Category Archives: Vanderbilt University

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“More things in politics happen by accident or exhaustion than happen by conspiracy.” — Jeff Greenfield

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG SKY

Heads up for another cool sky show tonight.

The annual Leonids meteor shower will peak tonight after midnight. Look toward the constellation Leo when it rises and, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch ten or a dozen shooting stars and hour. The apparent origin point of the shower will be smack dab in the middle of the question mark formed by the lion’s head. That bright star at the base of the question mark is Regulus, known as “the lion’s heart.”

This should be a terrific year for viewing the shower because this sky is expected to be clear and the moon will be a sliver.

So turn off your TV, bundle up, and watch that sky.

MAD MEN

A hat tip to Professor Richard Lloyd of Vanderbilt University for pointing out this one in Salon.

Republican state senators in Georgia held a meeting a month ago to discuss the maddest conspiracy theory yet. Apparently, the GOP legislators believe President Barack Obama is using advanced brainwashing techniques to turn Americans into pliant sheep so that he and the United Nations can take away private property rights, depopulate the suburbs, move everybody into the cities, and otherwise turn this holy land into some kind of dystopia straight out of a cheap science fiction novel.

Svengali

Again, this is not an Onion article. It’s no joke. I get the feeling I’m going to have to get used to typing that line as time goes by in this, Obama’s second term.

Here’s the dope from the dopes:

The United Nations has an action plan called Agenda 21, created 20 years ago during the Rio global environment conference. It deals with sustainable development, which the sane among us dig, but the psychologically disturbed see as some kind of an Hitlerian/Stalinist plot to enslave us all.

Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntary program that most countries of the world, even these United States, at least pay positive lip service to. The Georgia senators, on the other hand, see things differently.

It’s a “conspiracy to transform America from the land of the free to the land of the collective.” So says a man named Field Searcy, a former Tea Party honcho (that figures) who was booted from the party because he seemed a tad, shall we say, deranged.

If you’re considered deranged among Tea Party-ists, you are deranged indeed.

If This Guy Thinks You’re Nuts….

Searcy led the meeting which was called by Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, who bills himself the “taxpayers (sic) best friend,” and was held at the state capitol. So this is no secret cabal getting together under cover of night in some dank basement.

Anyway, Obama’s using a something called the Delphi technique to control the innocents of our nation. It was developed during the Cold War by Project RAND (later known as the RAND Corporation) and it has something to do with making behavior forecasts utilizing the collective thinking of a group as opposed to the wildly divergent thinking done by individuals. How this becomes a nefarious thought control tool is not explained by Searcy et al.

Searcy and his fellow dementos believe municipal, county, and state governments are in on this plot along with the commies, brown people, and Muslims of the UN as well as the chief destroyer of America, Obama himself.

According to political reporter Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a videographer recorded the first hour of the meeting and then was kicked out of the room. The logical conclusion is that subsequent discussion must have been even more batty than that recounted here.

I suppose if certain anti-Obama-ites have their way and do indeed secede from the union, they should call themselves the United States of the Cuckoo’s Nest.

AUSTERITY, NO

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! writes in Truthdig that the movement against austerity measures is gaining ground all across the globe.

This news makes me feel a bit better after writing the previous story.

Thanks, Amy

It seems the reelection of Barack Obama and the repudiation of so many Republican candidates a week ago Tuesday is our nation’s little way of rebelling against austerity. Sure, some young people took to the streets for a few months in the Occupy movement of 2011 but, honestly, that had about as much effect as tossing an LSD tab into a big city’s water supply in hopes of turning the populace on.

Most of the American citizenry believe money should remain safely in the hands of the uber-wealthy, no matter what folks say about raising taxes on the rich. Not so elsewhere in the world. We fetishize the plutocracy; the rest of humanity looks upon the Midas class properly, as one would a mobster making you an offer you can’t refuse.

How else would you explain the popularity of Donald Trump?

Execrable, Albeit Explainable

APPROPRIATELY NAMED

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you.

“And our governments are very much the same.” — Marjane Satrapi

THE RIGHT CHOICE

WFHB moves glacially when it comes to hiring people. Sheez, it took the board six months to figure out Chad Carrothers was the person for the job of General Manager, even as he was whipping the station into shape operationally and financially as the Acting Boss.

So, the two-month wait to give the News Director position to Alycin Bektesh doesn’t seem so, well, endless.

Bektesh & Pal

Yep, the former Assistant News Director/Acting News Director now gets to print up permanent business cards and I can’t think of a more deserving soul in the industry.

I wrote the news with Bektesh when she first joined the station as a volunteer a year ago. I thought I was the hottest pepper in the salad until she sat next to me. Alycin was aggressive, confident, knowledgeable, and damned good.

Perhaps most amazing of all was her ability to endure my incessant chatter and ribbing. Not only that, she gave it all back and then some.

Look out Chicago and New York. This chick’ll be nosing around Bloomington only for a precious short time.

INNER BEAUTY?

Correct me if I’m wrong but is this not the year 2012?

The IDS reports this morning that an Indiana University junior named Brianna McClellan was tabbed Miss IU Saturday night.

The campus pageant is one of the stepping stones to the Miss Indiana and Miss America contests.

Miss America?

Miss America: A Crowning Intellectual And Public Service Achievement

I mean, there are a lot of dumbass things going on in this holy land — the Republican primary reality show for one — but I had no idea we still had beauty pageants.

Oh, the participants in these things caution us not to call them beauty pageants anymore. Heavens no.

If not, then why can’t I compete in them?

I’ll tell you why: The sight of me in an evening gown would sour the audience on life permanently.

Anyway, last year’s Miss Indiana University, Jaclyn Fenwick, turned over her tiara, sash, bouquet of flowers, riding crop, and velvet handcuffs to Brianna, at which point the new Miss IU held her hand to her cheek in shock, which, if I’m not mistaken, is a gesture mandated by law in such cases.

McClellan, Shocked (photo by Kirsten Clark/IDS)

Fenwick told the IDS that the Miss America thing is important because it provides scholarships to young women.

McClellan said, “I just want it to be known that it’s not a pageant. It’s not a thing about beauty…. It’s the inner beauty and scholarship.”

McClellan added that it’s really volunteerism and community service that count most in the competition.

I suppose it’s only a coincidence that McClellan and Fenwick and the runners up all possess extraordinary conventional physical attributes.

I’ll believe McClellan’s and Fenwick’s unsolicited protestations the day a 250-pound woman who wears horn-rimmed glasses and who volunteers at the Hoosier Hills Food Bank or Boxcar Books wins the title.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

This feature has been absent in recent weeks mainly because FB-ers have been unimaginative.

They sure made up for lost time last night and this morning.

So let’s see what the social media’s brightest minds are up to — and remember, this is a no spamily, no brattle zone.

Rich Lloyd, professor of complicated stuff at Vanderbilt University, read an op/ed piece in the New York Times that’s relevant to the above discussion on beauty pageants.

The author of the piece, historian Stephanie Coontz, points out that women today earn nearly 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, leading some observers to wonder if they’ll have a hard time finding husbands.

After all, men don’t make passes at women who wear glasses, right?

Wrong, Coontz says. That’s old hat. Read the piece and find out why.

◗ Radical lawyer Jerry Boyle, whose hands are going to be filled when the G-8 and NATO big boys visit Chicago this spring, found the fabulous quote that appears at the top of this page. It’s from graphic novel author Marjane Satrapi.

I can’t stress enough how cool Satrapi is. Her breakthrough work was the double-volume “Persepolis” saga, detailing her upbringing in Iran in the 1970s and ’80s. She personally witnessed two sets of iron hands — those of both the shah and the ayatollahs’ theocracy — squeeze the life out of that nation.

Satrapi suspects that the Iranians and Americans have a lot more in common than we’d care to admit.

Rainbo Club big shot Ken Ellis reminds us that today is Peter Tork‘s birthday.

If you have to ask who Peter Tork is, you’ll never understand.

◗ And Bloomington’s own Betty Greenwell features a pic of the best Valentine’s Day treat yet on her FB home page.

ALISON

Okay, the spelling’s wrong and the lyrics have nothing to do with her, but this song is for Alycin Bektesh. And you, reader.

 

 

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