Sunday, August 30, 2020

Random Notes, August 2020

 Hot takes from the guy that was writing hot takes before people started using the phrase "hot takes":

+ I'm a little confused about something. Can someone explain how a 17-year-old boy that illegally possessed a firearm, was driven from Antioch, IL to Kenosha, WI and back, walked past cops without any issue, fired multiple rounds into a crowd, killed two unarmed protestors and wounded a third, is a hero?

+ Just to clarify: you have to be 21 to own a firearm in Illinois, and 18 in Wisconsin. This boy is an incoming high school senior.

+ JB Pritzker is probably Illinois' best governor since Jim Edgar. Considering the four governors between them were George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, Pat Quinn, and Bruce Rauner, I'll let you determine the level of praise. Regardless, he's done a good job of handing COVID-19, in spite of how much people downstate grumble. It hasn't been perfect, but given how the governors of Florida, Georgia, and California (among others) have bungled things, I'll take it. Let's see how the Illinois GOP tries to paint a weak "violation of liberty" picture in 2022.

+ I've been writing this blog for over 15 years. (The anniversary was in June, but given everything going on, it just came and went.) Even though my politics have veered from the center left to solid liberal, I've consistently tried to understand the rationale of modern conservative politics. As many regular readers know, I spent two years working at a right-wing news/talk radio station, feeling like Jane Goodall observing the apes. Not only do I fail to comprehend today's conservative moment anymore, it's almost devoid of critical thinking and independent thought. Today's Republicans are brainwashed boot-lickers. This year's election will come down to the wire again, and if Biden loses, pray for us. 

Next Week: my 2020 NFL preview.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Dispatches from Arm's Length, Part 9

 A new school year dawns.

Two weeks ago, I sat though a 35-minute "orientation" for substitutes on COVID protocols and how things will be done differently this year. This past Friday, I witnessed the protocols executed first-hand. This particular district is doing hybrid learning; that is to say, they are attempting distance learning and in-person classes simultaneously, using Microsoft Teams. The students that are in the school are kept in consorts no larger than 14 or 15, and they stay in the same room almost all day while the teachers circulate around the building. (I was just a floater.) It was wonky in the execution, but if I sub there again this year I'm curious to see how the system evolves. Otherwise, I begrudgingly attest without personal benefit that remote learning is probably the best way to go.

It agonizes me that people are fighting over masks. I was blocked by one Facebook friend because she won't wear because she doesn't believe COVID-19 really exists. (Good riddance.) Another friend, a woman I met when we were 10 years old, went on the latest in a series of tyranny/liberty rant about wearing masks, which are mandatory in public in Illinois. Her posts laid bare her greatest character flaw: she has no concern for anyone but herself. She was called out by others for being self-centered and short-sighted, and all it did was make her double down. I didn't unfriend or block, but for now she's unfollowed. You can't fight crazy.

On the flip side of the debate, remember that gender non-binary person that was kicked out of a charity improv organization? They told someone who admitted to being inconsistent about wearing a mask that he should go commit suicide. Not only that, other people in the Chicago improv community took the person's side. A sociopath with anger issues was being validated. It was not a pretty sight. 

Finally, I've only watched highlights of the the national conventions. Where the Democrats balanced inclusion and critical thinking, the GOP has opted for a weird mix of bombast and face value. I've been trying to write jokes about it, but the late night talk shows are running laps around my ideas. The election is 10 weeks away, but it's going to feel like an eternity. 


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

"White Sox Set for Another Season of Blind Optimism, Distant Second Place Finish"

 Since last summer, I've been contributing to an upstart satirical newspaper with a Chicago focus. (Suffice to say, The Onion has begat many knockoffs and regional competitors.) In February I started working on an article about the hype surrounding the White Sox, with the intent of having it published online in time for baseball season. Then COVID hit, all sports shut down, and the article was shelved. When play resumed in mid-July, I tweaked and resubmitted the piece. This led to a vigorous discussion between the editor/founder, creative director, and myself over whether the Sox article was too negative. Since I don't think anything's on the line, pleas enjoy this rejected piece.

(Ed. note: for the purposes of this article, let's pretend I am a semi-credible journalist.)

By Stuart Allard

Four months after Spring Training was halted at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, the Chicago White Sox are back at Guaranteed Rate Stadium, ready and set to underwhelm for another season.

“Before the season was halted, this team was built to win 85, maybe 86 games,” said Sox GM Rick Hahn. “We’ll be watchable, but Minnesota and Cleveland will find a way to be marginally better than us, and win the American League Central.”

“With any luck, we’ll continue the White Sox tradition of falling just short of expectations.”

Optimism is high for a team that in 119 seasons, have only appeared in the playoffs nine times and have never made the playoffs in consecutive years. 

“I like this team,” said Sox great Harold Baines, who made his sole World Series appearance as a coach. “All of these guys are set for a long career of not-embarrassing baseball, competing but seldom contending, straddling the line between greatness and mediocrity. I see a lot of me in these guys.”

The Sox’ big off-season signing, former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, did not disagree. “I’m getting paid $18.5 million each of the next three years, and my goal is to pitch competently enough without [Sox fans] arguing that I’m overpaid.”

The most devout Pale Hose fans share that excitement.

“Look at this core,” said Bridgeport native Jamie Piersall. “Yoan, Eloy, Luis Robert, Kopech, Fulmer-- all promising but unproven young guys that will fall to meet the lofty and exaggerated expectations of the average, modern day Sox fan. One of them might win a championship in another city.”

Knocking back a Modelo, Piersall continued: “We’ve only been to the World Series twice since Woodrow Wilson was president, our 2005 title was kind of a fluke, and the only highlight [the Sox] had in the last 10 years was kicking Adam LaRoche’s teenage son out of the clubhouse. This 2020 team fits into the Sox’ never-ending yet linear path of nondescript baseball.”

When reached for comment, elderly Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said “Rest assured, this White Sox baseball team is tangible and exists.”

Hahn smiles as he looks at this club. “With a new young core, we hope to finish with a winning record, but only tease at playoff contention. Just like the good-but-not-great Sox teams of 2012. And 2010. And 2004. And 2003. And 2002. And 1999. And 1998. And 1997…”

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