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Month: October 2021

Searching for the past

About two years ago, I submitted a DNA sample for genealogic analysis. The results came back as I expected, over 80% Southern Italian, 4% Greek, and the rest from other parts of the region. I did not know their sampling only went back to the 1600s.

Recently, I started doing genealogical research and assembling my family tree. I subscribed to a site that uses data from the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the largest and best repository of worldwide genealogy and records.

I submitted the DNA analysis from the other company to their site. Their genealogy sampling goes back 10,000 years, so the percentages were different.

The results:

  • Greek/Southern Italian- 77.6%
  • Sardinian- 10.1%
  • North African- 6.7%
  • Mideast- 4.8%
  • Nigerian- 0.8%

The surprise was having more Greek DNA than Southern Italian. But going back 10,000 years makes sense, as Sicily was part of the Greek Empire. 

The rest was not. Historically, the Mediterranean region was an area of trade, conquering, and repopulation. The Phoenicians- Modern-day Lebanon and parts of Israel and Syria- conducted trade with and populated Sicily. 

North African areas did the same as the Phoenicians or conquered parts of the island. Egypt was the highest percentage, though it was less than 1%. 

Nigeria was the surprise. Who knows, I may be related to one of those billionaire Nigerian royals who keep sending me emails to help them move their money. I could email them back, “Hello, brother.”

Through record searches, I found my maternal grandfather had a brother we did not know existed. My paternal grandfather was denied citizenship in 1925 by the Labor Department* for “ignorance, refusing to learn,” whatever that meant. I find new information or records about my parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins every day. I found the names of my paternal great-grandparents, along with great aunts, uncles, and third, fourth, and fifth cousins.

The records available are sometimes overwhelming- draft notices, ship manifests, passport applications, news stories, yearbook pictures, wedding announcements, etc. The written government records are occasionally hard to read, as they were handwritten using fountain pens. This explains why many names, including the maternal side of my family, were misspelled.

I limit the research time because it is too easy to go down an hours-long rabbit hole searching records, census data, news items, and even yearbooks. The research gets addictive.

I discovered some minor discrepancies from what I was told about my family. My family tree is expanding. I lost contact with most of my cousins, but their information is out there. 

If you have the time and the money- the genealogy sites charge subscription fees- you should search your past. If you submit DNA, make sure the companies go back thousands of years for more accuracy. 

We concentrate too much on the real, perceived, or false sins of history in this era of victimhood and grievance. You should research your own. You learn where your people came from, where they settled, who they were, and who you are.

*The Department of Labor handled immigration and naturalization until the founding of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1933.

Wait til next year

Baseball is over for Chicago this year. The early season was promising for the Cubs and the Sox. Both teams were on top. There was speculation there might even be Crosstown Classic World Series. While the Sox battled on, sometimes winning ugly, the Cubs started to slide downhill.

After the Cubs traded Baez, Rizzo, and Bryant, the team imploded and went right into the toilet. The Sox kept battling it out. Now, like the Cubs fan’s mantra, it is wait til next year.

There will be plenty of criticism to go around, blaming players, Tony LaRussa, and team management. It is futile. Like all sports, baseball is an all-hands-on-deck team sport., more so in post-season. Ownership, management, coaches, players, and other assorted members must work in harmony, synced to the nth degree.

When the Sox won the World Series in 2005, even hardcore Cubs fans begrudgingly cheered with the rest of the city. When the Cubs won the Series in 2016, the same held. Maybe the Sox needed Billy Goat Tavern’s Sam Sianis goat to breathe some magic in the team since the animal took Sam’s uncle’s curse off the Cubs.

Image: PV Bella

Baseball is a business, besides a sport. Sometimes the business gets in the way of the sport, as happened with the Cubs, though there is no way of knowing if keeping the three past World Series players would have stopped their slide. Baseball is also about fatigue, minor and major injuries, and mistakes. During the post-season mistakes, even minor ones, are more critical.

I am sure the “experts” will hold seances to dissect the Sox season and give us their reasons, excuses, or horse manure for why the White Sox blew it. It will be meaningless.

The season is over for both teams. Wait until next year and hope that next season will be better.

Why we stay

The fountain at Giddings Plaza/Image: PV Bella

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. There are 77 geographic areas in Chicago. Neighborhoods are made up of communities that may consist of one or more blocks. Each neighborhood is distinct.

My first assignment on the Chicago Police Department was the 010 District, called Marquette. The district spanned part of Lawndale, the Little Village and Heart of Chicago neighborhoods. I spent most of my street training in Lawndale. I spent almost ten years working in those neighborhoods. Even though they overlapped, each was distinct.

Lawndale was one of the most impoverished and dangerous neighborhoods in the city. In the early 80s, a national newspaper cited the ten most dangerous neighborhoods in the country. Lawndale came in at number three. Number one and two were in New York City. Number four was Watts, in Los Angeles.

Lawndale was a place where hope died. If there was nothing left to steal, thieves stole your dreams. There were some middle and working-class people living there. One night, we responded to a burglary. The victims were a middle-aged African American couple. The gentleman was a driver for Coca-Cola. His wife was a public-school teacher. Both were well-paying jobs.

My African American partner asked them why they still lived in Lawndale, as they were people of means and could live any place they wanted. They said they were born and raised in the neighborhood. They met, married, and raised their children in the house they owned. Lawndale was home.

There is a big difference between a house and a home. A house is a shelter, the roof over your head. A home is where you make a life. It is your house, block, and neighborhood. A home is your nearby relatives and friends. It is where you worship if you are a person of faith. If you are a lifelong resident, it is where you were born, went to school, played sports, recreated, got married, and buried.

There were other people like that couple who made their lives in Lawndale. They owned homes or small apartment buildings. They stayed, raised their families, and retired, despite all the problems. Lawndale was home.

No matter the conditions, from danger to crippling property taxes, we stubbornly stay because we made the neighborhood our home. Where else are we going to go?
Now that the violence is spreading out to every neighborhood in Chicago, with no end in sight, many people are afraid to walk or drive the streets, especially at night. Many are threatening to leave the city. Frequently,

My neighborhood is my home. It is where I’ve lived for over fourteen years. Everything I need or want is in this neighborhood. I have good neighbors and friends. It is where I socialize. There are two large parks and a plaza to enjoy. It is convenient, as I can get anywhere in the city quickly on public transportation. If I did move, I would stay in the neighborhood. A condo, apartment, or house is only a roof over my head. The neighborhood is home.

This concept of home is what we need to understand. People put down roots in a neighborhood. No matter how bad things get, they stay. It is home. We cannot blame them for staying, even if they are crime victims.

Chicago is going through a rough time with citywide violent crime out of control. It is anarchy. That will not move most of us from our home neighborhoods. No matter what happens, most of us stay put.

My neighbors and I made our lives where we live. We are here for the long haul. We are staying put, no matter what happens. We are a neighborhood, a community. This is our home.

The favor bank crashed

Image: PV Bella

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. ..” (The Lord of the Rings/JRR Tolkien)

A while back, I did a favor for someone. It was something for which I would typically get paid. That person expressed their gratitude. I reminded them it was a favor. Another deposit in the favor bank. 

Whether it is politics or business, Chicago relies on the favor bank. Chicago politics lives on the favor bank. You scratch my back, and I scratch yours. That is how things get done in this city of tribal political warfare. Good politicians and business people know this.

The favor bank was never about who wants to be more powerful or thinks they are in control. It is not a one-way or dead-end street. It is part of the Chicago Way. The way things get accomplished. We get by with a little help from our friends.

The favor bank does not rely on love, liking, respect, or loathing people. It is based on mutual need and trust. Just like you trust the bank with your money, favors are based on the gold standard that they will be repaid when needed. No reminder of “Remember when I…” is required or demanded.

The favor bank in Chicago crashed. The proof is the battle between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her nemeses, State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, and Democratic Party Chair, and Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle. The war is over who rules Chicago, who is the singular power. Preckwinkle wants to rule it all, the county and the city.

Toni Preckwinkle, the Chicago Machine Boss, AKA, the Godmother, understands power. She knows how and when to wield it. Preckwinkle is beloved by masses of gullible voters and the Chicago news media, who drank the Kool-Aid, believing Preckwinkle is a reformer, a goo-goo*. Preckwinkle is no reformer. She is no goo-goo.

Toni Preckwinkle is ruthless in her quest to control Chicago. Like Sauron, from the “Lord of the Rings,” she dispenses rings- favors- and demands more than a return. She demands total allegiance.

Lori Lightfoot was not supposed to be the mayor of Chicago. Toni Preckwinkle was the shining North Star. Lori Lightfoot did not only win the election. She crushed Preckwinkle, taking 49 out of fifty wards. It was a humiliating rout. A rout Preckwinkle will never forgive or forget.

Since her loss, Preckwinkle has done everything in her power to humiliate Lightfoot. She stays quiet behind the scenes while her minions who owe her do her bidding. All in the name of reform, whatever that means.

Preckwinkle’s chief minion is Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx. Preckwinkle created Foxx in her image, gave her marching orders, and the war was on. Foxx is no reformer, no goo-goo. She is a hard-edged opportunist. She knows the voters are gullible, and the news media is blissfully ignorant. Reform is a dog and pony show.

Their plan is to destroy the city and bring in a hero or heroine to save it. If you need proof, it is right before your eyes. The murder, mayhem, and bloodshed occurring every day in every neighborhood in Chicago. Preckwinkle and Foxx revel seeing Lightfoot twist in the wind while aiding and abetting the anarchy on the streets.

Kim Foxx is supposed to prosecute criminals. Under the guise of criminal justice reform, she continually refuses to charge criminals with felonies. She raised the bar so high that she created a revolving door for violent criminals to walk through to keep terrorizing the citizens. Foxx is Toni Preckwinkle’s Chief Anarchist in Charge. 

Foxx is more telegenic and likable than Lightfoot. She is a media darling. She is focused on one thing and one thing only, doing the bidding of Toni Preckwinkle by destroying Chicago, thus destroying Lightfoot. Foxx is not alone. There are several alderpeople under Preckwinkle’s spell who do her bidding. They owe her too.

Lightfoot did Preckwinkle a solid by endorsing her nemesis, Kim Foxx, for reelection. That favor was not put in the bank. It was never meant to be returned. Foxx and Preckwinkle revel in seeing the deaths of innocents, especially children and the elderly. They are a blood cult. They do not care about lives. They care about power. All that matters is the dumb voters and the happy compliant press.

They drag out their secret weapons, social justice, and race when all else seems to fail. They toss out race and victimhood to create grievance and division. The mooks who vote believe the beautiful lies. The mamelukes in the press swallow this and churn it out, turning the beautiful lies into a deadly reality.

Mayor Lightfoot needs to learn the favor bank crashed. She owes no one. She will never get repaid. She is alone, fighting a battle with no allies. Toni Preckwinkle is succeeding in Lightfoot’s destruction. She stands silently behind the veil, letting others do her bidding. She wears the One Ring to rule, bring them all in and bind them in darkness.

The question is, how many dead bodies will it take before the citizens in Chicago and the news media realize the evil they created?

*Goo-goo is a political pejorative for a good government type.

Welcome to Deadwood

The new Chicago logo/image: PV Bella

UPDATE: This piece was edited. I originally put the number of people murdered in Chicago versus the number shot This was corrected.

2-70 are the ages of two of the ten people shot between Friday night and Saturday morning. Another toddler and another older person. One starting life and another who lived a life.

Almost 800 people were shot in Chicago, plus over 185 people shot on the expressways.* With the rise of rolling shootouts, it appears the shootings will go on through the winter months. Predictions are that 1000 or more people will be wounded or die by gun violence in Chicago by year’s end. 

The new Chicago Flag/Image: PV Bella

Maybe we should change the name of Chicago to Deadwood, the historic town known for its violence and criminality. Change the Chicago logo to Aces and Eights, the Deadman’s Hand. Die the river red to commemorate all the bloodshed on the streets. Change the city flag to a body chalk figure with four bloody bullet holes.

Who is protecting us? Who is curbing or preventing the warfare on our streets? Where are the accountability and consequences for those arrested?

Day after day, weekend after weekend, and here we are with another three-day weekend with nice weather. How many people must die? How many families must mourn and grieve? How many people must suffer wounds, some catastrophic? 

How many violent criminals must be let on the streets by our catch and release prosecutors and judges? Is criminality now sports fishing?

We refuse to hold anyone accountable. The people responsible for keeping us safe are squabbling like children. They get their backs up in righteous indignation, sometimes pretending to almost cry, and blame each other. The former SNL character, the Thespian, Jon Lovitz, had a word for this, ACTING! 

There is no harsh criticism or outrage over the lack of public safety. The systems in place that are supposed to keep us safe are failing on an epic level. The news media reports the carnage, but their editorial boards are silent. The media may as well put Mr. Rogers and Barney in charge of its editorial boards.

Not one person, elected or appointed, will provide a solution to curb this out-of-control anarchy. There is a solution we can provide. Threaten the elected officials to bring things under control, or we will toss them to the curb, where they belong. Toni Preckwinkle, Lori Lightfoot, and Kim Foxx should get a clear message their jobs are at stake. 

We no longer want to hear about systemic and intractable something or other, social issues, or equity. We do not want to see officials lie with data. We want to see the numbers of people shot driven down. We want to walk or drive down our streets without fear of being innocent victims of gun violence. We want to see the perpetrators of violence held accountable. We want criminals to know there will be consequences for their activity.

Contrary to what their spokes weasels say, our elected officials are not courageous fighters on behalf of the public. They are craven cowards. Their greatest fear is the unemployment line. Citizens should crank up the heat and put that fear into their hearts and keep it there until they do something besides talk and quarrel among themselves.

Lori Lightfoot made a big mistake meeting with Kim Foxx to iron out their political differences. She should have doubled and tripled down on her criticism. Lightfoot should have thrown Preckwinkle under the bus too. Instead, she decided to fold and play nice. When the people responsible for fueling and driving violence all over this city fail, there should be no nice. There should be constant and consistent harsh criticism.

Love them or hate them, former Chicago mayors Daley and Emanuel would never tolerate the level of incompetence and apathy of Preckwinkle and Foxx. Where are the alderpeople? They should be scorching Foxx and Preckwinkle. Where are the Cook County Commissioners who represent areas of Chicago? They should be standing up for the victims and potential victims.

As it stands, more people are killed by guns than COVID. COVID is still a pandemic. Violence is just another problem no one wants to solve. There is no political will because there is no political threat of consequences for failure.

Welcome to Deadwood.

*Expressway crimes are the jurisdiction of the Illinois State Police and are not reported in Chicago’s statistics, even though they happen within the city limits.

Shh it’s a secret

Image: PV Bella

The driver pulled up to a nice house on the Southside. He escorted me to the large basement. It was dark, barely lit by candles. The Boss sat in front of a table. The committeemen sat in chairs on either side of me. My committeeman brought me before the Boss. On the table were a letter and a knife. The committeeman pricked my finger with the knife and smeared the bloody finger across the letter. He placed the folded letter in my hands and lit it on fire. The Boss recited the oath. “You are now a member of the Chicago Machine. When called, you will immediately respond, even if you are at your mother’s death bed. If you reveal the secrets of the machine, may your career burn in Hell as this letter in your hand.” I vowed to obey. She came from behind the desk and hugged me. Then all the committeemen, one by one, hugged me. I was now a made member of the Chicago Machine. (The Godmother)

“A Chicago Police Department spokesperson said the case report is restricted, and they are not authorized to look at it. Records show CPD classified the case as an aggravated assault of a police officer with a handgun. Another source said a Chicago police internal affairs unit that handles police-involved shootings joined violent crimes detectives at the scene.” (CWBChicago)  (Empahsis mine)     

CWBChicago scooped the politically compliant Chicago news media by reporting on a shooting incident in front of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s home last month. Allegedly, one of her bodyguards was sitting in a car, guarding her home. Someone tried to carjack him. The bodyguard fired shots. Nothing much is known except what Preckwinkle wants to be known.

But wait, there’s more. Unknown to all but God, another Preckwinkle bodyguard was robbed near her home in July. The offender took his firearm. Once again, CWBChicago scooped the friendly compliant Chicago news media.

So much for transparency from the notoriously secretive Toni Preckwinkle. Something stinks and stinks to high heaven. Preckwinkle did what she always does, bobbed, weaved, and dodged. And, as usual, she got away with it. The news media gave her a pass like they always do. She is beloved by them and their editorial boards. Noting to see here folks, just keep moving along.

The Chicago Machine has two things in common with the Mafia. It has a boss, and it is a secret organization. Toni Preckwinkle is the Boss, and everything is a secret. No hint or whiff of scandal shall be reported. She evaded accountability for the scandals of other county officials.

One would think with all the violent anarchy in Chicago and hitting so close to her person twice, Preckwinkle would have a response besides saying the incidents are under investigation by the Chicago Police Department.

Preckwinkle is directly responsible for the violent anarchy plaguing every neighborhood in Chicago. Her “reform” policies are fueling the murder and mayhem. She controls the State’s Attorney and the Courts. They do what they are told or else. If you disagree or editorialize, you are tarred and feathered as a racist. The truth is racism in Chicago.

Why didn’t Preckwinkle issue a press release or hold a press conference on these two incidents? Why all the secrecy around them? A stolen Sig-Saur pistol is on the streets of Chicago, and we are not supposed to know. It’s a secret. Even after being exposed, she is still using the veil of secrecy. The compliant news media is aiding and abetting her. 

What other secrets is Preckwinkle hiding? These two incidents were not scandals. They were street robberies. Plainclothes and off-duty police officers can be crime victims, like the rest of us. 

One would think these incidents would be major news in this city, considering the continuing Olympic Games of Violence affecting every neighborhood. One would think wrong. Secrets must be kept.

The Stroger Machine replaced the Daley Machine. Preckwinkle dethroned the Stroger’s. Now it is the Preckwinkle Machine. Nothing changes. There is no reform. There is no accountability or transparency. There are only secrets, just like the Mafia.

Silence is consent

Image-Finger Pointing/PV Bella

I live in one of those nice, “quiet,” “safe” neighborhoods. There are old-growth trees, many birches, and maples lining the streets. There is a mix of people- families with small children, empty nesters, singles. The area is somewhat demographically diverse. 

It is no longer quiet or safe. Over the past week, there were two rolling shootouts. There were other instances of gun violence. It begs the question; can we walk or drive down our streets without being innocent victims of uncontrolled anarchy in Chicago?

Some may say that anarchy is incorrect or inflammatory. What else do you call uncontrollable, unpredictable rampant violence and the brazenness of the people committing these crimes? The politicians and news media toss around words like systemic and intractable describing the “root” causes of crime. This spate of violence is systemic and intractable.

I spent almost 30 years as a Chicago Police Officer. I worked in two of the most violent areas of the city. When I was in a citywide unit, I worked in many neighborhoods across the city. Occasionally there were short spates of violence in the safest areas. I never witnessed or even imagined violence this widespread and uncontrollable citywide. There is no safe area in Chicago.

Except for the criminals, I no longer know who to blame for this anarchy. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the alderpeople, State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle, or Chicago’s warfare politics.

I would blame the friendly, inept editorial boards of our local news media for ignoring the violence. That would be a waste of mental energy. “The press has always been this country’s single greatest force for social change.” ((Andrew Vachss) The press is no longer a force for change. They are a force for complicity.

First, the politicians tell us beautiful lies because that is what we need to hear. Then they call each other liars because that is what they do. Lies, lies, and more damned lies.

I finally concluded that we, the citizens, and voters are to blame. We should be outraged. We should be demanding accountability and transparency. We should be shouting from the rooftops and marching in the streets. We are silent. 

Our silence is consent. Our lack of action is consent.

We consent to murder and mayhem. We consent to children, especially infants and toddlers being killed. We consent to mass shootings. We consent to rolling shootouts. We consent to carjackings and armed robberies. We consent to prosecutors refusing to prosecute. We consent to the catch and release of violent criminals by the courts.

We consent to the epic public safety failure of our government systems.  

Chicago is in a public safety crisis. If this goes on much longer, it will be a catastrophe. Some of the alderpeople are speaking out. We should be too. We should be ringing their phones off the hook or jamming their emails. 

We do nothing. We are silent.

Chicago politics sucked since I have been alive. Never has it sucked this bad. Public safety is the top priority in governance. Our elected officials are failing and flailing. 

There are as many political finger-pointers as there are people pointing guns. This anarchy results from gross political malfeasance across every level of governance- city, county, and state. Yet, we remain silent. How much longer will this go on before we stop consenting and break our silence? 

If you want to see who is responsible for the violent anarchy in Chicago, look in the mirror.

Chicago celebrates Capone Days

Image: Chicago Dead Man’s Hand/ PV Bella

During the Capone era, rolling shootouts were common in Chicago. Over the past weeks, they returned. The Violent Olympic Games are closing with Capone Days, a series of events involving cars and guns, re-enacting those days of yore. This Olympic event involves excellent skills, including speed, race car driving skills, and spray and pray skills with firearms to hit human targets without being shot. 

Killing a target wins a Gold Medal. Wounding is a Silver Medal. A Bronze Medal is awarded for bullet holes in vehicles.

The most recent event occurred Monday night around 10:50 PM on Irving Park Road, between Rockwell and Ashland. Two cars chased each other while firing guns. One car, a Jeep, crashed outside Lakeview High School. The driver ran off. The passenger was found dead, shot multiple times. Aside from the body and several shell casings, there were bullet holes in the school’s windows. The second car was described as a Dodge sedan. (CWB Chicago)

This was the second rolling shootout event on a similar stretch of Irving Park Road in a week. On Sunday, there was a rolling shootout that ended in the Division/Rush Street area. There was a multi-block rolling shootout in the West Town neighborhood last week. These events are occurring all over the city, including the expressways.

This phenomenon once again proves no one and no place is safe in Chicago. The violence in Chicago is more than brazen criminality. This continuing wave of violence is people who know they can get away with anything, anytime, and anyplace. There will be no repercussions, no accountability, no justice, and no punishment. It is mutual combat, even when innocent victims are murdered. For example, the retired teacher on the Dan Ryan Expressway was a case of mutual combat. 

According to Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, mutual combat is not grounds for charging people with murder or other felonies.

That is great! After Capone Days, we should bring back dueling at dawn in our parks and Old West mano-e-mano gunfights at high noon on our streets.

How about the Mutual Combat Games in Soldier Field with cheering fans. There could be cheerleaders, the Luvaguns. Marching bands could take the field before and in between events. There ought to be announcers for the play-by-play. Oh, and an organ player, every sports venue needs an organ player. Maybe a local songwriter can come up with snappy dirges.

They could sell memorabilia, clothing, and hats with bloody bullet holes printed on them. One of our local breweries could whip up a themed beer, Dead Eye Ale. Maybe bullet-shaped pretzels with blood-red-dyed salt to go with the beer. There could be a sportsbook for betting. We could televise the events—real live-action with real guns and other weapons of choice.

Early on Sunday mornings, we can close a mile or two long stretch of DuSable Drive and the lakefront for Rolling Shoot Out events. Due to the dangerous nature, they would have to be filmed, preferably by drones or helicopter.

Chicago is a sports town, and we need new sporting events. Those ancient Romans knew how to entertain their populace with exciting gory circuses. We could be the template for a whole new sports franchise, a league of our own.

Since there is no justice, no public outrage, no screaming editorials from the inept Chicago news media, and no empathy or mercy from our cold-hearted public officials or the citizens, why not create something new to justify the murder and mayhem? 

Legalize mutual combat and make it a professional sport. It will provide a stream of needed income, jobs for facility and city workers, income for funeral directors, and hopefully rid us of at least half or more of the violent criminals in this city. It will also provide entertainment for the merciless cold-hearted people who elect ruthless cold-hearted politicians.

Cook County taxpayers could benefit. Since the State’s Attorney’s Office is useless, it can be eliminated from the county budget, saving us the money wasted on willful malfeasance.

Our politicians dealt us a Dead Man’s hand. We may as well take advantage of it.

Oh the beautiful lies they tell

Image: PV Bella

“So that’s what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That’s what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me.” (Charles Bukowski)

Chicagoans are not willing to deal with reality. Most citizens can’t handle the truth. The politicians, their spokes weasels, and the news media know this. They create soft language to protect us from the harsh reality of the ugly truth staring us in the face. These are called euphemisms.

Smug, overpaid spokes weasels, and wordsmiths create euphemisms to conceal our overlords’ sins of omission. When the spokes weasels and wordsmiths get stymied, they turn to academia. They seek experts with no expertise to create new language to hide the epic failures of our elected officials and their appointees.

Large urban areas were plagued with gangs. The gangs became racketeers. Their crimes became the rackets. Then, they changed the wording to crime syndicates, then organized crime. Organized crime morphed into organized criminal enterprises. Now, we have cartels.

Equality and inequality were bantered around for decades. The politicians finally woke up and realized humans are not all created equal and never will be. They now discuss equity. Equity is good. Inequity is bad. They no longer seek equality. They strive for equity. If they bring equity to the city, it will solve our problems.

Crime is no longer the result of human activity. It is part and parcel of systemic and intractable somethings or others. Crime should be understood in that context with a dose of nuance thrown in for good measure.

We no longer blame people for crimes. We blame their environment. Crime, like climate change, is now an environmental issue. I am sure that brings cold comfort to the victims, who the environment is victimizing.

Criminals, like the former physically and mentally handicapped, are referred to as challenged people. They have obstacles to overcome. Society must remove the obstacles that challenge them. I thought society elected people to do that.

Out-of-control violent crime in Chicago, especially gun violence, is not just an environmental issue. It is also a public health issue. It starts as a breakout, becomes an epidemic. Now, it is a pandemic, deadlier than COVID. All the city’s holistic treatments and measures failed. Chicago politicians hope the CDC and FDA can develop solutions, vaccines, and cures before we perish.

The Chicago Police Department is supposed to police the city. Yet, our masters tell us we cannot police our way out of the Olympic Games of Violence plaguing every neighborhood in Chicago. Go figure. 

“We” must solve the decades-long systemic issues plaguing underserved communities. Once that major feat is accomplished, “we” can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Who is this “we” “they” keep talking about?

There is another name for euphemisms, beautiful lies. Politicians and the news media tell us beautiful lies. We, the fools, believe them. It makes their job easier. They are terrified if we realize the ugly truth one day, and a pandemic of fear breaks out in Chicago. Fear leads to outrage. Outrage leads to unemployed politicians. 

 Politicians never admit they have no clue how to resolve issues. By the way, issues used to be called problems. Problems- a mathematical term- must be solved. They cannot solve problems. They changed the word to issues. Issues must be resolved. Resolved buys them time, even decades, to figure out solutions to the problems they will never solve.

There used to be numbers. Numbers turned into statistics. Statistics transmuted into data. In the age of technology, data is a sexier term. When politicians or appointees roll out data, the news media and citizens tingle and slobber like hormonally charged teenagers. When the sexiness of data wears off, the spokes weasels are ready. The next pornographic word is analytics. Data and analytics do not lie. Politicians use data and analytics to tell beautiful lies.

Politicians keep talking about accountability and transparency, sometimes in the same breath. Those two words replaced responsibility and truth. Elected officials are neither accountable nor transparent. We do not hold them responsible for their lies as we keep reelecting them or electing the same ilk. Politicians talk about change. The only thing they change is words. They are inept to change things. So, they change the vocabulary. Voila, problems solved issues resolved.

Avoiding Thanksgiving turkey terror

Image: PV Bella

It is October. A radio station was discussing Thanksgiving. Stores are getting ready for the holiday, and you should be too. Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Preparing the feast can be a lot of work and expensive. There is no need to kill yourself and your wallet.

Some people will be preparing their first Thanksgiving dinners. They will face turkey terror, a fear, grounded in reality, that their feast will be a disaster. It does not have to be this way. Remember the military axiom, P*ss poor prior planning leads to p*ss poor performance.

Now is the time to start planning your feast, especially if you are doing it for the first time. Soon, the grocery stores will be setting up displays of non-perishable goods. They will be on sale until the day gets closer. Now is the time to stock up on those goods. This year, due to supply chain issues, those sales may not be as numerous as years past, but products will still be less expensive than waiting for the week or two before the big day.

The best way to plan is to create your menu, find recipes, and list all the ingredients you need. Every time you go to the grocery store, pick up a few non-perishable items and cross those off your list. Put them in a box, bin, or empty shelf, so you will know where they are for the big day.

Decide ahead of time if you are buying a frozen or fresh turkey. A frozen turkey takes a long time to defrost, so buy it ahead of time if that is your choice. Allow 1.5 pounds per person since about 1/3 of a turkey is waste- bones.

Side dishes and dressing can be prepared a day or two ahead and heated while the turkey is resting after you pull it out of the oven. Do not be shy asking people to bring side dishes, desserts, or turning down their offers. It means less work and expense for you. You do not have to prepare everything.

Plan Thanksgiving Day ahead of time. Timing is everything. Figure out the approximate time the turkey will come out of the oven and the resting time. That is the time you will be serving dinner. If you want guests to come earlier, figure in some light appetizers and drinks. I would stick with wine and good beer. Thanksgiving is not supposed to be a drunken booze and puke fest.

If you never roasted a turkey, practice roasting chickens. If you can properly roast a chicken, you can roast a turkey. The turkey is just a bigger fowl and takes longer to cook.

Here are some tips for roasting that BFB- Big F**king Bird. These are just the basics. Do not get fancy schmancy with brining or slathering if this is your first time. Plain salt and pepper and a few other ingredients are acceptable.

  • If. using a frozen turkey, allow one day for every 4-5 pounds to thaw in the fridge. Put the turkey in a pan on a rack on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
  • The day before, remove the wrapping and giblets package. Blot the turkey with paper towels inside and out. Put it back in the fridge.
  • On the day of, remove the turkey an hour before cooking and let it sit on the counter. This will bring the bird close to room temperature.
  • Preheat your oven to 450 F.
  • Season the turkey liberally inside and out with salt and pepper. You can put some herbs- parsley, sage, rosemary- onion and orange wedges in the cavity, along with a stick or two of butter (this will enhance your sauce/gravy)
  • Put the bird in the oven. After 10-15 minutes, lower the oven to 350 F and roast the bird. Figure 13-15 minutes per pound from the time you put the turkey in the oven. Note, if you put the BFB in the oven right out of the fridge, cooking time may be longer.
  • Check the temp with an insta-read thermometer in the thick part of the thigh- do not touch bone. It should read 165 F. (The thighs take the longest to cook.)
  • Remove the bird, cover loosely with foil, and let it rest 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the bird.
  • While that BFB is resting, heat your sides and prepare your sauce/gravy, using the pan drippings. Usually the week of Thanks giving, stores have turkey wings. You can use those to make the stock for your gravy/sauce or buy turkey stock.

Carve, serve, and enjoy. I prefer a buffet-style dinner for Thanksgiving. It is easier on the cook and the guests.