Cassidy: Invest in schools that don't teach that I am an abomination
& some thoughts on Tom Freakin' Skilling
10-19-2023 (issue No. 110)
News and Views — On Gov. JB Pritzker’s big idea to protect abortion rights; Trump doxxing his courtroom adversary; Tyson Bagent; the surprising news about young drivers; and a pilot program to charge for Twitter.
Land of Linkin’ — Where I tell readers where to go
Squaring up the news — Where Charlie Meyerson tells readers where to go
John Oliver — ‘Peace is not optional’
Thomas Friedman — Some good questions about the conflict in the Middle East
Mary Schmich — On wonder, weather, crying, aging and Tom Skilling
“Songs of Good Cheer” update — we’re going have a fresh take on a stale old carol
Re:Tweets — The winning visual tweet and this week’s contest finalists, including another bonus Dad tweets poll
Tune of the Week — “Love and Mercy” nominated by Monica Eng of Axios Chicago
Last week’s winning tweet
If anyone wants to pop over and help me figure out why my house is so nippy, my door is always open. — @whoelsebutalf
Here are this week’s nominees and the winner of the Tuesday visual-tweets poll. Here is the direct link to the new poll. Also this week, I have posted another bonus “Dad Tweets” poll featuring cringeworthy wordplay guaranteed to amuse children 8-12.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy: Don’t ‘send state funds to schools that wouldn’t hire me as a lesbian, that teach that … I am an abomination’
Democratic state Rep. Kelly Cassidy of Chicago sent out a news release Wednesday underscoring her opposition to Invest in Kids, the state program that gives private citizens income tax credits for donations to private schools, including religious schools.
The controversial program is up for renewal this year and has become a proxy for the “school choice” debate in which the central issue is whether public money should go directly to support religious schools, in particular.
The tax-credit fig leaf is a way around the wall between church and state. A tax credit is far more valuable than a mere charitable deduction. When you give to charity, you may deduct that amount from the income on which you pay taxes. But when you give to nonprofit scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) that oversee the disbursal of tuition stipends to private school scholarships, you can subtract 75% of that donation from the amount that you would normally owe in state income taxes. The shortcut means that the state doesn’t technically give out the money, even though that money would normally go into state coffers and not to the private schools.
Supporters of Invest in Kids cite its benefits to poor and minority children said to be trapped in underperforming public schools.
Cassidy’s news release cited Illinois Department of Revenue data showing that 52% of the schools that benefited had had no Black scholarship recipients, and roughly one-third had no Latino recipients.
Around the country … (such) programs haven’t been shown to create many new opportunities for kids but rather end up going to kids who were already attending private schools and receiving scholarships. … According to an analysis by future-ed.org, Wisconsin’s 10-year-old program reported that for 2022-2023, 74% of the recipients have never attended a public school. In Indiana, only 4,412 of the 44,376 students in the state’s 2021-2022 choice scholarship program had spent at least 2 semesters in a public school, laying bare the lie of creating opportunities for students in underperforming schools.
Cassidy did not mention Arkansas, where the Arkansas Times reported last week on the Arkansas LEARNS initiative:
The first annual report on the law’s voucher program, recently sent to several legislative committees by the Arkansas Department of Education, appears to state that a whopping 95% of the students receiving vouchers this year did not attend public schools last year.
This fits the clear pattern that has been seen in other states implementing voucher programs to dole out public cash for private schools. That money tends to wind up boosting the bank accounts of families who were never in the public school system to begin with. … Around 30% of voucher students attend just seven schools. Those seven are mostly in Central Arkansas and include some of the largest and most expensive private schools in the state.
Cassidy noted that “a group of advocates for the Invest in Kids program …sent out a press release announcing a proposed change to the program they claimed addressed concerns raised” by the demographic report.
The proposal would create a new “priority category” exclusively for students who live in areas disproportionately impacted by poverty. The proposal doesn’t go into detail on how those areas would be defined, and the program is already aimed at low-income families, so this won’t necessarily help with the demographic issues released last week.
The plain language of the proposal makes clear that this can’t even be described as lipstick on a pig. The very last line of the proposal reads “(h) Credits awarded for donations made to disproportionately-impacted-area serving schools shall be awarded without regard to subsection (f), but shall not exceed 15% of the annual statewide program cap.” In plain language, they don’t want too many kids from those areas to benefit, lest it hurt their kids. It’s a slick attempt to make folks think they’re doing something about the problem they hoped nobody would notice.
My opposition to using state funds to support private schools is fundamental. At its core, Invest in Kids exists to send state funds to schools that wouldn’t hire me as a lesbian, that teach that our family isn’t real and that I am an abomination. There’s not enough makeup to cover up that reality.
In Illinois, public schools are required to adhere to requirements that are designed to protect students, families, and faculty, ensure curriculum standards, and provide services to students with disabilities and English Language Learners, among other requirements. If a school wants to accept public funds, they should be required to adhere to the same requirements and protections against discrimination that we place on all of our public schools.
I have introduced legislation every year since the program was proposed that would limit access to the funds to schools that meet these standards, but know that will never pass as many of these schools exist explicitly to avoid things like anti-discrimination laws and curriculum requirements. Rather than using public funds to support discrimination, we should focus on ensuring that Illinois is doing everything we can to meet the promise of equity in our evidence-based funding formula so all our neighborhood schools can be the resources our communities need.
There remains nothing stopping philanthropic advocates for school choice from funding scholarship programs with their own money, rather than money that would otherwise go to the state.
The polling memo says that these numbers didn’t change even when respondents were read the following arguments:
Supporters say this program provides low income kids, including many children of color, with a high-quality education they may not have gotten from their local public school. And it doesn’t use a dime of taxpayer money to do it—it is all funded through private donations.
Opponents say this is a school voucher program that funds private schools through a $75 million tax break for millionaires and corporations. Wealthy Illinoisans get to take their tax dollars, give them to private schools, and leave public schools underfunded.
But as Rich Miller of Capitol Fax points out, the program does use taxpayer money in that the money that goes into the scholarships is money that would have gone to boost the state’s bottom line.
Some supporters of Invest in Kids say the controversy is much ado about very little: The program is capped at $75 million in total tax credits, and only about 9,600 students got scholarships in the last school year. But once the program becomes permanent, there is no principled reason why it couldn’t and wouldn’t expand to 96,000 students and a 100% tax credit.
And, finally, here’s a bit more from Future Ed:
A majority of recent studies of statewide programs have found negative academic results.
A 2018 study of Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program found that low-income students who attended private schools on vouchers saw losses in math achievement, compared to similar students in public schools. A 2019 study of the Louisiana Scholarship Program found that after four years, students continued to experience sustained large negative effects on academic achievement, particularly in math. A 2016 study of Ohio’s Educational Choice Scholarship program also found lower test scores among scholarship recipients compared to their matched peers.
A 2019 study of D.C.’s voucher program found that three years into the program students performed on par with the city’s public-school students, after voucher recipients underperformed their public-school peers in the first and second year of participation. The 2019 study found positive effects on student satisfaction and feelings of safety among voucher students, as well as lower levels of student chronic absenteeism. But parent satisfaction was no higher than that of parents’ whose children did not receive a scholarship. Another study of the District of Columbia voucher program found that attending private schools with vouchers had no significant effect on college-going.
News & Views
News: Gov. JB Pritzker has launched “Think Big America,” a national nonprofit aimed at protecting abortion rights.
View: Pritzker has at least one eye on the White House, clearly, and is betting that in 2028 his brand of pragmatic progressive politics will play well nationally. I’m there for it. His record as governor is generally impressive, and he’s got the money and the oratorical chops to make a strong run in the primaries. Think Big America will fund referendum campaigns to enshrine abortion rights in states where conservative legislators are attempting to enact strong restrictions.
Pritzker: Our nation is at a crossroads. Over the last few years, the far-right agenda has only become more extreme. The end of reproductive rights. Widespread book bans. A rollback of voting rights and civil rights. The erosion of trust in our institutions. That will be our permanent reality if we don't act now.
Extremism poses an existential threat to our democracy, and I take this threat very seriously.
TV Announcers: Gov. JB Pritzker today further establishing Illinois as an abortion oasis in the Midwest … Gov. JB Pritzker brought his wife, MK, to sign into law what is being called the most progressive abortion-protection bill in the country.
Pritzker: This is a pivotal moment for our Republic. That's why I’m proud to announce the launch of Think Big America, an organization dedicated to safeguarding reproductive rights and standing up against the right-wing extremists who want to take us backwards.
Think Big America is building on the successes we've achieved in Illinois, and taking the fight across the nation. Women's health. Abortion rights. The right to choose. These are fundamental rights regardless of your income, regardless of where you live or who you are.
Think Big America is committed to protecting our rights, defending our democracy and fighting for working families. The struggle to overcome the extremists and preserve democracy is happening right now.
Together, let's Think Big for America's brighter future.
News: Donald Trump lashed out at New York attorney general over fraud case — and posted a link to her home address.
View: If the facts were on Trump’s side, he and his lawyers would be serenely rebutting the case against him now in court. His tantrums and thuggish efforts to intimidate or see harm done to an officer of the court suggest he knows he’s guilty. I’ll let you sit with the fact that his link was to a Substack post by white nationalist Laura Loomer that showed the AG’s home address.
News: Undrafted Bears rookie Tyson Bagent will start at quarterback Sunday in place of the injured Justin Fields
View: The stars are in alignment for a Disney-like tale of a standout quarterback from a small college — Shepherd University in West Virginia, a school with an undergraduate enrollment of about 2,700 students — becoming an NFL superstar. Yes, his debut in relief last Sunday was a mixed bag, but he’ll have had a week to prepare, and the kid (he’s 23) clearly has some skills.
Of course the stars are also aligned for a horror story in which Bagent’s dreams of glory are crushed by humiliating defeats and single-digit passer ratings.
But it will be interesting.
View: Excellent, though the story notes that “the report from the Governors Highway Safety Association acknowledges that young people are driving less than they were 20 years ago.” A recent article in The Hill hazards guesses as to why:
The share of teenagers with driver’s licenses in the 16-19 age group declined from 64 percent in 1995 to just under 40 percent in 2021, according to the Federal Highway Administration. …
Car costs have surged. Inflation has pushed up the prices of insurance and gas. Ride-hailing and home delivery apps make cars feel less essential. America’s urban centers are growing more crowded and less car-friendly. Teens are socializing more online and less in person. Many young people would rather bike or walk than pollute their planet.
More than anything, perhaps, the decline in teen drivers reflects the impact of “graduated” licensing. Starting around 1996, states enacted new rules tailored to ease novice drivers onto the road. Teen drivers must now spend months gaining skills in low-risk settings before they gain full driving privileges.
A by-the-way statistic in the Associated Press account says that “overall traffic fatalities dropped 3.3% in the first half of (2023) compared with the prior-year period” but that “there were 42,795 people killed on U.S. roadways” in 2022, which is such an appalling number that the good news about young drivers seems slight.
“Self-driving” cars are not and will never be perfect, but they will certainly be an improvement, safetywise, over cars driven by drunk, distracted, irrational or careless humans.
News: Twitter announces plans to begin charging for its service.
View: Elon Musk’s destructive initiatives are starting to feel to me like arson for profit. He has let the social media platform that he wants you to call “X,” become a cesspool of invective and rumors, and now he’s testing the idea in New Zealand and the Philippines of charging new users $1 a year to access such basic features as being able to tweet, reply, bookmark and so forth.
A buck a year can’t mean much to Musk, so this has to be about acquiring credit card information. And because new users are not likely to pony up when they know veteran users are getting the same service for free, it seems inevitable that Musk will begin trying to charge every user, not just new users, $1 a year. And also inevitable that the price will rise.
I’d pay it, frankly. I still get quite a bit of value from Twitter. To figure out how much value you get from whichever social media platforms you prefer, ask yourself how much a third party would have to pay you to give up, say, your Instagram account for a year. $50? $100?
Land of Linkin’
The other day, I thought about filmstrips. Those of you under 40 will likely have no association with the word. Filmstrips were the sequences of still images — photos, charts, maps — that teachers showed their students. An accompanying audio track, generally on a phonograph record, employed a “beep!” to prompt the person at the projector to advance the image on the screen. Their 40-year run in classrooms ended in the late 1980s when classroom videos replaced them, according to “Back to the Future, or A Short History of the Filmstrip” from the National Film Board of Canada blog.
Will I help the Chicago Reader amplify its clickbait poll? Yes, I will! “Nominate your favorites for the Best of Chicago 2023” — nominations open through Tuesday, Nov. 7.
This parody of “The Sounds of Silence” done by two men re-creating the Bears’ Superfans characters from “Saturday Night Live” is very well done:
Heidi Stevens: “Lessons from a joyful, painful Chicago Marathon, which I’m definitely running again.” I have no doubt she will. I ran the Chicago Marathon "for once in my life” three times more than 20 years ago. It’s quite a high, and one that was hard to quit chasing.
I received quite a lot of correspondence relating to my short commentary last week on the conflict in the Middle East, and you can read some of that feedback as well as my responses in Tuesday’s Picayune Plus.
The Picayune Sentinel preview: Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. I talk with WGN-AM 720 host John Williams about what’s making news and likely to be grist for the PS mill. The WGN listen-live link is here.
Squaring up the news
This is a bonus supplement to the Land of Linkin’ from veteran radio, internet and newspaper journalist Charlie Meyerson. Each week, he offers a selection of intriguing links from his daily email news briefing Chicago Public Square:
■ Popular Information namechecks corporations that pledged to stop donating to Republicans—including House Speaker wannabe Jim Jordan—who tried to overturn the 2020 election but that now are giving him money.
■ Lest we forget how the House speaker job has long been intertwined with scandal, here’s an interview Meyerson conducted 30 years ago with former Speaker Jim Wright—first to resign under fire for ethical impropriety (2015 link), but also a guy with lovely handwriting.
■ A University of Michigan counterterrorism expert explains how Israel’s vaunted intelligence forces missed Hamas’ preparations for war.
■ Media writer Tom Jones praises the “Saturday Night Live” cold-open approach to the war:
■ Axios mourns the closing of a Chicago restaurant whose location marks the portal to another dimension in the hilarious and long-running fantasy improv podcast “Hello from the Magic Tavern,” which you can hear here.
■ CNN explains what’s ailing the nation’s drugstore business.
■ Popular Information says kids’ book publisher Scholastic has begun grouping books that feature people of color and/or LGBTQ characters into a collection that school officials can exclude from book fairs in one fell swoop.
■ Cord Cutter Weekly has a fresh batch of codes for getting streaming channels free or at a discount.
You can (and should) subscribe to Chicago Public Square free here.
John Oliver: ‘Peace is not optional’
From the opening monologue of Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight” on HBO (recorded on Saturday):
All signs seem to be pointed toward a humanitarian catastrophe. Israeli officials announced plans to cut off food, water, fuel and power. Hospitals are running on generators. This has all the appearances of collective punishment, which is a war crime. And I think many Israelis and Palestinians are feeling justifiable anger right now, not just at Hamas, whose utterly heinous terrorist acts set this week’s events in motion, but also at the zealots and extremists across the board who consistently thwarted attempts at peace over the years. Israelis and Palestinians have been let down by their leadership time and time again. And I don’t have a great deal of faith in the leaders currently in charge to steer us toward peace. … People want and are entitled to peace, and I’m not going to tell either side how to get it — certainly not in this [British] accent, which has frankly done enough damage in that particular region to last a fucking lifetime. But just know in the long term, all the people who want to live in that region are going to keep living there. So peace is not optional and will require some tough decisions. And I can’t say where a peace process ends, but it just has to start with that kind of ability to recognize our common humanity.
Good questions from Thomas Friedman
An excerpt from Friedman’s commentary in The New York Times:
Just ask this question: If Israel announced today that it was forgoing, for now, a full-blown invasion of Gaza, who would be happy, and who would be relieved, and who would be upset?
Iran would be totally frustrated, Hezbollah would be disappointed, Hamas would feel devastated — its whole war plan came to naught — and Vladimir Putin would be crushed, because Israel would not be burning up ammunition and weapons the U.S. needs to be sending to Ukraine. The settlers in the West Bank would be enraged.
Meanwhile, the parents of every Israeli soldier and every Israeli held hostage would be relieved, every Palestinian in Gaza caught in the crossfire would be relieved, and every friend and ally Israel has in the world — starting with one Joseph R. Biden — would be relieved. I rest my case.
Tom Freakin’ Skilling: ‘I could have you killed if I wanted to!’
WGN-TV weather guru Tom Skilling, who will be retiring in February, is not only one of the nicest people I’ve ever dealt with as a journalist, but he is also one of the most game. For many years, those deputized to make comedy videos for the Tribune’s annual staff awards gala recruited Skilling to play against type, and he was always willing and always hilarious.
Mary Schmich on Tom Freakin’ Skilling
My former colleague Mary Schmich posts occasional column-like entries on Facebook. Here, reprinted with permission, is her most recent offering:
I'm a longtime member of the Tom Skilling Fan Club. One of millions. The news that he's retiring soon reminded me of this column I wrote about his response to the 2017 solar eclipse. It's about wonder and weather and crying and aging. Meaning, all the Big Stuff:
Monday (August 21, 2017) may have marked a notable moment in American history: the first time a middle-aged weather forecaster trended on Twitter.
His name is Tom Skilling and anyone who has lived in Chicago for long knows he's more than a TV meteorologist. He's a weather evangelist. He loves the clouds, the wind, the sky. He wants you to love them too.
On Monday he brought his infectious exuberance to the eclipse, only this time he cried.
There he stood as the moon crossed the sun, in front of a camera, microphone in hand, a 65-year-old man, choking up, hugging strangers and exclaiming, "Oh my word!"
All over the internet, he became the incarnation of eclipse-incited rapture.
"As I was descending into tears, I was thinking, my God, get a hold of yourself," Skilling said Tuesday, as he drove back from southern Illinois to Chicago with a couple of WGN-TV colleagues. "You're on a mass medium and you're about to break down and men aren't supposed to do this. It was kind of a feeling of terror. Am I going to pull myself together enough to throw it to a commercial break?"
He struggled, and people loved him for it.
"Skilling in tears made the whole eclipse," a woman posted on my Facebook page, a widely heard refrain. I asked her to explain.
"He was like a child on Christmas morning," she said, "so full of joy and wonder. It's just rare and beautiful to see that kind of pure joy in an adult. I think we all hope to taste that feeling from time to time."
Skilling doesn't know why his tears have moved so many people. One reason, he said, may be that it was clear they weren't staged.
"This was just one lowly human being, with a wonderful group of people, reacting to a wonderful, celestial event," he said. "I guess rare events lead to rare responses."
As of Tuesday midday, he still hadn't watched the video, but friends and colleagues had told him about the reaction, including the headline calling him "adorable."
"Wouldn't have been the term I used," he said. He cackled. One of his colleagues said something from the back car seat.
"She says I'm anything but adorable," he reported. "Adorable? Whoever would say that was trying to be kind. Better than saying, 'What a jerk!'"
He laughed his jolly laugh again.
"Probably somebody will say that before it's over!”
As WGN-TV's longtime meteorologist, Skilling watches the sky for a living, but he had never seen a total eclipse. Before heading to the path of totality, he read up on the phenomenon and learned that sometimes people sobbed and fell to their knees, their minds boggled by the majesty.
He began to sense the mind-boggling himself around 1:15 p.m. on Monday, five minutes before the full eclipse. He and his crew were assembled at a lake near Carbondale, surrounded by people who had traveled thousands of miles — from Australia, Japan, Sweden, Poland — for 2 1/2 minutes of ecstasy.
"All of a sudden the light disappears," he recalled, his fervor rising even though it was a day later and he was on the interstate. "The heavens, which had been blue, are suddenly bespeckled with stars and planets. As you looked at the horizon, it glowed like a sunrise or sunset. It was dark all around. The reactions of people were stunning. Everything from loud cheers and 'wow' and 'ooh' and 'ah' to sobs. I was one of the sobbers."
Skilling can't remember ever crying on air before, but he remembers the time he cried while talking to families of people who died in a 1990 tornado in Plainfield. He felt that the weather forecasters for that event had failed to do their job.
I asked him if he thought that being 65 — meaning no longer young — may have contributed to his emotion Monday, made him feel more fleeting, more humble, more awed, luckier. He didn't say yes or no, but he said this:
"My mother always used to say, 'Don't be afraid of getting older. You don't worry as much about what people are thinking. If you can hang on to your health, it's a marvelous time of life.' If I was a young person trying to establish a career, I might be more frightened by what I did. But when you reach 65, you think, I'm sorry folks, this is me and it is what it is."
And we're grateful for what it was during the eclipse. By expressing his wonder, he made it easier for other people to feel theirs.
Donald Trump: They’re not allowed to sell flypaper anymore
Flies are drawn to excrement, so it made sense that one was buzzing around Donald Trump Monday during a campaign speech in Iowa:
I hate flies! Now they’ll — I’ll get in trouble for saying that. Cruelty to animals. No, it’s true. You know, I said the other day I was at a place — and it was a beautiful place — but they had, like, flies. And I said, “Get flypaper!” They said, “Sir, they’re not allowed to sell it anymore because of cruelty to animals.”
They actually said that! I don’t know. Can you get flypaper? It used to be great, right? But they said, “You can’t do that anymore, sir, it’s cruelty.”
What the hell is going on with this country?
I have the same question. What the hell is going on with this country when nearly half of the voting public wants this fact-averse fabulist in the White House?
A coalition government for a divided nation?
As Republicans scrambled to elect the next House speaker, Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio rejected the idea that a moderate Republican nominee might win the gavel with some Democratic Party support. He said:
No one in our conference wants to see any type of coalition government with Democrats. We’ve gotta have a speaker, and it can’t be some deal with the Democrats. The American people don’t want that. They elected Republicans in a majority.
As a whole, the American electorate was very closely divided in the 2022 election. Republicans won 50% of the national popular vote for U.S. congressional seats. Democrats won 47.3% of that vote, and the rest went to third-party or independent candidates.
And if slim national majorities reflect what “the American people” want, let’s consider the 2016 presidential election in which Hillary Clinton won 48% of the overall national popular vote compared to 45.9% for Donald Trump. Yet, of course, infuriatingly, because lightly populated Republican states have grossly outsized power in presidential elections, Trump won the presidency.
At this writing, it appears that Jordan is, thankfully, going backward in his effort to unify Republicans behind his candidacy. He’s a firebrand election denier with no appetite for compromise or negotiation — see above — and while his elevation would likely cost the Republican Party in next year’s elections, it would be very bad for the country.
Another Behind-the-Cheer video as we rehearsed over the weekend for “Songs of Good Cheer,” the gala winter holiday singalong Dec. 7-10 at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square. We lead the crowd in many familiar songs, but the ones you’ve never heard are the ones most likely to stick with you, and I think you’ll like this bouncy take on the usually tedious “The First Nowell.” Get your tickets now! Here is the link.
Former Sun-Times and Tribune columnist and Reader staff writer Cate Plys and Sun-Times columnist and editorial board member Rummana Hussain joined Brandon Pope, host John Williams and me on this week’s episode of “The Mincing Rascals” news-chat podcast. Topics included U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s effort to become House speaker, conflict in the Middle East and Tyson Bagent.
Subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts. Or bookmark this page. If you’re not a podcast listener, you can hear an edited version of the show at 8 p.m. most Saturday evenings on WGN-AM 720.
In Tuesday’s paid-subscriber editions, I present my favorite tweets that rely on visual humor. Subscribers vote for their favorite, and I post the winner here every Thursday:
The new nominees for Tweet of the Week:
When the world gets you down, always remember that only idiots get cheered up by cheap platitudes. And you're better than that. — @wildethingy
Terrible news, everyone. I had to add fractions today just as the 4th grade teachers foretold. — @mommajessiec
If you ever watch Cookie Monster eat, notice that none of the cookies ever make it down his (nonexistent) gullet. He hungers constantly, yet is denied the satisfaction of swallowing a single bite, as it all crumbles to the ground around him. Ponder afresh the essential tragedy of this figure. — @snargleplax.bsky.social
You can never really own earbuds. You just have to appreciate the time you had together. — @bestestname
Stop hating on lazy people. We didn't even do anything. — @ADDiane
Congratulations to the sweater, another year of being the most disgustingly named piece of clothing. — @mxmclain
One of the best examples of someone posing a question that they already know the answer to is the WeightWatchers website asking me if I accept cookies. — @Pundamentalism
Mysterious old lady flips tarot card revealing a dude who looks exactly like me flying a hot air balloon into power lines] Me: Is that good? — @boring_as_heck
I’ve once again reached an age where it’ll be a scandal if I get pregnant. — @nikalamity
I’ve never been able to utilize the “one-Mississippi, two Mississippi” method of counting seconds since the possibility of more than one Mississippi is absolutely terrifying. — @John_M15
Vote here and check the current results in the poll.
My bonus “Dad tweets” poll features these excruciating entries:
I got fired from my job at the keyboard factory. They said I wasn't putting in enough shifts.
I accidentally drank a bottle of invisible ink last night. I’m in the hospital now, waiting to be seen.
I should’ve known inventing a boomerang with teeth would come back to bite me.
The difference between a hippo and a Zippo is that one is really heavy and the other is a little lighter.
What has fur and flies? A dead werewolf.
What's tiny and sounds like a pigeon? A smidgen.
My Doo-Wop group broke up, so now we’re a Don’t-Wop group.
What do you call a reluctant potato? A hesitator.
If a bear wears shoes and socks he still has bear feet.
Getting my drone stuck in the tree isn’t the worst thing that happened to me today. But it’s definitely up there.
Vote here in the Dad tweets poll.
A reminder that I don’t attribute the Dad tweets because experience has shown that nearly all of them are unoriginal.
Usage note: To me, “tweet” has become a generic term for a short post on social media.
For instructions and guidelines regarding the poll, click here.
Tune of the Week
This week’s guest nominator is Monica Eng, my former Tribune colleague who is now on the Axios Chicago team where she, Justin Kaufmann and Carrie Shepherd break, curate and add valuable context to the news of the day in their must-read daily newsletter.
Brian Wilson’s “Love and Mercy” is the song I've been playing and singing and crying over lately after covering the kaddish for the dead at Belmont Harbor, the Friday City Council debates on the war resolution and then the Sunday press conference after the stabbing of Wadea Al-Fayoume.
My daughter and I performed this at a small Christmas hootenanny — in place of a carol — at a dark time for our country a few years ago, and it's stuck with me ever since.
I like Brian Wilson’s version of his song, but I feel like Jeff Tweedy's voice evinces the particular kind of weary grief Wilson writes about here and that many of us are feeling right now.
I was lyin' in my room and the news came on TV A lotta people out there hurtin' and it really scares me Love and mercy that's what we need tonight So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight
When I become aware of errors in the Picayune Sentinel, I quickly correct them in the online version, but since many of you read just the email version, which I can’t correct after the fact, I will use this space periodically to alert you to meaningful mistakes I’ve made.
At the last minute in editing the “Terror and whataboutism in the Middle East” entry in last Thursday’s issue, I typed, “No matter what may have provoked it and no matter the historical context, the world can condone the deliberate slaughter of innocent civilians, particularly children.” Of course I meant “cannot condone,” as the context of the entry certainly made clear, but I thank all of you who pointed it out to me. It was probably the worst typo I’ve ever made.
And as I wrote in Tuesday’s issue, I may need to retract my recommendation that those who have the Tribune home delivered on Sundays call customer service — 312-546-7900 — and demand that they permanently not be charged an extra $10 a month for “premium issues,” which are those supplements on the order of “Summer entertaining guide” and “NFL preview.”
Previously subscribers could only opt out for six months at a time, a strange and abusive practice. But a friend told me she got the charge permanently removed by threatening to cancel her subscription, and then I got the charge permanently removed when I called and simply insisted on it. Another friend had the same good luck.
After I published this intelligence last week, word evidently got around the Tribune customer-help call center and operators began refusing these demands. I heard about this from many readers who said the operators were adamant: You must call back every six months to opt out, or else they’ll charge you.
So I called customer service to be sure the promise I’d received last week was still good. It was not reflected in their records so I asked, “Was I lied to last week? Maybe you should check the recording you make every call just to check.”
They said they’d escalate my query and get back to me. Reader, they have not.
I’ll send this along to Tribune publisher Par Ridder so he can once again have the pleasure of ignoring my email.
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