Monday, October 27, 2014

Nice or Spice?

I just read about Al Franken's totally boring (oh no, it's about the issues) and about-to-be totally successful re-election campaign.  Okay, I'm happy for him.  But not for me.  The whole idea of wanting Al Franken to make it to the Senate was that he would be interesting.  A quip here and there.  A well-aimed arrow.  Remember Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot?

I just saw the latest episode of The Good Wife.  Alicia has to go on some preacher's talk show and back away from being an atheist. (She's running for States' Attorney.)  Remember when McCain and Obama had to go on with Rick Warren?  Both candidates were "purpose-driven" alright.

Alicia longs to be able to be herself.

I wonder if Al does, too.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lots to Learn

Dave Zirin, the savvy sports columnist and author, says it best:  "The NCAA rules are stealing a generation of wealth from African Americans."  No amount of hyperbole can overstate the story out of the University of North Carolina. (Remember, this is Michael Jordan territory.)

For 20 years, "student athletes" in the basketball and football programs have been allowed to keep their eligibility intact by taking "paper" classes.  The so-called student is not required to attend any classes, only to submit a "paper" that no faculty member actually examines, and, magically, a good grade appears.

There's more.  Most of these "paper" classes are in the African American studies departments. At many universities, there has been a huge effort by students and faculty members to install these classes. They know that history belongs to those with enough power to make a story visible and make it relevant.

Zirin says this is not a UNC problem.  It is happening at all of the "big program" schools.  As for those students who really want to take advantage of getting a good education (the ones that the NCAA is always touting), they had better keep their skills up because they can be cut and thrown off campus anytime the millionaire coaches decide.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


They're not ours, so I'm not as excited about the Kansas City Royals as I was about the Jackie Robinsons, but I love a good story, especially an improbable one, and the Royals' undefeated march to the Worlds Series fits the bill.

But, if I was going to have a place in my heart for the Giants, it would be because of another improbable story.  For those who haven't been paying attention (most of my friends), there was a walk off homer to clinch the game and the series spot for the Giants.

Frank Burke was the fan in the stands who caught the ball.  Afterwards, he took the ball down to the dugout to give it back to the hitter, Travis Ishikama.  "I believe in karma," Frank said.  "I didn't hit that ball. If anyone should have it in their trophy case, it should be the guy who hit it."

Frank's faith in karma paid off.  He now has a signed bat and four tickets to the World Series.  He's going to take one of his friends who is battling cancer.

More karma. I'm not surprised.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tear Downs

Lately, I've been surrounded by the theme of moving on.   My son and his family just completed a cross country odyssey as they left Los Angeles for a different kind of life in upstate New York.  And, one of my dear friends just told me that she is selling her big, old, comfortable house on the North Shore. The one with the screened in porch, and great green yard.  The one where she ended up being the last one left.  So, now it's on to a condo, new neighbors and other neighbors who are already her friends.  Since houses like hers are only valuable for the property, it will become a tear down.  And, a "McMansion" will take its place.

I remember when the stately Victorian homes on La Salle Street became tear downs.  Arthur Rubloff Real Estate bought them up one by one to eventually build Sandburg Village. There was actually a pile where savvy scavengers could go to pick up hardwood shutters and brass doorknobs.  Things are much more organized now.

My friend and I were sorority sisters at Northwestern.  The condo where she is going to live is on the same street where our sorority house stood.

It was a tear down many years ago.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Not in My Back Yard

So far, no country wants to host the 2022 Olympic Games.  Norway, Poland, and Germany put the invitation to a vote.  They all turned it down.  The only countries that have shown any interest (and where there is no vote) are China and (get ready) Kazakhstan.

Did the corruption finally catch up with the IOC?  Did countries finally realize that the cost of infrastructure cripples their economy?  The IOC doesn't pay the athletes.  It doesn't pay for transportation.  It never shares the revenue.

While we in the U.S. are busy bashing the NFL for their lame approach to player and owner misconduct, the rest of the world is doing the same to the IOC.

We love our athletes.  Why can't we treat them better?

The only good thing about the IOC is that they immediately rejected Chicago's bid to host the games. Whew!  Speaking of that silly effort :
Note to ex-Mayor Daley:  You are permanently banned from any civic exercise that criticizes the IOC. You will always remain a sucker for your Olympic bid.  (And don't think we haven't figured out it was a land grab.)

Where in the world is Kazakhstan?  I'm going right now to look it up.

Friday, October 3, 2014

I've Got Mail

Everyday, when I open my email, there are 20 or 30 messages waiting for me.   A sudden surge in popularity?  No. It's election season and the electronic precinct captains have found my inbox.

These messages leave me annoyed and dismayed.  Who WRITES these things?
First, there are the weepy supplications:  "we're begging . . . we're pleading with you . . . "we're not going to last another day . . ."  Then, there are the creepy accusations:  "why haven't we heard from you? . . . "you are deliberately ignoring us . . ."  They think they're cute because they know how to insert your first name.  ("Hi, Joan, it's President Obama here.") Or, they lead with a little story before they get to the donation plea.

Sorry, precinct captains.  It's too late to get creative.  I'm clicking off these emails now as fast as they appear.  So much for engaging in the democratic process.

Here's what would get me engaged:  Campaigns that begin on Labor Day and end in November.  A voting day holiday. Public financing for all candidates.  A limit on TV ads. Televised debates that include candidates other than the Democratic or Republican nominee.

I'm not foolish enough to go begging or pleading for this . . .  am I?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Da Coach

My friends's daughter is studying to be a Life Coach and I agreed to let her practice on me.  I  thought I was in for a little light weight therapy. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I had some goals in mind and a vague desire to work on them. The coach started putting me through the paces the minute I stepped on the field.  Pushups. Weights. Crunches. Squats.  Of course the "field" was mental and so were the "activities" but they left me out of breath and reaching for the gatoraide.  And definitely inspired.

You know what?  I feel like I made the team.  Yes, my image of today's session was like being with "Da Coach".  Whew!  But, eventually, as I work on my goals (and I intend to) maybe I'll get to be with Phil Jackson.  Ahhhhh.