It’s official sports fans: cheerleading is not a sport

September 30, 2010

Some time ago I wrote about the case of the Quinnipiac University women’s volleyball team, which was suing their school when Quinnipac decided to shut down the volleyball team in order to keep cheerleading, which the school decided was a sport.  The volleyballers complained that cheerleading was not a sport, and thus the school was in violation of Title IX.

The decision has come down from the federal courts:  cheerleading may be athletic, gymnastic, graceful, spirited, and many other things … but it is decidedly not a sport.  The judge noted that this is not a decision for all time, and that the day may come when cheerleading is a sport, but noted that for the time being, it is “too underdeveloped and disorganized” to be considered a varsity sport.


This place has got everything!

September 24, 2010

Dixie Square Mall, one of the most famous shopping malls in the world, is about to be torn down after sitting vacant for 30 years.

It isn’t so much famous as a shopping destination … but is famous as a film location.

The new Oldsmobiles are in early this year …

Disco pants and haircuts …

Pier One Imports …

Not hard to predict this outcome …

September 23, 2010

Bill Ayers is getting ready to retire.

Bill Ayers, for those who don’t remember is a professor of education at the University of Illinois Chicago.  He specializes in school reform, and the curriculum and instruction of social justice.

Of course, back in the 60s/70s, Ayers was also a national leader of the Weather Underground ( a group he co-founded).  While ending the war in Vietnam may have been a fairly noble cause, they meet just about any definition of a terrorist organization, and may have prolonged the war by tempering anti-war responses from the middle class.

I have read a few interview with Ayers.  He seems ambiguously apologetic about some of his actions (using the term “symbolic acts of extreme vandalism” to mean bombings and arsons), while steadfastly maintaining that he was right about opposing involvement in Vietnam (I can’t fault his opinion).  However all these years later, he seems unable to admit that his actions were wrong.

Back in the 1970s, Ayers wrote a piece which he dedicated to Sirhan Sirhan … you might remember he was the man who assassinated Robert Kennedy in 1968.  You would think that Ayers was a stone cold reactionary Republican, but apparently he approved of those who used cold blooded murder to make a point.  I don’t know enough to know if that is his stand today, but at one point, it must have been.

With Ayers retirement, the question or granting emeritus status came up.  Shockingly, he was denied this honor unanimously by the UIC Board.  One memer of the Board made a very short and simple statement before the vote:

I intend to vote against conferring the honorific title of our university to a man whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father, Robert F. Kennedy.  There is nothing more antithetical to the hopes for a university that is lively and yet civil, or to the hopes of our founding fathers for their great experiment of a self-governing people, than to permanently seal off debate with one’s opponents by killing them.

Chris Kennedy, the board member, is the president of the Merchandise Mart, which until ten years ago was owned by the Kennedy family.  He was also the 8th of Robert F. Kennedy’s eleven children.

Unless you are really willing to part with the mistakes of the past, you can be sure it will come back and bite you one day … whether you are a self-proclaimed patriot standing fast against change or a self-proclaimed communist wishing to change almost everything.

That IS a lot of instructions …

September 13, 2010

Many of my friends know that I hold the film 2001: A Space Odyssey in special regard.  I feel that it is one of the first films ever made that could not properly be done in any other medium.  2001 cannot be adapted for the stage … it cannot be properly done as a radio play … even Arthur C. Clarke’s contemporaneous novelization based on his own screenplay simply does not do the film justice.  It is a film that is centered in creating visual drama while minimizing spoken language.

Kubrick was also trying to represent the future faithfully.  While his timing was certainly off (very little of what he predicted has come to be by 2010, let alone 2001), there are a great many things that we still seem potentially on course for … if not partially there already.  We do not have hotels in Earth orbit, but with private commercial flights to space just around the corner, that idea sounds less and less far fetched.  We don’t have manned stations on the moon, but talk about that has never been more front and center in regards to the long term future of space travel.  Research is ever on going to examine the effects on human beings regarding long term space travel, isolation, and the such.  Sending humans to Jupiter before 2100 seems unrealistic today because of our collective commitment to space, but manned missions to Mars before 2100 seem rather more workable.

Nontheless, here is a look at some things that Clarke and Kubrick predicted about the future, circa 1968 … even if you are not scifi fans, numbers 3-5 on the list I found amusing.

And so it will end in Chicago …

September 7, 2010

In April, 1955, the most honorable Richard J. Daley was sworn in as the 48th Mayor of the City of Chicago.  He held that post until the day he died (ironically in his doctor’s office during an exam) in December of 1976.  I was five-and-a-half.

In April, 1989, about a month before I graduated high school, his son, Richard M. Daley was sworn in to the office that was all but synonymous with his father the world over.

It has been announced that the Daley legacy will finally come to an end.  Richard M. Daley has announced that he will not be seeking re-election in 2011, and (if he survives), will leave office in 2012.  Thus, a period of 57 years will end in which only about 12.5 years existed without a Daley in the Mayor’s office.

The elder Daley was often credited (who knows how truthfully) as getting John Kennedy elected by holding up votes in Illinois until California was decided, to make sure Illinois could be delivered.  The younger Daley didn’t need to do anything like that to see a fellow South Sider reach the White House.

Daley brought the Democratic Convention back to Chicago (amazingly it had not been back since 1968 when his father sent the local constabulatory out to beat the skulls of the hippies, anarchists, newspaper reporters, communists, socialists, baptists, episcopalians, Beetles fans, weathermen, anchormen, and other people who had a problem with Daley’s “establishment” (I mean, the dude ran the Republican party out of Chicago, a couple of longhairs weren’t going to rain on his parade … sorry for the long aside).

Daley saved the White Sox from moving by helping get a new beautiful ball park on the Southside … now the anchor of revitalization that the old housing projects are being torn down (an elder Daley invention) in lieu of mixed income housing.

Daley might have held on had the Olympics made it to town.  Sadly, the IOC prefered to send the Olympics to Rio, where police helicopters are being shot down by street gangs with surface-to-air missiles, and tourist hotels are being invaded to ransom tourists.  In the end, it may be better to sit back and watch Rio get ripped apart rather than Chicago get trampled over.

That aside, younger Daley will be remembered for doing what his dad did:  patronage jobs … the only difference being that in this day and age of a media willing to report things that got overlooked 40 and 50 years ago.  Because Chicago is not as business friendly as it used to be, a lot of the city’s money is sunk into social services that recently can’t be easily financed.  Over the last six years, he supervised signing long term leases of major city money makers:  parking meters, the Skyway, and even Midway Airport for nearly US$5.5 billion.  Yet, that money has been dwindled down to only a few hundred million in a few years.

The younger Daley supported blanket bans of handguns that did nothing.  That ban is now overturned, and people are standing by to see what will happen.

So, it will be interesting to see who lines up to be appointed the next mayor by the Democratic Party … since whomever gets the endorsement will become mayor.

You kinda get what you ask for …

September 6, 2010

Bank robbery is a part of Americana … murderers get the end of a noose, the gas chamber, lethal injection … bank robbers are the subject of films where they are anti heroes … but there is a thing about bank robbers:  typically, they rob banks, not bank customers.

Consider Argentina.  In the last six months, there have been nearly 5,000 robberies of bank patrons withdrawing cash from the bank.  The highest profile case involves a woman who was attacked and robbed while 8 months pregnant … she’s in a coma, and if she wakes up, will learn that her unborn child is dead.  For the record, she had just left the bank with enough cash to put a down payment on a house.

So, the question is:  why are a lot of Argentinians walking around with the equivalent of tens of thousands of American dollars in cash? (in the case of this comatose woman, it was over $13,000 in cash … so much that when she had tried to withdraw the money, the bank asked her to come back the next day, because they didn’t have enough cash to give her.

The answer:  Argentina does not use a lot of electronic transfers or credit.  The reason:  tax evasion in Argentina is remarkably high … running about 50% by some estimates.  To evade taxes, people deal in cash a lot.  There are some estimates that the 5,000 robberies may in fact be only the tip of an iceberg, as some robberies may not be reported out of fear that it would involve admitting that these people had money that should have been taxed, and wasn’t.

Considre this quote:

“Of every 100 pesos you make, 65 you owe to the state through various taxes. That is why there is so much of this underground economy,” said Ponciano Vivanco, a veteran notary in Buenos Aires who estimates that 90 percent of Buenos Aires’ real estate is purchased in cash.

So here you have a socialist society where the people simply do not support it.  OK, that’s a bit oversimplified.

Back in 2001, there was an economic crisis in Argentina that caused a sharp devaluation of the Argentine peso.  Those who had made deposits in American dollars suddenly saw huge losses as the government forced withdrawals to be done in the new peso.  Hence, a lot of people stopped making deposits into accounts, and started using safe deposit boxes.

Sounds like Argentina needs to crack down on tax evasion, and the people need to start getting out of the cash-and-carry business.