Category Archives: Extinction

Hot Air

Do They Follow Or Lead?

The Indy Star tells us this morning the “religious freedom” bill that passed the Indiana House yesterday is “controversial.”

Indy Star

Um, let me correct the equanimous editor who concocted that headline. The bill passed 63-31, which, in political horserace terms, is a goddamned landslide. You see, it’s obvious the entire nation is four-square against this gay marriage stuff and our esteemed statehouse representatives are merely reflecting that will of the people.

I mean, am I right? It couldn’t be that our state legislators are woefully out of touch with the zeitgeist of the 21st Century, could it?

Here in Indiana?

Send Him To Hawaii

As of nine o’clock this AM, Owen V. Johnson has raised only $70 of the $3000 he’s aiming for in his gofundme effort to get to Honolulu. He’s hoping to get there so he can participate in a ceremony noting the 70th anniversary of the death of Indiana’s own Ernie Pyle, the nation’s most famous and beloved combat correspondent during World War II.

Johnson is a retired Indiana University prof. of journalism and is known as the nation’s foremost expert on Pyle. He’s been invited to give the commemoration address at the dedication of a new gravesite for the legendary Hoosier. The only things standing between him and the April ceremony are 4200 or so miles, airfare, hotel accommodations, cab fare once there, and maybe enough scratch for a few decent meals.

Johnson

Owen Johnson

Johnson has set up the crowd funding page to cover his expenses. One of his biggest cheerleaders is City Council member Steve Volan who calls Pyle “one of the greatest Hoosiers who ever lived.”

Pyle, born near Dana, Indiana, in 1900, served in the US Navy Reserve during World War I and attended IU after peace broke out. He studied journalism here and edited the IDS. After graduation, Pyle went to work for the Washington Daily News where he eventually became something of a travel correspondent. His editor there described his writings as having “a Mark Twain quality.” His travel columns eventually were syndicated nationally.

Pyle became a war correspondent in 1942 and, unlike other journalists covering the action, he shunned hanging around the generals and commanders, preferring instead to hunker down in the mud with the grunt soldiers. His focus on the little guys endeared him to the nation’s newspaper readers. In fact, he even suffered what used to be known popularly as “battle fatigue” and was officially termed “war neurosis.” (It’s now called PTSD.) For instance, he wrote of visiting the French town of Falaise immediately after a vicious battle there: “Everything is dead. The men, the machines, the animals — and you alone are left alive.” Historian Rick Atkinson writes of Pyle’s mindset after Paris was retaken in The Guns at Last Light, the third volume of his Liberation Trilogy about the Western European campaign:

Among the Allied casualties was Ernie Pyle. “If I ever was brave, I ain’t any more,” he wrote a friend. “I’m so indifferent to everything I don’t even give a damn that I’m in Paris.” The war had become “a flat, black depression without highlights, a revulsion of the mind and an exhaustion of the spirit.” In a final column from Europe, he told his readers, “I have had all I can take for a while. I’ve been 29 months overseas since this war started; have written about seven hundred thousand words about it…. The hurt has finally become too great.”

Pyle recharged his batteries in the US and then went back to covering the war in the Pacific. On the atoll island of Iejima, he was riding with a regiment commander in a Jeep when the vehicle came under fire from a distance machine gun nest. Pyle and the lieutenant colonel jumped into a ditch until the firing stopped. The two peeked over the rim of the ditch and Pyle, smiling, asked the colonel, “Are you alright?” At that moment, he caught a machine gun bullet in the left temple. He was killed instantly. The date was April 18th, 1945.

Pyle

Ernie Pyle

Pyle was buried first at the Army cemetery on Okinawa and then transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu. He was one of the very few civilians awarded the military’s Purple Heart.

If you figure it’s worth it to kick a few dollars into Johnson’s kitty for the trip, do so. Go here.

Make It A Fair Fight

Al Jazeera America reported yesterday that the magnificent African elephant is nearly extinct. The cause? Poachers are killing the creatures for their tusks.

African Elephant

Beauty

As of now, the elephants are just a few decades from disappearing in the wild. The world has lost some 80,000 members of the species to poachers in the last eight years. Man, I wish elephants could fire guns, just so they could have a chance against the bastards.

Boggling The Imagination

The foreign-born Ted Cruz utilizes a secret weapon in his stump speech, according to a BBC online magazine post. He used the word “imagine” some 38 times during his candidacy announcement yesterday at Liberty University in Virginia.

Political reporter Anthony Zurcher writes that Cruz’s speaking style is a “cross between Atticus Finch and Tony Robbins.”

Cruz

Imagine This Man As President

Zurcher cites political strategist Frank Luntz re: “imagine”:

‘Imagine’ is still the most powerful word in the English language because it is inspiring, motivating and has a unique definition for each person. When you want to inspire, imagine is the language vehicle.

In other words, “imagine” conjures up whatever the hell the listener wants to believe. Which pretty much encapsulates the strategy of too many of today’s pols.

Me? I see Cruz as a lot like Robbins and not so much at all like Atticus.

Groupie Nuns

Sounds like a punk band name, no?

A gaggle of cloistered nuns almost knocked Pope Frankie over during his visit to a cathedral in Naples this past weekend. They charged him in an effort to touch, presumably, the hem of his garment.

Pope Francis

Rock Star

On the other hand, one cardinal also in attendance shouted as the nuns surrounded the Pontiff, “They are going to eat him! Sisters! Sisters!”

Can the Catholic church get any psycho-sexually weirder?

Selfie Nonsense

I thought you’d get a kick out of this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 1.10.45 AM

In the real world that I inhabit, this poor dope would either be sucked out of the cockpit and tumbled to his certain doom or the force of the near 600-mph wind drag would sever him at mid-thorax like a deli slicer cutting through a fresh Genoa salami. That is if he could even get that cockpit window open, which he couldn’t because it’s a pressurized cabin.

The kicker is there are enough people in this mad, mad world who believe this kind of bushwa to constitute, say, an entire political party.

Our World, Take It Or Leave It

From New York University prof and social media marketing guru Peter Shankman:

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The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“[Paul] Ryan should stop being so lovable. People who intend to hurt other people should wipe the smiles off their faces.” — Maureen Dowd

FELINE FIGURES

I came across this while wasting time on I Love Charts:

Sad, no?

Scroll down to Big Mike’s Playtime for more links to things you can do while you’re supposed to be doing something else.

TRYING TO GET A FOOT IN THE DOOR

How weird are the interwebs?

Very.

Someone submitted a comment for my approval today. It read: “The clarity in your post is simply nice and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject.” (All sic.)

So far so good, right? The commenter seems to be a fine, perceptive, and noble soul. I like being called an expert on any subject.

The Acknowledged Expert

The comment continues: “Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.”

Clearly the commenter is a tad iffy about certain niceties of the English language but that’s alright, he or she possesses admirable taste.

So I tried to find out who this person is. Turns out he or she is from Italy, which explains the Chico Marx patois.

Oh, Those Italians

Then I noticed the commenter’s name. Feet Lovers.

Feet Lovers?

Yup, Feet Lovers runs a website called Foot Worship Fun. Its introduction reads, “There is nothing more beautiful, in a taboo sort of way, than a womans beautiful feet. [Again, all sic.] Her painted toes, the curves, her soft soles and firm heels.”

Firm heels?

The home page has tabs for pages entitled, among others, Footsie Babes, Feet in Nylons, and Beautiful Soles.

Banned In Several Countries

I’m not going to link to the site because it’s hardcore porn. You’re on your own, curiosity seekers.

So great, a foot fetishist thinks I’m a terrific blogger. Or, more likely, the whole thing is just a scam to smuggle malware onto The Electron Pencil World Headquarters mainframe.

This blogging is a fascinating business.

A PhD IN IGNORANCE

Author Chris Mooney in Skeptical Inquirer magazine looks at the American turn away from science in recent years.

More specifically, the Republican turn away from science.

Republicans, after all, are leading the march.

To wit: Tennessee this year passed a law allowing public school teachers to prattle in class about “alternative” theories to human evolution and climate change. The law was introduced by a conservative Republican state senator and passed by a veto-proof Republican statehouse majority.

Jesus Rides A Dinosaur

Mooney says a recent study of Americans found that the more highly educated conservatives are, the more they’re likely to declare themselves mistrustful of science and its practitioners. How’s that for a stumper?

When liberals paint their broad brush stroke picture of conservative Republicans who hew to the Bible rather than the textbook, they like to conjure the image of a backwoods yokel with several teeth in his head.

The Tennessee law, after all, was introduced by a legislator whose name is Bo.

So, now liberals (including me, natch) have to rethink their stereotype. Okay, our stereotype. In fact, Tennessee State Senator Bo Watson graduated magna cum laude in biology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Bo Watson, Man Of Letters

Mooney calls it “the smart idiot effect.” Educated conservatives who eschew science, Mooney posits, have a commensurate “higher level of political knowledge and engagement.”

So?

Mooney cites another study that indicates the Right over the last 40 or so years has become top-heavy with “‘authoritarians’ — a generally conservative personality type characterized by cognitive rigidity, viewing the world in black-and-white terms, and holding fixed beliefs, often fundamentalist Christian ones….”

And because the scientific method in its purest form is anti-authoritarian, it only made sense that the New Right would see science as the enemy.

“[N]aturally, this led to decreased trust in scientists and their institutions, especially among the most politically attuned conservatives…,” Mooney writes.

The Culture Warriors on the Right, Mooney explains, began creating alternative expert institutions to wage battle against the liberalism of colleges, universities and other scientific institutions. They set up think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute to churn out a new anti-academic, anti-liberal body of information (and misinformation).

People began to become expert, in other words, in being non-expert.

Sometimes this game we call democracy gets all too confusing.

THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKIN’

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

I Love Charts

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present & CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

Mental Floss: 10 Photos Of Celebrities Jumping

The UniverseA Facebook community of astrophysics and astronomy geeks.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2012

Monroe County Public LibraryIt’s Your Money series: Talk to an Expert, confidential half-hour sessions; 4:30-6:30pm

◗ IU AuditoriumCulturefest, learn about IU history and campus cultural diversity, music, dance, food, art, etc.; 4:30-7:30pm

Nick’s English HutFundraiser, 10% of food sales plus waitperson’s tips go to Stepping Stones; 5-8pm

Bear’s PlaceB-Town Bearcats; 5:30pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Shelf Life; 6-8:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Beasts of the Southern Wild”; 7pm

◗ IU Art MuseumCulturefest after-party; 6pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreDrama, “Solana”; 7:30pm

Serendipity Martini BarTeam trivia; 8:30pm

The BluebirdUncle Kracker; 9pm

Max’s PlaceWake the Dead; 9pm

The BishopKink Ador, The Vorticists, Brown Bear Coalition; 9:30pm

ONGOING:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

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

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

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

  • Coming — Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture; August 24th through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

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

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