The Pencil Today:


“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” — Frederick Douglass



That’s all I have to say.


The Indy Star today ran a front pager on radical labor leader and committed socialist Eugene V. Debs in honor of Labor Day, natch.

Debs In Canton, Ohio

Now, the Star is not to be confused with the old Daily Worker newspaper or even Mother Jones magazine. In fact, the Star pretty much reflects the rocked-ribbed Republican base in Indiana. For pete’s sake, the paper was started by an industrialist, George F. McCulloch, back in 1903.

Industrialists don’t generally start up papers — or television stations or websites, for that matter — in order that the sweating classes might be whipped into rebellion.

That’s what Eugene V. Debs did all his adult life. He was deemed such a threat to the good order of the nation that he was thrown in prison twice for being, essentially, too charismatic.

And by the way, that good order of the nation? It’s still the same today — those that have, fight like tigers to keep it; those that don’t and make noises about it are called traitors, terrorists or, even worse, liberals.

Debs was born in Terre Haute, which partially explains why the Star might deign to write about him on Labor Day. He was so popular that when he was sprung from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary by President Warren G. Harding in 1921, a crowd of 50,000 greeted him when he returned home to Terre Haute.

Anyone who wonders why he was imprisoned twice in his life need look no further than than for a reason. Guys who can draw crowds of 50,000 are either top-flight quarterbacks or dangers to the nation.

Debs Before A Crowd

Anyway, Debs is one of the most important Americans in history. He’s generally seen by the Far Right as something akin to a child molester. The thankfully-almost-forgotten Glenn Beck once described Debs as a racist/communist.

So, cool, the Indy Star gives the home-state boy his due. Maybe — just maybe — things aren’t all as lost as they sometimes seem.

Here are some good reads on Debs and the American labor movement:


For my Chicago friends, get on over to the Daley Center Plaza today at 10:30 for a rally in support of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Meet Here

Chicago Public School teachers may go on strike a week from today because contract negotiations have bogged down. School starts tomorrow.

Here’s an irony: the billionaires who own the Chicago Cubs want the city and the state to pick up several hundred million dollars of the cost for a proposed massive refurbishment of Wrigley Field. If the city screws its school teachers out of nickels and dimes but then throws a pile of cash at the Ricketts family and the cash cow that is the Cubs, I wouldn’t blame a soul for taking to the streets.


The AFL-CIO presents 36 Reasons Why You Should Thank A Union. Here are a few:

  • Weekends without work
  • All breaks, including lunch
  • Paid vacation
  • Sick leave
  • Minimum wage

  • Overtime pay
  • 8-hour day
  • 40-hour week
  • Pensions
  • Workplace safety standards
  • Holiday pay
  • Equal pay for men and women doing the same jobs

Just in case you were wondering what we were celebrating today.


Finally, speaking of nickels and dimes, make it your business this week to buy Barbara Ehrenreich’s fabulous book on the working poor, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.”

It’s worth ten academic treatises on labor for illustrating the lives of people for whom a five dollar bill is an important thing.

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.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

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.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The BishopMusic: Jens Lekman Listening Party; 9pm


◗ 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 30th

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 30th

  • “Workers of the World, Unite!”; through December 30th

◗ 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

One thought on “The Pencil Today:

  1. Regina says:

    Mike– Don’t forget Mother Jones, who led organizing of mine workers, and then there’s a great book out about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in NY. Also, Lilly Ledbetter’s book is out. It’s a good day to settle in with a good read about the labor movement in ths country.

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