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« October 2019 | Main | December 2019 »

November 29, 2019

Full Metal Jagoff

"This is my rifle! There are many other ones like it, but this one is mine! And it's in my pants!"


"This is my rifle! There are many other ones like it, but this one is mine!"

"Hey, isn't that my rifle?"

"Huh, I don't really know. They all look the same to me."


"This is my rifle! There are many other ones like it, but this one is mine!"

"Actually, that rifle is the property of the United States Government."

"Oh, okay."

"Which is a republic, not a democracy, by the way."


"This is my rifle! This is my gun! This one's for fighting! This one's for killing myself and my family years from now when the bad dreams take over!"


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:34 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #280: Bears Make .500 Look Unrespectable

3-4 felt like 1-6. Now they're 3-9. Plus: BoyGarPax; Buy The Blackhawks?; Looks Like Northwestern University!; and DePaul Is The New Loyola.



* 280.

1:25: Ugliest 6-6 Ever.

* Leiser: Late Touchdown Lets Laughable Bears Escape Lions 24-20 On Thanksgiving | Mitch Trubisky and the Bears salvaged an afternoon of mistakes with a late touchdown to reach 6-6.

* Coffman: This was his worst play of the season:

* And this was his worst play of the season:

* Safety valves.

* Rhodes: The Lions have three quarterbacks better than Trubisky.

* Perfect tackle or imperfect running back?

* Truturkey:

* Biggs Time.

39:59: BoyGarPax.

* Cowley, ugh: Sources: Reinsdorf To Turn Up Heat On Forman.

* Heat check:

49:43: Buy The Blackhawks?

* ESPN Power Rankings: "Despite spectacular goaltending, the Blackhawks have been a confusing team. They're poised to go on another few small runs, but it is probably another transition season for the club."

55:26: Looks Like Northwestern University!

* Ryan: Illinois, Northwestern To Meet, Headed In Different Directions.

1:01:15: DePaul Is The New Loyola.

* AP: Reed posts double-double, DePaul downs C. Michigan 88-75

"Paul Reed had 23 points and 11 rebounds as DePaul won its seventh straight game to start the season, getting past Central Michigan 88-75 on Tuesday night."

* Gophers Face Challenge In Reborn DePaul.




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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:33 PM | Permalink

Banned In The USSR

"For two decades following the Second World War, music in the Soviet Union was tightly restricted by the Communist Party. Bans on Western genres such as boogie-woogie, jazz and, later, rock 'n' roll, as well as other styles deemed threatening to the political order, extended not only to public radio waves, but to private listening too.

"This prohibition, and the subsequent demand it created, gave rise to a black market of banned records carved into used X-ray film - contraband items colloquially known as 'ribs' and 'bone music' that would later become emblems of rock 'n' roll rebellion.

"This short documentary from the UK independent music and arts enterprise the Vinyl Factory traces the grooves of X-ray records, using primary sources to retell how these crackling, bendable bootlegs came to be sold on Soviet streets thanks to their risk-taking, music-loving makers and dealers."


See also:

* Smithsonian: When Rock Was Banned in the Soviet Union, Teens Took to Bootlegged Recordings on X-Rays.

* NPR: Bones And Grooves: The Weird Secret History Of Soviet X-Ray Music.

* Consequence of Sound: Here's What Music Was Banned In The USSR, And Why.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

Letters Home | The Words Of Illinois' Civil War Soldiers

"A vital lifeline to home during the Civil War, the letters of soldiers to their families and friends remain a treasure for those seeking to connect with and understand the most turbulent period of American history.

"Rather than focus on the experiences of a few witnesses, this impressively researched book documents 165 Illinois Civil War soldiers' and sailors' lives through the lens of their personal letters.

"Editor Mark Flotow chose a variety of letter writers who hailed from counties throughout the state, served in different branches of the military at different ranks, and represented the gamut of social experiences and war outcomes.


"Flotow provides extensive quotations from the letters. By allowing the soldiers to speak for themselves, he captures what mattered most to them.

"Illinois soldiers wrote about their reasons for enlisting; the nature of training and duties; necessities like eating, sleeping, marching, and making the best of often harsh and chaotic circumstances; Southern culture; slavery; their opinions of commanding officers and the president; disease, medicine, and hospitals; their prisoner-of-war experiences; and the ways they left the army. Through letters from afar, many soldiers sought to manage their homes and farms, while some single men attempted to woo their sweethearts.

"Flotow includes brief biographies for each soldier quoted in the book, weaves historical context and analysis with the letters, and organizes them by topic. Thus, intimate details cited in individual letters reveal their significance for those who lived and shaped this tumultuous era. The result is not only insightful history but also compelling reading."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

FBI: Beware Your Smart TV

Welcome to the Oregon FBI's Tech Tuesday segment. Today: building a digital defense with your TV.

Yes, I said your TV. Specifically your smart TV . . . the one that is sitting in your living room right now. Or, the one that you plan to buy on super sale on Black Friday.

Smart TVs are called that because they connect to the Internet. They allow you to use popular streaming services and apps. Many also have microphones for those of us who are too lazy to actually to pick up the remote. Just shout at your set that you want to change the channel or turn up the volume and you are good to go.

A number of the newer TVs also have built-in cameras. In some cases, the cameras are used for facial recognition so the TV knows who is watching and can suggest programming appropriately. There are also devices coming to market that allow you to video chat with grandma in 42" glory.

Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home. A bad cyberactor may not be able to access your locked-down computer directly, but it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router.

Hackers can also take control of your unsecured TV. At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos. In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV's camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.

TVs and technology are a big part of our lives, and they aren't going away. So how can you protect your family?

* Know exactly what features your TV has and how to control those features. Do a basic Internet search with your model number and the words "microphone," "camera," and "privacy."

* Don't depend on the default security settings. Change passwords if you can - and know how to turn off the microphones, cameras, and collection of personal information if possible. If you can't turn them off, consider whether you are willing to take the risk of buying that model or using that service.

* If you can't turn off a camera but want to, a simple piece of black tape over the camera eye is a back-to-basics option.

* Check the manufacturer's ability to update your device with security patches. Can they do this? Have they done it in the past?

* Check the privacy policy for the TV manufacturer and the streaming services you use. Confirm what data they collect, how they store that data, and what they do with it.

As always, if you have been victimized by a cyberfraud, be sure to report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at or call your local FBI office.


See also:

* Wired: Think Twice Before Giving Gifts With A Microphone Or Camera.



* Own A Vizio Smart TV? It's Watching You.

* Vizio To Pay $2.2 Million To Settle Charges It Secretly Collected Viewing Histories On 11 Million Users.

* How Smart TVs In Millions Of Homes Track More Than What's On Tonight.

* Illinois Man: Bose Headphones Are Spying On Me! (He May Be Right).

* It's Not Just Your TV Listening In To Your Conversation.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

5 Ways Trump And His Supporters Use The Same Strategies As Science Deniers

While watching the House impeachment hearings, I realized my two decades of research into why people ignore, reject or deny science had a political parallel.

From anti-evolutionists to anti-vaccine advocates, known as "anti-vaxxers," climate change deniers to Flat Earthers, science deniers all follow a common pattern of faulty reasoning that allows them to reject what they don't want to believe - and accept what they favor - based on a misunderstanding of how science deals with evidence.

As I've been watching the hearings, I've noticed that a number of characteristics of this type of reasoning are now being embraced by President Donald Trump and his congressional supporters.

Characteristic Acts

There are five common tactics used by science deniers.

In 1998, brothers Mark and Chris Hoofnagle (a lawyer and a physiologist) wrote an early wrote an early blog post about science denialism. That was followed by further work by econometrician Pascal Diethelm and public health scholar Martin McKee and cognitive scientists John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky. All identified the following factors as characteristic acts of science deniers:

  • Believing in conspiracy theories;
  • Relying on cherry-picked evidence;
  • Relying on fake experts (and dismissal of actual experts);
  • Committing logical errors;
  • Setting impossible standards for what science should be able to deliver.

These elements are present when those who deny the Earth is round or who believe vaccines cause autism insist that there is a governmental cover-up of the real evidence on their topics. They can be seen when Ted Cruz tries to discredit climate change with talk about the anomalous world weather pattern in 1998 due to El Niño. And they're evident when intelligent design theorists complain that evolution by natural selection still has not been proven.

Alternative Reality

Trump and his defenders in Congress echo this pattern. Even though Trump has firsthand knowledge of some of the facts under dispute - whereas his supporters may not - all seem to have bought in fully to the idea that the actual political situation is not the one pictured in the mainstream consensus of facts and evidence, but instead is based on an alternative reality.

Here are the five ways Trump and his allies use the same strategies as science deniers:

Partisan Logic

What might be behind the similarities between Trump defenders and science deniers?

Perhaps, like science denial, all fact denial is basically the same.

All ideology supports the reflex to believe what you want to believe.

Scholars have studied the role of identity in shaping belief and concluded that sometimes even empirical beliefs can be tribal, reflecting what the other people on your team want you to believe. Adherence to a belief is not always based on evidence.

The danger, of course, is that even as new facts come in, people won't change their minds. This is the direct opposite of good empirical reasoning.

It is the hallmark of science that beliefs should be based on evidence, and that people should be willing to change their beliefs based on new evidence. This means that people should be able to specify in advance what evidence, if it existed, would be sufficient to get them to change their minds.

But are Trump and his congressional supporters doing that?

Like science deniers, no amount of evidence seems sufficient to change their partisan beliefs that the phone call with Zelensky was proper and that Trump "did nothing wrong."

Even when the facts are overwhelming, congressional Republicans seem, like science deniers, willing to contort their beliefs and torture their logic, to stick to the party line because that is who they are.

As Sen. Lindsey Graham recently put it, "I don't care what anybody else says about the phone call . . . The phone call, I've made up my own mind, is fine."

In science, such behavior means that one is eventually read out of the profession - you're not fired, your tenure isn't revoked, but you're no longer taken seriously anymore.

In politics, it is not yet clear what the consequences might be.

Lee McIntyre is a research fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


Comments welcome.


1. From Steve Rhodes:

The only thing wrong with this analysis is that it presumes a certain kind of good faith in those who nonetheless use these strategies - as if, for example, Trump and his cronies truly believe in the conspiracy theories they amplify when in fact they know full well they aren't true. After all, Trump knows exactly what he did - and so do those around him. As for his supporters, in Congress and out, a certain number of them simply don't care.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

November 25, 2019

The [Thanksgiving Week 2019] Papers

Posting will likely be sporadic this week, which is to say, the same as every other week!

But seriously, I've got shit I've got to get done.

Yada yada yada.


I also happen to be back in Bucktown Monday through Saturday for a Week At Benny's. Longtime readers know what that means. New readers are about to find out!


Meanwhile . . .

So There's This

Obviously God, who clearly suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, is no longer paying attention to Eddy Pineiro's kicking, so who knows.


Background . . .

Meanwhile, God's son is fucking up.

That's what happens when kids inherit kingdoms.


And then there's this, from an Illinois congressperson:

The GOP: Enemy of the People.




New on the Beachwood . . .










What was this building in Logan Square?? (California and Altgeld) from r/chicago





Lupe Fiasco at the Riv on Thursday night.


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



They never do.



The Beachwood Tip Tac Toe Line: Circle gets the square.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:17 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Another Bears Turkey

At least this team, and particularly the quarterback, possesses some self-awareness. The highlight of Sunday was when reporters asked Mitch Trubisky to talk about the positives that happened during the Bears' brutal 19-14 victory over the Giants and he said, "We scored more points than they did," with a knowing smirk.

A well-timed facial expression can go a long way. I am usually willing to make common cause with an athlete who declines to bust out the bullshit when that option is clearly available. And say this about Trubisky: It isn't his fault that general manager Ryan Pace might be even worse at evaluating quarterbacks than all his predecessors.

And none of those guys hit on a quarterback in the past 79 years (except maybe Jim Finks bringing in Jim McMahon - McMahon's career was cut short by injury but it didn't help matters that he didn't take care of himself at all). It is in fact exactly eight decades since Sid Luckman started his signal-calling career with the Monsters of the Midway. His teams won four championships in his 12 years at the helm. McMahon, of course, has the only championship for the Bears since 1963.

And then there is the fact that Trubisky is all the Bears have for the rest of this season. That much is crystal clear. Bring in some competition for him next year and then we'll re-evaluate. The problem with that, of course, is that Pace almost certainly won't be fired at the end of this one and that will mean the man who gave Mike Glennon $18 million will be in charge of bringing in the competition.

I'm relatively good with the quarterback at this point but the coach is starting to get to me. I know Matt Nagy can't just unload on the only thing he has in terms of quarterbacking but he can also avoid doing things like praising how well Trubisky has played the past three weeks. Just so you know coach, he hasn't played well. He remains in the league basement in passing yards per game and passing yards per passing attempt. Come on, Coach!

What a special display of football yesterday was. Both halves began with kickoffs that went out of bounds. That was really something. And it just got worse from there. Nagy finally called a quarterback run in the red zone and Trubisky waltzed in to give the Bears a two-touchdown lead in the third quarter.

[Editor's Note: The NFL doesn't want you to see Mitch Trubisky's touchdown run.]

But then a comedy of errors played out as the Bears tried to obtain an extra point or two that was slapstick at its finest.

Trubisky completed a two-point conversion pass to Taylor Gabriel in the end zone but the play was nullified by an offensive pass interference call on Allen Robinson. This happened in a game last year as well, by the way. Nagy continues to believe that it is OK If one of his receivers hustles into the secondary and just stands in front of a defensive back on plays like that. He argued his case vociferously again yesterday, just like he did last year.

But not only did the back judge not agree with him, the Fox sports rules guy, Dean Blandino, pointed out that a receiver is required to make it at least look like he is trying to execute a route.

The killer here was that it didn't matter what Robinson did on the play - Gabriel was open and Trubisky hit him in stride almost immediately. Argh.

The penalty was assessed and then the Bears managed to get another penalty for too many men on the field. That resulted in a 48-yard extra point kick that of course went wide left.

There were also two brutal interceptions on offense and a bizarre 97-yard drive allowed by the defense, capped off by the conversion of a fourth-and-18, that gave the Giants a chance late.

In other words, that is more than enough written about this game and about the 5-6 Bears. See you on Turkey Day.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.


1. From Tom Chambers:

I don't watch the Bears much, but I did yesterday because I had a bet. I figured Bears would win, and also that they wouldn't cover the spread, which was too high.

There was a play late in the first half that said everything you want to know about the Bears and, especially, their "coaches."

The Giants hit the guy short to their left, Bears right. The Bears guy had about a 65% grab, but should have made the tackle. FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR Bears were standing there watching like Streets and San guys keeping close watch on a manhole. Don't worry, HE'S got the tackle. So the guy breaks the tackle, stiff arms a Bear for two more yards and NONE of the many Bears in the vicinity closes in on the guy, except for one, but the Giant was running out of bounds anyway. This team is worse than its record, fundamentally bereft. They gave up on the play! Or is that how they're taught? This team has quit.

Also, the fact they don't have a kicker is a petri dish example of how inept the front office is. They staged a Manhattan Project search and still came up empty.

Virginia should have busted into the locker room afterwards and instructed them to dust off their luggage, because they'll all be packing it up before the new year.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:15 AM | Permalink

WOMEN: The National Geographic Image Collection

"The National Geographic team has gone through their archives to choose 450 iconic images to show women of all backgrounds. Susan Goldberg stopped by Sway In The Morning to elaborate on the process of determining what was included in the book."




National Geographic: Women: A Century Of Change.


'At the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C.: Women: A Century of Change, a powerful photography exhibition displaying more than 100 archival images that highlight women from around the globe. The exhibition will be on display through Spring 2020.'


Women of Impact.


See some of the images here, via the Guardian.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

Grading Grandal

My friend Alan, a transplanted Chicagoan who lives in the Bay Area in California, wasn't impressed last week when news arrived that Yasmani Grandal had signed the most lucrative contract in White Sox history.

Under a subject line of "Grandal? Really? A .241 lifetime hitter?" he wrote, "We already have a good catcher. We need an outfielder who can hit, and PITCHERS. Let's hope the purse strings stay open awhile."

Please understand. If there were a Mount Rushmore of White Sox fans in Northern California, my pal would be chiseled in stone. He watches every Sox telecast. On second thought, I'm not convinced that he so much as misses a pitch.

Alluding to his final point, apparently there's still more cash in the Sox coffers, if the signing of Jose Abreu for a three-year extension at $50 million is any indication.

I replied to Alan, "We got a catcher [James McCann] who hit .226 the second half but still had his best year. And he'll play some next season.

"Compared to a guy [Grandal] coming off his best year. Switch hitter. 27 HRs. Walked 109 times. (Yolmer led Sox with 44.) Rated first or second in pitch framing. Grandal had .380 OBP last season & .348 for his career. (Moncada led Sox last season at .367.) Played in 153 games in the NATIONAL League. So he can DH.

"This is a very good move."

Because of the art of pitch framing, a fashionable statistic in recent years, the addition of Grandal should delight young pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech.

According to FanGraphs, "Framing stats measure how many runs catchers save based on how many extra strikes they are able to get for their pitcher."

Because of the zany ways umpires call balls and strikes today, you'd think Betty White could pull a pitch or two into the strike zone to fool the guy peering over her shoulder.

Grandal apparently has perfected this bit of trickery. Baseball Prospectus put his framing runs number last season at 19.4, second only to the Padres' Austin Hedges's 26.

Meanwhile, McCann finished 104th with a minus-8 rating, and Welington Castillo was 112th with minus-10.5. For a pitching staff that ranked 23rd in walks issued last season, having Grandal work his magic figures to help in the free pass department. In addition, Yasmani just might share some of his technique and secrets with McCann. At the very least, the combination of Grandal and McCann is a major improvement over the McCann-Castillo duo that we recently witnessed.

Turning to the other side of the equation, as mentioned, Grandal has power and the ability to get on base. He also uses the entire field regardless of which side of the plate he swings from. His spray chart looks like a severe case of chicken pox.

The fact that observers like my friend Alan dwell on Grandal's .241 lifetime batting average is just another indication of how much the game has changed over the decades. Years ago, a catcher hitting at that clip who struck out 139 times, as Grandal did last season, might be on the bubble between the major leagues and Triple-A.

I admitted to Alan that .241 sounds "Joe Ginsberg-like," referring to a second string catcher from our youth who managed to hang on in the big leagues for 13 years, rarely as a regular catcher. Unbeknownst to me until I checked Ginsberg's record, .241 was exactly his lifetime average!

Ginsberg was among a group of back-up catchers in the 1950s who put together at least 10 years in the major leagues, occasionally catching a game but spending most of their time warming up relief pitchers on the bullpen. The good ballclubs had regular catchers readily identified with their teams. The greatest were Yogi Berra of the Yankees and Roy Campanella with the Dodgers. Others of less stature included Jim Hegan (Cleveland), Del Crandall (Milwaukee), Sammy White (Boston), Gus Triandos (Baltimore), Bill Freehan (Detroit), and Wes Westrum (New York Giants). These guys all were solid defensive catchers, and anything they contributed offensively was simply gravy. They weren't expected to put up big numbers.

However, they were expected to play almost every day although doubleheaders were scheduled most Sundays, requiring a back-up catcher, the Joe Ginsbergs of the world. Ginsberg played for seven different teams including the White Sox in parts of the 1960 and 1961 seasons. Aside from his .241 lifetime average, in 1,985 plate appearances, he struck out only 135 times (less than seven percent) while drawing 226 walks. He hit 20 home runs in his career and threw out almost 40 percent of would-be base stealers.

Arguably the most famous of the back-up catchers was Berra's understudy, Charlie Silvera. He played 10 seasons, all but one in The Bronx. In his entire career, Silvera only came to the plate 541 times. Nevertheless, his lifetime batting average was a respectable .282 with an on-base mark of .356.

Like Ginsberg, Silvera rarely fanned; just 32 times while walking 53. He hit his lone career home run on July 4th, 1951 when Silvera was the Yankee catcher for both ends of a doubleheader. We can only surmise that Berra, who caught 141 games that season, was too hung over to participate.

Silvera's top salary was $19,000, but, being a Yankee in the '50s, Charlie, who died in September at age 94, still cashed seven World Series checks. He played in only one Series game in 1949, going hitless in two at bats. In the other six Series', Charlie had a lovely perch in the bullpen.

Throughout the 1950s. seven-time All Star Sherman Lollar handled the catching duties for the White Sox.

Sherman Lollar.jpg

He had a number of back-ups such as Les Moss, Carl Sawatski, Red Wilson and the youngster Earl Battey, who went on to a stellar career as the regular catcher for Washington/Minnesota.

In the pennant-winning year of 1959, Lollar led the team with pedestrian numbers by today's standards: 22 homers and 84 RBIs. Defensively, he was solid. In 1954 he led the league by throwing out 68 percent of would-be base stealers. Over 18 seasons (12 with the White Sox) Sherm slashed .264/.357/.759. If he were a free agent today, his contract just might look similar to Grandal's.

Of course, batting average is far from the statistic du jour in today's game. Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is a frequent measure of a ballplayer's ability, and Grandal posted a 5.2 last season, second among all catchers. For comparison, Lollar's WAR in 1959 was 3.7 while last season McCann closed at 2.3.

Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) is advertised as a truer measure of effectiveness than batting average, and Grandal was tops among catchers in 2019 with .361, while McCann had a respectable .333.

Yet it remains a challenge for those of us who still revere .300 hitters, thinking guys who hit .250 are mediocre. And .241? Let's just say that Yasmani Grandal is no Yogi Berra. But he sure isn't Joe Ginsberg either.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

Study: Family Meals Actually Not That Great For Families

Football fanatics now have an excuse to enjoy their meals in front of TV during Thanksgiving games instead of being pulled into formal, sit-down family dinners.

For decades, those meals were promoted as a one-size-fits-all solution to complex problems like childhood obesity, family breakdown and even depression.

But in a new study, Monash University researchers knocked back that old view and found that enjoying dinner time in front of the TV or in the car between activities can actually benefit families.

The research, published in the journal Critical Public Health, challenges the dated and potentially harmful expectations of the role of sit-down family meals. It found that families are increasingly eating meals at the kitchen bench or in front of the TV while balancing busy lifestyles.

The supposed benefits and outcomes of eating in structured family meals lacks strong scientific evidence, according to Monash sociology professor Jo Lindsay.

"Reinforcing nostalgic versions of family life is just not realistic," she said. "We don't want parents feeling like a moral failure or that they are compromising their child's health because they are eating separately; it's just not the case.

"Rather than promoting meals of a bygone era, this research suggests that supporting flexible and healthy eating beyond the dinner table may be a more fruitful strategy for promoting public health, and could create more peaceful and practical mealtimes."

As part of the research, primary school children in the Australian state of Victoria from 50 diverse families kept a visual diary of family food consumption, providing a unique window into how busy lifestyles impact family meal-times and create diverse eating habits.

Families interviewed by researchers revealed working long hours, long commutes, conflicting schedules, children's sports, and parents' commitments all impacted on evening meals, with some children eating in the car between activities.

Family meals were more likely to be reserved for special occasions, such as birthdays, and regular mealtimes were less formal and more practical.

This paper draws on data collected as part of a broader study addressing school health messages and the role of children as health advocates in school and family contexts.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

Inside Purdue Pharma's Media Playbook: How It Planted The Opioid "Anti-Story"

In 2004, Purdue Pharma was facing a threat to sales of its blockbuster opioid painkiller OxyContin, which were approaching $2 billion a year. With abuse of the drug on the rise, prosecutors were bringing criminal charges against some doctors for prescribing massive amounts of OxyContin.

That October, an essay ran across the top of the New York Times' health section under the headline "Doctors Behind Bars: Treating Pain is Now Risky Business."

Screen Shot 2019-11-25 at 1.40.22 PM.png

Its author, Sally Satel, a psychiatrist, argued that law enforcement was overzealous, and that some patients needed large doses of opioids to relieve pain. She described an unnamed colleague who had run a pain service at a university medical center and had a patient who could only get out of bed by taking "staggering" levels of oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin. She also cited a study published in a medical journal showing that OxyContin is rarely the only drug found in autopsies of oxycodone-related deaths.

"When you scratch the surface of someone who is addicted to painkillers, you usually find a seasoned drug abuser with a previous habit involving pills, alcohol, heroin or cocaine," Satel wrote. "Contrary to media portrayals, the typical OxyContin addict does not start out as a pain patient who fell unwittingly into a drug habit."

The Times identified Satel as "a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and an unpaid advisory board member for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration."

But readers weren't told about her involvement, and the American Enterprise Institute's, with Purdue.

Among the connections revealed by e-mails and documents obtained by ProPublica:

* Purdue donated $50,000 annually to the institute, which is commonly known as AEI, from 2003 through this year, plus contributions for special events, for a total of more than $800,000.

* The unnamed doctor in Satel's article was an employee of Purdue, according to an unpublished draft of the story.

* The study Satel cited was funded by Purdue and written by Purdue employees and consultants.

* And, a month before the piece was published, Satel sent a draft to Burt Rosen, Purdue's Washington lobbyist and vice president of federal policy and legislative affairs, asking him if it "seems imbalanced."

On the day of publication, Jason Bertsch, AEI's vice president of development, alerted Rosen to "Sally's very good piece."

"Great piece," Rosen responded.

* * * * *

Purdue's hidden relationships with Satel and AEI illustrate how the company and its public relations consultants aggressively countered criticism that its prized painkiller helped cause the opioid epidemic.

Since 1999, more than 200,000 people have died from overdoses related to prescription opioids. For almost two decades, and continuing as recently as a piece published last year in Slate, Satel has pushed back against restrictions on opioid prescribing in more than a dozen articles and radio and television appearances, without disclosing any connections to Purdue, according to a ProPublica review.

Over the same period, Purdue was represented by Dezenhall Resources, a PR firm known for its pugnacious defense of beleaguered corporations. Purdue was paying Dezenhall this summer, and still owes it money, according to bankruptcy filings.

Purdue funded think tanks tapped by the media for expert commentary, facilitated publication of sympathetic articles in leading outlets where its role wasn't disclosed, and deterred or challenged negative coverage, according to the documents and e-mails.

Its efforts to influence public perception of the opioid crisis provide an inside look at how corporations blunt criticism of alleged wrongdoing.

Purdue's tactics are reminiscent of the oil and gas industry, which has been accused of promoting misleading science that downplays its impact on climate change, and of big tobacco, which sought to undermine evidence that nicotine is addictive and secondhand smoke is dangerous.

Media spinning was just one prong of Purdue's strategy to fend off limits on opioid prescribing. It contested hundreds of lawsuits, winning dismissals or settling the cases with a provision that documents remain secret.

The company paid leading doctors in the pain field to assure patients that OxyContin was safe.

It also funded groups, like the American Pain Foundation, that described themselves as advocates for pain patients. Several of those groups minimized the risk of addiction and fought against efforts to curb opioid use for chronic pain patients.

Purdue's campaign may have helped thwart more vigorous regulation of opioid prescribing, especially in the decade after the first widespread reports of OxyContin abuse and addiction began appearing in 2001.

It may also have succeeded in delaying the eventual reckoning for Purdue and the billionaire Sackler family that owns the company.

Although Purdue pleaded guilty in 2007 to a federal charge of understating the risk of addiction, and agreed to pay $600 million in fines and penalties, the Sacklers' role in the opioid epidemic didn't receive widespread coverage for another decade.

As backlash against the family swelled, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.

"Efforts to reverse the epidemic have had to counter widespread narratives that opioids are generally safe and that it is people who abuse them that are the problem," said Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who has served as a paid expert witness in litigation alleging that Purdue's marketing of OxyContin misled doctors and the public.

"These are very important narratives, and they have become the lens through which people view and understand the epidemic. They have proven to be potent means of hampering interventions to reduce the continued oversupply of opioids."

Satel, in an e-mail to ProPublica, said that she reached her conclusions independently.

"I do not accept payment from industry for my work (articles, presentations, etc)," she wrote. "And I am open to meeting with anyone if they have a potentially interesting topic to tell me about. If I decide I am intrigued, I do my own research."

As for Purdue's funding of AEI, Satel said in an interview that she "had no idea" that the company was paying her employer and that she walls herself off from information regarding institute funders. "I never want to know," she said. She didn't disclose that the study she referred to was also funded by Purdue, she said, because "I cite peer-reviewed papers by title as they appear in the journal of publication."

The sharing of drafts before publication with subjects of stories or other interested parties is prohibited or discouraged by many media outlets. Satel said she didn't remember sharing the draft with Rosen and it was not her usual practice. "That's very atypical," she said. However, Satel shared a draft of another story with Purdue officials in 2016, according to e-mails she sent. In that case, Satel said, she was checking facts.

Satel said she didn't remember why the doctor with a patient on high doses of painkillers wasn't named in the Times story. The draft she sent to Purdue identified him as Sidney Schnoll, then the company's executive medical director, who defended OxyContin at public meetings and in media stories. In an interview, Schnoll described Satel as an old friend and said her description of his patient was accurate. He left Purdue in 2005 and now works for a consulting company that has Purdue as a client, he said.

Purdue, in a statement, said it has held memberships in several Washington think tanks over the years. "These dues-paying memberships help the company better understand key issues affecting its business in a complex policy and regulatory environment," it said. "Purdue has been contacted over the years by policy experts at a variety of think tanks who are seeking additional context on industry issues for their work. Our engagement has always been appropriate and aimed at providing a science-based perspective that the company felt was often overlooked in the larger policy conversation." The company declined to discuss specific questions about internal documents and e-mails reviewed by ProPublica.

A spokeswoman for the Times, Danielle Rhoades Ha, said in an e-mail that the company doesn't know the details of how the Satel story was handled because the editors who worked on it are no longer employed there. She noted that the Times labeled the article as an "Essay" and cited Satel's connection to AEI. Currently, she said, Times editors "generally advise reporters not to share full drafts of stories with sources in the course of fact-checking," but there is no formal rule.

* * * * *

Purdue launched OxyContin in 1996, and it soon became one of the most widely prescribed opioid painkillers. By 2001, it was generating both enormous profits as well as growing concern about overdoses and addiction. That August, a column in the New York Post opinion section criticized media reports that OxyContin was being abused. The piece - headlined "Heroic Dopeheads?" - mocked a "new species of 'victim,' the 'hillbilly heroin' addict." The real victims, the article contended, were pain patients who may lose access to a "prescription wonder drug."

At 5:17 a.m. on the day the article was published, Eric Dezenhall, the founder of Washington, D.C., crisis management firm Dezenhall Resources, sent an e-mail to Purdue executives, according to documents filed by the Oklahoma attorney general in a lawsuit against opioid makers.

"See today's New York Post on OxyContin," he wrote. "The anti-story begins."


Purdue had hired Dezenhall Resources that summer. Dezenhall's hard-nosed reputation fit the blame-the-victim strategy advocated by Purdue's then-president, Richard Sackler.

"We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible," Sackler wrote in a 2001 e-mail quoted in a complaint by the state of Massachusetts against the company. "They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals."

Purdue later followed this approach to fend off a New Jersey mother who was urging federal regulators to investigate the marketing of OxyContin. Her daughter had died while taking the drug for back pain. "We think she abused drugs," a Purdue spokesman said without offering evidence. Purdue later apologized for the comment.

However, pain patients with legitimate prescriptions for OxyContin and similar painkillers can and do become addicted to the drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that "anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them," and that "as many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction."

A review article in The New England Journal of Medicine reported rates of "carefully diagnosed addiction" in pain patients averaged just under 8% in studies, while misuse, abuse and addiction-related aberrant behaviors ranged from 15% to 26% of pain patients.

Although Dezenhall Resources was working for Purdue until recently, it rarely has been linked publicly to the company. Purdue paid Dezenhall a total of $309,272 in July and August of this year and owes it an additional $186,575, according to bankruptcy court filings. The total amount paid to Dezenhall since 2001 was not disclosed in records reviewed by ProPublica.

Dezenhall Resources has also defended Exxon Mobil against criticisms from environmental groups, and former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling as he fought against fraud charges, according to a 2006 BusinessWeek profile of Eric Dezenhall that called him "The Pitbull of Public Relations." (Skilling was later convicted.)

The magazine reported that Dezenhall arranged a pro-Exxon demonstration on Capitol Hill to distract attention from a nearby environmental protest, and that the company discussed a plan to pay newspaper Op-Ed writers to question the motives of an Enron whistleblower.

"We believe a winning outcome can only be achieved by directly stopping your attackers," Dezenhall Resources states on its website.

ProPublica reviewed e-mails to Purdue officials in which Dezenhall and his employees took credit for dissuading a national television news program from pursuing a story about OxyContin; helping to quash a documentary project on OxyContin abuse at a major cable network; forcing multiple outlets to issue corrections related to OxyContin coverage; and gaining coverage of sympathetic pain patients on a television news program and in newspaper columns.

"Dezenhall has been instrumental in helping with the placement of pain patient advocacy stories over the last several years," Dezenhall executive vice president Sheila Hershow wrote in a 2006 e-mail.

Eric Dezenhall told ProPublica that he does not confirm or deny the identity of clients. While declining to answer questions about Purdue, or comment on the BusinessWeek article about him, he said that his company acts appropriately and seeks fair and truthful coverage.

"We regularly work with experts and journalists, including Pro Publica, to ensure accuracy in reporting and persuade and dissuade them regarding various storylines with facts and research," he wrote. "Ultimately, these journalists and experts decide how to use the information provided."

* * * * *

One of Dezenhall Resources' first moves, after being hired by Purdue, was to cultivate Satel. In July 2001, Hershow reported to Purdue officials that she and Eric Dezenhall had lunch with Satel and the doctor was "eager to get started." Hershow said Satel had read a "debunking package" and was "interested in doing an opinion piece on the medical needs of patients being sacrificed to protect drug abusers."

Satel said that the meeting with Dezenhall was not unusual, and that "I often talk to people who have interesting stories."

Satel was raised in Queens and has an Ivy League pedigree. She attended Cornell University as an undergraduate before going to medical school at Brown University. She was a psychiatry professor at Yale University for several years and then moved to Washington. For a little over a decade beginning in 1997, she was a staff psychiatrist at a methadone clinic in the city.

She has become an influential voice on opioids, addiction and pain treatment. Her writings have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Atlantic, Slate, Health Affairs, Forbes, Politico and elsewhere.

She frequently appears on panels, television shows and in newspaper articles as an expert on the opioid crisis and pain prescribing guidelines.

"We've entered a new era of opiophobia," she recently told the Washington Post.

Satel has been a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute since 2000. Among the notable figures who have spent time at AEI are the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former Trump national security adviser John Bolton. Current fellow Scott Gottlieb returned to AEI this year after serving as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approves and regulates prescription drugs like OxyContin.

Purdue said its annual payments of $50,000 to AEI were part of the institute's corporate program. That program offers corporations the opportunity to "gain access to the leading scholars in the most important policy areas for executive briefings and knowledge sharing," according to the institute's website.

Corporations can choose between three levels of donations: At $50,000 a year, Purdue was in the middle level, the "Executive Circle."

Besides the annual payments, Purdue has also paid a total of $24,000 to attend two special events hosted by the institute, according to a company spokesman.

Internal e-mails show the main Purdue contact with AEI was Rosen, the drugmaker's in-house lobbyist based in Washington. In one e-mail, Rosen described the leaders of the think tank as "very good friends" and also noted that former FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan ascended to that job after a stint at AEI as a scholar.

Rosen also organized a group of pain reliever manufacturers and industry-funded groups into an organization called the Pain Care Forum. It met to share information on government efforts to restrict opioid prescribing, according to records produced in litigation against Purdue.

Veronique Rodman, a spokesperson for AEI, said the institute does not publicly discuss donors.

She said that the institute does not accept research contracts, and that its researchers come to their own conclusions.

"It makes sense" that Satel would be unaware of AEI funders, she said.

* * * * *

Dezenhall's courting of Satel soon paid off. A month after the lunch with Dezenhall and Hershow, Satel defended Purdue's flagship drug for the opinion page of the Boston Globe.

"Something must be done to keep OxyContin out of the wrong hands, but the true public health tragedy will be depriving patients who need it to survive in relative comfort day to day," she wrote.


In February 2002, AEI held a panel discussion at its headquarters to answer the question, "Who is responsible for the abuse of OxyContin?"

The panel of experts included Satel, a Purdue executive and a Purdue lawyer.

Covering the event, Reuters Health reported that the panel "mostly agreed that Purdue Pharma should not be viewed as the culprit in the problem of the abuse of its long-acting painkiller OxyContin."

Two months later, Purdue approved spending $2,000 to pay for Satel to speak to the staff of a New Orleans hospital about addiction, according to internal company records. Satel said she had "absolutely no memory of speaking at a hospital in New Orleans."

The physician who organized the planned event said he doesn't recall if it took place, and the hospital no longer has records of medical staff talks from that period.

In 2003, a Dezenhall staffer recommended Satel as a guest to a producer for The Diane Rehm Show on NPR. The firm and Purdue executives, including vice president David Haddox, helped prep Satel for the appearance.

Haddox passed along what he called "interesting intel for Sally" that Rehm's mother suffered from chronic headaches. "Thanks for helping us get her up to speed for the show," Hershow replied.

A spokesperson for WAMU, the NPR station in Washington that produced the Rehm show, said there was no policy to ask guests about funding of their organizations, or if there was a financial connection to the show's topic.

"For most segments, the producers would try to bring as many perspectives to the table as possible so that listeners would be better able to make their own informed judgment of the topic at hand," wrote the spokesperson, Julia Slattery.

ProPublica was unable to reach Haddox for comment.

Also that year, when conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh revealed that he was addicted to prescription painkillers, Purdue declined a request from CNN for a company representative to discuss the news on the air. Instead, Purdue recommended Satel, who assured viewers that OxyContin was a "very effective and actually safe drug, if taken as prescribed."

Dezenhall's Hershow told Purdue executives in an e-mail that she was "very glad Sally went on."

Hershow, a former investigative producer at ABC News, declined comment for this article.

In September 2004, Forbes published a Satel article under the headline, "OxyContin Doesn't Cause Addiction. Its Abusers Are Already Addicts."

"I am happy this morning!" Purdue's then general counsel, Howard Udell, e-mailed other company executives and Eric Dezenhall with the subject line "RE: Forbes Article."

Three years later, Udell and two other Purdue executives would plead guilty in federal court to a misdemeanor criminal charge related to misleading patients and doctors about the addictive nature of OxyContin.

As part of that 2007 settlement, Purdue admitted to acting "with the intent to defraud or mislead" when it promoted OxyContin as less addictive and less subject to abuse than other painkillers.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal headlined "Oxy Morons," Satel defended the company. "The real public-health damage here comes from the pitched campaign conducted by zealous prosecutors and public-interest advocates to demonize the drug itself," she wrote.

* * * * *

After Purdue and Dezenhall launched their "anti-story," media reports of OxyContin addiction and abuse declined for several years. In 2001, there were 1,204 stories that included the words "OxyContin," "abuse" and "Purdue" published in media outlets archived on the Nexis database. The number plummeted to 361 in 2002 and to 150 in 2006.

Purdue's counterattack against an ambitious investigative series about OxyContin abuse may have contributed to that drop. An October 2003 series in the Orlando Sentinel, "OxyContin Under Fire," found that Purdue's aggressive marketing combined with weak regulation had contributed to "a wave of death and destruction."

The series, however, was marred by several errors that were detailed in a front-page correction nearly four months later. The reporter resigned, and two editors on the series were reassigned.

While acknowledging the mistakes, the newspaper did not retract the series, and its review upheld the conclusion that oxycodone was involved in a large number of the overdoses in Florida.

Dezenhall Resources, in an e-mail, took credit for forcing the newspaper to issue the corrections.

"Dezenhall's efforts resulted in a complete front-page retraction of the erroneous 5-day, 19-part, front-page Orlando Sentinel series," Hershow wrote in a 2006 e-mail summarizing Dezenhall's work for Purdue under the subject line "Success in Fighting Negative Coverage."

Purdue officials and the company's public relations agencies came up with a 13-point plan to generate media coverage of the errors. It included getting a doctor to talk about how the series "frightened and mislead (sic) the people of Florida" and having a pain patient write a newspaper opinion column on the subject.

The Sentinel series, one Purdue official wrote to other company executives and Dezenhall's Hershow, was an opportunity to let the country know about "all of the sensational reporting on OxyContin abuse over the past 4 years. The conclusion: this is the most overblown health story in the last decade!"

In the six years since Purdue challenged the Sentinel's findings, the death rate from prescription drugs increased 84.2% in Florida. The biggest rise, 264.6%, came from deaths involving oxycodone. The state became a hotbed for inappropriate opioid prescribing as unscrupulous pain clinics attracted out of state drug seekers. The route traveled by many from small towns in Appalachia to the Florida clinics was nicknamed the Oxycontin Express.

In 2017, 14 years after the Sentinel series was published, the Columbia Journalism Review described it as "right too soon" and said it "eerily prefigured today's opioid epidemic."

* * * * *

Purdue couldn't hold off restrictions on opioid prescribing forever. Since 2011, a growing number of states, insurers and federal health agencies have adopted policies that have led to annual declines in prescribing. Advocates for pain treatment have complained that this turnabout has gone too far, and the CDC recently advised doctors against suddenly discontinuing opioids.

Still, the U.S. remains far and away the world leader in per capita opioid prescriptions.

Under increasing pressure, Purdue enlisted other public relations firms known for aggressively helping corporations in crisis. Burson-Marsteller, which after a merger last year is now known as BCW, signed an agreement in 2011 to provide Purdue "strategic counsel."

Burson-Marsteller represented Johnson & Johnson as it responded to the Tylenol poisoning case and Union Carbide after the deadly Bhopal explosion in India.

According to documents, it helped Purdue identify and counter "potential threats," such as congressional investigators and the group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.

A 2013 proposed work plan between the companies called on Burson to perform as much as $2.7 million of work for Purdue. BCW did not respond to requests for comment.

Purdue also employed the services of Purple Strategies, a Washington-area firm that reportedly represented BP after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Purdue paid $621,653 to Purple Strategies in the 90 days prior to the drugmaker's Sept. 15 bankruptcy filing and owes it an additional $207,625, according to court filings. Purple Strategies did not respond to requests for comment.

Purdue also added Stu Loeser to its stable. The head of an eponymous media strategy company, Loeser was press secretary for Michael Bloomberg when he was mayor of New York City, and he is now a spokesperson for Bloomberg's possible presidential bid.

Soon after Loeser began representing Purdue, Satel wrote in a 2018 piece for Politico, headlined "The Myth of What's Driving the Opioid Crisis," about "a false narrative" that the opioid epidemic "is driven by patients becoming addicted to doctor-prescribed opioids."

Loeser told Purdue executives in an e-mail that "we are going to work with AEI to 'promote' this so it comes across as what it is: their thoughtful response to other writing."

His team was working to target the Satel story "to land in social media feeds of people who have searched for opioid issues and potentially even people who have read specific stories online," he added.

Loeser said in an interview that he didn't end up working with AEI to promote the story. He said Purdue is no longer a client.



* New York Times: Origins Of An Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused.

* The Center for Public Integrity/AP: Opioid Makers Paid Millions To Advocacy Groups That Promoted Their Painkillers Amid Addiction Epidemic.

* Kaiser Health News: Giuliani's Consulting Firm Helped Halt Purdue Opioid Investigation In Florida.

* Reason: Chicago Tribune Columnist Dahleen Glanton Thinks Helping Opioid Users Is 'Accommodating' Them.

* WBEZ: Chicago's Black Communities Hit Hardest In Opioid Overdoses.

* Belleville News-Democrat: When You Call The Illinois Opioid Hotline, Someone In Boston Answers.

* Los Angeles Times: 'You Want A Description Of Hell?' OxyContin's 12-Hour Problem.

* Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:OxyContin Patients Then & Now.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

November 23, 2019

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #279: The White Sox Win The Week

Give fans a cookie - with a virtue-signalling cherry on top. Plus: ZachLaVine Shakes It Up; Shout Out To Our Very Own Roger Wallenstein; Boylen Boilin'; Blackhawks Also A Bust; Chicago's Crappy College Of Coaches; DePaul On Our Bubble; At This Time Next Week The Bears Could Be .500; and Chicago Dumpster Fire.



* 279.

:13: A Cookie With Dessert.

* Yaz!

* Abreu is the virtue-signalling cherry on top.

* McNeil & Parkins: Paul Charchian, Yasmani Grandal interviews.

* Rickey Rentamanager.

* Lingerin' Kenny.

19:22: Zach LaVine Shakes It Up.

* Goodwill, Yahoo: LaVine Bristles At Being Benched, Singled Out.

* Chocolate Flavored Action Drink!


22:54: Shout Out To Our Very Own Roger Wallenstein.

29:26: Boylen Boilin'.

Meanwhile . . .

* Woodyard, ESPN: Kendrick Nunn Continues Legacy Of Ben Wilson In Chicago Homecoming.

* Heat Rookie Kendrick Nunn Calls His Shot: 'I'm An All-Star Player.'

* Max Strus:

45:50: Blackhawks Also A Bust.

* Scout: Slater Koekkoek Is Projected To Be The #128 RW The Rest Of The Season

48:19: Chicago's Crappy College Of Coaches.

* Suddenly, Lovie Smith Is No. 1.

51:23: DePaul On Our Bubble.

52:15: At This Time Next Week The Bears Could Be Back At .500.

58:49: Chicago Dumpster Fire.

* SportsLogos.Net: "Welp, They Can't All Be Winners."




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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 PM | Permalink

November 22, 2019

Recall! Ajinomoto Chicken Fried Rice

Ajinomoto Foods North America, an Oakland, Mississippi establishment, is recalling approximately 172,692 pounds of chicken fried rice products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically pieces of plastic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Friday.

The not-ready-to-eat, frozen chicken fried rice items were produced from July 9, 2019 to July 11, 2019 with various packaging and best by dates. The following products are subject to recall:

* 54-oz. cardboard packages containing "AJINOMOTO YAKITORI CHICKEN WITH JAPANESE-STYLE FRIED RICE" with date codes "3559007, 3559008, 3559015, 3559190 and 3559191" and best by dates of "1/7/2020, 1/8/2020, 1/15/2020, 7/9/2020 and 7/10/2020."

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "P-34708" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas.

The problem was discovered after the firm received consumer complaints. The firm then notified FSIS of the issue.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

Consumers with questions about the recalls can contact Willis Hwang, Consumer Affairs Manager, Ajinomoto Foods North America, at (503) 361-5003 or at

Members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Paul Taylor, Vice President, Ajinomoto Foods North America, Inc., at (909) 477-4800 or at

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via e-mail to

For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2019

Recall! Morris Meat Packing Of Maywood's Saturday Pork

Morris Meat Packing, a Maywood establishment, is recalling approximately 515,000 pounds of various raw, intact pork products that were produced without the benefit of federal inspection and outside inspection hours, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The raw, intact pork items were produced on Saturdays from November 25, 2017 to November 9, 2019.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 18267" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to distributors and retail locations in Illinois.

The problem was discovered when FSIS received an anonymous tip that the firm was producing products without the benefit of inspection.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' refrigerators or freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at

Consumers and media with questions regarding the recall can contact Frank Masellis, President of Morris Meat Packing, at (708) 865-8566.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via e-mail to

For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Hello, I watched part of the impeachment hearings this morning from a chair in a dentist's office, how did your day go?


Actually, I was only in emotional pain derived from a batshit, post-fact country falling into tyranny mixed with the sheer frustration of a state government that is finally run like a business. Unfortunately, that business is Comcast.

The dental part didn't hurt at all. That part comes in a later procedure - and you'll hear all about it!


Friday Programming Notes
Me and Jim "Coach" Coffman are planning to record The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour on Saturday this week because I'll be doing this on Friday morning . . .


"He is the purported leader of the 'AHK Street Gang,' a gang in the Chicago area that traffics various narcotics throughout the city region, including heroin and cocaine, according to the Department of Justice," CNN reports.

"But Thursday, Jason Brown stepped into a federal courtroom not on drug charges, but for allegedly attempting to provide material support to ISIS."

I don't have a particular reason to doubt this, but history tells us to be wary of DOJ overkill i these type of cases.

"Specifically, the Department of Justice alleges that on three separate occasions this year, 'Brown provided $500 to a confidential source with the intent that the $500 be wired to an individual Brown believed was an ISIS soldier engaged in active combat in Syria.' That individual was confidentially working with law enforcement, the DOJ says."

So Brown is the purported leader of a Chicago street gang that trafficks various drugs including heroin and cocaine, yet he still mustered just $500 for his favorite cause? That's an unpaid boot bill in Chicago; not exactly the stuff of worldwide domination.


"While Brown was serving time for a previous arrest in 2016, the criminal complaint alleges, he was 'radicalized in prison.'"

Now that I can believe.


"Three days after the Department of Justice announced Brown's arrest, federal authorities arrested 20-year-old Thomas Osadzinski, a student at DePaul University, for the same charge - attempting to provide material support to ISIS.

"The criminal complaint in Osadzinski's case alleges he designed a process to make ISIS propaganda more conveniently accessed and disseminated by users on a social media platform."

Hmm, that sounds a little loose.

"According to the complaint, Osadzinski designed a process that uses a computer script to make ISIS propaganda easier to access and disseminate on a social media platform, bypassing preventive code which routinely removes ISIS content due to the violent nature of the materials," USA Today reports.

"The complaint, however, did not identify the social media platform, saying only that it was a mobile and desktop messaging application."


"In February, an information technology professional who had met Osadzinski through his computer science studies called the student under the guise of discussing computer science programs. The source befriended Osadzinski and falsely told him that he, too, was an ISIS supporter. The source met with Osadzinski in person five times.

"The two became close. Osadzinski told the source about his plans to meet up with his prospective spouse in Indonesia. He detailed his research into the FBI agent that he suspected was tailing him, revealing that he knew details about the agent's father. Osadzinski also showed the source screenshots of messages he had sent to individuals in Chechnya, instructing them on how to use the code.

"The confidential source has been involved with multiple FBI investigations since 2013 and has been paid approximately $350,000, according to the complaint."


Vice Lord
"A former vice chancellor at the City Colleges of Chicago, along with his wife and other former City Colleges employees, were indicted in federal court for engaging in a $350,000 kickback scheme that awarded contracts to companies tied to the former official, his wife and other City Colleges employees," WBEZ reports.

"Sherod Gordon, 45, of Oak Park, is charged with 16 counts of wire fraud. Gordon served as associate vice chancellor of community relations and student recruitment before serving as vice chancellor of legislative and community affairs until 2017. The alleged scheme took place between 2013 and 2017.

"According to the indictment announced Wednesday, some City Colleges employees and Gordon's outside associates created companies to apply for community canvassing and flyer distribution contracts that Gordon oversaw. Sometimes, work was never performed even though City Colleges paid submitted invoices, the indictment alleges. In some cases, Gordon received payments from vendor companies, with some of those payments coming as kickbacks."

A for effort!


New on the Beachwood today . . .

The State Of Stop-And-Frisk In Chicago
"In his report, Keys lauded Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration for what he called 'the sea change' he has seen in the city's level of cooperation since she took office in May."


For-Profit Colleges Tap Fox News Host To Influence Trump
"[Pete] Hegseth refused to comment. 'I can't give interviews because I work for Fox News,' he said before hanging up."


Bloodshot Records' Defiant 25th Year In Review
Reasons to believe.


Andy Warcrime's Best Nonfiction Of The Last 25 Years
At least one author on the list is a Chicagoan.


Studies: For Certain Sports, Concussion Rates Are Higher In Female Athletes Than Males
"The researchers conclude their findings demonstrate a need for further interventions to reduce concussion rates, such as the required use of protective head equipment in women's sports, the adoption of neck-strengthening exercises and other prevention training, and greater enforcement of rules to decrease levels of contact in men's sports."



Ahead of move back to Soldier Field, Chicago Fire unveils new logo, color scheme, and slight change of name (Chicago Fire FC) from r/chicago





Pete Yorn at the Metro on Tuesday night.



An Unseen Victim Of The College Admissions Scandal: The High School Tennis Champion Aced Out By A Billionaire Family.


Baltimore Museum Of Art Will Only Acquire Works From Women Next Year: 'You Have To Do Something Radical.'


Christie's Joins The Race For Millennial Buyers With Its Own Sale Of Supreme Skateboards In Latest Validation That Some People Will Never Get It.


Growing Up With, And Outgrowing, Elvis Costello.


Veteran Minneapolis Music Writer Jim Walsh Digs Through His Wilco Archives.


A sampling of the (non-impeachment) delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport. You'll have to go right to the source for the impeachment tweets.


Well, one impeachment tweet. Gold.






The Beachwood Holiday Train Tip Line: Chicago-style.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 AM | Permalink

Studies: For Certain Sports, Concussion Rates Are Higher In Female Athletes Than Males

Many female athletes encounter higher concussion rates than their male counterparts, according to two studies conducted by researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

The researchers conclude their findings demonstrate a need for further interventions to reduce concussion rates, such as the required use of protective head equipment in women's sports, the adoption of neck-strengthening exercises and other prevention training, and greater enforcement of rules to decrease levels of contact in men's sports.

Concussions can occur in a wide range of sports, affecting not only professional athletes but youth athletes as well. There are approximately 1.7 million to 3.8 million sports concussions reported in the nation each year, as well as 1.1 million to 1.9 million pediatric recreation-related concussions.

For the first paper, "Sex-Based Differences in the Incidence of Sports-Related Concussion: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis," first published on September 30 in the journal Sports Health, senior author Daphne Ling, a sports medicine epidemiologist at HSS, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of sex-based differences in concussion incidence in lacrosse, soccer, baseball/softball, basketball, track and field and swimming/diving. They found that the concussion incidence rates for females were statistically significantly higher compared to males in both soccer and basketball.

"While the causes are unknown, we suspect this sex difference in concussion incidence in soccer and basketball might be attributed to females having decreased head and neck strength, greater peak angular acceleration and increased angular displacement compared to males," concluded Ling. "Female athletes are also more likely to disclose their symptoms to coaches and parents. This is important for physicians to consider when treating patients who participate in these sports."

For the second paper, "Women Are at Higher Risk for Concussions Due to Ball or Equipment Contact in Soccer and Lacrosse," published online ahead of print on October 17 in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, senior author Ellen Casey, a sports medicine physician with the Women's Sports Medicine Center at HSS, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 10 studies published from January 2000 to December 2018. The studies reported concussion incidence for both male and female athletes who participated in the following sports: ice hockey, soccer, basketball, baseball/softball and lacrosse. The objective was to identify in which sports female athletes were less likely to experience concussions from player contact versus ball or equipment contact.

In female athletes, the main cause of concussions was contact with the ball or equipment in lacrosse, and heading the ball in soccer. Additionally, female hockey players were more likely than male players to experience concussions after contact with the ice surface. The researchers found no differences between male baseball and female softball players for ball/equipment-induced concussions. Similarly, there was no difference observed between male and female basketball players for surface or ball contact.

Furthermore, the pattern of the underlying concussion-causing mechanism was the same regardless of differences between the male and female versions of the sport. It is suggested that sex hormones; decreased neck strength in female athletes, which reduces their ability to withstand external forces; and increased neck and torso strength in male athletes, which allows them to better absorb impact in the upper body versus in the head alone, may play a role in the sex differences in concussion incidence.

To reduce their risk of concussion, Casey advises women to participate in exercises to enhance neck strength, stiffness and neuromuscular control, as females tend to have deficits in these areas relative to males.

"Depending on the sport, exercises and training to optimize technique with high-risk movements, such as heading the ball in soccer, are also critical in reducing concussion risk," she says. "If we truly want to reduce the impact of sports concussions, more research is needed on what causes concussions so that prevention measures can be put in place as well as better reporting of sex and gender differences across sports."


See also: Concussion Research Has A Troubling Patriarchy Problem.


Previously in concussions:
* Bob Probert's Broken Brain.

* NFL Players Killing Themselves Because They Miss Football So Much.

* The College Football Report: Dementia Pugilistica.

* Blackhawks Playing Head Games.

* Jay Cutler Should Consider Retiring.

* Dislike: Friday Night Tykes.

* Hurt And Be Hurt: The Lessons Of Youth Sports.

* Chicago Soccer Player Patrick Grange Had CTE.

* Sony Softened Concussion To Placate NFL.

* Ultra-Realistic Madden To Simulate Game's Debilitating Concussions.

* Dear Football: I'm Breaking Up With You.

* Dead College Football Player's Brain Leaves Clues Of Concussions' Toll On Brain.

* More Bad Concussion News For Young Football Players.

* NFL Tried To Fix Concussion Study.

* The Week In Concussions: Another Enforcer Down.

* Teen Concussion Rate Rising Significantly.

* Conflict Of Interest For NFL Doctors To Report To Teams: Harvard Study.

* U.S. Supreme Court Ends Fight Over $1 Billion NFL Concussion Deal.

* U.S. High School Soccer Concussions On The Rise.

* Youth Football Finally Listening To Coach Coffman.

* Many Kids Still Don't Report Concussion Symptoms. How Can We Change That?

* Brain Damage In Former Players Fuels Soccer 'Heading' Fears.

* Canadian Youth Hockey Injuries Cut In Half After National Policy Change.

* More Teen Knowledge About Concussion May Not Increase Reporting.

* High School Boys Fear Looking 'Weak' If They Report Concussions.

* Pro Flag Football Is Now A Thing - Starring Former NFL Players!

* Nearly All Donated NFL Brains Found To Have CTE.

* Female Athletes Are Closing The Gender Gap When It Comes To Concussions.

* Whoa. Perhaps The Smartest Player In NFL History - He's In Math PhD Program At MIT - Assesses Situation And Decides To Save His Brain.

* Study: CTE Affects Football Players At All Levels.

* Dan Jiggetts Is Right About CTE.

* Letting Our Boys Onto The Football Field Is A Losing Play.

* Tackle Rings?

* CTE Season Preview.

* The CTE Diaries: The Life And Death Of A High School Football Player Killed By Concussions.

* Study: Youth Football Linked To Adult Problems.

* Can Weed Save Football?

* NHL In Chintzy Tentative Concussion Settlement: Not Our Fault.

* The NHL's Deadly Denial.

* Could Helmetless Tackling Training Reduce Football Head Injuries?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:12 AM | Permalink

For-Profit Colleges Tap Fox News Host To Influence Trump

Pete Hegseth, the Fox News personality who urged President Donald Trump to pardon service members charged with war crimes, is trying to influence the White House on another military-related cause.

An Army veteran who talks to Trump periodically and has dined with him at the White House, Hegseth traveled to New Orleans in June to address leaders of for-profit colleges at their annual convention.

They are pushing to enroll more veterans, a lucrative class of students - and Hegseth is the face of the colleges' new campaign to defend a favorable carve-out in federal law.

Under the law, for-profit colleges can't receive more than 90% of their revenue from federal education funds. The logic, according to the staffer who drafted the provision, was that the education should be good enough that at least some students are willing to pay.

But veterans' benefits, such as GI Bill stipends, don't count as federal education funds (even though they also come from the federal government).

This "90/10 loophole" means that for every veteran enrolled, a school can admit nine more students using federal loans.

Veterans advocates and congressional investigators say this loophole leads to predatory and deceptive marketing tactics that sometimes leave veterans with unexpected debt and useless degrees if schools lose their accreditation or go out of business.

Hegseth has pushed back on that criticism, framing the issue as protecting veterans' freedom to choose where they go to school. Speaking at the Career Education Colleges and Universities convention in New Orleans, Hegseth pledged to use his relationship with Trump to fend off legislation to close the 90/10 loophole.

"Right now you've got a president that would veto the bad stuff," he said in the speech, which was flagged at the time by Media Matters. "And if he ever gave me a call - and sometimes he does - I'd tell him that."

Trump has indeed dialed Hegseth into the Oval Office to discuss veterans policy, and considered appointing him Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

A frequent presence on the president's favorite morning show, Fox & Friends, Hegseth has interviewed Trump on the air multiple times and has been the subject of adoring tweets from the president.

Hegseth prominently encouraged Trump to grant pardons or other relief in high-profile war crimes cases, which the president he did on Friday.

Since June, Hegseth has given at least 11 speeches for CECU and related groups, according to posts on his Twitter feed and the organizations' websites.

One of the appearances billed his keynote as "sponsored by Career Education Colleges and Universities."

Hegseth refused to comment. "I can't give interviews because I work for Fox News," he said before hanging up. He did not respond to follow-up questions sent by text message. Fox News and CECU didn't respond to requests for comment.

While Hegseth and CECU would not discuss his compensation, he has in the past spoken to political groups that paid $5,000 to $10,000 to his agency, Premiere Speakers Bureau, according to campaign finance records compiled by Media Matters.

Premiere did not respond to requests for comment.

CECU has paid another advocate, Callista Gingrich, at least $5,000, according to the financial disclosure she filed for her appointment as Trump's ambassador to the Vatican.

In addition to the speeches, Hegseth published two Op-Eds, on the websites of Fox News and The Hill. The articles defend for-profit colleges and attack veterans groups that oppose the 90/10 loophole.

Neither article disclosed Hegseth's work for CECU. A spokeswoman for The Hill, Lisa Dallos, said Hegseth told the newspaper he doesn't have a "paid relationship" with CECU and signed paperwork saying he doesn't have a conflict of interest.

The White House didn't respond to requests for comment about Hegseth's advocacy efforts. (Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has also championed for-profit schools.)

Hegseth's suggestion that Trump would use his veto pen to protect for-profit colleges is looking less hypothetical than in June when he spoke in New Orleans. On Thursday, four senators introduced the upper chamber's first-ever bipartisan bill to close the 90/10 loophole.

"This bill puts reasonable protections in place that are fair to veterans, taxpayers, and schools," one of the co-sponsors, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), said in a statement. "This bill is a bipartisan solution to put the best interest of our veterans first while also recognizing that the majority of for-profit post-secondary institutions, but unfortunately not all, offer quality programs that accommodate the needs and unique skill sets of our veterans and servicemembers."

The senators' announcement for the bill included endorsements from the American Legion and Veterans Education Success, which were both called out by name in Hegseth's most recent Op-Ed, as well as from seven other organizations representing veterans and service members.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:32 AM | Permalink

November 20, 2019

Andy Warcrime's Best Nonfiction Books Of The Last 25 Years








Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:11 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers


Alden Global Capitalism
"In Illinois, it's legal for school employees to seclude students in a separate space - to put them in 'isolated timeout' - if the students pose a safety threat to themselves or others. Yet every school day, workers isolate children for reasons that violate the law, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois has found.

"Children were sent to isolation after refusing to do classwork, for swearing, for spilling milk, for throwing Legos. School employees use isolated timeout for convenience, out of frustration or as punishment, sometimes referring to it as 'serving time.'"

In related news, new Tribune major shareholder Alden Global Capital spent the day pelting reporters with Legos and dousing them in milk, just to see how much they would take.


Chicago On Fire
"The Chicago Fire have been discussing a rebrand for several months and, based on trademark filings, that rebrand will include a new crest and a new name," the Tribune reports.

The Fire, formally the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, will switch to Chicago Fire FC - short for football club - according to applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Major League Soccer on Nov. 15.

That name change is relatively minor for a rebrand. The crest change, however, is not.

Instead of the club's current crest - a fire department-like florian cross with a stylized "C" encircled in the middle and "CHICAGO" and "FIRE" inside the cross - the Fire's new crest is an oval with a set of three triangles divided by a line, according to the trademark application. "CHICAGO" appears at the top while "FIRE FC" appear at the bottom.

In related news, new Tribune majority shareholder Alden Global Capital set fire to its newsrooms today in order to weed out the slowest reporters.


Food Stamp Clamp
"About 50,000 Cook County residents who receive food stamps are going to have to find jobs next year - or risk losing their benefits," the Tribune reports.

The revised estimate came amidst projections of job losses after news that Alden Global Capital announced it had become the Tribune's new majority shareholder.


I mean, I could do this all day.

But I won't.


My advice to those employed at Tribune newspapers is to get out now, en masse, and start your own thing. Because the fight ahead with these cretins will not be worth fighting. We've all seen the movie - and all its sequels - and it does not end well. Ever. The diminishment of the work will not be worth it. Leave the legacy behind and create the kind of company you want to work for. Pool your resources, find a couple patrons, and reinvent news the way it should have been reinvented a long time ago.


P.S.: Today's Worst Person In Chicago - And That's Putting It Nicely.


New on the Beachwood today . . .

Why Isn't White Castle A Fast Food Giant?
Just lucky, I guess?


Programming Note



A postman in Chicago posing with heavy Christmas parcels, 1929 from r/chicago





Gymshorts at the Cobra last Friday night.



The Final Days Of Japan's Most Incredible Arcade.


Split-Second Photos Of Shattering Kung Fu Figurines Look Like Epic Fight Scenes.


A sampling of the (non-impeachment) delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport. You'll have to go right to the source for the impeachment tweets.




The Beachwood Tip Of The Spear Line: Vanguard's hard.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:38 AM | Permalink

The State Of Stop-And-Frisk In Chicago

City of Chicago officials committed to a series of specific steps designed to address the practice of pedestrian stops and pat-downs (colloquially known as stop-and-frisk) after the latest critical report on the process from former U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys.

The report shows, as an example, that 70% of all pedestrian stops are conducted on African Americans in Chicago, despite the reality that African Americans comprise only 33% of the city's population. This high percentage of focus on African Americans has remained consistent over the past several years, making clear that the practice of pedestrian stops disproportionately impacts communities of color in Chicago.

The City of Chicago is responding with a promise to fix the process for recording stops and pat-downs by Chicago police officers.

Keys details an unsystematic process where officers are allowed to rewrite reports about pedestrian stops when the initial report failed to contain a constitutional reason for stopping and searching someone on Chicago's streets.

Officers have been permitted to change the reports up to seven times - with assistance or "coaching" from supervisors. The number of reports that have been changed multiple times has increased in recent years, going up by 10% in one recent quarter.

"If it takes an officer up to seven times to justify a stop, one has to ask how many of these stops were lawful to begin with," said Karen Sheley, director of the Police Practices Project for the ACLU of Illinois. "When you consider the number of stops that take place, it is clear that Chicago residents of color have been subject to unconstitutional searches at the hands of CPD officers."

After reviewing the report, the City outlined a number of specific steps to review and reform the process of collecting and reporting the data, including the way that supervisors interact with officers on these reports.

"The City has committed to make substantial and important changes to how it reports and analyzes pedestrian stops," Sheley said. "These stops are serious events in people's lives - people are pressed against a wall or automobile with a police officer placing their hands inside their pockets or their clothing. There must be a constitutional reason for every stop and search before an officer undertakes it. Critically, the City has also agreed to address the racial disparities in these stops, rather than fight about whether the disparities exist."

Keys' report is the latest analysis emanating from a 2015 agreement between the City of Chicago and the ACLU. The agreement followed an ACLU report showing that stop-and-frisk was used more than four times as often in Chicago as compared to New York City. The ACLU report also demonstrated that people of color were far more likely to be stopped and searched than white Chicago residents.

Keys' report discusses at length meetings that he, as Consultant, had with Chicago residents. Keys tells the harrowing story of one young man who was stopped and searched by police with a gun pointed in his face. Other community members told of being searched in a fashion that made clear the police were looking for marijuana and other drugs, not firearms and other weapons that would justify the search. Additionally, community members report receiving no apology or explanation when nothing was found.

Keys, an African-American male who has lived and worked in the area for decades, notes that while many residents in predominantly African-American communities are aware of the constitutional standards for a pedestrian stop and search, "It means nothing in their world."

Keys also noted a "sea change" in the cooperation between the parties. This cooperation led directly to the City's agreement to improve this process. CPD will review its process for collecting data about pedestrian stops and pat downs and address the inadequacy of the data currently being collected. The Consultant observed that the process for collecting data is so flawed that it makes true analysis of the situation nearly impossible.


See also:

* Tribune: Report Finds Chicago Cops Revising Reports On Street Stops, Sometimes Multiple Times.

In his report, Keys lauded Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration for what he called "the sea change" he has seen in the city's level of cooperation since she took office in May.

"The City's new administration has shown remarkable speed and progress in fast-tracking the police reform efforts connected with this Agreement," he wrote.

* Crain's: 'Stop And Frisk' Still Disproportionately Impacting Black Chicagoans: Study.

* Chicago Reporter: Stop-And-Frisk Down 80% In Chicago But Black And Latinx People Still Hit The Hardest, Judge Finds.



* CityLab, 2018: Where Chicagoans Are Being Stopped And Frisked.

"In just a four-month period in 2014, Chicagoans were stopped and frisked at four times the rate at which New Yorkers were in 2011, when the practice was at its peak in New York City."



* CNN, January 2019: Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg Defends Use Of 'Stop And Frisk' Policing.

"[A] full-throated defense."

* AP, November 2019: Bloomberg Apologizes For 'Stop-And-Frisk' Police Practice.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

Bloodshot Records' Defiant 25th Year In Review

Here's a chronological look back at our releases of the last 12 months.



Released: February 22, 2019

Vandoliers are the next wave of Texas music. The six-piece Dallas-Fort Worth group channels all that makes this vast state unique: tradition, modernity, audacity, grit, and - of course - size. Forever puts it all together for an enthralling ride down a fresh Lone Star highway.

Produced and recorded by Adam Hill (Low Cut Connie, The Bo-Keys, Deer Tick, Don Bryant, Zeshan B) at American Recording Studios in Memphis, the band's third album (and first with Bloodshot) Forever is a mix of youthful and defiant punk, rugged Red Dirt country, and vibrant Tejano. The full-length's 10 songs blend emblematic rock 'n' roll with bold horns, violin, and a slather of twang reflecting where the band is from, where they've been and, eventually, where they'll be headed. It's regional and universal all at the same.




MEKONS - Deserted


Released: March 29, 2019

Emboldened by a sold-out tour and a surge of interest in the States after the release of the documentary Revenge of the Mekons, the band retreated to the fringes of Joshua Tree National Park and popular culture to record their new album Deserted.


"Lawrence of California."


THE YAWPERS - Human Question


Released: April 19, 2019

Through their first three albums, the group divined a signature style - what Pitchfork described as "an expansive vision of rock 'n' roll, one that cherrypicks from various folk traditions: punk, rockabilly, blues, whatever they might have on hand or find in the trash." The sound is a front-heavy, groovy, fire & brimstone punk-blues overlying a dynamic and metaphysical roots rock. On their fourth album Human Question, the Denver trio zooms out to a more vast and accessible stylistic and spiritual universe. The 38-minute thrill ride generates growth and cathartic self-reflection for audience and performer alike. If there was justice in this world, the Yawpers would be the savior that rock 'n' roll didn't know it was waiting for.


"Reason to Believe."


JASON HAWK HARRIS - Love & the Dark


Released: August 23, 2019

While Jason was writing this album his mother died from complications of alcoholism; his father went bankrupt after being sued by the King of Morocco; his sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and gave birth to a premature son with cerebral palsy; and - subsequently - Jason got sidetracked by his own vices. Love & the Dark is Jason's personal narrative on death, struggle, and addiction, of a life deconstructed and reassembled.


"Cussing at the Light."


JOEL PATERSON - Let It Be Guitar! Joel Paterson Plays the Beatles


Released: September 20, 2019

Let It Be Guitar! showcases fresh new arrangements of these familiar tunes, employing a wide variety of musical styles and guitar sounds, paying tribute to Paterson's biggest influences including Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Jorgen Ingmann, James Burton, Buddy Emmons, Ernest Ranglin and many more.


"All My Loving."


ROBBIE FULKS - 16 [LP only, self-released]

Released: November 1, 2019

A reinterpretation of Bob Dylan's 1978 pop-rock curveball Street Legal featuring a who's-who of Chicago musicians and friends. Only available on gatefold double vinyl LP.


ROBBIE FULKS - Country Love Songs [LP reissue]

180-gram heavyweight black vinyl with liner notes, drawings, and digital download code. Remastered for vinyl from the original tapes by Carl Saff.

"Tears Only Run One Way."


SCOTT H. BIRAM/JESSE DAYTON - "Monkey David Wine" b/w "Single Again" 7"


Ground Zero outlaw David Allan Coe's "Monkey David Wine" gets a sinister gut-bucket blues duet treatment. It lands about 11 feet away from Screamin' Jay Hawkins on a 10-foot chain. Pass the bottle, friends.

Side B is Gary Stewart's "Single Again." The cool-as-can-be song is a shaggy-haired, floppy-hatted prime taste of '70s rebel country. Pass the weed, brother.


VARIOUS ARTISTS - Too Late to Pray: Defiant Chicago Roots


Released: November 8, 2019

Too Late to Pray: Defiant Chicago Roots revisits the concept of the Chicago roots/country label's first release from 1994, For A Life of Sin: Insurgent Chicago Country, in gathering new recordings from standout like-minded acts across the current local scene. The album features 22 original and cover songs, with contributions from Robbie Fulks, Jon Langford's Hillbilly Lovechild (featuring Steve Albini), Freakwater, Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds (of Lawrence Arms), Half Gringa, Handsome Family, ROOKIE, The Hoyle Brothers, Sima Cunningham (of OHMME), Kelly Hogan, and others.


"The Last Honky Tonk in Chicago."


WAYNE HANCOCK - Man of the Road: The Early Bloodshot Years


Released: November 15, 2019

A career-spanning collection of the finest honky tonk, country and Western Swing tunes from legend Wayne "The Train" Hancock. This is the first time any of these songs - originally recorded and released with Bloodshot Records on albums from the last two decades - have appeared on vinyl (including the classic "Thunderstorms & Neon Signs"): A-Town Blues (2001), South Austin Sessions (2001), Swing Time (2003), Hard Headed Woman: A Celebration of Wanda Jackson (2004), Tulsa (2006), and Viper of Melody (2009).


"Thunderstorms & Neon Signs."


SCOTT H. BIRAM - Sold Out to the Devil: A Collection of Gospel Cuts by the Rev. Scott H. Biram


Released: November 22, 2019

Known as The Dirty Ol' One Man Band, Scott H. Biram has a deceiving penchant for songs about God, religion and spirituality. Each of his releases has incorporated music representing his religious fervor and appreciation for traditional Gospel music - just in some cases, Biram spins them in a perverse, hellbound way that only he can. Sold Out to the Devil is a collection of this particular God-fearing side of the Austin, Texas-based artist. The album includes a previously unreleased cover of the Louvin Brothers' "Broadminded."




Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:31 AM | Permalink

Why Isn't White Castle A Fast Food Giant?

Because their hamburgers are small and square, with holes in them?

The smell?

They weren't willing to sell out?

Just lucky, I guess?



* Oak Park Man Makes White Castle Hall Of Fame.

* White Castle Named "Most Influential Burger of All Time."


See also:

* Trip Advisor: White Castle, 3212 West Addison Street, Four Stars.

* Yelp: White Castle, 2140 South Wabash Avenue, Three Stars.

* WGN Radio: How To Use White Castle Original Sliders In Turkey Stuffing.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 AM | Permalink

November 19, 2019

The FCC Is About to Raise Billions From Auctioning Satellite TV Spectrum. Congress Should Invest it in Fiber Infrastructure

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has announced his plans to begin freeing up valuable airwaves within the C-Band, a part of the spectrum - the radio frequencies that our cell carriers, television stations, and others use to transmit services - historically used for satellite television. Once freed, the spectrum would be auctioned and used for 5G and other advanced wireless services. The FCC is making the right call here. This announcement puts the public interest ahead of the desires of the few private actors currently occupying the spectrum, who sought to leverage the hype around 5G to enrich themselves at the public's expense.

Their proposal, known as the C-Band Alliance proposal, attempted to argue that the nation's 5G coverage would benefit if they engaged in a private sale of public property, because it would be faster than the FCC conducting a public auction. But limited spectrum is not the main bottleneck to 5G deployment right now. What national 5G coverage lacks right now is dense fiber networks across the country to support high-speed wireless.

The FCC's actions are a crucial first step. Congress should now take the potentially $60 billion the government is about to raise and invest it in an infrastructure that will last for generations, and propel millions of American households into the 21st century of broadband access.

There Is No 5G Everywhere Without Fiber Everywhere

The fundamental challenge facing nationwide coverage of 5G is the lack of ubiquitous dense fiber infrastructure, which 5G relies on. Fiber deployment is why South Korea hit 2 million 5G users in just four months, while U.S. carriers struggle to cover a single football stadium. South Korea already built its national fiber network. We have not. In fact, dense fiber barely exists for anyone in America, according to the government's own data measuring network access deployment. Meanwhile, countries like China have a clear goal of universal fiber access with 5G riding on top, because the two go hand in hand.

Why hasn't the U.S. made fiber a priority in the same way? Part of the problem is we've allowed the hype around 5G to blind us to the $80+ billion challenge of building out dense fiber networks to support national 5G. There is little doubt that the carriers will first serve wealthy neighborhoods and business sectors, because that kind of cherry-picking already exists with broadband today. Nothing about 5G on its own changes carriers' economic motivations. That cherry-picking dynamic is likely why Cisco estimates only 10 percent of users will have 5G access by 2022 in the United States.

But that prediction doesn't have to become reality. If government policy and public investments focused on rapidly expanding fiber networks - particularly with an emphasis on fiber-to-the home - the economics change dramatically for any wireless 5G play. That's because building out fiber-to-the-home helps with the build out 5G networks. One study estimates that if you have a market where fiber is run to every home and business, it would dramatically reduce the cost to deploy 5G in that same market because it can leverage the existence of currently available fiber.

Universally Deployed Fiber is Essential to Remaining Competitive Internationally

EFF's own research into the upper potential of different last mile technologies has found that fiber is the undisputed champion for what the future holds. Fiber holds more than 10,000 times the bandwidth of any wireless or cable play - which means once you build it, you won't have to replace it to keep up with consumption and demand in the coming decades. China, recognizing this, intends to connect nearly 200 million households to gigabit wireline fiber connections in a short number of years. They have recognized the advantages that kind of infrastructure holds for future Internet activity and later generations of wireless technology. This is also why every major economy's government, expect for the United States, has adopted a universal fiber plan with explicit goals of connectivity over a specific number of years. But these type of plans require public investments at a massive scale, which is why it is so important for Congress to do the right thing with the billions the FCC is poised to raise.

If we don't invest this money into building fiber, then it will result in more of the same. Broadband access today is concentrated in a minority of communities connected by the large ISPs with isolated progress made by local governments and small private ISPs. Meanwhile, the rest of the country - particularly rural markets and low income communities - are left with a cable monopoly (or nothing at all) for high-speed access that underperforms fiber. Letting this opportunity pass will also mean that the next generation of applications and services that depend on extremely high-speeds and low latency will likely be unavailable to most Americans. In fact, if most of our local markets are not even able to access the future, we should not be surprised when Internet innovations happen overseas rather than in our backyard.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:04 AM | Permalink

A Brief Guide To Rudy Giuliani's Friends In Ukraine

In recent weeks, we've heard a lot about efforts by President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to push officials in Ukraine to investigate Trump's opponents. As the news has unfolded, it has introduced us to a litany of unfamiliar characters in both Ukraine and the U.S., many of whom were working with Giuliani or, in some fashion, on behalf of the president.

Our "Trump, Inc." colleague Ilya Marritz was in Kyiv following the trail of Giuliani in an effort to understand more about these obscure figures who have suddenly become so important.

Yes, Ilya went there.

One thing that became clear during his travels: Giuliani's "anti-corruption" efforts involved working with men who have their own questionable histories.

We reached out to Giuliani as well as the White House. We have not heard back.

Here is a rundown of key players in Giuliani's efforts.

The Former Prosecutor Fired for Not Going After Corruption . . .

Viktor Shokin was Ukraine's general prosecutor in 2015, a position akin to attorney general. He was responsible for investigating corruption. But according to U.S. officials, NGOs and the International Monetary Fund, he was not actually doing this.

Giuliani has claimed that then-Vice President Joe Biden improperly pushed for Shokin's removal to avoid an investigation into Biden's son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. There is no evidence that is true.

According to the now-famous whistleblower's report, Shokin spoke with Giuliani over Skype late last year in a call arranged by two Giuliani associates. (More on them in a moment.)

In response to our questions, Shokin declined comment, explaining that he's out of the country.

The Former Prosecutor Who Was Not a Lawyer . . .

Yuriy Lutsenko took over the job of prosecutor general from Shokin in 2016. He got the job after allies in Parliament changed the law to allow the position to be filled by someone without a law degree. Lutsenko has no legal training.

Lutsenko once told a reporter that the U.S. ambassador had given him "a list of people whom we should not prosecute." He later acknowledged that he was the one who asked for such a list.

Lutsenko has said he's spoken with Giuliani "maybe 10 times." In the middle of one meeting in New York last January in which Giuliani and Lutsenko talked about investigating the Bidens, Giuliani reportedly called Trump to loop him in.

In the spring, Lutsenko told a reporter he "would be happy to have a conversation" about Hunter Biden with Attorney General William Barr. Then he told the Los Angeles Times that he hadn't found any evidence against the Bidens and said he had told Giuliani that any investigation should be conducted "through prosecutors, not through presidents."

In response to our questions, Lutsenko denied any wrongdoing. He was fired earlier this year.

The Current Prosecutor Caught on Tape . . .

Nazar Kholodnytsky is now Ukraine's top anti-corruption prosecutor. Audio tapes captured Kholodnytsky in unrelated cases coaching a witness to give false testimony and tipping off suspects to police raids. Kholodnytsky acknowledged the tapes were authentic, but said they were taken out of context.

Earlier this year, the U.S.'s then-ambassador to Ukraine called for Kholodnytsky's firing. She explained, "Nobody who has been recorded coaching suspects on how to avoid corruption charges can be trusted to prosecute those very same cases." (The ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was removed from her position shortly after.)

Kholodnytsky and Giuliani met in Paris in May 2019. Kholodnytsky told the Washington Post the discussion was private, "prosecutor to a former prosecutor." Kholodnytsky told the Post that he had questions about the Bidens as well as the prosecution of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

When the Post asked Giuliani about the meeting, he said, "I'm not going to tell you about that."

Kholodnytsky told us he was too busy to answer our questions.

Giuliani's Special Envoys . . .

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are two Ukrainian-American businessmen who have worked with Giuliani and introduced him to the Ukrainian prosecutors. They were arrested for, among other things, allegedly funneling Russian money into U.S. elections. They were picked up at Dulles International Airport, reportedly with one-way tickets to Vienna. Their lawyer has not responded to requests for comment.

Trump told reporters, "I don't know those gentlemen." But Parnas and Fruman did have dinner at the White House with the president in May. Here's a photo Parnas posted of the evening. (BuzzFeed and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found it.)


Weeks later, Parnas and Fruman gave $325,000 to a pro-Trump political group. Prosecutors allege the two disguised the source of that money. The Campaign Legal Center first flagged the donation and filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission last year.

Parnas and Fruman helped Giuliani's Ukraine efforts in a variety of ways. For example, the two went to Ukraine after Giuliani canceled a trip in the wake of a New York Times article that revealed his travel plans.

In a detailed story about their work with Giuliani, Parnas told BuzzFeed they did nothing wrong. "All we were doing was passing along information," Parnas said. He added, "We're American citizens, we love our country, we love our president."

Parnas and Fruman have colorful backgrounds. Parnas was sued for allegedly defrauding investors in a movie he was involved with, Anatomy of an Assassin.

"He conned us from day one," one of the investors told the Miami Herald, adding, "He financially ruined us." Parnas lost the case but has denied wrongdoing. "The truth is going to come out about that judgement," he has said.

Fruman is well-connected in Ukraine, where he owns a number of businesses, including Mafia Rave, a beach club in Odessa.

Giuliani has been subpoenaed by Congress regarding his communications with Parnas and Fruman.

Parnas and Fruman did not respond to our earlier requests for comment.


Contacting ProPublica:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:29 AM | Permalink

The Truth Behind Lil Zay Osama's "Changed Up"

On Vlad:


"Changed Up."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:10 AM | Permalink

For Small Creatures Such As We

Religion, and Christianity in particular, appears to be becoming less important among younger Americans, declining dramatically in the past two decades, according to a recent Wall Street Journal poll.

So where can people turn to share a common culture and community?

For Sasha Sagan, the author of For Small Creatures Such as We, even a dinner party tradition or a shared song can generate the camaraderie people may be missing.

Aimed primarily at atheist and agnostic readers, her book is both a memoir of growing up as the daughter of astronomer Carl Sagan and writer Ann Druyan in Ithaca, New York, where her father was a professor at Cornell University, as well as an exploration of connections and universal themes among religions, cultures and secular communities around the world.


Her parents wrote and produced many acclaimed and popular science books and TV programs, including Cosmos, Contact, Pale Blue Dot, and The Demon-Haunted World. The movie version of Contact, which came only seven months after Sagan's death in 1996, included the line that inspired his daughter's title: "For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love."

Like her parents, Sagan has plenty of gifts as a writer and communicator. It's her livelihood, in fact: She's not a scientist but a TV producer, filmmaker, writer, editor and speaker.

In her book, she writes of the "immense brazen beauty of life" and argues that "from the genetic information in our blood to the movement of the Earth around the sun, our vast universe provides us with enough profound and beautiful truths to live a spiritually fulfilling life."

Sagan follows the secular and science-driven philosophy of her parents, who themselves built upon the work of philosopher Bertrand Russell, among others.

Though often critical of religion, they considered themselves agnostic - it's impossible to disprove the existence of God, after all. In their worldview, belief requires concrete evidence. It's important to cast a curious eye on the world, they taught her, testing and questioning both preconceived notions and authorities.

But she avoids condescension, and her skepticism doesn't mean cynicism; when addressing grim subjects, she knows how to find a beacon of hope.

And there's no shame in not having answers to some questions, such as about life after death.

She doesn't really attempt to lay out an entire philosophy of life without religion, however. (In fact, she's Jewish but doesn't "subscribe to the supernatural elements.") She has more modest goals for her book, to show that we all can find or invent our own meaningful celebrations and communities, and that many religious rituals and traditions actually have astronomical or biological origins.

She meets those goals in surprisingly lighthearted chapters that wander through challenges of adolescence, marriage, friendship, parenthood, life and death, and more. For example, while writing about her and her friends' kids, some of whom are approaching teenage years, Sagan weaves in thoughts about how different cultures celebrate that tumultuous transition to adulthood. Amish teenagers have rumspringa when they explore the outside world, Maasai have an aggressive dance party and a circumcision, Japanese have seijin shiki, or Coming of Age Day, Jews have bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, and Latin American girls have their quinceañera.

Scientific elements often infuse her thoughts on this wide range of events in life. For example, she describes stars being so far away that they emitted their light long ago, and observed starlight is therefore like time travel, a vision of the past. Memories and books accomplish the same thing, allowing Sagan to remember her father's voice in her head. "It's like basking in the light of a dead star," she writes. In another passage, she points out that prairie voles are monogamous, elephant seals are polygamous, and chimps are promiscuous. Humans have many kinds of relationships, too, she argues, and we shouldn't judge them harshly if no one's being hurt.

Sagan also makes observations about the seasons of the year, and she notes many universalities there, too, as people commemorate key moments in the Earth's annual revolution. She points out how many religions and cultures celebrate something around the beginning of spring, whether it's Passover, Easter, Egyptians' Sham El-Nessim, the Greek myth of Persephone, or Zoroastrians' Nowruz, which literally means "new day." And around the winter solstice, when the Earth's axis is tilted away the furthest away from the sun, we have Christmas - whether of the religious or secular variety - as well as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Shab-e Yalda, the Persian holiday for the longest night of the year.

For people whose social life revolves around their church or temple or mosque, it typically comes with groups for prayer, study, charity or community service. Sagan didn't have that, but she craved a community of women that regularly gets together, so she created one: the Ladies Dining Society. They met monthly at a New York restaurant with cocktails and a photo booth, and they enjoyed each other's company, swapped stories, and caught up on each other's lives. Most traditions ebb and flow, and there's nothing wrong with inventing your own.

Simple rituals like that might not have the same significance as attending mass with friends and neighbors, but Sagan seems to be saying that they have as much meaning as you bestow on them. In a world governed by chance, it's up to you to say what holds meaning, what's important, and what's right or wrong. And that can change over time.

Sagan will inevitably be compared to her father - and her mother, for that matter. In these essays, a few of which she adapted from her writings in O, The Oprah Magazine, and The Cut, she comes across as less political and less an advocate. Her parents, on the other hand, vociferously advocated for world peace, actively opposed nuclear weapons and weapons in space, and argued that the world's nations should work together to address global environmental threats and to explore space together, of course.

But her view is wide in scope and she draws connections between many fields of science, history, and pop culture. She's not afraid to speculate about the future, including the future of humanity. Her poetic, engaging prose will resonate with many readers, as will her refreshingly breezy and open-minded approach. While some writers today dwell on threats to humanity as if an apocalypse is already upon us and all our children will live horrible lives, Sagan suggests that, regardless of what's to come, we should make the most of the little moments we have on our little corner of the pale blue dot.

"Even when any record of our individual lives is lost to the ages, that doesn't detract from the fact that we were. We lived. We were part of the enormity," she writes, "on this little world that orbits a yellow star out in the great vastness. And that, alone, is cause for celebration."

Ramin Skibba (@raminskibba) is a San Diego-based astrophysicist turned science writer and freelance journalist.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

The Female Passion Report: A Deep Dive Into Female Interest And Engagement In Soccer

Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing, the leading soccer-specific brand marketing agency, released proprietary findings Monday on female interest and engagement in soccer in the United States. Insights provide brand marketers with a greater appreciation for soccer's unique connection to the female consumer.

Among its many findings, the Female Passion Report revealed that:

* 28 percent of female soccer fans prefer the women's game over the men's game, while 26 percent prefer the men's game.

* Female soccer fans watch 4.1 games on average a week.

* 40 percent of female soccer fans have become interested in the game in the last five years. The equivalent statistic for male interest is 24 percent.

* Women tend to find their soccer passion later in life with 38 percent indicating they became a fan after the age of 18.

* Females fans regularly follow or have interest in more than four clubs.

* 61 percent are more interested in women's soccer as a result of 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

* 75 percent believe female soccer players should be paid the same as male players.

The report is based on findings from the seventh annual study conducted by the agency in an annual exploration of soccer fandom in United States.

The online survey hosted by Qualtrics included general market and Hispanic consumers aged 13 and older who indicate at least a casual interest in soccer.

The study took place during a one-week window in August 2019 with a nationwide sample size of 1,650 respondents.

Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing president John Guppy believes the attention garnered this summer by the U.S. Women's National Team has helped put the female sports fan firmly in the spotlight.

"Female interest in soccer has historically indexed higher than most of the other major sports," Guppy said. "Our hope is the findings of this study further help brands develop a deeper comprehension for the special connection soccer has with the female consumer."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

On this day in 1990, the National Academy of Arts & Sciences took back the Grammy they had awarded Milli Vanilli the year prior for Best New Band. Of course, even if Milli Vanilli had sang the songs they were actually just lip-synching they would have been far from the best new band of the year; there were undoubtedly a couple dozen bands in Chicago alone better than that factory pre-set of a band, even if some of their songs were undeniably catchy.

But I digress. I'm really here to remind you of the item "Missing Milli" in my August 27 column and to plead once again for cultural literacy in our newsrooms - even if it's culture we don't necessarily like. It's our job to know what's up.


Which reminds me of the Tribune editorial board's continuing refusal to correct its egregious George Carlin error, which it built an entire editorial around, as noted in this Weekend Desk Report last March. It got the Carlin routine in question exactly, 180 degrees wrong.


And now that I'm on a cultural literacy rant, I can't help but recall the day in 2010 when Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington ripped film director Kevin Smith for his alleged "headline-hungry rants," an accusation built on the incredible fact that she had never heard of him.


Oh, here's another one:

I mean, he's a media reporter. Of sorts.


Look, you don't have to know who everyone is. But if you don't, do a little research before proudly putting your ignorance on display.


And we all make mistakes. Just don't do so with such an attitude.


And if you're going to make pop culture references, like to Milli Vanilli or George Carlin, double-check yourself. Or get yourself a better editor. (I'm available for hire!)


And don't be so arrogant and dismissive and insecure to refuse issuing a correction.


By the way, why isn't anybody talking about Carli Lloyd again now that the city has come to realize that Eddy Pineiro isn't the answer for the Bears' kicking woes? I only mention Lloyd today because if you click through the link to the "Missing Milli" item you'll also find the video of her easily putting it through the uprights.


We could go from Eddy Money to Carli "Pink" Lloyd!


Red Light Districts
SafeSpeed came to dominate the suburban red-light camera market during the last decade by developing deep relationships with public officials," the Tribune reports.

Consider the company's dealings in southwest suburban Justice, where court records show the firm not only was getting a new contract but was enlisting the police chief to act as a consultant to get other towns to do the same for a cut of the proceeds.

SafeSpeed officials instructed him to invite fellow police chiefs to hear a red-light camera presentation at a River North Brazilian steakhouse. Later, records show, the chief had a meeting at a Countryside cigar shop with SafeSpeed officials, including its rainmaker, Omar Maani. As the meeting wrapped up, the police chief had a couple questions: Were his business cards ready? And could he get one of the company's red polo shirts to wear when he pitched their business to his fellow police chiefs?

Justice officials would fire their top cop, Robert Gedville, for what they said was an obvious conflict of interest, soon after the Tribune disclosed his dealings with the village's red-light vendor in 2012.

SafeSpeed, though, continued to enlist some in government to act as sales consultants. Now the company and some of its public sector hires are under federal scrutiny as part of a government corruption investigation - named in federal search warrants along with a company owned by Maani and the Countryside cigar store he frequented.

SafeSpeed was able to put public officials on its payroll without disclosing those relationships because Illinois law does not require red-light camera companies to list who they hire for such jobs. Even video gambling operators have to disclose when they hire government officials.

Red light cameras have been a cash cow for an awful lot of folks. You might even say it's been a classic moneypot, virtually designed for corruption. I mentioned fetcher bills in Monday's column; red light cameras are fetcher infrastructure come to fruition. And guess who they hurt most?

Hint: The same people who are always hurt most.


See also: David Kidwell's red light camera archive.


Sweepstakes Bingo
Click through on the "See More" and ponder our world.


Drug Testing Checkmate
"In an effort to discourage drug use and vaping, a Catholic high school in Ohio has announced plans to begin testing its students for drugs and nicotine, joining what education professionals are calling a growing trend," the New York Times reports.

"Administrators at Stephen T. Badin High School in Hamilton, Ohio, said in a letter to parents this week that the drug-testing program, which they said had been shaped over the course of two years with help from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, would go into effect in January.

"Students will be tested at least once a year for illicit drugs, alcohol, nicotine and other banned substances, the school said in the letter. There is no maximum number of times a student may be tested . . .

"The debate about whether schools can test their pupils for drugs dates back to before 2002, the year the United States Supreme Court upheld the random drug testing of public school students. The 5-to-4 decision expanded an earlier ruling that endorsed drug testing for student athletes. The case made national headlines after an Oklahoma school district required students who engaged in 'competitive' extracurricular activities - such as the future homemakers' club, cheerleading and choir - to undergo random drug testing."


Today is a day for reminders!

In the second half of the '90s, when I was a freelancer, I used to report education stories for USA Weekend, among other things.

In 1998, I wrote the piece "Drug Test The Chess Club?"

Just sayin'! It was a growing trend.


New on the Beachwood today . . .

Behind Lil Zay Osama's "Changed Up"
On Chicago's streets, everyone wants their lick back.


Illinois' Tully Monster Just Got Weirder
"Then there are its eyes, which protrude outward from its body on stalks."


A Brief Guide To Rudy Giuliani's Friends In Ukraine
Giuliani's faux anti-corruption efforts involved working with essentially corrupt men.


Women Love Soccer
An annual survey tells us so.


How The FCC Can And Should Invest In Fiber Infrastructure
Congress should take the estimated $60 billion the government is about to raise by auctioning part of the satellite television spectrum and invest it in an infrastructure that will last for generations, and propel millions of American households into the 21st century of broadband access.



Is Chicago welcoming to conservatives and Republicans? What are some conservative/Republican leaning areas of Chicagoland (if any) (preferably with a strong Catholic Community)? from r/chicago





"Like a Virgin" / The Slack-Bonnets at Reggies on Friday night.



The Surprisingly Big Carbon Shadow Cast By Slender Asparagus.


I Changed My Body For Sport. No Girl Should.


Why Art Doesn't Make A Difference On Its Own.


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








The Beachwood Tip A Canoe Line: Tip it real good.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

The Illinois Tully Monster Just Got Even More Mysterious

Every now and again, scientists discover fossils that are so bizarre they defy classification, their body plans unlike any other living animals or plants. Tullimonstrum (also known as the Tully Monster), a 300 million-year-old fossil discovered in the Mazon Creek fossil beds in Illinois, is one such creature.

At first glance, Tully looks superficially slug-like. But where you would expect its mouth to be, the creature has a long thin appendage ending in what looks like a pair of grasping claws. Then there are its eyes, which protrude outward from its body on stalks.

tully1.pngArtist's impression of Tullimonstrum/PaleoEqui, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Tully is so strange that scientists have even been unable to agree on whether it is a vertebrate (with a backbone, like mammals, birds, reptiles and fish) or an invertebrate (without a backbone, like insects, crustaceans, octopuses and all other animals).

In 2016, a group of scientists claimed to have solved the mystery, providing the strongest evidence yet that it was a vertebrate. But my colleagues and I have conducted a new study that calls this conclusion into question, meaning this monster is as mysterious as ever.

The Tully Monster was originally discovered in the 1950s by a fossil collector named Francis Tully. Ever since its discovery, scientists have puzzled over which group of modern animals Tully belongs to. The enigma of Tully's true evolutionary relationships has added to its popularity, ultimately leading it to become the state fossil of Illinois.

tully2.jpgThe Tullimonstrum fossil/Ghedoghedo, Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

There have been many attempts to classify the Tully Monster.

The majority of these studies have focused on the appearance of some of its more prominent features. These include a linear feature in the fossil interpreted as evidence of a gut, the light and dark banding of the fossil and the peculiar grasping claws of its mouth.

The body plan of the Tully Monster is so unusual in its entirety that it will greatly expand the diversity of whatever group it ultimately belongs to, changing the way we think about that group of animals.

The 2016 research argued the animal should be grouped with vertebrates because its eyes contain pigment granules called melanosomes, which are arranged by shape and size in the same way as those in vertebrate eyes.

But our research shows that the eyes of some invertebrates such as octopus and squid also contain melanosomes partitioned by shape and size in a similar way to Tully's eyes, and that these an also be preserved in fossils.

Particle Accelerator Research

To do this, we used a type of particle accelerator called a synchrotron radiation lightsource located at Stanford University. This allowed us to explore the chemical makeup of samples from fossils and from animals living today. The synchrotron bombards specimens with intense bursts of radiation to "excite" the elements within them. When excited, each element releases X-rays with a specific signature. By detecting the emitted X-ray signatures, we can tell what elements were excited and ultimately what the specimen we're interested in is made of.

First we found that melanosomes from the eyes of modern vertebrates have a higher ratio of zinc to copper than the modern invertebrates we studied. To our surprise, we then found the same pattern could be seen in fossilized vertebrates and invertebrates found at Mazon Creek.

We then analyzed the chemistry of Tully's eyes and the ratio of zinc to copper was more similar to that of invertebrates than vertebrates. This suggests the animal may not have been a vertebrate, contradicting previous efforts to classify it.

tully3.jpgAnother possible look for the Tully Monster/Nobu Tamura, Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

We also found that Tully's eyes contain different type of copper to that found in vertebrate eyes. But the copper also wasn't identical to that in the invertebrates we studied. So while our work adds weight to the idea that Tully is not a vertebrate, it doesn't clearly identify it as an invertebrate either.

Where do we go from here? A broader analysis of the chemistry of melanosomes and other pigments in the eyes of a wider range of invertebrates would be a good next step. This may help to further narrow down the group of animals to which Tully belongs.

Ultimately the riddle of what kind of creature the Tully Monster is continues. But our research demonstrates how studying fossils at the chemical and molecular levels can play an important part in figuring out the identity of this and other enigmatic creature.

Chris Rogers is a postdoctoral researcher in palaeobiology at University College Cork. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2019

SportsMonday: The Important Thing Here Is That There's No Quarterback Controversy

It was the option that did it. When coach Matt Nagy called for Mitch Trubisky to run an option to the left on third-and-one late in the third quarter of the Bears' 17-7 loss to the Rams Sunday night, the quarterback didn't just half-ass the play, he no-assed it.

After the game, the Bears claimed Trubisky was benched for the last drive because of tightness in his hip. Wow is that convenient. At least as important was the quarterback's complete lack of effort in that crucial situation late in the third.

It was clear immediately on the play that Trubisky had no intention whatsoever of taking the risk of running the football, which Cris Collinsworth quickly pointed out is the only way to make an option work. The quarterback pitched the ball to David Montgomery without giving the defensive end the slightest indication that he might keep it. And the defender quickly moved out to make a tackle for loss and force a punt.

Nagy has said this season that he has not discouraged Trubisky from running the football. In fact, the coach did not prevaricate in any way when asked if anything had been said to the quarterback that would indicate that running with the ball was ill-advised. He said it absolutely had not happened.

But someone (my guess is his agent) has told Trubisky not to run the ball and he has been determined to follow that advice all season long.

And if Trubisky had any second thoughts about the decision not to run, they were just about obliterated by his shoulder injury about a month ago now and by this "tightness in his right hip." We know the first injury at least didn't happen on a running play but it was still was a painful reminder that bad things happen when a quarterback puts his body on the line.

For now, the most important thing here is that there is no quarterback controversy!

Trubisky being injured, and the announcement coming soon that he will return to the starting lineup when he is healthy enough, eliminates that possibility in the near term.

Oh, and there is also the fact that backup Chase Daniel made a fool of himself on what, his third play? That was when he had the chance to run out of bounds to stop the clock in the midst of a two-minute drill. Instead he slid to the turf just short of the sideline as if he thought the Bears were winning and he wanted to keep the clock rolling.

We've said it before and let's say it again: the 33-year-old Daniel, possessor of all of five career starts in his decade in the league, is not the answer.

Football commentators' fear of signal-calling controversies continues to mystify me. There is the belief out there that just about the worst thing an observer can say about a team is that there are questions at quarterback.

It isn't. I am reminded again of what Pete Carroll and the Seahawks did when Russell Wilson arrived as a third-round rookie (Wilson lasting until the third round was another stellar job by NFL talent evaluators) in 2012. The accepted wisdom at the time was that Matt Flynn, a free agent with a decent-sized contract signed out of Green Bay, where he had backed up Aaron Rodgers and had one great game in relief of the Hall-of-Famer, would start that season and Wilson would watch and learn.

But Carroll quickly figured out that there was a good chance Wilson was the better quarterback. And the coach turned his team's preseason into an audition for the starting job, i.e., an almost two-month controversy. At the end of it, the Seahawks knew their best signal-caller was Wilson and he started the first game of the season. The co-favorite for 2019 NFL MVP at this point (with the Ravens' Lamar Jackson) has proven and then some that the controversy was worth it.

It is too bad the Bears don't have a promising young back-up quarterback who could at least get some more reps in practices going forward and perhaps prove he could do a better job than Trubisky. Third-stringer Tyler Bray, who is 27 but has not impressed in preseason action the last few years, doesn't qualify.

Then again, he could hardly do worse.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

If I Was Bill Gates . . .

I saw this on Facebook and got to thinking . . .

Here's what I would do if I was Bill Gates:

* Make Taco Tuesdays on Wednesdays, too.

* Buy a non-Internet jukebox for ever bar in America.

* A Beachwood Inn on every corner, with animatronic Bob bartenders.

* Buy every Coldplay, Nickelback and Hootie record in existence and destroy them. He wakes up every day and doesn't do this.

* Feed every hungry person in America. Every day.

* Replace all PCs with Macs.

* Make McRib available year-round.

* Buy Cadillac health insurance for every American.

* Pay Rahm Emanuel to shut up.

* Buy the Cubs and restore Wrigley Field to its non-advertising, non-yuppified state.

* Make HBO and Netflix free for everyone.

* Stop wearing those godawful sweaters.

* Pay Donald Trump to resign.

* Put all remaining money, time and resources to climate change.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers



"He was a larger-than-life presence at every Chicago City Council meeting."

That's an approving description of someone who was more of a racist buffoon from an earlier era - the last immovable object of the Vrdolyak 29 who survived in office and influence through a network of intergovernmental spies, political operators and, yes, friendly members of the media. I wouldn't call that "larger-than-life." I'd call it exceedingly small and an absurdity who was tolerated for too long because he knew too much about too many.


"It wasn't just the power he wielded and the front-and-center seat he occupied as Finance Committee chairman. It was his speaking skill, his encyclopedic knowledge of Chicago history and Roberts Rules of Order, the avalanche of legislation he championed and the relationships he forged with colleagues he took under his wing."

How he was allowed to commandeer the council floor for his self-serving history lessons was always beyond me. The legislation he championed was almost always nonsense - as we shall see in a minute, and nothing to boast of - and the relationships he forged were not built upon some civic sense of mentorship, but of capturing colleagues in his web for favors to be delivered later.


"When there was political mischief being played - which was often - he was almost always the heavy hand behind it."

That's not something to write approvingly of. But of course, when that mischief needed a push in the press, there was a reporter Burke - and/or his associates - could always call to plant it there.


"That's even though he's had an uneasy alliance - more like a detente - with every Chicago mayor under whom he has served for 50 years."

It would be interesting to explore how and why that happened. (Spoiler: Among other reasons, he was useful; as far as I can tell from city records, he never voted "No" during the reigns of Daley and Emanuel.)


"To say indicted Ald. Edward Burke (14th) is no longer the center of attention at council meetings he once dominated is an understatement. Burke is a blip on the radar - a shadow of his former self. Since being deposed as finance chairman and stripped of control over the city's $100 million-a-year workers' compensation program, Burke has occupied the front-row seat closest to the door."

Now this is interesting.

"He arrives late, leaves immediately and seldom, if ever, speaks. The spigot of legislation and press releases churned out by the staff that once filled his $2 million payroll has been turned off."

It's almost as if he is no longer able to perform his duties. This is the story.


"Never mind that most of the ordinances he championed went nowhere, even after lengthy hearings that made them look like 'fetchers' tailor-made to garner headlines, campaign contributions, legal business for Burke's property tax appeals firm or all of the above."

To the unitiated, from Mike Royko's Boss:

Money was there for those who wanted it, and many did. Lobbyists expected to pay for votes. Their generosity was matched by the legislators' greed. If a day passed without profit, some legislators would dream up a "fetcher" bill. A "fetcher" bill would, say, require that all railroad tracks in the state be relaid six inches further apart. It would "fetch" a visit from a lobbyist, bearing a gift.

A review of Burke's legislative record would be useful here - with acknowledgement that his shenanigans took time and resources away from the council actually doing the business it should have been doing, while maintaining his visibility and perceived influence. Also: His fetcher bills garnered headlines because at least some sectors of the media treated took them seriously. (For someone treated as a serious legislator, he sure spent a lot of time on fringey ordinances. Again, a review of his legislative record is in order.)


The mention of fetcher bills reminds me of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon's famous (to political insiders of a certain age) essay for Harper's on how the Illinois legislature worked (and to some extent still does). Unfortunately, it's behind a paywall. I thought it had been freed at some point; if so, please show me where I can find it.


"Last week's council meeting was a classic example of the new Ed Burke. It ended with a public hearing on Mayor Lori Lightfoot's proposed 2020 budget that the council is required by law to hold.

"In the past, Burke would have sat in his catbird seat, flashed his fiscal knowledge by questioning critics and supporters alike, and stayed until public testimony was done, even though it dragged on for hours.

"This time, it was Lightfoot who stayed until the bitter end."

Good. That's the mayor's job, not his. How The Ed Burke Show was allowed to exist all these years is, again, beyond me.


"That was hours after Burke had grabbed his trench coat and walked out the front door of the council chambers in a failed attempt to avoid reporters waiting to ask him about demands for his resignation as 14th Ward Democratic committeeman. Burke gave reporters the silent treatment. He kept walking.

"Normally impeccably dressed, he looked distracted, hunched over and a bit disheveled. His hair was longer in the back than it had been in years. He was wearing casual shoes more fit for a boat ride than the suit he had on."

Does that mean he was wearing boat shoes? Because otherwise, I don't get what that reference means. Fit for a boat ride?


"On Nov. 29, federal investigators famously raided Burke's ward and City Hall offices, covering the glass doors with brown butcher paper. At the time, Lightfoot was languishing in single digits in a 14-candidate field vying to replace then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel."

I wouldn't call the raid "famous." And Spielman never misses a chance to note that the feds covered the windows with "brown butcher paper," as if that choice is somehow significant, but whatever.


"Lightfoot set the tone for her relationship with Burke - and his new and diminished role in the City Council - 10 days after taking office. Having presided over her first meeting and installed her new council leadership team, Lightfoot seized a chance to humiliate her political nemesis and gloated about her triumph over a pathetic-looking Burke.

"Alderman, please. Alderman, I will call you when I'm ready to hear from you," Lightfoot told the once proud dean of the City Council. She never did.

I'm not sure that was about humiliation and gloating. It seemed, instead, to actually be a rare act of normalcy in council chambers.

"The following day, Burke was hit with a 14-count racketeering and extortion indictment accusing him of using his governmental role to muscle business for his law firm."

So, good for Lightfoot, right?


"Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) is Lightfoot's most outspoken City Council critic. On the day she humiliated Burke, Lightfoot accused Lopez of opposing her plan to end aldermanic prerogative because he's 'carrying the water for Alderman Burke.'

"Lopez said the tone of council meetings has changed immeasurably since Lightfoot put Burke in his place; there is 'something lost by Ed Burke being silenced,' he added."

Here's what we've lost:

"On Jan. 3, Burke was charged with attempted extortion for allegedly shaking down a Burger King franchise owner for legal business and for a $10,000 campaign contribution to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle . . .

"Burke was hit with a 14-count racketeering and extortion indictment accusing him of using his governmental role to muscle business for his law firm.

"It included the alleged Burger King shakedown. But it also alleged three similar schemes chronicled by former Zoning Committee Chairman Danny Solis (25th), who spent two years wearing a wire on Burke.

"Among them: that Burke tried to extort legal business from 601W Companies, developers of the Old Post Office, in exchange for his help with a variety of matters, including an $18 million tax increment finance subsidy, a $100 million tax break and help resolving issues with Amtrak and the city's Department of Water Management.

In those recordings, an irritated Burke, caught on tape, asks Solis: "Did we land the, uh, tuna?" and complaining the "cash register has not rung yet" and until he scored the legal business, he was not "motivated" to help the developer. "As far as I'm concerned, they can go fuck themselves," Burke said.

Trust me, I've been in this business a long time, and when a reporter goes to someone like Lopez for a comment - and not anyone else, at least who is named - and doesn't push back against what they say, that means the reporter agrees with the sentiment.

"You would hear great oratory on resolutions. You'd see his maneuvering to [push] what he felt was in the best interest of the city. Now you don't have that presence. You don't have the wealth of 50 years of knowledge on full display at every meeting. And when your mind's preoccupied, mischief tends to take a back seat," Lopez said.

"It's evident to many of us when you see the questions and the furtive looks between members and the mayor as to what the next order of procedure is during council meetings. I've counted at least two or three errors-per-meeting, simply because Burke isn't driving the agenda from start to finish."

Lopez has counted parliamentary errors by a new mayor (who I believe has a parliamentarian by her side, like all mayors) that Burke would have never allowed! Burke isn't driving the agenda from start to finish! (I'm pretty sure Daley and Rahm would disagree that Burke drove the agenda at their council meetings - though they very much could have had him drive their agenda.)

Without Burke as a dominating presence, "all of the horses are out of the barn. It's a free-for-all. He kept structure. Right now, the City Council has no structure," said another alderman, who asked to remain anonymous.

"Even though he played games, he kept things at bay. He knew what could go and what couldn't go. He knew all the rules. Now you just don't have that. It's a night-and-day difference."

Trust me, I've been in this business a long time, and when a reporter allows an anonymous comment to someone who doesn't deserve it - paging Anthony Beale! - that means the reporter agrees with the sentiment.

Where in this story, for example, is Burke's successor as finance committee chair, Ald. Scott Waguespack? Where is the mayor's floor leader, Ald. Gilbert Villegas? Where are the Sun-Times' editors?


It's been clear from day one that Spielman misses Rahm and Daley. From all appearances, she misses being spoonfed by aides who, on the condition of anonymity because they supposedly haven't been given permission to speak, tell her how great their bosses are.


My God, we're talking about Ed Burke, perhaps the ultimate symbol of Chicago's heart of darkness. He deserves our scorn - and a prison sentence. There is nothing about him anyone should miss.


See also:

* Eric Zorn from September: Anne Burke, Just Picked As State Supreme Court Chief Justice, Still Hasn't Explained Toni Preckwinkle Fundraiser.

* Me, from April 7, 2006:

"Burke's husband chairs the Democratic Party's subcommittee on slating candidates for judge. He was widely credited with orchestrating a clear path for his wife to win a seat on the appellate court unopposed," the Sun-Times notes.

At the time, the Chicago Council of Lawyers found Anne Burke to be "not qualified" for the seat . . .

And then there's this, also from the Sun-Times: "McMorrow got to know Burke when Burke volunteereed for McMorrow's first unsuccessful campaign for Supreme Court in 1990. Two years after being elected to the high court in 1992, McMorrow appointed Burke to the appellate court."

(Burke had to run for the seat in 1996--the campaign that her husband orchestrated and that reportedly featured two ghost candidates put on the ballot to scare off any other challengers. It's nice to have someone who won her judge's seat that way on the state Supreme Court, isn't it?)

* Me, from April 10, 2006:

"Last week's secret appointment of Anne Burke to the Illinois Supreme Court is just the latest example of how easy it is to dodge an often weak and unfocused media."


New on the Beachwood . . .

Jim Coffman's SportsMonday
For now, the most important thing here is that there is no quarterback controversy!


If I Was Bill Gates . . .
. . . Here's What I'd Do.



Wood carving of Chicago skyline at the dock of yacth club. from r/chicago





Clan of Xymox - Days of Black/Stranger at Thalia Hall last Thursday night.



You Should Never Rinse A Turkey.


Against Economics.


The Resurrection Of The Greatest Sci-Fi Writer You've Never Read.


The Keto Diet's Most Controversial Champion.


The Trial Of Chuck Berry.


The Minor League Teams That Could Lose MLB Ties.


How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill To $0.


3-Year Investigation Reveals Massive Racism In Long Island Housing Market.


The Great American Tax Haven: Why The Super-Rich Love South Dakota.


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






The Beachwood Tipped Wage Line: Subminimum.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:29 AM | Permalink

November 16, 2019

The Weekend Desk Report

"Astronomers recently discovered a star whizzing out of the center of our galaxy at the seriously blinding speed of four million miles an hour. The star, which goes by the typically inscrutable name S5-HVS1, is currently about 29,000 light-years from Earth, streaking through the Grus, or Crane, constellation in the southern sky," the New York Times reported this week.

I've long advocated that science news of this nature - and really, any nature - get more prominent play by media organizations. And not just because news like this has the "Holy shit!" factor, but also because we rarely contemplate the very nature our our universe, our reality, our existence - at least in a way that is "news."

For example, this is the way this kind of news should be presented if given the proper weight of its implications:


As for this week's news, the star in question was recently discovered traveling four million miles an hour. That's a speed beyond our ability to comprehend.

Also, we here on Earth were able to discover this even though the star is 29,000 light years away. Also, light traveled 29,000 light years before reaching us. Also, we're looking, then, into the past.


Idea: Time travel isn't possible, but time observation is: We can see the past and, due to relativity, the future.


"The star is about twice as massive as our own sun and ten times more luminous."

And that's probably no big thang as far as the universe goes.


"Drawing on data from the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft, which has charted the positions and motions of some 1.3 billion stars in the Milky Way, the astronomers traced the streaking star back to the galactic center. That is the home of a black hole known as Sagittarius A*, a gravitational monster with the mass of four million suns."

So a European spacecraft has charted the positions of motions of 1.3 billion stars - just in our galaxy alone.

And the black hole in question has a mass of four million suns.


"The dance with S5-HVS1 unfolded about 5 million years ago . . . The astronomers estimate that in about 100 million years the star will have exited the Milky Way entirely."

At that speed? That's one big motherfucking galaxy.


"Out there, drifting among the other galaxies of the Local Group, far from the crowded circumstances of its birth, the star called S5-HVS1 will exhaust its thermonuclear fuel in about 2 billion years, blow up and die, alone."


Here's an animated version of the star's ejection from its previous entangled orbit, by the Royal Astronomical Society.


New on the Beachwood . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #278: Ryan Pace's Major Malfunction
And now Mitch Trubisky is holding us hostage. Plus: Matty Renteria; Sign Kaepernick!; The Next Man Is Inherently Up On Every Team In Every League!; Brad Biggs' Mailbox Talks Football With You; All Signs Point To Yu; Bulls Still In It!; The Blackhawks Are Back!; Lovie Smith And His Beard Are Going Bowling; Chicago Didn't Know What It Had In Sam Kerr; and Fire Coach Fired.


Weekend ChicagoReddit

Will the CTA ever create new "L" lines? from r/chicago


Weekend ChicagoGram


Weekend ChicagoTube

The Brummies at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.


Weekend BeachBook

The Anti-Gentrification Movement Was Growing. Then It Met Reagan.


The Hipster.


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









The Weekend Desk Tout Line: Three-and-tout.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 PM | Permalink

November 15, 2019

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #278: Ryan Pace's Major Malfunction

And now Mitch Trubisky is holding us hostage. Plus: Matty Renteria; Sign Kaepernick!; The Next Man Is Inherently Up On Every Team In Every League!; Brad Biggs' Mailbox Talks Football With You; All Signs Point To Yu; Bulls Still In It!; The Blackhawks Are Back!; Lovie Smith And His Beard Are Going Bowling; Chicago Didn't Know What It Had In Sam Kerr; and Fire Coach Fired.



* 278.

* Santa Coffman.

4:25: Ryan Pace's Major Malfunction.

* Tribune: Why Did The Bears Draft Mitch Trubisky Over Patrick Mahomes And Deshaun Watson?

* Coffman: "Ryan Pace committed crushing general manager malpractice."

18:12: Matty Renteria.

* Here's the Bears coach speaking to the media this week:


27:55: Sign Kaepernick!

* The Patriots will be there. The Bears will not.

37:07: The Next Man Is Inherently Up On Every Team In Every League!

Just in the last six hours before writing this.

* " . . . whatever does happen, next man up mentality."

* "Will the Rams' 'next man up' efforts be good enough on Sunday . . . "

* "A lot of coaches go cliche with 'next man up' lip service . . . but how do you message that out to your team to motivate them?"

* "The NFL is a next-man-up league . . . "

* "All of these injuries have led the Pacers to the next man up mentality . . . "

* "I know it sounds cliché, but it's next man up . . . "

* "The fact that the Patriots have succeeded despite all these injuries is a testament to their next-man-up philosophy . . . "

* "It's next man up once again for the Saints with injuries to key players . . . "

39:05: Brad Biggs' Mailbox Talks Football With You.

* Could a veteran QB compete with Mitch Trubisky next season? Is the center/guard switch permanent? Why has the defense regressed?

45:17: All Signs Point To Yu.

* Fans Apologize To Yu Darvish Following Astros Cheating Allegations.

* Yu Darvish Is Conflicted Over Astros Sign-Stealing Allegations.

51:40: Abreu Will Be Back.

53:35: Bulls Still In It!

* Better than the Knicks.

56:54: The Blackhawks Are Back!

* Kane and The Cat!

* ESPN NHL Power Rankings:

25. Chicago Blackhawks

Previous ranking: 27

Can we ask an entire group to step up? The Blackhawks have a surplus of defensemen they're rotating in and out, but they're still leaky, giving up a league-high 37.1 shots per game. Good thing free-agent signing Robin Lehner has been so steady; he has already had to face 50-plus shots in two of his 10 starts.

1:03:22: Lovie Smith And His Beard Are Going Bowling.

* New goal: Get south of Detroit.

* If Beachwood Novelties was still a going concern, we'd be selling Lovie Smith Beards™ to Illinois students by the boatload.

1:05:40: Chicago Didn't Know What It Had In Sam Kerr.

1:06:38: Fire Coach Fired.




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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:10 PM | Permalink

November 14, 2019

The [Thursday] Papers

"A man at the center of a race-related incident last month at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Naperville was known to restaurant staff for making racist comments and would send back food unless it was served by a white employee, according to Naperville police reports," the Tribune-owned Naperville Sun reports.

Whoa. That certainly adds another level to the story. Instead of botching one incident, the Naperville restaurant tolerated this customer over time, adding culpability to what happened in October when a group of patrons was asked to move because a customer didn't want to sit next to black people.


"A group of 18 customers, some of whom were multiracial and African American, were at the restaurant on Oct. 26 to celebrate a child's birthday, but they said they were asked by employees to move to other tables because a nearby white customer didn't want to sit near black people.

Chief Robert Marshall said Naperville police got involved after the incident drew widespread media attention because the business received threatening phone calls, including one person who said he wanted to burn down the restaurant.

According to the police report, a man with a swastika tattoo and his female acquaintance told police they had been regulars at the restaurant for the last two to three years, visiting almost every Saturday to watch college football and hockey.

The couple had been sitting at a table for four in the restaurant for about two hours when staff seated the group of 18 directly behind them, the police report said.

Both the man and woman told investigators they never spoke with any of the members of the large group nor did they ask employees to move the group.

The woman told police she pulled their table 5 to 10 inches away from the group so servers could move more freely between the tables.

According to police reports, the man told an investigator that Buffalo Wild Wings employees "had heard him make racist jokes and comments in the past." As a result, some members of the staff "took it upon themselves to tell the large group of (redacted) that they needed to move due to (redacted) being a racist."

So the racist customer didn't even make the request to move the group? The staff took it upon themselves? Another whoa.


"A restaurant manager told police that after the Oct. 26 incident, several employees reported past inappropriate conduct from the couple. The manager said he had been unaware of the previous conduct.

"If someone other than a Caucasian employee would bring them food, (redacted) would refuse the food and send it back to the kitchen," the police report stated.

Obviously the man - a couple, actually - should have been told to leave and never come back. And then officially banned and reported to Buffalo Wild Wings HQ - maybe even alerted to other area establishments.


Two Wild Wings employees have reportedly been fired.


I don't get, though, how this is a "Yes, It Can Happen Here" example, as if this incident crosses a new racist threshold. After all, we live in a city where police ran a torture chamber in a police station basement to force false confessions out of black men, among a host of other horridly racist indignities big and small. What happened in Naperville should really barely register, but I guess it's easier to contemplate than institutional and structural racism that ruins lives.


I recognize that I just said this story "should really barely register" and yet I featured it at the top of this column. Frankly, I think the entirety of the (national!) coverage has been more than warranted, but it offers journalists (and citizens) a clear shot at expressing their racial righteousness.

The added elements that this was a repeat customer (actually a couple, apparently) and that they didn't ask that the group be moved, but that the staff took it upon themselves to do so, illuminates a more important aspect of how racism works than just one awful human being (or couple).

I guess that new Buffalo Wild Wings training is necessary after all, though it's hard to understand why employees have to be trained to not tolerate racism.


See also:

"A Tinley Park high school has disciplined students and added extra officers after an alleged series of racist incidents led to a fight on Tuesday," the Sun-Times reports.

"In a letter shared with families, Victor Andrew High School Principal Bob Nolting said a video of a 'culturally insensitive act' was AirDropped to students' phones before the start of the school day, resulting in a 'physical altercation.'

"A parent of a high school sophomore shared a video with the Sun-Times that shows the racist photos allegedly shared with students.

"The video shows photos of two people with apparently darkened faces with the captions "I'm a ni--a" and 'blackface is sweeping the nation.'"


See also: Before Joining White House, Stephen Miller Pushed White Nationalist Theories.

Since then, too.


Also, don't forget who the president is.


So it's not so much about whether it can happen here; it's been happening here since day one. Here's a different approach: Ask every Republican who speaks out against the Buffalo Wild Wings incident if they will similarly denounce Donald Trump, withdraw support from him and work to remove him from office, if not now, in 2020. Because if you can't tolerate that kind of behavior at a Buffalo Wild Wings, I don't see how you can tolerate it in the White House.


If I had a traditional newspaper column, that's probably the way I would approach this: connect the lines between Wild Wings and Trump and put some folks on the spot. But I don't, so I just work shit out here.


Pritzker Consolidating Wins
"The Illinois Senate overwhelmingly approved Thursday Gov. J.B. Pritzker's plan to consolidate 650 downstate and suburban police and fire pension funds, delivering the first-term governor his top priority during the fall veto session," the Tribune reports.

"The bill, which now heads to Pritzker's desk, would pool the funds from hundreds of downstate public safety pension funds into two statewide funds. The funds - one for police and one for firefighters - would be combined for investment purposes but remains in separate accounts within the larger funds."

Of course, this is not just a political win for Pritzker, but a win - as far as I can tell - for pensioners and taxpayers. It seems like a no-brainer (someone correct me if I'm wrong) but then the previous governor was a one-term wonder.


"Many previous attempts to consolidate pension have failed to gain traction in the General Assembly as police and fire unions and other interests have pushed to retain local control."

Pritzker was able to break through that.

"Th[e] legislation is slightly different from what Pritzker originally proposed, in that active and retired firefighters would have majority representation on the board overseeing the funds. That move was part of a compromise reached late last week that brought on board the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, which previously had opposed the legislation."


The win also comes on top of an enormously successful first regular legislative session for Pritzker.


Dorothy Brown's Wrench
"Federal prosecutors want a judge to send a longtime Dorothy Brown worker to prison for more than two years after they said she lied to a grand jury, 'threw a wrench in the wheels of justice and ground them to a halt,'" the Sun-Times reports.

"They also said the lies Beena Patel told the grand jury investigating job-selling allegations in the office of Brown, the clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, 'directly impacted the government's ability to charge those most culpable in the illegal activity.'"

Boom, there it is.


"It's been four years since the FBI seized a cell phone from Brown. Brown still denies wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime. But Patel's trial earlier this year made clear Brown had been squarely in the feds' sights."



I can't help recall this Curtis Black column for the Chicago Reporter last February:

"Of the handful of 'establishment' mayoral candidates leading the polls, none so far has been able to emerge as a real frontrunner because many have ties to Ald. Edward Burke, whose legal troubles have thrown City Hall into turmoil.

"So it was a bit odd when Amara Enyia, who presents herself as a progressive reformer, embraced the endorsement of Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown, who herself faces extensive legal and ethical issues.

"Accepting the endorsement last Thursday, Enyia claimed both she and Brown are 'focused on . . . breaking away from an establishment that's mired in corruption.' The next day, the two met with the Chicago Sun-Times to attack Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle for, in Enyia's words, 'accepting a system and culture of corruption.'"


New on the Beachwood today . . .

Chicago Didn't Know What It Had In Sam Kerr
And now she's gone.


Evanston's man-about-music Jason Narducy has written a musical.



But they keep pouring all that money into it . . .

O'Hare Ranked Fifth Worst Airport in the US per WSJ (Phoenix Named Best, Newark Comes in Last) from r/chicago



View this post on Instagram

Mexican folk mask of el Diablo

A post shared by Nuco (@n_u_c_o) on



BJ the Chicago Kid at NPR's Tiny Desk last week.


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





The Beachwood Sideshow Tip Line: In this case, my desire to do high quality children's programming.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink


'A new musical inspired by Chicago's own young punks . . . with music and lyrics by Jason Narducy and book by playwright Brett Neveu.

Chicago-based guitarist Jason Narducy started a punk rock band in Evanston in 1982. "I was 11 years old and it felt incredible to write original songs and play them with my friends. We all had our own issues at home but we found love and support in our little group. We were Verböten."

Premiering with The House Theatre of Chicago in January at the Chopin Theatre in Chicago.


See also:

* Kot: How Jason Narducy Got Reinspired, With A Little Help From His A-List Friends.

* Stewart: Jason Narducy's Split Single Is The Sound Of Lessons Learned.

* Magnet: Q&A With Jason Narducy.

* 15 Best Musician Instagram Accounts.




Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

Chicago Didn't Know What It Had In Sam Kerr

"When it comes to the history of the franchise, it would be hard to argue that anyone was better when putting on their uniform," WGN-TV notes.

"Sam Kerr's time with the Chicago Red Stars featured both personal and league records along with the team's best finish during their time in the National Women's Soccer League. But after two years, her time with the team has come to an end."










Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

November 13, 2019

Loyola Research Behind New Federal Predatory Lender Bill

Groundbreaking, bipartisan federal legislation developed from research by Loyola University Chicago alumnus Paul Kantwill (BA '83, JD '86), a distinguished professor in residence at Loyola's School of Law, was introduced this week in Washington, D.C. by members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

The landmark bill, called the Veterans and Consumer Fair Credit Act, would establish the country's first national usury law that imposes interest rate limitations on nearly all financial products and services in an effort to protect consumers from predatory lenders.

Kantwill and Christopher L. Peterson, a professor of law at the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney School of Law, first introduced the model legislation in "American Usury Law and the Military Lending," a paper they coauthored earlier this year that was published in the Loyola Consumer Law Review.

Their research provides a historical record of the Military Lending Act, which Congress adopted in 2006 to protect active duty military service members and their families from high-cost, predatory loans. The core provision of the statute is a usury limit capping interest rates at no more than 36 percent each year.

"It is time to expand predatory lending protections to veterans and Gold Star families," said Kantwill. "I am proud to have worked on the Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act, and excited to be a part of new legislation that will extend the same protection military servicemembers receive under the Department of Defense rules to all consumers."

Kantwill joined the School of Law after a long and distinguished career in public service. Most recently he served as an assistant director with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), leading the Office of Servicemember Affairs.

Prior to joining the CFPB, Kantwill served as the director of the Office of Legal Policy, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel & Readiness.

In that capacity, he served as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense on a wide variety of consumer protection legal and policy issues, including the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Military Lending Act, and other financial/consumer issues affecting members of the armed forces and their family members.

Kantwill also served on active duty for 25 years with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

During his tenure with the CFPB, Kantwill and his department led unprecedented efforts to protect servicemembers and their families in the financial marketplace.

A national usury standard has been proposed primarily in response to the rise of predatory and insidious payday lending products and practices that trap consumers in cycles of debt. This bill is the first bipartisan legislation on this issue in decades.

The legislation is co-sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) and Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-IL). The Senate version of the bill is co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).


See also:

* CNBC: Federal Lawmakers Aim To Reduce Payday Loan Rates From 400% Interest To 36%.

* Kantwell and Peterson, Military Times: All Americans Deserve The Same Protection From Predatory Loans That Service Members Have.

* Chuy Garcia press release.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:59 PM | Permalink

The Battle Between NBC And CBS To Be The First To Film A Berlin Wall Tunnel Escape

When the Berlin Wall was completed in August 1961, East German residents immediately tried to figure out ways to circumvent the barrier and escape into West Berlin.

By the following summer, NBC and CBS were at work on two separate, secret documentaries on tunnels being dug under the Berlin Wall.

The tunnel CBS chose was a disaster that resulted in arrests and court trials. NBC's tunnel ended up being in one of the most decorated documentaries in American television history.

And yet, in the fall of 1962, NBC was under tremendous pressure from both sides of the Iron Curtain to scrap its documentary altogether.

You would think that the U.S. government would be thrilled to have a film broadcast to Americans showing the desperation and resolve to escape communist East Germany. After all, when the Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago, images of East Berliners streaming across the border were broadcast around the world in what was cast as a triumph for Western democracies and capitalism.

But in my new book, Contested Ground: The Tunnel and the Struggle over Television News in Cold War America, I use declassified government documents to tell the story of how political pressure and naked journalistic competition nearly derailed the NBC documentary before more than a handful of people had seen a single frame of the film.

Two Separate, Secret Projects

In the 1960s, Berlin was a flash point in Cold War politics.

West Berlin was a landlocked capitalist political enclave surrounded by communist East Germany.

By the summer of 1961, up to 30,000 East Germans were escaping to the West each month, mainly through the border in Berlin. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to let East Germany close the city's border, first through stationing troops and installing barbed wire, and then through the construction of the Berlin Wall.

Even after the completion of the wall, some East Germans, desperate to be reunited with friends and family in the West, sought ways to get to the other side.

In May 1962, NBC producer Reuven Frank and reporter Piers Anderton struck a secret deal with a group of West Berlin college students who were building an elaborate escape tunnel under the wall to help their relatives and classmates who were stuck in East Berlin

NBC paid the diggers $7,500 for exclusive filming access. The students would receive another $5,000 if the tunnel escape plan was a success.

tunnelpiers.jpgNBC Berlin correspondent Piers Anderton inside the tunnel during the network's 1962 escape project/Special Collections & University Archives, University of Maryland, Author provided

In late July, CBS Berlin reporter Daniel Schorr found a separate, almost completed tunnel project and paid the organizers $1,250 to film the escape. Schorr wanted to run a documentary on the one-year anniversary of the wall's completion: Aug. 13.

But unlike NBC's project, CBS's chosen tunnel wasn't a secret. West German police and American intelligence members knew of it - and of CBS' involvement.

When Secretary of State Dean Rusk caught wind of the plan, he pressured CBS to get Schorr out of the city in case the East Germans also knew about the tunnel.

Under protest, Schorr left Berlin. Rusk's instincts were correct. When the diggers broke through just beyond the wall in East Berlin, police were waiting to arrest several of those involved.

One month later, the NBC tunnel, dug underneath the Bernauer Strasse neighborhood, broke through in a basement in East Berlin. At least 29 people escaped in the most successful tunnel project escape to date.

bernauerstrasse.jpgAn aerial view of the wall in Bernauer Strasse, where the tunnel featured in NBC's documentary was built/Wikimedia Commons

No Longer A Secret

While the escape was reported in American newspapers, NBC's involvement stayed a secret until early October 1962, when Time magazine revealed NBC's payment to the diggers, calling the arrangement "chicanery."

Other print journalists piled on, insinuating that the payment had made NBC part of the story and that the network had relinquished its role as objective reporters.

Nonetheless, NBC announced it would run the 90-minute documentary, titled The Tunnel, on Oct. 31, 1962. Frank argued that since the tunnel was already underway when the payment was made, NBC was merely covering the effort.

reuvenfrank.jpgNBC producer Reuven Frank/Tufts University Digital Collections & Archives, Medford, Mass., Author provided

Not surprisingly, officials in East Germany urged NBC to cancel the documentary. But West German and West Berlin officials also objected to the project, partly because they were worried people identified in the documentary could be endangered.

Both CBS and the State Department released statements that implied CBS had followed government directives, painting NBC as reckless in its pursuit of its tunnel project. Neither CBS nor the government revealed that the network's tunnel had been compromised or that it had also paid for access to a tunnel.

'Adventurous Laymen' Or Journalists?

On Oct. 22 of that year, New York Times television columnist Jack Gould blasted NBC as "adventurous laymen" stumbling into dangerous Cold War issues they weren't equipped to handle.

He called the payment "distasteful commercialism," ignoring the reality that payment for images was not uncommon in journalism.

Life magazine, for example, was paying NASA astronauts about $25,000 apiece for exclusive access to their personal lives.

That same night, President John F. Kennedy went on national television to announce the Soviet Union was building missile bases in Cuba. NBC quietly postponed The Tunnel while the nation nervously waited to see how the Cuban Missile Crisis would play out.

Behind the scenes, NBC president Robert Kintner got involved. He sent a company attorney to West Berlin to reassure government officials that the documentary would only show faces of people who had agreed to be filmed. NBC also convinced West German officials that the project would draw more attention to the Berlin Wall, which was still a sore point in West Berlin.

After the Soviet Union backed down and agreed to remove missiles from Cuba, Kintner wrote a private letter to Rusk seeking his approval of - or at least to remove his objections to - the network's documentary. Rusk replied to Kintner that he still opposed NBC's involvement in the escape project, but that it was the company's decision whether to run the program.

On Monday, Dec. 10, 1962, NBC broadcast The Tunnel and 13.5 million people tuned in - a rare feat for a documentary on American television.

The Real Reasons Behind NBC's Shaming

The lingering question, though, is why NBC came under such intense criticism for a project that shows the risks people were willing to take to escape communism.

The declassified government documents reveal public and private versions of the controversy.

American newspapers mostly chastised NBC for the payment to the diggers. The State Department scolded NBC for getting involved in a delicate Cold War issue, especially since East Germans considered tunnels under the Berlin Wall as attacks on the border.

Private communications paint a much more complicated picture. First, the State Department didn't know about the tunnel - or NBC's involvement - until the media reported on it, leading to some embarrassing cables between Washington and Berlin.

CBS, instead of admitting that NBC had simply found a better tunnel project, complained to the State Department that NBC shouldn't benefit after CBS backed out of its documentary at the government's behest. Part of the State Department's public shaming of NBC seemed to partly stem from a desire to appease CBS.

But the State Department's behind-the-scenes pressure on both networks shows the extent to which the government expected journalists to cooperate with them on sensitive Cold War issues. Some of the cables cast the reporters as misbehaving employees instead of independent journalists.

Finally, the print press played up the payment ethics angle because it viewed television as a growing threat. Newspaper and magazine journalists were watching their power and influence being challenged by this newer medium, so they took the opportunity to question the professionalism of television journalists, an approach that was first used against radio news earlier in the century.

It was a tide they couldn't stop: The next year, a poll showed that television news had, for the first time, surpassed newspapers as the most popular and most trusted news format in the United States. The Tunnel was honored with three Emmy Awards, including Program of the Year.

In a final vindication for NBC, the United States Information Agency ended up buying 100 copies of The Tunnel to show around the world as an example of the benefits of democracy over communism.

Mike Conway is an associate professor of journalism at Indiana University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 PM | Permalink

Three New Books On Consciousness To Blow Your Mind

At the moment, you're reading these words and, presumably, thinking about what the words and sentences mean. Or perhaps your mind has wandered, and you're thinking about dinner, or looking forward to bingeing the latest season of The Good Place. But you're definitely experiencing something.

How is that possible? Every part of you, including your brain, is made of atoms, and each atom is as lifeless as the next. Your atoms certainly don't know or feel or experience anything, and yet you - a conglomeration of such atoms - have a rich mental life in which a parade of experiences unfolds one after another.

The puzzle of consciousness has, of course, occupied the greatest minds for millennia. The philosopher David Chalmers has called the central mystery the "hard problem" of consciousness. Why, he asks, does looking at a red apple produce the experience of seeing red? And more generally: Why do certain arrangements of matter experience anything?

Anyone who has followed the recent debates over the nature of consciousness will have been struck by the sheer variety of explanations on offer. Many prominent neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, philosophers, and physicists have put forward "solutions" to the puzzle - all of them wildly different from, and frequently contradicting, each other.

Let's begin with what might be called the standard view: The brain is extraordinarily complex, containing some 100 billion neurons, each of them capable of forming connections with (and exchanging signals with) 10,000 other neuronal units. Though the details are far from clear, it is presumed that neuronal activity gives rise to the mind. This is what Francis Crick famously called the "astonishing hypothesis" (in his 1994 book of the same name): "'You,' your joys and your sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."

Much else is open to debate. Does the brain function like a computer, by processing information - and if so, does it mean that machines could one day be conscious? Depends on who you ask. How widespread is consciousness within the animal kingdom, and when did it evolve in our own lineage? Depends on who you ask.

There isn't even unanimous agreement that the hard problem is the stumper Chalmers makes it out to be; cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett and philosopher Patricia Churchland, for example, have argued that the neuronal ebb and flow inside a healthy human brain simply "is" consciousness. (Churchland offers an analogy from physics: Though it took centuries to understand light, we now realize that light simply is an oscillating electromagnetic field.) Contrast that with philosopher Colin McGinn's claim that humans might not have the cognitive wherewithal to comprehend their own minds; The puzzle of consciousness, he believes, is here to stay.


OK, let's dive in. Christof Koch is one of today's leading thinkers on the problem of consciousness. He was a long-time collaborator of Francis Crick, taught for many years at the California Institute of Technology, and is now president and chief scientist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.

In his new book, The Feeling of Life Itself, Koch advocates for integrated information theory, or IIT, developed by Giulio Tononi, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

IIT doesn't ask how matter gives rise to consciousness - rather, it takes as a given certain attributes of consciousness, and asks what kinds of physical systems would be needed to support them.

And it's quantitative: The theory purports to measure the amount of consciousness in a physical system (denoted by the Greek letter phi, Φ) by linking specific physical states to specific conscious experiences.

There's some degree of experimental support for this: Tononi has devised a sort of "consciousness meter" that attempts to measure Φ in humans. (Or does it? Koch confesses that it actually measures something called the "perturbational complexity index," which is related to traditional electroencephalograms, which track electrical activity in the brain - which Koch says is correlated with Φ.) The device gives a low reading for those who are in a deep sleep, or under anesthetic, and a higher value for those who are wide awake.


More sophisticated versions of this device may be of great value, Koch suggests (in dealing with patients with various kinds of brain damage, for example), by distinguishing those in minimally conscious states from those in so-called vegetative states, or in a coma.

While this is laudable, it's not immediately clear that it addresses the hard problem. As Koch is well aware, a critic would naturally ask why this "integrated information" should feel like anything; couldn't you have the same flow of information but without consciousness?

His answer is that the axioms at the heart of IIT "fully delimit any experience" so that nothing is left out; any system that obeys the axioms of IIT, he says, must be conscious.

I didn't find this fully convincing, and I suspect Chalmers wouldn't, either. But at least it attempts to study consciousness quantitatively, which is a start.

And what of intelligent machines? A computer - at least anything that functions like today's digital computers - could, at best, mimic consciousness; it wouldn't actually be conscious, Koch argues, because it would lack the brain's "intrinsic causal powers;" he argues that the "brain as hardware, mind as software" analogy has been wildly oversold.

And then we come to the whopper: Koch argues that everything is a little bit conscious, a view known to philosophers as panpsychism. This, in Koch's view, gets rid of the puzzle of how consciousness emerges from non-conscious neurons (or atoms); if he's right, consciousness was there all along.

As Koch is aware, panpsychism by itself leaves many questions unanswered. Why, for example, is this arrangement of matter more conscious than that arrangement of matter?

But he believes that panpsychism and IIT, taken together, are the most promising path toward an answer.

If Koch's book had me occasionally wearing my skeptical-emoji face, Donald D. Hoffman's latest, The Case Against Reality, had me doing the head-exploding emoji.

Hoffman, a cognitive scientist at the University of California-Irvine, starts with perception rather than consciousness, but he's clearly hunting the same prey as Koch.

The main thing he wants you to know about your perceptions is that they're wrong - they're not "veridical," in his preferred language.


It's not that everything is an illusion; he believes there is such a thing as "objective reality" - but he says our perceptions can't lead us toward that reality.

His argument is rooted in a combination of Darwinian natural selection and game theory known as the interface theory of perception.

He offers an analogy with a computer screen: We can move an icon shaped like a file folder into the "trash," but we don't really believe the two-dimensional pixel-arrays actually contain files or trash. Instead, they're conveniences; they're representations that are useful in achieving goals.

Similarly, we perceive the world around us through the interface of our senses. (This is not a brand new idea; Kant suggested something similar almost 250 years ago, as did Plato in his allegory of the cave some two millennia earlier.)

But surely our perceptions map in a mostly true way onto the real world, right?

No, Hoffman says: He argues that Darwinian evolution would favor an organism with less-accurate perceptions over one that perceived the world as it really is. He calls this wildly counter-intuitive proposition, on which the rest of the book rests, the "fitness-beats-truth" (FBT) theorem; he says it can be proven through computer simulations.

And he goes further, arguing that neither objects nor the spacetime that they appear to inhabit is real. Same goes for neurons, brains, and bodies: "Our bodies are messages about fitness that are coded as icons in a format specific to our species," Hoffman writes. "When you perceive yourself sitting inside space and enduring through time, you're actually seeing yourself as an icon inside your own data structure."

No wonder he frequently refers to The Matrix. "This book offers you the red pill," he writes.

I have a number of problems with this. Let's start with the most obvious objection: If nothing is real, why not go play on the freeway? After all, imaginary vehicles can't hurt imaginary-you.

Hoffman's reply is that he takes his perceptions "seriously" but not "literally."

But this, I think, is having it both ways: If you admit that speeding cars can harm you, that's pretty much admitting they're real.

And what about spacetime? He says that "eminent physicists admit that space, time, and objects are not fundamental; they're rubbing their chins red trying to divine what might replace them."

I think he's at most half right. Yes, many of today's leading physicists believe that space and time aren't fundamental - but so what? We've known for some 200 years that matter is made of atoms (and the ancient Greeks had guessed as much) - but that doesn't make matter less real. It just means that, depending on the problem at hand, sometimes describing the world in terms of atoms is helpful, and sometimes it's not. But it would be bizarre to discount cars and tables and people just because we know they're made of smaller stuff.

And if space and time turn out to be some sort of approximation to a more fundamental entity, that will be a fascinating step forward for physics - but even that won't render the stuff of everyday life less real.

OK, so if space and time and objects aren't fundamental, what is? Toward the end of the book, Hoffman lays out the case that conscious minds are the fundamental entities that the rest of reality is made from; it's minds all the way down. He calls this the "conscious agent thesis." Objects don't exist, he says, unless they're perceived by minds.

This sounds a bit like Koch's panpsychism, but Hoffman says it's different; he calls his philosophical outlook "conscious realism."

Unlike old-school panpsychism, conscious realism offers hope for a "mathematical theory of conscious experiences, conscious agents, their networks, and their dynamics."

From such a theory, he hopes, all of physics - including quantum theory and general relativity - will eventually be derived.

I suspect it may be a long wait. I also think it's a bit of a stretch to imagine that physicists, having given up on space and time, are ready to subscribe to this "minds first" world-view.

Physicist Sean Carroll, for example, has made it clear that he doesn't see this as a fruitful approach.

On the other hand, physicist Lee Smolin, in his most recent book, puts forward what he calls his "causal theory of views," in which the universe is described in terms of how it appears from the point of view of each individual event; he hopes to derive space and time and the rest of physics from these "views."

Maybe some lucky convergence of thought will illuminate a link between Smolin's "views" and Hoffman's "conscious agents."

I'm not holding my breath, but it's not the craziest idea out there.

Meanwhile, Hoffman hints at other payoffs for those who venture down the rabbit hole with him - like a new view of God, for example. (This did not come as a complete shock, given that one of the book's endorsements is from Deepak Chopra.)

The research program that Hoffman envisions "can foster what might be called a scientific theology, in which mathematically precise theories of God can be evolved, sharpened, and tested with scientific experiments."

As an alternative to the red pill, I picked up Michael S.A. Graziano's Rethinking Consciousness.

His approach is different from that of both Koch and Hoffman, and at least superficially more in line with Dennett and Churchland. Graziano, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Princeton, spent much of his career developing something called the "attention schema theory," which attempts to show how consciousness arises from attention - and from the brain's ability to keep track of what it's attending to.

Attention schema theory doesn't pretend to be a solution to Chalmers' hard problem, but "it explains why people might mistakenly think that there is a hard problem to begin with," Graziano writes.


The idea is that the brains of certain creatures are able to model the world around them - an ability that Graziano believes evolved around 350 million years ago. This is a purely physical phenomenon, corresponding to specific brain activity that can be fully explained (at least in principle) at the level of neurons and neural connections. But the brain also performs a kind of "meta" processing of this information, keeping tabs of what the lower levels are doing, not in detail but in broad brush-strokes.

As Graziano sees it, this meta-level tally of what our brains are paying attention to simply is consciousness; it explains why looking at a red apple also "feels like" having such an experience.

This extra layer of processing - the attention schema - "seems like such a small addition," Graziano writes, "and yet only then does the system have the requisite information to lay claim to a subjective experience."

There is no ghost in the machine, but attention schema theory offers an explanation for why we imagine that there is.

Such a system need not be biological. Unlike Koch, Graziano believes that conscious machines ought to be possible, and - more provocatively - that uploading of minds onto machines may one day be a reality as well. (He figures we'll achieve uploading before we achieve interstellar travel; many scientists, I suspect, believe the reverse.)

There's more, of course; Graziano spells out the many ways in which truly intelligent artificial intelligence will change our lives (mostly for the better, he believes). And there's a great deal about evolution, and the evolution of brains in particular. But the real achievement here (assuming we buy into it) is that it takes the wind out of Chalmers' hard problem by reducing it to a kind of meta-problem. (Graziano points out that Chalmers himself has considered this approach.)

Attention schema theory doesn't live in a vacuum; Graziano notes that it has some elements in common with Tononi's integrated information theory, and Dennett's own preferred model, known as the global workspace theory. These should all be investigated in parallel, Graziano suggests, in the hope that our final theory of consciousness will draw on each of them.

I have no idea if or when a consensus will emerge. But it is one of the compelling scientific problems of our time, and one that demands continuing inquiry.

Crick put it eloquently in the last sentence of The Astonishing Hypothesis, a quarter century ago: "We must hammer away until we have forged a clear and valid picture not only of this vast universe in which we live but also of our very selves."

Dan Falk is a science journalist based in Toronto. His books include The Science of Shakespeare and In Search of Time. This post was originally published on Undark.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Shoveling isn't just about being a good neighbor - it's the law in Chicago," the Tribune notes.

Even more so than it used to be: "The shoveling law was amended in 2015, and now is in effect seven days a week."

I guess shovelers used to get the weekend off.

"It's not like, 'Oh, but it's the weekend.' That's very nice but people still need to be able to walk down the sidewalk on the weekends," a city spokesperson said.

She added: "It significantly raised the fine options."

And there we have it.


But do people in poor neighborhoods get fined more - like they do for everything else - for violating the shoveling ordinance than in affluent neighborhoods? Assignment Desk, activate!


Daylight Checking Time
"By an overwhelming majority, the Illinois Senate has approved a measure that would lead the state to observe Daylight Saving Time throughout the year," NBC Chicago reports.

Wait, what?

"By a vote of 44-2, Senate Bill 533 passed the chamber on Tuesday and was referred to the State House during the legislature's veto session."

First, who were the two who voted Nay and, second, this is going virtually under the media radar because it has no chance of getting through the House or being signed by the governor, right?

Because it strikes me as a big deal!


"The proposal was originally put together by students from Carlinville High School."

They are Carlinville.


Madman Across Chicago
"Elton John has decided to say goodbye to the music world with his lengthy Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour," WXRT notes.

"The tour saw John perform two shows at the Allstate Arena on February 15 & 16, 2019 with fans thinking it may be the last time they could see he legendary musician in Chicago.

"That's not the case as John has extended his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour including two shows at the United Center on June 19 & 20. Tickets for both shows will go on sale Friday, November 22 at 10 a.m. via"


Elton John was my first musical hero. I used to check out his records from the local library when I was a kid until I finally started buying them for my own. To this day, Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy is a very important record to me.


Who's Got Next
Next has announced its themed menus for 2020. I could've sworn we once posited our own themes for Next, but I couldn't find it. A little help, if anyone remembers. I feel like it was exceedingly funny and well written.


New on the Beachwood today . . .

Exclusive! An Inside Look At The World's Largest Starbucks
Featuring the Chicago Pour Over and the Madigan Grande.


The Ex-Cub Factor
Larry Rothschild! Phil Regan! Butters!


The Bonkers Battle Between NBC And CBS To Be The First To Film A Berlin Wall Tunnel Escape
The tunnel CBS chose was a disaster that resulted in arrests and court trials. NBC's tunnel ended up being in one of the most decorated documentaries in American television history.


Loyola Research Behind New Federal Predatory Lender Bill
The Veterans and Consumer Fair Credit Act would establish the country's first national usury law that imposes interest rate limitations on nearly all financial products and services in an effort to protect consumers from predatory lenders.


These New Books On Consciousness Will Blow Your Mind
Nothing is real. Or is it?



A City of Chicago truck working on my street just knocked the mirror off my car. Is there anything I can do? from r/chicago



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Also got in a good batch of tapes that are for sale!

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"Chicago" / Jim Beebe's Chicago Jazz



Anish Kapoor: "I Have Nothing To Say As An Artist."


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








The Beachwood Tip Tac Toe Line: Circle gets the square.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:12 AM | Permalink

The Ex-Cub Factor

One in an occasional series tracking the movements of former Cubs.

Even though it's the offseason, ex-Cubs are on the move.

1. Larry Rothschild.

Larry Rothschild, a Chicago native, is one of the best-known Cubs pitching coaches in recent history, serving the team from 2002 to 2010 before signing with the Yankees.

On Oct. 28, the Yankees finally had enough and moved on from Rothschild. He was snapped up by the Padres on Nov. 8.


Another familiar former Cubs pitching coach, Phil Regan, is said to be in the mix for the Mets job.


The Mets, by the way, are bringing Chili Davis back as hitting coach in a multi-year deal.

2. James Rowson.

James Rowson was the Cubs' hitting coach in 2012 and 2013, taking over the much-hyped Rudy Jaramillo.

He went on to work for the Yankees and Twins; now he is the bench coach for the Marlins.

3. Brian Butterfield, John Mallee and Tim Buss.

Joe Maddon is getting the band back together in Anaheim; he's hired Cubs third-base coach Brian "Butters" Butterfield, former Cubs hitting coach John Mallee (he'll be an assistant hitting coach for the Angels) and hype man Tim Buss.

4. Anthony Bass.

Right-handed relief pitcher Anthony Bass notched a 2.93 ERA (and 2.77 FIP) as a Cub over 15 1/3 innings in 2018, but was let go after the season.

He's since washed out in Cincinnati and Seattle. Prior to signing with the Cubs, he was with the Padres, the Astros, the Rangers and the Mariners (the first time).

On Oct. 29, the Blue Jays selected him off waivers.

5. Ryan Court.

First baseman/outfielder Ryan Court was signed by the Cubs as a free agent in 2017 after washing out in Arizona and Boston. He was granted free agency a year later, re-signed, released again, then signed by the Mariners. He was once again granted free agency on November 4th, so he's out there, people.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

Exclusive! An Inside Look At The World's Largest Starbucks

The World's Largest Starbucks is set to open Friday in the former Crate & Barrel building on North Michigan Avenue. While media outlet after media outlet is offering their PR-friendly early looks inside the five-story coffee mansion, we have the real scoop on what you can expect to find when you roll into the rotund roastery.

* The Madigan Grande: Comes with a job at ComEd but you have to walk a precinct every two years.

* Because Joe Berrios is an investor, those buying coffee on the top floor will pay less than those on the bottom floor.

* We'd especially like welcome Chicago's criminal defense bar!

* The Chicago Pour Over: Once a month you can pour coffee over Rahm Emanuel for charity.

* The Chicago Handshake: a PBR, a shot of Malort, a Venti Giardnera and an envelope filled with unmarked bills.

* To honor the building's legacy, coffee-filled crates and barrels to go.

* As a sovereign nation, only starbucks will be accepted for payment.

* Each floor serves a different CPS tier.

* The third floor is a TIF district. All taxes collected there go into a slush fund for Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson (it's not that other guy anymore), who can spend it any way he likes as long as it's spent on the third floor. He is, however, allowed to port the money to adjacent floors. This arrangement lasts for 23 years.

* The world's largest collection of Hootie & the Blowfish backstock.

* CDB-infused Kenny G.

* Latte, latte, no cheeps.

* A separate floor for the homeless.

* The Starbucks rewards card for this location will also be really big.

* In fact, everything will be bigger.

* In-house marijuana dispensary will be rolling really big spliffs to help you come down from the new Gigante.

* Will serve as the new polling station for the neighborhood. Customers restricted to one vote per floor.

* The Garrett's popcorn roast.

* Mrs. Garrett's popcorn roast.

* The Blagojeccino.

* Featuring the world's largest collection of smug baristas under one roof.

* The largest collection of blue shirts and tan pants under one roof.

* Animatronic display or first two customers?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

November 12, 2019

The [Tuesday] Papers


Let's take a look around the suburbs - and exurbs - today.

"Harger Lightning & Grounding on Ziegler Drive in Grayslake will receive $600,000 in payments and tax incentives to stay in the village," the Tribune-owned Lake County News-Sun reports.

Does any business anywhere fund their own operations these days? Isn't this . . . socialism? (Or . . . fascism, which I always took to technically mean the merging of business and government?)

"The Village Board voted unanimously Nov. 5 to participate with several government bodies in an incentive package designed to keep the lightning protection company from seeking a new facility elsewhere.

"The village has a history of doing everything it can to prevent businesses from leaving," Mayor Rhett Taylor stated at the board meeting.

Don't let the lightning and grounding protection company get away!


I've said it before and I'll say it again: Corporate tax incentives should be illegal. It's not a proper use of public money.


"Since 1960, Harger has been providing solutions to the lightning protection and grounding industries," the company says on its website.

"Harger has long been one of the leading providers of structural lightning protection for commercial buildings. In fact, some of the world's tallest structures such as the Willis (Sears) Tower, 875 N. Michigan Ave. (John Hancock) and the Aon Center (Amoco Oil) in Chicago are protected with Harger systems. "

That is interesting, I will admit.


But this is a lie:

"Located near Chicago, Illinois, Harger is centrally located to serve the needs of customers from coast to coast."

Grayslake is not "near" Chicago in my book; it might as well be Nebraska to me.


Sources close to Google say Grayslake is 38.53 miles from Chicago. It's 56 miles from Milwaukee.


Medical Malpractice
"A jury awarded $101 million to the mother of a severely brain-damaged boy who sued a Chicago-area hospital for medical malpractice, but an agreement between the parties cut the amount to $50 million, a lawyer said Tuesday," AP reports.

"Attorneys told a Cook County jury that medical staff at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park ignored ultrasound results that indicated the unborn baby didn't move for six hours during labor in 2014.

"Experts testified that a cesarean section would have prevented Gerald Sallis' brain damage. The 5-year-old cannot speak, walk or sit up on his own. The hospital was accused of ignoring Tequila Sallis' concerns that she couldn't feel him move."

That family deserves every penny. When a pregnant woman says she can't feel the baby moving, believe her.


Dateline: Winnetka
"A century after a dozen Winnetka families gathered on the front porch of Charles Mordock's home in 1918 to discuss the creation of a new private school that would be an equal to elite East Coast boarding schools, officials at North Shore Country Day School say student enrollment is nearing historic highs," the Tribune reports.

I forced myself to read on.

"While a majority of students at the school are from the North Shore, [Head of School Tom] Flemma said students who are currently enrolled represent 40 different zip codes, including as far north as Waukegan, as well as the northwest suburbs and Chicago. In addition, officials offered about $2 million in financial aid last year."

They have a Head of School.


"The whole rationale for starting our school was the idea that to receive a world-class education, you don't have to send your children to the East Coast," Flemma said.

You can send them to the North Shore for the same elitist experience!


But North Shore, you'll never be the East Coast no matter how hard you try. And that hurts you, I know. There, there.


Oh McHenry
"Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is planning to open its first McHenry County location in 2020," Patch reports.

Also Nebraska.


Naperville Kitchen
"Residents of a Naperville house on the city's far north side were told they could not return home because of the damage done by a Sunday night kitchen fire, the Naperville Fire Department said," the Tribune-owned Naperville Sun reports.

"Two adults and a dog evacuated the single-family house in the 1700 block of Brookdale Road about 7:15 p.m. after calling 911 to report a cooking oil fire that spread from a stove top to the rest of the kitchen, a fire department news release said.

"Firefighters extinguished blaze the first-floor blaze in about 10 minutes and needed another hour to remove smoke and make sure the fire was completely out, the release said."


New on the Beachwood . . .

Rez Ball
An intimate portrayal of students, teachers and an inspirational coach at Arizona's Chinle High School that is an important contribution to the literature on an education crisis that's affecting native youth.


SportsMonday: Most Unsatisfying Win Ever?
What the hell was that.



What's the most Chicago restaurant I can take an out of town guest to? No limitations on location/price/cuisine. from r/chicago





St. Marlboro at the Empty Bottle on Sunday night.


A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find at the Beachwood Facebook page.

I Was An Astrologer. Here's How It Really Works - And Why I Had To Stop.


Who Is The Real Dice Man? The Elusive Writer Behind The Disturbing Cult Novel.


A "Sneaky" Asteroid Narrowly Missed Earth This Summer. Internal Emails Show How NASA Scientists Totally Missed It.


Butcher Department Poses Highest Risk Of Worker Injury.


How Folgers Has Ushered In Almost 170 Years Of Happy Mornings.


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







The Beachwood Tip Line: To insure prompt service.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

Rez Ball

Nachae Nez is a basketball star at the largest high school on the Navajo Nation, 17.5 million acres sprawling across parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. He lives in a trailer next to his two grandmothers and earns grades good enough for a four-year college.

Yet on the morning of the SAT college admissions exam, Nachae drives to the testing site from his home near Chinle, Arizona, looks around - and drives away.

"I couldn't see my future off the reservation," he tells Michael Powell, author of the new book Canyon Dreams: A Basketball Season on the Navajo Nation, due out from Blue Rider Press this month.

Powell's intimate portrayal of students, teachers and an inspirational coach at Chinle High School is an important contribution to the literature on an education crisis that's affecting native youth.

Native Americans are routinely left out of the national education conversation, and yet they face some of the longest odds in getting through high school and college. In 2017, barely a fifth of American Indian and Alaska Native adults ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college.


The book follows the Wildcat team through one dramatic basketball season on the largest Indian nation in the U.S., which Powell describes as an isolated world of "sacred peaks, spirits and clans" where homelessness, alcoholism and unemployment are as rampant as books and libraries are scarce.

Chinle High and its athletic center become a place for showers and meals for its many homeless students, he writes, "and with luck an adult who might put a hand on the rudder in rough waters."

The push and pull of reservation life, with its ancestral force, spiritual traditions and many contradictions, consumes the team as they hunt for an elusive state championship.

Powell writes with intense empathy about the limited choices and chances players face after their glory days at Chinle High. Less than half of Chinle graduates attend college, and of those who do, half drop out within a year or two.

Related: Why are tribal college students slow to ask for financial aid?

High poverty rates and inadequate schools have contributed to dismal achievement levels for native students, routinely among the lowest in the country. American Indian and Alaska Native students are the least likely of any demographic group to graduate from high school, and their college graduation rate is just 39 percent.

Canyon Dreams grew from articles that Powell, a sports columnist, wrote for the New York Times about rez ball, a "quicksilver, sneaker-squeaking game of run, pass, cut and shoot, of spinning layups and quick and endless running" that is a staple of life on some reservations. Games draw thousands of fans, who drive up to 80 miles over canyons and mountains, waiting in long lines and packing high school gyms. There's even a Netflix series based on Powell's articles.

But the book gives equal attention to players as they consider their futures off the court. Powell, a former colleague of mine at the now-defunct New York Newsday, cares deeply about education, and his writing sheds light on why many native students - even some who are high academic achievers - don't head off to college.

There's not much in the way of a college-going culture at Chinle High, beyond the unsung efforts of a handful of exemplary coaches and teachers. Arizona, like many parts of the country, has a dearth of school counselors, a topic we at The Hechinger Report have covered extensively. The state has the worst ratio of students to school counselors in the U.S., 905 to 1.

The players Powell gets to know are often deeply ambivalent about leaving their home, elders, siblings and extended families. In one scene, Powell drives to the home of Wildcat player Elijah James, down a dirt road "in a depression of salt flats and blue shale and barn-red clay that went by the improbable name of Beautiful Valley."

Powell asks: "You are a senior. What do you want to do after high school?"

Elijah answers that he wants to go to college and maybe become a draftsman, but isn't sure if he's willing to leave the reservation; he tells Powell that it's "my puzzle."

U.S. universities have a complicated relationship with native people, often having been built on land taken from American Indians. These institutions remain predominantly white, and many colleges are just beginning to recognize the need to recruit and support indigenous young people. But as teachers and coaches in Powell's book note, staying on the reservation can be as fraught as leaving.

Good jobs near Chinle are few; many end up chopping mesquite and pinon, herding sheep or traveling across state borders for construction jobs. Looking for work on the reservation is like "wandering in search of a desert spring," Powell writes. Yet many of the students he got to know spoke of wanting to obtain new skills that would help their families and the Navajo Nation for years to come.

Related: How a struggling school for native Americans doubled its graduation rate

There are heroes behind the scenes, though, who help answer the question Powell poses early on: "How to find the courage to step out of Navajo and into the unknown?"

There is Shaun Martin, the athletic director and rural teacher of the year, a man who built the cross-country team into a powerhouse and who becomes an informal college counselor and surrogate father.

When college deadlines loom for his runners, writes Powell, Martin "labored late into the night on their applications and laughed with and cemented relationships with college coaches."

There is legendary Wildcats basketball coach Raul Mendoza, who has coached native basketball teams for 50 years and worked as a guidance counselor, motivated in part by nearly having his own school dreams crushed by a counselor in his native Mexico who laughed at him when he said he wanted to go to college.

raulmendoza.jpgRaul Mendoza/Courtesy of Nathaniel Brooks

Mendoza went on to graduate from Eastern Arizona College, where he met his Navajo wife. He is understated but forceful in asking his players what they want to do and be after high school. Will they be content, he asks, to hang out at the local supermarket, live at home and wait for their grandmother's government checks?

Less than half of Chinle High School graduates attend college, and of those who do, half drop out within a year or two.

"When I graduated high school, I didn't know what wanted, but I knew it had to be more than what I had, which was nothing at all," the coach tells them.

Then there's English teacher Parsifal Smith-Hill, a former surfer and cliff climber who pushes students to apply for scholarships in parts of the country most have never seen. Smith-Hill pushes hard to remind students about college admissions exams and loan applications and essays, and his top students routinely get into great colleges.

One of them is Chinle's 2018 valedictorian, Keanu Gorman, who reads Greek mythology and Bronte, Wilde and Homer by the light of religious candles and types his college essays on his cell phone. We learn that Keanu is accepted everywhere he applies; he's now a sophomore at Harvard.

Related: Tribal colleges give poor return on more than $100 million in federal money

Relying solely on heroic teachers and coaches to push a college education is not a sustainable strategy, however, and I asked Powell what he thought about the limited opportunities and obstacles that keep so many native youth close to home.

"The problem with relying on heroes is most of us are not heroes," Powell told me.

A better solution would be highly trained and well-paid teachers and guidance counselors who understand reservation life yet "can work with families and let them know there's a world out there, that going away to a four-year school is not betraying your culture," he said.

willen_rezball2--832x0-c-default.jpgChinle High senior Cooper Burbank shooting hoops with his younger brother/Courtesy of Caitlin O'Hara

Readers of Canyon Dreams will want to know what happens to students like Cooper Burbank, the Wildcat's high-scoring captain who says in a student-athlete profile that his goal is to obtain bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering.

"As a Native American, we do not always have the most exposure or opportunities," Cooper writes. "However, I feel like if I can excel in the classroom and on the court, it will allow more doors to be opened to play basketball beyond high school."

And what of Nachae Nez, the former Wildcat captain whom Powell visits a year after his graduation? Because he can't complete his application to the University of New Mexico without submitting SATs, Nachae instead ends up working at a pawn shop in the state and taking night classes at community college, while cheering on his former teammates from afar, over internet radio.

Will Nachae continue on to play ball at a four-year college or go back to the reservation? We don't find out, but Powell points out one of the many contradictions of this sacred ancestral land: If Nachae comes back, he'll be welcomed.

"Returnees get loving hugs from aunties and manly handshakes from uncles, and after few months of watching the wind whip sand snakes off mesas and feeling the razor wind of winter, many wonder: Now what?"

That question is at the heart of why more attention needs to be paid to education on the reservation and beyond, and Powell's book is a great start.

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.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

November 11, 2019

SportsMonday: Most Unsatisfying Win Ever?

I can't get over the last five possessions.

What the hell was going on with the Bears' offense during that time? How could they have put it together so well for two-and-a-quarter drives (Nick Kwiatkowski's pick gave them a very short field, after all) in the middle of the game and then completely fail to move the ball five freaking times to give the Lions chance after chance to rally down the stretch?

And while we're asking questions, who is more at fault for so many negative plays for the Bears when they went back to pass, the offensive line or Mitch Trubisky?

I'm going with "all of the above" after the Bears held on for a 20-13 victory over a Lions team featuring the second-worst defense in the league going in and which deployed a backup quarterback for the whole game and a third-string halfback for most of it. So, not the most impressive triumph ever.

Most worrisome is that Trubisky still seems to have simply forgotten how to climb the pocket decisively and make the sorts of passes on the move forward that made general manager Ryan Pace fall in love with him when he played his one season for North Carolina.

Then again, the touchdown passes were beautiful. Trubisky continues to deploy less than stellar footwork but the balls to Ben Braunecker and Taylor Gabriel in particular displayed impressive touch.


And between those he hit Tarik Cohen right in stride on a clever play that opened up a wide swath of space on one side of the field that the tailback scampered through.

Oh and Trubisky completely avoided turnovers. Hurrah!

So I guess the Bears should stick with him for at least one more week. Actually, of course they should. The backup is a 33-year-old guy with five career starts. It makes one suspect that Pace set it up this way - that he wanted to make sure Trubisky would get every chance, and then many more, to find his way in the NFL.

During the past week so many local commentators continued to cut Pace slack, citing factors other than the quarterback as reasons for this team's skid. Yes, Pace has built an impressive defense, but the deal was that, when he traded four picks for the opportunity to pick his quarterback one spot higher than where the Bears had been slotted, he was bound to Trubisky at the hip.

But at least Pace seems to know that if Trubisky doesn't make it, his general managership doesn't make it either. He continues to hide from interviews with actual reporters but during a conversation with Bears play-by-play man Jeff Joniak for a pregame show he tried desperately to spread the blame for the Bears' offensive ineptitude and slough off Trubisky's problems as "all part of playing quarterback in the NFL. Every quarterback goes through this and it's just part of the experience . . . Other young quarterbacks around the league are going through it, the same thing."

Really? Not really.

As for the overall team, from here it is on to Los Angeles, where the 4-5 Bears face the suddenly mediocre Rams, who dropped a 17-12 decision to the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday to fall to 5-4. The game is a Sunday nighter in a nod to the size of the markets rather than the quality of the teams.

That most recent Rams loss came against a team that also sent out a backup quarterback (Mason Randolph). So it could be worse, Bears fans. Just keep that in mind.

After that, it is a home game against the terrible Giants and a trip to Detroit for the rematch on Thanksgiving. The postseason is still quite unlikely but it also isn't out of the question.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

November 9, 2019

Publishers Should Be Making E-Book Licensing Better, Not Worse

Macmillan, one of the "Big Five" publishers, is imposing new limits on libraries' access to e-books - and libraries and their users are fighting back.

Starting last week, the publisher is imposing a two-month embargo period on library e-books. When Macmillan releases a new book, library systems will be able to purchase only one digital copy for the first eight weeks after it's published.

Macmillan is offering this initial copy for half-price ($30), but that has not taken away the sting for librarians who will need to answer to frustrated users.

In large library systems in particular, readers are likely to experience even longer hold queues for new Macmillan e-book releases.

For example, under the new Macmillan embargo, the 27 branches of the San Francisco Public Library system, serving a city of nearly 900,000 people, will have to share one single copy right when the demand for the new title is the greatest.


The harms to libraries and their patrons during these two months go far beyond wait times. E-books are a critical resource for library users with vision impairment, dyslexia, and other physical or learning needs. An embargo on new e-books disproportionately harms these readers who rely on digital formats, and violates the principles of equitable access at the core of library services.

After the two-month embargo period ends, libraries will be welcome to purchase additional copies of the e-book under normal terms, which aren't great to begin with: typically, a $60 price tag for an e-book that can only be lent out to one user at a time for two years or 52 lends, whichever comes first. After that, the library has to license another e-book. On top of that, libraries tend to have different agreements with each of their publishers and vendors, all of which are subject to change.

This is a significant mark-up over what a consumer might expect to pay for a new e-book, and a falsely restrictive model compared to libraries' rights for physical books. When a library purchases a physical book, the purchase is covered by first sale doctrine, which means the library can lend it out freely, repair it, give it away, or resell it. But libraries don't have any of those protections when it comes to e-books.

So why is Macmillan imposing additional burdens? In a July memo, CEO John Sargent says the publisher's move is motivated by "growing fears that library lending was cannibalizing sales" of new e-books and a need to "protect the value of your books during their first format publication," but fails to present any evidence to back up his claims. (He also ignores existing, consistent evidence to the contrary.)

In response, libraries across the country have boycotted, or at least strongly denounced, Macmillan e-book purchases.

In another extraordinary step, the American Library Association has invited library users to sign onto a petition against the new embargo. The campaign, called #eBooksForAll, had over 160,000 signatures before the embargo started last week. Since then, the signature count has climbed to nearly 200,000.

All of this does not mean that Macmillan has it wrong on e-books across the board; for example, Macmillan publishes Tor Books, the only DRM-free imprint in the Big Five.

But of all the Big Five publishers to change e-book terms in the past year, Macmillan's e-book embargo for libraries is by far the most contentious.

The other four - Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster - are surely watching the backlash. We urge readers, and authors who like to be read, to sign the ALA's petition and let Macmillan know that the embargo is a mistake.


See also:

* Smithsonian: Why New Restrictions On Library E-Book Access Are Generating Controversy.

* Baltimore Sun Op-Ed: Libraries: Macmillan Unfairly Restricts Access To E-Books.

* CTV News: Macmillan E-Book Restrictions 'Will Put A Lot Of Pressure On The System' In Saskatoon.

* The Tulsa World's Ginnie Graham: E-Book Publisher Takes Shortsighted Approach To Role Libraries Have In Developing New Book Consumers.

* WXXI-AM, Upstate New York Public Radio: Local Library System Joins Nationwide Protest Against Publisher.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trail

The real news is delivered off-air.


Previously in Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter!:

* 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.



If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.



Australia Is Horrific.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:04 AM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

"A now-elderly hoodlum who led the Chicago mob's London diamond heist in 1980 is back on the street and his Outfit accomplice has one foot out the door of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, staying in a Chicago halfway house," ABC7 Chicago reports.

"Together, career mobsters Art Rachel and Jerry Scalise stole the famous Marlborough diamond from a U.K. jewelry store on September 11, 1980.

"Now mob-watchers are wondering whether the Outfit duo is planning a 45-carat reunion when Rachel joins Scalise in newfound freedom from the Bureau of Prisons."


Both men are 81, but . . . "authorities never recovered the stolen diamond and some investigators have long suspected that Scalise and Rachel somehow managed to hide the 45-carat stone."


It's not as if the pair are out of prison for the first time since the heist, though. See Newsweek's Diamond Thieves, Now 73, On A New Crime Spree.


As for the diamond, it appears the pair had a cabbie who was taking them to Heathrow airport after the heist to mail it to Scalise's sister in New York City. When the pair landed at O'Hare, they were arrested.


Pot 101
"Colleges ban medical cannabis on campus, but how long can those policies remain realistic?" GateHouse Media Illinois wonders.

"Medical marijuana use has been legal in Illinois for over half a decade, but colleges and universities in the state have yet to adapt equal on-campus regulations."

University of WTF.


Mall Of America
"The developers behind the massive apartment complex rising on the old Megamall site announced on Thursday that Big Wig Tacos, Jersey Mike's Subs, K-Fire Korean BBQ and Verizon will join Target as ground-floor tenants when the complex opens in spring 2020," Block Club Chicago reports.

So the Megamall is becoming a MegaMall.


Here's the real kick in the head, though: "In February, Block Club reported that the developers were looking to rent out studios for at least $1,975 a month and two-bedroom apartments for at least $3,295 a month based on information listed on the project website."

Emphasis mine, because fuck you every single person attached to this monstrosity.


"The complex, rising in the 2500 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, sits on a site most recently occupied by the Discount Megamall, an indoor flea market that lasted more than 20 years despite being slapped with more than 100 building code violations, a yearlong shutdown, a move by the city to seize it via eminent domain and a 2007 fire that reduced the showroom space to less than a third of its original size."

God, I miss it.




Porn Hubbub
"Kraft Heinz and Unilever are vowing to keep ad campaigns away from Pornhub, one of the most-visited adult-video websites, after a report uncovered disturbing and potentially illegal pornography on the site," Ad Age reports.

"Kraft's Devour and Unilever's Dollar Shave Club both ran ad campaigns that appeared on Pornhub this year, marketing decisions that could be viewed as risqué for corporate parents concerned about issues like brand safety."

Also in the interests of brand safety, Pornhub will stay clear of Kraft singles because yuck.


"The Devour frozen food brand, which is only sold in the U.S., had a one-day promotion solely as part of the brand's Super Bowl activation," a Kraft Heinz spokesgoof wrote in an e-mail sent to Ad Age. "The brand was explicitly talking about #Foodporn, which has become a cultural phenomenon on Instagram."

In fact, every comment in this article comes in the form of a statement crafted by PR departments and e-mailed to reporters. Call it #StatementPorn. It's a journalism phenomenon.


New on the Beachwood . . .

Did Chicago Drill Change The Game?


Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trail
The real news is delivered off-air.


Harvey Mayor: Aldermen Favor Strip Clubs Over Improved Infrastructure
Potholes and streetlights off the agenda.


The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #277: Ball Of Bears Confusion
Earmuffs, tunnel vision, TVs and The Temptations. Plus: Yolmer Sanchez Changes First Line Of His Obituary; Yu Darvish Is Really Funny When He's Not Sucking; Blackhawks Also Ball Of Confusion; Bulls Still In It!; and How Cubs Ticket Prices Are Like Crime Rates.


I Was The Fastest Girl In America, Until I Joined Nike
"Mary Cain's male coaches were convinced she had to get 'thinner, and thinner, and thinner.' Then her body started breaking down."


Macmillan Screwing Libraries
New e-book licensing policy is a disaster.


Recall! Nature's Rancher Organic Ground Beef
Shipped to five states including Illinois.


Weekend ChicagoReddit

What can I expect from Whitney Young High School if I choose to go there? from r/chicago


Weekend ChicagoGram


Weekend ChicagoTube

Bauhaus at the Metro in 1982.


Weekend BeachBook

The Unmistakable Black Roots Of Sesame Street.


Sorry, Plant Parents: Study Shows Houseplants Don't Improve Air Quality.


Don't Paint Your Brick!


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




It'd be better if it had been, tho.




The Weekend Desk Tip Line: How's that working out for you, America?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

November 8, 2019

Harvey Mayor: Aldermen Favor Strip Clubs Over Improved Infrastructure

Mayor Christopher J. Clark strongly encourages residents of the City of Harvey to be a voice for a better community. He urges residents to demand their elected officials demonstrate care and concern for the community by passing laws that improve infrastructure and safety, rather than a law that works against public safety and family values.

During the June 24, 2019 City of Harvey council meeting, five of six aldermen voted in favor of a new law, defined in ordinances 3376 and 3377. This law puts in place a measure to close all liquor-selling establishments, including strip clubs, at midnight.

Sixth Ward Alderman Tyrone Rogers, solely, voted against the new law. The new law represents the effort of the mayor and city council to enhance public safety, maximize scarce police resources, and ultimately begin to change the negative image of the City of Harvey. Ordinances 3376 and 3377 [were to] take effect on November 1, 2019.

However, during the October 28, 2019 meeting of the city council, three of the five aldermen who initially voted "Yes" for the new law moved in a different direction and are now demonstrating their support of strip clubs.

At [a] recent council meeting, Second Ward Alderman Marshun Tolbert, Fourth Ward Alderman Tracy Key, Fifth Ward Alderman Dominique Randle-El, and Sixth Ward Alderman Tyrone Rogers attempted to bring a measure that would allow liquor-selling establishments, including strip clubs, to remain open well after midnight.

The attempted measure failed, as the aldermen were late in submitting their amended law as a city council agenda item. In retaliation, Aldermen Tolbert, Key, Randle-El, and Rogers voted to remove agenda items that would provide for infrastructure improvements for the City of Harvey, including new street lights and repair of potholes. The proposed improvements for the city's infrastructure are measures to enhance public safety for residents and driving safety for motorists.

"This kind of behavior and retaliatory response has no place in the City of Harvey," said Mayor Christopher J. Clark. "We are elected to serve the people of this community. We are elected to provide the highest level of public safety and the highest quality of life. This requires our city council to take hard stands and make decisions that are not going to please everyone. We are servant leaders, and as such, we do what is right for the community, first and foremost. We serve the people!"

Mayor Clark urges residents to contact their alderman. Tell their alderman to support and vote in favor to improve the city's infrastructure. Vote in favor to fill potholes and install new street lights. Mayor Clark urges residents to tell their alderman to work with the mayor and administration to build a better City of Harvey.


See also:

* Daily Southtown: Harvey Tightens Restrictions On Alcohol Sales As It Attempts To Shed 'Anything Goes' Reputation.

* CBS2 Chicago: Potholes Go Unfixed In Cash-Strapped Harvey, Creating Dangerous Situation On Local Street.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #277: Ball Of Bears Confusion

Earmuffs, tunnel vision, TVs and The Temptations. Plus: Yolmer Sanchez Changes First Line Of His Obituary; Yu Darvish Is Really Funny When He's Not Sucking; Blackhawks Also Ball Of Confusion; Bulls Still In It!; and How Cubs Ticket Prices Are Like Crime Rates.



* 277. (I goofed, it's not 278.)

1:55: Earmuffs, Tunnel Vision, TVs And The Temptations.

* Chambers: Singing The Same Tune?

"Making sure that there's no friction or fracture, or separation, segregation within the team."

- Matt Nagy on keeping the Bears locker room together

"Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation."

"Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today), The Temptations

* Wiederer: Defending Mitch Trubisky's TV Comments.

* Coffman: Trubisky is Blake Bortles; Chase Daniel is Mark Sanchez.

* Telander: Stigma About Black Quarterbacks Still Exists In The NFL.

* Sparty.

* Olin Kreutz Says Blame O-Line, Not Trubisky.

* Lance Briggs' smokehouse closed in 2017.

* Rosenthal: Is It Time For The McCaskeys To Sell?

* Rhodes: Why not make all the plays out of the same stuff they use to make black boxes?

* Biggsy's mailbox: Are There Any Quick Fixes For The offensive Line? Why Didn't Matt Nagy Challenge Zach Ertz's TD For Pass Interference? How Can Ryan Pace Reset At QB For 2020?

47:34: Yolmer Sanchez Changes First Line Of His Obituary.

* First White Sox Position Player Gold Glove In More Than A Decade.

48:50: Yu Darvish Is Really Funny When He's Not Sucking.

* Yu Darvish Is Absolutely Killing It On Social Media This Offseason.

49:38: Blackhawks Also Ball Of Confusion.

* ESPN NHL Power Rankings:

Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 2.11.01 PM.png

* We miss the Circus Trip.

54:39: Bulls Still In It!

* OK, Boomer.

58:00: How Cubs Ticket Prices Are Like Crime Rates.

* Sullivan: Average Price For Cubs Season Tickets Dropping In 2010.

* At least scalpers practiced an honest and beautiful grift.

* Finally: Passan Answers 20 Big Hot Stove Questions As Free Agency Starts And MLB's Offseason Drama Begins.




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


Comments welcome.


1. From Tom Chambers:

But the Bears don't care about winning.

How many times have we seen Dash Riprock, the cup of coffee from the Titans who's doing a fine job now of TV commentary, say: "I spent a lot of time this week around the Bears and Halas Hall and I will tell you this: NOBODY wants to win more than the Bears and the McCaskeys."

Um no. They spend more time on the trust-baby great grandchildren than on the team. After what? Six decades? Pudding. Proof.

Don't ever forget that when George Halas died, Mother Saint Ginny McCaskey and her brood went after the only two remaining children with the last name Halas like pit bulls who everybody says are actually good dogs. If we don't know the McCaskeys spend more energy spreading their wealth evenly than trying to build a football team, we should. The whole country tries to like the Bears, but the football wiseguys are tired of beating their heads against the wall. If the Bears could, they'd retire Butkus's number every season. He had to sue them.

You guys talked about the public trust the McCaskeys should recognize and be responsible for. The Bears went over Niagara Falls when they started taking public, tax-paying dollars, as they all have. But that would be me crashing my head against the wall. The McCaskeys are total Chicago, parlaying their own brand of cynicism for profit and good food. Starting with Papa George, who broke the law in getting Red Grange.

On the cusp of another new decade, they've won twice in 60 years. Thanks to George Allen and Buddy Ryan.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 PM | Permalink

I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike

"Mary Cain's male coaches were convinced she had to get 'thinner, and thinner, and thinner.' Then her body started breaking down," the New York Times reports.

"At 17, Mary Cain was already a record-breaking phenom: the fastest girl in a generation, and the youngest American runner to turn professional. In 2013, she was signed by the best track team in the world, Nike's Oregon Project, run by its star coach Alberto Salazar.

"Then everything collapsed."


See also:

* Christine Brennan, USA Today: Nike Can't Be Trusted After Mary Cain's Troubling Allegations.

* Mollie Walker, New York Post: 'Victim-Shaming:' Nike Makes Things Worse After Mary Cain's Abuse Claims.

* New York Times: Track And Field Reacts To Mary Cain Allegations.


Previously: Alberto Salazar, World's Most Famous Track Coach, Is Banned 4 Years For Doping Violations.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

Did The Chicago Drill Movement Change The Music Industry?

A lot of this shit is the actual facts, man.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

Recall! Nature's Rancher Organic Ground Beef

Rastelli Bros., doing business as Rastelli Foods Group, a Swedesboro, N.J. establishment, is recalling approximately 130,464 pounds of raw ground beef products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically plastic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The raw ground beef items were produced from Oct. 3, 2019 through Oct. 15, 2019. The following products are subject to recall:

* 16-oz vacuum sealed packages containing "NATURE'S RANCHER 100% GRASS FED ORGANIC GROUND BEEF 85% LEAN, 15% FAT" with case code 9276, 9283, 9287, or 9288 and use or freeze by dates of 10/24/19, 10/31/19, 11/04/19, 11/07/19, and 11/11/19.

* 16-oz vacuum sealed packages containing "NATURE'S RANCHER 100% GRASS FED ORGANIC GROUND BEEF 93% LEAN, 7% FAT" with case code 9276, 9283, 9287, or 9288 and use or freeze by dates of 10/24/19, 10/31/19, 11/04/19, 11/07/19, and 11/11/19.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 7877-A" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to distribution centers and further sent to retail locations in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois and Maryland.

The problem was discovered after the FSIS received consumer complaints through the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. The firm also notified FSIS that they received a consumer complaint directly.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' refrigerators or freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Mike Kelly, vice president of sales at Rastelli, at (856) 803-1100. Members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Raymond Rastelli, Jr., president and owner of Rastelli, at (856) 803-1100.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via e-mail to

For consumers who need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

November 7, 2019

The [Thursday] Papers

Spent the morning at the dentist and I'm gonna need a root canal on Tooth 18.

I asked the dentist if there was a downside to just pulling it because that would be less expensive and he said, "It's a good tooth, I wanna try to save it."

I guess dentists really do have a thing for teeth.

And he's right, it is a good tooth. It's done yeoman's work for me over the years. But it's not really earning its keep.


By the way, Tooth 18 is the last molar in the very back, bottom row. But the next one closer to the front of my mouth is Tooth 19, so I don't get their numbering system at all.


Then I went to Walgreens to get three prescriptions filled, all tooth-related, and once again the pharmacy was a total shitshow. It's been this way for several months, and it's not the fault of anyone who works there, but I get the sense their staffing has been cut back. Maybe to prepare the company for private equity monsters? Who will only cut back staffing even more?


While I was waiting for my prescriptions to be filled, I caught WGN-TV's coverage of the Eddie Johnson retirement press conference. I'll have more tomorrow or over the weekend, but . . . really? It reminded me of the highly choreographed goodbye to Forrest Claypool, in which Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried to create the storyline of a glorious and dedicated public servant finally stepping down to spend more time with his family instead of being forced out by a quite insistent scandal.

To wit:


"Claypool walked out of the press conference without explaining why he resigned," ABC7 Chicago reported. "Instead, the news conference focused on his career successes."

You can see the resemblance to today's affair. Johnson appeared with family members acting as human shields against the slings of an unfeeling press corps that would, theoretically, not dare to ask the "tough" (also defined as "obvious") questions about his departure with them standing right there, while Mayor Lori Lightfoot played to the hilt the idea that the outgoing police chief had been some sort of iconic, transformative figure instead of the placeholder that he was. In effect, Johnson has already been the interim police chief ever since Rahm defied the law and his own police board - led by Lightfoot! - by plucking Johnson out of the ranks at the behest of the city council's black caucus in an effort to both save his own skin in the wake of the Laquan McDonald murder and to install someone he could easily control.

Much to my surprise, the coverage I've seen so far - hardly exhaustive (yet) and including a WGN-TV package so syrupy you could pour it on pancakes - has elevated Johnson to a departing king of unheralded benevolence, instead of the hack ill-equipped to lead the department into federally mandated reform that he has been.

Dear media: Eddie Johnson did not lead the CPD into its tech age, nor did his "strategies" bring down crime. He did not "save" the city from "coming apart" post-Laquan (and in fact seemed to have played a role in falsifying the event), and he did not "rebuild trust with the community." If he was even a sliver of that effective, his job status would not have been a persistent question during the last mayoral campaign.


Back to Lightfoot, though: When she pleaded with the assembled press to keep its questions to the greatness of Sir Johnson in order for us to properly celebrate the man and all he had done for the city instead of asking her the exceedingly more relevant questions about the process going forward of replacing him - and how could anyone replace the man so honored today? - I nearly spit out my coffee, except that I wasn't drinking coffee, I was in the waiting area of my local Walgreens waiting on three prescriptions. (To be fair, one was superprofen - prescription ibuprofen that packages four normal pills into one superpill for your pain-relieving pleasure.)

When it seemed - though I admittedly was not attaining a 100 percent quality viewing experience - that the press complied, I tried to focus instead on my comparably less painful tooth but alas, looketh away I could not. What the fuck is wrong with everyone?




Flight Note
Regarding the item on Wednesday about covering the crash of American Eagle Flight 4184, my dad tells me today he remembers that, and that I was standing in a lot of mud, and also that I traded something to someone in order to use their phone to call my reporting into the newsroom. I don't totally remember that last part, but I don't doubt it either.


New on the Beachwood . . .

One Man Wonders About The State Of Chicago Sports
And that man is our very own David Rutter.


Chicago's Tree Trimming (Still) Sucks
"[M]any City trees have not been trimmed in over a decade."



Worst Chicago apartment management from r/chicago





Djunah at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.



The Daily Boris.


How Mike Pence's Office Meddled In Foreign Aid To Reroute Money To Favored Christian Groups.


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




The Beachwood Tip Line: Spare a dime.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:11 PM | Permalink

Status Check: Chicago Sports

I constantly write myself notes. These notes are just me mumbling to myself. I am measuring what I think as opposed to what everyone else seems to know.

They tend to be radically different.

As opposed to metrics, I always watch body language and hardly ever pay much attention to what somebody says. The body seldom lies.

So I constantly rethink curiosities, filter them through my sensibilities and one of these days I might figure out how to demonstrate that:

1. Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon were both so competent and self-controlled that they overcame their intense, visceral dislike for each other. We'll have to wait for the inevitable end-of-career memoirs to prove it, but their body language screamed discomfort and tightly controlled dislike.

2. What if the Bulls are so badly run that they can't even "tank' for better draft spots efficiently? That's Super Max Incompetent.

3. What if sports franchises who see "tanking" as a path to improvement fundamentally do not understand how losing and defeat damage the deeper parts of consciousness? How the psychological mechanics of losing by professional athletes can't be switched off after the technique of "losing is OK" becomes a deliberate technique?

4. I wish there were a local "Sports Talk Accuracy" utility to check how often talk sports chat folks develop memes and then reverse their unassailable points of view within a month by using the exact opposite argument. I think local talkers (WSCR 670, for example) are more angry about the Bears because they were so wrong about how good the team would be. You can't be thoughtfully dubious about your own prejudiced assessments on talk radio. That might imply you were the idiot, not the team's general manager. So everyone is perpetually sure.

But the same Trubisky who started the season is the one playing now. Same team with no NFL-level tight ends or complete running backs. Same team with a less-than-mediocre offensive line. They do have a different waiting-to-doink kicker waiting to fail and be run out of town, but that seems preordained.

What exactly is the self-delusional mental construction that allows everyone - actually demands - to be wrong about the same question?

5. Is there any real proof the White Sox are not "rebuilding" a terrible team into a different kind of equally terrible team?

6. Is everyone at Halas Hall ABSOLUTELY SURE that trading for Cam Newton is a terrible idea? Is it a worse idea than bringing in Colin OH MY GAWD! Kaepernick? After all, desperate times require desperate solutions, and Mitchell Trubisky's 9 yards in offense in one half last week seemed like a "break-the-glass-in-case of-emergency" moment. Trubisky gained 324 inches.


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. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

November 6, 2019

Chicago's Tree Trimming Sucks

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released an advisory which finds inefficient use of City resources at the Department of Streets and Sanitation's (DSS) Bureau of Forestry, and the opportunity to immediately improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the City's urban forestry program.

OIG's advisory found that DSS currently trims trees using a reactive, 311 request-based approach. As such, the City relies on residents' calls to identify trees in need of trimming, rather than using a systematically proactive, arboriculturally based approach.

DSS crews must handle individual 311 requests, therefore spending more of their time on travel throughout the city while fewer City trees are being trimmed.

In addition, the 311 request-based approach has resulted in significant backlogs; many City trees have not been trimmed in over a decade due to a lack of residents regularly calling 311 to request the service, and certain wards receive significantly more tree trimming services than others.

Similar issues were raised in 2009 by Monitor Group, an independent management consulting firm hired by the Bureau of Forestry, which found that the Bureau spent 75% of its time addressing 311 requests, and that 40% of parkway trees (approx. 206,000) had not been trimmed in 10 or more years.

OIG recommended that DSS employ suggestions found in Monitor Group's report, which details the benefits of switching from the current reactive request system to a grid-based approach.

This new approach (previously used by the City and commonplace for most municipal urban forestry programs) would make the Bureau of Forestry much more efficient, reducing the average crew's travel time by 35% and the average cost per tree trim by 60%.

It would also result in arborists determining how best to manage the urban forest rather than safety-driven resident calls, which constitutes an important added level of input to proper holistic management.

In response, DSS stated that it will work to develop a comprehensive tree inventory of the entire City canopy within the next year, which will provide valuable information regarding the number and location of trees as well as size and species.

However, DSS did not commit to switching to a grid-based approach, stating that it would require 15-20 additional crews to transition to this system, on a cycle of seven to10 years.

"DSS' commitment to developing an inventory of the City's tree canopy is a step in the right direction," said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. "But is only a starting point for an urgently needed generational re-assessment of the management of the City's dwindling urban forest whose canopy is substantially smaller than many cities nationally.

"We strongly encourage DSS to re-evaluate the Monitor Group report the City invested in a decade ago, and work towards seriously implementing the recommendations for a grid-based approach to tree trimming.

"The benefits of more horticulturally precise and cost-effective tree trimming are substantial for the City and its potential for cost savings, optimized use of taxpayer-funded resources, and preventable liabilities.

"A thriving and healthy urban forest is critical to mitigating ever-mounting climate change concerns like the urban heat island effect and excessive storm water runoff, and recent studies have revealed stark differences across city neighborhoods that generally correlate with tree canopy percentages.

"Chicago's communities and individuals particularly stand to benefit from a more efficient and equitable City service, with obvious environmental health benefits, including cleaner air, natural cooling, and reduction of stress in children.

"Strategic, rather than reactive, tree care also prevents property damage, utility interruptions, and street closures."


See also:

* Smart Cities Dive: Chicago To Create Tree Canopy Inventory Following Critical Audit.

* Sun-Times: Inspector General Takes A Whack At Tree Trimming.



* Tribune, 2014: Chicago's Tree Trimming Backlog Is Two Years.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:12 PM | Permalink

The Chicago Railroad Fair Of 1948

"In 1948 Chicago celebrated the 100th year of railroading in Chicago with a huge rail fair. Dozens of historic locomotives were on hand including the Pioneer. Chicago's first locomotive."


From Wikipedia:

"The Chicago Railroad Fair was an event organized to celebrate and commemorate 100 years of railroad history west of Chicago. It was held in1948 and 1949 along the shore of Lake Michigan and is often referred to as 'The last great railroad fair,' with 39 railroad companies participating. The board of directors for the show was a veritable Who's Who of railroad company executives."


Home movies.


"This 1958 color film is from the 'Wheels-A-Rolling' musical presentation that was part of the 1948 and 1949 Chicago Railroad Fair, at which 39 railroad companies participated. This was the high water mark for the passenger railroads, and just before the nation's airlines forced them to reconfigure their business model. The musical numbers showcase the life-size replicas of transportation and train development."


Guide books and photos.


Tribune photo gallery.


Comments welcome.


1. From Andrew Foertsch:

I was either 5 or 6 and my parents took us. I remember most of the trains and liked the Santa Fe locomotive but the one that stuck out the most was the Burlington Zephyr. I was awestruck by its lines and always wanted to ride it. Alas, along with The Chicago North Shore line they were two unfulfilled wishes.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:46 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

By the way, half of those new lawyers I mentioned yesterday graduated in the bottom 50 percent of their class.


From John Kuczaj:

"Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that half the lawyers mentioned yesterday scored in the bottom 50% of those who passed the bar exam?"

Damn it!


Joe Ricketts Is Still Acceptable Company Somehow



Penalty Box
Our very own David Rutter writes in today, under the subject line "Smelly:"

The Blackhawks seem a perfect example of how winning for an extended period can mask deep personality disorders in a team. Or at least, make those disorders seem like a false verisimilitude. But unless sports franchises have unlimited resources - like Steinbrenner's Yankees, for example - they eventually reveal their basic personality unhealthiness. And then they crash.

Management can be operated by jerks or incompetents. But not both at the same time, though my experience is that both qualities tend to feed each other.

Shared enterprises run by jerks will always break in the most unappealing ways. Because they can't reveal their honest selves, they have to pretend they share common noble values, or at least values than can be sold to the customers. It's a visual illusion that can't be maintained permanently.

Plus, aren't the Blackhawks the quintessential male industrial model - a badly managed army that can't shoot straight?

As a mid-level newsroom manager, I was "managed" for decades by successive waves of incompetent, self-aggrandizing bosses and a very few who were exceptionally good. So I have an intuitive sense of the difference.

I live in far-removed northern suburbs now, but even 70 miles away from the United Center, I can smell the stench of lousy management.

Well said!


News Never Dies
I've previously reported on three items in the news recently, so I thought I'd just do a little reminder or whatever here.

1. Joey "the Clown" Lombardo.

"Joseph Lombardo, the former Chicago Outfit boss who earned his nickname "the Clown" for his reputation as a jokester in addition to being a remorseless killer, has died, federal authorities announced Sunday," the Tribune (and many others, duh) reported late last month.

Longtime readers have seen me post this before, but here's my Chicago magazine profile of Lombardo, written in 2005 when he was on the lam.

When Lombardo, by then obviously caught, and several compatriots went on trial in 2007, I posted that profile on this site broken into three parts, and added some links.

2. American Eagle Flight 4184.

"On Oct. 31, 1994, the 64 passengers and four crew members aboard American Eagle Flight 4184 died after the plane crashed in the Roselawn soybean field. Officials have said the icy weather conditions caused the crash," the Gary Post-Tribune reported on the crash's 25th anniversary last week.

"The ATR-72 turboprop was flying from Indianapolis to Chicago, and had been in a holding pattern before final descent. In that time, ice built up on the wings and caused the plane to enter a high-speed dive and crash into the soybean field at 3:57 p.m."

I was a reporting "resident" at the Tribune at the time, also known as a "one-year," and I was sent to the crash site that night. It was a cold, rainy, miserable night, as evinced by the fatal ice build-up on the plane's wings.

I remember being fairly lost as to what I was expected to do there - not that I didn't know how to report a plane crash, but there wasn't much communication (if any) from the editors about how the coverage was being coordinated, which was par for the course. Should I just hang around at crash central and attend any press conferences that might occur? Find witnesses to talk to? Offer a general (or detailed!) description of the scene? I did all of those things, though we didn't have cell phones then and I seem to recall thinking I had been sent out there and forgotten. I also seem to recall returning to the newsroom thinking I had failed for some reason. I think the folks back in the newsroom were getting everything they wanted from the TV and their own phone calls while I was hunkered down in a driving rainstorm out in a cornfield somewhere. Not that I'm complaining; people died in that crash. I'm just describing.

Anyway, here's the Trib's story and I see my name among the many contributors, so I assume I contributed something - or they were just being kind.


I also recall being told the next day that there was some debate among the editors about sending me out there - not about me, but about how committed they were to a story that happened in Indiana, despite the Chicago connection.


Finally, I may be confusing this with another story, but I think this was the one where some sort of nationally syndicated TV "news" show put me on air to report live from the scene. Someone in my family in Minnesota happened to catch me while scrolling through the cable channels. Those were the days, people! But not really.

3. Sun Country Airlines.

"Sun Country Airlines is adding a dozen seasonal routes in what it's calling one of its biggest expansions yet, including its first flights to Baltimore, Cleveland, Portland, Maine, and Bozeman, Montana," USA Today reported Tuesday.

I reported a story for Newsweek in 1999 about the rise of the low-cost - often humorously marketed - airlines.

We used Sun Country as the lead example, though we reported on a whole fleet of new brands (I'm think JetBlue was in there, too).

The weird part of the reporting, though, was an editor saying something about how careful and confident we had to be with the reporting because we were picking a winner. I wasn't picking a winner - and he shouldn't have been either. If Sun Country had gone bankrupt the following year, it wouldn't have invalidated the story. I thought that was such a weird way to look at it. It just goes to show yet another way editors sometimes look at the work. Or maybe that's a business journalism thing, though I did a fair amount of business reporting for Newsweek back then and never otherwise heard such a thing. But it always stuck with me.


New on the Beachwood today . . .

Open Sesame Street
"Starting this year, episodes of Sesame Street will debut on HBO and on the HBO MAX service, with new episodes being made available to PBS 'at some point.' The move is particularly galling because the show is partially paid for with public funding."


What Really Causes Home Field Advantage - And Why It's On The Decline
Crowd noise? Travel? Referee bias?


The Chicago Railroad Fair Of 1948
"This was the high water mark for the passenger railroads."



Poker groups from r/chicago





"Break Your Promise" / Chicago Gangsters


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







The Beachwood Tip Line: Pop up and drive thru.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:54 AM | Permalink

What Really Causes Home Field Advantage - And Why It's On The Decline

Never before has the away team won every single game in the World Series, but that's exactly what happened this year.

When the Washington Nationals won Game 7 in Houston to clinch the series against the Houston Astros, it marked the seventh straight road team win, which begs the question: What ever happened to home field advantage?

worldserieshome.jpgMatt Slocum/AP

I'm a professor of computing and information, and my own research - as well as other research - clearly supports the presence of an edge that comes from playing at home.

But what causes the home field advantage? The answer remains unclear, but several hypotheses have been proposed. While my focus is on the NBA, these arguments can apply to other sports, including baseball.

Having said that, baseball is the sport where the home field advantage is the least pronounced among the four most popular sports in the U.S.

The Crowd Has Nothing To Do With It

Many sports fans believe that crowd noise has a direct impact on player performance.

While no one can ever be sure what's going on in a player's head when the opposing team's fans get loud, the data show that players aren't particularly fazed by boos during an away game.

I analyzed both home and away free-throw shooting of all the players for the NBA's 2018-19 season. Free throws provide a controlled setting that isolates the home crowd as the only externality potentially affecting the shot.

The results indicated there is no evidence that players perform differently on free throws whether they're at home or playing away.

homefield2.jpgCarlos Osorio/AP

In a similar argument for the NFL, the common perception is that a loud crowd will make it more difficult for visiting players to hear the play that's called, and this will lead to confusion and delayed reactions from players.

But if crowd noise really did have this effect, you'd expect more false start penalties to be called on the visiting team. This does not happen.

Referee Bias And Traveling

While the crowd appears to have no or very little effect on players' performance, that might not be the case for the referees.

Several compelling data points support the hypothesis that a large portion of the home edge is due to officiating bias in favor of the home team in the form of subjective calls.

For example, in basketball, the number of fouls charged to a team - and consequently the number of free throws awarded - are subject to referee bias. I analyzed the data from the 2018-19 NBA season and found that the home team is awarded on average approximately 0.8 more free throws, or 0.6 points per game.

Given that the home court advantage in the NBA was approximately 2.7 points last year, these extra shots from the charity stripe account for approximately 22% of the home edge.

Other subjective violations, such as traveling, also break in favor of the home team, with visiting teams being whistled for about half a violation more each game.

This is essentially one-half less possession, which is worth approximately another 0.6 points, explaining another sizable part of the home edge.

The same holds true for other sports. In soccer, referees add more stoppage time when the home team trails by a goal compared with when the home team is ahead by a goal.

Interestingly, referee bias in soccer is reduced when there is a track field separating the pitch and the fans.

In baseball, during a full count, more pitches are called strikes for the home team's pitcher.

In the NHL, referees call 20% fewer penalties for home teams, which is equivalent to about 0.25 goals.

Another plausible hypothesis for explaining home field advantage - one supported by several studies - involves travel.

In particular, studies have shown that traveling, back-to-back scheduling of games and jet lag are associated with reduced performance.

Some teams also seem to benefit by playing in regions that have unique weather patterns or altitudes.

For example, Denver's basketball team has the most pronounced home field advantage in all of professional sports. This is probably due to the city's high altitude - 5,280 feet - which may cause visiting players to suffer from headaches, dizziness and other complications of altitude sickness.

A Declining Advantage?

Of course, these aren't the only possible reasons for the presence of home field advantage.

The question remains open, but researchers do know that the home field edge has been slowly declining over the years.

Using a regression-based method, I calculated the home edge in terms of points in the NBA during the past 15 years. The declining trend potentially can be attributed to changes in officiating, more comfortable travel and advances understanding the body's circadian rhythm that can lead to more educated travel preparation.

After the NFL introduced instant replay review of close plays, the home team's winning percentage dropped from 58.5% to 56%. This may indicate that prior to the adoption of instant-replay reviews, officials awarded more close calls to the home team.

Last week, the Portland Trail Blazers won in Dallas, beating the Mavericks due to a new rule allowing coaches to challenge referee decisions. Portland challenged - and managed to overturn - a foul called five seconds before the end of the game that most probably would have given the win to the home team.

While home field advantage still matters, it's mattering less and less with every season - just ask the Houston Astros.

Konstantinos Pelechrinis is an associate professor of computing and information at the University of Pittsburgh. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


Comments welcome.


1. From Steve Rhodes:

Isn't it also just being more comfortable in a familiar environment; a different mindset playing in "your house," as well as knowing the nooks and crannies of your home field/ice/floor?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 AM | Permalink

Open Sesame Street

The news of iconic children's television show Sesame Street's new arrangement with the HBO MAX streaming service has sent ripples around the Internet.

Starting this year, episodes of Sesame Street will debut on HBO and on the HBO MAX service, with new episodes being made available to PBS "at some point."

"HBO is holding hostage underprivileged families" who can no longer afford to watch new Sesame Street episodes, Tim Winter of the Parent Television Council recently told the New York Times.

The move is particularly galling because the show is partially paid for with public funding.

sesamestreetopen.jpgShigeako/CC BY-ND 2.0

Let's imagine an alternative: what if Sesame Street were open access? What if the show's funding had come with a requirement that it be made available to the public?

Open access advocacy is about showing decision-makers a world they hadn't thought possible, where certain resources are available to anyone regardless of economic means.

It might have been unthinkable a decade ago that outputs from government-funded research could be made available to the public rather than locked down in expensive journals. But in 2013, the White House ordered all government agencies that fund research to implement policies ensuring that that research is shared with the public for free, no less than a year after publication in a journal.

Back then, the idea of going beyond the one-year embargo period was still unthinkable for some, but in the following years, a dozen major foundations would implement policies requiring that the research they fund be made available to the public on day one and published under licenses that allow anyone to share and reuse it.

The open access movement has made great strides in bringing government-funded research to the public. But peer-reviewed papers are just the tip of the iceberg of publicly funded materials: just as making scientific research available to the public helps ensure that the people who could most benefit from cutting-edge medical research aren't locked out, making government-funded educational resources available to the public helps ensure that economically disadvantaged students can get access to the same quality of resources as wealthier ones. When the government funds educational materials without taking steps to make them available to the public, it risks deepening socioeconomic gaps in society rather than working to close them.

In 2011, the federal government launched an ambitious, $2 billion initiative to revamp career training programs across the country, with a requirement that all educational resources produced as a part of the program be available to the public and licensed under a license that allows anyone to adapt and redistribute them.

The program brought the open educational resources (OER) movement to national prominence, and since then, many states have adopted OER policies requiring that state-funded educational materials be open.

And in 2017, the Department of Education adopted a rule requiring that all of the materials it funds be made open to the public. But that doesn't affect the wealth of educational resources funded by other departments.

Which brings us back to Sesame Street. While it's true that direct federal government funding makes up only a small portion of Sesame Workshop's revenue, the nonprofit gets considerably more income from the public television stations across the country that pay for PBS programming, and those are also funded by the government via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (a nonprofit created and funded by Congress).

They're also funded by grants, corporate underwriters and, well, viewers like you. If those governments, institutions and individual donors had demanded that the works they fund be made available to the public, then we would not be facing a future where HBO exacts a toll for access to Sesame Street.

Indeed, the government's primary interest in funding cultural and educational works should be to ensure that they can stay available to the public. As Alyssa Rosenberg wrote in the Washington Post:

It's about whether people who don't live in areas with museums, or who can't afford cable, much less premium cable subscriptions, have access to arts and culture.

Private funding can build museums, but it may take public money to subsidize skyrocketing admission.

Elmo products may keep Sesame Street alive and cranking out new episodes, but it was the PBS pipeline that made sure children of all economic backgrounds had access to new episodes at the same time.

If the public paid for a resource, then individual members of the public should not have to pay again in order to have access to that resource.

Open access has transformed how academic publishing works in the United States, and OER has done the same for collegiate educational materials. But many other government-funded resources have gone untouched, including a wealth of government-funded educational resources, entertainment and fine art. For policymakers creating programs to fund those types of materials, the story of Sesame Street might serve as a cautionary tale: if public access is not hard-coded into those programs from the beginning, then someone may erect a wall and demand a toll to enjoy the fruits of that public funding.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 AM | Permalink

November 5, 2019

The [Tuesday] Papers

"If you were worried that Illinois didn't have enough lawyers, fear not. More are on the way," AP reports.

I'm imagining most of those are for the criminal defense bar.


I wonder if the reports claiming the deep financial costs of corruption in this state include the economic activity corruption generates for the criminal defense bar and all its ancillaries - the paperwork, the paralegals, the expense-account lunches and dinners. Plus, more clicks for the media. PR people hired for crisis communications. Spending on campaigns to fill the positions of those sent to the pokey. Assignment Desk, activate!

But I digress.


"Illinois Supreme Court justices are scheduled to administer the attorney's oath to 1,459 people on Thursday. A statement from the high court says that'll bring the total number of licensed attorneys in Illinois to around 96,500."

I asked Google how many elected officials were in Illinois so I could determine a baseline lawyer-to-potential client ratio, but Google's reply was just vague spin.


"Ceremonies will take place in five locations statewide. The largest groups will be at two Thursday ceremonies at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, where 1,172 candidates will take the oath."

Along with a certificate and photos, the newly minted lawyers will be given a sample subpoena, a ceremonial wire, and an organizational chart of the City of Chicago.


Losers Bracket
If at first your political campaigns don't succeed, try, try again to become a judge instead.


P.S.: Anne Shaw, from the link, also ran for 1st ward alderman against Joe Moreno, who was finally deposed last spring by Daniel LaSpata.

P.P.S.: John Garrido, the other person from the link, is Trumpy.


Machine Malfunctions
"Cook County Democratic Party leaders voted unanimously Monday to ask former state Rep. Luis Arroyo to step down from their ranks - and plan to send a letter to indicted Ald. Ed Burke requesting he relinquish the party post he's held for more than half a century," the Sun-Times reports.

"[T]he Cook County Democratic Party's 10-member Executive Committee voted to formally request the resignations of Burke and Arroyo because they had been charged with crimes."

Best part:

"The vote was unanimous, although Ald. Carrie Austin, the 34th Ward committeeman, did not attend the meeting or vote. Austin herself was named in a federal grand jury subpoena earlier this year, prompting FBI agents to remove files and equipment from her Far South Side ward office."

The Cook County Democratic Party: Unable to find 10 corruption-free pols to serve on its executive committee and vote out corrupted pols.


Machine Chair: Toni Preckwinkle, the wet dream of CTU's socialist radicals.


"In the middle of her failed mayoral run at the time, Preckwinkle sought to distance herself from Burke by returning the $116,000 she raised at Burke's house in January 2018."

Was it finally confirmed she went through with this? Also: Unbothered to be a pal with and take money from The Machine's hoariest figure until the optics harmed her mayoral campaign.


It would've been one thing if Preckwinkle gained control of the county party and reformed it. But then, that's not why she was put into the job. (I don't know why anyone would believe her approach would be different if she won the mayoralty; oh wait, only the CTU believed that. Austin, for example, would have been her budget committee chair - just like she was for Daley and Rahm. Waguespack would not have been finance committee chair, succeeding Burke. Aldermanic privilege would remain. And so on.)


"[Preckwinkle] also stripped Burke of his power to help get judges elected to the bench, removing him as chair of the Cook County Democratic Party's judicial slating committee."

Just a reminder of who has been the single most influential figure filling judicial vacancies in Cook County for years - with Preckwinkle's assent.


New on the Beachwood . . .

CTU Strike Notebook 4
Is (still) in production!


Re-Upping: A Union Of Women's Hockey Players Looking For A League Of Its Own
'Labor, in the form of the PWHPA, is trying to direct the professional women's hockey industry rather than respond to it.'



Dog boarding for a month? from r/chicago





John 5 at Reggies on Saturday night.



Serving The Pets Of 60621.


North Dakota Brewery Is Putting Shelter Dogs On Its Beer Cans.


A Teenager May Have Solved The Problem Of Car Blind Spots.


A Woman Had A Tiny Pinworm Laying Eggs In Her Butt For 2 Months, And It's More Common Than You Might Think.


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








The Beachwood Tip Line: Leave on a high note.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:41 AM | Permalink

November 4, 2019

SportsMonday: The Bears Tie That Should Still Bind

Maybe just maybe the majority of local sports commentators is figuring out that Bears General Manager Ryan Pace doesn't know what he is doing.

Well, he has mastered one thing: He has been remarkably good at convincing the owners of the Bears - Grandma Ginny, son Brian McCaskey and their massive family - that he still deserves to be employed (and he is under contract for two more years after this one so don't expect a change even after this current debacle of a season). But other than that . . .

Way, way too many of the professional sports talkers and writers in this town had no problem pivoting to a rebuilding narrative when Pace was several years into his tenure as general manager starting 2 1/2 seasons ago.

In an organization where any sort of real accountability exists, an executive doesn't get to do that after he's been on the job three years. If he even suggests it, he is laughed out of town figuratively and literally.

Pace took the job way back when saying he was in "win now" mode, hiring John Fox as his coach and keeping Jay Cutler as his quarterback. Right off the bat he said he could see himself drafting a quarterback every year because the position is so important. But then he refused to draft signal-callers in his first few drafts for fear of offending his veteran at the helm. Not a good sign.

Somehow he was able to dump Cutler one year (and pay Mike Glennon $18 million!) and fire Fox the next and keep moving right along. His big move along the way was to trade four picks for the opportunity to draft quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall in 2017. As it turns out there were a couple other quarterbacks drafted later in the first round that year who look like they might be slightly better than Pace's man. In fact it looks like none of the quarterbacks drafted that year are worse.

We were promised at the time that the general manager would absolutely be tethered to his beloved young quarterback. If Mitch didn't make it, Pace wouldn't either. Despite folks figuring Pace out, why do I still get the feeling that many of them will be OK with Pace getting to bring in someone else next offseason?

Just because people believe the McCaskeys are too cheap to fire a general manager with two seasons left on his deal doesn't make it right. And by the way, they could pay a second general manager with their pocket change. If they were about winning and winning alone, Pace would be gone at the end of this season. But they aren't. And the local commentariat still lets too much of it slide.

Well, except for Ed O'Bradovich. Ed doesn't let anything slide and God bless him for it.

Pace has traded up to take the guy he has wanted in the first, first, second and third rounds of the last four Bears drafts. No other general manager in the NFL operates that way. They don't because they know the one immutable fact about drafts - the success percentage doesn't change. At best, half of draft picks work out and half don't. The only way to take advantage of the system is to make trades that result in having more picks. It is the strategy the Patriots have been using for more than 15 years now. You would think Pace would have noticed that at some point.

The Bears are paying for Pace's ineptitude now and they will only pay more further down the line as the bill for Pace's profligate draft pick spending spree comes due. It is time for a competent accounting of that by everyone.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:53 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Re-upping from Friday:


Rogers, Over
The Google Doodle celebrates Will Rogers' 140th birthday today. What a nice gesture for the Bears' assistant athletic director!


The Will Rogers Theater, at 5641 West Belmont Avenue, opened in 1936 and was demolished in 1987.


Cheap flights from Will Rogers to Chicago.


Will Rogers managed urban projects for a Chicago-based real estate development company.


"FOR THE RECORD: The 1938 quote attributed to Will Rogers is in fact a paraphrase of a quote by H.L. Mencken in the Chicago Tribune: 'No one in this world, so far as I know - and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me - has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.' Will Rogers died in 1935."


New on the Beachwood . . .

Call 911, 'cause the Beachwood Sports Desk is on fire.

SportsMonday: The Bears Tie That Should Still Bind
We were promised by local sports media that Ryan Pace's future would absolutely be tethered to that of his beloved young quarterback. If Mitch didn't make it, Pace wouldn't either. Now they seem to be untethering.


Tom Chambers positively on it for Breeders' Cup weekend.

TrackNotes: Somebody Is Lying Here
The philosophy of It Is What It Is claws its tentacles into skulduggery, the fix, corruption and shame in racing as ethically situational decisions are made in its behalf.


TrackNotes: The Specter Of Death
The impossible quest for virtue in the face of murderous greed. Also, how the delivery guy got trapped inside my parking gate and a bunch of geeks got results from AT&T.


Roger Wallenstein with a gem.

The World Series Then & Now
Fans in the cities where the Series is played are as enthusiastic and feverish as ever, but the emotion tends to stall at the city limits.


Jim "Coach" Coffman, dealing last Friday.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #276: Bears On The Spot
The spot-on Bears. Plus: Zooless Cubs Clubhouse Is Broken; They're Bad, They're Nationalwide; Who's Next, Joe, Chris Bosio?; Castellanos vs. Merrifield; Guarded Bulls Optimism Now Unguarded Pessimism; Seabrook's Ghost; Rehire Lovie Smith Again!; Too Much Courage For Red Stars; and CPS Sports Struck.


The Beachwood Music Desk is also on a nice run.

Nickelback's Record Label Abuses Copyright To Silence Political Speech
It's Don Henley and "Hotel California" all over again.


Re-Upping: Bob Dylan Back In Chicago
That headline works on two levels; best show here in decades.


Re-Upping: Incomplete History Of Hip-Hop
Three more Fridays to go.


Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground
Blind Willie Johnson (literally) in space.



How Italian Labor Shaped Chicago
Frankly, you could probably insert any ethnicity - and race - into this formation, but fascinating nonetheless.



What are some "street smart" tips all Chicagoans should know? from r/chicago



View this post on Instagram

#books #oldbooks #helenesmithphotography

A post shared by Helene Smith (@helenesmithphoto) on



Tool in Chicago on Sunday night.


See also:



The Trump Administration Cracked Down On Medicaid. Kids Lost Insurance.


Industry Insiders Don't Use Their Products Like We Do. That Should Worry Us.


Merchandising Of College Sports Leads To Team-Branded Ales.


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






The Beachwood Tip Line: Read their lips.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:29 AM | Permalink

How Italian Labor Shaped Chicago

"Author Peter Pero pays tribute to Italian-American heritage, but the focus is not on Columbus, Mother Cabrini, or Michaelangelo. Instead, he looks to the working men and women of Italian Chicago who have built our city, brick-by-brick. They funded our churches, built Chicago's skyline, and raised generations of children from immigrant succession to ethnic success."

At Little Italy on October 25.


Pero is the author of Chicago Italians At Work. From the publisher:

"For more than a century, Italian immigrants and their descendants contributed their labor and talent to building the city.

"Chicago Italians at Work focuses on a period from 1890 to 1970 when industry was king in this midwestern metropolis.

"Generations of Italians found work in companies such as U.S. Steel, Western Electric, Pullman, Crane, McCormick/Harvester, Hart Schaffner and Marx, and other large industrial corporations.

"Other Italians were self-employed as barbers, shoe workers, tailors, musicians, construction workers, and more. In many of these trades, Italians were predominant.

"A complex network of family enterprises also operated in the Chicago Italian community. Small shopkeepers generated work in food services and retail employment; some of these ma-and-pa operations grew into large, prosperous enterprises that survive today.

"Finally, Italians helped develop trade unions, which created long-term economic gains for all ethnic groups in Chicago. This book chronicles the labor and contributions of an urban ethnic community through historic photographs and text."


From Wikipedia:

"Chicago and its suburbs have a historical population of Italian Americans. As of 2000, about 500,000 in the Chicago area identified themselves as being Italian descent."


Meet Loyola's Director of Italian American Studies Carla Simonini. From Fra Noi, June 2018:

"It took five years, a massive fund-raising campaign that netted $500,000 and a historic commitment by Loyola University of Chicago, but our metropolis finally has an Italian-American studies program to call its own.

"Though the program is based at Loyola, which matched the $500,000 to create a $1 million endowment, organizers say it also belongs to the local Italian-American community, which will be invited to participate through a variety of outreach efforts.

"These efforts will continue the work begun by Dominic Candeloro, Ph.D., and others in the 1970s to chronicle and popularize the story of Chicago's Italian Americans and preserve it for decades to come.

"A search committee scoured the nation for the right candidate to direct the program and has hired Carla Simonini, Ph.D., as the Paul and Ann Rubino Professor in Italian-American Studies at Loyola."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground

Johnson's song concerns a situation he faced many times: nightfall with no place to sleep. Since humans appeared on Earth, the shroud of night has yet to fall without touching a man or woman in the same plight.

- Carl Sagan, on including Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" (1927) on the Voyager Golden Records

The U.S. gospel blues musician and evangelist Blind Willie Johnson was born to a sharecropping family in the small town of Pendleton, Texas in 1897. After learning to play a cigar-box guitar, he performed as a popular street musician throughout Texas, eventually recording 30 songs for Columbia Records between 1927 and 1930. Little notice was taken of his death in 1945, and much of his biography remains a mystery. What is certain, however, is that today his legendary low-register howl and slide guitar persists, both on our planet and in interstellar space.

Here on Earth, his music influenced the likes of Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Howlin' Wolf. And just beyond the reaches of our solar system, his recording of his song "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" (1927) is one of 27 pieces of music selected for the Voyager spacecraft's famed Golden Records, intended to capture the range of musical expression.

Director: Drew Christie

Writers: Drew Christie, Bill Flanagan

Narrator: T Bone Burnett

Producers: T Bone Burnett, Bill Flanagan, Van Toffler

Website: Gunpowder & Sky


Previously from Drew Christie's Drawn & Recorded series: How An American Country Music Pioneer Entered African Mythology.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

November 3, 2019

TrackNotes: The Specter Of Death

They ran the 35th Breeders' Cup World Championships on Friday and Saturday, at Santa Anita.

Whether or not it was, it felt lackluster throughout, with the overhanging specter of horse death, projected by most of the muted on-air racing personalities in direct contrast to the perfect blue skies and moving magnificence of the San Gabriel mountains as your frame. It's a legitimate concern, as we shall see.

Friday was just a watch, as all the juvenile races were run that day. My chess pieces were not deployed, so I did not wager Friday.

British Idiom took a thriller from favored Donna Veloce in the Juvenile Fillies.

Four Wheel Drive, a son of American Pharaoh, did what they said he could in asserting himself in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.

In fact, the 'Pharaoh just continues to win, in a paternal manner now, as his progeny had a huge Breeders' Cup. He'll be the freshman sire of the year.

Storm the Court, at 45-1, capitalized on pseudo-lock Dennis' Moment stumbling out of the gate to win the Juvenile. There will be a pop quiz in February, so put his name on your fridge now while we wait for the Road to the Roses.

The best part of that race was the replay of Britney Eurton, NBC ground reporter and daughter of 'Court's trainer, Peter Eurton, exhilarating the win watching on the monitor. She wanted to cry so bad, but, seeking composure, held it together as she knew she had to interview her father. She pulled it all off, even asking the important questions.

But by then, the tone of the telecast was clear. You could tell NBC and the Breeders' Cup came to their version of a decision to meet the issue of horse deaths head on. Lament, but haul out the suits who could tell us how progressive Santa Anita is (conspicuously not the California Horse Racing Board), with new diagnostic equipment galore. Nick Luck, the British guy who can ask the question but fails the follow-up, was told by a Breeders' Cup honcho that progress is being made in uniting states, race tracks and other factions in the overall good goals that will reform racing. "Examples, please," I said out loud to the screen, as Storm Cat is my witness. One of many times all weekend, I couldn't help but seethe at the damage Churchill Downs Inc. is really doing to the game. If CDI really cared . . .

There was a lot of "Safety is paramount, for horse and jockey." And, "Safety is taken very seriously." Perhaps as it should have, the issue drained a lot of energy from the proceedings, except for our own exceptional Eddie Olczyk, who dropped a bundle Friday and was giddy with more success Saturday, even when he had to choke down the chalk at times. P.S. Eddie O. had to hightail it right from the track to the Hawks-Kings game. "(I'll make it and) I'll still have a job tomorrow." We loves our Eddie.

Santa Anita Saturday dawned electric blue again. Coach always said "focus." I had to. I summoned those words and had to go to the well.

NBCSportsNet on DirecTV, in all it's glory, was a kaleidoscope toy of pixelation and sound from the dark side of Remulak. My dished up uncle in Las Vegas confirmed, so I knew the problem was intergalactic. This being the age of sliced bread, STREAM! Feed on and the same on were oh-kaaay, except that the audio was six seconds behind the video, all day. Plus, TVG worked out a deal to produce and host the online feed, which was different from TVG on TV, and provided the walking-on-glass-shards of Todd Schrupp and Matt Carothers (although Canterbury Matty did make a few good picks) to cheese grate my sensibilities.

I figured the geeks would alert AT&T to the satellite problem, and they came through, in spades. As far as I could tell, transponder 99 was the perpetrator - some guy did the diagnostics.

The grocery delivery guy drove inside the courtyard parking gate and then couldn't get out. When? Post-delivery, as I was constructing my bets for Omaha Beach and the Dirt Mile! I don't know the gate code! I don't drive and I don't own a car. Focus, kid.

Let's talk 'Beach. He was one horse on my Saturday destination list, I loves him so much.

The $64,000 son of Hard Spun, Spun to Run, wired the field, but it was in a most patient manner.

Drawing daylight along with Blue Chipper, Spun' possessed the lead on the turn and into the stretch. Omaha' had six in front of him. Chuck-a-chunk around the corner and into the stretch, Mike Smith and big 'Beach thrilled, making a major run, but it was too late. Irad Ortiz, in a masterful ride, had Spun to Run well enough ahead to seal the deal by at least four. Smith knew he was beat, but made sure to get Place.

There's always a horse out there, somewhere, but after they called Mitole the best sprinter in the world, he'll sit at Dad's place on the Thanksgiving feed table this year for sure.

The six-furlong Sprint was as good a race as we had all day.

Son of TrackNotes crush Eskendereya, the mama Indian Miss out of the great Indian Charlie, Mitole, the effervescent Ricardo Santana, Jr. up, tangled as we had hoped with Shancelot, known most for his nuclear fission in the Amsterdam in July, when he blasted a 121 Beyer Speed figure. He'd Showed and Placed since then, but his last was the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, savvily placed there by Jorge Navarro, and benefiting from the rider change to Jose Ortiz.

On any other day. But this is the Breeders' Cup. Shancelot, on his typical all-or-nothing lead, ran his race: Run fast and see what happens. But, classy always, Mitole ran him down in the last 150 yards and prevailed by two. Santana stood straight up in the irons like a Roman general, doubly pumping his crop-filled fist and pointing down the the steed who carried him. You don't begrudge that kind of display because fortunes change, jockeys must be opportunistic and produce, and Santana has done a helluva job with this horse.

Chicago's pop reporters would ask how Bricks and Mortar liked the deep dish or the porterhouse, but as a horse, he's not saying. He let his running talk Saturday.

Bricks' became the second horse to parlay the Arlington Million win with a Breeders' Cup Turf title. Little Mike did it in 2012.

The Giant's Causeway colt asserted his excellence over the game no-stakes winner United in a thrilling finish by a neck in the 12-furlong test.

In a relatively sticky trip, Bricks' fought the Eisenhower traffic much of the way. Let Irad Ortiz tell us.

Revealing Bricks' is not a huge fan of crowding, Ortiz said "He throw the head between horses but he do that in Arlington Million. He does that all the time, so I don't worry." Explaining to Donna Brothers on horseback, Bricks' was doing the very same thing throwing his head up and down between the lead pony and Brothers' horse in the walk-back interview.

The wonderful Midnight Bisou was not able to score the Distaff win. Mike Smith knew why.

When crunch time came, Smith and 'Bisou were nearly on the rail, with Blue Prize right next to him to the outside. Both seeking room, Joe Bravo had it and ran away.

"Being buried down in there and taking the kickback didn't help any. Tried to get in the clear a little earlier but I just couldn't do it. He got the jump on me," Smith said.

'Bisou made her great run, but couldn't catch up. The great thing, and it seems like begging, is that her owners pulled the plug on putting her up for sale and will run her again in 2020. We fans are happy.

The Breeders' Cup Classic was by no means the best race of the day.

I told you Vino Rosso has driven me crazy, and my avoidance obscured the fact that he's the son of Curlin. So I need to rethink.

The favorite, McKinzie, the Bob Baffert trainee named after his deceased best friend, was betrayed by Baffert himself to be not up to the task. Before the race, Baffert was obviously reserved, even depressed. "He's always been the best horse in training." Perversely, through his body language, you could tell he meant "He works out well, trains great. But in the races, I don't know who the hell he is and he doesn't run to his talent." That's me talking, but you could see it.

But at 3-1, I flew on him.

Vino Rosso was Todd Pletcher's first Classic winner. Pletcher's really been on the low this year, under the radar. Way things are going, the Bobby Frankel disciple is smart.

As for Vino Rosso, I think he's taken good advantage of his opportunities, and Queens wiseguy owner Mike Repole (Vitamin Water parlay), mentioned how they stayed patient on him. His ship-and-win to Santa Anita in the Gold Cup in May was Pletcher and Repole working the angles. That was also the first of three straight triple-digit Beyers. His Beyer in the Classic doesn't matter, because he won it. But he's always run with the big dogs, and he beat the horses of his day. He seen his duty and he done it. I respect him.

The weekend felt like everyone was holding their breath, talking about the horse deaths for sure, but hoping on hope it would not happen during this festival, even though the problem still exists.

But it did. To somebody's credit, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey and analyst Randy Moss brought up the plight of Mongolian Groom, who was euthanized Sunday, very soon after the Classic was run.

Mongolian Groom, a big horse with Mineshaft and Dynaformer in his direct lineage, was right there with the leaders as they sorted out in the stretch. Suddenly, 'Groom, in the two lane, was on only three legs and Abel Cedillo deftly pulled him up and quickly stopped him. Horse and jockey did not go down. Eyes trained on the other leaders, I didn't see it and was unaware until Bailey voiced his concern. Rewinding, the video confirmed what Bailey said. "It looks like a serious injury."

TrackNotes can only hope for the desire on the part of racing to take even the smallest steps to reform. An admission by racing itself that it has, indeed, been doing so many important things wrong for so many years seems an impossible quest. Whatever money they're making, they're happy with the money they're making.

With important factions of the game defiant in choosing evil over virtue, as society so easily does these days, it looks as impossible as ever. Churchill Downs Inc. is the plantation owner with a hedge. As a gambling company, if horse racing, the soul it has sold to Satan, dies, they've got their casinos.

CDI Chairman William Carstanjen is afraid of horses.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:43 PM | Permalink

November 1, 2019

TrackNotes: Somebody Is Lying Here

One of the most damaging, saddest, disgusting and ubiquitous attitudes of our well-on-its-way 21st century is stated, as sure as if it spanned the satin sash on Miss America's chest, is: It Is What It Is.

The slapstick humor amuses me when a Queegish, entitled punk coach is so clearly placekicking paranoid that he never even talks to his thick-legged gnome. And the ball-swatting mousey kicker only tells anyone he'd prefer to start not here, but over there, in the newspaper because, hey, the beat guy was the first one who asked. In the end, it is what it is, nobody's to blame. No consequence, except that a whole squad and the gullible followers are hanging by their hands on the 100th rim as the swirling blue water unstoppably flushes.

IIWII is the prelude, interlude and postscript of laziness and failure, even when survival's on the line. You can analyze it dozens of ways in George Carlinesque dissection. From the top down, ain't no nuthin' to me, I'll get by, because it is what it is.

Most people don't want to hear it, part of the IIWII package. As the 35th Breeders' Cup World Championships kicks off November 1-2 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California, the state of horse racing has never been worse. The house of cards somehow stays together, while the rot and mold of its underlying structure just grows.

Where to start? Arcadia, California. Where, because snakes prefer warm weather, the Breeders' Cup, which takes over the venue as does the NFL for the Super Bowl, refused to even consider another track even after dozens of horses died in the 2018-19 winter/spring Santa Anita meet. I can't link everything, but the overwhelming attitude I sensed back then is that it is what it is to them. Lo and behold, six more horses have died since the fall meet began to prepare for the 'Cup. Including Emtech, whose both front forelocks (ankles), untouched, cracked and helped drive the horse into the track, launching Mario Gutierrez safely away.

NBC analyst Randy Moss, explaining in great detail the need for euthanizing in most cases, never mentioned or lamented the cause of these breakdowns. Perhaps that aspect just is what it is.

Santa Anita gets all the pub, but Keeneland, Lexington, Kentucky, a true cathedral of American racing, had eight deaths in 2018, most since 2009, and nine more in two 2019 meets. Read between the lines of this ass-covering report, and you'll see that it just is what it is. Saratoga had 12 deaths this summer. Hawthorne is no prize - well, it's just bad all over.

Horses have always died, and who can imagine the evils put upon these animals in so many past decades. But we should be better now. Drug free. And the time it will take to lose the drugs and breed them better. Never forget, they make more money not racing, so the cheap splash is the rule.

The philosophy of IIWII claws its tentacles into skulduggery, the fix, corruption and shame in racing as ethically situational decisions are made in its behalf.

Witness 2018's Triple Crown winner Justify, who I always thought was a plugged nickel of a fraud, turned out to be just that. If you want the anatomy of a well-executed cover-up, unlike that of the White House, click through and learn how the California Horse Racing Board went dark, stalled, sabotaged its own protocols and procedures, kowtowed to trainer Bob Baffert and Justify's powerful owners and then said the few days remaining before the Kentucky Derby made it impossible to rule on the matter, tests and all.

After the Santa Anita Derby that April, he was found to have heightened levels of scopolamine, an element that can improve the cardiovascular efficiency of a horse, the most important part of successful equine physiology.

While about 75 nanograms per milliliters of scopolamine raises red flags, Justify had 300! The substance is found in Jimson weed. While CHRB equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur told horsemen to be on the lookout for the weed in a horse's hay and feed, horsemen have routinely used the magic fairy dust argument that the weed "contaminated" the feed and got into the horse. For an industry that will ship all of a horse's feed to Dubai in the overhead bin, pardon me if I call bullshit on the Bafferts of the world who call themselves horse whisperers. They don't know what's in the feed or where it comes from? Maybe not, if you're connected and untouchable. CHRB went into total cover-up mode, its complexion obvious in the fact Chuck Winner, its chairman, has stakes in horses trained by Baffert, and other board members are in similar positions.

NBC's Tim Layden raised the same specter as the People's Court: Somebody is lying here. In a September broadcast report, the vets told him that scopolamine in fact hurts horses, not helps, and said that several horses in the race tested positive. He'll never try or get the test results, but if it does not enhance performance, why would its presence trigger a violation inquiry? Maybe Justify's urine was more dense. Maybe he ate a bud, not a stick. No evidence it was an intentional doping, Layden speculates wildly, but because the specimen wasn't sent to the lab until May 1, there wasn't enough time to "adjudicate" a suspension from the Derby. There's reporting, then there's spouting what CHRB fed him. The Santa Anita Derby was run on goddamned April 6.

Layden spent minutes saying, in the end, it is what it is, Justify won the Triple Crown.

But will they retroactively rule against Justify and his connections? Will Churchill Downs Inc.'s Kentucky Derby investigate and DQ Justify? No way, because it is what it is, in the history books now.

The always reliable Ray Paulick, publisher of The Paulick Report, spins your head in describing the fragmentation of the racing "industry." No spokesmanship, no consensus, fomented, ala Washington's Orange Road Apple, by Churchill Downs as it simultaneously bullies racing and cultivates toxic divisiveness.

Jockey Club president Jim Gagliano replied to a scorched-earth call for an end to racing. He cites the Horse Racing Integrity Act and its anti-doping provisions. He doesn't mention that Churchill Downs will not support the bill and if Churchill won't support, professional Kentucky ass-licker Mitch McConnell doesn't support. Moscow Mitch, who has a second home in Churchill's groin, admitted it.

Paulick also provided a forum for Mike Campbell, president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, to lay out the reality of Churchill's bullying in the case of Arlington Park. He's suitably angry and articulate in his argument, but does anyone have any faith in either the Illinois Racing Board or the Gaming Commission to even know what to do to stop Churchill's sadistic blitzkrieg? Keep in mind Illinois Horsemen hung on by a frayed rein for years while Churchill systematically ruined Arlington racing.

I'm also sick of hearing from our benevolent wise protector Grandpa Dick Duchossois. He went welfare extortion mode, for the third time, blaming the Illinois legislature for not writing unfair Churchill-only fairness into the gaming bill. "The Illinois state legislature will close Arlington Park. Only its members can change things," Dickie said. At least he's consistent.

He closed the track in 1995, cryin' about how Elgin got the casino and not Arlington Park. He got his massive tax breaks.

Crain's Shia Kapos got it wrong years ago in buying the pap that Duchossois closed the track in 1998, for two years, trying to "figure out how to rev up business." No, he got into another pissing match with Springfield, then emerged in 2000 on the heels of his major acquiescence to Churchill Downs.

So now, it's Breeders' Cup Weekend 2019, at Santa Anita. I have heard the argument that perhaps a couple of horses need to go down in the Saturday races to fire up so much heat, racing will have to reform. But that can't be the way.

Santa Anita and California are already afraid. They scratched Vitalogy, from the Juvenile Friday morning, based on veterinarian decisions. His connections vehemently protested, offering to undergo any test. The vets struck Thursday by scratching Thais from the Filly and Mare Turf. Trainer Chad Brown was equally angry. With Santa Anita's and California's credibility, how do we know these aren't mere ploys?

Television just came on and plugged horse and jockey safety measure "in place" for the BC. I will listen for specifics.

I have been stewing in this horse racing angst for months, it's so probably futile. I can't give in to IIWII; I'm wired differently. The game seems effectively unwilling and ill-equipped to solve its problems. It does know how, but like any addict, especially the trainers and owners, they depend on the pharmaceuticals.

But this is the Breeders' Cup, the culmination of a long year of races and so many other things.

There's also this. Pick it up at 0:40 if you're impatient, and watch the rail horse #2.

Omaha Beach, favored but scratched out of the Kentucky Derby, ran October 5 in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, his first race since the April 13 Arkansas Derby. He had every reason to Place or Show, class will out. He also had the race lost, in a bravo moment, until he didn't. Stay with it to the wire and you'll see his heart and soul and stride and flying mane and why he brought tears to my eyes.

For the next 31 or so hours, that's where I'll be.

Thank God, Omaha Beach is exactly what he is.

Your Racing Day

Television is NBC, split between NBCSN and the big channel 5 for the main events. Friday is Juvenile Day, kids at the big table before the adults pile in.

You'll be looking for Code of Honor, Covfefe, Diamond Oops, Eddie Haskell, Elate, Hog Creek Hustle, Imperial Hint, McKinzie, the mighty lady Midnight Bisou(!), Mitole, Omaha Beach in the Dirt Mile, spicy filly Serengeti Empress, Vasilika and Yoshida. And Vino Rosso will drive me crazy in the Classic.

If you need the entries, go to the Daily Racing Form, click Entries at the top and seek Santa Anita SAT Nov 2. They're free.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:57 PM | Permalink

The Modern World Series

When I was a kid, the World Series was played in daytime, usually beginning on a Wednesday after the regular season ended the preceding Sunday.

I faked a sore throat every now and then until my parents got wise and sent me off to school regardless of my health. A school strike back then would have delighted me beyond happiness.

However, I lived close enough to our neighborhood school so that I, along with most of my classmates, went home for lunch. Since the majority of games, formerly known as the Fall Classic, involved the Yankees, Giants, or Dodgers in New York, the contests began at noon central time and were briskly played compared to today's games. I could catch the first three or four innings without risking tardiness for afternoon classes.

However, I still missed The Catch by Willie Mays in 1954 since he ran down Vic Wertz's drive in the eighth inning in the first game of the eventual sweep by the Giants. When Yogi Berra jumped into Don Larsen's arms in 1956 at the end of the only perfect game in Series history, I no doubt was bored at school trying to envision what was happening at Yankee Stadium.

By 1960 as an adolescent, a risk for me entailed hiding a transistor radio in a drawer in my desk during chemistry class. So when the Pirates' Bill Mazeroski jacked his famous walk-off home run in Game 7, at least I heard it. Only trouble was, so did the teacher. I never was much of a chemistry student.

Back then the World Series seemed like a big deal. The games were covered nationally in the newspapers, and even the casual fan tended to perk up and pay attention. Citizens from coast to coast were familiar with the Brooklyn Boys of Summer, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Yogi.

Of course, times are way different today, and for those of us who remain avid fans - to quote the recent parlance coming from the White House - we need to "get over it."

Fans in the cities where the Series is played are as enthusiastic and feverish as ever, but the emotion tends to stall at the city limits. Overall, the exciting and multi-faceted seven games just completed by the Nationals and Astros were watched on television by the fewest viewers - an average of 14 million - in the past five years. That number included the 23 million who tuned in to Wednesday's finale in Houston to witness the surprising Nationals' 6-2 clinching victory.

However, in our nation's capital on Wednesday, more than half of the TVs in operation were tuned into Game 7, the highest local rating since the Nats moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005.

But nationally, the NFL game last Sunday between Kansas City and Green Bay had a 5.1 rating (16.2 million viewers) matched against Game 5 of the Series with a 2.4 rating and 10.2 million.

Should MLB panic or seek change? Aside from instituting rules to limit pitching changes, what can be done? Change happens. As an example, the 1956 World Series of seven games between the Yankees and Dodgers averaged two hours, 35 minutes compared to the 3:45 it took the Astros and Nationals to complete their games. The recent series, characterized by multiple pitchers, ended close to midnight on the east coast. The gamblers and fantasy players also prefer football over baseball so let them lose their cash while screaming at their televisions. Won't bother me.

Meanwhile, the drama on the field was compelling. As documented, it was the only Series in 119 years where the home team was winless. You'd have thought the Astros, winners of 107 games in the regular season, would have eked out at least one home victory after going 60-21 in their ballpark this season.

Washington's Stephen Strasburg was the MVP, earning victories in Games 2 and 6, illustrating that starting pitchers are not passé. Teammates Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton no doubt received support as did Juan Soto, who celebrated his 21st birthday during the Series. The kid's antics are enough to make old-schoolers squirm, but Soto can back up all of his demeanor. The kid can play.

There was a ton of talent on both sides, although one of the most impressive players, George Springer of Houston, committed an inexcusable error in the opening game. Springer, 30, completed his sixth season in 2019 with the Astros with 39 home runs and 96 RBIs despite missing time with injuries. His OPS was .974. The guy can run, and he's equally outstanding in the field.

Springer spearheaded a comeback in the first game after the Nationals assumed a 5-2 lead. With one out in the eighth inning, his double scored Kyle Tucker from first base to bring Houston within a run. Only trouble was that Springer hesitated at home plate to follow the path of his drive to right center field. Eaton made a gallant attempt to make what would have been an unreal catch against the wall, but the ball rebounded off the barrier as Springer jogged into second. Most readers of this report could have legged out a triple as Springer most certainly should have done.

Jose Altuve followed with a fly ball which would have scored Springer to tie the game had he been on third. After Michael Brantley lined out hard to left, the threat was ended, and the home team was saddled with the 5-4 loss.

Watching my 5-year-old grandson play teeball last summer, the first thing the coaches and onlookers yell after a little guy makes contact is, "Run, run, run." The kids know where to run. Most take off for first base.

This would have helped George Springer, and in many ways reminds us how too many players today approach the game. Springer stood there admiring his handiwork instead of immediately running, something those 5-year-olds are perfecting.

A guy like Springer, possessed of immense talent and at the height of his career, gaped at the flight of the ball rather than running at the crack of the bat the way we all were taught as little kids. Are the last guys on the roster, a step or two away from being released, the only athletes who consistently play hard? Too often it appears that way.

Had the Astros tied the score in that opening game, playing at home, they might have had the momentum to gain the upper hand in the Series, and the team winning the first game historically has taken the Series 64 percent of the time.

And that, my friends, is why the games, all four hours of them, continue to grab us, snatch our senses, and make us babble, "He should have . . . ," "If only . . . ," and "What if . . . ?"


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:42 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #276: Bears On The Spot

The spot-on Bears. Plus: Zooless Cubs Clubhouse Is Broken; They're Bad, They're Nationalwide; Who's Next, Joe, Chris Bosio?; Castellanos vs. Merrifield; Guarded Bulls Optimism Now Unguarded Pessimism; Seabrook's Ghost; Rehire Lovie Smith Again!; Too Much Courage For Red Stars; and CPS Sports Struck.



* 276.

:40: The Spot-On Bears.

* Tabor Time.

* Nagy's Magic-Eight Ball: We suck.

* Dear Matt Nagy: The games aren't played in secret. We see the whole thing!

* Hash Tag Eddie.

* Greenberg: "[T]he Bears are the kind of 3-4 that feels more like 1-6."

* Garafolo vs. Garoppolo.

* Brad Biggs Talks Football With You.

* From the I to the Wishbone.

35:00: Zooless Cubs Clubhouse Is Broken.

* Sharma: New Cubs Manager David Ross Was Brought In To Bring The Clubhouse Together. Will It Work?

40:56: They're Bad, They're Nationalwide.

* Swipe Right On Rendon!

* Obligatory White Sox mention.

43:40: Who's Next, Joe, Chris Bosio?

* Maddon bringing Butters, Buss and Mallee to Anaheim.

(* Steverson, Sparks Out As White Sox Hitting Coaches.)

46:11: Castellanos vs. Merrifield.

47:43: Guarded Bulls Optimism Now Unguarded Pessimism.

52:00: Seabrook's Ghost.

* ESPN: "One bad decision, and you're stuck with Brent Seabrook at $6.875 million annually for the rest of your life (or 2024, whatever comes first)."

55:03: Rehire Lovie Smith Again!

* Coffman, November 2018: Loving Lovie Too Long.

* Beachwood Exclusive! The Real Reasons Why Lovie Smith Was Extended.

59:24: Too Much Courage For Red Stars.

* Incredible season preceded disappointing final.

1:01:17: CPS Sports Struck.




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


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 PM | Permalink

American Writers Museum In Chicago Celebrates What It Means To Be An Immigrant And Refugee In America Today

American Writers Museum celebrates refugee and immigrant writers with its newest exhibit called My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today, which explores the influence of modern immigrant and refugee writing on our culture, history and daily lives.

My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today will give visitors and students a deeply personal experience, bringing them face-to-face - both through interactive, intimate video conversations and in-person - with contemporary authors who are immigrants and refugees from all over the world.

The exhibit, which opens Nov. 21, 2019 and runs through May 2021, is designed to elicit thoughtful dialogue on a wide breadth of issues relating to the modern refugee crisis and the perception of immigrants in our country today.

My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today features more than 30 authors who will delve into questions about writing influences, being multilingual, community, family, and what it means to be American. At a time when "immigrant" can be a symbol or slur, shorthand for any of a thousand complicated concepts, these writers explore what it truly means to cross borders.

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 2.59.43 AM.png

Featured authors include Juan Martinez, Vu Tran, Dipika Mukherjee, Laila Halaby, Edwidge Danticat, Louie Perez, Ligiah Villalobos and many more who emigrated from Cuba, Ghana, Japan, China, France, Mexico, Italy, Korea, Nigeria, Russia, Israel, Colombia, Vietnam, Iran, Nigeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Authors participating in the discussion series include Diane Guerrero, best known for her roles on Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin and whose new memoir My Family, Divided: One Girl's Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope tells the story of her family's deportation back to Colombia while she was in high school and the devastation, heartbreak, hope and resilience that ensued, which is reflective of thousands of undocumented families living in the U.S.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:24 AM | Permalink

Nickelback's Record Label Abuses Copyright To Silence Political Speech

Nickelback never asked to become a meme. And yet, after the Internet decided it hated the Canadian alternative rock band due to the lead singer's unique voice, users have shared their image millions of times. But their record label decided to draw a line at President Trump tweeting a meme putting the Biden-Ukraine controversy into a Nickelback music video. We may tend not to think of memes as political speech, but they can be. And when someone expresses a political message via meme, using copyright law to silence their speech when it is very clearly fair use is an abuse of copyright.


In July, President Trump pushed Ukrainian officials to investigate Hunter Biden, presidential candidate Joe Biden's son, for corruption. Trump stoked the fire on October 2 when he tweeted a video clip from Nickelback's music video for their 2005 hit "Photograph," in which lead singer Chad Kroeger holds a picture frame up to the camera. This particular moment, where Kroeger whines out "look at this photograph," is a very recognizable, popular meme.

In Trump's tweet, the frame contained a photo of Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and two other men, one identified as "Ukraine Gas Exec," and the other unidentified, all on a golf course. The meme was only part of the video, which began with a clip of Joe Biden telling a reporter in a 2015 interview, "I've never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings." The video then cut to the shot in question, of Kroeger holding the golfing photo in a frame. It then zoomed in on the photo itself, pushing Kroeger out of view.

Warner Music Group, Nickelback's record label, sent a takedown request to Twitter under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which gives copyright holders an expedited mechanism to take down allegedly infringing works online without oversight from a court of law. It makes taking down content very easy. This ease and lack of judicial oversight makes it subject to abuse, abuses which we at EFF have documented and fought against for years. Because platforms have to respond to DMCA notices by taking down content in order to maintain the valuable safe harbor provided by the law, this gives copyright holders a de facto ability to censor any criticism and commentary that they do not like.

But that problem gets even worse in the context of political speech: DMCA abuse turns copyright into a back door for censorship in an area that should be the most protected.

Copyright and free speech are always in tension, and that's why we have the fair use doctrine to protect many kinds of speech that use copyrighted material without permission - for example, if the use is for educational purposes or commentary.

Because memes, by their nature, pull content from one context and place it in another, thereby giving it new meaning, memes are generally fair use. And memes are often even more transformative, meaning they do even more to express an additional or different message from the original work being used, which helps to establish that a use is fair. Political speech in particular is at the core of First Amendment protection, and is especially likely to be recognized by a court as valuable and as a fair use.

DMCA abuse (the act of sending fraudulent takedown requests) can be less about copyright and much more about the message of the transformative work. "What motivates these takedowns is often not copyright, but issues not within the DMCA's purview, such as concerns over reputation and false endorsement," the Center for Democracy and Technology wrote in a 2010 report on campaign advertisements and the DMCA.

Section 512(f) of the DMCA states that anyone who "materially misrepresents" that content is infringing will be liable, but this provision does not have enough teeth to deter fraudulent takedown requests. And even when the Ninth Circuit decided in 2018 in Lenz v. Universal Music Group that a requester must consider whether the infringing work is fair use, the court held that the law only requires a subjective belief that the use is fair, even if that subjective belief is objectively unreasonable.

Neither of these mechanisms do enough to establish proper safeguards for free speech. What we've ended up with as a result is takedown requesters who avoid fair use analysis and content hosts that don't have the time or incentive to do it. So, when a copyright holder doesn't like the way a work is used, a takedown request is a cheap and easy way to censor the unwanted use, even when that use would be protected under the law if a judge were involved in the process.

It should be noted that the speaker of the political speech is not without recourse. If a platform takes down her content, she can file a counternotice explaining why she believes her work is fair use, and the platform may put the content back up. However, this rarely happens. Speakers often don't want to risk a lawsuit, and other factors such as timing often deter a legitimate speaker from bothering with a counternotice.

We wrote about this same issue in 2015 when Don Henley, lead singer and guitarist of the Eagles, sent a DMCA takedown request in response to a political ad that used the melody to "Hotel California," with different lyrics. The campaign didn't send a counternotice since the ad wouldn't have been restored for two weeks, and elections run at such a fast pace that campaign officials decided a counternotice wasn't worth the effort. This incident highlights an important truth: copyright abuse can effectively censor speech long enough for a news cycle or political race to move on, without recourse.

The upshot from the Trump-Nickelback case and others like it is that it shows how transformative works can end up subject to fraudulent takedowns simply because of high visibility. Visibility leads to censorship under the DMCA, and this means that a message that resonates (or one that is newsworthy because it comes from the President) can vanish right when it's most relevant.

The takedown request is not about copyright, but about controlling what viewpoints can be expressed through reference to and adaptations of existing aspects of culture.

Warner's motivation for the takedown request might have been to protect Nickelback's good name, but the fact is that no matter how much a copyright holder may despise a speaker or their message, fair use protects everyone's right to use, adapt, or remix copyrighted works for political commentary. Censoring political speech is only one type of abuse the DMCA facilitates. When proponents of new speech restrictions hold up the DMCA takedown regime as a model, we need to remember that this regime has opened the door to serious abuse without recourse for victims, something that impoverishes public discourse.

Political speech, including memes, is too important to public understanding and the political process to fall victim to the whims of copyright holders. We will continue to work to protect dissent and creativity from the censorial power of takedown abuse.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

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

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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