Category Archives: Mark Twain

Hot Air

Veterans Day

The War Prayer, from Mark Twain:

Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it —

For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

WW II

This is a good day to remember precisely what war is.

We’re All (Not) Gonna Die!

Well, whaddya know! This holy land is now scot-free of the deadly, dreaded, sure-to-kill-us-all ebola virus. The last remaining ebola patient in America was released, cured, from Bellevue Hospital in New York yesterday.

This is exciting news! Now we can look forward to the next the big thing that’s going to kill us all. I wonder what it’ll be. Let’s see, an asteroid hitting the Earth? Naw, that’s so 2013. E. coli? Uh uh — that’s last year, too. Sharks? Puh-leeaze, that’s way too old school. Ebonics? Nix; most police departments have military weapons and vehicles now so that threat can be neutralized in one bloody swoop.

Police Militarization

Pronounce Your TH’s Or We’ll Shoot!

Wait, I know! Robots.

Scourges, Real & Imagined

So, those annoying, silly, eventually-embarrassing-to-the-wearer, low-slung drawers may soon be illegal in Forest Park, Illinois, a western suburb of Chi.

The mayor of FP, Anthony Calderone, sez he’s tired of seeing young men’s bloomers, acc’d’g to Fox News 32.

Low Slung Pants

Criminals

The crime fighters of Forest Park’s town council are considering a ban on the wearing of pants so low. At long last, our civilization may be saved from this scourge.

Meanwhile, beginning in January Oklahoma’s James Inhofe will be sworn in as the new chair of the US Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. He’ll be in charge of those who rule on federal laws dealing with the dumping of all categories of shit into our air and water. Oh, and global warming. You know, the thing that Inhofe believes is no scourge at all.

In fact, Inhoff insists, it’s a hoax.

I need a drink.

Stop, Thief!

Here’s Matt Taibbi and former JPMorgan Chase analyst and whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann ripping the cover off the investment bank’s racketeering pre-The Great Recession.

JPMChase’s banksters, acc’d’g to the two, defrauded investors, customers…, hell, the whole world, for that matter, by peddling their garbage mortgage-backed securities. Then that particular Money Mob fleeced the fed. gov’t out of hundreds of billions of USD in bailout dough.

No wonder business schools have been the biggest graduating classes at universities all around this holy land for the last few decades.

 

Hot Air

And I Quote…

You know those quizzes that are cluttering up the interwebs these days? The ones that tell you what or who you were in a previous life, whether you’re a liberal or a conservative (as if you didn’t already know), what age you’ll die, and other pressing personal trivia?

I saw one this morning that asked something on the order of “Which famous quote describes your life?” The results all seem to be Maya Angelou quotes telling you what a beautiful and vibrant flower you are.

Flower

You

Now, naturally, telling a person that she or he is a vibrant flower does absolutely nothing for them in the scheme of things, other than to make the recipient feel all warm and nice for about seven and a half seconds. Just like masturbation.

So I figured I’d compile a little list of quotes that really mean something. Pick whichever one you want to describe yourself or the world around you. I’m not in the mood to kid you by telling you a particular one of these lines is perfect for you. Do it yourself.

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.

— Margaret Mead

I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.

— Carl Sandburg

Sandburg/Monroe

Carl Sandburg (With Marilyn Monroe)

Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company.

— Mark Twain

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

— Mark Twain, again

My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.

— Woody Allen

Reality continues to ruin my life.

— Bill Watterson

Watterson

Bill Watterson (With Calvin & A Hobbes Doll)

Parents are the last people on earth who ought to have children.

— Samuel Butler

I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.

— Oscar Wilde

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

— Flip Wilson

Wilson

My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son of a bitch.

— Jack Nicholson

Feeling warm and nice yet?

 

Hot Air, As Usual

The Joy Of Killing!*

Here’s a follow-up to Saturday’s entry about whether or not it is good policy to want to die for your beliefs.

My assertion was it seems senseless to want to do so. I quoted Bertrand Russell who famously said he’d never do it because what if he was wrong in his beliefs?

A couple of guys eloquently told me and Bertie in the comments section that we were full of shit.

The commenters didn’t cause me to change my mind, despite their well thought out positions. In fact, I’ll add another line of reasoning to my original assertion.

I don’t want to die for my beliefs because, well, my worst and most rabid enemies want me and my beliefs to die. (Not that I have many enemies or, for that matter, any at all; this, keep in mind, is all theoretical.)

Anyway, the more pressing question should be, Would you kill for your beliefs?

Well, Pencillistas, whaddya say?

[* Quote in headline from Mark Twain’s Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World.]

Letting Others Do The Work For Me

Now then, here are a few links to interesting things (because I really have nothing else to say today that I haven’t said before or that others haven’t already said.)

◗ h/t to Chicago theater maven Albert Williams who points out Charley Pierce’s Esquire mag blog post about the notorious “ratfuckers” of the Nixon gang back in the 1970s. Pierce asserts they were merely the opening act for later Republican operatives and hijinks-makers.

◗ You know that study everybody’s talking about, the one that looks into the hearts and minds of the fundamentalists, evangelicals, and Tea Party-ists that now make up more than half of the Republican Party? The interwebs have been flush with opininionation (yup, I just made up the word) on its findings.

Well, here’s the study in toto.

◗ We’re a bunch of scared rabbits now; for no good reason. Historian and all-around good guy Rick Perlstein explains how and why in The Nation.

That should hold you over until I feel brilliant again, which probably will be tomorrow morning.

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Saturday

THE QUOTE

“We build a fire in a powder magazine, then double the fire department to put it out. We inflame wild beasts with the smell of blood, and then innocently wonder at the wave of brutal appetite that sweeps the land as a consequence.” — Mark Twain

Twain

BANG, YOU’RE DEAD

I was as enraged as anyone after learning of yesterday’s madness in Connecticut.

I took to Facebook and ranted:

From Facebook

— and —

From Facebook

America, with its psycho-sexual fixation on guns, is indeed deranged.

That said, a sociologist and criminologist from Northeastern University named Jack Levin appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday afternoon to put yesterday’s horror in perspective.

“The truth is,” Levin said, “there’s still about 20 mass killings every year in this country, and that has been true for decades.”

In other words, things aren’t getting worse.

Which is scant consolation to the parents who lost kids in Sandy Hook.

Wait, there’s more. Funnyman Aaron Freeman points out this fascinating set of statistics:

◗ US population, 1990: 248,709.873 — 23,440 homicides.

◗ US population, 2011: 311,591,917 — 14,612 homicides

Chicago Police Homicide

“We are,” Freeman writes, “moving in the right direction.”

PEOPLE ONLY ACT WHEN FACED WITH CRISIS?

Politico Ray Hanania points out this example of how mightily weird our species is:

One guy tries to use a shoe bomb on an airplane — Now every air travel passenger must remove her or his shoes before reaching the gate.

◗ Some 31 lunatics have committed school shootings since Columbine — No changes have been instituted.

Airport Security

Whew! I Feel Safer Now.

ACTION!

Yesterday morning, Kevin Sears, the Toastmaster General of Bloomington, and I mused on the inevitable movie about Jerry Sanduski, Joe Paterno, and the Penn State scandal. Here’s what we agreed upon:

Gary Busey will play Sanduski

Al Pacino will play Paterno

Casting

That’s all you need to know.

THE LAST MEN IN THE MOON

Precisely 40 years ago today, Gene Cernan, Harrison “Jack” Schmidt, and Ron Evans departed lunar orbit and began their quarter-million mile trip back to Earth.

Cernan and Schmidt were the last human beings to walk on the moon.

NASA Photo

Jack Schmidt On The Moon

Their mission, Apollo 17, originally was planned to be the third-to-last lunar trip but budget cutbacks forced NASA to cancel Apollos 18 and 19.

The two astronauts in the Lunar Module that descended to the moon’s surface from the Command Module spent a little more than three days on the Earth’s natural satellite. Their craft landed in the Taurus-Littrow lunar valley. The two walked on the moon for a total of 23 hours.

Schmidt was a geologist who’d go on to serve as United States Senator from New Mexico. Cernan was a Navy jet pilot before joining NASA. Both men are still alive and are approaching the age of 80.

NASA Photo

Cernan & Schmidt On The Trip Back To Earth

Before he left the moon, Cernan carved the initials of his daughter on a lunar boulder.

HARVEST MOON

One of the prettiest songs I’ve ever heard.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“We have the best government that money can buy.” — Mark Twain

MONEY TALK

Those on my side of the fence seem giddy that the plutocrats who sank hundreds of millions of dollars into last Tuesday’s election pretty much threw their dough away.

Mitt Romney and a host of Republican and Tea Party candidates who were bankrolled by the likes of Karl Rove’s SuperPAC, Sheldon Adelson, and the Koch Boys went down to defeat. Oh sure, there were some GOP victors but if I’m a big-bucks big shot and I’ve invested a seven- or eight-figure sum in the contest, I want a clean sweep.

Adelson Tried To Buy A Government

The titanic cash outlays were largely a result, of course, of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Prior to the election about the only thing more terrifying to Dems and Progressives than a Romney presidency was the specter of corporate cash determining our elections forevermore.

I haven’t heard the words Citizens United or corporate contributions in the week since November 6th. You’d think that just because Dems looked good this election cycle that the problem of corporate financing has simply disappeared.

Not so.

If I know the moneyed cabal the way I think I do, they’ll be refining their strategies and, for all we know, becoming much more adept at buying the government of their choice.

I don’t know precisely how Rove et al will re-jigger their expenditures. Then again, I don’t know precisely how safecrackers do their thing. I only know that when they’re finished doing their jobs, the safe is empty.

The Kochs: Working On Plan B

Admittedly, the American political system virtually from the start has been protected from greedy, flinty-eyed corporatists by something far less secure than one of those cheap safes you can buy at Target. In fact, the plutocracy has more or less jangled the keys to the safe from its own belt since the Industrial Revolution took hold here — and that was only a few short years after the gang that wrote the US Constitution decided to begin it with the words “We the people….”

So don’t forget about Citizens United. This past election wasn’t its death knell but perhaps its birth slap.

YOUNG IS OLD

Speaking of the Constitution, those of us of a certain age can recall our history teachers always raving about how the United States was just a babe among the nations of the world. This whole democracy thing, they’d bleat, was a brand-spanking new take on the concept of government.

I don’t know why it was so important to position this holy land as a neophyte on the planet. Perhaps our cheerleader teachers wanted us to think of the US as the avant garde that would move the world into the glorious future of the 1980s.

Television In Our Glorious Future

But I came across an interesting factoid several times while googling the Constitution. This assertion is repeated time and again and, to the best of my knowledge, is true: The United States Constitution is the oldest national charter on Earth.

In other words, our nation is a geezer. It has been for many years. And it was even as our history teachers were telling us it was young.

Just another example of why high school graduates should promptly erase from their minds the lessons their history and civics teachers taught them.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeOpen mic; 5-7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallMaster’s Recital: Burke Anderson on horn; 5pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallArtist Diploma/Doctoral Chamber Music Recital: Eun Young Seo on piano and Jae Choi on cello; 5pm

ART ◗ The Venue Fine Art & Gifts — “The Artistry of the Great Scott,” By Scott Weingart; 5:30pm

ASTRONOMY ◗ Lake Monroe, Fairfax SRAStar gaze with the IU Astronomy Club, Telescopes set up at Check Station Field; 6-7:30pm

WORKSHOP ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryIt’s Your Money Series: Investing in Your Future, Long-Term Savings; 7pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Ballantine Hall50 Years On: Meeting the Beatles, What They Mena and Why They Matter,” Presented by Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone; 7pm

ROUNDTABLE ◗ Monroe County History CenterCivil War: Confederates Raid Newburgh, Indiana; 7-9pm

WORKSHOP ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryOrganize and Revitalize Your Book Club; 7pm

LECTURE ◗ Brown County Public Library, Nashville — “TC Steele and the Hoosier Group,” Presented by Rachel Berenson Perry; 7-9pm

DISCUSSION ◗ Monroe County Public Library — “Trans-Pacific Partnership: NAFTA on Steroids,” Sponsored by the Women’s Int’l League for Peace and Freedom, Southern Indiana Branch; 7-8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoJeff Isaac Trio; 7:30pm

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

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubBlues Jam, Hosted by King Bee & the Stingers; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeZumba Night/Salsa Night; 8-10:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterSymphonic Band & Concert Band, Jeffery Gershman & Eric Smedley, conductors; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallGuest Ensemble: Génération Harmonique; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopJames McMurtry, Otto Mobile; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdHalfway Kooks; 9pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “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 through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

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 LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

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.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.” — Mark Twain

PAY ‘EM: DAY 6

So, Chicago Teachers Union reps vote on the new CBA tomorrow. And now the post-mortems begin.

For instance, a New York University professor of education came up with all the answers in a CNN Op-Ed piece last night.

Now that the strike is over, the professor writes, the Chicago public schools need to be fixed.

This Just In: Fix It

Come to this space tomorrow for a statement by medical researchers that human beings must breathe clean air.

Anyway, Professor Pedro Noguera, of the NYU school of education, cites an “exhaustive study of many of the reforms carried out during the Duncan years” (current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the longtime head of the CPS). The study, Noguera tells us, discovered that schools can be made better with a combination of “effective leadership, parent-community ties, professional capacity, and a student-centered learning environment.”

Professor Noguera

That’s like saying the secret for the Chicago Cubs to become a good baseball team is to get players who hit, field, and pitch better.

And look at the last two items on the study’s recommendation list. You know what “professional capacity” means? In plain English it’s good teachers. That “student-centered learning environment”? Translation: the focus of the school system should be teaching kids.

I’m glad Professor Noguera does not teach English.

That titan of good newspaper writing and personal deity of mine, Mike Royko, once penned a column for the Chicago Daily News about something he christened Educatorese.

“Until now,” Royko wrote, “only professional educators knew how to speak educatorese, that mysterious language with which they befuddle the rest of us.”

Mike Royko

As usual, Royko was being snide. The fact is, though, in-groups of people have been utilizing terminologies and languages that the common clay can’t understand as a way elevate themselves to priestly status since humankind began scheduling meetings.

Zoologist and human sociobiologist Desmond Morris once pointed out that lawyers and doctors and scientists long ago retained Latin as their linguae francae because it was important to keep their professional secrets from, ugh, people.

Morris also mentioned how the royal houses of Russia and Poland insisted on carrying on their business in French rather than their respective national languages because, again, they didn’t want their populaces to stick their snotty noses into affairs of state.

And keep in mind that for most of the last 500 years, the Roman Catholic Church insisted its members not read the Bible since only its priests could be trusted to understand it.

Throughout human history words have divided as much as they’ve united.

One of the most baffling words imaginable is pedagogy, a fave term of educators. They speak earnestly of pedagogical outcomes, pedagogical methodologies, and, simply, the process of pedagogy.

Pedagogy means teaching.

Teachers teach.

Pedagogues obfuscate.

Royko laid out a list of terms average citizens should learn so that they could “speak like an educator without being educated.”

Pedagogical Legend, Professor Irwin Corey

Here are some of the terms Royko brought to light:

  • Interdisciplinary
  • Intrapersonal
  • Ontological
  • Attitudinal
  • Multicultural
  • Cognate
  • Conformance
  • Introversion
  • Gestalt
  • Verbalize
  • Facilitate
  • Synthesize
  • Individualize
  • Total modular exchange
  • Vertical team structure
  • Individual horizons

Some of these terms make pedagogy sound as straightforward as the word is. They all come from a careful reading of school memos, education studies, and textbooks done by actual teachers — or, more properly, pedogogic outcome facilitators.

Things haven’t changed much in the 40 years since Royko brought Educatorese to the public eye.

Students still drop out of high school in this holy land at an unconscionable rate. Many big city school systems are still viewed as boondoggles.

And pedagogical savants still run our school systems.

SCHOOL DAYS

Probably the coolest girl band ever, the Runaways.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.” — Mark Twain

PAY ‘EM: DAY 2

First things first: The Chicago Teachers Union strike is not about the children. So let’s stop that silly, mawkish pretense this instant.

The teachers are going on strike because management wants to squeeze their pay and benefits, extend their work day, and expand class sizes. These are workplace issues, not We love children and only want what’s best for them issues.

If teachers and management wanted only what’s best for the children, the city would be throwing bushels of money at the teachers in an effort to get them back in the classroom and the teachers would be telling them not to bother because they (the teachers) would be more than happy to work for peanuts.

The kids are getting screwed royally in this mess. They’re missing the continuum of daily attendance in school. It may take weeks for them to get back in their groove, depending on how long this strike lasts.

Parents who work are getting screwed, too. Tens of thousands of families in Chicago are scrambling to make arrangements to make sure their kids aren’t roaming the streets all day while teachers walk the picket lines.

Very little benefit is going to come out of this craziness for anybody other than the teachers.

And that’s okay.

People get hurt in strikes. Customers and clients and vendors and and everybody else who depends on an industry starts hurting when that industry is hit by a strike.

One of the potential hammers either side has in a work stoppage is the collective anger of all those aggrieved parties. If a striking union plays its cards right, customers and clients and all the rest will start putting heat on management to make a deal.

The union has to control the PR side of the contretemps. In this case, the Chicago Teachers Union has to convey the message that its members are not rich, they’re not asking for wheel barrels full of precious metals, and — for pity’s sake — all you out there need them.

If the union does it right, it’ll walk away from this with nice raises for the teachers, a manageable workday, and class sizes significantly shy of the capacity of the Wrigley Field bleachers.

And if the kids and the families of Chicago get their knees scraped in the process, so be it.

I’m behind the teachers 100 percent.

I only ask them and some of their supporters not to try to bullshit me or anyone else. Teachers don’t go on strikes because they’re thinking of nothing but the children. They go on strikes because they’re worried about paying their mortgages and dreaming of sending their kids to college.

Nothing wrong with that as a casus belli.

WORKING

Here are the highest-paid careers in the United States this year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Pharmacist — $112,160 average salary a year
  • Air traffic controller — $114,460
  • Sales manager — $116,860
  • Airline pilots — $118,070
  • Financial manager — $120,450
  • Industrial-organization psychologist — $124,160
  • IT systems manager — $125,660
  • Marketing manager — $126,190
  • Natural science manager — $128,230
  • Architectural and engineering manager — $129,350
  • Lawyer — $130,490
  • Petroleum engineer — $138,980
  • CEO — $176,550
  • Dentist — $161,750 to $204,670
  • Doctor — $168,650 to $234,950

Who’d have a problem if teachers ranked anywhere in that list?

Me? I’d be thrilled to see teachers knock sales managers or financial managers off. And industrial-organization psychologists? They’re getting paid that much dough just to delve into people’s heads so they can make the workforce more pliant and submissive?!

Not only would I help the teachers throw them out, I’d give those sons of bitches kicks in the ass on their way out the door.

ONE MORE THING

Take a look at this luxury baby stroller:

The Nicest Ride On The Block

I don’t know how many people own one of these baby limousines. I’m willing to bet, though, that tens of of thousands of parents — maybe hundreds of thousands — would buy one if they could.

Now, how many of those people do you think want Chicago’s teachers to stop making trouble and go back to work?

I’M NOT FINISHED YET

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his kids to a private school.

That, my friends, is an outrage.

He is saying, essentially, that the schools — his schools — aren’t good enough for his kids.

The Emanuel Gang

Mayor Richard M. Daley and his old man, Richard J., both sent their kids to private schools as well.

What would people say if Bill Gates, while he was running things at Microsoft, carried a MacBook around with him wherever he went?

Mark it: The day I’m acclaimed King of the United States, I’ll decree that all municipal officials must send their kids to their local public schools.

They just might start seeing things a little differently.

OLD TIME (REALLY, REALLY OLD TIME) POLITICS

The technology already exists to generate video images of dead politicians and celebrities saying precisely what you want them to say in real time.

Big Think contributor Dominic Basulto speculates on the 2016 Republican National Convention when the star of the show will be Ronald Reagan lambasting Hillary Clinton or Julian Castro or Alec Baldwin or whoever will be the Dem standard-bearer.

Click For Full Article

Of course, my feeling is the GOP would be more accurately served by a video image of Homo Neanderthalensis grunting his distaste for women who enjoy sex and his worship of a psycho-sadistic god.

“Sandra Fluke Has Sex!”

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The flood of money that gushes into politics today is a pollution of democracy.” — Theodore H. White

SUMMERTIME AND THE BREATHIN’ IS WHEEZY

Hooray for summer! Today’s the first Ozone Action Day of 2012 for the Bloomington area.

Ixnay Today

Do everybody’s lungs a favor: take the bus, ride your bike, or walk. And lay off the power mower for a few days.

FRIDAY FUN

Click.

HOT SPELL IN EGYPT

I called it a year and a half ago when Hosni Mubarek was overthrown in Egypt.

Everybody was jumping for joy over the Arab Spring. I cautioned, Be careful what you wish for.

Egypt may tumble into civil war in the wake of some controversial supreme court rulings this week. It must be said, Egyptians have a choice in who crushes their dreams of freedom: the Muslim Brotherhood or the military.

An Egyptian Military Council Leader

I’m no jingoist but the situation in Egypt does remind me that the American revolution turned out not so bad after all. And many, many of the tyrannies that the Founding Daddy-os neglected to toss out have been addressed in the ensuing two and a half centuries.

THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL

Yesterday, Christopher Buckley in Salon argued that “Moby Dick” is the greatest American novel ever written.

He’s wrong.

Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is far superior. And if you prefer a less iconic choice, how about Thomas Berger’s “Little Big Man”?

In fact, I’ll take LBM over TAoHF. Berger’s epic recounting of late 19th Century American history through bullshitter-supreme Jack Crabb’s eyes is America. Crabb was “Zelig” before Woody Allen even thought of the man who was everywhere.

BAD

Ranker.com lists “The All-Time Worst People in History” today.

Adolf Hitler, natch, tops the list, garnering a few more votes than his on-again, off-again ally Joe Stalin. Three of Hitler’s henchmen (Himmler, Goebbels, and Mengele as well as his idiot son Mussolini also make the list).

il Duce

George W. Bush ranks No. 20 which is ludicrous. His inclusion on the list shows that liberals verey, very often can be as knuckleheaded as conservatives. Well, not very, very often. Actually, not even often at all. Occasionally.

Anyway, here’s my own list of The Worst Americans in History, in no particular order:

How I Wish That Was An Exploding Cigar

Working On It: Charles (L) & David Koch

  • George Wallace –“Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever!”
  • Orval Faubus — Arkansas governor who called out the National Guard to stop black students from attending a predominantly white school in 1957.
  • Curtis LeMay — Even though he was instrumental in the US victory over Japan in World War II, LeMay was nuts. I suppose if you’re fighting a “good” war, you want generals who are more whacked-out than the enemy’s. LeMay was brilliant, daring, innovative — and whacked-the-fk-out. Ran with Wallace as a third party candidate in the ’68 presidential election.

Oh, and Paris Hilton. I know she’s yesterday’s news but, still, she represents everything bad about the celebrity culture, nonproductive wealth, women-as-objects, arrogance, and a host of other American ills.

We Mustn’t Forget Paris Hilton

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Work is a necessary evil to be avoided.” — Mark Twain

SUNDAY THINGS TO DO

Click.

[SILENCE]

I have nothing to say today.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.” — Mark Twain

THE END

When I was a kid, magazines often carried cartoons featuring a robed, bearded guy walking the big city streets and carrying a sign that read, “The End Is Near.”

Usually the punch line would be delivered by a couple of passing businessmen, one of whom would muse to the other on how that end would affect his promotion or raise or his wife’s meatloaf.

Looking back, I suppose those cartoons reflected our need to deal with the specter of nuclear annihilation. On a less literal level, the general uneasiness over the burgeoning civil rights and women’s movements caused people to realize the world they were familiar with really was coming to an end.

May As Well Laugh

By and by, the Soviet Union collapsed and blacks and women began taking their rightful places in society. Lo and behold, the world didn’t end.

Now, we’re back to wondering if the end is near again. Climate change, our own vulnerability in the wake of 9/11, a crashed economy, internet panics, genetically modified foodstuffs, a black man as president, gay marriage, and even the Mayan calendar silliness have caused many to wonder if these are the last days.

They’re not. As George Carlin observed, we give ourselves too much credit. We can’t destroy the Earth, he said. It’s been here for billions of years and our societies have only been around for a few tens of thousands of years.

Carlin

The world has been struck by comets and asteroids, it’s been convulsed by earthquakes, it has experienced droughts and floods and been scoured by Ice Ages. Still it spins and life on it continues to grow and diversify.

Carlin even mentioned the crazy glut of discarded plastic bags accumulating in our oceans and across the land. He said the Earth, as it’s done since it came together eons ago, will just come up with a way of incorporating them into itself.

Part Of The Earth Now

We can’t end the Earth, Carlin concluded, we can only end ourselves.

And, I’d add, even that’d be awfully tough to accomplish. We tried our damnedest to wipe ourselves out back in the 1930s and 40s. World War II was the most violent spasm humanity has ever gone through. Anywhere from 60 to 100 million people were slaughtered during the hostilities. Yet here we are.

We’ve figured out a lot of things since the first hominids swung down from the trees and began branching off into proto-humanity. One thing we haven’t figured out, though, is perspective. Sometimes it seems we’re even regressing on that front.

In the 1960s, people who warned that the end was near were considered cartoon characters. Today they’re called in by the cable news channels to offer expert opinions.

GOIN’ TO THE CANDIDATES’ DEBATE

Remember that line from Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson”? Make sure to catch the vid at the bottom of this post.

Just a reminder: get yourself over to Bloomington High School South tonight for the debate between the five Democratic candidates for US Congress in Indiana’s 9th District.

BHSS is located at 1965 S. Walnut Street. The debate begins at 7:00 and runs for an hour and a half.

If you can’t make it, at least visit the candidates’ websites:

The primary is Tuesday, May 8th. The winner takes on Republican Todd Young in the November general election.

SINGING THE NEWS

Got two pieces of news at Bloomington Information Central — AKA the Book Corner — yesterday.

First, Maarten Bout, one of the big chiefs over at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, was brimming with the news that the first show of the 2012-2013 season has been set. Rufus Wainwright will play the venue on Tuesday, August 7th.

Wainwright

A few minutes later, Tom Roznowski ambled in, wearing his trademark fedora and a smart gray-on-gray retro ensemble. Bloomington’s storyteller, singer, author, and general custodian said he’s got a show lined up Saturday in Greenfield and his next hometown gig will be Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13th, 6:00 pm at The Player’s Pub.

Roznowski

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

◗ Bloomington, Citywide — IU’s Arts Week Everywhere 2012; Ongoing, various times

The Kinsey Institute Gallery “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze,” exhibit, art by women examining men; Ongoing, 1:30-5pm

Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibition, “Esse Quam Videri (To Be Rather Than To Seem),” featuring Muslim self-portraits; 9am-4:30pm

Grunwald (SOFA) GalleryIU MFA & BFA Thesis 3 Exhibitions; Noon-XXX, through May 5th

Sembower FieldIU Baseball vs. Miami of Ohio; 4pm

Myers Hall, Indiana Molecular Biology Institute — Seminar, keynote speaker Dr. Don Ennis, University of Louisiana, “Mechanisms of Mycobacterium Marinum Transmission between Fish”; 4pm

Puccini’s La Dolce VitaYoung Professionals of Bloomington monthly meeting; 5:30-8pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsGreg Jacobs presents “The Art of Wellness — Finding Wellness in a Health-Challenged Society”; 5:30pm

Bloomington City Hall, McCloskey Room — Erin Asher Meager presents “Creative Healing,” South Central Arts WORK Indiana meeting; 5:30-7pm

First Christian ChurchMoney Smart Week & the Indiana Attorney General’s office present “Schemes, Scams, and Flim-Flams”; 5:30pm

Jake’s NightclubKaraoke Tuesdays; 6pm

Patricia’s Wellness Arts Cafe & Quilter’s Comfort TeasUnfinished Object Night & Up-cycle Evening; 6:30-8:30pm

Bloomington High School SouthDebate, Democratic candidates for US Congress, Indiana’s 9th District; 7-8:30pm

Cafe DjangoJazz Jam; 7-10pm

First United Methodist ChurchSymphonic Bells of Bloomington Spring Concert; 7:30-8:30pm

Show-Me’sPoker; 7:30pm

The Player’s PubBlues Jam; 8pm

Farm Bloomington, Root Cellar — Tuesday Trivia; 8-10pm

The Palace Theatre of Brown County, Nashville– Cowboy Sweethearts; 8pm

Madame Walker Theatre CenterAuditions for “Queen Esther: A Fearless Shero”; 6-8pm

Max’s PlaceScott Bender’s Showcase; 8pm

AS PROMISED

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