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« February 2020 | Main | April 2020 »

March 31, 2020

The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles

The only coronavirus newscast you really need.

1. Coronavirus I (March 2).

"As coronavirus spreads to the U.S., John Oliver discusses what's being done to fight the illness, what's gone wrong, and how to stay safe."


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2. Coronavirus II (March 16).

"As the spread of coronavirus worsens in the U.S., John Oliver discusses how the government is handling the outbreak, how they're not, and what we can do to help."

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3. Coronavirus III (March 30).

"As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, John Oliver discusses President Trump's inconsistent response to the pandemic, including his suggestion of an Easter deadline for sending America back to work, and his reluctance to use the Defense Production Act."

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4. On Colbert (March 31).

"John Oliver points out a few of the holes in President Trump's narrative of how well he's handling the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 PM | Permalink

Chicago Drill vs. Brooklyn Drill vs. UK Drill

With Queenz Flip, Young Chop and Jojo Capone.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 PM | Permalink

Sim Game: Blackhawks vs Oilers

"It looked like we were headed to overtime, but a late face-off win and a beautiful set play clinched the win for the . . . "


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 PM | Permalink

Testing The Chicago Electric Drill Bit Sharpener Against Its Competitors

"Drill bit sharpeners tested: Work Sharp Drill Doctor 750x, Chicago Electric (Harbor Freight), General Tools, Drill Master, Goodsmann, and Bosch. All sharpeners purchased on Amazon or at Harbor Freight. All twist drills tested for drilling performance once sharpened."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:58 AM | Permalink

Boeing vs. Public Broadcasting

The media have been engaged big time in the numbers without context game, throwing out really big numbers faster than anyone can catch them. (For the biggest, the overall size of the stimulus, given the time frame, we are looking at a stimulus that is about five times as large as the Obama stimulus.) While there are many great comparisons to be made on who got what, for now I just want to focus on one: the handout to Boeing compared with the money provided to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

As most people know, Boeing was already in trouble for reasons having nothing to do with the coronavirus. Safety problems with its new 737 Max led to two deadly crashes. Apparently the problems stem from very basic features of the plane which cannot be easily fixed. These problems have whacked Boeing's profits and stock price and forced it to send its CEO packing - though he did get a $62 million going away present.

Anyhow, being the empathetic crew they are, Trump and the Republicans rushed to set aside a nice chunk of taxpayer dollars for Boeing in their big corporate slush fund. Boeing is slated to get $17 billion in loans to help get it through the crisis.

We should be clear on what exactly this means. The government is not handing Boeing $17 billion, it is lending it $17 billion at an interest rate below what the market would charge. So it is wrong to say that the government is giving Boeing $17 billion. What it is giving Boeing is the difference between what it would have to pay to borrow this money in private capital markets and what it is paying the government on its loans.

It is not easy to know what the current market rate would be, given the extraordinary credit situation, but let's say this gap is 5.0 percentage points. If we assume the loans are out for a year (it could be considerably longer), then we would effectively be handing Boeing $850 million (5.0 percent of $17 billion).

While it is important to make the distinction between a handout of $17 billion and a loan of $17 billion, it is also important to correct a lie that was told about the last bailout and will be told about this one. The lie is that we made a profit on the bailout; that the money was repaid with interest.

In an economic crisis, there are lots of businesses and individuals who would love to be able to borrow at the discount rate the government is providing to its favored recipients. As the lowest cost borrower, the government could always make money by lending to businesses at an interest rate between what the market would charge them and what the government pays. Yet, no one in their right mind would suggest that the government have an open-ended facility for this purpose, even though it would be hugely profitable by the bailout apologists' standards.

Giving subsidized loans, even though they earn the government interest, is a huge subsidy. And, if we did an infinite amount of such loans we would have a serious problem with inflation, just the same as if the government were to hand everyone $100,000 a year. Serious people understand this fact, even if they choose not to be honest about it.

Anyhow, for our big comparison, we will look at the $850 million gift to Boeing and the $75 million in the package that was designated for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). CPB gives money to a wide range of public broadcasters including the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.

To put this in a context that might be meaningful to people, we will use the metric of a "food stamp person year." The average food stamp beneficiary in 2018 received $127 per month, which translates in $1,560 a year. To account for inflation, I rounded up to $1,600 per person per year.

rescue-package-boeing.png

While some people are undoubtedly upset by the CPB getting $75 million, Boeing is getting more than 10 times as much money from the rescue package. Some of this money will likely help to keep its workers employed, but much of this will go to the eight-digit paycheck of Boeing's new CEO and keeping its shareholders happy.

Anyhow, people can have different opinions on the merits of these items, but they should at least have a clear idea of their relative size.

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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See also:
* POGO: No, We Shouldn't Bail Out Boeing.

* CNN Business: Boeing Will Week Federal Help - But Won't Give Taxpayers A Stake.

* Allan Sloan, Washington Post: Boeing's Crisis Is Largely Of Its Own Making.

* Motley Fool: Boeing Stock Barreled 15% Higher On Coronavirus Stimulus.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:21 AM | Permalink

Comics Industry Shut Down For First Time In Its 80 Years

Last week, the producers behind a number of comic book-derived movies and TV shows announced delays for their franchises: release dates for Wonder Woman and Black Widow were postponed, while The Walking Dead announced that COVID-19 had made it impossible for the show to complete work on the current season and that the finale was being delayed.

But what of the comic books that spawned these blockbuster franchises?

On March 23, Steve Geppi, CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors, announced the closing of the distribution system that holds a near-monopoly on the circulation of comic books in North America. He cited a number of problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic: comic retailers can't service customers, publishing partners are having supply chain issues and shipping is delayed. He wrote his "only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease."

New Comics Day has occurred every Wednesday since the creation of the direct market in the 1970s.

But no longer: This week, for the first time in more than 80 years, no new comic books will ship to shops, and production is on hold into the foreseeable future. No previous global event - not the Second World War, not 9/11 - has previously shuttered the comic book industry.

To understand how this single decision could transform the operations of comic book publishers owned by Disney (Marvel Comics) and AT&T (DC Comics), among dozens of others, as well as comic production, consumption and culture, one needs to understand how the status of the comic book has shifted over the past century.

Bygone Newsstand Days

As Jean-Paul Gabilliet, professor of North American studies at Université Bordeaux has recounted, the comic book form emerged in the 1930s as a promotional giveaway for department stores and gas stations before it migrated to the newsstand as a part of the larger magazine industry.

Despite some fits and starts, the format took off based the success of Superman, created in the spring of 1938, and the many imitation superheroes his popularity spawned as comic books became a staple of the newsstand. Circulation grew during the war, and exploded shortly after as new publishers initiated new genres like crime, romance and horror.

By 1952, the peak year for comic book sales in the U.S., comic books were a formidable cultural presence. But the rise of television, changes to the magazine distribution system and criticisms of the industry by public figures led to an industry-wide collapse of sales. Comic books limped through the 1960s as a cheap disposable form of entertainment for children, found on magazine racks that catered to parents.

By the 1970s, the American comic book had lost its status as a mass medium. At the same time, a rapidly growing network of used comic-book dealers began to spring up at flea markets, conventions, bookstores and eventually specialty stores that catered to a devoted set of comic collectors. The growing fan network presented a life raft to the industry.

1970s Turning Point

The turning point, as American writer and reporter Dan Gearino points out in his history of comic book stores, came in 1972 when a convention organizer named Phil Seuling convinced the major publishers to wholesale new issues to him on a non-returnable basis, bypassing the then established newspaper/magazine distributor method, where no choices of title, quantity, or delivery directions were permitted. .

This appealed to the publishers, who were accustomed to routinely over-printing comic books by the hundreds of thousands to supply the inefficient system of mom-and-pop corner stores that retailed their work. Seuling's model shifted risk from the publisher to the retailer, who ordered product on a non-returnable basis, but it facilitated the growth of a network of thousands of comic book shops across North America.

For more than two decades, comic book shops were supplied by a network of regional wholesale distributors that served specific geographic regions based on the location of their warehouses. This changed at the end of 1994 when Marvel Comics bought Heroes World, the third largest distributor.

Marvel Meets Diamond

Sean Howe's history of Marvel Comics details how, in July 1995, the company made their new subsidiary the exclusive supplier of their market-leading product, reducing income at the other distributors by a third. A scramble ensued, with Geppi's Diamond securing the rights to DC Comics and Image Comics, the next two largest publishers after Marvel. Other publishers quickly fell in line, signing exclusive deals with Diamond and bankrupting the regional distributors.

When Heroes World proved incapable of supporting Marvel's needs, the company folded in 1996 and Marvel joined forces with Diamond, the only other distributor still standing. That same year, the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating Diamond as a monopoly. But the government closed the case in 2000, finding that the new company was not monopolistic because comic books were only a small part of the overall publishing industry.

The situation remained largely unchanged for more than 20 years. Diamond has been the exclusive dealer of comic books to the network of thousands of comic book stores who have continued to order on a non-returnable basis. Until now.

'Pencils Down'

The consequences of Diamond's decision are immediate and wide-reaching. In closing their warehouses to new product, publishers have alerted printers to stop. Comic book freelancers recently began tweeting they'd received "pencils down" messages from publishers curtailing production.

Communication to comic book retailers, creative personnel and fans has been haphazard as the large publishers scramble to plan for an uncertain future. Many are concerned about the growing digital footprint of comic book publishers.

Since 2011, most comic books have been released to comic book stores and in electronic format to consumers through platforms like Comixology (a subsidiary of Amazon) on the same day.

With a protracted closure of the distribution system, publishers like Marvel and DC could continue to move forward with electronic sales, which would inevitably bolster that end of their business at the expense of their retail partners. Archie Comics has announced that they will release some April titles digitally.

If several months passed with electronic sales but no physical comic book sales, it's uncertain that those printed books would ever find an audience. And an extended pause by the biggest publishers would undoubtedly spur comics creators to pursue new projects either online or through the book trade.

This could accelerate a shift away from comic collectors' habitual buying that take place comic shops as establishments that foster unique social relations, as described by Benjamin Woo, associate professor of communication and media studies at Carleton University.

While comic books sales proved remarkably resilient during the 2008 financial crisis, if the current situation breaks readers' buying habits for a few months, they might never return in the same way.

Bart Beaty is an English professor at the University of Calgary. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Much of Chicago is shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a North Side company with a long history of pollution problems is still shredding flattened cars, twisted rebar and used appliances every day," the Tribune reports.

"Neighbors are livid."

As they should be.

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"[Neighbors] have been complaining for years about metallic odors from General Iron Industries, a scrap yard sandwiched between the densely populated Bucktown and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. With Chicagoans under orders to stay home until at least April 7, many are worried their exposure to air pollution could make people more susceptible to a dangerous coronavirus that attacks the lungs and upper-respiratory tract."

This is, obviously, infuriating.

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What's more:

"Heightened concerns about the scrap shredder come as the Trump administration relaxes enforcement of environmental laws in response to the pandemic, a move that allows industries nationwide to determine for themselves if they are able to monitor and report the release of hazardous air pollution."

In response to the pandemic, the Trump administration is making it worse for those who may be struck by the pandemic.

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"Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration agrees that scrap yards can stay open, even though the city has cited General Iron with health code violations seven times since December."

Why? The Trib doesn't say.

But General Iron does:

"The facility's new owner warned last week of 'dire consequences' if General Iron stopped shredding scrap metal, including a surge of appliances piled up in alleys and the lack of a market for low-income peddlers who line up daily next to semitrailers carrying wrecked vehicles.

"GII's products are necessary raw materials used by steel manufacturers and iron and nonferrous foundries in the production of all manner of metal goods," Steve Joseph, the chief executive of Ohio-based Reserve Management Group, wrote in a March 24 letter to the city's assistant health commissioner. "Limiting the supply of raw materials will result in a corresponding reduction of overall manufacturing capacity."

The presiding alderman, Brian Hopkins, calls bullshit:

"It shouldn't even be a point of discussion given what we already know," Hopkins told the Trib. "There is plenty of capacity for metal shredding in the Midwest. The truckloads of scrap coming into our neighborhood every day can go somewhere else where people don't live close by."

There's more; go read it.

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Who's Gouging Who
"The City of Chicago has received 235 complaints of price gouging since March 15," WGN-TV reports.

"About one-third of those reports came during a recent five-day span.

"The city received just two calls about price gouging in 2019."

That's pretty much the whole report. So much for "WGN Investigates."

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The biggest unasked/unanswered question: Were those complaints validated?

And if so, have fines been levied?

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"One grocer is accused of asking $80 for a pack of one-ply toilet paper rolls."

If true, name that fucking grocer.

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Name all the gougers.

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Construction Junction
"Following outcry from workers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo nixed most residential and commercial building projects in New York City - but that's unlikely to happen in Illinois, officials say," Block Club Chicago reports.

"At the moment, construction projects in Illinois are considered 'essential business' during the state's stay-at-home order. Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday that's unlikely to change."

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"The federal government hasn't issued specific mandates to the construction industry, so states and cities are enacting their own policies," Curbed reports in a deep dive into policies around the country.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Boeing vs. Public Broadcasting
"The media have been engaged big time in the 'numbers without context' game."

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The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles
Journalism done right.

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Sim Game: Blackhawks vs. Oilers
"It looked like we were headed to overtime, but a late face-off win and a beautiful set play clinched the win for the . . . "

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A First: Comic Book Industry Shut Down
"This week, for the first time, no new comic books will ship to shops, and production is on hold into the foreseeable future."

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Chicago Drill vs. Brooklyn Drill vs. UK Drill
With Queenz Flip, Young Chop and Jojo Capone.

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Testing The Chicago Electric Drill Bit Sharpener Against Its Competitors
Yeah, not so good.

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ChicagoReddit

Look at @thefifty50group on IG for more info -- Group is hosting 2 food relief programs, one at The Fifty/50 for the community and one at West Town Bakery for furloughed service industry employees from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

Moonwalk 👨‍🚀 (March 2020)

A post shared by Madison Borth (@madisonborthcollages) on

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ChicagoTube

1991 McCormick Place Fur Sale Commercial.

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BeachBook

Could The Swedish Lifestyle Help Fight Coronavirus?

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A Life-Size Statue Of Bob And Doug McKenzie Unveiled In Edmonton.

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

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Swab daily.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

March 30, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 11.19.13 AM.png- Source unknown

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"Grocery workers, custodians, truckers and health care workers had better be Time's Person of the Year." - our very own Nick Shreders

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Glenn Beck's Turn In The Volcano
Proposal accepted!

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Virtual Wacos
Yard Dog Party lives.

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TrackNotes: Dastardly Derby Drama
"I know it's a cliche, but times like these open the curtain on who or what people really are," our man on the rail Tom Chambers writes.

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El Greco: Ambition & Defiance
"El Greco's dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries . . . [He] has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school."

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Unused Rental Cars Parked At Baseball Stadiums
Dodger and Angel Stadiums.

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ICYMI: The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #297: The Opening Day That Wasn't
A visit to Ernie Banks' grave instead. Plus: Curly Neal Made Life Better; Tokyo Drift; The McCaskeys Absolutely Did Not 'Step Up;' Ryan Pace's Pathetic Record Just Got Worse; Bears Re-Sign Tyler Bray!; Biggs Time; Cubs, White Sox Minor Transactions; and UIC Screws Steve McClain.

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ChicagoReddit

How are your respective grocery stores holding up? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Elton John / "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" (2019)

Not a particularly good version - I don't like the uptempo and it's decidedly unimaginative with the band doing next to nothing - but it was just posted to YouTube. (I love the original, btw.)

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BeachBook

Nature vs. Nurture? Add Noise To The Debate.

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Tech Boom, MLB Programs Helping Women Find Jobs In Baseball.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Channeling.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:15 AM | Permalink

March 29, 2020

TrackNotes: Dastardly Derby Drama

No complaints here.

Even as the usual suspects reveal their (im)moral fiber again, TrackNotes was able to play the full Florida Derby card Saturday. It was so much fun, we forgot it was Gulfstream Park.

I'm not sure about watching Cubs World Series games, considering they did next to nothing to reward their wallet-opening fans by trying to sustain. I might do a search for Hawks Cup games, that would be nice.

But, in diminishing amounts, Thoroughbred horse racing is running real live, betting races. Racing is my only real sports time investment, I don't really watch any other. Not rubbing it in, just sayin'.

I know it's a cliche, but times like these open the curtain on who or what people really are. Regarding medical protocols, I'm not an expert, but I can still ask questions.

Tracks are closed.

When a backside worker at Belmont Park tested positive, the New York Racing Association closed Aqueduct. They're so close together, when either one is running, training and boarding goes on at the other.

Keeneland canceled its prestigious Spring meet, costing us the Blue Grass Stakes.

Santa Anita was shut down by the Los Angeles County Health Department just minutes before the first post Thursday. Curiously, Golden Gate Park in the Bay Area was open Saturday. I couldn't find out how or why.

The Dubai World Cup card, which was to be run Saturday, was also canceled. The United Arab Emirates, hard by Iran, would have been inviting a petri dish of international drop-ins. Good move.

Locally, Hawthorne Race Course suspended its current harness meet. As per tradition, Arlington Park is scheduled to open May 1, Kentucky Derby weekend. It has not announced the big yes or no.

Throwing in, trainer Bob Baffert, who has at least three of what would have been Derby contenders, has been consistent in his comments about the effects of the virus.

"I'm not really thinking about the Derby. We have to get over this virus first," Baffert said Saturday. He sounded sincere, and glad Churchill Downs relieved him of the concern.

On a people level, Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation at his mother's home in Florida. His home is in New York.

But, Byron King, don't you read your own copy? Early on, he quotes Castellano's agent saying that the rider is asymptomatic. Later, he quotes Gulfstream's press release saying "Javier's symptoms were recognized" in a routine entry gate check. Which is it? Quote his agent; quote the release; don't ask questions. No curiosity? Judge Acker says, "Somebody here is lying."

We'll get to the monolith of evil, but first, Gulfstream.

It seems the track was absolutely defying the law and just kept running. While already deemed a non-essential business, the City of Hallandale Beach apparently did not have the guts to enforce a county directive. Browbeaten by Stronach muscle?

Owners The Stronach Group took the spirit of the directive to their own benefit. Yes, people are required to care for the horses, and the horses most definitely need exercise. Gulfstream took it so far as to interpret that as the kind of exercise horses need comes in RACES.

The current Gulfstream meet ends Sunday. The interminable summer dates start April 3. If you have any questions, remember, it's Florida. As Steve Dahl sidekick Dag Juhlin sings, "It's the dangling wang of the United States."

Now we get to Churchill Downs Inc. Don't get on my case. CDI does not, and never will, give a goddamn about horse racing.

All high and mighty, it announced that it was moving the Kentucky Derby to September 5, the first Saturday in September. It was a contemptible exercise in selfishness and cynicism.

But what else from a company, created by horse racing, that says it doesn't give a shit about horse racing and would rather drain money from the masses through its casino business?

Wait, there's more. CDI didn't tell anybody!! By all reports, it didn't consult with Pimlico, proprietors of the Preakness, or NYRA and Belmont, home of the Belmont Stakes. The September date is one week after the scheduled Travers Stakes, a much better race than the Derby.

Dripping with greed and cynicism, CDI CEO William Carstanjen - you remember him, the head of an ostensible horse racing company who's afraid of horses - fell back on "the fan experience."

"We believe that moving our iconic event to Labor Day weekend this year will enable our country to have time to contain the spread of coronavirus," Carstanjen said. "This will also provide our guests more time to reschedule their travel and hotel arrangements so they can attend."

Guests. Wallets is more like it. "Its energy and its magic really comes from everybody participating and being there to enjoy it," Carstanjen said. What that really means is that CDI wants to profit from up to 100,000 people being gouged by them and the greater Louisville business and hospitality community. Only those with self-denial fail to see through the sanctimonious biblical-level greed.

The rescheduling has major ramifications for not only the other two legs of the Triple Crown, but the Haskell trail, the Jim Dandy/Travers trail, Belmont's super October weekend and, of course, the Breeders' Cup.

CDI says it will "add races" as Derby preps for eligibility to the Derby. Does anybody honestly think there won't be heavy-handed skulduggery involved?

Both Pimlico and Belmont are playing it close to the vest, analyzing their "options."

I hope upon hope that they both, God willing, run their races as close to their normal dates as possible. EFF Churchill Downs! And don't believe the crap: the Preakness is older than the Derby.

Churchill could have, except for their morally depraved corporate ethics, consulted with the other two legs and said, let's push it back, run it in order; see what we can do. "Mind if I smoke?" "Churchill Downs, I don't care if you burn."

Personally, I'm happy they're not running in May. Every year, I feel dirty and swear to myself, I'm never going to bet the Derby or the card and put money into those bastards' coffers. This year, they're doing it for me.

Besides, there's another take.

Trainer Tom Amoss, conditioner of Serengeti Empress, winner of the recent Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn and the 2019 Kentucky Oaks, explained the moving of the Derby from a horse training sense.

"All of these preparation races are designed to be far enough away from the Kentucky Derby to give the horses a rest before they run their next race, which is the first Saturday in May." Amoss said. "With the postponement of the Kentucky Derby 'til September, there's no race, there's a void there. And those horses are looking to be their best (on that day)."

Citing Oaklawn Park's "cleverness" in rescheduling the Arkansas Derby to May 3, Amoss said "without being sacrilegious in horse terms, the Arkansas Derby is going to be the Kentucky Derby for 2020."

Amoss used the excellent example of 2016's Arrogate. He was still a maiden on the eve of that year's Derby and did not appear there. He then won a maiden special weight and two optional claimers before exploding in the Grade I Travers Stakes that August, dominating by 13 lengths with a 122 Beyer Speed Figure. In a time of 1:59.36, he broke the Travers and track records. He then won the Breeders' Cup Classic with a 120 and the Pegasus Stakes in January 2017 (119) before going on to victory in the Dubai World Cup. In three more races, all at Del Mar, a track jockey Mike Smith said he didn't like, he never won again.

The point is that he might not have won his Derby, but he matured and was one of the fastest horses in recent years. Those Beyers are otherworldly today. He would have won a September Derby that year.

Oaklawn President Louis Cella said the purse for the Arkansas Derby will be reduced from $1 million to $750,000. But if things go well at all, I wouldn't be surprised to see him offer something to horse owners to form what would have been the Kentucky field. It's the way he thinks. And don't think he hasn't been talking, when CDI won't, to Preakness and Belmont officials.

Serling Zone
Both NBC Sports and FoxSports1 are televising extended Saturday afternoon horse racing. They each have the rights, and it's live sports. TVG also pitches in. Many of the reporters are at home, but Fox's Greg Wolf and Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens were in the studio, watching on TV like us.

It's abundantly clear that Stevens and NYRA's house handicapper Andy Serling have a rivalry that might just lead to fisticuffs if they are ever in the same room, or at the same track. Serling was especially pugnacious Saturday, correcting Stevens on the Gulfstream layout and completely trashing horses Stevens was interested in. Serling may have gotten the better of the day. But Stevens is a Hall of Famer and is trying to keep his temper in check. One time recently, he said to Serling, "Let me know when you get into a Hall of Fame."

Two things: I want to see more of that from Stevens; and Serling probably will make some kind of hall. You know, hang around long enough.

One drawback was seeing only the mug of the jockey in the postrace interview while Acacia Courtney was required to keep her off-camera social distance, thereby stifling her on-camera time. These are the sacrifices we must make.

Tiz the Law won the Florida Derby on Saturday in a most professional manner. He's out of Sackatoga Stables, the folks behind our beloved Funny Cide, the gelding who won the first two gems but was beaten at Belmont. It was great to see the red diamonds-on-silver silks of Sackatoga.

Funny Cide, a modest New York-bred, captured the hearts of thousands if not millions, but also mine. Sackatoga had so many owners of the 'Cide, they'd charter yellow school buses to get to the races.

Upfront guy Jack Knowlton was interviewed Saturday. "I'm only three miles from the track, but I can't go to see Tiz the Law run. I think we would have had about 70 people there today," he said.

I hit a 9-1 winner and an 80-1 Placed to make my day and make me profitable. It was probably the last big stakes day for as far ahead as we can see. But they're still racing, in some places. I'm grateful.

Horse racing is what I like.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:07 PM | Permalink

Glenn Beck's Turn In The Volcano

Best scene from Men in Black as later played out in real life:

Outer-Space Bug Who Crash-Landed Into The Backyard To Edgar: "Place projectile weapon on ground."

Vincent D'Onofrio As The Even-More-Hideous-Spiritually-Than-The-Bug Edgar: "You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!"

Bug in the ground to Edgar: "Your proposal is acceptable."

Giant insect appendages emerge from the hole, grab Edgar and then there's a loud slurp. Thereupon Vince as Edgar is subsumed into the giant creepy-crawler's digestive system for the rest of the movie.

The tableau offers dramatic fulfillment.

I recalled it fondly this week when graceless bloviator Glenn Beck spoke for his political allies about the coronavirus and its effect on the economy: "Even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country."

The exact mathematic calculus that proves why gramps dying helps the economy is a little fuzzy. Speaking for gramps' everywhere, I say no effing way.

Maybe Beck didn't mean me exactly. Maybe he merely meant me as a figure of political speech.

Of course, he was implying that he'd rather have grandparent strangers he chooses to die, so we all can get on with achieving the greater good. He didn't mean himself. What, are you crazy? It was a rhetorical flourish, for crying out loud.

Nonetheless, it always seems easy to designate people you don't know to die on your behalf, even for no provable value. It's all so Incan, Mayan, and Aztecan, though two dozen other ancient cultures practiced this event on "special occasions."

That's also why these days we have a standing army, navy and air force to wage wars that should never be fought. But apparently, somebody elsewhere has to die to teach everyone else a lesson, and it might as well be those useless old people . . . them.

That assignment process is what people in charge believe is their duty and right as thought leaders - designating sacrificial human offerings to toss into the volcano. In this case, it appeases the Trickle Down Almighty of Wall Street, may His beneficent and merciful cash register always be worshipped.

Humans have done this either literally or bureaucratically for 200,000 years, although historically it's mostly been done to children and young female virgins.

Sacrificing relatives to the volcano is a primate species tendency. Maybe it's how we invented the idea of Hell. We once used the procedure to prevent flood, famines, and fiascos, though with mixed results on pestilence because no one told us about viruses.

The species has asked literally about 30,000 identifiable gods over our self-aware 2,000 centuries to save us from our fears. Human sacrifice often has been collateral on this request.

Now we have the pandemic which overrides all other motives.

We have been and continue to be a hideous blight on this planet. But after thinking over Beck's offer and feeling very awkward and embarrassed by my negative reaction, I believe the bug in the hole's invitation and resolution should apply to Beck, too. Especially to Beck.

Tossing Beck into Vesuvius might not solve the problem. But, on the other hand, what could it hurt?

Only three years ago, Beck announced he was very sorry for having venomously divided the nation with his squeals and grunts. He made millions doing this act. As he told the nation - credulously reported by the "elite leftist media" which he scorned - he was very sorry: "Glenn Beck Is Sorry About All That," the New York Times passed along. "Glenn Beck Tries Out Decency," the New Yorker proclaimed. "Glenn Beck's Regrets," the Atlantic sympathetically catalogued.

So much for redemption.

Several other public officials and pundits also seem agreeable - no, actually enthusiastic - about flinging grandma into the viral volcano if it helps the economy arise. That seems to include every statewide politician in Texas and Rupert Murdoch's band of borderline media sociopaths.

If Beck's sudden plunge into the lava would help that economic recovery, I'm all in favor. He sort of volunteered, though it seems unlikely he expected anyone to redeem his one-way bust ticket to the volcano.

Who would push him over the edge?

I will, I will, he said jumping and down and waving for attention.

For this to work, Beck needs research on active volcanoes, which are more common than Beck likely realizes. The Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Project tracks the eruptions: There's Erebus (Antarctica), Erta Ale (Ethiopia) and Dukono (Indonesia) along with 42 others all fuming, belching and spewing molten lava on a regular basis.

Beck represents Unexceptional America in the specific ways we once presumed the nation was Exceptional. Care for the oppressed? Generosity to those in need? Humane as a basic instinct? General maturity in our sensibilities?

Nah. All that costs too much.

Glenn Beck might be Witness No. 1 for the prosecution, though there seems to be an unrelenting queue of others just as vile.

What the pandemic surprisingly also has revealed is that America has nationally unrewarded heroes - nurses, teachers, store clerks.

America has plenty of First Responder heroes who don't toil on ambulance crews, though few of them have any money or power. Only a pandemic can remind us that a kindergarten teacher or a surgical nurse is more useful to our common purpose than a good shortstop.

As for Beck, sending him to the volcano probably won't cure anything but what's the downside? It's Glenn Beck, after all.

You have to start somewhere with our national delousing. One small step for man, one giant step for decent mankind into the fiery pit. Step this way, Mr. Beck.

Your proposal is acceptable. Schlurp!

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Recently from David Rutter:

* Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick.

* Mansplaining To A Millionaire.

* Status Check: Chicago Sports.

* The Week In WTF Redux: Blago Is Back Edition.

* What Is A Chicagoan Anyway?

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2020

El Greco: Ambition & Defiance

"Explore the exhibition 'El Greco: Ambition and Defiance' with curator Rebecca Long and research associate Jena Carvana. Follow along as they lead you through the galleries and share some of the reasons El Greco and his work continue to fascinate us."


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From Wikipedia:

"Doménikos Theotokópoulos (Greek: Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος [ðoˈminikos θeotoˈkopulos]; 1 October 1541 - 7 April 1614),[2] most widely known as El Greco ('The Greek'), was a Greek painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname,[a][b] a reference to his Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος, Doménikos Theotokópoulos, often adding the word Κρής Krēs, Cretan.

"El Greco's dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting."

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See also: ElGreco.Net.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:26 PM | Permalink

Virtual Wacos

"On Friday, March 20th, 2020, the Waco Brothers took to the web and played a live set from Jon Langford's art studio in Chicago in place of the canceled annual Bloodshot Records Yard Dog Party in Austin, Texas, where they've performed for 24 straight years."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:08 PM | Permalink

Paying The Price Of Science Denialism - Again

The short but tragic history of the federal government's response to the Covid-19 crisis has been shaped by the same corporate-backed science denialism that has long been deployed by the tobacco, fossil fuel, chemical, and mining industries to fight public health and environmental regulation. That denialism has infected the body of the Republican party and now the Trump administration.

Experts in manufacturing scientific doubt on behalf of corporate polluters have been installed in influential posts, shaping the work of key government agencies. Hundreds of dedicated, career scientists have left the agencies, leaving huge gaps in expertise. World-renowned scientists were dismissed from advisory committees and important public health functions, like the National Security Council's Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, have been shuttered.

Manufacturers Of Doubt

We are now reaping the consequences of the rejection of science and expertise Republican politicians and their corporate allies have sown for decades. Long before the current crisis, they belittled the science that documented the dangers of tobacco, firearms, numerous toxic chemicals and pollutants, and, of course, the atmospheric accumulation of greenhouse gases. They frequently accused public health scientists of being scaremongers seeking to advance their own careers or political ideology.

These manufacturers of doubt are instrumental in corporate campaigns to stop government efforts to protect the public from deadly products. Defenders of cigarettes were able to manufacture doubt about the scientific evidence for decades before their lies became so unconvincing that even their most stalwart defenders had to acknowledge the truth. Generous funding by the Koch family and fossil fuel companies, for instance, supported a small group of questionable scientists and promoted their rejection of overwhelming scientific consensus around climate change. The same generous funding, in the form of campaign contributions, motivated Republican politicians to embrace the science fiction of climate change denialists. Only recently, as extreme weather events and rising sea levels render the effects undeniable, have some Republican politicians acknowledged the enormity of the climate crisis.

President Trump's response to the Covid-19 pandemic has followed a trajectory similar to the Republican party's response to the dangers produced by the tobacco, fossil fuel, chemical, and mining industries, but telescoped over weeks instead of years: Scientists' concerns about significant harm are met with skepticism and denial, then acknowledgement and government action only once the truth becomes overwhelmingly clear, illuminated by disaster and tragedy. The president initially rejected the scientific evidence about the transmissibility and spread of Covid-19; only when the facts became indisputable have Trump and Republican leadership, followed by their allies at Fox News, right-wing talk radio and think tanks, accepted the truth. But these several weeks of denial and delay in mounting a comprehensive federal response may prove to have catastrophic results.

Trump vs. The World

To understand the powerful impact of the degradation of federal scientific leadership, compare the timeline of government actions across the globe. The rapid and deadly spread of the virus in Wuhan, China, alerted the world to the potentially devastating impact of what has become a pandemic. When the first cases appeared in South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, those nations' political leaders mounted rapid, comprehensive responses, implementing contact tracing and testing programs, facilitating early isolation and quarantine. New cases continue to appear in each of these countries, but their efforts have resulted in substantially flatter epidemic curves.

In contrast to the quick action by these governments, President Trump repeatedly said early on that the problem was "under control" and that the number of cases, few at the time, would soon drop to zero.

It wasn't only Trump who questioned the science, of course. The voices who are skilled at promoting scientific uncertainty and denialism - Fox News commentators and right-wing radio voices like Rush Limbaugh for example - downplayed the threat posed by the virus, accusing Trump's political opponents of using it to hurt the president. The DeSmog blog has a long list of statements questioning the seriousness of the threat posed by Covid-19, made by experts at the corporate-funded think tanks and web organizations that for years have questioned the science on the climate crisis and defended the dangerous products and pollutants their sponsors produce. Having been fed a diet of anti-science rhetoric for years, it is not surprising that Republicans are far less likely to follow social distancing, hand washing, and other recommendations.

The slow and ineffectual actions by already impaired federal agencies were no doubt influenced by the lack of urgency from the White House. There was little recognition of the need to rapidly ramp up testing, or that the strategic stockpile was bereft of the necessary respirators and ventilators. As a result, it will be many weeks before the nation will have an adequate testing program or provide the personal protective equipment or ventilators our health care workers desperately need to safely diagnose and care for patients infected by the virus.

Rewriting History

In this case, it wasn't the Republican party's fealty to its corporate backers that blinded the White House to good science. There is evidence that Trump initially saw rising case numbers as a poor reflection on his leadership, likely to undermine his re-election prospects. But once he recognized it was no longer possible to wish away the epidemic, the deniers folded quickly and are now helping warn the country of the importance of controlling the virus. But rather than acknowledge that he ever held a different position, he is attempting to rewrite history, denying statements millions heard him make only weeks ago.

Unfortunately, there are other looming global catastrophes like the climate crisis and the spread of antibiotic resistant "superbugs," threats that are happening over years rather than days. It would be heartening if Trump and the leadership of the Republican party came to the same epiphany about these challenges, recognizing that only through concerted global actions can we slow and perhaps halt these looming disasters.

There will no doubt be many lessons of this pandemic, but one is that the public health infrastructure, highly resourced, staffed with the top scientists, and empowered to take action to reduce public health risks, is no less important than the Department of Defense in protecting the nation. A second lesson is that without a leader who recognizes the importance of science and values the advice of scientists, the health of the nation will be imperiled.

David Michaels is an epidemiologist and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health. He served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health from 2009 to 2017 and Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health from 1998 to 2001. He is the author of The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception, and he can be found on Twitter (@drdavidmichaels). This post originally appeared at Undark.

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Previously: Manufacturing Doubt: The Corporate Manipulation Of Science.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

Unused Rental Cars Parked At Baseball Stadiums

"Thursday was supposed to be opening day for Major League Baseball, but stadiums are empty, with the season postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, parking lots are being used to store unused rental vehicles."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink

March 27, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #297: The Opening Day That Wasn't

A visit to Ernie Banks' grave instead. Plus: Curly Neal Made Life Better; Tokyo Drift; The McCaskeys Absolutely Did Not 'Step Up;' Ryan Pace's Pathetic Record Just Got Worse; Bears Re-Sign Tyler Bray!; Biggs Time; Cubs, White Sox Minor Transactions; and UIC Screws Steve McClain.


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SHOW NOTES

* 297.

1:08: The Opening Day That Wasn't.

* Ernie Banks' grave.

* New York Times: Trump Pardons Jack Johnson.

* Daniel Burnham's island grave.

* The Athletic: A Conversation With Len Kasper And Jim Deshaies On Would-Be Opening Day.

* Wallenstein: Opening Day Requiem.

* Coffman: Missing Chicago's Game.

26:08: Curly Neal Made Life Better.

* New York Times: Curly Neal, Globetrotters' Dazzling Dribbler, Dies At 77.

32:10: Tokyo Drift.

* Bloomberg: The Five Biggest Challenges Facing The Delayed 2020 Olympics Now.

35:15: The McCaskey Family Absolutely Did Not 'Step Up.'

* Drew Brees And His Wife Donate $5 Million To Louisiana For Coronavirus Relief.

* Green Bay Packers Donate $1.5 million To COVID-19 Relief Efforts In Brown County, Milwaukee.

* Browns' Haslams Donate $1.5 Million To Ohio COVID-19 Relief Funds.

* Jets & Johnson Family Donate $1 Million.

* Vikings' Kyle Rudolph, Wife Jordan Donate 82K Meals To COVID-19 Relief Effort.

And the McCaskeys, net worth $1.3 billion . . .

Bears Donate $250K To Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund.

⬇️

38:35: Ryan Pace's Pathetic Record Just Got Worse.

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* "Since 2014, the Bears have handed out $122.5 million in guaranteed money to four quarterbacks they thought would start for at least one season. They also have traded a first-round draft pick, two third-rounders and two fourth-rounders to try to find their franchise quarterback. They haven't found one one."

+

+

=

🤦

41:50: Bears Re-Sign Tyler Bray And Other Head-Scratching Transactions.

* Coffman: "Whatevs."

47:49: Biggs Time.

* "How is it not apparent that swapping a fourth-round pick and guaranteeing Foles a little more than $20 million isn't a complete admission that Trubisky is not the guy?"

* "The concern with Trevathan is durability. He has missed 18 games since coming to the Bears on a four-year, $28 million contract in 2016. The only season he got through clean was 2018, when he started all 16 games. Dating to his time in Denver, he has missed at least seven games in three of the last six seasons. So history tells you there is a decent chance he will be sideline at some point this season."

53:40: Dillon Maples Sent To AAA: Bust.

55:27: Michael Kopech Sent To AAA: On The Cusp Of Stardom.

57:32: UIC Screws Steve McClain.

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STOPPAGE: 2:59

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

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Tom Chambers:

One time, Jack Johnson was speeding through town in his Duesenberg (!) and got caught for speeding. The cop said "$50 fine." Johnson handed him $100. Cop said, "It's only $50." Johnson said. "I'm going to be going just as fast on my way back through."

They changed the rules of boxing to keep out another black champ. Not 'til Joe Louis.

2. From Roger Wallenstein:

Leon Hillard begot Curly Neal, and Goose Tatum begot Meadowlark Lemon. I think I got that right. Maybe in 1952 or '53 a friend's dad took us to see them in the New Trier gym. A night I'll never forget.

Also, I think that Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, from the South Side, also played for the Trotters and later in the NBA. I was on the WTTW crew (Tom Weinberg was the producer) that did a feature on Sweets, as Veeck, who was his friend, called him. Nat drove a yellow cab in Chicago for many years. He really was sweet. Took us to his apartment for an interview after meeting him at the taxi depot. Another great memory.

Sweet Charlie Brown is another old-timer from the South Side (DuSable) who would be a great interview.

But it was Marcus Haynes who was the first dribbling phenom.

And Wilt played one season with the Trotters. Dropped out of Kansas after junior year. NBA had rule you couldn't draft a player whose class hadn't graduated so he spent that season with the Trotters.

P.S.: The Sweetwater Clifton piece, now that I think about it, might have been part of a WGN series called Once a Star. We had George Blanca, Bill Wade (QB of the 1963 Bears), Dick the Bruiser Afflis . . .to name a few.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:29 PM | Permalink

An Opening Day Requiem

While teaching at a progressive, experimental school in the '70s, the suggestion of creating a national holiday, or at minimum a school observance, was a rather easy sell. Of course, I'm talking about Opening Day, which passed quietly Thursday amid the surreal pandemic that we're enduring at the present time.

Retreating almost 50 years, the school was Van Gorder-Walden, or VGW as we called it. Former Latin School head Ed Van Gorder was the founder, and Walden was a farm in southeastern Wisconsin where each student in grades K-12 spent a month in 10-day chunks during the fall, winter and spring. The city campus was on the top floor of the Catholic Charities building at 721 North LaSalle Avenue.

Much has changed in the past half-century, but the beginning of the baseball season remains a staple of our lives. Opening Day represents a new awakening, high hopes, almost-spring, tulips and daffodils, and, of course, a dose of foolish aspirations.
In the mid-'70s, I suggested to Headmaster Van Gorder that 20 or 30 students accompanying me to the South Side for the Sox opener would represent a cultural experience unmatched by any other event. Using the city as a classroom, riding public transportation, and increasing our breadth of experience all were tenets of the curriculum. Ed dwelled on the request for the better part of maybe 15 seconds before approving the proposal.

One opener that sticks out in my memory was 1978. Coming off the 1977 season of the South Side Hitmen, there was reasonable optimism to think the ballclub could come close to the 90 victories of the previous year.

Yes, Richie Zisk and Oscar Gamble had moved to greener (literally) pastures where the money resided. Zisk went to Texas for $2.75 million over 10 years - a mere pittance by today's standards - while Gamble signed with the Padres for six years at $475,000 per, a notable hike over the $100,000 the Sox paid him. We should note that neither player matched his South Side numbers despite making lots more cash.

Even minus the two sluggers, 1978 featured new blood with former Cub star Don Kessinger at shortstop and aging veteran Bobby Bonds, who hit 31 homers that season. Unfortunately he smashed only two with the Sox before being dispatched in mid-May to Texas in exchange for the more economical Claudell Washington.

In addition, Ron Blomberg, who had been injured for two years, assumed the DH role. Five years earlier Blomberg became enshrined in baseball history as the very first player to stride to the plate as a designated hitter.

Holdovers Eric Soderholm, Jorge Orta, Ralph Garr, Lamar Johnson and Chet Lemon joined returning moundsmen Steve Stone, Wilbur Wood, Ken Kravec and Francisco Barrios to provide a core of proven professionals.

Almost 51,000 fans - including me and my students - filled Comiskey Park on Opening Day to watch our Sox take on Boston's Sox. Blomberg hit a game-tying ninth inning home run - one of only five dongs he hit the entire season - before Wayne Nordhagen's double scored Lemon for the walk-off win.

Alas, that was the highlight. Not just for that afternoon, but really for the next 161 games. The team split its first eight contests before stumbling to a 71-90 finish, basically transposing the numbers from the season before.

That 1978 season signaled a downward spiral for the franchise. My students were present for the 1979 opener that resulted in a 10-2 loss to the Blue Jays. Owner Bill Veeck was so embarrassed that he invited anyone with a ticket stub to present it at a future game and be admitted gratis.

Despite or maybe because of the challenges, Veeck continued to promote the team during the offseason, appearing at clubs, churches, synagogues and schools to banter with fans and answer questions; sort of like a poor man's roving Soxfest, devoid of the glitter, publicity and ballplayers but chock full of Veeck's stories, humor, and goodwill.

Our school enlisted his services one evening prior to the '78 season for a small fundraiser. Like Veeck, we were undercapitalized, and a few hundred bucks on a weeknight bought some supplies and perhaps filled the school van with gas.

The late winter night was dark, cold and damp so that only a handful of folks were present about 30 minutes before Bill was scheduled to arrive. Harlan Stern, proprietor of Sterch's tavern nearby on Lincoln Avenue, was a staunch Sox fan surrounded by Cub fanatics. We needed bodies so we phoned Harlan to see how many of his patrons were interested in making the short journey to North LaSalle Street to meet Bill Veeck. Turned out that about 30 of them, primarily Cub fans, walked through the door in a matter of minutes. No matter Cub fan or Sox fan, Veeck had crowd appeal.

Part of Bill's shtick focused on his days as owner of the cellar-dwelling St. Louis Browns in the early '50s. One of his tales concerned a fan who called the ticket office to ask about seat location. "What's available?" the fan asked. "How about second base?" Bill responded. "We're not using it."

The libation for the evening was Edelweiss beer, brewed not far from Comiskey Park. It was sold by the Lasser Company on the southwest corner of Sheffield and Altgeld in the DePaul neighborhood. Today the building is filled with condos. Lasser's made its own soda pop on the premises, a rainbow of colors and flavors. More importantly to individuals such as myself, they had cases of beer stacked head-high on the concrete floor with Edelweiss reigning prominent. It also was the cheapest, so naturally we loaded up a few cases.

Edelweiss.jpg

Veeck was a big hit with the meager audience. The numbers didn't seem to matter. The man simply enjoyed being around people whether it was 10 or 100. The truly significant numbers were those coming through the turnstiles at Comiskey.

When the room emptied that evening, the supply of Edelweiss remained in abundance, and malted beverage was a staple of the Veeck diet. He stuck around until near midnight, although the baseball conversation took a back seat. Veeck was more interested in talking about books of which he read four or five a week. He was in his element.

My second teaching gig was at Francis Parker, which first opened its doors in 1901. In terms of stability, coming from VGW, whose doors closed forever after eight years, it felt like leaving the Idaho Falls Chukars for Yankee Stadium.

However, at Parker, taking my class to Opening Day never was an option - though my two boys who followed me to Parker managed to leave school on a few occasions to attend Sox openers with the approval of their teachers. We played it straight, writing notes to the effect of, "Please excuse Chet and Billy at noon today to attend a Chicago cultural event known as Opening Day at Comiskey Park."

For some mysterious reason, that seemed to work. I suspect that numbers of Parker scholars in a building filled with Cub fans ventured 14 blocks north along Clark Street - the school resides in the 2200 block - for Cub openers, and my kids' instructors had a propensity for fairness.

My wife Judy, a Sox devotee in her own right, would pick up the boys in front of the school, and away they went wrapped in their winter jackets for seats usually in the right field lower deck at Comiskey Park.

I managed to meet them briefly for one opener, which turned out to be a big mistake. That would be the 1987 debacle against the Tigers. There was a mid-day break in my classes, and I had been employed at Parker for nine year,s so I took the liberty to take in a couple of innings with my family.

By the time I got to the ballpark in the second inning the Tigers had a 3-0 lead, thanks to Lou Whitaker's leadoff home run on the season's very first pitch, followed by a single and another homer by Matt Nokes. After just four offerings by Sox starter Neil Allen, the Sox trailed by three.

Before I left Comiskey in the fourth frame, home runs by Darrell Evans and former Sox Chet Lemon gave the visitors a 7-0 advantage. Of course, my loved ones remained until the bitter end of an 11-4 pasting while I returned to school for the day's final class. I can't say that anyone noticed my absence.

When and if we have an Opening Day this season remains to be seen. But someday there will be another one, and when it arrives, the emotions, joy and hopes will burst forth possibly like never before. May we all be here to add it to our Opening Day memories.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:31 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 2: Spare Bedroom Shithole

"I think it's worth pointing out that some people have been behaving like dicks!"


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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.

* Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trial.

* We're Fucked, Mate.

* Jonathan Pie: Lockdown.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Just over a week after her sister became Illinois' first coronavirus fatality, Wanda Bailey also succumbed to the disease," the Sun-Times reports.

"Bailey, 63, of Crete, died Wednesday morning of pneumonia due to COVID-19 infection, with hypertension, heart disease and COPD serving as contributing factors, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. She was pronounced dead at St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields.

"Bailey was the sister of Patricia Frieson, 61, a retired nurse who died March 16 after testing positive for COVID-19 just a day earlier. Their brother, Anthony Frieson, posted on social media Wednesday evening that his family had lost 'another beautiful soul.'"

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For more on Patricia Frieson, see the item Retired South Side Nurse Is Illinois' First COVID-19 Death.

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Also from the Sun-Times:

"While Patricia Frieson was raised in Arkansas by her grandmother, Bailey grew up with her seven other siblings on Chicago's South Side. They first lived in Bronzeville before relocating to a four-flat in Auburn-Gresham in the mid-70s."

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It's Your Own Fault, Chicago
"Visibly angry and citing the hundreds of people seen congregating outdoors in defiance of the stay at home order, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city's lakefront, the 606 and other public spaces will be closed," CBS2 Chicago reports.

"And if people go against that rule, they'll be fined and even arrested."

*

*

Said Lightfoot:

"We could be expecting upwards of 40,000 hospitalizations in the coming weeks. Not 40,000 cases but 40,000 people who will require acute care in a hospital setting. That number will break our healthcare system."

The city is readying McCormick Place to handle the overload.

"[Lightfoot] spent the morning at Lakeside Center at McCormick Place with officials from the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," the Sun-Times reports.

What the the Army Corps of Engineers is doing:

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Sun-Times:

"A reporter characterized Lightfoot's estimate of 40,000 Chicago hospitalizations in the coming weeks as 'insane.' The mayor stood her ground. She said it's based on 'a number of different projections based upon modeling' by the city, the state and local hospitals."

Name that reporter, please.

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The media names everyone but themselves.

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Beer Nuts
At least some parts of the media just couldn't resist following up on Block Club Chicago's series of articles about the dude who went on a 40-day beer-only diet (see the item Beer Diet Not Cute).

In the Block Club version, Patrick Berger drank four to five beers a day, which appeared to be close to his daily usage even when not on a "diet."

In the Sun-Times version, Berger drank three to four beers a day.

Those of us who have spent a great deal of our lives in and around bars know to take the Over.

Of course, the Sun-Times, like Block Club, played the story as charming without confronting the obvious health issues it raises.

Likewise, The Takeout, which puts his input at four beers a day.

"He sought some advice from friends who are doctors," The Takeout notes, without mentioning that he did not seek advice from his actual doctor because she had already told him, pre-diet, that he needed to cut back on his drinking.

Finally, Berger told Chicago earlier this month: "I'm also drinking in much more moderation than I'm used to. I had a very high tolerance and I never really needed to count my beers. That tolerance is gone. I feel something after one drink, and I have to let that wear off for at least an hour before I have another one."

I know what he should give up next.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 2
"I think it's worth pointing out that some people have been behaving like dicks!"

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An Opening Day Requiem
"Someday there will be another one, and when it arrives, the emotions, joy and hopes will burst forth possibly like never before," our very own Roger Wallenstein writes. "May we all be here to add it to our Opening Day memories."

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #297: The Opening Day That Wasn't
A visit to Ernie Banks' grave instead. Plus: Curly Neal Made Life Better; Tokyo Drift; The McCaskeys Absolutely Did Not 'Step Up;' Ryan Pace's Pathetic Record Just Got Worse; Bears Re-Sign Tyler Bray!; Biggs Time; Cubs, White Sox Minor Transactions; and UIC Screws Steve McClain.

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ChicagoReddit

Love from Apparently Guestless Mag Mile Westin from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"16 Rolls" / Chicago Frankie C.

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BeachBook

With Meetings Banned, Millions Struggle To Stay Sober On Their Own.

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Ancestor Of All Animals Found In Australia.

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10.9 Million Names Now Aboard Mars Rover.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cut me in.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 AM | Permalink

March 26, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

"Mayor Lori Lightfoot is making good on her extraordinary threat to shut down the lakefront and all of its parks and beaches to prevent Chicagoans from defying a statewide stay-at-home order aimed at slowing community spread of the coronavirus," the Sun-Times reports.

"On Wednesday, Lightfoot instructed Chicago police officers to shut down large gatherings and threatened to use what she called 'every lever at my disposal' to compel compliance.

She was moved to action by the large gatherings that she saw along the lakefront, the crowds at Chicago playgrounds and basketball courts and the warm weather that is luring stir-crazy Chicagoans outside even though they're supposed to be staying at home.

"Way too many people gathering like it's just another day. This is not just another day. And no day will be just another day until we are on the other side of this virus, which is weeks away," the mayor said.

"I understand people are frustrated at being stuck in their homes and anxious to get out outside and move around. And you can do that. But, you must do it in a way that is smart, that is maintaining social distance and not congregating in other locations with lots of other people. That's where the danger lies."

Lightfoot warned then that, if police warnings and citations were not successful in shutting down large gatherings. She was prepared to go even further.

"If we have to - because you are not educating yourselves into compliance and if you are not abiding by these very clear, but necessary stay at home orders - we will be forced to shut down parks and the entire lakefront," the mayor said.

"Let me be clear. That's the last thing any of us want and that's the last thing that I want to do as mayor. But make no mistake: If people don't take this in a serious way in which they must, I'm not gonna hesitate to pull every lever at my disposal to force compliance if necessary. But, let's not get to that point. We don't need to. Stay at home. Only go out for essentials. If you want to exercise, do it in a way that you are not congregating with other people."

I'm afraid the mayor is right - only because those folks gathering on the lakefront and the 606 and in other park space are so wrong. Funny, it's always the same people ruining it for the rest of us.

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Hypocritical Oath
"A nationwide shortage of two drugs touted as possible treatments for the coronavirus is being driven in part by doctors inappropriately prescribing the medicines for family, friends and themselves, according to pharmacists and state regulators," ProPublica reports.

"It's disgraceful, is what it is," said Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, which started getting calls and e-mails Saturday from members saying they were receiving questionable prescriptions. "And completely selfish."

Demand for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine surged over the past several days as President Donald Trump promoted them as possible treatments for the coronavirus and online forums buzzed with excitement over a small study suggesting the combination of hydroxychloroquine and a commonly used antibiotic could be effective in treating COVID-19.

Reynolds said the Illinois Pharmacists Association has started reaching out to pharmacists and medical groups throughout the state to urge doctors, nurses and physician assistants not to write prescriptions for themselves and those close to them.

"We even had a couple of examples of prescribers trying to say that the individual they were calling in for had rheumatoid arthritis," he said, explaining that pharmacists suspected that wasn't true. "I mean, that's fraud."

In one case, Reynolds said, the prescriber initially tried to get the pills without an explanation and only offered up that the individual had rheumatoid arthritis after the pharmacist questioned the prescription.

In a bulletin to pharmacists on Sunday, the state association wrote that it was "disturbed by the current actions of prescribers" and instructed members on how to file a complaint against physicians and nurses who were doing it.

See also:

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Garth Reynolds on LinkedIn.

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Meanwhile . . .

"Trump Touts Lupus Medication As Coronavirus Treatment, Leaving Patients Facing Severe Shortage," ABC7 News reports.

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Shooters Distancing
"Chicago's gun violence has slowed as the city battles COVID-19 and residents practice social distancing and isolation," WBEZ reports.

"The city has had only one homicide in the last seven days. Chicago has not had a one-homicide week in more than five years, according to a WBEZ analysis of data from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office."

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However . . .

"Chicago saw a significant increase in gun violence Wednesday with 12 people shot, the most violent day since the city issued a stay-at-home order over the weekend to combat the spread of COVID-19," the Sun-Times reports.

On Tuesday, though, just two people were shot - in the entire city.

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The high jumped 10 degrees to 56 on Wednesday, fyi.

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See also, from WGN:

How The Stay-At-Home Order Has Affected Chicago's Crime Statistics.

Of course, the important thing isn't how crime statistics are affected, but crime itself!

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ChicagoReddit

PPE Donations for Area Hospitals from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

The Art Of Chicago-Style Walking.

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BeachBook

Zoom Is For Normies. Here's Why The Whole Art World Is Getting Together On The Chaotic, Anything-Goes Video Chat App Houseparty.

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Golf Rounds Surged As Coronavirus Advanced. Now The Game Is Retreating.

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Can Machines Detect Lies?

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Great for pizza nights.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

March 25, 2020

Missing Chicago's Game

My love for the Big Dance has faded during the last decade, but I still love basketball. Fiercely. And I miss it. I don't think I ever took it for granted but I will find a way to take it even less for granted when the games return.

Given the fact that so much of current sports media is highlights of great performances of yesteryear, I thought I would run through my own best memories of local basketball. Or, should I say, my best memories of consuming local basketball as I grew up on Chicago's North Side.

The sport is Chicago's game after all. Sure, the Bears are Chicago's team, but if basketball wasn't number one in Chicago before the '90s, the glorious run of Michael Jordan's six-time champ Bulls made it so.

My first fondest memory is of listening to Jim Durham call Bulls games on my good old Zenith transistor radio in the mid-70s. That little black number was slightly smaller than a 300-page paperback and perfect for late-night listening. I tuned in to Lloyd Pettit calling the Hawks as well, but not as frequently. And I was too young to be especially aware of the Blackhawks' runs to the NHL Finals in 1971 and '73.

The team lost to the Canadiens both times and somehow managed to let Bobby Hull sign with the World Hockey Association's Winnipeg Jets in 1972 (thank you infamous owner Dollar Bill Wirtz!). So by the time I was really aware of local sports, that glorious Hawks era was over. And when Pettit moved on as well after the 1976 season, the Hawks entered a long stretch of mattering even less than they usually did.

Anyway, Durham was a great announcer and the Bulls were great fun in the mid-70s. The team that featured Bob Love, Norm Van Lier, Jerry Sloan, Artis Gilmore for a time . . . guys like John Mengelt coming off the bench . . . it was a great time to be a fan.

Their best shot at a title happened in 1975, when they took a 3-games-to-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals against Golden State. But the Warriors rallied to win the last two games and the series and then swept the Washington Bullets in the finals.

Durham announced the Bulls games from 1973 until 1991, when he left the team after a contract dispute with . . . you can guess it . . . Jerry Reinsdorf. In other words, he bowed out right before the Bulls won their first championship. Brutal.

During this time I almost never actually went to Bulls games. My dad was never a sports fan, and while my mom would let my brother and I take the 22 Clark Street bus to Cubs games starting in the late '70s, trips to the Old Stadium were few and far between.

My best memory of that great old arena (thank you, Arthur Wirtz!) was of watching a Hawks game in the second balcony, which felt like it practically hung out over the ice, and noticing as the second period came to an end a fog of cigarette smoke accumulating as if it was starting to rain. Probably not so good for the lungs but I was ready when I started frequenting bars 10 years later.

Then there was DePaul. I suppose that part of the reason I've become a bit bitter about college basketball is that we had it so good for a little while with the Blue Demons. In the '70s, they played their games at the old Alumni Hall at the corner of Belden and Sheffield and we could walk there from our house.

When old Ray Meyer finally landed the top city recruit - Mark Aguirre out of Westinghouse - in 1978 and Aguirre suited up as a freshman in the 1978-79 season, it quickly became apparent that DePaul had something. We attend several home games that year and I have a vivid memory of Aguirre knocking down shot after shot.

The high-flying dunks and three-pointers practically from the logos are a joy to behold but Aguirre stroking high-arching baseline jumper after jumper . . . man was that awesome to watch.

And sure enough, DePaul made it all the way to the Final Four in 1979. And of course, that was the year that Magic brought his Michigan State team to the same place, as did Larry Bird with Indiana State. You get 100 points if you can name the fourth team in those national semifinals. It was Ivy League champ Penn.

In the next two seasons, when Carver's Terry Cummings joined Aguirre, the Demons seemed even better, spending long stretches ranked among the top five teams in the country. They were seeded No. 1 heading into the '81 dance but suffered the worst loss in program history, 49-48, against St. Joseph's in the first round. Aguirre went pro at that point and was drafted No. 1 by the Dallas Mavericks.

Soon Ray Meyer retired, and after a great season in 1986-87 with Dallas Comegys and Rod Strickland leading the way, Joey Meyer's program began to struggle. The team has failed to make it back to national prominence in decades. And they moved the games to the Rosemont Horizon.

That was brutal. But then the Bulls lucked into a rookie from North Carolina with the third pick of the first round in the 1984 draft. Magic and Larry Bird had begun to lift the NBA up with their rivalry in the '80s but then Michael took over starting in 1991. Some other team won championships in 1989 and '90 but we don't need to mention them here.

Not a bad fan pedigree if I may say so myself.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:51 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

A few months ago, as I was preparing to go into an important conversation with someone I was in conflict with, I told a friend that I was going to work really hard to keep it civil. And then I realized: "She won't let it be civil." Therefore, true communication could not take place. It made me wonder if trying to resolve our differences was even worth it or a waste of time because the other side wasn't willing to listen from the get-go.

I've thought of this often since then when thinking about folks trying to have serious, good-faith discussions with Donald Trump and his followers. Trump befouls everything, including good faith attempts at serious discussion. And his supporters are dug in. Just look at his approval ratings in the midst of his historic and deadly handling of the coronavirus crisis.

So when Mayor Lori Lightfoot appeared to chide Gov. J.B. Pritzker this week for expending energy criticizing Trump, I thought she had a point: Trump isn't open to being persuaded. And now you're down in the mud with him, along with everyone else in his orbit.

On the other hand, I liked seeing Pritzker fight - fight for us. Someone has to, even if it's to eternal frustration and fleeting psychological satisfaction. And Pritzker's exchanges with Trump weren't just to move Trump, but to reveal to the public what's going on behind the scenes as the state tries to acquire the medical supplies it desperately needs to save lives.

And it doesn't distract a public official from doing their job to call out the president of the United States and then move on. Also, there is an election (scheduled) in November. People need to know.

Finally, you can't just ignore Trump. We are living in his world, as much as it pains me to type that, and the gravity he exerts, like a black hole, is impossible to escape. Which Lightfoot just learned.

From this morning's Politico Illinois Playbook:

"Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot didn't contain her contempt for Trump's latest salvo. 'He has said things that are flat-out wrong." Trump has "very, very able people at his disposal. He can tap into a worldwide network of science experts. He's not doing that."

Trump is contributing to fake news, she said. "The things we're hearing on a daily basis coming from the president are unreliable and frankly scary, because there are people who still credit him as a reliable source of information. We're not doing that here in Chicago."

Lesson: The only way to "keep things civil" with someone who will not allow it is to ignore the problem. And that only allows the problem to fester - and let's the bad actor win.

Some people can't be reached. That's when you marshal allies and fight.

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Also, don't appease the bully.

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Police Chief Check
"Like almost everything else in Chicago during these extraordinary times, the appointment of a permanent replacement for fired Supt. Eddie Johnson is on hold as City Hall marshals all of its resources on the war against the coronavirus," the Sun-Times reports.

Until the pandemic, the Chicago Police Board had vowed to complete its nationwide search no later than the end of February and announce the names of three finalists from which Mayor Lori Lightfoot has promised to choose.

By most accounts, the search is over.

Sources say the three finalists have already been chosen from these four: former Dallas Police Chief David Brown; Sean Malinowski, a former chief of detectives for the Los Angeles Police Department; Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman; and Chicago Police Department Deputy Chief Ernest Cato.

For a long time, Malinowski appeared to have the inside track, but aspects of his tech-driven approach to policing have been found - at least elsewhere in the country - ineffective, despite media-amplified hype.

The Sun-Times offers another reason why he may not have made the list of finalists: "[T]here have been signals that Malinowski may have fallen out of favor because he has been viewed as having campaigned for the job in a way some at City Hall see as heavy-handed."

Signals? Do tell. (She doesn't.)

"If Malinowski does not make the top three - despite his slick video and intimate knowledge of CPD as a consultant who helped create Strategic Decision Support Centers across the city - that could open the door for Lightfoot to choose a dark horse in Ziman."

I find it hard to believe the police chief of Aurora is going to get promoted to police chief of Chicago, no matter how talented she may be. Brown would be an interesting choice, but I would not dismiss Cato's chances (see the item CPD Short List here).

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Also: unlike the others, Malinowski is a white guy.

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Back to the Sun-Times:

"But the Police Board did not announce the names of the three finalists, and won't any time soon. That means Interim Supt. Charlie Beck will hold down the fort - and lead the law enforcement response to the pandemic - when he had hoped to return to his family in Los Angeles by now."

You know what? I'm good with that. In fact, it may be for the best right now. An experienced hand at the helm without any of the inevitable continuity issues that come up with a leadership transition.

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"'Because of this unprecedented crisis that we're dealing with, the Police Board has decided to hold off on formally submitting anything as it relates to the superintendent search so we can put all of our efforts across the city to focus on dealing with a crisis the likes of which none of us has ever seen,' Police Board President Ghian Foreman told the Sun-Times.

"He reacted angrily when asked how the indefinite hold would impact Lightfoot's plan to have a new superintendent in place in time to craft an all-important summer plan at a time when homicides are already up by more than 50 percent over last year's total.

"I've got family members in New York right now with coronavirus and pneumonia. And you want to focus on when we're choosing a superintendent? Is that what you really are doing? Come on," he said.

He's right, because it's not as if the department is without a chief to craft an "all-important summer plan" - a chief who appears to be doing a decent job. The police board is making the right call here - not that it ought not be questioned. But the questions can be a little smarter.

Foreman:

"After 9/11, would you have called us and said what are we doing with the superintendent search? Come on. You're better than that."

No, they're not.

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Osama bin Gibbs
"Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary in the Obama administration who later became global chief communications officer at McDonald's, is going to the public affairs firm Bully Pulpit Interactive," Politico Illinois Playbook also reports in a congratulatory note today. "He'll be a senior counsel based in the firm's Chicago office. He's already familiar with the firm, which is full of Obama alumni."

As I've noted many times on this site over the years, Gibbs is one of the guys who was behind the ad in Iowa in 2004 that morphed Howard Dean into Osama bin Laden, helping torpedo Dean's presidential campaign. Welcome to Chicago!

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To wit:

"That effort included an ad defended by Gibbs that morphed Howard Dean into Osama bin Laden while an announcer said: 'Americans want a president who can face the dangers ahead. But Howard Dean has no military or foreign policy experience. And Howard Dean just cannot compete with George Bush on foreign policy. It's time for Democrats to think about that - and think about it now.'"

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Beer Diet Not Cute
I'm sorry, Block Club Chicago, but we should be concerned about Patrick Berger, not charmed.

Berger is finishing a 40-day beer-only fast this week, and has the headline says, he's lost 33 pounds.

That's not a surprise; if you stop eating, you lose weight. Especially on a starvation diet. I can't imagine any health professional blessing this approach.

You'll have to scroll to the 15th paragraph to see this addressed - and then dismissed.

His primary care doctor finally learned of the fast a few weeks ago, and although she still doesn't approve of drinking four to five beers a day, she told him he's not in any immediate danger of dying.

First, if he's drinking four to five beers a day - every day, and for 40 days - he has a drinking problem. And when people with drinking problems estimate how much they're consuming, a good rule of thumb is to double it. ("I only had two, officer" is always a tip off to cops. "With dinner" seals it.)

Second, not being in immediate danger of dying is an awfully low bar.

It's also not sustainable weight loss, as he reintroduces food into his diet.

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"Now, he'll have some garlic soup.

"It's an old Czech hangover cure, and I certainly could use a hangover cure," he said.

I'll say. You've been drunk for 40 days.

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"'I'm not promoting this as a healthy diet or a healthy way to lose weight. It is simply a mental challenge," he told Block Club.

A better challenge would be a food-only diet.

"'If you choose to take it on, the consequences are on you. I'm taking zero responsibility,' he said with a laugh."

How much responsibility is Block Club taking?

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The article doesn't say how old Berger is (!) but notes he has three kids.

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"Berger criticized Pritzker's measure to defer a host of taxes for small businesses as a 'political sham.'"

Okay, drunky.

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From a previous article about Berger:

At his last doctor's visit, Berger told his doctor he typically drinks a few beers each day.

"She told me I needed to cut back, so I didn't really feel encouraged to go to her with this diet," he said. "I did not tell my doctor."

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"Tossing back four beers a day wasn't out of the ordinary for him before his beer-only fast."

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Missing Chicago's Game
Jim "Coach" Coffman remembers.

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ChicagoReddit

Just because the weather is nice, its not ok to play basketball from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

The Chicago Department of Public Health has been around for a long time. Between 1894 and 1918 the Department of Health built 19 public bathouses across the city, mostly in the older and poorer neighborhoods that surrounded the loop. Many apartments in these areas lacked in home plumbing. The public baths were the product of years of public lobbying by progressive social reformers. As laws changed to require plumbing in apartments the public baths were slowly closed over the years. The final bath closed in 1979. Only four former bathhouses remain. To learn more about public baths, go check out @forgotten.chicago 's website! The Joseph Medill Public Bath was opened in 1906 at 2140 W. Grand Ave. It is now a private home.

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

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ChicagoTube

"Search And Destroy" at the Metro in 1988, remastered live WXRT recording.

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BeachBook

Uber And Lyft Are Blocking Unemployment Pay.

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Who Was Alexander von Humboldt?

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Newly Relevant: Ibsen's Enemy Of The People.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: End date.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:47 AM | Permalink

March 24, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

At the Jewels on Clybourn this morning.

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The Gouge Economy
"Attorney General Kwame Raoul said Monday his office has received more than 525 price gouging complaints statewide and said businesses found to be marking up prices to a unrealistic amount are being asked to sign agreements with the attorney general's office agreeing not to engage in further gouging," Block Club Chicago reports.

"Businesses who violate their agreements can be sued under the state's Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, can be fined up to $50,000 and ordered to shut down, Raoul said.

"In Chicago, Block Club Chicago has learned of several suspected price gouging examples at stores across the city."

Click through to see who some of the offenders are. And thank you, Block Club, for naming names. Please keep doing so.

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The Gig Economy
"Eighteen percent of Illinois' workforce are part of the so-called gig economy, according to ADP Research Institute, which published its newest report on the gig economy last month, according to The Daily Line," Block Club notes. "Illinois is tied for third place among states with the largest segments of work carried out by gig workers, according to the report."

So, as you can imagine: "With no income, no paid time off and no unemployment benefits, 1099 workers in Illinois . . . are 'unbelievably stressed.'"

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Bear Market
On Monday, the Green Bay Packers announced they would fund COVID-19 community relief funds to the tune of $1.5 million.

The Cleveland Browns also announced Monday that they would pony up $1.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds for Ohioans.

The New York Jets just wrote a $1 million check.

The Vikings' Kyle Rudolph is personally funding 82,000 meals for COVID families. Let's say a meal cost $10 each. That's $820,000.

I'm sure the story is much the same all around the league.

Which brings to mind this item from just two days ago:

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 10.49.18 AM.png
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GraNd Old ParTY
Oh good, Illinois Republicans have finally come to their senses and are calling out Donald Trump: "Illinois Republicans Call For An End To 'Finger-Pointing And Name Calling' In Coronavirus Crisis."

Oh.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

What Is A Chicagoan Anyway?
"As a generality, the burbs do care about 'Chicago' but only when it involves cultural/sports/recreational activities, not the lives of people. There are the people who live in Chicago and then everybody else who objectively is a spectator of that life. Except for the cost of real estate, the spectators all occupy the cheap seats," our very own David Rutter writes in a must-read.

"Those I knew who grew up in Chicago and then moved to the suburbs invariably framed that experience as an escape. A lucky escape . . . [But] if you ask, they uniformly proclaim love for Chicago in all its splendid grandness. But live there? Not on your life. That poses a more philosophical question: How do you love a home you mostly wanted to flee?"

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Jonathan Pie On Lockdown
"What the fuck is a VPN? Why does everyone in IT think that everyone else works in IT? I don't work in IT, you work in IT. That's what you're for. You work in IT so I don't have to."

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ChicagoReddit

Illinois values testicles more than any other state (according to workers' compensation). from r/illinois

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

2002 FSN Bulls/Bucks Promo.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Shrimpy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

What Is A Chicagoan Anyway?

Public TV star Geoffrey Baer once explained to me, because I did not understand it, the circumlocution required of Evanston residents who believe they are Chicagoans.

They live on the north side of Howard Street, as did I once upon a time, which means they do not live in Chicago. That's irrelevant, he said, and apparently that irrelevance extends to thousands of other people, too.

"I came to see that Chicago is not just a city; it's a region," Baer said with a completely straight face which is the television face of Chicago's history. He grew up in Deerfield and lives on a quiet Evanston street.

It's as Samuel Taylor Coleridge described the poetic faith of theatrical experience: Being a Chicagoan requires a "willing suspension of disbelief."

There's an element of unreality in that. It's fatuous.

As a regional emigre, I was applying boundaries literally, Baer said. An error, he assured me, though anyone who suspends the laws of nature and language for their benefit does not have logic on their side.

Hence we come to the minor kerfuffle involving Beachwood Reporter proprietor Steve Rhodes.

Rhodes recently ran afoul of "Chicagoans" hailing the city's glory for sharing a Bon Jovi total-city singalong, thus warding off the Coronavirus voodoo pandemic.

Rhodes contends that Chicago Exceptionalism is a comfortable delusion. But if anyone adopts it, they at least should be actual Chicagoans and not live, let's say, in Evanston.

Them's fightin' words.

For what it's worth, which I'm sure is nothing, I have lived and worked in seven states. Every place has been both good and awful. The distinctions all depend on how much money you have to experience what is good and avoid what is awful. It's often as simple as that.

The recurring debate centers over whether Chicago is exceptionally wonderful, or exceptionally grim.

I suggest the answer to that choice is "Yes."

Chicagoans all live in several contiguous areas separated by everything that divides all Americans. But how can anyone who lives in Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka, Highland Park, Glencoe, Lake Bluff or Lake Forest be an authentic "Chicagoan" or have the right to call themselves that? As for Kenilworth, it seems to so affluently alien as not to be terrestrial.

Glenview, Morton Grove or Lincolnshire? Might as well be in Wisconsin.

On the other side of the state line, Whiting, Hammond and Gary might as well be on Neptune, though no one who lives there is, or wishes to be viewed as a Chicagoan.

Sorry, no disrespect to those on the Illinois side, but you too also live somewhere else other than Chicago.

If you call yourself a Roman or Parisian or Londoner, the presumption to outsiders is that at least you live there.

This definition is grossly less specific for "Chicagoan," which seems more like a situational state of being. Like still feeling existentially you are married to someone you divorced 20 years ago.

And as I wrote several years ago in a vain attempt to deliberately provoke discussion about violence, "White Chicago" does not seem to care what violence and poverty afflict "Black Chicago" and neither cares much about "Latino Chicago."

Suburbanites seemed oddly passive and tolerant about levels of violence and poverty in Chicago that would not be allowed in their burbs. The common factors, of course, are race and income. The boundaries are enforced by tribal edict, which means they are both profound and destructive.

White suburban "Chicagoans" live a different life than real "Chicagoans" of color. That's not so hard to understand, is it?

As a generality, the burbs do care about "Chicago" but only when it involves cultural/sports/recreational activities, not the lives of people. There are the people who live in Chicago and then everybody else who objectively is a spectator of that life. Except for the cost of real estate, the spectators all occupy the cheap seats.

The essence of Chicago seems often simultaneously wonderful and hideous, both crass and noble, which is hardly exceptional as a social critique of any big city. In big cities, bystanders get gunned down in drug deals gone wrong, just outside a theater doing a touring live performance of MacBeth.

There are no gang wars over who controls the drug trade in northern Lake Forest.

That's also far less true of almost everywhere I've ever lived from Florida to Montana, mostly in attractive college towns.

But I have resided in several of those tony suburbs of Chicago, though I never was tony. I was always a schlub and happily so. Schlubs don't need to pack as many suitcases when they move.

My experience is that Chicago's suburbanites care about "Chicago" only when it suits their sentimental convenience. It's a conversation technique, a placeholder. They revere the city of poetic "broad shoulders" as long as they don't have to live the austere, gravelly hardship of that life or be confronted by people who do live there.

Much of that real Chicago life is not so conveniently poetic.

Those I knew who grew up in Chicago and then moved to the suburbs invariably framed that experience as an escape. A lucky escape.

There is the physical reality of Chicago, and there is everywhere else, which is some form of greener pasture.

The residential fugitives uniformly told me that Chicago was what you "put up with" until you could move to the burbs. Whatever that feeling's source, it does not seem to be devoted love.

If you ask, they uniformly proclaim love for Chicago in all its splendid grandness. But live there? Not on your life. That poses a more philosophical question: How do you love a home you mostly wanted to flee?

Some people think of themselves as "Chicagoans" but never lived there. Their citizenship is only emotional, which is to say: irrational. This seems to an outsider to be a deliberate self-delusion.

I'm not even sure what being a "Chicagoan" means to them beyond just a self-bestowed title.

This is hardly a profound observation.

On his way to be being Chicago's uncrowned "City of Big Shoulders" poet laureate, Carl Sandburg grew up in Galesburg, then lived in Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, suburban Elmhurst and, of course, Evanston ,where everybody believes without challenge they are "Chicagoans."

He once lived in barracks at West Point, but got kicked out of the military academy after two weeks of school for flunking a grammar exam.

As a Chicago Daily News reporter, Sandburg, as with Abe Lincoln the lawyer, worked in Chicago and visited, but never lived there, as far as I can find. And I looked pretty hard.

Home is not a place you visit occasionally. Sometimes geography is definite and defined.

Sandburg is not even buried in Chicago. His ashes are in Galesburg.

At least Studs Terkel had his ashes dispersed at Bughouse Square, the quintessential Washington Park touchstone of Chicago political culture.

Terkel was born in New York City to Russian Jewish immigrants, but he was never anything other than a Chicagoan. He died in his Chicago home at 96.

And as far as we know, the home was not in Evanston.

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Recently from David Rutter:

* Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick.

* Mansplaining To A Millionaire.

* Status Check: Chicago Sports.

* The Week In WTF Redux: Blago Is Back Edition.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie: Lockdown

"What the fuck is a VPN? Why does everyone in IT think that everyone else works in IT? I don't work in IT, you work in IT. That's what you're for. You work in IT so I don't have to."


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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.

* Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trial.

* We're Fucked, Mate.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2020

Recalling Who Killed Cock Robin

Just as there would be no McDonald's without Dick and Mac McDonald, even if Ray Kroc is credited with being the franchise's founder, there would be no McDonald's without Cock Robin. And in true villainesque fashion, Ray Kroc is Cock Robin's father. Let's start at the beginning and untangle this grease-splattered web.

Our story begins in what was then the quiet outpost of Naperville, where a man named Walter Fredenhagen owned the Naperville Creamery. After selling the milk route portion of his business to Borden's, he switched his focus to ice cream. While he had several small shops in the area that bought his ice cream, they weren't exactly timely with their payments. Walter decided to eliminate the middleman and sell his ice cream direct to customers himself, joining forces with boyhood friend Earl Prince.

Along the way, they invented the tools that would change the history of not only ice cream marketing but also casual dining as we know it. First, they invented (and manufacture) the glass-topped ice cream display cabinets you now find at almost any ice cream store. Ice cream sells better if you can see it. Originally mass-produced in two-gallon metal cans, it was a challenge to both store and display the product without it spoiling. So they invented the first glass-covered display cabinet that was later adopted and mass-marketed by Kelvinator.

They also invented the first square ice cream scoop, primarily as a means of improved portion control. The square scoop was not only a visual novelty but provided a richer, more consistent scoop than round ones. (Most ice cream stores sold a one-scoop cone for a nickel. Walter and Earl sold a cone with two smaller, square scoops for a nickel. The square scoop was a hit.)

But most importantly, they invented the first multi-spindle milk shake machine - the Multimixer after their customer base kept requesting that the malted milk machine churn more slowly to produce a thicker malted-milk shake. The regular breakdowns of the standard Hamilton-Beach single-spindle mixer in the heat of lunch rush didn't help either.

By this time, Walter and Earl had expanded into burgers and fries at their stores, called Prince Castles, as they were ostensibly shaped like little castles, insisting on high quality, locally sourced ingredients, actually manufacturing most of their offerings (including their beef patties) at their Naperville-based factory.

Enter Ray, Dick And Mac

Ray Kroc, born and raised in Oak Park, met Walter and Earl on his route as a sales rep for Lily Tulip paper cups (while moonlighting as a lounge singer). Spotting the Multimixer and grasping its potential, he convinced the pair to make him their sole Multimixer sales rep.

One of his customers: Dick and Mac McDonald, to whom he sold eight Multimixers for their new and improved hamburger "bar" in San Bernardino. Eight mixers was an unusually large sale, so Ray flew out to California to see what the McDonald brothers were up to.

Ray was astonished. The McDonalds had basically invented the fast-food restaurant, eliminating car-hops, indoor seating and silverware. They called their formula the "Speedee System." It was brilliant. And the engine (and profit-generator) of the Speedee System was the Multimixer.

The volume of milk shakes moved right along with the burger and fries. And popular legend is true: Shakes are primarily air. Many low-cost units at a time create the potential for high-volume sales in the right system (even now most franchises are of systems more so than of settings).

Part of Ray's genius was recognizing genius, and this instance he not only recognized the genius of Dick and Mac but also Walter and Earl.

Robin's Roost

When Ray found both pairs, he found both leading successful regional hamburger chains, each demonstrating a flair for creating popular items at high volume and low cost, each relatively successful enough in their own rights before Ray ever came along. Neither pair cared much for more work or more success. Ray was projecting his ambition onto them and it didn't fit well.

The McDonalds were already franchising regionally and did not want to do the road work (on which Kroc thrived) necessary to manage a large chain well. Not only did Ray offer to franchise Walter and Earl, he pitched them on investing in the McDonald's chain. In their 60s by then, they didn't want the bother of either.

So they consciously uncoupled with. But due to an apparent provision in their contract, that left Ray with the Prince Castles name, foreshadowing his coming acquisition of the McDonald's name.

But the folks who had been running Prince Castles didn't just go away, so they had to find a new name for their operation. By the time they did, Earl had passed on and the business was being run mostly by Walter and his family. Walter's son, Ted, told the producers of One in a Million: The Cock Robin & Prince Castles Story that the new name came about from a time limit and desperation. They came up with hundreds of names they all laughed off.

Then, one of the employees, in exasperation, suggestion naming it Robin Roost after his vacation home on a lake. Everyone laughed again until Walter said "ENOUGH!" and gave the staff another week. For reasons that remain a mystery to us, the name transmuted in that time to the name we came to know and love (or loathe).

Thus: Ray Kroc fathered Cock Robin.

Cock Robin is the burger joint I remember with the Steakburgers, One in a Million shakes and square ice cream. I had no idea it was a chain - let alone one with such a backstory - until one day as a kid on the BNSF with my family I spotted a Cock Robin in Brookfield. I was disappointed to learn it wasn't just a local joint.

To wit, the Cock Robins of Brookfield and Melrose Park:

Mystery Solved

But that name! It comes from the name of a central character in an old English nursery rhyme, "Who Killed Cock Robin?"

Taking the question literally, the market eventually killed Cock Robin. As was the case with Marshall Field's, Cock Robin was caught in a pincer between the high- and low-ends of the market. They couldn't maintain their fresh quality standards at the volume their new corporate competitors were realizing after having farmed out their sourcing. Competitors like McDonald's.

Thus: Ray Kroc killed Cock Robin.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Tom Chambers:

Those places were great! The shakes and malts really were the best. I remember the one on Cermak in Berwyn.

My uncle said something about a deal where the Prince Castles in the city were allowed to keep their name, while the ones in the suburbs had to change.

McDonald's? Um, no.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Brilliant.


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And for those who need a mood change, this may be the all-time "in emergency, break glass" song/video.

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ICYMI: The Weekend Desk Report
Party like it's 1999?

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Today's Coronavirus Novel
A sampling of Beachwood's coronavirus social media; get the full picture @BeachwoodReport.

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As many have pointed out, Romney's wife has MS and is immunocompromised.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Remembering Who Killed Cock Robin
It was someone famous.

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ChicagoReddit

Unemployment office has been unavailable for over 1 week from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

Sketched my model who looked a bit sad and bored as he couldn't play golf due to the stay-at-home order that took effect yesterday. Couldn't go out for a walk as it started snowing. Sorry, my model, but hang in there. 州知事によるstay-at-home命令のため、日常生活に不可欠なもの以外を扱うお店やサービス等が基本的に休業となりました。楽しみしていたゴルフが当面できなくなってしまったモデル、少し寂しそう。雪も降ってきて気分転換の散歩にも出られない。#uskathome

A post shared by Tomoko T (@acharcoal) on

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ChicagoTube

WGN-TV's 2004 Cubs Season Tribute.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Distance learning.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

March 22, 2020

The Weekend Desk Report

"Chicago police broke up at least two house parties Saturday night as dozens of people there defied orders to stay at home and keep away from large groups during the coronavirus pandemic," CBS2 Chicago reports.

This demonstrates the importance of the state's stay-at-home order - and that the state and city mean business.

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"Police got a call about a party in the Noble Square neighborhood. Officers showed up around midnight and found dozens of people inside a home near Greenview Avenue and Blackhawk Street. Officers then told everyone to leave."

Make no mistake, parties endanger lives and the police breaking them up saves lives.

"Not too long after that police got a call for a large gathering in the Austin neighborhood at an apartment building in the 4900 block of West Van Buren. Two men leaving the party were even wearing protective face masks."

Sometimes the job of the police is to serve and protect people from their dumb selves.

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Chicago Death Toll
"Two more Cook County residents who deaths are attributed to coronavirus have been identified, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths in the county to four," according to the Sun-Times Media Wire. "Both were from Chicago."

A week from now these will seem like the good old days.

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Bearly Helping
"The Bears have stepped up and made a donation to help the Chicago community in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.," NBC Sports Chicago notes. "The Bears organization is donating $250,000 to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund."

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The McCaskey family has a net worth of $1.3 billion, which is odd considering that the team they own is valued at $3.5 billion, but at any case, I'd hardly consider throwing $250K into a coronavirus fund "stepping up."

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Crazy Bernie
"As COVID-19 continues to spread, many people are scared they or their loved ones will fall ill," the Tribune reports.

"Those fears are especially acute for those who don't have health insurance - some of whom lack coverage because they can't afford plans sold on the Affordable Care Act exchange."

As some of you know, I've taken an eight-week job as a field office supervisor for the U.S. Census here - if we ever get going in light of the pandemic. I took the job for the extra cash - and also because I think it will be fun and interesting.

But here's the thing: The extra money I'll make may make me ineligible for Medicaid, in which case I'll have to buy health insurance on the Obamacare market. And guess what? That shit is expensive. I'm not sure it's worth it. I may be better off at poverty-line level income. Thanks, Obama!

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"[F]ar fewer people in Illinois are uninsured now than a decade ago, before the law was signed," the Tribune notes.

But if you can't afford to use your insurance, are you really insured?

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"This month marks 10 years since President Barack Obama signed the law - an anniversary that's colliding with an unprecedented health care crisis. It's a turn of events that will undoubtedly highlight both how the law has improved access to health insurance for many, and how it's fallen short."

If only this were, say, a presidential election year with a major candidate whose centerpiece issue was universal health care.

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This article has a word count of 2,362. To the unitiated, that's long for a newspaper story, which would typically weigh in a maybe 800 to 1,400 words. My Chicago magazine articles usually totalled around 5,000 words.

And yet, words not appearing among those 2,362:

"Bernie"

"Sanders"

"Medicare for All"

"universal"

And the verdict on Obamacare? He said-she said. On the one hand, on the other. Shrug.

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States' Rights To Die
"Federal delay in procuring masks, gloves and other medically needed protective equipment has forced states to be "competing against each other" and overpaying as the coronavirus crisis continues to explode, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Sunday," the Sun-Times notes.

"With governors of other big states - especially California and New York - shopping the world for supplies with open wallets, Pritzker told host Jake Tapper on CNN's State of the Union, "We're all competing against each other. This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government."

The state of the Union is fucked.

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"President Donald Trump has yet to invoke a national law to allow him to order U.S. manufacturers to make desperately needed personal protective equipment - known as PPE - instead relying on volunteer efforts of the nation's companies."

And that is not working out.

Maybe those partygoers have the right idea after all.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Kenny Rogers In The Beachwood
Including how one asshole ruined "The Gambler" for me.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #296: Foles Gold
Least bad move. Plus: Alternate Sports Programming; Thank You (Again), NFL!; Tom Brady Is A Buccaneer; Bears Transactions; Bowman (& Co.) Will Be Back; Gar Forman On Way Out Again; UICUL8R; Elk Grove Village Bails On Bahamas Bowl; Cubs, White Sox DNP.

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Asian Carp DNA Test
100% that fish.

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Prosecuting U.S. War Crimes In Afghanistan
Guess who's standing in the way? The U.S.

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Poles In Illinois
"The first comprehensive history to trace the abundance and diversity of this ethnic group throughout the state from the 1800s to the present."

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24 Hours With HGTV
Sheltering in place.

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Weekend ChicagoReddit

What happens if your lease is up during Shelter-in-Place order in Chicago? from r/chicago

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Weekend ChicagoGram

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Weekend ChicagoTube

Chicago Northern Soul: "Music" / The Festivals

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Weekend BeachBook

Her Facebook Friends Asked If Anyone Was Actually Sick. She Had An Answer.

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A 'Drop The Mic' Moment For A Man Who Paid College Basketball Recruits.

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What Makes A Hotel Breakfast 'Continental?'

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What Bernie Said.

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What's It Like To Audition For AC/DC?

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The Wonderful 3-D Diorama Art Of Old View-Master Reels.

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

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Exceptional.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

March 21, 2020

Poles In Illinois

"Illinois boasts one of the most visible concentrations of Poles in the United States," SIU Press notes. "Chicago is home to one of the largest Polish ethnic communities outside Poland itself.

"Yet no one has told the full story of our state's large and varied Polish community - until now. Poles in Illinois is the first comprehensive history to trace the abundance and diversity of this ethnic group throughout the state from the 1800s to the present."

polesinillinois.jpg

"Authors John Radzilowski and Ann Hetzel Gunkel look at family life among Polish immigrants, their role in the economic development of the state, the working conditions they experienced, and the development of their labor activism.

"Close-knit Polish American communities were often centered on parish churches but also focused on fraternal and social groups and cultural organizations.

"Polish Americans, including waves of political refugees during World War II and the Cold War, helped shape the history and culture of not only Chicago, the 'capital' of Polish America, but also the rest of Illinois with their music, theater, literature, food."

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Everyday Poles
"Associate Professor Ann Hetzel Gunkel was honored when she was approached by Dr. Jeff Hancks, Series Editor of the Peoples of Illinois Series at SIU Press to write a book. Gunkel and co-author John Radzilowski were dedicated to telling the stories of 'ordinary' Polish Americans, those who are not usually the subject of history books," Columbia College Chicago says.

"Poles in Illinois 'focuses on lived experiences of Polish Americans rather than historiographic interpretations of Polish American history.'

"Coming from a Polish American family in Chicago, Gunkel started with a personal understanding of various immigrant cohorts in Polonia (Polish American society). Gunkel's studied Polish language and culture at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and has taught as a Visiting Fulbright Professor at the Jagiellonian's Institute for American Studies and Polish Diaspora. Today, in addition to Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Gunkel works in the field of Polish American Studies and Ethnic Studies."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:58 PM | Permalink

Even With DNA Detection, Asian Carp Continue To Evade Scientists

When conservation manager Lindsay Chadderton came to the United States from New Zealand to help monitor the movement of invasive species between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, everyone was buzzing about one particular intruder: Asian carp.

The moniker includes four fish imported from China starting in the 1960s - grass carp, black carp, silver carp and bighead carp. Together, they might be the posterchild for invasive species in the U.S.

Bighead and silver dominate large stretches of the Mississippi River, outcompeting many native fish. They breed quickly, eat voraciously, grow much larger than most native fish and, when startled, silver carp catapult out of the water. They are not just an ecological nightmare; they also pose a danger to recreational boaters and fishers. According to the United States Geological Survey, jumping Asian carp have seriously injured boaters, and water skiing on the Missouri River is "now considered exceedingly dangerous." Scientists say these fish could wreak similar havoc in the Great Lakes.

Part of the problem with Asian carp is the difficulty catching them. When the fish number in the thousands and are actually jumping into boats, it's easy enough. But things change on the very edge of their territory, where the fish are sparser. At low abundances, they evade nets, as well as the electrical currents biologists sometimes use to temporarily stun and catch the creatures.

Chadderton, who works at the nonprofit Nature Conservancy, and his colleagues, along with the Army Corps of Engineers and other government agencies, all wanted to know how far along the fish had actually traveled - what was the edge of their territory? Chadderton wondered: What if instead of catching the carp, biologists could find some other marker of their presence - something like environmental DNA, or eDNA? All organisms shed genetic material into the environment. In the case of fish, this happens via flaking scales, mucus and feces. Scientists could start by sampling the water and then analyzing it for the presence of the fishes' genetic material.

Chadderton consulted his colleagues on the project, biologists Andrew Mahon, Chris Jerde and David Lodge. At the time, "there was literally one paper" that had used eDNA techniques to study small ponds in France, says Jerde. The Illinois River and the Chicago Area Waterway System are exponentially larger systems, he explains, so the group didn't know what to expect. Would their samples be too dilute to capture any carp DNA?

The team took samples throughout, and following everyone's initial surprise that the method worked, they found Asian carp DNA much closer to Lake Michigan than anyone had anticipated. Soon Michigan filed a lawsuit against the State of Illinois, demanding the closure of two shipping locks near Chicago, a move that could have decimated the city's shipping industry. (Neighboring states joined Michigan in its fight, but in the end, the waterways remained open and, so far, Asian carp haven't established populations in the Great Lakes.)

The case never made it to court, but scientists still found themselves caught in the middle of a political battle with huge economic consequences. The furor cast doubt on the reliability of eDNA, and to this day, some government agencies are wary of employing it. Nevertheless, biologists have continued to refine their methods along the Illinois waterways. At this point, Jerde estimates, researchers have collected 30,000 water samples from this area, making it the most studied eDNA system in the world. But there is not yet a consensus on how and when to use this technique in a way that protects the environment while minimizing costs.

"One of the rubs right now of the eDNA approach is it takes time to go from 100 samples collected to 100 samples processed [and] analyzed with all the quality assurances and controls," Jerde says.

And if some of those samples come back positive for the target species, what happens next?

Mitten Crab And Crayfish

Scientists were using environmental DNA to look for bacteria in marine sediments as early as the 1980s, but it took several decades before researchers applied the method to look for non-native species in aquatic environments. Now that new technologies have made it easier to separate traces of DNA from water samples, eDNA is being used on every continent around the world except Antarctica.

Researchers have used eDNA to monitor invasive species like Chinese mitten crab and American signal crayfish in England, to track populations of numerous species in ponds, and to find rare or endangered aquatic species. More recently, the tool has expanded to identify many species within an ecological community and provide metrics like population density.

In the case of Asian carp, eDNA is useful because it requires far less equipment and fewer people to collect water samples than it does to actually catch fish. But using DNA for detection is imprecise: for Asian carp, the DNA could come from fish mucus on barges traveling out of the Illinois River and into Chicago, or from bird poop containing digested carp.

Adam Sepulveda, an aquatic ecologist with the United States Geological Survey, compares eDNA to a smoke detector. Just because the alarm is going off, doesn't mean your house is on fire. Someone may have simply burnt the toast. Likewise, a positive DNA hit for Asian carp doesn't mean they've established a breeding population in the area, just that something carried their DNA to that spot. All of this makes it incredibly difficult to know how to respond to a positive detection.

In the fall of 2019, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners came back from water sampling trips on the Chicago waterways with a record high number of positive DNA hits for silver and bighead carp. All of the positive samples came from Bubbly Creek, just 2 1/2 miles from Lake Michigan. Those results triggered a two-week fishing frenzy: agency biologists and contract fishers visited 331 sites in the 10 miles around Bubbly Creek, capturing more than 2,000 fish with nets and electrofishing tools. Not a single one was an Asian carp.

Sepulveda notes that positive hits can result in a flurry of activity without ever turning up a live fish, and that's a challenging undertaking for financially strapped departments. Most fisheries managers from state and federal agencies "have been slow and cautious to embrace the tool," Sepulveda says. "They want to make sure all the kinks are worked out because they saw the issues with Asian carp in the early 2010s when the tool was maybe brought out too early."

Amy McGovern, the regional aquatic invasive species coordinator for USFWS, says sampling teams on the Chicago waterways in October noticed the Racine Avenue Pump Station emptying into Bubbly Creek at the time of collection. One possible reason for the high number of positives in that area is that street runoff may have contained Asian carp DNA. The fish are more popular as a cuisine among Asian communities, and this particular pump station is near Chicago's Chinatown.

"When we do get these positive hits, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a live fish. We're still trying to get better at what those sources are in terms of that area of the Chicago waterway system," McGovern says. She adds that the collection teams have stringent quality control protocols, and never collect water during combined sewer overflow events. This was the first time they'd encountered an active pump on this location of the river, and they're working with the city to investigate it.

Given that the issue has been closely followed by the media for more than a decade, McGovern says, it's understandable that the public might react with shock to the sight of so many positive hits in the Chicago River. The agencies monitoring the fish want to make sure they're not causing undue alarm. If they find the source is not a live fish, they could modify their sampling locations. In that case, "maybe Bubbly Creek is not on the list," says McGovern.

Jerde argues that the eDNA method is sound, but the response can sometimes be lackluster. "We'll tell them, this is where we're getting the positive detections, but then they go back two months later and try to catch a fish. There's so many reasons that will fail, the main one being that fish swim."

In this most recent case, the samples from Bubbly Creek that showed a high number of positive hits were taken at the beginning of October. But processed results didn't come out for another three weeks. Then, cold weather prevented crews from doing fishing surveys. It wasn't until the end of November that the final sweeps were done on the Chicago River, a month-and-a-half after the eDNA samples were taken. Maybe the DNA came from a source other than live fish, or maybe the fish just moved on.

State-By-State

Seth Herbst, who works for Fisheries Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, says that the eDNA response strategies should reflect the state of a given waterway. For Illinois, Asian carp have already arrived and established themselves. The goal, then, is to keep populations from exploding by intensively fishing on the Illinois River and monitoring the Chicago waterways with eDNA. For the state of Michigan, more resources go towards monitoring because so far Asian carp haven't established there.

"Using eDNA on a regular or routine basis is important," Herbst says. "Once or twice a year may not be the best approach." It's also important to identify potential contamination sources, he says.

For Sepulveda, a solution to the eDNA quandary might arrive in the form of a related technology. Researchers are currently experimenting with extracting another genetic material called RNA (ribonucleic acid) from aquatic environments. While DNA comes in the iconic double helix shape, an organism's RNA is only a single strand - and it decays much faster. DNA can last in certain environments for weeks, months, and even years; RNA falls apart in hours to days. If a technique can be developed to extract environmental RNA, it could provide much more solid proof that the sample came from a live creature - or at least, from a creature that was alive until very recently. There's also some work being done to create chemical solutions that capture larger strands of DNA, which would again offer more confidence that the DNA came from a live fish rather than mucous or bird feces.

But as techniques are being developed and improved, Sepulveda says, "We are trying as hard as we can to vet eDNA as a method for making big, important decisions."

"From my perspective, he added, "we made huge advances in the last 10 years in eDNA. But those are still slowly transferring over to managers."

Lorraine Boissoneault is a Chicago-based journalist who writes about science, history, and outdoor adventure for publications such as Smithsonian Magazine, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Hakai Magazine, Atlas Obscura, Great Lakes Now, and Playboy. She is the author of the narrative nonfiction book The Last Voyageurs. This post was originally published on Undark.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:34 PM | Permalink

Did The U.S. Commit Crimes In Afghanistan? International Prosecutors Want To Find Out

International prosecutors tasked with looking into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan have no shortage of potential targets.

Afghan soldiers and warlords have been accused of rape, murder and kidnap almost since fighting began in late 2001. The deliberate targeting of civilians by the Taliban and other groups continues to this day.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces and the CIA are alleged to have carried out unlawful killings and torture, both in Afghanistan and through the secret "rendition" of terrorist suspects to a number of European countries.

A Hague Invasion?

Most perpetrators have to date gone unpunished. But on March 5, judges at the International Criminal Court, or ICC, gave the ICC prosecutor authority to begin an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan. The probe will look into the alleged murder, imprisonment, torture and intentional targeting of civilians committed by Afghan government, Taliban and U.S. forces.

The ICC's jurisdiction is based on the Rome Statute that created the court in 2002 and has since been ratified by 123 countries. Afghanistan ratified the treaty in 2003, so prosecutors will investigate only acts that occurred after the treaty took effect in May 2003.

The United States never ratified the treaty, and Washington has consistently maintained that U.S. citizens cannot be subject to the ICC's jurisdiction without its consent.

International law disagrees. Article 12 of the Rome Statute makes clear that the ICC's jurisdiction includes acts committed within the territory of any state that has accepted its jurisdiction, no matter what the nationality of the alleged perpetrators.

Nonetheless, the U.S. has taken measures to frustrate any prosecution of its troops. The American Service Members Protection Act of 2002 - only half-jokingly referred to as The Hague Invasion Act, a reference to the ICC headquarters in the Netherlands - authorizes the president "to use all means necessary," including force, to release American soldiers detained or imprisoned by the ICC.

While it is difficult to imagine the U.S. invading the Netherlands, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's reaction to the new investigation suggests that the spirit of the law is very much alive: "This is a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution, masquerading as a legal body . . . we will take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade, so-called court." He even appeared to threaten ICC staff and their families should the ICC pursue the investigation.

Barriers To Justice

Even if the ICC does have the right to investigate the alleged crimes, there are other hurdles to bringing a successful prosecution. Crimes against humanity are limited to acts that are "committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack." War crimes fall under the court's jurisdiction "in particular when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes."

There was certainly a "plan or policy" by the U.S. government to commit what most consider to be torture during the early years of the war. Although the bulk of these illegal practices were discontinued when Barack Obama took office in 2009, he subsequently announced that there would be no further investigation into the alleged crimes.

And that is not the only limitation. The ICC cannot hear a case that is being investigated or prosecuted by a country that has jurisdiction over it. The international court can step in only when nations are unwilling or unable to carry out a genuine investigation themselves.

Obama's refusal to prosecute anyone for pursuing the policies of torture, as well as the potential complicity of the U.S. in crimes committed by Afghan warlords and the Afghan military, undermines any argument that Washington might now make that the ICC should simply let the allegations against U.S. forces be investigated through American courts. President Trump shows no desire to hold U.S. forces accountable, as evidenced by his November 2019 decision to pardon two U.S. soldiers convicted by U.S. courts of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Still, the U.S. has no legal obligation to cooperate with any ICC investigation, since it is not a party to the Rome Statute. The Afghan government does have an obligation to cooperate, but it has given no indication that it will do so. It is also fair to assume that the Taliban has no intention of complying with prosecutors' requests.

Does this mean that the investigation is simply an exercise in futility?

In part, the answer must be yes. Although it is conceivable that individual Afghans or Americans might be subject to arrest, the ICC investigation would first need to find sufficient evidence against specific perpetrators without the cooperation of key parties. Even then, apprehension of any accused American could occur only outside the U.S. Defendants would be then be tried by the ICC in The Hague, a process that would likely take years.

The Price Of Peace

Nonetheless, the attempt to bring a judicial focus to atrocities committed by every side in the nearly two-decades-long Afghan war should be welcomed. More than 40,000 civilians have suffered violent deaths in the conflict. To date, the number of perpetrators held accountable for the many crimes suffered by the civilian population has been small.

Criminal accountability is not a simple matter, and things may be further complicated by negotiations to end the conflict - immunity for accused perpetrators may be demanded in exchange for peace. But even if peace and justice are not fully compatible under these circumstances, ignoring justice entirely is likely to leave victims feeling abandoned and criminals on the loose, undermining the viability of any peace agreement. Whatever the ultimate outcome, the ICC's investigation and possible prosecutions may play a role in helping partial justice to be done.

Hurst Hannum is a professor of international law at Tufts University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:11 PM | Permalink

24 Hours With HGTV

11 p.m.: My Lottery Dream Home: South Shore Score

11:32 pm: My Lottery Dream Home: Florida Windfall

12:01 a.m.: My Lottery Dream Home: Buy Now, Inherit Later

12:30 a.m.: My Lottery Dream Home: IT Geek to Rich and Chic

1 a.m.: My Lottery Dream Home: Athol Family Dream Home

1:30 a.m.: My Lottery Dream Home: Million Dollar Bull's-Eye

2 a.m.: My Lottery Dream Home: Waterfront Windfall

2:30 a.m.: My Lottery Dream Home: Cabin Fever

3 a.m.: 5 Makeup Tips 4 You

3:30 a.m.: Meaningful Beauty 7

4 a.m.: New Larry King Update: Credit Crisis?

4:30 a.m.: Have Thinning Hair? Keranique Can Help Regrow Beautiful, Thicker Hair!

5 a.m.: 5 Makeup Tips 4 You

5:30 a.m.: Lung Cancer From Asbestos?

6 a.m.: Fixer Upper: A Young Couple Hopes for a House With Old World Charm

7 a.m: Fixer Upper: A Host & Hostess for the Bed & Breakfast

8 a.m.: Fixer Upper: Family Leaves the Bustling City for Quiet Simplicity

9 a.m.: Fixer Upper: Rustic Italian Dream Home

10 a.m.: 100 Day Dream Home | Trade Secrets: Key West Compromise

11 a.m.: 100 Day Dream Home | Trade Secrets: Jungle to Dream Oasis

Noon: Love It or List It: Small House, Great Neighborhood

1 p.m.: Love It or List It: Community Calling

2 p.m.: Love It or List It: Betting the Horse Farm

3 p.m.: Love It or List It: Opportunity in the Attic

4 p.m.: Love It or List It: Site Unseen

5 p.m.: Love It or List It: Master Office Issues

6 p.m.: Love It or List It: Nostalgia Is Not Enough

7 p.m.: Love It or List It: Overseas Oversight

7:59 p.m.: Love It or List It: Elbow Room

9:01 p.m. Nate and Jeremiah: Save My House | Waiting on a Dream

10:01 p.m.: Nate and Jeremiah: Save My House | Too Long in Limbo

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Previously:
* 24 Hours With QVC
* 24 Hours With Tru TV
* 24 Hours With Current TV
* 24 Hours With The Military Channel
* 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel
* 24 Hours With TVGN
* 24 Hours With Retroplex
* 24 Hours With Penthouse TV
* 24 Hours With The DIY Network
* 24 Hours With BET
* 24 Hours With CNBC
* 24 Hours With WWMEB
* 24 Hours With PRISM TV
* 24 Hours With Al Jazeera America.
* 24 Hours With Fuse.
* 24 Hours With Pop TV.
* 24 Hours With BET Soul.
* 24 Hours With BabyTV.
* 24 Hours With Jewelry Television.
* 24 Hours With XFHS.
* 24 Hours With Freeform.
* 24 Hours With Baby1.
* 24 Hours With RUS-TV.
* 24 Hours With The Esquire Network.
* 24 Hours With Velocity.
* 24 Hours With WYCC.
* 24 Hours With FM.
* 24 Hours With The Great American Country Channel.
* 24 Hours With Lakeshore TV.
* 24 Hours With CAN TV19.
* 24 Hours With The Game Show Network.
* 24 Hours With Bloomberg TV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 PM | Permalink

Kenny Rogers In The Beachwood

"Kenny Rogers, a prolific singer who played a major role in expanding the audience for country music in the 1970s and '80s, died on Friday at his home in Sandy Springs, Ga. He was 81," the New York Times (and many others, of course) reports.

"Singing in a husky voice that exuded sincerity and warmth, Mr. Rogers sold well over 100 million records in a career that spanned seven decades. He had 21 No. 1 country hits, including two - 'Lady,' written and produced by Lionel Richie, and 'Islands in the Stream,' composed by the Bee Gees and performed with Dolly Parton - that reached No. 1 on the pop chart as well.

"By the time he stopped performing, Mr. Rogers had placed more than 50 singles in the country Top 40, of which 20 also appeared in the pop Top 40."

I liked Kenny Rogers well enough - who didn't? - but "The Gambler" nearly got ruined for me by an ass who lived in the floor below me when I was in Wicker Park - the only dick we had in that house in my 18 years there.

I'm super easy about people having parties, or playing loud music, because I want to be able to do that, too, and I want people to have fun. But there are reasonable limits, and exceeding those, especially on a regular basis, is beyond inconsiderate, it's infuriating. It may not be the height of inconsideration, but it's close.

Anyway, this guy had some buddies over one (weekend) night, perhaps for poker, and they played "The Gambler" on repeat for a full 24 hours - loud. This was maybe 15 years ago and I'm only just about now able to enjoy hearing that song - but as evidenced by what I'm writing right now, I still associate it with that asshole and I probably always will. Thanks for ruining that for me, dude!

That's a long introduction to the point of this post, which is to recall Rogers' appearances in the Beachwood. Here goes.

March 23, 2007: Here Comes The Country Sun.

10. Kenny Rogers, "Sunshine." Written by Mickey Newbury (Country Music Songwriters Hall of Fame member and writer of the Rogers/New Edition chart-topper "Just Dropped In [to See What Condition My Condition Was In]"), this is as forgettable as any number of Rogers' recordings. Only the recording values, to my ears, make it a little bit more irritating than, say, "Coward of the County." Really, the only reason this song is on the list is because it has sun in the title and it sets up the incredible rendition that comes next.

May 18, 2007: Friday Night Beachwood.

4. Islands in the Stream/Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers. Written by the BeeGees. So a lot of talent brought to bear. And a song some of us couldn't admit we liked until we were 35 or so.

May 30, 2008: Comcast Classic Country.

4. Real Love/Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers

A #1 country single that also reached #91 on the pop charts, this is hardly a country classic in any real sense of the term. While tuneful, its studio gloss bespeaks the state of country circa 1985; it sounds like the lost theme song to a Dudley Moore movie.

October 31, 2007: Mystery Debate Theater: Philadephia.

TIM: If you put a fluffy white beard on Joe Biden, he's a dead ringer for Kenny Rogers.

STEVE: Or Kenny Loggins.

December 4, 2009: Language Arts: Going Rogue.

Remember that old Kenny Rogers song, "The Gambler?"

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

There is a great deal of wisdom in that song, for it clarifies the right time to take action and the right time to walk away - things that rogue characters don't take kindly to having to figure out.

But rather than spending your time trying to be the next big rogue queen or rogue cowboy, you may want to first consider whether you are up to the challenge of being: "on" all the time, unwilling to back down, unable to stay away from controversy and unnerved by the idea of leaving any stone unturned.

If undeterred, then perhaps you truly are in rogue fit condition. By all means then, go forth and be as rogue as rogue can be.

We'll miss you, Kenny.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

March 20, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #296: Foles Gold

Least bad move. Plus: Alternate Sports Programming; Thank You (Again), NFL!; Tom Brady Is A Buccaneer; Bears Transactions; Bowman (& Co.) Will Be Back; Gar Forman On Way Out Again; UICUL8R; Elk Grove Village Bails On Bahamas Bowl; Cubs, White Sox DNP.


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SHOW NOTES

* 296.

1:19: Our Sports Programming Suggestions.

* The 1985 Bears!

* The 7th Inning Stretch.

3:24: Thank You, NFL!

* Coffman: "With everything else essentially shut down in world sports other than Mexican and Russian professional soccer, I would like to express my humble thanks for the ongoing football offseason."

4:11 Foles Gold.

* Maske, Washington Post: Winners And Losers (So Far) In NFL Free Agency.

17:55: Thank You Again, NFL!

* Tom Brady is a Buccaneer. (How weird is that?)

* Deion Sanders vs. Bo Jackson:

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* Kelsea Ballerini / "Miss Me More"

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* Who is Jarrett Stidham?

* Barnwell: Grading Tom Brady's Move To The Bucs: The Facts, Fiction And Fit For The GOAT In Tampa.

* Rams release Todd Gurley; Falcons sign Todd Gurley.

* Ryan Tannehill re-signs with the Titans; Marcus Mariota goes to the Raiders.

33:20: Other Bears Transactions.

* Laurence Holmes on the Jimmy Graham signing: "The Packers are looking to upgrade from him, the Bears are looking to upgrade to him."

* Quinn is in; Floyd is oyd.

* Scales the Snapper returns.

* Cornelius Lucas leaves for Washington.

* Roy Robertson-Harris tendered.

* Ha Ha Deon Bush re-signs with the Bears.

45:26: Bears Now Have Better Chance Of Making Playoffs.

* NFL adds a 17th game and another wild card team.

* ESPN: The 15 Best NFL Free Agents Still Available.

48:28: Bowman (& Co.) Will Be Back.

50:52: Gar Forman On Way Out Again.

51:38: UICUL8R.

52:52: Elk Grove Village Bails On Bahamas Bowl.

53:13: TrackNotes: Indictment Of An Industry.

* Drape, New York Times: Close The Schools And Bars And Stay Home, But Keep The Horses Racing.

54:18: Cubs, White Sox DNP.

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 PM | Permalink

March 19, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Reveals Just How Devastating The Greed Of For-Profit Insurance Industry Has Become

A word to the wise: During this coronavirus crisis, keep an eye on every move of my old industry: health insurers. Behind the PR spin, they'll be doing everything they can to deny care and maintain profits while making it look like they're heroes.

Don't be fooled by the industry's campaign to make us think they're good corporate citizens truly interested in your health and well-being. Take it from me, a former insider: what they truly care about are profits.

That couldn't have been more evident than the speed with which the industry's trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), corrected President Trump last week when he said that insurers "have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments."

You can be sure Trump's comment sent shockwaves through the industry. Within hours, AHIP, the industry's largest PR and lobbying group, released a statement making clear that was not the case, that all they would waive would be cost-sharing for testing.

Yes, just testing; not treatment. For many, treatment will be considerably more expensive than testing. If insurers let their health plan members off the hook for out-of-pocket expenses related to treatment, their shareholders and Wall Street financial analysts would be apoplectic.

Case in point: My old company Cigna says it will cover the cost of COVID-19 testing, but makes no mention of waiving copays or deductibles for "treatment." Check out their carefully crafted wording here. This isn't a mistake. Cigna and other health insurers stand to make money from testing, or at least break even, even after waiving coronavirus test co-pays for patients. That's because the federal government appears poised to cover all testing costs, which suggests a significant reimbursement of testing costs is coming for health insurers.

Here's more carefully crafted industry language: UnitedHealthcare says "your health is important to [them]" and their top "priority." But if you actually get this coronavirus, good luck with out of pocket costs.

One of the most-watched metrics for health insurance companies is called the "medical loss ratio." The more insurers pay for care, the higher the ratio is. (It's called the medical loss ratio because insurers consider it a loss when they pay a claim.) As part of Obamacare, insurers have to spend at least 80-85% of premiums on health care. So most try to keep the ratio right at those levels. If it creeps up significantly, shareholders run for the exits. Why? When insurers pay more in claims, that's less more for insurer profits.

Remember: For-profit insurers are in the business to make a profit. Period. And they do better when you don't need them or remember they exist. But when a crisis like this erupts, they get scared. Why? Because folks like you will see what these insurance companies really do and don't cover.

As a former insurance exec, let me tell you: The strategy of moving Americans into high deductible plans has paid off beautifully for shareholders and top executives. But it's forcing millions of Americans to forego care, to turn to GoFundMe or bankruptcy court due to awful bills.

This pandemic will finally reveal to so many of us how devastating insurers' greed can be. Tragically, some Americans will likely die because policymakers turned the keys of our healthcare system over to profit-driven insurance corporations.

That has to finally end.

Wendell Potter is the former vice president for corporate communications at Cigna. He is now president of Business for Medicare for All and author of bestselling books Deadly Spin and Nation on the Take. This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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See also, by Robert Reich: Coronavirus Outbreak Proves There Is No Public Health System In The U.S.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:25 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Can the state tell your favorite local restaurant to close, or tell you that you must stay at home unless it's absolutely necessary to leave, because of an emergency? The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have closed down bars, movie theaters and dine-in restaurants. Six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have imposed a shelter-in-place order that allows people to leave their homes only for essential activities," Politico reports.

"In response to these drastic measures intended to slow down the spread of coronavirus, there are plenty of voices on social media, and even some in government, denouncing such measures as unprecedented, un-American and unconstitutional. Most of us have never imagined such impositions outside of a situation of armed conflict, but allegations that those measures in the current circumstances are unlawful are wrong."

I've been wondering about this. In short: Can they do this?

Now, bear in mind I don't think it's wrong to shut (nearly) everything down, I've just wondered where the authority came from. Emergency public health statutes, I've presumed. (And indeeed I believe Gov. J.B. Pritzker provided the statutory language/authority in one of his orders.)

Let's read on and learn more!

"States - and their cities and counties by extension - possess what has long been known as a 'police power' to govern for the health, welfare and safety of their citizens. This broad authority, which can be traced to English common law and is reserved to the states by the 10th Amendment, is far from radical; it justifies why states can regulate at all.

The police power of the states has been invoked on multiple occasions by the Supreme Court, often in contrast to the limited powers of the federal government - for example, in Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion in the 2012 Obamacare case. This power also has been recognized in the context of public health for decades. In a 1905 Supreme Court case that upheld mandatory smallpox vaccinations, the court observed that "upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.

"What does this mean for the drastic coronavirus responses we're seeing across the country? State and local governments can indeed decide to force even unwilling businesses to shut down, require people to stay mostly at home, impose curfews and even threaten noncompliance with arrest if necessary."

Good to know, because shelter-in-place is coming to Illinois.

But see also: Protecting Civil Liberties During A Public Health Crisis.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Coronavirus Pandemic Reveals Just How Devastating The Greed Of For-Profit Insurance Industry Has Become
"Don't be fooled by the industry's campaign to make us think they're good corporate citizens truly interested in your health and well-being. Take it from me, a former insider: what they truly care about are profits."

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

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ChicagoReddit

Lost wallet from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Walles Music, Chicago.

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BeachBook

Are Disney's Turkey Legs Really Emu Legs?

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Pour your misery down.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2020

The [Wednesday] Papers

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Retired South Side Nurse Is Illinois' First COVID-19 Death

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"Patricia Frieson, 61, of the Gresham neighborhood on the South Side, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died Monday night at the University of Chicago Medical Center, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office and one of her siblings," the Tribune reports.

Frieson, a retired nurse, began experiencing difficulty breathing last week and went to the emergency room, said her younger brother Richard Frieson, who lives in Minneapolis.

Frieson, who had a history of health problems including respiratory issues and pneumonia, wasn't too concerned when she first checked into the hospital, her brother said. But her family became nervous as they learned more about the coronavirus and her condition deteriorated.

The family doesn't know how she came into contact with COVID-19, Frieson's brother said.

"She doesn't have high mobility, so however she got it, it was brought to her," said Richard Frieson. "The only thing she gets out for is funerals. She got out for a funeral a couple weeks ago. She doesn't really get out of the house much other than to go to church."

Patricia, one of nine children, loved to sing solos at church, where she didn't shy away from the spotlight, her brother said. She loved doting on her nieces and nephews, and was "one of the sweetest people you ever want to meet."

Though some family members wanted to get tested for COVID-19 after Patricia's diagnosis, they've had trouble, Richard Frieson said. Two sisters, one of whom has been hospitalized with respiratory problems, have not been able to get tested, he said. Another brother was tested and is in self-quarantine as he awaits the results.

"We just need testing. The biggest issue is that there is just no testing going on," Richard Frieson said. "No one knows for sure what's going on, and people are walking around with a cough and . . . it's just ridiculous. It's ridiculous that you can't get a test."

It's gonna get worse. A lot worse.

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How Quickly Hospitals Could Fill Up if We Don't Slow Coronavirus Down

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

True. Reported.

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Election Day
Hopefully I'll have more to say on local politics in the days ahead; right now I'm pretty focused on the coronavirus (all the action is on Twitter, folks, including politics) and still settling in to my new place.

However, I can't resist this for now:

SAO Count.png

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ChicagoReddit

'All the Starbucks' took away chairs.'

Anyone working remote and also need to be out of the house? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"That's The Way It Is" / The Del-Vetts, 1966

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BeachBook

Designer Creates Hilarious Travel Posters For America's National Parks Based On Their 1-Star Reviews.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Beyond the Tribune.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

March 17, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

As of this writing, around 10:30 a.m., voting does not appear to be going well. Now the blame game begins - as it should! - and Governor Pritzker could lose much of the capital he's built with his coronavirus performance.

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Adding responses, 12:19 p.m.:

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Fire up the FOIAs.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

TrackNotes: Indictment Of An Industry
"It's a dark story with more than enough stink to be spread on a lot of people, with enough left to pave over the slop at Churchill Downs."

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Recall! Chicago Indoor Garden Red Clover Sprouts Products
The products were distributed to Whole Foods throughout the Midwest; Coosemans Chicago Inc.; Battaglia Distributing; and Living Waters Farms.

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

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ChicagoReddit

IT'S YA GIRL -- Heartfelt Grocery Store Clerk, let's talk again from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Artist Roiz On Immigrating From Mexico To Chicago And His Passion For Painting

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BeachBook

France Fines Apple $1.2 Billion For Antitrust Issues.

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Think Cheating In Baseball Is Bad? Try Chess.

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AB InBev-Backed Machine Allows Consumers To Brew Their Own Beers Instantly At Home.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: We're not even close to being the champions.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:20 AM | Permalink

Prosecutors Are Increasingly - And Misleadingly - Using Rap Lyrics As Evidence In Court

Rapper Darrell Caldwell, better known to fans as Drakeo the Ruler, was on his way to stardom. Hailed as one of the most original rappers to emerge from Los Angeles in a generation, he had garnered hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, tens of millions of views on YouTube and the attention of media outlets like Spin, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Now he's on trial for his life, and prosecutors are planning to do what they've done to hundreds of other accused hip-hop artists: Use his own lyrics as evidence against him.

Because my research centers on African-American literary and musical traditions - with a particular emphasis on hip-hop culture - I was asked by the defense to testify as an expert witness in Drakeo's first trial.

This is work I'm called to do quite regularly. My best guess is that I've consulted on more than 60 cases in which prosecutors have used rap lyrics or videos as evidence of guilt. In addition, my research with University of Georgia law professor Andrea Dennis has uncovered more than 500 instances in which prosecutors have used this strategy, a number we're certain is just the tip of the iceberg.

As an expert witness, my job is to correct the prosecutors' characterizations of rap music. They routinely ignore the fact that rap is a form of artistic expression - with stage names, an emphasis on figurative language and hyperbolic rhetoric - and instead present rap as autobiographical.

In effect, they ask jurors to suspend the distinction between author and narrator, reality and fiction, and to read rap lyrics as literal confessions of guilt.

No other art form is exploited like this in court. And yet, it's an effective strategy because it precisely taps into stereotypes about rap music and the young men of color who are its primary creators.

Lyrics On Trial

To recap Drakeo's legal drama: Last year, he was charged and tried in connection with a shooting at a party that resulted in the death of a 24-year-old man named Davion Gregory.

According to prosecutors, the shooting was botched. Drakeo, they claimed, had ordered the shooter to kill a different person - a musical rival who raps as RJ.

Their evidence was flimsy. RJ wasn't even at the party, and there's no evidence he and Drakeo ever had violent confrontations. In fact, RJ has repeatedly said that he doesn't believe he was ever targeted by Drakeo. One of the district attorney's own witnesses also said Drakeo didn't know the shooting was going to happen.

So to bolster their case, prosecutors focused on Drakeo's music. At one point, for example, they cited a line from his song "Flex Freestyle," in which he raps, "I'm ridin' round town with a Tommy gun and a Jag/And you can disregard the yelling, RJ tied up in the back."

The line was fictional; nobody claims that RJ was ever tied up in the back of Drakeo's car. Nevertheless, prosecutors wanted the jury to believe that the lyrics were actual reflections of Drakeo's desire to harm an industry rival.

Despite the prosecution's efforts to use Drakeo's music against him, it didn't work: In July 2019, the jury acquitted Drakeo of most counts, including the multiple counts of murder.

Nonetheless, prosecutors are taking the unusual step of retrying Drakeo on a charge on which the jury deadlocked the first time around: criminal gang conspiracy.

If convicted, he faces life in prison.

He didn't Doo It

For years, police departments across the country have surveilled and harassed rap artists; even today, they routinely deny these artists access to performance venues, arguing they're a threat to public safety.

Meanwhile, the use of rap lyrics as evidence has exploded.

In 2014, for instance, San Diego prosecutors charged Brandon Duncan, who raps as Tiny Doo, with criminal gang conspiracy in connection with a series of shootings that took place in San Diego in 2013 and 2014. Nobody argued that Duncan participated in or even knew about the shootings. Nor was he in a gang.

But citing the same law now being used against Drakeo, prosecutors said his violent rap lyrics promoted gang violence - and that Duncan benefited from that violence in the form of enhanced "street cred." So for crimes that everyone agrees Duncan didn't commit or know about, prosecutors sought to put him away for 25 years to life. He sat in jail for more than seven months before a judge finally threw out the charges against him. Duncan later filed a lawsuit for wrongful arrest in the case, and just last month he settled with the City of San Diego for over $700,000.

Duncan was far more fortunate than most young men who have their lyrics weaponized against them in court. The vast majority of the cases we've found end in conviction, often with lengthy sentences.

To highlight just a few of the recent cases I've testified in: There was Victor Hernandez, sentenced to life in prison for murder in Arizona; Christopher Bassett, sentenced to life plus 35 years for murder in Tennessee; and Ronnie Fuston, sentenced to death for murder in Oklahoma.

The question is not whether these young men committed the crimes they were convicted of. The question is whether they received a fair trial from an unbiased jury. When rap lyrics are introduced as evidence, that becomes highly dubious.

There's A Rhyme And A Reason

Introducing rap lyrics can be highly effective for prosecutors because it allows them to draw on stereotypes about young black and Latino men as violent, hypersexual and dangerous. In front of a jury, that can foment prejudice.

Not only have I seen this firsthand, but there is also empirical evidence that reveals just how prejudicial rap lyrics can be. For example, in the late 1990s, psychologist Stuart Fischoff conducted a study to measure the effect of explicit rap lyrics on juries.

Participants were given basic biographical information about a hypothetical 18-year-old black male, but only some were shown a set of his violent, sexually explicit rap lyrics. Those who read the lyrics were significantly more likely to believe the man was capable of committing a murder than those who did not.

In a study conducted by social psychologist Carrie Fried, participants were given a set of violent lyrics without any indication of the artist or musical genre. In reality they were from the 1960 song "Bad Man's Blunder" by the folk group Kingston Trio. Researchers told one group of participants that the lyrics were from a country song, and told the other group that they came from a rap song. In the end, participants who believed the lyrics came from a rap song were significantly more likely to view them as dangerous, offensive and in need of regulation. It's worth noting that Fried's study was replicated in 2016, with similar findings.

These studies - and others - highlight the enduring racial stereotypes that inform people's perceptions of rap music. They also help explain an obvious double standard at work, one that the Supreme Court of New Jersey laid bare in a 2014 opinion that denounced the use of rap lyrics as evidence:

"One would not presume that Bob Marley, who wrote the well-known song 'I Shot the Sheriff,' actually shot a sheriff, or that Edgar Allan Poe buried a man beneath his floorboards, as depicted in his short story 'The Tell-Tale Heart,' simply because of their respective artistic endeavors on those subjects. Defendant's lyrics should receive no different treatment."

Unfortunately, however, they do receive different treatment, even as rap has emerged as one of the world's most popular and influential genres.

It has also grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, one that offers a chance at upward mobility, particularly in communities where such opportunities are desperately hard to come by.

Criminalizing it is cruel, unjust and silences some of the people most in need of a voice.

Erik Nielson is an associate professor of liberal arts at the University of Richmond. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:06 AM | Permalink

Recall! Chicago Indoor Garden Red Clover Sprouts Products

To Our Valued Customers,

Chicago Indoor Garden is recalling all products containing Red Clover sprouts. It has come to our attention, from the FDA, that our Red Clover sprouts were contaminated with E. coli 0103. This includes the following products that were distributed to Whole Foods throughout the Midwest; Coosemans Chicago Inc.; Battaglia Distributing; and Living Waters Farms:

* Red Clover 4oz. clamshell

* Red Clover 2lb. boxes

* Sprout Salad 6oz. clamshell

* Mixed Greens 4oz. clamshell

* Spring Salad 6oz. clamshell

E. coli are mostly harmless bacteria that live in the intestines of people and animals and contribute to intestinal health. However, eating or drinking food or water contaminated with certain types of E. coli can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal illness. Some types of pathogenic (illness-causing) E. coli, such as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), can be life-threatening.

People infected with pathogenic E. coli can start to notice symptoms anywhere from a few days after consuming contaminated food or as much as nine days later. Generally, the symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, nausea and/or vomiting.

The Red Clover in question has the "Best By" dates between 12/1/19 through 3/12/20 and may have been contaminated with E. coli 0103. If you have any of the products listed above, please throw them away or return them to our facility immediately. In the meantime, please monitor yourself for symptoms of E. coli poisoning such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

We assure you that we have been working diligently to produce a safe product for our customers. In the meantime, we are continuing to grow Red Clover sprouts with seed from a different supplier to ensure this will no longer be problem in the future. If you have any questions regarding this matter, we are here Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Central. Please contact our office at 773-772-5858 with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Brian P. Gorman
President of Chicago Indoor Garden

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:01 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Indictment Of An Industry

Vindication is defined as "the action of clearing someone of blame or suspicion."

After Bloodhorse headlined the word in its wrap-up of Maximum Security's $10 million win in the first-ever Saudi Cup in February we got another example of people believing something simply because somebody said it. They sheepishly put the word in quotes, as if to imply "we didn't say it. Jason Servis did."

It's right there, graf 12: "'This has got to be vindication,' Servis said, referring to the Kentucky Derby ruling, which placed Maximum Security 17th."

No, it doesn't. And then 27 indictments against trainers including Servis and his pal Jorge Navarro; veterinarians (is there a horsey Hippocratic Oath?); and horse drug makers came down in the Southern District of New York. It's a dark story with more than enough stink to be spread on a lot of people, with enough left to pave over the slop at Churchill Downs on that May Saturday.

Then again, this is Bloodhorse, the barn of the likes of nostalgia merchant and bandwagon driver Steve Haskin. Haskin, struggling to hold up the tarpaulin while straddling some sort of fence, was actually loud and clear that he hated the decision to disqualify 'Security from first to 17th in 2019's Kentucky Derby, a first for that now bloated spectacle.

"As someone who has been watching the Derby for 50 years and covering it on a national scale for 30 years, this could have been one of the great storylines in Derby history," Haskin Wallenda'd last May. "I understand the stewards do not care about such things, and perhaps they shouldn't. But what they should do is acknowledge that this was the Kentucky Derby, with its huge field and often becoming a bumper car race where far more egregious events have occurred with no action taken. With this decision they have turned the Derby, at least this year's, into a race like any other that will have a profound effect on future Derbys, with a likely influx of foul claims for any kind of infraction, whether minor or major."

A lot of people forget the pre-race analysis that Maximum Security was known as a green lane-changer on the track. His antics in that race nearly took about 15 horses into what would have been a titanic catastrophe. That would have been a different storyline.

Haskin's another who wants the story handed to him. "If anybody deserved to win the Derby as much as (Bill) Mott (trainer of Country House, who was declared the winner) it was (Maximum Security's owners) Gary and Mary West, who have been all class and staunch supporters of racing for 40 years." As for a race that is now a stampede, would he rather add another flaw, such as making the Derby an untouchable spectacle without flaw? It was a good call.

I've never subscribed to the notion that anyone "deserves" to win a championship of any kind. If they win it, then they deserve it. We always deserved it, but losing on a buzzer-beater gets that out of your system real fast.

I don't know any of these people in sports. The story of the Wests shows a ton of philanthropy, but should they have known better than to hire Servis as their trainer? There have been questions about Servis for a long time. And look at that 24 percent win rate in the lede. That's a red flag big enough to cover the infield. Maximum Security was named Champion 3-Year-Old for 2019, by the way.

What Are The Charges?

The indictment alleges that these 27 people conspired to dope horses at tracks in New Jersey, Ohio, New York, Florida, Kentucky and the United Arab Emirates, home to Meydan Race Course and the $12 million Dubai World Cup, run at the end of every March. The structure of trainers, vets and the drug producers is self-explanatory.

Side question regarding the Saudi Cup: Does Saudi Arabia think it can display a clean soul through sports? It's a huge part of the what the Saudi Cup is.

The tip of the iceberg is SGF-1000, a sheep collagen-derived substance that some trainers believe enhances performance.

In an all-you-need-to-know tarring of today's horse racing industry, Dr. Mary Scollay head of the industry-funded Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, said it analyzed SGF-1000 in 2014, and then pivoted to say that the substance has probably been changed by now.

Servis is charged with falsifying documents to show that Maximum Security was given "dex," a regulated and legal steroid and not SGF-1000. A test was taken before 'Security was to run in the Pegasus at Monmouth Park, a run-up to the Haskell Invitational. Kristian Rhein, a Belmont Park-based veterinarian, is charged with providing the substance and "engaged in efforts to secretly distribute and administer adulterated and misbranded [performance-enhancing drugs] and to counsel racehorse trainers and/or owners on the use of such substances."

William Sweeney, Jr., assistant director in charge of the New York office of the FBI, said the drugs were engineered to be undetectable in tests.

After 'Security's Pegasus test was drawn, Rhein was heard in a wiretap reassuring Servis: "They don't even have a test for it. There's no test for it in America."

For the record, 'Security won the Haskell in oppressive heat and has not lost since. He was transferred to trainer Bob Baffert after the indictments came down. SGF-1000 was purchased from Medivet Equine, headquartered somewhere in . . . Kentucky.

The scandal also touches the harness side of the game. As the New York Times reported: "The indictment, citing an intercepted phone call last year, quoted Nicholas Surick, a harness trainer charged in the case, as he discussed horses Navarro had 'killed and broke down' that Surick said he had made 'disappear.'"

As for Navarro, he's in deep. He is charged with active efforts to hide his doping from authorities and ship mislabeled drugs across state lines. As the taped conversations seem to confirm, it also appears possible Navarro at least indirectly took the life of a horse we've heard of, X Y Jet, which was reported to have died of a heart attack in January.

Sprinter X Y Jet finished 7-1-4-1 for owner and trainer Antonio Sano in his first season. After being transferred to Navarro's barn at the end of 2014, the scales noticeably tilted the other way, as in big numbers in the win column and triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures galore. X Y Jet is a perfect example of a horse propped up by pharmaceuticals. His claim to fame a win in the 2019 Dubai Golden Shaheen (Grade I), he came out of the 2016 version of that race with a knee chip, and was sidelined nearly a year.

In the announcement of his death, Navarro turned on the waterworks. "Beyond the racetracks, X Y Jet becomes part of my family, was like the older brother of my children and of course, that affection extended to all those who in one way or another related to this swift, moody, but noble racehorse." Hmm, wonder why he was moody? The Daily Racing Form reported that Navarro was charged with administering pain blockers to 'Jet several times in 2019, including in the time before an allowance race and the Shaheen.

Back to Servis, maybe we can now deduce his and the Wests' strange placing, or nonplacing of Maximum Security in races after the Derby. Don't know why he wasn't in the Preakness except maybe tighter testing in Maryland or it was heavy pouting. Many of us were saying put up or shut up, because he really did look like the best horse in the Derby.

But Belmont was spooked to reform at least somewhat way back in 2012 when Doug O'Neill's I'll Have Another came to Elmont shooting for a Triple Crown. But O'Neill's behavior caught up to him between the second and third jewels when he was suspended for drug violations. Belmont responded by setting up a detention barn to monitor the horses and keep them away from any skulduggery. Was that a problematic wrench for O'Neill's medical machinery? Maybe. He scratched I'll Have Another the day before the Derby, citing tendon soreness and swelling.

And why not November's Breeders' Cup, held in California, where irate politicians spooked the game into tightening up its testing? Servis avoided both venues and instead chose New Jersey's Monmouth and Aqueduct on Long island, both longtime haunts.

Naturally, the Wests are shocked, shocked! "This news is extremely disturbing and disappointing," they said the day of the indictments. In a later statement pledging the most thorough horse testing "known to man" of 'Security, Gary West said he was "stunned" to hear of Servis's indictment. Both comments are true. Now, did they know about the doping?

The Wests are forging ahead with their lawsuit to overturn the Derby DQ.

What Does All Of This Mean?

The fact these charges came out of a U.S. Attorney's investigation is critical, because as doom for horse racing is on the porch camera, it's now out of racing's hands. The industry of horse racing would never have caught these bums because it does not have the testing technology or the desire to develop the technology.

While these problems now involve a top horse running today, Servis and Navarro are cheating hacks, allegedly, and a bit lower on the training totem. If not always the engineering of a truly heinous scam scheme, the pervasive nature of drugs in racing goes to the top. Top trainers, top horses, involved vets.

There is legislation in Congress right now, the Horse Racing Integrity Act. Basically, it calls for a Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority, described as non-profit and independent, to set national racing drug policies. (Howzabout no drugs in racing?) But Churchill Downs Inc. doesn't want it and CDI has long had its way with Sen. Mitch McConnell (Horseshit-Kentucky).

Super trainer Bob Baffert pushed for support of the bill in a Washington Post Op-Ed.

But what about Bob? His Justify "won" the 2018 Triple Crown(!) when he should have been disqualified from the Derby. Justify's post-Santa Anita Derby test was positive for a banned substance, disqualifying him from the points he needed to go to Kentucky. The California Horse Racing Board, laced with more conflicts of interest than a game of Cat's Cradle, dragged out its investigation for critical weeks, told Baffert in the shadow of the upcoming Derby his horse had failed, and completely dropped the matter that summer. The board violated its own protocols to abet a cover-up, plain and simple.

The tracks ran legit races this weekend, without fans in attendance. There was some speculation the game could gain new fans migrating from dark arenas across America. Fine, but how many fans will it lose if it doesn't hit rock bottom, admit its helplessness and solve this drug problem? A Servis perp walk won't do it.

At least the hell not for me.

Did The California Horse Racing Board Do Something Good?

In more brow-raising news, the CHRB just released its own report spurred by all of the horse deaths in California, primarily at Santa Anita.

"The 77-page report - nearly five times as long as the Los Angeles D.A.'s and with a fraction of the pictures - described a climate of 'cumbersome, disorganized, and often incoherent' recordkeeping, a pervasive sense of pressure to race horses, a lack of understanding among horsemen about 'basic anatomy,' and several violations of CHRB policy that will result in at least 10 complaints filed against trainers and veterinarians," the Daily Beast reports.

Recordkeeping will be very important. Pressure by tracks on trainers to run horses can also be a huge problem. If a track imposes severe pressure to run - through raised stall fees or outright banning of horses from the grounds - wouldn't you think that could increase pressure to drug the horses?

Tim Ritvo of the Stronach Group, the owners of Santa Anita, laid down the law three years ago. "Tim Ritvo, who oversaw increases in horsemen's participation and field sizes at TSG tracks in Maryland and Florida, repeatedly and openly expressed his intention to do the same at Santa Anita when he arrived in 2017," the report said. "Shortly after arriving in California and becoming chief operating officer at Santa Anita, Ritvo told the Los Angeles Times that 'We need to correct the guys who are here and not running and just using the place as a training track . . . We need to replace them."

CDI tried that some years ago at Arlington Park and Illinois horsemen revolted. Hawthorne Race Course kept their barns available throughout the stalemate.

P.S. On its way out of racing at Arlington, CDI has not yet reached agreement with the horsemen for the 2020 season, scheduled to start May 1.

TrackNotes Notes
* HEY, let's go for the trifecta!

Prominent trainers Kiaran McLaughlin and Gary Contessa are leaving training because of labor problems. Both are facing six-figure fines after paying employees on a weekly, instead of hourly, basis. It appears the weekly pay hid many of the overtime hours backstretch workers put in.

It's not there yet, but we could be in the age of "You Really Should Pay People."

* No, Superfecta!

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith and rider Irad Ortiz Jr. were both fined and suspended for overuse of the whip in races during the Saudi Cup meet. Stewards said Smith hit his horse 14 times, over the limit of 10.

I noticed and even said out loud that Smith was really hitting that filly, Midnight Bisou, in the stretch. They ran on to finish second. He was fined more than $200,000, or 60 percent of his purse share, and suspended for nine days, plus two more days for failing to weigh in after a previous race. Ortiz was also fined and suspended for eights days for a whip infraction.

It's not there yet, but we could be in the age of "You Really Shouldn't Whip That Horse So Much."

* Now, let's play "He Was Big Once in Cicero," just like Sneed.

War Emblem, winner of the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2002 has died. He was 21.

But we remember him for his win in the Illinois Derby prep for that Kentucky Derby.

It hurts to even think about it, but it was run at old Sportsman's Park. Not really, because longtime knuckleheads the Bidwill family and auto racing icon Chip Ganassi had demolished and repurposed as Chicago Motor Speedway.

For War Emblem's race, they just threw dirt over the paved oval and ran. It's amazing the horses didn't snap like twigs.

Talking to some of the Hawthorne old-timers, they said the auto racing was so loud that in the immediate neighborhood and beyond, people and their pets had to leave town. They said you could hear the cars at Western Avenue and maybe further.

CDI and Arlington Park completely devalued the Illinois Derby, simply because it was later held at Hawthorne, by not including the venerable race in the competition for entries in the Kentucky Derby. When was the last time Arlington Park hosted a Derby winner in a prep?

This, fans, is how the corporation that wants to own all of the roses, conducts itself.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

I may regret stating this later, but as of right now I have to say that Gov. J.B. Pritzker is doing a great job of leading. He communicates clearly, he's commanding, and as far as I can tell, he's competent. And you know what else? For a guy born into extreme wealth, he seems awfully "normal." (He always has; I knew him a smidge a few years ago.) Meaning, he's not insane.

His predecessor tried to portray himself as "normal," but obviously was driven by some odd demons given his stature in life. And our governors before that, well . . . not sure I'd take any previous Illinois governors in a crisis like this over J.B., though I suspect Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson would round out the top three if you had to choose who to steer the state through this. In other words, I'm really glad Bruce Rauner or Rod Blagojevich isn't governor right now.

Am I wrong?

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Stop Comparing The Coronavirus To The Flu
It's way deadlier.

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Letter From Shanghai | Living In The Time Of Coronavirus
Coping strategies from an ex-Chicagoan living and working in China.

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SportsMonday: Thank You, NFL!
"With everything else essentially shut down in world sports other than Mexican and Russian professional soccer, I would like to express my humble thanks for the ongoing NFL offseason."

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

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ChicagoReddit

Heavenly Bodies to close until March 30th from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Read With Ms. Olson: Do Not Lick This Book.

Ms. Olson teaches at St. Gall in Chicago.

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BeachBook

Target Scene Report.

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As Usual, Dalton's Right.

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A World-Famous Curator Is Working 18-Hour Days To Put One Of Italy's Top Museums Online So Italians Can Visit From Quarantine.

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Anish Kapoor Will Unveil His First Vantablack Sculptures During The Venice Biennale, Dazzling Visitors With The Blackest Black Ever Made.

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A 'Thrilling' Mission To Get The Swedish To Change Overnight.

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Stuck At Home? These 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take On Your Couch.

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What We Can Learn (And Should Unlearn) From Albert Camus's The Plague.

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Health Experts Worry Coronavirus Will Overwhelm America's GoFundMe System.

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For 32 Years, This Japanese Chef Has Been Making A Painting Of Every Single Meal He Eats. See His Mouth-Watering Work Here.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tested.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:50 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Thank You, NFL

I'll take a 17th real NFL football game next season thank you very much. And that means there are now only two "ultimate fan rip-off" exhibition games per team rather than four, right? And it gives the Bears significantly more cap space (all the other teams get it as well I know but we're accentuating the positive here) as they work on signing free agents in the next few days?

Teams can finalize contracts on Wednesday after beginning sanctioned negotiations with qualifying players later today.

With everything else essentially shut down in world sports other than Mexican and Russian professional soccer, I would like to express my humble thanks for the ongoing NFL offseason, which got a massive boost over the weekend with the passing of a new collective bargaining agreement between owners and players.

That is an offseason that is brought to us by all of 31 votes out of about 2,000 cast. If that many ballots had been switched from "In favor" of the new CBA to "Opposed," the agreement wouldn't have happened and teams would have had to go forward using the numbers from the previous agreement.

And that would not have been good for the Bears, who rank in the bottom 10 in the NFL in terms of cap space. Could the fact that the agreement passed encourage the Bears to go ahead and take their club option of employing defensive end Leonard Floyd for about $13 million in the coming season rather than dumping him for more space? We'll find out shortly.

We won't have basketball, baseball and hockey games for a while but at least we'll have NFL free agency and the draft.

The Bears already surprised the fan base recently when they announced the re-signing of Danny Trevathan to a new three-year deal. The general consensus had been that the team was committed to former top-10 pick Roquan Smith as the centerpiece of their defense in the other middle linebacker spot, but perhaps there are going to be consequences for Smith up and skipping a game for a still-unexplained "personal" reason last season.

Perhaps, in addition to finding that Trevathan wasn't going to be as expensive to re-sign as they had feared he would be, the Bears are also having second thoughts about turning the defense over to Smith.

It also seems to indicate that Floyd is still very much in limbo. People assume that the Bears continue to be more committed to making it work with guys who are former top 10 picks, but perhaps Ryan Pace is smart enough to know that if they aren't good enough and he has other options, especially focusing on the next two seasons (as opposed to the long term), he should take them.

Pace's evasive blabbering about the quarterback position the last time he was questioned about Mitch Trubisky also seems to open the door at least a crack to an honest assessment of that part of the roster. That is an assessment that Bears fans had to be more pessimistic than anything.

Because if Pace has done that along with coach Matt Nagy, there is obviously a better chance that he will bring in better competition for the signal-caller who has been a complete bust for the Bears so far. Be still my speculatin' heart.

And the best thing of all in the midst of all this is the fact that speculation about free agency and then drafting (April 23-25) can make for the most compelling sports conversations. It turns out that reviews of games are oftentimes not the most entertaining sports analysis media - speculation about how your team will address its needs and improve for next season are.

That and assessments of how other teams are doing, especially division rivals. So bring it on, Bears! Even if you don't have a first, third or real fourth-round pick (their recently rewarded compensatory pick is between the fourth and fifth rounds) in this draft as you pay for Pace's profligate trading away of picks in opposition to the way every other team in the NFL drafts, it is still way, way better than nothing.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:47 AM | Permalink

March 14, 2020

Letter From Shanghai | Living In The Time Of Coronavirus

Carly Siuta is a former Chicagoan and dear friend of the Beachwood who recently returned to Shanghai to live and work for New York University's campus there, where she earned her Licensed Master of Social Work. She sent out this e-mail on Friday and granted us permission to publish it - after all, she said, her mother in Wisconsin had already posted it to her church's Facebook group.

Dear friends & fam,

While watching the news and talking with many of you over the past few days, I wanted to reach out again.

First, a brief update from here . . . things have stabilized and are moving in a positive direction. Life is returning to the streets, businesses and public spaces are reopening, and we just heard that some museums will be open again next week. I am back to the office two days per week. Everyone is still wearing masks while in public and there are body temperature checkpoints everywhere, but there is a distinct sense of hope and slow return to normalcy.

It's hard for me to describe the emotions I feel as I watch the cycle of fear and anxiety just beginning in the U.S. and Europe. I have found that helplessness - in many forms and triggered by different things - has been one of the most difficult feelings to cope with throughout this whole ordeal. I feel like I am starting a new phase of helplessness, observing from a distance as my loved ones are impacted.

In many ways, you can't fairly compare the experience of the virus between China and the U.S., because of the outbreak's timing and the differences between countries and cultures. I don't have any grand answers or real words of wisdom. But I thought I would share a few pieces of advice I received during the early days of the outbreak - as well as some personal reflections from China's (hopefully) winding-down phase of the crisis - that I have found helpful and comforting.

1. Constant fear and anxiety will do as much or more damage to your health than the virus itself. Whatever works for you to combat stress, keep doing it. Talk to people you care about if you don't know what to do.

2. A concrete strategy to reduce anxiety: limit the time you spend checking news and social media. Give yourself 2x per day, 15 minutes max to check the news (from a credible news source.) This is enough time to get all the updates, I promise. Consider turning off your news app notifications. Replace most of the time you spend on social media with something that makes you happy or relaxed, or just call someone instead.

3. If the weather is decent and you can avoid crowds, GO OUTSIDE. The virus is not floating around in the air; you have to be in close proximity to an infected person to catch it. Sunshine and moving your body will do more to preserve your sanity than almost anything.

4. Try to accept that you can't control the actions of others, the general public, or the government/health system. But, you DO have a high level of control over your own personal health and safety by practicing the common sense prevention measures we all know.

5. If you have friends or loved ones who you think are "too freaked out" or overreacting, don't give them a hard time. Everyone's perception of risk and safety is different. I have young, smart, healthy friends in China who chose to not leave their apartments for over a month. I have learned to give them care, patience, and compassion . . . and utilize video calling to check in.

6. Don't stress about your toilet paper supply, but go get your hair cut or done ASAP. This will make you feel better if salons end up closing for a few weeks and you have to be on a bunch of video calls for work . . where people can only see you from the shoulders up.

7. My final lesson learned - as things are closing down, it's more important than ever to stay connected to people you care about. The students from NYU have helped me gain perspective that having more time to invest in your relationships with family and friends can really be one "silver lining" of reduced activity and mobility.

Love you all. Hang in there,
Carly

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P.S., from a follow-up e-mail:

One thing that I realize wasn't especially clear in the message is that my work has involved leading support groups and mental health programming for all the NYU Shanghai students who have been displaced by this . . . and I have consistently been impressed by how easily they can identify the positive impacts of their experience (spending more time with family, pets, old friends etc.)

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P.P.S., from a previous e-mail from Carly:

One of the bright spots for me during this time has been collaborating with a group of colleagues and students on a translation project called UnCoVer, sharing stories from people in virus-stricken areas of China. We hope this allows an international audience to gain a better understanding of real-life experiences beyond what we're hearing from news headlines. If you're curious, please take a look and pass this link on to others in your network who may be interested. I'm really proud of my friends and our students who have organized this project.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 PM | Permalink

Stop Comparing The Coronavirus To The Flu

As a longtime health care reporter, the unfolding coronavirus pandemic represents everything I've read about - from the "early days of epidemiology" to the staggering toll of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic - but had not covered in my lifetime.

And still, I have been caught off-guard by the pushback from top elected officials and even some friends and acquaintances who keep comparing it to the flu.

"So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu," President Donald Trump tweeted last Monday. "It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!"

By Friday, Trump had declared coronavirus a national emergency, freeing up resources and removing hurdles for a faster response.

In the meantime, not one public health expert I trust - not one - has said this flu comparison is valid or that we're overdoing it. Every single one, from former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to Harvard professor Ashish Jha, has said we're not doing enough, that this is far more serious than it is being taken.

Here's why that is:

This is far deadlier than the flu.

As Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and others have said, COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu. It's deadlier for young adults. It's deadlier for older adults. In China, early data shows that it was 10 times deadlier. This chart from Business Insider compares U.S. flu deaths to deaths in China from COVID-19.

Screen Shot 2020-03-14 at 11.17.46 AM.png

The flu kills less than 1% of infected people who are over age 65. By comparison, in China, COVID-19 killed 8% of those infected who were 70-79 and almost 15% of those infected who were age 80 or older. That's a staggering difference.

Even for younger people, the difference was striking. Flu killed .02% of infected patients age 18-49. It's 10 times that for COVID-19.

In other countries, such as South Korea, the death rate has been far lower.

But if 1 in 12 people age 70-79 who get the virus and 1 in 7 people age 80 or older who get the virus die, and the virus spreads to 20%, 40% or 70% of the population, we're talking massive death tolls, the likes of which we have never seen before in our lives.

"I mean, people always say, well, the flu does this, the flu does that," Fauci said Wednesday during congressional testimony. "The flu has a mortality of 0.1%. This has a mortality rate of 10 times that. That's the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game in preventing this."

Our health care system doesn't have the capacity to deal with this.

Epidemiological experts keep talking about the need to "flatten the curve." What they mean by that is that we need to slow the speed at which new cases are reported. We may not be able to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but we have to try to manage it. If 1,000 new cases happen over a month instead of a week, the health care system is more able to handle them.

Here's why this is a worry: Overall, our hospitals have fewer beds than other developed countries, according to recent data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The United States had 2.8 beds per 1,000 residents. By comparison, Germany had 8 beds and China 4.3 per 1,000.

The United States looks better when it comes to intensive care beds, but there's tremendous variation between regions and states. If we experience what parts of China and Italy saw, we won't have anywhere for sick patients to go. We will quickly run out of capacity.

Even if we have the capacity, we may not have enough supplies.

In a crisis moment, supplies like ventilators and N95 face masks will be key. But as National Geographic and other media have reported, the United States has only a fraction of the medical supplies it needs.

"Three hundred million respirators and face masks. That's what the United States needs as soon as possible to protect health workers against the coronavirus threat. But the nation's emergency stockpile has less than 15 percent of these supplies," National Geographic found.

Others have reported shortfalls as well, and ProPublica has been hearing from health care professionals across the country who say their own institutions are running short of supplies. (Share your story here.)

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted at the end of February, "Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

Another challenge: Hospital staff have been exposed too.

And if that weren't enough, there's another problem. Health care workers who have been exposed to the virus are now quarantining themselves, further reducing available staff at hospitals. Kaiser Health News reported on the effects of this:

"In Vacaville, California, alone, one case - the first documented instance of community transmission in the U.S. - left more than 200 hospital workers under quarantine and unable to work for weeks."

Across California, dozens more health care workers have been ordered home because of possible contagion in response to more than 80 confirmed cases as of Sunday afternoon. In Kirkland, Washington, more than a quarter of the city's fire department was quarantined after exposure to a handful of infected patients at the Life Care Center nursing home."

This week, Banner Health in Colorado informed employees that a co-worker is among those with the coronavirus, the Colorado Sun reported:

"People who came into prolonged, close contact with the woman in a Banner Health emergency room are being notified and asked to home-quarantine for 14 days, according to a source close to the investigation who spoke to The Sun on the condition of anonymity."

And my ProPublica colleagues reported Friday how some EMS workers are also being quarantined because of exposure. (It didn't help, of course, that the EMS system was slow to get up to speed on the threat.)

More than that, many health care workers have children, and as schools begin to close they have to figure out how to care for their own families.

People in rural areas will have little care nearby should they be affected by COVID-19.

Rural areas in the U.S. are losing their hospitals entirely, and residents are having to travel hours for care. According to the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 126 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, including six so far this year. That's about 6%.

An analysis by the Chartis Center for Rural Health and iVantage Health Analytics this year found that about a quarter of the nation's 1,844 open rural hospitals are vulnerable.

As the Washington Post described it last year, "Hospitals like Fairfax Community [in Oklahoma] treat patients that are on average six years older and 40 percent poorer than those in urban hospitals, which means rural hospitals have suffered disproportionately from government cuts to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates. They also treat a higher percentage of uninsured patients, resulting in unpaid bills and rising debts.

"A record 46 percent of rural hospitals lost money last year. More than 400 are classified by health officials as being at 'high risk of imminent failure.' Hundreds more have cut services or turned over control to outside ownership groups in an attempt to stave off closure."

What I'm doing.

This is serious, and I'm making changes to the way I live and work. I'm working from home, trying to get enough sleep and avoiding crowds of any kind. And watching events unfold in what I hope is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:47 AM | Permalink

March 13, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #295: The Day The Sports Died

Cancel culture. Plus: March Sadness; Summer Training; NBA & NHL Lose Their Christmas; Do Draft Day Digitally; Baffling Bears; Blackhawks Go Out On A High Note; Bulls Go Out On A High Note; Michael Kopech A Little Geeked; Deja Cub; Illinois Hoops Nation; Fire Singe Revolution; Can Gambling Juice Fandom For Women's Sports?; and The Ex-Cub Factor.


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SHOW NOTES

* 295.

* Sun-Times: NASCAR, Cricket, Darts Among Gamblers' Choices As Coronavirus Crimps Illinois Sports Betting Launch.

* J.B. Pritzker is actually doing a damn good job.

* Rhodes correction: Of course I voted for J.B. Pritzker! I was thinking of the Democratic primary, which I didn't vote in because I don't believe journalists should vote in primaries (it's a party activity), but I ultimately hoped Daniel Biss would win. More importantly, I voted against Bruce Rauner.

* Tipping point: Rudy Gobert.

10:11: March Sadness.

* They should still do the brackets!

* How historical racing works.

* The eSports Leagues And Events Affected By Coronavirus.

14:42: Summer Training.

16:50: NBA & NHL Lose Their Christmas.

* Not so fast, says Coach!

20:08: Do Draft Day Digitally.

* Go for it, NFL.

20:54: Baffling Bears.

* Barbieri: 5 Takeaways From Danny Trevathan's 3-Year Extension.

* Biggs Time: Is the franchise willing to admit it made a mistake? Is an offensive tackle a good idea in Round 2? Is Jalen Hurts a target for Ryan Pace?

* Coffman: Andy Dalton is their best option.

30:00: Blackhawks Go Out On A High Note.

* Coffman: Fire Stan Bowman.

34:00: Bulls Go Out On A High Note.

* Coffman: Fire GarPax.

34:51: Michael Kopech A Little Geeked.

* AP: Kopech Clocks Over 100 MPH In 1st Outing Since Tommy John Surgery.

* Coffman: Keep Rick Hahn.

39:36: Deja Cub.

* Rhodes Correction: Hamels is in Atlanta, not Philadelphia. Sorry!

* MLB.com: FAQ: How Coronavirus Impacts Braves, MLB.

"Cole Hamels (left shoulder inflammation) might now be available for a higher percentage of the regular season. The Braves have not targeted when Hamels might be available, but there has been thoughts that he would be sidelined through at least the first half of May."

43:33: lllinois Hoops Nation.

* Coffman: Chicago (Men) Can't Dance.

* The DePaulia: DePaul Triumphs Over Marquette To Win Third Straight Conference Crown.

* SI: Illini's Ayo Dosunmu Named First-Team All-Big Ten.

* Tribune: "Bradley is back in the NCAA Tournament for the 2nd year in a row after ending Valparaiso's run to the Missouri Valley final: 'This is the year we want to go make some noise.'"

48:24: Fire Singe Revolution.

* ESPN: MLS Postponed For 30 Days; USMNT, USWNT Friendlies Canceled.

49:14: Can Gambling Juice Fandom For Women's Sports?

* The numbers look good!

52:01: The Ex-Cub Factor.

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:21 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Cook County government's public health system, known as Cook County Health, treats the most vulnerable people - patients who are already really sick with conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes by the time they show up to see a doctor. It's historically been a destination for the uninsured and, increasingly, for people who can't afford the insurance they have," WBEZ reports.

"Budget woes and staffing issues have plagued the health system before. But the rising demands of providing so-called uncompensated care - treatment Cook County Health provides that it does not get paid for - are wreaking havoc on the county government's finances. Those financial pressures not only threaten taxpayers' wallets, but also the quality of care at the health system."

Don't worry, though. Joe Biden has a plan for our health care system. Right?

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I just think it's fascinating to read article after article about health care that is totally disconnected to the policy debates in the presidential campaign - it's almost as if that discussion doesn't exist at all!

The issues discussed in this article don't happen in a vacuum.

But too often, political reporters are laser-focused on the strategy of health care proposals and can only frame such discussions around the immediate, front-end costs - endlessly asking how expensive, say, Medicare for All would be without doing their own homework - while beat reporters hesitate to enter into the political arena. (Similarly, for example, some education reporters were admittedly reluctant to consider the political aspects of the recent Chicago teachers' strike, somehow feeling inadequately able to do so or misguidedly self-tasked to stick within their silo. See also, from Dan Froomkin: Get Political Reporters Off The Coronavirus Story.)

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Anyway:

"Cook County Health has cut at least 750 vacant jobs, causing a staffing crunch that trickles down to patients. In the ER, there are sometimes not enough stretchers . . . Almost half of Stroger's ER nurses are on leave at any given time.

"Just four years from now, Cook County officials expect to grapple with a $308 million budget deficit - about two-thirds of that driven by the health system."

It would be worth asking right here what a health system without these kind of ongoing problems (this is not a unique moment) would look like - and indeed, if such a system exists anywhere in the world that would squeeze out costs while providing care both universal and of higher quality. Perhaps, say, Scandinavia, Europe or Canada.

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Now we get to the crux of the immediate issue facing Cook County:

"[T]he uncompensated care problem has only worsened: Cook County Health expects to provide about $590 million of it this year - an 88% jump in the last six years. Charity care, or medical care that doctors typically provide to people who don't have insurance, is the biggest chunk of that tab, followed by uncollected bills.

"Meanwhile, the county's other nonprofit hospitals have been providing less charity care while enjoying massive property tax breaks. A new WBEZ analysis shows medical centers and their affiliates are getting at least an estimated $390 million in tax relief each year, but it's likely that untold millions more are being diverted from public coffers. Government records are incomplete, and hospitals calculate their own tax breaks."

If only the profit motive was detached from life-saving.

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"The president and CEO of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, a powerful industry lobbying group, says hospitals earn those tax breaks. They conduct costly medical research and treat patients who otherwise would go to the county.

"But county leaders are still looking for ways to pressure other hospitals to kick in more charity care - potentially by legal force."

Look at this chart:

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 5.36.26 AM.png(ENLARGE)

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"In Illinois, there was a push more than a decade ago for nonprofit hospitals to treat more uninsured people in exchange for property tax exemptions. But even after a court battle, there was no clear definition of how much charity care hospitals actually needed to provide."

If only we had a system that didn't have to financially incentivize treating uninsured people. Maybe even one in which no one was uninsured!

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"In 2012, Illinois legislators, the IHA lobbying group and others brokered a deal: Nonprofit hospitals would need to pick from a broad menu of 'community benefits' that are worth at least as much as what their estimated property tax bills would be."

Rationing. For "the community," at least.

"The menu included things many already did: conducting medical research, treating Medicaid enrollees - or providing charity care.

"And there was this: Hospitals would assess the value of their own properties, instead of having local government assessors watchdog the process."

I wonder how that got into the deal.

"The new requirements were tucked into another must-pass bill."

Of course. But I don't like the passive construction of that sentence. Who tucked that provision into another must-pass bill? And what bill sponsor - or their legislative leader - allowed it to be tucked in? Any guesses?

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"The day then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed it, he wrote a letter to state lawmakers: 'It is my hope that together, [these measures] result in more charity care being provided to the uninsured in our state.'

"The opposite happened. Since 2012, Cook County Health has provided more charity care in the region while other hospitals provided less, according to a WBEZ analysis of state data.

"In 2018, the county's two hospitals provided about 55% of all the charity care in the county. The tab totaled about $348 million - 15 times more than the next-highest provider, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the richest medical center in the county at the time."

This isn't about me telling you to vote for Bernie Sanders, but it is about me wondering again how Sanders gets framed as the crazy one and Biden as "pragmatic" when only one of them is upset at facts like these and thinks it should be fixed.

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"It's not entirely clear what's funneling so many charity care patients to Cook County Health, but there are several factors besides the 2012 law.

"After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, more people qualified for Medicaid, so some hospitals now treat more low-income people with insurance than those without. But small hospitals that predominantly treat Medicaid patients can't afford to take on more uninsured ones, so they might send them to the county."

Thanks, Obama-Biden.

"Even if people do have insurance, many can't afford their high deductibles. And the state is chipping away at a backlog of Medicaid applications for current and new enrollees. Those people are still seeking care - they just might not be insured at the time."

You're appalled at the lack of COVID-19 tests? Millions of people can't even see a doctor, much less get a test. Welcome to their world.

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INTERLUDE:

"Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced an agreement Wednesday in which three associations representing the hospital industry agreed to Medicare and Medicaid cuts totaling $155 billion over ten years as part of a health overhaul that assumes coverage of 95 percent of the American people," CQ HealthBeat reported in 2009.

"Folks, reform is coming," Biden declared. "We have never been as close as we are today."

"Biden said the agreement calls for payments to be shaved as more patients treated by hospitals obtain coverage.

"Neither Biden nor hospital executives answered questions at a White House event to announce the agreement between the groups, which are the Federation of American Hospitals, the Catholic Health Association and the American Hospital Association.

"But Federation President Chip Kahn said when reached later that two-thirds of the cuts would come from adjustments to yearly payment updates and the remaining one third from other reductions, including lowering payments made to compensate hospitals for treating uninsured patients. Cuts in these 'disproportionate share hospital' (DSH) payments would be tied to whether milestones are met for increased coverage. Kahn said a 'small part' of the changes in yearly payment updates would hinge on coverage gains but for the most part would kick in regardless."

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Back to WBEZ:

"In tony Streeterville, Northwestern Memorial and an affiliated doctors group received around $113 million in estimated tax breaks in 2018 and provided benefits to their communities worth nearly three times more.

"In a statement, spokesman Christopher King said Northwestern Memorial provides more charity care than any other private hospital in Illinois, but declined to comment further.

"Meanwhile, Norwegian American Hospital on the West Side received the smallest estimated tax break, totaling just over $229,000 in 2018. The hospital provided far more in community benefits - $28.5 million."

Christopher King, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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There's a lot more, so go read the rest.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #295: The Day The Sports Died
Cancel culture. Plus: March Sadness; Summer Training; NBA & NHL Lose Their Christmas; Do Draft Day Digitally; Baffling Bears; Blackhawks Go Out On A High Note; Bulls Go Out On A High Note; Michael Kopech A Little Geeked; Deja Cub; Illinois Hoops Nation; Fire Singe Revolution; Can Gambling Juice Fandom For Women's Sports?; and The Ex-Cub Factor.

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

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ChicagoReddit

Are you free this weekend? We should set up a group who goes grocery shopping for the elderly so they stay indoors. from r/chicago
[Offer] Helping out the most vulnerable in Chicago until COVID-19 gets under control. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Bob Weir and Wolf Bros at the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday night.

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BeachBook

AT&T Waives Data Cap During Coronavirus; Comcast Keeps Charging Overage Fees.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hammer a nail.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

"Worker cooperatives will gather [Friday, 9:30 a.m.] at the Secretary of State's office in Chicago to submit their registration forms to incorporate under the Illinois Limited Worker Cooperative Association Act (LWCA) and be recognized as worker cooperatives in the State of Illinois," Centro de Trabajadores Unidos (United Workers' Center) says in a press release today.

"Last spring session, efforts from the Illinois Coalition for Cooperative Advancement were successful as they worked towards passing the LWCA which received unanimous bi-partisan support in both chambers.

"The Illinois Limited Worker Cooperative Association Act enables worker owners to register the cooperative as a new corporate entity to develop and thrive as worker owned business in Illinois. In the state of Illinois there are more than a thousand (1,032) cooperative businesses that support over 3 million cooperative members and nearly nineteen thousand jobs.

"Worker co-ops are excited to take advantage of the new limited worker cooperative association entity. This moment marks significant progress in building and supporting the emerging worker cooperative ecosystem in Illinois," states Renee Hatcher, Director of the Community Enterprise & Solidarity Economy Clinic, UIC John Marshall Law School.

"The Cooperation Chicago: Building a Worker Cooperative Ecosystem in Chicago study conducted in partnership by the Illinois Worker Cooperative Alliance and John Marshall Law School demonstrates that nearly a third of U.S. worker cooperatives operating today were established since 2010, and over 60% of new cooperative worker-owners are people of color and more than 66% of total worker-owners are women.

"We have worked for so many years under the employment of owners that mistreat us in the workplace," says Socorro Paz, Worker Cooperative Owner from Cooperativa Visionarias. "We decided to form this women-run worker cooperative business because we want to be self-sustaining, independent and financially stable."

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Can Gambling Juice Fandom For Women's Sports?
The numbers looks good.

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Some Personal News

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

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ChicagoReddit

Watched a guy cough right into his hand on the Brown Line. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Paloma Mami at Schubas on Monday night.

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BeachBook

U.S. Women's Soccer Players Protested Unequal Pay At A Match By Turning Their Jerseys Inside Out.

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Confessions Of A Call Center Scammer.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A numbers game.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 PM | Permalink

Can Gambling Juice Fandom For Women's Sports?

Every March Madness, thousands of tweets and articles dissecting seedings, potential upsets and favorable match-ups flood the feeds of sports fans.

According to ESPN, over 70 million people will fill out a bracket. Meanwhile $10 billion will be spent on office pools and bets, and work productivity losses are estimated to be in the billions.

That's all for the men's tournament. But you'd be hard pressed to find similar wall-to-wall analysis and bracketology for the women's tournament.

Women's sports always seem to get short shrift; if you try to find a WNBA fantasy league on ESPN or Yahoo, or an oddsmaker breaking down a National Women's Soccer League game, you'll be out of luck.

Researchers have explored the perceived lack of interest in women's sports. The results consistently show that interest exists, but a massive gap in media coverage and promotion between men and women's sports curbs ratings.

As researchers and teachers who have focused on gender equality and women's sports, we wonder if there might be new ways to market women's sports that engages more fans. Specifically: Could gambling and fantasy sports help narrow the gap?

From Resistance To Enthusiasm

For decades, professional and amateur sports leagues had been resistant to publicly embrace gambling. There was an obvious reason: It was illegal.

Nonetheless, despite the legal and logistical barriers that were in place, sports fans have always found ways to get unsanctioned "action" on sporting events, whether through fantasy leagues, March Madness brackets, Super Bowl squares or offshore betting sites.

May 14, 2018 was a key moment for America's sporting industry: The federal ban on sports betting was lifted, a decision that changed the way sports are marketed.

Instead of continuously trying to deter gambling, many leagues and networks, such as ESPN and Fox Sports, began to recognize the contribution these activities lend to the fan experience. One leader in this regard has been current NBA commissioner Adam Silver. In 2014 he wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times calling for the legalization of sports betting. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been another booster, noting in 2019 that it was a "great source of fan engagement."

One major reason for this acceptance - even outright enthusiasm - is the financial impact. While figures vary, it is undeniable that this is a multi-billion-dollar industry with millions of participants. Before sports gambling was legalized, estimates have suggested Americans wagered $150 billion annually on sporting events via offshore betting applications. Additionally, the Fantasy Sport and Gaming Association has noted that over 59 million people played fantasy sports in 2017.

Setting aside the pure dollar figures, it's important to highlight how fantasy sports and sports betting enhances fandom in other ways. With television ratings and fan attendance declining, leagues are recognizing how fantasy leagues and sportsbooks can have a massive impact on engagement and consumption.

Gambling and fantasy sports create an entirely new dynamic: When fans place a bet, it motivates them to watch a team or player they might otherwise have little interest in rooting for.

Going All In On Gambling

Clearly, gambling has become a valuable tool to retain existing fans and develop new ones.

Could it do the same for women's leagues, from National Pro Fastpitch to the National Women's Soccer League?

We know there's a lot of room for growth. Research suggests women's sports receive just 2% of the total sport media coverage, despite women making up roughly 40% of all sports participants in North America.

When women's events are heavily promoted - usually for championship games - the numbers are promising. For example, the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Championship match drew an average live audience of over 82 million viewers; the 2018 Olympic women's ice hockey gold medal match outpaced viewership numbers for all but one 2017 NHL playoff game; and the 2019 NCAA Women's Final Four experienced an 8% ratings increase from the previous year's tournament.

We also know that individuals who have viewed a professional women's sporting event in the past are twice as likely to view another one in the future, while those who have never viewed a women's event are significantly less likely to seek one out.

So it's worth wondering whether promoting sports betting and fantasy sports could appeal to an audience that might need an "excuse" to consume the product. Notably, this is a strategy that has seemed to work for golf: Millennial viewership has spiked since the PGA increased efforts to promote the fantasy industry.

While it's difficult to find specific data on media coverage of women's sports from a gambling and fantasy sport perspective, you can easily see a gap by browsing the offerings of industry leaders. For example, it seems that there are no mainstream sites hosting season-long WNBA fantasy leagues. And it can be difficult to come across an in-depth article or TV segment focused on an oddsmaker weighing in on a women's sporting event.

This isn't an endorsement of gambling culture; we recognize the plethora of negative outcomes that can surface.

But given the high levels of participation for men's fantasy leagues and sports betting, we believe increased promotion of gambling and fantasy sports for women's leagues could similarly enhance fandom in the years to come.

Adam Cohen is a senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney. Lindsey Darvin is an assistant professor of sport management at State University of New York College at Cortland. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 AM | Permalink

March 11, 2020

The [Wednesday] Papers

Cancel everything, restart the country in six weeks.

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Civil Liberties & COVID-19
Can they really do that?

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Coronavirus Spring: Mesa vs. Coachella
What a difference 250 miles made!

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Chicago (Men) Can't Dance
Last hope extinguished.

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ChicagoReddit

Anyone attending Ramen Fest this year? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Master Sword at Livewire last Thursday night.

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

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We can't afford life-saving health care for everyone - you know, empathy. For insurers, credit card companies, segregationists and Republicans . . .

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cruisin' for a bruisin'.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:53 PM | Permalink

Chicago (Men) Can't Dance

The Flames flamed out. And local pumpkins and small animals need not worry about the potential side effects of magical transformations this time around. OK, OK so there probably aren't any local pumpkins at this point in the year. Work with me here.

Perhaps we should be relieved that Chicago's last best hope for representation at the royal basketball ball otherwise known as the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bowed out last night. The UIC flames dropped the Horizon League final against Northern Kentucky 71-62 to drop their overall record to 18-17. They will not qualify for the Big Dance as an at-large team.

We can feel at least a little better because every time a local Cinderella qualifies, it potentially makes the ultimate underdog story, Loyola's run to the Final Four the year before last, a little less memorable. When something happens all the time it isn't terribly special now, is it?

Then again, the chances of something matching the Rambler run any time soon are miniscule, even if the occasional UIC gets into the Dance and battles at least for a spot in the Sweet 16.

Illinois-Chicago actually took a step forward as a program just by making the Horizon League final. It was the first time in 16 years the team had done so.

This is also a squad that has made the College Basketball Invitational the last few years and had won at least a game both times. Sure, the CBI is not exactly a high-profile event, but you take what you can get. So it won't be terribly difficult for coach Steve McClain to convince his returning players that this was another successful chapter in UIC's rise to respectability.

And Hellooooo potential recruits!

One element of Illinois' postseason run at the Indiana Farmer's Coliseum in Indianapolis that wasn't great was the fan support. It is hard to get too excited about a game when there are wide swaths of empty seats just in the 20 rows above floor level behind both benches. But maybe things will start to pick up next year.

It is easy to forget that before Loyola's magical run in 2018, they only sold out something like one of their regular-season home games at the reasonably-sized, "on campus next to the el" Gentile Center. The primary attendance bump happened in 2018-2019.

It will always be difficult for schools in the city where the vast majority of students are commuters to draw much. DePaul had its golden era so, so long ago now but during that time, they were only trying to fill an Alumni Hall with a capacity of just over 5,000.

Of course, it doesn't help if universities choose to play their games in goofy locations. DePaul first moved to the Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) where the numbers were decent for the first few years but then fell and never recovered as the team embarked on an amazing three decades and counting (this year featured a remarkable collapse after starting the season 12-1) of ineptitude.

And of course DePaul is now in the Wintrust Arena located down by McCormick Place. I guarantee you at least three quarters of students currently enrolled in the Lincoln Park school don't even know where that is.

Most people were happy when the first shovel was turned on that venue because it hadn't seemed like anything substantial was ever going to be built by DePaul. Now as huge swaths of Near North land sit vacant awaiting Sterling Bay's Lincoln Yards development, one wonders why it didn't occur to someone that would have been a much better place for a facility.

Yes hindsight is 20-20, but come on.

Anyway, the Illini will be dancing for the first time in far too long and thank goodness for that. And their star is a proud son of the South Side, Morgan Park grad Ayo Dosunmu.

And Bradley is in for the second consecutive year. So Downstate 2, Chicago 0.

At least the local teams on the women's side are getting the job done. Not only are Northwestern and DePaul in the Dance, they both project to host sub-regionals. That's how you do it, boys.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 PM | Permalink

Coronavirus Spring: Mesa vs. Coachella

Coronavirus might have been on my mind last weekend, but upon being introduced to people, I behaved as I always do. I shook their hands.

In the interest of full disclosure, I walked into Sloan Park in Mesa on Sunday where the Cubs were entertaining the Diamondbacks. My pal, another Roger, an avid and longtime White Sox devotee, lives in Mesa. He reserves a space for 60 of his friends each season at the Party Deck at the spring home of the Cubs. Enticing that many old folks to drive 30 miles across the Phoenix sprawl to see the Sox play in Glendale isn't an option. He'd find no takers. So he plays host at Sloan.

Even though we intensely had been following the news, taking note that old people are most susceptible to the COVID-19 bug, when any of Rog's friends extended their hand, I shook it.

Was that force of habit or my internal dialogue telling me unwisely that I'm feeling good and in little danger of getting the virus? I'm still trying to figure that out.

Maybe the fact that business appeared pretty much as usual during the weekend contributed to my behavior. The White Sox played in Scottsdale on Saturday against the Giants, drawing 9,700 (capacity 12,000) including my wife and me. The seats were awash in Giant orange, also the predominant color at our hotel. At breakfast Sunday morning, we joined the line waiting for a table. Most of the diners were wearing their team colors. The scene was typical of the spring trainings I've attended in the past. Coronavirus was in the news - and hopefully not the air - but that wasn't apparent during the two days we spent in Arizona.

Aside from banning the media from clubhouses - I assume not an unpopular development as far as the athletes are concerned - what other precautions have been enacted by the baseball gods? None that I can see. The Cubs continue to draw near-capacity crowds in Mesa. The Sox less so, but when the Dodgers, who share Camelback Ranch with the Sox, played in Glendale on Saturday, they drew an overflow crowd of 13,214.

Not bad for meaningless practice games for a sport that is consistently criticized for a host of deficiencies.

Fans aren't staying away from other games as well. The Bulls and Cavaliers, two terrible teams, drew an announced crowd of 17,837 at the United Center on Tuesday night. In a home game last Sunday against also-ran San Antonio, the Cavs came within a thousand fans of filling their 19,000-seat arena.

On Sunday, we stayed for a few innings before driving the four hours west to California's Coachella Valley where we spend the winters. One of our go-to places is the Tack Room located on the Empire Polo Grounds, site of the Coachella Music Festival every April. What a difference 250 miles made!

We wanted to get back because the PNB Paribas Open tennis tournament was slated to begin Monday morning with qualifying rounds free to the public. The big guns like Nadal, Djokovic, and most of the top women players show up later in the week.

This is high season in the desert, and the two-week competition a year ago drew 475,000 spectators.

We sat at the bar at the Tack Room since all the tables inside and out were filled. Around 8 p.m. our friendly bartender announced, "The tennis tournament has been cancelled!"

I needed proof which he immediately supplied, sliding his cell phone across the bar with the news. This is a big deal. What many tennis enthusiasts simply refer to as "Indian Wells," the tournament ranks among the world's most prominent. For weeks the lights at the venue burned hours after dark as crews set up side courts, concession stands, ticket booths and kiosks merchandising all things tennis. The players for the most part had arrived along with thousands of fans.

The local newspaper, The Desert Sun, reported that the tournament brings in approximately $400 million to the valley economy, about the same total as the music festival.

"Coachella is next," bellowed the bartender. "That's where I make my summer vacation. Looks like I'll be staying home."

His prescience was borne out by Tuesday evening when the music festival was "postponed," purportedly until October. If it, in fact, doesn't take place, the local coffers suffer an almost $1 billion shortfall.

Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison owns the Indian Wells Tennis Garden so chances are his lifestyle will be little affected by the cancellation of his tournament. But others aren't quite so fortunate. Workers in the hospitality industry - according to The Desert Sun, tourism in the valley accounts for $7 billion annually - won't be in high demand.

Nancy Dunn lives less than a mile from the venue, and for the past four years she's had boarders via Airbnb during the tennis tournament.

"I get people in for two or three days, and then someone else for the same time," she told me. "I had five groups for the two weeks [this year]. Four have cancelled. The other said they're coming anyway, and they'll go hiking for a couple of days."

Nancy charges $130 a night - she'll make breakfast for an extra $10 - and the music festival, which runs three consecutive weekends, brings in additional income. So she's taking an almost $4,000 hit.

"I'm retired," she says, "and I have a pension, but this is mostly my travel money."

If she wants to hang out with a bartender, we know where to find one.

The inconsistency of all this is overwhelming. In a period of a few hours, we went from a stadium full of baseball fans to the scenarios of the Coachella Valley. Does this mean contagion from the new coronavirus is unlikely in Mesa but a legitimate threat in Indian Wells?

And what's to become of the baseball season? By all accounts this promises to be the year that our White Sox escape their doldrums with a lovely mix of young, refreshing, talented players coupled with a group of accomplished veterans poised to challenge all comers. If business proceeds as usual, the Grate should be rocking for the next six months. People will come.

Whether they shake hands is another story.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:58 AM | Permalink

Protecting Civil Liberties During A Public Health Crisis

Across the world, public health authorities are working to contain the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). In pursuit of this urgent and necessary task, many government agencies are collecting and analyzing personal information about large numbers of identifiable people, including their health, travel and personal relationships. As our society struggles with how best to minimize the spread of this disease, we must carefully consider the way that "big data" containment tools impact our digital liberties.

Special efforts by public health agencies to combat the spread of COVID-19 are warranted. In the digital world as in the physical world, public policy must reflect a balance between collective good and civil liberties in order to protect the health and safety of our society from communicable disease outbreaks. It is important, however, that any extraordinary measures used to manage a specific crisis must not become permanent fixtures in the landscape of government intrusions into daily life. There is historical precedent for life-saving programs such as these, and their intrusions on digital liberties, to outlive their urgency.

Thus, any data collection and digital monitoring of potential carriers of COVID-19 should take into consideration and commit to these principles:

  • Privacy intrusions must be necessary and proportionate. A program that collects, en masse, identifiable information about people must be scientifically justified and deemed necessary by public health experts for the purpose of containment. And that data processing must be proportionate to the need. For example, maintenance of 10 years of travel history of all people would not be proportionate to the need to contain a disease like COVID-19, which has a two-week incubation period.
  • Data collection based on science, not bias. Given the global scope of communicable diseases, there is historical precedent for improper government containment efforts driven by bias based on nationality, ethnicity, religion and race - rather than facts about a particular individual's actual likelihood of contracting the virus, such as their travel history or contact with potentially infected people. Today, we must ensure that any automated data systems used to contain COVID-19 do not erroneously identify members of specific demographic groups as particularly susceptible to infection.
  • Expiration. As in other major emergencies in the past, there is a hazard that the data surveillance infrastructure we build to contain COVID-19 may long outlive the crisis it was intended to address. The government and its corporate cooperators must roll back any invasive programs created in the name of public health after crisis has been contained.
  • Transparency. Any government use of "big data" to track virus spread must be clearly and quickly explained to the public. This includes publication of detailed information about the information being gathered, the retention period for the information, the tools used to process that information, the ways these tools guide public health decisions, and whether these tools have had any positive or negative outcomes.
  • Due Process. If the government seeks to limit a person's rights based on this "big data" surveillance (for example, to quarantine them based on the system's conclusions about their relationships or travel), then the person must have the opportunity to timely and fairly challenge these conclusions and limits.

In light of these principles, we are troubled by reports about how the Chinese government is using "big data" to contain COVID-19. Reportedly, that government is requiring its citizens to download software to their phones and then use their phones to scan QR codes when they arrive at checkpoints for entry to public spaces (e.g., trains and malls). This software assigns each citizen a color code (i.e., green, yellow, or red) to indicate their health status. The software dictates whether each citizen should be quarantined and whether they may enter public spaces. The software also sends information to the local police. The Chinese government says it is only using this system to identify people who may be infected. Citizens report they have been quarantined because this tracking system identified contact between them and an infected person.

We also have questions about a new rule from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It requires airline companies to collect the name and contact information of all passengers and crew arriving in the United States on international flights, and to transmit this information to the CDC within 24 hours of an order to do so. The CDC intends to use this information for "contact tracing," that is, to rapidly identify people who were in contact with an infected person, so those contacted people can be timely notified, tested and possibly quarantined.

Such data processing may be necessary and proportionate to the public health need. But we must not lose sight of the great sensitivity of the personal data at issue - this data paints a clear picture of the travel, health and personal relationships of airline passengers. EFF would like the CDC to explain what it will do to ensure this sensitive data is used only to contain communicable diseases. For example, what measures will ensure this data is purged when no longer helpful to contact tracing? Also, what safeguards will ensure this newly collected data is not used by police for ordinary crime fighting, or by ICE for immigration enforcement?

EFF has long advocated against digital surveillance by government and corporations of our movements, health and personal relationships, and against big data systems that can turn our lives into open books. Such data processing often invades our privacy, deters our free speech and association, and disparately burdens racial minorities. Some use of big data may now be warranted as public health officials work to contain COVID-19. But it must be medically necessary, as determined by public health experts; any new processing of personal data must be proportionate to the actual need; people must not be scrutinized because of their nationality or other demographic factors; and any new government powers must expire when the disease is contained.

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See also:
* ACLU: Can We Trust The Government To Respond To The Coronavirus In A Fair And Effective Manner?

* JAMA: U.S. Emergency Legal Responses To Novel Coronavirus: Balancing Public Health And Civil Liberties.

* BBC: Coronavirus: Could The U.S. Do What Italy Has Done?

* The Conversation: If I Get Sick With Coronavirus, Can Donald Trump Make Me Stay Home?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:12 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

"By at least one metric, there's been a changing of the craft beer guard in Illinois: Revolution Brewing has become the state's top-selling brand," the Tribune reports.

"In an intensely competitive market, the Logan Square brewery pushed past Blue Moon, Leinenkugel and Goose Island to become the state's biggest-selling craft brand in 2019, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI Worldwide."

Note: Blue Moon is owned by Molson Coors, Goose Island is owned by Budweiser/Anheuser-Busch/InBev and Leinenkugel is owned by Leinenkugel Miller Coors, too. So if part of your definition of a craft beer is an independent beer, Revolution is really in the lead.

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"The story, however, isn't Revolution growing past its competitors. Amid the intense competition, Revolution managed to lose less share than its competitors."

Oh.

"According to IRI, Revolution's sales were down about $288,000 in Illinois in 2019. By comparison, Blue Moon was down $1.4 million, Leinenkugel was down $3.3 million and Goose Island was down $1.7 million. Those drops allowed Revolution to vault from the state's fourth-biggest selling craft beer brand in 2018 to the top spot in 2019."

I wonder what accounts for the falling sales. Less drinking overall, an unlikely return to non-craft "regular" beer or more competitors in the craft market? Doesn't say, but CNN says beer is dying. Thanks, White Claw!

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Back to the Trib:

"Lagunitas, Samuel Adams, New Belgium, Bell's, Founders and Sierra Nevada rounded out the top 10 top selling craft brands in Illinois in 2019, according to IRI. Those breweries were followed in terms of dollar sales by three local brands: Half Acre, Three Floyds and Two Brothers."

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Chicago Way Conway
A week ago in the Beachwood:

Also from Politico Illinois Playbook:

"Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx attacked challenger Bill Conway for running a campaign fueled by his father's wealth. Conway's father, Carlyle Group co-founder Bill Conway, just gave another $3 million to his son's campaign, putting his donations at more than $10 million.

"The irony, of course, is that Foxx's re-election bid is being aided by billionaire George Soros, who's backing a super PAC targeting Conway."

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How is that ironic? One candidate is getting money from a longtime political activist with a longtime interest in criminal justice while the other is getting money from his daddy, who co-founded one of the world's shadiest investment firms.

What it really is is yet another example of bothsidesing it.

Today from the Tribune, and it's about time:

"While [daddy's firm, Carlyle's] defense contracts have gotten attention in the race, another investment with broad implications has gone unnoticed. For a decade, Carlyle owned the for-profit nursing home chain HCR ManorCare as it racked up allegations that it neglected elderly patients, committed Medicare fraud and ultimately drove the company into bankruptcy."

Oh, that's just the tip of the dirty iceberg. It's Carlyle, c'mon!

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"Asked about Carlyle's control of ManorCare, the candidate said, 'this isn't something that I'm particularly familiar with.

"'We all have relatives that we don't agree with, but I'm certainly not going to sit here and disown my own father,' he added."

Or his money!

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"Conway, who said he has never worked for the Carlyle Group, said he manages some of his father's fortune, but he declined to say how much."

Everything but the ManorCare part, apparently!

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"The elder Conway rose through the ranks at First National Bank in Chicago, then became chief financial officer at Washington-based telecommunications giant MCI. In 1987, Conway's father left to form the Carlyle Group.

"The Carlyle investors sought to differentiate themselves from the rest of the so-called leveraged-buyout industry by basing the firm in Washington rather than New York, according to a Washington Post story on the company's founding.

"Carlyle hired former government officials to leverage their ties, especially in the defense industry, published reports show."

The way someone might try to leverage a connection to help a celebrity-friend in a jam?

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"When asked about Carlyle's investments, Conway told the Tribune he has not closely studied the firm's holdings."

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Go read the whole thing, but this gives you an idea of the ill-gotten gains that have singularly propelled Conway into this race:

Carlyle followed the typical private-equity playbook in its ManorCare dealings. The firm sold the chain's real estate to a new landlord in 2011 for $6.1 billion - the same price it had paid for the whole company four years before, according to published reports. The chain then struggled to pay rent, which amounted to about $472 million a year, the Washington Post reported.

The debt-laden business became unprofitable even as Carlyle extracted more than $80 million in fees from the nursing home chain, according to the Post. With $7.1 billion in debt, ManorCare declared bankruptcy in 2018. Carlyle walked away from the chain's hundreds of facilities in the bankruptcy settlement.

Along with the financial wreckage, Carlyle's ownership of the nursing homes had substantial consequences for residents, the Post reported. Carlyle imposed cost-cutting measures including layoffs, and health code violations rose 26% from 2013 to 2017. Alleged neglect led to bedsores, medication mishaps and falls in some of the homes, the Post wrote.

ConwayCare.

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The Chicag O'Way
"An oversight group is reminding voters to not necessarily cast votes for a judicial candidate in Illinois' primary on St. Patrick's Day just because that person has an Irish last name," AP reports.

"The Illinois Civil Justice League, located in Elmhurst, says it's long been known that less-informed voters can mark ballots for judges based on the ethnicity a name suggests. In cities like Chicago, with large Irish-American populations, candidates with Irish names can fare better . . .

"A paper published in the DePaul Law Review in 2011 supported the notion that candidates with Irish names, especially with female Irish names, have an advantage.

"Watchdog groups in 2018 widely accused Chicago-area lawyer Phillip Spiwak of changing his name to Shannon P. O'Malley to boost his chances of winning election as a Cook County judge. He ended up winning the seat. O'Malley, who said he changed his name to honor a mentor, not to gain electoral advantage, had lost a 2010 race in a neighboring county as Phillip Spiwak."

Good for the Illinois Civil Justice League, though I wish I knew just how they were reminding voters to not be dunces. Sending out a press release? I don't think those folks read the news, but I could be o'wrong.

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Also - and this doesn't mean they're wrong about the Irish name thing:

"The Illinois Civil Justice League is a group representing businesses that says its mission is to 'work for fairness in the Illinois civil justice system,'" according to SourceWatch.

"The group advocates a 'tort reform' agenda, which it calls 'civil justice reform.' The ICJL has a political action committee called JUSTPAC, which supports candidates that support 'tort reform' - placing limits on peoples' access to the courts for harms caused by corporations.

"The group's membership consists mostly of big businesses, including the Illinois Hospital Association, the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, the Retail Merchants Association, Caterpillar Inc, Motorola, State Farm Insurance, CNA Insurance, Deere and Company, Brunswick, Allstate Insurance, and Kraft General Foods, and the Illinois Farm Bureau."

Late Note: I missed/forgot that the ICJL was behind an effort to defeat a state supreme court justice up for detention. His name? Kilbride.

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

Also: Time is still around?

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Also: Should the president be replaced by a Vulcan?

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Rutter

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ChicagoReddit

Is this a good or a bad time to go to the DMV? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Yonder Mountain String Band at Bottom Lounge last Friday night.

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BeachBook

Wells Fargo Officials Resign Days Before They Were To Testify To Congress.

See also from Crain's today: Feds Allege Wells Fargo-Like Practices By Fifth Third.

"Fifth Third entered the Chicago market in the late 1990s but largely spun its wheels until last year's $5 billion takeover of MB Financial. Chicago now is the single most important market to the bank in terms of deposits and loans, supplanting Fifth Third's headquarters city of Cincinnati, where it dominates. In the much larger Chicago market, Fifth Third now is the sixth largest bank by deposits."

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Chiropractors Are Bullshit.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Antiviral.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

March 9, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

So much journalistic failure.

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Uncle Joe
Two years ago:

Some of us are right a lot more often than other, more highly compensated folk: Area Man Regrets Helping Turn Joe Biden Into A Meme.

Similarly: The Problem With @MayorEmanuel.

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No, Joe, it didn't. Many people said so at the time. It was hardly inevitable. In fact, it was a tough fight. You were on the wrong side - as you have been on virtually every issue your whole career.

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The record.

Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 11.21.15 AM.png

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Biden has been particularly dicey about race, from opposing busing to championing his friendships with congressional segregationists to his statements equating poor kids with black kids and positing Obama as the first clean-cut, articulate, mainstream African American in politics.

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Meanwhile . . . from day one.

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Allstate's Secret Suckers List
'Insurance should be priced fairly, based on the risk posed by the driver, not on other factors that have nothing to do with their driving record.'

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Chicago's Other (Better) 78
It's not for everyday use, clearly. But it is special.

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ChicagoReddit

When Graham Crackers Comics of Chicago was broken into - and the thief called his girlfriend for advice on what to steal from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Nekro Drunkz at Reggies on Saturday night.

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BeachBook

How A Reporter Revealed There Were More Than 70 Alaskan Communities With No Police.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Old tricks, new marks.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:08 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Other 78

Like virtually the rest of the world, I have long thought that ketchup had been perfected, and the heavy public burden of Heinz was simply to maintain its integrity.

Its 57 varieties were actually just one, perfected, the universal idea of ketchup, as Malcolm Gladwell once famously posited.

I should've known better to fall for Gladwell, whose litany of errors and outright wrong conclusions has made him rich and famous. He was even wrong about ketchup.

I learned that firsthand because there is at least one ketchup, used in the right circumstances with the right food, that is - and this is hard to say - a better choice than our revered standard Heinz. And that ketchup is made right here in Chicago.

I discovered it a couple of years ago at Logan Bar, in Logan Square, where the spicy (but not too spicy) version is offered for brunch along with your other breakfast-lunch condiments. I like it so much I took a photo of it the other day:

the78ketchup.jpg

Now, like I said, this isn't for everyday use. For example, I would still recommend Heinz on your hot dog. But my newish discovery, though seven years old in real-time, is special. So special I finally looked it up and found this 2017 press release that offers a nice overview (I'm not presuming it's all up to date, but it seems enough so). Here goes - and by the way, I kind of hate mustard, but maybe I'll give them a go on that front, too. Also, I added the links and did some slight copy editing.

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The 78 Brand Co. Shakes Up The Condiments Market With All-Natural Ketchup And Mustard Products

The 78 Brand Co. is celebrating its fourth [now seventh] year of business with the launch of two new products. Famous for its all-natural tomato ketchup, which contains 78 percent tomatoes, the company has now entered the all-natural mustard market. In addition to its 78 Red Ketchup and 78 Red Spicy Ketchup the company now offers 78 Yellow Mustard and 78 Yellow Spicy Mustard.

78 Red Ketchup is one of the most tomato-rich ketchups available anywhere. All of the rapidly growing company's products are non-GMO and gluten-free and unlike many brands they don't contain high fructose corn syrup.

"We are proud to make products that not only taste great but are better for you," co-founder Patrick Pilewski said. "They're healthier ketchups and mustards. And they are affordable."

Added co-founder Bernard Utrata: "Our unique taste separates us from the herd and shakes up a market that's stayed the same for the past one hundred years. We are reinventing how condiments should be viewed."

The 78 Brand Co. not only insists on using only natural ingredients but also clean production practices. Mostly available in major retailers in the Midwest, its products have a presence in more than 20 states.

With a background in food service, food production, brand development and marketing, Pilewski and Utrata literally began building their business from the trunk of their car selling ketchup to restaurants in the Chicago area. The original 78 Red made its national debut at the National Restaurant Association show in May 2013. It was an instant hit.

"There was a great response from restaurant operators and chefs, and it was confirmation that we'd developed something special," Utrata said.

Added Pilewski: "We are two driven entrepreneurs who pride ourselves on being unique and creative in life and in business, and are very passionate about healthy eating and healthy living. We are what we eat."

As The 78 Brand Co. continues to grow, the two founders say they're determined to develop more innovative products for the condiments market.

Stores that already carry 78 Brand products include HyVee, Roundy's, Jewel Osco, Dierbergs Markets, Pick 'N' Save, Remke Markets, Pete's Market, Mariano's, and many other independent retailers in the Midwest region.

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Just for full disclosure, I'm pro-GMO. That part doesn't matter to me. And I don't need "all-natural" flavors. We are stardust. Plus, nature kills. But I appreciate the intention.

Anyway, here's their website.

And remember, they came before these jokers, who undoubtedly have terrible taste.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

Allstate's Secret Suckers List

A joint investigation by Consumer Reports and The Markup sheds light on how a controversial plan pushed by Northbrook, Illinois-based Allstate in Maryland could be functioning in other states that have allowed the company's customer "retention model." The groups found that Allstate would have saddled Maryland customers paying the most expensive premiums with big increases that it wasn't willing to pass on to thriftier customers with similar risk profiles.

Maryland and a few other states have rejected these efforts, but 10 other states have allowed Allstate to use a customer retention model. The groups based their joint investigation on a statistical analysis of the documents Allstate submitted on its plan in Maryland. It offers a rare public window revealing details of Allstate's pricing plan that have otherwise been kept secret.

"Despite the purported complexity of Allstate's price adjustment algorithm, it was actually simple: It resulted in a suckers list of Maryland customers who were big spenders and would squeeze more money out of them than others," according to the report by Maddy Varner and Aaron Sankin of The Markup, the data-driven journalism organization that launched last month focusing on the impact of technology on society.

"These revelations are concerning enough on their own, but they're also an unmistakable harbinger of the new age of consumer threats we're racing headlong into," said Marta L. Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports. "Like security flaws in our gadgets and invisible toxins in our food, hidden biases in the algorithms that set more and more of the prices we pay pose an insidious threat."

Seven years ago, when Allstate filed this plan with Maryland, the company said that its new risk analysis showed that it was charging nearly all of its customers outdated premiums. Rather than apply the new rates all at once, Allstate asked the Maryland Insurance Administration for permission to run each policy through an advanced algorithm containing dozens of variables that would adjust it in the general direction of the new customer "retention" model.

But The Markup and Consumer Reports found that customers who were due a big rate hike may or may not get it based on whether Allstate thought they were likely to shop around:

  • It appears that Allstate assumed drivers with a cheap policy would shop around for a better deal, while those with an expensive policy would not.
  • Customers who were already paying the highest premiums - about $1,900 every six months - and were due an increase would have been among those that bore price hikes of up to 20 percent. Customers in this group were more likely to be middle-aged.
  • Drivers with cheaper policies who were designated to receive price jumps that were just as big, would only be charged a maximum increase of 5 percent.
  • Seniors were overrepresented among those who were owed discounts but would not have gotten the full discount they were due. Some customers were owed thousands of dollars, but discounts were capped at half a percent no matter how much they should have received.

"Allstate is failing to limit rate increases in a manner that treats all insureds with like insuring or risk characteristics equally," noted Geoffrey Cabin, an insurance regulator with the state, at the time Maryland turned down Allstate's plan as discriminatory,

In addition to Maryland, regulators in Georgia, Utah, Colorado and Louisiana have rejected Allstate's customer retention plan.

However, regulators in Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin have approved Allstate plans where public records mention using a customer retention model. Allstate would not tell CR and The Markup whether the customer retention plans allowed in other states work exactly the same way as the Maryland proposal and it is impossible to know from the outside.

In the past five years, at least 18 states and Washington, D.C. have issued public statements warning insurance companies against setting individual prices based on business goals like customer retention, part of a set of practices labeled in the industry as "price optimization," which Allstate executives have publicly said they have used. In letters sent today, Consumer Reports called on insurance commissioners in the remaining states to specifically condemn the practice.

"Insurance should be priced fairly, based on the risk posed by the driver, not on how much they are willing to pay or other factors that have nothing to do with their driving record," said Chuck Bell, programs director for Consumer Reports.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink

March 6, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #294: White Sox Signings vs. Cubs Whinings

Yoan Moncada vs. Pedro Strop. Plus: The Daily Dallas Keuchel; Big Data Darvish; Why David Ross May Bring Back The Intentional Loss; Streaking Blackhawks On Life Support; Brad Biggs Talks Football With You; Bulls Finally Testing Paxson's Argument; Chicago Fire Home Opener; and Illinois Hoops Nation.


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SHOW NOTES

* 294.

* With special guest Steve Eckardt there in the background; he owns the home that Beachwood HQ just moved in to.

1:40: White Sox vs. Cubs.

* ESPN: White Sox Sign Moncada To Extension.

* (Javy Baez's agent is Nick Chanock of the the Wasserman Media Group.)

10:30: The Daily Dallas Kuechel.

* In violation of team policy.

* Bought house in the Southport corridor (that's on the North Side).

20:52: Arbitrator: Kris Bryant Really Did Have To Work On His Defense.

26:20: Cubs So Broke They Can't Even Afford Pedro Strop.

* MLBTradeRumors: "If you're looking for a microcosm of the Cubs' offseason, consider veteran reliever Alex Claudio. Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic wrote back in December that, 'Before Claudio signed with the Brewers for $1.75 million, the Cubs had made it clear they were interested. But they needed to clear money first, so he signed with Milwaukee.' The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal wrote just days earlier, '[Cubs] officials are telling representatives of even low-budget free agents that they need to clear money before engaging in serious negotiations.'"

* The Athletic: Injuries, Financial Impasse Spelled The End Of Pedro Strop's Cubs Career.

31:00: Big Data Darvish.

* The Athletic: Yu Goes Into The Cubs' Ivy To Find Answers.

* Doesn't have coronavirus.

* (White Sox game against Orioles at Camden Yards played without fans in 2015.)

39:16: What's Wrong With This Second Base Picture?

44:18: Why David Ross Might Bring The Intentional Walk Back.

46:55: Brad Biggs Talks Football With You.

* "Is Ryan Tannehill a possibility at QB? Could the Bears afford Andy Dalton? Would Jalen Hurts be a good fit in the offense?"

52:24: Streaking Blackhawks On Life Support.

* Four straight wins.

* DeBrincat scored two goals Thursday night

* "Dylan Strome, Alex Nylander and Patrick Kane scored on consecutive shots late in the second period, leading the Chicago Blackhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night."

56:45: Bulls Finally Testing Paxson's Argument.

* But Boylen boils over.

58:23: Chicago Fire Home Opener.

59:44: Illinois Hoops Nation.

* NU WOMEN: Big 10 tourney starts Friday.

* DePAUL WOMEN: Big East tourney starts Saturday.

* ILLINOIS MEN: No. 19 Ohio State rallies to beat No. 23 Illinois 71-63.

* DePAUL MEN: Moore's free throws lift DePaul over Marquette 69-68.

"Charlie Moore scored DePaul's final four points at the free-throw line to lift the Blue Demons to a 69-68 win over Marquette on Tuesday night."

* LOYOLA MEN: Missouri Valley tourney starts Friday night.

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STOPPAGE: 8:09

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

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Tom Chambers:

You guys have talked about this before.

All interstates are two numbers. East-West even numbers. North-South odd numbers.

With three-numbered designations starting with an odd number, they are either a spur or go through something. I believe three-numbered roads starting with an even number designate a road going around a city. A bypass. 294 here. 494 in Milwaukee.

Even if you buy me a shot of Jack, you can't force me to defend myself for knowing that. Mostly and most certainly, you assume absolutely no liability or shame for not knowing this stuff. Nor do I, for knowing it.

Can I get a lift? I know the way.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:27 PM | Permalink

As The New Coronavirus Spreads, Bogus Books Capitalize On Fear

As panicked consumers buy up hand sanitizer, masks and other supplies in the hopes of staving off the new, fast-spreading coronavirus, a shadowy array of grifters and opportunists are flocking to Amazon.com and other online booksellers to capitalize on public fear, producing a steady stream of books and manuals that claim to hold the secret to surviving the outbreak.

Since late January, hundreds of titles related to COVID-19 - as the disease caused by the virus is known - have come up for sale online, many of which appear to be written under false or misleading names. One series of books, which includes Coronavirus 101: Everything You Should Know to Avoid Illness and Protect Yourself from the Wuhan 2020 Outbreak and Coronavirus and Face Masks: The Truth, claim to be co-authored by a Dr. Zoe Gottlieb.

Gottlieb's author page, which features a stock photo of a woman in a lab coat - shot from behind - describes her as a "psychology and infectious diseases expert" with a degree in bioengineering and biomedical sciences from the University of California. A literature search for Gottlieb and her "extensive publication record in immunology and infectious disease outbreaks" turns up zero results. Some of Gottlieb's books appeared "out of print" Friday morning, following questions from Undark.

Another two books, which were available Wednesday but have since been removed, listed their author as Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who was said to hold a medical degree, along with multiple masters degrees. (The biographical details did not match those of CNN's chief medical correspondent of the same name.) Yet another publication, titled Coronavirus Disease: A Practical Guide for Preparation and Protection, listed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as its lead author, and a non-existent agency, the U.S. Department of Health, as a co-author. It has also been removed by Amazon, but remains available to order from Barnes and Noble. (Representatives of HHS did not respond to multiple e-mails seeking comment regarding the book.)

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Some of the titles, which often lack proper grammar and formatting, traffic in dark conspiracy theories regarding the origin of the virus, while many others appear to simply repeat information that is already freely available from public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

And while it's unclear how many of these hastily produced books are being sold, as of Thursday afternoon at least five coronavirus-related titles appeared among the top 100 bestsellers in Amazon's medical e-book category, with a seemingly dashed-off title about face masks and coronavirus taking the number one spot.

In the broader medical books category, that same book - ostensibly written under a pen name by a doctor in Vietnam - was listed as the 31st-best seller as of Friday morning, ahead of science books like The Body: a Guide for Occupants by award-winning author Bill Bryson, and Being Mortal, by surgeon and science writer Atul Gawande. The book itself, however, now appears to have been removed from the online retailer's website.

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Amazon declined to make a representative available for an interview, but in an e-mailed statement sent by company spokesperson Stephany Rochon, the company stated that it has "always required sellers, authors, and publishers to provide accurate information on product detail pages," and that products that violate its policies are removed. "In addition," the statement read, "at the top of relevant search results pages we are linking to CDC advice where customers can learn more about the virus and protective measures."

Last month, Business Insider reported that some Amazon vendors were selling books that contained unsubstantiated claims, including titles like Jesus vs. Satan: The Origins of the Coronavirus and Military Virus Apocalypse: Biological Warfare, Bioweapons, and China Coronavirus Pandemic.

Though the company now appears to have removed some of those books and is cracking down on vendors that claim to cure or protect against coronavirus, other titles, including one that states "only God can cure coronavirus," remained available for sale as of Friday morning.

According to David Ropeik, a risk communication consultant, vendors hawking products that capitalize on people's fear is nothing new. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, he said, the market was flooded with emergency preparedness equipment, including gas masks to protect against anthrax exposure. Such masks, even if consumers purchased the proper type, are only of use if the wearer receives prior warning of a biological weapon attack, Ropeik noted, adding that these exploits are not without public cost. "Marketing to our fear," Ropeik said, "is a component of social amplification that does real harm."

Amazon has come under criticism in the past for allowing the distribution and sale of scientifically dubious materials. Following complaints last year, the company was nudged into removing some anti-vaccination documentary films from its streaming platform, although at least one remains available as a DVD. It also removed several books that touted dubious cures for autism - and other Internet giants, including Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest, and even public libraries, have all come under scrutiny for being conduits of misinformation.

Allowing opportunists to peddle simple survival guides or hasty compilations of publicly available information would seem to have fewer social consequences, beyond attempting to profit off the ignorance - or desperation - of the unwitting. But Ropeik suggested that whatever the harm, those looking to cash in on coronavirus anxieties are not solely to blame. "Saying it's Facebook's fault, or WhatsApp's fault, or Amazon's fault - and [that] they should police this better," Ropeik said, "is overlooking the truth that it's us that we're talking about, and our behavior."

Whether that's fair, it's clear that online book retailers, which have endeavored to make self-publishing cheap and frictionless, are proving to be highly attractive to hucksters who seem to know an opportunity when they see one. Through its Kindle Direct Publishing service, Amazon promises that sellers can publish eBooks and paperbacks for free in "less than 5 minutes." Publications then appear on Kindle stores across the globe within 24 to 48 hours. If a seller wants to create physical copies of their books, the service will print them on demand once a customer makes a purchase.

Amazon is by no means alone, and many of the same or similarly dubious titles can be found at Barnes and Noble, Walmart and other retailers. Barnes and Noble's own self-publishing service advertises that its process takes "as little as 20 minutes" and that books will become available on its website within 72 hours. There appears to be no vetting of authorship or content and, according to Business Insider, Amazon has responded to questions about some of the more spurious materials by saying that it seeks to provide customers with access to a variety of viewpoints.

One elaborately named title available at Barnes and Noble includes misspellings and variant capitalization on its cover: Coronavirus: Wuhan Coronavirus: All Secrets Revelead. Mankind is under attack. The tome promises to deliver The History and the Ways To Combat Its Spread And Prevent another Epidemic. The paperback costs $8.95.

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Another series of books, selling for upwards of $33 each, include Equine Coronavirus: Everything a Horse Lover Needs to Know and Canine Coronavirus: Everything a Dog Lover Needs to Know - the latter an apparent attempt to capitalize on recent news that recent news at least one dog - a 17-year-old Pomeranian in Hong Kong - had tested positive for low levels of the novel coronavirus (there's little evidence that this is widespread or a danger to humans).

The author, listed as Malik Hill, Ph.D., also sells books about coronavirus in rabbits and fish, as well as a paperback promising to enlighten readers on How to Buy a House for Literally $0!.

Journalist and author Maria Konnikova, whose 2017 book The Confidence Game sought to shed light on the psychology and motives of hustlers, suggested that exploiting public fear is a common tactic. "We know that con artists absolutely love crises and moments of panic," she wrote in an e-mail. "They thrive on uncertainty and instability, when people are emotional and not quite sure which end is up."

And even if the information isn't always wrong in the current crop of books related to the novel coronavirus - which as of Friday had infected at least 98,200 people around the globe, and killed at least 3,300 - Konnikova suggested that a healthy dose of skepticism is warranted.

"The people putting them out for the most part have no knowledge or authority - and so, the false will likely be lumped in with the true," she said. "But people will still buy them, because they want something to cling to."

Jane Roberts is the deputy editor of Undark, where this post was originally published.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

New White Claws Are Here!

The wait is over!

White Claw Hard Seltzer introduces the highly-anticipated Flavor Collection No. 2, including three brand new flavors - Tangerine, Watermelon and Lemon!

The first flavors debuted by the brand in more than 16 months, each White Claw Hard Seltzer is meticulously crafted with uncompromising quality, hand-selected ingredients and curated specially with White Claw drinkers in mind. These flavors join one of the best-selling Hard Seltzer flavors, White Claw Mango, in an all-new 12-pack Variety Pack, available now at retailers nationwide.

"Since our launch in 2016, we have only launched six flavors - it takes time to perfect a liquid worthy to bear the White Claw name," said Phil Rosse, president of White Claw Seltzer Works. "In the last year, tens and thousands of eager and passionate consumers took to social media requesting new flavors - and we listened."

This new variety pack joins White Claw Flavor Collection No. 1, the best-selling variety pack in the entire category, including beer. Each new flavor has the clean, crisp taste of seltzer water with a hint of fruit flavor that White Claw has become known for. To wit:

* White Claw Tangerine provides a splash of refreshing citrus that's a little more sweet than tart, embodying the splash of biting into a fresh tangerine wedge.

* White Claw Watermelon has a hint of bright, ripe watermelon, and is clean and refreshing to taste, not like a syrupy candy. This flavor also features a fresh, natural watermelon aroma.

* White Claw Lemon has been in development for more than two years, as lemon is a very subtle and delicate flavor to work with. Our flavor bursts with a lemon aroma providing drinkers with crisp, citrus refreshment.

With 100 calories and 2 grams of sugar per 12 fl. oz. serving, and 5 percent ALC/VOL, White Claw Hard Seltzer is made using a blend of seltzer water, a gluten-free alcohol base and a hint of fruit flavor.

The latest additions join a robust offering of flavor profiles, including fan favorites Black Cherry, Ruby Grapefruit, Natural Lime, Raspberry, Mango and Pure Hard Seltzer.

White Claw can be purchased in convenient individual 6-packs, 12-pack variety packs and single 16- and 19.2-ounce cans, ideal for maximum portability in places where glass bottles are prohibited.

To find White Claw Hard Seltzer near you, please visit http://www.whiteclaw.com/#locator or learn more at @whiteclaw on Instagram, @whiteclawseltzer on Facebook or @whiteclaw on Twitter. To share which new flavor is your favorite, use the hashtag #WhiteClawFlavors.

About White Claw Hard Seltzer
White Claw Hard Seltzer is the nation's leading hard seltzer known for pure tasting, crisp refreshment. Crafted using the proprietary BrewPure® process, White Claw is gluten-free with 5% ALC/VOL and 100 calories per 12 fl oz. Available in nine flavors. To learn more about White Claw Hard Seltzer, visit www.whiteclaw.com.

Please Drink Responsibly. Hard Seltzer with Flavors. Registered Trademark used under license by White Claw Seltzer Works, Chicago, IL 60661. Full nutrition information may be found at www.whiteclaw.com.

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To White Claw Twitter:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 AM | Permalink

Trump's Banana Split Economy

Prior to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the main commentary I heard about the economy was that the USA was rosy, would stay so in the future, and would help re-elect President Trump. The 10-year GDP expansion was the highest ever recorded and would continue with no end in sight. The standard unemployment rate, at 3.6%, was the lowest in 50 years.

Like a giant banana split, the economy looked full of sweetness, with whipped cream and cherries on the top. Eating it would give you a sugar rush and you would be grateful to the person who gave it to you.

But I couldn't help but think of a childhood friend who tried to down a 50-scoop "I Bet You Can't Sundae" at a local snack shop in Detroit, and ended up with a frozen tongue.

The extension of the Obama expansion from the 2008 recession into the Trump years has been partly caused by sound, appropriately expansionary macroeconomic policy by Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve Bank (monetary policy) and Larry Summers at the Treasury Department (fiscal policy). Despite expansionary policy in the Obama years, the economy was held back by a Republican Congress pushing for fiscal austerity brought on by fear of inflation, rising deficits and national debt (the accumulation of previous deficits). That austerity kept GDP growth lower than it could have been.

As I see it, the big push in keeping the expansion going under Trump was old-fashioned Keynesian deficit financing of the federal budget, and an accommodating monetary policy keeping interest rates low and money expansion high. This would be appropriate if done at a period of high unemployment. But it was done at a period of what many thought was close to full employment.

Sure, there are some benefits to this Trump expansion. But, as in eating a banana split, we are now experiencing after-consumption indigestion, and soon this indigestion will turn into regurgitation which will manifest as stagflation.

Stagflation is a period of macroeconomic instability with simultaneous low growth or even decreases in real GDP and increases in average price levels (inflation). This regurgitation phase will be exacerbated by the spread of the new coronavirus, making the upcoming stagflation even worse, as the two seem to be mutually reinforcing.

In this Trump expansionary economy, we did not get more of both guns and butter, but through tax cuts going disproportionately to the wealthy, along with a military expansion, we got more yachts and missiles. (The U.S. recreational boating industry has been in an eight-year expansion; total annual military spending had been declining from 2010 to 2016, and since then, it is has been increasing in total and as a percent of the total federal budget expenditures.)

An early part of having indigestion in this particular deficit-induced expansionary economy is higher inflation that is subtle and not counted in the various price indices. Price indices, using a basket of goods and services, tend to focus on goods more than services, and on trying to correct for quality increases more than quality decreases. Of course we notice higher prices of goods like milk, restaurant meals, and housing, but what we don't connect to in an over-stimulated macroeconomy is the lower quality of many goods and services - especially services.

It has been noted, as an anomaly, that inflation is unusually low in this period of near-full employment. Usually, when an economy is near full employment, bottlenecks develop that result from constricted sectors trying to bid away resources to relieve the supply gridlock. If widespread, this induces inflation. But in this time, I assert that inflation shows up more in quality decreases than price increases. Price increases are happening but they are generally below (now 1.75%) what the Federal Reserve considers as its target inflation mandate of 2%.

The unmeasured lower quality of goods and services understates the rise in consumers' true cost of living because it does not take into account how the decreased quality of existing services and goods reduces it. To stay competitive and maximize profits, many companies cut corners, reducing the quality of goods and services they sell. They introduce the quality cuts before the consumer has a chance to figure it out. Cutting prices is very noticeable. So, instead of cutting prices, many businesses cut quality because it is harder to detect. When regulation of organizations have decreased, or disappeared, firms are incentivized to continue along the route towards becoming a Sinclairian Jungle.

Two Big Recent Examples

The most noticeable example of quality-cutting is Boeing's Max 737 aircraft, which still sits idled and makes for less reliable air travel as airlines have to scramble and pay a premium to find substitute aircraft.

It is much harder to realize the quality decline in sophisticated goods. It took two fatal air crashes before the flaws were uncovered. On average, industries have become more concentrated through mergers, acquisitions, and expanding the lines of services they provide. They spread themselves too thin, which is sometimes called diseconomies of scale, but rather than let average costs go up, they reduce quality, particularly when a release time target is involved. Republicans often associate this condition with government services, but I think it now occurs just as much or more in for-profit companies and even in non-profit organizations.

Another recent example is the 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucus app, developed by a for-profit company that is owned by a non-profit organization, which caused not only a huge delay in giving out results but also put into question the accuracy of the results. The causes of the slowdown in producing results vary from coding error, log-in problems, difficulty in installing the app on one's smartphone, overloading of phone lines, lack of training for precinct chairs, not testing at the statewide scale, and excessive secrecy prior to launch.

Though under a deadline, I suspect many of the errors of the app could have been eliminated if the company that produced it had more staff to check for errors and do beta testing. I assert that this lack was due to an attempt to hold down costs and the difficulty of finding skilled technical workers in a tight labor market.

10 Personal Examples

Service quality decreases are hard to document, but I personally have gotten more bad service in the recent past, leading me to spend extra money and time to correct mistakes by large organizations. Here are a few firsthand examples:

1. My retirement investment management company is the fourth-largest manager of 401(k)-type plan assets in the United States. Yet it has consistently made mistakes in calculating my required minimum distributions to the Internal Revenue Service. I had to hire a private accountant, at my own expense, to straighten things out.

2. I regularly see doctors at the largest and richest hospital in Chicago. At my last visit, my doctor came into my room and tried to see the results of my recent lab work to explain them to me, but he could not get the computer to work in that room.

3. At that same hospital, when going to the emergency room, I am seen by several doctors who walk in and out of my room. Few identify themselves and none will write their name on a board or give me their card. Personnel changes at shifts. If I want to tell a new doctor what a previous doctor told me, I may not remember; instead, I could give the new doctor the name of the previous doctor, but I do not know that doctor's name.

4. I bought a new wireless printer from a major big box electronic retailer and purchased technical assistance services. I paid double the price for technical set-up assistance because I wanted to make sure the technical person who came to my house stayed for a decent amount of time to get the job right. Not only did he leave early, but he provided me no report of what he did. I asked the store to send someone else to finish the job and was told it will be a long wait because they have only one specialist (in the City of Chicago) for setting up printers. When I asked if the person coming to my house to set up the printer knew how the printer I purchased worked, the technology manager said, "Technology is changing so fast, no one can know everything."

5. I was once able to eat tasty affordable home-cooked type meals in my walkable neighborhood, but rents and property taxes have become so high that I have to travel far outside my neighborhood to get a good affordable restaurant meal. Restaurants in my neighborhood close down because they can't afford the rents or taxes or the owners of buildings prefer to sell to a residential developer or rent to an upscale chain store. In general, immigrants know and appreciate good food better than upscale yuppies. Because there are fewer immigrants in this now-more upscale neighborhood, restaurants can serve lower quality food, charge high prices, and get away with it.

6. I have lived, and continue to live, in an old house that requires a lot of repairs. In the past, I could find affordable handymen. Now, it is nearly impossible to do so. My neighbor is a real estate developer and I asked him for a referral. He told me that with immigration down, particularly from Poland and Mexico, even he is having difficulty finding workers. If I find someone affordable, either they don't have the skills or the tools or they don't want to commit to work for more than few days, or worse, they commit to work for a few days and then don't show up. On the labor supply side, it is great for skilled trades workers to be more choosy about jobs, but from the consumer demand side, it makes house repair services less reliable and more expensive.

7. My local bank merged with a large national financial corporation. It is one of the largest banks in the United States; the company was ranked 366th in the Fortune 500 in 2018. Yet, when we were forced to move our accounts over to this larger bank - but in the exact same building space - they made several mistakes in moving our money over and I had questions no one could answer. The bank did not plan for a smooth transition for its customers and did not spend enough on training its workers.

8. I go to a supermarket which is part of a large chain in Chicago. To try to stimulate me to shop there, they set up incentives for me to get a discount on gasoline, which is activated by the checkout clerk entering my phone number in their checkout system. But the last two times I shopped there, the clerk did not ask for my number and I was going to miss out on getting the discount. I had to take time to wait to see a manager at the front desk so the manager could enter my shopping total into their gasoline discount program app. The value of my time was worth more than the discount I got. It was not really the clerk's fault. She was new and they did not put the resources into training her.

9. I have several computers at my home and my university office. At home, my main computer, where I store all my data, uses Windows 7 as its operating system. It works stably and has old software that I know how to use. But now Microsoft says it no longer supports the Windows 7 operating system updates for ordinary users. To switch to Windows 10 will require having to learn to use new software, some of which cannot even be bought any more and some which is only available in new versions to rent. That substantially increases the cost of computing for my household.

10. I bought hearing aids from a large big box retailer, which is purported to have the best value in hearing aids. Promises were made to me but not kept. The hearing aid specialist salesperson did not follow through on demonstrating a range of hearing aids, nor did she know how to program my smartphone to adjust the hearing aids. It is hard to keep up with technology, but companies which sell technical products are supposed to hire people who know their intricacies.

These reductions in quality of service make life more difficult for everyone, but especially for low- and middle-income people who have to struggle, increasing expenditures and using up time, to find easement from the harm done to them by these mistakes in service provision. Higher income people have accountants, lawyers, administrative assistants and consultants who can adjust for these to make the flow of life go smoothly. But low-income people do not have these luxuries available. This exacerbates the inequality of income by making it harder for low-income people to keep up with utilizing the common necessities of living, and continues to widen the digital divide.

Austerity Starving Of The Beast Comes After The Dessert

Republicans portray The Beast as government expenditures for safety net programs that target low-income people. Yet, Congress and the president have been willing to incur large deficits, largely through tax cuts and increases in military spending. This is a set-up.

Republicans, who hate what government does in the realm of safety nets for the poor, now have a rationale to cut back on these programs because of the so-called dangers of high deficits. Those fiscal dangers were not raised when the deficit-generating policies were passed into law. Nonetheless, they are used to beat back the size of the welfare state and thus focus less of the economic gains of growth on the poor.

Since Trump took office, real GDP has grown between 1% and 3%, hitting a rate of 2.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019. The labor share of GDP has been growing slightly since 2010 but it is still much lower than its two recent peaks of 64% in 2001 and 60% in 2008. Since 2016, the annual percentage change in median usual weekly real earnings of full-time wage and salary workers (16 years and over) has fluctuated from negative 1% to positive 3%. Labor productivity, as measured by annual percent change in Nonfarm Business Real Output Per Hour of All Persons, has been more stable in the Trump years compared to the Obama years, but is still weak. It ended at 1.4% annual change for fourth quarter 2019.

While wage increases are modest, they may be enough to start a cost push inflation when coupled with low productivity growth. More fully recognized, contractionary macroeconomic policy normally follows, and that is when unemployment increases, along with higher inflation, put into momentum by previous Trump economic policy. This regurgitation of the banana split is called stagflation - simultaneous increases in unemployment along with increases in average price levels.

This expectation is reinforced by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Already we have seen a big drop in the value of the stock market, a leading indicator of macroeconomic activity. As the virus spreads, there will be supply shocks as more domestic and foreign workers are quarantined, reducing output of goods and services as well as causing shortages which leads to price increases. Firms will look for new supply chains and they will find them, but at added cost.

The demand side is shocked by workers' falling income when a company closes, as well as quarantined consumers having less ability to buy goods and services. Admittedly, this puts downward pressure on prices, and for firms there will be both losers (airlines and hotels) and winners (makers of face masks and virus test kits), but I think the supply shocks will be bigger than the demand shocks. Overall, we will see simultaneous stagnation (falling or slow growing real GDP) and inflation (rising average prices).

This will be worse than previous periods of macroeconomic instability because of Republican-caused decreases in the power of automatic macroeconomic stabilizers such as food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, rental assistance for low-income people, and Social Security disability benefits.

Stock And Housing Bubbles

In addition to the risk of price inflation in goods and services is the risk of asset pricing instability in the stock market and housing. I wrote a draft of this paper before I knew about the coronavirus. In that draft, informed by others (particularly the writings of Yale professor Robert Shiller), I expected bursting bubbles in stocks and housing. The price of stocks have now substantially declined and housing will follow. Recession will follow that, but this time along with inflation.

Managing The Peril

Economic journalist Wolf Richter looked at delinquency rates for people holding credit cards at smaller banks, a proxy for lower income people. He finds this credit card delinquency rate at 7.05% in the fourth quarter of 2019, higher than this rate was between 2008 and 2009 during the peak of the great recession and higher since 1980.

A decline in economic activity is likely to occur from a decline in domestic macro fundamentals, high economic inequality in both income and assets, weakening in the global economy, executive government branch instability, and the interruptions and closures brought on by the coronavirus. With interest rates already low, the power of the Federal Reserve is limited.

With federal deficits topping one trillion dollars, expansionary fiscal policy is also limited. Democratic economists and policy-makers pay better attention to economic facts on the ground and they have a history of intelligently using Keynesian intervention. They also can combat decreases in hidden quality declines of goods and services by increasing the amount of regulation in those sectors where they occur.

Democrats in charge of steering the economy will give the country a much better chance of weathering these upcoming storms than Trump Republicans, who blindly brought us to this peril.

I want to thank Ugur Aker, Joe Persky, Natalie Davila, Peter Per and Barbara Balkin for giving me comments and ideas. Any inaccuracies or mistakes are solely mine.

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Previously by (or including) Steve Balkin:
* The Maxwell Street Muddle.

* Maxwell Street Malfeasance.

* City Needs New Policy For The Maxwell Street Market: An Open Letter To Mayor-Elect Emanuel.

* The Maxwell Street Market Vendors Association Wants You To Like Them.

* The Olympic Bid That Could Have Been.

* Lil Scotty: 'Give Him His Flowers While He Lives.'

* Remembering Lil Scotty: Bluesman, Buttonman.

* Remembering Lacy Gibson, Master Bluesman.

* Here's To Bobby Too Tuff.

* Continuing The Political Revolution.

* Reducing Chicago's Violence: A 10-Point Plan.

* New WPA Stamps Are a Good Reminder To Bring Emergency Public Employment Infrastructure Programs To Violent Neighborhoods.

* Item: Chicago Efforts To Stop Genocide Of Rohingya People In Myanmar.

* Saving The Rohingya: Stopping Genocide And Volunteering In Chicago.

* Blues Jam Memorial For Chicago Great Arthur "Sambo" Irby.

* An Assault Weapon Proposal.

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Steve Balkin is a professor emeritus of economics at Roosevelt University. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Trump's Banana Split Economy
Diseconomies of scale.

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Bogus Coronavirus Books Exploit Fear
"[A] shadowy array of grifters and opportunists are flocking to Amazon.com and other online booksellers to capitalize on public fear, producing a steady stream of books and manuals that claim to hold the secret to surviving the outbreak."

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New White Claw Is Here!
Consumer demand spurs new flavors.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #294: White Sox Signings vs. Cubs Whinings
Yoan Moncada vs. Pedro Strop. Plus: The Daily Dallas Keuchel; Big Data Darvish; Why David Ross May Bring Back The Intentional Loss; Streaking Blackhawks On Life Support; Brad Biggs Talks Football With You; Bulls Finally Testing Paxson's Argument; Chicago Fire Home Opener; and Illinois Hoops Nation.

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ChicagoReddit

Chicago Restaurant Bubble from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Leslie Uggams Performing "My Kind Of Town (Chicago Is)" At Halftime Of The 54th Orange Bowl Classic In 1988 For Some Reason.

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BeachBook

Farmers Fight John Deere Over Who Gets To Fix An $800,000 Tractor.

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

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Yes, please.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Here we go again.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

March 5, 2020

Fortune & Faith In Old Chicago

"This engaging biography of Augustus Garrett and Eliza Clark Garrett tells two equally compelling stories: an ambitious man's struggle to succeed and the remarkable spiritual journey of a woman attempting to overcome tragedy. By contextualizing the couple's lives within the rich social, political, business, and religious milieu of Chicago's early urbanization, author Charles H. Cosgrove fills a gap in the history of the city in the mid-nineteenth century," SIU Press says.

"The Garretts moved from the Hudson River Valley to a nascent Chicago, where Augustus made his fortune in the land boom as an auctioneer and speculator. A mayor during the city's formative period, Augustus was at the center of the first mayoral election scandal in Chicago. To save his honor, he resigned dramatically and found vindication in his reelection the following year. His story reveals much about the inner workings of Chicago politics and business in the antebellum era.

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"The couple had lost three young children to disease, and Eliza arrived in Chicago with deep emotional scars. Her journey exemplifies the struggles of sincere, pious women to come to terms with tragedy in an age when most people attributed unhappy events to divine punishment. Following Augustus's premature death, Eliza developed plans to devote her estate to founding a women's college and a school for ministerial training, and in 1853 she endowed a Methodist theological school, the Garrett Biblical Institute (now the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary), thereby becoming the first woman in North America to found an institution of higher learning."

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See also:

"Augustus Garrett (1801 - November 30, 1848) was an American politician who twice served as Mayor of Chicago (1843-1844, 1845-1846). He was a member of the Democratic Party.

"In 1842, Garrett ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Chicago. He ran again in 1843 and was elected.

"In 1844, Garrett initially won re-election, only to have the election invalidated based on charges of 'illegal proceedings and fraud.' Garrett ran in a second election that year, but lost to Alson Sherman.

"During his terms in office, Garrett pushed to have the first brick school in Chicago, Dearborn School, turned into either a warehouse or an insane asylum, believing that the building was too large for use as a school."

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"Eliza, like many earnest nineteenth-century women raised in Calvinist churches, was on a spiritual quest for signs that she was one of the elect.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 AM | Permalink

The Ex-Cub Factor

One in an occasional series tracking the movements of former Cubs.

1. Pedro Strop.

"This past offseason was not one to remember for the Cubs, a big-market, high-payroll team that spent a mere $3.5MM on free agents after failing to make the playoffs in 2019," MLB Trade Rumors notes.

"The club also lost quite a few of its own notable free agents, including reliever Pedro Strop, even though the right-hander revealed Wednesday that Chicago had interest in retaining him (via Gordon Wittenmyer at the Sun-Times).

"They did try hard to bring me back. It's just money-wise, they couldn't, because they weren't allowed [with] all the salary cap stuff; they wanted to try to stay below," Strop said.

Oy.

"The 34-year-old Strop, a Cub from 2013-19, ended up with the National League Central rival Reds on a modest single-season pact worth $1.825MM. The Cubs weren't even willing to go to those lengths for Strop, however, thanks in part to their desire to stay under the luxury tax (not the nonexistent salary cap) this year. They were one of three teams that had to pay the tax in 2019, when they were forced to fork over a $7.6MM bill. The threshold then was $206MM, but it has climbed to $208MM for 2020. Although they spent next to nothing over the winter, the Cubs project to start this season about $6MM over that mark, per Jason Martinez of Roster Resource and FanGraphs.

"Should the tax really be a concern for the deep-pocketed Cubs? Arguably not."

2. Wade Davis.

"That Wade Davis has been named the Rockies' closer in and of itself isn't shocking," MLB Trade Rumors says.

"Davis is one of the most accomplished closers of this era, changing the game with an incomparable three-year run of dominance with the Royals from 2014 to 2016. Over that span, Davis appeared in 185 contests, posting a 1.18 ERA/1.86 FIP. He gave up just three home runs in that time, and along with running mates Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera, showcased the potential for an uber-dominant bullpen to undergird a champion. Whether that unit was truly transcendent is a debate for another day, but they did, at the very least, help drive the transformation of bullpen usage that, in part, defines our current era of baseball.

"And yet, Davis wasn't the nominal closer on those Royals teams. Not until an injury to Holland forced him into the role. But he is, once again, the nominal closer for the Colorado Rockies despite the 8.65 ERA he posted in 50 games last season, per MLB.com's Thomas Harding."

Yikes.

*

Davis notched a 2.30 ERA/3.38 FIP in his one year (2017) as a Cub. He appeared in 59 games that season and made the All-Star team.

He was acquired, of course, for Jorge Soler. The Cubs let him go as a free agent and went with Brandon Morrow instead.

2. Jonathan Lucroy

"With spring training nearly half over, the [Red Sox'] backup catcher's spot is still wide open between Kevin Plawecki and Jonathan Lucroy," MLB.com reports.

"When camp started, the expectation was that it was Plawecki's job to lose. But it became a full-fledged competition when Lucroy signed a minor league deal with a camp invite on Feb. 20."

Lucroy's deal is for $1.5 million should he head north with the team.

*

Plus:

"New Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy played with a herniated disc in his neck for three years. The new scar on the left side of his neck is from surgery he underwent this past offseason to repair the disc," MassLive reports.

"I'd like to sit here and make excuses and say that's the reason why I haven't played good but I'm not going to," Lucroy said. "It did affect me. But I got it taken care of. And I feel a lot better than I have in a long time. I'll just put it like that.

"It's been a huge increase in bat speed. We measured it. Before and after, we measured it. And it's huge. So I feel pretty good."

*

The Cubs picked up Lucroy last August after the Angels released him; he appeared in 27 games for Chicago, slashing .189/.283/.283. He became a free agent at season's end.

*

And:

"I knew about (the Astros' sign-stealing system) two years ago, what was going on," Lucroy said. "I know it just recently came out, but everybody in baseball, especially that division that played against them, we were all aware of the Astros doing those things. And it was up to us to outsmart them, which is kind of hard when you have a computer program that breaks your signs.

"We actively changed signs - almost every pitch we were changing signs. You had to because they had them - they would relay them to second base.

"They were stealing signs from first, too, from between your legs. So they had a very intricate system going on. We were well aware of it. It was a challenge.

"It was crazy some of the pitches they would take. It was like, 'Man, these guys are the best hitters I've ever seen.' It all made sense when I found out, when we found out how they were doing it. It all made sense. Then it was like, 'What are you going to do?'

"We knew they were stealing signs before, because you would be back there catching and they would be whistling or yelling. I'm always listening for those things. Those guys do it all the time. If I set up outside, they will whistle. They will whistle location. Or they will call their last name or their number for location if I go in or out. So you will see catchers setting up late so guys don't have time to do that. But I knew they were doing all that, which a lot of teams do that. That's OK. That's on the field. On the field is one thing. That's fair game. That's part of it. But when you're talking about it the way they were with the trash can, that's pretty tough."

3. Alex Avila.

A lock to make the Twins.

*

Avila came to the Cubs along with then-projected future closer Justin Wilson in the 2017 July trade deadline deal with the Tigers, in exchange for Isaac Paredes, Jeimer Candelario and cash. He appeared in 35 games with the Cubs, slashing .239/.369.380 (like Lucroy, he wasn't brought here for his offense, though wow, look at that OBP). He was not brought back in 2018.

4. Starlin Castro.

"This year's spring training has made Castro as hopeful as he has been in years," the Washington Post reports.

"He will turn 30 in late March, but he joined the World Series champions after he had one of the best offensive stretches of his career in the second half of last season. He's expected to be the everyday second baseman - he could slide to third sometimes if prospect Carter Kieboom can't lock down that spot - and hit cleanup. And he will be playing high-stakes baseball again."

*

Refresher: In December 2015, the Cubs traded Castro to the Yankees for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

Report: One In Three Illinois Households Can't Afford Basic Needs

Thirty-six percent of Illinois households have incomes below the state's cost of living, according to new data from the report "ALICE in Illinois: A Financial Hardship Study."

ALICE households are those that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These households earn more than the federal poverty level but less than the basic cost of living for the state (the ALICE Threshold). Of Illinois' 4,817,547 households, 12 percent earn below the federal poverty level and another 24 percent are ALICE households.

"People living below the ALICE Threshold live and work in our communities, but struggle to stay afloat financially," said Sue Grey, board chair of United Way of Illinois and president and CEO of United Way of Champaign County. "Low wages, the need to string together multiple part-time or contract jobs to get sufficient working hours, and the high cost of living in our state mean that many working people, from cashiers to cleaners, aren't making enough to get by. This impacts all of us, as people living below the ALICE Threshold do not have the disposable income to support and drive the state economy."

Despite the documented economic recovery, the share of Illinois households living below the ALICE Threshold increased between 2007 and 2017, the latest year for which data is available. In 2007, 31 percent of Illinois households were below the ALICE Threshold. By 2017, that number had climbed to 36 percent. In Chicago, 43 percent of households are below the ALICE Threshold.

ALICE households exist throughout all parts of Illinois and include people of all ages, races and ethnicities, and educational levels. However, Black and Hispanic households are more likely than White and Asian households to be below the ALICE threshold.

"This problem can't be solved with one change, because the high cost of living is driven by many factors," Grey said. "Government agencies, nonprofits, communities and businesses need to work together to create change that improves the quality of life for the ALICE population and our communities across Illinois as a whole."

The report was funded by the United Way of Illinois and led by Dr. Stephanie Hoopes, director of the ALICE project, a national research initiative.

United Way of Illinois (UWI) is a statewide association of local United Way organizations representing communities across Illinois. UWI fights to create lasting community change by helping children and youth succeed in school, promoting financial stability and family independence and improving the health of all Illinois residents.

United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, shining a light on the challenges ALICE households face and seeking collaborative solutions. Through a standardized methodology that assesses the cost of living in every county, this project provides a comprehensive look at financial hardship across the United States.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Illinois voters will still face a dizzying choice of 13 presidential candidates if they choose to vote in the state's Democratic Primary - even though less than a handful are still in the race," the Sun-Times reports.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg became the latest to fold his candidacy on Wednesday, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is said to be reassessing her run. [She dropped out this morning.]

But both names are on early voting touch screens and will appear on March 17 ballots.

With the dust still settling from Super Tuesday, the remaining candidates probably have other concerns than losing a few sympathy votes to departed rivals two weeks from now. If Warren drops out, the field will be down to former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

But it's too late for Illinois election officials to remove the names of Bloomberg, Warren, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet or former Maryland U.S. Rep. John Delaney. New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker will also be listed, even though he dropped out more than seven weeks ago.

Hell, why not put 2016's candidates on the ballot, too!

*

"The Illinois Board of Elections held a lottery for ballot positions on Jan. 2. Klobuchar, Patrick and Sanders took the top three spots. Biden is listed as the fourth candidate."

*

If we're voting on touch screens now, you'd think this problem could be avoided. (You could still keep a paper trail for security reasons by printing out touch screen voting receipts and records.)

*

"Illinois has more than 8 million active registered voters. As of Wednesday, there have been 179,826 vote-by-mail ballots sent and 27,662 returned, the state Board of Elections said. In the 2016, presidential primary, a total of 119,340 votes were cast by mail.

"The state has seen 68,412 early votes cast, although the number does not include DuPage County. In 2016, there were 520,000 early votes."

I don't like early voting, primarily because of the possibility of late-breaking news that could reveal a candidate to be a crook. This election season in particular we can see another reason why late voting is problematic: All those votes already cast for candidates who have dropped out of the race.

Of course I understand that early voting increases turnout by allowing people to vote on a schedule that works for them. An antidote to that, though, is to make the early voting period considerably shorter - say 72 hours before Election Day proper - and/or to make Election Day a national holiday guaranteeing more folks to take off work to get to a polling place.

Early voting is a problematic, partial solution to the larger issue in this country of how we (or, some would say, Republicans, predominantly but not exclusively) make voting more difficult than it ought to be.

And if it hasn't happened yet, it will happen in the future that early voting for candidates no longer in a race will tip an outcome, and that's really not acceptable.

See also: At Least A Quarter-Million Votes Were Useless On Super Tuesday - Ranked Choice Voting Would Change That.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

1 In 3 Illinois Households Can't Afford Basic Needs
Meet ALICE.

*

The Ex-Cub Factor
"Should the tax really be a concern for the deep-pocketed Cubs? Arguably not."

*

Fortune & Faith In Old Chicago
"Augustus Garrett (1801 - November 30, 1848) was an American politician who twice served as Mayor of Chicago (1843-1844, 1845-1846). He was a member of the Democratic Party.

"In 1842, Garrett ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Chicago. He ran again in 1843 and was elected.

"In 1844, Garrett initially won re-election, only to have the election invalidated based on charges of 'illegal proceedings and fraud.' Garrett ran in a second election that year, but lost to Alson Sherman.

"During his terms in office, Garrett pushed to have the first brick school in Chicago, Dearborn School, turned into either a warehouse or an insane asylum, believing that the building was too large for use as a school."

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ChicagoReddit

Are tourists who are not citizens allowed to use pot in Chicago? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Chicago" / Henri Pelissier, Masters of the Piano Bar

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BeachBook

Here Are The Most Common Illegal Things Car Dealerships Will Try Do.

*

Debtors Of The World, Unite!

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

*

+

=

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Only Cash.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 AM | Permalink

March 4, 2020

Drake's "Chicago Freestyle" Explained

Two-thirty baby won't you meet me by The Bean?

Plus: "When To Say When."


-

See also:

* "Chicago Freestyle" on Genius.

-

Plus:

"Over dreamy piano, Drake reflects on some romantic discontent during a tour stop in Chicago," Songfacts says. "After arriving in the Windy City, Dreezy tells us how he unsuccessfully tried to hook up with a couple of girls he knows."

Hit one, she say she got a man
Hit another one, it goes green
Must've changed phones on the team

*

Pitchfork:

"['Chicago Freestlye'] unpacks the run-of-the-mill anxieties and flexes associated with his nightlife."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:47 AM | Permalink

Day In The Life Of A Chicago TV Repairman

"Another day of riding through Chicago neighborhoods on the South side, and also Harvey, IL. My television repair company Marc Anthony Television Repair, provides in-home TV repair service to the entire city of Chicago, suburbs, and Northwest Indiana. Today I'll be taking you on a tour of the Washington Heights neighborhood (my old spot), the Woodlawn neighborhood, the South Shore neighborhood, and Harvey. So just sit back and enjoy the tour and the chill music in the background."

Dude covered 63.2 miles over 5 hours, 37 minutes.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

*

Here's the item:

"A new poll shows Kim Foxx pulling away from Bill Conway in the race for Cook County state's attorney, though the survey still has 18 percent of potential voters undecided.

Thirty-nine percent of Democratic voters said they'd vote for Foxx, according to the poll memo obtained by Playbook, while 28 percent back Conway."

Obtained? Like, you snatched it off someone's desk at Foxx headquarters, or picked it out of a dumpster?

*

"It comes a week after another poll, commissioned by Conway, showed him neck and neck with Foxx while 36 percent of voters were undecided, an indication that voters may be forming an opinion on the race just two weeks from the primary."

It's only an indication of such if you believe both polls to be on accurate reading of the electorate and that electorate is extremely volatile - and for some unlikely reason switching back to Foxx after flirting with Conway.

Either way, all you've done, Playbook, is confuse voters, not inform them. None of this is journalism.

*

"The survey also reveals polling numbers from December and February, showing Foxx leading by 14 and 15 points, respectively, contradicting Conway's poll."

And yet, you are trying to derive some analysis out of the competing polls. I'll give you the analysis: You're being played - and almost certainly you know it.

*

"What's clear in both polls: Undecided voters will dictate the results of this race."

🙄

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Stupor Tuesday

Go to @BeachwoodReport for the whys and wherefores.

-

New on the Beachwood today . . .

"Chicago Freestyle" Explained
Two-thirty baby won't you meet me by The Bean?

. . .

*

Day In The Life Of A Chicago TV Repairman
63.2 miles over 5 hours, 37 minutes.

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ChicagoReddit

Saint Patrick's PSA from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Destroyer featuring Eleanor Friedberger at Thalia Hall on Sunday night.

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

Shot . . .

*

Meanwhile . . .

*

Chaser . . .

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Samoic.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:07 AM | Permalink

March 3, 2020

Schools Are Spying On Students, But Students Can Fight Back

Schools across the country are increasingly using technology to spy on students at home, at school, and on social media. On Monday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched a new Surveillance Self-Defense guide for students and their parents, so they can learn more about how schools are watching them, and how they can fight back.

The surveillance technology currently in use includes software to scan students' social media posts, cameras with facial recognition and other scanning capabilities, and microphones to "detect aggression." Schools can even track you on devices that they don't control: if you have to download a certain kind of security certificate to use the school Internet, they may be monitoring your browser history and messages you send.

"Some administrators argue that they need to use this technology to keep schools safe, yet there is little evidence that it works," said EFF activism project manager Lindsay Oliver. "Instead, surveillance can make people second-guess everything they do or say. When we are constantly spied on, we censor the way we express ourselves. That's known as the 'chilling effect.' Students need space to experiment and learn without being monitored and recorded by their schools at every turn."

School discipline disproportionately targets students of color, and it's reasonable to think that additional, and more comprehensive scrutiny of their lives will only add to that injustice. As a criminologist told Vice, LGBTQ+ students, who tend to look for support online as they explore their orientations and gender identities, "find they're under so much surveillance that it affects them in ways that shuts them out of those resources. They learn not to look. They learn not to trust online public spaces."

In the new guide, EFF shows students and concerned parents what kind of technologies to watch for, how they can track you, and what it means for privacy. For example, some schools are tracking students' locations, ostensibly to automate attendance or track school bus ridership. This monitoring can be conducted through tools ranging from students' cell phones to ID cards with tracking chips, and it can easily continue when you are off campus. Location information is extraordinarily sensitive - it can reveal who your friends are and what you do when you see them, as well as what kind of medical appointments you might have or what sort of meetings or groups you attend regularly. In some cases, student data is reported to school resource officers or the police, and it can be kept over time, creating a granular history of a student's actions.

But what can students and concerned parents do? Often, the best solution is to simply not use the systems that schools have set up, if you're able to, and encourage your friends to do the same. But the new guide also shows students how to gather information on what's happening and how to talk to adults about it.

"Being under constant surveillance at home and school teaches kids to accept that people they should trust are spying on them - and that's a lesson that will serve them poorly in later life," said EFF associate director of research Gennie Gebhart. "If authority figures for youth say constant surveillance is okay, what happens when a romantic partner wants access to every message on their phone? Or an employer wants your social media password? Invasive monitoring isn't acceptable, no matter who tries to do it, and personal privacy matters."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"The big takeaway from Buttigieg's exit is that a huge block of moderate and center-left voters will be looking for a new home. In Illinois, could they move to Biden, fellow technocrat Mike Bloomberg (who he's bashed on the debate stage), or fellow midwesterner Amy Klobuchar?," Politico Illinois Playbook wonders.

Huh. Well, let's take a look at what Buttigieg's supporters say themselves.

*

Huh. Who is this Sanders fellow?

*

Nevermind, must be an outlier.

*

*

Oh.

-

The Real Irony
Also from Politico Illinois Playbook:

"Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx attacked challenger Bill Conway for running a campaign fueled by his father's wealth. Conway's father, Carlyle Group co-founder Bill Conway, just gave another $3 million to his son's campaign, putting his donations at more than $10 million.

"The irony, of course, is that Foxx's re-election bid is being aided by billionaire George Soros, who's backing a super PAC targeting Conway."

*

How is that ironic? One candidate is getting money from a longtime political activist with a longtime interest in criminal justice while the other is getting money from his daddy, who co-founded one of the world's shadiest investment firms.

What it really is is yet another example of bothsidesing it.

*

This item also cites "a poll first released in Playbook," which was actually a poll commissioned by the Conway campaign.

Playbook says it's the "first poll revealed in the race," which is a strange but necessary way to put it because it's hardly the first poll conducted, just the first one the Conway campaign has deigned to make public. After all, the Conway campaign wasn't running to Playbook with results of its December poll showing Kim Foxx with a 36-14 lead over their candidate - just three points above perennial candidate Bob "Dock" Fioretti's 11 points. Congratulations, Playbook, you've successfully been drafted into the Conway campaign's media strategy.

*

New rule: Notify every campaign at the start of a race that you will only consider reporting on its polls if all of them are made available - with full methodology. Otherwise, you're a tool, which I know some journalists don't mind being, but I do.

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Games People Play
One more from Playbook:

"Gaming operators ramped up their political donations to Springfield lawmakers in recent months, just as gaming legislation gets a foothold in the General Assembly."

First, it's gambling, not gaming. You are not obliged to use the family-friendly marketing term conjured by the industry to hide their true business.

Second, it never ceases to amaze me that the bought-and-paid-for nature of our political system operates so transparently. Either these "operators" understand that they must donate money to politicians to increase their chances of getting what they want or they just joined a very long line of business folk operating under the misconception that donations make a difference.

I'd like to see these operators called up and asked what they expect in return for their money. Assignment Desk, activate!

*

"The top recipient of gaming donations in recent months is [new] Senate President Don Harmon."

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Schools Are Spying On Students, But Students Can Fight Back
Here's how.

*

The [Monday] Papers
ICYMI, there was a late post.

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ChicagoReddit

new resource for you hockey players out there from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

The Sea and Cake at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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

*

*

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

March 2, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

The thing about moving is that there's the packing, then the transporting, and then the unpacking. So you're not really done until you're really done. So I'm not really done. I'm still unpacking.

But we still put together some new sports content today . . .

SportsMonday: Fire Try Not To Suck
Meet the new Fire, same as the old Fire.

*

The White Sox Report: Head First
Robert (& Co.) is gonna run.

*

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #293: Fire Stan Bowman?
Malcolm Subban is not the future. Plus: The White Sox Have A (Heads-First) Running Game: The Cubs' Unreckoning; The Tony LaRussa Rule; Fire Ryan Pace But What Else Is New; Meet The New Chicago Fire . . . ; Bulls Might Not Win Another Game This Season; and The Glorious Women (And Some Men) Of Illinois Hoops Nation.

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And in case you missed it from last week . . .

Jersey Jack Pinball Relocating To Elk Grove Village
Looks like sponsoring that bowl game worked!

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Monday Memory

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Elsewhere . . .

ChicagoReddit

How Chicago managed the 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Best Cosplay Of 2020 Chicago Comic Con C2E2

"The Chicago Comic Con and Entertainment Expo - aka C2E2 - was held from February 28th through March 1st at McCormick Place in Chicago."

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BeachBook

Where Everyone Goes When The Internet Breaks.

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The True Story Of Norman Rockwell's Awakening.

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Australian Rules Football Confronts CTE.

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

*

*

Doesn't this tell you everything you need to know?

*

Guilty, guilty, guilty.

*

*

*

Ever.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Snip and clip.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:52 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #293: Fire Stan Bowman?

Malcolm Subban is not the future. Plus: The White Sox Have A (Heads-First) Running Game: The Cubs' Unreckoning; The Tony LaRussa Rule; Fire Ryan Pace But What Else Is New; Meet The New Chicago Fire . . . ; Bulls Might Not Win Another Game This Season; and The Glorious Women (And Some Men) Of Illinois Hoops Nation.


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SHOW NOTES

* 293.

* Washtenaw is a variant of the word "Wash-ten-ong," the Ojibwe name for the Grand River in Michigan.

* Bellcow.

2:00: Fire Stan Bowman?

* Malcolm-Jamaal Justin Subban.

* Ben Pope.

12:04: Heads Up: The White Sox Have A Running Game.

* Wallenstein: "The White Sox ranked 20th in stolen bases among all teams last season. Look for them to move up this year, and they'll do it head first."

* Rudy Law. (Law attended Ravenswood High School - in East Palo Alto.)

* Sox Sign Aaron Bummer To 5-Year, $16 Million Deal.

23:35: The Tony LaRussa Rule.

* Olney: There's More To MLB's Three-Batter Rule Than Meets The Eye.

32:34: The Unreckoning.

* Cubs camp deja vu all over again.

* Speaking of second base . . .

* Tyler Spinwood.

* New Reds Machine.

44:21: Fire Ryan Pace But What Else Is New.

47:54: Meet The New Chicago Fire . . .

* Coffman: . . . Same As The Old Chicago Fire.

52:47: Bulls Might Not Win Another Game This Season.

55:00: The Glorious Women (And Some Men) Of lllinois Hoops Nation.

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STOPPAGE: :59

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Fire Try Not To Suck

The new Fire looked just like the old Fire - except for the ridiculous new kit (uniforms) - during the season-opening 2-1 loss in Seattle on Sunday. And sorry MLS, but the 2020 league looks just like the 2019 iteration after the first weekend of the 2020 campaign.

The obviously minor league that idiotically called itself Major when it began competition in 1993 (it should have gone with a geographical name like the NASL before it, or perhaps called it itself the National Soccer League) added a star or two during the most recent off-season. The most prominent of those is the LA Galaxy's Chicharito (Javier Hernandez).

The main lowlight I saw of "The Little Pea's" MLS debut over the weekend was of him screaming at his teammates to provide him with better service. I seem to recall Zlatan throwing similar fits during his time in the league the last few years.

The quality of the MLS games I watched over the weekend continued to be a large level of magnitude below the Premier and Bundesliga matches that have made Saturday and Sunday morning sports viewing so cool the last few years.

One of the goofy new MLS owners (there are new franchises in Miami and Nashville this time around) said last week the MLS will be better than the Premiership by 2045. Another owner said the MLS would be passing Major League Baseball and the NHL in total popularity in the next few years.

I'm not sure what metrics they are using but the only thing to say in response to that goofy propaganda is not, bloody, likely. Except for passing the NHL perhaps. I am very fond of hockey but there is no denying that the American ratings for the league continue to be nothing if not pathetic.

But let's return now to an assessment of our local soccer squad.

The old Fire had uniforms that made perfect sense. The primary color was red and the primary logo looked like the sort of badge a fire department would have on its uniforms. The new color is blue and the logo apes the logo with which the violent street gang know as The Latin Kings have been vandalizing local landmarks for what, 50 years?

Perhaps the best way to describe the new uniforms is that they are the epitome of bad sports ridiculousness. But fans won't care about turning their team into an homage for a street gang this season as long as the team doesn't suck.

That 's right, I didn't say "is good," I said "doesn't suck." That is the proper bar for a team that has stumbled into absolute irrelevance in the past decade. The Fire has only made the playoffs twice at the end of the last 10 seasons and were knocked out immediately both times.

The team finally sucked enough that absentee owner Andrew Hauptman bailed out during this past offseason. He had sold a minority share in the squad to local billionaire Joe Mansueto in recent years and sold him the rest heading into the 2020 campaign. Hallelujah.

At least on his way out Hauptman provided a model for other owners in sport. Sometimes you suck enough to just go ahead and sell the team. Hey McCaskeys! Pay attention!

On Sunday the Fire showed a little promise, especially in the first half. But then the Sounders brought in top striker Jordan Morris after the intermission and he capitalized on the scoring chances that his fellow Seattle strikers squandered in the first 45 minutes.

The Fire also return to Soldier Field this season, another major plus (thanks Joe!). And they will open against New England on Saturday at 12:30. And their next game, on the 14th, is at home as well. The tricky part of making the move out of Bridgeview is that if the team sucks again it will be hard to hide big swaths of empty seats in the by far bigger Soldier Field.

But in Chicago, where major league teams play within 20 minutes of downtown and the minors populate the suburbs, the first thing you need to do if you are going to convince people you're better than second tier sports is to get into a major league venue.

Good luck guys!

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

Head First

Spring training, as every manager will aver, is a time for drill after drill, emphasizing the little things that can make the difference between a win or loss once the long campaign commences. Winning teams rarely botch hitting the cutoff man, defending the bunt, pitchers covering first, and so many other nuances and details of the game.

But once the games count for real, predictably within the first week of play, a guy beats out an infield roller to the first baseman because the pitcher was late getting off the mound. For sure we'll see outfielders not only missing the cutoff man, but throwing to the wrong base as the runners advance into scoring position. Plays that should be backed up aren't.

Perhaps the most mundane drill - sliding - also is one that is least practiced. Social media the past two weeks have featured a few videos of the padded mat set up in the grass as players ran maybe three-quarters speed before plopping into the bent-leg slide. White Sox rookie Luis Robert, mentioned by MLB.com as one of the top 10 prospects for the coming season, took his regular turn, displaying proper form.

However, last Tuesday in a practice game versus the Giants, when Robert registered his first hit of the spring, a rousing triple to right centerfield, he capped it off by an electric slide into third base. But it wasn't of the bent-leg variety. You know, the one the fellas were practicing just a few days previously. No, he used the slide-of-choice these days, the head-first slide, a maneuver that apparently is primal, thus requiring no rehearsals.

Robert is blessed with outstanding athletic talent. At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, he exudes athleticism. He runs like a colt, possesses a strong throwing arm, and he hits baseballs for distance and with velocity, such as the laser shot on Saturday over the left centerfield fence for his first homer of the spring.

But he's also the guy in spring training two years ago, as a 20-year-old, who slid head first while successfully stealing second base, straining the ligaments in his left thumb. Although Robert later slugged a grand slam home run in the same game, the thumb eventually sidelined him until June.

Once Robert got on the field, he needed but one month to advance from Kannapolis to Winston-Salem, but once there, he re-injured the thumb, shelving him for another four weeks.

Of course, two years have passed, and maybe Robert has learned to take better care of himself. But the kid is going to run. It's his nature, and he's quite good at it. In parts of three professional seasons, Robert has attempted 81 stolen bases and has been successful 63 times.

As far as I can tell, the little time spent on sliding drills does not include the proper manner for the head first slide, if, in fact, there is an accepted technique. This would be a reasonable question for baseball's all-time steal leader, Rickey Henderson, whose 1,406 stolen bases are 468 more than runner-up Lou Brock.

Pete Rose, an individual noted more for base hits rather than intellect, is credited (or blamed?) for initiating the head first slide, and Henderson employed it throughout his 25-year career. Brock stuck to the bent-leg maneuver. It's interesting to note that Brock never went on the disabled list in his 19 seasons in the big leagues.

The White Sox' all-time leader in stolen bases for a season was Rudy Law in 1983 with 77. He's followed by Juan Pierre with 68 (2010), Scott Podsednik's 59 (2005), and Luis Aparicio who tied Wally Moses (1943) with 56 in 1959. Law and Aparicio didn't slide head first unlike Pierre and Podsednik.

The analytics folks indicate that anything less than a 70 percent success rate makes attempted steals a losing strategy. Last season, the MLB success percentage was 74. Henderson was safe on his steals approximately 81 percent of the time.

When the Sox have had a speed game, it has historically helped them if you consider that Law's team won 99 games and a division title, while Podsednik and Aparicio both played on pennant winners with Scotty Pods being an important member of the '05 World Series champions.

Aside from more power in this season's lineup with the addition of Edwin Encarnacion, Yasmani Grandal, and Nomar Mazara, Rick Renteria's ballclub also should swipe more bases than the 63 of a year ago. Prospect Nick Madrigal stole 35 bases in the minors last season while his primary competition at second base, Leury Garcia, has 27 steals in 33 attempts over the past two seasons.

Shortstop Tim Anderson adds another threat based on his 43 steals the last two years, and Yoan Moncada chipped in with 10 steals in 2019 while being nabbed just three times.

The White Sox ranked 20th in stolen bases among all teams last season. Look for them to move up this year, and they'll do it head first.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

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