Category Archives: Guns

Hot Air

Hands Up; Hands Off!

How weird is this country?

This weird: In Georgia, you can carry your artillery around with you into schools and government buildings. You can be as armed as the bastard child of Annie Oakley and John Wayne even when you stop off at the Chick-fil-a. If you’re loaded down with guns so much that your knees buckle, it’s cool. But you can’t buy a vibrator unless you have a prescription and many doctors are loath to write scrips for something (they feel) is so trivial.

Gun/Vibrator

Glock (l) & Dolly Dolphin (r)

Remember kiddies: Guns, good; sex, bad.

America!

Cool Shots

The Cirkut camera was patented in 1904. It allowed photogs to shoot super-wide-angle pictures, even 360-degree still scenes. WTIU has been presenting a series, Memory Chain, featuring historical pix taken by the rotating camera, as well as other compelling shots. Our town’s Tom Roznowski narrates and writes the series, a part of the public TV station’s Weekly Special program.

Have you caught Memory Chain yet? If not, here’s a taste:

The Weekly Special airs Thursdays at 8pm and Sundays at 10:30am. Tom’s voice and take are perfect for the presentation of these images of Hoosiers from a hundred years ago.

For more Cirkut camera images, check out America by the Yard: Cirkut Camera Images from the Early Twentieth Century, published by WW Norton. Some Cirkut cam pix were five feet wide.

Thankfully there’s no evidence that Cirkut cam images exist of funny cats or You won’t believe what happens next… click bait.

Carrie Live

Speaking of B-town musicians, Carrie Newcomer stopped by the Book Corner yesterday and reminded one and all that she’ll be doing a special show, Saturday evening, October 11, 2014, at the Buskirk Chumley Theater.

Newcomer

Carrie Newcomer

I’d cop my tix now if I were you.

Cry Rape

Campus cops around the nation may think they’re prepping rape victims for the rigors of potential trials by challenging their every statement during initial interviews but to many female students this third degree only makes them not want to report the crime.

One cop in New York explains, “For every single rape I’ve had, I’ve had 20 that are total bullshit.”

The quote’s from a piece in Aljazeera America on the college rape crisis.

The cop doesn’t explain how he knows fully 95 percent of rape claims are “bullshit.”

Rape

Rape (Image from The Guardian)

Even though we’d like to think of ourselves as enlightened regarding violence against women, too many ⎯⎯ far too many ⎯⎯ people still want to put the onus on the victim because, well, they just don’t get rape.

They’re Everywhere!

Some people think way, way, way too much about homosexuality.

From ThinkProgress

Rep Charles Van Zant (R-Florida, left) Is Obsessed (Click Image For Story)


 

Hot Air

What’s Important

Thursday night, some 32 million Americans watched a sporting event.

No, it wasn’t a game to decide the championship of a big pro sports league. Nor was it any contest at all between a couple of teams.

2014 NFL Draft Set

The Holy Altar

It was, in fact, the goddamned National Football League draft. That’s the yearly process by which the 32 teams of the planet’s most financially successful athletic outfit divvy up the latest pool of talent to emerge from the college ranks. General managers, talent coordinators, coaches and other swamis and gurus study the omens, signs, and symbols and then proceed to tab some 224 slabs of cartilage and sinew who will, it is hoped, lead their teams to Super Bowl glory.

And one in 10 human beings residing in this holy land watched said sacred rite.

We are, comrade Pencillistas, a deranged freakin’ nation.

Parking Perspective

Still steamed about Bloomington’s downtown parking meters?

Perhaps this’ll make you feel a tad better about it all:

NUMH Parking

Yep, these are the rates you’ll pay if you want to visit your sick old grandma at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital in the city’s Streeterville neighborhood.

Admittedly, Streeterville — AKA the Gold Coast — is Chi-town’s most ritzy ‘hood. It’s where, for instance, notables and plutocrats such as Ann Landers, Oprah Winfrey, and the Pritzkers have lived through the years.

Still, $11.00 for a 45-minute drop-in on Bubeh? Or, should your Nonna not be clinging to life in one of Northwestern’s luxe suites, and instead you desire to grab a lunch at Gino’s East on Superior Street, you’ll end up paying $32 just to stash your dilapidated Corolla. Which is prob. more than the beater is worth.

Makes a buck an hour seem a bargain, no?

Truth? Bah!

Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski found this gem of a “quote” attributed to Prez Barack H. O. in a mailer sent out by the National Association for Gun Rights to benefit Libertarian loon Rand Paul:

Gun Bullshit

Q: So, like, when did BHO say this remarkable thing?

A: Never.

Here’s what the Nazi/commie/Stalinist/abortionist/gay sex tyrant actually said, back in December, 2012, after the Sandy Hook School shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, that resulted in the deaths of 20 kids and 6 adults:

In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine.

Same thing right?

The New Version

After perusing a few gun rights web sites I feel I have a greater understanding of that landmark document, the Constitution of the United States of America. As a public service, I thought I’d write a new version of it, just like the Christianists do with their Bible on occasion. Here’s The Constitution, Glock Version, 2014:

Article I: We the People are nothing without Guns.

Amendment 2: Blah, blah, blah, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Other ideas, powers, and rights: Nothing really.

Signed,

Jesus Christ and George Washington

Politics, my friends, can be so simple.

Jesus Gun

Hot Air

Quick Hits & Snippets

Cold yet? Just wait. In the meantime, here are some news tidbits, opinions, and pontifications straight from The Pencil world headquarters. BTW: Chris Madsen, long-time voice of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and noted national media consultant, called my almost-daily word spurts “rants” yesterday. Hmm! Rants, eh? I’ll show you some rants.

Brrrrrr…., Grrrrrr!

Personal to Old Man Winter: Just go, will you?

Winter Ice

Music As Biography

Have you read the piece on John Mellencamp in the last Rolling Stone issue of 2013? It’s called “My Life in 15 Songs” and, in it, he describes how he’s grown, how his life has changed through the years as landmarked by certain hits. Pretty cool idea.

Now, I’ve never met Mellencamp, although I like to think we’re neighbors: He and I live on Indiana State Road 446. Of course, his lakefront mansion is some five miles south of my far more modest chez.

Anyway, when I first moved here, I’d hear people talking about M. and their stories generally went something like this:

My cousin’s brother-in-law knew him in high school and, man, was he an asshole. There was this one time….

None of the people who were so certain as to the character of the pop star-turned Americana singer-songwriter had ever seen the man, much less knew him.

I get the feeling that because he’d elected to live in So. Cent. Ind. people expected him to be chummy and warm with everyone he’d run into hereabouts, as if, rather than being a worldwide celebrity, he was everybody’s next door neighbor. So when he’d grunt in response to goggle-eyed fans accosting him at the Starbucks, they’d take it personally.

Mellencamp/Irwin

Jekyll & Bride

Conversely, his ex-wife, the stunning model Elaine Irwin, seems universally regarded as the nicest human ever to breath air in Indiana. I’ve got a theory about that, too, natch. See, people expect super models to be haughty, aloof, and utterly unapproachable. So whenever anyone might run into her in the Starbucks line, they’d hear her say please and thank you to the barista and come away convinced that she was, in truth, gushingly effusive and open-armed.

Face it, folks, we’re a weird species.

I’d Like You To Meet Someone….

Hey, as soon as I finish clacking this post out, I’m off to the recording studio to do an interview with big time graphic novelist Nate Powell. His latest tome is a joint production with Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia) and writer Andrew Aydin entitled March: Book One. It the first of a trilogy recounting the life of the civil rights leader from his days on a little Pike County, Alabama, farm through the 1965 voting rights march in Selma (where he got his skull broken by an Alabama state trooper) and on, triumphantly, to the halls of the US Capitol.

Nate Powell Artwork/John Lewis

Powell & Lewis

Powell’s well-known for his graphic novels, including Swallow Me Whole and Any Empire. He took a roundabout route to comix fame and we’ll be talking about it all today. My interview with him will be the first in a joint production venture between WFHB and The Ryder magazine. We’re looking to run a monthly piece in the mag featuring compelling folk from here in the Bloomington area as well as a companion audio feature on the Daily Local News. I’m excited as all hell about it.

Kudos and thanks to WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh and Ryder editor/publisher Peter LoPilato for joining the venture. BTW: I haven’t figured out what to call the thing yet. I’ve tossed around some ideas in my coconut and the best so far seems to be Big Mike’s People. If you’ve got a better idea, by all means pass it on.

Ready, Aim…, Duck!

Wow, here’s a shocker: Those Duck Dynasty hyenas are now pimping for a gun manufacturer. Imagine that! Bigoted people and guns. No one on Earth has ever made that connection before.

Tea Party & Guns

Poor Little Rich Boys

And, of course, the “affluenza” defense is becoming real, at least a version of it. Well, “real” in the same sense that, say, an accused rapist might plead he couldn’t help himself because that woman wore a miniskirt.

Ty Warner, the billionaire entrepreneurial genius who gave us Beanie Babies®, has been convicted of income tax evasion for parking countless millions of dollars in off-shore accounts. See, geniuses shouldn’t have to pay taxes like the rest of us slobs.

He has pleaded guilty in federal court to the tax evasion charges and now is trying to convince the judge in his case that he shouldn’t go to jail because he came from the most deprived of childhoods so how could she expect him to do the right thing when he became a bazillionaire?

Warner

The Tears Of A Clown

Warner faces five years in the federal pen; that’s in addition to the $53 million in penalties and $16 million in back taxes he’s already been ordered to pay. But his reasoning goes that rich geniuses shouldn’t have to go to jail for evading taxes, especially if they’d been forced to endure abominations like taking jobs as busboys and valet parkers when they were in college.

The horror.

Do I need to tell you how I hope the judge rules?

Room To Write

Resident of the Internet-iverse (although his corporal body can be found in Forest Park, Illinois), Bill Lichtenberg, happened upon some chilling stats. Chilling, that is, when one (me) considers the depth and breadth of the competition to get one’s (mine) novel published.

Dominic Smith, writing in the books, arts and culture online magazine The Millions, has found that there are way, way, way, way too many people trying to catch the eyes of traditional publishers these days. Smith writes:

After studying the data, I’m inclined to think there’s a million people writing novels, a quarter of a million actively publishing them in some form, and about 50,000 publishing them with mainstream and small, traditional presses.

That’s in America alone, babies.

Personal to other writers: Back off; you’re crowding me

Radio Talk

Finally, the newly-formed WFHB newsletter committee will meet again tonight. I can say that I’m on the committee and maybe — just maybe — tonight I can get the other members to give me permission to identify them. We’ll see.

Anyway, the committee last week decided to aim for March to put out the inaugural issue.

Stay tuned.

Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Hot Air

Crazy, Man

Hands are being wrung left and right as tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the day a lunatic with an arsenal busted in on that Newtown, Connecticut school and sent more than two dozen teachers and students to Second Amendment heaven.

School Sign

Much of the folderol has to do with how we identify and treat lunatics. The idea being we’ve got brain scientists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and tons and tons of psychoactive medications so why are people like Adam Lanza allowed to get crazier and crazier until they open fire on an elementary school-full of kiddies?

Forget the gun control argument; that ship is dead in the water. Real Americans will not stand for the Adolph Ilyich Obama administration stealing from them their god-given right to mow tots down. And forget my pet solution, which is to impose a moratorium on the manufacture of firearms until gun makers and their lobbyists wither away and die of sadness. Go to the source, I always say.

Guns

Then again, I’m not a real American because I don’t care that so much of our economy is based on the production and peddling of bullets and shootin’ irons. Anybody who places the lives of brats and bleeding heart teachers (most of whom are union thugs anyway) above good business is nothing more than a commie rat.

Back to the point, what are we to do about this problem of crazies who want to pack heat? And by extension, what about the rest of the mal-wired populace who can be a threat to others and themselves even as we blithely pretend they aren’t there?

The Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America estimates that there are more than two million sufferers of that particular mental illness in this holy land. Now, not all mass shooters are schizophrenic, but the likes of Lanza, Seung-Hui Cho, James Holmes and others whose mental architecture was certifiably effed-up prior to their dastardly deeds, cause the sane among us to ask why it was so easy for them to act out on their delusions and paranoia.

The egg-headed Left, of which I am a confessed part, would like nothing more than for the dangerously mentally ill to be safely ensconced in warm, snug group homes where the most dangerous implements they can get their hands on are sporks.

Spork

Non-lethal

But that would cost money. Loads of it. And spending money on people who don’t have the good sense not to be born insane is a sin worse than child molestation in these Rand-ian times. Every human endeavor, I must remind you, must generate profit. Expect, within the next couple of decades, to pay for the traffic light you’re waiting at to turn green. It’s the American way.

The skull jockey establishment is as American as any other. Shrinks and psychopharmacologists wish to become rich. Patriots all, they know in their hearts that the richer they are, the better Americans they are. Simple math, duh.

Ergo, these true Americans in the past few decades have pathologized many behaviors that once were seen as mere personality quirks. More and more, kids aren’t just antsy or loudmouths or class clowns; they have diseases. ADHD. Affluenza. Social anxiety disorder. Internet addiction disorder. Every kid and her brother with Asperger’s. Minor bipolar disorder. The list goes on. And the list of medications to treat these diseases is even longer: Ritalin (that old standby), Adderall, Focalin, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Geodon and many, many others whose names are even more unpronounceable.

Adderall

All these ailments and treatments seem geared to children of white middle and upper-middle class families. You know, those people most likely to have good health insurance coverage and who are constantly fretting about their precious darlings’ inabilities to be number one in the class in academics and deportment.

Any shrink worth his diploma and hoping to capitalize on those elective business courses he took in college is going to glom onto that trend like the Soma Coffee fly on my head. Here, kid, take these pills and make sure your Mommy brings you back twice a week.

Treatment of the truly mentally ill isn’t so business-friendly. It follows, therefore, that so many of our nation’s doctor/entrepreneurs would dodge it as adroitly as the aforementioned fly dodges my swats.

If we could make a buck on the profoundly insane, we’d wrap this problem up in a heartbeat. Or the snap of a finger. Or the sound of a gunshot.

Hot Air, Cold Pizza

Go Read Alice

Congrats to Canadian short story writer Alice Munro on her Nobel Prize in Literature. Her latest is the collection Dear Life.

Book Cover

Munro’s 82 years old now and she has already announced she isn’t going to write anymore. The Nobel is a fitting coda to her brilliant and glorious career. If you want to learn more about her, here’s a good ten-year old biography of her that ran in the Guardian UK.

Crisis In Black And White

Bingo, babies! The fed shutdown is merely the latest play in the long running game of Republican Us vs. Them politics. The “us” being scared white Murricans and the “them” being everyone else.

Joan Walsh of Salon laid it all out in the Chicago Tribune last week (h/t to Monroe Anderson), although you would instinctively know this if you’ve been paying attention.

Walsh

Joan Walsh

The GOP since soon after the end of World War II has been organizing around the visceral fear whites have that blacks will one day amass enough guns, money, and real power (oops, sorry I’m being redundant) to overthrow the whole shebang here. Not only that, our wives and daughters will be taken as spoils.

No lie. You have to have grown up in an edgy, pure white neighborhood as I did to really grasp this: Black men with their large penises are to be quelled at all costs.

That’s my addendum to Walsh’s superb take on America’s political history of the last half century or so.

Even the National Rifle Association became a power to be reckoned with by demonizing blacks. The NRA gang was just a nice little club for deer hunters and such until the late 1960’s when, responding to an exaggerated threat of black nationalism and the emergence of the armed Black Panthers, the organization began conducting a national grass-roots campaign to limit access to guns. Yup. Some 40 years ago, it was far more important to the NRA that guns be kept out of the hands of blacks than in the hands of whites. Now, of course, it’s far more important to keep guns in the hands of paranoid schizophrenics than it is to make firearms purchases a tad more inconvenient for everyone else. (The reasons for that transformation are grist for another post, another time.)

Panthers

Black Panthers in 1969

As this holy land’s demographics change, the Strom Thurmond/Dick Nixon/Ronald Reagan/Roger Ailes strategy of appealing to jittery whites is becoming less and less effective. By 2050, say, whites won’t be able to throw their weight around as they are doing in this weird game of chicken that has closed, basically, the social safety net and all other parts of the gummint that don’t have to do with maintaining our sacred duty to threaten the rest of the planet with incineration.

It can even be argued that men like Ronald Reagan weren’t racists in their hearts. But the fact that they found it easy to capitalize on racial fears in order to attain and keep power made them, and the country as a whole, racist indeed.

(OTOH, Strom Thurmond was a racist, through and through, and I don’t care how many children he sired with black women. Nixon wasn’t specifically a racist; he loathed all humanity equally. Ailes? He’s just a pig.)

So yeah, the Republicans and the Me Party-ists who seem to have a power all out of proportion the the rest of the body politic ain’t gonna be big shots much longer. Problem is, with the Koch Bros.’ (among other sneaky plutocrats) dough behind them, John Boehner et al can do some really serious damage to the nation. Hell, they’ve done it already.

Think of it as a fire in your home. It may have started in the kitchen and, thanks to quick work by the firefighters (who get paid by that hated gummint, BTW), the rest of your house was saved. Still, the kitchen’s a wreck. It’ll be a long time before the place is functioning properly.

Walsh is right; this isn’t an all-sides-are-to-blame thing; the Republicans started it and now the rest of us are feeling the heat.

[Big Mike Note: The head for this entry is stolen from a 1964 book of the same name, written by Charles E. Silberman. He was among the first to identify and explain the reality that the USA is really two separate nations.]

Big Mike Explains It All

[Wordpress went a little funny in the head yesterday so this post that should have been dated Wednesday, October 9, 2013, is now dated today.]

Okay, kids, strap on your crash helmets because things are gonna get really, really weird here now.

As you know Peter Higgs won the Nobel Prize in Physics yesterday Monday because a bunch of geeks toying around with the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility on the border of France and Switzerland finally found the sub-atomic particle that bears his name. See, Higgs got cracking with pencil and paper (and eraser — lots of erasers) some 50 years ago and as a result of some calculations he did, he was able to predict the existence of the Higgs Boson, aka the God Particle, although most serious physicists get really cranky when the Higgs is called that.

Telegraph UK Image

Peter Higgs

People called the Higgs the God Particle because some wise guys figgered once it was found, scientists would know the secret of existence. That is, why things exist, and why they don’t just smash into each other and annihilate themselves or, conversely, why everything there is doesn’t just go flying off into its own nowhere so that there would be no mass or forces or even pizza.

Talk about existentialism! This whole shebang couldn’t get more mind-bending if the ghosts of Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Kafka suddenly were to appear in the living room playing Twister in their stocking feet.

Twister

That’s Kafka In The Green Suit & Wearing Glasses

Whereas pious folk say the Big Daddy-o in the Sky snapped his fingers one day and next thing anybody knew, light, aluminum, oceans, Adam & Eve, and shingles all came into being, particle physicists tell us reality is just a seemingly endless series of Russian nesting dolls, with ever teensier pieces fitting inside each other. There was a time when the learned among us thought atoms were the smallest things there could be.

Har-de-har-har. Over the last 150 years or so, researchers have found successively smaller motes that make atoms look like honeydew melons. Things got so surreal that when Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig, unbeknownst to one another, dreamed up the idea of the most fundamental particle yet back in the early 1960s, one of them had to reach into the bizarro world of James Joyce’s poetry for a name. Finnegan’s Wake provided the following line:

Three quarks for Muster Mark!
Sure he has not got much of a bark
And sure any he has it’s all beside the mark.

What in the hell ever that means. So inscrutable were those two sentences that Gell-Mann immediately sensed he’d happened upon the right language from which to pluck a perfect term. Ergo, quark.

But wait! Even quarks had to be shoved around by smaller pieces of something so Higgs entered the picture in 1964, proposing his eponymous boson. It wasn’t until March of this year that the CERN gang proved Higgs’ speck of near nothingness really does exist.

The Standard Model that most physicists today subscribe to holds that magnetism, electricity, light, and a few other of nature’s magic tricks do their thing via force-carrying particles. These little specks, which are far too miniscule to be seen even with the strongest grocery store reading glasses, have mass or, to use a very technical term, oomph, only because they rub up against the Higgs Field.

Dig: The Higgs Field, which is everywhere, sprinkles photons and other force-carrying particles with confetti-like Higgs Bosons so that they, the photons et al, actually carry some weight and therefore can push things around.

And that’s why there are Republicans, pebbles, electric guitars, and — yes — pizza, as opposed to a universe full of, well, nothing.

Pizza

Raison d’Être

We and everything around us are made of of countless billions and trillions of mini billiard balls — which actually also are waves, but don’t worry your pretty and handsome heads about that because if you start, search parties of shrinks would have to disperse in search of your sanity. Just trust, alright? Anyways, those eensy-schmeensy billiard balls only can come together to become a deep dish pie with sausage and green peppers thanks to the Higgs Field and its mass-inducing confetti called Higgs Bosons.

Understand?

That’s okay, neither do I.

Fortunately, Peter Higgs does and that’s why he won the big prize yesterday.

Aren’t you glad you read this rather than gawked at yet another picture of Miley Cyrus sticking her tongue out?

Cyrus

Put That Back In Your Head!

[Another Big Mike Note: I’m neither a mathematician nor an expert on particle physics. Try as I might, there’s a good chance that my word picture herein describing the Higgs Boson and Field is full of crap. If so and you, dear reader, are a physics geek, please correct me.]

Hot Air Again

Love Story

This is obvious to everyone but we are loath to say it out loud.

We of this holy land cherish guns and the right to possess them so much that that we prefer to err on the side of allowing delusional, impulse control-challenged, voices-hearing, paranoid schizophrenics to get guns than to institute reasonable controls that may make it ever-so-slightly more difficult and time-consuming for the general public to get them.

We accept this trade-off so completely that sometimes, when state or local legislators reveal themselves to be in favor of reasonable controls, we rise up en masse to evict them from office as quickly or even quicker than we would to oust bribe-takers, influence peddlers, racists, sexists, homophobes, and other reprobates.

Gun Christmas

The people have spoken.


Your Dai…, Oops, Occasional Hot Air

A Lo-o-o-o-o-ong Week

Man, that was a weird week, no?

Eleven days? Along about Apolloday I started thinking, Hey wuz goin’ on here, mang?

And then by Circeday, I figured, Okay, we’re gonna start running out of Greek gods and other mythical figures to name the days after. So, anyway, Happy Thaliaday!

Now then. My last post was on the 19th. Today’s the 30th. Tomorrow’s the 31st and Sunday’s the 32nd, and…, oh, you know the rest. My point is I badly underestimated the amount of time I needed away from being the smartest-assed snark-pup on the block.

And you know what? I still need time away from it all.

Swear to the Big Daddy-o in the Sky, I’m rather enjoying not having to point out every single inanity and insanity uttered by the likes of Louie Gohmert and Ted Nugent and all the Second Amendment fetishists of this holy land.

(Hehe, some dope in Arkansas who wants all teachers to pack artillery in the classroom wound up shooting one of the teachers he was training how to use said artillery. As long as the other side’s got guys like that, whaddya need me for?)

Kids & Guns

Sleep Tight Tonight, Kiddies

By and by it had hit me that my rapier-like wit and unassailable logic are terrible burdens to bear. They are gifts, I tell you. See, whenever somebody says something like, oh, say, Martin Luther King was no liberal, I must spring into action. Dig: I’m like a superhero.

But, I dunno, have they made a Batman movie about him being tired of being Batman yet? Gotta be, I’d figure, considering they’ve made about 211 Batman movies in the last couple of decades. Hollywood, y’know?

So, I’d be like the Batman in that movie; facing a crisis of purpose. Should he continue to chase whatever hot starlet is appearing as Catwoman or should he pull in his wings a bit and chill?

I’m for chillin’. And that’s what I’m gonna keep on keepin’ on for a while.

Truth is, I’m going to be mulling some changes here. Like I said eleven days ago, I was getting sick of hearing my own voice. The Pencil will still be here. I just don’t know precisely what form it’ll take just yet. Stay tuned.

Oh, BTW: Black Comedy will continue when I return. People already are wondering how Anna and Tami will wiggle their way out of that Northwest Side bar filled with drunken white men. You’ll know when I know.

See ya. Probably soon.

Walking Down Your Street

The hottest girl band ever. They have a pillow fight in the opening sequence. Shudder. Plus, Little Richard makes an appearance! Have I died and gone to heaven?

Your Daily Hot Air

Opinions Of Difference

From Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent to the US Supreme Court’s opinion striking down the key portion of the Voting Rights Act:

Throwing out the Voting Rights Act when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.

Ginsburg

One Tough Old Bird

It’s been said enough that sometimes I even buy it: the differences between the Democrats and the Republican can be measured by the thimbleful.

Well, you can take that stale canard and shove it right up your Supreme Court.

You Can’t Tell The Justices Without A Scorecard

Here are your Reagan/Bush/Bush US Supreme Court justices:

  • Antonin Scalia

  • Anthony Kennedy

  • Clarence Thomas

  • John Roberts

  • Samuel Alito

And here are the justices nominated by presidents Clinton and Obama:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  • Stephen Breyer

  • Sonia Sotomayor

  • Elena Kagan

I ask you, who would you rather spend a summer evening drinking shots and beers with: Ginsburg or Clarence Thomas?

Thomas

Eek!

Sex In Tex. Etc.

The Loved One will brain me if I don’t mention last night’s eruption in the Texas Senate. State Senator Wendy Davis earned herself  gobs of political points with her filibuster against the state’s proposed abortion-killing bill.

Live vid of Davis’ pals and supporters hooting and hollering over the Senate president’s attempts to squeeze a vote in before the midnight deadline actually drove The Loved One out of bed whereupon she dashed into my garage office, shouting “Are you watching? Are you watching? This is historic! Turn it on!”

I hate to be the buzzkiller here, but there is history and there is Texas history. Leave it to Molly Ivins to educate us:

Dig, man, the plaster-saint theocrats of the Texas state legislature flat out don’t want women to feel pleasure. Go ahead; argue with me. You’ll lose.

FYI, in case you live in a cloister: a dildo is a dick-shaped implement that many females use for personal reasons. Here is an actual dick:

You’re welcome.

[This just in: Texas men have already declared war on Davis. Or maybe this is just a side battle in their ongoing War on Women. Anyway, Davis’ Fort Worth office was firebombed overnight. Nothin’ sez “pro-life” like throwing a firebomb.]

Your Daily Hot Air

The Right Way To Kill

Here is the second (natch) of the 10 Commandments of the Holy American Empire, Inc.:

Thou shalt not kill, unless it is with bullets or factory-made bombs, then kill away.

Our Pontiff…, er, President, Barack Obama yesterday issued a bull from the Domus Alba (hehe, I’m getting all Catholic-y and Latin-y on you) saying that those nasty Syrian thugs under Bashar al-Assad have just gone too far, what with whacking their own citizens with sarin gas.

We, the faithful, won’t stand for this!

See, we’re a very moral people. We have faith in mass-produced piercing projectiles and explosive compounds (once again, made only in free market-, 2nd Amendment-anointed enterprise facilities). They are sacred and can be used for any purpose their purchasers desire (although most pious Americans use them to free their fellow human beings from the chains of this Earthly realm.)

Machine Gun Factory

Holy Killing Machines

Whew.

Glad we’ve got that all cleared up. The Syrian civil war has thus far claimed upwards of 100,000 people. Most have been killed, of course, by bullets and bombs. And although their premature leave-takings are somewhat regrettable (they are, after all, only brown people), we Americans have always found a way to excuse the air-conditioning of human bodies by means of ammo.

But sarin gas? My god, man! What kind of animals are these Syrians?

We’ll stand for a hundred thousand or even a million bodies being blown to kingdom come by high speed hunks of metal but any madmen who dare to take 150 lives by dropping pellets of poison gas near them must be stopped before the whole of the human race is wiped out.

That’s it for today’s sermon. Go in peace.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

The Reagan/Bush/Bush Supreme Court, which usually swoons and bats its eyelashes at big corporations, dealt Myriad Genetics a huge blow yesterday when the justices ruled unanimously that human DNA cannot be patented.

Human DNA

Not So Fast

Imagine. Myriad and several other mad scientist outfits wanted to put patents on the human genes they’d isolated and identified, forcing other researchers to pay them hefty royalty fees should they decide to delve into those genes themselves. Clarence Thomas, whose utterances I generally take as seriously as those of a ranting street corner preacher, wrote the decision. “Myriad did not create anything,” he wrote, exhibiting a wisdom I’ve found lacking in him since his elevation to the Court by George H.W. Bush in 1991.

Let’s be frank, this decision is a shocker. SCOTUS just last month ruled that Monsanto had the right to squeeze every penny it could out of family farmers who dare to harvest a second generation of soybeans originally planted with the evil agribusiness empire’s pesticide-resistant seeds. In other words, that same unanimous court had ruled that Monsanto will own the rights to all the soybean plantings on Earth within a few years, considering the fact that pretty much every farmer who wants to make a buck on soybeans will use the company’s Frankenseeds.

The Monsanto decision coupled with the work of the company’s legislation-writing lobbyists are prima facie evidence that Big Business is the real government of this holy land.

So, what’s with Myriad? All it wanted to do was own the genetic encoding of every human being on Earth. What could be more entrepreneurial than that? Ayn Rand would have had a string of spontaneous orgasms just thinking about it.

Rand

Own Me, Myriad, Make Me Your Slave!

So here’s the latest scoreboard of the Age of Reagan Supreme Court:

1 — The Good, Decent, and Friendly People of the Earth

998 — Corporate pirates, banksters, war profiteers, polluters, etc.

Well, it’s a start.

The Business Of Piece

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Tuesday

THE QUOTE

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” — Albert Einstein

Einstein

HAPPY N. Y.

Things I hope for this year:

◗ Barack Obama makes it through all 365 days without a serious attempt on his life.

◗ The gamesmanship between Iran and the West peters out.

◗ Someone (besides me) comes up with the bright idea of imposing an embargo on gun manufacturing for at least a year. We’ve got plenty o’guns already; let’s chill on making new ones for a while, no?

Guns

Plenty

◗ The Loved One continues on in sterling health.

◗ My faulty cardiac cellular structure does not betray me and go haywire just yet.

◗ Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al continue to make positive strides in their remaking of the entire Chicago Cubs organization.

Image by Kyle Terada/US Presswire

Hoyer (L) & Eptsein: My Happiness Is In Their Hands

◗ Certain friends who suffer right now from mental and emotional distress can find relief.

◗ We move significant steps closer to:

  • Universal affordable health care
  • Universal affordable safe, secure housing
  • Universal affordable access to education, including colleges and universities

◗ Thousands — nay, hundreds of thousands — of new visitors to this communications colossus.

Multi-cast Tower

The Electron Pencil Tower, Outside Beautiful Bloomington

THE ELECTRON PENCIL COVERS THE EARTH

How cool was 2012? I’ll tell you how cool.

The Electron Pencil drew readers from 176 countries on this mad, mad planet. I mean, we even got readers from such exotic outposts as Suriname, Cameroon, Tajikistan, Papua New Guinea, and Moldova. Truth. That’s what WordPress tells us.

TajikistanOur Most Loyal Tajikistani Reader

Whoever you people are, thanks.

Our next goal? Mars.

NICE GUYS FINISH….

The hell of professional sports is that the best people are far too often the worst coaches.

For instance, Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith was fired yesterday after leading the team to an overall winning record of 81-63 in his nine years at the helm. He even led the Bears to a Super Bowl, where they were demolished by some guys wearing blue from Indy in 2007.

From all accounts, Lovie Smith is one of the calmest, most compassionate, most dignified men in the entire sports world. That’s quite an accomplishment when one considers the typical NFL field boss has the morals and character of a mafia don.

From the Boston Globe

“Good” Isn’t Good Enough

But poor Lovie apparently lacked the cutthroat necessities to push his players and entire organization past the point of fairly good to that of dominant. He wasn’t a killer, as the term is defined in the uber-biz of games for pay.

Lots of folks who cheerlead for high school and college sports programs claim that participating in the games is great for the moral and character development of young men and women. Team play, they say, prepares youngsters for success in life.

My response? Man, I hope not.

Amateur sports have bought into the win-at-all-costs mentality of the pro games. Most states’ highest paid employees are the coaches of their university football or basketball programs. Character? Hah! Just win, baby.

Scene from "The Godfather: Part II"

The Next Bears’ Head Coach?

I don’t feel sorry for Lovie Smith, the man. He made a pile of dough disappointing the very demanding Chicago football fans. Neither he nor his children will have to worry about their next meals for the rest of their lives.

Our mania for sports (of which I, a live-and-die Cubs fan, am all too much a part) teaches us too often that good, civilized men are failures. I feel sorry for us.

PROGRESS, SORT OF

When I was a kid, my Uncle Vince and his family lived in the tony Chicago suburb of Northbrook.

Uncle Vince (who’s still alive and kicking at the age of 96, BTW) bought his home in the late 1950s when Northbrook was still ringed by farmland. He got in when the getting was good. Within 25 years, Northbrook had become one of the meccas to which extremely comfortable white families could escape from the big, bad, scary (read, increasingly black) city.

My own family was still in the city — admittedly on the outskirts, but, nonetheless, my suburban aunts and uncles would constantly pepper my parents with pleadings to “get the hell out of that shithole where people live on top of each other.”

Uncle Vince’s Northbrook house was straight out of a real estate man’s wet dream. It had a broad front lawn. A garage door that opened at the click of a button from inside the car (a wonder in that day and age.) An automatic dishwasher. Air conditioning (we had windows.) A chime doorbell, as opposed to our raucous buzzer. Uncle Vince’s backyard was more than an acre which, in my neighborhood, would have covered some half dozen homes and yards.

Seemingly every time we visited Uncle Vince, my cousin Tony would be washing his brand new Pontiac Grand Prix on the big driveway in front of the house.

Pontiac Grand Prix

A Rich Kids’ Car

I always thought that Uncle Vince was as rich as the Rockefellers. At the age of seven, I figured his home was a mansion.

The one thing folks in Northbrook didn’t have was black neighbors.

This fact was brought home to me one day when I overheard Uncle Vince telling my father about a horrible, alarming incident that’d happened on the block the previous week. Uncle Vince spoke in hushed tones, as if loath to shake up the women and the kids.

A black man had been seen walking down the street.

Pete Seeger & Friends

Someplace Other Than Northbrook

Neighbor had consulted with neighbor. Certain high-ranking municipal officials had been notified.

Uncle Vince tried to put a good spin on the incident. Perhaps the black man was in Northbrook to do some menial labor. Or maybe he was lost.

Then Uncle Vince and my father fell silent, as if in contemplation of a too-horrible alternative.

Not that my family’s Chicago neighborhood was an integrationist’s dream, mind you. One day, a couple of years earlier, while I was walking to the grocery store with my mother, a black man had passed us by, the first I’d ever seen in the flesh.

I gaped at him as he passed. Ma clunked me on the side of the head and hissed, “Don’t stare!”

Still, the man fascinated me. “Ma,” I asked once I was certain he was out of earshot, “what’s wrong with that guy?”

BB King's Hand Photo by Mike McGregor

Why?

“He’s just going to work somewhere, I guess,” she said.

“Oh.” I pondered the situation and then came to a conclusion. The man had a job that made him extremely dirty. Perhaps he dug holes somewhere nearby. Why else would his skin be black?

“Ma?”

“What?” she said, edgy, aware of the Pandora’s box lid being lifted.

“Why doesn’t he just take a bath?”

She clunked me on the side of the head again.

Only later, when I was eight, did I learn what the man’s problem was. Mr. Mitchell, our neighbor from across the alley explained it. The man, he said, was a nigger.

I went inside. “Ma,” I said, “what’s a nigger?”

She clunked me on the side of the head.

Eventually, I learned to duck when asking tough questions. I also learned that black men stayed out of places like Northbrook and Highland Park and Palatine and Glenview. It was no more likely that a black family would live in any of those places than they would on the moon.

Times change, though.

Michael Jordan lived in Highland Park when he was the toast of the town. When I was small and Ernie Banks was Chicago’s favorite black man, he had to live in the South Side neighborhood of Chatham, which was black. Progress.

Ernie Banks

Not A Good Neighbor?

Today, I learn that the rapper Chief Keef has bought a big, comfortable home in Northbrook. Chief Keef is not white Chicago’s favorite black man. His first album, “Finally Rich,” debuted a couple of weeks ago on the Interscope Records label.

The album includes the songs “No Tomorrow,” “Hate Bein’ Sober,” “Laughin’ to the Bank,” and “Ballin’.”

Chief Keef won’t be 18 years old until August yet he’s already gained a startling reputation. He’s been busted on a weapons charge and is being investigated in connection with the shooting death of rapper “Lil Jo Jo” Coleman — a homicide which Chief Keef mocked on his Twitter page. He has posted a video of himself firing a gun at a shooting range, a violation of his juvenile court probation. He has threatened critics with violence. He has also posted an Instagram video showing him getting a blow job.

Chief Keef

Northbrook’s Very Own, Chief Keef

No, Chief Keef is not Chicago favorite black man. He’s not even a man yet.

He owns a home in Northbrook, though.

He’s made a lot of money in his short life so far. Money absolves a lot of sins.

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