Elon Musk & Leonard Goodman — When rich men plump for free speech
4-28-2022 (issue No. 33)
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Below: Goodman saves the Reader from Goodman as Musk prepares to take over Twitter / Tribune writes a ‘both-sides' editorial on the Disney-DeSantis dispute / Marriage advice / Mary Schmich on Mike Royko / Move back the 3-point line! / A tune that had it going on / More
The big news in Chicago media this week is that wealthy defense lawyer Leonard Goodman has bent to intense public pressure and walked away from his fight with the Chicago Reader (just as I advised last Thursday in an item headlined “Surrender, Leonard!”)
The biggest news on the national media scene is that wealthy entrepreneur Elon Musk has reached an agreement to buy Twitter and bless/inflict it with lots more “free speech.”
The Goodman saga, in summary, is that, in 2018, he and developer Elzie Higginbottom came to the financial rescue of the legendary alternative weekly, and plans were well underway last year for them to facilitate the transition of the paper to a nonprofit. Goodman, who was a semi-regular columnist, submitted an essay outlining his strong concerns about vaccinating his 6-year-old daughter against COVID-19.
After editors approved and posted this column in November, it came under heavy criticism from staff and members of the public who claimed his arguments contained serious factual errors. Proposals to remove or revise the column or to publish a lengthy fact check went nowhere — because Goodman, as co-owner, swung a big enough stick to block such efforts — but poisoned relationships all around. The feud suspended plans to transition to nonprofit status, sparked a “let my paper go!” protest last week outside of Goodman’s home in the East Lakeview neighborhood and put the Reader on the brink of having to close after more than 50 years.
As a former columnist myself, I understand why Goodman was angry. Pulling a column down or revising it online after publication is an unconventional and clumsy editorial response — barring outright plagiarism or demonstrable fabrication, neither of which were alleged in Goodman’s case.
Whether or not Goodman cherry\-picked data, cited flimsy studies and quoted dubious experts to justify his vaccination hesitation as critics allege is not something I’m interested in attempting to adjudicate.
The proper editorial response once the column was posted was simply to commission and speedily publish a rebuttal column, though whether Goodman would have consented to that isn’t quite clear from the testy chain of emails in which the dispute unfolded.
All that said, publisher Tracy Baim did more or less wave the white flag back in mid-December by allowing the column to remain online as originally published. And what brought the paper to the brink was the perseveration of Goodman and his allies who were trying to vindicate him and maneuvering to maintain influence on the nonprofit board as it was forming. One of their goals was to enshrine a mission statement saying the Reader is "a forum for free speech and welcomes all opinions, especially controversial ones, and abhors censorship of any kind."
What, so Holocaust deniers, those claiming a ring of Democratic Party pedophiles are abusing children in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor and other wackadoos could have their say in the Reader?
The more attention this story got, the more Goodman was looking like a spoiled rich guy having a destructive tantrum over being challenged on a column. Which, in fact, he was. Even though Reader management could have and should have handled the situation better, the life of a journalist — a real journalist, not a dabbler — involves being told no sometimes, ceding to the judgment of your editors and doing your grumbling and pouting in the privacy of your home.
His decision this week to step away from the Reader along with three allies on the current board of directors was wise.
His statement said, “We are now at the end of the road. We cannot continue the fight without destroying the Reader. I am stepping aside. I will sign off on the sale so that the Reader can transition immediately to (nonprofit) status. I wish it every success.”
See the Tribune article, “Chicago Reader owner steps down amid employee protests, freeing alternative newspaper to go nonprofit,” for more background.
Yes, the wrench he plucked out of the gears this week was the very wrench that he’d thrown into them. But, taking the long view, it’s important to remember that the machine might not have been cranking at all were it not for Goodman’s generosity some four years ago.
In the long run — and let’s hope there is a good long run ahead for the Reader — that’s how he should be remembered.
Meanwhile, it’s anyone guess the role Elon Musk will play in the history of Twitter once it’s written. His determination to open up in the name of “free speech” the social media platform to voices that its arbiters have silenced might end up not being as consequential as many are hoping/fearing.
I suspect he realizes it will be bad for business if vicious trolls, censorious mobs, mendacious opportunists and the aforementioned toxic wackadoos gain more license on the platform than they already have. Users will flee, perhaps to new, better moderated platforms that offer similar basic micro-blogging — the opportunity to share stories, opinions, jokes, photos and random links — without quite so many threats, insults and lies.
It will be good for business if Musk finds a way to let users better insulate themselves from the worst of Twitter and locate more of the best of Twitter.
I hope he does. I’m a fan, as you might have guessed. For me, Twitter is a great source of interesting referrals, breaking news and piquant quips. I’m not about to deactivate my account just because I’m wary of Elon Musk, and you shouldn’t either.
Last week’s winning tweet
You’ll note that, for the contest, I claimed curator’s prerogative and changed “Oh wait” to “Hang on” in order to eliminate the word echo in “wait” and “waiter.”
Scroll down to read this week’s nominees or click here to vote in the new poll.
Tribune Editorial Board does a ‘both-sides’ on the DeSantis/Disney dustup. Tsk!
So Florida enacted a vague, unnecessary law that transparently attacks the validity and morality of gay relationships and nonconforming gender identities. Then, in a fit of legislative pique when Walt Disney Co. called for repeal of the law, Gov. Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers began the process of eliminating the special taxing district created 55 years ago as part of the deal that drew the Walt Disney World Resort to the Orlando area.
The education law bans “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” through third grade, thus putting teachers and administrators at the risk of sanctions or lawsuits if they simply acknowledge the reality of perfectly legal same-sex marriages or tell students to be tolerant of their gender-nonconforming peers. DeSantis’ spokeswoman said the legislation was necessary to protect kids from "groomers," a slang term for pedophiles.
Instead of noting what a repellent salvo in the culture wars this law is and how ominous is the threatened retribution against a company that criticized it, a Tribune editorial in Wednesday’s paper referred to the pedagogical prohibition as “a nuanced issue,” sneered at the “virtue signaling” behind some of Disney’s objections and urged both sides to shake hands and “put an end to this nonsense” by having Disney declare that it “respect(s) differences of opinion” while Florida lawmakers stand down on the revocation of the special taxing district.
Where I come from, we call that peeing down both legs. The law and the state’s response to Disney’s criticism are awful. Period.
News & Views
News: Illinois vying to become the location of the first-in-the-nation or at least a very early Democratic presidential primary.
Exquisite idea! Traditionally the Iowa caucuses have been followed by a primary in New Hampshire, but as the Democratic National Committee considers tweaking the calendar, Politico reports that:
New Hampshire’s lack of racial diversity is a serious potential stumbling block for the state, given the priority the DNC’s rules committee has put on making sure its early-state lineup is diverse — and the criticism from both inside and outside the party to increase the early-state window’s racial diversity to reflect the party’s base voters. New Hampshire’s population is 90 percent white, per the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s also been one of the reasons behind the push to remove Iowa, which is 85 percent white, from the beginning of the Democratic presidential calendar.
Illinois is 77% white, according to census data, while the U.S. is 76% white. The smug entitlement of Iowans and New Hampshirites about their right to play an outsized role in picking our presidents is annoying and their privilege ill-deserved. Plus, an early presidential primary would be good for business in our media markets.
The Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet writes:
Illinois is diverse in every sense of the word as defined in the DNC’s April resolution: racially, ethnically and geographically — that is Illinois has rural, urban, suburban and exurban voters — in a state that stretches from Wisconsin on the north to Kentucky on the south.
That Illinois is a union stronghold will also be part of the argument Democrats in Illinois will make, since organized labor — from the public unions to the trades — is a backbone of the Democratic Party.
And though it is not spelled out in the DNC specs, White House hopefuls on various places on the ideological spectrum will find the Illinois Democratic family is diverse, with progressives, moderates and centrists.
Meanwhile, Rachel Paine Caufield writes in the Tribune under the headline, “Iowa caucuses play a crucial role in elections. They should remain as is.”
Iowa’s Democratic caucusgoers are ideologically representative of Democrats nationally. As a Midwestern state with significant postindustrial rural areas, Iowa voters also share the concerns of states that have recently decided the general election — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Prioritizing the interests of voters in these areas helps the Democrats select candidates who can win.
Who is Rachel Paine Caufield? She writes that she’s a transplanted Iowan, but we don’t learn until the italic shirttail that she’s “a professor of political science at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.”
It’s a pet peeve of mine that journalistic convention puts the relevant qualifications and affiliations of op-ed contributors at the end of such essays rather than at the beginning. I have no idea why the identifying information isn’t at the top instead of the bottom except that newspapers have always done it that way.
News: The Cubs and White Sox are off to dismal starts.
View: It may be time for me to revive the “Race to the Slop” feature from my blog in 2013 and 2014 when I kept track of the comparative records of both of our city’s utterly dismal Major League Baseball franchises to see which would be worse by the end of the season.
The White Sox “won” in 2013 with a record of 63-99 (.389), which was their worst performance since 1948 (.331). The Cubs that year were 66-96 (.407). The two teams tied in 2014 with identically futile records of 73-89 (.451).
Yes, it’s still early in the season but so far this year, the White Sox are 7-10 (.412), having just broken an eight-game losing streak. The Cubs are 8-10 (.444).
Meanwhile, the hapless Cincinnati Reds are 3-15 (.167) after Wednesday’s loss to the Padres, putting them on pace to have the worst record in the modern era (1900-present), a mark currently held by the 36-117 (.235) Philadelphia Athletics, and the third worst record in major league history behind only the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134, .130) and the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys (23- 113, .169).
Mayor Pete launched his political career in Northwest Indiana. Why not Todd Connor?
He has Barack Obama’s ears and Pete Buttigieg’s political and personal profile: Entrepreneur Todd Connor, 43, grew up in suburban Northfield and currently lives in Michigan City. He’s one of four Democrats running in the state’s May 3 primary to fill the seat of retired state Sen. Karen Tallian in a district that covers northern Porter County and northeastern LaPorte County. I recently conducted an email exchange with him.
Normally most of my readers and I wouldn't be particularly interested in an Indiana state Senate primary race, but I find your candidacy intriguing for the ways in which you remind people of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a Northwest Indiana native who captured the imagination of many (but not enough) voters when he ran for president in 2020. So in what ways do you find that comparison interesting and useful?
You're not alone in seeing the comparison (my dad, I think, was the first to call it) in that we're both coming out of Northwest Indiana, Navy veterans, married to men, and have kids. I was also a big supporter of Pete's as I saw him as something different, uniquely qualified, and most importantly as someone who was trying to adjust the very frame of the conversation. In those ways, I think there are similarities.
In other ways, though, we're different.
My lens in the world is as an entrepreneur who has started things (I'm more at home in a co-working space than a corporate boardroom), and I've been fixated on political reform that disrupts the duopolistic two party system, ending closed partisan primaries, and fighting political polarization which I think is an existential threat to our country.
I don't think either party is leading an honest conversation or has a bold agenda about how we move past our current state of affairs, but I'm trying to. Here in Northwest Indiana, there is a lot that we have going right: low taxes, great communities, the crossroads of America for rail and highways, and $2 billion in direct investment coming in (not to mention people leaving Illinois, only 35 minutes away, and looking for alternatives).
We're poised for growth and greatness, but I don't think you can fully achieve that without political leadership that can personify and catalyze the possible. It's part of what drew us here in the first place, had us open a business, and has us seeing big possibilities for what can happen in Northwest Indiana.
I also believe that the solution to ending polarization in this country and bringing choice and healthy politics back lies in what states will do, which is a function of who we send there. It's why I'm interested, and think we all need to be interested, in state houses more than just who the next president is.
On the Mayor Pete theme, his appeal was as a centrist Democrat -- remember "Medicare for All Who Want It?" -- though of course he was actually fairly liberal in many of his policy ideas. I thought his packaging was just right, almost Obamaesque, and he was just the sort of anti-Trump candidate to "adjust the very frame of the conversation," as you put it, and win the 2020 election. Publicly the rap on him was that, as merely the mayor of a smallish Indiana town, he lacked the experience to be president. Privately, I expect, the rap on him was that middle America was not ready to elect a gay man as president.
What do you see as the raps on you? And do you sense that your sexuality has been an issue during the campaign, even privately?
The pundits all say that the Democrats are in for a drubbing this fall. I realize this is above the paygrade of a Democratic state Senate candidate, but what is your Rx to the party that needs to win over voters disenchanted with Biden's presidency and the general direction of the country under nominally Democratic leadership (the caveat being that not much is possible with a U.S. Senate obstructed by the filibuster rule)?
I'll start with the Rx for the party — in all things, tell the radical truth.
My belief is that the two-party system has failed us. Independents are the fastest-growing voter block in this country including 55% of military veterans who identify as independents. I believe Colorado is the first state to have more independents than Republicans and Democrats combined.
People loathe the two party system, and the dysfunction that follows from that, and are not even satisfied with the party that they vote for, and yet neither party wants to touch that conversation explicitly.
America is begging for better politics, and amidst that environment, unless we offer a clear and credible blueprint (one which might threaten each party’s institutional power), false and dangerous substitutes for solutions labeled "America First" or "Drain the Swamp" will emerge.
This binary construct currently leads to a lesser-of-two-evils paradigm, and that's the thing that has to be disrupted. America is broken, and it's not just because (pick your team) lost an election — it's broken because we find ourselves back in this exhausting two-year outrage cycle, sending money to candidates in states we'll never visit to keep the balance in the Senate in our favor, or some county in Pennsylvania that will determine the outcome of the presidential election.
To continue reading Connor’s answer, click here.
Land of Linkin’
“Here’s Why People Don’t Barf on Planes as Much as They Used To,” at The Drive: “The answer's pretty simple, which is that planes are bigger and fly higher now.”
In “The Costly Toll of Dead-End Drug Arrests,” the Better Government Association and the Sun-Times. “Cook County’s judicial system, under an unwritten policy that even Cook County’s top prosecutor calls a failure, routinely dismisses minor drug possession cases — but usually not until after those arrested spend a few weeks in jail, often with life-changing consequences. … After she was elected state’s attorney in 2016, (Kim Foxx) told her prosecutors to release low-level drug users within days. …
But the steady flow of drug users into courtrooms continues.” Important journalistic work! So when is the BGA going to rebrand itself with a name that doesn’t sound so much like an earnest think tank?
Wondering about prices then and now? The U.S. Inflation Calculator is a good site to bookmark.
Congrats to Neil Steinberg at the Sun-Times for winning the National Headliner award for “best local interest column on a variety of subjects.” His colleagues Tim Novak, Lauren FitzPatrick, Caroline Hurley, Stephanie Zimmermann and Tom Schuba also picked up first-place awards in news categories.
“AT&T, Apple, XFinity and the lesser lights of Information Highway/World Wide Web have plans to co-opt the free will of individuals via smart chips injected into the bloodstream to direct your future purposes,” writes Pat Hickey in a guest column at John Kass News. (Thanks to Judge Dibs for the tip).
Author and former Sun-Times advice columnist Jeff Zaslow died in a car crash at age 53 10 years ago in February, and he would be bursting with pride that Alexandra Zaslow, one of his daughters, is the producer of the award-winning podcast “Wild Things: Siegfried & Roy,” which “takes you behind the velvet curtain to reveal shocking moments, surprising details and hidden truths” about the famed Las Vegas duo.
Fans are buzzing about Tuesday night’s reveal on NBC’s “This is Us” over on Reddit.
The Picayune Sentinel on the air: On Thursdays at 4:30 p.m., WCPT-AM 820 host Joan Esposito and I chat about ideas raised in the new issue. The listen-live link is here.
The Picayune Sentinel preview: Mondays 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.
Smart take on marriage
“Why a Dirty Dish by the Sink Can Be a Big Problem for a Marriage,” by Matthew Fray in The Atlantic struck me as quite useful:
Every couple has their own unique version of The Same Fight. It could be any number of things. Throwing laundry on the floor. Tracking mud through the house right after your partner cleaned up. It doesn’t matter what the actual thing is. For us, it was dishes by the sink.
Sometimes I leave used drinking glasses by the kitchen sink, just inches away from the dishwasher. It isn’t a big deal to me now. It wasn’t a big deal to me when I was married. But it was a big deal to her. … I, personally, don’t care if a glass is sitting by the sink unless guests are visiting. I will never care. Ever. It’s impossible. … But for my wife, it wasn’t about the glass. … It was about consideration. About the pervasive sense that she was married to someone who did not respect or appreciate her. …
My wife didn’t flip shit over a dish by the sink because she’s some insufferable nag who had to have her way all the time. My wife communicated pain and frustration over the frequent reminders she encountered that told her over and over and over again just how little she was considered when I made decisions. …
If I had known that this drinking-glass situation and similar arguments would actually end my marriage—that the existence of love, trust, respect, and safety in our marriage was dependent on these moments I was writing off as petty disagreements—I would have made different choices.
I could have communicated my love and respect for her by not leaving tiny reminders for her each day that she wasn’t considered. That she wasn’t remembered. That she wasn’t respected. I could have carefully avoided leaving evidence that I would always choose my feelings and my preferences over hers.
The article is an excerpt from Fray’s book, “This Is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach To Saving Relationships.”
I’ve concluded my email dialogue with Joanie Rae Wimmer, a transgender attorney from Oak Park. Here is a portion of her last word to me:
You asked, "Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’"? I think if I had to try, I would go back to what I said near the beginning of our correspondence. Where is the "self;" what makes up the "self"? I think that it's pretty clear that the self resides in the mind or the brain of the individual. (Senator Tammy Duckworth is the same self, the same person she was before she lost her legs fighting for our country.) The self is not in the body, but the mind. Sex/gender is a very essential element of our "selves". So I think that anyone who has a female gender identity and is an adult is a woman. And I use the term "gender identity" in the way it is defined in the book True Selves by Brown and Rounsley, which I cited before. They write that gender identity "is our own deeply held conviction and deeply felt inner awareness that we belong to one gender or the other. This awareness is firmly in place by the time we are five years old."
The entire dialogue is archived here.
Mary Schmich on Mike Royko, 25 years after his passing
My former colleague Mary Schmich posts column-like thoughts most Tuesdays on Facebook. Here is this week’s offering:
I’ve been invited to be on a panel Saturday commemorating Mike Royko on the 25th anniversary of his death. When John Holden, one of the organizers asked me to do it, I immediately remembered the day Royko died — April 29, 1997 — and how it shook the newsroom.
I also remember that I had a deadline that day. And that, obviously, there was only one thing for me to write about, even though I worried there would be people who sniffed, “Who the hell is she to write about Royko?”
There were people who knew him far better, who had known him far longer.
But I did the best I could in the time I had — a guiding principle of pretty much every newspaper columnist. See just below.
I’m told Saturday’s event, at the Edgewater Public Library (2 p.m.), is fully booked but will be streamed on the Edgewater Historical Society Facebook page.
Mike Royko is not dead. (April 30, 1997)
He will live on for a long time not only in the memories of his readers but in the columns of other columnists, in the sentences and sentiments of countless city chroniclers who at some point in their writing lives hoped for nothing more than to be like Mike.
He was the columnist of columnists, the rare writer who filled the greedy space day after day, week after week, year after year, come hell or high water or hangover. He was the guy who set the standard and the pace, a marathon runner in a field of rivals who often wound up wheezing on the second lap.
"Me and other columnists really have Royko as a role model," says Bill McClellan, who writes a city column at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The way he looks at the world, many of us have adopted that."
It was the worldview of the ordinary guy unafraid of power and pretension, who leavened common sense with wit, who anchored wit with guts. Royko talked to you, not at you. He was a teacher but not a preacher. His aim was as straight as a ruler but he seldom rapped you on the wrists.
Sometimes he made you laugh so hard you hardly noticed you also were doing the harder work of thinking. Sometimes when the laughter stopped, you realized you were just the tiniest bit changed.
Mike Olesker, a columnist at the Baltimore Sun, calls Royko one of his "early inspirations." He remembers the day in 1967 when, while rummaging through a bookstore in Baltimore, he ran across Royko's first collection of columns, "Up Against It."
"I had never heard of him," says Olesker, who wasn't a columnist at the time. "I started reading and I thought, 'This is terrific.' I thought, 'I'm a city kid, I grew up in a housing project, I know Royko's kind of people.' Between reading Royko and Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, I thought, 'I could do this for a living.' "
Royko belonged to a fraternity of men's men columnists — tough-talking, hard-drinking guys who knew the cops and the bars and the back rooms of the city — but he left his mark on women writers too. … (to read the full column, see it at chicgaotribune.com or on Mary’s Facebook wall. )
Chicago Magazine’s Edward McClelland also posted a 25-years-later reflection, “How Should Mike Royko’s Work Be Remembered?”
I didn’t know Royko well enough to write a personal reflection at the time of his death, so my column, “Making it look easy was the hallmark of Mike Royko's artistry,” focused on his enviable craftsmanship:
The most frequent tributes to Royko after his death Tuesday at age 64 have hailed him as a voice of the common person, outspoken, curmudgeonly, amusing and iconoclastic; a genuine Chicago character from the neighborhoods and the old school.
But somewhat lost in all the praise and expressions of sorrow is that the broad perception of these attributes is the result of a formidable and subtle gift.
Taverns are full of "common" people with opinions, folks more than happy to be blunt and grumpy and speak their minds. Same with newsrooms, actually. Seeming to speak for them — writing as Rokyo did with such pitch that the reader almost forgot he was reading — is not a stenographic skill or a talent that belongs anywhere near the word "common."
You don't get nearly perfect columns … by free-associating at the keyboard or simply tapping into a distinctive personality. Royko got them as often as he did by hard work — revealed by careful readings of his best efforts — and the disciplined exercise of unusual ability and wit.
Making it look easy was part of how difficult it was.
On this week’s episode of “The Mincing Rascals” podcast, host John Williams, Austin Berg and I discussed the distributions of cash relief to Chicagoans in need, the issue of college-loan forgiveness, violence on the CTA and the growth in 3-point shooting in the NBA. We were joined for a segment on Elon Musk and his purchase of Twitter by media ethicist Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota.
Subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts. Or bookmark this page. If you’re not a podcast listener, you can now hear an edited version of the show at 8 p.m. most Saturday evenings on WGN-AM 720.
This week’s nominees for Tweet of the Week:
Pharaohs were buried with their forearms across their chest because of the ancient belief that there would be water slides in the afterlife. — (various sources)
I found some pot in my son's room. Has anyone noticed how odd the word s-p-a-t-u-l-a sounds when you keep saying it over and over? — @JustBeingEmma
Please don't open that can of worms. For me, it's fresh worms or nothing. — @AndyJokedAgain
[IKEA-themed restaurant] Maître d’: Is your table ready yet? — @sonictyrant
Her: I can’t date you. You’re a Sagittarius. Me: That’s OK. I can’t date you either. Her: Why not? Me: My horoscope said not to get involved with people who believe in bullshit. — @UnFitz
Countless poems have been written, but none about the stringy things stuck to the sides of bananas when you peel them. This is where I shall make my mark. — @jlock17
Please help settle an argument between me and my wife: I say it’s weird she dresses Mr Whiskers and Fluffykins in different outfits every day, and wheels them around town in a stroller. She says it's more weird that I insisted on giving those names to our kids. — @WheelTod
We did not spend a decade designing this amusement park to listen to touristy complaints about the death tunnel causing many deaths. — @OllyiConic
Dance like no one is laughing. — @suecorvette
According to this Myers -Briggs personality test, I am a gas station sandwich. — @_hood_mona_lisa
The plain fact is: Any of the thousand American billionaires could make countless lives better—easier, safer, happier—without any significant impact on their own financial situation, via the companies they own and the cities they live in. And they just... don't. — @gknauss
Donald Trump is the first president for which "What did he know and when did he know it?" is seemingly unsolvable, as it is an enormous stretch to imagine him knowing anything. — @BettyBowers
Democrats paint tunnel holes on the sides of caves and then act completely surprised when they almost knock themselves unconscious running into them. -- @SamGrittner
Oh no, you say your child read a book with the word “damn” in it during the break between active shooter drills? is he ok — @sarahclazarus
While you were so worried Socialism would take your freedoms, Capitalism stole your pension, took your savings, sent your jobs overseas, robbed you of health care, dismantled the educational system, and put you in debt, leaving you only your racism, xenophobia, hate, & guns .-- @ahzoov
If an anti-masker bothers you for wearing your mask on a plane just tell them you’re gay and you don’t want their children to catch it -- @OhNoSheTwitnt
I don’t know. Maybe a society where billionaires have enough money lying around to start space programs and control communication while people starve and ration their medicine isn’t the best system. -- @JYSexton
The people who are most excited about Elon Musk buying Twitter will be the most disappointed. -- @heykarlin
Let me tell you about the birds and the bees. The bees, well they're rapidly dying out. And when they're gone, all life on Earth is screwed, including the birds. -- @wildethingy
Hi I'm a Christian conservative who believes in angels and talking snakes but I need to see more data on climate change — @Cpin42
For instructions and guidelines regarding the poll, click here.
The NBA has become a 3-point shooting contest interspersed with scrums near the basket
Nine years after the NBA introduced the 3-point shot in 1979, the average NBA team was attempting just five such shots per game. This season it’s up to 35.2 long-range bombs per team per game. The Bulls hoisted 52 during Wednesday night’s losing series finale against the Milwaukee Bucks, and both teams averaged 37 treys per game over the five game series. (The Bucks made 38% of their 3s, the Bulls just 28%).
Why so many ? Well, shottracker.com notes that the shorter 3-point shot from the corner yields an average of 1.16 points per attempt. Shots from beyond the arc average 1.05 points per attempt. But conventional 2-point shots (excluding dunks and layups) average .79 points per attempt.
Meanwhile, and not to sound too much like an old crank, but the amount of physical contact by defenders and the number of steps without dribbling by offensive players that the referees allow has made the game inside the arc much more like rugby than it should be.
It’s time to enforce the rules! And eliminate the corner 3-ball while moving the line back until the midrange jumper becomes the statistically more advantageous shot. An alternative would be to award three points for long shots only in the last five minutes of the game.
The Sun-Times reports that “Chicago Public Schools officials are set to nix their controversial campus rating system … as they develop a new method of ‘school accountability’ without assigning ‘punitive’ and comparative scores.”
In its resolution for a new accountability system, the board said the new version should recognize that societal systems play a critical role in children’s lives, and “the way students interact with those systems and structures differs depending on identity and students’ life circumstances, both of which can affect how they perform in school.”
The school board called for “reimagining an accountability approach that is not punitive, better informed by stakeholder needs and feedback, and better aligned to the core work of schools — teaching and learning — and reflective of community values. …”
The new system should go “beyond solely focusing on school-level outputs and outcomes and adding greater consideration to, and accountability for, inputs such as the set of resources (e.g., funding to schools) and conditions (e.g., safe and inclusive professional and student learning environments) that impact a high-quality educational experience in schools. … This change is not to be interpreted as diminished accountability at the school level; rather, the approach to accountability must reflect the fact that schools do not exist in isolation and that many out-of-school factors influence schools and student learning.”
In other words, as I understand this edu-speak, we should judge a school’s performance by how well it performs under the difficult circumstances in which many schools operate in disadvantaged areas. That sounds fair. We should judge administrators and teachers on how well they do with the challenges that walk in their doors, not how well they do compared to some benchmark averages. But an accountability system without the potential for punitive sanctions does not meet any reasonable definition of an accountability system.
In last place in the April 21 Tweet of the Week poll was “Uncomfortable subject: Stacy's Dad,” by @JasonNotEvil. I thought it would do a bit better, since “Stacy’s Mom” was a top-40 hit in 2003 and the risque music video, starring supermodel Rachel Hunter as the object of a young teen’s desire, was memorable:
Hunter was 33 when the video was shot. Gianna Distenca, who played her daughter Stacy, had just turned 14. Shane Ashton Haboucha, who played the unnamed narrator lusting after Stacy’s mom, was 12.
Stacy's mom has got it goin' on
She's all I want
And I've waited for so long
Stacy, can't you see?
You're just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong but
I'm in love with Stacy's mom.
The late Adam Schlesinger, who wrote the song and performed it as a member of Fountains of Wayne, said part of the inspiration came from an incident when he was a preteen and a friend told him he thought his grandmother was hot.
The four-man band, which formed in New York City in 1995, took its name from Fountains of Wayne, a kitschy emporium in Wayne, New Jersey, that sold lawn and garden statuary until it closed in 2009. It was the location of a scene in the third season of “The Sopranos” in 2001. The group never had a bigger hit and stopped performing together in 2013.
References to the song show up occasionally in tweets, most of which joke about the passage of time (“Stacy's Mom has got a gofundme for her hip replacement,” by @bestestname and “Stacy’s Mom is now Caden’s Grandma,”by @RickAaron, for example).
“Kung Fu Fighting” and “Baby Got Back” are other songs that seem to inspire the Twitterati, to the point that I’m considering separate polls for each.
“Stacy’s Mom” is an earworm, to be sure, and more memorable than many of the songs on Billboard’s top 100 songs of 2003 (on which it does not appear). If you find it running through your head today, I apologize.
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