Sunday, March 31, 2013

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I'm still here, and...

...I'm still alive; the field is just lying fallow for a while.

And the news is a little slow.

Same-sex marriage? Who cares what the Supreme Court decides? Proposition 8? Defense of Marriage Act? Again, who cares? As a friend of mine once told me, "Gay is here to stay..."

And gun control? I always thought it was hopeless. While I would be in favor of the strictest gun control legislation imaginable, I also know that the country as a whole just loves their guns. I may not understand it, but Americans would rather see twenty first-graders get slaughtered by someone with an assault rifle than have any constraints whatsoever put on their "freedoms."

That's enough for now. But I'll be back.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Virgil Trucks, Major League...

...pitcher, died at age 95. (That's him in a St. Louis Browns' uniform.) From Trucks's obit in the Times (my emphasis):

In 1952, Trucks had one of the oddest statistical seasons in baseball history. Not only was the Tigers’ record dreadful — the team was 50-104 — but Trucks’s was as well. The woeful offense scored two runs or fewer in 15 of his starts, and he went 5-19. But remarkably, two of the five wins were no-hitters. The first, on May 15, was against the Washington Senators; the second, on Aug. 25, was against the mighty Yankees at Yankee Stadium. No one since then has pitched a complete-game no-hitter against the Yankees in New York.

Trucks became just the third pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a season, following Johnny Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds in 1938 (who did it in consecutive starts) and Allie Reynolds of the Yankees in 1951. Only two others have accomplished the feat since then: Nolan Ryan of the California Angels in 1973 and Roy Halladay of the Phillies in 2010, his second coming in a playoff game.

Trucks’s feat, however, perhaps holds the record for anomalies. The score of both his no-hitters was 1-0, and the first was won with a home run by Vic Wertz with two out in the bottom of the ninth. The second no-hitter was secured after the official scorer, John Drebinger of The New York Times, first ruled that a ball hit by the Yankees’ Phil Rizzuto in the third inning was an error by Tigers shortstop Johnny Pesky.

Drebinger’s colleagues in the press box argued with him, and he changed his mind, calling it an infield single. But still uncertain later in the game, Drebinger called Pesky in the Tigers’ dugout, and he acknowledged that he had been unable to grip the ball cleanly. Before the seventh inning, the call was changed back to an error, and the no-hitter was restored.

Between the two games, on July 22, Trucks faced the Senators again, yielded a single to Eddie Yost on the first pitch of the game, then gave up only three walks the rest of the way, finishing with a one-hit victory. Once again, the score was 1-0.

I'm still recovering from my trip... LA. While I didn't rollerblade down the Venice boardwalk, I did have a good time. Hope to be back to blogging soon.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Harlon Hill, star receiver...

...for the Chicago Bears, died at age 80. From his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

The Harlon Hill Trophy has been awarded annually since 1986 to the leading football player in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It is the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy for the would-be Hills of the small-college game.

But, even more interesting (to me) was this:

Harlan Junious Hill was born on May 4, 1932, in Killen, Ala., where his father, Beatrice, was a cotton sharecropper. He became a small-college all-American at nearby Florence State Teachers College, now the University of North Alabama. The team played out of a run-oriented single wing. But one of the quarterbacks, George Lindsey, who became best known as the actor who played the hayseed Goober Pyle in “The Andy Griffith Show” and its successor, “Mayberry R.F.D.” (and who died last May), told Sports Illustrated in 1993 that “our favorite play was ‘Harlon, go long.’ ”

Friday, March 22, 2013

I'll be in LA...

...for the weekend, visiting my son. No auditions planned for now, but, you never know. I could get discovered while I'm out there.

Hope to have some good stories for next week.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

In the ongoing saga...

...of the Republican Party's "rebranding" effort, or whatever you call it, the report commissioned by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (above) said:

We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when C.E.O.s receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.

But, seriously, aren't large corporations and their CEOs a crucial part of the party's base? Don't Republicans rely heavily on them for fundraising? Where on earth would the GOP be without them?

Harry Reems, another icon...

...of the 1970s, died at age 65. I never saw the movie, Deep Throat, which made him famous, but it was quite the topic of conversation when I was growing up.

After a colorful life, Reems ended up selling real estate in Utah, of all places. From his obit in the New York Times:

There was, Mr. Reems told The Ottawa Citizen in 2005, one lingering affinity between his early career and his later one as the owner of a successful real estate brokerage.

“I’m still selling dirt,” he said.

Now, we're all mature...

...adults here, right? Right? But when I saw an article in the Times this morning about a basketball family named Tinkle, above, all I could think was, that had to be a hard name for your first day of kindergarten.

Bobbie Smith, the lead...

...singer of the Spinners, died at age 76. If you grew up in the 1970s, you knew this group.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

This week marks the...

...tenth anniversary of the U. S. invasion of Iraq, and every columnist and blogger is saying "I was right," or "I was wrong," or "I'm sorry," or "I'm not sorry," or blah, blah, blah, blah.

(I'm not exactly sure what Tom Friedman is saying in his column this morning, but I remember what he said in the lead-up to the war ten years ago. And it was, in effect, I'm all for it -- as long as it works. What a profile in courage!)

But one columnist whom I remember -- very clearly -- as not taken in by the baloney sausage being peddled by the Bush administration at the time was Georgie Anne Geyer, above. I've gone back and read some of her pieces in the months before the conflict.

On September 27, 2001, just two weeks after the events of 9/11, Ms. Geyer wrote (all emphasis mine):

Certainly, difficult, even dark, days are to come. The internal debate over taking the fight against terrorism and Osama bin Laden to Baghdad and Saddam Hussein is fraught with the danger of overreaching, and it is being fed by the proponents within the administration of the official Israeli line in place of prudent American interests.

On October 25, 2001:

Parallel to the international war against terrorism, a smaller "war" of interests, beliefs and realities is going on beneath the surface, which could endanger the final outcome of everything that has been accomplished since Sept. 11. So far, this parallel conflict is being contained by cool heads in the administration, but that could change at any time.

Essentially, the discussion is over Baghdad: whether Iraq and its "state sponsorship" is really to blame for the terrorism that has struck America and whether we should not then go "straight to Baghdad." That simple exhortation is deeply misleading.

The "Get Iraq" campaign, which to some people means finishing the Gulf War, started within days of the September bombings, long before the anthrax attacks and the new questions they raised. It emerged first and particularly from pro-Israeli hard-liners in the Pentagon such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and adviser Richard Perle, but also from hard-line neoconservatives, and some journalists and congressmen.

Soon it became clear that many, although not all, were in the group that is commonly called in diplomatic and political circles the "Israeli-firsters," meaning that they would always put Israeli policy, or even their perception of it, above anything else.

On November 29, 2001, Geyer warned against a second war:

With its careless talk about "getting Iraq next," the administration is incongruously looking for big -- and totally unnecessary -- trouble.

From the beginning of the anti-terrorist campaign nearly three months ago, some groups have been push-push-pushing to also attack Baghdad, including itchy neo-conservatives from the Reagan administration (who seem to want the U.S. to attack everywhere), spokesmen for the Israeli government position (whose genuine intention is to drive a wedge between America and the Arab world) and various journalists and thinkers (who need "the story" to change at least every week for their own purposes).

But last week, the administration joined the "Get Iraq!" fray as well in voices that were so strident and repetitive that one had to suspect something was "up." National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice chimed into the discussion: "There is plenty of reason to make very clear to the Iraqis that the United States does not intend to let the Iraqis threaten their own people ... or threaten our interests by acquiring weapons of mass destruction." President Bush said pugnaciously of Saddam Hussein that "he'll see" what America would do next.

On February 28, 2002:

The White House is talking as if an attack on Iraq is an obvious outcome of the Afghan operation. Officials say, however, that they are being cautious -- they plan to have Saddam eliminated by the year 2005, not next week. In the same breath, the Pentagon announces that arms producers are working three shifts, 24 hours a day, to replenish all the Air Force and Navy inventories that have run dangerously low during the Afghan war. In a kind of offhand afterthought, they all acknowledge that the United States would have no allies, no coalition and no bases in such a war. The fierce looks of ideologically impassioned men and women who don't have to fight elite-group wars seem to be saying: "So what?"

In the last few weeks, I have spoken to several prominent and public conservatives pushing for a war against Baghdad -- yesterday, if possible! One smiled with an air of strange excitement when he talked of the eventuality of "marching 100,000 American troops across Iraq." For another one, that wasn't enough: He wanted us to take on Somalia at the same time and "wipe out every man, woman and child who had anything to do with the killing of our American troops in 1983." And polls show Americans support the general idea of attacking Iraq.

Did I miss a beat somewhere? Have we somehow gone overnight from the "common wisdom" of the 1990s, when supposedly Americans would not risk the life of one single American boy, to an era when we're looking around for, shall we say, "challenges"?

On March 19, 2002:

The obsession with "getting Iraq" or "going to Baghdad" seems to have begun with some of President Bush's own personal impulses. Observers in and around the White House have noted repeatedly, for instance, that the president feels that it has fallen to him to complete his father's unfinished Gulf War. At the same time, he is surrounded by both perfervid and pugnacious neoconservatives and Israel-supporters who enjoy the prospect of battle -- and who have become virtually the only voices he hears.

On April 9, 2002:

Most of the people now influencing Bush strongly on the road to a seemingly perpetual warfare -- men like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, military adviser Richard Perle and Irving and Bill Kristol -- are either combative neoconservatives, fervent Israeli supporters or Christian conservatives. The majority of them, including their most aggressive spokesmen, have never served in the military.

Yet they don't hesitate to express their views; indeed, their influence has led the president from fighting the immediate war against palpable anti-American terrorism in Afghanistan and al-Qaida cells, to helping Ariel Sharon dissolve Palestinian institutions and structures so he can keep hold of Palestinian lands, to (in the works -- really!) overthrowing governments from Iraq to Syria to Iran to North Korea. (And I know I've missed a few.)

On April 25, 2002:

But larger messages are accompanying the "war fever" (invade Iraq, change governments across the Middle East) being pressed upon the president by the neo-conservatives, the Israeli lobby and his Christian fundamentalist supporters. Surely the president's current posture has stunned most analysts, who never expected these kinds of actions from George W.

On June 18, 2002:

Such an attack is not a game over here, where you have real and dangerous neighbors and not only distant obsessions.

The talk in Washington about invading Iraq, after having dropped off a while because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is crescendoing again -- without a Middle East solution, without a coalition, without even our old allies, like the Turks.

The administration's increasingly arrogant sense that America can do anything in the world bumps rudely up against reality here. 

Jump to January 7, 2003:

But the strangest factor about all of this news, to me at least, is how silent the country is. Where is everybody? I'd say, "Cat got your tongue?" but my cat wouldn't like it at all. Is anybody in the country thinking about what is going on? And exactly what IS going on?

Current events indicate to me a discordant pattern of leadership in the country, a leadership ruled by obsession over Iraq, despite the fact that Afghanistan is still a dangerous and, at best, only half-finished mission. They indicate to me a country in which the public is disconnected from the acts of its elected officials; the real cost of these wars is disconnected from the desire to wage them; and most serious of all, the military is ever more disconnected from the public as power flows to less traditionally controlled groups, such as the Special Forces.

And at the top of the political pyramid, especially from the White House to the Pentagon (the State Department still has some good sense left), one hears repeatedly the siren call of "empire," like the lotus-eaters on the Isle of Djerba in ancient times crying out to Ulysses' sailors with their delicious narcotic treats and then holding them enchanted in the prisons of their desires.

Behind Iraq and all the war talk, beyond the strange and excited looks in the eyes of so many in the administration, they are really thinking -- yes, really! -- that they are incubating a New American Empire.

Did Americans really vote for empire when they elected this president in 2000? Did they foresee a group of officials who would boast about American-led wars stretching gloriously across the globe and essentially subsuming our diplomacy, our humanitarian work, our conflict-resolution, our political negotiating ability and our principles into only The Military?

I know the answers. What is strange to me is that so few Americans are asking the questions.

On February 6, 2003:

The real questions, the ones lying somewhere in the shadows outside the war fever that has seized this administration, are whether the Iraqi dictator was behind 9/11 and whether he and al-Qaida are banded together in terrorism. (You do remember back that far, don't you, when those were the supposed reasons for going to war?) Those questions remain unanswered.

On March 4, 2003:

With Iraq, the administration has all the fevered rhetoric, but not even estimates for cost or casualties and no idea whatsoever about how the military invasion of a country by a hostile power will lead to the systematic transformation of an eternally embittered and brutalized tribal people. Lucky country, Iraq: It must endure only the wild and unquantifiable dream of Transformation and Empire.

Finally, on March 18, 2003:

So on what is the very brink of an American war against Iraq, all the reasons for that war are dissolving, one after one, like drops of water in the Iraqi sands.

First we saw the administration's "great truth" that al-Qaida was actually sponsored by Iraq turn out to be totally false. No matter: They moved on.

Now it would be weapons of mass destruction. When none were found (but surely are there), the Bush zealots reverted to what has always been their primary goal: to "reconfigure" first Iraq and then the entire Middle East, with Israel as America's pro-consul in the region.

But if the State Department report, produced by its prestigious Bureau of Intelligence and Research and provocatively named "Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes," is correct, this war is truly being fought for a series of dangerous and deliberately orchestrated delusions.

Go back and read some of these columns. Ms. Geyer was one of the only people I can remember who was spot-on in the lead up to this disastrous war.

After my brilliant post...

...yesterday in which I suggested that the IHSA move to a double-elimination tournament in football and basketball, my son wrote in the comments section, "How many more games would this create in the high school football playoffs?"

Uh oh.

Just like a good lawyer, Joe never asks a question to which he doesn't already know the answer.

I obviously hadn't thought this through.

So I put a pencil to it. Yikes! It was a lot of games. Too many. (That explains why the IHSA doesn't do it.)

Undeterred, I did some research and found that a double-elimination tournament was not uncommon in baseball. But football? Nothing. Basketball? Nothing.

I approached the experts at MaxPreps.

I wrote to Stephen Spiewak, who's listed on their Web site as "Writer/National Football Editor":

"Have you ever heard of a double-elimination tournament in high school football?"

To which he answered simply, "No."

Jason Hickman, the "National Basketball Writer/Editor" was a little more loquacious in his response to a similar query concerning the round ball sport:

"Not that I'm aware of. In some states when they get to the round of 4/8/16 you may see some consolation games but I'm not aware of a state where you can lose and then play back through bracket and still win state title."

So there you have it. The IHSA doesn't have a double-elimination tournament in football or basketball because it would involve too darned many games. (Just click on that image above for a better view.)

I get it now. Mea culpa.

But I'd still like to see Simeon play Morgan Park just one last time. (And Mount Carmel play Glenbard West in football.)

How 'bout it, guys? For charity?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Tom Toles cartoon of the day:

Who's the best basketball team... the state of Illinois? If you said Simeon, you'd be in good company. The Trib, the Sun-Times and MaxPreps all rank the Wolverines No. 1.


1. Simeon (31-3)
2. Morgan Park (33-3)
3. Whitney Young (30-4)


1. Simeon (30-3)
2. Morgan Park (33-3)
3. Whitney Young (27-4)


1. Simeon (28-3)
2. Whitney Young (26-4)
3. Morgan Park (33-3)

(By the way, I get that each news service ranks the teams a little differently; it's still somewhat subjective. But wouldn't you think they could at least agree on each team's record?)

So it's settled then, right? Simeon is clearly the best team in the state. Time to turn our attention to baseball, or track, or something else.

Not so fast, says Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin, above. From the Trib (my emphasis):

"We're the best team in the state — nobody else — and we're the best team on Vincennes (Avenue)," Irvin said in reference to Simeon, which is on the same street, after Morgan Park's 63-48 victory against Cahokia at Carver Arena.

"I'll take this 3A state title, because at the end of the day the two teams that are in the state championship in 4A, we beat," Irvin said. "So therefore I think we should be the No. 1 team in the state overall."
The Mustangs and the Wolverines split two meetings this season, with Simeon winning 53-51 on Jan. 16 and Morgan Park claiming a 54-53 overtime triumph in the city playoffs Feb. 13.

Either way, Irvin said he would love to take on the Wolverines.

(I'd like to see that game too.)

But is Irvin right? (He's got a point, doesn't he?) Could Morgan Park beat Simeon in a rubber match?

It reminds me of last year's football season, when Mount Carmel won the 8A championship and Glenbard West took the 7A crown. Which was really the better team, the Caravan or the Hilltoppers? The world will never know.

But I want to know.

After the football season ended, I offered this solution to the problem.

Today, I have a different suggestion: why not have a double elimination tournament?

In basketball, combine classes 3A and 4A. (In football, reduce the number of classes to four.) While the winners (1-0) in Round One would advance to play other winners (1-0), the losers (0-1) would play other losers (0-1). The loser of that second game (0-2) would then be out of the tournament while the winner (1-1) would play a team that won its first game but lost its second (1-1). Teams would play until they had two losses and would then have to go home.

Is this too confusing? Does it sound like too many games?

First of all, kids love to play games, their parents and fans love to watch them and the schools (I assume) love to host games. (And don't even get me started on neutral fields in football.)

So the winner of each tournament (basketball and football) would go undefeated in postseason play, the No. 2 team would have one loss (in the final game) and the third-place team would have one loss also (but much earlier in the playoffs).

And Simeon would have to play Morgan Park again.

Does this make any sense to anyone else?

Monday, March 18, 2013

I guess the first thing...

...that should be said about driving three hours down to Peoria (and back) for the state basketball semifinals is that it's probably something you only do once. (I went down to Champaign a few years ago on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to see the football finals. It was fun, but it was also nice to watch it on TV this year while everyone in the stands was freezing.)

To give you some idea of my Friday night, it would be like driving half-way up to Minneapolis, stopping off to watch a couple of basketball games, and then continuing on. Crazy, huh? I finally got to bed at about 1:30, which is like pulling an all-nighter for most people. On Saturday I went to see Oz: The Great and Powerful with my wife and son. All I can tell you is that it stars James Franco in the title role. I slept through most of it.

(Which reminds me of an old Woody Allen joke: "I took a course in speed-reading. Last night I finished War and Peace in just a few hours. It's about Russia.")

I think the second thing that needs to be said is that if you don't have Satellite Radio, you really need to bring a bunch of CDs in the car, as the radio stations get a little scarce between here and Peoria. I found myself at times listening to conservative talk radio and even a Christian station.

(It really gave me a taste of what it must be like to live outside of a major city. After tuning in to some of this stuff, it's no wonder that half the country hates President Obama so much. I even started to wonder myself if he was some sort of socialist Muslim Kenyan bent on destroying Our Way of Life. Oh, and by the way, did you know that evolution is just a hoax? It's true; a guy on the radio said as much. I guess every high school biology class in America will have to change its curriculum now.)

The third thing you absolutely, positively must do is buy your tickets ahead of time. Either print them yourself at home or arrange to pick them up at the Will Call window. I did the latter, and thank God, because the line to purchase tickets snaked all through the lobby. What a mess!

The games themselves were fun to watch; Simeon, ahead by only two points at the end of the third quarter, put away Proviso East, and Stevenson eliminated Edwardsville. (Come to think of it, I don't remember either losing team ever having a lead.) I'll let you read all about the contests in the Trib and Sun-Times, but my main takeaways were that Simeon is just really, really good, and that Stevenson is just really, really young. (For much of the game against Edwardsville, the Patriots had four underclassmen on the court: junior Matthew Morrissey and sophomores Jalen Brunson, Cameron Green and Connor Cashaw. These guys are obviously a team to watch for next year!)

The program for the evening cost five dollars but was well worth it as the guy selling them pointed me in the direction of the Will Call window. (I'd still be in that line for tickets otherwise.) The booklet had an ad for Illinois American Water, which struck me funny somehow (what would a time traveler from the 1950s have to say about that?) and listed the band for the night as the Pekin Dragons, directed by Karli McCann (which was quite good, actually). I also noticed that one of the "current" officers of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association is named Jim Tracy and the president-elect of the Illinois Athletic Directors Association is Steve Rockrohr from Glenbrook South. Finally, I learned that one of the seventh grade championship teams, from Teutopolis, is nicknamed the "Wooden Shoes."

So Simeon ended up winning their fourth 4A title in a row on Saturday night while Morgan Park took the 3A crown. In addition, Nick Irvin, the coach of Morgan Park, claimed in the Trib:

"We're the best team in the state — nobody else — and we're the best team on Vincennes (Avenue)," Irvin said in reference to Simeon.

And who's to say he's wrong? (I'm still not sure who had the better football team last year, Mount Carmel or Glenbard West. So look for a post soon on my suggestion for an improvement in the IHSA tournaments.)

I finally got out of the games Friday night at about 10:30 or so. As I was leaving, I noticed the Hotel Pere Marquette, above, in the distance. I could tell that it was a grand old hotel, even though a couple of the letters in the sign were no longer lit up. It made me feel a little sad for Peoria. I suspect it must have been a nice little burg at one time, probably before the Great Depression. But after World War II, it seems to me, large cities have prospered in this country at the expense of smaller ones. Oh, well. At least get those lights fixed, will ya? I thought as I was driving away, It makes your city look bad.

So I was glad to learn when I got home that the hotel, built in 1926 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is currently being renovated and scheduled to reopen this month. That's good. Maybe I'll stay there next year when I go back for the tournament.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Remember Poppie from...

..."The Couch" episode of Seinfeld? (I couldn't find it on YouTube. This is the best I could do.) He's played by Reni Santoni, above, and owns a restaurant. Poppie's a great character. From the second scene, in Jerry's apartment:

KRAMER: That was in the past, Jerry. As it happens, New York Magazine just judged his kitchen to be one of the cleanest in the city. They got a duck there, you think you died and went to heaven.

ELAINE: Ooh! I love duck. C'mon, c'mon!

KRAMER: Yeah, but you gotta order it two days in advance. (To Jerry) You know, I'm gonna call him, I'm gonna order the duck for you.

JERRY: Oh, Kramer, I -

Later, Jerry takes Elaine to Poppie's restaurant:

POPPIE: Hello! Jerry, so good to see you again! (Puts his hand out.)

JERRY (clearly creeped out by having to shake Poppie's hand): Hello, Poppie. This is Elaine.

ELAINE: Nice to meet you, Poppie.

POPPIE: Let me show you to your table. (Leads Jerry and Elaine to the table.) Your duck is cooking as we speak. It is so succulent!


JERRY: Well, perhaps we should inquire. Poppie! Oh, Poppie. Could I have a word? (Poppie comes over.)

POPPIE: Yes, Jerry. I just checked your is more succulent than even I had hoped.

Why do I bring this up? Because the corned beef I made tonight was-a so succulent, it was-a so succulent. In fact, it was a-more succulent than even I had-a hoped!

My corned beef is...

...on the stove! (Cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions to follow.)

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

I woke up this morning...

...thinking, No way am I driving three hours down to Peoria -- and back -- just to watch two basketball games. No way!

I'm going.

Sen. Rob Portman, after revealing...

...that his 21-year-old son is gay, has reversed his position on marriage equality. Good for him. Now, is that why Portman didn't get the Republican vice presidential nomination?

Janet Crow is a tea party...

...activist from Conway, Arkansas. That's an unfortunate name for a southern conservative.

Jack Curran, who coached... and baseball at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, died at age 82. From his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

Curran's death was confirmed by Richard Karsten, president of Molloy. Curran had lung and kidney problems, and had broken a kneecap in a fall in February.

“But we were expecting him back in a few weeks, in time to coach the baseball season,” Karsten said.

Again, Curran was eighty-two years old

In 1958, Curran was living in West Springfield, Mass., and working as a building supplies salesman when one morning, over coffee in a diner, he read in a newspaper that St. John’s University, his alma mater, had hired Lou Carnesecca as an assistant basketball coach. Carnesecca had been the baseball and basketball coach at Molloy; Curran applied for the newly vacant jobs, was hired and held onto the positions for 55 years. 

That's longer than I've been alive!

Molloy was a powerhouse under his leadership. His teams won 22 Catholic school New York City championships, 5 in basketball and 17 in baseball. Four times — in 1969, 1973, 1974 and 1987 — Molloy won both in the same year.

Curran coached Brian Winters, Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson and Kevin Joyce, all of whom played in the N.B.A. The current Mets outfielder Mike Baxter played baseball at Molloy for Curran.

Over all, Curran’s record was 972-437 as a basketball coach and 1,708-523 as a baseball coach, the school said.

“He won everything except World War III,” Carnesecca, who spent 24 seasons as the head coach at St. John’s, said about Curran in a 2008 interview in The New York Times. “No one in the country has Jack’s record in both sports, no one.”

Note to self: Watch...

Is Jahlil Okafor the best in the Class of '14?
...for these returning players next year.

In the city:

Jahlil Okafor, Young
Paul White, Young
L. J. Peak, Young
Miles Reynolds, Young
Tyquone Greer, Orr
Marlon Jones, Orr
Cliff Alexander, Curie
Joseph Stamps, Curie
Josh Stamps, Curie
Victor Law, St. Rita

In the 'burbs:

JaVairius Amos-Mays, North Chicago
JayQuan McCloud, North Chicago
Kurt Hall, North Chicago
Jalen Brunson, Stevenson
Connor Cashaw, Stevenson
Matthew Morrissey, Stevenson
Tyler Ulis, Marian Catholic
Sean O’Mara, Benet
Milik Yarbrough, Zion-Benton
Erick Locke, Oak Park River Forest
Jontrel Walker, West Aurora
Ore Arogundade, St. Viator
Jack Morrissey, Loyola
Jordan Ash, St. Joseph

Beyond the Chicago area (if they come to town):

Keita Bates-Diop, Normal U-High
Michael Finke, Champaign Centennial
C.J. Carr, Rock Island
Brock Stull, Rockford Boylan
Denzel Smith, Danville
Larry Austin Jr., Springfield Lanphier
Peyton Allen, Chatham Glenwood
Grant Gibson, Galesburg
Devontavius Payne, Carbondale
Darius Austin, Cahokia
Joe Byers, Belvidere
Terence Shelby, Bartonville Limestone

Whom did I leave out?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

When I was growing up... Minnesota we used to tell jokes about the people across the state line in Iowa and they would tell jokes about us. (It was all quite a hoot!) Then, when I moved to Chicago, I was shocked to learn (not really) that no one else in the world could tell us apart.

I was reminded of this by a tweet I saw last night:

For those of us not in the know, what is the implication of the fact that he's a Jesuit? Intellectual? Liberal?

And I wanted to answer him: Non-Catholics shouldn't notice any difference at all; Jesuits are just Catholics.

This morning I read in the Daily Beast, "Pope Francis Is a Jesuit: Seven Things You Need to Know About the Society of Jesus." Included was this old chestnut (my emphasis):

With its focus on education, the Jesuit order has been linked to some of the best universities in the world. In the United States, Georgetown was the first Jesuit university, founded in 1789. Today, there are 28 Jesuit universities and colleges in the United Sates alone (including Georgetown, Fordham University, Loyola University, and Boston College), and there are approximately 189 Jesuit institutions of higher learning throughout the world. Since its founding, Jesuits are known for free-thinking, which has helped make its universities so well-regarded. Pope Francis attended Universidad del Salvador, a Jesuit institution in Buenos Aires.

Quick! What's the premier Catholic university in America? Did you say Notre Dame? If so, did you know that the South Bend institution is not run by the Jesuits? Did you even care?

Now, all of those Jesuit schools listed in the above paragraph are excellent universities. No question about it. But, really, when was the last time you heard someone say, "Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Fordham?" Or, "Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Boston College?" Or, even here in Chicago, "Northwestern, the U. of C. and Loyola?" Never? Then why do Catholics think that the Jesuits and their schools are so special? No one else does.

"Meet the new boss/...

...Same as the old boss":

Am I the only one who thinks choosing Pope is like choosing VP? We get very excited for a week before & after, then promptly forget about it.

John Quinn is out... Fenwick's basketball coach after 28 years, according to an article in the Sun-Times (my emphasis):

Quinn's first season was in 1985-86. He led the Friars to the state tournament in 1998 with Corey Maggette, who currently plays forward for the Detroit Pistons.  Fenwick finished 28-3 and set a school-record for wins in a season. Fenwick went 16-9 in Quinn's first season after he took over for Will Rey, the current coach at Northridge. Fenwick's first coach, the legendary Tony Lawless, owns the second longest tenure at the school of 16 years from 1933-48, according to records.

Lawless also coached my father, who was all-conference in the 1936-37 season. (I did not inherit my dad's basketball skills, only his penchant for attending high school games.)

And I didn't know that Quinn "is the brother of Gov. Pat Quinn, who makes occasional appearances at Fenwick games."

Why is the Catholic Church...

...always playing defense?

That was my initial response to the news yesterday that the first pope from Latin America had been selected.

First, in 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland was chosen in part to shore up Christianity in the officially atheist Eastern Bloc. Then, in 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was selected. One of his primary goals was to try to reverse the increasingly secular nature of Western Europe. Now, with the elevation of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina to the papacy, a cynic (who, me?) might be forgiven for viewing his election as an effort to stem the tide of Latin American Catholics from converting to evangelical denominations.

I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say on the new pontiff as I read about him in the next few days. (He was a surprise, wasn't he? 33-1 on Paddy Power!) But, in the meantime, that's my first thought: why does it feel like the Church is always playing defense?

The Tom Toles cartoon of the day:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

John J. "Jack" Byrne, an... executive, died at age 80. From his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

Mr. Byrne’s stature only grew in 1985, when he took Fireman’s Fund public in what was then the biggest initial stock offering in history. Warren E. Buffett, who made some of his billions investing in Geico at the time Mr. Byrne was hired to reverse its downward spiral, called Mr. Byrne “the Babe Ruth of insurance.”

Mr. Byrne succeeded by wielding a sharp pencil to cut costs, making cautious but wise bets and juggling many financial balls. In 2000, Forbes magazine said he “made insurance look sexy.”

“Jack Byrne has distinguished himself as one of the insurance industry’s pre-eminent general managers, most creative turnaround experts and most productive capital managers,” the Insurance Hall of Fame said when it inducted him in 2009. 

Babe Ruth? Sexy? The insurance industry has a Hall of Fame? Really?

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, the...

...last surviving member of the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler as portrayed in the 2008 movie Valkyrie, died at age 90. Herr von Kleist had been recruited for an earlier attempt that was cancelled. From the Times obit (my emphasis):

Like many Germans involved in efforts to kill Hitler, Mr. von Kleist was a soldier — a lieutenant in the German Army — but his family had long been active in the German resistance. In January 1944, he was 22 and recuperating in Berlin from wounds he suffered in combat when he was approached by Col. Claus von Stauffenberg to join an assassination plot.

At the time, Lieutenant von Kleist led a unit that was scheduled to meet with Hitler to show him new Army uniforms. Colonel von Stauffenberg asked Lieutenant von Kleist to take along hidden explosives, which he would then detonate at the meeting.

The Germans were losing badly by 1944. And they were busy designing new uniforms?

“I found it a very difficult decision, I must say,” Mr. von Kleist recalled in an interview for a 1992 documentary, “The Restless Conscience.”

He asked for a day to decide, and he traveled home from Berlin to talk with his father, Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin. His father had been arrested many times for resistance activity.

“The next morning, my father said, ‘Why are you here again?’ “ Mr. von Kleist recalled. “I said, ‘Well, I have difficult decisions I have to make.’ He said, ‘What is it?’ And I told him. And he said at once, ‘Yes, of course you have to do it,’ and I said, ‘Yes, but I have to blow up with the colonel.’

“He got up from his chair, went to the window, looked out of the window for a moment, and then he turned and said: ‘Yes, you have to do that. A man who doesn’t take such a chance will never be happy again in his life.’ ” 

Thanks Dad!

The judge who overturned...

...Mayor Bloomberg's ban on large sodas is named Milton A. Tingling.

Orr defeated North Chicago...

...last night, 63-49, at Hoffman Estates High School. The Spartans will now face Cahokia in the semifinals on Friday in Peoria.

Why did I choose to print that rose? Is it because Derrick Rose was at the game? No. (He went to Simeon, remember?) But good guess.

No, the picture above is a reference to something we used to call "Thorns and Roses" in the Boy Scouts. At the end of every camping trip (and we took a lot of them) we'd talk about what we liked about the weekend and what we didn't.

(Humor me; this may have been my last game of the season. That three-hour drive to Peoria -- and back -- is just sounding longer and longer.)

So what did I like about last night's game (and what didn't I like)?

First of all, the people working out at Hoffman Estates High School were some of the friendliest and helpful I'd met all year. But the sightlines for the actual game were horrible (or, "beyond horrible," as my son would say). Unless you were a student or a member of the press (of which I am neither), you had to sit with the rest of the hoi polloi in the "balcony." Now, I don't mind sitting up high (I actually prefer it), but there was a huge, annoying railing in the way and I felt like I watched the whole game through the bars of a jail cell. It was very distracting! (So distracting, in fact, that I would think long and hard about attending a game there again. It was really difficult to watch the action!)

So to paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of airports: Mr. Hoffman, tear down that railing! (Or at least replace it with something I can see through.)

Now, as for the game itself (oh yeah, that), I'll let you read all the gory details in the Trib and Sun-Times. Suffice it to say -- as North Chicago coach Gerald Coleman did -- that the better team won. (And that's how it's supposed to work, right?) Although it was a three-point game at the half, the Warhawks committed just too many turnovers to win a Super-Sectional contest. And the Spartans, led by juniors Tyquone Greer (6'7") and Marlon Jones (6'8") were just too much for the defending 3A runners-up.

(Trivia question interlude: Who won the very first IHSA basketball championship in 1908? Hint: It wasn't Fenwick. Answer below.*)

Besides Greer and Jones, I simply must give a shout-out to two other up-and-coming juniors, North Chicago's Kurt Hall and JayQuan McCloud. (Honestly, where do they get some of these first names? How come I never knew anybody named JayQuan when I was growing up?)

In fact, I can't remember ever seeing so many juniors in a Super-Sectional game. (My wife thinks I just like saying "Super-Sectional.") But, seriously, both teams are positively loaded with returning starters next year. (Keep your eye on these two programs!)

And while I'm on the subject of the teams, Orr seems to get by just fine with a head coach, Louis Adams, and three assistants, while North Chicago has a head coach, an associate head coach (also named Coleman -- hmmm), eight assistants and three managers (two of whom are named -- you guessed it -- Coleman). How big is that budget up there? And how many of Gerald "King" Coleman's family are on the payroll? (No wonder they call him "King"; he's running a gosh-darned "fiefdom" in North Chicago!)

As for the game itself (I keep coming back to that, don't I?), it wasn't the best cage match I'd seen all year, but I don't feel like I missed anything special anywhere else. (Who would've thought that one of the closest games last night would be Simeon and New Trier? Not me.)

So Orr won and is headed down to Peoria for a possible 3A final with Morgan Park. Simeon, of course, has to get by Proviso East and then either Edwardsville (dark horse?) or a young Stevenson team to win its fourth consecutive 4A title. Should be a good weekend!

* Peoria High School (17-1) defeated Rock Island (10-5) in the first IHSA basketball championship by a score of 48-29. (Try getting that from Andrew Sullivan's blog.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Paul Ryan released his... budget plan today in the Wall Street Journal. (You can read the article here; it isn't behind the Journal's paywall.) Also, the Romneys gave an interview recently in which Ann blamed the media, in part, on the public's negative view of her husband during the 2012 campaign.

How are these two related?

First of all, whom do you suppose reads the Wall Street Journal? Democrats? Hardly. Independents? Yeah, some. But the real consumers of the Journal are members of the Republican Party base. And do you think they need to be persuaded that Rep. Ryan's approach is the right one? I doubt it; the Journal's editorial board was one of the most aggressive advocates of Ryan for GOP running mate last summer. No, I'm pretty sure that the Journal's primary audience agrees that roughly 47 percent of the population (excluding their parents, of course) are nothing more than lazy moochers who need to be kicked off the government dole.

As for Ann Romney's beef with the media, I don't recall seeing the former governor of Massachusetts on any TV stations last year other than Fox, until the fall when he needed to reach independent voters.

So, I wonder, why are Republicans always complaining about the "liberal" media when they only talk to newspapers and television stations owned by Rupert Murdoch? Why are they so mystified that they can't reach independents and Democrats? Why didn't Congressman Ryan publish his budget in the New York Times or the Washington Post or USA Today? Announcing his plan through the Journal is just preaching to the choir. And why didn't Romney appear on some of the Sunday shows before Labor Day (when President Obama's team was defining him)? Why didn't he give some interviews to CBS or NBC or ABC? Why did he confine himself to the network that employs people like Sarah Palin?

Is it really any wonder that the Republican Party has such low approval ratings? Why don't they try talking to the rest of the nation? Make their case to us, not just the GOP base. How on earth do Republicans expect to convince us of the wisdom of their policies when they won't even talk to us?

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

I'm off to Hoffman Estates...

...tonight to see the 3A Super-Sectional game between Orr (27-3) and North Chicago (28-3), two No. 1 seeds.

I'm going to go with the Spartans of Orr, mainly because its current building was designed by the firm of the legendary architect George Costanza Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, above. (That, and the fact that Orr is ranked higher than the Warhawks in all three polls I watch.)

According to the Trib:

1. Simeon
2. Young
3. Morgan Park
4. Proviso East
5. Orr
6. Oswego
7. Benet
8. Marian Catholic
9. Curie
10. Stevenson
11. North Chicago 


1. Simeon
2. Morgan Park
3. Young
4. Proviso East
5. Orr
6. Marian Catholic
7. Stevenson
8. North Chicago 


1. Whitney Young
2. Simeon
3. Morgan Park
4. Proviso East
5. Edwardsville
6. Benet
7. Neuqua Valley
8. Marian Catholic
9. Stevenson
10. West Aurora
11. Cahokia
12. Washington
13. Oswego
14. Orr
15. East St. Louis
16. Curie
17. Belleville East
18. Springfield Southeast
19. Lincoln
20. New Trier
21. St. Rita
22. Bloom
23. Harrisburg
24. North Chicago

Now, MaxPreps ranks every team in the state so Orr and North Chicago appear much lower than in the Chicago papers. But they are certainly two of the best teams in the area, and tonight's contest may very well be the Game of the Night. (Mike Helfgot thinks so, too.)

By the way, MaxPreps still ranks Whitney Young No. 1 over Simeon. After Friday night's game? Really, MaxPreps?

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm thinking of seeing...

...the North Chicago - Orr game tomorrow night at Hoffman Estates High School instead of driving out to DeKalb. (More on that later.)

So I went to the school's Web site this morning to check on the availability of tickets. Since there was nothing on the Athletics page, I called the Athletics hotline for info. The recording referred me back to the Athletics page.

Not an auspicious beginning.

The Tom Toles cartoon of the day:

Intrade is down...

...for some reason. The Irish betting Web site says:

With sincere regret we must inform you that due to circumstances recently discovered we must immediately cease trading activity.

What the heck? Now we'll all have to go back to guessing, like Republicans. From a piece in the Atlantic (my emphasis):

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both believed the public polls were wrong, and that they'd win on Election Day. Their wives did, too. "I don't think there was one person who saw this coming," a senior adviser told CBS News' Jan Crawford. An advisor said of Romney, "He was shellshocked." When Romney claimed on Election Day that he hadn't written a concession speech, it sounded like trash talk. Apparently it wasn't. How could they not have seen it coming?

"There's nothing worse than when you think you're going to win, and you don't," said another adviser. "It was like a sucker punch."

Or check out this from Slate:

Mitt Romney says he is a numbers guy, but in the end he got the numbers wrong. His campaign was adamant that public polls in the swing states were mistaken. They claimed the pollsters were over-estimating the number of Democrats who would turn out on Election Day. Romney’s campaign was certain that minorities would not show up for Obama in 2012 the way they did in 2008. “It just defied logic,” said a top aide of the idea that Obama could match, let alone exceed, his performance with minorities from the last election. When anyone raised the idea that public polls were showing a close race, the campaign’s pollster said the poll modeling was flawed and everyone moved on. Internally, the campaign’s own polling—tweaked to represent their view of the electorate, with fewer Democrats—showed a steady uptick for Romney since the first debate. Even on the morning of the election, Romney’s senior advisers weren’t close to hedging. They said he was going to win “decisively.” It seemed like spin, but the Boston Globe reports that a fireworks display was already ordered for the victory. Romney and Ryan thought they were going to win, say aides. “We were optimistic. More than just cautiously optimistic,” says one campaign staffer. When Romney lost, “it was like a death in the family.”

How did the Romney team get it so wrong? According to those involved, it was a mix of believing anecdotes about party enthusiasm and an underestimation of their opponents’ talents.

And then there's poor ol' Peggy Noonan:

We begin with the three words everyone writing about the election must say: Nobody knows anything. Everyone’s guessing. I spent Sunday morning in Washington with journalists and political hands, one of whom said she feels it’s Obama, the rest of whom said they don’t know. I think it’s Romney. I think he’s stealing in “like a thief with good tools,” in Walker Percy’s old words. While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney’s slipping into the presidency. He’s quietly rising, and he’s been rising for a while. 

That's it; that's Noonan's statistical sampling.

Who knows what to make of the weighting of the polls and the assumptions as to who will vote? Who knows the depth and breadth of each party’s turnout efforts?

Well, Nate Silver for one. (And there were plenty others. You just had to consult them.) This woman gets paid to write this stuff?

Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us?

After reading this, I wanted to shout at Ms. Noonan: DON'T YOU READ NATE SILVER? DON'T YOU AT LEAST LOOK AT INTRADE?

But to be fair, Republicans aren't the only ones who don't trust polling. On the morning of the Academy Awards, Chris Matthews predicted Silver Linings Playbook would win Best Picture. To which I wanted to yell at the TV: But Argo has been the clear leader on Intrade for months! What's wrong with you?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I got my miracle ticket!

(Two, actually.) And Simeon beat Whitney Young, 69-51.

But, but, readers of this blog may be thinking (both of you), I thought you had a "life" that was intruding on your life, or something.

Well, let me back up, to Friday afternoon. The tweets were coming in fast and furious:

LESS THAN 70 tickets out of the 500 we had left!!! Hurry down!
ONLY 29 tickets left!!!!!!! 
DOWN TO 17!!!!


That's okay; I have that "life" thing, remember?

And then there was this:

Tickets are sold out 5 hours before game time. Should be a GREAT atmosphere. 

Yer killin' me.

But wait; what's this?

Michael O'Brien
According to Argo AD Ryan Skendzel, there are 700 tickets left for tonight's epic Young-Simeon sectional title game.

What? Could that possibly be? The showdown between the two best teams in the state, with two of the best players in the nation, isn't sold out? But this contest is, for all practical purposes, the Championship. (No one's gonna beat the winner of this game -- no one.)

I wonder if my son -- no, it's too fantastic to even contemplate -- would want to see this game?

I was scheduled to leave the house at 3:00 and pick him up in Hyde Park at around 4:30 (yes, it takes that long to get down there, especially on a Friday afternoon). My son comes home every other weekend (long story) and we usually grab a bite on the South Side before heading home (after the traffic eases up, which it never does). He's not much of a basketball fan, but -- what the heck, it's worth a try -- I texted him:

Do you want to go to a b-ball game tonight?

And also on Facebook:

The basketball Game of the Year is tonight; do you want to go?

But I didn't really think he would. As I said, he's not much of a fan, and, besides, the last game I took him to was the one where that kid got shot and killed (doesn't leave a good impression). Besides, my son really looks forward to his weekends at home. Oh, well, hope springs eternal...

So imagine my surprise when I received this text from him on the way down:

That would be ok cant wait to see you

Now, calm down, I told myself; we still have to get tickets. Could Michael O'Brien be right? Could there still be a chance to see this game?

My mind went back to my experience last year. After seeing Marist upset Curie at home, and then hearing about the Redhawks' dramatic victory over Bogan, I told my buddy Kevin that we absolutely, positively had to see them take on Simeon at Argo High School.

There was only one problem: the gym sold out the morning of the Big Game.

What? So was the contest at Schaumburg that night. I had to go and see Warren beat up on somebody at Barrington High School instead. No fun.

(By the way, the lady selling tickets at Argo Friday night told me the problem last year was that Marist had sold counterfeit tickets. My buddy Kevin texted me: Catholic kids? No way! To which I replied: And during Lent, no less!)

So I had resigned myself to not seeing the Summit (Argo) Sectional. I decided to bitch at Mike Helfgot of the Tribune instead and watch the games in Northbrook (which were actually very good).

But now, based on one solitary tweet, I was on the verge of seeing Jabari Parker and company one last time.

So what should I do, get off at the Stevenson and buy tickets first? (No way; it was a parking lot!) I decided to go down to Hyde Park, pick up my son and head west on 63rd Street for the game. If we couldn't get in, we could always eat at some cool neighborhood joint in Summit instead. (You couldn't fault me us for trying.)

I picked up my son at about 4:30, thanked him profusely for indulging his old man, and set out for Argo High School. It took us about a half-hour or so but we arrived in the parking lot with high hopes.

"How do I get in to the game?" I asked a group of students in a panicky voice.

"Right through that door," he (or she) answered. Just get out of that lunatic's way, I'm sure they all thought.

So my son and I went up the back way and found ourselves in the gym, without even buying a ticket. What's more, aside from the TV crews setting up, it was empty. Something was amiss.

We went down another staircase and found the lady who would be selling tickets.

"How'd you guys get in here?" she asked, in an annoyed tone of voice.

"I don't know; we came in the back. Are you selling tickets?"

"Not until six o'clock; you're not supposed to be in here yet."

"Can't we just wait here until then?"

"Oh, all right." (It's always best not to argue with a crazed fifty-something-year-old bald guy.)

We finally got in ("Come on, lady, it's six-oh-one!"), and got great seats in the front row at half court. Was I dreaming?

Argo Community High School was founded in 1920 and its gym, although charming, looks about that old. (Dick Portillo, founder of the restaurant chain, above, was in the Argo Class of 1957.) For some reason, the seats are all above the floor, but it's nice and clean and spacious. (The concessions are good, too.) The place was Standing Room Only -- duh! -- and the contest began promptly at 7:30. (My son and I ended up waiting only two hours for the tip-off -- well worth it!)

I'll let you read about the actual game in the Trib and Sun-Times. They both give a good account: Jabari Parker had one of his best outings of the season and the Wolverines won in a walk.

My take? The seniors won and the juniors will just have to wait until next year.

Oh, well, I told my son: you can tell your grandchildren some day that you saw Parker and (Whitney Young center) Jahlil Okafor play against each other in high school. That'll impress 'em.

Besides, the other games Friday night were nothing special: West Aurora beat Benet by four points, Proviso East crushed Oak Park River Forest, New Trier beat Niles North by almost twenty (really?) and Stevenson handled St. Viator with ease. What else would we have done tonight?

Now let's hurry home and watch Bill Maher.

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

This is how Jonathan Stickland...

...dresses for a typical day at work: blue blazer, khaki pants and an open-collared shirt. Oh, and a loaded handgun on his belt. What does Mr. Stickland do for a living? He looks like he could be a plain-clothes policeman or a security guard of some sort. But, no, Mr. Stickland is a state representative in -- where else? -- Texas.

From an article in the Times today, "An Entry Reserved for Those With Guns" (my emphasis):

Just as Texas has long embraced its guns, so has the Capitol. Legislators have walked the terrazzo hallways, attended committee hearings, met with constituents in their offices and voted on the floors of their respective chambers while armed with licensed high-powered pistols tucked beneath their suits or slipped into their boots or purses.

When Gov. Rick Perry gave his State of the State speech in February 2011 in the House chamber, he stood a short distance from Representative Chuck Hopson, who paid close attention with a .22-caliber five-shot revolver in his right boot and a .357 Magnum within arm’s reach in a drawer of his desk.

What in God's name are these people so afraid of?

Many Texas lawmakers ... described carrying weapons in the Capitol as a personal security habit, doing what they did elsewhere in the state, whether shopping, dining, praying or driving. They also wear their weapons, they said, for the same reason they keep jacks in their vehicles and fresh batteries in their smoke detectors at home. They said there was a difference between being paranoid and being prepared.

They're right; there is a difference. And this is paranoid. 

“We don’t expect these things to happen, but they do happen,” said Senator Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican who has carried in the Capitol. “The reason you carry a gun on you is like the reason you carry insurance. You don’t expect a tornado to blow down your house. It’s protection.”

At recent hearings of the House Committee on County Affairs, Representative Jonathan Stickland sat listening to testimony while wearing a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol.

“This is probably one of the most well-armed buildings in the state,” said Mr. Stickland, a freshman Republican from Bedford, near Fort Worth. “When you grow up around guns and you feel comfortable with what they can do, and you know how to use them and you respect them, there’s really nothing to fear.”

Now which do you think is the greater danger to the Texas legislature, some imaginary boogieman or a loaded gun worn by some yahoo like Mr. Stickland?

Friday, March 8, 2013

The tweet of the day:

In honor of , Mitt Romney says you ladies can cut out at 4 to make dinner. Just, you know, come in early Monday.