Category Archives: Terrorism

Hot Air: Loads Of It

The Illusion

I hate like hell to admit it, but John Steinbeck was right:

The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.

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Honesty, Honestly

Has it occurred to you that this Obama administration, now well into its eighth year, has been shockingly free of venal scandal? I mean, I can’t think of a single Obama White House functionary who’s been brought up on charges of swiping from the public trough or peddling his or her influence for personal gain.

Usually, presidential administrations in their second terms are wracked by accusations, investigations, and indictments of major and minor officials who’ve fattened their wallets thanks to their positions of power.

Not now, though. Not in this presidency.

Obama seems a decent human being. Perhaps his leadership imperative, communicated to all hirees from the get-go, was Do no wrong. It can’t be just dumb luck can it?

And, believe me, if there were even a hint of malfeasance, the vultures  who control the House and Senate as well as those in talk media and the blogosphere would have been on it like flies on dog droppings.

Phew, That Could Have Been Terrorizing!

Here’s something I just don’t understand. Perhaps you can explain it to me.

Yesterday, a mentally-broken man went on a knife rampage in Taunton, Mass., killing two and injuring four others before an off-duty sheriff’s deputy shot him to death. The man apparently went on the random spree after ramming his car into a truck outside a home in Taunton. He then entered the home and stabbed an 80-year-old woman to death and seriously injured the her daughter. He went out on the street, jumped back in his car, and wound up at a nearby mall. There, he attacked several other people, killing one before the deputy stopped him.

A horrible story, indeed. But, somehow, authorities wished to console us in our confusion and worry over the incident. Taunton police made certain to tell reporters the attacks were not related to “terrorism.”

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about the whole affair.

Was the aim of such an announcement to comfort us that no swarthy foreigners were responsible for the death and carnage, but simply a misguided poor soul from this holy land?

And if these attacks are not “terrorism,” what are they? Merely lack of impulse control on the part of a fellow citizen — who, thank god, happens not to be dark or unbearably different. That’s better?

Hillary’s Handiwork?

Have you seen that social media meme aimed at Bernie-ites purportedly showing them how to make home-made glow sticks but in reality is actually a recipe for a mini-bomb?

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No one knows where this ugly little “joke” came from but I guaran-goddamn-tee at least some Bernie true believers are convinced it was the handiwork of operatives from Hillary’s campaign. Hell, there’s gotta be some in this holy land who are certain Hillary herself posted the freakin’ thing!

The Stark Truth

The Loved One and I watched All the King’s Men last night, the 1949 movie based on Robert Penn Warren‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Willie Stark, a populist demagogue who rises to power from the dirt furrows of farm country. Stark becomes wildly adored, with wits and wags wondering if he’s a messiah or a tyrant. The movie based on the book won the Academy Award for Best Picture just four years after Warren won his Pulitzer.

Willie Stark is nothing like Donald Trump but the whole idolatry thing, the “outsider” challenging the powers-that-be, the snake-oil salesman promising a new way of running things, is at the core of Trump’s appeal.

Smart guys used to fear a new Huey Long (upon whom, it is said, Willie Stark was based) coming along, galvanizing the poor and the disenfranchised by telling them what a lousy deal they’re getting and how the big boys are laughing their way to the bank on the backs of the common clay.

It’s tempting to say ATKM is a harbinger of the 2016 presidential race wherein populist demagogue Donald Trump roars to the Republican nomination despite all the analyses of the experts who pooh-poohed his quest. But it’s not. Trump most certainly is not a man who came from dirt furrows and challenged the powers that be. He was a trust fund baby who inherited tens of millions of dollars from his slippery daddy-o and has always been one of the powers that be.

Sure, many of those going gaga over Trump are poor but many, many more are reasonably comfortable, at least in relation to the rest of the world. A Trump rally is not populated by modern day analogs to the subjects of, say, Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era photos.

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Lange’s “Migrant Mother” (1936)

Trump’s fanboys and -girls, in fact, look awfully well fed and clearly have had a good night’s sleep in warm, comfy beds. King-sized, most likely.

They see themselves as unduly screwed, which is bizarre. And Trump keeps telling them they are, which is only the first of his bald-faced lies, of which he’s trafficked in an alarming many.

Guys like the fictional Willie Stark and the real Huey Long had an extremely limited appeal, touching the hearts only of those self-aware enough to accept that they were dirt-poor hicks — “Just like me!” Stark roared. Today, nobody wants to admit they’re a dirt poor hick. Screwed, yeah. Dirt poor, no. Let’s go to Faulkner again, who hit it square:

[The American poor] see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

And not only the Murrican poor see themselves that way. Even the well-fed and cozy comfy feel they’re only one lucky break away from sharing caviar and Moët et Chandon w/ the likes of Donald Trump or the Kardashians. These days, they desperately believe, those lucky breaks are being denied them which is a far worse injustice than mass starvation in Bangladesh or the kidnapping, raping, and killing of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Only a borderline sociopathic liar like Trump could feed and reinforce in people this line of bushwa. Nothing Trump says is based on any set of acts or reality, which sets up his ultimate untrue punchlines. Murricans have been waiting breathlessly for an uber-rich man to come along and lie to them. Rich men, too many in this holy land deeply believe, are special, a higher form of life, nearly messianic.

Their words are scripture, their bank accounts proof of their divinity.

Naw, America never needed to worry about a fascist demagogue coming along and appealing to the poor. The real danger was the incendiary who spoke to the temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

May 11th Birthdays

Laskarina Bouboulina — Known as the heroine of Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, she commanded the rebel Greek fleet and, later, became an admiral in the Russian navy.

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Chang and Eng Bunker — The most famous Siamese (now, more acceptably, conjoined) twins. Both married (two separate women) and had, between them, 21 children.

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Harriet Quimby — The first women to be awarded a pilot’s license in the United States and the first female to aviate across the English Channel. She also was a Hollywood screenwriter, penning scripts for seven films directed by D.W. Griffith.

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Irving Berlin — Born Israel Isidore Baline, he wrote gazillions of standards now in the great American songbook including “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “God Bless America,” “White Christmas,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and countless others.

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Martha Graham — Perhaps the most revered American dancer in history, she conjured the “Graham Technique,” a method of modern dance style and teaching that revolutionized the art form.

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Salvadore Dali — Painter and art world personality.

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Richard Feynman — Nobel Prize winning physicist, iconoclast, bongo player, and author of, among others, Six Easy Pieces. One of my favorite humans ever.

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Mort Sahl — Humorist who specialized in political and social issues, he used a newspaper as a prop onstage, opening it up and commenting on stories within. Steve Allen called him “the only real political philosopher we have in modern comedy.”

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Louis Farrakhan — Controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, an American organization dedicated to the uplift of Black Muslim young men. Farrakhan also has spouted anti-semitic and anti-gay lines. Many in the American Black Muslim community believe he was involved in the plot to assassinate Malcolm X.

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Martha Quinn — One of the original five VJs on MTV.

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And, finally, Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, died on this day in 2001.

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Hot Air

Prosody, Please

The boys over at Ledge Mule Press are doing their best to keep Bloomington’s summer literate. They’ll host a book release party featuring poetry reading, music, and other folderol tomorrow night, Saturday, July 18th, 7pm at the I Fell building.

Ledgmule, run by Dave Torneo, Ross Gay, and Chris Mattingly, sponsors a summer poetry series at the I Fell throughout these dog days. Tomorrow’s entry features poet Leslie Marie Aguilar reading from her brand new collection, Mesquite Manual, published by New Delta Review. Aguilar will be backed up by poets Danny Quintos and Britt Ashley as well as musicians Corn Palace.

Aguilar

Aguilar

The Texas-born Aguilar taught poetry in Indiana University’s Creative Writing Program and will begin a 2015-16 fellowship at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in the journals New Delta Review, the Bellingham Review, the Washington Square Review, Rattle, the Iron Horse Literary Review and many others.

I Fell is at 415 W. 4th St, the southwest corner of 4th and Rogers. See you there.

You Can Look It Up

In case you’re confused as to what, precisely, terrorism is, its definition has been reinforced once again by the fine folks who run this holy land’s security apparatus and corporate media. It is any blood-soaked outrage committed by a dark-skinned non-Christian. Period.

For proof, check the coverage of — as well as the FBI statements in the wake of — the shootings at military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee yesterday. The perpetrator, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez (a dead-giveaway, right?) is brown, Arab-born, and a Muslim. Ergo, his was an act of terror. The FBI special agent in charge of the investigation into the act says , sure, it’s prob. terrorism, and why not?

As opposed to, say, that lily-white kid mowing down black people in a South Carolina church last month.

Roof

Not A Terrorist

Special Agent Ed Reinhold wants to clear up any confusion: “We will treat this as a terrorism investigation until it can be determined that it is not.” The Dylann Roof turkey shoot, conversely, was treated as what the cops like to call “a simple criminal act.” Even when certain boat-rockers wanted officials to characterize Roof’s goof as terrorism, law enforcement types said, Whoa, now!

God forbid we should attach the emotional weight of the word terror and all its permutations to the act of a Caucasian.

Don’t you people know nothin’?

Banalities Are Your Friends

BTW, our faithful sentinels in the for-profit news gathering industry have rolled out all their terror- and/or natural disaster-related cliches in the 20 or so hours since the Chattanooga shootings.

The citizens of the town, reporters tell us, are:

  • reeling
  • trying to make sense of it all
  • wondering if they’ll ever look at their hometown in the same way again

Expect Chattanoogans in the next year or so to:

  • pause and reflect
  • come together as one
  • celebrate a new start

Got it?

The Schwarber Era Begins

IU baseball fave Kyle Schwarber apparently is up in the big leagues for good now. The Chicago Cubs have brought the hot-hitting minor leaguer up due to an injury suffered by their regular catcher, Miguel Montero. Schwarber had a cup of coffee with the parent club in June during which he punished Major League pitchers over a six-game stay.

Schwarber has been the subject of an intensive program to bring him up to speed as a big league backstop. He’s always had a rep as a blue-chip slugger but his defensive abilities long have been viewed as subpar. Acc’d’g to insiders, the Cubs have tried to rebuild his catching skills from the ground up since they drafted him in June, 2014.

Schwarber

Schwarber’s First Big League Appearance, June 16th, 2015

It’s a good bet Schwarber will serve as a backup catcher with the Cubs but probably will garner a ton of at bats as a left fielder, a position he is equally inept at. As a left fielder, though, his deficiencies will not be exposed as often as they would be behind the plate.

So, here’s the fantasy: Schwarber bludgeons pitchers for the rest of the year, leading the Cubs to a post-season berth, during which they win their first World Series since the Theodore Roosevelt presidency. Schwarber is then assumed into heaven.

Can’t a guy dream?

My Hiatus (And, No, I Don’t Mean My Hernia)

Just a reminder, I’ll be back pontificating and opinionating here daily (well, almost daily) soon. Right now, I’m still slaving away on the Charlotte Zietlow book. Be patient.

Your Daily Hot Air

She’s Not There

Whyzit that the smartest females corporate media gives us are fictional? I had no idea who Piper Chapman was before I read her fabulous meme quote last night. At first I thought she was a real person and I started writing, “Here’s a female actor who isn’t a dumb blonde. This Piper dame seems to have the goods between the ears. How she ever made it in Hollywood or wherever they shoot Netflix things is beyond me.”

A couple of seconds-worth of research revealed PC is a character in the Netflix comedy-drama Orange Is the New Black, which I’ve never seen and I don’t plan to. No, not because I object to it in particular but because, y’know, it’s TV.

Schilling

Taylor Schilling: At Least She Plays Smart

Anyways, natch, no ambitious young actor would ever say anything like PC said in public because although we are free, free, free to gun down anyone whose looks we don’t like in this holy land, when it comes to expressing liberal-bordering-on-radical views, well, now hold on there pardner.

It’s okay to be Barbra Streisand and throw fundraisers for Hillary Clinton, who’s about as liberal as I am a thug rapper. That’s cool. But once you start messin’ w/ the Big Daddy-o in the Sky, you’re messin’ w/ your career, babies.

Oh, and you aspiring female opinionators can dream of filling the Rachel Maddow slot — TV needs a lesbian/intellectual/tough-talking/hard-core liberal, you bet. She’s a perfect target for Right Wing troglodytes to aim their hot little pistols at while she’s going on and on about commie things like facts and poor people. And, by the way, any double meaning you’d care to attach to my reference to hot little pistols there is perfectly expected. The “real men” of this holy land know what R. Maddow needs.

Maddow

… Aim….

So, I’m bummed that the following manifesto is merely script dialogue. Still, it’s worth a look:

I believe in science, I believe in evolution. I believe in Nate Silver and Neil deGrasse Tyson and Christopher Hitchens, although I do admit he could be kind of an asshole.

[A Pencil Aside: Hey, is this chick me or something? Carry on.]

I cannot get behind some supreme being who weighs in on the Tony awards while a million people get whacked with machetes.

[Pencil Aside 2: Oh yeah, she’s me. With long streaked hair, blue eyes and ladyparts. Carry on.]

I don’t believe a billion Indians are going to hell, I don’t think we get cancer to learn life lessons, and I don’t believe that people die young because god needs another angel. I think it’s just bullshit and, on some level, I think we all know that. I mean, don’t you? … Look I understand that religion makes it easier to deal with all the random shitty things that happen to us. And I wish I could get on that ride. I’m sure I’d be happier. But I can’t. Feelings aren’t enough. I need it to be real.

Trust me, there was some heavy sighing going on as I clacked this in. I’m still not going to watch Orange Is the New Black and I wish, wish, wish an actual person had said this. Like Piper Chapman sez, I need it to be real.

[h/t to Deanna Truelock]

Hot Rods To Hell

How full of shit are we? This full of shit:

Grimly tally the number of people who have been killed by terrorism in the United States since the State Department began keeping records in the 1960s, and you’ll get a total of less than 5000 — roughly the same number, it has been pointed out, as those who have been struck by lightning. But each year, with some fluctuation, the number of people killed in car crashes in the United States tops 40,000. More people are killed on the roads each month than were killed in the September 11 attacks. In the wake of those attacks, polls found that many citizens thought it was acceptable to curtail civil liberties to help counter the threat of terrorism, to help preserve our “way of life.” Those same citizens, meanwhile, in polls and in personal behavior, have routinely resisted traffic measures designed to reduce the annual death toll (e.g., lowering speed limits, introducing more red-light cameras, stiffer blood alcohol limits, stricter cell phone laws.)

Murrica, ya gotta love it!

Head-on Collision

Terror

The above passage is from the book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt, a neat little study of the psychology behind our cars and roads and everything else related to them.

They hate us, remember, for our freedoms.

The Boss

Who rules the world? You, the voter? The Prez? Carlos Slim Helu? Bruce Springsteen? Tony Bennett (see below)? Whoever it is that packs the most heat?

Forget ’em all. If you want to figure out who calls the shots on the third planet from the Sun, check out this fab Open Database website: opencorporates.com. OC monitors more than 55 million corporate entities around the globe, measuring their reach, gauging their influence, and illustrating the dense web the biggest of them has spun around us all. We seven billion are, after all, a bunch of buzzing flies trapped in the arachnoid mesh created by the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other archvillainous entities. (How about that for literary imagery?)

Dig: SMERSH and KAOS had nothing on, say, the Citigroup gang. And don’t even get me started on Monsanto.

From opencorporates.com

Citigroup’s Untangled Web

Now you know. Go there.

If I Ruled The World

Your Daily Hot Air

Reactions

Barack Obama yesterday spoke like a black man for the first time since he hit the national scene. He said, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is: Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP

Impromptu & Unexpected

Now, I’ve just read about this impromptu speech on the Guardian UK website. My immediate reaction was: Guaranteed, tons of folks in this holy land are gonna say, “If only that was Barack Obama 35 years ago.”

So let me take a break for a few moments so I can go through my go-to Right wingnut sites and see if  the oh-so dependable crypto-racists of Murrica have made a seer out of me.

While you wait for me to do this pressing research, enjoy this:

Okay, I’m back. In fact, I was finished with my search long before the above vid was over. Ya gotta love the Right; they come through every time.

The reactionary conservative world had apoplexy over the prez’ comments, natch. Among other things, they accused Obama of trying to “tear the nation apart,” they called him the “Race-baiter in Chief.” One woman wrote, “I had no idea Obama sucker-punched a watch volunteer & then bashed his head in. Who knew?” Another called him a “buffoon,” “racist,” a lyncher, and guilty of sedition. A third called him “the most irresponsible president in history.” Jim Hoft, AKA the Dumbest Man on the Internet, wrote, “Good Lord — he is stoking a race war.”

And that very sensitive deep thinker Sean Hannity wondered aloud if Obama really meant he was like Martin because he (Obama) had smoked pot and “did a little blow” when he was the age of the late Florida teenager.

Now, bingo! Here’s the magic comment by someone named OldHickory21 on the Daily Caller website: “If only Obama had run into a George Zimmerman there in Hawaii, we wouldn’t be watching our country going down the drain right now. Too bad.”

From the Daily Caller

Good to know some things are reliable in this ever-changing world.

Pretty Little Terrorist

Speaking of the deranged Right (and ain’t I always?), our nation’s non compos mentalists found themselves all aflutter earlier in the week when Rolling Stone put a photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover.

Rolling Stone Cover

For years, being on the cover of the Rolling Stone was seen as perhaps the ultimate honor a rock star or movie actor could earn. Hell, there was even a hit song about it called — what else? — “Cover of the Rolling Stone” back in 1973.

Ignoring the fact that the remaining couple of dozen people who still read Rolling Stone are those who were young and hip aways back in 1973 and now are concerned mostly with erectile dysfunction and the rising cost of cemetery plots, the hysterical Right concluded that the mag was championing young Tsarnaev and his alleged pressure cooker attack on the Boston Marathon.

For some odd reason, the unreasonable of this nation feel the rather normal-looking mug of the accused deep-fryer bomber will inspire doddering former hippies to revolt. Presumably, they’ll attack the Silent Majority with their canes and walkers.

It follows, then, that a number of drug and convenience stores had removed the publication from their shelves because…, well, because. And some guy from the Massachusetts State Police said the cover “glamorized the face of terror.”

I have no idea what they’d have preferred Jan Wenner put on the cover — perhaps a photo of a warthog or Adolf Hitler or simply a garden variety brown Arab. Now those things are ugly and/or evil. Tsarnaev the Younger can even be described as attractive. What kind of monster would attach a picture of a cute white kid to a story about a vicious terrorist act, even if the cute white kid (allegedly) did the act?

Warthog

The Face Of Terror

Anyways, my concern here is with the retailers who took the mag off their shelves. It makes me think of my recent promises to refuse to sell certain books to people at (shameless plug here) Bloomington’s only remaining independent bookseller, the Book Corner.

Loyal readers know that I’ve promised not to participate in a transaction with any customer who wants to buy faux-pimp James O’Keefe’s memoir, anything by the execrable Glenn Beck, and anything by or on behalf of doughy vigilante George Zimmerman. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing I’d helped those chuckleheads earn even a penny.

My take on those who refuse to peddle the Tsarnaev Rolling Stone is that they’re narrow minded prigs who dig censorship.

So I have to ask myself, when all is said and done: Aren’t I, too?

To be frank, I don’t know the answer yet. Either that or I do know the answer and I simply don’t want to admit it.

It Is A Puzzle(ment)

Here’s a fun heads up. Theater and non-profit maven Marc Tschida is making, with his bare hands, a neat selection of Bloomington-oriented jigsaw puzzles.

Tschida

Marc Tschida

Well, okay, he’s using a jigsaw, among other handy tools, but y’know.

Thus far, he’s produced a nifty Buskirk Chumley Theater puzzle as well others depicting Cardinal Stage Company productions and the face of a beloved local citizen whose identity will remain a secret until he gets all the appropriate releases signed and sealed. Look for tons more B-town landmarks and defining images to pop up in stores near you within the next few months.

Tschida Puzzle

Tschida’s “Charlotte’s Web” Puzzle

Tschida is donating gobs of the puzzles to area non-profits for fundraising raffles and giveaways. Pencillistas, unbuckle your money belts and throw a little cash Tschida’s way.

Your Daily Hot Air

Paranoia

It always happens in these cases of pack journalism.

We learn far more than we ever need to know about trivial things and far less about the important stuff.

Case in point: We now know that Edward Snowden‘s girlfriend calls herself a “pole-dancing superhero” and that she’s a compulsive selfie. We’ve also discovered that she’s a blogger who uses ultra-flowery language that would embarrass an emotionally overwrought high school sophomore.

Mills

Lindsay Mills

For instance, the girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, wrote the other day, “My world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass…. Surely there will be villainous pirates, distracting mermaids, and tides of change in this new open water chapter of my journey.”

Yikes! No wonder Snowden took it on the lam halfway around the world.

Disney Mermaids

Dangerous Disney Characters

The inspiration behind this ejaculation of purple prose is the furor surrounding Snowden’s revelation that it was he who blew the whistle on the US National Security Agency’s data harvesting programs that are either:

  • The realization of our worst nightmares that George Orwell’s fictional “1984” has become fact

or

  • No big deal.

Funny thing is, even Snowden’s name seems to have sprung from the keyboard of a bodice-ripping romance novelist. And then Edward kissed me, his masculine yet gentle lips brushing against mine, his strong yet sensitive arms holding me close, then letting me go long before I wished for freedom from them. He stroked my tear-stained cheek and said ‘Farewell, my darling.’ With nary another word, he picked up his valise and walked out of my life forever.

BTW: Mills actually employed one of those lacrimose images when she told the world that she was typing on a “tear-stained keyboard” in the wake of Edward’s escape from the federal government’s spooks this month.

Book Cover

Well, hell, there are millions of emo-junkie bloggers and poets in this world and I don’t mean to belittle them and Lindsay Mills (well, not too much) but there’s only one Edward Snowden. We still know far too little about him and, far more importantly, we know next to nothing about the clandestine operations he has revealed.

And that’s precisely why I haven’t yet figured out whether I should be up in arms about this whole affair or just chalk it all up to the Republicans once again trying to sully the image of our first foreign-born, communist president.

One voice in my head sez that I don’t like the idea of fed spooks listening in on each and every one of my communications, up to and including the voices in my head. The overriding concern of guys in power is to stay in power and they’ll use every sneaky trick in the book to remain there. If that means my Constitutional right to privacy isn’t worth the parchment it’s written on, then that’s the way it’s going to be.

On the other hand, what kind of rational observer can expect to keep her or his electronic transmissions a secret in this day and age of Google and Facebook where, for instance, we can learn instantaneously the progress of the bowel functions of public officials who’ve undergone recent appendectomies. Look, Walmart, PepsiCo, and ConAgra know more about you and me than any army of government moles and plants could ever find out.

Spy vs. Spy/Mad Magazine

Everybody’s Doing It

Here are the two extremes of reaction to PRISM and other hijinks committed by the secret agents of the United States of America:

  • At this very moment, a government spy is listening in on my call to my doctor’s office to schedule an appointment regarding my ingrown toenail
  • The democratically-elected officials of this great land would never, ever violate my sacred rights.

Holders of either stance are delusional.

Some 310 million people live in this holy land. They send more than 10 billion text messages daily. The number of phone calls we make each day also numbers in the billions. It would take at least 310 million spies to monitor our daily typed or verbal chats with Aunt Debbie, the gas company, and the chick who works in the cubicle down the hall whom we’re convinced is hot for us.

So, yeah, the feds aren’t listening analog-ically (now there’s a tortured coinage for you) but, apparently, they’ve developed sinister logarithms that can cull the bad guys out from among us, simply by highlighting key words and phrases. Then an individual can be assigned to listen to a potential terrorist’s rants and raves for a few weeks or months.

I call them sinister because, conceivably, a naïf such as I could inadvertently type the word-combo angry, explosive, god, and federal building in the same message and be put on a terrorist watch list. Then the bastards would be able to learn all about my ingrown toenail.

Product

Incontrovertible Evidence

To that end, my radical lawyer pal Jerry Boyle has passed along a helpful faux message we all can type, in part or in toto, into our smart phones or on Facebook, just to mess with The Man. Here it is:

Hey! How’s it going? I’m all right.

My job is so shitty I wish could overthrow my boss. It’s like this oppressive regime where only true believers in his management techniques will stay around. I work marathon-length hours and he’s made all these changes that have made it the worst architecture firm to work at in Manhattan. Like he moved the office to the Financial District and fired my assistant. She was the only one who knew where the blueprints were! I need access to those blueprints to complete my job! F my life, right? And he keeps trying to start all these new initiatives to boost revenue, but seriously we just need to stick to what we do best. There’s only one true profit center. I seriously feel ready to go on strike at any second.

I just read this article about how these free radical particles can cause the downfall of good health and accelerate aging. These could actually cause death to millions of Americans. If these particles are flying around undetected everywhere, does that mean we’re all radicalized?

Have you seen the second season of Breaking Bad? I just finished it. I couldn’t believe that episode where they poison the guy with ricin! That was the bomb! I won’t say any more because I don’t want to reveal the earth-shattering events to come.

Oh! So I’ve been planning a big trip for the summer. I’m thinking of visiting all of the most famous suspension bridges in the United States. So probably like the Golden Gate Bridge, The Brooklyn Bridge, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. I’m gonna bring my younger brother and I know he’ll want to go to bars, so I’m thinking of getting him a fake drivers license, but I hope that doesn’t blow up in my face.

Okay, I gotta run! I’m late for flight school. I missed the last class where we learn how to land, so I really can’t miss another one. Talk to you later!

Heehee! It’s chock-full of just about every alarm-bell word or concept that might give any good NSA desk jockey a case of raging priapism. Let’s all do it! Then we’ll all be a nation of suspects. As is the case with any label, if everyone’s a suspect, no one’s a suspect.

Secret Agent Man

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Monday

THE QUOTE

Dave: “Did you ever go to confession?”

Moocher: “Twice.”

Dave: “Did it make you feel better?”

Moocher: “Once.”

— Dialogue from “Breaking Away

Publicity Still from "Breaking Away"

TERROR ALERT!

We really haven’t given much thought to the idea of domestic terrorism since the financial crash of 2007/08 — which, by the way, was a government-sponsored, systematic terrorist act all its own.

In the weeks following 9/11 every single one of us was scared to death that mad Arabs would be flying airplanes into skyscrapers of every big city and parking trucks full of fertilizer-based explosives outside public libraries from Bedford to Skokie.

Bedford (IN) Library

A Target?

Even I, the World’s Smartest Man, who was telling people within hours of the Twin Towers falling that the attack was a one-off, that nothing even remotely like it would happen again within the foreseeable future, still harbored in my heart an irrational, petrifying fear that we were in for it.

Then, of course, we flexed our muscles and marched headlong into a bizarrely truncated war in Afghanistan, with our president, who was being compared to Churchill in the aftermath of the attacks (no lie), deciding to cut off the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and send our soldiers into the meat grinder that was Iraq.

Before long, and after toppling the governments of two sovereign nations, we began to think of ourselves less as victims and more as the people who ruled the world.

And we were, militarily, culturally, economically — just about every which way you cared to look at it. Then the investment bankers and their pimps in Washington saw their double-downs and double-crosses blow up like…, well, like a terrorist’s bomb. With a recession bordering on depression staring us on the face, we had zero time to think about crazy Arabs attacking us.

Blankfein, Dimon, et al

Domestic Terrorists

Still, this holy land spends hundreds of millions of dollars — nay, billions — on blue-uniformed, inadequately trained, cheap labor to protect our airports, and bureaucrats, pencil-pushers, and wonks to man our Department of Homeland Security.

You’d think we’d just spent the past decade-plus enduring attacks from every side.

We haven’t. Not only that, we have been living, fatly, in the safest country in the world, in terms of wild-eyed outsiders coming here and blowing us up. Never mind that our own citizens are shooting each other up like those of no other nation in the history of the Earth.

It’s beside the point that crazy Arabs are as gnats compared to crazy Americans who prey on their fellow citizens.

Anyway, Reason magazine has run a compelling piece on terrorists and us. Here’s a taste: Did you know that fewer than 500 citizens of this holy land have been offed by outside terrorists since 1970? That, of course, is not counting 9/11, which many might counter is like saying the Hoosier men’s basketball team beat Coppin State by 87 points Saturday night if you just disregard the 51 points the Eagles scored.

On the other hand, our entire Homeland Security apparatus is based upon the outlier. It would be like Saint Tom Crean revamping the whole IU team and developing a new style of play because Coppin played tough in the first half and scored a few points.

Who knows, maybe the tens of thousands of people employed by DHS, the draconian Justice Department practices, and the PATRIOT Act have protected us from untold numbers of 9/11s. It’s impossible to know.

Read the piece, though. You won’t get any answers but, more importantly, it’ll raise questions.

COPPIN COACH’S COOL HANDLE

I know next to nothing about college basketball. Oh, I know that IU’s big gun is named Cody Zeller (did I spell his name right?) And, let’s see now, um, the Hoosiers are ranked Number 1 in the nation.

How could I live in this town and not know these two things?

Other than that, college hoops is played by somebody else’s kids, ergo I don’t care.

So I had to do some research to find out what the Hoosiers had done this weekend.

In doing so, I discovered that the coach of Coppin State has the coolest name imaginable: Fang Mitchell.

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun

Fang Mitchell

Fang Mitchell! The only other human being I’ve ever heard of with the name Fang was Phyllis Diller’s husband. And that was a gag.

Oh, and one of Soupy Sales’ animal buddies was named White Fang. Here’s a description of White Fang from Wikipedia:

“‘The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA,’ who appeared only as a giant white shaggy paw with black triangular felt ‘claws’ jutting out from the corner of the screen. Fang spoke with unintelligible short grunts and growls, which Soupy repeated back in English, for comic effect. White Fang was often the pie-thrower when Soupy’s jokes bombed.”

From "The Soupy Sales Show"

Soup Sales & White Fang

Fang Mitchell’s got quite a moniker to live up to.

THE KID FROM BLOOMINGTON

Speaking of Hoosiers, The Loved One and I went out on a movie date Saturday night, while the rest of Bloomington humanity was crammed into Assembly Hall to watch IU crush Coppin State by 87 points (again, disregarding the 51 the Eagles actually scored.)

We saw “Lincoln” and T-LO cried at the end, natch, even though we already knew how it would turn out.

Anyway, we remained in our seat during the credits so the tomato could stem her leaking and, lo and behold, we learned that Jackie Earle Haley had appeared in the movie.

You remember him, don’t you? The geeky, short kid who played Moocher in “Breaking Away”?

Scene from "Breaking Away"

Moocher, Between Cyril (Daniel Stern) & Mike (Dennis Quaid)

Poor kid, he went and got married in the movie even though he was just a teenager. That scene of him going into the Monroe County Courthouse with his girlfriend sent a shiver down my spine.

Funny thing is, JEH actually did get married in 1979, the year “Breaking Away” was released. He was 18 that year.

Haley plays Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, part of a trio of emissaries who seek to negotiate a peace with Lincoln.

Scene from "Lincoln"

Haley In “Lincoln”

Moocher was the perfect role for him. Haley was born and raised in suburban Los Angeles but, honestly, he should have been a Hoosier. More specifically, he should have been a son of Bloomington. Or, better, Ellettsville.

I’ve lived in these parts for more than three years now and I’ve seen several dozen Moochers around and about. The first time I saw “Breaking Away” (only last year, by the way) I felt certain JEH was some local kid the producers had discovered to play the part.

It turns out Haley was a child star with credits going as far back as “Marcus Welby, MD” and “The Partridge Family.” Still, he screams South Central Indiana for me, the way Peewee Reese screams Louisville and John Belushi screams Chicago, the other towns in which I’ve lived.

I suppose if I had to pick an actual Bloomingtonian to scream Bloomington for me, it’d be Hoagie Carmichael, and that wouldn’t be a bad choice at all.

He edges out that man about town, Leo Cook.

Leo Cook

Leo Cook, On Vogue In An Alternate Universe

ASTRO-FIZZIES

From Science Is A Verb, via I Fucking Love Science:

Science Is A Verb

If you missed it this morning, try to catch it just before dawn tomorrow. Take note, though, that people are spreading this viral piece of misinformation about the event. As usual, reality isn’t enough for Americans so we have to concoct nonsense to entertain ourselves.

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