Friday, April 28, 2006


I was sick the last 11 days or so, so I did not blog a bunch of stuff I wanted to. Sorry.

I bought the new Streets CD yesterday on iTunes. It is OK, but you'd probably be happy if you downloaded When You Wasn't Famous, Hotel Expressionism, Two Nations, and maybe Fake Streets Hats.

The Sun-Times reports that one of the media give-aways at a press event for Lollapolooza in Chicago was a pack of rolling papers that said "fully baked rock and roll." As you can imagine, the powers that be have flipped out and the organizers indicated that the give-away was a "huge mistake." Do you think? That's an inappropriate give-away for a concert to be held on Chicago Park District land? Oh boy.

On Monday there is supposed to be a rally in support of migrant rights in Chicago. It is expected to draw 300,000 people. I have blogged before about the Catholic Church's support for migrant rights. It turns out that the issue extends beyond the United States. Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, the highest ranking Catholic Church official in England and Wales published an op-ed piece in the British Catholic magazine The Tablet in which he said, among other things:
It is one of the central tasks of Christians – a constant theme of the Old and New Testaments – to offer hospitality to the exile and the stranger, seeing in him and her the face of Christ. As the American bishops put it in their 2003 pastoral letter, Strangers No Longer, “Faith in the presence of Christ in the migrant leads to a conversion of mind and heart, which leads to a renewed spirit of communion.”
* * *
On the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, we want to recognise that, without migrants, London would quickly grind to a halt, and would certainly not experience its current economic growth. But more than saluting them, we want the Eucharist to signal our Church of the future. More than 40 priests from the different ethnic chaplaincies will concelebrate; there will be readings and music in many different languages; and the liturgy will be, in a sense, a glimpse into the soul of the Church in London – a place of unity in diversity: a Church born of Pentecost.

We want migrants to know that we stand in solidarity with them, and we want to invite our parishioners to become aware and conscious of the strangers in our midst. The people we stand alongside in the pews need us also to stand alongside them in their search for dignity and justice and a new life. London is a place of tremendous opportunity for newcomers to earn money and acquire new skills – and hopefully work, homes, security and growth for their families. But migration also involves tremendous suffering: loneliness, exploitation and insecurity.
* * *
The Church has long taught that to migrate is a right for families “when they are unable to achieve a life of dignity in their own land”, as Pope Pius XII wrote in his classic 1952 document Exsul Familia, which took its name from the Holy Family fleeing into Egypt. Catholic teaching also recognises that nations have the right to control their own borders and to regulate immigration. Exsul Familia states that the needs of immigrants must be measured against the needs of the receiving countries, and that the rights of these nations must not be exaggerated to the point of denying access to needy people from other countries.

In welcoming the stranger we should not distinguish between “legal” and “illegal” migrants. Illegal immigration is not something the Church can approve of or encourage. But our Gospel mandate is to assist strangers, whoever they are, and meanwhile to urge that the rights of undocumented workers be respected. The Church, said Pope John Paul II in his Migration Day message, “is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognised and welcomed as brothers and sisters”. Speaking out recently against a bill in the United States Senate that could make assisting undocumented workers illegal, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles wrote in The New York Times: “The unspoken truth of the immigration debate is that at the same time our nation benefits economically from the presence of undocumented workers, we turn a blind eye when they are exploited by employers.”

In many ways, London now has similarities with the London of Cardinal Manning, when the capital’s workforce was swelled by massive Irish immigration. Manning spoke out for poor labourers, arguing that “whatever rights capital possesses, labour possesses in the same degree” – a notion that would later be enshrined in Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Of course, we cannot be naive about the social tensions that the massive immigration of the past years have produced. In the East End of London, in particular, there is a sense of being overwhelmed; and for elderly, working-class Catholics, who find they are the only ones in the doctor’s surgery who speak English as a native language, there is a sense of the cultural ground being pulled out from under them.

We need to be aware of these feelings. But our task, as the Church is to forge communion by welcoming the stranger, and to demonstrate that natives and foreigners are not rivals but first of all brothers and sisters in Christ. The exciting challenge of the future in London is to forge a Church of the Pentecost in which the migrants are “strangers no longer”.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I just ran downstairs to get lunch. There were a bunch of picketers with signs and a chant that went "if we don't work, nobody works." And they were right! Here I am blogging instead of working. How did they know?

This morning I was at a seminar at which one of the speakers was from the Census Bureau. The motto on the slides he used was "U.S. Census Bureau: Helping You Make Informed Decision - 1902-2002."

That explains the last four years. Census quit helping with the informed decisions in 2002.

Monday, April 17, 2006


This post is amazing. Can you imagine deciding to turn being crucified into part of a documentary, then backing out? Then having the locals boo you? The insanity just keeps building on itself.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


First, last night L and I went to the vigil. It is 2 1/2 hours of readings, prayers, songs, baptisms, confirmations, etc. Generally the readings alternate between English and Spanish, usually alternating. This is not usually a problem, since the program translates the readings into the language in which they are not read in. Thus, the Spanish readings are in the program in English. In any case, if you have a program, it is not a problem. However, if, like me, you are stupid and grab a bulletin instead, huge parts of the vigil blew by me en Espanol. And so it goes. That must have been how Mass always felt in Latin.

Second, last night during the vigil I would have sworn that one of the readers announced the reading as the "Letter to the Gremlins." Did they mean Gremlins, or Gremlins? Maybe I misheard.

Third, the Sun-Times reported that several Episcopalian churches on the East Coast have introduced something called the U2 liturgy. It is a multimedia presentation, with U2's music, and video. The idea is that U2 has many Christian influences in its music, and young people like U2. Therefore, adding U2 to the liturgy will get young people into the church. Oy. I won't even get into whether simply having "Christian influences" is sufficient to make you part of the liturgy. I won't get into an Irish band that was nationalist early in their career being used in the Church of England (American version) liturgy. Can you imagine how insufferable Bono will be when he hears about this? Ugh. How can they do this?

Fourth, Whispers in the Loggia has a translation of B16's homily delivered last night at the vigil. Among other things, B16 stated
In fact, if it were simply that somebody was once brought back to life, and no more than that, in what way should this concern us? But the point is that Christ’s Resurrection is something more, something different. If we may borrow the language of the theory of evolution, it is the greatest "mutation", absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development: a leap into a completely new order which does concern us, and concerns the whole of history.

Well, I guess we don't have to worry about B16 seeking to reverse the Church's course on evolution...

Happy Easter, and Christus resurrexit!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


The Tribune ran a story this morning under the headline "Fog blamed in southern Illinois highway pileup." I clicked on it because my time in Urbana sensitized me to the term "southern Illinois" as used by Chi city denizens. We mean it to mean anything south of about I-80. Actually, that's charitable. Most North Siders use it to mean anything south of Chinatown.

It turns out that the description was accurate. The accident was south of I-64. Indisputably southern. South of the line of St. Louis to Evansville. I was impressed. Then I saw the first paragraph of the story. "Thick fog was blamed Thursday for two rush-hour pileups involving 22 vehicles on a U.S. highway just north of this southern Illinois town, leaving several injured, the Illinois State Police said." "Rush hour?" I am pretty sure that there is not a "rush hour" between Harrisburg and Eldorado, Illinois.

And so the bias I was looking for was absent, and the bias that never crossed my mind was right there in paragraph one. Just goes to show that you can't judge a story by its cover.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


This evening I took a class at The Chopping Block in Lincoln Square. The class was a gift from L for my birthday. In 2005. I figured I better use it before my birthday in 2006.

The class was knife skills. They supplied the class with high end German and Japanese knives. Ten inch knives. Eight inch knives. Japanese vegetable knives. Paring knives. Knivey knives. All kinds of tremendously sharp knives. They taught us basic cuts and cutting technique. It was pretty good.

I was chopping and dicing pretty well. I was remembering to keep my fingers tucked away while I cut. I was feeling like an Iron Chef. Then suddenly, I felt a scrape. And that quickly, the top right of my left index finger nail was gone. Now that was a high speed manicure.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


On April 5 I posted about the Dearborn Street bridge. I said that I did not like the bridge and thought that the bridge houses were ugly. I was surprised to see that the American Institute of Steel Construction had given the bridge an award.

Today I walked from Merchandise Mart again. I took a different route. Some of the pics are on waylafoto. However, today I took the Wabash bridge. You know, just to mix things up. Lo and behold, the Wabash Street bridge had this plaque on it:

It says that the American Institute of Steel Construction awards the 1930 award for most beautiful steel bridge to the Wabash bridge. It seemed suspicious to me that the same group gave the same award to the two bridges. Especially since the Wabash bridge is not, objectively speaking, beautiful:

It appears that the American Institute of Steel Construction is a legitimate organization (as opposed to an organization of the Bridgeport Regular Democrats Club, or something). It also appears that they have turned over bridge judging to another group. The National Steel Bridge Alliance seems more likely to understand what "beautiful" for a bridge means.

Or so I thought. In 1996 they gave an award for the Pulaski Street overpass on the Stevenson Expressway. In 1998 they gave an award to the refurbished Madison Street overpass on the Kennedy Expressway. In 2000 they have the Damen Avenue bridge an award. In 2001 the Damen Avenue overpass on the Stevenson received an award. Jeez, three overpasses and a decent looking bridge?

Today at lunch former Illinois governor George Ryan was sitting about 10 feet from us. His corruption trial is over, and the (second) jury has been deliberating for over a week. I was surprised to see him out and about in the Loop. The back room of a steak house isn't exactly going out Capone style, but I was surprised.

Two different times his mobile phone rang and mid-entree he answered it. I wondered each time how his heart must leap when his mobile phone rings. If it is the lawyer calling to say that the jury is back, the moment of truth will stop being theoretical. Imagine standing in a court room waiting to hear whether you are a convicted felon or not.

Of course, I was thinking those sympathetic thoughts, but I also thought it would have been funny to go ask him if he could get me a commercial truck license.

UPDATE: Crain's Chicago Business is reporting that Ryan and his lawyers met with the judge in the case this morning. Big, secret pow wow. Then steaks.

So, I have been ignoring the Duke lacrosse story up to this point. The facts are still coming out, and it just seemed to early to say anyhthing. However, this morning there are reports that the DNA testing the police in North Carolina did turned up no matches to the lacrosse team.

Now, from watching the various CSI-type shows, I know that it is impossible to have sexual contact with someone and not leave a DNA trail. This is all the more so if there is force involved. Except of course, that those are TV shows, and not real life. Maybe three guys can rape a woman and leave no DNA. I don't know.

What I do know is that the Duke lacrosse coach quit, the Duke season for 2007 is cancelled, there are apparently threats against the players, and the ACC has decided that no Duke players will be considered for postseason awards. The prosecutors had better get their ducks in a row, because if this turns out to be an unfortunate situation in which the victim was not entirely truthful, the fall out could be tremendous.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Various news sources in the last few days have had stories about a document found in Egypt from about 300 A.D. that the news reports call the Gospel of Judas. This may not be an accurate name, since the original work does not appear to have been written by Judas Iscariot. Still, "The Gospel of Judas" certainly catches your attention.

In any case, apparently the central thesis of the work is that Judas did not betray Jesus. Instead, he was the sole apostle to understand the necessity of the crucifixion and was asked specifically by Jesus to be the agent of Jesus's arrest. The gospel stories make clear that Jesus could deepen the already considerable trouble he was in once he got to court. I don't know about the Judas story. I know that other authors have explored this, and I am told that there are ancient Christian traditions that do not view Judas Iscariot as the craven, greedy scumbag that the Catholic Church believes him to be. I just don't know. What I do know is that thinking about the Passion in light of the Gospel of Judas makes it clear why I would never have wanted to practice criminal law.

Imagine for a second that you have a client who has been arrested. Now, he's already said all kind of stuff in public, but you are hoping he has the sense to keep quiet until counsel arrives. Instead, you see the following (from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 26):

Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. . . The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward who stated, "This man said, 'I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.'" The high priest rose and addressed him, "Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?" But Jesus was silent.

OK. So far so good. The state has brought its evidence, and they got nothing. You're thinking your guy is going to walk, as long as he keeps his mouth shut. However . . .

Then the high priest said to him, "I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God." Jesus said to him in reply, "You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see 'the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power' and 'coming on the clouds of heaven.'"

What? You're client just spazzed on you. In fact, Mark says that Jesus says "I am" instead of "you have said so." Apparently nobody thought to hire a court reporter. Anyway, an admission against interest? It's like the guy doesn't want to walk. Well, maybe the judge will whiff on the significance of the point.

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?" They said in reply, "He deserves to die!"

And that quickly your case went up in flames. Can you imagine?

They say that you never know who Jesus is. He could be the lowly person you reject (although presumably He could also be the high-born person you reject), or the immigrant you mistreat (I'm looking at you, Lou Dobbs), or the poverty-stricken, or the people who work for you who you treat unfairly. The problem is, He could also be the stupid defendant who spazzes on you in court and keeps you from having assisted someone who really could have been acquitted. And so I do not practice criminal law.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Today when I got off the el at Merchandise Mart to switch to the Purple train, they announced that the Brown and Purple trains were delayed. I had my camera with me, so I decided to walk towards the office and take pictures. I figured that if I wanted I could just jump in a cab whenever I wanted. Some of the pictures are waylafoto.

I walked east to Dearborn and was crossing the bridge there. The Dearborn bridge and bridge houses are my least favorite in the loop, but I wanted a picture of Marina City, as well as the old Courthouse, so Dearborn it was. As I crossed the bridge I noticed a sign on the northeast of the bridge. I crossed over to see the sign below.

It says that the first moveable bridge in Chicago was built at Dearborn in 1834, but ordered removed in 1839 because the opening was too narrow. It also said that the current bridge is the fourth on the site since 1834. I did not know this.

I crossed the bridge and noticed another plaque on the southeast of the bridge.

This one says that the American Institute of Steel Construction voted the Dearborn Street Bridge the Most Beautiful Steel Bridge, Moveable Span for 1963-64. I was floored. I hate this bridge and its bridge houses. It lacks the grace that the curved arches on Orleans have, or the grandeur of Michigan Avenue.

Below is a picture of the Dearborn Avenue bridge for your consideration and evaluation.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


These things don't deserve their own entries, but they are stories that need to be told.

This Class is a Hard Hat Area

The AP reports that a teacher in an adult education class tried to use a paperweight to kill a bug. The paperweight was a 40mm shell. Not a shell that a snail would live in, but a shell that explodes when you try to crush a bug with it. He lost part of his hand when the paperweight exploded.

Freudian Slip?

Fox News reported "Texas Republicans Hussle to Replace DeLay." I assume that the headline is supposed to be "Texas Republicans HUSTLE to Replace DeLay." However, I double checked to ensure that "hussle" was not another word or an alternative spelling. There does not appear to be a word "hussle," but the first suggestion was "hassle." That seems about right for Texas Republicans.

Come Back Alan Greenspan!

The Financial Times reported that the stock market of Iceland hit its lowest level in thirteen years today. There goes the value of my 401(k).

Karma and Stupidity Intersect

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that there has been a rash of over door stealing in northern Indiana lately. Apparently there has also been a rash of men selling "plasma televisions" out of their vehicles to people in places like parking lots. It turns out that a bunch of these "televisions" turn out to be stove doors when they are opened by their buyers. Since anyone who buys electronics out of a trunk in a parking lot knows, and believes, that they are buying stolen goods, it only seems fair that these people are being scammed.

Is It In You?

This is an older post on another blog, but it is really, really hilarious, and very, very clever. That being said, the joke is a little risque, so click over at your own risk.

So, I thought I was going to write a post in sympathy with the fans of the school that lost last night's NCAA national championship game. I figured the post would have to do with fighting the good fight, having a good season, and running into a team that played better that night. I remember feeling all of this when the Illini lost to North Carolina last year.

That being said, I cannot write that post. UCLA got pimped last night. They did not look like they even belonged on the same floor with Florida. Seriously. Yannick Noah's kid went off, swatting shots like Kong swatting biplanes. It was nuts.

So, UCLA fans, sorry. At least you had time to get hammered when the game ended on the West Coast.