Category Archives: God

Hot Air

The Biggest Daddy-o Of Them All

[Big Mike Note: Here's another blast from the past. This post originally ran in my old blog, The Third City, some four years ago. Sure, I'm an atheist; but I'm not a fanatic about it. Enjoy.]

November 23rd, 2010

I was sitting in a church pew on a March Sunday in 1998.

Imagine: Me, writing that line.

But it’s true. It was a rough time for me, the late winter and spring of ’98. My marriage was finished. For the past 12 years I’d been dealing with panic disorder, agoraphobia, and two or three other coconut maladies. I’d reached the end of my rope.  My twin hobbies of drinking and chasing women were proving to be slightly less than fulfilling. So, I figured I might try something crazy. Prayer.

As far back as age seven, when my second grade teacher, Sister Caelin, told us that we must love god, I’d been skeptical of this whole prayer and creator and piety business. First of all, I kept myself awake half the night for the next three months trying to figure out what the nun meant. How does one love god? I saw g. as some ancient, teed-off crank with a long white beard, a long white robe and sandals, sitting on a cloud-throne somewhere past Orion. I forced myself to imagine showering his cheek with kisses. I figured it was the least I could do, considering he’d snapped his fingers and created the Earth, Europe, the USA, rocks, dinosaurs, Adam & Eve, and the Cubs. I patterned my g.-loving after that which I bestowed upon my own Daddy-o, a similarly distant crank who sat in a recliner with his socks rolled up around his toes. “Kiss your father goodnight,” Ma would command me, so I approached him as if he were a hydrogen bomb that’d just happened to be left in the living room. I brushed my itty-bitty tender lips on his porcupine cheek. He would grunt. I understood that to be how a little kid loved an inscrutable, all-powerful figure. So, in my mind as I lay in bed each night, I’d drag my poor lips over g.’s scratchy beard, squeezing my eyes shut as if to demonstrate how serious I was about this loving god stuff, Sister Caelin’s specter floating overhead, watching me through slitted eyes to make certain not a single cell of my being wasn’t focused on love-love-love-loving the biggest Daddy-o of them all.

God

Always Mad

Finally, by the time that Thanksgiving rolled around, I said to myself, This is stupid. I have no idea how to love god. In fact, the day before the holiday I’d asked Sister Caelin point blank: “How do you love god?” She gave out one of those patented, mouth-open gasps that nuns loved to do when they were trying to convey to certain kids that they’re rotten and ought to burn in hell. And, I most assuredly, was rotten. She immediately turned her attention to the rest of the class and proclaimed that the love of god was a mystery and only a sinner would question how or why. There was no instruction booklet on how to do it, no secret formula, you just knew it when you were loving god. Great, I thought, you’re a big help.

Sister Caelin turned back to me and ordered me to go to the blackboard at the back of the class and write one hundred times, “I must love god” (with a capital G, of course.) That pretty much cracked it for me with god (little g.)

Kid

So for the next 35 or so years I thumbed my nose at the Big Daddy-o and all his fans down here on Earth. But, as I say, things had gotten awfully miserable for me for about a dozen years. I tried every remedy I could think of until in desperation I turned to the putative guy who one day sat there and said to himself, I’m bored; I think I’ll create a Universe.

If you’ve been reading these posts for the last couple of years you know my god-thing didn’t take. To tell the truth, I’m even more anti-Big Daddy-o than ever before. But I do have to concede I got one really fantastic gift from my foray into prayer. That brings us back to that March Sunday in 1998.

The priest was giving his sermon that morning. He seemed a likable guy. Didn’t rail against the filth in the world or tell us we were a bunch of jerks. This priest, whose name I’ve forgotten,  was upbeat — not like a game show host but like the best high school teacher you ever had. And like that one-in-a-million teacher, he left me with something that has stayed with me the rest of my life so far. He said life is good and we were a well-fed, lucky congregation. The vast majority of us didn’t need to worry about the next meal or any predators or whether we were going to freeze that night. That left us only to do that which makes us human, our defining duties in life. “We’re here,” he said, “to love and to hope.”

The minute those words came out of his mouth, I thought, Motherfucker, I’m done. I gotta go. There was, I realized, nothing more that anybody could say or do for me in that place. The rest was all ritual and incense and harridan nuns and big, colorful extravaganzas.

We’re here to love and to hope. I’ve tried to live my life according to those seven words every day since.

Prayer

I Tried It

I tell this story to illustrate that I’m not so cynical that I believe nobody can get anything of value from the Catholic Church. Even I, the world’s most irreligious human, became a better Homo Sapiens sapiens thanks to a moment spent in a church pew. Some people who read this blog are devoted Catholics. I don’t want to tell them I think their faith is bullshit. It’s getting them through this crazy, mixed-up life. And if they believe a guy threw out some lightning bolts and said Let there be a world with Kim Kardashian and Halliburton and Dancing with the Stars, I won’t quibble with them.

Awesome Hot Air

God is all around me.

And it’s bugging me. You know as well as I do how pervasive the old bird is.

Well, not exactly him, but his messengers and agents. He has priests, pastors, imams, rabbis, lamas, and a whole raft of other paid flacks. On top of that he depends on millions and millions — wait, billions — of unpaid volunteers who are more than happy to crow about what a swell dude he is. Perhaps only The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia has a publicity machine as widespread.

God's Guys

Brand Strategists

Walk into any diner and order a cola. When the waitperson repeats your order, s/he’ll say, “And you wanted a Coke, right?”

Right. Even if it’s a Faygo or a Pepsi, it’s a Coke.

Same with the Big Daddy-o in the Sky. Whenever a legislative body wants to initiate proceedings for the day, it calls in Christ’s vicar or G_d’s interpreter to start the festivities off right. Whenever a plane crashes or a lunatic opens fire in a shopping mall, people climb all over each other to say the Big Boy himself was responsible for any survivors. Hell, I sneezed the other day and some woman said, “God bless you.”

He’s everywhere.

Only he’s not. Like Bob Dylan, he’s not there.

And, like Dylan, his reputation is based on layers upon layers of bombast and myth.

There is no Bob Dylan, as you well know. There is a fellow named Robert Allen Zimmerman, born May 24, 1941, who one day decided to market himself by borrowing the given name of the poet Dylan Thomas and adopting it as his surname.

Both Bob Dylan and god have had spectacularly trenchant and brilliant mots attributed to them. These pearls of verbiage, though, have been largely excavated from under massive piles of nonsensical and silly pronouncements.

Maybe Bob Dylan is god.

Blake's God/Dylan

Separated At Birth?

Nah. Can’t be. Because there is no god.

The godly among the populace will counter that it is the height of presumption for me to say such a thing. Pious logicians will argue that I cannot definitively assert the non-existence of something. To which I might respond, Okay, you guys have had some 50,000 years (yup, humans in the Upper Paleolithic Period worshiped a god) to prove the Large Lummox created everything and is concerned with love, peace, war, and the result of yesterday‘s Monday Night Football game. You haven’t yet.

Carl Sagan famously told about the fire-breathing dragon in his garage. Prove that it isn’t there, he said. Guess what: You can’t.

Then the believers will cluck their tongues and shake their heads. How sad, they’ll lament, that you’re so lacking in awe and wonder. Your world is empty and prosaic. They’ll tell me that when they look at the petals of a flower they see the handiwork of the creator. When I look at it, I see a bionic machine. Such an emotionally empty experience.

Not so. For instance, I could hardly get to sleep last night after reading about astronomers’ latest supposition that tens of billions of stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy host Earth-like planets in their Goldilocks Zones (that is, the area around them that is just right for terrestrial type life to develop in.)

Habitable Zone

Dig: One of the astronomers who studied the results of a four-year Kepler Space Telescope search for Earth-like exo-planets was driven to ejaculations of Oh, Wows by what he’d learned. Here’s Erik Petigura of the University of California-Berkeley:

When you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing.

So tonight, I’m going out in the backyard to look at the dark sky. Weather permitting, I’ll see dozens and dozens of stars up above. If I feel really ambitious, I might take the five minute drive down to Lake Monroe, where the sky is even darker, so I can see many more stars. And as I watch them twinkle, the odds are overwhelming that I’m seeing, as it were, the homes of countless civilizations that communicate, reproduce, fight, discover, share, and play football. Maybe even baseball, if their intelligence is advanced enough.

And I will be in awe. My imagination will run wild. I’ll try to think about what those creatures look like. I’ll ponder the near-impossibility of humans ever visiting them. I’ll hope for the much more likely chance that we’ll exchange messages, perhaps soon.

Radio Telescope Array

“Are You There?”

The feeling I’ll have will easily be as profound as that of someone who marvels that god let that plane go down, with several hundred poor souls burned to a crisp and torn limb from limb, but decided, because he is loving, to spare one little tot.

This I guarantee: My awe will be far more holy than that of the football fan or the tight end who was certain god deigned that the Bears beat the Packers last night.

Spirit In The Sky

Your Daily Hot Air

She’s Not There

Whyzit that the smartest females corporate media gives us are fictional? I had no idea who Piper Chapman was before I read her fabulous meme quote last night. At first I thought she was a real person and I started writing, “Here’s a female actor who isn’t a dumb blonde. This Piper dame seems to have the goods between the ears. How she ever made it in Hollywood or wherever they shoot Netflix things is beyond me.”

A couple of seconds-worth of research revealed PC is a character in the Netflix comedy-drama Orange Is the New Black, which I’ve never seen and I don’t plan to. No, not because I object to it in particular but because, y’know, it’s TV.

Schilling

Taylor Schilling: At Least She Plays Smart

Anyways, natch, no ambitious young actor would ever say anything like PC said in public because although we are free, free, free to gun down anyone whose looks we don’t like in this holy land, when it comes to expressing liberal-bordering-on-radical views, well, now hold on there pardner.

It’s okay to be Barbra Streisand and throw fundraisers for Hillary Clinton, who’s about as liberal as I am a thug rapper. That’s cool. But once you start messin’ w/ the Big Daddy-o in the Sky, you’re messin’ w/ your career, babies.

Oh, and you aspiring female opinionators can dream of filling the Rachel Maddow slot — TV needs a lesbian/intellectual/tough-talking/hard-core liberal, you bet. She’s a perfect target for Right Wing troglodytes to aim their hot little pistols at while she’s going on and on about commie things like facts and poor people. And, by the way, any double meaning you’d care to attach to my reference to hot little pistols there is perfectly expected. The “real men” of this holy land know what R. Maddow needs.

Maddow

… Aim….

So, I’m bummed that the following manifesto is merely script dialogue. Still, it’s worth a look:

I believe in science, I believe in evolution. I believe in Nate Silver and Neil deGrasse Tyson and Christopher Hitchens, although I do admit he could be kind of an asshole.

[A Pencil Aside: Hey, is this chick me or something? Carry on.]

I cannot get behind some supreme being who weighs in on the Tony awards while a million people get whacked with machetes.

[Pencil Aside 2: Oh yeah, she's me. With long streaked hair, blue eyes and ladyparts. Carry on.]

I don’t believe a billion Indians are going to hell, I don’t think we get cancer to learn life lessons, and I don’t believe that people die young because god needs another angel. I think it’s just bullshit and, on some level, I think we all know that. I mean, don’t you? … Look I understand that religion makes it easier to deal with all the random shitty things that happen to us. And I wish I could get on that ride. I’m sure I’d be happier. But I can’t. Feelings aren’t enough. I need it to be real.

Trust me, there was some heavy sighing going on as I clacked this in. I’m still not going to watch Orange Is the New Black and I wish, wish, wish an actual person had said this. Like Piper Chapman sez, I need it to be real.

[h/t to Deanna Truelock]

Hot Rods To Hell

How full of shit are we? This full of shit:

Grimly tally the number of people who have been killed by terrorism in the United States since the State Department began keeping records in the 1960s, and you’ll get a total of less than 5000 — roughly the same number, it has been pointed out, as those who have been struck by lightning. But each year, with some fluctuation, the number of people killed in car crashes in the United States tops 40,000. More people are killed on the roads each month than were killed in the September 11 attacks. In the wake of those attacks, polls found that many citizens thought it was acceptable to curtail civil liberties to help counter the threat of terrorism, to help preserve our “way of life.” Those same citizens, meanwhile, in polls and in personal behavior, have routinely resisted traffic measures designed to reduce the annual death toll (e.g., lowering speed limits, introducing more red-light cameras, stiffer blood alcohol limits, stricter cell phone laws.)

Murrica, ya gotta love it!

Head-on Collision

Terror

The above passage is from the book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt, a neat little study of the psychology behind our cars and roads and everything else related to them.

They hate us, remember, for our freedoms.

The Boss

Who rules the world? You, the voter? The Prez? Carlos Slim Helu? Bruce Springsteen? Tony Bennett (see below)? Whoever it is that packs the most heat?

Forget ‘em all. If you want to figure out who calls the shots on the third planet from the Sun, check out this fab Open Database website: opencorporates.com. OC monitors more than 55 million corporate entities around the globe, measuring their reach, gauging their influence, and illustrating the dense web the biggest of them has spun around us all. We seven billion are, after all, a bunch of buzzing flies trapped in the arachnoid mesh created by the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other archvillainous entities. (How about that for literary imagery?)

Dig: SMERSH and KAOS had nothing on, say, the Citigroup gang. And don’t even get me started on Monsanto.

From opencorporates.com

Citigroup’s Untangled Web

Now you know. Go there.

If I Ruled The World

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Friday

THE QUOTE

“I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.” — Johannes Kepler

Kepler

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE

Happy birthday to good old Johnny Kepler, who would have been 441 years old today.

Befitting his Teutonic heritage, Kepler was the guy who essentially ordered the universe. It was his work in determining his eponymous laws of planetary motion that led to Isaac Newton’s great universal gravity breakthrough some 40 years after the German’s death.

Kepler's Laws/Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Astronomy

Too bad a brainiac like K. couldn’t have been around in today’s world. I bet he’d have been happy to tweak his verbiage a tad, perhaps including a single intelligent woman in his short list of preferred critics.

Kepler penned his own epitaph, engraved in stone at his burial spot in a churchyard in Regensburg, Bavaria. Here it is:

“Mensus eram cœlos, nunc terrae metior umbras

Mens cœlestis erat, corporis umbra iacet.”

(“I measured the skies, now the shadows I measure

Skybound was the mind, earthbound the body rests.”)

[ED: h/t to Astrid Weltz Laimins of Tampa, Florida for the heads up.]

I’LL BE A MONKEY’S NEPHEW

Sticking with science, Mental Floss offers us 5 pieces of evidence we — Homo Sapiens sapiens — are still evolving. Here they are:

  1. We Drink Milk
  2. We’re Losing Our Wisdom Teeth
  3. We’re Resisting Diseases
  4. Our Brains Are Shrinking
  5. We Have Blue Eyes

Homo Habilis

Auntie Amma

Click on the link for details.

Then ask yourself why we still have to argue this point in 21st Century America.

NOT MY STYLE

Only three days left in this  momentous year, 2012, and I’m proud to say I still haven’t seen the viral Gangnam Style vid.

Here’s another vid I haven’t seen: The Grumpy Cat (Tartar Sauce).

BTW: I still haven’t figured out that Ermahgerd chick. I ask you, who on this Earth ever talked like that?

Intentionally avoiding all these memes and rages is now an honor thing with me.

INQUISITIVE MINDS

Have you seen this chart yet?

From DemandAPlan.com

If this graphic is accurate, what happened between the Aurora bloodbath and the Sandy Hook killfest that made us start taking these things seriously?

THAT’S YOUR GOD

The author of the bestselling “A Universe from Nothing: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing,” Lawrence M. Krauss, penned a heartfelt think piece for CNN.com the other day, in which he wonders why everybody and his brother is telling us we have to lean on god as we grieve for the Sandy Hook kids.

Obama at Newtown Memorial Service

The Prez Tells Us Our BFF, God, Will Get Us Through This

Krauss is a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University and a noted atheist. He’s one of the hottest popular science writers around these days.

“Why,” he writes, “must it be a natural expectation that any such national tragedy will be accompanied by prayers, including from the president, to at least one version of the very god, who apparently in his infinite wisdom, decided to call 20 children between the age of 6 and 7 home by having them slaughtered by a deranged gunman in a school…?”

He wonders why TV news shows in times like these have to call out the clergy to tell us that “they have something special or caring to offer.”

Lawrence M. Krauss

Godless

Some talking-head clerics and politician-talk show hosts have even claimed that the agnostics and atheists among us lack the ability to fully grieve, sympathize, and even process these travesties. Krauss calls this kind of thinking “offensive” and “nonsense.”

I, natch, am with Krauss on this one. All these preachers, rabbis, and imams are telling us Sandy Hook was “god’s will” and then turning around and saying non-believers lack a moral foundation.

Are you kidding me? We’re not the one’s worshipping a god that decides to let massacres happen — you are!

GUN CRAZY, PART 1,624,583….

Gary, Indiana’s finest political writer, Monroe Anderson, has written an excruciatingly personal account of the dangers of the mentally ill toting guns around.

Anderson

Monroe Anderson

Do yourself a favor and read it. If the piece doesn’t elevate your pulse and respirations, you’re probably dead already.

What he doesn’t say is that when it comes to guns in this holy land, we’re all pretty much mentally ill.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m back.” — Michael Jordan

GOD, THE JERK

Can anyone dispute it?

Case in point.

The guy who performed the world’s first successful organ transplant, Dr. Joseph E. Murray, has died. Officials at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston announced his death yesterday.

Murray (center) Performing The First Successful Organ Transplant

Surgeons had been trying to transplant organs for decades before Murray hit upon transplanting the kidney of an identical twin into his brother in 1954. That was the key. All previously transplanted organs had been rejected by the receiving body. Murray was the guy over whose head the light bulb snapped on.

He figured it was genetics that caused all the rejections. If only, he concluded, you could transplant an organ from a donor whose DNA precisely matched the receiver. Ergo, twins.

It Just Might Work

After that, doctors all over the world quickly learned how to transplant other organs and how to swap parts between non-kin. Now, of course, organ transplant is routine.

Anyway, Murray told an interviewer once that he faced a lot of heat when he was doing his groundbreaking work. People called him Doctor Frankenstein, natch, and other shook their fingers — and their Bibles — at him.

Yup. The pious of this holy land warned Murray in no uncertain terms that god was steamed over his work. It was unnatural to take the kidney from one human and place it in another. It violated god’s law.

Teed Off — As Usual

I, for one, am thrilled that Murray ignored them. “We were just doing our work,” he said.

Since that time some 600,000 people have had their lives extended by organ transplants. The figure surprises me; I would have imagined many, many more folks would have received new kidneys and hearts and skin.

Here’s another thing I can’t quite grasp: As long as we as a species have decided to invent a god — that is, the creator of the Universe and the guy who has given us a guidebook for our behavior — why did we have to invent such a jerk?

I’M TIRED — ERGO, TERRIBLY ILL

Let’s stick with medicine. Only this has to do with how that particular science too often can become little more than a tawdry business.

I drove my sister up to Indy yesterday afternoon so she could catch her flight back home to Florida (where it was expected to be sunny and in the low 70s; I hate her.) By the way, The Loved One and I handled Thanksgiving weekend’s Glabbie Invasion fairly well. In fact, the whole gang seemed on reasonably good behavior: no blood or weapons were drawn and Gov. Daniels was able to demobilize the National Guard units he’d put on alert Wednesday night just in case.

It’s Okay, Boys, You Can Go Home Now

On the way back, I flipped through the channels and was able to pick up 670 The Score, one of the sports stations out of Chicago. A commercial came on for something called Nuvigil® which, technically, is the generic pharmaceutical compound, armodafinil, and is produced by Cephalon Inc.

Armodafinil is prescribed for people who suffer the dread disease, Shift Work Disorder.

Yes, the mad scientists and captains of industry who run Big Pharma have now transformed the yawn into an ailment.

Quick, Call An Ambulance!

Shift Work Disorder has become so ingrained in the doctor’s office culture that it’s referred to almost affectionately as SWD. You know as well as I do that whenever something becomes an acronym, it has become part of our human genome.

So now the fact that people who work overnights and have trouble getting enough sleep are viewed as suffering from a horrible malady and — whaddya know?! — need these new, miraculous little pills.

In fact, there’s a mysterious symptom of SWD that bedevils its sad victims. It’s called ES. Lord above, please don’t ever let me have to bear the horrors of ES. Scientists, chemists, and doctors must work around the clock to battle this scourge.

Somehow the heroic folks of Cephalon who put out the outfit’s website have mustered the courage to actually define ES. Yes, they have steeled themselves to type the words Excessive Sleepiness.

He Needs Pills, Stat!

The marvels of modern science! Who would have though that if you work nights and aren’t able to get enough sleep you’d become, well, sleepy?

Now, the sane among us agree that the optimal cure for SWD and its little brother, ES, is to look for a day job but, of course, that would preclude the need for Cephalon Inc.’s new, miraculous little pills.

It’s funny. There’s a group of people who have long had to work late into the night and have had trouble getting to sleep after their work shifts. They’re called musicians.

Musicians are notorious for having drug problems. Read any rock or pop or country star’s autobiography and nine times out of ten it’ll include several chapters on the author’s mighty battle with substances.

And just as invariably, they ascribe their early propensity to self-medicate to the twin needs of getting themselves up for their performances and then getting themselves down so they can sleep. They take speed or cocaine to prepare for the night’s gig and then they gulp downers or smoke pot or drink Southern Comfort (the foulest spirit ever distilled, BTW) to lull themselves into the arms of Morpheus.

Dr. Richards, I Presume

It’s an ugly vicious cycle, brought on by the performer’s need to make piles of cash in the short period that they may be popular and to provide ongoing employment for the dozens of people who depend on them. This kind of drug-taking is frowned upon.

Yet Nuvigil is advertised all day long and doctors prescribe it by the bushel-full.

Yet another thing I can’t figure.

GO AWAY, WOULDJA?

As long as I’m harping on the imponderables, how about this?

Who does Grover Norquist think he is and why in the world should we pay an iota of attention to such a grim-visaged, rigid, morally superior ideologue?

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.” — Jimmy Breslin

GOD’S PISSED, AS USUAL

You had to know this was coming: Some whacked-out preacher says Big Sandy is God’s way of saying FU to America.

No, he didn’t actually drop the F-bomb. I wish he would have; I would have had more respect for the dumb bastard if he had.

O, Heavenly Father, Please Count To Ten

I’m not going to link to the story or reveal the preacher’s name. He doesn’t need me to pimp for him. And no one other than his deluded flock has heard of him before this. Now, of course, his name has gone national.

I’ll only say it’s his fervent belief that the god he prays to on his knees each and every night has thrown the gargantuan storm at the Eastern Seaboard because this land is full of lesbians, gays, and other miscreants. Not only that but President Obama is as thick as thieves with the Muslim Brotherhood and together they aim to destroy this holy land.

Which is weird because I thought he’d just finished saying god was in the process of doing that very thing. So, wouldn’t he figure that Obama and the Muslim boys are doing god’s work?

Oh, and somehow Mitt Romney has teed off the creator of the universe big time, too, only I didn’t quite catch how.

Take That, Queers And Arabs!

You know, this god needs to have a nice glass of wine or go for a massage. He’s constantly suffering from the red ass.

Maybe the prayers of the faithful should go something like, “Chill, Big Guy. It’ll all be cool. Take a breath.”

Funny how things like the Holocaust or Joseph Stalin’s purges or this nation wiping out the Amerinds failed to elicit a peep from the almighty daddy-o but a couple of guys making out makes him insane. I think he’s repressing something.

REAL REPORTERS

I just subscribed to a muckraking website that was recommended to me by a loyal Book Corner customer. FairWarning describes itself as a purveyor of “news of safety, health, and corporate conduct.” Which means it ought to be in business for at least the rest of this millennium.

Myron Levin: A Reporter, Not A Movie Star

Here’s a sample of headlines it has run recently:

  • Oil companies Rarely Punished for North Sea Spills
  • Senate Report Points to Medtronic’s Manipulation of “Independent” Medical Research
  • Young Blacks Awash in Alcohol Ads, Study Says
  • Commentary: A Strange Indifference to Highway Carnage
  • Libertarian Group Prepares Bogus “Addendum” to Undermine Federal Climate Science Report

Founder Myron Levin founded the site after working as an investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times for 20 years. Photos of his staff portray a gang that’s decidedly seriously and flamboyantly non-glamorous. That’s cool by me — of the several billion brain cells I possess I’ve assigned perhaps six to the maniacal grin of Katie Couric and the rest of her colleagues in the corporate media “news” industry.

Please Stop It, Katie

In any case Levin and company are less polemic than the likes of Democracy Now! and far less precious than NPR. They are pure journalists, and isn’t that refreshing?

NIGHTMARE, NOW

Here’s today’s CNN online headline:

Let’s get serious about things now. This is the nightmare we’ve been dreading ever since the two words “climate” and “change” were first put together by scientists.

You wonder why I’m so dismissive of corporate media news? This is the prime case in point. They insist on presenting the faux arguments of climate change deniers in the interest of some weird view of journalistic balance. It’d be like Walter Cronkite interviewing a representative of the Flat Earth Society while the Gemini astronauts circled the globe.

That Curved Surface Is Merely An Illusion, Walter

IT’S RAINING MEN

In honor of Sandy and dedicated to the loon preacher mentioned above, here are The Weathergirls, AKA Two Tons of Fun, with the biggest gay anthem of all time.

My club pals and I would go to the cavernous boy dance bars after hours back when we were young, trim, and loathe to ever go to sleep. The DJs would boost the bass and volume on this track to the point that I’m surprised the foundations and masonry of nearby structures didn’t crack. The joint would smell of leather, sweat, poppers, and Clinique. And we’d dance ourselves into delirium.

Don’t ask me how we survived it all.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.


Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

VOTE ◗ Two locations for early voting in Monroe County today:

  • The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm
  • Indiana University Assembly Hall, South Lobby, 1001 E. 17th St.; 10am-6pm

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford Hall — Doctoral Recital: Ji Hyun Kim on piano; 5pm

MIXER ◗ Coaches Bar & GrillYoung Professionals of Blooomington, monthly event; 5:30-8:30pm

SCIENCE ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRA Activity CenterCitizen Scientist Quarterly Meeting, Help collect data to track animal populations and monitor habitats; 6-8pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoJazz Jam, Featuring Bloomington’s young artists; 7pm

FILM & DISCUSSION ◗ IU Cinema — “The Healthcare Movie,” Followed by discussion led by Rob Stone, MD, Director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, Kosali Simon, PhD, & Beth Cate, JD; 7-9pm

COMMUNITY MEETING ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryAfter Incarceration: Employment Matters, Presented by Decarcerate Monroe County; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubBlues Jam, Hosted by Bottom Road Blues Band; 8pm

GAMES ◗ The Root Cellar at Farm BloomingtonTeam trivia; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallHot Tuesdays: Jazz Combos, Wataru Niimori Group & Chris Knight Group; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdSleigh Bells; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopDavid Wax Museum, Daughn Gibson; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceComics Night; 9pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf; through November 16th
  • Small Is Big; Through November 16th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others: Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.” — Barbara Ehrenreich

THE LOYAL OPPOSITION

I’m gonna play all nice today.

As you know, I’m the world’s biggest liberal hot air blower. Any given day on this communications colossus, I rant and rage against the madnesses of the Right.

For my money, the Republican Party, which fancies itself the GOP — for Grand Old Party — is more aptly tagged the POG — for Party of God.

And speaking of any of the multitude of deities the vast majority of Homo Sapiens sapiens reveres and donates its hard-earned cash to via his regional sales staff on Earth, I also come down awfully hard on the Big Daddy-o Upstairs.

Ironically, I had a couple of contacts with folks yesterday whose oxen, as it were, likely are gored any time they click on The Pencil.

I was standing bleary-eyed and zombified near the bakery and coffee tents at the Bloomington Farmer’s Market at about 8am. I loitered for long moments in the brilliant morning sunshine, hypnotized by the accordion and voice strains of the Von Volsung Sisters, trying to locate enough brain cells to decide which cup of joe to buy.

The Von Volsungs: Cool, Even Early In The Morning

My gray-matter haze prevented me from seeing a couple of Ellettsville pals, SueEllen and Bob, the premier party-throwers of western Monroe County, waving madly at me. After couple of minutes, I found myself staring at the two as they stared back at me.

We all had a good laugh and caught up on the latest. As we were saying our goodbyes, SueEllen leaned close and said, “I read you every day.”

I was touched. See, SueEllen and Bob are among the most pious people I’ve met in these parts. They’re active in their church. Their faith has gotten them through some tough times. They even invite their parish priest to their storied bashes. Once, they had a visiting priest from Africa as the honored guest at a New Year’s Day party.

Every time I slam the putative creator of the Universe, I wonder how someone like SueEllen might feel about it. This is true. I’m really not a mean guy. I’m not looking to insult the pious and the faithful.

Only their god, whom I’d refuse to have a drink with even if he offered to buy.

C’mon, Man, It’s On Me

Later in the day I caught a new comment here from a guy who calls himself The Lake County Republican. His given name is David. He’s one of those old school republicans. He believes in an inherent goodness in entrepreneurship. He sees rich guys, by and large, as honest, steady, hard-working souls who’ve amassed their fortunes the right way. He wants the federal government to watch its pennies.

None of which I buy — and I shriek as much here regularly. Nevertheless, David the LCR gobbles up the Pencil as religiously as SueEllen does.

That makes me happy.

They are true Pencillistas. We’ve got a big tent here.

WHERE’S THE HATE?

And then I got myself into hot water.

With liberals, no less.

A couple of people were talking about George W. Bush at Soma Coffee. They’re pals, so I elbowed my way into the conversation, the gist of which was How could anybody stand that man?

Whaddya Want From Me?

I understand that sentiment on a political level, natch. Bushy-boy railroaded us into the third ugliest act this holy land has ever committed (that being the Iraq War — the other two, in order, being Slavery and the Indian Holocaust). His regressive policies on the environment, business regulation and reproductive freedom, coupled with his politicization of the Justice Department under his coat-holding attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, make him, IMO, the worst President the voters of this nation did not elect.

But, no, my pals were going further than that. How could Laura Bush sleep in the same bed with him? How could a man like that have any friends? Why would anyone ever have done business with him?

To hear them talk, one would think George W. Bush actually had the unbearable stink of evil emanating from his body.

What’s That Smell?

Now, even though I loathed Bushy-boy’s policies, his philosophy, and even his office management style, I’d always though he was a rather likable chap. He digs baseball. He enjoys a good joke. He invents colorful nicknames for his staff. Too bad, in fact, that he quit drinking because I’d sit down and have a cocktail with him, especially if he was buying.

Even that famous moment when he shocked German Chancellor Angela Merkel by rubbing her shoulders at some meeting or another, an incident which many on my side of the political spectrum virtually equated with rape at knifepoint, seemed to me an endearing kind of gesture. This despite the fact that Merkel’s reaction reveals her to be, at that particular moment, a rubber band pulled way too tight.

A Violent Assault

He reduced, again IMO, a world leader to a simple human being. It was a pal-y, bonhomie thing to do. It showed he actually like the woman, rather than revered her. Leaders, after all, are not gods.

But, in today’s political debate environment, it is taboo to view the opposition as human. They are beasts, demons, agents of Satan, Commies, Nazis, child-molesters, nose-pickers, and any other insult you care to whip their way.

So, when I said, “You know, I’ve always felt George Bush seems to be a likable guy,” my two pals fell silent, their mouths agape.

Another guy, waiting for his bagel to toast nearby, snorted. “Likable, yeah,” he said, “for an inchworm.”

My pals eventually regained their composure. One demanded, “How can you say such a thing?” The other simply said, “He was not likable in any way, shape, or form.”

I even felt compelled to step back from my statement. “Now, don’t get me wrong. I despised everything he did and stood for, but all I was saying was….”

Immediately I felt like, well, a worm. I shouldn’t have had to apologize for saying the Bush Baby seems likable. But I was petrified that people might think I approved of his Patriot Act, his gutting of the EPA, his kowtowing to the Religious Right, and all the rest of his sins.

He is, after all, only a human whom I happen to think is full of shit. I voted against him — that doesn’t mean I think he’s in league with child molesters or that he’s a nose picker.

So I’m going to say it again here and I’ll make no apologies for it: George W. Bush seems a really likable guy.

Albeit full of shit.

Sunday, September 23nd, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

[Editor's note: I was too lazy to do the events last night and I'm in too much of a hurry to do the complete job this morning, so all you're getting is the Lotus Fest sked and the ongoing museum exhibit lineup. You'll live.]

MUSIC FESTIVAL ◗ Bloomington, various locationsLotus World Music & Arts Festival; though Sunday, September 23rd, various times, today’s lineups:

Buskirk Chumley Theater:

  • Karan Casey & John Doyle; 3pm
  • Srinivas Krishnan’s Global Rhythms; 4pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “The Bolognese School,” by Annibale & Agostino Carracci, through September 16th
  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • What It Means to Be Human,” by Michele Heather Pollock; through September 29th
  • Land and Water,” by Ruth Kelly; through September 29th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit:

  • Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection;” through September 21st

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

ART ◗ Boxcar BooksExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Papercuts by Ned Powell; through September

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions

The Electron Pencil. Go there. Read. Like. Share.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”

Priest: “No, not if you did not know.”

Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”

Annie Dillard

BROWN GOOD; WHITE BAD? OH MY ACHING HEAD!

So, the LA cops have nabbed a guy who they think started all those fires over the weekend.

The blazes have been headlines on all the national news outlets for the last three or four days. The arrest of the suspect made a commensurate splash.

Shervin Lalezary (r) — A Headache For Fox News

Except on Fox News.

I scanned the Fox website this morning and could find absolutely no mention of the arrest.

Odd, huh?

Perhaps not. Harry Burkhart, the suspect, is from Germany. And white.

Shervin Lalezary was born in Iran. He’s brown.

It was Lalezary who slapped the cuffs on Burkhart. The suspect reportedly said, “I hate America,” when he was arrested.

The Fox News people must be must be suffering from seizures at this moment. Can you imagine how they’d be baying like hounds had the roles been reversed?

GOD SENT ME

So, here’s my advice to my leftie brothers and sisters: Start using the word “god” in every press release you issue.

Yep. And throw in terms like “faith” and ‘the lord.” Whenever you stage a demonstration, make sure someone in your group takes a knee, bows his head, and mutters some prayers.

See, that’s what works for the Right. They know the big man and that gets them places.

God: “I Know That Guy; He’s Cool. Let ‘im In.”

Here’s an example: safety and security officials this year are instituting strict new guidelines limiting the number of people who can crowd into the Indiana statehouse during legislative sessions.

All gallery visitors will have to stand in line outside the statehouse and be admitted one by one until the capacity is reached.

The move has drawn criticism, only it’s from all the usual suspects — unions, Planned Parenthood, the Occupy people, and Democrats.

You know, the godless heathens who want to tear our holy land to shreds. They’re figuring the state drew up the guidelines as a way to filter them out when push comes to shove.

Like this year, when legislators will consider union-busting “right-to-work” bills.

Today’s the first day of the General Assembly’s winter session. And already the new rules are being skirted. A group of holy rollers has been given a special dispensation to avoid the expected long lines waiting to get in.

Some gang named the Capitol Commission of Indiana, which is attending today’s session for the sole purpose of uttering some prayers over the proceedings, will waltz into statehouse while the rest of the common clay wait out in the cold. And if the Capitol Commission folks fill up the joint, well, ain’t that just tough luck.

SPIRIT IN THE SKY

I was 14 years old when this song became a big hit, reaching Number 1 on the Billboard chart in the spring of 1970. Even then it struck me as odd that a Jew, Norman Greenbaum, was singing about Jesus and Heaven.

Nevertheless, I dug the hell out of this song.

The Pencil Today:

SPIRIT IN THE SKY

So, I’m on the alert for lightning bolts directed at me right now because I hereby present one Penn Gillette, one of my fave people on Earth, rating the presidential candidates on their friendliness toward — cringe! — atheists.

I’m not really trying to cause trouble here (oh, alright, yes I am) but a little balance is in order, no?

The Fox News rightists had apoplexy a week and a half ago when President Obama neglected to mention the all-powerful sugar daddy during his annual Thanksgiving message to the nation. Those campaigning to become president and those fortunate — or unfortunate — enough to become one rarely miss an opportunity to thank their sky-dwelling BFF.

Anybody who hopes to become president has to believe in god, still, today, some 300 years after the Age of Enlightenment and nearly 130 years after Neitzsche pronounced, “Gott ist tot” (god is dead.)

Me? I’m looking for the first prez aspirant who, well, doesn’t believe.

There’s your balance.

WHO’S AMERICA’S BIGGEST LIAR IN 2011?

Hey, PolitiFact, the website that vets political statements and claims, has released its 2011 Lie of the Year Finalists. The lucky contestants include Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Facebook posters who claimed Republicans have proposed “zero job creation” legislation, and — horrors! — Barack Obama.

Go there and vote. It’s fun.

LOOK OVER YONDER

Here’s a good song for your Saturday morning, by Tommy James and the Shondells. It made the charts during that magical summer of 1969.

And just to show what a broad-minded fellow I am, it mentions, um, y’know, that big guy in the sky.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 204 other followers

%d bloggers like this: