Category Archives: Flat Earth Society

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Chicken Checkin’

One of our town’s most talented copywriters spends her time outside the corporate cubicle raising chickens. Jana Wilson lives with her family on a nice 20-acre spread nearby. She writes about Gallus gallus domesticus husbandry in her blog, The Armchair Homesteader.

Tons o’folks these days are growing the birds, mainly to be able to eat fresh eggs and even for the fresh meat to liven up their cacciatore. (Hey, wait a minute: Do peeps eat alla cacciatore around here?) Anyway, the City of Bloomington, for instance, allows residents to raise chicken flocks, although said flocks can’t number more than five birds and none may be roosters. Apparently, that crowing rooster next door might cause some little friction in the n’hood. That and chicken coops often stink.

The chickens-in-the-city trend got a huge jump start about five years ago when author Susan Orlean wrote about it in the pages of The New Yorker. “[R]ight now,” she wrote, “across the country and beyond, there’s a surging passion for raising the birds.”


“A Surging Passion”

When my grandmother, Anna Lazzara, lived in Chi., she was quite put out because the city wouldn’t allow her to keep chickens in the backyard. But back in the 1930’s people could still turn fresh chickens into dinner that night by buying the birds live at the butcher shop. Anna would tell my mother, Sue, to go get a chicken on a given weekday, a chore Ma loathed. She’d have to squeeze the bird between her arm and her chest in order to prevent it from fleeing, the critter pecking and clawing at her all the way home. Then Anna would grab the chicken from my mother, wrap her two fists around its neck and yank. Within minutes, the chicken’d lie still and be ready for plucking, singeing, and washing.

Ma always said those weekly walks from the butcher shop produced in her a phobia of all birds.

Yesterday, Wilson wrote about the problem of newbie chicken-raisers who purchase a passel of chicks and soon discover that one of the purported hens is actually a guy. She writes:

You anticipate these adorable little chicks growing into egg-producing hens and the speed at which they grow is just amazing.  They’re growing more feathers every day, their little combs beginning to develop, their legs lengthening. It’s all very fun and exciting. Fun until the day when little Sue emits the strangest sound. It sounds like a strangled screech. Could it be… oh no, surely not. But yes, its a crow!

Oh dear, little Sue is really little Stan.

Remember, cities that allow residents to keep chickens usually frown on or outright ban the keeping of males. “And for good reason: they are quite noisy and don’t crow just at daybreak,” Wilson writes. “Trust me on this one… they can crow just about any time of the day or night.”

In any case, check out Jana’s blog. You’ll even learn what a Sicilian Buttercup is. (And, no, it’s not me.)

Après Ce, Le Déluge

It turns out those who’ve been wringing their hands over the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision, predicting that all manner of Christianists would start suing to get out of certain laws and responsibilities because their “sincerely-held beliefs” preclude them from doing so, really aren’t just being Chicken Littles. Any number of “sincere believers” have made moves to get out of things like not firing employees because they’re gay and other expressions of deep spirituality.

It would be hard to top this one, though: Pro-life activist attorneys in Florida have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a nurse who applied for a job with the Tampa Family Health Centers. The attorneys claim the medical center refused to consider her for employment because she is Christian.

How horrible, right? What’s this crazy land coming to?



Natch, the case isn’t that simple. The nurse made a point to tell the clinic’s HR director that her Christian beliefs forbid her from prescribing certain contraceptives, which just happens to be one of the primary tasks of the place. I suppose it’d be be rather like a newly graduated cartographer applying for a job at the local globe factory and saying he would not be able to draw maps on the co.’s product because he’s a member of the Flat Earth Society. The wags at Wonkette explain the impasse thusly:

Let’s play a game. It is sort of a choose-your-own-adventure make-believe game. Costumes optional.

You are about to graduate from Thing-Doing School and apply for a job as a professional Thing-Doer, as one does after attending Thing-Doing School. You inform your potential employer that you are interested in the Thing-Doing job but will be unable to perform Thing-Doing duties because of your religious beliefs. Your potential employer tells you, “LOL, that’s hilarious, but we are actually looking for a real Thing-Doer who is willing to perform Thing-Doing duties, because that is the job. Thanks but no thanks.”

For this, nurse Sara Hellwege and her handlers, the Alliance Defending Freedom, will be taking up time and space on the federal district court’s docket to right what they see as a horrible wrong — although the sane among us see it as pretty much a cheap stunt.

Thanks Justice Alito and the rest of the straight, male, white, Catholic majority of SCOTUS. (And don’t write to correct me that Clarence Thomas is not white; he’s whiter than an albino wearing a lab coat in a snowstorm.)

Stoned, Again

Speaking of regressive fundamentalist extremists, Al Jazeera tells the tale of The Islamic State‘s latest contribution to civilization. The erstwhile ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), fresh off its successful campaign to capture and control a significant swath of Iraq and bits of Syria, is now turning its attention to the behavior of women, AKA sluts.

The Izzy State is bringing back that fave from yesteryear, public stoning for women who dig sex. Acc’d’g to AJ’s report, members of the gang that scares even al Qaeda stoned a woman to death in the public square in the town of Tabaqa, in Syria, because she’d committed adultery.

R. Crumb


An important corollary to the story is the fact that the man with whom she sullied all of Islam was charged with no crime at all because, well…, because he’s a man, you dope.


The Pencil Today:


“Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.” — Jimmy Breslin


You had to know this was coming: Some whacked-out preacher says Big Sandy is God’s way of saying FU to America.

No, he didn’t actually drop the F-bomb. I wish he would have; I would have had more respect for the dumb bastard if he had.

O, Heavenly Father, Please Count To Ten

I’m not going to link to the story or reveal the preacher’s name. He doesn’t need me to pimp for him. And no one other than his deluded flock has heard of him before this. Now, of course, his name has gone national.

I’ll only say it’s his fervent belief that the god he prays to on his knees each and every night has thrown the gargantuan storm at the Eastern Seaboard because this land is full of lesbians, gays, and other miscreants. Not only that but President Obama is as thick as thieves with the Muslim Brotherhood and together they aim to destroy this holy land.

Which is weird because I thought he’d just finished saying god was in the process of doing that very thing. So, wouldn’t he figure that Obama and the Muslim boys are doing god’s work?

Oh, and somehow Mitt Romney has teed off the creator of the universe big time, too, only I didn’t quite catch how.

Take That, Queers And Arabs!

You know, this god needs to have a nice glass of wine or go for a massage. He’s constantly suffering from the red ass.

Maybe the prayers of the faithful should go something like, “Chill, Big Guy. It’ll all be cool. Take a breath.”

Funny how things like the Holocaust or Joseph Stalin’s purges or this nation wiping out the Amerinds failed to elicit a peep from the almighty daddy-o but a couple of guys making out makes him insane. I think he’s repressing something.


I just subscribed to a muckraking website that was recommended to me by a loyal Book Corner customer. FairWarning describes itself as a purveyor of “news of safety, health, and corporate conduct.” Which means it ought to be in business for at least the rest of this millennium.

Myron Levin: A Reporter, Not A Movie Star

Here’s a sample of headlines it has run recently:

  • Oil companies Rarely Punished for North Sea Spills
  • Senate Report Points to Medtronic’s Manipulation of “Independent” Medical Research
  • Young Blacks Awash in Alcohol Ads, Study Says
  • Commentary: A Strange Indifference to Highway Carnage
  • Libertarian Group Prepares Bogus “Addendum” to Undermine Federal Climate Science Report

Founder Myron Levin founded the site after working as an investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times for 20 years. Photos of his staff portray a gang that’s decidedly seriously and flamboyantly non-glamorous. That’s cool by me — of the several billion brain cells I possess I’ve assigned perhaps six to the maniacal grin of Katie Couric and the rest of her colleagues in the corporate media “news” industry.

Please Stop It, Katie

In any case Levin and company are less polemic than the likes of Democracy Now! and far less precious than NPR. They are pure journalists, and isn’t that refreshing?


Here’s today’s CNN online headline:

Let’s get serious about things now. This is the nightmare we’ve been dreading ever since the two words “climate” and “change” were first put together by scientists.

You wonder why I’m so dismissive of corporate media news? This is the prime case in point. They insist on presenting the faux arguments of climate change deniers in the interest of some weird view of journalistic balance. It’d be like Walter Cronkite interviewing a representative of the Flat Earth Society while the Gemini astronauts circled the globe.

That Curved Surface Is Merely An Illusion, Walter


In honor of Sandy and dedicated to the loon preacher mentioned above, here are The Weathergirls, AKA Two Tons of Fun, with the biggest gay anthem of all time.

My club pals and I would go to the cavernous boy dance bars after hours back when we were young, trim, and loathe to ever go to sleep. The DJs would boost the bass and volume on this track to the point that I’m surprised the foundations and masonry of nearby structures didn’t crack. The joint would smell of leather, sweat, poppers, and Clinique. And we’d dance ourselves into delirium.

Don’t ask me how we survived it all.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

VOTE ◗ Two locations for early voting in Monroe County today:

  • The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm
  • Indiana University Assembly Hall, South Lobby, 1001 E. 17th 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

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford Hall — Doctoral Recital: Ji Hyun Kim on piano; 5pm

MIXER ◗ Coaches Bar & GrillYoung Professionals of Blooomington, monthly event; 5:30-8:30pm

SCIENCE ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRA Activity CenterCitizen Scientist Quarterly Meeting, Help collect data to track animal populations and monitor habitats; 6-8pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoJazz Jam, Featuring Bloomington’s young artists; 7pm

FILM & DISCUSSION ◗ IU Cinema — “The Healthcare Movie,” Followed by discussion led by Rob Stone, MD, Director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, Kosali Simon, PhD, & Beth Cate, JD; 7-9pm

COMMUNITY MEETING ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryAfter Incarceration: Employment Matters, Presented by Decarcerate Monroe County; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubBlues Jam, Hosted by Bottom Road Blues Band; 8pm

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

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallHot Tuesdays: Jazz Combos, Wataru Niimori Group & Chris Knight Group; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdSleigh Bells; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopDavid Wax Museum, Daughn Gibson; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceComics Night; 9pm


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. All Bloomington. All the time.

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