Thursday, May 26, 2005


This morning on my way to work, I noticed a few very, very stereotypical gay couples. You know. Very buff. Short hair. Big goatees. You know. Had I been on Halsted I would not have even thought about this. However, I was in the Loop on a Thursday morning.

At lunch my usual haunts were swarming with men who looked fundamentally identical. They were all buff. The all had short hair. They all had big goatees. Again, I was not on Halsted, I was underground between 303 East Wacker and 151 East Wacker. I finally asked the person I was with what the deal was. She said "leather convention" in the sort of flip way that makes you feel inferior for not knowing.

Turns out that there really is an international mister leather convention in town. It is at the Hyatt Regency (151 East Wacker). The weekend event includes a roast, a smokingHOT guys party, and a people of color leather leadership forum. I'm not making this up.

Photos include:
Mr Leather Italia
Popeye with Slave
The Scariest Man Alive
Officer Friendly
And finally, a page called "winners." That is all just from 2004.

By the way, Mr Leather Italia is carrying two bandanas in his pocket. One of my infrequent readers at work pointed out that the bandanas had meaning in certain segments of the gay community. I am not sure, but I think he is a piss freak who is just cruising right now. Oh my goodness. An advertising piss freak.

Wow. Just another reason to be careful before you ask someone what they're planning to do during the weekend.

Baseball. It is almost Memorial Day and the Bulls are out of the playoffs. Baseball is all that matters.

In this week's Sports Weekly, Paul White discusses the varied paths the financially-challenged Oakland A's and Minnesota Twins have taken to success. He points out that the Twins have done a much better job developing talent in their farm system and bringing that talent to bear in the major leagues, while the A's have treated quality prospects as chips to be traded to fill needs each year. All true as far as it goes. However, I think White's analysis may also be touching on a more important issue-the division in which each team plays.

The Twins play in the American League Central, while the A's play in the American League West. The Central consists of the Twins, the White Sox, the Indians, the Royals, and the Tigers. The West consists of the Angels, A's, Rangers, and Mariners.

Let's start with 2004. In the Central, only the Twins (92-70) and White Sox (83-79) had winning records. In the West only the Mariners did not have a winning record. Baseball also plays an unbalanced schedule, so teams in a division play each other more than they do other teams. That means the West beat up on each other and still won much more than the Central. It took 92 wins to win each division in 2004.

2003? The Central had three teams with winning records, but the two others were nearly historically bad, with the Tigers record of 43-119 being close to being a record. Remember, the schedule is unbalanced, so the Twins got to play the Tigers and Indians a disproportionate number of times. The Twins won 90 games to win the division. The West had two winning teams, but the A's had to win 96 (!) games to win it all.

I know. You're thinking "sure, but what about 2002?" Well, in 2002 the Twins were the only team in the Central with a winning record. They won 94 games. The West had three teams with winning records (out of four) and the third-place team in the West would have finished one game back from the Twins were they in the Central. The A's won 103 games and only won the West by 4 games. By the way, the Angels won the World Series that year. The only year in this little study that the World Series winner was from either of these divisions.

In 2001 the Twins won 85 games and finished six behind the Indians. That year the A's won 102 games and finished 14 games behind the Mariners. That is astounding.

In other words, in the pokey American League Central, the Twins' strategy of slow and steady wins the race is appropriate. No team in the Central is head-and-shoulders above the others, and incremental changes matter. In the go-go West, a team will be buried if they go slow. Paul White should have made that last step, since it shows how well each team has adapted to its situation, and how the Twins may not have the Moneyball cachet, but they work similar miracles.

The Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia made these comparisons a snap, by the way.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Ever seen the Simpsons where Homer moves into the retirement community in Grandpa's stead? Homer likes it. Meals are nice and early. Don't have to "use your legs like a sucker" if you can get your hands on a wheel chair. Nurses roll you over to prevent bed sores. Good livin'!

Well, the Times today had a cover story about adults (all at least 29) living with their parents in retirement communities. People enjoy the classes available, the access to amenities like golf courses and clubhouses, and in some cases, the fact that there are no kids around. It all makes sense because rents in Manhattan and Boston for tiny apartments are very expensive.

Except, of course, that these kids are not living in their parent's retirement community in Manhattan or Boston. They are living in places like Plymouth, Massachusetts and Huntley, Illinois. In other words, rents in Manhattan and Boston are irrelevant, since these people are obviously willing to live far outside of the local community to live off their parents. Thus, the story suddenly seems like a story about people in their 30s who want the nice stuff their parents have worked for without putting in the work for it. In other words, moochers.

Besides, could you imagine living in your parent's retirement, gated community? I guess you don't have to worry about hooking up with anyone at a bar or anything once you tell them you can't go back to your place because your parents might wake up and the communal clubhouse closes at 11.

L and I have the Sunday New York Times delivered. Often we can only skim it, but it is a nice thing to have. Today, the annoying Nicholas Kristof of the op-ed pages had a largely irrelevant piece about the fact that China is taking over the world. New York may be the capital of the world, but Kaifeng, China used to be and now it is not. BLAH BLAH BLAH. The paths of glory lead but to the grave. Same crap we heard about Japan when I was a kid (better start learning Japanese, kids), with the same breathless tone. Anyway, that was not interesting. What was interesting was something else about Kaifeng.

Kaifeng had and has a population of Chinese Jews. Not Jews that escaped Hitler in the 1930s, like Shanghai. Jews that apparently came from Persia when the Song Dynasty was ruling China. They apparently came as traders and stayed. The Chinese gave them Chinese names, which they apparently continue to use, although they seem like regular old Chinese names to me (Li, Zhao, Shi, etc.)

The more I learn about the diversity in China, the more I am surprised. I never understood why the Communists were so nationalistic. Being Chinese seemed so easily and readily defined that it seemed pointless. Besides, I knew there were a few Koreans and some Tibetans in China, but hardly enought to matter among a billion Han Chinese. I am starting to see more clearly now the many, many ways Chinese people could divide themselves were they so inclined.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


The Encyclopedia of Chicago is now on-line. This thing is amazing. It is not the perfect, all-knowing Chicago source (that's me, but only for the North Side), but it is pretty amazing. I love the maps, but the entries are pretty interesting too.

I also was one of the people who stumbled into the phenom that is Clublife. This is a good blog written by a bouncer in New York. As is true with all blogs, I take the author's back story with a grain of salt. Still, if this guy is not a bouncer, he knows a bunch of them. I found him once by looking at a different, sucky blog that Blogger was highlighting. That day this guy linked to Clublife. I have abandoned the original, but read Clublife every day.

Finally, this Baby Name Wizard is sort of cool. Not so much for the baby names, but for the data it gives on naming trends over time. Really interesting.

Friday, May 06, 2005


I am in St. Louis today. Beautiful Boogie, right across Old Muddy from East Boogie, America's finest city. Anyway, yesterday was Cinco de Mayo and I was in a city with an enormous Mexican population. I had some Mexican sweets kindly provided by coworker J to celebrate (I am very ecunemical in my national holidays). Today I am in Boogie, with a much smaller Mexican population. I had a meeting across from Busch Stadium this morning. When I came out at 11:30 there was a festival going on. Low and behold it was a Cinco de Mayo festival.

Who would have thought I would come to Boogie from the Chi to have tacos, flautas, a tamale, and a tostada for lunch outside in the beautiful Spring weather. That rocked.