Category Archives: Pew Research Center

Hot Air

Funny Freberg

If you love radio as much as I do, you’ve loved Stan Freberg.


Stan Freberg

An advertising consultant and radio humorist, Freberg was dubbed the “father of the funny commercial” by Advertising Age. His radio satires inspired the likes of the Beatles’ Paul McCartney and author Stephen King. I enjoyed his syndicated oldies radio programs through the 2000s.

Freberg died last week. The announcement came yesterday. Here’s an audio clip from Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, a 1961 comedy album that Time magazine declared at the time the funniest ever made.

The Smart Party?

Pew Research told us yesterday about Murricans’ party affiliations. Here’s a quick, handy guide to who likes which party in this holy land, as repro’d in Digby’s Blog, a must read here at Pencil HQ:

Republicans hold a 49%-40% lead over the Democrats in leaned party identification among whites. The GOP’s advantage widens to 21 points among white men who have not completed college (54%-33%) and white southerners (55%-34%). The Democrats hold an 80%-11% advantage among blacks, lead by close to three-to-one among Asian-Americans (65%-23%) and by more than two-to-one among Hispanics (56%-26%). Women lean Democratic by 52%-36%…. Democrats lead by 22 points (57-35% in leaned party identification among adults with post-graduate degrees.

And we wonder why Republicans vilify academia and seem so godawful eager to cut school funding. In this weird day and age, smarts and Republicanism don’t go well together.

Busman’s Holiday News

Look for a new Busman’s Holiday disc coming this fall. Addison Rogers stopped by Table Number 1 at Soma Coffee this AM to fill in The Pencil on his and his bro’s latest opus.

Busman's Holiday

Lewis (L) & Addison Rogers

The two spent a couple of weeks last month in Montreal where they’re working with producer Mark Lawson on the recording. “We got the rough mixes out of the way, the more complicated ones,” Rogers says. “Then we’re probably going to get up there in May to wrap it up.”

The new disc will still feature the Busman sound we’ve grown to know and love but with a pinch of difference. “We’re going in a couple of different places, not too far,” Rogers says. “We’re thinking about the low end a little bit more this time — we’re adding some bass.”

The Rogers boys are contemplating setting up a crowdfunding campaign, à la Krista Detor, to finance the project. Stayed tuned here for more news on that front.

Gun Crazy

Funnyman Aaron Freeman notes that the National Rifle Association will institute a special safety policy for its annual firearms orgy this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. Attendees will be forbidden — you guessed it! — from carrying guns.


Aaron Freeman

Everybody from Ted Nugent to Sarah Palin as well as most of the putative GOP candidates for president in 2016 will speak at the bash, telling NRA members, natch, that gun-totin’ should be unimpeded everywhere on god’s green earth, save the hall in which they speak.

The NRA, of course, has been instrumental in getting states and communities to enact open-carry laws. Thanks to the NRA, a real Murrican can pack heat at his local Wal-Mart, saloon, or house of worship across much of this holy land.

Freeman offers some free advice for the NRA’s devoted gun-fondlers: “If you want to carry a working gun, you’ll have to go to church.”


Dig these two photo collections of the Japanese internment (read: concentration) camps that the US Gov’t set up during World War II:

Business Insider tells us about Ansel Adams’ photos of life inside the camps. Adams published a book of the pix in 1944 entitled Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans. Here’s one image:


Library of Congress/Ansel Adams

Adams’ images now are part of the collection at the Library of Congress.

London’s Daily Mail tells us about Bill Manbo’s color pix of life in the camps. Manbo was a young Japanese-American photographer who was made to live at one of the camps, the lot of which housed more than 100,000 people during the war. Manbo published the book, Colors of Confinement. Here’s a taste:


Takao Bill Manbo, © 2012

Funny thing is, the Germans had hundreds, even thousands, of moles in the US during the war. And prior to hostilities breaking out, German-American Bunds existed in every big city. German treachery was such a worry that the Naval intelligence agency worked hand-in-glove with the New York City Mafia — in the person of Charley (Lucky) Luciano — to safeguard our east coast ports from sabotage and labor unrest. No such precautions were needed on the west coast.

Nevertheless, Americans of Japanese ancestry were rounded up while German-Americans enjoyed all the comforts of home for the duration.

Hot Air

Pocket Feminism

Do the dearth of pockets in women’s pants and the traditional expectation that a woman should carry a purse serve to keep our sisteren under the thumb of the patriarchy?

That’s what writer Becky Havens says on Feminspire. Funny thing is she admits she’s being somewhat, well, funny about the whole deal. But in her humor there’s truth.

Men’s pants often do come with more pockets than than an explorer in the Brazilian rain forest would need. Me? My pockets are always stuffed. I carry a handkerchief, a wallet for my dough, credit cards and IDs, another wallet for business cards, my Prius smart key, some guitar picks, a flash drive, a worry stone, a pocket knife, a telephone, a small notebook, and a pen and a pencil (mechanical, of course). I cannot leave the house without all these things in their proper pockets, but now we’re getting into one of my neuroses and that’s a topic for another post.

Anyway, I feel free when I carry all these things. And I don’t have to worry that some street hoodlum will try to snatch a bag carrying all them right off my shoulder. I am self-sufficient when my pockets are properly filled. The cool thing is, all this is on me every moment I’m out of the house. Note that: On me.

Pocket Knife

I’m Naked Without This On Me

Those tools and accoutrements are part of me. Conceivably, I’ll be dependent on no one, no matter what emergency might arise, up to and including the need for a life-saving strum of some guitar.

Now, a woman can be equally self-sufficient if she loads up her purse with such implements. Yet few women I know carry a pocket knife. Why? My guess is equipping one’s self in this manner would make the carrying woman more free.

I’m not joking. Women’s paraphernalia includes compacts, lipsticks, mascara — in other words beauty stuff. If a man (at least this man) faces a dire need of some sort, he might need a screwdriver, a knife blade, or some prying tool, all of which and more come neatly folded in my pocket knife. So a woman’s dire needs are cosmetic and a man’s urgencies demand problem-solving equipment. At least according to our sex-typed expectations.

A woman, though, will be dependent on heroes and saviors should she find a screw lodged in her car tire or needs to tie something down with twine. Even if she is foresighted enough to carry a Swiss Army knife, it’ll be in her purse not in her pockets. Not on her. Not part of her.

That’s because she’s not expected to be a problem-solver. That’s what men are for. A woman’s choices of trousers and drawers are limited to reflect that. Pockets? Whaddya need pockets for, lady?


Nothing On Them

Again, no joke. Discuss.

[h/t to Jerry Boyle for the link.]

Us vs. Them

Let’s take a look at the evolution of the philosophical divide between Democrats and Republicans that has stalled Congress the last few years.

The Pew Research Center people have produced a series of charts showing how each party, at one time, had a more diverse membership in terms of liberal and conservative thought. As some 40 years years slipped by, the conservatives became exclusively Republican and the liberals solely Democrat.

Pew Research

Natural Selection? (Click Image For A Closer Look)

Notice how the Left/Right spectrum ends have separated? These days, we see that as evidence of the polarization in American thought.

The truth, though, is that we’ve been polarized all along. Yet somehow things got done. Before the great party shake-out of the 1970s, the Democratic party was peopled by a significant number of segregationists and anti-federal gov’t types from the South. And the Republicans actually had a progressive wing, including big name senators Charles Percy, Nelson Rockefeller, and (believe it or not) George Romney (Mitt’s daddy-o).

It seems logical that these philosophical kin should gather in one or the other appropriate party. Yet, back in those confusing days of the 1960s, say, the Left had to listen to the Right — and vice-versa — because they were all compelled to work together within each party. For instance, Dem congressional leadership had to twist arms and make deals with the Southern segregationists in order to get Civil Rights legislation passed.

Now, there’s zero reason for opposing sides to work together.



Your Daily Hot Air


Yesterday was the anniversary of the end of World War II.

V-J Day

I just happen to be reading the first book in historian Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy, An Army at Dawn. It tells the story of Murrica’s first WWII ground action, the invasion of North Africa, nearly a year after entering the war at the invitation of Japan and Germany (Italy was handling the catering.) Imagine, it took just shy of twelve months for American soldiers to see action after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Oh sure, there’d been some monumental sea clashes, including Midway, during that time, but as for huge numbers of US Army men facing off against the enemy, it wasn’t until November 8, 1942 that Operation TORCH, the Algeria-Morocco landings, commenced. Throughout that year, Russia and the American military brass lobbied hard for an immediate Western Europe invasion. President Roosevelt and the British nixed that idea for fear a premature Allied D-Day would be crushed and, subsequently, the war might drag on for a decade or two.

Apparently, FDR and Churchill were right. The Russians (at a cost of some 20 million human beings) wore down the Nazis on the Eastern Front so that when the D-Date actually arrived in June, 1944, Germany was sufficiently softened up for the taking.

Anyway, Emperor Hirohito announced on August 15, 1945, three months after the Nazis had given up the ghost, that Japan was finished fighting. It wasn’t of course; sporadic violence took place here and there between the Japanese and the Americans and Russians. You know people.


Douglas MacArthur & Hirohito In September, 1945

That’s 68 years ago, for the mathematically challenged among you (and, believe me, I’m not being superior here; I had to use my laptop calculator to figure it out). So, nearly three quarters of a century has passed since humankind’s most cardinal sin finally was stopped. The US was drafting 18 year olds in 1945 so, conceivably, the youngest kid who saw action in Okinawa would be 86 years old today (again with the calculator). Suffice it to say there aren’t all that many souls left to whom the words Dirty Jap weren’t always a forbidden ethnic slur.

Still, many people in the corner of the world that was ravaged by Imperial Japan find themselves getting a little testy when the subject comes up. The Pew Research Center yesterday released results of a poll that shows significant percentages of folks in places like Korea and Indonesia want Japan to apologize even more than it already has. Remember, Japan is now ruled by the sons and grandsons and even great-grandsons of the bellicose ultra-nationalists who’d pushed that country into war. No matter, scads of people want some dramatic mea culpa-ing.

Here are results of the Pew poll:

Pew/Japan Atone

If I was Japan, I’d say, Sure, man, Great Gramps was a jerk. I can’t believe he was such an asshole. And, trust me, we’d never do crazy crap like that again. C’mon over for a visit. We’ll give you some discounts at restaurants and really posh hotels if you’d lost your Great Gramps or Grandma when my ancestors were having their psychotic spell.

In fact, I’d stage a daily atonement ritual in Tokyo, complete with the flags of victim nations and honored guests from those lands, just to show bygones can be bygones.

I mean, how can it hurt?

Just the way we Murricans couldn’t do anybody any harm by staging daily atonement rituals in Washington, DC for slavery and the Native American holocaust. Sometimes all people want is a simple acknowledgment that you’ve treated them like dirt.

All Bloomington, Some Of The Time


◗ Meters. Made.

We’re five days into the Great Parking Meter Era here in B-town. Most of the nearly 1500 meters scheduled to be installed in the central business district this summer were activated Monday.

The city says it’s raking in $5000 a day already. And this is without the expanded crew of ticket-writers actually writing parking tickets just yet. All those Day-Glo yellow-green-vested scribblers you’ve seen darting between parked cars are only writing out warning citations until the end of next week.

Courthouse Square business owners, who’d feared the collapse of Western Civilization once the meters went online, are fairly surprised to find that their busy-ness so far hasn’t fallen off.

Go to WFHB’s podcast of its Thursday, August 15, 2013, newscast for my story on downtown businesses and the new meters.

◗ Evacuate Bloomington!

I ran into good old Will Murphy at the East Side Kroger Wednesday night. The former General Manager at our town’s WFHB and Ft. Wayne’s NPR station, is now the Operations czar at Bloomington’s NPR outlet, WFIU.

As such, poor old Will Murphy has established himself as an acclaimed town baddie. I told him I’ve been hearing he is Hitler. He said he’s heard he is Satan. In any case, he’s Public Enemy Numbers 1 through ten, inclusive, here.

Why? Simple. Murphy cancelled the station’s live Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturday afternoons last month. The news turned local opera lovers into, well, opera singers. The moaning and gnashing of teeth could be heard all the way in the uppermost office suites of the WFIU World Headquarters Tower.


Will Murphy Destroying Bloomington’s Cultural Institutions

With this town being the locale of one of the country’s more renowned music schools, things like opera mean a lot to certain segments of the citizenry. So much so that anybody who dares to mess with radio listener habits does so at his own peril.

Janis Starcs, a big mover and shaker on WFIU’s Community Advisory Board, came into the Book Corner the other day carrying a violin case. I told him I didn’t know he played the violin; he said he didn’t. So I asked what was in the case. “None of your business,” Starcs replied in a clipped tone. Speaking of clips, Starcs also wore a handsome pair of bandoliers, filled with shiny cartridges, natch.

Will Murphy

Marked Man

“Where ya headed?” I asked.

“To the Advisory Board meeting,” he said.

Next thing you know, WFIU’s men-behing-the-curtain are hanging plain old Will Murphy out to dry at the behest of the Adv. Bd. The Met cancellation has been reversed.

Now, the opera lovers and opera singers of B-town’ll have to dig deep for the dough that Murphy’d hoped his schedule change would generate in the coming years. We’ll see.

Bohemian Rhapsody

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