations that Biden won the election was based on razor-thin margins in Pennsylvania and other states that were far closer than the pre-election polls had indicated.

To be fair, there were some seriously extenuating circumstances this year. Polls are based on models drawn from previous experience, and modern America has never voted during a pandemic. Nearly every state changed something about its voting process, from drive-thru voting in Texas to the states that widely expanded voting by mail. Although it's not proven yet, it seems likely that the phenomenon of the shy (or perhaps defiant) Trump voter is real; it's not hard to imagine supporters of a candidate whose main appeal is distrust of political elites misleading or hanging up on researchers calling to ask their presidential preference.

The debacle of 2016, in which opinion researchers universally agreed that a Hillary Clinton victory was the likeliest outcome, prompted a lot of explanation from statistics-savvy journalists. They explained how the FiveThirtyEight forecast, which gave Clinton a 2 out of 3 chance of winning, could be read as giving her a 1 in 3 chance of losing, less likely but certainly possible. In baseball, batters who get a hit 33% of the time wind up in the Hall of Fame. Unlikely events happen. People win lotteries.

Some of this year's explanations will likely focus on what the polls got right - a comfortable popular vote edge for Biden, a solid win in the electoral college - while nodding to the ways in which 2020 smashed previous models for turnout and participation.

I take a different lesson from the foibles of polling. The most important thing we can do as we think about covering and investigating government and politics in election years is to not assume any outcome. That's psychologically harder than it sounds, even for professional journalists. In the summer of 2016, news organizations, including ProPublica, did less than they should have on the intricacies of the Trump family businesses in part because his victory was deemed so implausible. Why devote months of hard slogging to learning about a guy who's headed to reality television by late November?

It's difficult for reporters and editors to shut out the polls and work to put their hearts into pursuing stories on two outcomes, only one of which will turn out to be true. (I have a friend who was assigned to write a "How Michael Dukakis Pulled Off a Stunning Victory" piece in 1988 that would run on the front page of The New York Times if the polls were wrong. He felt like he was wasting his time; George H. W. Bush's victory proved him right.)

Still, shutting out the noise and focusing on the evidence is the best way to avoid being part of the group-think that characterizes the coverage of many nationally fascinating stories. I always try to keep in mind the events of April 19, 1995, when a truck bomber demolished the federal building in Oklahoma City. CNN and other networks were quoting experts who said the attack had all earmarks of Middle Eastern terrorism. They reminded viewers that an Islamic radical group had tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993 with an explosives-packed rental van. That speculation played in a nonstop loop in nearly every newsroom in America. I recall an angry argument at the Times' Washington bureau between an editor in New York and a religion writer in Washington who adamantly refused to write a story about the ideology of the possibly Islamic terrorists.

One exception was a tiny organization, the Inter Press Service, which covered the developing world from a small room in the National Press Building and seldom turned on its television. (In fact, its reporters learned of the bombing when someone noticed footage of the smoking wreckage on a monitor in the building's lobby.) Later that day, Inter Press was the first to focus on the possibility that the bombing had been done by far-right American extremists. One of the reporters, Jim Lobe, had been a lawyer in Seattle before becoming a journalist and was familiar with the militia movements of the Western United States. The story noted that the bombing had taken place on April 19 - the second anniversary of the deadly assault by federal authorities on the Waco, Texas, compound of a religious cult known as the Branch Davidians.

When the FBI arrested Timothy McVeigh and his motive for the attack was exactly as described, Lobe was asked how Inter Press got it right when so many others had not. It was simple, he replied. They knew generally what everyone was saying, but it didn't make sense and so they did their own reporting.

I tracked down Lobe, a lawyer-turned-journalist, to check the details for this column. He chuckled at the memory. "We usually didn't have CNN on at all," he said. "I remember they had on all these commentators who said it was Islamic. It didn't make any sense. We did the research, found out it was Patriot's Day, talked to some people who were experts on the far right. Then, we put the story together."

Lobe, referring to the far-right movement of the 1980s, said that "It was just a matter of deduction. I had worked in the courts in Seattle and we had Posse Comitatus people coming regularly," said "It just didn't make any sense to me that Islamists would blow up a federal building."

In an era when polls keep getting it wrong, it feels like good advice. It's not possible to entirely shut out what they're saying, but it's best to do your own critical thinking.

Stephen Engelberg is ProPublica's editor-in-chief.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:27 AM | Permalink

When Prophecy Fails

When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World is a classic work of social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter published in 1956, which studied a small UFO religion in Chicago called the Seekers that believed in an imminent apocalypse and its coping mechanisms after the event did not occur. Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance can account for the psychological consequences of disconfirmed expectations. One of the first published cases of dissonance was reported in this book.

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Overview

Festinger and his associates read a story in their local newspaper headlined "Prophecy from Planet Clarion Call to City: Flee That Flood." The prophecy came from Dorothy Martin (1900-1992), a Chicago housewife who experimented with automatic writing.

Martin claimed to be receiving messages from superior beings from a planet she referred to as Clarion, and these messages included a prophecy that Lake City would be destroyed by a flood before dawn on December 21st. Martin had previously been involved with L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics movement, and she incorporated ideas from what later became Scientology.

The group of believers, headed by Martin, had taken strong actions to indicate their degree of commitment to the belief. They had left their jobs, college, and spouses, and had given away money and possessions to prepare for their departure on a flying saucer which was to rescue the group of true believers. These messages claimed that the world would end in a great flood before dawn on December 21, 1954.

After the failure of the prediction, Martin was threatened with arrest and involuntary commitment, and left Chicago. She later founded the Association of Sananda and Sanat Kumara. Under the name Sister Thedra, she continued to practice channeling and participating in contactee groups until her death in 1992. The Association is active to this day.

Premise Of Study

Festinger and his colleagues saw this as a case that would lead to the arousal of dissonance when the prophecy failed. Altering the belief would be difficult, as the group were committed at considerable expense to maintain it. Another option would be to enlist social support for their belief. As Festinger wrote, "If more and more people can be persuaded that the system of belief is correct, then clearly it must after all be correct."

In this case, if the group's leader could add consonant elements by converting others to the basic premise, then the magnitude of her dissonance following disconfirmation would be reduced. Festinger and his colleagues predicted that the inevitable disconfirmation would be followed by an enthusiastic effort at proselytizing to seek social support and lessen the pain of disconfirmation.

Festinger and his colleagues contacted Martin and infiltrated her group. In order to protect her privacy, the study gave Martin the alias of "Marian Keech" and fictively relocated her group to Michigan.

Sequence Of Events

Festinger reported the following sequence of events:

* December 17. Keech received a phone call from person identifying themselves as "Captain Video" from outer space, telling her that a saucer is to land in her backyard to pick her up at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. (Festinger considers this call to have been made by a practical joker reacting to press coverage of Keech's group.) Some of the group initially questioned the call, before accepting it and preparing themselves to be collected by the saucer, removing all metal objects from their persons. By 5:30 p.m. the group appeared to have given up, and were reluctant to discuss the issue of why the saucer had not arrived. When the matter was discussed, they agreed that the event had been a practice session. Keech received another message later that day that the saucer would pick them up at 1:30 a.m. The group waited for the saucer until 3:30 a.m. then gave up.

* Before December 20. The group shuns publicity. Interviews are given only grudgingly. Access to Keech's house is only provided to those who can convince the group that they are true believers. The group evolves a belief system - provided by the automatic writing from the planet Clarion - to explain the details of the cataclysm, the reason for its occurrence, and the manner in which the group would be saved from the disaster.

* December 20. The group expects a visitor from outer space to call upon them at midnight and to escort them to a waiting spacecraft. As instructed, the group goes to great lengths to remove all metallic items from their persons. As midnight approaches, zippers, bra straps, and other objects are discarded. The group waits.

* 12:05 a.m. December 21. No visitor. Someone in the group notices that another clock in the room shows 11:55. The group agrees that it is not yet midnight.

* 12:10 a.m. The second clock strikes midnight. Still no visitor. The group sits in stunned silence. The cataclysm itself is no more than seven hours away.

* 4 a.m. The group has been sitting in stunned silence. A few attempts at finding explanations have failed. Keech begins to cry.

* 4:45 am. Another message by automatic writing is sent to Keech. It states, in effect, that the God of Earth has decided to spare the planet from destruction. The cataclysm has been called off: "The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction."

* Afternoon, December 21. Newspapers are called; interviews are sought. In a reversal of its previous distaste for publicity, the group begins an urgent campaign to spread its message to as broad an audience as possible.

* December 24. The Christmas Eve caroling from the group started a riot of about 200 unruly spectators. The police had to be called to control the mob. The community was not happy with Keech.

* December 26. A warrant was issued for Keech and a Dr. Armstrong for several charges.

Conditions

Festinger stated that five conditions must be present if someone is to become a more fervent believer after a failure or disconfirmation:

* A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he or she behaves.

* The person holding the belief must have committed themself to it; that is, for the sake of their belief, they must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual's commitment to the belief.

* The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.

* Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.

* The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of disconfirming evidence that has been specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, the belief may be maintained and the believers may attempt to proselytize or persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.

Criticism

Festinger's study has been strongly criticized on methodological grounds. Fernando Bermejo-Rubio summarizes them:

"To start with, When Prophecy Fails has been faulted on methodological grounds.

"The original observed phenomenon was not an uncontaminated series of events generated by a group in isolation. It was in fact mediated and studied by observers (social scientists and the press) and therefore subjected to interferences and distortions resulting from their presence. It has been remarked that often almost one-third of the membership of the group consisted of participant observers.

"More significantly, the social scientists themselves contributed to the events described.

"Furthermore, the media continually badgered the group to account for its commitment; thus, the increased proselytizing and affirmations of faith may have been influenced by media pressure.

"These conditions make it difficult to determine what might have happened if the group had been left on its own.

"A second problem is that the working hypothesis of the sociologists seems to have shaped, to a high degree, their perception of the events and the account given of the group, leading to an inaccurate report.

"That hypothesis involved identifying two phases, a period of secrecy in which the elect did not actively seek to gain followers or influence and, as a reaction to the disconfirmation of a prediction, a period of proselytizing.

"The portrayal of the group as merely based on a prediction, however, made Festinger and his colleagues overlook other dimensions (spiritual, moral, cultural) which might be crucial for the movement."

Further Reading

* Pargament, Kenneth I. (1997). The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, Practice. Guilford Press. pp. 150-153, 340, section: "Compelling Coping in a Doomsday Cult."

* Petty, Richard E.; John T. Cacioppo (1996). Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches. Westview Press. pp. 139: "Effect of Disconfirming an Important Belief."

* Prilleltensky, Isaac (1997). Critical Psychology: An Introduction. Sage Publications Inc. pp. 35, 37-38.

* Newman, Dr. David M. (2006). Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life. Pine Forge Press.

* Stangor, Charles (2004). Social Groups in Action and Interaction. Psychology Press. pp. 42-43: "When Prophecy Fails."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

Accelerating The Arches

McDonald's Corporation announces a new growth strategy, Accelerating the Arches, which encompasses all aspects of McDonald's business as the leading global omni-channel restaurant brand. The strategy includes a refreshed purpose to feed and foster the communities McDonald's and its franchisees serve around the world, updated values that guide actions and behaviors, and growth pillars that build on McDonald's competitive advantages.

The growth pillars, which are rooted in the Company's identity, MCD, build on historic strengths and articulate areas of further opportunity. Specifically, the Company will animate the MCD in the following ways:

* Maximize our Marketing by investing in new, culturally relevant approaches to effectively communicate the story of brand, food and purpose.

* Commit to the Core by tapping into customer demand for the familiar and focusing on serving delicious burgers, chicken and coffee.

* Double Down on the 3 D's (Digital, Delivery and Drive Thru) by leveraging competitive strengths and building a powerful digital experience growth engine that provides a fast, easy experience for our customers.

"In countries around the world, we have seen customer behaviors change at an unprecedented pace over the last several months. We believe this presents an opportunity to do something special as we write the next great chapter of McDonald's," said McDonald's President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski. "By embracing a bigger, more holistic vision for the future, Accelerating the Arches defines how McDonald's will deliver value to all stakeholders by providing a clear roadmap of what we can do for the millions of customers, in the thousands of communities, we serve each and every day. With our new growth strategy, we will build on our inherent strengths by harnessing our competitive advantages and investing in innovations that enable us to continue to offer fast, easy moments for our customers."

A Renewed Purpose To Drive Greater Impact

The Company is prioritizing its role and commitments to the communities it has served for more than 65 years.

This year, McDonald's unveiled its refreshed purpose to feed and foster communities. Through both actions and communications, the Company is looking to make an even greater impact by focusing on four areas that matter most to communities: responsibly sourcing quality ingredients; driving climate action to protect the planet; connecting with communities in times of need; and increasing focus on equity by providing opportunity for restaurant crew.

This purpose translates into action through: support for farming communities; the goal of sourcing 100% of guest packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025; donating millions of pounds of quality food from our supply chain and restaurants to neighbors in need in 2020; and reducing barriers to employment for over 2 million people worldwide.

Maximize Our Marketing

The Golden Arches that represent McDonald's are iconic because of what the Company does in the world. Customers today want to know the brands they love share their values and support causes that are important to them. As McDonald's looks at its next chapter, its purpose of "feeding and fostering communities" sets a clear direction for its strategy and its connection with customers. Underpinned by actions that support communities, the Golden Arches will maintain another 65 years of cultural relevance through clearer and more effective marketing, unlocking the power of the brand as a growth driver in its own right.

A renewed focus on McDonald's purpose will come to life in a new campaign, "Serving Here." The campaign demonstrates the Company's values and illustrates its commitments to the communities, customers, crew, farmers, franchisees and suppliers it partners with and will be animated with actions in its top markets.

Customers want to love and connect with McDonald's creative content as much as the food. To drive that connection, the Company will continue listening to customers and finding opportunities to create cultural moments. The Famous Orders promotion in the U.S., so far with Travis Scott and J Balvin, is just the beginning.

Affordability is also crucial in today's environment and remains a cornerstone of the McDonald's brand. The Company is committed to offering the right price and product combination so that customers realize value at every tier of the menu.

Finally, McDonald's will introduce stunning new packaging globally with a modern, refreshing feel and playful touches to unify branding in markets all over the world.

Commit To The Core

What customers love most about McDonald's menu is the classics - like the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, Chicken McNuggets and World-Famous Fries. Core menu items, like these, represent the heart of the business, making up about 70 percent of food sales across its top markets. As demand for the familiar in these uncertain times is more important than ever, the Company believes these core classics will continue to be significant drivers of growth thanks to both their popularity and profitability.

McDonald's heritage is in burgers, and committing that customers get the best version of their popular burgers every time they visit is a priority. To improve upon the great taste of its burgers and to serve them hot and deliciously juicy, markets around the world are implementing a series of operational, process and formulation changes. These include using new buns toasted to golden brown and an enhanced grilling approach to unlock more flavor.

McDonald's also has significant opportunity to expand its chicken offerings, a category that is growing faster than beef. This includes leveraging the extraordinary global strength of Chicken McNuggets and the McChicken sandwich, and investing in new line extensions and flavors. It also means continuing to offer food that aligns with current consumer trends and taste profiles, like spicy. To continue building on its chicken portfolio, the Company plans to introduce a new Crispy Chicken Sandwich in the U.S. early next year.

Double Down On The 3 D's: Digital, Delivery And Drive Thru

The shift in customer behavior during COVID-19 has illustrated the competitive advantages of McDonald's. Delivery is booming and the use of the McDonald's app has surged as more and more customers are ordering and paying for their food on mobile devices. McDonald's 25,000 drive thru lanes worldwide have become an oasis for customers around the world.

To unlock further growth, the Company will accelerate technology innovation so that the tens of millions of customers who interact with McDonald's each day can enjoy a fast, easy experience that fits their needs at the moment, whether a family dinner delivered to a doorstep or late-night fries from the drive thru.

Digital

To transform its digital offerings across drive thru, takeaway, delivery, curbside pick-up and dine-in, the Company announced a new digital experience growth engine, "MyMcDonald's." Through the digital tools across this platform, McDonald's will offer customers the fast and easy experiences they love and provide them with many reasons to keep coming back. Customers will receive tailored offers, be able to participate in a new loyalty program and easily order and receive McDonald's food through the channel of their choice. One key component of "MyMcDonald's" starts in the coming weeks in the Phoenix area in the U.S. with a pilot of a new loyalty program.

The Company expects digital sales to exceed $10 billion or nearly 20% of Systemwide sales across its top six markets in 2020. To further expand on its already significant digital presence and bring more speed and convenience, more personalization, and even better value for its customers, the Company expects to launch "MyMcDonald's" across those top six markets by the end of 2021.

Delivery

Nearly 75% of the population across the Company's top markets lives within three miles of a McDonald's, and this advantage allows the Company to meet customers' evolving needs for speed and convenience. In the past three years, McDonald's has expanded the number of restaurants that offer delivery nine-fold, to about 28,000 restaurants.

Building on this progress means enhancing the delivery experience for customers. This includes the ability to order on the McDonald's app, which is already available in several markets around the world, and optimizing operations with a focus on speed and accuracy.

Drive Thru

McDonald's drive thru presence and experience with operating high performing drive thrus for over 45 years is unrivaled. McDonald's has a drive thru in approximately 65% of its restaurants around the world and, in the U.S., nearly 95% of the approximately 14,000 locations have a drive thru. During COVID-19, this channel has heightened importance and will be even more critical in the future to meet demand for flexibility and choice.

McDonald's will maximize the advantages of its strong drive thru presence by testing new concepts and technology to make the customer experience even faster. This includes innovations to provide a faster, more convenient experience such as automated order taking; a new drive thru express pick-up lane for customers with a digital order; and a restaurant concept that offers drive thru, delivery and takeaway only. In addition, the Company will build on its drive thru advantage as the vast majority of new restaurants in the U.S. and International Operated Markets will include a drive thru.

Run Great Restaurants

McDonald's reinvigorated strategy is underpinned by a relentless focus on running great restaurants and empowering restaurant crew. The Company has reduced its drive thru service times by about 30 seconds over the past two years in its largest markets, on average. McDonald's will continue to focus on driving efficiencies in its operations to enhance the customer experience.

Also, now more than ever, safety, hygiene and customers' trust and confidence in its restaurants is critical, so the Company has established even greater discipline in how restaurants are run to meet those needs. To support these efforts, McDonald's retained Mayo Clinic to provide consulting services regarding cleanliness, health and safety to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Financial Performance Expectations

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated resurgences, countries around the world continue to be impacted by economic instability, government regulations and changes in consumer behavior. Due to this ongoing uncertainty, the Company continues to evaluate its financial expectations on an ongoing basis and will provide updates as situations warrant. Based on current conditions, the Company expects its strong foundation and new growth strategy to deliver the following key metrics for 2021 and 2022.

* Systemwide sales growth in the mid-single digits
-> For 2021, growth is as compared to 2019
-> For 2022, unit expansion is expected to contribute 1.5% to 2% to Systemwide sales growth

* Operating margin percent in the low-to-mid 40s

* Annual G&A spend of about 2.3% of Systemwide sales

* Capital expenditures of approximately $2.3 billion, about half of which will be directed towards new unit expansion

* Free cash flow conversion greater than 90%

Additionally, the Company's capital allocation priorities remain investing in the business for growth, paying dividends, and returning to pre-COVID-19 debt ratios.

"Our solid financial position and business foundation has been a source of strength through the pandemic," said Chief Financial Officer Kevin Ozan. "We are confident that Accelerating the Arches builds on our momentum and will drive long-term profitable growth for all stakeholders."

THE FOLLOWING DEFINITIONS APPLY TO THESE TERMS AS USED THROUGHOUT THIS RELEASE

Systemwide sales include sales at all restaurants, whether operated by the Company or by franchisees. While franchised sales are not recorded as revenues by the Company, management believes the information is important in understanding the Company's financial performance, because these sales are the basis on which the Company calculates and records franchised revenues and are indicative of the financial health of the franchisee base. The Company's revenues consist solely of sales by Company-operated restaurants and fees from franchised restaurants operated by conventional franchisees, developmental licensees and affiliates.

Operating margin is defined as operating income as a percent of total revenues. The contributions to operating margin differ by segment due to each segment's ownership structure, primarily due to the relative percentage of franchised versus Company-operated restaurants.

Free cash flow, defined as cash provided by operations less capital expenditures, and free cash flow conversion rate, defined as free cash flow divided by net income, are measures reviewed by management in order to evaluate the Company's ability to convert net profits into cash resources, after reinvesting in the core business, that can be used to pursue opportunities to enhance shareholder value.

RELATED COMMUNICATIONS

McDonald's broadcast its virtual Investor Update live over the Internet at 8:30 a.m. (Central Time) on November 9, 2020.

UPCOMING COMMUNICATIONS

For important news and information regarding McDonald's, including the timing of future investor conferences and earnings calls, visit the Investor Relations section of the Company's Internet home page at www.investor.mcdonalds.com. McDonald's uses this website as a primary channel for disclosing key information to its investors, some of which may contain material and previously non-public information.

ABOUT McDONALD'S

McDonald's is the world's leading global foodservice retailer with over 39,000 locations in over 100 countries. Approximately 93% of McDonald's restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business owners.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This release contains certain forward-looking statements, which reflect management's expectations regarding future events and operating performance and speak only as of the date hereof. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations are detailed in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, such as its annual and quarterly reports and current reports on Form 8-K. The Company undertakes no obligation to update such forward-looking statements, except as may otherwise be required by law.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

This completely ignores the McRib.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:35 AM | Permalink

Fox News 2016 vs. 2020

"There is absolutely no way to rig a national election."


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See also from Mediaite: Examining The Most Viral And Absurd Claims Supporting Trump's Stolen Election Conspiracy.

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And:

John Oliver, Last Week Tonight: Election Results 2020.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 AM | Permalink

No Border Blues

Delmark recording artist and Chicago Blues Network faculty member Johnny Burgin and executive producer Stephanie Tice have launched the new No Border Blues video podcast, featuring Blues artists from Bollywood to Britain and beyond.

Burgin and Tice, passionate about their mission to elevate recognition of international Blues, spotlight artists who discuss the Blues scenes in their home countries and present intimate musical performances in their native languages as well as in English.

The 30-minute No Border Blues episodes air the 15th and last days of each month on the Chicago Blues Network YouTube channel.

Each No Border Blues episode shines a light on the unique ways Chicago blues can be seen through different cultural lenses, and how people from very different countries and backgrounds adopt the Blues as their own.

This new video podcast, sponsored by Chicago Blues Network, aims to shine a spotlight into the hidden blues scenes - "mesmerized clusters" - of serious Blues musicians and fans in places one might not expect; offering exclusive performances and intriguing cross-cultural exchanges.

"Stephanie and I were surprised and delighted to find hard-core blues fanatics in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo - and that led to No Border Blues Japan, the first American compilation of the underground Japanese blues scene," Burgin said. "Our No Border Blues video podcast continues our journey to the cultural crossroads, shining a spotlight on international blues artists the world should know about."

Upcoming November No Border Blues podcasts:

* The No Border Blues podcast, airing November 15, will feature members of Sweden's house rockin' rhythm & blues band Trickbag.

Over an impressive 25-year career, Trickbag has released five CDs of original songs as well as serving as of the best back-up bands in the business, supporting numerous Blues artists when touring in Europe, including Junior Watson, Lynwood Slim and Burgin, himself.

* Airing November 30, Burgin and Tice welcome Belgium-based Ruf Records recording artist Ghalia Volt. The former Brussels busker broke out with her 2017 debut Let the Demons Out, a critical and creative success fusing the groove of New Orleans with her own punk rock attitude.

Her current release, Mississippi Blend, continues to pay tribute to the American South. It was recorded in the award-winning Zebra Lounge operated by Cody and Luther Dickinson, sons of the award-winning producer Jim Dickinson, and features Cody (North Mississippi Allstars) on drums, while Volt sings up a storm while also playing soulful dobro and slide guitar.

Past episodes now available for streaming on the Chicago Blues Network YouTube channel include:

* Folkestone, UK-based singer-songwriter and Blues harmonica player Katie Bradley came into the spotlight with her 2012 iTunes Blues hit, "I hear the river," which received a nomination for Best Original Song in the British Blues Awards.

She continues to ascend, supporting and collaborating with artists across the world including Lucky Peterson, Tail Dragger, Georgie Fame, Geno Washington, and Kirk Fletcher, to name a few.

Bradley's stage presence, talent and luminosity win her new followers and her harp playing often sets her apart.

* Lorenzo "Mumbles" Albai is the singer and harmonica player for Jesus On a Tortilla, from the little town of Saronna, near Milan, Italy.

For 11 years, Albai and band have been playing their brand of hard-core, retro, '40s and '50s Chicago blues in France, Poland, Switzerland and their native Lombardia.

On No Border Blues, Albai explains the meaning behind his band's unique name and how playing their brand of almost-antiquated Chicago Blues in the osterias of Milan's suburbs is truly a leap of faith.

* Sony India recording artist Aki Kumar, aka "The only Bombay Blues Man," left his home in Mumbai with the intention of working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. Then he discovered the Blues, and his life dramatically changed.

Singing and playing harmonica, Kumar steeped himself in the music and became a fixture in Blues clubs throughout Northern California. He's garnered international acclaim for his "Bollywood Blues," a unique, audacious blend of Chicago-style Blues and elements of Indian music.

Hear Kumar reveal how his song, "Tiyachu" (a not-very-polite name in Hindi) slyly suggests that no one, even the singer, himself, is immune from applying implicit bias to the people around them.

* Ashesh Dangol, a guitarist and singer based in Kathmandu, plays music reflecting his love of Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters, as well as his immersion in the rich musical heritage of his homeland.

Dangol has done much to generate a Nepalese Blues scene; growing a fan base through extensive gigging, organizing events and starting the Blues Society of Nepal.

Since the pandemic, he's been producing the "Blues for a Cause" livestream, which has featured dozens of artists worldwide.

On the podcast, Dangol speaks of his activism in his native country, his experiences touring in Texas, and his blending of Nepalese music with the string-bending of the American blues guitar masters.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 AM | Permalink

November 10, 2020

Formula One's Dirty Saudi Deal

The Formula One Group's plans to take its flagship Grand Prix race to Saudi Arabia should be conditioned on freeing imprisoned women's driving advocates and dropping the charges against them.

Formula One has made human rights commitments, and should explain how the company's operations will improve human rights in Saudi Arabia. Formula One leaders did not address pervasive Saudi human rights abuses in announcing their partnership last week.

"If Formula One is serious about upholding its own human rights policies, it needs to make a meaningful effort to assess conditions in Saudi Arabia and call for the release of women's rights defenders who campaigned for women to be allowed to drive," said Minky Worden, global initiatives director at Human Rights Watch. "There is no evidence that Formula One or the sport's governing body, the FIA, has followed its own human rights policies in making its Saudi Arabia plans."

Formula One's announcement makes the company the latest in a growing list of sports events Saudi Arabia apparently is using to distract from the country's serious human rights abuses. Two years after the brazen murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the country has engaged in "sports-washing" by hosting a heavyweight world title boxing match, a high-profile desert motor race, and now a premier road race.

Human Rights Watch will seek to counter Saudi Arabia's "image laundering" through an outreach campaign to inform the entertainment and sports industries - including stars, teams and athletes who are courted to play or perform - about Saudi Arabia's human rights record. The campaign will call on them to tell the Saudi government that they won't take Saudi government money and participate in events whose primary purpose is image laundering and deflecting attention from human rights abuses. Moreover, they should refuse to perform in Saudi Arabia until the government releases women's rights activists and improves human rights.

A November 2019 report by Human Rights Watch documents ongoing arbitrary and abusive practices by Saudi authorities targeting dissidents and activists and the total lack of accountability by those responsible for abuses. Despite important social reforms, such as lifting travel restrictions for women in August, activists remain in jail. They include Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sadah, and Nouf Abdulaziz, who advocated for women's right to drive and an end to the discriminatory male guardianship system. These four women are among a dozen women's rights activists who are still on trial for their activism, even though the authorities have made some concessions on women's rights.

Before Formula One takes the Grand Prix to Saudi Arabia, it should insist on freedom for these activists.

Formula One has previously partnered with other countries seeking to build soft power and whitewash abysmal human rights records. In 2016, the Grand Prix was hosted by Azerbaijan, a country notorious for its repression of critics. Formula One took its signature race to Bahrain, sparking years of protests and the jailing of the activist Najah Yusuf, who was detained, tortured and imprisoned, partly for her social media posts opposing the event. In February 2019, Human Rights Watch and 16 other human rights groups sent a letter to Formula One urging it to uphold its commitment to human rights in Bahrain and beyond.

Formula One's "Human Rights Statement" says it will "focus our efforts in relation to those areas which are within our own direct influence."

"The freedom of women's driving advocates is absolutely within the company's direct influence," Worden said. "Formula One CEO Chase Carey, and FIA Chairman and President Jean Todt should insist to visit unjustly detained activists and publicly urge the Saudi government to set them free and to expand press freedom and human rights as a condition of their lucrative partnership."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:54 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"More people are currently hospitalized in the United States with Covid-19 than ever before, according to the Covid Tracking Project," CNN reports.

"Illinois' skyrocketing COVID-19 resurgence showed no signs of letting up Tuesday as public health officials announced another record-breaking total of 12,623 probable and confirmed cases of the virus statewide," the Sun-Times reports.

"Proclaiming Springfield 'unsafe for session,' Illinois legislative leaders on Tuesday canceled the fall veto session amid concerns about convening hundreds of lawmakers and staff in the capital city as the coronavirus again surges across the state," the Tribune reports.

It didn't have to be this way.

And yet, Donald Trump actually grew his vote.

"People have had four years now to find out just how truly terrible Mr. Trump is," Margaret Renkl writes for the New York Times.

"How indifferent he is to the norms of civil discourse and to the responsibilities of democracy itself. How transparently racist he is, how divisive, how selfish. We know he's a chronic liar who, when caught out, simply doubles down on the lie. We know that he is using the levers of government to enrich himself. We know he delights in and urges on the most violent impulses of his most dangerous followers. We know he has let 237,000 Americans die on his watch and still has no plan for saving the rest of us.

"The numbers as of Sunday revealed that more than 71 million people voted for him anyway - eight million more than voted for him in 2016.

It's been said before - the absolute exasperation, the inability to understand, the wonder of it all. And yet, it remains unfathomable.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Pie Wins
Brilliant post-election analysis.

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Nick Silver Checks His Work
Our guy was right.

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ChicagoReddit

Whats up with the hill in Montrose park? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

S Woodlawn Ave. Hyde Park.

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

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ChicagoTube

New Chicago Vintage Toy Store Full Of Rare Boxed '70s, '80s, '90s Treasures

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BeachBook

How A Communist Physics Teacher Flattened The COVID-19 Curve In Southern India.

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The Bob Ross Experience Opens In Indiana.

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

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The Beachwood McPlant Line: McPhone it in.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:57 PM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter, Wins The Post-Election Analysis

'It's a joy to watch a mainstream media that for four years struggled to call a lie a lie and allowed Trump to use their platforms to spread those lies finally call him out for what he is: a liar.'


"I never thought it would be possible to get this excited about Joe Biden winning an election. Slow and sleepy wins the race!"

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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.

* Build Back What?

* Let The Children Starve.

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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 9:09 AM | Permalink

Analysis | Joe Biden Won And It Wasn't Particularly Close

It just seemed that way - just like we warned you it would.

For one thing, most of the swing states counted Election Day votes first, which overwhelmingly skewed Republican. Now imagine a scenario in which every state preprocessed the early, mail-in votes like Florida did - the race would've been called before midnight.

Indeed, it appears that the final electoral vote total will be 306 to 232, the exact same totals in 2016. No one said that election was close then because the vast majority of votes were counted by midnight instead of in a days-long, drawn-out process that created the illusion that the margins were alternately shrinking and expanding in the states that mattered. It was a false drama, abetted by a media afraid to just come out and say what was readily apparent.

The reality is that many of us didn't get it as wrong as a lot of folks seem to think. Let's take a look by reviewing my pre-election analysis point by point.

1. Polling.

There clearly was polling error. Pollsters failed to detect Trump's inroads with Latinos in particular, including in the Rio Grande Valley and Houston, which skewed predictions of a possible BLEXAS.

2. Independents.

Biden won independents by the biggest margins since Bill Clinton in 1996 - by 14 points, according to a CBS exit poll, which is a whopping 10 points more than Trump did in 2016.

3. Ann Selzer.

Selzer's final poll for the Des Moines Register - considered the gold standard of polling - got the final result right, despite widespread skepticism that it was an outlier: Trump won Iowa by 8.2 percent, even higher than Selzer's predicted 7 percent margin.

But she badly missed elsewhere on the ballot. The GOP winning the state's 1st Congressional District by 15 points? The final margin was 2.6.

Selzer may have been vindicated overall, but the math that got her there still seems suspect - and the skepticism of her work was warranted.

4. The margin of error.

Biden was mostly outside the margins of error across swing states in the polling which ultimately skewed more in his favor, and he had the cushion to allow for a correction.

5. The Blue Wall.

The blue firewall held, with Biden returning Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to the fold, while flipping Georgia, Arizona and Nebraska's second district. Trump failed to flip a single state.

6. Real clear polling averages.

When large enough, national polling margins equate to electoral votes. Unlike Biden, Barack Obama never led by seven in 2008.

7. Turnout.

Both candidates got record turnouts. Biden can claim the most votes ever for a presidential candidate, while Trump can claim the most votes ever for a sitting president. While high turnouts doesn't always guarantee a Democratic victory, it is a leading indicator.

8. Voter suppression.

You can shutter polling locations, lock up voting machines and sabotage the USPS, but a motivated electorate will find a way, and in this case Democrats used all the tools available to them, from early voting to drop-off ballot boxes.

9. Florida.

Trump won Florida and it wasn't a death blow for Biden, nor should anyone have expected it to be. It simply meant Trump was still alive. Miami-Dade underperformed but Pinellas County flipped. We saw in Florida what we would go on to see elsewhere: Trump gaining with Latinos but losing ground in the suburbs and with older white voters.

10. Follow the money.

I wrote how heavily invested I was in the prediction markets and I did spend hours on this. That Selzer poll really pushing and skewing the prices on the contracts after it's release really helped the bullish Biden traders.

An interesting and noteworthy event is that after the Selzer poll dropped, contracts on nearly all the PredictIt markets moved strongly for Trump, some going so far as to flip from Biden, including markets with demographics markedly different than those in Iowa.

The market for "Will Trump Win The Popular Vote In 2020?" even moved up 5 cents from 14 cents per share to 19 cents per share at close after the poll's release on October 31st - and would stay there until the night of the election.

Despite the flurry of concerned and/or panicked texts and e-mails I received on Tuesday evening, I hadn't seen anything alarming. (Editor's Note: True.) The outstanding numbers showed everything was still in line. I had a couple-few beers and slept well, woke up early and watched the mail-in votes begin to be tabulated. The smart money rode the Trump wave and got out and bought Biden low after midnight. The only real concern I had was Arizona maybe flipping back for Trump, and it wasn't until Sunday night that it was no longer in doubt it would remain blue.

I had Biden flipping Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, and won big there. I had the correct Electoral College margin of victory, which would have been a loser had Arizona flipped back. I had Minnesota right and it was on sale, even though it was never flipping no matter how many "Iron Range" comments were posted all over social media and in the PredictIt comments section.

I had Biden winning in the de facto Biden vs Trump markets. I lost some on Florida and lost big on Texas. I never intended to go long in Texas but the site crashed and I couldn't get off.

What Now?

Democrats need to fix multiple issues. They need to stop taking non-white voters for granted. Many are perplexed that Trump made some inroads here but in reality it's not all that surprising.

They also need to stop blaming progressives for their failures. "The Squad" doubled in size. So far, every House member who backed Medicare For All won their races. Progressive groups themselves are seeing that vote shares for the more conservative Democrats in swing districts declined for them.

The president of the House Majority Super PAC is Robby Mook. This Super PAC's entire existence is to extend gains in the House. Democrats kept the House but lost seats.

Mook, if you recall, is the person who drove Hillary Clinton's campaign into the ground and lost to Trump. Some habits are deadly and just impossible to break.

You have John Kasich on CNN blaming progressives despite him failing to deliver Ohio; meanwhile Ilhan Omar, who won her primary despite all the dark money against her, went out and organized and knocked on doors to help deliver Minnesota.

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It's unlikely Dems win both of the Georgia runoffs to win control of the U.S. Senate. Mitch McConnell likely will block everything for Biden's first two years. There's always a wave for the opposing party in the first midterm after a change of power in the White House, so Dems might be even more frustrated in Biden's next two years.

At minimum, though, they can rest easy that Not Trump will be the 46th President of the United States.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:17 AM | Permalink

November 9, 2020

Moon TV

NASA is seeking new partners to help the agency tell the story of human exploration at the Moon with the Artemis program in ways that engage, excite and inspire a worldwide audience. Through the end of this decade, NASA will explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and will establish a sustainable human presence with Artemis in preparation for future human missions to Mars.

The agency has released an Announcement for Proposals calling for submissions of potential partnerships to visually bring the public along for the ride in new ways, starting as early as a trip around the Moon with astronauts on the Artemis II mission, targeted for 2023. Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. EST, Dec. 11, 2020.

"We're looking for partners to use advanced technologies, imagery applications and approaches that will go beyond our standard coverage on NASA TV," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "We want to capture the awe of Apollo for a new generation - the Artemis Generation. Just as people were glued to the TV 50 years ago as astronauts took the first steps on the Moon, we want to bring people along in this new era of exploration."

Spacecraft are routinely outfitted with NASA cameras for technical and operational support, such as inspecting solar arrays, and footage from these cameras typically is used to supplement mission coverage on NASA Television. This announcement primarily focuses on proposals that include potential innovative technologies or hardware, such as cameras or other equipment that a partner might fly on the mission to augment existing NASA imagery.

Examples could include hardware such as 360-degree field-of-view camera systems, virtual reality, advanced imagery compression to improve image quality over limited bandwidth communication links; unique storytelling and distribution methods, 4K and Ultra HD camera systems, robotic "third-person" views, crew handheld camera systems, image stabilization, small portable cameras, or other concepts that provide more engaging imagery or deliver a custom viewer experience.

NASA welcomes responses from broadcasters, studios, the aerospace industry, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and others, as well as collaborations between multiple entities for creative proposals to help acquire or use NASA's live or recorded imagery to help tell the story of exploring the Moon.

Submissions should outline the proposed public engagement project, potential to enhance public understanding of the Artemis program, distribution mechanisms to reach large audiences, requested support from NASA in the form of existing media or access to facilities and personnel, and a description of unique video, audio or imaging hardware, software, or related technology a partner might seek to place on or in NASA's Orion spacecraft or other NASA equipment, facilities or infrastructure.

Proposals for storytelling collaborations to reach large portions of the public or new audiences using ground-based filming or imagery, and which do not require partner-provided equipment, may be submitted through NASA's standard film and television collaboration process.

NASA's Artemis I mission is an uncrewed flight test that will launch Orion on the agency's Space Launch System rocket to orbit the Moon and return to Earth. On Artemis II, Orion will carry a crew of astronauts around the Moon and back, and Artemis III will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface. Subsequent missions will explore more of the Moon and test the technologies and procedures needed for human exploration of Mars.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:35 PM | Permalink

Remembering King Von

"In the early hours of the morning on Friday, November 6, Dayvon Daquan Bennett, better known as the rapper King Von, was one of three men shot and killed during an altercation in Atlanta outside of a local hookah lounge," Vulture's Paul Thompson writes in King Von Was Building Something Bigger Than Chicago Drill. He Deserved to See It Through.

"A Chicago native, Von had moved to the city to further his career - Atlanta being, in some ways, the new capital of the hip-hop industry - and to avoid the harassment he said he faced in his home city from the Chicago police department and from personal enemies he accumulated over the years. Von was exactly one week removed from the release of his third album - the tense, cinematic Welcome to O'Block, set to be his breakthrough - for which there had been an album-release party on the night of his death. He was 26 and the father of two young children."

"Von was born in 1994 near the Parkway Garden Homes, an area on Chicago's South Side perhaps introduced to a national audience by Chief Keef, the drill prodigy also from an area known locally as the O-Block.

"Von went to the same high school as G Herbo, who would emerge as one of the breakout stars when the city's drill music exploded in the early 2010s, and was childhood friends with another of that scene's key players, Lil Durk.

"It was Durk who would later urge Von to take rap seriously and who, like Von, would eventually move from Chicago to Atlanta in part to stay out of trouble.

"Von's life had long been beset by problems with the law - experiences that helped to shape him into a magnetic young artist. In the summer of 2014, he was charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection to a shooting that had occurred that spring in Englewood. The charges were later dropped - but in this case, 'later' meant 'after more than three years behind bars.'

"Von would later say he spent his time in prison doing little aside from reading, writing, and ruminating on his past."

Click through for the rest.

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From the Beachwood, April 9, 2020:

ChicagoTube

King Von (Grandson Of David Barksdale) Could Be Chicago's Next Up But He's Not From 63rd.

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Revolt: King Von Posthumously Achieves Highest-Charting Album Debut.

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New York Daily News: Man Charged With King Von's Murder.

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"How It Go"

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"Why He Told"

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"Crazy Story"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:06 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #329: Halas Hall Total Landscaping

Bears fraud abetted by Matt's miserable math. Plus: Out Of Lovie; Bulls Ball Game; Blackhawks' New Enforcer; Chicago Fire Playoff Hopes Snuffed Out.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #329: Halas Hall Total Landscaping

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SHOW NOTES

* 329.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #306: Baseball Is Blowing It.

"Billionaire owners cry poor, as usual. Plus: Our Hearts Ache For Minneapolis; Illinois Provides Week's Top Sports Story; Last Dance Remnants; The Blackhawks Just Undeservedly Made The Playoffs; Kaner & The Breadman; Reopening Sports; Remembering Biff Pocaroba!; Thibs Lives!; Biggs's Bag; and Chicago-Based Wilson Gets Back The NBA's Official Game Ball."

* Stacey Abrams.

* How Team Trump's News Conference Ended Up At A Philadelphia Landscaping Firm.

* Vote Fraud' Witness At Rudy Giuliani's Four Seasons Total Landscaping Presser Is A Convicted Sex Offender.

* Tony Bobulinski.

7:49: Bears Fraud.

* Wiederer, Tribune: "Their offense, playing with a reshuffled line, clawed its way to 375 total yards, the Bears' second-highest total this season and 147 more than the Titans had.

"Nick Foles threw for 335 yards with two touchdown passes for a season-best 99.4 passer rating.

"And the Bears defense held strong yet again, limiting the NFL's leading rusher, Derrick Henry, to 68 yards on 21 carries and stopping Henry for 2 yards or less 14 times."

* Haugh, The Score: "Yet the truer story emerges when studying the Bears converting just 2 of 15 third downs against a Titans defense giving up an NFL-worst 61% entering the game . . .

"The most embarrassing example came after Mingo's clever fake punt conversion when the Bears wasted a timeout before the next snap, as if they surprised even themselves. The spate of costly penalties continued on back-to-back pre-snap penalties that induced a punt instead of a possible fourth-down conversion."

* Lieser, Sun-Times: "Calling this a debacle would be too generous. Excusing it because of a rag-tag offensive line would be too lenient. There aren't enough explanations to make this acceptable. In a season full of scuttled plays, three-and-outs and Matt Nagy seeming to wonder how all this is possibly happening to him, this was a new low . . .

"Nagy seems like he'd rather get fired than give up play calling, and maybe it's time for him to choose. He's an offensive specialist running an offense that's inept. No coach keeps his job in that scenario."

* Stockton's Wing.

* Matt's Math.

Screen Shot 2020-11-09 at 2.37.34 PM.png

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50:53: Out Of Lovie.

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57:43: Bulls Ball Game?

1:02:51: Blackhawks' New Enforcer.

10413: Fire Lose, Miss Playoffs.

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STOPPAGE: 15:59

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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 12:44 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Concessions

By the time the Bears (who have now scored seven points total in nine third quarters this season - an unbelievable record of ineptitude) blew another post-halftime drive on Sunday, lowlighted by two straight fourth-down false-start penalties, it was clear they were on their way to another game in which, for the majority of the 60 minutes, they were the lesser team.

Let me write a little disclaimer right here: This is a football column that has some political stuff at the end. I was a Biden supporter in this year's election. If you want to bail out here, everyone understands.

But the double-penalty sequence and subsequent punt didn't mean the Bears were definitely going to lose. Coach Mike Vrabel, like his mentor Bill Belichick has done dozens of times with sizable, Tom Brady-generated leads in the 20 seasons leading up to this one, had his team play soft zone defense for much of the fourth quarter.

First and foremost, the Titans were trying to make sure they didn't give up big scoring plays. And while that strategy is a slightly higher percentage play in general and worked on Sunday, it is far from foolproof. Oftentimes one missed tackle (or a well-struck and lucky onside kick) can lead to the dreaded big play against and foil the plan.

I later realized that after the second false start, the one called on ultra-bust Jimmy Graham, I didn't feel nearly the irritation, if not downright anger, that I would usually feel in that sort of situation.

Then David Montgomery, in yet another of his doomed forays into the opposing defense in which the opposition clearly outnumbered the running back's blockers, fumbled the football, the Titans grabbed it and took it back for a back-breaking touchdown and 17-0 lead.

Still no fury. Now let's be clear: The things that prompt sports fan fury in me (in which I, in no particular order, scream at the TV and rant and rave for a while) are not plays like the fumble recovery touchdown. Stuff like that just happens in a game (and this fumble was absolutely the exception that proves the rule - it was Montgomery's first of the season. He is actually great at ball security).

What prompts fury is usually something crushingly stupid like Graham's penalty, or a blown referee call, or a particularly ill-advised play call, which has been a Matt Nagy specialty in the last three games and which, come to think of it, almost certainly was at least a partial culprit for the Montgomery bobble.

And finally in the fourth quarter the Titans drove down the field and added a final touchdown to just about officially put the game out of reach. The Bears defense made a variety of bad plays during that stretch but how could you be truly pissed at the defense?

They had given the Bears a chance to win and then some all day long. They had nothing to do with the critical Titan defensive touchdown and while the Bears' continued inability to get turnovers is a problem, they are a very good defense and they played great but for two sizable Titan touchdown drives.

That last scoring drive was a killer but was there any reasonably cogent fan watching who felt like even a relatively small slice of that ultimately insurmountable deficit was on the defense? No.

As I thought about it after the game, I think I figured out why I didn't get nearly as upset as I would have during an average Bears game.

It was that I was so relieved to hear the presidential election news early Saturday that I was still riding a high of happiness throughout Sunday. I have also been thinking about what my official reaction to the presidential election would be and I've decided to go ahead and put it here:

If I could put something in front of the president, it would say: "The election is over and you definitively lost. You called your win in 2016 a landslide and if that was the case, this was a landslide in the other direction.

"For once in your gilded, privileged life, act like an adult. I realize that acting like a petulant child has in some way worked for you in terms of bullying banks, among other business adversaries, and in terms of winning the occasional political fight during the past almost four years. But for once in your life stop looking in the mirror and look out on the country.

"The time has come for you to not put yourself first for a little while. If you just go out and acknowledge the truth of your electoral loss you will be doing the country that elected you the first time, don't forget, a service that will reflect well on you.

"Mr. President, if you are at least in one tiny way the great man that Jack Nicklaus and 70 million-plus other Americans would like to continue to pretend that you are, you will concede, immediately."

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:25 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Remembering King Von
Bigger than Chicago drill.

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The War Inside Your Printer
Printers are grifter magnets, and the whole industry has been fighting a cold war with its customers since the first clever entrepreneur got the idea of refilling a cartridge - or only filling it halfway.

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Neanderthal Life
Love and art.

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Moon TV
Get your proposals in!

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From the Beachwood Sports Desk . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #329: Halas Hall Total Landscaping
Bears fraud abetted by Matt's miserable math. Plus: Out Of Lovie; Bulls Ball Game; Blackhawks' New Enforcer; Chicago Fire Playoff Hopes Snuffed Out.

*

TrackNotes: Keeneland's Climax
Ladies, land and just a little journalism.

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TrackNotes: Environmental Contamination On Fantasy Island
Can Bob Baffert put another one over?

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SportsMonday: Concessions
Like Donald Trump, Matt Nagy should concede - the play-calling.

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ChicagoReddit

Has anyone heard back from Illinois housing authority from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Area Woman Asks Fox Chicago News Viewers Where Her Whores Are At.

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

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The Beachwood Medline: Free for all.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

November 8, 2020

The Lives, Loves, Deaths & Art Of Neanderthals

Roughly 123,000 years ago, oak, elm and hazel forests grew across Europe. Macaques swung from branches and aurochs and horses grazed on grasslands. Hippopotamuses swam in deep lakebeds in what is now Yorkshire, England. Small bands of Neanderthals, who had already existed for more than 200,000 years, frequented lakes and springs and hunted in the forests.

The continent was remarkably warm - even warmer than it is today - and the period marked a point of Neanderthal culture that we don't often associate with the species, according to Rebecca Wragg Sykes in her compelling new book, Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art.

Long portrayed as a cave-dwelling Ice Age species, Neanderthals persisted for about another 80,000 years, living through many frigid glacial periods in an epoch of vast and sudden climate change before eventually giving way to modern humans.

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Neanderthals first appeared in Europe some 400,000 years ago, long before the arrival of Homo sapiens, though archaeologists now know the species overlapped for about 10,000 years and even interbred. (Their lineages are thought to have split from a common ancestor at least 500,000 years ago.) A little shorter, broader and more muscled than modern humans, Neanderthals likely outnumbered Homo sapiens in Europe - at least at first.

"Neanderthals were never some sort of highway service station en route to Real People," writes Wragg Sykes, a Paleolithic archaeologist. "They were state-of-the-art humans, just of a different sort."

Eventually Neanderthals died out, and we still aren't quite sure why. What we do know is that they were much more advanced than we first thought them to be. They chipped away at stone to make tools, hunted mammoths and rabbits, and worked hides into soft material. Evidence gathered over recent decades shows that Neanderthals were an adaptable, complex and varied species, and their genes exist in many of us today.

"Their fate," Wragg Sykes writes, "was a tapestry woven from the lives of individual hybrid babies, entire assimilated groups, and in remoter corners of Eurasia, lonely dwindling lineages - endlings - who left nothing behind but DNA sifting slowly into the dirt of a cave floor."

She details many of the caves, shelters and lakebeds that offer evidence of Neanderthals that dispels many widely held misconceptions. Thanks to advances in technologies like dating and optical scanning, these places, and the bones and tools found there, now offer us a better understanding of how they lived, moved and behaved.

The first Neanderthal bones were discovered in 1856 in a cave in the valley now known as Neandertal (spelled Neanderthal prior to 1901) in northern Germany. The owner of the limestone quarry where they were found, a member of the local natural history association, noticed that the bones might hold some interest, so he collected a few, including a skull fragment. A few years later, after scientists discovered more bones at other sites in Europe, the controversial claim was made that ancient prehumans once existed. They received the scientific name Homo neanderthalensis.

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Replica of a fossilized neanderthal skull from Le Moustier, an archaeological site in France/Zdeněk Kratochvíl, Wikimedia Commons

Anthropologists initially surmised that Neanderthals were scavengers until they analyzed whole assemblages of bones left over from animals killed, skinned and dismembered. Further analysis showed that the stone tools they made to hunt, process animal skins and create bags and more tools were made in "more systematic, complicated and nuanced ways than was ever suspected," Wragg Sykes writes. They shaped everything from flint to volcanic rock, creating sharp flakes to butcher and blunt stones to scrape.

Neanderthals were nomadic, hunting for large prey like bear and reindeer as well as seabirds and shellfish and plants. Some sites suggest that Neanderthals traveled and lived in bands of 10 to 20, using materials available where they went, including bone and shell, pine resin and beeswax to make their tools more durable.

"The enduring myth that Neanderthal technology was stuck in some kind of cognitive mire, bogged down by minds unable to innovate, is false," according to Wragg Sykes.

She also raises questions about why so many human bodies, particularly babies, appear to be cannibalized at Neanderthal sites. "Might cannibalism simply imply that Neanderthals ruthlessly chomped down on weaker individuals?" Or might they have been antagonistic towards strangers? A better explanation, she posits based on chimpanzee and bonobo behavior and what remains at the sites, is that cannibalism was a way of mourning the dead.

"Suddenly it's not difficult to envision how skills in carefully taking apart hunted carcasses might be transposed into a grieving process that involved butchery and cannibalism as acts of intimacy, not violation," she writes.

Wragg Sykes uses the breadcrumbs of archeological discoveries (including the positioning of bones and what tools were found where) to persuasively hypothesize on this and various other theories about the life and times of Neanderthals, as well as their eventual demise.

While evidence from a growing number of sites from France to Uzbekistan show that Neanderthals ranged much farther than once believed, it's possible that the last Neanderthals existed "somewhere in the vastness of Central or East Asia," she writes.

Michael Shermer interviews Wragg Sykes on October 14, 2020

She also points out that, based on genome sequencing, Neanderthals mixed with Homo sapiens for a long period, showing just how alike the two species were.

In fact, interbreeding with Neanderthals might have helped prevent Homo sapiens from going extinct when the species struggled some 70,000 years ago.

"Though Neanderthals remained physically distinct even in their last visible skeletal remains, the scale and repetition of interbreeding, plus the range of retained genes in us, means they were - and are - human," Wragg Sykes writes.

Though only about 3 percent of any living person's genome is now Neanderthal, it's likely that those genes have helped us in some ways, possibly by coping with dark winters or famine, or by making us less susceptible to toxins in smoke, Wragg Sykes maintains.

Advances in gene sequencing in the next decade or so will yield more clues, she writes.

To learn more about how Neanderthals lived, including what they ate, archaeologists have analyzed samples taken from the teeth of about 40 individuals. (The remains of up to 300 Neanderthals have been found in total, Wragg Sykes writes, with the majority comprising "the odd bone or jaw fragment with teeth valiantly holding on.")

Still, there is much we don't know about Neanderthals, including how they vocalized or whether they performed rituals, not to mention how they had sex, swapped genes, adapted to climatic swings, or behaved when someone died.

The ultimate question is why Neanderthals disappeared from the fossil record around 40,000 years ago. Did Homo sapiens have better clothes, places to live, and hunting strategies, as some experts theorize, or did they flourish by traveling in larger groups with different social structures that helped them outcompete Neanderthals? Other theories suggest that inbreeding may have led to the Neanderthal's demise.

Wragg Sykes suggests that "climate meltdown, plus a much more crowded continent, could have provided the stage for our persistence and the passing of the Neanderthals."

She finished her book in the spring of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she adds that "it's impossible not to wonder if a terrible contagion might have been added into the mix."

In the end, "a perfect storm of different stresses may have together been overwhelming,'' she concludes. "Crucially, populations and species can vanish through factors that have nothing to do with cleverness, but that simply come down to time and babies."

Susan Cosier is a Chicago-based writer focused on science and the environment. This post was originally published on Undark.

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See also:
* New York Times: At Home With Our Ancient Cousins, The Neanderthals.

* Science: A Nuanced Portrait Of Neanderthals Encourages Empathy And Understanding.

* Hyperallergic: The Fascinating World Of Neanderthal Aesthetics.

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And:

Neanderthals & Art: An Interview With Rebecca Wragg Sykes.

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Neanderthal: Life, Love, Death & Art | World History Documentaries.

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Writing About Neanderthals In The 21st Century.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From David Rutter:

Based on the Undark review of Rebecca Wragg Sykes' new book on Neanderthals, the puzzle of us adds another rational piece. It's a heartening assessment of modern science, though it's not precisely a scientific breakthrough. More a refocusing of known facts.

It's a call for appreciation. And perhaps understanding.

If nothing else, the story of humanity clearly does not resemble the preposterous interpretation offered by the Bible.

At its best, we know we grew into humanness through many interwoven, evolutionary paths.

I will read her book with great interest.

As Christopher Hitchens once noted: In ratifying the self-admiration of sapiens, we have not been generous in our mourning for genetic cousins who were human, too. Just different humans.

We made it. They didn't.

Millions of creatures who shared our thoughts and aspirations have perished from the planet without notice or much appreciation.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 PM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Keeneland's Climax

Ladies, land and just a little journalism are the lingering impressions after the 36th Breeders' Cup World Championships - and, for all intents and purposes, the 2020 Thoroughbred horse racing season - climaxed Saturday.

In no particular order:

* Monomoy Girl, one of the great mares, who missed 18 months of racing to colic and injury, bold-typed the ultimate win in the Breeders' Cup Distaff in what might have been her last race.

The billed showdown with Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver never materialized after Swiss' stumbled out of the gate, chased the rest of the way and was never a factor. It was the 'Girl's 13th win (seven Grade I wins) in 15 starts and 11th straight!

After winning the 2018 Distaff, Monomoy Girl was on the shelf until May 16 after undergoing colic surgery and then injuring herself in training after trainer Brad Cox and owner Michael Dubb decided to try to give the Kentucky Oaks winner a second chance. She was already great, but to pick it right back up this year is a testament to the future Hall of Famer.

In hindsight, she had things her way throughout, breaking from the outside 10-hole and faithful sidekick Florent Geroux keeping her in the clear in the three- or four-lane all the way. Always the picture of consistent movement, Monomoy' began picking them off from fifth in the turn and monorailed into the stretch with the lead and never looked back.

But this is a business, folks, and Monomoy Girl is scheduled to be sold at a breeding stock auction Sunday in Lexington. Dubb teased that they might change their mind, but nobody believed him. Whether she runs again is uncertain. While she has a mulligan year to give, she's done everything a mare can.

* Whitmore, the hard-knocking gelded seven-year-old, burned me like a ghost pepper, at 19-1, in the BC Sprint. Sticking to the magic fast one-lane - more on that later - Irad Ortiz and Whitmore were eating dust around the track. Settling into the stretch and still on the rail, Whitmore was trapped. But the three horses to his right made like the Three Stooges trying to get through a door, halting all their momentum. Ortiz did the dipsy-doodle and kicked out to the three-lane and took off, winning by more than three.

I completely overrated many of the others. My angle on Whitmore, who I've been watching for a long time and made money on before he was discovered, was that he was simply a horse for the course at Oaklawn Park, the scene of his greatest success. He lacklustered in three graded stakes since his Oaklawn spring. To make it worse, the paddock commentator gushed how he was happy and bouncing all day.

* Gamine, still under Bob Baffert's cloud of medication investigation, gamed the niche-division Filly and Mare Sprint to win by more than six in what was supposed to be another showdown with Serengeti Empress. 'Empress, a front-running filly herself, didn't really have a chance in finishing second.

Gamine set new track and race records, one of three record performances on the day.

The specter of a day of Baffert drug positives at Oaklawn last May hung heavy as Silver Bob was subdued in extolling the virtues of the best sprinting female in the country. But, as if somebody whacked him with a riding crop, Baffert said "I want to thank this guy (for sticking with me)," pointing to owner Michael Lund Petersen. As if Petersen would pull the horse from Baffert's barn.

* Aidan O'Brien and Out of Australia smashed the BC Mile as 'Australia paid $148.40 to win at 73-1 and Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez completed the win-place-show sweep for Irish super trainer O'Brien.

Pierre-Charles Boudot, subbing for COVID-positive Christophe Soumillon, also rode the winner in the Filly and Mare Turf. 'Australia was an also-eligible who got into the race only after One Master scratched.

* Authentic, the Kentucky Derby winner, wired the Breeders' Cup Classic in what was, based on the ratio of prestige to performance, one of the most disappointing races of the weekend.

The Baffert trainee got the jump and was never headed and won by more than two lengths. Another Baffert, Improbable, took second and Global Campaign, in a bothered trip, made a run late but flattened out. The third Baffert, Maximum Security, and Tiz the Law, both faded. Those two now have serious form problems, although you had to wonder about Tiz the Law, whose connections said he was sore after the Derby and would not have run in the Preakness, Triple Crown on the line or no.

I think the Breeders' Cup wonk who called this Classic one of the best ever was smoking jimsyn weed or something.

* Keeneland Race Course. Perhaps the biggest star of the weekend was the track itself. Enhanced by perfect weather and blazing Fall foliage, the viewer was treated to a real feeling of a track out in the country somewhere. Which it is, with a handy small airport landing strip next door. As the runners went down the backstretch, one could see only gently rolling, grassy hills in the background. NBC took full advantage with a drone camera hovering several times, with white barns in the foreground and the sprawling property in frame.

As for the track itself, the rail and the first two or three lanes were so fast that horses with true speed and the ability to get out front had things their own way. Or a merry-go-round as it's called. This is the kind or argument that never ends and could get you kicked out of a bar.

Marcus Hersh, the Daily Racing Form's Arlington Park beat boy, takes the fairness side:

"Surely Whitmore's steady-closing BC Sprint win will put to rest any lingering idea that the Keeneland main track is biased toward front-runners today. It's fast, and some speed horses have run very well, but the track's not biased."

I completely disagree. If you watch the replay, you'll see Whitmore availed himself of that magic inside lane to make his own trip, save ground, and use that position to accelerate to the win. He didn't close down the middle of the track, as Hersh implies. Granted, he didn't take the front, but many others did, like Authentic.

It wreaked havoc with handicapping, and made too much of the racing less competitive than it should have been.

P.S.: There were a lot of people at the track. Technically, it was no fans, but it must not have taken much to prove your affinity to racing and get a pass. Mask-wearing looked good but, like CPR classes, somebody call the Red Cross to offer mask lessons.

* NBC. Not a ton to report here, but the absence of Mike Tirico was a true blessing. As we had hoped, he was in Indiana for a football game, which NBC hyped like a moon landing. Laffit Pincay III and Ahmed Fareed are professional traffic cops who know, and appreciate, the game. When Randy Moss or Jerry Bailey popped in with truly interesting background anecdotes, they just did it, without the anchor spoiling it with an intro.

Veteran Kenny Rice found the interesting paddock story before every race. Britney Eurton was sincere when she practically begged Monomoy Girl's connections to run her for one more year. The jocks truly trust Donna Brothers in the post-race mounted interview.

The Euro interviewees were more vigilant with the masks, which is why we couldn't understand a word they were saying. I don't think we missed anything, so it was funny.

* Bless You Baffert But You Have Sinned. NBC, while admonishing supertrainer Bob Baffert for waiting until Wednesday to atone for his medication transgressions, heaped the most (soft) criticism on him than I've heard in a long time.

Apparently, Baffert finally said earlier this week that, while not admitting a loose ship, he will "tighten things up" to eliminate drug positive complaints against his barn.

Stumbling through a soft interview with Rice, Baffert mentioned "more sensitive" testing and the need for him to keep a closer watch on his operation.

Throwing to the anchor desk, Bailey went first:

"He's the face of the sport. He has had a lot of violations in recent history. I would have liked to see him say something sooner, because whenever he says something, people listen."

Moss cut him more slack. "These are not violations for drugging horses or running a lab to make drugs and disguise them. These are permitted medications and his horses have been over the legal limit. But there have been too many."

In a nice way, Fareed said, "If you present yourself as the gold standard for barns and trainers, then this is unacceptable for Bob Baffert."

Then the three immediately started analyzing Baffert's prospects for the race.

I would say a good solution would be for Baffert to be serving suspensions the next time racing is on national television.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 PM | Permalink

The War Inside Your Printer

Since its founding in the 1930s, Hewlett-Packard has been synonymous with innovation, and many's the engineer who had cause to praise its workhorse oscillators, minicomputers, servers, and PCs. But since the turn of this century, the company's changed its name to HP and its focus to sleazy ways to part unhappy printer owners from their money.

Printer companies have long excelled at this dishonorable practice, but HP is truly an innovator, the industry-leading Darth Vader of sleaze, always ready to strong-arm you into a "deal" and then alter it later to tilt things even further to its advantage.

The company's just beat its own record, converting its "Free ink for life" plan into a "Pay us $0.99 every month for the rest of your life or your printer stops working" plan.

Plenty of businesses offer some of their products on the cheap in the hopes of stimulating sales of their higher-margin items: you've probably heard of the "razors and blades" model (falsely) attributed to Gillette, but the same goes for cheap Vegas hotel rooms and buffets that you can only reach by running a gauntlet of casino "games," and cheap cell phones that come locked into a punishing, eternally recurring monthly plan.

Printers are grifter magnets, and the whole industry has been fighting a cold war with its customers since the first clever entrepreneur got the idea of refilling a cartridge and settling for mere astronomical profits, thus undercutting the manufacturers' truly galactic margins.

This prompted an arms race in which the printer manufacturers devote ever more ingenuity to locking third-party refills, chips, and cartridges out of printers, despite the fact that no customer has ever asked for this.

Lexmark: First-Mover Advantage

But for all the dishonorable achievements of the printer industry's anti-user engineers, we mustn't forget the innovations their legal departments have pioneered in the field of ink- and toner-based bullying.

First-mover advantage here goes to IBM, whose lawyers ginned up an (unsuccessful) bid to use copyright law to prevent a competitor, Static Controls, from modifying used Lexmark toner cartridges so they'd work after they were refilled.

A little more than a decade after its failure to get the courts to snuff out Static Controls, Lexmark was actually sold off to Static Controls' parent company. Sadly, Lexmark's aggressive legal culture came along with its other assets, and within a year of the acquisition, Lexmark's lawyers were advancing a radical theory of patent law to fight companies that refilled its toner cartridges.

HP: A Challenger Appears

Lexmark's fights were over laser-printer cartridges, filled with fine carbon powder that retailed at prices that rivaled diamonds and other exotic forms of that element. But laser printers are a relatively niche part of the printer market - the real volume action is in inkjet printers: dirt-cheap, semi-disposable, and sporting cartridges (half-) full of ink priced to rival vintage Veuve-Clicquot.

For the inkjet industry, ink was liquid gold, and they innovated endlessly in finding ways to wring every drop of profit from it. Companies manufactured special cartridges that were only half-full for inclusion with new printers, so you'd have to quickly replace them. They designed calibration tests that used vast quantities of ink, and, despite all this calibration, never could quite seem to get a printer to register that there was still lots of ink left in the cartridge that it was inexplicably calling "empty" and refusing to draw from.

But all this ingenuity was at the mercy of printer owners, who simply did not respect the printer companies' shareholders enough to voluntarily empty their bank accounts to refill their printers. Every time the printer companies found a way to charge more for less ink, their faithless customers stubbornly sought out competitors who'd patronize rival companies who'd refill or remanufacture their cartridges, or offer compatible cartridges.

Security Is Job One

Shutting out these rivals became Job One. When your customers reject your products, you can always win their business back by depriving them of the choice to patronize a competitor.

Printer cartridges soon bristled with "security chips" that use cryptographic protocols to identify and lock out refilled, third-party, and remanufactured cartridges. These chips were usually swiftly reverse-engineered or sourced out of discarded cartridges, but then the printer companies used dubious patent claims to have them confiscated by customs authorities as they entered the USA. (We've endorsed legislation that would end this practice.)

Here again, we see the beautiful synergy of anti-user engineering and anti-competition lawyering. It's really heartwarming to see these two traditional rival camps in large companies cease hostilities and join forces.

Alas, the effort that went into securing HP from its customers left precious few resources to protect HP customers from the rest of the world. In 2011, the security researcher Ang Cui presented his research on HP printer vulnerabilities, "Print Me If You Dare."

Cui found that simply by hiding code inside a malicious document, he could silently update the operating system of HP printers when the document was printed. His proof-of-concept code was able to seek out and harvest Social Security and credit card numbers; probe the local area network; and penetrate the network's firewall and allow him to freely roam it using the compromised printer as a gateway. He didn't even have to trick people into printing his gimmicked documents to take over their printers; thanks to bad defaults, he was able to find millions of HP printers exposed on the public internet, any one of which he could have hijacked with unremovable malware merely by sending it a print job.

The security risks posed by defects in HP's engineering are serious. Criminals who hack embedded systems like printers and routers and CCTV cameras aren't content with attacking the devices' owners - they also use these devices as botnets for devastating denial of service and ransomware attacks.

For HP, though, the "security update" mechanism built into its printers was a means for securing HP against its customers, not securing those customers against joining botnets or having the credit card numbers they printed stolen and sent off to criminals.

In March 2016, HP inkjet owners received a "security update available" message on their printers' screens. When they tapped the button to install this update, their printers exhibited the normal security update behavior: a progress bar, a reboot, and then nothing. But this "security update" was actually a ticking bomb - a countdown timer that waited for five months before it went off in September 2016, activating a hidden feature that could detect and reject all third-party ink cartridges.

HP had designed this malicious update so that infected printers would be asymptomatic for months, until after parents had bought their back-to-school supplies. The delay ensured that warnings about the "security update" came too late for HP printer owners, who had by then installed the update themselves.

HP printer owners were outraged and told the company so. The company tried to weather the storm, first by telling customers that they'd never been promised their printers would work with third-party ink, then by insisting that the lockouts were to ensure printer owners didn't get "tricked" with "counterfeit" cartridges, and finally by promising that future fake security updates would be clearly labeled.

HP never did disclose which printer models it attacked with its update, and a year later, they did it again, once again waiting until after the back-to-school season to stage its sneak attack, stranding cash-strapped parents with a year's worth of useless ink cartridges for their kids' school assignments.

You Don't Own Anything

Other printer companies have imitated HP's tactics but HP never lost its edge, finding new ways to transfer money from printer owners to its tax-free offshore accounts.

HP's latest gambit challenges the basis of private property itself: a bold scheme! With the HP Instant Ink program, printer owners no longer own their ink cartridges or the ink in them. Instead, HP's customers have to pay a recurring monthly fee based on the number of pages they anticipate printing from month to month; HP mails subscribers cartridges with enough ink to cover their anticipated needs. If you exceed your estimated page-count, HP bills you for every page (if you choose not to pay, your printer refuses to print, even if there's ink in the cartridges).

If you don't print all your pages, you can "roll over" a few of those pages to the next month, but you can't bank a year's worth of pages to, say, print out your novel or tax paperwork. Once you hit your maximum number of "banked" pages, HP annihilates any other pages you've paid for (but continues to bill you every month).

Now, you may be thinking, "All right, but at least HP's customers know what they're getting into when they take out one of these subscriptions," but you've underestimated HP's ingenuity.

HP takes the position that its offers can be retracted at any time. For example, HP's "Free Ink for Life" subscription plan offered printer owners 15 pages per month as a means of tempting users to try out its ink subscription plan and of picking up some extra revenue in those months when these customers exceeded their 15-page limit.

But Free Ink for Life customers got a nasty shock at the end of last month: HP had unilaterally canceled their "free ink for life" plan and replaced it with "a $0.99/month for all eternity or your printer stops working" plan.

Ink in the Time of Pandemic

During the pandemic, home printers have become far more important to our lives. Our kids' teachers want them to print out assignments, fill them in, and upload pictures of the completed work to Google Classroom. Government forms and contracts have to be printed, signed, and photographed. With schools and offices mostly closed, these documents are being printed from our homes.

The lockdown has also thrown millions out of work and subjected millions more to financial hardship. It's hard to imagine a worse time for HP to shove its hands deeper into its customers' pockets.

Industry Leaders

The printer industry leads the world when it comes to using technology to confiscate value from the public, and HP leads the printer industry.

But these are infectious grifts. For would-be robber-barons, "smart" gadgets are a moral hazard, an irresistible temptation to use those smarts to reconfigure the very nature of private property, such that only companies can truly own things, and the rest of us are mere licensors, whose use of the devices we purchase is bound by the ever-shifting terms and conditions set in distant boardrooms.

From Apple to John Deere to GM to Tesla to Medtronic, the legal fiction that you don't own anything is used to force you to arrange your affairs to benefit corporate shareholders at your own expense.

And when it comes to "razors and blades" business model, embedded systems offer techno-dystopian possibilities that no shaving company ever dreamed of: the ability to use law and technology to prevent competitors from offering their own consumables.

From coffee pods to juice packets, kitty litter to light bulbs, the printer-ink cartridge business model has inspired many imitators.

HP has come a long way since the 1930s, reinventing itself several times, pioneering personal computers and servers. But the company's latest reinvention as a wallet-siphoning ink grifter is a sad turn indeed, and the only thing worse than HP's decline is the many imitators it has inspired.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:57 PM | Permalink

November 6, 2020

TrackNotes: Environmental Contamination On Fantasy Island

American Thoroughbred horse racing does its Tarzan yell this weekend as beautiful Keeneland Race Course hosts the 36th annual Breeders' Cup World Championships.

The racing heart beats steady today and tomorrow, so it would be premature to perform the autopsy on the 2020 racing season. At this point, while Breeders' Cup glory is a real goal, don't discount the dollar signs owners and breeders see in horses who win and then hit the big parlay in the breeding shed. Some of the horses, like Tiz the Law, already have it made. Others can sink or swim.

Another, much bigger prize than Manager of the Year will ever be, is an Eclipse Award. That also translates into real money on the stud fees.

I may have to finally admit that the disruptions that racing went through this year unnerved me greatly.

We do have one bright spot. Lexington, home of Keeneland, will seem like Fantasy Island as it voted for Amy McGrath over Mitch "Call Him a Name Here" McConnell. But other than that . . .

Gobs of early turmoil this year were gleefully shoveled out by Churchill Downs Inc.

It again barked at Arlington Park like a dog that has its owner wrapped around three out of four paws. It threatened not to run this year unless it could have fans and, oh by the way, yowled again that it's going to destroy the track anyway, so who cares?

You could say it was justice that the big three summer turf races, culminating with the Arlington Million, were not run this year. But I see it as CDI licking its chops over the overhead it saved and the purse money it kept.

Then the bully, who will never be reformed by the closing credits, arbitrarily moved the Kentucky Derby from May to Labor Day weekend, forcing every track, every trainer and every horse to adjust to its terms. It was a Simon Barsinister cynical roll of the dice that either the coronavirus would be gone by then or nobody would care if it packed the Churchill stands with the usual suckers. Forget that Oaklawn Park had already proven that running a quality meet without fans was completely achievable. They could have run the Derby in May.

One good development was that three different horses won each of the "Triple Crown" races. Tiz the Law impressively dominated the first one, the Belmont, which can now be forgiven for only running nine furlongs. Just forget it. It was never going to be a real Crown.

Tiz the Law then dominated the Travers Stakes in early August and many of the pundits, especially those at NBC Sports, baptized him a superhorse.

Authentic then outdueled Tiz the Law in the Derby, forcing the racing rags' and NBC's tires to flatten as if another Crown was a lock with this Tiz' horse. GEEZ!

Thank God for Saratoga, I honored my vow to boycott wagering at Churchill that day.

A month later, Swiss Skydiver became multiple drug investigations he is under. We'll have to endure two days of Mike Tirico, unless Notre Dame has dibs on him we hope. And Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey seem like they're going through the motions. The only spark plug is Eddie Olczyk. And Larry Collmus is a very good race announcer.

But I reserve the right to make the cats scatter and shout "Go, Baby, Go" and even win some money. My early hunch about all the chalk dust flying around this year bore out, which kept my wagering down.

Friday will be all juvenile races. I have a hard time on those because i don't know them. I'll take a look.

As for Saturday, Gamine and Serengeti Empress in the Filly and Mare Sprint (Grade I, seven furlongs, $1,000,000) are your stars. I also like Speech, who's not only on my good-bad-good Beyer Speed Figure angle, but the race of her life was at Keeneland. Except for his minor connections, there's something to like about Inthemidstofbiz. Sconsin could shock with a leap forward.

Art Collector will take money in the Dirt Mile (Grade I, 1 mile, $1,000,000), but the once-touted Crown horse bounced badly in the Preakness, which should have been his elevation to a higher level. But he has won in the 6-to-8 furlong range, so a mile could be in his wheelhouse. Knicks Go romped here by 11 last out, but it was an optional claimer and this is a huge jump in class for him. But that 107 Beyer . . .

The familiar gang of C Z Rocket, resurgent at age 6, and Whitmore, Firenze Fire, Hog Creek Hustle and Vekoma will duke it out in the Sprint (Grade I, six furlongs, $2,000,000).

Monomoy Girl, who's won 10 straight and 11 of 12(!), is your 8-5 favorite in the Distaff (Grade I, nine furlongs, 1-1/8 miles, $2,000,000) which could be the race of the day. She sat out all of 2019 and won this race in 2018. She's a joy to watch.

Swiss Skydiver at 2-1 is in my good-bad-good-bad Beyer angle, but that's nitpicking because there's only a six-point range and they include two Grade I wins.

Improbable, at 5-2, is your favorite in the Classic (Grade I, 10 furlongs, 1-1/4 miles, $6,000,000). Tiz the Law is right behind at 3-1 with Maximum Security (7-2) and Authentic (6-1) bunched on the morning line.

Can Baffert get Improbable or Authentic or Maximum Security over the finish line without Environmental Contamination? The Breeders' Cup runs a tighter ship.

Keep an eye out for By My Standards (10-1), Tom's d'Etat (6-1) or Global Campaign (20-1). Tom's d'Etat has nine consecutive triple-digit Beyers, but I don't like company he beat in his Grade I races.

The weather figures to be perfect. The turf will start Good and get up to Firm. Friday is marketed as Future Stars Friday, tomorrow is Championship Saturday. NBCSportsNet has all coverage Friday from 1 p.m. -5 p.m. NBCSN covers Saturday 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and NBC network takes over from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. TVG will also have all the races, if you can take their analysts.

One more action-packed weekend and we can put a lid on this year's racing season.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:05 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Afternoon In America
"The malevolent frat party is over," our very own David Rutter writes.

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By The Numbers
Trump's ward, Wee Willie Wilson, and the numbers we truly have to grapple with.

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The Political Odds
Updated.

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Cuts And Beats
"Using photomontage technique, McDonald combined manipulated historical images of Black artists publicized by the entertainment industry - vintage sheet music covers, theater advertisements, and artist publicity photographs - with contemporary photographs taken by the artist himself in dance clubs around Chicago."

*

Area Woman Reads Greg Kot
A quarantine classic.

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ChicagoReddit

Grant Park, June 1929. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

First time taking the stretched Peterbilt into Chicago

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BeachBook

Why Only One Side Of Tinfoil Is Shiny.

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

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The Beachwood Curing Line: Cure your vote.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:43 AM | Permalink

Afternoon In America

This is not exactly Reagan's "Morning in America," but then, neither was Reagan's "Morning in America" real either.

Stash the marketing fakery.

Breathe, America.

It's going to be OK.

It's like being freed from the Kardashians, R. Kelly and Kanye West in one grand sweep of emancipation.

Somebody has got be President of the United States, and exactly how bad is it that Joe Biden gets the job? Worse outcomes have happened. Worse outcomes did happen four years ago.

While I'd like the next four years to be filled with wonderful progressive legislation and national innovation, I'm more comforted that the basics of competent government return.

The malevolent frat party is over.

Think of those who will be cast into darkness.

The terrible regulatory assault (EPA, federal lands, wildlife, banking) can be ended almost immediately by presidential fiat.

The FBI and intelligence community can return to being professional, non-political support for the national interest . . . We will never have to fear that Army troops will storm the streets to teargas peaceful demonstrators . . . Betsy DeVos will leave through the back door . . . Not perfect, but nice. Something more violently precipitous would have been appropriate.

But fundamentally, bootlicking no longer is required as a government oath.

Competence is back.

No more Ivanka, Jared or the Alfonse and Gaston brothers . . . No more Mike Pompeo at State debasing allies, or the very oddly xenophobic Stephen Miller banning all immigrants with darker skin than his, and kidnapping children at the border . . . No more career federal prosecutors abused and manipulated. They can be federal prosecutors again. Justice can return.

William Barr can find his rock and slide back underneath. We'll have laws again.

No more subsidized golf outings at Mar-a-Lago . . . or embarrassing NATO meetings . . . or Leader of The Free World happily dry-humping dictators.

Think of the parade of doomed, soulless creatures Trump has paraded before America as our masters. There's the door.

Air Force One can be fumigated and deloused. The Louse-in-Chief has been jettisoned.

Somebody has to pick up all the Big Mac wrappers in the Oval Office.

COVID-19 truth-speaker Dr. Anthony Fauci can tell Trump to go Ef Himself, and he can say a truth-speaking Fuck if he wants. He's earned it.

Maybe Biden's transition team can resurrect the careers of fired USS Theodore Roosevelt captain Brett Crozier and National Security Agency aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman - at least ceremoniously. They told the truth about COVID and Ukraine as patriots, and were metaphorically guillotined.

Civic honor can return. Yes, actual honor as a human virtue. How necessary and comforting that will be.

And best of all, we won't have to watch the hideous automaton Mike Pence. Can somebody please arrest Rudy Giuliani?

The results could have been more dramatically victorious. We need not dream of perfection and deny the good. Today is good and will get better on January 20's Inauguration Day.

All the tally "leans" strongly suggest that's the outcome of the quest to be "45's" successor.

We'll dot the "i's" this weekend. Sure, Trump has declared victory - which is like the Bears scoring a touchdown in the third quarter and declaring preemptive Super Bowl triumph.

But you'd almost think Democrats are glum that the verdict wasn't more cataclysmic. What they needed to calm their souls was for Trump to be obliterated, pummeled, humiliated and left pleading for mercy on the dusty streets of Laredo.

We can always hope Trump resists leaving on January 20 and requires an armed platoon of Marines to evict him bodily and leave him on a Pennsylvania Avenue curb.

Biden is not Obama, or JFK. He's a guy named Joe, even if that's not quite real either.

But Democrats' sightly downcast perception misses the point.

Trump will genuflect before the Supreme Court he believes he owns. But the truth is that very little presents itself to be overturned.

He will not lose by votes found or submitted after Election Day. No tricks; just counting. Biden actually won with votes delivered on Election Day but counted later.

He was always the winner. He didn't flip any state. The election was over that last Tuesday night. The next president had been chosen. We just didn't know it until they counted the ballots.

Like every other national election.

Trump will lose from mailed-in votes received before Election Day, just like the ones he uses to vote.

"I don't like the result" is not really an actionable petition in court.

Biden will accumulate the majority vote even larger than the one that was not enough for Hillary Clinton. You want the person with the most votes to win, right? He has.

Perhaps Biden does not pose well in Speedos. He's old and plain, and likely sags. But a win is, as they say, a win, and there is no such animal as winning ugly in politics. Politics is natural selection in life action.

Natural selection always defines the scoreboard. It's Thunderdome. Two go in; one comes out.

Once Democrats and the nation calm down from Trump's incessant bleating and provocation, they will see the America they now manage. Maybe it will a nice place again, and become the nation we hoped it would be.

Even if You-Can't-Kill-Him-With-A-Flamethrower Mitch McDonnell obstructs for four more years, Joe Biden has taken over the corner office. He has the big penthouse view.

If not morning in America, at least we can see a hint of brightness at the edge of dawn.

Take a deep breath, America.

It's nice to feel good.

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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 St. Louis Flat-Earthers. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:56 AM | Permalink

2020 Election Notebook | By The Numbers

Culled from a variety of sources.

* Donald Trump won 43% of the vote in Illinois. About 2.3 million people. They knew exactly what they were doing. Grapple with it.

Assignment Desk: Interview all 2.3 million!

* Biden won Illinois with 55% of the vote - about 2.95 million people.

* Others:

Jo Jorgenson, Libertarian Party: 1.1%, 58,000.

Howie Hawkins, Green Party: .5%, 26,000.

Brian Carroll, American Solidarity Party: .2%, 8.000.

Gloria La Riva, Party for Socialism and Liberation: .1%, 6,900.

Kanye West was not on the ballot - though write-in candidates got 5,269 votes (.1%).

To repeat: 43% of Illinois voters chose Trump.

Cook County

Biden: 72.8%, 1,351,111.

Trump: 25.7%, 475,960.

Jorgenson: .7%, 13,303.

Hawkins .5%, 9,200.

Carroll: Apparently 0!

La Riva: .2%, 3,309.

The Fertilized 41st

* Trump won one ward in Chicago.

" . . . the 41st Ward on the Far Northwest Side, where the president claimed 51.72 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results. The 41st Ward includes parts of Norwood Park, Edison Park and O'Hare," Block Club Chicago reports.

"The 38th Ward, which borders the 41st, also saw a closer contest, with Biden winning 57 percent of the vote. And the 19th Ward on the Far South Side saw Biden win with 58 percent. That ward includes parts of Beverly, Mt. Greenwood and Morgan Park.

"The Far Northwest Side and the 19th Ward on the Far South Side are traditionally seen as more conservative and Republican-leaning than the rest of the city. They're known to be home to many Chicago police officers, firefighters and other city workers."

Chicago's police union, of course, endorsed Trump. The majority of Chicago's police officer voted a rabid Trump supporter into the union's presidency in May. One might surmise that the majority of Chicago police officers voted for Trump.

Wee Willie Wilson
Perennial rich guy candidate Willie Wilson managed to attract/buy 212,563 votes in his independent bid to oust Dick Durbin from the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately for him, that was good for only 4% of the total.

Durbin's 2.8 million votes (53%) were more than enough to carry him to a fifth term.

Republican challenger Mark Curran, formerly the sheriff of Lake County, notched 2.1 million votes (40%).

Wilson has now embarrassed himself in two runs for mayor, one run for president and now a run for U.S. Senate.

Hey, Willie: voters aren't buying what you're selling - or selling what you're buying.

*

Durbin won more votes from the city's black wards than Wilson won overall, according to the Crusader.

"There were 16 Black wards where Wilson received less than 20 percent of the vote," the paper reports.

Suburban Mice
Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx won re-election with 54% of the vote over retired judge Pat O'Brien.

O'Brien bested Foxx in the suburbs, garnering 50.8% of the vote (430,647) to Foxx's 43.5% (374,138).

But in the city, Foxx swamped O'Brien with 583,299 votes to 271,153.

Unsurprisingly, O'Brien's strongest ward was also the city's Trumpiest - the 41st, where he notched 75% of the vote.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

November 4, 2020

The [Wednesday] Papers

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Political Odds
Updated with a modicum of post-election commentary.

*

Area Woman Reads Greg Kot
A quarantine classic.

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Cuts And Beats
"Using photomontage technique, McDonald combined manipulated historical images of Black artists publicized by the entertainment industry - vintage sheet music covers, theater advertisements, and artist publicity photographs - with contemporary photographs taken by the artist himself in dance clubs around Chicago."

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ChicagoReddit

Incessant 773 Robocalls With Ominous Warning ~ "This is a test, stay home, stay safe" from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

The CSO on WGN.

"In 1951, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra became the first American orchestra to appear on a weekly series of televised concerts. Originally called Hour of Music and later Great Music from Chicago, this series was broadcast locally on WGN-Channel 9 and featured world-renowned conductors and soloists.

"These broadcasts have been transferred to a digital format and will be released online as the free series From the CSO's Archives: Great Music From Chicago.

"The first episode, premiering Nov. 5 on the CSOtv portal, features guest conductor Jean Martinon and violin soloist Isaac Stern in works by Handel, Mozart and Mendelssohn, recorded in March 1962."

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BeachBook

Is Bar Soap Really All That Gross? Yes And No.

To look at, yes; to cleanse, no.

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Donations To Republicans And Democrats By Occupation.

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Yes, Websites Really Are Starting To Look Alike.

I flagged this way before this; WordPress and off-the-shelf templates that make it easy on non-techies are to blame, as well as designers who cost too damn much. If you're gonna hire such high fees, you can hardly complain when folks just use what's free out there. Also, though: consolidators like ChicagoNow and other homogenizers who destroy the unique personalities of sites that made the Web great.

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

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As I've been saying for years, you have to understand what the news looks like out there. It's awful. "Local" is not charming, and hardly ever watchdoggy. Journalism has a long-standing, deep and widespread quality problem.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Yo.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 PM | Permalink

Area Woman Reads Greg Kot

A quarantine classic.


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Plus:

A conversation with Greg Kot and Mavis Staples.

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And:

* Sound Opinions: If All I Was Was Black.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

Cuts And Beats

Hyde Park Art Center, the renowned non-profit hub for contemporary art located on Chicago's vibrant South Side, is proud to announce a solo exhibition by Chicago-based artist and educator Cecil McDonald Jr. on view in the Art Center's Kanter McCormick Gallery from November 15, 2020 - March 7, 2021.

The exhibition of predominantly lens-based work presents a collection of the artist's most recent body of work birthed from his 2018 residency at the Art Center, which embodies photomontages to metaphorize the complicated histories between America and African Americans, and subvert the racist representation of Black artists from history.

Spinning Black Man, 2013, Cecil McDonald Jr., Photography, Montage, 40 x 40.png

Through his art practice, McDonald explores the intersections of masculinity, kinship, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of Black Americans, using photography, video, and text.

Cuts and Beats, particularly, draws attention to the controlled conditions under which Black artists performed and built careers during the Vaudeville and Minstrel era.

Let it Alone, 2018, Cecil McDonald Jr., Photography, Montage, 16 x 20.png

Using photomontage technique, McDonald combined manipulated historical images of Black artists publicized by the entertainment industry - vintage sheet music covers, theater advertisements, and artist publicity photographs - with contemporary photographs taken by the artist himself in dance clubs around Chicago. By blending generations, locations, and authorship, the artist wishes to subvert, not erase, the racist representations of Black musicians popularized in the late 1800s.

The process of cutting, altering, and blurring historical images and presenting them in relation to contemporary photographs, "acts as metaphors and symbols for music, dance, performance, and the complicated histories between America and African Americans," says McDonald, who considers the new built images to "look back to often racist representations, and much like memory, recede to a current, self-possessed and subversive imagery, each influencing and dictating to the other, serving as a remix of past and present culture."

Cuts and Beats incorporates some of the imagery McDonald created for a larger body of work titled The Heat of the Cool, which refers to the idea that calm or coolness is a West African concept in which people mask intensity, stress, or pleasure with serenity, calmness, or spirituality.

Syncopation, 1997, Cecil McDonald Jr., Photography, Montage, 40 x 30.png

Driven by his belief in the transformative power of dance, the artist creates parties and dances in which participants (dancers) and collaborators (DJs and photographers) work with the artist to generate large-scale photographs in which the dancing bodies become a symbol for freedom.

In these images, as seen in Cuts and Beats, McDonald emphasizes ideas about agency and ownership in one's time, space, labor, and self.

About the Artist
Cecil McDonald, Jr. (b. Chicago, 1965) studied fashion, house music, and dance club culture before receiving an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago, where he currently works as an adjunct professor.

Most recently he was a teaching artist at Nicholas Senn High School through the School Partnership for Art and Civic Engagement (SPACE) program at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Cecil McDonald, Jr. portrait. Courtesy of the artist .jpg

McDonald's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, with works in the permanent collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Chicago Bank of America LaSalle Collection, and the Harris Bank Collection.

McDonald was awarded the Joyce Foundation Midwest Voices & Visions Award, the Artadia Award, The Swiss Benevolent Society Residency, and a 3Arts Teaching Artist Award.

In 2016, the first edition of his monograph In The Company of Black was published and shortlisted by the Aperture Foundation for the 2017 First Photo Book Award.

McDonald's work was the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2019.

COVID-19 Safety Protocols
Hyde Park Art Center views its community's safety as the number one priority and is utilizing the guidance from the City and State to inform its reopening procedures including the requiring of masks to be worn in the building at all times; instituting extra cleaning and disinfecting procedures; wide availability of hand sanitizer throughout the building; and the careful configuring of exhibition and school hours so as to help regulate the number of people and maintain proper social distance in the Art Center at one time.

Admission And Hours
Exhibition admission is free, and advance registration is encouraged. Walk-ins are limited and on a first come first serve basis.

Exhibition viewing hours are Tuesdays to Wednesdays 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Thursdays 1 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., and Fridays 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Exhibition hours are for exhibition viewing only and do not include access to the studios or classrooms.

About the Hyde Park Art Center
Hyde Park Art Center, at 5020 South Cornell Avenue on Chicago's vibrant South Side, is a hub for contemporary arts in Chicago, serving as a gathering and production space for artists and the broader community to cultivate ideas, impact social change, and connect with new networks.

Since its inception in 1939, Hyde Park Art Center has grown from a small collective of quirky artists to establishing a strong legacy of innovative development and emerging as a unique Chicago arts institution with social impact.

The Art Center functions as an amplifier for today and tomorrow's creative voices, providing the space to cultivate and create new work and connections.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

November 3, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

All the action's gonna be on Twitter today, folks.

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ChicagoReddit

What are some under-the radar bands/artists from Chicago that I should listen to? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

New Children's Zoo In Chicago 1956

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

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The Beachwood Special Election Tip Line: One day only.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

Political Odds

For entertainment purposes only. And office pools. Updated as events warrant.

The chance that . . .

Trump wins popular vote: 1%. And that's even if Putin holds back the river wards until he learns how many votes he needs. 11/4 UPDATE: Still true.

Trump wins Electoral College: 48%. Draws another inside straight in the swing states but loses by margin of dead voters who attended his rallies and got COVID. 11/4 UPDATE: Still true.

GOP loses Senate: 80%. But will McConnell accept the results and vacate the majority leader's suite? 11/4 UPDATE: Wow, Democrats. No judges for the next four years.

Dems keep House: 99%: They will then find a way to fuck up everything over the next four years. 11/4 UPDATE: Still true.

column_pol_odds.gifKim Foxx wins re-election: 55%. Phantom O'Brien gets swamped in blue wave. 11/4 UPDATE: Foxx at 53.7% with 98% of precincts reporting. This race was never close (despite media portrayals) but it was still bullshit for Foxx to refuse to debate her opponent, however noxious he was.)

Democratic judges sweep Cook County: 100%. Even without the river wards.

Dick Durbin wins re-election: 99%. If only he could beat Chuck Schumer. 11/4 UPDATE: Duh.

Cheri Bustos wins re-election: 53%. Republican opponent closer than appears in mirror. 11/4 UPDATE: Bustos at 51.7% with 99% of precincts reporting.

Lauren Underwood wins re-election: 53%. Ice cream man appears closer than in mirror. 11/4 UPDATE: Too close to call, which certainly tells you something about America.

Judge Michael Toomin is retained: 48%. Toni Preckwinkle gets her man. 11/4 UPDATE: Looks like he'll eke it out. Note: Two things can be true at the same time, people - that Toomin is bad at juvenile justice and that Preckwinkle led a Machine-backed political vendetta.

Fair Tax wins: 48%. Only Ken Griffin and Sam Zell can have nice things. 11/4 UPDATE: Hugely disappointing loss; the most important measure Illinois could take to right itself, and the people went with the billionaires who already evade taxes anyway. The most upsetting loss of the night.

Percent of Americans who vow to move to another country after results are in: 40%. Unless they've already made their reservations. 11/4 UPDATE: Please reckon with what America really is, though.

Number who do: 0. Who will even take us at this point?

Number of rich people who leave Illinois if Fair Tax wins: 0. Call their bluff.

Another Hunter Biden laptop is "discovered" before night is out: 50%. Maybe they'll just go with more Hillary e-mails.

Rudy Giuliani goes into hiding: 1%. Not smart enough to get out while he can.

Trump pardons himself before night is out: 1%. Will save for a White House superspreader event.

SCOTUS decides election: 50%. Kavanaugh has already ordered kegs and 'za for the long nights ahead.

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Election Night Over/Unders

Number of Proud Boys who blow themselves up: 12

Time that Fox News calls it for Trump: 7 p.m.

Time that OANN calls it for Trump: 7 a.m.

Time that Trump calls it for himself: Noon

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

November 2, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

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New on the Beachwood . . .

The Data Shows Joe Biden Will Win And It Won't Be Particularly Close
Analysis by our very own Dr. Nick.

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The Political Odds
Back just in time.

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How The Fed Is Screwing Your Retirement By Taking Care Of The Rich
The Federal Reserve has bailed out the stock and bond markets and stabilized the economy with its rock-bottom rates - at the expense of Social Security and pension funds.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #328: Matt Ugly
In four weeks the Bears will be the worst 5-7 team in the league. Plus: Tony La Russia. And: The Red Stars vs. The Men In Red.

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The Banditos Spooktacular!
"From backwoods bluegrass, to slinky nods to Muscle Shoals soul and unexpected bits of doo-wop sweetness, the Banditos recall many, but sound like no one but themselves."

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The Artificial Scarcity Of E-Books In Education
If technology enables us to share, reproduce and update educational materials so effectively that we can give them away for free, it's our moral duty to do so.

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Nicklaus, Cutler, La Russa & Baffert Walk Into A Bar
And ruin it for everyone.

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A Slow Look: Monet & Chicago
Especially resonant in this period when our own looking is confined and a particular window or walk may be what reassures us that the world is still there.

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24 Hours With Showtime Women
It's me, sugar.

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ChicagoReddit

City is beginning to stage garbage trucks for closing down streets, blocking exits, etc. in anticipation of social unrest from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Metallic 9" x 13" Slice Solutions Brownie Pan.

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BeachBook

Octopuses Can Taste What Their Arms Touch, And Scientists Have Figured Out How.

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How Jerry Falwell Jr. Kept His Grip on Liberty Amid Sexual 'Games,' Self-Dealing.

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Ilhan Omar's Remarkable Life.

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

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The Beachwood Tab Line: Put it on mine.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:22 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #328: Matt Ugly

In four weeks the Bears will be the worst 5-7 team in the league.

Plus: Tony La Russia.

And: The Red Stars vs. The Men In Red.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #328: Matt Ugly

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SHOW NOTES

* 328.

* Embodiment of a season.

* Dickerson, ESPN: "The Bears' formula for 'winning ugly' finally failed them against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

"For the third time in 2020, the Bears erased a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit and were in position to win another game they had no business winning.

"Bears kicker Cairo Santos' valiant, 51-yard field goal - Santos went 3-of-3 on the day - sent the game to overtime. But Chicago's offense - the bane of Bears fans' existence - just proved too ugly to overcome as New Orleans left Soldier Field with a 26-23 victory."

* Haugh, The Score: "In the span of one week, two straight losses to playoff-caliber opponents provided a reality check for the Bears. The Rams made them look physically soft. The Saints exposed coach Matt Nagy's team as mentally weak."

* Paging Chuck Pagano:

* Lazerus, The Athletic: Confused And Confounding, Bears Offer Little Reason For Hope After Saints Loss.

* Hub Arkush, Shaw Media: Saints Game Is One Bears Deserved To Win.

* Rhodes: "You can't run the read-option with someone who can't read."

1:00:23: Tony La Russia.

* Coffman: "Dueling columns in the Tribune and they're both crap."

* Gonzales: Tony La Russa's Wisdom And Passion Overshadows His Age, Making Him The Perfect Leader For The White Sox.

* Sullivan: Tony La Russa Is The Manager Of The White Sox. Deal With It.

Corrective:

* Collier: Tony La Russa Is The Wrong Fit For This White Sox Team.

* Rhodes: "The epitome of the old boys network."

1:06:11: Red Stars.

1:07:06: Men In Red.

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STOPPAGE: 10:42

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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 12:40 PM | Permalink

Analysis | The Data Shows Joe Biden Will Win And It Won't Be Particularly Close

I'm not one bit worried.

I'm Dr. Nick and I'll be your election week Valium.

I've spent countless hours looking at all of the psephologists and heavily invested in the prediction markets and they tell me better than a flawed Des Moines Register poll and a big (stranded) crowd in Butler, Pennsylvania this weekend that those fervently desiring to turn Trump out shouldn't be spooked that we're about to see 2016 all over again.

Here's why.

1. District-level polling all over upstate New York (including along the length of the state that sits atop Pennsylvania), in Pennsylvania itself, and in Michigan, Wisconsin and the rest of the Midwest where Obama won in 2012 shows areas that were trending red and then went red in 2016 that are turning back to Biden. Seemingly everyone but Dave "The Oracle" Wasserman from the The Cook Political Report has ignored this, but this is why Cook projects the Dems to gain five to 15 House seats. In 2016, gains in both the House and Senate were going the Republicans way. Says Wasserman:

2. Trump was clearly up on the largest voting bloc of them all in poll after poll in 2016: Independents. Not so now.

3. The broken polls and models of 2016 were mostly fixed by 2018 and are more dependable this year because of it. Back then, most pollsters just didn't bother weighting for education because they felt it wasn't that important. Turns out, it is. (Apparently Ann Selzer didn't get the memo.)

Consequently, there were no major surprises in 2018. We all saw a blue wave coming, those who were objectively looking at the lay of the land were battening down the hatches for one. Election Day came and went and the Dems swept into the House majority.

4. Hillary Clinton never left the margin of error in most of the swing state polls. Biden's lead is considerably stronger.

5. Clinton ignored her firewall states and barely lost those. She opted to visit Georgia and North Carolina in an overconfident attempt to expand her mandate but was four years too early (and not the right candidate to do so). Now Biden is in a position to do just that.

6. Real Clear Politics averages (actual result):

2004: Bush +2.6 (Bush +2.4)

2008: Obama +6.5 (Obama +7.3)

2012: Obama +0.1 (Obama +3.9)

2016: Clinton +1.6 (Clinton +2.1)

2020: Biden +7.4 (TBD)

7. Record turnout nearly everywhere, especially among young voters - voters who skew heavily Democrat.

8. RE: voter suppression. Where?

Of course we're seeing suppression efforts - but not enough to move the needle.

Consider:

Harris County (Houston) had 1.3 million votes in 2016. It has gotten bluer and bluer. It's already surpassed that with early votes. It's on track to get 1.7 million votes; those extra 400k breaking for Biden at 2016 rates would make it close compared to the 2018 Cruz-Beto race. And then there's Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Ft. Worth and the entire Rio Grande Valley (Beto territory). Texas is in play, and no matter of suppression attempts is going to overcome the trend.

9. Trump may win Florida, but he also may not.

You may have read that Biden doesn't have the Miami-Dade Hispanic vote the way that Clinton did, and that's true. But Trump is hemorrhaging the senior citizen vote at an even worse clip statewide (and nationwide). I can guarantee you that any campaign manager would rather be in Biden's position than Trump's here.

10. Follow the money.

This is not just an intellectual exercise for me - I am very heavily invested into the prediction market.

Arnold Rothstein allegedly said that he never bet on anything that he didn't already know the outcome to. I haven't fixed anything, but I've spent countless hours examining the election science, crowd-sourcing scenarios, data, demographics, polling, paid researchers (Wasserman, Cook, 538, etc).

I'm not gambling, I'm investing. I'm finding mispriced markets and market inefficiencies. There's a lot of MAGA money out there gambling with their emotions. I hate Biden as the Democratic nominee; he sucks. I have no emotions about this or a personal affinity for anyone. No respect for the money on this nor the candidates involved.

I wouldn't be putting my money into this if I didn't think it was worth the time or the stress. There are quite simply many mispriced markets thanks to the MAGA crowd trying to make 2 + 2 = 5 despite all of the factors above. Confirmation bias is running high.

The Bottom Line

Trump has a very narrow path. I'd say he's got no more than a 4% chance he draws an inside straight. But I wouldn't bet on it. Too many countless things will have to fall into place for that to happen.

In 2016, many of us, myself included, largely ignored the signs. They were all there, staring right at us. I chose to ignore that Bernie campaign staffers were raising the alarm bells in Wisconsin and Michigan after the convention, and so did the Clinton campaign.

District-level polling was rapidly moving away from the Democrats and Trump's momentum was a snowball to avalanche effect in real time.

The Maps

This is the map I think Biden has locked in right now: 271 EV.

GXlNd.png(ENLARGE)

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A more bullish map for Biden:

v0r89.png(ENLARGE)

But It Shouldn't Be This Close! IT ISN'T

The election was over right around the time Trump got COVID!

This is all just outside of massive polling errors that have been resolved since 2016. Perhaps something unseen is manifesting, like mold in your brand new house you just bought and your inspector missed it. There's always a possibility.

It will need more than bad polling and some local chapters of the KKK or Proud Boys to intimidate people. Tens of millions of votes have been cast and are locked in stone. The "hidden Trump voter" is a non-issue. Who is too scared to tell a pollster over the phone they are voting for Trump? Trending and polling to this day continues to move towards Biden and the Democrats.

Guarded optimism is fine. Don't just take my word for it. Go to Wasserman's Twitter feed and read his entire timeline for the past week, and more. Just keep scrolling.and reading. His track record speaks for itself over the years on his analysis and calling races as they happen.

Then go to bed and call me in the morning.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:14 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza.
TV - Newsmax On Fox News's Betrayal.
POLITICS - Dear Black Students ...
SPORTS - Class, Race & Paying College Athletes.

BOOKS - Ralph Steadman's Life In Ink.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Cole Hauser's Last Champion.


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