Discover more from Eric Zorn: The Picayune Sentinel
The bigots’ gambit: Trans women barred from women’s chess tournaments
8-24-2023 (issue No. 102)
News and Views: It was smart of Donald Trump not to show up at Wednesday’s debate / It was smart of Mayor Brandon Johnson to push a compromise real estate transfer tax / It was curious that the White Sox floated a move out of Chicago / It was politically perilous for Indiana to pass a near-total abortion ban
Land of Linkin’ — Where I tell readers where to go
Squaring up the news — Where Charlie Meyerson tells readers where to go
My search for quintessential Chicago experiences continues, and I need your help!
Chris Christie has some choice words for Donald Trump, and I would like to share
Mary Schmich — Lessons I learned in school
Tune of the Week — “A Summer Wind, A Cotton Dress”
Last week’s winning tweet
The kids are asking for fun shaped sandwiches for their back-to-school lunches and I’m so flattered they’ve mistaken me for the kind of mother who would do that. — @IHideFromMyKids
Here are this week’s nominees and the winner of the Tuesday visual-tweets poll. Here is the direct link to the new poll.
The bigots’ gambit: Trans women barred from women’s chess tournaments
The Associated Press reports:
The world’s top chess federation has ruled that transgender women cannot compete in its official events for women. …
“Change of gender is a change that has a significant impact on a player’s status and future eligibility to tournaments,” the (International Chess Federation) said. … Holders of women’s titles who change their genders to male would see those titles “abolished,” the federation said, while holding out the possibility of a reinstatement “if the person changes the gender back to a woman.”
I understand why there are controversies when individuals who are born male want to compete in girls’ and women’s athletic competitions after their gender transition — especially when the transition occurs after they have gone through male puberty. In musing on the chess topic this week, Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Telander wrote:
If you go through puberty with it en route to becoming an adult male, you will likely be bigger, stronger, have larger bones and greater heart and lung capacity than someone who did not. …
And that testosterone-induced advantage is one that doesn’t completely disappear, sports-wise speaking, even after hormonal transitioning to become a female. … Consider that in 2017, the U.S. women’s national team lost a soccer game to a Dallas under-15 boys squad. … Up north last week, trans athlete Anne Andres won the Western Canadian Powerlifting Championship, hoisting just over 1,317 pounds in the three lifts, setting a world record in the deadlift. She beat her closest rival by more than 400 pounds.
But I don’t understand (and neither does Telander) why gender matters in chess.
Whatever arguments one can make about whether chess is a sport, a game of strategy or simply a massive computational problem, it’s clearly not a contest in which physical attributes — size, strength, muscle composition — tend to confer a particular advantage.
We do not separate girls and boys in spelling bees or essay contests. We do not have one set of Nobel Prizes for men and another for women. Schools do not grade the sexes on separate curves. So it’s absurd, bordering on offensive, to designate female champions in this particular intellectual pursuit.
"It's insulting. Of course it's insulting," then-reigning woman’s world champion chess player Susan Polgar told me when I interviewed her in 1997 on this topic. “I've been fighting against the separation all my life. … I hope for the day" when sex distinctions in chess vanish, she said.
The idea of separating the sexes in chess was well intentioned: Because men and boys were so dominant in the game for so long, putting women and girls into separate divisions gave them an easier entry point and a better chance at the sort of early success that inspires and nurtures talent. It created role models and generated media attention.
The idea of rigidly clinging to the separation seems to come from a darker place. It feels rooted in the assumption that those who are born male have a biological advantage in this highly intellectual pursuit, which, if we were talking about nationalities or racial groups, would be an outrageous assumption. Further, the decision magnifies a meaningless distinction between trans and cisgender people.
NBC News reported:
In response to a post on (the site formerly known as Twitter) about whether trans women have a “biological advantage” over cisgender women in chess, Jon Schweppe, the policy director of the American Principles Project, a conservative think tank, implied that they do. “There are more male geniuses than female geniuses,” he said. …
(But) there is no recent research that proves men have significantly different IQs or are smarter than women, and older studies — one from 2005 and another from 2006 — that do make that claim have been debunked.
The Washington Post quoted Richard Pringle, a professor of sociology and education who studies gender and sexuality in the context of sport at Monash University in Australia.
“It suggests that males are somehow strategically better. … It’s not just transphobic, it’s anti-feminist too,” he said of the ban, adding that it was “likely a political decision rather than an issue of fairness.” … Such policies are “telling trans people ‘You’re abnormal. You’re not wanted,’” he said.
From the AP:
Cathy Renna, communications director for the National LGBTQ Task Force in the United States, lashed out at what she said appeared to be “a case of ‘trans panic’ with no justification, not grounded in reality and once again marginalizing trans people.”
“The new ‘guidelines’ on trans competitors in chess are infuriating, confusing, contradictory and a sign that the anti-trans movement, particularly those who are promoting exclusion in sports, is spreading into other areas of competitive sport and is a very disturbing development,” Renna said in an email.
The governing body of the International Chess Federation has given itself two years to analyze and review this decision, one that should not even take them two minutes to realize is wrongheaded.
News & Views
News: Donald Trump failed to appear at the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night.
View: That was just smart politics. Sure, his critics called him chicken and implied that he was afraid to face his opponents. Images from this sketch when Trump guest-hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 2004 have rocketed around social media:
But supporters knew that it’s Campaign Strategy 101 not to give your opponents the oxygen of publicity when you’re way ahead in the polls, as Trump is among the Republican electorate. In an ideal world, candidates would be judged on their policies and their records, and voters would be given opportunities to see the contrasts during encounters in the public arena. There should be shame in skipping a debate.
In the real world, however, we have all voted for candidates who have tactically refused to engage their opponents in debate.
News: Mayor Brandon Johnson has proposed a compromise, progressive hike in higher-end real estate transfer taxes projected to raised $100 million to address homelessness
View: I’m glad to see Johnson seeking middle ground from which he can launch at least parts of his ambitious agenda. The $100 million he hopes the new transfer tax will realize is less than the $160 million that he hoped to haul in with the original proposal from the Bring Chicago Home Coalition that called for simply tripling the transfer tax on all properties sold for $1 million and above.
That would have led to such absurd results as a real estate transaction for a penny under $1 million incurring a $7,500 transfer tax, but a transaction for a penny over $1 million incurring a $26,500 tax.
The revised idea is progressive. This is from a presentation given to members of the City Council:
The proposed three-tiered structure would apply the tax rate in each bracket only on the value of the property sale in that bracket. Properties sold for less than $1 million (94% of all sales in Chicago) would be taxed at a lower rate under this proposal.
For example: A home sold for $500,000 would pay $3,000 in the proposed city real estate transfer tax, as opposed to $3,750 under the current rate. Properties sold for over $1 million would have the portion of the sales value above $1 million taxed at the higher rate.
For example: a property sold for $1.2 million would pay $10,000 under the proposed city real estate transfer tax, as opposed to $9,000 under the current rate. In this scenario, the property sale would be taxed at .6% on the 1st $1 million and then taxed at 2% on the remaining $2 million.
This is how income tax brackets work and I’d guess that the proposal — sweetened by a slight reduction in the lower bracket — will meet with the approval of voters when they’re asked to vote on it in a binding referendum during the state’s primary election next March. There will be some resistance. Though Johnson has airily called it a “mansion tax,” three-flats, six-flats, small apartment buildings and basic business locations sold by people of modest means can easily exceed the $1 million threshold.
The Sun-Times quoted Jack Lavin, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce:
We remain opposed. ... Chicago would have the second-highest real estate transfer tax if this passed, compared to competitive cities. This will deter global investors. It will impede development, union job creation, tax-base growth and small businesses. It will come at a time when vacancy rates are high, sub-lease space available is at a high, foreclosures, return-to-office is still recovering. Property tax rates are up. All of this adds to the burden for the business community.
Yet high rates of homelessness are a burden for the entire community and create a moral imperative.
News: The White Sox are floating a possible move to the suburbs or perhaps even Nashville
View: The hapless South Siders picked a bad time to try to leverage a better deal from the Illinois Sports Facility Authority, which built and owns Guaranteed Rate Field where they play their home games. The Sox lease at the park expires in six years, so this would be the time to start a little bidding war if, as I suspect, that’s what owner Jerry Reinsdorf is about here. But a season when your team has been a massive disappointment to fans is a lousy time to threaten to leave.
I’m a converted Sox fan — see my 2019 Tribune columns, “Maybe I can't quit you, Cubs, but I'm going to try” and “Thanks, Ricketts family, for aiding my transition from Cubs to Sox” — but right now I find it hard to muster any woe at the prospect of losing the team to Nashville.
News: A near-total abortion ban has taken effect in Indiana
View: I anticipate a political backlash. These restrictions — with exceptions only for fatal fetal anomalies, for when the mother’s life or health is in danger up to 20 weeks post-fertilization, and for pregnancies resulting in rape or incest up to 10 weeks post-fertilization — are too draconian for most Americans according to opinion polls.
Yet conservative-leaning states are going all in with bans and restrictions far greater than what was allowed during the Roe v. Wade era, when abortion was commonly available at up to 24 weeks gestation.
I can easily imagine high school students avoiding colleges in the red and yellow states, and newly minted college graduates deciding to look for work in blue states. I can also imagine and hope for voter rebellions in the crackdown states.
Land of Linkin’
Vox: “Chickens are taking over the planet.” “Humanity currently raises and slaughters a staggering 74 billion chickens each year, which will jump to around 85 billion annually by 2032. … More than nine are slaughtered each year for every human on Earth. … Chickens convert feed to meat more efficiently than pigs and cattle, and are thus much cheaper to raise.”
“What happened to theater in Chicago?” is a vital, in-depth and somewhat depressing look at the state of a signature art form in Chicago by the Tribune’s Chris Jones. “The House Theatre of Chicago has gone dark. So have … such theater companies as the 16th Street Theater, Akvavit Theatre, Aston Rep Theatre Co., Awkward Pause Theatre, Black Button Eyes Productions, BoHo Theatre Company, Broken Nose Theatre, Brown Paper Box Co., Chicago Theater Works, Chicago Mammals, Dog and Pony Theatre, Eclipse Theatre, the longtime First Folio, GayCo Productions, Gorilla Tango Theatre, Interrobang Theatre Project, Irish Theatre of Chicago, The New Coordinates, Provision Theater, Quest Theatre, Red Tape Theatre, Refuge Theatre Project, Right Brain Project, Route 66 Theatre Company, Side Project Theatre, Sideshow Theatre, Stockyards Theatre Project, Strange Tree Group, Underscore Theatre Co., Vitalist Theatre, Waltzing Mechanics, WildClaw Theatre and the Windy City Playhouse, the last of which used to run crowd-pleasing shows for months at a time. This is not even a complete list.” He adds, “High-quality TV shows like Hulu’s ‘The Bear’ have made inroads with the former theater audience. Painfully for the theater, the massive improvement in TV mostly has flowed from theatrically trained writers and actors, who then compete on the opposing team on an unfair playing field.”
Block Club Chicago: “‘Woo Lady’ Keeps Morning Crowd Motivated On Lakefront Trail.” I gather that Phyllis Keenan shouts “Woo hoo!” and not “Woo! Woo!” Either way, this is a fine companion piece to Block Club’s recent feature on Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers,” a local character who got a resounding thumbs-down from readers of my recent item, “Woo2 — Bah or rah?”
Jake Welch, a “36-year-old brand director for an advertising firm calculates the cost-per-wear of his wardrobe by highlighting 200 items in a spreadsheet … and meticulously listing the price he paid for each of them as well as how many times he’s worn it. … Ideally he likes to get it down to 50 cents per wear, like the athletic shorts he bought at Outdoor Voices for $20 and has worn 434 times.” (The Associated Press)
“How did Tim Mapes get in this spot?” A rumination by veteran statehouse journalist Rich Miller on the curious case of the former chief of staff for former House Speaker Mike Madigan. Mapes’ fate is this morning in the hands of a federal jury in Chicago.
Former Tribune metro editor Mark Jacob is now writing a weekly column for Courier Newsroom, a network of news sites with a progressive bent that recently announced expansion plans. “12 ways the Republican Party became this radicalized” is a recent offering from Jacob, who told me that he plans to focus mostly on the intersection of media and politics. Also, on the social-media platform formerly known as Twitter, Jacob has some things to say about the Hoosier Hothead: (Part two). (Part three)
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:
■ Friday’s the last day for anyone who’s used Facebook in the U.S. over the last 16 years to claim a cut of the cash in a $750 million data privacy lawsuit settlement.
■ New research suggests that which arm gets your next COVID-19 booster makes a difference.
■ Is your home wet? Don’t use any of these dehumidifiers, which have caused at least 23 fires.
■ News media watchdog Dan Froomkin rips New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker a new one for his ho-hum treatment of the latest charges against Donald Trump: “This is not journalism.”
■ Detroit Free Press columnist Keith Owens: “What are MAGA Republicans afraid of? Educated white kids.”
■ Author and civil liberties champ Cory Doctorow hails “at long last, a meaningful step to protect Americans’ privacy.”
■ Fresh Trump parody from Randy Rainbow: “Don’t Arraign on His Parade:”
You can (and should) subscribe to Chicago Public Square free here.
Quintessential Chicago experiences, the search continues
My plan was to present to readers today a list of the top 10 quintessential Chicago experiences from which they could click their “never have I ever” selections in line with a new occasional feature at Axios Chicago.
But comments and letters I received in response to the click survey I posted Tuesday hoping to winnow the selections was voluminous and in some cases indignant, pointing out that I’d left out many key experiences, such as, well, see below. (But, reminder, this was not my list; it was a list generated by readers who responded to my first call for entries, which explains why eating pineapple on a pizza was included).
So here is the follow-up list that appears in survey No. 2 of putatively quintessential Chicago experiences:
Eating a deep-dish pizza
Being served flaming cheese (saganaki) in Greektown
Eating lunch at Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen
Buying Frango Mints as a gift for an out-of-towner
Buying Garrett’s Popcorn
Attending the Bud Billiken Parade
Attending either major St. Patrick’s Day parade
Going to the Art Institute of Chicago
Going to the Museum of Science and Industry
Going to a White Sox game
Shopping at the Christkindlmarket
Driving on Lower Wacker Drive
Riding the “L” through the Loop
Walking the 606
Walking the Riverwalk
Attending Blues Fest
Having a stiff drink at Ceres Cafe in the Chicago Board of Trade Building
Strolling through the Chicago Cultural Center
Yes, admittedly, some of these are quite touristy, but there’s a reason tourists favor them. But which do you consider quintessential? Vote here for as many as you see fit, then come back next Thursday for the follow up.
Word watch: Dinkwad
Double-income, no kids, with a dog.
Chris Christie: ‘If you like Donald Trump’s policies, why in the hell would you ever hire him to make sure they happen?’
In “‘I Could Use a Little More Self-Flagellation’: Before Chris Christie became Donald Trump’s sharpest critic, he was an important early booster. Does he need to apologize for that?” Politico’s Michael Kruse describes a stump speech that the former New Jersey governor and long-shot Republican presidential hopeful delivered recently in Columbia, South Carolina.
“We cannot allow Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee,” Christie said, “and the reason we can’t is not only because he’ll lose to Joe Biden — although that’s the first reason. But the second reason is he let us down.” Trump said he was going to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Christie said, and he couldn’t do it with a Republican Congress. “And you want to know why in the end we lost by one vote? One vote. Whose vote was it? John McCain. John McCain’s. And why didn’t John McCain vote that way? Because Donald Trump from 2015 forward insulted John McCain every chance he had. Said he wasn’t a war hero. Insulted his time when he ran for president. Insulted his service in the Senate. Went to Arizona and said, ‘Anybody who’s a McCain person can’t be with me.’ His own selfishness and self-centeredness cost us a replacement of Obamacare.”
Trump said he was going to build a wall on the border with Mexico and get Mexico to pay for it, Christie said, and he didn’t do it. “He built 52 miles of wall in four years — 52 miles. He says now, ‘Reelect me and I’ll get it all done.’ Well, if he goes at the same pace that he went his first four years, he only needs 110 more years as president of the United States to finish the entire wall.”
And Trump said he was going to tighten up the national debt, Christie said, and he didn’t. “He added $6 trillion to the national debt — $6 trillion in four years. He ran up more debt in one term than any president in American history. And we shouldn’t be surprised. That’s the way he runs his businesses,” Christie said. … “He had businesses in New Jersey when I was governor. He had casinos in Atlantic City, and they went bankrupt three times.” It was actually six. “Now let me ask you something,” Christie said. “How stupid do you have to be to lose money on a casino?”
“If you like Donald Trump’s policies, why in the hell would you ever hire him to make sure they happen? He’s already proven he can’t do it,” he said. “I oppose him for his broken promises before we ever get to any of the criminal indictments.”
It honestly surprises me that more conventional members of the party — I heard David Axelrod describe them recently on a podcast as “knife and fork Republicans” — aren’t heeding this message.
Mary Schmich: Lessons I learned in school
My former colleague Mary Schmich posts occasional column-like entries on Facebook. Here, reprinted with permission, is her most recent offering:
The news that it's back-to-school week in Chicago — so soon! — reminded me of this column I wrote during back-to-school week a few years back about all the things I learned in school, starting with the first day of first grade, which taught me that sucking my thumb looked dumb":
On the first day of 1st grade, I learned the first of the school lessons that would stick with me for life.
I'd gotten up in the dark that morning to put on my new uniform--blue skirt, white shirt, ankle socks--knowing that it was only in the privacy before dawn that I could stand at the mirror long enough to properly admire the new me. Adult, at last.
I soon found myself marching into a classroom along with my new schoolmates, a couple dozen of us little people bobbing through our vast new world like dinghies cut loose from the mother boats.
I took my assigned desk in the crowd of strangers. So many new friends and rivals. The thrill felt an awful lot like nausea.
Had there ever been a moment that cried louder for the familiar comfort of my left thumb?
My parents had tried to cure me of the innocent pleasure of thumb-sucking as if it were on a moral par with bonking my brothers on the head with a Coke bottle. Lectures. Rewards. Vaseline, which even an illiterate knew could be washed off with a little soap.
Nothing worked. Nothing worked because I couldn't understand the why of it. Why not do something that felt so good?
And so there at my new desk, I plunged my thumb between my little teeth. That's when I happened to glance toward the girl in the next row.
Stupid, I thought. That girl looks so stupid. What a baby, sitting there in her new grown-up uniform--with her thumb in her mouth.
Thus it came to pass that on the first day of 1st grade I gave up my thumb cold turkey.
Seeing her, I saw myself. I saw that what had felt OK at home looked ridiculous in public. To live in the world, I was beginning to understand, required compromise.
When you enter school, you enter society. You learn not just readin' and writin' but relatin', how to get ahead and get along. The world becomes your mirror.
In tribute to back-to-school week, here a few other lessons I learned in school:
People who raise their hands fastest aren't always the smartest.
There's more than one way to be smart. Sometimes, the smartest way is to be quiet.
If you've got something to say, speak up.
There's always someone smarter. And cuter. And more popular.
Popularity is overrated. The desire to be popular can lead you to do the wrong thing.
You may not be sure what the right thing is until you've done the wrong one. This applies to the math test and the friends you choose.
So the test isn't fair. Study for it anyway.
Better to be alert for the test than to exhaust yourself studying all night. At least that's what I've heard.
No matter how nice you are, there will always be people who don't like you. Sometimes it's because you're so annoyingly nice.
Nice is overrated.
It's still better to be nice than mean.
Even the prom queen is worried she's unpopular.
Just because it feels good doesn't mean you should do it.
Sometimes you can make the grade without doing the work, but sometimes isn't always.
Humiliation is as inevitable as a pop quiz. You may pee on the floor during the spelling bee. You may throw up after drinking warm cafeteria milk for lunch. You will survive. It's too humiliating to admit how I know this.
Be nice to the weird kids. And not only because some of them will grow up to be richer and cuter than you.
Weird is underrated. Cultivate your own weirdness.
Spend less time looking in the mirror. All mirrors are slightly warped.
Reasonable compromise is not the same as dangerous conformity. But beware--they can look alike.
Ask why. When you get a good answer, keep asking why.
Most of the things you learn in school won't sink in until you're out.
Not everything you learn in school is right. But to me, Pluto will always be a planet.
— Mary Schmich, 2006
The panel this week on “The Mincing Rascals” podcast is Anna Davlantes, Brandon Pope, host John Williams and me. We discuss the Republican presidential field, the White Sox threats to move and Mayor Brandon Johnson’s first 100 days.
John will be interviewing the mayor at 1:40 p.m. Thursday on WGN-AM 720 and he polled the panel on what he should ask him in the 10-minute window he’s been granted. My answer is:
Mr. Mayor, what’s your plan B? You campaigned on a promise of making $800 million in new “investments in people,” while not raising property taxes but instead making “the suburbs, airlines and ultra-rich pay their fair share.” You said you’d reinstate a $4-per-employee corporate head tax on large businesses, impose a 9.2 cents-per-gallon levy on jet fuel, tax financial transactions, increase our already highest-in-the nation hotel tax, and tack on “new user fees for high-end commercial districts frequented by the wealthy, suburbanites, tourists and business travelers” to generate $100 million.
You may push through what you call a “mansion tax” on the increment of real estate transfers over $1 million, but most experts consider your other proposals to be non-starters for various reasons. What happens to your agenda then?
If John asks that question, the mayor will almost certainly deny the premise or express flowery indignation — during the campaign he said, “I’m ready and willing to negotiate the details of the [tax] plan as long as we can agree on the values: Eliminate the structural deficit, invest in Chicago and not raise property taxes. Those are my values. We should not have to negotiate our values.”
An old saying in politics is that effective politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose, meaning that uplifting rhetoric doesn’t get you very far. Johnson, so far, has mostly continued the poetry, with talk of “the soul of Chicago” and collaboration and conversation, all the while dodging specific questions.
When asked if revenue generated from the real estate transfer tax hike would go toward aiding asylum-seekers, Johnson on Friday (Aug. 18) did not address the question, instead reiterating his commitment to bring all levels of government together and continuing to advocate for federal aid. Johnson did not say how much of his forthcoming budget will be dedicated to the crisis generally, nor has he given a timeline for moving migrants out of police stations completely. (WBEZ-FM)
Or check out the evasive verbiage Johnson offered up last week when Tribune City Hall reporter Gregory Royal Pratt asked him, “What is the delay in appointing someone to replace (Chicago Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara, who stepped down in mid-July) and what’s the timetable for that?”
Well, one of the things that I think is important — that since I’ve been sworn in, the amount of affordable housing units that we were able to put on the board within my first City Council meeting, I believe at 1,000 additional affordable housing units. We also are collaborating and working to Bring Chicago Home. I mean, that’s something that was in delay for what? The last four or five, six years? And so the move to actually see housing as a real human right, our work has not stopped. And in fact, we have expedited housing justice within the first 90 days of my administration, and that’s something that it’s important to note because it speaks to the collaborative spirit and collaborative nature of my administration.
Listen 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:
I’m not including it in the poll, but I wanted to amplify a social media post the other day by Chicago musician Jonas Friddle: “I’m at the coffee shop and I’m a dollar short. Quick, someone stream my record 10,000 times.”
Yes, a slight exaggeration. Only 314 streams on Spotify earns a musician $1.
The new nominees for Tweet of the Week:
I need some sun. My legs are so white they rented “The Blind Side.” — @BobTheSuit
My husband was heading to Verizon and warned me not to text anything inappropriate because someone else would have his phone. I waited about 30 minutes, then texted, "Don't forget the pickaxe and construction bags. This body isn't going to bury itself." — @3sunzzz
For once I'd like the menu options to carefully listen to me. I've changed too, you know. — @CynicalTherapi1
When I was a kid you could go to a store with just a dollar and come home with four comic books, three candy bars, two packs of trading cards, a bag of chips and a cold drink. Now they have cameras everywhere. — Unknown
I can call you Betty, and Betty when you call me you should just text. — @Rotten_Wendy
I eat cake every day so I find it hard to get excited about birthday cake. It's just my normal lunch except it's on fire and I have to share it. — @MartinPilgrim1
I’m trying to figure out the exact number of food pieces that need to be in water to make it go from being gross to being soup. — @TheAndrewNadeau
Peeling a hard-boiled egg burns more calories than are in a hard-boiled egg. — @WilliamAder
“Adirondack" is an ancient word for "should be more comfortable" — @bestestname
Establish dominance by saying "I thought you'd say that" in response to everything anyone says to you. — @StrangerTings5
Yes, the “Betty” tweet relies on knowledge of a line from a Paul Simon hit from 37 years ago that refers to someone at a party mistakenly calling him “Al” and calling his then-wife Peggy Harper "Betty." I do not therefore expect it to win. But it made me laugh, so I included it!
Consumer watch: There’s a good price to be had for a Tribune subscription
A card came in the mail saying my credit card will be charged $32.37 for the next three months of our Tribune subscription (daily digital access, Sunday home delivery). Roughly $10 a month seems like a fair price for the Trib, whereas the online introductory offer of “full digital access, $3 for one year” strikes me as unrealistic.
But because the Tribune doesn’t allow subscribers to go online to see how much they are now paying and since the message didn’t indicate if the new rate reflected a price hike, I called customer service — 312-546-7900 — to ask. The operator told me the new rate reflected a modest $2.30 increase, a little more than 70 cents a month. And OK, fair enough.
But, the operator told me, there’s a better rate on offer: $12.87 for three months, nearly $20 cheaper than the rate they were preparing to charge me. Sold! If you’re not yet supporting the Tribune, I hope it sells you as well.
And while I was on with the operator, I reminded him that I do not want to be charged $9.99 extra for each monthly “Premium Issue” (inserts into the Sunday home delivery product), a reminder subscribers have to call to reiterate every six months.
You are most welcome!
Tune of the Week
Just the title “Summer Wind, Cotton Dress” is evocative enough of the season and the current heat wave to rate inclusion in this feature. Richard Shindell is a particularly compelling songwriter — today marks his second appearance here (previously: Oct. 27, 2022; “Are You Happy Now?”) — and this catchy, poetic and wistful song about a brief infidelity has little of the drama, angst or heartache heard in country songs that deal with this theme.
I’ve seen comments online from people who say they both love and hate this song — love the poetry, the imagery, the wistfulness but hate the amoral lack of regret. The singer is savoring a memory that some say he should not savor.
The fool I was is the fool I am I've got a wife, I'm a family man But when I lay in our bed I sometimes dream I'm holding you instead
This song artfully explores the gray areas.
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