Friday, December 30, 2005


I'm not sure where, but today I came across a web page for the Chicago Cardinals football team. That started me on a quick little research track. It turns out that both of the original NFL teams still active have Chicago roots.

First, the Chicago Cardinals, who started playing in 1898 in Morgan Park, Chicago. They were called the Racine Normals at one point, but it was because they played on Racine, not in Racine. They eventually played at Comiskey Park on the South Side of the city, making them a football analog to the Bears, who played at Wrigley Field. Curley Lambeau coached the team in the early 1950s, before he went on to a career with the Green Bay Packers (as in Lambeau Field). The Cardinals have made the playoffs six times since 1932. They won the NFL title in 1947 and lost it in 1948. In 1944 the Cardinals temporarily merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the season to be the Card-Pitts (or Carpets). Finally, the Cardinals are called the Cardinals because they purchased faded used uniforms from the University of Chicago Maroons. The uniforms were "cardinal red" after fading from maroon.

Meanwhile, the Decatur Staleys moved to the Chi in 1921. They started playing at Wrigley Field in 1921 and moved to Soldier Field in 1970. The Bears have over 1000 games played in the NFL, and over 660 wins. George Halas modeled the Bears uniforms on the uniforms of his alma mater (and mine) Illinois. The Bears have won eight NFL championships and one Super Bowl championship, and been in the playoffs 22 times (now 23) since 1921. They are the opposite of the Cardinals.

Into the 1940s the NFL league offices were in Chicago.

Besides the Bears and Cardinals, Chicago has had several professional non-arena football teams from other leagues. The All-American Football Conference brought the Chicago Rockets from 1947 to 1948, and the Chicago Hornets for 1949. The 1926 incarnation of the American Football League brought the Chicago Bulls. The versions of the American Football League active in the 1930s, 1940s, and the 1950-60s respectively each skipped the Chi when doling out teams. The Continental Football League created the Chicago Owls for their 1968-69 seasons. The World Football League graced us with the Chicago Fire in 1974 and the Chicago Wind in 1975. In 1983 and 1984 the United States Football League entrant from Chicago was known as the Chicago Blitz. In 2001 the Chicago Enforcers played in the XFL.

We love sports because they make us laugh.

And they make us happy.


This title sounds to me like the name of an Ali fight. It is not. The prequel is a prequel to World War II in the Pacific, although in World War II the Russians were smart enough to avoid war with Japan until after the Americans and allies had mostly beaten the Japanese. Anyway, today we are talking about the Russo-Japanese War.

There are a few interesting things about this war. First, it is the last war in the era of naming wars after the combatants. The Dano-Prussian War, the Austro-Prussian War, the Franco-Prussian War, the Spanish-American War, the Russo-Japanese War. These were all from the 1860s to 1905. Before that there were wars like the Thirty Years War, the Seven Years War, and the Hundred Years War. There were also wars like War of Spanish Succession and the War of Austrian Succession. Thus, the Russo-Japanese War ended an era.

The war also got Teddy Roosevelt a Nobel Peace Prize. That is really something, since Roosevelt was not a particularly peaceful man. He reveled in the Spanish-American War. He reveled in swiping Panama from the Columbians. His motto was "walk softly and carry a big stick." That man's getting a Nobel Prize is shocking in and of itself.

Anyway, the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire has been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the treaty that ended the war, namely the Treaty of Portsmouth. The war itself marks the first time in the modern era that an Asian army had defeated a European army. The war was fought entirely in Korea and China, rather than in either Russia or Japan. It also helped expose the Russian monarchy and its political structures as the inefficient, decrepit failure it was. That helped trigger the 1905 revolution in Russia. The Japanese smashed the Russian Baltic fleet when it sailed to Asia to fight the war.

By the way, this whole essay was sparked by the always reliable Christian Science Monitor article on the war.

Friday, December 23, 2005


A man in Wisconsin (of course) pled no contest to "relations" with cattle. Apparently he used calves for "sexual gratification," and I don't mean in a Leg Tease sense. I mean in a veal sense. Think that's an awkward Christmas conversation?

So, Harold, how has your year been?

The took my Buttercup away from me!

Good then. Well, merry Christmas.

To be perfectly honest, the most disturbing think I've encountered in the last ten minutes has not been the fact that a Cheeser was buggering a cow. That's pretty disturbing. However, the fact that there is a web page selling used copies of porn magazines is something that never crossed my mind. Unless I am stunningly misinformed, we are not talking about a "collectible" magazine like old Playboys. For God's sake, what could be worse than a "used" Leg Tease, or a "used" Forty Plus, or a "used" Just Eighteen? I have to stop looking at the titles or I may wretch.

Merry Christmas.


Thomas Friedman wrote a book this year called The World is Flat. He argues in the book, among other things, that globalization is being driven by individuals making decisions rather than big companies or international organizations. He also says that the United States does not understand the process well and is in danger of falling behind in this process. One of his recommendations is producing more engineers to compete with India and China. It is an article of faith that they are producing more engineers than the United States is.

This week the Christian Science Monitor ran three articles that go straight to the heart of Friedman's analysis. First, on Tuesday the Monitor published an article about the supposed engineer gap. A Duke University study has looked into this assertion and concluded that the gap may not exist at all. Apparently the Chinese will call many more graduates "engineers" than the United States will. These include car mechanics and others. Similarly, the United States graduates, in absolute terms, more four-year graduate engineers than India. India graduates more people from three-year programs that the U.S. would not count as engineers. This is not to say that engineers are not important to our collective future, but it is not clear that China and India, each with populations roughly four times the United States', are yet challenging the American dominance in engineering work.

Also on Tuesday, the Monitor ran a commentary by a woman in Baton Rouge, Louisiana whose family decided to buy nothing from China. She sells the issue as sort of a pro-worker, avoidance of consumerism. It seems to me that there is an undercurrent of racism too, but the article was interesting nonetheless. The family had difficulty purchasing gym shoes, toys, mouse traps, and cheap flip-flops. They either used old products, paid more for Italian and other non-American goods, and otherwise climbed well on to their high horses. It turns out that cheap, crappy stuff comes from China and it is hard to buy cheap crappy stuff that is not Chinese. I do not believe that the morally superior position is for all Americans, including the poorest, to pay more for Italian gym shoes than for Chinese gym shoes. And yet, that was the net result of the family's little experiment.

On Thursday, the Monitor ran an article about the Canton trade fair, where many, many Chinese goods are sold. I can only imagine the shudder running through Baton Rouge at the idea of the Canton trade fair. The trade fair is a clearing house for the crap that nobody wants (bamboo animals with light bulbs inside) and for stealing ideas. It also fails to capture the reality that Wal-Mart alone imported $18 BILLION from China last year. That is roughly 10% of the value of consumer imports from China to the United States. Many other U.S. companies have substantial manufacturing in China.

This last point is nicely made in this Business Week article about "The China Price." The idea is that the price at which a good can be procured in China is the price at which all United States manufacturers will be required to operate, or they will go out of business. This misunderstands the process at work. Some people in the U.S. have to worry about the China price. However, a number of factors, including national security regulations, the ability to produce complex items efficiently, and the fact that they are closer to their customers helps some U.S. manufacturers compete. However, ALL workers in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, and similarly situated countries MUST be terrified by the China Price. These countries do not have any of the advantages of the United States, and so must compete on price with China. If any Americans ever want to sell anything to Southeast Asia, South Asia, or similar areas, it is necessary to address their ability to compete with China.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I was reminded today of something the members of my profession (myself included) are too often guilty of. This story about two passengers on the Southwest plane that slid off the runway at Midway who are suing everyone except the dead kid contains the language "the Boeing 737-700 aircraft plunged through a fence-like barrier and onto a busy street." Oh boy.

The picture below, which is a Chicago Tribune picture, clearly shows a . . . fence. Not a "fence-like barrier."

Merriam-Webster says a "fence" is "a barrier intended to prevent escape or intrusion or to mark a boundary; especially : such a barrier made of posts and wire or boards." Insofar as this "barrier" prevented intrusion and marked the boundry of the airport I think the reporter who wrote the story could have safely called it a "fence."

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Today the New York Times Book Review ran an essay by Pamela Paul about authors and their reactions to reading blog entries about their own work. The funny thing was the authors who thought it was narcissistic to research their own appearances on blogs. Several of them had others do it for them. Apparently in Famous Author Land it is less naricissitic to have (nay, pay) someone to find data about you than to do it yourself. Oh my.

Well, this blog has had two experiences with the sorts of people discussed in the essay. In April 2005, David Block, author of Baseball before We Knew It left a message on this blog about a comment about a review. This was particularly interesting, since the blog entry was about the review. I think it is fair to say that Mr. Block was spending a fair amount of his time to comment on a blog entry on an insignificant blog discussing a review. Seemed kind of narcissistic at the time.

In April 2003 this blog was contacted by Bob Skilnik, who had published a great book about the history of beer and brewing in the Chi. He just seemed to happy to have the mention, and I doubt he would have contacted the blog today, since he has really blown up as a person in the news. His e-mail did not seem to exhibit narcissism.

By the way, the title from this entry comes from result number one on a google of "narcissism." I have this sneaking suspicion that the people who run that page are the kind of people who will find this post.

Today William Rhoden wrote about the Knicks in the New York Times. The article's content is not my concern. Instead I am channeling Bill Safire today on Rhoden's usage. Specifically, Rhoden writes "New Yorkers do not blow things out of proportion, but we do, at many levels, tend to make mountains out of molehills." Huh?

Admittedly, I am not a New Yorker. However, here in the sticks, making a mountain out of a molehill means something very close to "blow out of proportion." In fact, using my typical lazy-assed-invalid blog research method, I googled "make a mountain out of a molehill" and "defined" together. In part, this is what I got back. says: If somebody makes a mountain out of a molehill, they exagerate (sic) the importance or seriousness of a problem.
Sure, the page spelled "exaggerated" incorrectly, but they got the idea right...

Merriam-Webster says: to treat a trifling matter as of great importance. says: To exaggerate a minor problem.

Etc. etc.

I did leave open the possibility that Rhoden was being ironic. Frankly, if he was being ironic, I would have expected there to have been a reference to "blowing things out of proportion" in the article. Since there wasn't one, there does not seem to have been an ironic commentary. Thus, I am lefting thinking one of two things. First, neither Rhoden nor his editors knows what these terms mean, or second, that someone removed the reference to which Rhoden meant his ironic comment to refer.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


A few weeks ago I wrote about John Seigenthaler the Elder, who was apparently not, not, not involved in the Kennedy assassination(s). I never knew that anyone on the world thought that he might be implicated in killing JFK and RFK until he made a big stinking deal out of the fact that a Wikipedia entry about him said so.

Of course, as chronicled a few weeks ago, John Seigenthaler the Elder did not simply edit the Wikipedia page. He went to USAToday to complain about the entry most of us had probably never seen. He informed the three major groups that read USAToday (overseas U.S. sports fans, guests at hotels, and mouth breathers) that he was not, not, not involved with the Kennedy assassinations, and that he had been defamed by Wikipedia. Of course, group one does not read the op-ed page, group two only reads what they can finish on the hotel can, and group three doesn't know about the internet yet.

Anyhoo, Damned Lawyer just sent me a story from the New York Times (which he reads even though he lives in the tony suburbs of Chicago's North Shore (Communist)) reporting on a group called They are collecting complaints from people like Seigenthaler the Elder. Presumably they think there will be a class action lawsuit down the road. There will not be because defamation and similar claims are fact intensive, and not very effectively handled via class action. Asswipes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


When I was a baby lawyer, being trained to be a grown up lawyer, we talked about things that we could not control. One of them was the death penalty. At the time many of the people who opposed the death penalty opposed it because it did not deter murders. In other words, people thinking about murder were not less likely to murder because they could get the death penalty. This was expected to be true because so few murderers are actually put to death.

This argument always struck me as counter to the interests of those opposing the death penalty. The answer seems to be to kill more murderers. That is the opposite of what they want. Now the Christian Science Monitor has run a piece that discusses literature that suggests that in a state like Texas that kills lots of people, there *is* a deterrent effect.

Oops. I guess all of the arguments about the death penalty being inhumane and a punishment inappropriate for fallible humans to administer would have been a better bet after all.

I cannot say that I am overwhelmed with enthusiasm for the new King Kong movie that highbrow papers like the Christian Science Monitor are all (B+) geeked about. I mean, for God's sake, Kong doesn't even talk.

That being said, I just watched the 1976 version and I am in love with that movie. I mean Charles "Circle Gets the Square" Grodin trying to carry a lead role, Rene "I Was On Benson" Auberjonois as a major figure, and a cheeseball ape. I was shocked to learn that the movie was nominated for two Oscars. I mean, you'd have to see this thing to believe it. Really terrible. I expect that American Movie Classics (AMC) will show it a few dozen more times.

So, if I have anything to say about the new King Kong, I guess I would say this. I won't see it, but I thank it for sparking interest in the 1976 version. Truly a gift to us all.

By the way, King Kong (1976) is the first movie I remember seeing. I saw it with my Uncle E. I was five, and I have very spotty recollections of going to the movie.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Tonight a Southwest Airlines 737 slid off of a runway at Midway Airport and ended up on the street. This story is still developing, and it appears that one or two cars were hit by the plane when it slid on to the street.

Now imagine this call:
Hello, thank you for calling Geico, how can I help you?

Yes, my car was in an accident and I need to make a claim.

Sure, please describe the event.

Well, I was at 55th and Central waiting for the light when an airplane sideswiped me.

I'm sorry, what kind of car hit you?

No, a plane. Boeing 737.



Good luck with that claim.

By the way, I joked with L that the Chicagoans on the plane were going to just get in cabs and leave when they got off the plane. It's how we are. L kind of laughed and said "yeah right." Sure enough, they told a story on the news about a woman from the neighborhood who called her husband after the plane stopped and asked her husband to come and get her. I think it must have been something like this:

Hey, it's me. Can you pick me up at the airport? We're at 55th and Central. You'll see us.

Uh, sure. At the terminal?

No. You'll see us. Come on, its gonna be cold out there. Just come by.

The Damned Lawyer was in my office today and noticed the writing on the lawn of the Hyatt next door shown in the photo below. I have no idea who Louie is, but if Kool Raul says to drop the copy, drop the damned copy! We shouldn't all have to suffer because Louie insists on holding on to the copy.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Today the Bears beat the hated Packers 19-7. That was good, but Kyle Orton is completely inadequate as an NFL quarterback.

Today's New York Times had an article about John Seigenthaler Sr., who was the subject of a Wikipedia entry that said he was implicated in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. Mr. Seigenthaler has denied this. The interesting thing is that Mr. Seigenthaler did not merely go on to Wikipedia and correct the entry. He threatened to sue, and wrote about the error everywhere BUT Wikipedia.

This was lucky for all of us who blog, because I had never heard this before. I did not know that John Seigenthaler, Jr. on NBC had a famous Dad. Now I do. Now I have restated the allegation that has since been REMOVED from Wikipedia. In other words, Mr. Seigenthaler, Sr. propagated a story that most of the world would never have known or cared about. Now it is in the New York Times. Good job, Seigenthaler.

Apparently he didn't realize that he could have simply changed the wiki himself. There are other issues on Wikipedia where people disagree. Wikipedia has a means to address the issue. Even if Seigenthaler's "biographer" would have switched it back, he could have fixed it again.

By the way, one of Seigenthaler's issues is that Wikipedia is not a reliable or responsible place for research. Duh.

This doesn't come up very often, but I have had a conversation several times in which I described to non-New Yorkers a way that I was once taken to LaGuardia Airport. We started in Midtown Manhattan and took a bridge over to Queens. We then drove under el tracks for the length of Manhattan. We came out at the foot of the Triboro Bridge, got on the expressway for a few hundred feet and were at LaGuardia very quickly.

I always thought I was on the 59th Street Bridge. Several times I was informed that there is no "59th Street Bridge." When I say, it is the bridge in Midtown, I am always politely told, "there's a tunnel..." Well, today the New York Times referenced the 59th Street Bridge. I was not surprised, but I still decided to track the issue down. It turns out that the 59th Street Bridge is also called the Queensboro Bridge. We may have taken 31st Street to 278 to the airport. So there.

I am a member of a couple of book clubs. Most of the time they are pretty easy to deal with. They rarely send books I don't ask for, and it is easy to respond to the "Book of the Month" offerings. That being said, immediately before Thanksgiving, the familiest holiday of the year, I received two books I forgot to say I did not want. When this happens, I usually check the books out, on the theory that sometimes it is worthwhile to read things that you would not have read otherwise. It's called expanding your horizons, slackers.

Anyway, the two books, immediately before the familiestest day of the year were The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls and Oh The Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey. Both are memoirs of lives lead with horrific parents. They are mind numbing. The parents in both books are selfish and ego-centric to an amazing, almost unbelieveable extent. The evil stepmom in Glory has threatened to sue because of her depiction in the book. As luck would have it, Wilsey's mom has glommed right on to the book and has her own surreal web page.

There is no doubt that sending these books IMMEDIATELY before Thanksgiving was a none too subtle statement on the editors' take on the holidays...

P.S. Both books were good, but not in the Angela's-Ashes-it-all-worked-out-in-the-end way. If you are uncomfortable being entertained by the absurdity of deeply dysfunctional people emotionally abusing their own children for their own benefit, these books will make you QUITE uncomfortable.