A blog is a blogger’s best friend. When you’re feeling angry or brilliant or even just a little agitated, and you need to vent… Your blog will listen.
Agitation One: So in the Sunday Tribune, the big page-one story on corruption in Illinois observes, “We’ve put an impressive collection of cheats and boodlers into public office over the decades, and the public outcry has never led to more than a token crackdown by government. So why should the curious case of Rod Blagojevich now make things different?”
Maybe because Blagojevich “has reduced Illinois politics to a late-night TV punch line,” says reporter Bob Secter. But it’s Blagojevich who came the TV punch line — and also, by association, Roland Burris — not Illinois politics. Thanks to Barack Obama, the nation was already looking our way, and Blagojevich was accused to trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat — behavior guaranteed to deliver overnight national notoriety.
What makes Blagojevich different, the reason he went so fast when he went, is that he — unlike George Ryan, say — was an incompetent governor who paralyzed Springfield and embarrassed millions of people who’d voted for him. He didn’t govern the Chicago way, or the Illinois way, or however you want to call it. He didn’t govern period. A brief can be written for Ryan as governor. The brief for Blagojevich has been written by Bill Powell, a guy who knew him growing up and says, in what might be construed as mitigation, that Blago’s actually a Nixon-worshipping Republican who wound up in the Democratic Party.
Agitation Two: In the Sunday New York Times, a sports story on the top-rated Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball teams, marvels: “There are 343 N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball teams. There are 340 Division I women’s basketball teams. In a random drawing, the odds of picking two teams from the same college would be 1 in 116,620.”
Newspapers are notoriously weak at arithmetic logic — even so, how did this get in? The reporter (I won’t name him because his desk should have caught this, and for all I know introduced it) multiplied 343 by 340 and got 116,620. Let’s assume (as the Times must have) that all 340 schools with a women’s team also had a men’s team. Randomly draw one of the 340 women’s teams. Then randomly draw one of the 343 men’s teams. The chances it’s from the same school as the women’s team you drew are 1 in 343. (Sunday night, the online story still contained the mistake. I have to believe that sooner or later it’ll be corrected.)