Hot Air: In & Out, Burghers

Tune Out, Turn Off, Drop Out

I haven’t listened to NPR’s Morning Edition once this week. Frankly, I’m burned out on the election. I simply had no desire to hear anything having to do with it, especially during his first-debate week. The next three or so weeks also will be rhetorical swamps, what with the VP debate scheduled for next week and then Hillary v. That Jerk, pts. II & III, to follow.

Oh, I read my New York Times daily, sure, assiduously avoiding all election articles. But I’m just sick to death of the campaign in a way I’ve never been before. Perhaps it has a little to do with the fact that I’m not head-over-heels in love with Hillary, although I am indeed head-over-heels in detestation over that other guy. To be sure, I find my vote for Hillary this Nov. to be the most important ballot I’ve ever cast in a presidential beauty contest, even if I am lukewarm about her.

It’s sad, though, that our political system has devolved thusly. I’d like to think we’ve reached the nadir, with the ascendance and — hopefully — dramatic and complete downfall of He Who Shall Not Be Named. But who knows?

Who’s the next loon to come down the pike and galvanize a big enough swath of know-nothings to gain a major party’s nomination for president? If that so-and-so turns out to be even more ludicrous a possibility than one D. Trump (shoot, I named him — dang!) Im going to have to smash my radio against the wall.

Theo Does The Right Thing

Then again…. How much do I love my Cubs? This much: Team president Theo Epstein, architect of the current assemblage that’s won more than a hundred games already this year and appears to be an unstoppable high-speed train hurtling toward the team’s first World Series victory in 108 years, is a Hillary supporter.



[Image: Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune]

Yep. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed has the exclusive today. She writes:

Theo Epstein and his family showed up unexpectedly at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser in Chicago on Thursday night, tossed her his support, and wrote her a personal check for her presidential campaign coffers.

“He (Epstein), who has magically turned the Chicago Cubs into the main event, met with Clinton privately and told her he was lending his support,” said a top Sneed source.

The Cubs president is bucking, in a way, his bosses — at least some of them. The Cubs are owned by the Ricketts family. Patriarch Joe Ricketts founded TD Ameritrade, a ginormous online stock brokerage with 6.6 million clients and handling nearly $700 billion in customer dough. The old man is a notorious right winger. He’s a tax-obsessive who helped found and run several tax and wasteful-spending watchdog groups that carry a lot of weight in Washington. Old Joe is of the opinion that Barack Obama is one of the worst things to happen to this holy land at least since the great 1918 flu pandemic. The Cubs are run by Joe’s kids, Tom, Pete, Laura and Todd, three of whom are right-ish to one degree or another. OTOH, daughter Laura, an out lesbian, is a known supporter of progressive causes.

In any case, Theo joining Hillary’s team makes me happy. Here’s hoping I get to celebrate two great victories over the crucial two-week period in late October and early November.

More Big Talk

Yesterday’s guest on Big Talk was IU Eskanazi Art Museum director David Brenneman. We had a ball in the studio together Monday afternoon. He’s one of the most dynamic, magnetic people you’ll ever want to meet. The word joie was coined for him.

Big Talk Logo Usable Screen Shot

Here’s the link to the Thursday WFHB Daily Local News feature with him and here’s the one for my Big Talk page, where you’ll find the Big Track — the largely-unedited, nearly-full-length interview I had with David. Enjoy.

Next week, my guests will be Danielle Burns and Liz Mitchell. Danielle directs the production, Resilience: Indiana’s Untold Story, co-written by Liz (along with Gladys DeVane), that will run October 14-16 at the John Waldron Arts Center. Resilience is a multimedia presentation recounting the black experience in the Hoosier State. Scads o’folks hardly even know there was a black experience in IN. Tune in next Thursday and find out about it.


Danielle Bruce


Hot Air: Godwin’s Law, 1994-2016

I thought I’d try a little experiment. Play along with me.

Here are a few snippets from a newspaper article that ran this week, almost verbatim,

  1. How did Donald J. Trump — described by one eminent magazine editor in 2013 as a “half-insane rascal,” a “pathetic dunderhead,” a “nowhere fool,” a “big mouth” — rise to power in the land of Harper Lee and Bob Dylan? What persuaded millions of ordinary Americans to embrace him and his doctrine of hatred?
  2. Some have focused on the social and political conditions in 21st Century America, which Trump expertly exploited — bitterness over the wealth gap and Wall Street excesses and a yearning for a return to American greatness; unemployment and economic distress amid the worldwide Great Recession; and longstanding ethnic prejudices and fears of immigration.
  3. Trump is often described as an egomaniac who “only loves himself” — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what one commentator calls a “characteristic fondness for superlatives.” His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raises questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity.

Got it? Okay, here’s the big reveal: The above paragraphs are taken from Michiko Kakutani’s review of Volker Ullrich’s new biography, just released this month as a first volume of what is expected to be a two-volume set. The review ran in this week’s New York Times Book Review. Its title, Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939.

All I’ve done is substitute D. Trump’s name for Hitler’s and tweaked a few references to make the things sound contemporary.

If I still had hair, it’d be standing on end.

Now, don’t get me wrong. D. Trump is not Hitler. Nobody ever was, is or will be. The man locked in a virtual first-place tie with Joseph Stalin as the vilest member of our species to breathe air in the 20th Century was, and for the foreseeable future will be, the sine qua non of human malignancy.

Countless historians — and Ullrich’s effort is, by one estimation, merely the 23rd full-length, respected literary treatment of the life of the leader of the Third Reich — have delved into the mind of both Hitler and the German people in a thus-far unrequited effort to grasp how such a loon could become, arguably, the most important person in modern history. Another two dozen learned books on Hitler’s sundry medical conditions, three books on his diet (he was a vegetarian), 45 books about Germany and Europe in mid-century that are primarily dependent upon him as a focus, another 34 books that without his existence never would have needed to be written, and countless histories, recaps and recounts of World War II whose subject matter arose directly out of his actions and agency grace our world’s libraries.

And I’m only counting respectable, historically valid treatises written in English.

Pretty much all of them have come to the same conclusion about Hitler as the above paragraphs indicate Ullrich has. And yet, those grafs perfectly describe the man running for United States president on the Republican Party ticket in the year 2016.

Will Trump round up undesirables in concentration camps? No. Will he send Americans armies into Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America so as to expand our lebensraum? No.

But will he sanction the burning of books? Perhaps. Will he turn Americans against each other? He already has. Will he employ clever and sophisticated propagandists to desecrate facts? Sure — he’s tapped into the Fox News bushwa machine and hired the likes of Roger Ailes, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone to help him craft a message of mendacity.


Roger Stone, Trump’s Goebbels

[Image: Platon/The New Yorker]

I hereby declare Godwin’s Law dead. It’s as useful to us in these days of demagoguery and charlatanism as an Emily Post etiquette manual. Calling George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton Hitler — or even making the slightest reference to any similarities between contemporary figures and history’s greatest villain — usually is silliness of the highest order. Identifying the glaring psychological similarities between the Fuhrer and D. Trump is simply iterating the obvious.

Hot Air: Yak, Yak, Yak

Did you learn anything last night?

Wait, lemme answer that. No, you didn’t.

The debate between the the major party candidates for the presidency was nothing more than disposable entertainment. Monitoring soc. med., I found the most important revelation to emerge from the hour-and-a-half pissing match was the certainty that D. Trump is a cocaine addict.


Obsessive Sniffler & Water Gulper

At least that’s what the yodelers in my particular echo chamber were singing.

Is it any wonder why I refuse to watch candidate debates?

People say, Yeah, but what about Lincoln/Douglas?

To which I reply the L/D tugs of words actually served an important purpose in those pre-mass media days. With no TV, radio or internet, and with a very few citizens actually being able to read newspapers, the two major party candidate for United States Senator from Illinois had to do a grand tour of their state in order for at least some hundreds or thousands of voters to be able to ascertain what in the hell they were running for.

Today we can view photos of the insides of a candidate’s bowels if she or he’d recently had a colonoscopy (that is, except for D. Trump — then again, he proudly but inadvertently displays offal views of himself every time he steps before a camera but, y’know.) We’re familiar with pretty much every single solitary thing there is to know about where a candidate stands including, in Hillary’s case, what her recipe for oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies is — or was.

And, BTW, here’s the horribly offensive quote that led to Hillary, a quarter of a century ago, demeaning herself before those noted political scientists, the editors of Family Circle magazine:

I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.

I like that Hillary one hell of a lot more than the one who eventually genuflected before the Fam. Circ. brain trust and the mag’s huffy readers who saw her stance as an unforgivable insult to them.

In any case, we know everything we need to know plus ten times that amount of info we have no business knowing regarding anyone and everyone who’s running for president.

So, I saved myself a lot of stomach-churning and blood pressure spikes by not watching the debate and — guess what — I still know just as much as you do about D. Trump and Hillary.

[Big Mike note: Just in case you need it, here’s the New York Times transcript of last night’s prate orgy.]

Big Talk

I had IU Eskanazi Art Museum director David Brenneman in the WFHB studios yesterday afternoon, taping this week’s edition of Big Talk and, I’ll tell you, I’ve haven’t met a more effusive, happy-to-be-here kind of guy in more decades than I care to remember. Basically, the dude’s just thrilled to pieces to be alive.


This Week’s Big Talker: David Brenneman

The interview was a rollick and the only negative thing about it is I have to edit it down from 45 minutes to eight. Big Talk is a regular Thursday feature on WFHB’s Daily Local News. As always, go to The Pencil’s Big Talk page for past editions as well as the almost-unedited, nearly-full-length recordings of the original interviews. And this week, I’ll be running the first in a new weekly series of written interviews with my radio guests on Limestone Post online magazine. Stayed tuned for links as they become available.

Talk To Ya Later

The ’80s and L.A. — what a simultaneously terrifying and alluring combination. The Tubes, natch.


Hot Air: The Squared Circle

So, the cage match is tonight. D. (The Greatest American) Trump vs. Hillary (The Murderer) Clinton.

I’ve heard and read upwards of a hundred million people will be watching the big debate tonight Here’s the morning line on the outcome: The winner will be…


The Murderer Demonstrates Her Death Grip and…


…The Greatest American Creams A Guy In A Suit

… whomever you’re voting for.

Yeah. Go with the form book. One thing you can always count on, the winner of a debate will be the guy (and now, gal) you support.

Anyway, I won’t be watching because just looking at D. Trump turns my stomach. Anything he says, ergo, is likely to spur me into a projectile vomiting jag. Truth is, I’ve never watched a presidential debate. I find it a waste of time. I read about it the day after in the papers. That’s all I need. Hell, the New York Times regularly runs a transcript of the presidential debate the next day. Besides, there’ll be a Cubs game on TV at the same time. I know my priorities.

And — hey — my beloved Cubs over the years have spurred me into jags of projectile vomiting many a time. Now they’re the best team in baseball, so I’m going enjoy them while I can.

Keep in mind TV images — especially, but not limited to, those in presidential debates — are all too often the products of creative stagecraft, well applied facial makeup, and the producers’ knowledge of precisely what the viewer wants to see and hear.

Somebody wrote an op-ed somewhere online today saying Hillary’s team is hoping for Trump to blow his stack as some point or another. As if that’ll convince a huge swath of the tens of millions who support him to switch ponies as they make the first turn.

Damned fools. If Trump bullies Hillary — say he explodes and calls her a fat-assed liar to her face — his supporters’ll experience spontaneous orgasms (or organisms, as one soc. med. poster mis-typed last week). He’ll have won even as members of Hillary’s brain trust are busy patting themselves on the back.

But back to TV. I’m not telling you anything when I say pretty much everything on your flat screen is smoke and mirrors. You know that already. Yet you’re still going to watch the debate in the hope your candidate’s unassailable logic, cool and calm demeanor, and sensible pants suit ensemble will triumph over Trump.


Truth, facts, unassailable logic, and all the rest of that rational bushwa mean nothing to TV viewers. I was reading Nate Silver’s book, The Signal and the Noise, at the end of the summer. In Chap. 4, he writes about the weather forecasting racket, comparing the predictions of the National Weather Service, AccuWeather, and the Weather Channel. (It turns out, BTW, all three fall within a comfortable range of accuracy when it comes to forecasting the next day or two but quickly fall apart when called on to see further than half a week into the future.) At a certain point, Silver reveals that TV producers have no interest in whether their weather forecasters are, well, good at what they do.

One weatherhead tells Silver, “There’s not an evaluation of accuracy in hiring meteorologists. Presentation takes precedence over accuracy.”

And why is that? Another weather critter explains: “Accuracy is not a big deal to viewers.”

Huh. Who’d’a figured.

Well anybody who knows anything about TV and its blithely flatlining audience would’a figured.

Silver writes about several ways TV weather men and bunnies fudge reality so their viewers can go to sleep fat and happy. Here’s one trick — when’s the last time you heard your local TV weather person call for a 50 percent chance of showers tomorrow? You’d expect to hear that quite a lot, but you don’t. Silver writes:

[T]he for-profit weather forecasters rarely predict exactly a 50 percent chance of rain, which might seem wishy-washy and indecisive to consumers. Instead, they’ll flip a coin and round up to 60, or down to 40, even though this makes the forecasts both less accurate and less honest.

It gets worse. It turns out local weatherbeings factor in a “wet bias” to their forecasts. Here’s why. TV weather women and men have learned that when they are wrong about a sunny forecast, when it rains on what was expected to be a dazzlingly clear 4th of July, say, viewers get teed off. Their picnics and parades are ruined and the potato salad gets all runny. Yet, if those weather seers predict rain for the 4th and it turns out to be dry and clear, viewers are thrilled to pieces, as if they’d gotten a reprieve.

So, what do they do? Local weather forecasters, and even some national ones, artificially bump up their chance of rain predictions so as to cover their asses and gain that slight modicum of good feeling from their viewers should their gloomy forecasts turn out to be sunny days. The Weather Channel, Silver writes, admits to this trickery, goosing their rain chance figures by ten to fifteen percent and more.

“The attitude,” Silver writes, ” seems to be that this is all in good fun — who cares if there’s a little wet bias, especially if it makes for better television?”

Movies, too, are cesspools of untruths and planned inaccuracies. That’s why I tend to stay away from biopics. They’re invariably as close to the truth as a philandering Hollywood mogul is when asked by his wife to explain why his shirt smells of woman’s cologne. The last biopic I saw was The Imitation Game, a somewhat fanciful telling of the life and work of brilliant British mathematician and World War II code-breaker Alan Turing. In the movie, his superior, Naval Commander Alastair Denniston is portrayed as a stuffy old fuddy duddy who constantly threw roadblocks in front of him because his methods were so unconventional.

In reality, though, Denniston was Turing’s champion and did everything he could to facilitate the mathematician’s offbeat proposals. I wrote in these precincts that if I were a descendent of Cmdr. Denniston, I’d be mightily red-assed about the whole thing. Hell, I’d consider it a slander upon my grandfather or great-uncle’s or whatever’s good and well-earned name. I actually pontificated on this specific topic herein once already.

Funny thing, one of my loyal Pencillistas actually wrote in that I was a dope for belly-aching about that inaccuracy. The re-drawm Cmdr. Denniston fit the dramatic arc of the movie better and why’d I have to go trying to ruin it for him, the commenter?

Smoke and mirrors, untruths, inaccuracies, even flat-out lies — Americans today prefer them to the unvarnished truth. They’ll be thrilled tonight.

Somebody To Love

Great song, and the first line is perfect for today’s post: When the truth is found / To be lies.

Hot Air: Talk Is Cheap…

… Free, Even

Yesterday’s Big Talk featured IU Bicentennial archivist Kristin Leaman-Morris. A big gang of folks on campuses throughout Indiana has been preparing for the university’s 200th anniversary since 2008. Leaman-Morris joined the effort earlier this year and already is hard at work archiving — among many other bits, pieces, snippets, fragments and objets d’art — audio recordings of faculty, students, administrators, and support staff for a massive legacy oral history project. The “legacy” aspect means it’ll be an ongoing concern even after the bicent. festivities are finished. IU will turn 200 in the year 2020.


Kristin talks about some fascinating folk who’ve made up the IU community over the years, including the university’s first black and female zoology school student. Her case illustrates how times and attitudes have changed, even in this bastion of liberal education. Click here for the WFHB Daily Local News Big Talk feature and here for The Pencil’s Big Talk page, on which you’ll find a fairly full-length, almost unedited version of the original interview with Kristin.

Remember, Big Talk runs on the Daily Local News every Thursday at 5:45pm. Next week’s guest will be IU Eskanazi Art Museum director David Brennaman.

Hell’s About To Freeze Over

Oh, dear me: the boys and men I love, including Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Carl Edwards, Jr. and manager Joe Maddon all made appearances on Stephen Colbert’s Late Night gabfest yesterday.

Colbert donned sunglasses and phony mustache and goatee, slung a Vienna Beef hot dogs Sterno’d vendor’s box over his shoulders and actually peddled wienies at Wrigley Field earlier this week.

It’s funny stuff, although I was too busy mooning over my guys to be guffawing much, mang.


Okay, so Edison was a great inventor, sure, but did he invent chocolate? No?


Greater Than The Light Bulb

Then get in line behind the person or persons who did, Thomas Alva.

Black Like Them

That photo of people traipsing around Lotusfest in blackface last weekend is still making the rounds. The photog who snapped the shot is trying to distance her/himself from it these days even though s/he posted in on her/his social media page earlier in the week.

I spoke with the pic snapper yesterday and learned that some commenters raised a stink about the photo, saying s/he (the photographer) had no way of knowing if the designer-handbag-carrying, possibly-overserved group was making some inappropriate racial statement. The photog told me that s/he asked one of the women what was going on. The woman replied, “Don’t I look black as fuck?”

Steve Volan is carrying the torch for the snap now that it’s been erased from the photographer’s social media page.


Black As Fuck

My take? Even if the black-facers were as innocent as lambs and had absolutely no intention of insulting dark-skinned people, they should be sensitive enough to know, in this day and age, that blackface is a slap in the face.

Look, I’m as close to a 1st Amendment absolutist as you’ll find in a day’s walk but when you go around in blackface, you’d better expect the resultant rhetorical ass-kicking you most certainly deserve.

Black Boys/White Boys

From the original Broadway cast recording of “Hair.” This was the first album I ever bought with my own money, back when I was 14 years old. Somehow the figure $1.25 sticks in my mind, that being — IIRC — the SRP for vinyl LPs in those paleo-days of 1970.

One of the white female cast members singing the paean to “chocolate-flavored love” was none other than Diane Keaton. She first gained fame as the only woman not to remove her clothing during the song that closed Act I, wherein the cast appeared nude. Stripping down nekkid was optional for cast members although the producers provided a $50 bonus for those who would. Keaton opted not to and became known as “the chick who wouldn’t take her clothes off.” She parlayed that notoriety into a successful audition for one of the female leads in Woody Allen’s Broadway play and, later, film, Play It Again, Sam.

Hot Air: The Good, The Bad, And The Unholy

Citizen Lawmaker

Love ‘im or hate ‘im — and there are plenty of partisans on either side of that fence — there’s no denying Steve Volan adores his work as a municipal legislator. That, and he’s got a crush on this sprawling megalopolis. He gives his all for the cause of city government.



And now he’s sharing some of his voluminous knowledge thereof. His Councilmanic web site is a must read. His latest blast, posted yesterday, explains how kooky intersections and crumbling curbs get prioritized. His elucidation answers the age-old question: Why the hell don’t they fix… (fill in the blank.)

Natch, people want whatever problem they’re looking at this very moment to be fixed, eliminated, or at least verbally addressed. Steve reminds us that cities and town have budgets to do a mere fraction of these patches and replacements so odds are the busted-up concrete or death-defying crosswalk you’re staring at isn’t on the schedule for remediation at this moment.

So, add Councilmanic to the Big Mike-endorsed list of fab blogs & sites you, loyal Pencillista, should consult daily. In fact, here’s the list (and if I forget one, I’ll flog it at a later date):

Which reminds me — remember when blogrolls were de rigueur features of blogs? They’ve gone the way of chat rooms, bulletin boards, twerking, and Gangnam style.

Naked Lunchbreak

I was just reminded in a conversation (don’t ask me how, it was an indescribably circuitous path) that my maternal grandfather, Vincenzo Parello, worked in the Sicilian sulfur mines as a nine-year-old.

Let me repeat that: he was nine goddamned years old, toiling away in the bowels of the Earth from sunup to sundown. Yeesh.

And get this — he had to work in the nude. Why? The sulfur and other caustic stuffs would actually eat away at workers clothing so that it was determined the wearing of duds was cost prohibitive. Oh, and the temp in the mines often reached 113℉ with 100% humidity. Kid’s stuff, eh?


Sicilian Sulfur Miners

Hey, who needs workplace regulations?

Pulling No Punches

University press editor and exactitude maven Renaldo Migaldo points out this screed in GQ mag directed against those tens of millions of misguided souls who’ll vote for D. Trump this Nov.:


Click On Image For Full Article

Sure, there are those who are four-square in favor of the grifting uber-materialist but, the author of the piece asks, what of those who are considered swing voters this year? What kind of logic are they employing? Here’s a snippet from the piece:

Note to the people causing the polls to fluctuate: What the fuck is wrong with you? I gotta meet the five percent of people who saw Hillary come down with pneumonia and were like, “Forget her, gimme the dictator with dryer lint hair.”

Article author Drew Magary comes to this unhappy conclusion:

And so I’d just like to say to that portion of the electorate: Fuck you. No, seriously. Go fuck yourselves. I’m not gonna waste any more time trying to convince you that you’re about to do something you’ll regret forever. I’m not gonna show you old clips of Trump saying rotten things. I’m not gonna try to ANNIHILATE Trump by showing you records of his hypocrisy and greed. I’m not gonna link to a John Oliver clip and be like, “THIS. So much this.” Nothing’s gonna take down Trump at this point, so I’m not gonna bother. No no, this post is for ME. I am preaching to the sad little choir in my soul here.

Lemme add to this Keith Olbermann’s laundry list of some of D. Trump’s most recent sins, venial and cardinal, a task that takes him 17 minutes and 24 seconds and encompasses 176 line items, presented on GQ‘s The Closer podcast.


Click On Image For Full Video

Olbermann calls him ” the most dangerous individual ever nominated by a major party for the highest office in this country.”

To that I add, the first certified, bona fide, incompetent, indubitable jerk ever to entertain the a real hope of leading us into a very bleak future.

The point of all this? It doesn’t matter one single little bit if D. Trump wins or loses this fall. The very fact that tens of millions of anencephalics are gaga over him is prima facie evidence we, as a nation, are fucked.

America’s Fantasy Industrial Complex

Theater big shot and Columbia College instructor Albert Williams has found, perhaps, the reason mega-many Murricans are in thrall to this previously risible reprobate. Williams quotes The Guardian writer Ben Fountain who posits that Americans are living in a nightmare alternative to the American dream wherein:

[The] numbed-out, dumbed-down, make-believe world where much of the national consciousness resdies, the sum product of our Fantasy Industrial Complex: movies, TV, internet, texts, tweets, ad saturation, celebrity obsession, sports obsession, Amazonian sewers of porn and political bullshit, the entire onslaught of media and messaging that strives to separate us from our brains…. Most of the time most Americans don’t know what’s real anymore. How else to explain Donald Trump, a billionaire on an ego trip….



Babies, I gotta go wash my mind and soul out with strong bleach or else I’ll be looking to stick my head in the oven late tonight. Come Nov. if the Orange-utan wins the election, it’ll take a lot more than bleach to set me right.

Hot Air: Bad Science

Lying Liars

This enrages me. Who are/were these scientist/pimps? Let’s call them out and subject them to public ridicule. If they’re still alive. (If not, let’s cross our fingers and hope they’re frying in hell.)

Back in the 1960s, the sugar industry paid scientific researchers to essentially skew studies to show how swell sweet-laden junk food was. One of the ways sugar lobbyists, flacks, greedy CEOs, and their coatholders in Congress and the research community employed to shift bad pub away from sweet stuff was to pin the blame for our body ills on saturated fats. Here’s how the New York Times reported recent findings into that unholy PR campaign:

… [I]nternal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published Monday [September 12, 2016] in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.

Well, whaddya know?


Health Food

JAMA Internal Medicine, a specialized publication of the American Medical Association, is one of the industry bibles of the sawbones set. The AMA is about as establishment as a gang can be. If the AMA comes down hard on another establishment gang, well, hell, you know the accused must be guilty of the foulest and most blatant deeds.

And the sugar industry sure reeks now.

The sugar gang spread the word that candy and soda pop and every other comestible overflowing with what we now know are hugely addictive -oses were actually good for you and your spawn. At one point, acc’d’g to Wonkette, the sugarists engaged in a startling fiction:

…[C]andy makers were funding studies that claimed that children who eat candy tend to weigh less than those who do not.

Wow. What kind of idiots do they think we are/were? (Don’t answer that.)

Wonkette, appropriately editorializes:

Can you even imagine the low obesity rates among children who eat methamphetamine?

It makes me scarlet enough to realize what cheating, lying, manipulative jerks sugar industry nabobs were.  But I have an even hotter rage for the scientists who participated in this disinformation campaign. In this day and age of anti-intellectualism and pooh-poohing of scientific research and knowledge, any hint that our university and industry investigators are playing fast and loose with the truth can only hurt us. Bad.

This sugar business no doubt will serve as ammunition in the know-nothings’ endless campaign against science and facts. Sadly, the know-nothings these days seem to be winning.


Here’s the JAMA Internal Medicine report, cited above.


Click On Image For Full Report

And here’s a list — certainly not comprehensive — of issues we must grapple with these days, and for which we depend on honest scientists to provide dependable, accurate information:

  • General nutrition
  • GMOs
  • Climate change
  • Nuclear weapons proliferation
  • Nuclear energy
  • Renewable energy
  • Drinking water
  • Evolution
  • Vaccines
  • Agricultural production
  • Drug-resistant bacteria
  • Fracking
  • Race
  • Alternative medicine
  • Organics and “natural” foods

Hell, I can go on all day. Suffice it to say our scientists provide us with vital dope that can affect every single aspect of our lives. They’d damned well better not be fudging the facts just to earn a tainted paycheck.

It’s as if we were to discover cops were taking bribes to allow extortionists and cocaine dealers to ply their trades unmolested. Or Congresscritters were raking in bushels of cash from the very industries they are charged with regulating.

Hmm. I suppose scientists are, well…, people, too.


I screwed up big time Sunday, doing something that put me at risk to develop a monster infection had we gone through with surgery yesterday AM. Doc McKeen shook his head as he examined me in the pre-op room, where I’d already been shaved bald, IV’d, and given a dose of heparin.

“It’s a slight chance,” he said, “but we’re going to put a foreign object in your body. If an infection develops, it’ll be rough. It’ll be a long process of recovery. We might even have to go back in there. We can shoot you up with antibiotics but even that might not prevent an infection from developing.”

And with that, he advised me to dress up, put my earring back in, and go home. To that point, I’d been adamant about going through with the operation then and there. I asked him, “What would you do if you were I?”

“I just told you what I would do,” he said. And that was good enough for me.


Staphylococcus Aureus

So, I put my clothes back on and apologized to everyone in the pre-surgery area. I apologized to Doc McKeen. “I hope,” I said, “you weren’t counting on this job to make your mortgage payment for October. If so, you can stay with us.”

He laughed. In fact, everybody told me I shouldn’t apologize. But the truth is I’d felt as though I taken a spot — for naught — that another patient might have needed.

Sometimes I can do a damned fine job of fking up.

In any case, my window to be laid up for a week or two has now closed. By the looks of things, I won’t be able to undergo the surgery until after the first of the year.

My penance? As my body hair grows back in over the next few weeks, I will be miserable. Mea culpa.

Same Old, Same Old

Listening to coverage of the homemade bombs scattered around the NYC area yesterday, I became annoyed as all hell.

Even NPR, a news source I trust more than any other (although I trust it only as far as I can spit), has a template for covering these kinds of events. The textbook questions for the woman and man on the street drive me up a wall.

You know, the old joke about the newspaper reporter asking the couple whose house is going up in flames how they feel about it still holds true in today’s digital age.

The NPR All Things Considered host asked the reporter in New York the following: “You’ve also been talking with New Yorkers today, getting their reactions to all of this. How are people dealing with it?”

That question alone made my hair stand on end. I mean, what possible news value can such a question have? Are New Yorkers all over the metropolitan area leaping out of tall buildings in panic? That’d be news. Are suicide hot lines being flooded by folks in despair? Tell me about it.

But that is not now, nor has it ever been, how people react to terrorism or even bombings in wartime. Naturally, the NPR reporter found nothing noteworthy. Here’s his response:

Well, we spoke with one office worker in Manhattan who works near the explosion site. Her name is Shonda Brown. Here’s what she said: [taped soundbite] “I think that New Yorkers are really resilient. I think that there’s a little bit of close to home of the reality of this, but I think that it’s just moving on, we’ve figured out who it is and the cops caught him. It’s like another day in the life and get on with work.”

Well, of goddamned course! What else would anybody say? The reporter’d get the precise same answer from an office worker in Keokuk, Iowa had the bombing taken place there (along with the wholly predictable “I never thought it’d happen here” addendum.

A few blah-blah-blahs later, the reporter concluded “Life seems to be getting on as normal here in New York.”

Again, of course it is!

Here’s what I want from the news: Tell me what happened. Tell me why. If the perpetrator has been captured, tell me why he did it.


News: Cops Surround The Bombing Suspect

[Image: Ed Murray/AP]

That’s the news. This phony-baloney narrative that has become obligatory after terrorism does me no good. New Yorkers are reeling, check. New Yorkers are coping, check. New Yorkers’ lives are getting back to normal, check.

Checklist journalism. Ick.

I dunno about you, but I can do quite well without bedtime stories that make me feel all is well, so sleep tight, little listener.

I want news.


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