Category Archives: Osama bin Laden

You Can’t Handle The Hot Air!

Gaming The Game

It’s not often I like, respect, or even tolerate being in the same room with a big player in the high finance industry. Economists, business professors, money managers, investment bankers and the like are, by and large, glorified door-to-door salesmen.

From "Pee-Wee's Playhouse"

They sell hope. They swear up and down their primary interest in life is to serve you, the customer. They purport to foresee the future. Smugly and with stunning hubris, they convey the notion that they and they alone can understand the global economy. In that sense, they are as priests.

So, here’s a shocker: I really dig and respect a fellow named Steve Eisman.

Eisman

Steve Eisman

He gained a modicum of fame with his appearance in the Michael Lewis book, The Big Short. At the time Lewis wrote of him, Eisman was a financial analyst who studied the health and well-being of outfits like Household Finance Corporation and other reprobate entities that suckered millions of people into taking out subprime loans then turned around and peddled those loans to other suckers looking for a quick and easy buck. You know, the industry that nearly brought down the world economy six or so years ago.

While studying these firms, Eisman came to understand long before most other so-called experts that not only was the game rigged, it was designed to fuck the greatest number of participants possible. Its practitioners made hundred of millions — nay, billions — capitalizing on the ignorance, greed, and credulousness of others.

At one point, Eisman attended a luncheon conference at which the featured speaker would be the CEO of a big savings and loan. Eisman told Lewis someone in the audience filled with industry insiders and reporters asked the CEO what he thought about the free checking that many banks used as a come-on.

And he said, ‘Turn off your tape recorders.’ Everyone turned off their tape recorders. And he explained that they avoided free checking because it was really a tax on poor people — in the form of fines for overdrawing their checking accounts. And that the banks that used it were really just banking on being able to rip off poor people even more than they could if they charged them for their checks.

Eisman said to Lewis: “That’s when I decided the system was really, ‘Fuck the poor.’”

Now there’s a priest who’s looking to be defrocked.

Anyway, Eisman now works for a Morgan Stanley-owned subsidiary. He’s a senior portfolio manager specializing in shorting subprime home loans. But dig: He also works tirelessly to stem the growing tide of for-profit colleges and universities.

He said this to attendees pf a 2010 conference:

Until recently, I thought that there would never again be an opportunity to be involved with an industry as socially destructive and morally bankrupt as the subprime mortgage industry. I was wrong. The for-profit education industry has proven to equal to the task.

Tell it, preacher.

Zeeda Explains It All

This dame is a beaut!

Miss Zeeda Andrews

He-e-e-ere’s Zeeda!

Miss Zeeda Andrews is one of the organizers of that failed Million-Trucker March that was s’posed to shut down Washington and the fed gummint (sorry, boys and girls, the Me Party-ers beat you to it). Turns out she makes the Birthers look like, well, sane people.

Miss Zeeda Andrews believes…, ready for it? Can you handle it? Sit down now!

Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden are the same person!

Woohoo! This is the freaking best conspiracy theory of all time!

Jesse Ventura — hang up your magnifying glass, meerschaum pipe, and your official Sherlock Holmes Double-Brimmed Detective Cap®! You ain’t got nuffin’ on Miss Zeeda Andrews!

Man, that’s seven exclamation points in the first ten sentences (and here’s another one)! This breaking news deserves five million EPs (shorthand for exclamation point, duh!) Hey, how ’bout if we change the name of this communications colossus to Exclamation Point!? Same initials and all, no?

Maybe not. Anyways, like all conspiracy theorists everywhere, Miss Zeeda Andrews adds two plus two and comes up with some number ju-u-u-ust about as long as the latest calculation of pi by those eminent math geeks Alexander Yee and Shigero Kondo, which, BTW, is 10 trillion digits. Yeah, that’s about the size of the figger that Miss Zeeda Andrews comes up with. To wit: Here she is referring to the tragic helicopter crash that killed a bunch of Navy SEALs not terribly long after other such highly trained Mission Impossible-y type dudes carried out the contract on ObL. Natch, the crash was a set-up so that…, oh, lemme let her explain it:

The fact that these soldiers were set up to die in a no-return operation is obvious; they had knowledge that Obama didn’t want leaked. This is the SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden. I don’t believe this story. He is alive. Call me crazy but Osama bin Laden is our President Obama. Do your research! The CIA has been preparing for this since he was a boy. They have the same height, bone structure, hand and ears. Both are left-handed. The Osama face was created by Hollywood. The fox is in the hen house.

Busted! You know, these arch-villain conspirators keep on forgetting that the Wingnut-iverse is chock full of the sharpest-eyed folks in the whole gol-durned world.

Miss Zeeda Andrews, who (we are told by Greta Van Susteren) is also a country singer, told The Fox News legal affairs correspondent the other day what the Zillion Trucker March would be all about:

We want the President of the United States removed from office. He is a threat to our national security. He is a threat to our way of life. He is a threat to our future generations.

So, by the time you read this sometime today (Sunday), former Prez Barack Osama bin Obama will be locked up in some max-security cell for the criminally brown, awaiting trial by the Posse Comitatus set up by none other than Jillion Trucker March organizer (and country singer) Miss Zeeda Andrews.

Before his trial begins, though I have some questions. The fox is in the hen house? WTF? Does this mean all good, white Murricans are lady chickens? And Barack Adolf Stalin bin Laden John Gacy Obama is a fox? And is that fox used in the 1970s, Burt Reynolds/Robert Redford sense? Is Miss Zeeda Andrews telling us that she gets turned on by the world’s most famous Kenyan? Can’t be, can it?

I did a little digging and found this on Miss Zeeda Andrews’ Facebook page:

Deranged Meme

She’s also a big fan of a fellow by the name of Joel Skousen, a survivalist who is certain that members of the US Gummint are aiding the Russkies and the Chinese in a plot to launch a nuclear attack against this holy land. He’s also the nephew of Cleon Skousen, who was a big John Birch-er and end-times fanatic.

Birds of a feather, y’know.

Fellow liberals, progressives, and coffeehouse radicals, this is the opposition! If we can’t beat these basket-weavers, we are a sorry lot indeed.

Miss Zeeda Andrews invites us to call her crazy. We are more than happy to comply.

[Big Mike Note: I cleaned up some of the grammar, usage, and punctuation of Miss Zeeda Andrews' YouTube comment represented above. Apparently, Christian American is her second language.]


The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Monday

THE QUOTE

Dave: “Did you ever go to confession?”

Moocher: “Twice.”

Dave: “Did it make you feel better?”

Moocher: “Once.”

– Dialogue from “Breaking Away

Publicity Still from "Breaking Away"

TERROR ALERT!

We really haven’t given much thought to the idea of domestic terrorism since the financial crash of 2007/08 — which, by the way, was a government-sponsored, systematic terrorist act all its own.

In the weeks following 9/11 every single one of us was scared to death that mad Arabs would be flying airplanes into skyscrapers of every big city and parking trucks full of fertilizer-based explosives outside public libraries from Bedford to Skokie.

Bedford (IN) Library

A Target?

Even I, the World’s Smartest Man, who was telling people within hours of the Twin Towers falling that the attack was a one-off, that nothing even remotely like it would happen again within the foreseeable future, still harbored in my heart an irrational, petrifying fear that we were in for it.

Then, of course, we flexed our muscles and marched headlong into a bizarrely truncated war in Afghanistan, with our president, who was being compared to Churchill in the aftermath of the attacks (no lie), deciding to cut off the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and send our soldiers into the meat grinder that was Iraq.

Before long, and after toppling the governments of two sovereign nations, we began to think of ourselves less as victims and more as the people who ruled the world.

And we were, militarily, culturally, economically — just about every which way you cared to look at it. Then the investment bankers and their pimps in Washington saw their double-downs and double-crosses blow up like…, well, like a terrorist’s bomb. With a recession bordering on depression staring us on the face, we had zero time to think about crazy Arabs attacking us.

Blankfein, Dimon, et al

Domestic Terrorists

Still, this holy land spends hundreds of millions of dollars — nay, billions — on blue-uniformed, inadequately trained, cheap labor to protect our airports, and bureaucrats, pencil-pushers, and wonks to man our Department of Homeland Security.

You’d think we’d just spent the past decade-plus enduring attacks from every side.

We haven’t. Not only that, we have been living, fatly, in the safest country in the world, in terms of wild-eyed outsiders coming here and blowing us up. Never mind that our own citizens are shooting each other up like those of no other nation in the history of the Earth.

It’s beside the point that crazy Arabs are as gnats compared to crazy Americans who prey on their fellow citizens.

Anyway, Reason magazine has run a compelling piece on terrorists and us. Here’s a taste: Did you know that fewer than 500 citizens of this holy land have been offed by outside terrorists since 1970? That, of course, is not counting 9/11, which many might counter is like saying the Hoosier men’s basketball team beat Coppin State by 87 points Saturday night if you just disregard the 51 points the Eagles scored.

On the other hand, our entire Homeland Security apparatus is based upon the outlier. It would be like Saint Tom Crean revamping the whole IU team and developing a new style of play because Coppin played tough in the first half and scored a few points.

Who knows, maybe the tens of thousands of people employed by DHS, the draconian Justice Department practices, and the PATRIOT Act have protected us from untold numbers of 9/11s. It’s impossible to know.

Read the piece, though. You won’t get any answers but, more importantly, it’ll raise questions.

COPPIN COACH’S COOL HANDLE

I know next to nothing about college basketball. Oh, I know that IU’s big gun is named Cody Zeller (did I spell his name right?) And, let’s see now, um, the Hoosiers are ranked Number 1 in the nation.

How could I live in this town and not know these two things?

Other than that, college hoops is played by somebody else’s kids, ergo I don’t care.

So I had to do some research to find out what the Hoosiers had done this weekend.

In doing so, I discovered that the coach of Coppin State has the coolest name imaginable: Fang Mitchell.

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun

Fang Mitchell

Fang Mitchell! The only other human being I’ve ever heard of with the name Fang was Phyllis Diller’s husband. And that was a gag.

Oh, and one of Soupy Sales’ animal buddies was named White Fang. Here’s a description of White Fang from Wikipedia:

“‘The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA,’ who appeared only as a giant white shaggy paw with black triangular felt ‘claws’ jutting out from the corner of the screen. Fang spoke with unintelligible short grunts and growls, which Soupy repeated back in English, for comic effect. White Fang was often the pie-thrower when Soupy’s jokes bombed.”

From "The Soupy Sales Show"

Soup Sales & White Fang

Fang Mitchell’s got quite a moniker to live up to.

THE KID FROM BLOOMINGTON

Speaking of Hoosiers, The Loved One and I went out on a movie date Saturday night, while the rest of Bloomington humanity was crammed into Assembly Hall to watch IU crush Coppin State by 87 points (again, disregarding the 51 the Eagles actually scored.)

We saw “Lincoln” and T-LO cried at the end, natch, even though we already knew how it would turn out.

Anyway, we remained in our seat during the credits so the tomato could stem her leaking and, lo and behold, we learned that Jackie Earle Haley had appeared in the movie.

You remember him, don’t you? The geeky, short kid who played Moocher in “Breaking Away”?

Scene from "Breaking Away"

Moocher, Between Cyril (Daniel Stern) & Mike (Dennis Quaid)

Poor kid, he went and got married in the movie even though he was just a teenager. That scene of him going into the Monroe County Courthouse with his girlfriend sent a shiver down my spine.

Funny thing is, JEH actually did get married in 1979, the year “Breaking Away” was released. He was 18 that year.

Haley plays Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, part of a trio of emissaries who seek to negotiate a peace with Lincoln.

Scene from "Lincoln"

Haley In “Lincoln”

Moocher was the perfect role for him. Haley was born and raised in suburban Los Angeles but, honestly, he should have been a Hoosier. More specifically, he should have been a son of Bloomington. Or, better, Ellettsville.

I’ve lived in these parts for more than three years now and I’ve seen several dozen Moochers around and about. The first time I saw “Breaking Away” (only last year, by the way) I felt certain JEH was some local kid the producers had discovered to play the part.

It turns out Haley was a child star with credits going as far back as “Marcus Welby, MD” and “The Partridge Family.” Still, he screams South Central Indiana for me, the way Peewee Reese screams Louisville and John Belushi screams Chicago, the other towns in which I’ve lived.

I suppose if I had to pick an actual Bloomingtonian to scream Bloomington for me, it’d be Hoagie Carmichael, and that wouldn’t be a bad choice at all.

He edges out that man about town, Leo Cook.

Leo Cook

Leo Cook, On Vogue In An Alternate Universe

ASTRO-FIZZIES

From Science Is A Verb, via I Fucking Love Science:

Science Is A Verb

If you missed it this morning, try to catch it just before dawn tomorrow. Take note, though, that people are spreading this viral piece of misinformation about the event. As usual, reality isn’t enough for Americans so we have to concoct nonsense to entertain ourselves.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Politics is just like show business. You have a hell of an opening, coast for a while, and then have a hell of a close.” — Ronald Reagan

MY BOSS IS BIGGER THAN YOUR BOSS

So, the coat-holders go after each other tonight on national TV.

Vice president Joe Biden and Willard Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, meet in Danville, Kentucky’s Centre College and begin throwing food at each other at 9pm.

No sense wasting time watching it as “the winner” already has been determined, according to experts in the mass obfuscation biz.

See, because ol’ Willard leapfrogged so dramatically over over the president after last week’s “debate,” the heat is on Biden to rescue the Dem ticket from the humiliation of a single-digit fate.

Not a single-digit deficit, mind you, but an actual vote count on November 6th of less than ten percent. In fact, some experts believe Obama now will be the first incumbent president to garner fewer than 500 votes nationwide after his disappointing performance eight days ago. That would translate into the greatest landslide in world electoral history, with Romney receiving 99.999996 percent of the vote.

All because Barack Obama telephoned his performance in on the 2nd.

Wise men before that debate said it was going to be Romney’s “coming out party.” Disappointingly, he did not use the event to reveal to the American public he is gay, but, say those experts, to show us who he really is. Which is good — I’d previously had him pegged as a homeless man.

In any case, the experts are saying the same thing about Paul Ryan today. The American people will get to know him tonight. Local polls have indicated that most Bloomington voters believe Paul Ryan is a male stripper at Uncle Elizabeth’s.

Ryan (right)

If recent history is our guide, he’ll trounce Biden.

Well, I voted Tuesday at the Curry Building. I filled in the box for Obama/Biden. At least the election won’t turn out to be unanimous.

THE WHOLE PACKAGE

Just finished reading the account of the operation to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in the current issue of Vanity Fair.

The piece is an adaptation of Mark Bowden’s forthcoming book, “The Finish,” about the raid that resulted in the death of the millionaire warlord.

Un-wanted

Here’s a spoiler for you: There never was any chance that bin Laden would be taken alive. The SEAL team that entered his compound in Abbottobad on May 2nd, 2011, was made up of shoot-first, ask-questions-later guys.

It’s a riveting story. The president showed a lot of steel by okaying the plan in the face of uncertainties about whether or not bin Laden was actually the white-robed guy observed by spy drones at the compound or even if the operation could succeed.

Don’t let those Republicans fool you with their blatherings that Obama is too soft to be president.

The whole episode hardens my conviction that the GOP is brilliant at putting on a show. For instance, Obama went on live television to announce bin Laden’s death at 11:35pm EST. Which means all of sixteen people actually saw him.

The Big Newz-z-z-z-z-z-z-z

The Republicans would have been smart enough to sit on the news until 9:30 the next morning when it would flash on everybody’s computer screen at the office.

Say John McCain had won the 2008 election [Big Mike pauses for a moment to allow his loyal readers to steady themselves].  And say, even more improbably, that McCain and Company had been in charge of the raid.

(Remember, Obama was being advised in part by his vice president — ergo, it’s safe to assume McCain would have had to listen to Sarah Palin’s bleating. “Mr. President,” she’d say, “we already beat Obama, why do we have to go after him again? Wait, you didn’t say Obama?”)

Anyway, the Republican Party entertainment division (read: Fox News) would have had McCain rappel onto the Rose Garden from a hovering Chinook helicopter to deliver his We-got-’im! presser.

Say what you will about Georgy Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” arrival on that aircraft carrier back in ’03, I’ll bet millions of GOP chicks still get dewy-eyed (euphemism, natch) thinking about it.

Hail To The…, Oh, Mr. President!

Personal to the President: Take a cue from the Catholic church — give ‘em some theater.

SHRIEK NIGHT FEVER

Don’t miss this: Laura Grover and her Bloomington Storytelling Project mates will throw a Hallowe’en frightfest Saturday, October 27th, at Max’s Place.

Grover et al have put out the call for storytellers to come on stage that night and scare the bejesus out of the citizenry.

Have you made it to a BSP extravaganza yet? If you haven’t, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Jes’ plain folks come up and tell tales — some of them even true, I’d guess. None of it is rehearsed or scripted, so you’ll have a gay old time on the edge of your seat wondering how the speaker will wriggle out of whatever snag she or he has gotten into.

Bloomington, of course, is home to some renowned raconteurs and whopper peddlers. I’d think that legendary stump speakers like Charlotte Zietlow and Hondo Thompson would be perfect for the BSP circuit. One of the big stars of any BSP event is Marc Haggerty, who’s known far and wide in these parts as the only man alive who can fill his own shoes. Anyway, if Haggerty is on the sked to spin a yarn on the 27th, that alone would be worth the price of admission.

Send an email to storytelling@wfhb.org if you’d like to get on the Hallowe’en show roster, otherwise, just show up and listen.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

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

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

SOCIAL SERVICE ◗ Bloomington American Legion P0st 18South Central Indiana VA Stand Down, Helping struggling veterans, services include health screenings, food & clothing donations, flu shots, haircuts, counseling, etc.; 10am-2pm

LECTURE & BOOK SIGNING ◗ IU Maurer School of Law — “America’s Unwritten Constitution,” presented by Akhil Amar; Book signing at 11am, Lecture at Noon

LECTURE ◗ IU CinemaJorgensen Guest Filmmaker Series: Benshi Kataoka Ichiro; 3pm

CLASS ◗ IU Maurer School of Law, Moot Court RoomPractice before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal, Continuing legal education credit; 4:30pm

FINANCIAL COUNSELING ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryIt’s Your Money series: Talk to an Expert, Financial experts available for confidential counseling; 4:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s PlacePost-Modern Jazz Quartet; 5:30pm

WORKSHOP ◗ BloomingLabsIntro to Programming; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “An Inn at Tokyo“; 7pm

STAGE ◗ Bloomington Playwrights ProjectComedy, “Rx“; 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Drama, “Last Train to Nibroc”; 7:30pm

DISCUSSION — IU Radio/TV Building, Room 245Making Ethical Decisions During War: One North Vietnamese Soldier’s Story, Part of IU’s Themester program, “Good Behavior, Bad Behavior“; 7:30pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGlenn Wool; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallMasters Recital: Vanessa Rose Catsillo on Baroque violin; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdVictor Wooten; 8pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Bill Armstrong StadiumHoosier women’s soccer vs. Purdue; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopBelievers; 9:30pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists; through October 14th
  • “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
  • 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:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works; through October 11th

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 form 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 CenterExhibit:

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

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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“But suppose god is black. What if we go to heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and god is there, and we look up and he is not white? What then is our response?” — Robert F. Kennedy

SUPPOSE THEY GAVE A WAR AND NOBODY WON

When all is said and done, the US hasn’t suffered a devastating loss of human life in the Afghan debacle.

Yes, 2000 of our soldiers have been killed. The loss of one life in war is a tragedy. But, jeez, we’ve been in that hell-hole for 11 years now, trying to convince the populace at gunpoint that the Culture of McDonald’s is preferable to that of We’ll-Stone-You-If-You’re-A-Woman-And-Even-Think-About-Sex.

That’s about 182 deaths per year. 182 too many. But we’re not talking about a generation being decimated.

In case this little detail escaped your attention, I might point out that some 20,000 Afghan civilians have been blown to bits or otherwise killed in the war.

This Means War

Details, details. Here’s another one: The bad guys we went into Afghanistan to pound the crap out of in November, 2001, are still hanging in there. Yup, you remember the Taliban, don’t you? Those fellows who frown on music and dancing and cheering at soccer matches and women in general? Oh, and the guys who let Osama bin Laden camp out in their backyard while he and his boys planned their terror attacks?

Yeah, that Taliban. They’re in negotiations as we speak to be allowed back into everyday political life in Afghanistan.

Some war.

LESSON NUMBER ONE: TELL THE TRUTH

Writer Kristin Rawls at the progressive advocacy site AlterNet debunks the five main misconceptions or outright lies that the benighted portion of the populace of this holy land believe about teachers and public education.

I’ll let Rawls do the arguing. Here, though, are the five lies:

  1. Unions are undermining the quality of education in America
  2. Your student’s teacher has an easy and over-compensated job
  3. If your child doesn’t get picked in a charter school lottery, he or she is doomed
  4. Your child will automatically be better off if your school district adopts a “school choice” assignment plan
  5. Your student’s teacher sees your constructive involvement in your child’s education as an annoyance

Eek!

I never cared much for school but the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve spent on hundreds of hours of shrinks have narrowed the possible reasons for my distaste for the childhood classroom down to a manageable few dozen.

Still, I’ve always believed public education is perhaps the single most admirable contribution to human society that this nation has ever made.

THESE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Think back to 50 years ago today.

A young man named James Meredith had decided he wanted to enroll at the University of Mississippi. He’d already attended another university and had compiled a good academic record.

Meredith Then

Many people, though, were aligned against his acceptance to the institution. The forces lined up against him included Gov. Ross Barnett. The governor ruled that Meredith would not be accepted to Ole Miss.

Meredith, of course, was black. Mississippi, of course, was Mississippi.

Barnett was pressured by the federal government to allow Meredith to enroll. The governor didn’t have a leg to stand on; the Supreme Court had ruled that segregation at public supported schools was unconstitutional seven years earlier.

So, Barnett grudgingly allowed Meredith to go to school in the state’s university. The immediate result? A bloody campus riot by white students and Ku Klux Klan ringers.

Here’s a list of forces called out to quell the rioting and ensure Meredith’s safety as he attended classes:

  • 500 US Marshals
  • The 70th Army Engineer Combat battalion
  • Units from the 503rd Military Police Battalion
  • The federalized Mississippi Army National Guard
  • Officers from the US Border Patrol

This fighting force was in place even before Meredith attended his first day of classes at the University of Mississippi. Still, Meredith was harassed and shunned.

By college students, I might remind you.

US Marshals Escort Meredith To Class

The experience was so traumatic that Meredith felt compelled to leave Ole Miss. He eventually received his undergraduate degree from the University of Ibadan.

Which is in Nigeria. Which, in case you haven’t made the connection, is not the United States of America.

As time went by, Meredith earned a law degree from Columbia University in New York City.

He remained active in the civil rights fight after attending college. In fact, he led a voter registration march back in Mississippi in 1966. A white man shotgunned him in the back for his efforts. Meredith, fortunately, survived the murder attempt.

Meredith, Moments After Being Shotgunned

James Meredith attended his first class at the University of Mississippi 50 years ago today.

Sometimes it’s good to look at the glass as half full. October 1st, 1962 was a long, long time ago.

There’s even a statue of Meredith on the Ole Miss campus.

He’s pushing 80 now and lives with his wife in Jackson, Mississippi. He’s got a new book coming out, “A Mission from God: A Memoir and Challenge for America.”

Meredith Now

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Monday, October 1st, 2012

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

FAIR ◗ Monroe County Fairgrounds, Commercial Building West29th Annual American Red Cross Book Fair, +100,000 used books, CDs, DVDs, games, maps, sheet music, etc.; 9am-7pm, through October 2nd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, outside WFHB StudiosPublic participation in creating a ten-foot sculpture called “The Messenger,” Rain or shine; 9am-5pm

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

BENEFIT ◗ Bloomington Convention CenterDinner & award ceremony for Stone Belt; 6-8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleDawn Hiatt; 6-8:30pm

VARIETY ◗ Cafe DjangoBloomington Short List, ten-minute acts, hosted by Marta Jasicki; 7pm

MUSIC & POETRY ◗ Boxcar BooksMeg Waldron; 7pm

CLASS ◗ Monroe County Public Library — “On the Brink of Destruction: The Cuban Missile Crisis 50 Years Out,” presented by IU Lifelong Learning; 7-8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceSocial Justice; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterLatin Jazz Ensemble, the Aaron Bannerman Group, Tom Walsh & Michael Spiro, directors; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase: Ryan Brewer, Chad Mills, Chris Wolf; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdKrewella; 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
  • 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; through October 11th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits opening September 28th:

  • 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 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:

THE QUOTE

“You want to know whether we’re better off? I’ve got a little bumper sticker for you: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” — Vice President Joe Biden

UNION

The day after Labor Day.

Up in Chicago, the city’s Daley Center Plaza was chock full of people showing support for the Chicago Teachers Union yesterday.

Here’s one picture of the scene from radical attorney Jerry Boyle:

Chicago’s Daley Center Plaza, Labor Day, 2012

And I’ll bet you thought nobody cared about unions anymore.

THE RYDER AND US

Peter LoPilato’s Ryder Film Series and magazine get wrapped up in a spanking new website today.

And your fave Bloomington events listings move to that address.

What used to be known as The Electron Pencil’s “GO!” now is a daily blog on The Ryder’s shiny internet home.

So get your mouse-clicking, touchpad mashing finger limbered up: From now on you can get Bloomington’s finest hot air here and then click over to The Ryder to help you make the day’s plans. Oh, and you can read about the movies Peter will be showing this coming weekend and you can peruse current and past editions of The Ryder mag online.

What more do you need in life?

[At the time this post was published, the Runskip bosses had not put the new Ryder site up yet. So be patient. I'll get a link to you as soon as it's released to me.]

THERE IS NO MAGIC FOOD

Loved the NPR report this morning on organic foods.

A Stanford University study indicates that there is scant evidence organic foods have much added benefit. That is, if you’re an organic foodie, your health isn’t more likely to be better, you’re not getting more nutrients from what you eat, and your grub doesn’t necessarily taste better.

Worth It?

Don’t get me wrong, I like eating food that’s free of chemical pesticides. And keep in mind I used to be part of the Whole Foods Market education department. It was my job to explain the federal organic program and WFM’s efforts to operate within that law.

So I had intimate knowledge of organics.

Knowing what I knew, I decided very early on that I needn’t waste my dough buying only organic fruits and vegetables or even potato chips. And yes, you can get organic junk food.

That was one of the things that turned me off organics. They are costly. Organics are privileged white people’s way of telling themselves they’re eating better the the rest of the sweaty crowd.

That’s the kind of attitude Right Wingers love to focus on and exaggerate when they’re trying to convince the public that liberals and progressives rank below peeping toms on the social scale.

I’ve long felt that the whole organics thing is the Left’s vestige of Puritanism. My food is holy and clean, the foodies seem to be saying.

I’m Gonna Live Forever!

Me? I know the world is filthy and full of peril. I do my best to avoid risk, still keeping in mind that some microorganism, some parasite, some tornado or flood, or some wild eyed religious fundamentalist just might kick the crap out of me.

There is no guarantee of anything. And organics are no guarantee of better food.

BIDEN BITIN’

A couple of things about today’s quote.

Generally, I avoid quoting current politicians spouting their partisan bull. But with the 2012 presidential campaign racing into the homestretch, I’ll be wearing my colors until the first Tuesday in November. It’s bull season.

The Political Season

Now, about that pic of Joe Biden jamming a couple of ice cream cones down his throat: It comes from a Tumblr site entitled “500 Still Frames of Joe Biden Eating a Sandwich.”

Yup. No lie.

It’s one of the reasons I love the interwebs.

The site is dedicated to amassing pix of the Veep working as a trencherman.

Someone even sneaked in a shot of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attacking a submarine. Here it is:

Sure, it’s probably a campaign photo op but, still, ya gotta love a woman who’s not afraid to get her hands greasy.

I have a pal who’s been married for more than 30 years. He says he knew his future blushing bride was the one for him on their very first date: They went out to eat and she mopped up her plate in record time and then reached over to spear morsels from his dish.

“She was a champion eater,” he says proudly.

And the best part is, according to my pal, she’s as svelte now as she was when she was a callow 24-year-old.

PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCES?

THINK

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Science Is Awesome (formerly I Fucking Love Science)A Facebook community of science geeks.

Science Is Awesome

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

Click For Full Article

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed, Mr. President, but I do say not more than ten to twenty million dead depending on the breaks.” — General Buck Turgidson in “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

A RAIN OF RUIN

This is both stunning and terrifying.

Isao Hashimoto of Japan has created a CGI video depicting every nuclear explosion on Earth since the first one in the New Mexico desert in July, 1945. The first few years plod along but then, by 1962, when Hashimoto’s vid becomes a perverse symphony, it’s as though we’re trying to blow the planet to smithereens.

Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z

In the days and weeks leading up to the Republicans’ self-love orgy going on this week in Tampa, people asked me how excited I was to have this glorious opportunity to spout off even more than I usually do about them.

Whatever “It” Is

The answer: Not much. And a correction: the opportunity is not glorious.

Funny, huh?

As in ironic.

As I wrote yesterday, all politics is theater. And the convention on Florida’s west coast is the GOP’s big showbiz opening.

What am I going to write? That they’re liars and alarmists? I may as well recycle any of dozens of posts I’ve already written about that.

What have we learned thus far that we didn’t know already? That Ann Romney still has a schoolgirl crush on her big boy?

He Lights Up My Life

Wake me up when it’s over.

Oh, and I’ll have another fine opportunity to take a well-earned beauty nap when the Dems convene in Charlotte next week.

FAT CHANCE

There never was any chance Chris Christie of New Jersey would be tabbed by Willard Romney to be his running mate. The fact of the matter is Christie’s too fat.

Chris Christie

Last fall when the idea of a Christie run for the White House was floating around, some op-ed writers danced around the topic of his belt size. Pseudo-liberal blowhard Michael Kinsley even suggested that a Christie presidency would set the wrong example for the nation, as if tens of millions of folks would suddenly start scarfing down entire Tombstone pizzas in a sitting (hey, wait a minute — that is happening already.)

His girth precluding him from coming within a couple of blocks of the White House is both an insult and a rather reasonable proposition.

It’s insulting because most people have a prejudice against fat people. The thin harbor within themselves the notion that fat people are greedy pigs who are swallowing too much of the Earth’s resources, primarily Wavy Lays and Sara Lee frozen cakes.

People are fat, the svelte among us believe (whether they admit it or not), because they are lazy cows.

Choose whichever round animal analog you wish, the comparison is never praise.

Not A Bull, Not A Bear, Not A Lion

Republicans might love Christie’s stances but they’d hate to look at him for four or eight years. The fat, we’ve decided, are unsightly. And can you imagine how Dems would jump all over President Christie for his width? He’d be the poster boy for the rapacious rich in progressive cartooning and editorializing.

As wise policy, keeping Christie out of the Oval Office merely insures that we won’t have to suffer the grief of burying him a year and a half into his presidency due to his heart exploding like a water balloon. I mean, even Bill Clinton was thought to be too corpulent when he was first elected. He had to lay off Big Macs and pretend to exercise a bit before the nation felt comfortable that we weren’t an infarct away from a Gore Administration. Still, Clinton twice had to have his cardiac plumbing Roto-Rootered to keep him alive.

Even though we’ve become the fattest nation on Earth, we just don’t like fat people.

WRONG FROM RIGHT

Really, you’ve got to love the Right Wing. They give us so much to laugh at.

For instance, there’s a new book out about the raid to find and kill Osama bin Laden. It’s written by a guy named Richard Miniter and it’s called “Leading from Behind.”

Miniter argues that Barack Obama spent years screwing up the hunt for Obama. Which is odd, considering the fact that the president ordered the raid to get the al Qaeda leader. And it worked.

That is, Obama accomplished something in his first term that George W. Bush failed to do for seven and a half years. Yet Obama screwed up. Miniter so far is silent on Bush telling us the mightiest military in the history of the planet was doing everything it could to round bin Laden up even as the number one terrorist traipsed at will from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Actually, No

See, that’s the way it is with today’s Republicans and their various Tory pals. Nothing a Democrat does can be praised, even tepidly. Especially Barack Obama. In fact, the Republicans told us early on in his term that their sole raison d’etre until 2012 would be to bring down the president.

Nice patriotic gang, eh?

By the way, those who dared criticize Bush’s handling of Afghanistan and his Family Honor War in Iraq were immediately branded traitors by the same bunch that’s ravaging Obama today.

I’d laugh out loud but too many people buy into the Republican line.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Indexed

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

I Fucking Love Science

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kinsey Institute, Morrison Hall — Volunteer docent training; 3-4:30pm

Monroe County Public LibraryIt’s Your Money series: Free, confidential session with a financial expert; 4:30pm

Bear’s PlaceMusic: Jamey Aebersold All-Star Quintet; 5:30pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Music: 220 Breakers; 6-8:30pm

City Hall, Showers PlazaWomen’s Bike Ride; 6pm

The Player’s PubMusic: Below Zero Blues Band; 6:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Little Otik”; 6:30pm

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Music: Jeff Nelson & Sylvia McNair host a presentation of performances by Jacobs School of Music students; 7:30pm

The Comedy AtticBest of the Bloomington Comedy Fest; 8pm

Bloomington Playwrights ProjectDrama: “Working”; 8pm

◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — UB Films: “Magic Mike”; 8pm

Serendipity Martini BarTeam trivia; 8:30pm

Max’s PlaceMusic: Americana showcase; 9pm

The BishopMusic: Outdoor Velour; 9pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Conspirators of Pleasure”; 9:30pm

◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — UB Films: “Magic Mike”; 11pm

ONGOING

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th

  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th

  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th

  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th

  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st

  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012

  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animation by Miek von Dongen; through September 15th

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“It may be said with a degree of assurance that not everything that meets the eye is as it appears.” — Rod Serling

KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON

Bear with me kiddies. I’m in a big hurry this morning; there’s only time to put up the event listings right now. I’ll get around to my daily blather ASAP.

 

Late

DO YOUR DUTY

I’m wearing my “I Voted Today!” sticker on my shirt as I type this.

Had to go pay a parking ticket at City Hall and happened to pass the Curry Building on 7th Street. I figured, hell, may as well pop in and vote. As long as I have to pay some hard-earned cash to the government, it makes sense that I participate in the electoral process as well.

You know, the way Goldman Sachs, AT&T, Citigroup, and Lockheed-Martin do. Only their dough goes a lot further. They own much of the Senate and the House.

Me? I probably only own one of Shelli Yoder‘s old dishwashing sponges.

What Twenty Bucks’ll Get You In The Lobbies Of Congress Nowadays

Anyway, go vote.

“WHAT DID RUDY GIULIANI EAT FOR BREAKFAST THIS MORNING?”*

I hate to burst the Republicans’ bubble (no, let me amend that: I love to burst the Republicans’ bubble) but Mitt Romney and his pal Rudy Giuliani calling Barack Obama’s mentioning of the successful raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout a year ago “playing politics” is a bit disingenuous, no?

Come now, boys, Rudy baby was all washed up in politics the day before 9/11 happened. New Yorkers couldn’t wait to be rid of him.

“Put Your Mask On! (And Vote For Me.)”

Then the planes hit the Twin Towers and Giuliani was caught on videotape emphatically telling someone off-screen to put their mask on and next thing you know he’s a presidential candidate.

That, my friends, is politics.

(*Answer to the smart-assed joke circulating during the 2008 presidential campaign: “The World Trade Center — he didn’t have anything else.”)

WELL, J SCHOOL IS FOR LEARNING

Not to make light of the untimely passing of an IU student Friday, but the IDS headline for the story about Julian Eisner’s death is a tad, shall we say, clumsy.

It reads more like a hostage threat in an al Qaeda daily paper than anything else.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Monroe County Public LibraryExhibit, “Muse Whisperings,” water color paintings done by residents of Sterling House; through May 31st, 9am-9pm

IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st, 9am-4:30pm

From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web

Twin Lakes Recreation CenterSenior Expo, health fair, free screenings; 10am

IU Grunwald (SOFA) GalleryMFA & BFA Thesis 3 exhibitions; through May 5th, Noon

IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th, 1:30-5pm

Monroe County History CenterPresentation, “Pajama Genealogy,” genealogist Randi Richardson speaks about doing genealogy at home; 2pm

IU CinemaStudent short films; 6:30pm

Ivy Tech, Daniels Way, Lamkin Hall — 1st annual Food Flix international cooking video awards; 6:30pm

Monroe County Public LibraryCenter for Sustainable Living discussion, “How to Bicycle to Work and Still Look Great: Tips & Tricks”; 7-8pm

Bike To Work In Style!

Bear’s PlaceAmericana jam; 7pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 8pm

Harmony SchoolContra Dancing, hosted by Bloomington Old Time Music and Dance Group, beginners welcome; 8-10:30pm

IU Kirkwood ObservatoryPublic night sky viewing, rain or shine; 9pm

Andromeda Galaxy

The BishopSpirit of ’68 Presents: Retribution Gospel Choir; 9pm

IU CinemaIndiana Filmmakers Network presents Made in Bloomington film and video; 9;30pm

Uncle Elizabeth’sBoP; 10pm & midnight

Jake’s NightclubBattle of the bands; 10pm

Vandaveer

Vintage Phoenix Comic BooksListening party, “The Best Show on WFMU”; 9pm-midnight

IU CinemaIndiana Filmmakers Network Short Films: Made in Bloomington; 9:30pm

Rachael’s CafeWringer, Arms Aloft; 10pm

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“You mustn’t always believe what I say. Questions tempt you to tell lies, particularly when there is no answer.” — Pablo Picasso

TELL ME SWEET LITTLE LIES

It’ll be a year tomorrow that a posse of Navy SEALs cornered that varmint Osama bin Laden and plugged him in his bedroom.

President Barack Obama had large enough cagliones to order the secret assault on ObL’s hideout in Pakistan and the raid paid off big time — sort of. Had a Republican president been in charge there would have been daily parades in his honor in every big city since the al Qaeda boss’s take-down.

The President Watches The Operation Unfold

But because Obama is a Muslim mole whose goal is to transform our holy land into a commie/Nazi gulag/stalag, he hasn’t exactly been showered with laurel leaves since his big night.

Funny thing is, almost within minutes of the announcement that ObL had been executed, the conspiracy theorists leaped out of the woodwork. Chief among them, sad to say, was Cindy Sheehan, the California mom whose son was killed in the Iraq War and who channeled her grief into highly publicized anti-war activism.

Literally within hours after the news of bin Laden’s death broke, Sheehan famously wrote on her website, “I am sorry, but if you believe the newest death of OBL (sic), you’re stupid.” She went on to detail some very iffy evidence that the whole operation was a hoax.

Poor Sheehan lost whatever credibility she had left after that.

Cindy Sheehan

Fringe-y organizations both left and right jumped on the ObL Death Hoax bandwagon for the next several weeks, then fell silent. A brief scan of the internet shows that no one has said much about such hoax claims since about June last year.

Which is odd because conspiracies and hoaxes usually seem to have the staying power of a bad cold in January.

Here’s a list of the ten top conspiracy theories in the US, as compiled by LiveScience.com:

  • 10) 9/11 was an inside job (2001)
  • 9) Princess Diana was murdered (1997)
  • 8) Subliminal advertising (1973)
  • 7) The Apollo moon landings were faked (1978)
  • 6) Paul McCartney died (1966)
  • 5) All the people and organizations who killed JFK (mid-1960s)
  • 4) The Roswell UFO crash (1947)
  • 3) “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (1905)
  • 2) The epidemic of satanic cults (1980s)
  • 1) Big Pharma (1990s-2000s)

Leave It To The Onion

As you can see, a good conspiracy/hoax theory can last a century or more. But today’s technology and the mass media bombardment of us with deception and myth has turned us into ever-more credulous suckers.

Journalist/polemicist Matt Taibbi has a nice explanation of the phenomenon in his book, “The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion.” On pages 183 to 189 (paperback edition) he lays out the ways advertisers, pols, and charlatans have inundated us with phony claims, distortions, spin, subterfuge, and outright lies. Here, I cherry-pick the key points from his thesis:

“How many lies are too many? How much bullshit is the human organism designed to tolerate before it starts to malfunction? Is there a breaking point?

“Mainstream American society has never been designed to confront difficult or dangerous truths. In fact, our mass media has corrupted the idea of objective truth so badly in the past five or six decades that it is now hard to tell when anyone is being serious about anything — the news, the movies, commercials, anything….

“Somehow ordinary people were supposed to keep track of all this, make their own sense of it. Decades after Watergate, Vietnam, and the Kennedy assassination, Americans were forced to rummage for objective reality in a sea of the most confusing and diabolical web of bullshit ever created by human minds — a false media tableau created mainly a s a medium to sell products, a medium in which even the content of the ‘news’ was affected by commercial considerations….”

“This was too much for the people to handle….”

“America by the early years of this century was a confusing kaleidoscope of transparent, invidious bullshit, a place where politicians hired consultants to teach them to ‘straight talk,’ where debates were decided by inadvertent coughs and smiles and elections were resolved via competing smear campaigns, and where network news programs — subsidized by advertisements for bogus alchemist potions like Enzyte that supposedly made your dick grow by magic — could feature as a lead story newly released photos of the Tom Cruise love child, at a time when young American men and women were dying every day in the deserts of the Middle East.

“The message of all of this was that Americans were now supposed to make their own sense of the world. There was no dependable authority left to turn to, no life raft in an increasingly perilous informational sea. This coincided with an age when Americans now needed to understand more of the world than ever before…. Now… Joe American has to turn on the Internet and tell himself a story that makes sense to him.”

Cindy Sheehan reached the breaking point when Barack Obama held his historic midnight news conference a year ago. Of course, she was pushed toward that snap by the death of her child. But the rest of us are under strain as well, if not so heart-wrenching.

We’re living in an age when fiction and reality are interchangeable. That’s why George W. Bush could lie us into a war and Barack Obama could sell himself as a man who would change government.

So I’m surprised the Osama bin Laden Death Hoax stories didn’t last. It doesn’t mean we’re becoming more rational and sophisticated — probably only that the vast majority liked the the story of the Navy SEAL Team 6 operation a year ago too much.

REAL NEWS

WFHB‘s Alycin Bektesh, Ryan Dawes, and Chad Carrothers lugged home a lot of hardware after Friday night’s Society of Professional Journalists annual awards dinner in Indianapolis. The Firehouse broadcasters won 19 awards for excellence, going up against news departments from around the state.

The WFHB Gang Friday Night In Indy

Bloomington’s community radio station consistently puts out the best local news and special programming in the region. No commercial station nearby can hold a candle to the news department that current GM Carrothers started about a decade ago.

Carrothers took a chance, donating his time and considerable energies for no pay at first, just to get the operation off the ground. Now WFHB News puts all those for-profit radio news departments to shame.

LIAR, LIAR

The 1965 hit by The Castaways.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Monday, April 30, 2012

IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st, 9am-4:30pm

From “Esse Quam Videri”

IU Grunwald (SOFA) GalleryMFA & BFA Thesis 3 exhibitions; through May 5th

IU Kinsey Institute Gallery — Exhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th, 1:30-5pm

IU Asian Culture CenterHenna 101; 4pm

Bell Trace Health & Living CenterSession 2 of a 4-part class, “Life in a British Period Drama”; 6:30pm

IU CinemaStudent film, “Mudcity”; 7pm

IU Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology, Performance & Lecture Hall — Students perform Ghanaian music, drumming, and dance, directed by Bernard Woma, guest artists: Evelyn Yaa Bekyore and Joyce Bekyore; 7pm

Bernard Woma

The Player’s PubSongwriters Showcase; 8pm

The Bluebird — Dave Walters Karaoke; 8pm

The BishopDJs, The Vallures; Film, “Brick and Mortar and Love”; both at 8pm

Bear’s PlaceArchie Powell & the Exports, Sandman Viper Command, Deadghost, Keeping Cars; 9pm

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