Category Archives: Stephen Hawking

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Another Reason To Go On Living

Happy National Red Wine Day! [h/t to Jan Takehara.]

Coppola Rosso

My Personal Fave

BTW: Here’s a list of 10 Red Wines for Life’s Biggest Problems. And you thought there was no hope left.

Dismal

Perhaps the biggest deal in book publishing this year was the release of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.

Being a study of economics, it normally wouldn’t have been read by any more than, oh, seven or eight people on the planet — that is, until Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman raved about it. Next thing you know, every liberal worth her or his Prius was dashing down to the bookstore to cop a copy.

Me? I haven’t read the thing. It’s economics, right? I’d rather sear the jelly in my eyeballs with a red hot ice pick than read an economics tome. Loyal Pencillista David Paglis once insisted I read a book by the conservative economist Friedrich Hayek. I tried — I swear — I tried. If I say I got through 50 pages I’ll burn in hell for crossing the 9th Commandment. Economics is not known as the Dismal Science for nothing. Besides, Hayek is a darling of Randists and free marketeers who worship elegant theory and formula and rarely, if ever, concern themselves with trivial things like the needs of human beings.

In any case, Piketty argues that the world’s dough is being hoarded by a tiny fraction of its population. Not only that, uber-rich folk are passing their cash down to their kids, thereby insuring that it won’t find its way into the hands of starving kids in west Africa and other unfortunates in the foreseeable future. Piketty also throws in piles of mathematical equations like r > g, which means…, um, hell, I have no goddamned idea what it means.

More important: I don’t care.

Anyway, we could hardly keep Capital… in stock at the Book Corner, so eager were customers to get their hands on it. My educated guess is not five percent of purchasers actually read the book. Like Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, it’s the bestseller that nobody read and now serves only as an interior design accoutrement.

Capital

Obviously A Staged Photo

Of course, that was then. We now are stuck with four big copies of Piketty’s 700-page epic. They are collecting dust some seven months after it was published.

Piketty’s ponderings, natch, generated about as much criticism as love. In fact, richer-than-god Bill Gates penned a review on his blog the other day. He says he agrees with much of P.’s argument. But, acc’d’g to Bill, wealth inequality is not necessarily the worst thing in the world. It’s a nuanced argument and worth a read, even if Gates does make mention of the dreaded r > g equation. Ugh.

Once you’re finished with that, scoot over to Al Jazeera America for a rebuttal. It’s all a rollicking good time.

Fitting brain candy, I might say, for such a gray day. Just hide the razor blades and don’t turn the oven gas on.

Logical Leaps

Speaking of wealth, Jimmy John Liautaud seems to be the poster boy for the evil rich these days on the interwebs. Folks probably are getting bored with hating on the Koch Bros. — even if they are among the most odious life forms in this solar system. Liautaud’s the boss over at Jimmy John’s Franchise LLC system of sandwich joints. His mug has been all over laptop screens of late for his co.’s ridiculous employee non-compete agreement as well as his propensity to blow the brains out of magnificent critters.

Jimmy John Safari

 

Jimmy John

Jimmy John

Jimmy John

 

Jimmy John And Some Formerly Living Creatures

Little known is the fact that Liautaud has been a big contributor to scary Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The Phoenix New Times a few years ago ran a story about a questionably-legal soft money organization that bankrolled a mean-spirited and disingenuous ad campaign against a challenger to the popular-but-lunatic sheriff. Liautaud gave $10,000 to the org.

Funny, isn’t it, how you can make certain assumptions about folks based on just one of their actions? Like it makes tons o’sense that a guy who digs posing proudly with the corpses of elephants, elk, and tigers might be a financial backer of a law enforcement official who makes Charles Bronson in the Death Wish series look milquetoast-y.

Or that he’d try to screw over his own employees (not that non-compete agreements are worth the paper they’re printed on, but still….)

Or even that his products are to submarine sandwiches as Domino’s is to pizza.

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special.” — Stephen Hawking

THE TRADITIONS OF THE LITTLE 500

One of the Boys of Soma, who asked not to be identified, revealed Saturday morning that he did not find any passed-out drunk IU students on his front porch, as he usually does every year during Little 500 weekend.

He did say he found a number of slices of pizza on the lawn, though.

The Delta Gamma sorority won the women’s Little Five on Friday. The Indiana Daily Student reports that three ancient Greek letters won the men’s race Saturday afternoon. The Cyrillic alphabet of the Slavic languages is expected to appeal the result.

Controversy After This Year’s Little 500

KIDS ASK THE DARNEDEST THINGS

Mark off Tuesday, April 24th, on your calendars. Bloomington’s teenagers that evening will hold the Democratic candidates’ feet to the fire in a debate between the five contenders at Bloomington High School South.

The Kids Take Over

Students from both South and North will hurl question at Gen. Jonathan George, John Griffin Miller, Col. John Tilford, Robert Winningham, and Shelli Yoder for an hour and a half beginning at 7:00pm.

The Indiana primary will be held Tuesday, May 8th, with the winner among the five Democrats going against first-term Republican Todd Young in November.

The things that make most high school kids annoying should come in quite handy in the debate. Corporate media animals generally ask polite or at least irrelevant questions. The kids, though, being direct and irreverent, ought to pepper the candidates with queries about the schools, the environment, our endless wars, taxes, and other things that, like, y’know, affect us.

Todd Young looks like a good bet to keep his seat in the general election but I can always hope.

IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD COUNTRY

Gather all the children and bring them indoors. Lock your doors and windows and pull down the shades.

This holy land has officially and incontrovertibly gone mad.

Orly Taitz is running for the United States Senate from California.

Taitz

Taitz is challenging the Golden State’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, who’s been in office since 1992. California runs a blanket non-partisan primary for statewide elective office. The candidates who finish first and second in the June 5th primary will face each other in the November general election.

I have no idea how this one got past me. Apparently, Taitz has been running since early November, when she told some EPA-hating, Ann Coulter-carrying news aggregator website about her plans. The announcement of her candidacy did not cause the nation’s news media to activate the Emergency Alert System.

I may even have seen a quickie story on her quixotic run but the rational part of my brain reflexively interpreted it as an Onion-style satire.

Really, everything about Taitz seems to be an Onion satire. For instance, when she was considering her run for the Senate back in September, she told the Sacramento Bee that one of the reasons she has a good chance to win is that she speaks Hebrew.

Hebrew?

Perhaps she once watched the Cecil B, DeMille epic “The Ten Commandments” and upon learning it was made in Hollywood, concluded that biblical Israel was really in California.

This Occurred Near Anaheim

I mean, what else could explain Taitz-ness other than her and her followers’ inability to distinguish between reality and fiction?

Taitz’s claim to fame is her role as “Queen of the Birthers.” She’s certain Barack Obama has falsified his birth certificate, his Social Security number, and his college transcripts, among other nefarious acts, to become the first secret Muslim mole elected president. She believes Obama comes from Kenya, which is fitting because she comes from the moon.

Orly Taitz’s Childhood Home

Survey USA earlier this month conducted a poll of likely California voters and found that the incumbent Feinstein leads all comers with 51 percent. Taitz in the same poll drew a single percentage point, placing her in a tie for fourth pace with 11 other candidates and above nine candidates who couldn’t even garner one percent of the vote.

Still, some political animals think Taitz could sneak into the second spot based purely on name recognition alone.

Democracy, my friends, can be a very dangerous thing.

WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO?

[Ed.’s Note: Welcome to the next phase of The Electron Pencil’s growth. From here on out, we’ll be running daily events listings in a section we’re naming Go. Many of this weekend’s listings are late because we’re still messing with the layout and design. What you see here now might not be what you see in ten minutes. So consider this installment of Go to be your beta version. Indulge us — we want to see how things look and work. Be here tomorrow, though, for the real thing. Thanks.]

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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

◗ Kent Farm, IU Research & Teaching Preserve — Bird hike with IU Biology Professors Susan and Jim Hengeveld; 7am

◗ IU Tennis Center — IU Women’s Tennis vs. Northwestern; 11am

◗ Madame Walker Theatre — Wet Your Pants Comedy Film Fest; 12pm

◗ Sembower Field — IU Baseball vs. Georgie Southern; 1pm

◗ IU Softball Field — IU Softball vs. Northwestern, doubleheader; 2pm

◗ Sweeney Hall — Music & Video Recital, Jeffrey Haas and John Gibson; 2pm

◗ Monroe Lake, Paynetown SRA — Monroe Lake Volunteer Call-Out; 3:30pm

◗ Player’s Pub — Benefit for the Red Cross; 3-8pm

◗ Max’s Place — Project School Poetry Ready; 3:30pm

◗ The Kinsey Institute — opening reception, exhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; 4-7pm

◗ Bub’s Burgers — Poker; 5:30pm

◗ IU Cinema — DW Griffith film, “Orphans of the Storm”; 6:30pm

◗ Bear’s Place — Ryder Film Series: “Chico and Rita”; 7pm

◗ Buskirk-Chumley Theater — Trashion Refashion; 7pm

◗ IU Auditorium — European Union Youth Orchestra, 7pm

◗ Merrill Hall, Recital Hall — All-Campus Orchestra, Benjamin Bolter, conductor; 8:30pm

◗ IU Auditorium — “An Overture to Europe Day” Reception, 9pm

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