Category Archives: Vladimir Putin

Hot Air: Democracy? Wow.

Words Hurt

Call me goofy but I would never eat something on a menu called a Garbage Salad.

I mean, it’s just the idea of the thing. Hey, chef, sweep up all your droppings and throw it all on a plate for me, wouldja?

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Why not offer me a shit sandwich?

It’d be like running an ad for a lite beer, extolling its rich amber color — Just like fresh urine!

So, yeah, okay, I’m goofy. But you’re eating Garbage Salad and I’m not.

Democracy. Now.

Lots o’people are saying the emergence of America’s Shart, Donald Trump, is evidence that our democracy is broken. Hell, even Russian former chess champion Garry Kasparov has chimed in, saying Trump and his gang are leading “an assault on democracy.” Kasparov, BTW, quit the chess racket last decade and became a leader of the anti-Putin movement which means, I suppose, he’s lucky to still be alive.

And, BTW again, Trump loves him some Putin, as does Trump’s stage door Jeannie, Sarah Palin. So maybe, Kasparov has a point.

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All Democratically Elected

Anyway, loyal Pencillistas know I’m not one to blame our ills on nebulous, all-powerful cabals controlling our thoughts and actions through media, drugs, and the eating of white bread. In fact, I pretty much blame none of our ills on those things, mainly because I blame us for what ails us.

If the media’s spoonfeeding us senseless garbage it’s only because we eat it up. And if “Big Pharma” is trying to hook us on every new anti-depressant that comes out of its evil labs, well, we’re the ones running to our doctors every half hour telling them how depressed we are and what can you do about it, Doc?

I won’t blame Trump for killing democracy, either. In fact, Trump’s rise is a testament to the strength of our democracy. We have two long-standing, major political parties supported by hundreds of millions of dollars of lobbyists’ and corporations’ dough and one of them could do nothing to stop the juggernaut that has been the Trump ascendancy this primary season. We’ll see if the Democrats can halt his steamroller in November. We can only hope.

No, the people have spoken, even if their language is a pidgin and their thought processes the equivalent of those of subfamily Arvicolinae. That’s democracy, no? The speaking of the people?

By golly, I think I’ve discovered the fatal flaw in democracy. People.

I Like It Here

Don’t get me wrong — I dig John Hamilton as mayor of this sprawling megalopolis. But I also dig his opponent in last year’s mayoral beauty contest, Darryl Neher. The young(ish) IU Kelley School of Biz senior lecturer and recent B-ton city council guy laid a big hug on me yesterday at Hopscotch Coffee.

He told me he was meeting with a couple of big shot sachems in our town’s LGBT community and, indeed, the three of them put their heads together for what seemed an eternity. Neher’s lending his support, natch, to that gang and is hoping to help them solidify their place in the city’s power structure.

Cool, ain’t it? There are tons of things that drive me batty about Bloomington — don’t get me started on the drivers here — but overall, this is a great place to live. Especially when big local dudes and dames like Neher are so dedicated to the issues and philosophies I endorse.

Sigh, our little island of goodness in the midst of the Indiana malum mare.

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May 6th Birthdays

Maximilien Robespierre — France’s big liberal before and during that’s country’s republican revolution, he was executed after the upheaval by even bigger liberals. Those liberals, of course, were themselves erased when Napoleon took charge of things. Napoleon, FYI, was not a liberal.

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Sigmund Freud — The guy with the cigar.

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Rudolph Valentino — The first cinematic sex symbol. He died young (aged 31) of peritonitis resulting from perforated ulcers. His demise caused scads of women to commit suicide and mourners rioted at his funeral.

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Toots Shor — Legendary restaurateur who was the guy to know among New York City’s entertainers and elite. He nicknamed his wife “Baby” and was a legendary drinker. One story has it that he engaged Jackie Gleason in a drinking competition one night that ended only with Gleason collapsing to the floor and Shor stepping over him to leave the premises.

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Shor (Left) With Gleason

Orson Welles — Film director who was forced to cast Charlton Heston as a Mexican in Touch of Evil.

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Willie Mays — Perhaps the greatest baseball player of all time.

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Rubin “Hurricane” Carter — Framed for a murder by Patterson, New Jersey, cops in 1966, his story inspired a Bob Dylan song and a Denzel Washington movie.

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Carter (Left) Battling Dick Tiger In 1965

Lætitia Sadier — Singer, keyboardist, and guitarist for Stereolab.

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Not to be morbid but Maria Montessori died on this day in 1952 — She was an Italian physician and educator who wrote the groundbreaking pedagogical book, The Montessori Method, in 1912. Simply — if not simplistically — she posited that children had a natural internal learning system that shouldn’t be interfered with. She advocated allowing kids to learn at their own paces, largely through practical play. If you want to know more about Montessori, the woman and/or the philosophy, I’d bet you couldn’t find a better source than my pal Linda Oblack who ran a school here in Bloomington in the hazy past.

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Hot Air

The Right’s Mr. Right

Sheila Kennedy is one of those precious few Republicans who make a pile of sense. It follows, then, that she wastes few opportunities to lambaste her GOP sisteren and brethren for their most egregious examples of stupidity. And there have been plenty of those in the last few decades. Plenty.

Tuesday, she took on the Right’s recent surreptitious fling with Vlad Putin, the bare-chested strongman of Russia. They dig him the most, preferring him to that scrawny Kenyan, the current phony Prez of the US. Natch, they won’t admit their infatuation with a Russkie but, believe me, he’s Mr. Right for the Right.

Putin

Russo-Romeo

A little bit of self-back patting here. I radar-ed the Right’s googly eyes for Vlad months ago — months, I tell you! See here and here.

As for Kennedy, she’s a professor in the School for Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI as well as director there of the Center for Civic Literacy. She puts out a daily blog in which she tells humanity what’s what. In fact, Kennedy’s like a bizarro-world image of me: she’s a woman — I’m not, (ICYDK); she’s a college prof; I’m a college dropout; she’s a Republican — I’m Democrat(-ish). Our similarities, though, outweigh those contrasts: We’re both keyboard clackers, we both have a compulsion to tell the world what we think, and, because we agree on so much, we’re both fabulous intellectuals. (Obvious, no?)

Anyway, start reading her blog daily (after reading mine.)

[h/t to Susan Sandberg.]

No Wed In NOLA

Well, the same-sex freight train was slowed down a tad yesterday, what with a court ruling that Louisiana’s ban on it is cool.

Funny, isn’t it? When wits and wags try to speculate which state will be the last to okay SSM, they usually guess Mississippi. So, natch, the first state in the last 20 that has had its ban blessed by a court is right next door.

An even funnier thing: Notice how the anti-SSM gang is huzzah-ing the ruling as a triumph for “state’s rights”? The state’s rights argument is used by people who pretty much don’t dig any part of the US Constitution except the good ol’ 2nd Amendment. Most of those same folks believe a state’s right to deny rights to individuals and couples is paramount.

Wallace

George Wallace At The Schoolhouse Door

Sometimes I even wonder if A. Lincoln did the right thing by forcing the South to stay in the Union.

When The Lie Becomes The Truth

How about this from the Columbia Journalism Review? The media watchdog yesterday reported that an Indiana University study called “Truthy” has been savaged by Fox News-heads of late. Truthy is a long-term look into how info spreads on social media, specifically Twitter. One of Truthy’s areas of concern is the viral spread of false information.

From "Pinocchio"

Disney’s “Pinocchio”

Truthy’s been at it for three years now. The project’s report page is chock-full of revelations about how facts and lies are disseminated throughout society. Ironically, Truthy itself is now the object of a disinformation campaign, the likes of which can serve as a textbook example of precisely what Truthy’s looking into.

Not terribly long ago, one small publication carried an article that Truthy was responsible for helping the federal government create a database of its domestic enemies under the guise of tracking hate speech. In other words, Truthy was acting in concert with authorities to carry out a fascist plot. Well, this kind of thing is red meat to the wingnut Right so — wouldn’t you know it? — people Tweeted it like mad and then everyone from the Libertarian Reason magazine to the evil brietbart.com jumped on the story.

The thinking seemed to go Obama’s a fascist? Of course! The Truthy story has to be true!

Tens of thousands of Tweets became tens of thousands more and then even more conservative-leaning media outlets picked up on the story until, finally, Fox News harrumphed over it on several of its programs.

The only problem was the story was entirely untrue.

The whole incident perfectly illustrates one of Truthy’s findings: That after a certain tipping point, misinformation is repeated so often on Twitter and the like that news outlets begin treating it as fact.

The researchers leading the Truthy project couldn’t have fabricated a more appropriate example to illustrate one of its points.

[h/t to Rea (last name withheld.)]

Hot Air

Indian Affairs

Yet another one of our notable customers at the Book Corner is Indiana University’s Indian cultures and civilizations professor Sumit Ganguly. He and his family are insatiable readers, which makes them mahatmas indeed in our humble view.

Ganguly

Sumit Ganguly

Ganguly took over the mic for WFIU’s Profiles program this past Sunday. He spoke with Canadian/American/Indian author Shauna Singh Baldwin (podcast link), who also runs Milwaukee’s noted Safe House, a spy-themed restaurant that’s been allowing customers who give the high sign to pass through its secret passageway for nearly 50 years now.

Baldwin has written a number of books detailing the south Asia experience and Ganguly grilled her on said tomes. She had some fascinating insights into a developing consumer culture in the subcontinent. Some people even see their children as show-off-able possessions in some quarters of India, she says. Of course, Americans have become quite adept at turning their spawn into trophies.

India, natch, is an amazing place. One of every seven earthlings lives in that country and some of its national traditions and celebratory migrations include hundreds of millions of people at a crack. Throw an ear at Ganguly and Baldwin. Apparently, I’m not the only one who conducts a good interview in this town.

Al Fresco Professors

Speaking of Sumit Ganguly, he and IU Maurer School of Law professor Feisal Istrabadi sat in the cool sun outside chef Daniel Orr’s FARMbloomington restaurant Wednesday last week, enjoying lunch and, no doubt, solving the world’s problems. Now, if only the world would listen.

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 Feisal Istrabadi At The UN

Istrabadi, an IU alum, served as Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations after that nation reorganized itself in the aftermath of the US invasion.

High Crimes

Feisal isn’t the only big shot Istrabadi in town. His sis, Zaineb, yet another Book Corner loyalist, is a senior lecturer in IU’s Near Eastern Languages & Cultures dept.

Istrabadi

Zaineb Istrabadi (Herald Times Photo)

She points out a tragic irony in all the hubbub over the shoot-down of that Malaysian airlines jet last week. She wrote (coyly) on Facebook this weekend:

Istrabadi Facebook

How quickly the rest of us forget. Back in 1988, long before the inventions of the printing press and TV, gunners aboard a US Navy guided missile cruiser shot down a fully loaded Iran Air jumbo jet. All 290 people on the plane perished.

For its part, Reagan Administration officials shrugged their shoulders and said, How were we s’posed to know it was a passenger jet? Considering the fact that an Airbus A300 is more than three times the size of a fighter jet, was following its normal daily flight path, and had identified itself as a civilian airliner, the US response in retrospect seems perhaps even more criminal than Vladmir Putin’s in recent days.

For his part, The Gipper never formally apologized to Iran for the loss of life and, in fact, both the entire crew and the air-warfare coordinator of the USS Vincennes received medals for meritorious service after their tour of duty in the Strait of Hormuz, from which the ship launched the surface-to-air missiles that downed the plane.

But wait, there’s more. Back in 1983 (guess who was Prez then, as well), our clients in far western Asia, the South Koreans, lost a fully-loaded 747 en route from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seoul. A Russian interceptor shot down Korean Air Flight 007 over the Sea of Japan, in Russian air space, resulting in 269 deaths. Reagan and his boys shook their fists at the Russians until strong evidence came to light that the flight had intentionally veered into Russian air space, most likely at our behest, just to see what them Russkies would do. Well, they shot the goddamned plane out of the sky; whadjya expect?

Knowing that the Russians have itchy trigger fingers and still sending a passenger jet over their turf is about as reckless as geopolitical actions get. In fact, this holy land (if the charges are true) turned hapless foreign civilians into cannon fodder without their knowledge.

So, let’s cut the bullshit about how appalled we are by Putin’s, Russia’s, and the Russian-backed separatists’ recent actions.

Saint Alive

I’ve blogged in other venues (don’t ask me for links, I’m too pressed for time to retrieve them right now) about what a plaster saint and a blowhard former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy is. He’s made a cottage career out of telling the world how it ought to behave. He’s written books for adults, young adults, and children, the central thesis of all of them his assertion that he possesses the secret of all that is right and good.

He’s back pontificating again. He told a reporter from the Tampa Tribune this weekend that he would have nothing to do with openly gay player Michael Sam if he were still in charge of a football team. Dungy said: “I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth. Things will happen.”

Dungy

Tony Dungy Looks Heavenward

In other words, accepting a player who happens to love other men isn’t worth a football coach’s time or trouble. You know, just like it would have been too much of a hassle for a baseball manager to welcome Jackie Robinson to his team.

This, by the way, from a man who thought the whole Miami Dolphins flap over teammate bullying that led a player to retire prematurely would have been, really, no problem at all. Dungy was quoted as saying that the scandal that engulfed the Dolphins team last fall could have been a good thing. The team could have come together around it, he said. Dungy added he’d have used the situation as a teaching opportunity.

But a gay guy teammate? Nah. Too much trouble.

Clean Construction

My dear friends Sophia and Danny Wasik sold their first green house the other day. No, not greenhouse as in the place where you keep plants. That’s green house as in a domicile that’s energy efficient, uses recycled materials, and has minimal toxic chemical-laden features.

Dig the joint they built and sold up in Crystal Lake, a far northwest exurb of Chicago. It’s proof positive that people needn’t live in Stone Age hovels in order to minimize their carbon footprints. Or feetprint. You know what I mean.

The Wasiks have long dreamed of creating a biz wherein they’d build or flip retrofitted homes that meet or exceed current standards for eco-friendly construction. Now their operation, Terra Green, is making them dough while they advance the cause of good clean homebuilding.

Wasiks

The Wasiks, Surrounded By Green, Naturally

Here’s hoping more of our local Bloomington friends get the itch to get into the same racket in these parts. B-town is the crunchiest of crunchy locales; surely scads of savvy homebuilders here can make plenty o’coin building green homes.

Call or email Sophia and Dan for info on how to get such a biz off the ground.

Hot Air

Bittersweet Music

Do not fail to listen to an NPR Morning Edition piece on the late musician Jason Molina, who died just over a year ago.

As a relative newbie to this great burgh, I never knew much about Molina until now. I wish I was in on his nearly heart-breakingly beautiful songs while he was alive.

Molina

Molina

By good luck, though, there’s a new tribute album, Farewell Transmission: The Songs of Jason Molina, plus there are his own discs, issued under the fabulous Secretly Canadian label, another of our local treasures.

Again, take a few minutes and cop an ear on the piece sometime today.

I Told You So

How many times have I said this? The Wingnut Right is going to start really digging Vladimir Putin.

That is, if they haven’t already developed a tyrant-crush on him yet. Come to think of it, I guarantee Sarah Palin soaks her drawers thinking about the bare-chested beast.

Putin

O-o-o-oh, Vlad!

Anyway, along comes one of god’s PR men on Earth, Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham. Billy boy was the Christianist go-to guy for presidents from Eisenhower to Bush I. As Neil Steinberg wrote yesterday, Graham pere “sat out literally every important moral issue of his day…. while groveling before power and babbling about the End of the World.” Little Frankie runs the family’s dog and pony show now, apparently, and he just wrote a fap piece about Vlad-who-impales-only-women-because-gays-are-criminals.

Check this quote from Frankie on the Graham clan website re: Putin and gays:

Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue — protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda — Russia’s standard is higher than our own?

In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.

Our president and his attorney general have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful.

Then, on Easter Sunday, the fertility holiday the Christianists swiped from the pagans, Frankie appeared on George Stephanopoulos’s gabfest where he was queried about whether or not he supported Putin as a leader. Here’s his reply:

No, I think — I think Putin is going to do what’s right for Russia. And not what’s right for America, but for Russia. We used to have a president in this country that did what’s right for this country.  But we don’t seem to have that right now.

Putin is going to make these decisions that he thinks is best for the Russian people and he thinks taking advantage of children, exploiting children is wrong for any group.

See? These loons love the man-gravy out of Vlad Putin.

I knew it all along and said so. That’s why you have to read the Pencil every day, even when I don’t post — just re-read the old stuff for the hell of it.

The Science Of Prejudice

We know about how relatively few women there are in the hard science fields. It’s a national disgrace.

But let’s not forget that blacks, too, are woefully underrepresented in areas like physics, mathematics, biochemistry, and other disciplines that probe and define reality.

Rock star astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson once was asked why so few Double-Xers get into the sciences. He answered by comparing the plight of aspiring girl scientists to that of little black future scientists, no matter their gender.

Neil de Grasse Tyson

Smart Guy

Teachers and other authority figures literally push girls and blacks away from the sciences.They may not even realize it, but they do. For instance, when young NdGT told his teachers he wanted to be an astrophysicist, more than one of them advised him that maybe, just maybe, he’d be better off dreaming of becoming an athlete.

Female Scientist

Wouldn’t You Rather Collect Welfare Checks?

Yow.

There She Goes….

I’m not even going to write about that high school in Pennsylvania suspending a kid for asking Miss America to his prom. You know, the reigning M.A. was visiting the H.S. for whatever reason beauty queens visit schools and, during the assembly, some kid got up, gave her a flower and asked her to go to the prom w/ him.

Big deal, no?

Well, yeah it was a big deal to the petit tyrants who run that kid’s correctional facili…, er, high school. They suspended him for three days for causing a disturbance.

Oh hell, I lied. I am going to write about it. Here goes.

1) All of high school is hell, but assemblies are particularly hellish. At least the kid tried to make this assembly entertaining and fun for the rest of the kids.

2) Miss America wins her crown by being voted the most hot babe among 49 other contestants (or is it 50 or 51 other contestants? IDK: Does DC send a Miss? Any of the territories?) Anyway, the kid showed real spunk by asking the consensus hottest dame in his school to his prom. I say give him the Most Likely to Succeed award right now.

3) Schools still suspend kids? As if a day or two or three off is a punishment? And don’t the kids miss out on trivial little things like their lessons when they’re suspended?

4) Miss America, it has been revealed, visited the school “to discuss the importance of science, technology, and math studies.” Wait, what? What in the holy hell was she doing talking to them about that? Where was Neil de Grasse Tyson?

Nina Davuluri

Nina Davuluri, Your New Science Career Adviser

5) I want the school’s principal to be suspended immediately. No, wait, fired. And booted in the ass as he leaves.

Hot Air

Black Bogeymen

No more bullshit about how the most extreme critics of B. Obama aren’t, at heart, racists.

Yes, yes, yes, you can criticize the Prez all you want because that is our nation’s pastime no matter who occupies the Oval Office, be he a dope who lied to get us into a war or a Nazi/commie who just happens to have dark skin.

But criticizing the president does not mean the Congress must obstruct every single thing he wants done. To wit: Wednesday’s Senate rejection of Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. See, Debo Adegbile, in his former position as counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, once wrote a couple of amicus briefs on behalf of convicted Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Adegbile

Adegbile

Mumia has been a cause-célèbre since his conviction in 1982. He pretty much was railroaded through the PA state courts, although, I must admit, a careful reading of the evidence against him reveals that, sure, he killed that cop. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania prosecutors had such a tumescence to fry him that they neglected a few of the fair trial niceties the US Constitution calls for. Thus, civil liberty advocates cried whoa and called for a new trial. Thusly, Adegbile got involved.

Mumia

Abu-Jamal

Now, ergo, acc’d’g to the conservative loon-ocracy, Adegbile is four-square in favor of every black man killing a cop just for the hell of it. And remember, he’s black, with a really scary black name, so it has to be true.

Indiana’s very own Senator Joe Donnelly, nominally a Democrat, joined the disloyal opposition in quashing Adegbile’s nomination.

So Adegbile has been denied a Justice Dept. post because he did what lawyers are supposed to do: That is, defend people. Apparently, though, defending a scary black man disqualified him.

Post-racial America my foot.

Soul Man

Speaking of hard-core conservatives in this holy land, I’m getting the feeling a lot of them secretly dig Vlad Putin, aren’t you?

Putin

Republican?

He’s macho. He’s full of strutting braggadocio. He hunts. He hates gays. He’s tough. George W. Bush gazed into his eyes and concluded they were kindred souls. And he does whatever the fk he wants with a gun in his hand (and, by extension, so does his Russian military).

Kiddies, the truth is Putin would be a perfecto Tea Party choice for Prez of these U. States.

Leaders Of The Pack

Speaking of potential presidential candidates, isn’t NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand looking more and more viable by the day?

And wouldn’t the Dems take a needed first step in repositioning themselves if they selected as a 2016 ticket Hillary Clinton and KG? You might say it’d be suicide to put two women on the same ticket but wags said something similar when Bill Clinton tabbed Al Gore to be his running mate in 1992. No way, they said, can you have two southern boys from smallish states running together. But they won.

Clinton/Gillibrand

That’s The Ticket

I wonder if the Clinton/Gillibrand pair would win. It’d sure be fun to find out.

[BTW: Google’s Related Searches feature that pops up when one types in the NY Sen.’s name has “Kirsten Gillibrand weight loss” as its number one category. The number two most popular KG search is “Kirsten Gillibrand Vogue.” Apparently, she was profiled in that mag in 2010. “Kirsten Gillibrand on the issues” does not show up until number five. Sigh.]

Hot Air

Bogeywoman

Okay, why are we being inundated on the interwebs with stupid Sarah Palin quotes again?

Why, why, why, why?

It’s not as though we don’t already know that the con artist, almost-beauty queen, shirker of duty is as batty as a cave in Southern Indiana, is it?

Palin

Palin Porn

Can it be that my lib brethren and sisteren are quivering under the covers with petrification that Palin is somehow going to rise Phoenix-like over the American political scene again? Ask me, that’s got about as much chance of happening as my beloved Chicago Cubs winning the 2014 World Series.

And if Palin does somehow become a political figure with whom to reckon once again, this holy land would be de facto dead in the water anyway, so why worry?

Another Sorry Dem

Hillary Clinton got herself in hot water this week by likening Vlad Putin’s swoop into the Crimea to the actions of a certain Right Wing dictator who wore a funny mustache.

Now, HRC is being forced to backtrack and explain herself because, as we know, the use of Hitler analogies is ever so unfair.

Only it’s those on the Right who are wringing their hands and rolling their eyes over the analogy. An analogy, BTW, that way, way, way too many of them use to describe a certain dark-skinned man who pushes pencils around the Oval Office.

As always, The Pencil is here to clear up any confusions.

Clinton

Nothing To Apologize For

Barack Obama is not Hitler. Neither are Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or any others who don’t quite believe that Sarah Palin is a thoughtful, serious observer of the world condition.

OTOH, what Putin has done in the Crimea is absolutely, positively, very much like what Hitler did throughout the late 1930s. That is, ID a hot spot where the existing gov’t is about to topple and which contains a significant number of citizens who share said tryrant’s language and ethnicity, go in under the guise of rescuing the poor, downtrodden ethnic group, and then, voila!, take the joint over.

Yeah, that’s Hitler (and Putin) all the way. Stop apologizing Hillary!

Dorm Hijinks

The house organ for the weak-kneed liberal sect of the American body politic, the Huffington Post, ran this headline in its right-hand-column teasers last night:

From Huffington Post

No Link Necessary

And, no, I don’t need to explain what HuffPo‘s tittery euphemism is referring to. I suspect a child of 11 could catch the drift.

My question: Is this a drift anyone with a working cerebrum would want to catch?

Mammal Mobsters

And, finally, scientists are coming to the conclusion that dolphins have homicidal tendencies.

Dolphin Kills Porpoise

Sharks & Jets? No, Dolphin & Porpoise

Those who view the “natural” world as a Bambi cartoon have long asserted that critters don’t kill for fun, only humans do.

Not true. Dolphins time and again have been observed whacking other animals and even members of their own tribe just for the hell of it. And so have chimps.

Funny isn’t it? Perhaps the more intelligence a being has, the more likely it’ll be to bump off another being for sport, pleasure, or just because it’s bored.

Getting Hotter Air

Chit Chat Chit Chat

How about those Roller Mortis Films boys, Chris Rall and Tony Brewer? They just posted the first in their new series of interviews with fascinating B-towners on their YouTube channel.

Between them and my own Big Talk series on WFHB radio and The Ryder magazine, we’ll have the interview racket all sewn up here in So Cen Ind. The Herald Times, the WFIU news dept., and Bloom magazine may as well start handing out severance checks to their unlucky future former employees.

And, of course, there’s plenty o’incestuousness going around inasmuch as the subject of the first Rall/Brewer opus is, well, one Tony Brewer. Who just happens to be the second subject of the Big Talk series, the recording of which I am, as we speak, transcribing and editing. My Brewer interview should air on WFHB within a week or two. So you can grab yourselves a little sneak peek into the life of TB by checking out Roller Mortis’s 3-minute documentary on him. Rall & Brewer are calling their first effort a pilot, so expect their project to grow and evolve as time goes by.

Just like Big Talk.

Broadcast News

So, it’s out. The spanking new WFHB newsletter has hit the stree…, er, actually, the screen. Your computer screen, that is, if you sign up for it.

Firehouse News

Click Image To Subscribe

The first edition of the community radio station‘s latest stab at transparency now exists in the electron-sphere after a whirlwind gestation and birth. Many of Firehouse Broadcasting’s volunteers, donors, sponsors, and listeners found themselves in a tizzy last fall after the WFHB Board of Directors made a controversial choice to replace former General Manager Chad Carrothers. A fellow named Kevin Culbertson from California and other points west and whose resume included involvement with a passel of Christianist media outlets was tabbed to steer the ship into the foreseeable future. But when folks in these parts got wind of his religious programming past and his non-Bloomington-ness, the resultant roar could be heard as far as the Pacific Coast. Culbertson declined to come aboard and the Board faced the angry glares of its aforementioned constituents.

Since then, the Board and the WFHB staff have sworn to high heaven they’ll dedicate themselves to more open proceedings.

Et voila: Firehouse News.

And, yeah, I’m one of the inked-stained wretches who write the thing.

All Clear

Well, now that WWIII isn’t due to break out just yet, we can all get back to worrying about other important things like Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar night acceptance speech or whether Stand Your Ground laws were written by inmates in mental institutions.

Russia’s Vlad Putin is busy zipping up his fly after exposing his titanic phallus to the rest of the world in the Ukraine this past week. He promised this AM that his boys won’t bomb, maim, rape, pillage, and otherwise recreate in the Crimea unless such pastimes are absolutely necessary, a step back from his Rambo stance of several days ago. Phew, now I don’t have to stock up on canned green beans anymore.

Bomb Shelter

Nothing Says Home Like A Fallout Shelter

Meanwhile, remember that Florida woman who fired warning shots at her potentially abusive hubby? A state court judge had ruled that she can’t hide behind the Stand Your Ground laws because, well, she’s black and the imminent danger she faced was coming from her ever-loving husband. And if a man can’t beat his own wife nowadays, then what did our Christianist Founding Fathers fight and die for, huh?

Alexander

Not White. Not Male. Nobody.

Marissa Alexander faces a retrial that could land her in the joint for up to 60 years now. Those who enjoy sexual relations with their guns are applauding this latest turn of events because, again, Alexander is the wrong color and a wife and what the hell rights do such nobodies have anyway?

As for McConaughey’s speech — I didn’t see it but it’s raised a lot of fuss on the interwebs and, like all ‘net twaddle, will be forgotten by lunch time.

Hot Feline Air

…By Any Other Name…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love — love! — the fact that NPR anchors and reporters have to say the words Pussy Riot.

These are people, the stereotyping section of my brain has concluded, who’ve never uttered the P-word before in their lives. Whereas it’s my fave appellation for a woman’s business — a pussy is, after all, warm, snuggly, and comfortable. Rather like a de-clawed cat, no?

Kitten

Now, the C-word. Uh uh. That’s bad sauce, babies. It’s a harsh, hateful word. Yet, even some feminist-y women occasionally drop it when referring to a dame they particularly detest. I strive never to use it because of its hard-edge and insulting connotation.

It’s a word I imagine frat boys bandy about while sitting around and philosophizing. If frat boys use it, I have to eliminate it from my vocabulary. I’m also thinking of refusing to use the word the in my speech, which I suspect will be a tad more problematic.

In fact, if you want to distinguish between, say, odious porn and glorious erotica, simply use my handy C-word system. If the book or video uses the C-word in its title or the term is used liberally (eek, such an unfortunately choice of a word) in its content, the work likely will not be of art at all but rather a crushing, repulsive, quasi-violent put-down of the female sex.

O'Keeffe/Jack In The Pulpit

Anyway, I’ve been wondering how media outlets like the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, or the Rush Limbaugh radio flatulence-fest refer to the two erstwhile jailed Russian members of the punk group.

Well, let’s find out, shall we? The Grey Lady (an antiquated nickname for the NYT which, in its historical stuffiness, largely eschewed photos) seemed fairly itchy when first called upon to name the band. In the story dated August 17, 2012, telling of the band’s conviction and sentence on charges of hooliganism (which, itself, is a fave word of mine), the paper waited until the second graf to even mention PR’s name and even then acted all peevish about it. “[M]embers of a punk band called Pussy Riot…,” the copy read, as if to plead, Hey, don’t blame us.

As the fairly long story continued, the paper seemed at pains to avoid mentioning the name again, only doing so three more times, once to huff, “But while the women became minor celebrities, Pussy Riot is far more political than musical: Its members have never commercially released a song or an album, and they do not seem to have any serious aspirations to do so.”

In case anybody doesn’t get the gist of that graf, the Grey Lady is saying, Good heavens, no proper young ladies who employ such déclassé verbiage should ever be taken seriously!

Guaranteed the editors of the NYT are, at this very moment, on their knees praying Pussy Riot will disappear from the Earth forthwith so subscribers can safely return to the reading of more refined topics like sub-Saharan genocide or teenage rape in Ohio.

Despite bannering a variation on the name of one billion people’s lord and savior in its very name, the Christian Science Monitor went full Pussy Riot within the first nine words of its article on the band’s conviction and sentence in 2012. And the funny thing is, as I type this, the CSM page is still up on another window and its auto-play ad is running a faux doc on meterologists, air force commanders, and other scientists and officials tracking Santa and his reindeers’ flight over this holy land. Hehe; I love funny juxtapositions, natch.

Now then, how about the troggiest of all Oxycontin-head troglodytes, Rush Limbaugh? A casual google search shows — get this — absolutely no mentions of Pussy Riot by the King of Blowhard Kings. Imagine that. Here was his chance to either slam Vladimir Putin and the hated Russkies for being such stone-headed tyrants or to savage a band of slutty sluts who had the temerity to desecrate the Orthodox home of Jesus H. Christ himself. Yet Rush couldn’t even bring himself to address the issue. Who knows? Perhaps he digs their music and is torn. Or maybe he feels young women should be allowed to make the occasional public mistake without being ripped to shreds by porcine conservative commentators?

As they used to say in my old neighborhood, Whaddya, stupid?

I’m betting Rush and his merry band of keyboard clackers were paralyzed by Pussy Riot’s very name. You know the scene in the movie The Big Lebowski where Maude asks the Dude what his feelings are on the word vagina?

Maude: Does the female form make you uncomfortable, Mr. Lebowski?

The Dude: Um, is that what this is a picture of?

Maude: In a sense, yes. My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal, which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.

Scene from "The Big Lebowski"

“Vagina.”

The Dude: Oh yeah?

Maude: Yes. They don’t like hearing it and find it difficult to say….

I can see ol’ Rush reading about the Pussy Riot story the first time and then dashing off to the lavatory to scrub his hands and face.

My feeling is Rush et al would be far more comfortable had the Russian performance artists named themselves Cunt Riot.

Now, that’s a name they could get behind.

Merry Christmas!

Punk Prayer

Hot Air-waves VII

Radio Days

Larry Lujack died last night. He was a giant and one of the reasons I fell in love with radio. Here’s a pic of the WLS lineup in 1969, before Lujack became the king of Chicagoland morning drive.

WLS 1969

Two of the guys pictured were part of WLS’s movement toward the young at the time. Even though WLS did Top 40 and its Silver Dollar Survey listing of big hits was required reading for radio and music geeks like me, most of its on-air personalities were broadcasting lifers who could have slid into Mom & Dad programming in the snap of a finger. Lujack and Kris Stevens were the harbinger of the future. And Stevens was the Davy Jones to Lujack’s Michael Nesmith.

Lujack was an entertainer, a stand-up comedian, a philosopher, a bemused curmudgeon, and a radical departure from the usual golden throated-guys who could give you the time three ways but little else.

He was one of the original “shock jocks” only in the sense that he took the listener on a new, different journey where his ramblings and flights of fancy were the road; the records served only as occasional pit stops. Even the great Dick Biondi before him did little more than crack wise in the short breaks between platters. Lujack was “shocking” in that his voice, his stories, were the draw, not necessarily the songs of the Archies or Stevie Wonder.

Photo © Keith Hale

Titans: (l-r) Jonathon Brandmeier, Lujack, and Dick Biondi in 1983

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to hear the records — most of the time. But each morning, I wanted to see the world through Larry Lujack’s eyes. His word pictures brought me to places I’d never been.

And that is precisely what radio’s supposed to do.

The Voice Of The Vols

Speaking of radio, an all-star cast of trouble-makers noodled over starting up a newsletter for WFHB volunteers and listeners last night. The four, including this semi-pro contrarian, hope to run the thing with the blessings of station management and the Board of Directors but even if we don’t get it, we’ll still publish a regular blat. We just might be more prone to make said deniers of imprimatur a little itchy every time we come out with an issue.

Word’s going around that the Board has had informal chats with a lawyer about whether or not operations like the Friends of WFHB Facebook group can use the station’s logo. This newsletter gang would also like to splatter the dalmatian all over our proposed monthly missive. The WFHB sachems seem to be turning things a little us-versus-them-ish, if you ask me. And perhaps that’s why the community needs an independent voice.

LaMantia

Joe LaMantia’s Spot The Firehouse Dog

I’ll name the other co-conspirators after we meet formally for the first time next week. Stay tuned for more developments.

More, More, More

In case you haven’t heard, the Board named Sheryl Mitchell, Rich Reardon Reardin (MG Note: My apologies to Rich for misspelling his name in the OP), and Louis Malone to fill out the terms of three empty seats until the next general election.

I, frankly, was stunned by the choices. I have nothing against the three lucky (or unlucky) selectees themselves but at least two and perhaps three superior candidates got the raspberry after Monday night’s closed Board session. There are whispers that the three new members struck the Board as — euphemism alert — cooperative.

Newsboy

Extra!

The Board seems intent on circling its wagons in the wake of the Kevin Culbertson hiring fiasco. Then again, that may be a tad easier to excuse when you consider the fact that certain loudmouths (I’m looking in the mirror) are squawking far and wide that the present Board ought to be swept out.

Obama To Putin: I Got Your Sochi Right Here

Kudos to the Muslim Mole-in-Chief for flashing the digit at Russian prez Vladimir Putin this week.

The Obama Administration announced that lesbian jockettes Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow will lead the US delegation in the opening ceremony at the Sochi Winter Olympics in Feb. Putin’s gov’t in recent months has made official statements and sponsored legislation designed to make homosexuals feel as though they are queer — and I’m using the term in the old, pejorative sense.

For all Obama’s writhing on the floor in the heat of passion with Goldman Sachs-type banksters and his administration’s infatuation with spying and information control, there have been occasional moments of laudable progressive-ism during his Kenyan-takeover-plot regime.

“… I’m In Love With The Radio On….”

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle class security all bear the union label.” — Barack Obama

PAY ‘EM!

TOP OF THE HILLER

Congrats to Pencillista Nancy R. Hiller for earning state kudos on her fab tome, “A Home of Her Own.”

The Hiller opus was named a finalist in the Best Books of Indiana: Nonfiction 2012 beauty contest this week.

Hey, I ain’t the only guy who can write around here.

GEEK LOVE

A quick reminder: Bloomington’s Science Cafe fires up again Wednesday, September 12th.

IU experimental nuclear physicist Michael Snow will deliver the first presentation on Antimatter.

Physicist Michael Snow

Brain scientist Alex Straiker, who’s organizing this latest incarnation with lab-mate Jim Wager-Miller, says the shebang will begin at 6:30pm at Rachael’s Cafe.

This fall’s science topics will also include “The First Americans,” “Climate Change and Bloomington,” and “Brain-Machine Interfaces: Eye Tracking.”

FLYNT HUSTLES MITT

Hustler was among the worst porn I’ve ever seen in my life.

I say was because I haven’t seen the mag in years. Maybe even decades.

So I have no idea what unflattering poses its intentionally half-witted looking models are being put into these days. Suffice it to say I recall them reclining akimbo to such an extent that were I so trained, I could proffer them instant cervical exams from afar.

That is, were I moved open the mag’s pages.

I just never found the thing arousing. I consider my tastes in unclad women fairly, um, progressive. I mean I don’t need my pix of naked ladies to feature impossibly long-legged and wasp-waisted, vacant-staring, “hotties” with plastic half-cantaloupes on their chests.

That’s me. Apparently the vast majority of American male-dom (male-dumb?) digs that look. Hustler had it in spades.

Duh

The mag’s circulation stands at around half a million these days, down from a high of 3 million per month in its pre-Interwebs hayday.

Larry Flynt, the visionary behind Hustler, long has been a scourge to the Right, specifically its self-appointed plaster saints like the late Jerry Falwell and the regrettably still-respiring Gov. Rick Perry. That alone earns my grudging respect for him even though I hold my nose while stating it.

And now Flynt has flopped a million bucks on the table, calling for anyone in this holy land to produce Mitt Romney’s tax records.

You know, those things Ann Romney, hands on hips, jaw set, has refused to allow us to see. She says she and her special guy have nothing to hide, therefore they’re hiding the returns.

We’ve Given ‘You People’ Enough!

If someone does come through with the docs that’ll tie Romney in with an arch-criminal, global, underground, crushing tyrannical corporate syndicate looking to addict the world population to dangerous chemicals, financial “instruments,” and magic underwear, then a million bucks’-worth of the dough Flynt made portraying woman as DNA receptacles will have done some good.

Of course, it’ll be just as good if the elusive tax returns simply reveal the Romneys to be richer than the spooky god they worship.

I CAN SEE FOR MILES AND MILES AND MILES….

Here, thanks to I Fucking Love Science (or, for the more skittish among us, Science Is Awesome) is a comparison of the mirror sizes of the Hubble Space Telescope and the proposed James Webb Space Telescope.

Is there an “edge” to the Universe? Maybe, the JWST will allow us to see it.

From NASA: James Webb vs. Hubble — How Do They Compare?

From The Moscow Times we learn that Russkies are dying to sound like bossman Vladimir Putin.

Apparently, Putin is the most accomplished of Russian leaders when it comes to prevaricating in the language of his land.

Silver Tongues

In that, he’s like our very own Bill Clinton.

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