• I hate it when this happens

    This is real . . . and really odd.

    This headline provides a rare example of Chicago being a safer city.

    NO current or past resident of Chicago would lift a finger if a monkey stole a Chicago Bears hat.

    Rather, they would think, “Stupid monkey knows nothing about professional sports.”

    NO current or past resident of Chicago would think of wearing a Bears’ hat, much less taking one to the South Pacific.

    In fact–true story–I have gone through Midway Airport 3 times in the past 10 days, watched thousands of people moving through, and seen a grand total of one item of Bears paraphernalia being worn.

  • NFL Attendance: Real Data, Not Spin

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    Overall attendance is down slightly (a little over 3%, year-to-year), through Week 14:

    2017:  13,983,341

    2016:  14,444,931

    My calculations from data in Pro Football Reference (for 2017 and 2016)

    TV viewership is down somewhat more. It was down 8% in 2016 and is down a little less than 6% this year.

    Those pictures of “empty stadiums” do not accurately reflect a mass abandonment by fans. It is more accurate to say that the league’s attendance and TV viewership are facing slow but significant erosion.

    At this point, we cannot attribute that loss to a specific cause.  Some people may be turned off by the (now fading) player protests, others by the growing evidence of widespread brain injuries, and still others by rising interest in soccer or other entertainment. Weighting those causes is a job for more detailed studies.

  • A great Skynyrd song to honor those Georgia Dawgs, who dominated today; plus TWO bonus songs about the Peach State

    Georgia, Auburn, ‘Bama. Whose best? Rock, paper, scissors.

    Or, as we academics say, the rankings aren’t transitive.

    The featured song is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s original personnel doing Georgia Peaches (1977, and still sounding great).

    Bonus #1 is the great Levon Helms doing Sweet Peach Georgia Wine, introduced on SCTV!

    Bonus #2 is pure redneck rock: Billy Joe Shaver’s I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train. Think Jerry Lee Lewis.

    As for Georgia Peaches, it’s pure Southern rock, plus a little honky-tonk and a lot of funkadelic!


    Ronnie Van Zant – lead vocals
    Steve Gaines – guitar, backing vocals
    Allen Collins – guitar
    Gary Rossington – guitar
    Billy Powell – keyboards
    Leon Wilkeson – bass, backing vocals
    Artimus Pyle – drums

    The album was released just days before the airplane crash killed Ronnie and Steve and several members of the entourage, along with the plane’s crew.

    And here’s Levon’s ode to Georgia:

    And, as a finale, Billy Joe Shaver’s “I Been To Georgia on a Fast Train”

  • ESPN cutting another 150 jobs; execs now considering an entirely new focus: sports

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    The AP story is here.

    Comment: Previously, sports had been injected into the network’s political commentary, confusing viewers.

    Now, it will appear as part of regularly-scheduled programming.

    One exciting addition is Nancy Pelosi’s new program, “Hoops Highlights,” focusing on girls’ middle-school basketball.

    Bernie Sanders follows with all today’s news and action in curling.

    The network will then feature a regular, four-hour discussion on the minimum wage.

  • The Cubs’ Troubles Described in 5 Words

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    Those Five are:

    • Weak Middle Relief
    • Slumping Sluggers

    Comment: The North Siders, down 2-0 in a best-of-7-series, are not out of it yet. The Dodgers are good, but so are the Cubs.

    The Cubs have outstanding starters, an excellent defensive infield and catcher, and normally effective power hitting from the first- and third-basemen.

    They have a good (one-inning) closer, though Los Angeles has an even better one who can go longer.

    In Joe Maddon, we have a savvy, experienced, and calm manager.

    But we’ve had erratic pitching between the starter’s exit (around inning 6 or 7) and the closer’s appearance in the 9th. We’ve filled the gap only partially by using starters as middle relievers. Los Angeles has a stronger, deeper bullpen.

    And we will suffer offensively until Bryant and Rizzo return to form.

    Here’s hoping the Friendly Confines live up to their name as the Cubs return home.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, October 11

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ The devastation–human and material–keeps growing from California wildfires


    Stand and Deliver: Goodell send letter telling NFL players he wants them to stand during anthem(ESPN)

    No specifics on how the league plans to ensure it or act toward players who do not stand.

    Comment #1: ESPN broke into their political coverage to cover this sports story.

    Comment #2 re Trump vs NFL kneelers: ZipDialog predicted

    (a) the league would cave after seeing the fans’ and advertisers’ reactions,
    (b) Trump was politically smart to make this an issue; most people respect the flag, and ALL his base does; and
    (c) when Trump won on this issue, he wouldn’t be shy about saying so.

     Horny Harvey and Hollywood Hypocrisy

    Harvey Weinstein’s Behavior Was ‘Worst Kept Secret in Hollywood,” says actor (Fox News)

    Comment: Now that he has been destroyed, the powerful people and institutions will finally speak.

    I completely understand why the weak and vulnerable kept quiet; they are victims. But the powerful and well-entrenched who knew about this have no such excuses.

     The next phases of the Weinstein story, as I see it

    Comment: Here are some obvious angles. The question is whether the media wants to investigate, given that they are directly implicated, along with their powerful friends:

    • Democrats who were close to him will have to defend themselves and offer stories about their ignorance (some true, some false)
      • Many are now saying they are “shocked, shocked” to find out this about Mr. Weinstein. Gimme a break.
      • Why did Hillary, Barack, and all the others wait five days after the NYT broke the story before commenting?
      • Why did all the late-night comedians (except John Oliver) maintain radio silence, as Saturday Night Live did? They will jump on Weinstein’s figurative corpse now, but where were they after the story broke?
    • The media will be all over the Weinstein story but they will downplay or ignore the media’s complicity or the Democrats role in it (just as the conservative media will harp on it)
      • The NYT, the most MSM of MSM outlets, deserves lots of credit for breaking the story. But they need to explain why they didn’t dig further a decade ago, when they first had the story. Lots of women were harmed in the intervening years.
    • What about the media outlets, like the NYT and NBC, that had the story and didn’t run it?  What about the gossip sites like TMZ? Why didn’t they investigate this well-known rumor?
    • What about the others sexual harassment and exploitation in Hollywood? Will the media investigate or wait for Gloria Allred? There have been rumors for years about pedophilia, but no real reporting.

    Henry Kissinger meets with Trump. What’s that about?

    Comment: Kissinger  has made one of the most sensible and serious proposals about working with China to resolve the North Korean crisis. He is also the most trusted intermediary to broker a deal between Beijing and Washington and to carry back-channel messages between the two. (Kissinger’s proposal was contained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, subscription)

    My guess: Trump listened to Kissinger, said “great, if Xi is willing to do it. But if he won’t or it doesn’t work, tell him the US will act unilaterally in a wide variety of ways that the Chinese won’t like.”


    Hat Tip to

    ◆ Randy Helm for pointing out that the NYT deserves credit for breaking the story