Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TomTom, Garmin or Magellan -- preserving the tradition?

Jeff Danziger cartoon obtained from Yahoo! News

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The real reason why the Mayan calendar ends in 2012?

I can not vouch for the origin of this cartoon or identify

the artist, but I can tell you that I found it at this site.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Garlic: It's not just for vampires any more

Cloves of garlic worn 'round the neck are supposed to ward off vampires (as well as, presumably, prospective dates).

Vampires are very fashionable at present. But in the Republic of Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe bordered by Ukraine and Romania, the local army has found another equally trendy use for garlic.

According to an article I saw this morning in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Moldavian army will be adding about .5 ounces of garlic and .9 ounces of onions to each soldier's daily diet... to protect against the swine flu. Says the article, "Onion and garlic are traditional remedies in Moldova, where they are widely thought to boost the immune system."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chicago surgeon aboard Atlantis

Dr. Robert "Bobby" Satcher, of Oak Park and Northwestern University is now, officially, the first orthopedic surgeon in space, having lifted off yesterday as a mission specialist on STS-129 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on a mission to the International Space Station.

He's not going to be setting up a Sick Bay on the ISS; rather, as explained in this article on the WGN9 website, Satcher "will use his surgical training in joint replacements to help repair two robotic arms on the station's exterior."

And, of course, in keeping with the times, Dr. Satcher is supposed to be providing updates via Twitter. Dr. Satcher 'tweets' as "Astro_Bones." I assume this is an homage to a certain fictional space-going doctor, pictured at right. If it isn't, please don't tell me. I don't want to be disillusioned.

For more on Dr. Satcher's flight, see the official NASA site or any of these articles:

Update 11/23/09: Apparently Dr. Satcher tweets (or twitters, or whatever) as both Astro_Bones and ZeroG_MD. I'm not sure whether you have to subscribe to both... but then I'm no rocket scientist.

Other Chicago area astronauts

Dr. Robert "Bobby" Satcher, now en route to the International Space Station aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis, has strong Chicago roots.

But he is not the first or only astronaut that has ties to this area.

John Mace Grunsfeld is a 1976 graduate of Highland Park High School. He went out of town (MIT) for his undergraduate work, but has MS and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago. Grunsfeld is a former NASA Chief Scientist and, according to Wikipedia, a veteran of five shuttle flights, including the Hubble repair mission this past May. Grunsfeld's father still lives in the Chicago area, according to Wikipedia.

Daniel M. Tani is a 1979 graduate of Glenbard East High School in Lombard. He is a veteran of three shuttle flights and served a hitch as flight engineer aboard the International Space Station. He was supposed to be on the station from late October to mid-December 2008 but, according to Wikipedia, the shuttle flight that was to relieve him was "delayed due to engine cutoff sensor issues during countdown." You may recall that Tani's mother died on December, 19 2008 a traffic accident at a Lombard railroad crossing -- and astronaut Tani was obliged to mourn his mother from space.

Joan Higginbotham is a 1982 graduate of Whitney Young High School in Chicago. She flew as a mission specialist on board Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-116, in December 2006.

Dr. Satcher isn't even the first Chicago doctor to go into space. That honor belongs to Dr. Mae Jemison. Jemison is a 1973 graduate of Morgan Park High School. Jemison flew on Space Shuttle Endeavour with STS-47 in 1992. According to Wikipedia article Dr. Jemison said, "The first thing I saw from space was Chicago, my hometown.... I was working on the middeck where there aren't many windows, and as we passed over Chicago, the commander called me up to the flight deck.... Looking out the window of that space shuttle, I thought if that little girl growing up in Chicago could see her older self now, she would have a huge grin on her face."

Jemison said her inspiration to join NASA was African-American actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek. After Jemison's historic flight, she also became the first real astronaut to appear in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The last man to walk on the Moon, Eugene Cernan, was born in Chicago and graduated from Proviso Township High School in Maywood.

James A. Lovell, of Apollo 13 fame, wasn't born in Chicago -- but he's very definitely associated with the Chicago area because of a family owned restaurant, Lovells of Lake Forest. According to Wikipedia, Lovell's son Jay is the executive chef at the restaurant.

Is there anyone I've missed?

Michael Ian Bender appearance on NTNM

Courtesy Avy Meyers and North Town News Magazine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Elgin Community College beats Yale

A mock trial team from Elgin Community College held its own -- and then some -- against teams from some of America's most elite universities in a competition staged at Harvard this past weekend.

They hadn't been invited. According to the report on the NBC Chicago website, "The team from ECC wasn’t even allowed into the tourney until a regular team dropped out and they got a call to fill in."

Brought in as last-minute tomato cans for the privileged to spar with, ECC instead beat Villanova and Yale, losing narrowly to Brown (the eventual tournament winner). Kerry Lester's story for the Daily Herald (citing college paralegal coordinator Laurel Vietzen as its source) states that, "in addition to beating Villanova and Yale, ECC had a better record than Boston College's 'A' team, Wake Forest, Boston University, Dartmouth's 'A' and 'B' teams, and Wellesley's A&B teams. It also tied Penn State."

The story on the CBS2 website stresses the disparity in the tuitions charged by the various institutions: The sticker price at Yale, according to the CBS2 article, is $47,500 a year; this year at Villanova would cost $49,600. And the ECC tuition? According to the CBS2 story -- $2,740. Robert Channick's story for the Chicago Tribune notes that the ECC team members range "in age from 20 to 50 and [hold] down full-time jobs as waitresses, administrative assistants and stay-at-home moms while working toward their paralegal degrees."

That's right: Paralegal degrees.

In the fullness of time some of the members of the ECC team will become paralegals; some of these will wind up with elite, 'silk-stocking' Chicago firms -- as the law firm equivalent of hewers of wood and drawers of water.

And, in time, the members of the Yale team will recover from their loss. Most will go on to law school, probably at Yale or another Ivy League school, and then on to prestigious clerkships, law school faculties, and prestigious, silk-stocking firms all around the country... and some, perhaps, will come to Chicago -- where they will become partners and members of Chicago's elite.

And where, I hope, they will be reminded, as often as necessary, of ECC's triumph at the 2009 Harvard Crimson mock trial tournament.

Congratulations to team adviser (and Wheaton attorney) Ronald Kowalczyk (who teaches legal writing, litigation and torts at the school), team captain Jennifer Rieger, team president Asia Toufexis, and team members Rebecca Day, Jessica Bianchi, Elizabeth Martzel, Eleni Bala, Robert Dalin, Rita Russo and Mary Burke.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How not to behave in court -- two contemporary illustrations

From "Pardon My Planet." Image obtained here, but I read the
comic, in print, yesterday in the Chicago

I might add that, though a criminal court scene is imagined, "air quotes" would likely have a similar effect on the court in a civil case.

Our second illustration comes from this morning's Chicago Tribune, which relates the curious tale of one Kane Kellet, in court Saturday before McHenry County Judge G. Martin Zopp: It seems he flipped off the judge. In other words, he gave the freeway salute. He gave the judge the bird. This was, according to the Tribune story, Kellet's second in-court breach of civility: "The hearing had already gotten off to a bad start, when Zopp asked if Kellet had an attorney. Kellet uttered a four-letter response that was even less polite than the bird."

Art Golab's November 3 story for the Chicago Sun-Times provides an additional detail about the flying finger incident. It seems that Mr. Kellet's middle digit was unfurled when he was asked to raise his hand to take the oath.

The Tribune story says that Mr. Kellet was homeless at the time of his arrest. Thanks to his behavior in court, Mr. Kellet will reside at the Crossbar Motel for six months at least -- and longer, perhaps, depending on the disposition of the battery and home invasion charges that led to his being in court in the first place.

Note to journalism students: Mr. Kellet's name is spelled with one 't' in the Tribune -- but two 't's in the Sun-Times.