Category Archives: Women’s Movement

Hot Air

Learnin’ — Who Needs It?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is back on the slicing and dicing trail. This time he wields his machete against the state’s university system that serves 180,000 students and employs 39,000..

Walker, of course, is an early, early, early front runner in the Republican beauty pageant for the 2016 presidential nomination. He came out on top in a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll of GOPers yesterday, edging out even Jeb Bush in popularity among likely Repub. voters. That’s the way things stand — this minute at least.

Walker

This Minute’s It Guy

Anyway, Walker’s big news of late has been his desire to slash the state’s financing of the University of Wisconsin by a cool one-third in his next budget. As of now, Wisconsin spends about $1 billion a year on its university system. Walker proposes cutting $300 million from that total.

Criss-crossing the state and even appearing on the nationally televised Sunday morning gasbag programs, Walker adds that professors and other U. teachers just might have to start thinking about teaching more classes and working longer hours. The Guv is falling back on the old Republican canard wherein teachers are sitting around smoking pipes, reading the Socialist Worker, and planning their next wife-swapping get-together.

Scads o’ Republicans these days think all a college teacher has to do is spout some facts and figures for 45 minutes and then go back to plotting the overthrow of god. In addition to the grueling hours major university instructors put in preparing classes, actually teaching, meeting with students, grading papers and trying to keep up with advances in educational theory, many also engage in research in whatever field they’re in. The U. of WI demands that its teachers do research. This is how our breadth of knowledge is expanded. Seems inarguable, right? Wrong. In fact, one of Walker’s coat-holders, speaker of the Wisconsin assembly Robin Voss says, “Of course I want research but I want to have research that focuses on a way of growing our economy, not on ancient mating habits of whatever.”

Cute, huh?

Reminds me of Sarah Palin’s old line — back when she was inexplicably relevant — about university researchers spending our good, hard-earned tax dollars on studying fruit flies. Fruit flies! Imagine that. How inane! Her GOP audiences ate that stuff up. Only the fruit fly studies she was talking about were agriculturally significant in terms of invasive species knowledge, but also were being done by genetics researchers. They use fruit flies because the little buggers’ life span is so short; scientists can learn about numerous generations of mutations within a few weeks. Gregor Mendel would be proud.

It’s one thing for a dingbat like Palin to spout nonsense but when a presidential contender’s loyal lieutenant starts talking like a baboon, things suddenly begin looking a little grim for this holy land.

The Bestseller That Nobody Has

One of the hottest books out right now is Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s recently released memoir, complete with annotations. Well, let me amend that: the book is out, but not out. Wait, what? Yeah, PG was released back in November and quickly sold out. Its publisher the South Dakota Historical Society Press isn’t used to dealing in blockbusters. Not when its catalog includes such page turners as County Capitals: The Courthouses of South Dakota and The Mystery of the Pheasants.

One of the big publishing houses would have rushed second, third, and fourth printings off before impatient book buyers could stomp their feet twice. As of this moment, SDHSP has issued no statements about when Pioneer Girl will be available again.

Book Cover

We had a couple of copies at the Book Corner back at the end of last year. They passed through our hands so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to thumb through them. So, if you’re a fan of the creator of the Little House on the Prairie series, you’ll just have to cool your heels.

Magic Pill

Let’s recognize the passing of the scientist who helped women achieve whatever modicum of equality they enjoy today.

The Pill — no other identifier is needed — was created in large part by one Carl Djerassi, chemist, novelist, and playwright. Back in 1951 he and two research partners (there’s that old bugaboo again, research) figured out how to make the synthetic steroid hormone, norethisterone, usable in a tablet taken orally. The hormone effectively prevented ovulation in women taking The Pill daily during their fertile weeks of the month. (The Pill regimen usually includes placebos to be taken during those days when the women is not fertile.)

The Pill

Good ol’ Doc Djerassi — who, coincidentally enough, earned his PhD form the University of Wisconsin — died Friday. He was 91. Like many scientists of his generation, Djerassi escaped from Nazi occupied territory back in the 1930s.

The Pill just may have been the single most important scientific or technological advancement aiding the cause of women’s rights. It allowed women to enjoy sex without worrying about conceiving. It was approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1960. Next thing anybody knew, women were agitating for things like equal pay, workplace advancement, progressive rape laws, and others. Because The Pill was the first birth control method that women exclusively control every day, their newfound self-dominion inspired a greater desire for autonomy in many other areas.

Djerassi

Dr. Carl Djerassi

Its benefit has extended well beyond women. I know for a fact that The Pill has aided me in my desire never to reproduce. For that alone, the world should give thanks to Carl Djerassi.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.” — Mark Twain

THE END

When I was a kid, magazines often carried cartoons featuring a robed, bearded guy walking the big city streets and carrying a sign that read, “The End Is Near.”

Usually the punch line would be delivered by a couple of passing businessmen, one of whom would muse to the other on how that end would affect his promotion or raise or his wife’s meatloaf.

Looking back, I suppose those cartoons reflected our need to deal with the specter of nuclear annihilation. On a less literal level, the general uneasiness over the burgeoning civil rights and women’s movements caused people to realize the world they were familiar with really was coming to an end.

May As Well Laugh

By and by, the Soviet Union collapsed and blacks and women began taking their rightful places in society. Lo and behold, the world didn’t end.

Now, we’re back to wondering if the end is near again. Climate change, our own vulnerability in the wake of 9/11, a crashed economy, internet panics, genetically modified foodstuffs, a black man as president, gay marriage, and even the Mayan calendar silliness have caused many to wonder if these are the last days.

They’re not. As George Carlin observed, we give ourselves too much credit. We can’t destroy the Earth, he said. It’s been here for billions of years and our societies have only been around for a few tens of thousands of years.

Carlin

The world has been struck by comets and asteroids, it’s been convulsed by earthquakes, it has experienced droughts and floods and been scoured by Ice Ages. Still it spins and life on it continues to grow and diversify.

Carlin even mentioned the crazy glut of discarded plastic bags accumulating in our oceans and across the land. He said the Earth, as it’s done since it came together eons ago, will just come up with a way of incorporating them into itself.

Part Of The Earth Now

We can’t end the Earth, Carlin concluded, we can only end ourselves.

And, I’d add, even that’d be awfully tough to accomplish. We tried our damnedest to wipe ourselves out back in the 1930s and 40s. World War II was the most violent spasm humanity has ever gone through. Anywhere from 60 to 100 million people were slaughtered during the hostilities. Yet here we are.

We’ve figured out a lot of things since the first hominids swung down from the trees and began branching off into proto-humanity. One thing we haven’t figured out, though, is perspective. Sometimes it seems we’re even regressing on that front.

In the 1960s, people who warned that the end was near were considered cartoon characters. Today they’re called in by the cable news channels to offer expert opinions.

GOIN’ TO THE CANDIDATES’ DEBATE

Remember that line from Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson”? Make sure to catch the vid at the bottom of this post.

Just a reminder: get yourself over to Bloomington High School South tonight for the debate between the five Democratic candidates for US Congress in Indiana’s 9th District.

BHSS is located at 1965 S. Walnut Street. The debate begins at 7:00 and runs for an hour and a half.

If you can’t make it, at least visit the candidates’ websites:

The primary is Tuesday, May 8th. The winner takes on Republican Todd Young in the November general election.

SINGING THE NEWS

Got two pieces of news at Bloomington Information Central — AKA the Book Corner — yesterday.

First, Maarten Bout, one of the big chiefs over at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, was brimming with the news that the first show of the 2012-2013 season has been set. Rufus Wainwright will play the venue on Tuesday, August 7th.

Wainwright

A few minutes later, Tom Roznowski ambled in, wearing his trademark fedora and a smart gray-on-gray retro ensemble. Bloomington’s storyteller, singer, author, and general custodian said he’s got a show lined up Saturday in Greenfield and his next hometown gig will be Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13th, 6:00 pm at The Player’s Pub.

Roznowski

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

◗ Bloomington, Citywide — IU’s Arts Week Everywhere 2012; Ongoing, various times

The Kinsey Institute Gallery “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze,” exhibit, art by women examining men; Ongoing, 1:30-5pm

Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibition, “Esse Quam Videri (To Be Rather Than To Seem),” featuring Muslim self-portraits; 9am-4:30pm

Grunwald (SOFA) GalleryIU MFA & BFA Thesis 3 Exhibitions; Noon-XXX, through May 5th

Sembower FieldIU Baseball vs. Miami of Ohio; 4pm

Myers Hall, Indiana Molecular Biology Institute — Seminar, keynote speaker Dr. Don Ennis, University of Louisiana, “Mechanisms of Mycobacterium Marinum Transmission between Fish”; 4pm

Puccini’s La Dolce VitaYoung Professionals of Bloomington monthly meeting; 5:30-8pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsGreg Jacobs presents “The Art of Wellness — Finding Wellness in a Health-Challenged Society”; 5:30pm

Bloomington City Hall, McCloskey Room — Erin Asher Meager presents “Creative Healing,” South Central Arts WORK Indiana meeting; 5:30-7pm

First Christian ChurchMoney Smart Week & the Indiana Attorney General’s office present “Schemes, Scams, and Flim-Flams”; 5:30pm

Jake’s NightclubKaraoke Tuesdays; 6pm

Patricia’s Wellness Arts Cafe & Quilter’s Comfort TeasUnfinished Object Night & Up-cycle Evening; 6:30-8:30pm

Bloomington High School SouthDebate, Democratic candidates for US Congress, Indiana’s 9th District; 7-8:30pm

Cafe DjangoJazz Jam; 7-10pm

First United Methodist ChurchSymphonic Bells of Bloomington Spring Concert; 7:30-8:30pm

Show-Me’sPoker; 7:30pm

The Player’s PubBlues Jam; 8pm

Farm Bloomington, Root Cellar — Tuesday Trivia; 8-10pm

The Palace Theatre of Brown County, Nashville– Cowboy Sweethearts; 8pm

Madame Walker Theatre CenterAuditions for “Queen Esther: A Fearless Shero”; 6-8pm

Max’s PlaceScott Bender’s Showcase; 8pm

AS PROMISED

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