Category Archives: Spam

Hot Air

School Games

If bureaucracies make you break out in hives, you’d better pull out that old bottle of calamine lotion for this one.

The Monroe County Community School Corporation has eliminated the position of “talent and diversity specialist,” a job it created less than a year ago.

The reason the MCCSC created the position was to get itself out of hot water for not promoting one Diane Hanks to be principal of Tri-North Middle School because, some hinted, she is dark-skinned. The system had to chill Hanks as well as a coterie of community activists who hollered that the MCCSC’s principal ranks were disproportionately white. So they gave Hanks a shiny new title and a bump in pay.


Diane Hanks

As the MCCSC’s talent and diversity specialist, Hanks traveled far and wide to convince teachers of color Bloomington would be a dynamite place to work.

The question of how a person who was passed over allegedly due to her skin color could persuade people with that skin color that the MCCSC was the place for them has never been fully explained. The MCCSC will not release figures showing how many non-white teachers have flocked to our fair town since Hanks started recruiting last October.

Now Hanks has been given the job of principal of Bloomington Graduation School for the school year starting in two weeks and — voila! — the MCCSC suddenly realized it doesn’t need a talent and diversity specialist anymore. School superintendent Judy DeMuth sez the task of convincing “diverse” teachers to come here will fall back to Bev Smith, director of school and community services. Smith handled the chore before the Hanks flap.

As it was way back when I was a recalcitrant student, school is a very confusing place.

Sports Sickness

I love sports. I hate sports.

No, I’m not losing my mind. This holy land, though? Oh yeah, it’s been losing it’s mind over sports for some few decades now. Our obsessive infatuation with sports dovetails nicely with two disparate historical events.

◆ The birth of free agency and the subsequent elevation of pro athletes to the plutocracy. We can complain all day long and deep into the night about how unfair it is that certain guys have all the dough and the rest of us can’t seem to find a way to pay the cable/internet bill but the truth is the vast majority of us secretly dream we’ll be rich big shots one day. And if we can, say, shoot baskets and get paid $10 million a year, well hell, we’ve died and gone to heaven. Guys who earn millions a year are deemed worthy of our attention and love even if they have the morals and ethics of hyenas.


Alex Rodriguez (r) Exits A Limousine

◆ The rise of ESPN, its imitators, and the 24-hour, wall-to-wall coverage of every conceivable atom of minutia about players, fans, managers, agents, sportscasters, peanut sellers, players’ girlfriends, team owners, strength and conditioning coaches, sports psychologists, announcers, fanatics in bars, and even the occasional innocent bystander who happens to be walking near the stadium on the day of the big game. The only things America loves more than millionaires are people who are on TV. Witness the number of people waving at the camera behind the street reporter who’s telling us how many people were killed instantly in the rollover crash on the Interstate. Being on TV makes us nearer to god. And since pro sports guys are on TV 24 hours a day, they must be divine.


What Are Your Thoughts On The Middle East, Peyton?

We’re so taken with sports guys that millions of us spend hundreds of dollars on jerseys that bear their names.  Your next door neighbor who wears Andrew Luck’s jersey honestly believes you’ll think slightly more of him because of it. And if Andrew Luck should somehow enter his life, he would overturn heaven and hell for his newfound friend.

Some folks swoon so much over present and former sports guys that they get screwed. Badly. On several levels, including the most vulgar.

To wit: The story of former so-so baseball player Mel Hall.

I call him a so-so baller because he never amounted to too much in the Major Leagues. OTOH, as a major leaguer, he was one of the 750 finest baseball players to emerge a pool of tens of millions — perhaps even hundreds of millions — who played the game around the world. And, as such, he made himself a comfy pile of dough — acc’d’g to, Hall earned more than $6 million in his nine years in the bigs.

Hall, even after he retired from baseball, was esteemed, idolized, trusted, treated like royalty, honored, and adopted by countless families and individuals. Donald Trump even set him up in an apartment on the very floor of Trump Tower that The Donald himself called home.

All this despite the fact that Hall was usually broke, a fraud, a mooch, homeless at various times, a serial impregnator, a predator, a statutory rapist, and a child molester. None of these facts was too hard to unearth at the time Hall burned through numerous families and ruined the childhoods of a passel of talented female athletes who’d been entrusted to his care.

He’d been a Yankee, he was rich (for a while, at least), and he’d been on TV — the American trifecta. Why wouldn’t any right-thinking father and mother allow him to sleep with their 14-year-old daughter in the master bedroom in exchange for his promise to take care of them financially for the rest of their lives? One did.



An unconscionable number of parents were swayed enough by Hall’s purported outer trappings to allow him to essentially take their daughters from them so he could teach them how to be big, rich sports stars just like him. Their underaged daughters, I might stress. These parents put said spawn in a peril most other parents would sever their arms to ward off.

Hall is now serving a prison sentence of 45 years for his sins. His story is told in a lengthy article entitled “The Many Crimes of Mel Hall” by Greg Hanlon in

The parents who put their daughters in his care have not been jailed, although that’s where they belong.

I follow my beloved Chicago Cubs religiously and fret over their antics as if they were my own children. I celebrated loudly and deliriously when Chi.’s Bulls and Blackhawks won their championships. I was curious as to where LeBron James would play this coming season and turned up the car radio when it was announced he’d signed a contract with a new team. I’m pulling for the Oakland Athletics to win the World Series this fall. I even sort of know who Johnny Manziel is. In that, I love sports.

But when it comes to Mel Hall and the veneration too many people held him in, despite his monstrous ways, my love for the games quickly turns to hate.


A couple of emailers seem to be confused as to who or what I am.

One advises me I can fit easily into my bikini again. The other offers me penis enlargement pills. Frankly, I don’t know which product to send away for first!

Bathing Beauty

Me At The Age of 30


Bob Schieffer of CBS News made news himself the other day by telling an interviewer the planet is more dangerous now than it was when the USSR and this holy land hand tens of thousands of thermonuclear-tipped missiles pointed at each other. This follows on the heels of Sen. John McCain’s pronouncement earlier this month that he has “never seen the world in more turmoil than it is in today.”

Both fellows are full of horseshit.


McCain & Schieffer: Chickens Little

Schieffer’s mis-take on the world situ. has been trumpeted in all the conservative news mags and sites. McCain is a Republican, meaning that although he’s not riding the farthest Right wave on the spectrum his worldview is decidedly starboard. The Right loves these observations because they can now say, Look how Barack Obama has screwed up the entire globe!

Admittedly, McCain wasn’t allowed access to the daily papers while he stayed at the Hanoi Hilton and other N. Viet. hideaways back in the late 1960s and early ’70s but in the ensuing years since his release, he’s had ample opportunity to learn how freaking dangerous this weird world was back then. Israel and Egypt were stewing between two major wars, each of which threatened to become nuclear, the nascent nation of Bangladesh’s civil war cost some three million poor souls their lives, the Nixon Administration was seriously considering a plan to bomb the dikes of North Vietnam which would have meant several millions would have perished in the ensuing floods and from starvation, Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia to crush a popular uprising there, here in the US, hundreds of cities erupted in rioting for at least four straight summers, leading many to fear the outbreak of a general insurrection or even a second Civil War, the USSR and China faced off in a border war that (pardon me for sounding repetitive here) threatened to go nuclear at any moment, the Khmer Rouge fought the government of Cambodia in a bloody civil war, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and George Wallace were cut down by assassins’ bullets, Greece was taken over by a military junta, a riot during a soccer match led to a war between Honduras and El Salvador, North Korea seized the spy ship, USS Pueblo, and kept its crew prisoners for nearly a year, bombings occurred at university campuses and department stores around the world, French students and laborers went on strike and millions took to the streets throughout May, 1968, effectively shutting down the entire country, huge oil spills occurred seemingly monthly, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland burned, the 1968 Democratic National Convention was marred by rioting, and…, and…, oh, just STFU, John McCain.

Prague Spring

Prague, 1968, Specifically; Anywhere In The World, Generally

And, as for Bob Schieffer, in the year 1968, the United States possessed more than 30,000 nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union boasted nearly 10,000 of them. Even though today some observers say the concept of Mutually-Assured Destruction prevented the leaders of the two countries from embarking on a course that would lead to a nuclear exchange, many of the tactical nuclear weapons on both sides were under the control of field commanders who could have elected to launch at any given time, leading to an escalation in hostilities that could have wiped out a billion or more human beings, not to mention bunny rabbits, puppies, and pigeons. Cockroaches, I understand, might have survived such a holocaust but that probably would have been scant consolation for the grateful dead.

So, you too, Bob Schieffer, STFU.

The Pencil Today:


“I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and the old men and the old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.” — Brendan Behan


So, an Evansville guy has lost his wallaby.

Yep. The man has (or, more accurately now, had) an albino wallaby named Kimba.

Typical Albino Wallaby

A week ago today, Ron Young let the critter out in his fenced backyard and, next thing he knew, Kimba had taken a hike. Well, actually four hours later, the animal took her hike.

Wild creatures can figure out many ways to escape a fenced enclosure if you give them four hours. Hell, if I left Steve the Dog out in a fenced yard (which we don’t have) and came back four hours later, I’d find the yard empty save for a pair of fence cutters dropped in haste on the grass.

I mean, Steve likes me and The Loved One well enough, but the allure of out there is irresistible. And this is a  pampered hound who looks at me as if I’m from the moon when I suggest he go outside in a light mist to do his business.

“I Like Youse Guys But Gimme Half A Chance And I’m Outta Here.”

Anyway, Young is a former director of the Evansville Zoo. You’d think he’d know better. And not just about leaving an animal unattended for such a long period of time.

Just having a non-native animal in Southern Indiana seems rash to me.

Wallabies, I’ll hazard to guess, don’t want to be here. Were we to give the macropods a vote in the matter, it’s a good bet they’d overwhelmingly elect to stay in Australia, New Zealand, or any of the nearby Oceania islands they inhabit.

Which reminds me of an egregious example of humans introducing a non-native species to a strange geographical environment.

A wealthy goofball named Thomas Austin brought a couple of dozen cute little bunnies to his estate in Victoria in 1859. He’d wanted to shoot at them for fun and games. See, rabbits had never before lived in Australia and a man can become bored blasting away at the same old 755 different species of reptile as well as countless platypi, echidnae, kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus, kookaburras, dingoes, and other mammals and birds native to that land.

Apparently, Austin never bagged his limit because the surviving bunnies did what bunnies do — that is, they bonked and bonked and bonked until they’d essentially taken over most of the continent within forty years.

You might say, So what? What can cute little bunnies do to a continent? The answer: devastate it.

The hundreds of millions of rabbits who now hold sway over the entire landmass have eaten so much foliage that exposed soil and land erosion is now a major problem in many huge swaths of Australia. Not only that but a significant number of plant species have now gone extinct, thanks to the voracious rabbits. And since the plants have disappeared, at least two mammals species, the bilby and the bandicoot, have essentially vanished.

Australian Rabbits Are Heavy Drinkers, Too.

Some estimate that the damage caused by Austin’s rabbits costs the Australian economy more than A$500 million a year.

Not that we have to worry about wallabies taking over North America now that Kimba has escaped her pen. She’s probably dead now since wallabies really don’t know how to live in winter climes.

Folks, if you want a pet, go adopt a dog or cat from the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter.


When I was a bartender at Club Lago, an Italian restaurant in Chicago, one of our cooks was a funny man named Chico. He loved to concoct new dishes using only the stuff that was leftover in the kitchen at the end of the night. He’d serve up plates of the scrumptious stuff to the waitstaff and me after we’d locked the doors.

Occasionally, a new hire might ask before digging in, “What’s in this?” To which Chico would swiftly reply, “Just shut up and eat.”

I found his directive to be sensible and easy enough to follow.

Not that Chico was worried we’d learn he’d been dumping toxic substances into his skillet or pot. His philosophy was if you really love to eat, just eat. The act of consuming comestibles should be enjoyed without worry or fear. Eat!

Admittedly, one might want to question the company that whips up, say, Spam. A wise person wants to know how many species have sacrificed their lives for that rectangular hunk of “meat.”


But Chico’s dishes were made of fresh vegetables, succulent seafood, lovingly-stirred sauces, and prime meats. Just shut up and eat.

Which brings me to a recent study that indicates the food fetishists of this holy land — thousands of whom seem to have settled here in Bloomington — ought to try to hew to Chico’s axiom.

Apparently, according to the study, people tend to think a food is more nutritious, is safer, and is more pure only because it carries labels like “fair trade,” “natural,” or “organic.”

It’s called the “health halo” effect. And it’s pretty much bullshit.

Yeah, It’s Natural — But It’s Still Junk Food

Now, the organic designation is defined by federal law. It means simply that the grub you’re jamming into your mouth is reasonably free from certain prohibited substances like dangerous pesticides or controversial additives. The organic designation in no way affects the taste or nutritional quality of a food. It’s conceivable, for instance, that Hormel Foods could apply for and receive the USDA’s approval to slap the organic logo on its cans of Spam.

“Fair trade” and “natural,” on the other hand have no legal definitions. I could market cow flop tomorrow, calling it “all-natural” — which it is — and be well within my legal rights. And making sure some Colombian coffee growers get a fair price for their crop doesn’t make my cup of joe any different from yours.

Still, the study found that people will go so far as to believe a piece of fair trade chocolate contains fewer calories than one not marketed under that label.

So, yeah, we’d like to make sure we’re not screwing the world’s farmers to death because we need to stuff ourselves with sandwich cookies. And it’s good to know there isn’t a cupful of Red Dye No. 3 in that package of Jujubes.

But let’s try to be reasonable. Just shut up and eat.


For the longest time, my mind has refused to retain information about the Kardashians.

The gray mass inside my cranium is like that. It has also prohibited me from understanding basic economic precepts for many long years. For example, I’d ask somebody what the national debt is. Not how much it is, but what exactly it is, as in its definition. Financially savvy pals would explain it to me in excruciating detail and I’d nod my head as if I were taking it all in.

But — swear to god — ten minutes later all those words and ideas would have spilled out of my ear and onto the floor, only to be mopped up by the bartender or busboy at whichever saloon or restaurant I’d just had my lesson in.

Not Even IU’s Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Ellie Ostrom Can Help Me

Same thing with the Kardashians. I must have asked at least three dozen different people through the years who the Kardashians are and why this holy land knows of them.

And every time the knowledge imparted to me simply departs my brain, leaving no forwarding address.

When  it comes to the national debt, I feel bad about my ignorance. But I’m proud of my Kardashian stupidity.

Duh, I Dunno

Apparently, many others in the Great United States, Inc. also are less than enthralled by the K-clan. This despite the fact that all corporate news outlets must record and recount the family’s every muscle move. come has compiled a list of the 40 Americans least deserving of their fame and fortune. Within the top ten on the list, there are three Kardashians: Kim, Kourtney, and Rob.

Now I don’t feel so out of touch. On the other hand, who the hell is The Situation?

Um, Uh, What Was The Question?


Right off the bat, I’m not advocating the use of heroin. Lemme put it this way, back in the days when I and my circle were willing to ingest anything for a high, the very idea of heroin scared the bejesus out of me.

I’d met a young woman when I was about 23 years old. She never missed a chance to extol the wonders of heroin. I asked her what it was like. Her eyes turned dreamy and she said, “It’s the greatest feeling you’ll ever know. After heroin, sex is nothing.”

I vowed at that moment never to try it — and I never have.

Eric Clapton waged a well-documented, years-long battle against heroin addiction. He’s been clean for nearly forty years. But his heroin-free output includes such treacle as “Tears in Heaven” while his “White Room” with Cream was recorded at the height of his horse ride.

I’m just saying.

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