Category Archives: Susan Sandberg

Hot Air

Madness Men

Boss Sandberg yesterday asked me if I plan to watch that debate featuring Republican candidates for president — in an election that is still some 15 months off.

I responded forcibly; “Fk no!”

The genteel clout-meistress recoiled as if from a big furry bumblebee. I don’t blame her. For her part — after she regained her equilibrium — City Council maven Susan Sandberg sez she will watch the gabfest, mostly for the laughs.

Padded Room

The Green Room For Tonight’s Debate

Me? I don’t see any hee-haws coming out of tonight’s projectile word vomit fracas. Not when the participants, as a rule, look unkindly upon undocumented immigrants, women who abort their fetuses or who use birth control, folks who are poor, anybody will an al- preceding their surname, unarmed dark-skinned men who get shot up by cops, school teachers, environmentalists, climatologists, liberals, and other grave threats to our holy land.

I don’t care to spend the lion’s share of my evening watching my proxies being insulted, degraded, and vilified.

Mainly I don’t want to be made mad. I’m using the term in a dual sense here. The ludicrous hoo-ha emanating from the face holes of the likes of Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee will not only spike my choler level, it will drive me to some brink of mental delirium. I can just see myself pounding across the kitchen tile, the libels and defamations of white men who possess near-negligible levels of intellectual acuity and even less empathy for their species brethren and sisteren echoing in my memory.

Poor old Sally the Dog just might hoist herself up and plop her front paws on my fragile nethers — a habit The Loved One and I have found impossible to break in her so far — and she’ll be rewarded with a thunderous outburst of foul verbiage and barking that’ll cause her to afford me a wide berth for the next few days.

Sally’s a good mutt otherwise and I’d feel awful for treating her in a manner more appropriate for Scott Walker.

So, no, I ain’t watching. Sure, you go ahead and watch. Like S. Sandberg, I’m sure you’re blithely anticipating it being as innocuously comical as one of those old-time Dean Martin roasts. I’m willing, though, to put good money down on this proposition: the debate tonight will boil your very blood — as well as your lymphatic fluids, the perspiration on your forehead, and whatever other fluids and sauces you have circulating through and around your bod.

Again, it’s a year and a quarter until the 2016 general election. If you’re made jowl-flappingly mad this early in the game, think how many holes will form in the lining of your stomach by a year from Nov.

For your own health and and your house pets’ safety and comfort, take my advice: do anything other than switch your flat screen on to Fox News this eve. Not that you should ever do that, but tonight especially. Your stomach will thank me.

Still At It

Charlotte Zietlow and I are covering the first year of her term as Bloomington City Council president in our memoir project these days. That is, her memoir with me as her pro scribe. This is by explanation why my posts here have become so infrequent of late. Just in case you’ve forgotten.

Get Together

Here, chill out on these gentle tones from the Youngbloods, summer of 1969 vintage:

Hot Air

Urban Renewal In Bloomington

How can you not love the work that Derek Richey and Jennifer Sommer-Richey do over at Bloomington Fading? Here’s the latest vid they’ve put out, chronicling the demise and renaissance of downtown Bloomington from 1950 through the ’70s. Check it out:

It’s important to note that the federal government programs collectively known as “Urban Renewal” were the result of politicians and bureaucrats together developing plans to ease the suffering of poor people in this holy land. But, as happens far too often, when politicians and bureaucrats begin working with money men, the best of intentions go awry.

Make sure to visit Derek and Jennifer on Facebook and at their website.

Rubbing Salt In Their Wounds

Here’s hoping the struggles with family health issues and America’s far-from-perfect health care system don’t take too much of a toll on the Sandberg clan. Bloomington city council member Susan Sandberg long has been an advocate for streamlined, equitable, efficient health care. Now she and her kin must leap the hurdles the for-profit health rackets have erected before them.

Sandberg/Gaal

Sandberg & County Prosecutor Chris Gaal At The Monroe County Fair

Good luck, Sandbergs, and hang in there!

What’s Different About America?

My pal the Big Shot Lawyer (who shall remain nameless lest he sue the pants off me for some reason or another) joins me regularly at The Pencil’s back office, aka Soma Coffee. We talk mainly about The Law, which is something — we both agree — that exists more in theory then actual practice.

Honestly, the law students who hang at the java joint ought to close their textbooks and put an ear in on our conversations. They’d learn a thing or two that might help them as they go out into that great professional world to rid clients of any spare cash they might have laying around.

And, the truth is, it’s not technically the conversation that’d educate them — my contributions are drips in an ocean compared to what the Big Shot Lawyer adds.

Anyway, now and again BSL and I veer off into talk about Bloomington, the Hoosier State, this holy land, and even the world at large. Health care, for instance, came up on Wednesday. The question arose, Why is health care so easily and efficiently meted out in places like, say, Sweden?

Crack barrister that he is, BSL went right to the heart of the issue. “Everybody’s the same in Sweden,” he said. “They all look alike, sound alike. So when someone says they need help, everybody’s willing to pitch in because, you know, “Hey, he’s just like me!”

Swedes

Familiarity

As opposed to here in Murrica, where people of countless colors, speaking scads of languages, listening to tons of weird music, eating all sorts of exotic poisons including garlic and cumin, and worshipping all the wrong gods hold out their hats and say, “Can you help me out?”

To which the majority of us respond, “What? Using my tax money? Help you out when you don’t even realize who the one and only true god is and, almost worse, you eat garlic? Hell no!”

It’s the classic case of The Other. Murrica is chock-full of Others. It’s what made us great but, ironically, it’s what keeps us all at arms’ length in these divisive times.

Mood Is Wrong, Mood Is Wrong!

Yeah, I’ve been a downer the last few days, what with the dramatic tumbling of this great nation into the 13th Century, thanks to the spanking the Democrats got from the Republicans Tuesday. So let’s go all light and breezy for a bit, shall we?

How about this ditty from the summer of 1969, the first big AM radio hit for Crosby, Stills & Nash? Groove, babies!

BTW: The hed for this entry is a reference to Jerry Lewis’s Buddy Love taking a seat at the Purple Pit piano in the original The Nutty Professor.

Hot Air

Oh, Those Deer Again

As mentioned earlier in these precincts, the upcoming deer cull (or, if you prefer, kill) has raised a lot of hackles around town. A private wildlife management company (or, if you prefer, hired assassins) will mow down a few of the cuddly but troublesome ruminants this fall. Some B-town residents are in favor of calling out the Air Corps and having them drop the A-bomb on the Griffy Lake area where the deer loiter. Others say, Hey, wait a sec, those little cloven-hoofed Bambis were here first so we should learn to live with them. All of them.

The argument has reached sniffy and huffy proportions at times. The city’s Parks & Recreation Dept. approved the cull plan earlier this year. The City Council followed up by waiving the city’s no-shootin’-o’-them-there-firearms ban. Mayor Mark Kruzan then vetoed the Council’s waiver. The majority of the Council sniffed, stuck to their guns (pun intended), and overrode his veto.

Bloomington Council

Bloomington’s City Council

One of our fave Pencillistas is Bloomington City Councilperson Susan Sandberg. She voted yea on the cull and has been dodging missiles ever since. And, like pretty much all political discussion these days, the rhetoric turned ludicrous. Some anti-cullers have suggested that the kill plan is symptomatic of this holy land’s love affair with guns and one or two have even suggested that recent muggings on the B-Line Trail just may be a direct result of the Council’s (and Sandberg’s) mania to solve our problems with firearms and violence.

Well, our gal got pushed over the edge by that. Sandberg took to Facebook the other day and huffed:

I just have to get this off my chest based on a subtle but false remark made in the last Council meeting. To equate gun violence against human beings with my position on responsible deer population management in the Griffy Woods Preserve to protect the ecology of other species is simply not acceptable. For all who follow my posts here, there is no one, I repeat NO ONE who is more horrified by senseless gun violence in America than yours truly. To suggest that those of us who support managing the over abundance of deer in Griffy is in any way related to a reckless gun culture or a direct cause of violence in Bloomington is irresponsible and untrue. I will not let that propaganda stand without respectful rebuttal. I’ve heard that some folks are out there saying that the recent violence on the B-Line trail is directly related to the City Council supporting lethal and humane methods of deer management in Griffy. Those two issues have nothing to do with each other and to spread that false line of thinking is offensive and absurd. I’ll be much more outspoken about this in public meetings if these false comparisons continue.

I, of course, leapt to Sandberg’s defense. Hell, she may be a Congressbeing or even the Governor one day and wouldn’t it be swell to have a friend in either the state’s or nation’s capital?

Like The Dude, Sandberg drew a line in the sand and would not let this (verbal) aggression stand, man.

From "The Big Lebowski"

This Will Not Stand

Later on in the comment thread, SuSand hinted that some communiques from the anti-cull gang have been threatening and one or two have even characterized her as a Hitler. Susan Sandberg, I’ll say here and now, is no Adolph Hitler — she’s not even a vegetarian.

I spoke with another high-ranking official in these parts yesterday afternoon. Whadja think of SS’s smackdown of her critics the other day? I asked.

This high-ranking official eyed me for a moment and then responded, “When you take the job, you’ve got to accept the criticism that comes with it.”

I think my high-ranking official source is right. Therefore I advise S-squared to ignore the dumb bastards in the hereinafter. I’ll take up the sword in her stead. I’m no elected official so I don’t have to put up with anybody’s stupidity.

Bomb Newark

Here’s a Wow! quote from the front page of Sunday’s New York Times Book Review:

There are places in America where life is so cheap and fate so brutal that, if they belonged to another country, America might bomb that country to “liberate” them.

That’s as powerful a statement as I’ve read in a big-time media outlet in I don’t know how long. Honestly, I can’t imagine how the line got past the NYT editors.

It is incendiary, it is dramatic, it is shocking, it is bold and, above all, it is true.

It’s the opening sentence in a review of the book, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, the saddest of possible tales about living in the slums of Newark, New Jersey. The book traces the life of the title kid who somehow succeeds despite being raised among gangsters, poverty, miserable schools, and the constant threat of violence. He found his way to Yale University where he majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. But Rob also had a daddy-o who was a dope dealer and who warned him off reading books because they’d make him soft. Rob eventually inherited his daddy-o’s drug business. Then he was killed.

Book Cover

A NYT columnist named Anand Giridharadas wrote the review. Jeff Hobbs wrote the book. I suppose if you want to drive yourself into a deep depression, you’ll read it. On the other hand, there’s a lot about America that’s awfully depressing and it does us no good to ignore it.

Boom Times

Just for the record, I’m four-square in favor of the pounding the US and its temporary allies are giving those ISIS boys in Syria and parts nearby.

Tomahawk Missile

Stock Image Of A Tomahawk Missile Launch

People here and there are harrumphing that the whole ISIS scare is a false flag thing, that the US can’t be trusted to deliver us the truth since Iraq. It’s true Little Georgy Bush’s funtimes war against Saddam Hussein was based on pure, unadulterated bullshit. And that indeed should give us pause every time the leaders of this holy land try to sell us a bill of goods.

It doesn’t mean, though, that every utterance from every succeeding president is fraudulent.

The world needs to be wiped clean of ISIS.

Science (Non)Fiction

Lisa Winter writes in IFLS about the Top 10 Unsolved Mysteries of Science.

That is, the most perplexing questions we haven’t been able to answer about the world — hell, the Universe — around us. Those who scoff at science (can you believe I’m actually writing these words in the 21st Century?) say, See, Science doesn’t know everything!

Correct. Science doesn’t know everything. Actually, science knows nothing since it’s a descriptor of a process rather than a person or group of people who, like, know things.

Those anti-science-ites like to say things like that to infer that not only does science not know everything, it really knows nothing. Evolution? Bah. Global warming? Puh-leeze. Childhood vaccinations? Never. That’s a lazy over-reaction on a par with those (as mentioned in an entry above) who think that because of Iraq, all American presidents lie about everything.

Bumper Sticker

Well, presidents do lie and science — or , more accurately, scientists — are scratching their heads about any number of things. As Osgood Fielding III says in Some Like It Hot, “Nobody’s perfect.”

Here then, acc’d’g to Lisa Winter, are the most troublesome Q’s scientists face these days:

  • Why is there more matter than anti-matter?
  • Where is all the lithium?
  • Why do we sleep?
  • How does gravity work?
  • Where are all the extra-terrestrials?

From "The Day the Earth Stood Still"

Where Are These Guys?

  • What is dark matter?
  • How did life begin?
  • How do plate tectonics work?
  • How do animals know where to go when they migrate?
  • What is dark energy?

When I was a little kid, I’d watch cars zip by on North Avenue on Chicago’s Northwest Side and feel frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how they could move. Nothing was pushing those cars; nothing was pulling them. The fact that they were zipping by seemed, to my little mind, impossible. Somehow, though, I knew it wasn’t impossible, nor was it magic. There was a reason, an explanation, a confidence that I’d eventually know.

Scientists today are like little kids when it comes to the aforementioned ten bogglers. No, science doesn’t know everything; it’s got a million questions.

Hot Air

Learning Luxury

Bloomington’s not the only college town whose character is being radically transformed thanks to an influx of privileged snowflakes whose parents spend big dough setting them up in plush apts. Our own downtown, in the immediate environs of the erstwhile quaint Courthouse Square, has become a set of parallel mini-valleys of soulless condo blocks. The atmosphere around the Square, it follows, has changed profoundly. High end sports bars, chichi restaurants, and urban outfitters now do trade in storefronts that once housed, well, shops.

To understand what downtown Bloomington has become, consider this: You can’t buy a pen or a notebook, a package of batteries, or a small bottle of Advil anywhere within a radius of three quarters of a mile around the Fish on the Dome.

You’ll find, though, a choice of two stores from which to purchase that bush hat you’ve been dying to wear on your next expedition to deepest, darkest Africa.

NPR’s Morning Edition today ran a story on a similar transformation in the campus neighborhood surrounding Georgia Tech University in Atlanta. It, too, has seen an explosion of high-density, well-appointed apartment blocks erected for the children of wealth for whom dorm living or renting out a cramped house would be akin to having their fingernails pulled out by enemy prison guards. Announcer David Green said, “Over the past decade, investors have been cashing in on this growing market.”

Just like Bloomington.

Smallwood

Smallwood On North College Avenue (Jeremy Hogan/Herald Times photo)

One construction contractor told an NPR reporter he’s building “luxury apartment living catered towards [sic] college students” — a 25-story highrise featuring amenities like a rooftop deck with fireplace, a fountain, a glass handrail and a view of the Atlanta skyline, as well as stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, and laundry facilities within each unit, and a private bath in each bedroom.

Luxury indeed. Nothing can goose a GPA like truncating that interminable walk from bed to bowl at two in the morning.

Anyway, throw an ear at the report and take solace at least in the fact that we are not alone.

My Aim Is True

Speaking of the changing nature of our cherished downtown, City Council member Susan Sandberg was pounding the pavement drumming up voters for the county Democratic Party Saturday at the 4th Street Festival for the Arts & Crafts when two college boys approached her. One of them said, “Can I ask you a question?”

At this point, S-Squared was almost giddy. Huzzah, she thought, perhaps the youth of this holy land isn’t such a lost cause after all. Here are two lads hoping to learn about our sacred political processes.

Pledge of Allegiance

Um, No

Only she hadn’t noticed one of the two was videoing the encounter on his smart phone. Nor had she immediately sensed that the two were boozed up. The first college boy proceeded to inquire whether Sus. Sand. might contemplate performing certain acts of a carnal nature.

The normally eloquent S-berg was left speechless. The boys giggled and pranced merrily away.

I advised the tall blonde legislator that young men like those two possessed testicles just so she could take aim at said gonads with the toe of her combat boot. Miss S. replied she is loath to take such physical steps.

I can only wonder what’s wrong with the Democrats nowadays when we can’t even depend on our party officials to kick deserving louts in the balls?

Or Is Sandberg’s Aim Truer?

Rob Crilly writes today in Al Jazeera America that for the US to respond militarily or otherwise violently to ISIS’s latest video beheading is precisely what those ghouls want. Crilly writes that ISIS:

… [S]eeks to provoke more powerful enemies into rash actions as their publics demand that justice be done for the wanton act of violence against an innocent, and that the perpetrators be prevented from repeating the act. Thus the wave of pressure on Obama to come up with an Islamic State strategy on the fly, the complexities and challenges of combating the group in Syria and Iraq not withstanding.

So that masked man with the decap. blade is trying to play us, acc’d’g to Crilly. He goes on to say that when ISIS demands the US stop fighting them in Iraq and Syria or else there’ll be more beheadings, the al Qaeda splinter group is lying. Crilly writes:

… [I]s that [what ISIS] really wants? Does it want the US and its allies to back off, or is the group’s real goal to provoke sufficient outrage to provoke Western powers to launch another war in a Muslim land, helping to sustain its warped vision of jihad?

My own initial reaction to the beheadings is that we should dash back over to Iraq and kick the living crap out of ISIS, the way we should have finished off the Taliban in Afghanistan more than a decade ago. Only ISIS couldn’t ask for a better PR and recruitment tool than another US incursion into their backyard.

Screencap from ISIS video

An ISIS Captor And His Prisoner

Then again, maybe Susan Sandberg is right. Maybe a swift kick to the balls really doesn’t solve the problem.

All Schwarber, All The Time

Indiana University alum Kyle Schwarber, fast tracking his way to the major leagues in the Chicago Cubs organization, led his Daytona Cubs teammates to a 9-1 victory in their playoff opener last night.

Schwarber clubbed an opposite field grand slam home run during Daytona’s decisive five-run fourth inning. Daytona holds a one to nothing lead in its series against the Dunedin Blue Jays.

Schwarber

Schwarber Earlier This Year With The Kane County Cougars

So far as a pay for play athlete, the kid whose Hoosier teammates called The Hulk has done nothing but impress.

Hot Air

Blue Skies Ahead

Just wondering: Can it be any more perfect in Bloomington this morning?

Fair

The sky is a rich, deep blue and cloudless. The high should be near 70. The next two days should be clear and mild as well.

This is what we wait all winter for.

From Ho-hum To Wow!

Do I need to point out the difference between, say, the Herald Times of Bloomington and this communications colossus?

I mean, one very well-respected member of our community has told me that he’d much rather read about a pressing local issue here in The Pencil than in B-town’s daily newspaper. The Pencil’s take, he sez, is always more interesting and provocative.

Far be it from me to brag. In fact, I’ll point out that The Pencil hardly scrapes the surface of Bloomington and South Central Indiana’s news because, hell, I’m only one guy and I have a day job, too. I hammer on local issues only when they strike me. Plus, I have an irresistible need to pontificate on national and world happenings as well as pop culture, art and science, all of which eat up space here.

The day the Bloomington City Council counts among its members someone as entertaining as Michelle Bachmann, I’ll begin fixating on that person. Although Steve Volan is trying in his own inimitable way. And Susan Sandberg does wield a fiery ukulele.

Anyway, back to the Herald Times. The paper’s lead feature this gorgeous Sunday is a profile of the wife of IU basketball coach Tom Crean (paywall). I’m not going to reveal any details of the piece, mainly because I haven’t read anything more of it than the first paragraph. Why? Because I don’t care.

H-T

Do You Care?

All I know is, the new Big Talk interview series continues Friday with an eight-minute feature on WFHB’s Daily Local News at 5:30pm and the release of this month’s Ryder magazine, which will carry the full-version of my hour-long chat with Bloomington’s political doyenne, Charlotte Zietlow.

I have my doubts that Coach Crean’s wife can tell me about living under tyrannical rule in Czechoslovakia or upending a decades-long political order here in Bloomington in 1971. Charlotte can.

Big Talk is a joint production of The Electron Pencil, WFHB, and The Ryder. We tie together this town’s cutting edge media outlets. And unless an IU coach’s wife discovers a remedy for global warming, you won’t have to worry about us profiling her herein.

On The Other Hand

The H-T today does carry an excellent piece (again, paywall) on the Democratic Women’s Caucus here in Monroe County. The article points out that back only a decade ago, in the 2003 election, our town could boast only two female candidates for public office: Regina Moore and Uke-baby Sandberg.

Moore

City Clerk Regina Moore (right)

The article quotes one political scientist who claims that voters seem to prefer women candidates for office but the problem is females are not as eager to run as men are. Women, this expert suggests, need to be dragged into the political arena. Read the piece.

UkeTones

Susan Sandberg (right) And The UkeTones

BTW: You know who’s a big deal in the Dem Women’s Caucus? That’s right, Charlotte Zietlow. Just sayin’.

It’s On Us

Speaking of politics, we can wail, moan, and gnash our teeth all we want over the Republican strategy to reduce voter turnout around the nation, but really we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

The Indy Star today offers a piece explaining that embarrassingly low turnouts in many counties and precincts for the May 6th primary were due to, well, folks being too gosh darned busy.

Vintage Voting Machine

Which is bullshit of the highest order. The article quotes no-show potential voters as saying things like traffic was too bad and they had to, presumably, do housework. The least thing a citizen can do in a democracy is to vote. And if you can’t find a half hour to vote every two years, then you don’t deserve democracy.

You can wring your hands all you’d like at Republican effort to suppress voter turnout but the GOP has far too many aiders and abettors in their efforts. To mangle a quote: We have met the enemy and they are us.

Much Less Frigid Air

The War We Lost

So, yesterday was the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s declaration of War on Poverty.

It was one of the great moments in American history.

Loyal readers know how I feel about LBJ. He was an uncouth, bullying, macho, conniving political huckster. He also felt, deep within his heart and soul, a kinship with black human beings and poor human beings. And he acted on those empathies — for a precious moment.

LBJ

LBJ

Had he and the Congress allowed the resultant Great Society programs to actually eliminate malnutrition, lack of education, joblessness, and all the other ills of need that bedeviled this holy land, the richest on Earth, he would have gone down as one of the greatest three or four presidents ever.

Sadly, he got, to borrow a term he often used, his pecker caught in Vietnam.

This nation decided it was far more important to prosecute an unwinnable, pointless, poorly-executed war in the Southeast Asian jungles than to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters here climb out of despair.

Now, here we are, 50 years later. The gap between rich and poor grows daily. Commentators chirp that the economy is is churning once again after the Great Recession, yet it seems the only beneficiaries are moneyed investors and Wall Street casino players. Municipalities and social and cultural institutions are starving for cash. Unemployment remains remarkably high. And far too many of the available jobs are in the service industries, paying minimum wage.

In the War on Poverty, poverty won.

Mother Jones mag yesterday ran a piece on where we are, poverty-wise, now in the United States. A trio of authors suggest we’ve both won and lost the War. If we take the authors at their word, that the result was a mixed bag, then, really, we’ve lost. LBJ himself said, in announcing the War, “… [W]e shall not rest until that war is won. The richest nation on Earth can afford to win it.”

Check out the six charts illustrating the depths of American poverty in the 21st Century. Some things have changed for the better. Some things. That’s all.

The political debate today is no nearer to revisiting the ideas of the Great Society than it is to the consideration of dumping all our currency, stocks, and bonds in a huge pile, dousing it with gasoline, and lighting a match.

Poor people, you’re on your own.

To me, that’s a losing coda.

[h/t to Susan Sandberg for pointing out the MJ mag piece.]

The Big Interview

Hey, dig my interview with graphic novelist Nate Powell this afternoon on the WFHB Daily Local News.

Powell

Powell

It’s the first in a new series of conversations between me and people I find compelling and interesting. Each tête à tête will run as an 8-minute feature on WFHB and then as a full-out conversation in The Ryder magazine.

Powell is the illustrator of the graphic novel, March: Book One, about the life of Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who was a key figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Lewis got his skull broken by an Alabama state trooper on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. That was the day voting rights activists attempted to cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge at Selma but were met and routed by local and state cops.

Powell has written and drawn a number of award-winning and big-selling comics and graphic novels including Swallow Me Whole, Any Empire, and The Silence of Our Friends. He lives in Bloomington now with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

Tune in at 5:30pm or catch the podcast (after it’s put up, natch) on the station’s website. The longer Powell interview will run in next month’s Ryder.

A Contrarian’s Rationalization

Loyal readers know I refuse to get a smartphone. Some folks look at me as if I’m from the moon when I whip out my trusty flip phone. I don’t care.

Yeah, a lot of it has to do with my fetish for contrarianism but, really, there’s thought behind my refusal to jump on the e-toy bandwagon.

Smartphone Users

Personal technology writer David Pogue laid out a good case for my narrowly-focused Luddism in last month’s Scientific American:

We all know that the cycle of electronics consumerism is broken. Because it’s an endless money drain for consumers to keep their gadgets current. Because the never ending desire to show off new features leads to bloat and complexity of design. And because all our outdated, abandoned gadgets have to go somewhere. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, we Americans threw away 310 million electronic gadgets in 2010 alone. That’s about 1.8 million tons of toxic, nonbiodegradable waste in our landfills.

See? I’m not a total lunatic.

Hot, Island-y Air

I’ve come a long way, baby!

Cigarette Ad

I stepped into the Players Pub to catch an early Friday evening set yesterday. I immediately flashed back ten years, imagining myself still living in Chi., on a road trip perhaps, stopping for a bite and to stretch my legs in this place in this town I’d never really heard of.

I’d think, Cool, a little music with my dinner. I’m gonna check out the local fauna here.

And what would I see? Three very nice, very respectable, very proper femmes d’une certaine age strumming ukuleles and chirping well-worn chestnuts like Eight Days a Week, These Boots Were Made for Walking, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

My jaw would drop and I’d think, Man alive! I had no idea I was in East Bumfuck, Iowa.

I’d think, Sheesh! This joint makes Peoria look like Vienna, Austria.

I’d think, Eek! Get me outta here before the waitress serves me possum.

How quaint these tillers of the soil and John Deere tractor showroom secretaries are, no?

No. Not quaint at all.

Fun.

Happy.

And damned good.

I saw last night the UkeTones, Bloomington’s latest rage. Yeah, the PP was jammed to the rafters.

UkeTones

The UkeTones — They All Wear Glasses, For Pete’s Sake!

Bossman Joe Estivill scuttled by, lugging a bus tray himself — that’s how busy his joint was. Yo, Joe, I called out, is it always this busy on a Friday night?

“No, it isn’t,” he called back over his shoulder. “They love the ukulele girls.”

And so do I. If this is Bumfuck, Iowa, count me a proud citizen thereof.

I highly recommend the UkeTones. They’ll play again at the PP in January. Their Friday night gig is pretty much a monthly affair at this point.

I have to admit, though, one fan paused between forks-full to shout out Free Bird.

And I get the feeling, based on lead singer Susan Sandberg’s response, that the trio’d actually played the southern rock classic in response to an earlier call-out. I don’t know. I didn’t have time to chat the dames up between sets; I’d only had two quarters in my pocket and thus could only stay for a half hour (damn those new parking meters).

The other UkeTones are Reina Wong and Ellen Campbell — and Ellen Campell really puts her whole body into her performance. I’d say she rocks out if I weren’t so terrified that the kids would snigger at me.

It was a half hour well-spent.

Who knows? Maybe it’s that I, too, am now an homme d’une certaine age.

Or maybe I was never really such a sophisticate as I’d have liked everyone to think.

Either way, I had a blast at the Players Pub last night.

Like I said, I’ve come a long way.

Your Daily Hot Air

Hiroshima Day

The nuclear bombings of two cities in Japan were the logical coda of the single most brutal enterprise the species Homo Sapiens sapiens has ever undertaken — and if we’re very, very, very lucky, will ever undertake.

Hiroshima

World War II claimed anywhere from 60-100 million lives. It doesn’t matter how they died; only that the people of this mad planet wanted them dead.

BTW: Shoot over to Neil Steinberg’s blog post today about the excruciatingly unlucky few who survived both bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. True story.

Nixon Resignation Day

Here’s Mike Royko writing Richard M. Nixon’s political eulogy in the Chicago Sun-Times the day after the president quit:

My personal reason for not wanting Mr. Nixon prosecuted is that he really didn’t betray the nation’s trust all that badly.

The country knew what it was getting when it made him president. He was elected by the darker side of the American conscience. His job was to put the brakes on the changes of the 1960s — the growing belief in individual liberties, the push forward by minority groups. He campaigned by appealing to prejudice and suspicion. What he and his followers meant by law and order was “shut up.”

So whose trust he did he betray? Not that of those who thought he was the answer. He was, indeed, their answer.

Nixon

Nixon

The Past Is Prologue

Ukulele savant Susan Sandberg points out this timeless observation by Lyndon Baines Johnson:

If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him someone to look down on and he’ll empty his pockets for you.

LBJ

Johnson

Winning Isn’t Everything

Speaking of the 1960s, I just finished reading a biography of Vince Lombardi entitled When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss.

Lombardi was often portrayed as a brutal, tyrannical leader who’d have steamrolled his grandmother to win a football game. Many people felt he was a man without conscience or sensitivity toward his fellow man. As such, some figured he’d be a great political leader for the turbulent ’60s. In fact, soon after Nixon secured the Republican nomination for president 45 years ago this week, the candidate floated the idea of approaching Lombardi to be his running mate. Nixon’s aides took him seriously and looked into Lombardi’s background. What they found surprised them: The iconic Green Bay Packers coached turned out to be a lifelong Democrat who was particularly close to Bobby Kennedy and the slain senator’s family.

Lombardi

Lombardi

Anyway, the coach’s views on civil rights surely would have sunk a Nixon/Lombardi ticket. Here’s an anecdote. Early on in his term as boss of the Pack, Lombardi and his team traveled into the South for an exhibition game. They went to a large restaurant for a meal. Lombardi was told the black players on the team — only a couple of guys, really, in those days — would not be allowed to enter the place through the front door. They’d have to come in through the back door and eat in a special room for blacks just off the kitchen.

Jim Crow

Lombardi was incensed. He realized, though, he couldn’t smash Jim Crow all by himself that day so he did the next best thing. He directed his entire team to enter through the back door and eat their meal in the back room reserved for blacks.

Pretty cool, eh?

Add to that the fact that Lombardi had at least one player on his team whom he knew was gay. The coach said to his assistants, If I hear one insult or snide remark coming out of your mouths you’ll be fired before your ass hits the floor.

Vince Lombardi was no Spiro Agnew.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.” — Truman Capote

SUSAN WATCH

Charlotte Zietlow reports that Susan Sandberg has been moved to a progressive care unit. Bloomington’s at-large Common Council representative isn’t out of the woods yet, but at least she isn’t in ICU anymore.

Hurry up, heal up, and hit the streets, Susan!

ONE MORE THING

Alright, I’m still reasonably new to these parts and perhaps I don’t know all the mores and folkways here.

And I know the Sandberg family wants some privacy.

But people, Susan Sandberg is a public official, one of the key members of the city’s Common Council. The Herald Times has not printed a word about her grave illness.

Do Your Job

I don’t like it one bit.

A FOR ASTRONAUT

I wonder how many little girls decided to grow up to be scientists or adventurers after watching Sally Ride appear on Sesame Street in January, 1984.

Sally Ride flew. So does time. She’s dead now. Farewell, astronaut!

BTW: It took this holy land a full twenty years after the Soviets first did it to get a woman up into space.

BTW2: Here’s a kick in the right wing’s ass — Sally Ride was a lesbian.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE PEOPLES GONE?

Writer Annalee Newitz on io9 presents a list of ten civilizations that simply vanished.

No wars, no floods, no dramatic, apocalyptic events that have been determined so far. The civilization were once mighty and well-populated and now they’re gone.

Here they are, identified by their present day locations:

  • The MayaMexico
  • The HarappanIndia, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan
  • The people who built the Moai statuesEaster Island in the Pacific

Who Built These Guys And Where Did They Go?

  • CatalhöyükTurkey
  • CahokiaSouthern Illinois
  • Göbekli TepeTurkey
  • AngkorCambodia
  • Turquoise MountainAfghanistan
  • NiyaXinjiang province, China

Curious? Newitz has more info on each people here.

MAY I SEE YOUR LICENSE AND REGISTRATION, PLEASE?

h/t to Maxxwell Bodenheim of Forest Park, Illinois, for this one.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

From Flip Flop Fly Ball

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

People’s ParkLunch Concert Series: Sad Sam Blues Band; 11:30am

KRC CateringGirls, Inc. Annual Luncheon; 11:30am-1pm

◗ Madison Street Between Sixth and Seventh streets — Tuesday Farmers Market; 4-7pm

◗ IU Metz Carillon TowerSummer Music Series: Lee Cobb carillon recital; 5-6pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It with You”; 7:30pm

The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — Team trivia; 8pm

The Player’s PubBlues Jam, hosted by Fistful of Bacon; 8pm

Cafe DjangoJeff Isaac Trio; 8-10pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Dorothy Papadakos, “Phantom of the Opera” on pipe organ; 8pm

The BishopKeeping Cars, the Brown Bear Coalition, the Vorticists; 9pm

Bear’s PlaceLame Drivers; 9pm

Ongoing:

◗ 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

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” — Joseph Conrad

THE STRONG CAN BE LAID LOW

Sarah Sandberg commandeered her sister’s Facebook account last night at about 9:30pm to pass on some alarming news and to issue a warning.

I’m hoping Sarah’s prediction that Susan will be back to work soon is a lot more than wishful thinking.

Susan Sandberg is royalty among Pencillistas. Join me in hoping her doctors have a lot of tricks in their black bags.

Pencillista Queen

MY GUY ROGER

America’s best movie reviewer and an incisive cultural observer in his own right, Roger Ebert, has weighed in on the Aurora, Colorado atrocity.

Check his take in the Chicago Sun-Times. Here’s a quote from that piece:

“The hell with it. I’m tired of repeating the obvious. I know with dead certainty that I will change nobody’s mind. I will hear conspiracy theories from those who fear the government, I will hear about the need to raise a militia, and I will hear nothing about how 9,484 corpses a year has helped anything.”

Or you can read his New York Time op-ed piece. Here’s another quote, this one from that piece:

“Should this young man — whose nature was apparently so obvious to his mother that, when a ABC News reporter called, she said “You’ve got the right person” — have been able to buy guns, ammunition and explosives? The gun lobby will say yes. And the endless gun control debate will begin again, and the lobbyists of the National Rifle Association will go to work, and the op-ed thinkers will have their usual thoughts, and the right wing will issue alarms, and nothing will change. And there will be another mass murder.”

This ain’t no movie, kids. This is life. Guns are designed to take it.

TRUTH IN HUMOR

Toles Cartoon From The Washington Post Syndicate

DOWN WITH JOE

Penn State University is doing the right thing.

Workers Tear Down The Paterno Statue At 9:30 This Morning

Now, maybe the people who run the institution can refocus on something novel: the development of students’ minds.

Joe Paterno made a lot of dough at the school. He signed a three-year contract in 2008 that called for an annual salary of a half million dollars a year. He made piles more — several times that amount per year — from ancillary sources.

The late unindicted co-conspirator was responsible for nothing more than the likes of instructing running backs on which way to turn when linebackers were approaching. It seems to me that particular aspect of the education of young men can be done by any number of “teachers” who’ve studied football (read: “have sat in front of the TV on Saturday and Sunday afternoons”).

Me? I’d spend half a million bucks on five teachers of a different sort, say:

  • Lynda Barry, creative writing and cartooning — The creator of “Ernie Pook’s Comeek”, “The Good Times Are Killing Me” and other works of reality-based fiction and visual art, Barry has transformed the struggles of an outsider into brilliantly funny and therapeutic entertainment. Think of what a role model she’d be for geeky, self-deprecating teenaged girls.

  • Rebecca Watson, general science — The founder of Skepchick, she works tirelessly to upgrade the status of brainiac girls and female scientists around the world.

  • Tariq Taylor, Humanities, black studies — As a Morehouse Collage grad student, Taylor visited Thailand after having never traveled in his life before. His experiences in that country were documented in the video “The Experience,” which reveals how travel can profoundly affect young black men who’ve been cloistered in racial and economic ghettos their whole lives.

  • Amy Goodman, journalism — The boss of Democracy Now!, Goodman digs deeper than just about any reporter alive.

  • Harriet Hall, MD, philosophy — The SkepDoc, Hall strips away the masturbatory bullshit that passes for curiosity and inquiry in the New Age and alternative medicine worlds today.

Wouldn’t you think a hundred G’s a year would be good pay for each of five individuals whose words and guidance might affect literally thousands of students a year? Oh, and none of those students would have to be winners of the gene pool lottery wherein they’d have been born bigger/faster/stronger than 99.9 percent of their peers.

Call me a dreamer.

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE…

As if anybody needed more proof that Tony Robbins is a con artist:

Or that people who buy into his brand of fraud are dopes?

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

“What If?” From XKCD

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

Twin Lakes Recreation CenterAmerican Softball Association Slow Pitch State Tournament; all day

◗ IU Wells-Metz Theatre“The Taming of the Shrew”; 2pm

◗ IU Willkie AuditoriumCultural fair: Silk Road Bayaram Festival; 3-6pm

The Player’s PubBenefit for Margery Sauve; 6pm

Bryan ParkSunday Concert: Steel Panache, steel drum band; 6:30pm

Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series: “Oslo, August 31”; 7pm

Buskirk-Chumley TheaterBig Brothers Big Sisters fundraising gala; 7:30pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It with You”; 7:30pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Pipe organ faculty recital; 8pm

The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — The Size of Color, Minus World; 9pm

The BishopDaniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes, the Shams Band; 9pm

Ongoing:

◗ 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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