Category Archives: Archie Bunker

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“For me, the most ironic token of that moment in history is the plaque signed by President Richard M. Nixon that Apollo 11 took to the moon. It reads: ‘We came in peace for all mankind.’ As the United States was dropping 7.5 megatons of conventional explosives on small nations in Southeast Asia, we congratulated ourselves on our humanity: We would harm no one on a lifeless rock.” — Carl Sagan

PAY ‘EM: DAY 1

Give teachers the dough they deserve. Do not increase class sizes. Do not extend the school day.

And if necessary, raise taxes.

Let’s cut the bullshit now.

The Chicago Teachers Union strike is everybody’s business.

LUCKY US

Steve the Dog and I took a walk at dusk yesterday on the shore of Lake Monroe in the Paynetown State Recreation Area.

A blue heron flapped past a few hundred yards off, probably heading home for the night. Fish feeding on surface bugs splashed in the water around the marina.

This Is Minutes From Home

Paynetown was a bit lonelier than it’s been for months. The temperature hung around 64 degrees.

We walked fast — well, as fast as my creaky ticker would allow us. I may have to wear a long-sleeved shirt tonight.

Our hellish summer is nothing more than a memory.

KNOW THINE SELF

Author Philip Roth takes Wikipedia to task in the New Yorker this week.

Philip Roth

Apparently, the Wikipedia entry on his novel, “The Human Stain,” recently contained faulty info on the inspiration behind the story. Wikipedia says the book is based on an incident in the life of Manhattan writer Anatole Broyard. Roth says it’s really based on something that happened to Melvin Tumin, a noted researcher in race relations in America.

Roth states in an open letter to Wikipedia that when he contacted Wikipedia in an effort to get the entry corrected, he was told he was not a credible source.

Hah!

Apparently, Wikipedia needs its info verified by third-party independent sources. Roth, per the online encyclopedia’s own guidelines, is not.

All this makes a whisper of sense, when you think about it for a moment. Wikipedia doesn’t want people editing their own entries. Hell, I’ve been tempted more times than I can remember to create my own Wikipedia entry, describing myself as the Midwest’s greatest unheard-of writer. My newspaper and magazine articles, my books, my online posts have thrilled readers and moved them to tears. History, my fantasy entry would read, will recognize Mr. Glab in much the same way that Van Gogh in the art world was celebrated after his death.

Vince And Me

But then I remember that Wikipedia won’t allow me to define myself in its database at all.

Can you imagine, for instance, how noted self-admirers like Richard Nixon or Donald Trump would portray themselves?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’ve occasionally fantasized hinting to someone I know and trust that I really deserve a Wikipedia entry. Now, I wouldn’t suggest anything outright, but if the person whose ear I bent might take it upon her- or himself to immortalize me thusly, well, who am I to protest?

Anyway, Roth goes on for 2677 words to correct the bit of false information. I suppose that’s what a prolific writer would do. The Philip Roth bibliography entry in Wikipedia states he’s penned 27 novels. He hasn’t challenged that bit of data.

A “writer” such as Ayn Rand could have easily dashed off, say, half a million distorted, specious, and borderline psychotic words correcting some minor point in her Wikipedia entry.

“Writer”

Writers write. Even “writers” write.

Roth’s open letter is fascinating because it reveals a bit about the life of Melvin Tumin, who was grilled for using “hate speech” in a classroom once. It seems he’d discovered in the middle of a semester that two students had not attended one of his classes. Taking roll one day, he asked the class if anyone knew the students. “Does anyone know these people?” he asked. “Do they exist or are they spooks?”

Ha ha. Spooks, meaning phantoms or wraiths. But at the time Tumin uttered the word, it also was a more “palatable” substitute for “nigger.” Archie Bunker on “All in the Family” regularly referred to black men as spooks.

Lovable Hater

Tumin was subjected to a grueling inquisition, even thought he’d been known for years for his sensitive work in race relations.

Roth’s letter, like the novel, explores the issues of character assassination, hysteria, and groupthink. In the letter, he also ruminates on what it means to be black.

So it’s much more than a run of the mill letter to the editor demanding a correction. It’s a neat little look at us.

Aren’t you glad writers write?

THE LITTLE THINGS

Here’s a picture of sand, magnified 250 times.

From I Fucking Love Science

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends — that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” — Adlai E. Stevenson

THE DEMS COME OUT SWINGING?

Nobody threw a punch yesterday evening at the Bloomington High School South auditorium. Nobody even flung any mud.

The five Democratic candidates for Indiana’s 9th District seat in the US House of Representatives gathered at BHSS for their debate sponsored by the Monroe County Dems.

But, as candidate John Tilford said, it really was no debate at all considering the five agree on pretty much everything.

Tilford

Which is true. Check the candidates’ websites or follow their pronouncements in the newspapers and you’ll come to the conclusion that each mirrors the others. They’re all center-slightly left Dems, just like the Big Dem in the White House.

The question Democratic voters must ask themselves when they vote in the primary on Tuesday, May 8th, is who can beat Todd Young.

Young

My guess is it’ll be Shelli Yoder, former Miss Indiana and second runner-up in the 1993 Miss America pageant, or Jonathan George, retired US Air Force Brigadier General. The other three fellows in the race, John Griffin Miller, Tilford, and Robert Winningham don’t have a chance.

Yoder and George are the only ones who can sway voters who live outside Bloomington, New Albany, and Jeffersonville. See, they’ve got the liberal vote — sparse as it is; this is Indiana, after all — sewn up. But folks in Bedford and Seymour or who live in the vast rural areas of the District and who may still be in an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington mood just might look kindly upon Yoder or George.

I’ve heard from a number of political insiders who say it’s nearly impossible to get the back country folks in this downstate region to vote for a woman. My guess, though, is they recoil from what they consider “uppity” women, those who wear pantsuits and speak forcefully. Think Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Yoder (left) On The Campaign Trail

Yoder, being a former beauty queen, just might overcome their prejudice. She’s charming and polite. She looks great in a bathing suit (she ranked high in that category in the Miss America contest.) She fits their conception of what an ideal woman should be.

Of course, there’s a lot more to Yoder than her looks and charm, but I’m trying to think like an antediluvian here. And if the Dems are going to unseat Tea Party darling Todd Young, that has to be taken into account.

George As A Young U-2 Pilot

The situation is similar for George. He can’t be dismissed as a socialist, abortionist, homosexual-tolerating liberal. He was, after all, a man who commanded two US Air Force wings, led a B-2 Stealth Bomber squadron, and was in charge of more than 10,000 US soldiers training Afghan security forces.

If the Dems have any hope against Young this November, they’re going to have to imagine what Archie Bunker might think.

What Would Archie Bunker Think?

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS…, FOR THE TIME BEING

So, the US Postal Service is going bust.

Or is it?

News reports of late suggest the Postal Service is operating under crushing debt and is on its last legs. The US Senate is pondering whether or not to give the USPS an $11B handout this fall. ABC News says the bailout is aimed at paying off the service’s debt and get it to “become profitable again.”

Conventional wisdom has it that the USPS is a dinosaur that deserves a quick death, what with most communications being done by electronic device these days.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to a friend? I mean actually applying pen to paper, tri-folding sheets neatly, slipping them into an envelope, licking the flap closed, affixing a stamp to it, and walking it down to the mailbox.

For that matter, do you even know where the mailbox is anymore?

Relic?

Dependable old liberal commentator Jim Hightower has a different take on the state of what we used to call the post office. (h/t to Bill Lichtenberg of Forest Park, Illinois.)

Hightower points out that all the doom and gloom surrounding the USPS is being advanced by pols at the behest of private letter and package services like FedEx. Nothing would make those for-profit businesses happier than for the federal government subsidized service to disappear from the face of the Earth. Hightower says the half a buck you drop on a First Class stamp is a fantastic deal, unlike any deal the private carriers can even approach.

As for the profitability issue, Hightower reminds us the USPS has never been profitable, nor was it intended to be. Neither, he says, have the Pentagon, the FBI, or many other federal services.

Check out Hightower’s piece; it’ll put the USPS in a different light for you.

Hightower

By the way, linguistic observer Bill Bryson points out the irony that here in the US, we mail a letter which is sent on its way via the Postal Service. In Great Britain, they post a letter using the Royal Mail.

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

◗ Bloomington, Citywide — IU’s Arts Week Everywhere 2012; Ongoing, various times

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

IU Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Black faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony; Noon

The Kinsey Institute Gallery “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze,” exhibit, art by women examining men; Ongoing, 1:30-5pm

IU Franklin Hall, Room 303 — Study Abroad 101; 4pm

IU Medical Arts Classroom BuildingCredit Counseling; 5:30pm

◗ IU Jacobs School of Music, Musical Arts CenterIU Black Graduates Congratulatory Ceremony; 7pm

Classic LanesPoker; 7pm

The Player’s PubStardusters; 7:30pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

Bear’s PlaceJered Jacobs, Matt Woods, and David Bartlett; 8pm

The BluebirdRod Ruffcurls and the Benchpress; 8pm

IU Kirkwood ObservatoryStar-Gazing Open House; 9pm (rain or shine)

Uncle Elizabeth’sFree billiards; 10pm & midnight

Jake’s NightclubBattle of the Bands; 10pm

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