Category Archives: NCAA

Hot Air

Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me

Young Adult author Julia Karr sat and talked with me recently for the latest installment of Big Talk. An eight-minute snippet of that tête-à-tête ran on WFHB last week.


Julia Karr

You ought to listen to it, especially if you’re an aspiring writer, say, or a high school dropout. Julia Karr has pushed through a ton of barriers to achieve that most glorious status in life: published author. She has written the dystopian fantasies XVI and Truth, about young Nina, a rebel in the year 2150. In that world girls who reach the age of sixteen are expected to become sex playthings; there’s little more a young female can hope to do. Nina, though, has other ideas.

We’re putting the finishing touches on the long-form interview with Julia that will run in the July issue of The Ryder.

Meet Bloomington’s most fascinating folk via the Big Talk interview series, co-sponsored by this communications colossus, The Electron Pencil, as well as WFHB and The Ryder.

BTW: Go to Julia’s website. She has a blog that in my humble opin. is tied for second-best in B-town. Natch, you know who’s the boss of the bestest blog hereabouts.

Pay To Play

When the Indiana University Hoosiers cartilage kids challenge for the top spot in any Big 10 sport, folks around these parts go gaga. And, this being the great United States of Murrica, we tend to throw dough at the gamesters, buying tickets by the fistful, wearing T-shirts, and drinking watered down brew out of IU-logoed beer cozies.

Only those cartilage kids don’t share in the swag. College athletes, as you know, aren’t paid. This despite the fact that their field and court exploits are the sole reason we fling our dollars around. Loyal readers already know how I feel about this stinking state of affairs.

IU Hoops

Volunteers Of America

Click on over to Frank Deford’s essay on NPR’s Morning Edition. He expounds on the bullshit notion that is amateurism — that is, amateurism the way the NCAA defines it. I like the way Frankie thinks.

Don’t Tread On My Bread

I tilt against peeps who espouse this health craze, that diet, or the conspiracy theory over there all the time. F’rinstance, my oldest and dearest pal in the world and I are howling at each other these days over her recent conversion to the belief that wheat grain products are only slightly less dangerous to humans than an arsenic cookie in a radioactive tin attached to an improvised explosive device.

Our skirmish thus far has remained reasonably civil although my agents have uncovered intelligence that she is a mere two years away from possessing the capability to build the arsenic cookie in a radioactive tin attached to an improvised explosive device. This will not stand. I will not allow a chocolate chip mushroom cloud be the final piece of evidence against her.

Mushroom Cloud

This Means War

Anyway, I always caution people I’m arguing with over such things that they should be careful what Internet stories they believe. I say, borrowing (okay, stealing) from Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.”

My dear pal had one defender who said to me, Look, if it makes her feel better, why fight it? What’s the skin off your nose?

Other than the fact that my Sicilian/Polish beak looks just fine with the acreage of dermis presently attached to it, thank you, my argument is that any individual ideas based on rage, mania, trendiness, and pseudoscience might be only mildly harmful to the possessors thereof but they represent a credulousness that can be far more toxic when applied repeatedly or in certain other more pressing cases.

To wit: the anti-vax movement of recent years. A single family might have rationalized that it really harmed no one else other than, potentially, themselves when they refused to get their kids inoculated.

Here’s the argument that lays that rationalization to rest: it has been learned that a single kid who had not received the MMR vaccination was responsible for an outbreak of measles in Minnesota in 2011.

The parents of the kid were part of a community that bought into the hysteria over childhood vaccinations that arose in the first decade of this century. That hysteria, in too many cases, was fatal.

As important as saving the lives of innocent children may be, the even more dangerous aspect of the anti-wheat movement is the possibility that pizza and pasta may one day be outlawed. Now, that would be a human tragedy of monumental proportions!

Pasta & Sauce

Save Our Spaghetti!

The Pencil Today:


“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” — Marie Curie


The world’s citizenry has plenty of reasons to be mad at the US.

In my lifetime alone there’ve been Vietnam, the Shah, the Contras, a couple of senseless wars with Iraq, and Lady Gaga.

Down With The USA!

That’s enough to make anyone hurl a shoe at the Secretary of State’s motorcade.

Which is what a gang of Egyptians did yesterday when Hillary Clinton passed through Cairo. They threw tomatoes at her entourage as well.

Apparently, the protesters were hot because this holy land allegedly has taken sides in their presidential election charade. I wouldn’t doubt that we are, considering the US puts its big nose into everybody’s business. That’s what empires do.

But the protesters also shouted “Monica, Monica, Monica” at Hillary’s limo.

You remember Monica Lewinsky, the most famous fellator in human history, don’t you? Also, in case you’ve forgotten, she was a walking humidor.

Quite A Bouquet

Anyway, I’d lay off the sexual references if I were the Egyptians. They didn’t exactly comport themselves well with women in the streets when they were in the process of overthrowing their tyrant leader, Hosni Mubarek.

An effort, by the way, the United States supported.

In fact, just the other week a crowd of Egyptians sexually assaulted a female British journalist covering the celebration for newly elected prez Mohammed Morsi.


Some observers of the Penn State University situation have said the NCAA has no authority over the institution in criminal matters not related to athletics.

Their “logic” goes that Jerry Sandusky’s sex life with children and Joe Paterno’s winking consent of same are not violations of the rules of the sacred game of football. Nor did they give Penn State an edge over its rivals in the playing of games.

The Little Girl Wisely Leans Away From The Nittany Lion

Maybe. Of course, if the NCAA’s lawyers find this to be true then we can only hope the National Collegiate Athletic Association shuts down its offices and goes out of business forever.

Me? I’m all for the NCAA giving Penn State the death penalty. Shutting down its football program for one or two years just might remind people in Happy Valley as well as in college towns around the nation that big time sports is not the reason universities exist.


Scientists have developed a device that can allow people to use their computers simply by moving their eyes.

This will be a miraculous boon to quadriplegics and amputees, among others.

The device, called GT3D, reads the user’s eyeball movements and translates that information into instructions to move a screen cursor. Users can play games, write emails, and do most of the things people with two usable hands can.

Click on the image below to see the video of a guy playing Pong with his eyes. Unfortunately, I can’t embed the vid.

The technology may one day be extended to wheelchair users. The device would be able to read the chair-bound user’s eye movements and cause the chair to proceed accordingly.

Some two decades ago I predicted that within fifty years we’d have implantable personal video and audio recording devices. Those of us who could afford it would have micro-devices surgically placed in our eyes.

Imagine how that would affect the criminal justice system.

Science, my friends, is cool.


The above story reminds me of a woman I met last week at the Book Corner. Her name is Sarah and she was stocking up on science-y books for summer reading.

That’s right — rather than lull herself into a trance by reading, say, “50 Shades of Grey” or “A Stolen Life,” she opted to spend her time on good stuff like “Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer and “The Mind’s Eye” by Oliver Sacks.

This Just In: Girls Have Minds, Too

I got to chatting with Sarah and she revealed she is here in Bloomington working on her doctorate in chemistry.

She admitted there aren’t many other women in her chosen field. She said she fell in love with chemistry thanks to an inspiring high school chemistry teacher, who happened to be a man.

Sarah was funny, extremely sociable, and curious about many things. And, again, she’ll soon have a PhD in one of the hard sciences.

The only downer is there are so few young women like Sarah running around the Great United States, Inc. these days.

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

Monroe County Public Library“It’s Your Money: Flapjacks & Greenbacks,” Learn to make pancake mix from scratch and other tips to save money; 7pm

Make Your Own

Cafe DjangoBloomington Short List, hosted by Marta Jasicki, variety show, ten acts, ten minutes each; 7pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Chamber music students college audition; 8pm

The BishopMurals, The Natives, Chandelier Ballroom; 9pm

The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase; 8pm

◗ IU HPER, room 107 — Free ballroom dance lessons; 8:30pm

The BluebirdDave Walters karaoke; 9pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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