Category Archives: NPR

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.

Karr

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!

Hot Air

Sterling Trey-dux

Talk about mixed emotions. My immediate reaction to the NBA’s lifetime exile of Donald Sterling was one of elation.

Yesterday, league commissioner Adam Silver symbolically drew his forefinger across his throat and thus the fate of the racist, reptilian owner of the LA Clippers was sealed. Goodbye, Donnie boy. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

Silver/Sterling

Silver To Sterling: Beat It

Then again, Sterling — although a loathsome warthog — was done in by being secretly tape recorded in his own home (apparently). If so, we’ve got official sanctions coming down now due to the growing culture of surveillance and for the crime of thought. I don’t like any of that one bit.

And, in the end, isn’t that life? Nothing is pure and we take what we can get even if it stinks to high heaven.

Better Than NPR

Hah! We beat the pants and skirts off the national news gang at NPR.

Yep, only this morning did NPR discover Thomas Piketty. The Pencil, in case you didn’t know, told you about the French economist and latest rage in the bookselling world, Friday.

Hmm. I wonder if NPR reporters and producers are regularly scanning The Pencil for leads. If not, they ought to.

Anyway, I insist WFIU’s Will Murphy and Annie Corrigan begin using the following tagline each morning:

The news every morning on Bloomington’s NPR station, WFIU. Second only to The Electron Pencil.

It’s only fair, no?

Murphy

Murphy: Golly, I wish I Could Work For The Pencil

Real Death Sentences

We haven’t talked much about capital punishment in recent years. There’ve been far more important issues like Miley Cyrus’s tongue, Barack Obama’s birth certificate, death panels, guns, gays and, natch, god.

But the State of Oklahoma whacked a guy last night. The job was far sloppier than any performed by the dedicated professionals of the Chicago Outfit over the years. Using a new “cocktail” of dope, OK executioners attempted to send one Clayton Lockett to what they considered his just deserts. Rather than play his part according to script, Lockett instead twitched and spasmed and agonized for some three quarters of an hour before, behind a closed curtain, prison officials dispatched him properly.

Lockett, of course, was dark-skinned; as you know, white people rarely commit capital crimes. His icing was so botched that Oklahoma authorities decided to deny themselves the pleasure of another execution, scheduled for this afternoon, to make sure they can do it without forcing innocents to watch a man die while flailing about.

We can’t have that.

Weird, isn’t it? Just 20 years or so ago, capital punishment was one of the biggest controversies in this holy land. Now? Hell, we kill guys so routinely that executions only make news when the job is pooched.

Just a little info about the Guv of the great state o’Oklahama. As you know, it’s the governor who’s the final arbiter in the process of any state-sanctioned offing. Yesterday, it was Mary Fallin, the Republican boss of the state, who gave the thumbs down. Republicans traditionally have been gung ho for cap. pun. while Dems most often call for all criminals to be allowed to freely rape and murder your daughters.

At least that’s the way I read many GOP arguments for the ultimate time-out.

Fallin

Fallin

Fallin is a real piece of work, even more remarkable than, say, Sarah Palin. While Palin generally talks as though she’s under the combined influence of PCP and psychosis, at least she quit her job as Alaska governor years ago. Fallin, meanwhile, still steers the ship of OK.

Gov. F. just this month signed into law a bill she championed, banning OK cities from instituting minimum wage standards higher than the federal gov’t’s. See, she doesn’t want her state’s cities to get all liberal like Barack Osama Stalin Obama. And, besides, minimum wage earners, in her fairy tale world, don’t need raises.

Wait, as they say on TV, there’s more.  Late last year, Fallin issued an order cutting off all spousal benefits for National Guard members, lest those who are gay might insist their sexually sick and criminal partners get same.

Neat, huh?

Happy killing, Mary.

Hot, Getting Seasonable, Air

Sly Fox?

Does it bother you that Fox Broadcasting is now financially supporting NPR’s Morning Edition?

Mind you, Fox B-casting is not Fox News. The two are separate entities under the worldwide umbrella that is Rupert Murdoch‘s media empire. Whereas Fox News typically airs topical news “debate” shows wherein, like professional wrestling, there are clear-cut villains and heroes, and its news updates generally steer blame for all the evils in the world, up to and including irritable bowel syndrome, toward Barack Obama and his liberal minions, Fox Broadcasting presents such darlings of the cognoscenti as The Simpsons, The Family Guy, and Glee.

Hell, F-Broad even will begin showing Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey this coming Sunday. To refresh, the original Cosmos was the brainchild of Carl Sagan. The presenter of this iteration will be Neil de Grasse Tyson. Both the late Sagan and and the still-very-alive NdGT would be ridiculed to high heaven were they to appear on a Fox News segment on climate change or evolution.

Murdoch as the Devil

The Devil No Matter What?

Still, the TV entertainment arm of the Murdoch octopus is run by, well, Murdoch. That’s gotta be enough to scare the bejesus out of us crunchy, bleeding-heart types who listen to Morning Edition.

Fun With Books

Would you read a book entitled Everything I Know About Women I Learned from My Tractor?

How about A Passion for Donkeys or Does God Ever Speak through Cats? And then there’s that classic, What’s Your Poo Telling You?

Book Cover

Hot!

IDK about you, but I’d read ’em! Not only that, I’d proudly display these tomes in my living room library. BTW: You can, indeed, tell the book, What’s Your Poo Telling You?, by its cover. It’s about paying close attention to your porcelain princess deuces; its tagline is “Loads of facts about your health.” And, yes, it’s illustrated.

Other, more genteel folks, might be turned off by these titles and more. That’s why Bored Panda offers The 40 Worst Book Covers and Titles Ever. Here are a few more, for your pleasure:

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

[h/t to Tanisha Caravello.]

I, Libtard

Just a reminder that I am the world’s biggest liberal, even in these days when liberals have lost their spark and are routinely portrayed as Nazi/commie terrorists who force their daughters to have sex with black men and then have their resultant fetuses aborted.

How did a nice guy like me get hung with that kind of rep?

Anyway, here’s a Noam Chomsky quote that I particularly dig:

The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.

Classroom

Now, Students, Remember: Never Rock The Boat.

Tell it, brother.

Barbarians All

And, finally, here’s Italian TV dude Adriano Celentano doing a parody video showing what American English sounds like to them goofy furriners. Sort of a counterpart to Andy Kaufman doing Latka Gravas, as you’ll see.

Weird thing is, when I watched this vid last night, I though the music was very, very cool. Then, when I watched it again this morning, it sounded, well, unlistenable. Further proof that we have to trust our second thoughts .

Hot Air

American Dis-Ingenuity

Okay, so, like, I’m sitting here trying to think of the one thing that most made 2013 2013 and, man, I just can’t get past this:

Screenshot from Raw Story

I’d been thinking of the Phil Robertson dust up about gays being bad and Jim Crow being good and, really, that is very, very American and 2013-ish, indeed. But how can we ignore a congressional effort to silence scientists because they just might want to teach Americans something?

See, at first Congress was cool with the idea of naming an unpaid, ceremonial American Science Laureate whose job would be to fly around and tell schoolkids how fab science is. Honestly, how could anyone object? Someone did; namely the American Conservative Union‘s Director of Government Relations, Larry Hart, who, upon hearing of the idea, began a threatening-letter-writing campaign to Right-leaning members of the House. The threat being, of course, that if you even think of approving this, kiss your chances at re-election goodbye.

And you know what? The congressbeings caved! Yep. Whereas the whole Science Laureate idea was on a fast track to be rubber stamped by early September, after Hart brought the legislators to Jesus, House Republican leaders yanked it from their voting calendar.

Hart explained that with the nation being held hostage by our current Kenyan-in-Chief, the Prez himself likely would make one of his Schutzstaffel lackeys the Science Laureate and that guy would further the commie lie that there is such a thing as climate change and, just for kicks, take all our guns away and force our daughters to get pregnant just so they could have abortions.

Only the House bill did not call for the President to appoint a Science Laureate. That person would be chosen by, um, the House itself.

Oh well, the whole idea has been flushed down the Capitol toilet. America.

Just so’s I don’t depress my readers (and myself) too much, I’ve also chosen a positive, definitively American thing from 2013. That is, the discovery and announcement that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed the putative edge of the Solar System and continues on in its journey through interstellar space. Voyager was launched in the late summer of 1977 and has traveled nearly 12 billion miles in the ensuing 36 ½ years.

Here’s a photo that Voyager 1 took of the receding Solar System when it was some four billion miles out in June, 1990. The Earth is the “Pale Blue Dot” in the reddish-brown streak on the right side of the image. Try as I might, I can’t even make out the Monroe County Courthouse in this photo:

NASA/"Pale Blue Dot"

The Earth From 4 Billion Miles Out

Keep in mind that in 1977, there were no personal computers, widespread wireless technology was still years in the future, the Internet hadn’t even been invented yet, and Miley Cyrus hadn’t been born. Such a backward time, no?

Nevertheless, science geeks beginning nearly 50 years ago ideated, designed, and created a spaceship that has so far visited the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, has left the whole caboodle behind, and is still sending signals back to Earth.

And I can’t even get a good, solid broadband signal from Comcast in my home. Something’s amiss, babies.

Anyway, Voyager 1 is zipping along at a shade over 38,000 mph. It’s got enough battery power to continue sending signals back to us for another 11 or so years. After the year 2025, it’ll be on its own, crossing the “interstellar medium” (geekspeak for outer space nowheresville). And just in case some alien dudes and/or dudettes spot it and have the capability to capture it, the forward-thinkers at NASA placed upon it a gold-plated disc containing sounds of various forms of life on Earth, pix of dozens of human societies, a roadmap to the Solar System, and a bunch of other stuff that’ll show all those ETs who we are.

Voyager 1 Golden Disc

Hi. It’s Us, Your Neighbors.

Thankfully, the disc includes no pix of current members of the House of Representatives nor of tailless monkeys like Larry Hart. We’d like to give the rest of the Universe a good first impression of ourselves.

No Sir

Terry Gross ran a repeat interview with Elton John today on her Fresh Air show.

Not that I care all that much about Elton John; I’ve found one or two of his hits bearable but usually his music bores me to tears. So, under normal circs. I would leap for the radio dial to turn the interview off. But I was at the sink washing dishes from last night’s delicious New Year’s Eve lobster dinner (kudos to The Loved One) and so wasn’t able to react like a jungle cat.

Because of this I heard Gross’s intro to the interview and was mightily pleased when she continually refer to him as, well, Elton John. As opposed to Sir Elton John.

John

Plain Old Elton John, 1975

Loyal readers will know I loath all references to the British empire’s antiquated and money-wasting royalty-cum-class system. You know, queens and princes and earls and lords and all the rest of those interbred goofballs. And something that makes me even more irate is the fascination we Americans have for English royalty and and all those assorted “nobles.” Why any one of us here in this holy land would care a whit about that new brat who was born to the Windsor tribe last year is downright bizarre.

CBS-TV Image

De-Evolved Zoo Denizens Cheer The Arrival Of The Royal Baby

After all, we have our own royalty and nobility here: the Bushes, the Clintons, the Kardashians, and the Cyruses, as examples.

Anyway, I’ve always been a big fan of Terry Gross and today, I’m even more so. I guarantee she omitted the Sir bit intentionally. People refer to other rocks stars by their artificial tiles all the time, witness intros for Sir Paul McCartney or Sir Mick Jagger.

Terry didn’t go down that road and that’s a very cool thing.

As for the interview itself, well, it was pretty much as uninspiring as most of John’s music. He talked about how wonderful all the fellows who died in World War II were, how strong and wonderful his mother was, and how the 1950s were very bad times for a gay kid growing up. I’d bugged out by the 20-minute mark.

In any case, thanks, Terry Gross

Hot Air

Teach Yourself

The ex-big bossman of British Jews, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday this morning to deliver the obligatory PR for his own boss, god.

The interviewer brought up an episode wherein that Brit kid named Harry, who has no job but is rich because he’s in line to become the toothless leader of the toothless former empire, was compelled to come see Sacks to get a spanking a few years ago. See, Harry’d gone to a costume party dressed up as a Nazi officer, which is a real riot unless, of course, you’d happen to have lost all your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles in Hitler and Himmler’s Final Solution.

Sun Front Page

R. Sacks chewed Harry out and Harry followed up with the most heartfelt of apologies. Well, not really. Harry himself didn’t apologize at all but the publicity office of purposeless UK royal family issued a statement saying that he “has apologised for any offence or embarrassment he has caused.” The kid may have gathered a gang of Final Solution survivors in the office where he performs his non-job to beg their forgiveness for his sartorial faux pas but no record of any such personal mea culpa exists.

Anyway, the Rabbi revealed that Harry was shocked to learn about the Holocaust when he came in for his tongue-lashing — even though he’d attended all the best schools in England. Sacks said it was an indictment of the British school system.

I’ve got news for him: I went through 16 years of parochial and private schools in this holy land and I am prepared to testify in a court of law that I never once heard the term Holocaust uttered in any class.

Yet, I knew of it from the time I was at least 10 years old. I’d read newspapers and magazines, thumbed through encyclopediae, and watched TV documentaries. It seems anybody who’s been alive from the year 1945 on should know of the Holocaust.

Holocaust/Public Domain

Really? Harry Never Once Saw A Photo Like This?

Dig: I’ve never heard a single note from any Taylor Swift recording, but I know a few things about her. You do, too. Any of us can identify her as that vanilla country singer who was once humiliated onstage after receiving a Grammy award. For that matter, I’ve never heard a single note of any Kanye West recording, but I know who he is, especially the part about him humiliating Taylor Swift onstage.

I needn’t have studied pop music history in a top-flight institution of higher learning to know these things. There is the phenomenon, after all, of cultural osmosis.

So, why wouldn’t a rich kid who attended all the best schools and, presumably, had access to books, newspapers, magazines, and documentaries know at least a little something about the Holocaust? All you need to know is one thing: the figure, six million. Once you know that, how can anything else you learn about the program of extermination be shocking?

So, yeah, Rabbi, the schools of our two Anglo nations (well, our own nation is only sort-of Anglo anymore) are indeed lacking in many ways, but it’s incumbent upon each and every one of us to actually learn things on our own.

A young man of wealth, privilege, and entitlement who doesn’t know about the Holocaust is an idiot.

 

Hot Air

Illumination

So, a guy lights himself on fire in Washington, DC. The rest of us figure the act must somehow be related to whatever lunacy Congress is up to these days.

From WPTV Ch. 5

Back in the mid-’60s, several Buddhist monks immolated themselves in protest against the corrupt regime that was running the non-nation of South Vietnam into the ground and whom we were about to send in half a million soldiers to prop up. The monks were seen as courageous martyrs.

Will the guy in Washington yesterday be seen as a martyr?

You bet he will, no matter what side of the fence he stands on. As for me, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I stick with Bertrand Russell on this one. He said:

I would never die for my beliefs because I could be wrong.

Russell

Bertrand Russell

Now It’s “Inefficient”

What with millions upon millions of people flooding the interwebs servers and phone lines of the bureaucracy that is running Obamacare, the Me Party-ists and their Republican coat holders in the US House of Representatives have to come up with a new fiction/myth/slander/prevarication…, er, um, lie to justify their rabid opposition to jes’ plain folks getting their hands on affordable health care.

Obamacare Web Error Message

Prior to this week, of course, the Me Team has screeched that the American people simply do not want Obamacare. Well, kids, tell it to all those millions and millions.

So, now what do they say? I heard a Tea Party squealer talking with Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition this morning. Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots told Simon, “[T]his law is not ready for implementation. All we’re saying is don’t spend our tax money on this law that clearly isn’t ready.”

Oh. Perhaps she’s referring to the flood applicants who got busy signals and error messages. Isn’t that sweet of her? Clearly she cares for all those poor uninsured souls. No?

No.

Big Mike Pronouncement: Tea Party-ists and their pals don’t give a good goddamn about anybody but themselves.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Tea Party-ists and the like would do better if they stopped couching their terms. For instance, why don’t they just come out and say it: If you’re poor, you’re unworthy. If you haven’t won big — or at least fatly and comfortably — in this jungle economy, you should shut up and accept your lot of shit in this life.

I’m telling you, this refreshing crystal clarity wouldn’t turn off a soul who already buys into their Randist, faux-Darwinist, execrable manner of “thinking.”

Anyway, here’s the definitive slapdown to Martin et al‘s dishonesty. A war toy manufacturer by the name of Lockheed Martin has been trying to develop a brand spanking new multipurpose stealth fighter for the US Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy as well as several of our bomb-dropping allies in Europe and elsewhere. The US alone was slated to buy more than 2400 of the airplanes. They’re to be called F-35s.

F-35

Not Ready

One of the selling points of the F-35 was that it would be inexpensive, whatever that means when one talks about the Defense Department and military contractors. Each of the fighters is expected to cost more than $150 million. Lockheed Martin’s hoped for invoice to the people of the United States would total approximately $360 billion.  Sheesh, if that’s inexpensive, I’d hate to see the Cadillac version of a stealth fighter.

Anyway, the production and design of the F-35 has, natch, caused eye-popping cost overruns. Not only that, the plane has so far been found to be unsafe, not all that stealthy, and, in computerized war games run by Pentagon geeks who love this kind of stuff, was roundly defeated by old fashioned Russian fighters.

In other words, to paraphrase Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, the F-35 is not ready for implementation.

Can we expect Martin and her cronies to sing out, All we’re saying is don’t spend our tax money on this airplane that clearly isn’t ready?

Neither Martin nor any other Me Party-ist has ever uttered such a line in reference to any war toy program. Nor will they ever.

They are as full of horseshit as anyone this mendacious holy land has yet produced.

Hot Air Is Not Shut Down

Smart. Or Not.

People have been talking about how ironic it is that members of the US House of Representatives will continue to get paid even while much of the federal government is shut down due to certain Congresscritters’ intransigence.

From C-SPAN

Hardly Working

But here’s the perfect opportunity for the sane among our esteemed legislators (there are all too few) to demonstrate how whacked the Me Party wing of the Republican House is. If the Democrats were smart (they’re not) they’d stand up en masse this morning after last night’s fed shut-down and say, “We’re not going to accept our paychecks” (they won’t.)

Wouldn’t it be perfect, though, if they did? The dramatic act would strip away whatever shred of dignity the Me Party-ists think they still have. Suddenly, the Dems would look like heroes, sharing with the rest of us the pain of the ordeal, while making the Republicans stand around with their pinkies in their noses argling and bargling as reporters demand to know why they’re still drawing checks.

Oh, wait, I just thought of yet another reason why this wouldn’t work: This holy land’s reporters don’t demand to know anything of import.

My mistake. Forget it.

800,000

Congressbeing David Schweikert of Arizona told NPR interviewers this morning that people seem to be getting all “shrill” about the fed shut-down. He added that there are silly geese who are acting as though “the world’s coming to an end.”

His words, of course, in quotes.

Schweikert

What, Me Worry?

Schweikert, who is four-square against the crime against humanity that is Obamacare, will continue to receive paychecks based on his $174,000 yearly salary even as some 800,000 people (all of whom make a lot less) will go without as long as he and his House cohorts continue to hold their breath.

Just a little trivia about the number 800,000. That would be the approximate population of the cities of Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and San Francisco. Fast approaching that figure are Columbus (Ohio), Ft. Worth, and Charlotte. All are large, vibrant, densely-packed municipalities.

So, for perspective, let’s just imagine that the entire population of the city of Indianapolis were suddenly laid off at midnight. Folks there might be driven to a bit of shrillness should that occur, no? And those who, let’s say, are trying to keep the refrigerator full while remaining current with the rent or mortgage payment and just happen to be wondering how they’re going to continue paying for various prescriptions and medical treatments for themselves or members of their families? Yeah, the world just might seem to be coming to an end.

BTW 1: That $174,000 yearly salary for a freshman, rank and file member of the US House of Representatives? It comes with a generous, comprehensive health insurance plan. None of the Representatives, it should be added, are responsible for co-pays. Sweet, eh?

BTW 2: Schweikert’s nickname is Rusty and that’s what the interviewers referred to him as. I will not. I don’t give a shit about his nickname. He’s neither likable, nor cuddly, nor familiar enough to me to get all chummy with in that way as long as he’s putting so many people out of work just so this holy land will not put into effect a law that will mandate health insurance coverage for all its citizens. I think a better nickname for him might be Dickhead.

Historic

If you’ve still got your gig, scrape together $25.00 for the new book Historic Preservation in Indiana: Essays from the Field. It’s a beauty, edited by Bloomington’s own Nancy Hiller and featuring writings by the likes of Henry Glassie, Lauren Coleman, Cynthia Brubaker, Steve Wyatt, Don Granbois, Vicki Basman, Benjamin Clark, Gayle Cook, Edith Sarra, Scott Russell Sanders, Teresa Miller, Cheryl Munson, and Bill and Helen Sturbaum. Kristen Clement does the pix. Linda Oblack, ably assisted by Nancy Lightfoot and Sarah Jacobi, got the project through the publishing maze at Indiana University Press.

Man, that’s an all-star cast.

Book Cover

Here’s a review of the book by Demetra Aposporos, editor-in-chief of the magazine Old House Journal: “Through a series of compelling essays, Historic Preservation in Indiana shows us both the far-reaching ripples of one person’s singular endeavors, and what can be accomplished when entire communities ride waves of preservation education and triumphs.”

The book hits the shelves tomorrow.

Your Daily Hot Air

Ghoulish Giving

NPR stations around this holy land probably do this, too, but I’m only familiar with the act as committed by Bloomington’s own WFIU.

That is, the really creepy begging on-air for you, the listener with a foot in the grave, to write the public radio station into your will.

A little promo runs every day on Morning Edition. Some somber-ish music plays in the background as the announcer tells us we can make “an investment in WFIU’s future” and leave behind a valuable legacy. The financial support page on WFIU’s website expands on the concept. It tells us that these are “Gifts that cost you nothing during your lifetime,” as if the station’s doing us a big favor. The page also gives us options for giving cash, stocks, real estate, or other personal property. It even shows us how to make that very last donation by signing over our life insurance or retirement plan benefits.

Undertaker

“But First, Let’s Sign Those Papers.”

I know the ad is directed to us all in general, but I can’t help thinking about the poor souls who are pushing 85 or 90 and maybe have an electrical system that’s about to short out.

The station is saying, sans all the prettified verbiage, “Hey, when you’re dead, can we have your money?”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, public broadcasting needs our support. The Loved One and I pitch a c-note over to WFIU every year, natch. And, yeah, the Republicans every once in a while threaten to cut off federal funding for NPR because, as we’re all well aware, public radio endorses forced sterilizations and compulsory abortions and works feverishly behind the scenes to convert all white children into homosexuals. Nevertheless, we continue to listen and want to help pay for Will Murphy‘s fleet of Maseratis.

(And, BTW, every time the Republicans threaten to cut off funds, public  radio and TV fundraising phones jump off the hook.)

Anyway, I dig that public broadcasting fundraisers must be creative. I mean Garrison Keillor’s not gonna pay himself for his valuable time. Still, this legacy business is really unseemly.

Look, my brother has made himself a nice, tidy pile over his lifetime and, don’t get me wrong, I’ve put the touch on him once or twice, or was it half a dozen times? — no matter — the point is, even I wouldn’t have the cagliones to say to him, “Hey, Joey baby, I was just thinking, wouldja mind filling out a nice round figure for me in your last will and testament and, oh yeah, I think I’d look awfully good behind the wheel of that Chrysler 300 of yours.”

I don’t want to get all Bob Greene-y on you here, but I don’t think this kind of ghoulishness would have flown even twenty years ago.

Greene

Yes, That Bob Greene

[Big Mike Note: While I was googling pix for this post, I discovered that there’s a whole genre of erotica surrounding sexy babes and hearses. I have absolutely nothing to say that would make this addendum any funnier or snarkier. I just want you to know about it.]

I Am Love The Walrus

As you know, without Wonkette, I would be blissfully unaware of every important development in this crazy, mixed up world. And, (h/t to Doktor Zoom of Wonkette) here’s what’s important to the lunatics employed by the thankfully dead Andrew Breitbart’s network of interwebs agit-prop sites: this holy land’s advertising industry and Hollywood are in cahoots to foist bestiality upon us.

Yup. As evidence, John Nolte of Big Hollywood last year cited a weird little commercial for Skittles in which a couple of hot tomatoes talk about their sizzling love for walruses who gobble the multi-colored candies.

Indeed, nothing like pix of chix making out with walruses to entice Murricans to try animal sex.

OTOH: I have to wonder if bestiality really is on the rise. What else, after all could explain the existence of Breitbart bloggers better than the coupling of Homo Sapiens sapiens and Pan troglodytes?

Chimpanzee

Hey, Baby, How ‘Bout It?

I Am In Love With A Sheep

Redux on this vid; I’m fairly certain I’ve run it before, but it’s always worth a reprise. This is the single funniest wordless double-take in the history of film. And it’s proof that Gene Wilder was a comic genius. Go ahead, laugh out loud, even if you are at work.

Your Daily Hot Air

World To End

Yeah. We humans have hit bottom. There is no hope left. Our time here was sort of interesting. We came up with Shakespeare, Gershwin, Apollo 11, quantum electrodynamics, Arrested Development, pizza, chocolate, and Gandhi.

All of that has been negated by two very recent developments, both of which are documented by Jezebel.

First, vampire-obsessed author Anna Rice identifies the real victim in the Paula Deen dust-up:

From Jezebel

And as if that isn’t bad enough, violent gangs who identify themselves by their affiliations with boy-bands are now roaming our streets:

From Jezebel

Humanity is survived by no one. It was 4 million years old. Services have not been announced at this time.

Meet The New Boss; Same As The Old Boss

NPR carried a report this morning on the outgoing head of Qatar handing power over to a new leader yesterday. It was, the reporter said, the first peaceful transfer of power in the Persian Gulf sheikdom since it became an independent nation in 1971.

The reins passed from the 61-year-old Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, 33. The now-former emir had himself seized power in the tiny oil nation in a 1995 coup. The fact that the transfer of power took place without the seemingly obligatory uprisings, streets riots, government gassings, air force bombings of rebel strongholds, and assorted beheadings and gang rapes that have become signatures of so many other Middle East upheavals was hailed in the report.

“… [T]he transition — a rarity in a region where leadership changes are nearly always triggered by deaths or palace coups — also sends a message to the wider Middle East. It appears a sweeping response to the Arab Spring upheavals and their emphasis on giving voice to the region’s youth….”

So reads the online version of the report. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Peace. The spirit of the young. The freedom of the Arab Spring.

My response? Cut the horseshit, NPR. Sheik Tamim is the son of Sheik Hamad. The elder boss reportedly is seriously ill. So he decided to allow his kid to sit on the throne a little early. The sole highlight of Sheik Tamim’s resume prior to yesterday’s promotion was the title of Crown Prince. If that’s a “transfer of power,” then the Koch Brothers are social workers.

Gold

The Real Qatari King

Here’s a thumbnail description of Qatar’s government: It’s an absolute monarchy with no independent legislature and in which political parties are outlawed. The old man sheik promised to hold parliamentary elections back in 2005 but they were cancelled. No new date has been set nearly a decade later.

So, really, the big news out of Qatar is — not a damned thing has changed.

Almost Heaven

When I was a kid, I actually believed that my Chicago sports teams were ineligible to win their respective league championships. True. My Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls, White Sox, and Bears (listed in the order I cared about them) never, ever once mounted a realistic challenge for the title during the endless years of my impressionable youth.

Santo & the Cat, 1969

It reminds me of a story an old pal who’d grown up in Brooklyn once told me. He said his older sister had a vague awareness of pro sports when they were kids (and, by the way, in a big city, the only sports that count are pro sports; which explains my continued amazement at Bloomington’s passion for the IU Hoosiers teams). This Brooklyn guy said his sister had the understanding that baseball’s World Series, under the sport’s rules, was an annual contest between the best team in the National League and…, the New York Yankees.

Sports Illustrated Photo

They Always Won

Makes sense, no? The Yankees won the American League pennant every year but two from 1949 through 1964. To a kid growing up during that span, that’s pretty much the whole of human history. I mean, when I was seven years old I thought that John F. Kennedy had been president forever. It took me years to wrap my head around the fact that he only was in office for a tad more than three and a half years.

Anyway, my Blackhawks played in the Stanley Cup finals in 1971 and ’73, losing both times to the Montreal Canadiens. I was 15 and 17, respectively. And the ‘Hawks failure to win the Cup those years reinforced the notion that Chicago teams simply would not win championships in my lifetime.

It wasn’t until the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985 that I could enjoy a Chicago championship. I was 28. And, at that, given my indifference to football, the Bears’ big win was pretty much a yawner for me.

Things changed, of course, with the arrival of one Michael Jeffrey Jordan in my town. My Bulls won six NBA titles in eight years during the ’90s. And then, as soon as Michael Jordan went away, so did the Bulls.

Jordan, 1991

By the time I was almost 50, I figured it could only take the all-too-brief appearance of some demi-god to enable a team I rooted for passionately to win in any given year.

The White Sox sneaked into a World Series win in 2005 but, to be frank, that was bittersweet. It mainly reminded me that my Cubs, the one-and-only true sports love of my life, hadn’t won the World Series since 1908. Still haven’t, BTW.

The Blackhawks remain number two in my heart. I wasn’t assumed into heaven when they took the Stanley Cup in 2010, but I did cruise the streets of Bloomington with my radio blaring that night, honking like a nut now and again. Had I been back in Chicago, I would have been one of tens of thousands doing the same thing. Here, I was one. Period.

I sat alone in my garage office last night, chewing my fingernails while listening to the live stream of WGN radio’s broadcast of the game between the ‘Hawks and the Boston Bruins. With just over a minute left to play, the Bruins led 2-1. The ‘Hawks pulled their goalie to put an extra attacker on the ice, usually a desperation move that indicates the game is over. teams pull their goalie when they need a miracle.

My Blackhawks got two miracles within 17 seconds yesterday. They scored twice and won the series, taking the 2013 Stanley Cup. I yelled. I clapped. I pounded on my desk. I put up a pile of goofy, giddy Facebook posts. I was a kid again.

From Facebook

My teams can win titles.

By all rights, I should be assumed into heaven should my beloved Cubs ever win the World Series. Problem is, I don’t believe in heaven. Sigh.

CNN/Bleacher Report Photo

Your Daily Hot Air

Women’s Lib

How about this for good news?

The new NASA astronaut training class is 50 percent female.

Yup. Four of the eight members of next two-year training program are women. And get this: the NASA guy in charge of spin, Jay Bolden, tells us, “The selection is about qualifications. It has nothing to do with their genders.”

Imagine that.

2013 NASA Astronauts

Newest Astronauts (l to r):

Christina Hammock, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Anne McClain, Dr. Jessica Meir

We’re becoming more and more genital-blind. We’ll have a woman president sooner rather than later. The fact that a woman, Marissa Mayer, runs a big outfit like Yahoo, isn’t breathtaking news anymore. And, with Mayer calling the shots, Yahoo now has liberalized its maternity leave policy.

Prior to these enlightened days, male company bosses preferred their female employees to squat in the field behind the factory, drop their babies, and get right back on the assembly line just as soon as they washed their hands.

So things are changing. We forget that when we fixate on the crypto-sociopaths who populate the loon wing of the Republican party.

Anyway, this is an appropriate day for NASA’s announcement. It was thirty years ago today that Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. She rode aboard STS-7, the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Sally Ride

BTW: Sally Ride was a lesbian. Sadly, she felt compelled to participate in a beard marriage in the 1980s, presumably to protect her career.

Frustration

Grrr.

So, I’m listening to NPR’s Morning Edition as I pound this post out on my keyboard. And I’m thinking I’m pretty smart, tying in the four new female astronauts with the Sally Ride anniversary. Just as I’m correcting some misspellings, whaddya think happens?

Those commie NPR rats (I know this about them because the aforementioned crypto-sociopathic Republican loons have told me so) run a piece about Sally Ride’s ride, leading it off with a mention of the new female space cadets. As if that isn’t bad enough, while I’m patting myself on the back for the song vid I’m going insert at the end of the entry, NPR plays that very song as a bumper after its story!

The jerks.

Well, I don’t care. I’m nothing if not a stubborn old bear. I’m still gonna insert a vid of the fab song “Mustang Sally.” Only this version is by blues bossman Buddy Guy. I’m way cooler than you are, NPR.

Nepotism

This seems as good a time as any to shill for my very talented and cool cousin who runs the eponymous Paul Parello’s Blues Power radio, video, and live performance operation.

And, hey, here’s cuz (on the left) in a bit part as a tough guy in the movie, “The Dark Knight.” That’s Eric Roberts on the right.

From "The Dark Knight"

What, you thought I was the only one with talent to emerge from the Parello gene strain?

Abortion: It’s A Laff Riot!

Um, uh, yeah, I s’pose…, if you’re a member of — you guessed it — that gang of crypto-sociopathic Republican loons I twice mention above.

Alex Seitz-Wald in yesterday’s Salon tells us that the Repugnicans are thinking of flooding the interwebs with baby-killing humor just so’s they can attract that snark-loving younger crowd (who haven’t voted for the GOP since, er, um, ever.)

Audience Laughing

Stop It, Your Killin’ Me!

Seitz-Wald quotes a member of the Hitler Youth…, er, sorry, Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins telling a panel at last weekend’s gathering of the Ku Klux Klan…, oops, sorry again, Faith and Freedom Coalition, “You can engage with sarcasm. It’s hard in the abortion issue, but you have to.”

Surprised? Need I remind you that many Republicans still hold to the terrifying belief that Sarah Palin would have made an acceptable Vice President of the United States of America?

Or that this man could lead our holy land?

Trump

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