Friday, October 28, 2005

SOUTH SIDE IRISH

A colleague sent me this song. Oddly, I was unaware of the song, but I do know that it rocks. Except for the last line, which should have either "Twins" or "Indians" inserted where it says Cubs. By the way, I have absolutely no idea the tune to which this should be sung.

South Side Irish
Written by
Black, McEldowney & Walsh

We're the Windy City Irish-where the good times are the
always best
Where every day is Paddy's Day and everyone's a guest
If you're Irish on the North Side or Irish on the West
Welcome to the South Side come join the Irish Fest!


Chorus: We're the South Side Irish as our fathers were before
We come from the Windy City and we're Irish to the core
From Bridgeport to Beverly from Midway to South Shore
We're the South Side Irish-Let's sing it out once more!


Our parents came from Mayo, from Cork and Donegal.
We come from Sabina, St. Kilian's and St. Gall
St. Leo, Visitation, Little Flower and the rest.
The South Side parishes are mighty-they're the best!
Chorus

We live on the South Side-Mayor Daley lived here too
The Greatest Irish Leader that Chicago ever knew
and he was always so proud of his South Side Irish roots!
So here's to His Honor to his memory we'll be true.
Chorus

We sing the songs our fathers sang when they were growing up
Rebel songs of Erin's Isle in the South Side Irish Pubs
and when it comes to baseball-we have two favorite clubs
The Go-Go White Sox... and whoever plays the Cubs!

Addendum. The song can be found here. I think most of the South Side Irish I have ever known would kick these guys asses and take their wallets, but then again, they would have done that to most people.
BASEBALL'S WORLD CHAMPIONS

The White Sox swept the hated Astros. That is good. I do not like a bunch of the Astros, or their silly park, or that ridiculous Killer B routine. That being said, it looks as if Father Andrew Greeley has captured my feelings quite well. Some key quotes include:

"But I've never hated the Sox. I rejoice that they swept the "World" series and beat up on the hated Astros. Mind you, I'm not likely to purchase a black and white cap or T-shirt or windbreaker. I was not glued to the TV for every game."

"My only regret is that the Sox did not get a chance to destroy the even more hated New Yorkers."

"My genuine, if controlled, enthusiasm for the Pale Hose is restrained by the behavior of White Sox fans, an intolerable bunch of human beings when baseball is the subject (who beat up on wives of opposing players). They experience joy only on those days when their team wins and the Cubs lose. We Cubs fans, however, celebrate only when the Cubs win. We don't care what happens to the Sox, except when we're playing them."

Yes, yes, and yes. I think this is all right on. Especially the part about Sox fans getting extra joy when the Cubs lose. However, Greeley, unlike me, has a working hypothesis for why this is true. I should note here that I am only 1/4 Irish, but 1/2 German (with and 1/8 each of Lithuanian and French Canadian). Thus, I am more culturally a North Side German than Irish in any way. Hell, L and I even attend a historically German parish, passing one other German parish and two Irish parishes to get there. Anyhoo, that is a long way of saying I take no responsibility for the next Greeley quote, except to say that I laughed my ass off when I read it.

"Why the difference between Cubs fans and Sox fans? As a working hypothesis I attribute the difference to the fact that the South Side Irish feel culturally inferior, perhaps because of the endless ridicule they must endure from the patently cultural superior West Side Irish and the North Side Irish (such as these latter might be). Or perhaps it is fading memory of the smell from the Stock Yards.

In fact, the sense of inferiority among the South Side Irish is understandable because they have much to feel inferior about (Sorry, Mr. Mayor!)."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

ISN'T IT IRONIC, DON'T YOU THINK?

A woman in Delaware reportedly killed herself by hanging. She did it on a "moderately busy" public road, across the road from some homes. In other words, her suicide was planned to be a public spectacle, and to have people notice it.

People did notice the body. For hours. They thought it was a Halloween decoration. Unlike the song, that really is ironic.

Friday, October 21, 2005

THE AIRMALL

I have heard from people that the worst thing about our hometown airport (O'Hare International) is that the shopping is terrible. This observation never made any sense to me. At all. Shopping? They have magazine stores, they have an ATM machine. They have food places. What the hell else do you need at an airport?

I have been in other airports. I never really noticed things other than magazine stores, ATMs, and food places. This includes LaGuardia, Houston Intercontinental(?), Orlando, BWI, Washington National, and others. Magazines. ATMs. Food.

And then I flew into Philadelphia. This is a whole new world. There's a Harley-Davidson store, THREE Brookstone locations, a Gap store, a Johnston & Murphy shoes store, and a bunch of other stores.

Johnston & Murphy? How often do you need new, highish end shoes at the airport? The Gap? How often does anyone need to get a cardigan and a pair of pants at an airport? Brookstone? Who ever needs anything from Brookstone?

This is really something. It is a new concept. Having to go through security to shop seems like a bad bet to me, but what do I know?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I WONDER IF THERE WILL BE ACCORDIAN MUSIC

Apparently La Chi's own WPPN-FM (106.7) will be switching from a Spanish language "romantic adult contemporary" format to "an outlet for classic regional Mexican oldies, primarily from the '70s and '80s. With an emphasis on variety (think of "Jack FM" in Spanish)."

I don't know any of the songs they will be playing, but I have to bet there will be accordians.
BASEBALL AGAIN

OK, I have a few things about the World Series. While I am unhappy for L that her Cardinals lost last night, having Houston in the World Series does allow me to have the balance of my rooting instincts tilt in favor of the White Sox. I really, really hate Bagwell, Biggio, and the rest of that team. Really. Therefore, almost by default, I'd prefer that the White Sox be world champions than the Astros.

Meanwhile, the Sox cannot catch a break here in the Chi. Resident asshole Jay Mariotti wrote a column today saying that if the Sox did not win the World Series they would be "forgotten." I think he succinctly makes his point when he says "All that said, they must win the Series to maximize and validate this tale for eternity. Otherwise, the Sox are just another team that won the American League and finished second, a team no one will remember next spring."

Nothing like giving credit where it is due and living in the moment, is there Jay? What an asshole that guy is.
AH, A LITERATURE BUFF

Today's Sun-Times had an article about a Boston Celtics player arrested last night in connection with a brawl at the White Palace Grill during the summer. Granted, NBA players behaving badly is hardly news. However, the vicitm in the brawl is one Marktwain Johnson, 29.

Marktwain? That is some name. Being a native Chicagoan, I favor more locally inspired names, like Uptonsinclair or Carlsandburg.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

THE INTRICACIES OF MUD

It seems like the Christian Science Monitor is the key to all of my blogging. The October 18 edition carried a story about the use of mud in baseball. I mean, mud? In baseball? What a newspaper.

Anyway, every team in Major League Baseball uses the same mud from a tidal basin of the Delaware River in New Jersey to rub baseballs down. This takes the shine off the ball and makes it easier to grip. However, there is a distinct art to the rub down, since it must be done evenly, and not on the seams. Also, roughly 72 of them must be prepared for each major league game. The spot from which the magic mud comes is secret. Only the vendor knows where it is.

Strangely enough, most of the dirt used on infields and pitcher's mounds in the major leagues also comes from New Jersey. More like the Garden Supply State than the Garden State I guess.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

COME OUT AND PLAAAAAYYYY

Earlier this weekend I was flipping through the channels and saw The Warriors. First, I was trying to figure out why it was on. Like Escape from New York, it is not a movie that channels normally run because of a rain delay. Usually there is a reason. Second, I started to realize that a seminal film of my childhood was a complete piece of cheeseball. I mean, forget the Baseball Furies, the Orphans, and the Lizzies. The dialog and acting is terrible too. Why are all of the black dudes at the end carrying hockey sticks? There are about a thousand jokes in there that I won't touch.

Well, this morning I start reading the New York Times and discover that they are making a video game of The Warriors. It is made by the same people who made Grand Theft Auto.

Oh.

My.

God.

This should be the coolest game EVER!
VALIDATION

I have had several experiences with this blog wherein actions or experiences reflected here have been validated by others. The most recent is my formerly-unscientific use of google search results as barometers of anything other than the number of google search hits for a term. Thus, here and here I did "research" based on hit results.

Today in the New York Times magazine, the venerable and often irrelevant William Safire cited the google and yahoo! search results he got for the term "go yard." It is not entirely clear for what he was citing these results, but it appears that my half-assed research methods have been validated. Sweet.
BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

Today's New York Times ran a column by Alan Schwarz about the statistical differences in playoff baseball versus regular season baseball. The statistics point to some interesting differences. For instance, about 16% fewer runs are scored in the playoffs than the regular season. This could have to do with the fact that better pitchers get more innings in the playoffs. There is a "no tomorrow" sense in the playoffs that supercedes pitch counts and similar structures that limit innings for aces.

On the other hand, maybe the lower number of runs scored can be attributed to a number of other statistics Mr. Schwarz highlights. For instance, while there are fewer singles per game in the playoffs (down 10%), and fewer unintentional walks (down 6.9%), there are MORE sacrifice bunts (up 14.2%). There are 27 outs in a nine inning game, and in the playoffs, managers give them away 14.2% more often than in the regular season. This in an environment where there are fewer runners getting to first base than during the regular season. This does not seem well calibrated to score runs. It seems like a waste of outs. This is especially true because the number of home runs remains about constant. Thus, moving the runner over to second for the single that is less likely to come than normal, instead of letting a guy hit to get on base before a home run (which is about the same as the regular season) seems like a waste of resources.

By the way, if bunting runners over is such a fantastic idea, why not do it for 162 games? I mean, if you think this strategy will help you win three out of five, or four out of seven during the playoffs, why not shoot for those same percentages all season?
NEVER ASK A QUESTION YOU MAY NOT WANT THE ANSWER TO, OR
WHY ARE THE PEOPLE WITH THE GUNS SO UNHAPPY?


Sorry, I am about to be a little wonky here. I normally try to avoid this, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

The Sunday New York Times reported on a survey done by the Federal Office of Personnel Management. The survey asked a bunch of questions, and gives the responses by agency. There are some responses that ought to scare us all.

For instance, the Department of Homeland Security is the agency created after September 11, 2001 to coordinate the domestic fight against terrorists. It was supposed to be able to react to changing circumstances, and be able to share knowledge. In response to the statement "I feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing this things" more DHS responders "strongly disagreed" than any other agency reported. At DHS 14.1% of responders strongly disagreed. No other agency had even 9% who said that. Overall 39.4% of DHS responders disagreed or strongly disagreed with this statement. Almost 20% had no opinion. In other words, almost 60% of DHS responers did not believe that they were encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things. That is far and away the most negative response in the government. Not good.

In response to the statement "I know how my work relates to the agency's goals and priorities," DHS, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Small Business Administration are in a dead heat for the highest percentage of negative answers (roughly 9.1%). Of course, OPM is OPM, and SBA is SBA, while DHS is supposed to be protecting us from terrorists. Thus, I am concerned if 1/10 DHS empoyees doesn't get the point of what they are doing. Ever been to a big port? 1/10 are not great odds if these people are the ones inspecting shipments to ensure that terrorists are not sneaking material into the country. By the way, the 12.2% of DHS employees who gave a neutral answer to this statement are also among the highest rate in the government.

Perhaps most troubling of all, in response to the statement "promotions in my work unit are based on merit," DHS is far and away the leader in negative responses. 32.1% strongly disagree, 19.7% disagree. 51.8% percent of responders explicitly disagree with this statement.

There is a lot of interesting data in this survey. However, when the law enforcement agency created to combat terrorism three years ago shows numbers like these, it becomes appropriate at some point to ask whether this organization needs to be completely overhauled with better management. It should also be noted that the Marine Corps did not score very well in terms of satisfaction. If DHS is our shield, the Marines are our sword.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE



Never let it be said that I don't pay my bets. Enjoy.
STATELESS SENSELESSNESS?

I don't know what it is about Christian Science that makes them publish the Christian Science Monitor. The Monitor is a truly outstanding paper. It does not cover the ball game, but it does very analytical, thoughtful pieces about issues that are important, but not necessarily immediate. Kind of like a very good weekly, but five days a week.

Today's Monitor had just such a story about the 11 million "stateless" people around the world. Much to my surprise, there are about 300,000 "Stranded Pakistanis" who are Urdu speakers who lived in East Pakistan when it became Bangladesh in 1971. Apparently they were not granted Bangladeshi citizenship after the war. Now they are people living in Bangladesh who are not citizens of any country.

Statelessness is a major issue in Estonia and Latvia, as well as Palstine and Iraq. All for different reasons, but still a serious problem. If you are not a citizen of any state, can you get the documentation necessary to travel to another state? Probably not. You are stuck, and that is bad.

That being said, statelessness is a stupid name for this condition. The one thing these people have is a state. They need citizenship. It's a different problem. Kurds are stateless. They may have Turkish, Iraqi, Iranian, etc. citizenship, but THEY lack a state. The Stranded Pakistanis have a state. They lack citizenship.

I'm just saying.

Monday, October 10, 2005

TELL US ABOUT IT

Many of you of a certain age will remember that the first woman you were ever unhealthly attracted to was a girl who called herself "Madonna." I understand that Madonna is her given name. Nevertheless, it unlikely that when we thought of this Madonna, this Madonna, or this Madonna, we ever thought of this Madonna (I love the stoner on the left). Thus, Catholics have some experience with being uncomfortable with Madonna's interactions with the symbols of their faith.

As luck would have it, Madonna (relatively) recently joined Sammy Davis, Jr. on the celebrity converts to Judaism rolls. Now comes word that Madonna's use of the names and symbols of the Kabbalah school of mystic Judaism. Turns out that she appropriated symbols normally only used by men in a video, inappropriately wrote God's name in the same video, and now has done a song about the founder of Kabbalah. "'This kind of woman wreaks an enormous sin upon the Kabbalah,' said Rabbi Yisrael Deri, caretaker of Luria's tomb."

Welcome to the club.
GREAT MOMENTS IN BEARS HISTORY

I was on the Illinois State Supreme Court web page today. I noticed that the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court is Robert R. Thomas, a.k.a. Bob Thomas. This gave me pause, since the Bears kicker of my childhood was named . . . Bob Thomas.

I clicked on the link for Justice Thomas and read his bio. Justice Thomas graduated from Notre Dame in 1974, and from Loyola (Chicago) Law in 1981. Absolutely not one word on what he may have done from 1974 to 1981.

Fortunately, I was pretty sure I knew what he had done in the interim. I was pretty sure he was, in fact, the Bears kicker. A google search confirmed that this was the same Bob Thomas. How the hell are you not going to mention being a professional football player in your official bio?

Of course, Thomas is not the first former Bear to sit on a state Supreme Court. Alan Page, who also went to Notre Dame for undergraduate school, was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court. No word on whether he put his career with the hated Vikings and the Beloveds on HIS bio.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

NO WAY NEW YORK

Apparently the Department of Homeland Security has informed New York that "a team of 'terrorist operatives' planned to attack the subway on Sunday with remote controlled bombs hidden in briefcases or baby strollers, documents show."

Sunday? I don't think so. Sunday is the best day that something like that could happen. Minimal disruption, minimal life lost, etc. We can say many things about the terrorists, but thay they are trying to minimize disruption and death are not two of them. Sunday? Sheesh.
SCHADENFREUDE

Schadenfreude is a German word that means "joy in the pain of others." Not bad pain, i.e. not sadism, but irritating pain. I got to feel Schadenfreude last night when the White Sox swept the Red Sox. Oddly enough, my Schadenfreude was directed at White Sox fans, not Red Sox fans.

See, Red Sox fans seem to have been miserable as world champions. They had nothing to moan about. However, White Sox fans have been very snide about all of the recent "fans" the Cubs got in the 2000-2004 period. You know, all the "dudes" who cheered for no reason, and all the trixies that got destroyed at the games and did not know the score or understand what they saw. The were all Cubs "fans."

Last night, for the first time, I saw those people-in silver and black. They have all become Sox "fans." I know as a life long Cub fan how painful it was to have those "fans" acting like they had Cub love. Now I have to laugh as I contemplate the snide Sox fans watching those people talk about the Sox as if they are lifers. HA! HA! HA!

Maybe I'll be able to get decent tickets are Wrigley again.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

IT'S AS IF WORLD WAR I NEVER HAPPENED

Today CNN is reporting that Nigerian police and soldiers clashed in Lagos. Three people were killed and at least one car was burned. Apparently there was some altercation between a cop and a soldier and it all went to hell from there.

The interesting thing is that "armed with guns, machetes, knives and sticks, dozens of troops set fire to the Ojuelegba police station, several cars parked outside and part of the police barracks, witnesses said." Machetes, knives, and sticks? What is this, a pre-gunpowder army? Those weapons are fine for rioters, but this is the military.

On the other hand, nice police force. They might want to look into buying a few guns, since apparently any angry person with a stick can burn down their damned barracks. Did the army attack the traffic direction unit or something?

Now I understand why Biafra tried to leave Nigeria. They must have figured they could take the guys with the sticks, and be free and clear.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

PUZZLED AROUND THE GLOBE

I have previously posted about sudoku. I did not think I was particularly cutting edge at the time. I see people doing sudoku on the el all the time. I barely notice any more. Lo and behold! Again I am cooler than I realized. No mean feat, I assure you.

Today the CTA Tattler, which is about NOTHING but life on Chicago mass transit, finally noticed that people are doing sudoku on the train. I might cut tattler a little slack, since he predominantly rides the State Street subway (aka the Red Line) and it is not known for carrying a particularly scholarly typical passenger (notwithstanding that Northwestern, Loyola, and DePaul are all within a few blocks of Red or Purple Line stations).

However, in an amazing feat of synchronicity, the London Underground blog (which is about . . . commuting on the tube) also wrote today about the number of people doing sudoku on the tube. My understanding is that sudoku was big in Britain months before it hit in America. I am positive that people in the tube must have doing sudoku for a while. Why today? Why now? Is there some sort of conspiracy?
TEACHER, MY BODY FEELS DILATED

Reuters is carrying a story about a ruse prostitutes in Mexico City are using to knock their johns/tricks out and rob them. Apparently the prostitutes are putting the same drug used to dilate your eyes at LensCrafters in drinks to knock men out.

So, in essence, the hookers in Mexico City are slipping men mickeys to rob them. Seems fair enough, although apparently some guys die from this mix. On the other hand, there is a certain assumption of risk inherent in being a john, so caveat emptor when it comes to a mickey in your drink.

However, the article also reported on the experience of one gentleman that frankly seems like dirty pool to me. I will quote directly.

"One 39-year-old man who survived his ordeal and woke up giddy and missing his wallet, said he was careful not to let his drink out of his sight -- but unwittingly ingested the drug after the sex worker secretly applied it to her nipples."

Monday, October 03, 2005

ISSUE DODGING

The Christian Science Monitor ran a story today that discusses the cultural myths, or maybe "baggage," behind the rumors that came out of Hurricane Katrina. In short, blacks believed that whites got out of the Superdome first and that black neighborhoods were purposely flooded to preserve the predominantly white Garden District, while whites believed that blacks were shooting at helicopters and rampaging through Baton Rouge looking to rape white women.

The more troubling issue is that the media did not miss a beat in reporting all sorts of crazy things. Remember the crazy stories about the Superdome and what was happening in there. It was insane, and it was reported as truth. Now the media is blaming the people who believed their reports.
MAYBE WE ARE JUDGED BY OUR COMPANY

Last night L and I were watching Crossing Jordan. They did a cheeseball crossover with Las Vegas. I suddenly had the revelation that I had no idea why Vanessa Marcil has not had the career Eva Longoria has. I mean, they look quite similar (see below), and Marcil may actually have had a longer TV career (I'm not sure about that).





Now I think this post may have just degenerated into a separated at birth that everyone in America but me was already thinking. And so it goes.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

DANGEROUS DESK JOB

Last week I was sitting at my desk on a conference call. I was holding my phone to my left ear. I dropped a pen immediately to the right of my chair. As I reached over the arm of my chair down for the pen, my chair shot out from under me. The chair turned completely horizontal and I landed with a thud behind my desk.

I sat there for a moment stunned.

The conference call continued as if nobody heard me topple out of my chair. In fact, I answered a question resting on my side, phone still at my ear.

As luck would have it, the pen was right in front of my face. I picked it up and put it on top of my desk. I crawled up, staying on the call the entire time. As I put my chair back up I noticed that about a three inch divot had been cut out of my wall where my chair's wheels slammed into it.

The chair is fine, as am I. Could you imagine having done something like having broken my wrist and having to explain that? I think I would have just set it with Scotch tape and a mechanical pencil and waited to heal.
A TWENTY FIRST CENTURY COLONY

I read an obituary in the Economist today about Filiberto Ojeda Ríos. He was a Puerto Rican nationalist and fugative who was shot to death by the F.B.I. One of the things the Economist did was compare Puerto Rico today to Ireland before Irish independence.

I have to say that I was shocked by this. As far as I know, the United States has never tried to destroy the Spanish language in Puerto Rico (as opposed to the British policies against spoken Irish), has never disenfranchised the overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans on the basis of their faith (as opposed to the British policies against Catholics in Ireland), or triggered a famine in Puerto Rico and continued to ship Puerto Rican food to the United States while Puerto Ricans ate grass and died (as opposed to the British during the Famine). Other than that, I guess the experiences were pretty much identical.

I'm not sure if anyone is really all that satisfied with the status quo in Puerto Rico. It is fundamentally inappropriate for the United States to maintain a commonwealth over three million people. It is contrary to our own ideology, as well as inherently negative for the people of Puerto Rico. That being said, having a British publication, even the Economist, compare it to British rule in Ireland is just offensive.