Category Archives: Hypnotism

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“In America, sex is an obsession. In other parts of the world it’s a fact.” — Marlene Dietrich

THE LEAST OF US

Here’s a classic good news/bad news story.

The IDS reports this morning that the homeless are welcome to use Indiana Memorial Union facilities.

The East Lounge at IMU

You know, it’s easy to be magnanimous with people in need as long as they’re cuddly and harmless.

Professional athletes, for instance, are great at this. They’re forever flitting from one children’s hospital to another, signing autographs, bringing game-worn jerseys, and hugging kids made bald by chemotherapy. And, yeah, the poor kids are thrilled to pieces. They grin and swoon. How can anyone with a beating heart not embrace some unfortunate little one who’s dying of cancer?

But what if the needy person stinks or is obnoxious? Things get a little difficult. Take a guy who’s 52 years old and scraggly-bearded, who hasn’t changed clothes or had a full bath in weeks. How quickly is the shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers going to wrap his arms around that guy?

And don’t get me wrong. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in the Monroe County Public Library and have chosen to move from my table when a homeless dude who smells like hell sits across from me. Or when a half dozen homeless folks set up camp at the table next to mine and loudly argue about who’s a better friend of whom.

Suddenly, I’m not a saint.

Not Easy

It’s not easy being a saint. The people who run IMU, though, have made the hard choice and we should salute them.

“We are a very public building and invite everyone into our building,” IMU official Thom Simmons tells the IDS.

That’s the good news. The bad news? Just that there are homeless in this very, very wealthy land.

SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, TAXES, AND GUNS. AND SEX.

Another h/t to my pal R.E. Paris. She messaged me yesterday, pointing out that the Republican Party in some backwoods South Carolina county is demanding its members sign affidavits that they’ve never had pre-marital sex.

“Would You Be My Wife And S&M Submissive?”

Wow!

Oh, and that “Your spouse cannot be a person of the same gender…,” and “You cannot now, from the moment you sign this pledge, look at pornography.”

Do we really need any more evidence that the GOP is obsessed?

ELECTIONEERING

Barack Obama’s White House shocked the bejesus out of Chicago by moving the G-8 Summit from my hometown to Camp David.

The May pow-wow had the potential to be as wrenching an experience as the 1968 Democratic Convention. Obama’s political advisers sure as hell are not going to let their man suffer the same fate the late Hubert Humphrey did.

Law And Order

Mark it — the Obama brain trust is as politically astute as the gang that Bill Clinton assembled 20 years ago.

That c-note I have riding on the Obama reelection looks like a smarter prop every day.

PULP HISTORY

Did you catch the motion filed by Sirhan Sirhan’s lawyers in an attempt to get the RFK assassin out of prison?

Sirhan did not fire the kill shot, they claim.

The Jordanian-born, Palestine-state advocate put a slug in Robert F. Kennedy’s cranium on June 5th, 1968, in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen. Kennedy died the next morning.

Sirhan’s attorneys say, yeah, their boy was on the scene when the gunshots rang out, but he didn’t kill the presidential candidate.

As is the case in all high-profile shootings, conspiracy theories began bouncing off the walls seemingly before Kennedy was even loaded into the ambulance. The most persistent theory has it that a security guard standing behind Kennedy either inadvertently or as part of a plot fired the deadly bullet.

Me? I have little patience for conspiracy theories. Public officials have a hard time filling potholes efficiently and promptly. They usually can’t even agree on what time to break for lunch. So how are they gonna put together an airtight plan to topple the Twin Towers, whack the president, or capture extraterrestrials?

Once in a great while, though, conspiracy wingnuts raise a point that might just pass the sanity muster. For instance, why couldn’t a part-time security guard who was probably trained for all of two and a half hours have accidentally fired his gun in the chaos at in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen?

But Sirhan’s lawyers say the security guard wasn’t the shooter. Someone else was — and their boy was a patsy.

Wrestling With Sirhan

Here’s where they lose me: Sirhan, they insist, was “hypo-programmed” by conspirators. His role was to serve as the fall guy while the real hit men did their thing.

Oy! You know what? A lot of people are gonna buy into this fever dream. Too many folks in this holy land can’t tell the difference between reality and cheap fiction.

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.

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