Wednesday, December 12, 2012

He's still our favorite clown

In case you missed it, I submit for your reading pleasure this evening, Mr. Robert Feder's December 11 tribute to Bob Bell, "Why Chicago will always love the man who brought Bozo to life." The many comments are also worth your time.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of accompanying Edward Austin to the WGN-TV newsroom for his interview on Paul Lisnek's CLTV show, Politics Tonight. To get to the newsroom, I had to go right past Studio One, where the Bozo show was broadcast. The doors were partially open -- and the Bozo sets are still in there. I was instantly a little kid again, part of the 'cast of thousands' for one day only, thrilled to be picked for a tug-of-war (my team lost). I must have mumbled my name, though, because Ringmaster Ned called me "Jeff."

Like every other kid of a certain age, when I was in grammar school, I raced home every day for lunch to watch Bozo -- but I hardly ever got to see the end; I had to be back at school before 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Joy of Spam?

Comment moderation is in effect on this page and on page one of this blog. That means I look at any comments submitted before deciding whether to post them. Most of the comments I've published on judicial posts have been thoughtful or at least civil. But I've also let some pretty mean comments through over the years, not because I agree with them, but because, for better or worse, they too are reflective of the state of political discourse in this country. Every now and then, though, I have to 'flush' a comment that is totally inappropriate. Thankfully, these are relatively rare.

A more common problem, especially of late, has been a deluge of spam comments. The number of spam comments varies; some days there may not be any, but there are days when I log on and find well over 100 "comments" in queue, all asking to get published.

Some of these contain embedded links to porno sites, but the majority of the ones left here of late have carried links for other merchandise -- Ugg boots, Timberland Boots, Louis Vuitton handbags, NFL jerseys. (Just between us, I have my doubts about the authenticity of the designer goods hawked by these spammers.) There are spam comments with links for generic Viagra and other medications. I've seen some for pipes and cigarettes too. Most of these are just 'commercial' comments are just link chains; sometimes they come embedded in nonsensical text.

Sometimes the spam comments seem topical. Remember a couple of weeks ago when none of us won the $550 million Powerball drawing? I found this comment waiting for me one morning during that time:
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Why, though, did the spammer think it a good idea to try and put this comment on a 2008 post?

There are also a lot of spam comments with links for other websites, often for "loans," but sometimes for law firms. Beware what you get when you buy 'visibility' on the web: What benefit would 'drunk driving lawyers in Tampa' or 'personal injury lawyers in Topeka' hope to get from leaving comments on a Chicago lawyer's site? Even if those comments were in standard English -- and they are not.

Cases in point:
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  • Howdy. I am not steadfast if I coincide win the previous arguments. I entertain a migraine.
(I'm not mentioning any sites by name in this post, but this last one was plugging a pain relief medicine.)

One spanner tried a very friendly approach:
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This spammer tried reverse psychology:
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Some of the spam posts can be quite flattering:
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These would have been even more flattering if the spammers hadn't attempted to put these on posts that were merely notices about a candidate's fundraiser or a reposted North Town News Magazine video.

When an obviously spam comment is both flattering and proposed for a substantive post, I admit I have been tempted to let the comments through:
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Saturday, December 1, 2012

My suggestions to the BBWA voters

Earlier this week, the Baseball Hall of Fame released its list of candidates for induction in 2013. The complete list is reproduced below.  For any members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who happen by, I have highlighted my recommendations that I suggest for inclusion on your ballots (in addition to whoever else you were considering):


MLB seasons

Yrs on BBWAA ballot

Sandy Alomar Jr. 1988-2007 1st 
Jeff Bagwell 1991-2005 3rd 
Craig Biggio 1988-2007 1st  
Barry Bonds 1986-2007 1st 
Jeff Cirillo 1994-2007 1st 
Royce Clayton 1991-2007 1st   
Roger Clemens 1984-2007 1st 
Jeff Conine 1990, 1992-2007 1st  
Steve Finley 1989-2007 1st 
Julio Franco 1982-94, 1996-97, 1999, 2001-07 1st 
Shawn Green 1993-2007 1st 
Roberto Hernandez 1991-2007 1st 
Ryan Klesko 1992-2007 1st 
Kenny Lofton 1991-2007 1st 
Edgar Martinez 1987-2004 4th   
Don Mattingly 1982-95 13th 
Fred McGriff 1986-2004 4th   
Mark McGwire 1986-2001 7th 
Jose Mesa 1987, 1990-2007 1st 
Jack Morris 1977-94 14th 
Dale Murphy 1976-93 15th 
Rafael Palmeiro 1986-2005 3rd   
Mike Piazza 1992-2007 1st 
Tim Raines 1979-2002 6th 
Reggie Sanders 1991-2007 1st 
Curt Schilling  1988-2007 1st 
Aaron Sele 1993-2007 1st 
Lee Smith 1980-97 11th 
Sammy Sosa 1988-2005, 2007 1st 
Mike Stanton 1989-2007 1st 
Alan Trammell 1977-96 12th 
Larry Walker 1989-2005 3rd   
Todd Walker 1996-2007 1st 
David Wells 1987-2007 1st 
Rondell White 1996-2007 1st 
Bernie Williams 1991-2006 2nd    
Woody Williams 1993-2007 1st 

Yes, oh Guardians of Baseball's Valhalla, each of my highlighted suggestions has been accused of steroid use. There was apparently a heck of a lot of steroid use going on in the major leagues not so many years ago -- and everyone with a brain knew it.

Sammy Sosa was a fast, skinny kid when he was with the White Sox early in his career. But it was a jumbo-sized Sammy Sosa that helped revive the nation's interest in baseball after the 1994 strike when he dueled with Mark McGwire for the home run title. Everyone -- including you baseball writers -- chuckled when Sammy attributed his new massive bulk to "Flintstones vitamins." A famous Nike commercial showed Heather Locklear ignoring Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux in favor of Mark McGwire because "chicks dig the long ball."

How in tarnation can you turn all self-righteous now? You knew they were using then; you didn't protest.

No, I don't condone steroid use. I fully support MLB's belated efforts to clean up the game. But these were the dominant players of their era. If you want to include on their plaques that they were dirty, stinking steroid users who endangered their own health (and, much worse, encouraged impressionable young athletes to try PED's for themselves), go ahead -- particularly if you baseball writers admit your complicity in these crimes. But those plaques belong in the Hall of Fame.