Monthly Archives: May 2010

Criticism of Islam not acceptable to New York Times’ Nick Kristof

The bravest woman I know—and I know plenty, including Margaret Thatcher—is the Somalian-born writer and former Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is presently under a fatwa sentence of death for her apostasy from the Muslim faith. When the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was shot eight times in 2004, a paper stuck into his corpse with a knife stated that Hirsi Ali would be next. While that would push most of us into hiding for the rest of our days—including me, I’m perfectly ready to admit—Hirsi Ali has resolutely continued to make public appearances promoting the cause of female liberation in the Muslim world.

Women’s liberation is something one might also have expected The New York Times to laud and support, yet the review there of Hirsi Ali’s latest book, Nomad: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations, by op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, was instead–unforgivably in my view—entitled “The Gadfly,” and subtitled, “Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s second memoir is as provocative as her first.”

This should be especially offensive to women, whether they’re liberal or conservative. I guess championing women’s rights is great except when it runs into a critical view of the Muslim faith.

I wonder if Kristof would react the same way if the critique was directed towards Christianity or Judaism? Something tell me the answer is no.

Brewster Rockit does the #OilSpill proud

Ladies and gentlemen, one of our distinguished local media figures


Amy Jacobson communing with the next generation of Young Republicans i.e. New Trier students.

UPDATE: Amy has deleted the tweet and the TwitPic. Of course the pic still appears here and luckily Scott Smith was able to find the tweet.

Delete and ignore seems to be the way the folks at AM 560 WIND like to deal with their public gaffes on Twitter.

What I really want to know is how Chicagoland conservatives/ WIND listeners feel about this kind of behavior. If that describes you, please comment below. We’ve already had a robust discussion on Twitter about this, but most of the people commenting have been of the liberal persuasion. I’d like to now hear from the conservatives.

Hey Neil, we get it. You’re too smart for sports.

‘Patrick Kane is in the restaurant,” says Grant DePorter, checking his BlackBerry as we file into FBI headquarters.

I quickly try to assemble my features into an expression of enthusiasm, but don’t do it fast enough, apparently, because Grant, who as managing partner of Harry Caray’s has an eye for detail, detects a certain blankness.

“You do know who Patrick Kane is?” he says, narrowing his gaze.

“Sure!” I bluster, immediately deploying my Emergency Sports Conversation Algorithm (a logic tree that works like this: 1. What team is currently in the news? The Blackhawks! 2. What player on that team is currently being celebrated?

“Of course,” I bluster. “He’s the guy who lost his teeth.”

“No,” says Grant, with a hint of frost. “That’s Duncan Keith. Patrick Kane is one of the biggest stars on the team. He went to Harry’s after the Cubs game. So did Jonathan Toews — the captain — Brian Campbell and Adam Burish. They walked in, one after the other.”

“Wow!” I say. “Exciting!”

Got it everyone?

In case Neil was being too subtle (which of course you didn’t grasp because you’re a dumb sports fan), you are stooopid because you like sports and you know who Patrick Kane is. Got it? You = stupid. Neil = smart and also better than you.

If you go on to read the entire column (a difficult feat), he tries to dance around it by saying yeah, yeah, I get it. You have your interests and I have mine, he writes. Yet somehow his interests – opera for instance – still come out sounding superior to your dumb sports.

Again, to reiterate, YOU ARE DUMB. Yes YOU, the Blackhawks fan reading this, the man who would rather watch a sporting event than go shopping, the woman who would rather do the same and finally, you, the serious news consumer who loves, say, public affairs reporting but also loves to read the sports section.

That last demographic is hinted at when Neil goes on to bemoan the gallons of ink that will soon be spilled to cover the Blackhawks in the Sun-Times. All the while, he writes, what will be written for the masses who are not hockey fans?

I don’t know Neil. How about THE REST OF THE NEWSPAPER? I mean, are all your colleagues in the newsroom about to take the next two weeks off? No more stories from Fran Spielman, Abdon Pallasch, Frank Main, etc? Did a loudspeaker just announce that the entire staff of the Sun-Times is now devoted to the Blackhawks 24/7?

I could go on, but I’m too exhausted. I now pass the baton to you.

Roger Ebert’s SATC2 review is full of awesome

Carrie, honey, how can you endure life with this purring, narcissistic, soft-velvet idiot? He speaks loudly enough to be heard mostly by himself, his most appreciative audience. And he never wants to leave the house at night, preferring to watch classic black-and-white movies on TV. This leads to a marital crisis. Carrie thinks they should talk more. But sweetheart, Mr. Big has nothing to say. At least he’s provided you with a Manhattan apartment that looks like an Architectural Digest wet dream.

The Chicago Tribune is on a hiring spree

Are we upset we didn’t get the Olympics? You tell me.

The unemployment rate for the metropolitan area was 10.7 percent in April — higher than the national average of 9.9 percent — and the region is still stinging from its lost bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Oh really?

Chicagoland, are you upset that we didn’t get the 2016 games? Please comment below and let me know what you think.

Hating suburbia


A favorite activity of many city dwellers, liberals and intellectuals is bashing the suburbs and those who live in them. I know, because I was once such a city dweller.

Having lived in cities long enough to declare myself an urbanite, I often proclaimed that I couldn’t imagine why someone would want to live in a suburb. I loved that everything was so close by in the city. I loved that I could walk to the grocery store (though I confess to driving to it most times because then I could get more stuff). I loved being close to so many restaurants, theaters, etc. I loved (sort of) that one could take public transportation instead of driving. Of course if you’ve suffered under Chicago’s transit system as I have, you know it’s not exactly a delight, but I digress. I loved the energy of the city, the fast pace, the feeling of life brimming with vigor and confidence.

Like any self-respecting urbanite, I cringed at the prospect of going out to the suburbs for any activity other than visiting my parents. I thought that every woman in the suburbs was a soccer mom. I thought every man in the suburbs was a beer-swilling, tailgating, couch-sitting boor who had never read a book or been to a museum. I thought that suburbanites’ idea of fine dining was an evening at Applebee’s or Red Lobster.

Speaking of dining, I recall once meeting a friend for lunch in the city at a favorite neighborhood restaurant. She was a suburbanite, I was not. “Everyone looks so… urban and hip,” she said. “Including you.” I looked around and looked at myself. I didn’t think anyone looked particularly chic. It was early afternoon and everyone was pretty casually dressed. It was then that I realized that what was the norm for me was not the norm for my suburban friend. I admit to feeling proud then. Even in our casual ensembles, we city dwellers were somehow surpassing the apparent dowdiness of the suburbanites.

But now I am a suburbanite and I realize that this was all terribly misguided.

For instance, did you know that when you move out of the city, you are actually allowed to go back to it whenever the mood strikes you? It’s true! They actually don’t check your identification at the city limits. No, you just breeze right in and go wherever you want.

Did you also know that not every residence in the suburbs is a single-family house? So no, not everyone has a lush, green lawn and an ample back yard. Some of us aren’t even allowed by our management companies to grill in our driveways. Imagine that!

Did you know that not everyone has children in the suburbs? Did you know that there are single people out here? Unimaginable, I know! They even have places to go to dance, drink and carouse.

Did you know that there are great restaurants in the suburbs? Some of them are even run by renowned chefs. The only difference when you go to one of these places versus a similar establishment in the city is that you’ll have a free place to park.

Did you know that a city isn’t the only place to find a theater that shows independent films or hosts other live events? While none can claim the charm of the Music Box, they do the job equally well. 

Did you know that people are very involved in their communities in the suburbs? Did you know that many are the very picture of civic participation? Chicago lakefront liberals can only dream about such an engaged citizenry when they write their op-ed screeds about why no one voted in the last aldermanic election.

So if you’ve been a suburban hater in the past like I was, or if you are still one now… give it some thought. It’s not so bad out here. Take it from me.



5 Basic Requirements for Good Citizenship

1.  Register to Vote

 Simply put, you cannot make your voice heard if you do not show up on Election Day.  Some may take the cynic’s view and proclaim that all politicians are cheats, swindlers, etc. so a vote doesn’t make a difference in the end.  I disagree with that opinion on the basis that it paints a large number of good public servants with that brush.  Those running for public office should be judged one at a time on the merits they present to the electorate.  If, you do have a Hobson ’s choice at the ballot box, I suggest it may be because not enough good people are involved in holding their candidates accountable. 

2.  Vote More Than Once Every Four Years

 The majority of people registered to vote only show up in years in which the president is on the ballot.  It is such a shame.  While I grant you that the presidential election is very important, in my opinion, it is not nearly as important as your local and state elections.  It is these offices which impact your daily life more than any other.  These offices control how your tax dollars are allocated, how your businesses are regulated, how your schools are governed, and so forth. 

3.  Read the News

 You cannot hold your government officials accountable if you are not aware of what is going on in your community, state, and nation.  I recommend you find a few good news websites and check them daily, if possible.  Notice I said “read the news” and not “read the opinions.”  While it is certainly important to read what others think about the important events of the day, I caution the consumer of news to seek out material that is not opinion masquerading as news. 

4.  Know Who Represents You

 You can’t petition the government if you do not know who your representatives are.  Most people know their representatives in the halls of Congress.  Do you know who represents you in the state house and senate?  Do you know your city councilor and county commissioner?  Do you know your school board member?  These people are your servants.  Find out who they are and don’t hesitate to contact them should the need arise. 

5.  Know How Your Government Works

 Because governments are large, complex entities, most average citizens won’t come close to understanding some of the minute intricacies associated with them.  I think this is why many people get confused and decide it’s not worth the effort to comprehend how laws, ordinances, etc. get passed.  Nevertheless, it is important to have a basic understanding of how policies and laws are made.  This information is vital so that you can be sure your government is operating in a transparent, efficient manner.  Start out by learning how a bill goes through Congress and the state house from introduction to its approval or veto.  Next, spend some time learning how ordinances are passed on your city council.  Finally, it is a good idea to understand how your local school board passes new policies. 

I emphatically agree with all of these. It’s almost like I wrote it.

I proud to say that I currently do all five. How about you?

Suburban newspaper’s motto is at once perfect and horrifying

In an era of change, the independent and locally owned newspaper is becoming increasingly rare. Paddock Publications, Inc., an independent publishing company, is an exception and proud of its history.

Hosea C. Paddock started the company more than 120 years ago with the motto, “To fear God, tell the truth and make money.” Four generations of Paddocks built a chain of weekly newspapers into the Daily Herald, the third largest newspaper in Illinois.

The Paddocks have no plans to give up the reins. Their strategic plans include continued expansion in the growing suburban Chicago market and a strong commitment to the communities currently served.

The Paddocks see their publishing powerhouse growing well into the next century.

The above is from the About Us page on

I am told that this motto still appears on every print edition. I thought it was a mistake when I first saw it here: but was quickly informed by Katie Foutz ( that it is not.

If you think about it, it’s actually fairly comical. What are people in the suburbs known for? I’d say that a few things are definitely their adherence to some sort of religion and their ability (or at least desire) to make money. As far as telling the truth, I’m not sure about that one. They can’t possibly be any worse than, say, Chicago alderman so let’s give them a pass on that one.

I wonder if any potential readers could be put off by this though. Are there no atheists among the Herald’s readership? Agnostics? Wiccans? What about poor people and liars?

As far as the motto representing the views of a publisher though, I can only admire the “make money” credo. That should indeed be every publisher’s goal.