Category Archives: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Hot Air

It’s All About Me

It would be nice if that Cleveland police officer who gunned down Tamir Rice had said, just once: “I wish the whole thing had never happened. I feel so bad about it. What a tragedy.”


[Image: Tony Dejak/Associated Press]

No. Hell, no. His alibi has become something of a mantra for a lot of cops who, of late, have opened fire on the citizenry — “I had no choice.” That’s what Cle. cop Timothy Loehman told his father and investigators. Again, not, “Oh, dear god in heaven why did that poor young boy have to die?” Uh uh.

Shoot first, absolve self later. The cops are getting really good at this.

It’s Not My Job, Man

Another thing about the Tamir Rice shooting. Once Loehman shot the 12-year-old and the kid fell off his swing, bleeding from a torso wound, neither Loehman nor his squad car partner, Frank Garmback, lifted a finger to stanch the adolescent’s blood gush.

That’s another repeating theme among all these cop shootings. Pump the “perp” full of lead and then let him die like a dog, alone, in the dirt or on the pavement.

Hey, dude, I’m no nurse, okay?

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Bleeding Hearts

Perfect Spiral

So, Peyton Manning has hired former Bush II admin. spokesbeing Ari Fleischer to whitewash accusations the former Indy QB used magic pills to become so eff-ing great.

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Ari Fleischer

Hmm. Fleischer already has spun the Performance Enhancing Drug taint off Popeye-esque retired slugger Mark McGwire, who now is considered potential baseball manager material. All the other Major League Baseball PED suspects of the late 1990s and early ‘Aughts remain personae non gratae as far as the game and the Hall of Fame are concerned. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, et al are as welcome around the ballparks as bearded, brown-skinned men carrying suspicious packages. McGwire, though, already has been employed by both the Cardinals and Dodgers as a respected hitting coach.

The diff. between McGwire and the other aforementioned miscreants? Big Mac’s spin doctor.

It should have been obvious to one and all that Fleischer would turn out to be a crackerjack flack. After all, he was at the forefront of the Bush admin.’s successful whopper campaign to sell the Iraq War to a gullible American public.

Murrica –where mendacity makes for a great résumé.

More Sportsball Spin

Speaking of sports, one of the big new Christmas season movie releases this year has been Concussion, starring Will Smith. It’s the tale of the Nigerian Igbo neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu’s discovery that scads of former pro football players had their brains scrambled. Omalu’s assertion that the thousands of hits football players suffer through their careers likely lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, has led National Football League bosses to…, well, do their best to pretend the syndrome is as innocuous as the common cold.

The NFL is a multi-billion-dollar outfit supplying ball fans with their weekly dose of violence, macho strutting, and images of homoerotic camaraderie (I mean, how many times do players have to pat other players’ asses to convey their congratulations?) The realization that merely playing the game can lead to a condition that turns the player’s grey matter into something resembling that pitted, shredded dish sponge at your kitchen sink is pure poison to the league’s bean counters. If only they could hire, say, Ari Fleischer to handle crisis management, CTE might be transformed into something players and their Moms would see as more a badge of honor than a death sentence.

Anyway, you had to figure the NFL would be unhappy with the filming of Omalu’s story, especially with the handsome, likeable, bankable Smith in the lead role. Deadspin’s Timothy Burke watched the flick, did some digging, and found that the end product varied significantly from the original script. Oh, sure, that happens all the time, only in this case all the changes reflected a softening of the accusations against the NFL and a certain timidity in putting the CTE scandal at the feet of commissioners Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell.

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Smith As Omalu

For instance, the original script has a scene where Commissioner Goodell tells a press conference of its internal investigation into CTE: “This is not something new to the NFL. And we’ve determined it is a non-problem.”

The reality was the CTE charges were indeed earth-shattering and surprising to the league and the “non-problem” characterization shows the NFL as a craven, criminally complicit agent. In other words, the screenwriter portrayed Goodell, accurately, as a phony.

Nevertheless, the movie you see at your Hollywood-oplex presents a gentler version of Goodell’s words:

This is an important day for the National Football League. We’ve had some very good dialogue which will help us improve the care for our players…. I’m not a doctor here…. This is an evolving science, and that’s OK.

Wow. Maybe the NFL has hired Ari Fleischer after all.

Anyway, Deadspin’s Burke implies the NFL and its lawyers pressured Sony Pictures Entertainment, the film’s bankroller, to to take it easy on the league.

Meanwhile, ex-NFL players continue to suffer depression, dementia, memory loss, rage and aggression, and suicidal ideation and attempts — all symptoms of CTE.

Enjoy the heavy hitting Sunday, football fans.


The Sorest Of Spots

Here’s one thing I’ve learned in my career as an opinionator: You can tell a person their politics suck, you can belittle their taste in music, you can even tell them their intellect ranks somewhere between those of the planarian and the sea slug. Hell, there are tons of things you can say about someone that are less than complimentary or are even critical — and get away with it.


Me: The Flatworm Is Smarter Than You Are.

The Other Guy: Aw, Go On!

But you cannot criticize a person’s taste in television shows or movies. That is, unless you’re prepared for a full frontal assault.

Hoo boy. I’ve come down negatively on things like Mad Men, Girls, and a few others. Not too long ago I said about Game of Thrones something on the order of if there was anything made to order to bore me into the grave, it’d be a lengthy series on some fantasy, medieval, British-accented mythical land where a bunch of noble families or kingdoms or what the hell ever those goddamned people are battle each other for supremacy.

Yeesh. My slant was met with gasps. The most pacific retorts came from those people who argued “No, really, you’ll love it. It’s about a fantasy, medieval, British-accented mythical land where a bunch of noble families battle each other for supremacy.”

For the most part, people were aghast that I didn’t love, love, love the HBO series.

It’s as if I’d opined, “Y’know, water really sucks. The whole idea of hydration is way overrated.”

Of late, I’ve been belly-aching about having to deal with all the people who can’t believe I don’t care about the latest Star Wars whatever-thing that’s out now. The responses to all these critiques often have been borderline alarming. As in, I’ll never read/talk to/look at you again.

I’d have been better off picking a random group of people and telling the world their mothers looked like gargoyles.

Just wondering: Why?


The Pencil Today:


“We who are about to die salute you.” — Spartacus, et al


One of the odd things I’ve learned since moving to the bustling metrop of Bloomington, Indiana, is that graduation day is considered a major event here — and I’m not referring to the viewpoint of the graduates.

We in Bloomington long for the final day the 40,000 or so students will be in town because it’s the start of three months of bliss around these parts.

State Road 45/46 Congestion During The School Year

We’ll actually be able to park around Courthouse Square. The grocery stores won’t be jammed with students and their parents filling shopping carts with competing lists of products (the students loading up on frozen pizzas and the parents stuffing salad greens into the carts.) And nineteen-year-old kids won’t be clogging up the town’s arteries with their bought-and-paid-for luxury SUVs.

So, we’ll enjoy our brief respite from the little darlings. Come August, though, we’ll be starting to feel a tad nostalgic for all their parents’ money we can squeeze out of them.


So I lied yesterday when I said I’d put up some Hot Air around three o’clock, after my pre-surgery appointment with the ophthalmologist.

Well, it wasn’t a lie exactly. I’d fully intended to pound out a screed or two later in the day when I published yesterday’s mini-post. Only after having my pupils dilated to the size of dimes and having a passel of eye techs poke and probe my cornea and measure my ocular jelly ball from every possible angle for three hours, I decided the world might survive without my daily dose of wisdom just this once.

Anyway, here’s the prognosis — the doc over at Old Man Grossman’s Eye Center has me scheduled for surgery two weeks from this past Thursday. He promises that, with the help of lasers and drugs, he’ll restore sight to my left eye. Cool. I’ve been a virtual cyclops for a couple of years now.

The doc marveled at the size of the occlusion in my lens. He called it a hyper-mature cataract. He also assured me the Grossman operation has the heavy equipment to demolish it and cart the debris away.

The only thing that bugs me is having an old man’s ailment. But I’m not one to shy away from the truth (much) so let me state for the record here and now: I am now officially an old man.


Can we now all agree that football is the dumbest-assed of all sports?

The NFL’s Latest Victim

Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau is only the latest NFL vet to take his own life, ostensibly because his brain had been turned to mush by the tens of thousands of body hits he’d taken in his life.

With mind-addled players dropping like flies, you’d think the NFL might actually do something about all the trauma. But no, we Americans dig it all too much.

Callers to radio sports talk shows and even an NFL player or two have said, hell, guys like Seau made bushels of dough playing the game, that everything they have they owe to football, so stop all the hand-wringing and sob-sistering.

In 2000 years, the only significant change we’ve made to the spectacle of gladiators facing off in an arena is that we don’t tolerate them actually taking each others’ lives in front of our eyes.

Now we prefer them to shoot themselves in the privacy of their own bedrooms.


You only have two more chances to vote in the 2012 Indiana primary: Monday and Tuesday. No excuses; it’s the least damned thing you can do.

Wear This Or Just Shut Up

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

Saturday, May 5, 2012

City Hall, Showers PlazaFarmer’s Market; 8am-1pm

◗ Bloomington B-Line Trail between 4th & 5th streets — The Really, Really Free Market, products, services, food; 10am

Hardin Ridge RA, Hoosier National Forest — “Take Pride in America Day,” annual volunteer call out sponsored by US Forest Service; 9am-5pm

IU Assembly HallUndergraduate commencement ceremony; 10am

Habitat ReStoreGrand reopening; 10:15am-5:30pm

Vintage Phoenix Comic BooksFree Comic Book Day 2012, annual comic book giveaway; 11am-7pm

IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st, 9am-4:30pm

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

IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th, 1:30-5pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsExhibit, Daniel Lager; through May 17th

The Solution LabConference, Bloomington Startup Weekend, for developers, designers, entrepreneurs, etc.; through Sunday

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center Exhibits at various galleries: Angela Hendrix-Petry, Benjamin Pines, Nate Johnson, and Yang Chen; all through May 29th

“Vicissitudes” By Yang Chen

Sembower FieldIU Baseball vs. Nebraska; 1pm

IU Assembly HallUndergraduate commencement ceremony; 3pm

Cafe DjangoRon Kadish on bass & Kevin MacDowell (Kid Kazooey) on guitar; 6:30-8:30pm

Brown County Playhouse“Under the Umbrella: Life Is a Circus” by Steven Ragatz; 7-8:15pm

Paynetown SRA, Monroe Lake — “Sunset on the Water,” Interpretive naturalist Jill Vance leads a paddling tour of the lake shore, bring your own canoe or kayak; 8pm

Comedy AtticTJ Miller; 8 & 10:30pm

Rachael’s CafeIrene & Reed; 8pm

The BluebirdDot Dot Dot; 8pm

Dot Dot Dot

Max’s PlaceBluesky Back; 8pm

Cafe DjangoLuke Gillespie Trio; 9-11pm

Bear’s PlaceThe Unknown; 9pm

◗ Farm Bloomington, Rootcellar Lounge“The Booty Basement,” all-vinyl ’70s disco party; 10pm

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