Category Archives: 9/11

1000 Words: Filled To The Brim

There’s nothing particularly new about people believing in the craziest conspiracy theories. Nor is there anything novel about people being astoundingly uninformed about some of the most basic precepts of science.

Today, in the year of their lord 2022, there are appreciable numbers of people who believe, for instance, that gravity is a hoax; that the world is flat; that there is a universal cure for cancer that Big Pharma is suppressing; that the CIA and other fun-lovers are criss-crossing our skies with what we suckers think are jetliner contrails but are actually “chemtrails” — toxic, mind-altering substances being sprayed from tens of thousands of feet in the air so they will descend upon us and…, and…, oh, hell, I dunno, screw us all up in some way.

Look What They’re Doing To Us!

The aforementioned conspiracies are relatively recent in human history, being they’re mostly high technology-based. But for thousands of years, people have believed with all their hearts and souls that there exist individuals who can read minds, tell the future, move physical objects simply by thinking about them, and cure the sick through magic or prayer.

And, essentially since the first hour early humans were able to communicate ideas to others, there has been in almost every society, every culture, every book of laws, the guiding thought that an all-powerful being lurks about, one who created everything in existence, who listens to our anguished pleas, grooves on our adoring praises, knows the future, and regularly sentences certain reprobates to the fires of an eternal hell. This omnipotent being, I might add, is a tad forgetful: in the world’s biggest religions he has neglected to forbid things like slavery, rape, child molestation, domestic abuse, ecological plunder, and a host of other atrocities.

So, basically, we’re all full of shit. Me too, although my full-of-shitness does not encapsulate the hypotheses enumerated above.

We’ve been full of shit for all our species’ history. It didn’t just start when a certain grifting businessman decided he wanted to become the Leader of the Free World. Although, truth be told, since that incurious, proudly uninformed greed monkey took the collective mind of a huge swath of the American electorate hostage, we have elevated full-of-shittery to an art form. It is now the hallmark of most American political and social discourse.

In this century alone, we’ve seen millions of people buy into 9/11 Trutherism, Birtherism, Stop the Steal, Pizzagate, Grooming, and scads of other inanities I won’t list here because it’d depress the bejesus out of me. This entire century — this entire millennium, for pity’s sake! — kicked off with the Truther phenomenon. Even after an overwhelming preponderance of the planet’s structural engineers, demolition experts, intelligence insiders, analysts, and other appropriate brains stood on their heads to explain how the Twin Towers and other buildings collapsed, millions believed the entire 9/11 operation was an inside job. Millions may indeed still believe it was a Black Bag or False Flag or whatever in the hell else the theorists want to brand it as.

I was reminded of this today when an incident came into my mind. It occurred in the late fall or early winter of 2001. We were all still displaying our American flags (remember that?) and walking around in a state of barely-controlled panic following the coordinated attack on this country by a gang of radical theocrats. I’d gone into a currency exchange on the southeast corner of LaSalle and Chicago avenues, just north of Chicago’s Loop, to cash a check. An aside: my Indiana friends might not know what a currency exchange is because this state doesn’t allow them. Known as poor people’s banks, they are private businesses where folks can cash paychecks, pay utility bills, get payday loans and license plates and their documents stamped by a notary public, among a ton of other services.

There was a long line at the currency exchange on this particular, frigid, sunny morning. As about a dozen of us waited, two people, a man and a woman, struck up a conversation. The man took a crisp twenty-dollar bill and folded it so that the resulting image resembled the Twin Towers belching smoke. You might recall that trick. Here’s a how-to for for it.

When the man finally produced the image of the smoking towers, the woman gasped.

I must add here that the image looks like the burning, stricken World Trade Center only if you want it to. Check the links above and you’ll see what I mean. Also, I learned today that there was a five-dollar bill corollary. Folding a fin similarly produced an image of the Twin Towers unscathed.

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In any case, the woman shook her head knowingly and pronounced, “There it is! That proves it was all a conspiracy!”

As if, you know, the conspirators had, months or years before the event, gotten into the design room at the United States Mint and got a willing artist to draw up origami-like pictures of the Twin Towers pre- and post-attack. Simple, right? Happens all the time.

As Julius Caesar said, People believe only what the want to believe. Or words to that effect. He actually said, Men believe…, because his belief was only thoughts originating in the minds of humans who possessed penises counted.

As I said, humans have been full of shit for all our history.

Tagged , ,

…The More They Stay The Same

When I was kid, nine years old in 1965, I read about and saw TV historical programs about World War II, 20 years prior, and thought it was something that had happened in an ancient time, so long ago that people were different, had evolved way past such horror.

Tomorrow we mark 20 years since 9/11. Being an old coot now, I realize that couple of decades was nothing more than a barely perceptible blip in the long stretch of time.

What I know now is those horrors, WWII and 9/11, changed us as a nation, both for good and for evil, and we are who we are today because of them.

WWII brought us together, taught us the value of sacrifice and righteous resistance against the evils of the tyrannical empires we fought. Conversely, it convinced us we were the richest, most powerful empire in the history of the Earth, able to exert our will over any and every other nation on the globe, and had the god-given right to do whatever the hell we wanted no matter how it affected anything or anybody else.

Berlin, 1945.

9/11, too, reminded us about sacrifice and righteous resistance against the theocratic hoodlums of the world. But, like WWII, it made us suspicious of other cultures and other religions, willing to sacrifice our liberties for some imaginary sense of safety and security, and filled to a certain extent in all of us with a vestigial sense of hatred and fear.

New York, 2001.

The thing that never changes is evil begets evil.

Hot Air

Money & Music

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), acc’d’g to sources, has discovered that Chateau Thomas hasn’t been paying licensing fees for music played by the winery’s performers at its three locations. ASCAP and its clone-y org., BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), collect musical licensing fees and distribute the swag to the creative souls who wrote them. Sounds fair, right?

Chateau Thomas

It isn’t. If it only were a matter of songwriters getting their fair share of the dough people make singing their ditties, that would be cool. But the people ASCAP and BMI primarily rep are the big-assed impresarios and corporations that own the rights to said songs. And never forget that the big-assed outfits (pun intended) employed every conceivable method, legit and otherwise, to corner the music market, not always to the benefit of musicians. Wait, let me amend that; rarely to their benefit.

As a result of ASCAP’s detective work, Chat. Tom. apparently has canceled its schedule of upcoming live performances. The fees ASCAP is demanding, it seems, are too much for the winery to bear.

It’s not that Chat. Tom. is particularly nefarious in this little dust-up. Dozens of Bloomington businesses that cater to the public play recorded music — CDs and mp3 cuts — for which they neglect to pay rights fees to BMI. The idea being Nicki Minaj, for example, slaved over her notepad, pencil in hand, creating these eternally beloved lyrics:

You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe [x3]
You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)

[From Stupid Hoe, written by Nicki Minaj and Tina Dunham, produced by DJ Diamond Kuts and Pink Friday Productions, released by Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, and Universal Republic Records.]

and so deserves a pct. of every dollar anybody makes playing her music.

Technically, when the UkeTones play Stairway to Heaven either they or the venue at which they perform the opus must kick a piece of the evening’s take to ASCAP. And should the UTs record the classic (a million-seller if I’ve ever heard of one) not only would they have to pay an upfront rights fee, but any public business that played the CD would have to pay its share. Imagine how much more wealthy the already-loaded Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would become in such an eventuality.


The UkeTones

Now, on the other side of the coin, Krista Detor might say Hey, if you play Red Velvet Box at NYC’s Carnegie Hall, you’d better fork over my share of that gate. Detor owns the rights to her music so she’d benefit. Then again, it’s doubtful Hugh and Vusi Masekela will be playing that particular piece at their Hall gig, October 10th. (Although I don’t see why not.)

Chat. Tom.’s Music on the Veranda Series and Singer/Songwriter Series, for instance, last weekend offered diverse acts including Mojo Gumbo, Gary Applegate, Rose Perry, the Foster Jones band, and Two for the Show.

This coming weekend? No such luck.

[Head over to Jeff Foster’s FB page for some very informative takes on artists and their licensing fees.]

13 Years

I’d just started seeing The Loved One when 9/11 happened. That’s why I have no particularly warm and fuzzy memories of our early days as a couple.  The days seemed oppressive and glum in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

Even the music I was listening to at the time still seems fraught with dread and fright and so I can’t listen to those discs to this day. One in particular, the Ivy disc Long Distance, was about to become one of my mainstays. I listened to it a couple of times a day back then, having bought it, IIRC, on September 7th, Friday. Since then, no. In fact, I may have given it away.

I didn’t throw TLC away, though, nor she me and that was good. We met in Winnemac Park, across Foster Avenue from her house, in the early afternoon on that ironically crisp and clear and gorgeous day, just to console ourselves. Chicago’s downtown had been evacuated and so she was home from work. I recall noticing a squadron of Air Force fighters passing high overhead, circling the city just in case. We held hands and didn’t say much to each other. It was enough to feel the warmth of another human being’s hand.

USAF Fighter

Over Chicago

The next day, I bought one of those plastic American flags with suction cups so you could attach it to your windshield. I put it on my motorcycle’s faring. I’m not a flag guy, never have been. But I felt as though I ought to join the crowd just this once. Believe me, I know what bastards we are to much of the rest of the world but I truly believed the terrorists who attacked us came from a culture of hatred and death. Yeah, our oil policies have screwed the majority of the world but I never quite bought the terrorists’ argument that they were lashing out at us because of that.

Anyway, just as soon as the invasion of Afghanistan was announced I took the flag off my bike. It’s one thing to show solidarity with my countrypeople  when we’re under attack. It’s quite another to stay all jingoistic when our unsurpassed military is mowing the enemy down like blades of grass. Besides, Gen. Tommy Franks didn’t need any help from the likes of me.


Tommy Franks Didn’t Need Me

Everybody, it seemed in the days after the strike, felt we’d be attacked again sooner rather than later. I don’t know precisely why but I was sure the attacks were a one-off thing. It was known almost immediately that maybe a couple of dozen guys had pulled the operation off. They’d slipped through whatever security precautions the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA had set up at the time. They’d picked a time and a spot where we were most vulnerable. And they had great good luck on their side. None of those conditions would be extant again for a good long time, I felt.

That’s why I figured it was foolish to invade Afghanistan, especially since the Taliban had expressed its condolences and was cooperating with the US in attempting to seize and extradite Osama bin Laden. But all those neo-conservatives who surround George W. Bush and who wanted to remake the Middle East saw their own singular, perfect opportunity to do some map redrawing.

And then, after toppling the Taliban, we decided to forget about bin Laden and gobble up another chunk of that corner of the world, Iraq.

bin Laden

Aw, Forget About Him

Today, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is safe or stable. We’ve spent trillions of dollars, lost thousands of our own warriors, wasted several hundred thousand Afghans and Iraqis, and both countries remain as much — or more — of a pain in our collective ass as they were before 9/11.

No wonder I had such a sense of foreboding in the days after the attacks.

Hot Air

George W. Bush, Non-Person

When folks began blaming Prez Barack H. O. for everything up to and including rainy days, I and people like me wrung our hands and moaned about the unfairness of it all. I recall one guy howling in 2010 because gas prices had gone up since Barry was inaugurated in 2009. I told him I wasn’t aware that Ob. had been sworn in as our new dictator with the power to decree gas prices and he looked at me as if I were a silly, naive child.

It’s been more than five years now since The Man from Kenya has taken over our holy land. In that time, the BHO-haters of the USA have advanced the twin notions that Obama is both a crushing tyrant and a wimpy, spineless pantywaist. The inherent contradiction therein seems not to bother Michelle’s husband’s loathers.

By now, of course, all the folderol over Obama has become a joke. When O. gets blamed for the collapse of western civilization…

Internet Meme

… the sane among us now simply titter.

I tittered when I got wind of an exchange between a caller and Rush Limbaugh on his radio psychosis-fest yesterday. The caller said she was the mother of a firefighter who died in the 9/11 attacks. Yesterday, of course, the National September 11 Memorial Museum was dedicated. The woman was highly offended that former Pres. Geo. W. Bush wasn’t in attendance for the ceremony. Natch, BHO, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former NYC mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani, and a huge gang of other big shots made the scene and implied how, without each and every one of them, other 9/11s would have occurred every half hour since that infamous day in 2001.

But the man who was in charge of the nation when the hijacked planes struck was nowhere to be found. He’d been invited, according to ceremony organizers, but declined to attend due to a “scheduling conflict,’ which we all know is code for something, anything, else.


George W. Bush (With Andrew Card), September 11, 2001

I won’t speculate why GWB didn’t show, mainly because I don’t care. The less I see of him, the better I like it. But those who view Barack Obama as the harbinger of the Apocalypse know why he didn’t come. The Kenyan ordered it.

Read this snippet of transcript from that woman caller to Limbaugh:

CALLER: Where the hell was President Bush? Why wasn’t his name even mentioned?

RUSH: You know, I didn’t have the sound up when I watched that, not much of it.  I had it on TV.

CALLER:  Well, his name wasn’t mentioned. He wasn’t there, that’s for sure.  But his name wasn’t even mentioned.

RUSH:  This is the 911 Museum, right?


RUSH:  The dedication to the museum?  Well, I saw Governor Cuomo there.

CALLER:  He should have been the first person to speak, or at least his name mentioned.  I’m very upset.  I lost a son there.

RUSH:  I have to say, she’s got a point here.  I have to say, you’ve got a point, Marie.  Here’s who I saw.  I saw Mayor Doomberg, I saw Mayor de Blasio, I saw Governor Cuomo, but you’re right.  I didn’t hear anything.  Did they mention him?

CALLER:  You saw everybody but President Bush. Even his name wasn’t mentioned.

They bat this around for a while until, mirabile dictu, Limbaugh informs the woman that Bush’s office released a statement saying he chose not to be there. Of course, he could have told her that the moment she mentioned Bush’s absence, but that would cut off the possibility that she could complain that Obama et al are trying to turn the former prez into a non-person, as any good Stalinist might.

Limbaugh then goes on to say what a sweetheart Bush has been since he left the Oval Office. He’s stayed out of the public eye by choice and refuses to criticize Obama for turning our holy land into a massive gay sex and abortion orgy. He also speculates that BHO himself prob. won’t be so circumspect when his term is up. But wait, Limbaugh even has his doubts that Barry will indeed leave office:

RUSH: …When I heard that Barack Obama plans to live in Washington after his term of office expires — if it does (ahem) — that told me a lot.  No president stays in town.  They all decamp. They all leave. They go back somewhere.  But Obama is gonna stay there, and there’s one reason why.

Hehe! Ol’ Rush is a’scared that Barack Hussein Obama will appoint himself Emir-in-Chief and Caliph of Kenya, Palestine, and America-for-Life well before the 2016 election.


Running Scared

I’m sort of disappointed that Limbaugh’s worst fears won’t be realized. Because if Obama does take over the nation as dictator, I’m sure the first thing he’ll do is throw folks like Limbaugh and his callers into a mental institution, where they belong.

Santa Maria

That ship found in the ocean near Haiti, the one a certain Indiana University researcher thinks might be Columbus’s Santa Maria, is most assuredly stuck in a pile of muck.

And I’m not talking about the slimy gunk one can find on the bottom of a large body of water. Old Cristofaro Colombo of Genoa is hardly a hero to a lot of folks these days.

Columbus opened the New World to continuous European trade and migration, sure. That’s why pretty much every big city in this holy land throws him a parade each October. Then again, some cities are ixnay-ing the whole Columbus celebration.

Back in 1992 the city of Berkeley, California, replaced its Columbus Day festivities with those marking what they called Indigenous People’s Day. The idea being Columbus and his Euro-trailers brought with them disease, a propensity to commit genocide, forced conversions to Christianism, and other horrors. The peoples who lived in the New World, a huge and extremely varied population, suffered mightily under these ills. So Berkeley decided to champion the victims rather than the victor.

The Minneapolis city council not four weeks ago also voted to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, the same day Columbus Day is celebrated, meaning, I suppose, that town is interested in pushing the Genoan into the attic with all the rest of American history’s relics.

As for the rest of the nation’s pop., Columbus seems to be becoming less and less an American idol with each passing year. It’s not that Murricans are suddenly becoming cognizant of his less than savory proclivities (Columbus took hundreds of natives as slaves, stole gold and, after being named Viceroy of the Indies, ruled with a sadistic fist) but that we really don’t care much about anything that happened before The Big Bang Theory (the TV show, not the beginning of the known Universe).

In any case, whatever IU’s Charles Beeker finds when he and his team dive into the warm waters of the Caribbean and inspect the reputed Santa Maria remains, the results will cause a mini-firestorm of controversy. Say he brings up a sextant and it’s put on display. You think there won’t be scads of protests surrounding the exhibit?


Charles Beeker

Beeker, an underwater archeologist who’s head of IU’s Office of Underwater Science and Academic Diving Program, is working to put together a gang of scuba divers. He’s in a rush to get to the wreckage because, apparently, scavengers are beginning to loot the site. What’s thought be a cannon already has gone missing. Beeker plans to work with the Haitian gov’t to set up a protected area around the site to prevent further manhandling of the stuff.

From a research and academic standpoint, Beeker’s quest will no doubt be invaluable. It may, though, be a public relations nightmare.

Unseasonably Warm Hot Air

Comet, Heal Thyself

Too bad about Comet ISON, no? Goddamned Obamacare.

Comet ISON


Zero From The ‘Aughts

Perhaps this is obvious to everybody else, but it just occurred to me this morning as I washed the dishes that the first decade of this 21st Century really and truly sucked.

Dig: The decade/century/millennium began with a double whammy of slam. The great tech bubble blew up, costing countless entitled middle- and upper-middle class white computer geeks their previously privileged spots atop the human pyramid. And a lot of middle class investors lost their little all after betting that tech stocks would carry them through their dotage. Then there was the non-election election of George W. Bush, a putsch pushed along by Supreme Court justices installed by his daddy-o and their patron saint, Ronald Reagan.

The next year, our holy land’s spies and spooks fell asleep at their CCTV security consoles and allowed a couple of dozen lunatic fundamentalist religionists to stage the scariest disaster movie scenes ever seen in New York City and Washington, DC.

What followed, natch, was an overreaction of monumental proportions as this holy land turned into a fighting, spying, hating-on-ragheads military machine. Now, I’d bet more money is spent on making sure American air travelers don’t sneak bottles of mouthwash onto airplanes than is earmarked for useless things like school libraries.

Meanwhile, Americans were urged by their popularly un-elected president to go back to shopping, chop-chop, just to show the world how much we love, love, love freedom. And Americans fell into line, buying anything and everything, including TV screens wide enough to display the entirety of the Grand Canyon. We Americans got so giddy pissing our hard-earned dough away that we began looking upon our happy homes not as safe harbors from the cruel world and anchors of our communities but as ostentatious, in-your-face ATMs-slash-McMansions. We bought and sold houses the way teenaged boys trafficked in baseball cards in the 1980s.

And then that bubble popped, leading to the greatest economic collapse since the Greatest Economic Collapse.

But wait — before that, the president, who, I might remind you, had been elected by a minority of voters, told us Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was perhaps a half hour away from decorating the skies above our greatest cities with pretty and colorful mushroom clouds. To prove his assertion, he sent out his minions and assistants to tell us and the world blah, blah, blah, blah — none of which had a whit to do with Iraq’s capacity to build nuclear weapons, and so we promptly fell into line and gave the Prez the go-ahead to commit our nation to a decade-long pointless war. We did get to see Saddam Hussein’s tonsils, though.


Say Ah-h-h

Anyway, back to the housing bubble. Wall Street banksters, quants, and fellow travelers discovered fascinating new ways to fleece investors with mortgage-backed securities and, while they were at it, make scads upon scads of dough for themselves no matter whether their financial instruments were successful or not, preferably unsuccessful because…, well, it’s pretty much impossible to explain why, but the banksters and quants and the rest are sitting pretty right now while the rest of us are still dusting ourselves off.

The banksters and quants and the others were punished by being named to high-level economic advisory positions in the Obama White House and as regulators of the operations they’d transformed into casino games. That’ll show ’em.


“This Is A Sound Investment, Sir.”

So, today, municipalities that had invested in their crooked schemes are broke, school budgets are being slashed, social service agencies are closing their doors, and the poor are being blamed for all of it. The fiends.

As this was all going on, there arose in this great nation a grass-roots political movement dedicated to the age-old ideals of selfishness, savage competition, refusal to share any wealth whatsoever, anti-intellectualism, and reactionary demagoguery with a sprinkling of racism and misogyny thrown in. They called themselves the Tea Party, which seemed rather euphemistic. I might have suggested they call themselves a Bunch of Big Pricks.

Tea Party

Apple Pie Americanism

Working feverishly behind the scenes, this nation’s spies and spooks, embarrassed by their failure to nab the 9/11 plotters before they struck, expanded their capabilities to eavesdrop on your Thanksgiving email exchanges with your aunt in Kokomo. By the way, you might want to let her know that three cups of sugar in her cranberry orange sauce is a tad much.

And, hey, here are two unforgettable names from the -zeroes: Joe the Plumber and Terry Schiavo.

So, kiddies, that was the ‘Aughts in a nutshell.

You might think I’m being pessimistic but, honest, the future actually looks brighter to me. Things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

Could they?

Your Daily Hot Air

Flying Saucers And Pink Dresses

Yesterday, of course, was the 66th anniversary of the fabled crash of the UFO into the desert in southeast New Mexico.

Roswell Headline

It seems that UFO conspiracy theories have petered out in recent years because we have better, juicier fever dreams to keep folks with hyper-active imaginations awake at night. Keep in mind that Dick Cheney personally directed the 9/11 attacks and Barack Obama was bred by foreign Muslims to take over this holy land. These two fairy tales are a tad more urgent and compelling than a government cover-up of the crash of the family flying saucer driven by some drunken ET teenagers out for a joyride. (h/t to Maxwell Bodenheim of Forest Park, Illinois, for this explanation.)



Anyway, the 50th anniversary of the second oldest conspiracy theory I can think of is fast approaching and this one just may overshadow, at least for a time, the sins of Cheney and Obama. That is, the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963. (The oldest consp/theo is probably the plot by FDR and the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff to stage Pearl Harbor so’s the USA could jump that much more quickly into WWII. I’m telling you, these conspirator types are brilliant.)

The JFK theory tied together pretty much all the bogeymen that scared the poo out of the widest range of the American citizenry in the mid-60s. The Russkies, Castro, the Mob, right wing generals, the CIA, LBJ, Nixon, the federal reserve, representatives of huge defense contractors, and even anti-Castro exiles met in some secret location to get their stories straight on the impending whacking of the Prez. Not only was this gang brilliant, their ability to coordinate such a massive planning confab — flights had to be booked, hotel rooms reserved, boxed lunches brought in; all in secret — was awe-inspiring. Just getting Castro and his exiled opponents in the same conference room must have been nothing short of a miracle.


LBJ And The Man He Whacked

The city of Dallas is planning a big shindig for the 50th to be held smack-dab in Dealey Plaza, where the hit took place. It’s not known if organizers will stage a reenactment but I’d bet against it. OSHA regulations put in place since the assassination probably would preclude having an actress in a pink Chanel suit climb on the trunk of the limousine.

Imagine, though, the field day the conspiracy theorists are going to have, come this fall. Already, Bill O’Reilly’s two assassination-porn books, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, are New York Times bestsellers. Sales of the latter likely will go through the roof starting in September.

Here are a few fun facts about Jackie Kennedy’s famous dress. It’s in a vault in Maryland, embargoed until the year 2103. Jackie’s mom sent the suit and the purse her daughter carried that fateful day to the National Archives shortly after the assassination. The suit has never been cleaned. Oh, and Coco Chanel, despite never having commented on the fact that one of her creations had suddenly become a gruesome icon, did say some years later that, because of her penchant for wearing miniskirts, Jackie “wears her daughter’s clothes.”

Jackie Kennedy

Jackie And The Pink Suit

Coco sure knew what the important things in life were, no?

A website dealing with all things Jackie actually has an entire page devoted to the pink suit.

And, natch, the chic ghoul can buy a replica pink suit on eBay; it’s a steal at $189.99.

That pink pillbox hat Jackie wore? It’s missing.

One of the archivists in charge of the suit said a couple of years ago, “It looks like it’s brand new, except for the blood.” Which is like saying December 7th, 1941 was a perfect day in Oahu, except for that mess down by the docks.

I was seven years old when Lee Harvey Oswald did his thing. I was vaguely aware of the existence of President Kennedy. I only knew the nuns at St. Giles had red-rimmed eyes when they told us we were to go home that gray Friday afternoon. My second-grade classmates and I momentarily believed the word assassination signified something really good, considering we’d never heard it before and it allowed us to bolt school early.

When I got home, my mother was compulsively vacuuming in front of the TV. She was crying. I’d never seen her cry before. I figured she personally knew JFK. Otherwise, why would she be so busted up that he’d died?

That, I can safely say, was a loss of innocence. Believe me, we’re going to be sick to death of hearing that phrase by November.

Abraham, Martin & John

To this day, this song brings tears to my eyes. It was released soon after Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated in 1968.

Your Daily Hot Air

Imperfect Hero

Computer patriarch Steve Wozniak told CNN’s journalist-manqué Piers Morgan the other day that the secret-spiller who blabbed that the NSA is trawling through yours and my phone and interwebs records, purportedly for the purpose of looking for bad guys, is the moral and heroic equivalent of Daniel Ellsberg.


Steve Wozniak (photo by Nik Harrison)

Now, Ellsberg was one of my great heroes back when I was an idealistic (and insufferable) teen rebel. Now that I’m an old man rebel, Ellsberg still holds an honored spot in my pantheon. (And I’m still insufferable.)

Anyways, I’m tempted to agree with Wozniak. Edward Snowden did indeed perform a patriotic service by revealing the NSA’s spook methodology. If the bosses of my gummint are eavesdropping on my conversations or peeping in my garage windows, I want to know about it. Even if they are protecting me from 9/11: The Sequel.

Look, I have no desire to have skyscrapers collapse on top of me (and the way things are going here in B-Town, our heretofore quaint town square ought to be ringed with supertalls by the start of the next IU semester.) Still, if the Feds are honestly trying only to protect us, I want to know how often G-men are going to be rifling through my folded underwear.

Underwear Drawer

Secret Drawers

Guaranteed, there’ll always be one or two true-believer pencil-pushers who want to expand the spy ops to swallow up anybody they disagree with politically or whom they feel might not worship god properly. As long as we know what mechanisms they have in place to harass us, we can at least pretend to resist.

All that said, this Snowden character sure gives me the willies. From his premature Army discharge to his selfie-addicted girlfriend (whom he suddenly bolted from when the story broke) to his habit of wearing a red hood when he logs on to his interwebs browser, he just seems like a guy who sees life more as a histrionic graphic novel than, well, reality.

He calls himself a “spook” and says he’s been spying all his adult life which is like a guy bragging that he’s a member of the Mafia. Real spooks and real mobsters rarely have the inclination to call attention to their job descriptions.

His globe-trotting odyssey keeping him one step ahead of teed-off cops and prosecutors seems a bit overkill-ish. He says he can’t bear the idea that he lives in a country that’s a nest of spies, then he hides out in Hong Kong and, now, Moscow. Honestly? He wants to couch surf in China and Russia to get away from spies?

What’s next — he wants to get a job at McDonald’s because he’s worried about Americans’ eating habits?

None of Snowden’s weirdnesses, in any case, should detract from the importance of what he has revealed. He’s a hero for blowing the whistle. But he’s Daniel Ellsberg with a lot of baggage.

Daniel Ellsberg

No Baggage

When all is said and done, though, I shouldn’t care about the baggage, only the revelations.

The Plot To Oust Obama

It may not surprise you to know that the psychotics who run World Net Daily love this whole NSA domestic spying story.

Their take, natch, is that President Obama, channeling his inner Hitler, spends all his days and nights listening to phone conversations of honest, law-abiding Murricans, hoping to put the screws to Tea Party-ists, militia members, and other pathologically bent individuals.

They’re certain, of course, that Obama’s Secret Black Shirts will be rounding up all gun-fondling, god-fearing, Flat Earthers long before his eight year Reich comes to an end.


And they’re not gonna be marched into re-education camps without a fight, god help them.

If they had any sense, they’d wish with all their hearts that Obama actually was listening in on their conversations. Nothing could drive him from office quicker than suffering their paranoiac prattle for anything more than three and a half seconds. He’d be pulling his hair out and bouncing around the Oval Office like Daffy Duck if subjected to (what passes for) their logic.

In fact, perhaps this whole NSA deal is a clandestine operation conjured by the likes of Chuck Norris, Alex Jones, James O’Keefe, and other stars of the Right Wing bedlamite firmament. They know that if the Prez does indeed monitor their respective audience’s jabberings, he’ll be carted away from the White House in a straightjacket before they get to discussing which canned goods they should stock up on for the coming apocalypse .

Who sez Me Party-ists are stupid?

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Sunday II


“Never follow the crowd.” — Bernard Baruch



This, from the Science Lama:

13 Must See Stargazing Events for 2013

[EP ED: Events and explanations reproduced verbatim unless otherwise noted.]

1) January 21 — Very Close Moon/Jupiter Conjunction

A waxing gibbous moon (78% illuminated) will pass within less than a degree to the south of Jupiter high in the evening sky. Your closed fist held out at arms length covers 10 degrees. These two won’t get that close again until 2026.

2) February 2-23 — Best Evening View of Mercury

The planet Mercury will be far enough away from the glare of the Sun to be visible in the Western sky after sunset. It will be at its brightest on the 16th and dim quickly afterwards. On the 8th it will skim by the much dimmer planet Mars by about 0.4 degrees.

3) March 10-24 — Comet PANSTARRS at its best

First discovered in 2011, this comet should be coming back around for about 2 weeks. It will be visible low in the northwest sky after sunset. Here are some sources predicting what the comets may look like in the sky.

Image through Faulkes Telescope South

Comet PANSTARRS, Observed August 9, 2012

4) April 25 — Partial Lunar Eclipse

[Not visible here in the Midwest, so forget it.]

5) May 9 — Annular Eclipse of the Sun (“Ring of Fire” Eclipse)

[See above.]

6) May 24-30 — Dance of the Planets

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will seemingly dance between each other in the twilight sky just after sunset as they will change their positions from one evening to the next. Venus will be the brightest of all, six times brighter than Jupiter.

7) June 23 — Biggest Full Moon of 2013

It will be the biggest full moon because the moon will be the closest to the Earth at this time making it a ‘supermoon’ and the tides will be affected as well creating exceptionally high and low tides for the next few days.

"Supermoon," March 19, 2011

The Supermoon Will Eat The Earth!

8) August 12 — Perseid Meteor Shower

One of the best and most reliable meteor showers of the year producing upwards of 90 meteors per hour provided the sky is dark. This year the moon won’t be in the way as much as it will set during the evening leaving the rest of the night dark. Here is a useful dark-sky finder tool. –

9) October 18 — Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon

[See comments for items 4 & 5.]

10) November 3 — Hybrid Eclipse of the Sun

[See above.]

11) Mid-November through December — Comet ISON

The second comet this year, ISON, could potentially be visible in broad daylight as it reaches its closest point to the Sun. It will reach that point on November 28 and it is close enough to the Sun to be categorized as a ‘Sungrazer’. Afterwards it will travel towards Earth (passing by within 40 million miles) a month later.

12) All of December — Dazzling Venus

The brightest planet of them all will shine a few hours after sundown in the Southwestern sky and for about 1.5 hours approaching New Years Eve. Around December 5th, a crescent moon will pass above the planet and the next night Venus will be at its brightest and won’t be again until 2021.

Moon & Venus

The Crescent Moon & Venus

13) December 13-14 — Geminid Meteor Shower

This is another great (if not the best) annual meteor shower. This year put on a show at about 120 meteors per hour and in 2013 it won’t be much different so expect another fantastic show. However, the moon – as it is a few days before full phase – will be in the way for most of the night obscuring some of the fainter meteors. You might have to stay up in the early morning hours (4am) to catch the all the meteors it has to offer.


I’m gonna make enemies here again.

No, no, I don’t mean the right-wing-nuts whom I skewer on a regular basis. As far as I know, none of them visit this communications colossus anyway. (BTW: That doesn’t mean there are no Republicans among our loyal readership — there’s a world of diff between good, solid GOP-ers and the too numerous loons who have been trying to hijack the party in the last half century.)

Scene from "Hogan's Heroes"

“We Must Take Over The Party.”

I suppose I mean — Gulp! Dare I say it? — the left-wing-nuts.

Yes, I admit it, there are those among my brethren and sisteren who are just as paranoiac, just as reactionary, and just as full of crap as those on the dark side of the political spectrum.

Matt Taibbi has a great account of the lunacies on both sides of the aisle in his 2008 book, “The Great Derangement.” In it, he compares and contrasts the right-wing whack-jobs of the evangelical/charismatic Rev. John Hagee’s ovine congregation and the left-wing subculture of 9/11 “Truthers” who live on the interwebs and in their own delusional world.

One group staunchly believes, in the face of virtually all expert, scientific evidence, that someone — probably Dick Cheney in overalls and a disguise — somehow planted bombs within the various buildings that collapsed following the 9/11 attacks.

The other group — again, at odds with the scientific community — is certain that climate change is a worldwide hoax.

Taibbi concludes that there’s next to nothing to distinguish between the two, save for their haircuts, god-loyalties, and eating habits.

Now, I’ve harped on this before and here I am, at it again. But a certain phenomenon seems to be growing bigger by the day. The anti-GMO movement, especially here in Bloomington, one of the capitals of Foodfetishstan, is gaining currency and popularity.

To hear some folks talk about it, one might think even looking at a food product containing a genetically modified organism is more dangerous than having a ton of Tarot cards fall on your head.

At first glance, their argument is seductive. Monsanto Company is the acknowledged worldwide leader in GMO research and development. Nobody’s ever mistaken Monsanto for for a corporate teddy bear. The company has attempted to corner patents on common livestock breeding techniques. It has persecuted farmers for seed-saving. It exploits the legal justice system to bully critics and competitors.


Monsanto Wants You To Know: It Invented The Pig

It is the bête noire of the agribusiness universe.

Ergo, if Monsanto does it, it is by definition vile.

Which sounds to me like the commonest logical fallacy employed by the right.

I’ve argued in these precincts in the past that the preponderance of expert, scientific opinion holds that there is little evidence that GMOs are dangerous. This is not to say we might discover some unintended consequences of the proliferation of the little mutants in years to come.

Hell, who in 1910 would have foreseen that the automobile would actually change the planet’s weather?

If we outlaw everything that just might be problematic at some time in the fuzzy future, the only legal option left would be for us to sit cross-legged in a field and hope nutrients enter our bodies through the pores in our skin.

Every invention poses risk. In the 1930s and ’40s, the technogeeks of the day saw television as the greatest tool for mass education ever conceived. Who knew TV would have given us the Kardashians? But even before TV became a fixture in every living room, people like George Orwell imagined it as a hammer in the fists of tyrants.

And, I suppose, some modern-day novelist might pen a bestseller entitled “Twenty Eighty Four” in which GMO monsters seize the White House.

That doesn’t mean it’ll actually happen.

That said, all we can go on is the consensus opinion of scientists. I mean, that’s the criterion we’re using to try to convince the ostriches of the right that Homo Sapiens sapiens has caused climate change, isn’t it?

That’s why a recent speech by one of Europe’s top anti-GMO activists, Mark Lynas, is big news.

As far back as the mid-1990s, Lynas was leading the charge against test-tube agriculture and Frankenfoods. Many European nations are in the vanguard of the GMO=disaster school of thought, some banning their use in food outright, thanks in large part to Lynas’ efforts.

Lynas spoke at the Oxford Farming Conference three days ago and made a starling admission.

“As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely,” he said.

He had been, he says, dead wrong about GMOs.

He explained to the conference how this metamorphosis took place. “…[T]he answer is very simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.”

Lynas admitted to having sabotaged clinical trials of experimental GMO crops. He confessed, “… I had done no academic research on the topic, and had a pretty limited understanding. I don’t think I ever read a peer-reviewed paper on biotechnology or plant science….”

Now, Lynas says, the growth of the Earth’s population makes it imperative we utilize biotechnology to produce more food. He believes the current rage for “natural” agriculture and micro-farms, if unchecked, could lead to starvation for millions.

In other words, he had been a member of  a crowd that some two decades ago began to convince itself that GMOs are evil. And now he is quitting.

There’s a madness, Scottish journalist and author Charles Mackay once opined, in crowds.

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Monday


“Who would have ever thought blacks would get out and support the first black president? Who would have ever thought women would shy away from the party of transvaginal probes? Who would have ever thought gays would work against a party that treated them as immoral and subhuman? Who would have ever thought young people would desert a party that ignored science and hectored on social issues? Who would have ever thought Latinos would scorn a party that expected them to finish up their chores and self-deport?” — Maureen Dowd



Comic and politico Aaron Freeman has put out a call for anyone who can honestly say she or he was not taken in by the Bush Administration’s rationalizations for the Iraq War in late 2002 and early 2003.


Aaron Freeman

You remember, don’t you? Georgey-boy, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, and even Colin Powell stood on their heads to implant the images of bloodthirsty brown people, mushroom clouds, and general panic in our imaginations in order to snow us into attacking the Saddam Hussein regime.

Perhaps the saddest moment of the buildup to war was Secretary of State Powell half-heartedly trying to sell the United Nations General Assembly on “evidence” that Hussein and his wild-eyed pals were thisclose to launching a big one against this holy land.

The funnyman — Freeman, not Bush — wonders why anyone would have doubted the word of the Bushies, considering the fact that most highly intelligent people he knew at the time bought the casus belli hook, line, and sinker.

9/11 Panic

So, take yourself back some ten years to those glory days of yore. Try to remember what you were thinking at the time. And don’t forget we were only a little more than a year past the 9/11 attacks. Be honest and tell us, in the poll below, if you bought the Bush line or you thought, even as we were gassing up our B-2 Stealth Bombers, that he and his gang were full of shit.

Oh, and leave a comment in the box labeled “Other” explaining why you thought one way or the other.

Thanks in advance.




That’s all for today, kiddies. I been working my fingertips to the bone, trying to get the new Ryder magazine and film series website off the ground, along with publisher Peter LoPilato and developer Boice Tomlin. As a result, I feel lazy today.

Remember to stop in at The Book Corner. A few words of advice, though. Do not buy either of Bill O’Reilly’s bestsellers, “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy.” Do not buy “50 Shades of Chicken.” And do not buy any of those I-died-and-went-to-heaven books.

Book Cover

Don’t You Dare!

Reading should improve your mind, not shrink it.

Otherwise, buy anything you want.


The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Monday


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"


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.


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.


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


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.

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