Category Archives: Laura Ricketts

Hot Air


The Bloomington Science Cafe gang will gather once again tomorrow eve at Finch’s Brasserie to hash over another hot topic. This time, Dr. Russell Lyons of Indiana University’s Math Dept. will talk about how we use statistics and numbers to fool each other.


From xkcd

Lyons is a big-time debunker, and you all know how I love debunking nonsense. He’ll use a specific case study — a highly-flawed research paper asserting that obesity is contagious — to illustrate how even supposedly respected scientists can flim-flam their way to notoriety through the use of sloppy statistical practices and outright numerical falsehoods. The paper in Q. actually contained the line: “You may not know him personally, but your friend’s husband’s co-worker can make you fat.”

The argument — and the whole paper, for that matter — was wrong and later discredited. Lyons decided that not only the general public but mass media reporters as well as reputable scientific journal editors needed refresher courses on good statistical methods. “Top journals,” Lyons says, “do not serve as the rigorous judges of quality that the public often assumes.”



The idea being we should all look at studies, papers, news stories about science, and the like with a critical, analytical eye. But before we can do that, we have to know what makes a set of numbers right or true.

Lyons’ll speak at 6:30pm in Finch’s upstairs events room. Questions will follow. Admission, natch, is free and open to the public. Such a deal: You get smarter while simultaneously eating and drinking. Sounds like heaven to me.

Civil Rights Slugger

You may think I’m getting all Ernie Banks-fixated but I ask you to try to understand how important Mr. Cub was to millions of native Chi-towners like me.

Anyway, WGN radio’s Patti Vazquez points out that Ernie persuaded the Cubs five years ago to sponsor a float in Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade held every June in the Boys Town n-hood. Thanks to Ern, the Cubs did indeed participate and, in fact, Mr. Cub himself rode on the float.

Gay Pride 2010

The Chicago Cubs Float Before The 2010 Pride Parade

(Photo: Cheryl Adams)

(Of course, it helped that the Cubs’ Laura Ricketts is herself the first openly lesbian major pro sports team owner in this holy land.)

The Cubs thereby became the first major American sports franchise to participate in a Pride Parade.

Can Ernie Banks’ rep get any more golden?

[h/t to Rick Perlstein]

Woo? Boo!

Thanks to our friends over at Wonkette, we learn that one of the Huffington Post‘s “medical” contributors who calls herself a “doctor” is really no doctor at all.

Lots o’folks on my side of the fence love, love, love HuffPo even though founder Arianna Huffington was able to rake in $315 MM selling the Left-leaning online news service after utilizing brilliant business practices like not paying her writers. HuffPo also panders to the soft-skull wing of the White Liberal Party by running scads of articles and opinion pieces touting woo medicines and diets.

F’rinstance, “Dr.” Sherri Tenpenny — the non-medico in question, has penned a couple of HuffPo articles on how childhood vaccinations are the bunk. That and a piece on Novartis, the uber-pharma outfit that she uses to frame her argument that prescription drugs and vaccines are poisons worse than all the Big Macs and Drano in the world put together.



In the fallout from the Disneyland measles outbreak, Tenpenny has found all her speaking engagements cancelled these days. She blames “the extremists” who are insisting that kids get innoculated against catastrophic diseases. Wonkette‘s Fare la Volpe writes:

Those extremists are quite difficult, what with their unreasonable demands that children not catch polio in the 21st Century. It was good enough for FDR, wasn’t it?

Just another little reminder that anencephaly does not only strike Fox News hosts and those on the Right.

The Pencil Today:


“American men, as a group, seem to be interested in only two things, money and breasts. It seems a very narrow outlook.” — Hedy Lamarr


If you’re a Monroe County resident, you can vote today at The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St., from 8am-6pm.

Again we remind you, in order to streamline the electoral process, Republicans are being asked to vote on Wednesday, November 7th. Do your part.


If I never hear the words “battleground state” again, it’ll be too soon.

See, I’ve heard those annoying words on the radio or read them online more times than all the following really important terms put together:

  • Collateralized debt obligations
  • Credit-default swaps
  • Glass-Steagall repeal
  • Deregulation
  • Ayn Rand-ism
  • Risky assets
  • Faulty bond ratings
  • Debt leveraging
  • The bubble economy

You know — all those things that got us into this economic shithole in the first place?

As long as we’re too dense to see elections as anything other than entertainment, like horse races or Super Bowls, guys who dream up “creative financial instruments” will continue picking our pockets no matter who takes what battleground state.


As long as we’re on the topic of Things That Annoy Me, have you heard that the NFL this week will have its game officials drop pink penalty flags during a game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins?

So, every time a defensive lineman attempts to bring down a runner by twisting his facemask, thereby severing the poor sap’s spinal cord — in other words, the usual Sunday afternoon fun — the referees, umpires, back judges, line judges, and all other striped constables on the field will toss pink flags rather than their customary yellow ones.

Throw The Pink Flag!

(And why in god’s holy name do there have to be so many officials — gangs of them — on an NFL field? This is as baffling as why each NFL team has to have upwards of 20 coaches. That’s right, I’m not exaggerating — 20 or more coaches per team. Honestly, I think the NFL is insane. I mean, there are coaches and advisers sprinkled throughout each stadium, photographing plays, drawing up strategies, trying to divine what the opposition might do next, and all of them communicating with each other through electronic systems that make NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover radio set-up look like a couple of tin cans with string attached. Fellas, it’s a game for pity’s sake!)

Anyway, the NFL is going pink for breast cancer, natch. Every other sport has gotten into the pink craze the last few years. Hardly a day goes by when Major League hitters aren’t swinging pink bats or NBA point guards aren’t wearing pink ribbon patches on their uniforms.

Look, I’m a guy and I don’t have breasts to worry about, but, come on, is breast cancer the only disease left on the planet? And don’t hit me with the men-can-get-breast-cancer-too line. The odds of a UFO appearing over the stadium at London’s Olympics opening ceremony, according to one betting house, were precisely the same as those for a man suffering breast cancer — 1000 to one.

So, yeah, I’m not losing sleep over breast cancer messing up my life. I would assume most women are. And everybody’s been spending the last few years jumping on the breast cancer bandwagon.

The question has to be asked: Why breasts? Lung cancer is far more deadly for women in the US than breast cancer is, yet you don’t see NBA players bouncing basketballs painted up to look like spongy, alveoli-packed bellows, do you?

My take is breast cancer in women is the only thing that scares the poo out of American men because we have a breast fixation. If a woman loses her uterus to cancer, we shrug. But if she loses a breast, we’re aghast. Our puerile, tit-fetishy culture sees women pretty much as annoyances with big things on their chests we want to get our hands on.

In fact, we’re so obsessed with women’s racks that we go gaga over gals who’ve had bags of silicon surgically implanted under their thoracic skin.

Victoria Beckham’s Plastic

Reminds me of the time I had a drunken discussion at adjoining urinals at Chicago’s Club Lago with a guy I knew. He was raving about his new girlfriend. “Aw, Big Mike, she’s fantastic,” he gushed. “She’s got blond hair. She’s built, man! She’s got a good gig. She wants sex all the time.”

The guy zipped up and bestowed upon me the piece de resistance, the cherry on the sundae, the Number One in his Top Ten List of why his new girlfriend was the bomb. “And Big Mike, this is the truth,” he said, grinning, “she’s got fake tits!”

I swear I think he wanted me to carry him out of the men’s room on my shoulders.

As I said, I’m a guy, so I know this: We’re breast nutty.

The NFL, the NBA, the NHL, and Major League Baseball are virtually boys-only clubs. They want to show women that they care about them, considering females do buy tickets to games, but the idea of worrying about ovarian cancer or heart attack leaves them cold. But god forbid our little ladies should lose one or both of their tatas!

Then what would they be? The prospect is simply too chilling for most men to contemplate.


And speaking of condescending to our holy land’s little gals, Fujitsu has introduced a spanking new laptop just for them.

It’s called the Floral Kiss, which sounds like a pretty cool new sex technique, but is actually a trademark for a new PC designed for humans who possess vaginas. The Floral Kiss comes in your choice of colors: Elegant White, Feminine Pink, and Luxury Brown. Your smart new laptop also comes with gold trim. Whee!

Ooh! What Happens If I Press This Little Thing-y?

By “smart” I mean, of course, fashionable and trendy, not, y’know, having anything to do with you actually having to use your silly brain. So don’t worry your pretty little head off.

Jenna Sauers of Jezebel writes: “Maybe if you’re very good, you could ask your husband to buy you one for Christmas!”


It’s getting harder by the moment to be a Cubs fan.

The daddy-o of the clan that bought the team a couple of years ago for $845MM is the bankroll behind Dinesh D’Souza‘s “documentary” slopfest entitled “2016: Obama’s America.”

Joe Ricketts: Billionaire Blowhard

In the film, D’Souza posits that the President of the United States actually hates America. Don’t ask me to explain; the “thought processes” of D’Souza and his flock are beyond normal human comprehension.

Anyway, why does the man who set his kids up as billionaires so they could buy my fave baseball team have to be the one who finances this gunk? (Happily, two of the Ricketts kids — Cubs chairman Tom and Board Member Laura — have disavowed Dad’s right wing stances.)

Isn’t it bad enough that the Cubs have not appeared in a World Series since 1945 and haven’t won one since 1908? Now I have to root for them despite the fact that the owners’ papa is a wingnut?

All This And D’Souza, Too?

Believe me, if my boys ever win the Series in my lifetime, I’ll celebrate as never before, then I’ll wash my hands of them.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

VOTE TODAY ◗The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-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

POETRY & BOOKS ◗ Various locations around IU campus & BloomingtonSylvia Plath Symposium 2012, celebrating 50 years since the publication of her “Ariel” collection, Through Saturday, Today’s highlights at IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium:

  • Lynda K. Bundtzen speaks about Plath’s psychotherapy, & use of unconscious in her 1958 poems, Langdon hammer speaks about James Merril’s use of the Ouija® board for inspiration; 9:30-10:20am
  • Linda Adele Goodine & Suzie Hanna sepak about juvenile/adult fantasy & the liminal space between waking & dreaming; 10:30-11:20am
  • Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Annie Finch, Kathleen Ossip, & David Trinidad speak about PLath’s influence on the poetic process; 1-2:20pm
  • Bill Buckley & Peter K. Steinberg speak about Plath’s influence on scholars, students, & artists; 2:30-2:50pm
  • Linda Gates speaks about Plath’s relationships with A. Alvarez, Ted Hughes, & Assia Wevill; 3-3:20pm
  • Diann Blakely, Bill Buckley, Peter Cooley, Kimberly Maxwell, & Jennifer Thompson on being inspired, influenced, & healed by Plath; 3:30-5:30pm

POETRY ◗ Rachael’s CafeB-Town Poets, Open mic reading; 5-7pm

PANEL DISCUSSION IU Memorial Union, Walnut Room — “Human Trafficking & Media,” Penelists include Yana Hashamova of Ohio State University, Jon Daggy of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police, & Lesley Yarranton, London-based journalist; 5:20pm

BENEFIT ◗ Upland Brewing Company5th Annual Local Growers Guild Harvest Dinner; 6pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center — “Sex, Germs, & Worms: Infectious Disease in Primate Societies,” Presented by Charlie Nunn of Harvard University; 6pm

MUSIC ◗ Malibu GrillSteve Johnson Trio; 6-9pm

BENEFIT ◗ The Fields Clubhouse, Clarizz & Moores PikeHarvest Gathering, Dinner & silent auction, For Community Justice & Mediation Center, Featured speaker Jody Lynee Madiera of Maurer School of Law discusses her book, “Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty & the Myth of Closure“; 6-9pm

FILM IU Cinema — “Blood of Jesus“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceGrandview Junction; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleZion Crossroads; 7-9pm

STAGE ◗ IU Wells-Metz Theatre — “Richard III“; 7:30pm

LECTURE — IU Maurer School of Law, Moot Court RoomPatten Lecture Series:Why Pictures of People About to Die Depict News Events Involving Death,” Presented by Barbie Zelizer; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubOpen mic hosted by Martina Samm; 7:30pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticMichael Winslow; 8pm

MUSIC IU Auer HallNew Music Ensemble, David Dzubay, director, & Joseph Schwantner, guest composer; 8pm

MUSIC & BENEFIT ◗ Rachael’s CafeLive music, Presented by WIUX PledgeFest; 8pm

FILM IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “The Campaign“; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdKeller Williams; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopThe Broderick Album Release Show, The Kernal, Fluffer; 9:30pm

FILM IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “The Campaign“; 11pm


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.