Archive for July, 2009

From my mailbag

From time to time, I receive reader comments at my writer’s blog, this blog, my Christian issues blog and at my satirical blog. Here’s what I’ve received recently:

Upon blogging about Hebrew and how a friend says its simplicity compares to sign language, someone named Hebrew Scholar, who runs a website that teaches Hebrew, said this:

 Thanks for this interesting post. You are right – Hebrew is a very simple and direct language. For example, teaching a Hebrew speaker a simple English sentence like “Here is a dog”. In Hebrew you say “this, dog”. There is no word for “is” and no word for “a”. Hebrew is much simpler. It is a more logical language.

In my blog posting Sotomayor and Racism, my blog had a visit from Australia! Here’s what they had to say:

 Yes I live in Australia and I don’t like Sotomayor (or Red Sonja!).
She has dodged so many questions I really think she has something to hide. It all comes down to choosing a good President. Although Ann Coulter didn’t like MaCain I would think he is better than Obama. But Ann is a very smart woman. I like her books.

And finally, blogging about drunk driving is sure to get interesting responses. When I posted about former Chicago Bears quarterback Bob Avellini and how he’s dodged bullets due to technicalities when arrested for drunk driving, here’s a response I received from someone:

I understand this is a blog and not a true source for news but, if you are going to write as fact, please get your facts straight. The following are corrected inaccuracies in your article:
1) Mr. Avellini has been arrested 4 times, with three cases resulting in acquittal. His first DUI he plead guilty and received court supervision, which is not a conviction.
2) It is true that his 2007 DUI was dismissed due to the officer moving to Florida. What you probably didn’t know is that the DUI he was just found not guilty of is that same DUI. The prosecution refiled the case and flew the officer back to court to testify. Alas, he was still found not guilty due to a lack of evidence.

In this country you still have a right to privacy. If a person doesn’t want to submit to tests it his right to do so. Especially for someone who an officer would have a preconceived notion of guilt or innocence.

I don’t think you are naive enough to believe that all officers, tests and machines are credible and accurate.

I suspect it was either his attorney or a friend.

My response:

Thank you for your response. However, let me correct you on this: this is a blog, not an “article”. You’re right: a plea of guilty is not a conviction. As for the rest of the column, I based my information on published reports and linked to them. If you contest the accuracy, kindly e-mail them also.

FOUR arrests instead of three?

No, I’m not naive enough to believe all machines are accurate all the time, and I also don’t think you’re naive enough to believe there’s no fire where there’s lots of smoke. I also don’t think you are naive enough to believe that all DUI suspects are indeed just victims of bad testing, bad machines or unreliable officers, or that all attorneys who defend DUI clients are ethical people with consciences.

A police officer’s job is to pull over someone he or she thinks is driving suspiciously and might pose a serious threat to others. A person who shows telltale signs of DUI but doesn’t want a test tells me they have something to hide. His privacy ends when he poses a potential threat to others. With all due respect, Mr. Avellini’s refusal to do the tests and his attorney’s pointing their absence as a lack of evidence sounds like a textbook scam to me.

People die all the time in this country from being hit by drunk drivers, many of which had prior arrests, convictions and acquittals. It sounds to me like Mr. Avellini has a problem: four arrests for this sounds far too coincidental. I just hope he gets it resolved before–heaven forbid–someone dies or gets seriously injured.

Check out this site:

I’ve had other responses that I had to delete because they were tasteless, and I’d rather not name them specifically since I’d give the authors far more attention than they deserve. Still, it can be fun.


From the archives of From A to Zowie: Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 Chicago White Sox


1919 Chicago White Sox

I love alternate history, and a few years ago I decided to visit baseball history and ask what if. Here’s the result:

‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson and the Black Sox revisited

By Richard Zowie

Special to the Bee-Picayune

We’re now in the most hallowed time of the year for baseball—America’s national pastime—when the World Series is played. Some teams have had serious postseason droughts. The Boston Red Sox haven’t won the Fall Classic since 1918 when Babe Ruth was with them as a pitcher. The Chicago Cubs, who haven’t been to the World Series since 1945, last won it in 1908. (As of this writing, the Cubs are one win away from advancing to the Fall Classic).

I can’t help but think of another Chicago baseball team during this memorable post season, that being the Chicago White Sox. The Pale Hose haven’t won the World Series since 1917 and are best known for the 1919 Black Sox Scandal in which eight White Sox players were later banished from baseball. Their crime? Conspiring with gamblers to throw what should’ve been an easy World Series victory against the Cincinnati Reds.

I pity the Black Sox. They played for Charles Comiskey, a miserly owner who, according to Eliot Asinof’s book Eight Men Out, lavished the Chicago sports writers with banquets of food and drink while making his own team work under severe financial restrictions. With the exception of second baseman Eddie Collins, virtually every White Sox player earned a salary well below major league levels. Sometimes their salaries compared to what semi-pro players made. (Keep in mind, this was long before the days of free agency). The Sox received a smaller food allowance than other teams and sometimes played in dirty uniforms (in protest of Comiskey charging them for laundry expenses).


Comiskey gave his own team a case of champagne for winning the American League pennants in 1917 and 1919. If the players received champagne for winning the 1917 pennant, you’d think they’d receive a financial bonus for winning the World Series. Nope. Their World Series bonus was again a case of the bubbly.

Members of the White Sox who were banished from baseball included Buck Weaver, Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Happy Felsch, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Fred McMullin and, of course, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. What they did was wrong, but I assert that the 1919 Black Scandal would never have occurred if Comiskey hadn’t committed countless financial atrocities against his team. A dog that’s kept well fed isn’t likely to be rummaging through a neighbor’s garbage can.

This scandal, made famous in mainstream America through the 1988 film Eight Men Out, makes me wonder what would’ve happened if a few crucial decisions had been made differently. With this, start your harp music as we delve into alternate history in the year 1962…

Hall of Fame White Sox slugger dies

By C.F. Twob

Disassociated Press staff writer

August 22, 1962

GREENVILLE, S.C. – “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, considered by many to be the greatest hitter in Major League history and who helped begin the Chicago White Sox dynasty that still rules baseball, died yesterday of a heart attack at his home. He was 73.

The South Carolina-born hitter retired from professional baseball in 1929 with a .375 lifetime average and 4,330 lifetime hits—both records baseball experts believe will never be broken. In 1930, the year after Jackson retired, the White Sox renamed Comiskey Park “Jackson Field” in his honor.

The White Sox made headlines in 1919, just a few weeks prior to the World Series. Angered by their meager salaries, the team members organized and met with owner Charles Comiskey. Their demands: real, fair-market value salaries, real pennant and World Series bonuses and decent food and laundry allowances. If we don’t get these, they reportedly demanded, then we won’t play in the World Series.

Comiskey had firm control over the Chicago media, but the players refused to back down and said they would talk to the metro newspapers in their home states and give “tell-all” exclusives of how Comiskey lived in luxury while most of the players earned less than semi-pro baseball players. Comiskey changed his mind and met the players’ demands in writing. The White Sox went on to easily win the 1919 World Series over the Cincinnati Reds, five games to one.

In 1920, Comiskey decided to sell the team to Sears president Julius Rosenwald. The new owner expressed his willingness to pay the players what they were worth and give them lucrative incentives. Many feel that this “paying ball players what they’re worth” was instrumental in the White Sox winning 22 World Series championships in the past 32 years, including an astonishing 7 in a row from 1925-1932.

Legend has it that Jackson convinced Rosenwald, shortly after he had purchased the team, to spend $100,000 to acquire famed slugger Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. Relying on Jackson’s hunch that Ruth would become the greatest slugger the game had ever seen, Rosenwald bought Ruth. The White Sox’ dynasty would continue to flourish through Chicago star players Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Bob Feller.

Jackson, notoriously illiterate up through the early years of his career, eventually learned to read and write. He went on to be successful hitting coach for the White Sox. Players praised his brilliant but simple style of hitting, which emphasized developing a player based on their own style and letting them use their instincts.

Shortly before his death, Jackson revealed that gamblers offered him and several other players lucrative money to throw the Fall Classic that year. The players declined, saying they felt it was best to join together and confront Comiskey rather than risk being banned from the game they loved.

We can only imagine…

An interesting car I saw at the Lapeer Car cruise

I don’t know much about cars, despite having a Dad and grandfather who were both mechanics. I guess the gene just skipped a generation. Or maybe it’s dormant in my DNA, awaiting to be activated if I ever decided to take an auto shop course somewhere. You know, the same way some men and women decide to relax in retirement with an art class and discover they had an artistic talent, one where they can paint marketable pictures.

This past Monday, for a freelance assignment, I went to the Lapeer (Mich.) Car Cruise and saw lots of cool cars. One was a Ford Model T. One was an Amphicar.

And then there was the 1937 Ford Cabriolet.

This car got my attention since it was built when my Dad was a year old, back in that wonderful American economic period called the Great Depression.

What made this car interesting is how the owner modified it.

First, a 350 Chevy transmission into a Ford. Talk about mixing oil with water.

But here’s what really amazed me: the modernization: electric windows, electric rumble seats, climate-controlled heat and air and—get this—digital gauges!

Zowie! I thought.

Is this kind of car modification modern? Feel free to drop me a line and enlighten me.

Colleague needs help to visit 122 sports stadiums

Currently, I blog about sports at Bleacher Report. A colleague there, Paul Swaney, is looking to visit 122 professional sports teams home stadiums in a single calendar year. He needs your help doing so.

For more information or if you’d like to help, click on this link.

Judd Apatow and the death of American comedy

Last night, my wife and I caught a little of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, and Conan’s guest was Judd Apatow.

Apatow, who wrote and directed Knocked Up, came on and was talking about his comedy and how men are morons.

Speak for yourself, sir.

I watched this segment and wondered why anyone would find this moron funny. Besides, I find the “men are morons” to be an offensive stereotype. Especially when you consider there are women out there who are just as capable of being stupid and shallow (Paris Hilton, the late Anna Nicole Smith, et al) as some men can be.

Apatow’s attempt at comedy reminds me of why I never was sold on Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond and other shows like them: they’re created on the pseudo-comedic basis that men are shallow pigs who have to be set straight by women and their kids. Sorry, I find little funny or logical about that.

If I want a laugh, I’ll check out Julie & Julia. Looks to be a hilarious film. O’Brien had Meryl Streep on as a guest, and she was absolutely hilarious. And, of course, Get Smart wasn’t bad, either. (Granted, Maxwell Smart is a clumsy detective, but his wits are vastly underrated).

Sotomayor and racism

July 27, 2009 1 comment

Someone wrote recently that they find it amusing Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor would be accused of racism in her “wise Latina” comments since conservatives probably also believe they and their race is superior.

He cited no specific examples. Sorry, I can’t provide a link for you to read since the newspaper does not have a website.

The gent seems to forget that since Sotomayor potentially could become one of the highest judges in the land, her comments should indeed be scrutinized. Especially since most of her majority opinions on court of appeals were later overturned by the Supreme Court and since there’s evidence to suggest she unfairly favors women and minorities in her court decisions.

I live in the People’s Republic of Michigan and know that the senatorial drones that are Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin will probably vote to confirm Sotomayor. I only hope that in my home state of Texas, Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn show some rational thought and vote no.

Just wondering…if Sotomayor is elected and turns out to be a liberal justice whose rulings border on communism, does that mean we could call her “Red Sonja”?

red sonja

<rim shot>

Is President Obama’s honeymoon over?

Rasmussen reports President Obama’s approval rating is now at 49 percent, and we’re barely six months into his presidency. Yes, the numbers could go up again, but they could also get a lot worse.

Some say it’s the stimulus package, the push for even more government spending and President Obama’s ill-advised comments about the Cambridge Police Department along with his unapologetic apology.

I wonder if more and more people are having buyer’s remorse. It makes you wonder, if the 2008 election were held tomorrow, would Obama still win or would John McCain win?

Makes me wonder if there’s a bumper sticker that reads: “Don’t blame me—I didn’t vote for Obama!”