Category Archives: Al Jazeera English

Hot Air

You Can’t Handle The Truth

Ju-u-u-u-ust wondering: Why is it that only Aljazeera is carrying the news that Azle, Texas, mayor Alan Brundrett is calling for fracking data because his town’s been hit by some 300 little earthquakes of a suspicious nature?

I’ve checked CNN, Fox News, and the big networks, among many others, and have yet to find any other news outlet that has ever even mentioned the name Alan Brundrett. That is, save for one: Rachel Maddow referenced his hunch about fracking a few months ago.

Brundrett

Alan Brundrett

From the Aljazeera report:

“That’s the biggest issue, that the data is not available,” Brundrett told Al Jazeera. “The one thing we’d like to see is daily reporting — then if there is seismic activity it can be linked to the disposal wells themselves.”

Here’s a graphic from a paper in another area that’s experienced recent seismic activity and is home to fracking operations:

Tom Baker/Dispatch

From The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch

The pro-frackers, to an alarming degree, are all those bête noires whose philosophies and aims make me want to retch. There’s the Halliburton evil empire and the Sarah Palin dumb empire, plus tons of other folk who would view Bill O’Reilly as the modern-day Oracle of Delphi if they only knew what the original Oracle of Delphi was.

The mega-corps. that own most of our mainstream media outlets presumably would be loath to present news that would be deemed “harmful” to their fellow biz monoliths. News, after all, is no longer a public service but a profit center. And, for all we know, Halliburton might possess thermonuclear weapons and the likes of Comcast (NBC) or National Amusements (CBS) are petrified of being blown off the face of the Earth.

In any case, next to no national news source other than Al-J. uttered a peep about Brundrett’s call for fracking info.

It’s a damned shame we have to, in essence, go outside this country to get any real news about it.

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Friday

THE QUOTE

“A huge amount of what goes on in the Middle East has to do with people being fed bad information.” — Jimmy Wales

Wales

TIME WARNER’S LITTLE CRUSADE

So, how about Time Warner Cable dropping Current TV after the Al Gore snore-fest was purchased by Al Jazeera?

That’ll show them there Ay-rab terrorists, won’t it?

Al Jazeera English

Plotting The Takeover Of Middle America

Al Jazeera is one of my half dozen daily news sources. That and BBC America give me the non-parochial slant on the day’s events that I need.

And, try as I might, I’ve yet to glean any anti-American or even pro-Arab skew to the channel’s news coverage.

But, y’know, it’s got that furreign name and it has a lot of brown people on camera, ergo, it must be one of the clandestine sponsors of our Mark of the Beast, Manchurian Candidate, puppet prez.

I used to watch Current TV, but only for Sarah Haskins, who hosted the “Target Women” segment on the “InfoMania” weekly news recap series. She was funny and incisive in skewering advertisements directed at the girls and ladies of our holy land (trust me, none of those messages was aimed at “women”).

Haskins/Current TV

Haskins’ takes on commercials for personal safety, yogurt, and — naturally — diets were laugh-out loud funny. (Scroll down for three clips from “Target Women.”) Haskins is a native Chicagoan who graduated from Harvard as well as what used to be known as the ImprovOlympic, but after the International Olympic Committee’s cease-and-desist is now legally monickered iO.

So we are fellow alumni — no, not of Harvard (I’m not that dopey) but of iO.

The time I spent at iO in the 1980s was unquestionably the best education I ever got. Improvising live on stage gave me confidence, honed my quick-thinking skills, and brought out in me a certain mentally agility. It taught me, more than anything else, how to listen.

And it gave me a chance — however briefly — to work with Lili Taylor.

Taylor

Lili Taylor

Anyway, outside of Sarah Haskins, there wasn’t all that much of interest on Current TV. As soon as Haskins left the network, I stopped watching.

I have no idea what airs on Current TV of late. Nor am I the only one. In an article last year on the channel, New York Times reporter Brian Stelter wrote, “Current TV’s audience is small — very small.”

Still, Time Warner Cable‘s decision to dump the channel at this moment is suspect. Al Jazeera, which is spending half a billion dollars on the deal, plans to kill Current TV and replace it with a new operation called Al Jazeera America, something similar to the BBC America transoceanic split.

You’ve got to figure the new AJA would draw more viewers than the low-five-figures audience Current TV puts to sleep nightly.

So why would TWC give the heave to a service that is almost guaranteed to grow? Why, indeed.

AN ORGY OF SARAH HASKINS

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.” — Oscar Levant

THE STRIKE: DAY, UM, ZERO!

It’s over, hallelujah.

Chicago Teachers Union Boss Karen Lewis With The Good News

So what have we learned?

  • Chicago’s teachers get paid well
  • They deserve every penny of it
  • They were willing to sacrifice precious days and even weeks of earning to fight for better classrooms
  • They’ll fight privatization

Bloomington’s teacher’s deserve a hell of a lot more money than they’re getting now. Too bad Indiana state law bans teacher strikes.

MY SIN

I took a pummeling yesterday from a trio of women.

As I was exiting the back door of the Book Corner, the front door of Hidden Closet — which faces it — swung open dramatically and I was confronted by the scarlet face of boss lady Brynda Forgas. I knew I was in for it. The only question was, What the hell had I done?

“I’m so mad at you!” Brynda hissed, her eyes wide.

I mentally checked off a list of possible offenses:

  • We aren’t having an affair
  • I hadn’t sneaked into her shop and grabbed cash from the register
  • I haven’t told people to stay away from the Hidden Closet
  • We both are moved to shuddering at the sound of the words Mitt Romney

So what did I do? I felt like a ten-year-old.

Forgas In A Less Inflamed Moment

It should be noted that the above inventory of misdeeds took place within a fraction of a second because Brynda launched into her tirade without prompting.

“You mean to tell me you had Richard Thompson in your store yesterday and you didn’t even have the decency to run over here immediately and tell me?!”

Brynda’s face inched closer to mine. I flinch-blinked. Was a jab to the nose in the offing?

She opened her door wider so I could see two cohorts holding cups of tea fortified with what, I don’t know, staring at me through narrowed eyes. One of them was another usually amicable soul, Kathy Loser, chief book pusher at Bloomington High School North. I didn’t recognize the other woman. For all I knew, she was an imported thumb-breaker.

Brynda continued: “I would have dropped everything and come right over! I’d have left a customer standing there!” There was more — much more — but the sound of her voice had become a machine gun.

The women were preparing themselves for the big show at the Buskirk Chumley Theater across the street. Richard Thompson’s show was scheduled to begin in an hour and a half.

As I suffered this verbal onslaught, The Loved One waited patiently in the car for me and watched as the Man of Brynda et al’s Dreams actually came out the front door of the venue and signed posters for some adoring fans.

Now, I like Richard Thompson but I had no idea he was such a MILF-idol. Color me educated as of now.

Sexy Daddy

I was able to discern one bit of info from Brynda’s tirade — she had front row center seats for Thompson. I wonder if we’ll see her at her shop this morning.

I’LL SHOW ‘EM!

We’ve been having trouble with our Comcast broadband service here at The Pencil’s World Headquarters just east of Beautiful Bloomington.

Every night, The Loved One asks, Did you call Comcast?

Grrrrrr

And every night I snap my fingers and say, “Damn! I forgot. I’ll do it tomorrow.”

It’s become a ritual.

Last night, TLO gave me an explicit instruction: “Make sure we get a credit. We shouldn’t have to pay the full amount for this.”

“This” being repeated signal outages that constantly interrupt our Netflix viewing as well as my regular sessions of trance-like admiration for my brilliant work on this site.

Funny, then, that the site I Fucking Love Science, via XKCD, posted this image yesterday:

The caption read: “For when you really, really MUST piss someone off.”

Trust me — I really, really want to piss Comcast off.

CRAZY

Uh oh. Here we go again.

A French magazine has just printed a cartoon making fun of Islam’s big cheese, Muhammad.

Al Jazeera English reports that France is actually shutting down its embassies in 20 countries for fear that Muslim extremists might attack.

French Mag Charlie Hebdo Offices Were Attacked in November, 2011

Sheesh.

Enough of trying to understand how precious Muhammad is to the Muslim world. We get it. What the sane among us don’t get is the psychotic reaction.

The nations where these violent outbursts have taken place in recent weeks had better start taking responsibility for the loons carrying them out.

It’s A Guy Thing

The extremists may revere Muhammad. I, for one, revere free speech and respect for human lives.

PSYCHOTIC REACTION

By the Count Five. It charted in 1966.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“There has been no great political movement in the United States since Jefferson’s day without some purely moral balderdash at its center.” — H.L. Mencken

GO!

OUR TOWN’S BEST EVENTS LISTINGS — SCROLL DOWN

MY CALENDAR IS STOPPED ON AUGUST

It’s Fall today.

At least it is according to the Indiana University calendar. Fall semester classes begin this morning.

QUACKS

Now, how about this dangerous goof, Todd Akin? The Senate candidate from Missouri has said “legitimate” rape does not generally result in pregnancy.

She’s Asking For It; Ergo, She’ll Get Pregnant

Akin — a Republican, as if you had to ask — claims doctors he knows have informed him that women’s bodies have an internally-produced magic elixir that makes pregnancy in such instances nearly impossible.

Let’s take Akin at his word — not, of course, about anything having to do with the human reproductive process; he’s an idiot on that subject — but about him having spoken with doctors.

Medical doctors, presumably.

If so, each and every one of them should have his medical license revoked forthwith.

BTW, folks, here’s yet another chicken coming home to roost thanks to the Republican War on Science.

BTW II: Fox News online at 8:15am EDT has not even mentioned the story.

SUDDENLY, I’M THIRSTY

How cool is this?

The Earth’s Water

The image is from the US Geological Survey;the blue bead represents all the water on the Earth.

According to the USGS, that bead also includes all the “groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you, your dog, and your tomato plant.”

Yikes!

So all our deepest lakes, seas, and oceans make up the flimsiest skin of H20 hugging our planet’s surface.

Of course, when your boat’s going down in the middle of Lake Monroe, it doesn’t feel that way.

Nevertheless, this is just another illustration of how insignificant we are.

You know how people who want to persuade you to accept Jesus or Allah or Zoroaster hit you with the You have to give yourself over to something bigger than you are line?

Well, guess what — everything‘s bigger than we are.

FLAT NOTES

Seems as though musicians are going hog wild these days, oinking about Barack Obama. First it was Dave Mustaine, then Hank Williams, Jr., and now Ted Nugent jumps into the slop.

My lefty and lib friends are all aflutter that Nugent was quoted as saying, “…Obama represents everything bad about humanity….”

Okay, that’s pretty deranged but it’s got nuffin’ on the line that followed: “…and Romney pretty much all that is good. It is really that stark.”

Willard Romney represents all that is good about humanity?

Honestly, Ted?

Really?

The Best Our Species Has To Offer?

You know, Nugent also commented after the Supreme Court decision on the Obama health care reforms, “I’m beginning to wonder it it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

So really, can’t we can stop pussyfooting around and say it like it is? Ted Nugent not only spouts a controversial political opinion or two, but he’s a racist jerk.

AMERICAN MASTERS

Al Jazeera English takes on the Koch boys.

A Couple Of Kochs

Read it. If a media outlet targeting the Arab world scares the poo out of you, then read Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece on the Billionaire Boner Boys from a couple of years ago.

Of course, you may think all Arabs and liberals are against good, rich American boys like Davey and Chuckie who pretty much own the nation. If so, I ask you this: after studying their positions and their tactics, do you really want to be on their side?

And are you certain they’re on yours?

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.

I Love 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.

I Fucking Love Science: Closeups Of A Leaf And Human Blood Vessels, And A Satellite View Of The Amazon Basin

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, August 20, 2012

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Creek Dogs; 6-8:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Surviving Life”; 7pm

Cafe DjangoBloomington Short List, hosted by Marta Jasicki, ten-minute variety acts; 7-9pm

Buskirk-Chumley TheaterJohn Hiatt & the Combo; 8pm

The BishopPomegranates, The Broderick; 9pm

The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase: Russ Baum, Jenna Epkey, La Jeder, Monika Herzig; 8pm

The BluebirdDave Walters karaoke; 9pm

ONGOING:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

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

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Coming — Media Life; August 24th through September 15th

  • Coming — Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture; August 24th 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 CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Turn on to politics or politics will turn on you.” — Ralph Nader

JENNA WANTS MITT TO LICK BARACK

Retired porn star Jenna Jameson has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Don’t you love it?

“When you’re rich,” Jenna reasons, “you want a Republican in office.”

Family Values

To balance things out, the incomparable Ron Jeremy is behind the President. Poor Barack.

WHOSE SIDE ARE THEY ON?

If this doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you I don’t know what will.

In a piece on the radical right in America, al Jazeera claims that Republicans quashed a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report suggesting hate groups began to proliferate in the United States after the election of Barack Obama.

Not that the groups weren’t proliferating before that, mind you. Only that their rate of proliferation was bumped up dramatically by the presence of a brown man in the White House.

I’d say the GOP has some ‘splainin’ to do.

HATE IS ENOUGH

We still don’t understand the meaning of hatred in this country. ABC News ran this online headline yesterday:

Still No Motive?

Does the swastika have different meanings for different people even at this late date?

THE NEW MACHINE

Many years ago, even the most polarizing figures in this holy land were permitted to have nuanced and even seemingly self-contradictory viewpoints. They didn’t run in fear from the Thought Crime authorities within their political parties or the punditocracy.

For instance, one of the heroes of the hard-hat, blue-collar, bungalow-belt Silent Majority was Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago. He ran a highly disciplined political machine. He tolerated little in the way of dissent. He was a tough guy.

The Boss

He’d called for his police to shoot to kill arsonists and shoot to maim looters during race riots. He turned his police force loose on demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic Convention. By the early 1970s he ranked just below George Wallace, Spiro Agnew, and Jack Webb in the law and order pantheon.

Yet he was a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War and, even more surprisingly, guns. According to Rick Perlstein in “Nixonland,” Daley was in Washington, DC testifying before a congressional committee in the summer of 1972. “Take the guns away from every private citizen,” he said.

Can you imagine any darling of the right even suggesting private citizens should be limited to possessing several dozen assault rifles these days?

A NEW UNDERGROUND RAILROAD?

Author and journalist Achy Obejas (say it, AH-chee oh-BAY-hahss) spent a few years at Indiana University before she dropped out and went to work covering politics, GLBTQ issues, night life, and a host of other beats.

Obejas

Achy points out the latest lunatic pronouncement from a member of the holier-than-thou gang. It seems Bryan Fischer, one of the paid squealers for the American Family Association, has called for good, god-fearing citizens to save children being raised by same-sex couples.

Well, perhaps the word save isn’t quite right here. How about kidnap?

Achy’s got a horse in this race. Her wife, Megan, gave birth to a son last year. Achy swears she’s never been happier.

IN YEARS AHEAD, HE WOULD NOT BE TED

Here a sample of some graphic ad work a then-unknown artist named Theodore Geisel did back in the 1930s and 40s:

Recognize the style? Geisel later became Dr, Seuss.

See more at “25 Advertisements by Dr. Seuss Before He Was Dr. Seuss” on BuzzFeed.

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.”

“What If?” From XKCD

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 and 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.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

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.

Bear’s PlaceJazz Fables: Mr. Taylor and His Dirty Dixie Band; 5:30pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Americana Showcase; 6-8:30pm

Monroe County Public LibraryMonthly meeting, Bloomington Transportation Options for People; 6:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “To Rome with Love”; 7pm

Cafe DjangoJeff Isaac Trio; 8-10pm

The Comedy AtticTim Wilson; 8pm

Serendipity Martini BarTeam trivia; 8:30pm

Max’s PlaceWake the Dead; 9pm

The BluebirdApollo Quad; 9pm

The BishopHome Blitz, Bloody Mess, The Tsunamis; 9:30pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

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

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Coming — Media Life; August 24th through September 15th
  • Coming — Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture; August 24th 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 CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

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

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.” — Margaret Mead

THE PENCIL IS THE CUTTING EDGE

Being a long-time alt-journalist, I love it when I can beat the pants off big media.

A month ago I put up a K-pop video featuring a bunch of young zombies called 2NE1. “K-pop,” I wrote, “is evil.

The music phenomenon from South Korea glorifies showy materialism, its voices are auto-tuned and pitch corrected until they no longer even seem human, and the blatant sexuality of the obviously underaged performers is creepy.

K-pop is soft-core child porn with a cheap, artificial soundtrack.

Typical K-pop Girl Group

Now, Al Jazeera English has produced a 25-minute documentary on the craze from South Korea.

Young kids, the doc reveals, are being exploited by “South Korea’s unique idol-grooming system” to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for slave-driving impresarios. The hours and physical demands on the kids are nearly unbearable. The training regimen for the genre’s manufactured stars stresses conformity. Potential K-pop idols’ lives are controlled even down to what they eat. The girls are forbidden to have boyfriends.

Kids who sign up for K-pop star training often even have to cut off contact with family and friends. One such star confesses, “I want to meet my family. I want to spend time with them. I want to talk. I want to have dinner with my family. I want to hug my mom. I want to say, ‘Oh Mom, I love you.’ I miss them so much.”

Sounds more like a religious cult than a creative art to me.

The rage for K-pop is being used as a PR tool to goose the South Korean consumer and service industries. Plastic surgeons, for instance, are making gobs of dough slicing up patients’ faces so they can resemble stars.

Yep, I was right. K-pop is evil.

Remember, you heard it here first.

KID STUFF

Despite a mini-rash of “big-city crimes” a couple of months ago, Bloomington still is, at heart, a small town.

Want proof? Here are the top two entries in the Herald Times’ Police Beat column yesterday:

  • A 19-year-old kid, apparently drunk. left the Steak ‘n Shake on College Mall Road early Thursday morning without paying for his meal. The entry notes that the kid actually returned to the restaurant.
  • A 14-year-old schoolboy showed a bag of pot to another kid at Tri-North Middle School.

So don’t fret too much about our town going straight to hell.

Plato: “What is happening to our young people?” (4th Century BCE)

HOW CLOSE IS TOO CLOSE?

Speaking of journalism, its relationship to politicians comes under the scope in this month’s Vanity Fair. Writer Suzanna Andrews profiles Rebekah Brooks, the disgraced former editor and biz bigshot within Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire.

Brooks

Brooks was brought down along with a few other co-conspirators in the News of the World phone hacking scandal last summer.

She’d weaseled herself into the good graces of Murdoch, the big boss himself, by employing a deadly combination of striking looks, sheer charisma, ambition, obsequiousness, craven opportunism, and a pinpoint targeting of rivals.

A scant 20 years after hiring on as a secretary within the Murdoch mob, Brooks had risen to the top. She became editor of News of the World at the tender age of 31, editor of The Sun three years later, and CEO of News International six years after that.

In addition to cozying up to Murdoch, Brooks worked her magic on the UK’s biggest pols, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and David Cameron.

Love, David

In fact, Brown and Cameron and their wives attended her 2009 wedding. Andrews claimed that Cameron signed letters to her, “Love, David.”

My hair stood on end as I read all this (Well, at least the hair on my arms did; my scalp has been unencumbered for many years now.) Journalists, I pontificated to myself, should keep a healthy distance from the subjects they cover.

What would Brooks’ take be, for instance, if Blair or Brown were embroiled in a scandal? Would she go soft on them, even subconsciously?

I remember learning that NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell was going to marry grotesque sauropod Alan Greenspan even while he was still Chairman of the Fed.

That, I concluded at the time, was somewhat akin to incest.

So, I’m pure, right?

Not so fast.

It occurs to me I’m on friendly terms with the likes of Pat Murphy, Susan Sandberg, Regina Moore, and Steve Volan, among other government pay-drawers and decision makers. Am I too friendly with any of them?

Too Friendly?

Earlier this month I called for Amy Gerstman, the Monroe County Auditor, to resign immediately for her actions in the credit card scandal.

From all I hear, Gerstman is a kind and sweet soul who is honest at her core, albeit less than alive to the appearance of the county’s checkbook watchdog using the county’s credit at Kroger.

But what if she and I were big pals? Would I have the stones to demand her ouster?

What if Susan Sandberg had been caught using city-issued credit cards for personal use?

Could I call for her head?

I don’t know.

All I know is, I’m glad I don’t plan on getting married again so I won’t have to decide whether I should invite any of my public official acquaintances to the reception.

DIANE’S DEATH A SHOCK

Just spoke with a colleague of IU law professor Earl Singleton. This colleague attended last night’s visitation for Singleton’s late wife Diane.

According to the colleague, Diane’s death — and the puzzling circumstances surrounding it — came as a complete surprise to Earl and the couple’s two kids.

“I can’t imagine a more uncomplicated and steady family,” this colleague said.

BLOOMINGTON’S WATER SHEIK

The Boys of Soma gathered for Day One of their regular weekend confab this morning.

Tough Guy Pat, the Caliph of Clean Water, came in for a ruthless ribbing in the wake of today’s Herald Times story revealing the 2012 salaries of our town’s elected and appointed officials. He has reeled in the pro-forma 1.5 percent raise for non-union city employees.

Another one of the Boys, who’s also listed in the H-T salary database, observed that the Caliph’s salary bump was like giving Mitt Romney a 1.5 hike.

Tough Guy Pat merely laughed as he lit his cigar with a crisp fifty.

Loaded

SHE’S NOT THERE

One of the greatest pop songs of all time, performed by The Zombies. Listen for the complicated harmony and the insistent building of volume and adding of instrumentation up to the final crescendo.

Now, don’t ask me why the You Tube OP chose to pair the song with footage from “The Outer Limits.” No matter, I love both the tune and the show. As a nine-year-old I recall waiting all week for “The Outer Limits” to come on. And more often than not, I’d be driven to dash out of the living room in terror at the sight of certain monsters on the program, only to tip-toe my way back in within moments.

As always, enjoy.

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