Category Archives: Carl Sagan

Hot Air

Sugar Pills

So, if I were to offer the scientific medical community advice — which they haven’t asked for, but here it is in any case — I would tell them to get cracking on researching how much our minds affect our health.

No, I’m not suddenly turning into one of these Rhonda Byrne types who tell the gullible that all the things that happen to them in their lives are the result of their own thoughts. Y’know, all that “Secret” and “Law of Attraction” bushwa. I do still have a functioning frontal lobe.

Brain

Mine Works

Nevertheless, real thinking researchers have known for years that much of illness is psychogenic — that is, imagined. That doesn’t make the pain or disability any less. If you feel agony, you feel agony no matter if your coconut is contriving it or not.

Take, for instance, a couple of examples from Carl Sagan’s indispensable book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark:

  • Some aboriginal tribes in the New World thought the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and his gang were medicine men, so they laid their treasures at the to-be-conquerers’ feet and begged to be healed. Lo and behold, people started telling each other they’d magically become well. When Cabeza de Vaca’s men became overwhelmed by these supplicants, he told them he was leaving and, suddenly, people became sick again and even died.

Stamp

  • The apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes drew many thousands of people there to be cured. A number of cancer patients who’d experienced spontaneous remission after visiting the site testified their newfound health was of divine origin. (Statistics show that in any grouping of cancer patients, there will be a percentage of those whose cancer simply goes into hiding, as it were.)

Lourdes

Our Lady Of Lourdes

Sagan writes, “As Cabeza de Vaca’s experience suggests, the mind can cause certain diseases, even fatal ones.” And, one would assume, the mind can be convinced the body is healed as well. He goes on to cite the phenomenon of deathly sick old people in traditional Chinese communities where the Harvest Moon Festival is celebrated who “stave off death for a week or two to perform their ceremonial responsibilities.” The same thing happens, statistically, to old Jewish men around Passover and grandparents whose scions are graduating from college or having birthdays.

One reason, I suspect, the medical establishment doesn’t pursue these phenomena with greater vigor is there probably isn’t a pill that can be patented and sold as a result of such research. Medicine in the United States, I might remind you, is a for-profit business.

I bring this up because something similar has happened to me. I’ve been experiencing excruciating hip pain for the last few years. I’ve even been walking with a cane on occasion. Studying at the University of Google and speaking with others who’ve gone through the same thing, I learned that my symptoms indicated a need for a hip replacement. Knowing this, I started making plans to fit the surgery and rehab into my schedule. So, knowing that I will be finished writing the Charlotte Zietlow book soon (a descriptor that can mean anything from a few weeks to several eons), I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and said, “Let’s get going.”

Hip

Ouch

Step one was a complete X-ray regimen. The technician spun me around like a top, zapping me with Roentgens from every possible angle. I posed so much I felt like Caitlyn Jenner, sans the lipstick.

The next day the doc’s nurse gave me a call. It turns out I do indeed have severe hip arthritis, so much so that the cartilage is significantly thickened and the actual bone material making up the ball of my femur is overgrown. Okay, I said, what’s next? Nothing, she replied. The radiologist and my doc agree there is absolutely no deterioration or necrosis of the bone substance in my hip. Such conditions are de rigueur for a hip replacement.

The nurse told me the course from now on would be to manage the pain, for which she gave me a number of suggestions.

To be honest, I was thrilled at the news. I had no wish to go through general anesthetic again. I’ve had major surgery a few times in my life and each time, it took weeks for my bean to recover from the drugs and gasses used to send me off to nap time.

Now, here’s the weird part. Over the next few days, my hip started feeling better than it has in a good year or more. See, every time I moved, I’d been afraid I was turning my right hip’s ball and socket joint into bone meal. I honestly thought I’d hear a snap, crackle, or pop one day when I’d lift myself up off the recliner, my hip shattering like peanut brittle. I became so tense and apprehensive that the right side of my body as well as my entire lower back were becoming as taut as a drumhead.

Yet, as soon as I realized my hip joint wasn’t about to disintegrate, it was as though I’d taken a magic pill that, if not curing me, at least made me feel remarkably better.

All because I got some good news.

Hot Air

Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me

Young Adult author Julia Karr sat and talked with me recently for the latest installment of Big Talk. An eight-minute snippet of that tête-à-tête ran on WFHB last week.

Karr

Julia Karr

You ought to listen to it, especially if you’re an aspiring writer, say, or a high school dropout. Julia Karr has pushed through a ton of barriers to achieve that most glorious status in life: published author. She has written the dystopian fantasies XVI and Truth, about young Nina, a rebel in the year 2150. In that world girls who reach the age of sixteen are expected to become sex playthings; there’s little more a young female can hope to do. Nina, though, has other ideas.

We’re putting the finishing touches on the long-form interview with Julia that will run in the July issue of The Ryder.

Meet Bloomington’s most fascinating folk via the Big Talk interview series, co-sponsored by this communications colossus, The Electron Pencil, as well as WFHB and The Ryder.

BTW: Go to Julia’s website. She has a blog that in my humble opin. is tied for second-best in B-town. Natch, you know who’s the boss of the bestest blog hereabouts.

Pay To Play

When the Indiana University Hoosiers cartilage kids challenge for the top spot in any Big 10 sport, folks around these parts go gaga. And, this being the great United States of Murrica, we tend to throw dough at the gamesters, buying tickets by the fistful, wearing T-shirts, and drinking watered down brew out of IU-logoed beer cozies.

Only those cartilage kids don’t share in the swag. College athletes, as you know, aren’t paid. This despite the fact that their field and court exploits are the sole reason we fling our dollars around. Loyal readers already know how I feel about this stinking state of affairs.

IU Hoops

Volunteers Of America

Click on over to Frank Deford’s essay on NPR’s Morning Edition. He expounds on the bullshit notion that is amateurism — that is, amateurism the way the NCAA defines it. I like the way Frankie thinks.

Don’t Tread On My Bread

I tilt against peeps who espouse this health craze, that diet, or the conspiracy theory over there all the time. F’rinstance, my oldest and dearest pal in the world and I are howling at each other these days over her recent conversion to the belief that wheat grain products are only slightly less dangerous to humans than an arsenic cookie in a radioactive tin attached to an improvised explosive device.

Our skirmish thus far has remained reasonably civil although my agents have uncovered intelligence that she is a mere two years away from possessing the capability to build the arsenic cookie in a radioactive tin attached to an improvised explosive device. This will not stand. I will not allow a chocolate chip mushroom cloud be the final piece of evidence against her.

Mushroom Cloud

This Means War

Anyway, I always caution people I’m arguing with over such things that they should be careful what Internet stories they believe. I say, borrowing (okay, stealing) from Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.”

My dear pal had one defender who said to me, Look, if it makes her feel better, why fight it? What’s the skin off your nose?

Other than the fact that my Sicilian/Polish beak looks just fine with the acreage of dermis presently attached to it, thank you, my argument is that any individual ideas based on rage, mania, trendiness, and pseudoscience might be only mildly harmful to the possessors thereof but they represent a credulousness that can be far more toxic when applied repeatedly or in certain other more pressing cases.

To wit: the anti-vax movement of recent years. A single family might have rationalized that it really harmed no one else other than, potentially, themselves when they refused to get their kids inoculated.

Here’s the argument that lays that rationalization to rest: it has been learned that a single kid who had not received the MMR vaccination was responsible for an outbreak of measles in Minnesota in 2011.

The parents of the kid were part of a community that bought into the hysteria over childhood vaccinations that arose in the first decade of this century. That hysteria, in too many cases, was fatal.

As important as saving the lives of innocent children may be, the even more dangerous aspect of the anti-wheat movement is the possibility that pizza and pasta may one day be outlawed. Now, that would be a human tragedy of monumental proportions!

Pasta & Sauce

Save Our Spaghetti!

Hot, Getting Seasonable, Air

Sly Fox?

Does it bother you that Fox Broadcasting is now financially supporting NPR’s Morning Edition?

Mind you, Fox B-casting is not Fox News. The two are separate entities under the worldwide umbrella that is Rupert Murdoch‘s media empire. Whereas Fox News typically airs topical news “debate” shows wherein, like professional wrestling, there are clear-cut villains and heroes, and its news updates generally steer blame for all the evils in the world, up to and including irritable bowel syndrome, toward Barack Obama and his liberal minions, Fox Broadcasting presents such darlings of the cognoscenti as The Simpsons, The Family Guy, and Glee.

Hell, F-Broad even will begin showing Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey this coming Sunday. To refresh, the original Cosmos was the brainchild of Carl Sagan. The presenter of this iteration will be Neil de Grasse Tyson. Both the late Sagan and and the still-very-alive NdGT would be ridiculed to high heaven were they to appear on a Fox News segment on climate change or evolution.

Murdoch as the Devil

The Devil No Matter What?

Still, the TV entertainment arm of the Murdoch octopus is run by, well, Murdoch. That’s gotta be enough to scare the bejesus out of us crunchy, bleeding-heart types who listen to Morning Edition.

Fun With Books

Would you read a book entitled Everything I Know About Women I Learned from My Tractor?

How about A Passion for Donkeys or Does God Ever Speak through Cats? And then there’s that classic, What’s Your Poo Telling You?

Book Cover

Hot!

IDK about you, but I’d read ’em! Not only that, I’d proudly display these tomes in my living room library. BTW: You can, indeed, tell the book, What’s Your Poo Telling You?, by its cover. It’s about paying close attention to your porcelain princess deuces; its tagline is “Loads of facts about your health.” And, yes, it’s illustrated.

Other, more genteel folks, might be turned off by these titles and more. That’s why Bored Panda offers The 40 Worst Book Covers and Titles Ever. Here are a few more, for your pleasure:

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

[h/t to Tanisha Caravello.]

I, Libtard

Just a reminder that I am the world’s biggest liberal, even in these days when liberals have lost their spark and are routinely portrayed as Nazi/commie terrorists who force their daughters to have sex with black men and then have their resultant fetuses aborted.

How did a nice guy like me get hung with that kind of rep?

Anyway, here’s a Noam Chomsky quote that I particularly dig:

The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.

Classroom

Now, Students, Remember: Never Rock The Boat.

Tell it, brother.

Barbarians All

And, finally, here’s Italian TV dude Adriano Celentano doing a parody video showing what American English sounds like to them goofy furriners. Sort of a counterpart to Andy Kaufman doing Latka Gravas, as you’ll see.

Weird thing is, when I watched this vid last night, I though the music was very, very cool. Then, when I watched it again this morning, it sounded, well, unlistenable. Further proof that we have to trust our second thoughts .

Awesome Hot Air

God is all around me.

And it’s bugging me. You know as well as I do how pervasive the old bird is.

Well, not exactly him, but his messengers and agents. He has priests, pastors, imams, rabbis, lamas, and a whole raft of other paid flacks. On top of that he depends on millions and millions — wait, billions — of unpaid volunteers who are more than happy to crow about what a swell dude he is. Perhaps only The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia has a publicity machine as widespread.

God's Guys

Brand Strategists

Walk into any diner and order a cola. When the waitperson repeats your order, s/he’ll say, “And you wanted a Coke, right?”

Right. Even if it’s a Faygo or a Pepsi, it’s a Coke.

Same with the Big Daddy-o in the Sky. Whenever a legislative body wants to initiate proceedings for the day, it calls in Christ’s vicar or G_d’s interpreter to start the festivities off right. Whenever a plane crashes or a lunatic opens fire in a shopping mall, people climb all over each other to say the Big Boy himself was responsible for any survivors. Hell, I sneezed the other day and some woman said, “God bless you.”

He’s everywhere.

Only he’s not. Like Bob Dylan, he’s not there.

And, like Dylan, his reputation is based on layers upon layers of bombast and myth.

There is no Bob Dylan, as you well know. There is a fellow named Robert Allen Zimmerman, born May 24, 1941, who one day decided to market himself by borrowing the given name of the poet Dylan Thomas and adopting it as his surname.

Both Bob Dylan and god have had spectacularly trenchant and brilliant mots attributed to them. These pearls of verbiage, though, have been largely excavated from under massive piles of nonsensical and silly pronouncements.

Maybe Bob Dylan is god.

Blake's God/Dylan

Separated At Birth?

Nah. Can’t be. Because there is no god.

The godly among the populace will counter that it is the height of presumption for me to say such a thing. Pious logicians will argue that I cannot definitively assert the non-existence of something. To which I might respond, Okay, you guys have had some 50,000 years (yup, humans in the Upper Paleolithic Period worshiped a god) to prove the Large Lummox created everything and is concerned with love, peace, war, and the result of yesterday‘s Monday Night Football game. You haven’t yet.

Carl Sagan famously told about the fire-breathing dragon in his garage. Prove that it isn’t there, he said. Guess what: You can’t.

Then the believers will cluck their tongues and shake their heads. How sad, they’ll lament, that you’re so lacking in awe and wonder. Your world is empty and prosaic. They’ll tell me that when they look at the petals of a flower they see the handiwork of the creator. When I look at it, I see a bionic machine. Such an emotionally empty experience.

Not so. For instance, I could hardly get to sleep last night after reading about astronomers’ latest supposition that tens of billions of stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy host Earth-like planets in their Goldilocks Zones (that is, the area around them that is just right for terrestrial type life to develop in.)

Habitable Zone

Dig: One of the astronomers who studied the results of a four-year Kepler Space Telescope search for Earth-like exo-planets was driven to ejaculations of Oh, Wows by what he’d learned. Here’s Erik Petigura of the University of California-Berkeley:

When you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing.

So tonight, I’m going out in the backyard to look at the dark sky. Weather permitting, I’ll see dozens and dozens of stars up above. If I feel really ambitious, I might take the five minute drive down to Lake Monroe, where the sky is even darker, so I can see many more stars. And as I watch them twinkle, the odds are overwhelming that I’m seeing, as it were, the homes of countless civilizations that communicate, reproduce, fight, discover, share, and play football. Maybe even baseball, if their intelligence is advanced enough.

And I will be in awe. My imagination will run wild. I’ll try to think about what those creatures look like. I’ll ponder the near-impossibility of humans ever visiting them. I’ll hope for the much more likely chance that we’ll exchange messages, perhaps soon.

Radio Telescope Array

“Are You There?”

The feeling I’ll have will easily be as profound as that of someone who marvels that god let that plane go down, with several hundred poor souls burned to a crisp and torn limb from limb, but decided, because he is loving, to spare one little tot.

This I guarantee: My awe will be far more holy than that of the football fan or the tight end who was certain god deigned that the Bears beat the Packers last night.

Spirit In The Sky

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Sunday II

THE QUOTE

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe.” — Carl Sagan

Sagan

YOU CAN’T MAKE ME HELP A CRIPPLE!

The Republicans are now officially mentally ill.

Eisenstaedt Photo

The 2016 Republican National Convention?

Personal to the GOP: Boys — and I do mean boys — you’ve got to cleanse yourself of the United Nations-hating nuts within your ranks. I mean, honestly, rejecting the UN disabilities advisory treaty because that world body is seen by the madmen within your ranks as some kind of threat to our national sovereignty?

UN Disabilities Convention

Click Image For The Treaty’s Complete Text

By 2016, the Republicans will be the third party in a land that only has two parties. You guys are running yourselves out of business.

STILL CRAZY

And, as long as they keep having “discussions” such as this one:

… they’re going to come no nearer to sanity than this world is to the edge of the Universe.

Dig the one guy who tells the panel that he knows “many, many people who’ve saved their own property because they had a handgun.”

Many, many people.

I’m assuming that anything under ten does not qualify as many.

Many, I would venture, means, oh say, 20 people.

Fair enough?

But he says he knows “many, many people” who’ve brandished shootin’ irons to pertekt their cabin and kin. That means he’s squaring many. Ergo, he knows upwards of 400 people who’ve pointed guns at other human beings and threatened to take their lives if they do not desist from trespassing or otherwise attempting harm.

Where the hell does this guy live, in Gaul at the time of Attila the Hun?

Atila in Gaul

EVEN CRAZIER

Then again, before we get carried away about how deranged certain folks are in this holy land, let’s consider, say, the nation of Qatar.

Until recent days, the tiny oil sheikdom has been a financial sponsor of several of the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East.

In public, Qatar branded itself the champion of The People Throwing off the Shackles of Tyranny.

Oops. That is until the poet Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami wrote a few verses praising the Arab Spring and — uh oh — referring less than glowingly to the Qatari boss-sheiks. Ajami was tried behind closed doors (and not allowed to attend his own trial) and was sentenced to life in prison.

Despite the madnesses of our Me Party brethren and sisteren, I doubt if even they’d endorse life sentences for the writing of poetry.

At least I hope not.

THE MOTE IN GOD’S EYE

Try to wrap your mind around the concept of multiverses.

No, the term doesn’t mean a collection of poems. It’s the idea that this great big bunch of everything is really merely one of many great big bunches of everything.

From Space.Com

Yeesh

Maybe even an infinity of them.

And here we are worrying about Kate Middleton’s morning sickness.

ALL I REALLY WANT…

This is now The Electron Pencil’s official, traditional Christmas/Hannukah anthem.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Don’t know if it’s good or bad that a Google search on ‘Big Bang Theory’ lists the sitcom before the origin of the Universe.” — Neil de Grasse Tyson

TAKE A DEEP BREATH

Have you seen the site White People Mourning Romney yet?

An Image From White People Mourning Romney

The Loved One sent me the link last night and, to say the least, it takes my breath away. Couple that with conservative guru Richard Viguerie saying Mitt Romney lost because he didn’t hammer it home that Barack Obama is a “radical” who is out to destroy our holy land and you get the gist of the angst Tuesday’s election caused much of the nation.

I wrote on Facebook the other day, “Personal to Republicans like Karl Rove & Glenn Beck and everybody who thinks the nation is gonna collapse now that Obama’s been reelected: Get hold of yourselves, people!”

It does seem on first blush that many Republicans and Me Party-ists and Libertarians have become opera singers and drama queens about an event that occurs every four years.

While driving The Loved One to work this morning, I said something on the order of, These people are lunatics. She had a flash of equanimity, though, and pointed out that we’d be singing a very similar tune, only with different lyrics, had Romney won.

She’s right.

Then again, I thought of George W. Bush “winning” the 2000 election. I could have consoled myself by saying, “Well, it’s only four years, we’ll get ‘im next time.” The problem was Bush bollixed the Afghan War and then tricked the nation into the Iraq War. Whatever my worst fears were about Bush at the time of his “victory,” those misdeeds far exceeded them.

I don’t expect Obama to manufacture evidence to whip up war hysteria. The thing that petrifies the Right is his willingness to spend dough on social services.

Even if he bollixes that agenda big time — say he creates some useless, bloated federal authority overseeing the health care system — it still won’t come close to comparing with a couple of wars that have thus far cost hundreds of thousands of civilian and military lives.

So, on third thought, yeah, the people wailing and gnashing their teeth and predicting apocalypse — literally — over another four years of Obama are pretty much lunatics.

BILLIONS AND BILLIONS

Today is Carl Sagan‘s birthday.

Sagan was one of the coolest guys of the late 20th Century.

Carl Sagan And Johnny Carson

He popularized science to such a degree that he was a regular guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

By the way, Sagan’s signature line, “billions and billions”? He never said it. He revealed that tidbit in his book entitled — what else? — “Billions and Billions.”

Sagan’s early passing was a great loss, especially in this era of anti-intellectualism and distrust of science. On the other hand, we’re not totally adrift — the big boss at the Hayden Planetarium, Neil de Grasse Tyson, is a worthy successor. He only needs a signature line — that he never said.

FIRE

Now the news comes that a half dozen Tibetans have set themselves on fire in recent days to dramatize their unhappiness with the Chinese, whose Communist Party has been convening in Beijing.

That makes a total of some 60 Tibetans who’ve lit themselves ablaze in the last two years.

Buddhist Nun Palden Choetso Immolates Herself Earlier This Year

Make no mistake, The Chinese are a bunch of bullies when it comes to Tibet. For that matter, they’re bullies in just about every issue, foreign and domestic, they address.

Is it my Western mindset that causes me to think it’d make more tactical sense to, I don’t know, set fire to the enemy rather than yourself?

Is suicide ever called for in a political dispute?

2000 LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME

Psychedelia, baby!

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Friday, November 9th, 2012

LECTURE ◗ IU Maurer School of Law — “The Transnistria Conflict: Not Frozen,” Presented by Matt Rojansky, deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment; Noon

LECTURE ◗ IU Ballantine Hall — “Latin America and China: Primary Goods, Populism, and Political leverage,” Presented by Andrae Marak of Governors State University; 12:30pm

LECTURE ◗ IU SoFA — “Artists’ Books: When the Goblet Becomes the Wine,” Presnted by Bill and Vicky Stewart of Vamp & Tramp Booksellers; 4:30pm

ARTS & CRAFTS ◗ University Baptist ChurchBloomington Glass Guild Holiday Show; 5-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Joo Pak on piano; 5pm

ARTS & CRAFTS ◗ First United Church of Bloomington27th Annual Fiber Art Show & Sale; 5-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallDoctoral Recital: Mathew Cataldi on piano; 5pm

ARTS & CRAFTS ◗ St. Mark’s United Methodist Church15th Annual Bloomington Local Clay Holiday Show & Sale; 5-9pm

ART ◗ The Venue Fine Art & GiftsOpening reception for the exhibit: Brian Gordy Watercolor Realism; 6pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Truly Filmic Underground Shorts,” Experimental film; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Two Angry Moms“; 6:45pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallStudent Recital: Christopher Arkin on trumpet; 7pm

BOOKS ◗ Boxcar BooksPoet Eugene Gloria reads from his book, “My Favorite Warlord“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSenior Recital: Felicia Wisniewski on harp; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleWhipstitch Sallies; 7-9pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheaterRyder Film Series: “17 Girls“; 7:15pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center, CourtyardPre-Concert Carillon Recital; 7:15pm

STAGE ◗ IU Halls TheatreDrama, “Spring Awakening“; 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, in the Rose FirebayDrama, “The Rimers of Eldritch,” Presented by Ivy Tech Student Productions; 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ Bloomington High School NorthComedy/drama, “Ondine“; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeFractures (ohio), Give & Take, My Sweet Fall, Another Untold Story; 7:30-10pm

STAGE ◗ IU Ivy Tech Waldron Center, Auditorium Comedy, “Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps“; 7:30pm

OPERA ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “Cendrillon (Cinderella),” Presented by IU Opera Theater; 8pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGreg Hahn; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubGreg Foresman; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallGuitar Class Solo Recital: Students of Ernesto Bitetti; 8pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Assembly HallHoosier men’s basketball vs. Bryant University; 8pm

BENEFIT ◗ Rhino’s All Ages Music ClubLive music, silent auction, and various events, For the Thunderbirds Junior Roller Derby team; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Keep the Lights On“; 8:15pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopYellow Ostrich, Strand of Oak; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSenior Recital: Lauren Raby on flute; 8:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheaterRyder Film Series: “All Together“; 8:45pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdHairbangers Ball; 9pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Holy Motors“; 9:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceSacred Priest; 9:30pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGreg Hahn; 10:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceTuff Tones; 11pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” — Carl Sagan

TODAY’S VOTING NAG

Vote or shut up.

Cast your ballot today at these locations:

The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St. — 8am-6pm

Evangelical Community Church, 503 S. High St. — 10am-6pm

If you must put your duty off until the very last day, find your precinct polling place here.

DOPES

Sigh.

As Curly Howard once wondered, “Is everybody dumb?”

The BBC World Service this morning reported on a recent effort by the Scout Association — the UK’s version of the Boy Scouts — to crack down on the use of nicknames.

The deep thinkers who run the outfit say nicknames are the gateway to bullying.

Nicknames.

Apparently, the Scouts believe bullies often start their nefarious work the moment they label a kid. Which is true.

If I recall correctly from my days at school, bullies also often begin terrorizing their victims at lunch time. Therefore I propose we crack down on eating.

Curly was right.

PAY YOUR BILLS

The Loved One phoned in our annual contribution to WFIU Saturday morning.

Have you thrown a little green the station’s way yet?

Here’s how simple the online process is:

Click Image To Pledge

PLAY FOR PAY

The Bloomington Playwrights Project raised $20,500 during this past weekend’s 2012 Ike & Julie Arnove PlayOffs.

See, competing groups of playwrights, directors, and actors were given a theme, a prop, and a line Friday night. They were to turn these simple raw materials into 10-minute plays, all shined-up, spiffied, and ready for the stage a mere 24 hours later.

The group deemed best Saturday night was called the Far-Off Broadway Bombers. Their playlet, “The Games,” was written by C. Neil Parsons, directed by Brian Donnelly and Benita Brown, and performed by Anthony Bradburn, Katie Becker, and David Sheehan.

The Far-Off Broadway Bombers

What? You missed it?

Your penance is to attend at least one BPP production this coming year. The next play up is “Lemonade” by Mark Krause. It has won the Woodward/Newman Drama Award and runs from November 30th through December 15th.

Go and sin no more.

SKY BLINDNESS

Believe me, folks, this is all too true:

Bloomington proper seems to straddle the border between the suburban sky and the rural sky. The sky above Chez Pencil gets a tad closer to the brilliance of the dark sky.

Any time you get a chance, go out to a real dark sky area — the region south of Paoli and French Lick, for example — and simply look up.

You won’t need a fancy telescope or even binoculars, only your eyes.

You’ll be reminded that we’re essentially nothing in this Universe.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

VOTE TODAY ◗ Two Locations, Bloomington:

  • The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm
  • Evangelical Community Church, 503 S. High St.; 10am-6pm

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Lilly Library, Slocum RoomSpecial exhibit:Violentology: A Manual of the Colombian Conflict“; 10:30am

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Eunice Park on piano; 5pm

LECTURE ◗ ◗ IU Memorial Union — “After They’re Gone: Afghanistan After 2014,” Presnted by Timor Sharan of the USAID project; 5:30pm

ART ◗ The Venue Fine Art & GiftsWood Carving, Demonstrated by Mark Braun; 5:30pm

CLASS ◗ IU Hilltop Garden & Nature CenterPreserving Fresh Garden Produce; 6:30-8pm

FILM IU Cinema — “Lilya 4 Ever“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleLloyd Wood; 7-9pm

DISCUSSION ◗ Monroe County Public Library — “Organizing to Combat Wage Theft,” Led by Sung Yeon Choi-Morrow & Dianne Enriquez of Interfaith Worker Justice; 7pm

STAGE ◗ IU Wells-Metz Theatre — “Richard III“; 7:30pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Maurer School of Law, Moot Court RoomPatten Lecture: “Whats Does Genocide Look Like? And How Do We Know It When We See It?“; 7:30-9pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Kelley School of Business, Rm. 223, Auditorium — “From Auschwitz to Forgiveness,” Presented by Eva Kor as part of the IU Holocaust Awareness Program; 7:30-9:30pm

MUSIC IU Auer HallOctubafest: Guest Recital, Roland Szentpali; 8pm

GAMES ◗ The Root Cellar at Farm BloomingtonTeam trivia; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubBlues Jam hosted by Fistful of Bacon; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallHot Tuesdays: Jazz Combos: Nate Anderson Group, Alejandro Papachryssanthou Group; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopHallowe’en Celebration: The Gantle Shades, Apollo Quad, Dingo Duster; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdDave Walters karaoke; 9pm


ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf; through November 16th
  • Small Is Big; Through November 16th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others: Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil: Bloomington’s Best

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

“By all means, let us be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.” — variously attributed to Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, James Oberg, and others.

Oberg

YOUR LIDS ARE BECOMING HEAVY….

I wonder if hypnotists still dangle pocket watches before the eyes of subjects they’re trying to put in trances.

More to the point, I wonder why there are still hypnotists. Then again, I shouldn’t wonder at all, considering we live in a credulous near-theocracy whose citizens largely believe in angels, a 6000-year-old Earth, and alien visitations.

Unbelievably, the ancient art of hypnotism is in Indiana news today. It seems a Christian woman who makes it a practice to visit Loogootee High School to pray for teachers and students is up in arms about the school’s Saturday fundraiser that will feature, yep, a hypnotist.

The fundraiser will benefit the school’s baseball team. Loogootee is a speck on the map in the southwest corner of the state, total population as of the 2010 Census: 2751.

Lots of schools around this holy land hire hypnotists to entertain at fundraisers. It’s all in fun and every once in a while some kid or parent can be seen lurching around the stage, clucking like a chicken. I’m sure such a sight reaps scads of money.

Geneva Yoder, on the other hand, takes her medieval belief systems seriously. Yoder used to have kids at LHS and still cares enough about it to go there, kneel down and implore her BFF in The Sky to smile kindly upon the place.

When she found out the organizers of the baseball team’s fundraiser had hired a hypnotist, she lodged a complaint with the Loogootee Community School Corporation.

Yoder told radio station WBIW that it’s “not morally or ethically right to hypnotize children” just to raise dough for the baseball team.

Not that Indiana has a sterling reputation as a land of forward thinkers but this mini contretemps, coming on the heels of Ft. Wayne Rep. Bob Morris claiming the Girls Scouts are a radical organization, makes us look worse than usual.

The sane among us can only hope our fellow state residents will someday bring their thinking in line with more modern 16th Century ideals.

THE RAW AND THE KOOKED

All my life I’ve been a contrarian, so much so that at times it’s been to my own detriment.

My operative philosophy is, don’t get swept up in group think. The bigger the group, the dumber everybody in it becomes.

For many years, I wondered if perhaps I was — oh, I don’t know — anti-social. Imagine how thrilled I was, then, to read George Carlin’s critique of teams. Here it is:

Teams suck! I don’t like ass-kissers or team players. I like people who buck the system. Individualists. I often warn kids: “Somewhere along the way, someone is going to tell you ‘There is no I in team.’ What you should tell them is, ‘Maybe not. But there is an I in independence, individuality and integrity.’ Avoid teams at all costs. Keep your circle small. Never join a group that has a name. If they say, ‘We’re the so-and-sos,’ take a walk. And if, somehow, you must join, if it’s unavoidable, such as a union or a trade association, go ahead and join. But don’t participate; it’ll be your death. And if they tell you you’re not a team player, just congratulate them on being so observant.”

Yay! I wasn’t alone. The great George Carlin agrees with me.

Despite mainly being an independent writer since 1983, now and again I’ve worked for a private company. I worked in the Education Department at Whole Foods Market for three years not terribly long ago. This was at the time when companies were spending gobs of cash on foolishness like team-building getaways.

I’d ask, Why do we have to do this junk?

Everybody would say, Oh, so we can all get to know each other and spend quality time with each other. It’ll really make us unified.

Oy, I had so many objections I didn’t know where to start. Here’s a couple. First, if I wanted to get to know my co-workers better, I’d go out with them. Since I haven’t asked certain ones out, that means I don’t want to know them any better.

I mean, the company pays me to spend eight hours a day with people who, by and large, I would never want to be around unless there was remuneration involved. Once that eight hours is up, I wanna go home or to the places I hang out and see people I really like.

Second, why do we have to be reminded we are a team? “Well, it’ll put us all on the same page,” they’d say. For pity’s sake, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Of course we’re a team! Of course we’re on the same page!

They sort of told me when I was hired, This is what we do here. Now you’re going to be doing it with us. I had no illusions that I’d be able to, say, work on my great American novel while I was at work — well, at least not where I could be caught at it. By definition, all our presence in this building makes us a team. We’re trying to sell groceries here, for fk’s sake!

None of these arguments went over very well. And when I couldn’t come up with any credible excuses not to go on team-building functions, I’d go and I’d spend all my time with people I liked and avoid those I didn’t. Just like the regular work day.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about all this because of raw milk.

Huh? Raw milk.

Yeah. WFIU ran a report on the morning news the other day about people who strive to circumvent Indiana’s raw milk ban. See. the state outlaws the selling of raw milk for health safety reasons. Pasteurization destroys most of the microbes that can cause food-borne illnesses.

Raw milk advocates, on the other hand, think pasteurization adversely affects the flavor of moo juice (sorry, I got tired of typing milk.)

When it comes to food fetishists, though, Bloomington often seems the center of the world. Almost immediately, Facebook lit up with people claiming raw milk is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

One person posted that since his family has switched to raw milk, his kids have suddenly been relieved of all their allergies.

Another said that he, his wife, and none of his kids have had so much as a cold since his family turned to raw milk.

I suppose they can believe what they want. What harm does it do for someone to believe raw milk is a miracle substance?

Now, I consider myself an advocate of fresh, healthy, wholesome foods. I try (although I occasionally fail) to minimize my intake of hydrogenated oils, red meat, excessive salt, and other iffy comestibles. I eat spinach every day. I gobble my fruits. I do my best to buy foods that aren’t laden with chemical preservatives or artificial flavors. I restrict my visits to White Castle to once a year.

That puts me on the health food team, I imagine. But remember, I hate being on teams. And the reactions of those Facebook posters is a prime example why. They’ve elevated a personal preference to an almost philosophical imperative.

So, I posted something myself. I wrote, “Look,if you dig the taste of raw milk that’s cool. But it ain’t no magic elixir, folks.”

Aw, that’s one of the 10,000 reasons why I hate Facebook. It too often turns me into a pain in the ass.

ROAM

Hey, Cindy Wilson is 55 years old today. The B52s were the pride of Athens, Georgia and middle America’s intro to punk/new wave pop.

Wilson

Wilson and her brother Ricky were two of the four original members of the band, formed in 1976. The B52s were sailing along in terms of popularity when Ricky suddenly died of AIDS-related complications in October, 1985. He hadn’t told anybody about his illness and his death was a shock to the other band members. Cindy, naturally, was hardest hit by his death. The band went on hiatus for three years.

When they came back and hit the charts in 1989 with “Love Shack” they achieved their greatest success.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” — Carl Sagan

THE INAUGURAL ELECTRON COOL TEST

Brainstorm, babies!

Welcome to the first ever Electron Pencil online blog game show puzzle contest…, thing. I haven’t even come up with a name for it yet.

Hmm, how about the Big Brain Stakes?

Meh.

Or Pencil Jeopardy?

Nah, that won’t do. What if this blogsite becomes the biggest thing on the interwebs and then the late Merv Griffin’s legal goons come after me with subpoenas and cease-and-desists for stealing their game show name?

I’ve got it — The Electron Cool Test! (h/t to Tom Wolfe).

Perfect!

The Electron Cool Test will become a regular feature of this column. Its rules, prizes, eligibility, and honesty will be whatever I want them to be on the particular day that I run it. Today, for instance, we at the Electron Pencil are calling for all Pencillistas to guess what outrageousness the Republican Party will be capable of in the year 2016.

Who knows? If this thing takes off, I might even devise a neat high-tech way for you all to participate. As it stands right now, we’ll go with the old reliable Comments section.

Read on for today’s First Ever Super-Supercilious, Bombastic, No Trans-fat, Electron Cool Test!

IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD PARTY

So, here’s the background for our first Electron Cool Test.

Who among the great mass of broad-minded, attractive, and intelligent readers of The Electron Pencil could ever have foreseen what the Republican Party has become in this year of our lord, 2012?

Honestly, the POG is warning the trusting ovines of this holy land that a second term for President Obama will enable him and his blackshirts to seize all our guns, hand the US Capitol over to radical imams, stifle the voices of the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and redistribute all our hard earned money to black men, slutty women, and homosexual abortionists.

“Huh? What? Homosexual Abortionists? Save Us, Party Of God!”

Much of this nightmare was brilliantly recapped by Jon Stewart Wednesday night.

Stewart, of course, was making jokes. Haha. The really funny thing is, the candidates for the presidential nomination of The Party Blessed By The Creator Of The Universe are actually saying these things.

Well, three of the four of them. Ron Paul, bless his weird heart, isn’t engaging in such verbal hijinks — but, then again, he’s not really a Republican. No, Paul is a Libertarian, which frightens even Republicans, believe it or not. That’s like Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodin shuddering in their Manolo Blahniks at the site of some bizarre new beast from the planet Zpltfik.

Godzilla: “Didja See That!?”

Rodan: “Oh, My Heavens!”

Mothra: “BZZZZZT!”

Anyway, the three real Republicans scream about the monster black man under the bed until their voices are raw, then other, minor POG-ers take over, as Stewart so capably points out.

The Republicans at this point in time are certifiably insane.

And, honestly, when Rep. Bob Morris (R-Indiana) started calling the goddamned Girl Scouts a “radicalized” organization, did you need any more evidence that the party of Lincoln and Taft had now become the cast from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”?

Rick Santorum’s Cabinet

Okay, now that we’ve got that settled, let’s have a little fun with it. Let’s try to imagine what Republicans will be saying in 2016 when they are choosing their standard bearer to battle Chelsea Clinton for the presidency.

Hail To The Chief

First off, who will the rising young Republican be? Marco Rubio? Todd Young? Ivanka Trump?

And who will be the wily old veterans still hoping the claw their way into the White House? Definitely Newt Gingrich. And Mitt Romney. And, hell, Rick Santorum as well. Come on, it’s a lock all three will still want to win the big one.

Oh, and Chuck Norris. Can’t forget him.

Early Frontrunners: Chuck, Marco & Ivanka

Now, the secret to playing this first Electron Cool Test is to let your imagination run wild. If I were to suggest to you four years ago that a major party candidate for president would accuse the incumbent of plotting to wage war on the Catholic Church, you’d have said, Aw, you’re delirious.

See? Let yourself be delirious. How can you go wrong?

I’ll start. Um, uh, let’s see…, oh! I’ve got it! Back in high school, Chelsea appeared in a production of “The Nutcracker.”

That’s it! Chuck Norris will say that proves she was sympathetic to the Russian commies from her earliest days. “If this country elects Chelsea Clinton president in November,” he’ll warn, “the next day, a new, resurrected Soviet Union will rise in Washington!”

Later, he’ll call for the banning of all Christmastime productions of “The Nutcracker” because, after all, it was written by that stinkin’ red, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

“The Nutcracker” — Subversive

Norris will mispronounce all three names, endearing him to millions of voters.

Wait, wait, here’s another.

Marco Rubio will react to news that researchers have developed a new, super-strong anti-viral drug that virtually cures genital herpes. Rubio will call for the drug to be outlawed saying, “Anyone who has genital herpes obviously has engaged in sex at some time in their lives. They should be made to suffer for it. It is clear that these drug researchers are dangerous radicals.”

Do you get the game now? It’s easy!

The Scarlet Canker

One more. The New York Times will unearth the news that Ivanka Trump keeps a stable of young children on a remote work farm in South Central New Jersey. Other media outlets will report that she harvests the tykes’ hormones and has it injected into her in an effort to maintain her youthful looks.

The revelations will cause an uproar among Democrats and those few Republicans who retain vestigial traces of human emotion. They call for her to withdraw from the race. She refuses.

“I am a job-creator,” Ivanka protests. “This is trickle-down economics at its finest. If it weren’t for my special farm for these precious children, they’d be homeless. They might even starve. My opponents would like them to receive welfare, which would be the real tragedy.”

Ivanka will go on to market the childrens’ hormones. By the time of the Republican National Convention in August, women across the country will be purchasing Trump’s Essence of Tot at $24.99 for six milliliters, available at all CVS and Rite-Aid stores.

“Hooray For Our Owner, Dear Ivanka!”

The eventual Republican candidate, Chuck Norris, will pledge to name Ivanka his Secretary of Commerce and Child Labor.

Okay? Now it’s your turn.

HOW TO PLAY

Let yourself go, players. Submit your ideas about what the Republicans will be saying in four years.

The winning entry will be selected by me as soon as I get around to it. I’ll treat the winner to a specialty drink at Soma Coffee on a Saturday morning of my choosing.

Simply go up to the top left hand corner of this page, click the Leave a Comment link…

… and then type in your entry. It can be a simple slogan, a paranoid accusation, or a drawn-out dystopian scenario. In any case, don’t let logic, reason, or restraint hamper you — after all, the Republicans never do!

Play.

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