Friday, January 30, 2004

Conspiracy Theorist

Kevin Drum links to an article criticizing the Georgia State Board of Education for dumbing down the high school curriculum in both World & U.S. History. Most importantly, high school history classes will be not studying the Civil War, an era crucial to understanding the history of the country.

Now students will be taught Civil War history in 5th grade. But the article is correct in asserting that this is a topic that needs to be covered in high school when students reach a maturity level necessary to understand the complexity of issues that led to the Civil War. I would add that many topics would need to be repeated throughout the K-12 curriculum in order for students to have a competent understanding of our nation’s history.

So without a doubt this is a misguided attempt by the Georgia State Board of Ed to streamline their curriculum. Of course, if you live on Plant Drum, this is all one big conservative conspiracy to pretend the civil war never happened. As Kevin says in his comments, the omission is "obvious" and "shameful". I guess its so obvious that the word “conservative” doesn’t even need to be mentioned in the article he cites. I’m sure he has some other sources to verify that there was some sort of conservative agenda to eliminate reference to the civil war in high scool. He wouldn’t just make it up, right?

Of course this conservative conspiracy to pretend slavery never happened has some more work to do seeing as how high schoolers will be taught about the abolition of slavery, terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, the economic destruction of the north and south after the war, the military occupation of the South, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, the Black Codes, the accomplishments of African Americans during Reconstruction, Jim Crow Laws, Plessy v. Ferguson, W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, the NAACP, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, the march on Washington and Brown v. Board of Education. And the conspirators better not forget to rid the 5th grade curriculum of the Civil War in its entirety.

Now if a conservative would claim a liberal “conspiracy” with such flimsy evidence, Drum would call them a liar. But since I’m not a partisan hack, I’ll just say the facts don’t support his theory.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

How Much Is Enough?

Yesterday Aaron Gleeman wrote a post asking why Ivan Rodriguez would even consider going to Detroit for financial considerations when he probably already has more money than he could ever spend in his lifetime. Well, I’ll think there are a lot of good reasons why he would consider going to Detroit.

Some readers have already e-mailed Aaron to remind him that people pay taxes in the U.S., so Pudge actually received much less than $66.5 million his contracts to date have been worth. I would also add that his agent probably took a nice commission on each of those contracts.

Nevertheless, Pudge still has a lot of money and won’t be going hungry anytime soon. But Gleeman makes another point that I would question. He says that for a person making $30,000 a year, a $20,000 raise is a huge deal. Well for a person making $100,000, cutting his salary to $50,000 is also a big deal. Our two hypothetical people would be making the exact same amount of money but one would be thrilled while the other would be devastated. So while Gleeman may think money is only relative to poor people, it can also have a huge impact for people who are already well off too.

This is because people usually spend a lot of what they make, a fact my brother likes to refer to as the “golden handcuffs”. So while I have no idea how Pudge spends his money, it is not absurd to think that taking a 50% decrease in salary, from $10m to $5m may require some lifestyle adjustments.

A few years ago Frank Thomas got into a contract dispute when a majority of his salary was going to be deferred because of a “diminished skills clause”. I don’t want to get into the wisdom of signing such a contract, but there was no way Big Frank could pay his bills under the new terms of his contract. Now Frank’s base salary was going to decrease much more drastically than Pudge’s, from about $10m to $300K, but I think the point remains.

But enough about relative wealth, the amount of money in absolute terms is enormous. Were not talking about $1m per year, were talking about $15 to $20 million over 4 years. It doesn’t matter if you have $0 in the bank, or $40m in the bank, $20 million is a lot of money. Now surely Pudge will never have to work after baseball, but if he signed with Detroit, maybe his kids will never have to struggle either (or hell, even his grandkids). I’m sure that’s something he will think about when making his decision.

But I guess Gleeman might believe that some players are so well off that none of these financial considerations should matter. The Detroit contract would still be a viable option. Why? Well Pudge might be happier, all things being equal, as a Cub. But it is not certain he would be happy being paid less than market value. It is human nature to want to be paid what one is worth, no matter how well off you are. And if you're competitive you would surely want to be one of the highest paid at your position.

Finally, the last reason Detroit may not be such a bad option. They play in the AL Central. Getting to .500 may have them competing for the AL Central title two years from now. Stranger things have happened.

Anyway, Aaron Gleeman is one of my favorite writers and I’m sure I’ll be able to read him in a major newspaper one day. I just hope I never have to read a column asking “why do ballplayers need so much money?”. There’s enough of those out there already.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Angry Dad

A lot of people have compared Howard Dean’s bizarre performance on Monday night to Bruce Banner turning into the Incredible Hulk. Well it reminded me more of “Crazy Dad”. You can see by Mad How’s reaction after his outburst that he needs rage-ohol. He was on one hell of an emotional high.

Last night at the debate we saw him jump back on the wagon. But as wwith all rage-oholics, he can’t be expected to conquer his demons without serious help. Especially with the press corps giving him the full Moe Sizlak Experience, antagonizing and goading him into his next relapse. “Hey look, there’s crazy dad! Let’s make him do something crazy!”

And just to drive this analogy into the ground, Dean should actually be thankful for President Bush for giving him the opportunity to vent his rage rather than keeping it bottled up and causing him to have a heart attack.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

But We're Big In China

So last night I was watching part of the Chinese Communist Party's New Year's Eve Show and saw something pretty odd. Actually I saw a lot of odd things. But hey, I'm a determined channel surfer and watch a lot of shows and this happens to be the most watched show in the world each year - over 600 million viewers - so I decided to check it out.

Anyway, right in the middle of some ridiculous dance number, a guy comes out doing tricks with a basketball. While it didn't make much sense in the middle of a dance number that wasn't the what made the act memorable. The Chinese guy doing tricks with the basketball was wearing a DePaul Blue Demons basketball jersey.

Now that's just weird. Why on earth would this guy have on a DePaul jersey? They haven't been very good the past few years. Is DePaul sending missionaries to China? Recruiters? Who knows.

But the Chinese New Years show is famous for making entertainers overnight sensations in China. The Wall Street Journal told the story of a Chinese American doctor who was asked to appear on the show as an example of how succesful Chinese people are in America. According to the Journal:

"Dr. Wong mentioned that he liked to sing. The producers handed him a microphone. "They told me there would be a billion people watching," says Dr. Wong. He became an overnight singing sensation in China, performing in concerts and producing several records. "That's how I became famous," he says.

Visiting China last week, Dr. Wong was stopped several times by strangers asking him to reprise the song he sang on the New Year's Eve show nearly 20 years ago."

So maybe the Blue Demons can use this gift of publicity to land the next Yao Ming. Or hell, I'll settle for the next Wang Zhizhi.

P.S. The jersey was #24 but I could not read the name on the back. Does anyone know who wore #24? I can't find their old rosters anywhere. If you know e-mail me.

Monday, January 19, 2004

2004 Central Prediction

Well, it looks like the Central Division is pretty much set for 2004. They way I see it, the Twins got a little bit weaker in the bullpen but remain about the same everywhere else. They also have the potential for an improved rotation with Santana starting from day one and the possibility of more consistent performances from Lohse and Radke.

Also, the Twins have a bunch of young hitters and the odds are that one of them will have a breakout season (if they get a chance to play). Too bad none of them know how to play 2B or SS.

Bottom line is that in a weak division they should be able to match last year’s win total and repeat as division champs.

The White Sox have a had a bad offseason. I’m actually not that upset about not resigning Alomar or Everett. But losing Colon, Gordon & Sullivan hurts. So the pitching staff has gone through a tremendous downsizing and it will again be up to the offense to win games, something they have not been able to do the past three years. In any other division this team wouldn’t have a chance at the playoffs, and I don’t think they have much of one even in the Central. I think the Sox will end up right about .500 and in second place.

For everyone getting excited about the Royals this year here’s a newsflash. The Royals were over 7.5 games up on two teams at the all star break last year and finished behind both because their pitching sucked. They can sign as many has been outfielders as they want and their pitching will still suck. They will be fighting Cleveland for third place. I say Cleveland takes third.

And while I still have a lot of left over animosity towards the Pistons form the Bad Boys era, I don’t like to see the Tigers lose 100 games each year. It’s my hope they can win a few more games this year and revive interest in a once proud franchise. If only the got to play the White Sox a few more times each year they might have a chance to climb out of the cellar. Maybe in 2005.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


I stopped by the Potbelly's (coming soon to a location near you) on Southport the other day for some sandwiches and noticed a big health department sign at Ann Sather's cafe. It said that the cafe had been closed down for health code violations.

Now everyone in Chicago is most likely familiar with Ann Sather's and their deliciously decadent cinnamon buns. But the funny thing is, the owner of Ann Sather's, is also the 44th ward alderman, Tom Tunney (who is the first openly gay alderman elected in Chicago. And for those who are interested, Wrigley Field is located in the 44th ward). So the cafe was closed down in his very own ward!

Anyway, it's good to know that alderman aren't getting special treatment, although I can't imagine this happening to Ed Burke.

Friday, January 09, 2004


The wife and I have been watching the last season of the Soprano's on DVD the last couple of weeks and immediately after Ralphie got on Tony's bad side I figured they would be adding a new cast member this year. I was going over the possibilities in my head and decided Steve Buscemi would be a great choice.

And what do you know, Buscemi will be joining the cast next year. (via the Vodkapundit). That's great news for Sopranos fans and Steve Buscemi fans.

One Final Sports Related Posts

Another reason I haven't been writing as much on sports is that I've stopped buying the local paper. I usually only buy one to follow up on an Illin basketball game or some other specific news I'm interested it.

With that said, I used to be able to read the sportspage at work while going to the bathroom. Someone was kind enough to leave the Trib sports section laying around each day. That ended a couple of months ago.

For some reason, the person who cleans our bathroom each day has started taking the sports page with him. I'm not sure if it's just to clean the room or if he wants to read it himself. But if the cleaning person who keeps lifting the sports section happens to be reading this blog, leave the damn paper in the bathroom!

Light Posting

Well I said I would be back on the 6th but wasn't able to keep my promise. It looks like I've lost the urge to write about sports. I like watching other sports but do not have the same motivation to write about it as I do with baseball. And the baseball offseason doesn't excite me very much, especially with the White Sox only making minor moves.

Until the baseball season starts expect posts on politics, business and movies. I toyed with the idea of putting those posts on a separate blog but decided against it. So anyone expecting sports posts has been warned.