Category Archives: Bill McKibben

Hot Air

Grocery Grumbling

Wood czarina Nancy R. Hiller gets itchy just thinking about the whole Bloomingfoods/union contretemps going on.

Natch, which of us aren’t torn in this little tug of war? The majority of the citizenry of the People’s Republic of Bloomington are union partisans — yet everybody who’s anybody is hot for Bloomingfoods, the five-store co-op’s founders, its management, and its boardfolk.

Bloomingfoods Union Rally

Rally For B’foods Union Last week

In any case, Hiller got her hands on a list of benefits B’foods offers its galley slaves. The bennies look good, I’ll have to say. Shoot, they even offer free professional counseling which employees are eligible for the minute they start working. Dang, mang, I’d have saved tens of thousands of dollars in shrink fees had I worked for B-foods in my late 20s through early 40s.

Anyway, as soon as I get some free time, I’m going to grill some insiders about their grievances. A very friendly inside source has provided me a list of names and phone numbers of people who just may offer some insight into why at least some B-foods workers are ready to man the barricades.

Until then, read about Bloomingfoods’ employee benefits here, courtesy of our town’s most adept juggler of hammer and saw, the fab Ms. Hiller.

Boo!

The two most effective political messages in American history were Lyndon B. Johnson’s fabled mushroom cloud TV ad in 1964 and George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton spots.

Mushroom Cloud Ad

Don’t Get Burned By Goldwater

I was too young to remember the mushroom cloud commercial, being eight at the time, but I remember Willie Horton well — I was 32 in 1988. Willie Horton was almost perfect in its simplicity and impact. Lee Atwater and company concocted the archetypical bogeyman: a scary, grotesque, really dark-skinned black man, a rapist/murderer sprung from prison by a lily-livered, pointy-headed Democratic governor. And you wanted that milquetoast Dem to be your president?

Horton

The Face Of Fear

As Atwater, Bush’s storied political strategist, said early on, “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’ running mate.”

His strategy was no less craven than that of adman Tony Schwartz, who created the mushroom cloud commercial (which, BTW, ran only once.) But craven in politics and other public pastimes works. Barry Goldwater was effectively painted forever as a nuke-slinging madman, Mike Dukakis a patsy for criminals, welfare queens, and — worst of all — black people.

The secret to success in public discourse is to scare the bejesus out of people.

Just as soon as GHWB trounced Dukakis in the ’88 beauty contest, it struck me that what separated the Democrats from the Republicans was the latters’ gleeful willingness to scare the populace and the formers’ hesitancy to do so (at least in the years post-1964.)

I immediately thought of the environment — you know, the air we breathe and the water we drink? All the environmental movement needed to do was start making the citizenry of this holy land wet its pants about pollution and, next thing you’d know, we’d start doing a thing or two about it. After all, the Reagan Administration had been as careful a steward of the environment as an eight-year-old husbanding his bag of Halloween candy.

Cut to almost two decades later: Al Gore et al came out with An Inconvenient Truth. Wouldn’t you know it, that Oscar®-winning doc got millions of us shuddering over the possibility that the likes of New York City and Miami Beach might soon be under water.

Gore/Truth

The Documentary Film Spawned A Book

We on the crunchy end of the political spectrum finally had our Willie Horton.

Don’t get me wrong, I dug An Inconv. Truth the most. Still, as I watched the picture, I had the feeling that certain suppositions in it were less than sure-fire bets. Nevertheless, the scare job was for a good cause, not for painting an entire race of American citizens as murderers and rapists.

Now comes a think piece by Charles C. Mann in September’s The Atlantic mag. He posits that the environmental gang is overreaching with its oft-times overblown rhetoric. Mann is a science writer who penned, among other works, the highly-lauded 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.

Mann feels the scare tactics of environmentalists are working against their own aims. He cites for support, for instance, French philosopher Pascal Bruckner, who insists that many climate worriers are apocalyptic fanatics:

A best-selling, telegenic public intellectual (a species that hardly exists in this country), Bruckner is mainly going after what he calls “ecologism,” of which McKibbenites are exemplars. At base, he says, ecologism seeks not to save nature but to purify humankind through self-flaggelating asceticism.

To Bruckner, ecologism is both ethnocentric and counterproductive.

McKibbenites, of course, are fans of high-profile ecologist Bill McKibben.

Mann is right about some of the overblown rhetoric: One anti-Keystone Pipeline activist says if the thing is built “civilization would be at risk.” Mann’s conclusion is such operatic verbiage marginalizes environmentalists.

Mann is wrong, though, about the scare tactics. He may know a lot about science — and Bruckner may know a lot about philosophy — but neither knows the American people.

Priorities

You had to know this would happen: many parents in Middlesex County, New Jersey, are far more teed off about the cancellation of the remainder of the Sayreville War Memorial High School football season than they are about the digital/anal raping/hazing ritual that caused the cancellation in the first place.

Just to keep you up to date, seven Sayreville HS football players have been arrested for their alleged near-daily hazing of team freshmen. Acc’d’g to the cops, the seven would trap freshmen in the locker room, turn out the lights, and proceed to digitally penetrate the poor kids’ anuses for fun and laughs.

Eek.

Number One

The Foam Finger Takes On A Whole New Meaning

Anyway, some student victims told their parents about the ritual and the parents called the police. Seems open and shut, no?

No. Because of the scandal, the school’s principal cancelled the rest of its football season. And many parents are steamed about having to face life without high school football.

Anally raping an adolescent is one thing, I suppose, but canceling a football season? Now that’s an outrage.

Football. America’s game.

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“[Martin Luther] King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a reevaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living….” — Cornel West

GORE VIDAL, 1925-2012

An unapologetic liberal. Of course, I don’t know why anyone should feel a need to apologize for being liberal.

I had my political awakening in 1968, when I was 12 years old. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed, segregationist George Wallace ran for president, Vietnam was raging. Riots, protests, the Democratic convention in Chicago — all of it thrilled and horrified me.

Then, on a steamy Wednesday night in August as Chicago cops rioted, busting heads and bloodying protesters, reporters, delegates, and innocent passersby on Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley faced off on ABC TV. The moderator was Howard K. Smith.

Vidal was aggressively anti-war; Buckley aggressively pro-war. The two battled verbally until things seemed about to devolve into physical combat.

Vidal: “As far as I’m concerned, the only sort of pro-crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself.”

Buckley: “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the god damned face and you’ll stay plastered.”

I watched this live. I took sides right then and there.

Vidal would not back down, even when threatened by a Tory, royalist, blue-blood, former captain of the Yale debate team. He merely smiled when Buckley called him a queer.

I only wish liberals were as tough today.

CRISIS

If you read nothing else on the environment or the issue of climate change this summer, make sure you catch Bill McKibben‘s latest, terrifying piece in Rolling Stone.

Bill McKibben

Folks, we’ve got problems. The crisis is not tomorrow; it’s today.

And if you happen to encounter someone who denies global warming, don’t even bother arguing with them. Just tell ’em to kiss your ass.

MILLIONS OF CARS

Dig Tuesday’s XKCD: What If? post, imaged and linked below in Big Mike’s Playtime section.

This week’s physics theoretical asks, “What if there was a robot apocalypse? How long would humanity last?”

The answers (spoiler alert!) are — 1) not much would happen (unless we consider the computers that control the world’s nuclear arsenals to be robots, then too much) and 2) indefinitely (unless, again, the above contingency holds, then, oh, 13 seconds).

But the fascinating thing I found was the author’s calculation that at any given moment in the United States, there are 10 million cars on the road.

I might add that fully 75 percent of that number are snarled up at the Bypass construction zone at this very moment.

CAMPAIGN GAMES

Shelli Yoder yesterday challenged Todd Young to a series of debates in each of the 13 Indiana counties that make up the 9th Congressional District.

Young’s camp pooh-poohed the whole idea. The Republican incumbent’s campaign boss, Trevor Foughty, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the debate challenge is a publicity stunt.

Shelli Yoder & Todd Young

Funny thing is, Young himself upset long-time 9th District rep Baron Hill in 2010 in part by, well, challenging the Dem to a series of debates.

I’M A LION — GRRRROWWLLLL!

Will Murphy, former general manager of Bloomington’s WFHB and current honcho at Ft. Wayne’s WBOI, learned about Snoop Dogg’s transformation into Snoop Lion yesterday.

Or Maybe I’m A Soldier — Ten Hut!

Murphy observed, “Not sure what to make of this.”

I set the radio man straight. “Nothing, Will. Absolutely nothing.”

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.”

XKCD: What If?

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.

Flip Flop Fly Ball

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.

The Daily Puppy: Skeeter The Samoyed

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

Monroe County FairgroundsDay 5, 2012 Monroe County Fair, Senior citizens day, Joe Edwards & Jan Masters Show; 1, 3:30 & 6pm — Royal Flush karaoke; 6pm — Clayton Anderson; 7:30pm — Three Bar J Rodeo; 7:30pm; Noon to 11pm

Cafe DjangoTom Miller’s Last Show; 7:30pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

Bear’s PlaceAmericana Jam: Chris Wolf, Danika Holmes, Suzette Weakly; 8pm

The Player’s PubSarah’s Swing Set; 8pm

The Comedy AtticBloomington Comedy Festival, audience vote decides the funniest person in Bloomington; 8pm

Boys & Girls Club of BloomingtonContra dancing; 8pm

The BluebirdDot Dot Dot; 9pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryPublic viewing through main telescope, weather permitting; 10pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; opens Friday, August 3rd, 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: Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; through August 3rd

◗ 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 Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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