Thursday, September 27, 2007


WTBS will be broadcasting the first round of baseball's playoffs in a few weeks. This means that TBS has to staff the telecasts with announcers. TBS also broadcasts Atlanta Braves games. One of their usual announcers had been Skip Caray. Now Caray is angry because he has not been hired to announce the playoffs, saying ""It hurt my feelings, and I'm mad at myself for thinking there was any loyalty left in this business . . . I should have known better."

He's kidding, right? Skip Caray may be the worst baseball announcer this side of Joe Morgan, with special emphasis to these sorts of exchanges. I know that some people (like the wikipedia author) think Skip is "witty and sarcastic," but watch this and tell me if it was not just painful. I mean, I love baseball, but it is not a game that moves very quickly. Having Skip Caray drone on is like having someone punch you in the head while watching a game.

By the way, it is hard to believe that Skip Caray is Harry Caray's son. That apple fell from the tree, rolled away, and grew into a different species. We won't even mention Dip, the grandson.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The Chicago Tribune did a study and determined that school discipline is harsher for black children than white children in the Chicagoland area. Black students are five times more likely to be suspended and eight times more likely to be expelled than white kids. Perhaps the least surprising finding was that blacks in DuPage County are wildly overrepresented in expulsion statistics. Blacks make up 6% of DuPage students and 32% of expulsions. Interestingly, the Tribune did not seek to compare similar acts and see if the penalties were similar. That's a soft pedal.

In other news, Bill Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks died this morning. Wirtz is widely criticized in Chicago for being unwilling to pay market rates for players, and for not televising Blackhawks games, since he believed that people would not attend games if they could watch them for free. Keep in mind, the Cubs broadcast all of their games (and have for at least 35 years) and sold 3.25 million tickets for 81 games at Wrigley this year. The Hawks broadcast no games and drew just over 522,000 for 41 games for 2006-2007. Anyway, Wirtz's nickname is "Dollar Bill" because he was so cheap. This morning on WBEZ they said that Wirtz was "known for driving a hard bargain." Now that's a soft pedal.

Friday, September 21, 2007


There was a shooting at Delaware State University early this morning. There really are no facts yet, except that a man and woman were shot on campus at about 1 a.m. It does not appear to be a Virginia Tech-type deal. Those are the facts, but not the interesting stuff.

The Bloomberg article had a very interesting statement about the shooting victims. It said that "the victims were taken to hospitals within the state." How small is your state when that is sufficiently descriptive? You don't hear that a victim in Illinois was taken to a hospital within Illinois. It is a little too inexact. In Delaware it is apparently plenty descriptive.

This brings up the entire issue of all of the ridiculously small states on the eastern seaboard. Do we really need New Hampshire and Vermont and Massachusetts and Connecticut and Rhode Island? Does Delaware serve any purpose at all? In fact, let's look at Delaware's problems, since the others should just be the State of New England, maybe with Maine tacked on and we could be done with it. Delaware is a problem on every front.

First, Delaware has fewer than a million people. Detroit is bigger by population. Post-population crash Detroit. The North Side of Chicago has more people than Delaware. That's ridiculous. Then there are the boundaries. The northern boundary is an arc extending 12 miles from the top of the statehouse cupola. Really. Wikipedia says so. The arc also creates the Delaware Wedge, which is a small piece of land until recently (1921) claimed by Maryland and Delaware. A fuller history is available here. The arc also creates an anomaly in that Delaware apparently owns both sides of the Delaware River border with New Jersey. This is highly unusual. It has also led to several Supreme Court decisions and a current dispute about whether New Jersey has the power to allow BP to build a facility on the riverfront.

So, you can see that tiny Delaware is a problem. It has border issues with its neighbors, and is apparently small enough for everyone to know all the hospitals. Time to go Delaware. Let Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland just divide it up and be done with it. Interestingly, Delaware only has THREE counties, so that may be an easy basis for the division.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This makes me want to make movies. It is from a page called That is kind of cool.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Yesterday I walked into the side entrance for the train station and came across the above. I could not get a clear picture because he was so active. Anyway, s/he was running around, dancing, and high-fiving people. The people s/he was with were wearing Loyola Medical Center shirts. I have never associated moose with medical care, although L and I do know someone who was in a car that hit a moose and needed medical care. Perhaps this was part of the Chicagoland area-wide campaign to avoid hitting moose with your cars.
By the way, I googled "Medical Moose" and the only image on the entire internet(s) is unfortunately this one. Tough.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Today for the first time I took the Water Taxi from the train station to the Wrigley Building. There are some pictures from the morning on the fotoblog. Anyway, the Water Taxi was pretty cool. You get on at Madison between the two West Loop train stations, and it cruises the river north, then east to Clark and Wacker and then to Michigan and Wacker. All that for two bucks. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


OK, I am here to tell you what you are missing. That is my (self-appointed) role. There were three things in the Chicago Tribune that need to be discussed more fully. By me.

Further to that, Dilbert today is hilarious. It explores the issue of the electronic security badge that so many offices have now. And whether it, or Wally's inimical "hip thrust"is what is opening the doors at the office.

Doonesbury is also brilliant. Some of you may remember that Duke as the Ambassador to China (where he missed an earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands because he was in a drug coma), Governor of American Samoa (during which time he declared war on the United States to lose and get development funds), among the hundreds of others misadventures he has participated in (the Baby Doc College of Offshore Medicine, the Maximum Procounsel of post-invasion Panama, etc. etc.) Today he calls Senator "I'm Not Gay" Craig a "piker."

Finally, apparently last night was Ethiopian New Year. The Ethiopians just flipped to the year 2000. Apparently they were able to skate through Y2K without a bunch of hype. The article talks about politics and how bittersweet the New Year is for a variety of reasons, but the point is that it is pretty cool that the Ethiopians just had New Years, and I wish I had been at the party. It is also interesting that the "Coptic" calendar that generated the Ethiopian New Year leaves that holiday about a day before the Jews celebrate a New Year with Rosh Hashanah. Coincidence? Check out this infoplease page for a discussion of January 1 as New Year's Day and the fact that the medieval Church abolished the celebration for about a 1,000 years.

Monday, September 10, 2007


On Sunday the Bears and Cubs both fell out of first place. Each team is one game out of first as of 9:12 a.m. on September 10, 2007. Frankly, the Bears losing to San Diego on the road is not a shocker. The Cubs one game out of first in September is a shock.

In a truly ironic twist, apparently Russian "Jews" who have more or less recently emigrated to Israel have founded a neo-Nazi organization. Seriously. They moved to Israel because they were legally Jews and have founded a neo-Nazi organization. The irony is incredible. Let me guess, Israel would be nice without all the Jews? Amazing. We don't even need to touch on the utter misunderstanding of Nazism's understanding of the role of Slavs (and Russians in particular). The term "untermensch" is commonly applied. That means "subhuman" to those of you who don't lingo the lingo. Unbelieveable.

On a lighter note, CNN ran an article that just lists Latin phrases that you should know. Some of them are good. For instance, caveat emptor, which means "buyer beware" comes up, as does quid pro quo, which means "something for something." Perhaps persona non grata, which means "an unacceptable person" comes up too. But habeas corpus ("you have the body")? Sure, it is a cherished legal right, but it does not come up in conversation very often. E Pluribus Unum ("from many, one")? Probably more important to know before the Civil War and the Reconstruction Amendments. Frankly, the United States seems to be pretty firmly united at this point. Then there are three phrases that are only likely to come up if you hang out with philosophers (cogito ergo sum, or I think therefore I am), priests (ad majorem dei gloriam, or for the greater glory of God), or lawyers (sui generis, or unique).

And those are things you need to know.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Pity the poor Chinese Communist Party official charged with corruption. Things are moving quickly in China and it is not easy to keep up. Zhang Shaocang was charged with official corruption. He dutifully read a statement of apology at his trial. This is how show trials work, and Zhang was playing his part to a tee. The only problem is that Zhang took parts of apology verbatim from someone else's letter. Verbatim.

Sadly, instead of rewarding Zhang's initiative, the court has treated his apology as "showboating."

Oh, I forgot to mention that WAYLA's four year anniversary came and went on September 4. I think that represents about 555 posts over about 1461 days, for an average of a post about every 2.5 days. And still not a damned thing to say. Anyway, thanks for reading. Both of you.

If you could take a train from, say, Miami, to London the long way around, would you do it? The question seems irrelevant since the Pacific Ocean is a reasonably major impediment. However, I came across an article last night that raised the possibility.

How, you say? Well, look for the part of the Pacific that is narrowest, then either build a bridge or a tunnel either over or under it (respectively). It would apparently be possible to either build three bridges totaling about 50 miles, with the two longest spans being about as long as the causeway that takes you over Lake Pontchartrain into New Orleans. Alternatively, a train tunnel could be built under the straits. The tunnel would be twice as long as the tunnel under the English Channel. In either case, the technical challenges would be absolutely tremendous and the cost would be staggering. On top of all that, North America and Russia use different railroad gauges.

As nifty as it might be to take a train from the East Coast to London using the two longest tunnels in the world, it is hard to fathom why anyone seriously considers this idea. There are no roads into the interior from Nome on the Alaska side. Apparently fewer than 50,000 people live on the two sides of the straits (total) and there is no regular traffic across the straits now. In other words, there is absolutely market pressure for this. The Chunnel was built in a place with tremendous population on either side of the channel, and signifcant traffic and trade. The Oresund Bridge was built in an area with twin cities and tremendous ferry traffic. The Bering Straits Bridge and/or Tunnel has none of these advantages. It is cool to think about though.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Professionalism is one of those concepts that people throw around too often. Nobody necessarily knows what it means, but they all say that they are exhibiting "professionalism." It is all things to all people.

Now Illinois State University's Marketing Department is taking their own shot at it. The Tribune has reported that the department has imposed a dress code on their students. The students are to dress "work casual" in class. If they don't they can lose points in class.

So, do clothes make the professional. Well, let's walk through the article. Some people hated it because they think that college students have a right to roll out of bed and go to class. Those who liked it included Senior Heather Graham (presumabely not that one) ". . . dressed in 4-inch leopard heels, [who] said it will help students prepare for their careers. 'A lot of people don't know what business casual is. This way, everyone knows certain standards, so when you go into the work force, you're prepared.'" Supporting Ms. Graham, "Senior Deandre Tillman, wearing a dress shirt and tie, said he's now more awake in class. 'You focus more, you participate more, you don't fall asleep in class,' he said. 'There is no more rolling out of bed and going to class.'"

OK. First of all, four inch heels are borderline. Leopard print is not. Ms. Graham is not dressing professionally. Perhaps she is overcoming this setback to act professionally. Mr. Tillman, a dress shirt and tie is generally not business casual. So sayeth Wikipedia, and so sayeth me. Also, the tie is fun when it is new, but five years of it and you might as well be wearing a Ronald McDonald suit for as professional as it makes you feel.

So, the long and the short of it? Let college kids be college kids. They will not ever get the chance to be collegians again. They will be able to be "professionals" for the next 50 years. Jeez. Give them a break.