Category Archives: University of Nebraska

The Pencil Today:


“Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they’ve stolen.” — Mort Sahl


The day before yet another Republican primary, this one in Florida.

As always — I repeat, always; I mean it, always — Big Media is doing remotes from a bunch of heretofore unknown sandwich shops and church basements that the various candidates will visit to ask voters whom they’ll, um, vote for tomorrow.

And danged if the intrepid reporters invariably pick out the same kind of yokel: Well, uh, I haven’t made up my mind yet, and so on, ad nauseam.

Come on, people! There’ve been 373 debates within the last week alone. Moon Newt and Rich Mitt have been in the public eye for years. The issues they’ve skirted have been with us since time immemorial.

Who Are These Guys?

How on Earth can you not know who to vote for tomorrow?

Sometimes people say they need to actually see the candidates — with their naked eyes — before they can decide.

Look, neither the Republican candidate nor the eventual president is going to sit down with you and balance your checkbook, nor is he going to do your windows or vacuum your carpet. He’s going to be administering a government of 300-odd million people. You’re merely one of them.

He doesn’t have to visit with you personally in order to get your vote.

Sheesh, don’t people get it?


If you’re not decrying the split between liberals and conservatives within this holy land these days, you’ll be accused of not paying attention. Many wags and wonks say the gulf is tearing our nation apart and is either created or exacerbated by the corporate media in order to provide content for its infotainment product.


But a recent study by University of Nebraska researchers indicates that liberals and conservatives react differently, and viscerally, to images of good and bad things. The researchers conclude that liberalism and conservatism may be driven more by biology than any analysis of issues.

Conservatives, the study finds, physically react more strongly to pictures of car crashes and flesh wounds whereas liberals react more to pretty, peaceful scenes.

In other words the right is spurred on by peril, the left by bonhomie.

This Ought To Push A Liberal’s Buttons

Those on the right, the researchers also found, exhibit more dramatic physiological reactions when shown pictures of Democrats than they do when shown Republicans. Oddly, liberals respond the same way. The researchers see this as further proof that conservatives are kicked into higher emotional gear by things they loathe or fear while libs are just the opposite.


It’s not much of a stretch to suppose that Republicans, therefore, are stimulated more by attack ads and fear-mongering.

So, don’t expect the pissing match between Moon Newt and Rich Mitt to peter out any time soon. And then look for even more thrills and spills come September and October.


Abby Tonsing of the Herald Times pointed out yesterday that Lauren Spierer turned 21 on January 12th.

The missing IU student’s parents, Charlene and Robert Spierer, still believe the male students who reportedly saw Lauren in the hours and moments before she disappeared on June 3rd have more information that they’re not sharing.

Daddy-o Robert called the story one of the boys told police “laughable.”

Lauren, On A Previous Birthday

I still can’t figure out why the four male IU students identified as having spent time with her before she vanished are all lawyered up. Then again, former assistant county prosecutor Maryann Pelic tells me it’s the smart thing for them to do (and she’s not at all implying they have anything to hide.)


So, the trial of the two idiots who sat on their hands when news of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sex crimes was reported to them will soon begin.

To refresh your memory, another assistant coach allegedly saw Sandusky naked in the football shower room engaging in anal intercourse with what appeared to be a naked 10-year-old boy. The assistant coach reported what he saw to head football coach Joe Paterno who, in turn, reported it to a couple of paper shufflers in the PSU athletic department.

Paterno promptly washed his hands of the whole affair, convinced he’d done everything he was legally obliged to do. Apparently, he was satisfied with doing next to nothing.

The two paper shufflers now face charges of failure to report a child sex crime to the police and lying about what they knew to a grand jury.

Sandusky has been charged with 50 counts of having sex with young boys.

Paterno died last weekend of lung cancer and the Penn State community came out to tell the world what a great guy he was, what a leader of men, what a moral beacon, and tons of other holy horseshit.

But when the scandal broke it was learned that Paterno allowed Sandusky to continue to use Penn Sate facilities for years after the great man was told about the shower incident. Despite being retired from the football program, Sandusky was allowed to keep an office in the football hall and kept bringing prepubescent boys to the place at all hours.

Paterno, apparently, never raised a peep about the creepy set-up. We know for a fact he never stopped any of it from happening. And, believe me, Paterno could have stopped it all — at least within the hallowed halls of the football facility.

Now, defense attorneys for the two paper shufflers seem to be focused on how all the fine, upstanding men involved in this case were afraid to use actual words to describe what Sandusky allegedly had done.

The defense attorneys are hoping a jury agrees that by the time the story got to the two university officials, it had been so watered down by skittish football men that it didn’t even sound like a crime anymore.

A CNN reporter contacted a couple of experts to decode the whole mess,. Laurie Levenson, who teaches law at Loyola (Los Angeles) University, told the reporter, “Sodomy, rape, and anal intercourse are not easy words for men, especially jocks, to verbalize, and they may become particularly reluctant when they are speaking to authority figures.”

Another expert, Dr. Chuck Williams of Drexel University said, “Being uncomfortable with the subject matter could have led all men involved to minimize the Sandusky mess and avoid confronting it head on.”

Man alive! This whole stinking tale becomes more rancid by the moment. One weekend we’re being told Joe Paterno was one of god’s “greatest gifts to the world,” (by a Catholic priest, no less) and the next we hear that god’s gift is too squeamish to blow the whistle on a child sodomizer.

A former Penn State quarterback called Paterno “the most extraordinary person I know.” But JoePa was not extraordinary enough to say a phrase like “My assistant saw Jerry Sandusky penetrating the anus of a child with his penis.”

There. I just said it. And no one’s calling me extraordinary.

Paterno even had a hard time telling police investigators and prosecutors what he’d heard. His testimony to the grand jury showed a man afraid to say dirty words.

Everyone involved made a choice: don’t say too much because talking about it is icky. The fact that at least one ten-year-old kid had his anus forcibly dilated to an approximate width of two inches did not at all enter into the equation.

Perhaps the best account of this ugly tale was written by Buzz Bissinger, the author of “Friday Night Lights,” in the November 10th edition of The Daily Beast. He wrote, “[W]e need to stop the daintiness and describe the alleged offenses for what they truly are in the vernacular to somehow try to capture the monstrousness. Not anal intercourse or oral sex, which sounds clinical, but butt-fucking and blowjobs and cock-grabbing and pants-groping and other assorted acts that the 67-year-old Sandusky allegedly inflicted on [the victims].”

Big time college sports guys can run fast, jump high, throw balls long distances, or plot out clever plays. But if they’re too grossed out to save a kid from being ravaged, they’re neither brave nor strong.

And they certainly aren’t god’s gift.

The Pencil Today:


“People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” — Rogers Hornsby


As a native Chicagoan, I love the fact that a number of school systems around the area are operating on a two-hour delay due to yesterday’s snowfall. The WFIU newscaster this morning breathlessly advised listeners to stay tuned for any further announcements of delays or even school closings.

Anywhere from half to three quarters of an inch of snow buried locales around Bloomington on Thursday. The National Weather Service warns that snow may drift through this morning and into the early afternoon.

Half an inch of snow drifting! Hehe! How big will those mighty snow drifts be? Will I be buried up to my ankles?

Hell, when I walked Steve the Dog this AM, I could still see the grass poking through the white blanket.

These photos illustrate why I laugh. The first is from the infamous Blizzard of 1967; the second from last year’s equally infamous snowfall. Each dumped two feet of powder on Chicago.

Honestly, folks, I prefer what we in Bloomington have to what I once had to endure in Chicago. Still, I have to chuckle.


Tough Guy Pat moped into Soma Coffee this morning. He’d spent last night at Assembly Hall watching the men’s basketball team tank a home game against the godawful Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Just like that, Bloomington has tumbled from giddy to glum.


I had to ask him, Is this the beginning of the end?

“No, not at all,” Tough Guy Pat said. “It’s just the beginning of reality.” He went on to explain: Road tilts against Ohio State (“They’re gonna cream us”) and Nebraska (“I’m tellin’ you, they’re no slouches”) are up next for the Hoosiers.


While typing these brilliant thoughts, I heard out of the corner of my ear a taped quote from Republican presidential wannabe Rick Santorum on NPR. “We always need a Jesus candidate,” the uber-heterosexual candidate said.

The most closeted of the GOP contenders, Santorum also told the radio interviewer (the interview was not originally on NPR) why he was so dead set against gay marriage. Kids, he pontificated, “have a right to be known and loved by their dad and their mom. That’s what marriage is about. It’s not about two people loving each other.”

Miss Ricky fascinates me more and more each day.

The Touchdown Jesus Candidate


Last month I wrote about my long-standing distrust of people in whose homes books are absent. I said most of my pals display their books the way much of the populace of this holy land shows off their wall-sized flat TV screens.

The upshot was, I shouldn’t be so snobbish — not when I also have friends like Tyler Ferguson, who’s smart as a whip but claims to have neither the time nor the patience to read books.

Well, Tyler can’t say that anymore. She was laid low for three weeks recently by bronchitis. All she had the energy to do was read. She knocked off a number of tomes.

Now that’s she has recovered, she can’t seem to shake the reading bug. Today she’s carrying around “Tomatoland” by Barry Estabrook. “It just opens your eyes to the perils of big ag,” she explains.

BTW, the Bleeding Heartland Roller Girls (Tyler skates as “Kaka Caliente”) begin 2012 competition Saturday, February 4, with the B-Cup Challenge here in Bloomington at the Twin Lakes Recreation Center.

If you’re not there, you’re nowhere.

Bleeding Heartland Roller Girls In Action


Hard to believe, isn’t it, that not too long ago we all were frightened to death that the leaders of the US and the Soviet Union might push their respective red buttons and blow all our respective cities to smithereens?

Jonathan Schell‘s book, “The Fate of the Earth” in 1982 jump-started the anti-nuke movement with his dramatic descriptions of a massive nuclear exchange by the two superpowers. He cited scientific estimates that such an event might well destroy civilization and even end all life on the planet.

Five years later, New Zealand singer Shona Laing scored a college radio hit with her Cold War deliberation, “Soviet Snow.” She sang, “Are we wide awake? Is the world aware?” She concludes, “We’ve all got one eye on the winter.”

The nuclear winter, of course.

Just a little reminder that even though the Americans and Russians no longer threaten to destroy each other, the newly enlarged nuclear club presents nightmarish scenarios almost as terrifying.

Sweet dreams, kiddies.

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