Category Archives: World War II

Your Daily Hot Air

Peace

Yesterday was the anniversary of the end of World War II.

V-J Day

I just happen to be reading the first book in historian Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy, An Army at Dawn. It tells the story of Murrica’s first WWII ground action, the invasion of North Africa, nearly a year after entering the war at the invitation of Japan and Germany (Italy was handling the catering.) Imagine, it took just shy of twelve months for American soldiers to see action after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Oh sure, there’d been some monumental sea clashes, including Midway, during that time, but as for huge numbers of US Army men facing off against the enemy, it wasn’t until November 8, 1942 that Operation TORCH, the Algeria-Morocco landings, commenced. Throughout that year, Russia and the American military brass lobbied hard for an immediate Western Europe invasion. President Roosevelt and the British nixed that idea for fear a premature Allied D-Day would be crushed and, subsequently, the war might drag on for a decade or two.

Apparently, FDR and Churchill were right. The Russians (at a cost of some 20 million human beings) wore down the Nazis on the Eastern Front so that when the D-Date actually arrived in June, 1944, Germany was sufficiently softened up for the taking.

Anyway, Emperor Hirohito announced on August 15, 1945, three months after the Nazis had given up the ghost, that Japan was finished fighting. It wasn’t of course; sporadic violence took place here and there between the Japanese and the Americans and Russians. You know people.

MacArthur/Hirohito

Douglas MacArthur & Hirohito In September, 1945

That’s 68 years ago, for the mathematically challenged among you (and, believe me, I’m not being superior here; I had to use my laptop calculator to figure it out). So, nearly three quarters of a century has passed since humankind’s most cardinal sin finally was stopped. The US was drafting 18 year olds in 1945 so, conceivably, the youngest kid who saw action in Okinawa would be 86 years old today (again with the calculator). Suffice it to say there aren’t all that many souls left to whom the words Dirty Jap weren’t always a forbidden ethnic slur.

Still, many people in the corner of the world that was ravaged by Imperial Japan find themselves getting a little testy when the subject comes up. The Pew Research Center yesterday released results of a poll that shows significant percentages of folks in places like Korea and Indonesia want Japan to apologize even more than it already has. Remember, Japan is now ruled by the sons and grandsons and even great-grandsons of the bellicose ultra-nationalists who’d pushed that country into war. No matter, scads of people want some dramatic mea culpa-ing.

Here are results of the Pew poll:

Pew/Japan Atone

If I was Japan, I’d say, Sure, man, Great Gramps was a jerk. I can’t believe he was such an asshole. And, trust me, we’d never do crazy crap like that again. C’mon over for a visit. We’ll give you some discounts at restaurants and really posh hotels if you’d lost your Great Gramps or Grandma when my ancestors were having their psychotic spell.

In fact, I’d stage a daily atonement ritual in Tokyo, complete with the flags of victim nations and honored guests from those lands, just to show bygones can be bygones.

I mean, how can it hurt?

Just the way we Murricans couldn’t do anybody any harm by staging daily atonement rituals in Washington, DC for slavery and the Native American holocaust. Sometimes all people want is a simple acknowledgment that you’ve treated them like dirt.

All Bloomington, Some Of The Time

Fish/Dome

◗ Meters. Made.

We’re five days into the Great Parking Meter Era here in B-town. Most of the nearly 1500 meters scheduled to be installed in the central business district this summer were activated Monday.

The city says it’s raking in $5000 a day already. And this is without the expanded crew of ticket-writers actually writing parking tickets just yet. All those Day-Glo yellow-green-vested scribblers you’ve seen darting between parked cars are only writing out warning citations until the end of next week.

Courthouse Square business owners, who’d feared the collapse of Western Civilization once the meters went online, are fairly surprised to find that their busy-ness so far hasn’t fallen off.

Go to WFHB’s podcast of its Thursday, August 15, 2013, newscast for my story on downtown businesses and the new meters.

◗ Evacuate Bloomington!

I ran into good old Will Murphy at the East Side Kroger Wednesday night. The former General Manager at our town’s WFHB and Ft. Wayne’s NPR station, is now the Operations czar at Bloomington’s NPR outlet, WFIU.

As such, poor old Will Murphy has established himself as an acclaimed town baddie. I told him I’ve been hearing he is Hitler. He said he’s heard he is Satan. In any case, he’s Public Enemy Numbers 1 through ten, inclusive, here.

Why? Simple. Murphy cancelled the station’s live Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturday afternoons last month. The news turned local opera lovers into, well, opera singers. The moaning and gnashing of teeth could be heard all the way in the uppermost office suites of the WFIU World Headquarters Tower.

Godzilla

Will Murphy Destroying Bloomington’s Cultural Institutions

With this town being the locale of one of the country’s more renowned music schools, things like opera mean a lot to certain segments of the citizenry. So much so that anybody who dares to mess with radio listener habits does so at his own peril.

Janis Starcs, a big mover and shaker on WFIU’s Community Advisory Board, came into the Book Corner the other day carrying a violin case. I told him I didn’t know he played the violin; he said he didn’t. So I asked what was in the case. “None of your business,” Starcs replied in a clipped tone. Speaking of clips, Starcs also wore a handsome pair of bandoliers, filled with shiny cartridges, natch.

Will Murphy

Marked Man

“Where ya headed?” I asked.

“To the Advisory Board meeting,” he said.

Next thing you know, WFIU’s men-behing-the-curtain are hanging plain old Will Murphy out to dry at the behest of the Adv. Bd. The Met cancellation has been reversed.

Now, the opera lovers and opera singers of B-town’ll have to dig deep for the dough that Murphy’d hoped his schedule change would generate in the coming years. We’ll see.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Your Daily Hot Air

Hiroshima Day

The nuclear bombings of two cities in Japan were the logical coda of the single most brutal enterprise the species Homo Sapiens sapiens has ever undertaken — and if we’re very, very, very lucky, will ever undertake.

Hiroshima

World War II claimed anywhere from 60-100 million lives. It doesn’t matter how they died; only that the people of this mad planet wanted them dead.

BTW: Shoot over to Neil Steinberg’s blog post today about the excruciatingly unlucky few who survived both bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. True story.

Nixon Resignation Day

Here’s Mike Royko writing Richard M. Nixon’s political eulogy in the Chicago Sun-Times the day after the president quit:

My personal reason for not wanting Mr. Nixon prosecuted is that he really didn’t betray the nation’s trust all that badly.

The country knew what it was getting when it made him president. He was elected by the darker side of the American conscience. His job was to put the brakes on the changes of the 1960s — the growing belief in individual liberties, the push forward by minority groups. He campaigned by appealing to prejudice and suspicion. What he and his followers meant by law and order was “shut up.”

So whose trust he did he betray? Not that of those who thought he was the answer. He was, indeed, their answer.

Nixon

Nixon

The Past Is Prologue

Ukulele savant Susan Sandberg points out this timeless observation by Lyndon Baines Johnson:

If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him someone to look down on and he’ll empty his pockets for you.

LBJ

Johnson

Winning Isn’t Everything

Speaking of the 1960s, I just finished reading a biography of Vince Lombardi entitled When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss.

Lombardi was often portrayed as a brutal, tyrannical leader who’d have steamrolled his grandmother to win a football game. Many people felt he was a man without conscience or sensitivity toward his fellow man. As such, some figured he’d be a great political leader for the turbulent ’60s. In fact, soon after Nixon secured the Republican nomination for president 45 years ago this week, the candidate floated the idea of approaching Lombardi to be his running mate. Nixon’s aides took him seriously and looked into Lombardi’s background. What they found surprised them: The iconic Green Bay Packers coached turned out to be a lifelong Democrat who was particularly close to Bobby Kennedy and the slain senator’s family.

Lombardi

Lombardi

Anyway, the coach’s views on civil rights surely would have sunk a Nixon/Lombardi ticket. Here’s an anecdote. Early on in his term as boss of the Pack, Lombardi and his team traveled into the South for an exhibition game. They went to a large restaurant for a meal. Lombardi was told the black players on the team — only a couple of guys, really, in those days — would not be allowed to enter the place through the front door. They’d have to come in through the back door and eat in a special room for blacks just off the kitchen.

Jim Crow

Lombardi was incensed. He realized, though, he couldn’t smash Jim Crow all by himself that day so he did the next best thing. He directed his entire team to enter through the back door and eat their meal in the back room reserved for blacks.

Pretty cool, eh?

Add to that the fact that Lombardi had at least one player on his team whom he knew was gay. The coach said to his assistants, If I hear one insult or snide remark coming out of your mouths you’ll be fired before your ass hits the floor.

Vince Lombardi was no Spiro Agnew.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“As for the assertion that nuclear weapons prevent wars, how many more wars are needed to refute this argument? Tens of millions have died in the many wars that have taken place since 1945.” — Joseph Rotblat

ANGER LIKE FIRE

Think about Hiroshima today.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Think of how some 80,000 people were incinerated, virtually in the snap of a finger.

Think about how 80,000 more people died in ensuing days, weeks, and months from the effects of the nuclear blast that took place 1200 feet above their city on this date 67 years ago.

Don’t forget that World War II claimed more than 60 million lives. Some historians even estimate the death toll to have reached a hundred million.

But let’s stick with 60 million. A country with 60 million residents would be the 24th most populated in the entire world today.

Imagine if, within six years, all the people of Italy, population 60,813,326, were wiped off the face of the Earth.

Imagine.

TO FIRE THE IMAGINATION

Dreams and hopes became reality last night when Curiosity landed some 60 million miles away from Earth on the planet Mars.

The Shadow Of Curiosity

Yes, we can invent weapons that can kill hundreds of thousands and even millions of people in a single act. But we can also travel to another world.

Our desire to learn why and how our physical existence came into being very likely never will be slaked.

That’s why we go to Mars.

READY, AIM, FIRE

Many among us, though, believe they already possess that knowledge. They are so certain of it that they’ll take the lives of people who don’t share their belief — or even those whose belief varies in the slightest.

We are an odd species.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

I Fucking Love Science

Present and CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

Caps Off Please

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

Brown County Career Resource Center, Nashville — Introduction to Renewable Energy, half-day course; 9am-1pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Rich Groner; 6-8:30pm

Cafe DjangoBloomington Short list, variety show hosted by Marta Jasicki; 7pm

The BishopZoo Animal, The Broderick, Triptides, St. Ranger; 9pm

The BluebirdDave Walters karaoke; 9pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; opens Friday, August 3rd, through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Coming — Media Life; August 24th through September 15th
  • Coming — Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture; August 24th through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Well, the future for me is already a thing of the past.” — Bob Dylan

A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE

When I was a kid I would have this scifi-like fantasy that I’d been transported into the past, say, into my mother’s Little Sicily neighborhood on the Near West Side of Chicago or my father’s Polish enclave on the Northwest Side.

There, I’d be celebrated as The Kid from the Future, the one who knew all the answers, whom other kids and even adults would visit to learn about the wonders of the Space Age 1970s.

“Aw sure,” I’d say casually as my wide eyed audience would hang on my every word, “we sent guys to the moon. Nothin’ to it. We saw it on TV.”

Gasp

Or, “Everybody has a refrigerator and air conditioning, right in their homes. And our cars are low and sleek.”

This little conceit presaged “Back to the Future” by fifteen years or so. Only, unlike Marty McFly, I didn’t have to hide my true origins. I’d be a big shot. Newspaper reporters would flock around me, grilling me about events to come.

“Be prepared,” I’d warn dolefully, “there’s a horrifying world war on the way.” Reporters and kids alike would glance at each other in apprehension. I’d calm them. “But we survived it,” I’d say, as if I had experienced its horrors myself.

Gasp

So play along with me. Let’s pretend we’re the people from the future. We find ourselves in Bloomington in the year 1973. It’s January. It’s drizzly and the temperatures are hovering in the high 40s. We’re sitting at a table in a new little vegetarian diner called The Tao, surrounded by locals. They have a ton of questions.

The political science professor asks, “What’s going to happen with all this Watergate business?”

The campus ROTC officer asks, “Now that President Nixon has ordered a halt to offensive action in Vietnam does that mean the war is over?”

Newly-appointed Hoosiers football coach Lee Corso stops by. He asks, “Does George Foreman have a chance against Joe Frazier?”

A woman wearing a blue “ERA Now!” button asks, “What will the Supreme Court rule in the Roe v. Wade case?”

A soft-spoken philosophy major wearing long hair and a tie-dyed T-shirt asks, “Have the people of 2012 achieved a state of higher consciousness?”

We, of course, have all the answers. “Nixon’s going to resign in a year and a half,” we say. People’s jaws drop.

We continue. “Sorry to say, the war’s going to go on for a couple of more years.” The folks in our audience shake their heads.

“Put your dough on Foreman,” we advise the coach. He says, “Not so fast, my friend!” and points out that Frazier is a 3:1 favorite. “Trust us,” we assure him.

We turn to the woman wearing the blue button. She shifts in her seat excitedly.

“The Court,” we say, “will rule in favor of Roe.”

The woman thrusts her fists in the air, throws her head back, and shouts “Yes!”

The semi-circle of people around us begins to talk among themselves. The woman is giddy. So is Lee Corso. The ROTC officer speculates that with two more years of fighting, maybe — just maybe — the United States can pull out a victory in Southeast Asia. We haven’t the heart to set him straight.

“What else can you tell us,” someone asks.

“Let’s see. Oh, Ronald Reagan will be elected president in 1980.”

“Ronald Reagan?” the political science professor says, shocked.

“Yep. Not only that, he’ll be reelected in one of the greatest landslides in history. And get this: we’ll re-fight the Vietnam War in the ‘Rambo’ movies and we’ll win!”

Our National Do-Over

The young woman’s shoulders slump. “You’ve got to be kidding,” she says.

“Nope.”

On the other hand, the ROTC officer’s mood improves considerably.

“Cheer up,” the political science professor says to the young woman, “Nixon’s going to quit.”

We interrupt him. Nixon, we reveal, will transform himself into an elder statesman. He’ll write books about world affairs. When he dies, his successors in the White House, both Republican and Democrat, will eulogize him.

“That’s odd,” the political science professor observes. “The future looks awfully baffling.” He turns again toward the young woman. “Still, at least the divisive issue of abortion will be settled. You’ve won.”

Not So Fast

“Um, hold on a second there, Professor,” we say. “The abortion issue not only won’t be settled, it’ll be hanging over the country like never before. States will curtail access to abortions. Candidates will run on planks of little more than rolling back Roe v. Wade. In fact, as we left 2012 to come visit you here in 1973, the State of Indiana is fighting with the federal government over abortion. Governor Mitch Daniels and Republican legislators want to cut off Medicaid payments for low income women’s abortions. The feds say the state can’t do that but Indiana’s Attorney General Greg Zoeller has promised to fight for the cut off.

“In fact,” we add, “if states like Mississippi have their way, abortion will be outlawed, period.”

“But I thought you said the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe,” the young woman says, plaintively.

“Um, uh…, well, yeah,” we say. Then we shrug.

The people forming the semicircle around contemplate all this for a moment. Finally, the soft-spoken philosophy major  breaks the silence. “You haven’t answered my question,” he says. “Have the people of 2012 achieved a state of higher consciousness?”

You and I glance at each other. Someone’s got to break the news to him. “Well kid,” I say at last, “you really don’t want to know.”

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

People’s ParkLunch Concert Series, Scott Frye, acoustic country blues; 11:30am

Lower Cascades Park, Sycamore Shelter — Bloomington Serious Mac Users Group annual picnic; 5:30-8:30pm

The Venue Fine Art & GiftsThe Art & Poetry of Shana Ritter; 6pm

Jake’s NightclubKaraoke; 6pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Ken Wilson; 6-8:30pm

◗ IU Ford-Crawford Hall Summer Music Series, The Steve Houghton Trio; 7pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Music Series, Chamber music by the Cecilia String Quartet; 8pm

Cecilia String Quartet

The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — Team trivia; 8pm

The Player’s PubBlues Jam hosted by King Bee & the Stingers; 8pm

The BluebirdBloomington’s Got Talent, hosted by Leo Cook; 9pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I love America more than any other country in this world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” — James Baldwin

SOLDIERS AND MORE

I didn’t want to make a big deal of this yesterday mainly because I painted a less-than flattering portrait of the American Dream — on the Fourth of July, no less.

I didn’t want it to appear as though I were piling on.

It strikes me, though, that the vast majority of people we celebrate on the anniversary of this holy land’s birth seem to be soldiers.

Military Vehicles In A Fourth Of July Parade

Several of my most loyal readers are proud former soldiers so I don’t mean to insult them. One was in the regular Army and served in Iraq. Another was a Marine officer. Others served in the National Guard and the reserves. Much as I hate to admit it, there’s a need for people who are willing to go out and kill other people for the sake of the country. I’m glad there are plenty of people who can do that; I know I couldn’t have.

I’d have refused induction, deserted, or been thrown in the brig had I been drafted during the Vietnam era.

One of the most heroic acts in American history, I feel, was the stance Muhammad Ali took when he got his “Greetings” letter from the Selective Service System. He chucked his lucrative career as a world champion boxer, reported to his induction center, and refused to say “Here” when his name was called.

Muhammad Ali After He Refused Induction Into the Army

He explained: “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. They never called me nigger.” Later he said, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from my home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

My own reasons for not wanting to fire deadly weapons at the Vietnamese included my refusal to participate in what I knew to be an arrogant, wrong-headed war, one that could only have been waged by a people who felt superior to all the other peoples on this weird, weird planet. That and the fact that I believe it is a superlative accomplishment to go through this mad life without killing, maiming, or otherwise injuring another human.

Sometimes, sure, there’s a need to kill another. Studs Terkel had the right idea when he entitled his oral history of Word War II, “The Good War.”

Somebody Had To Clobber These Dopes

You’ll note that there wasn’t as broad an epidemic of mental illness among the veterans of that war. Certainly the people who had to blow the brains out of Nazis and Japanese suffered emotionally and psychologically. But so many of the veterans of Vietnam, Iraq I & II, and Afghanistan have suffered profound emotional torture upon their return to this country.

Why? Perhaps because World War II veterans understood that they were fighting for a righteous cause. That can go a long way toward ameliorating one’s psychic fallout after participating in the brutality of war.

World War II vets could say to themselves, “I had to kill bad guys.”

What can the veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom say to console him or herself?

Why?

So, I’m not unmindful of the role the armed services have played in the existence of these United States.

On the Fourth of July, though, you can be excused for thinking the only people who have meant anything to this nation’s existence were soldiers.

Let’s not forget people who didn’t have to blow people’s brains out for the good of their country:

  • Jane Addams — Philosopher, sociologist, and settlement worker, she founded Hull House
  • Roger Baldwin — Co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union with Crystal Eastman and Walter Nelles
  • Ella Baker — Co-founder with Bayard Rustin of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, of which Martin Luther King, Jr. was president, she also helped organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  • Daisy Gatson Bates — Journalist, led the effort to desegregate Little Rock schools after the US Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision

Daisy Gatson Bates

  • Philip and Daniel Berrigan — Catholic priests and radical anti-war protesters during the Vietnam Era.
  • Nellie Bly — Undercover journalist, exposed conditions for the poor and marginalized people
  • Rachel Carson — Wrote “Silent Spring,” awakening the nation to the threat of environmental pollution
  • William Sloane Coffin — President of SANE/Freeze, anti-war activist, civil rights advocate, gay rights supporter
  • Dorothea Dix — Fought for insane asylum, poorhouse, and prison reforms

Dorothea Dix

  • WEB DuBois — Co-founder of the NAACP, the first black to receive a doctorate from Harvard University, an educator, author, historian, sociologist, philosopher, and poet
  • Marian Wright Edelman — Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and civil rights activist
  • Barbara Ehrenreich — Investigative, undercover journalist who exposes corporate and employer abuses as well as poverty conditions
  • Daniel Ellsberg — Delivered The Pentagon Papers to the New York Times
  • Matthew Gaines — A former slave, freedmen leader, and state senator, he helped establish free public schools in Texas
  • William Lloyd Garrison — Abolitionist, advocated women’s suffrage, co-founded the American Anti-Slavery Society
  • Alex Haley — Authored “Roots: The Saga of an American Family”
  • Mary Harris “Mother” Jones — Labor and community organizer, co-founded Industrial Workers of the World

“Mother” Jones

  • Seymour Hersh — Investigative journalist, exposed the My Lai Massacre as well as many government abuses
  • Hubert H. Humphrey — Forced the Democratic Party to adopt a civil rights platform at the 1948 national convention
  • Robert La Follette Sr. — Progressive senator, fought against the corporatocracy, an unapologetic liberal

“Fightin’ Bob” La Follette

  • Malcolm X — Grew to reject violence and separatism in the fight for civil rights
  • Biddy Mason — A freed slave, became a wealthy entrepreneur, donated huge amounts to charities
  • Lucretia Mott — Helped organize the Women’s Rights Convention, her home was an Underground Railroad station
  • Ralph Nader — Consumer advocate, fought against the corporatocracy
  • A. Philip Randolph — Labor leader, civil rights advocate
  • Bayard Rustin — Civil rights advocate who help organize civil disobedience protests, espoused nonviolence and pacifism, advocated for gay rights

Bayard Rustin

  • Mario Savio — Free speech advocate
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton — Advocate for women’s rights, abolitionist, universal suffragist
  • I.F. Stone — Independent investigative journalist, exposed racism within the FBI, revealed South Korean instigation of hostilities prior to the Korean War
  • Lucy Stone — Advocate for women’s rights, abolitionist
  • Sojourner Truth — Abolitionist and supporter of women’s rights
  • Howard Zinn — Iconoclastic historian, insisted on telling Americans what we’ve been rather than what we wish we were.

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

◗ IU Theater AnnexChildren’s musical,  “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs,” presented by Indiana Festival Theater; 11am

Monroe County Public Library“What It Was Like,” Fairview Elementary alumni share reminiscences of the school from the 30s-70s; 4-6pm

Bear’s PlaceDavid Linard Trio; 5:30pm

David Linard

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Kara Barnard & Chuck Willis; 6pm

Third Street ParkOutdoor concert, Hungry Dog Blues Band featuring Snarlyn Carlyn Lindsay; 6:30pm

The Player’s Pub The Blue Rivieras; 6:30pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz Theatre“The Taming of the Shrew”; 7:30pm

Cafe Django“Singing to Katmandu,” fundraiser for BloomingtonKatmandu exhibit featurng local artists and musicians; 7:30pm

The Comedy AtticRyan Singer; 8pm

◗ IU Auer Hall, Simon Music Library — “Quattro Mani,” Alice Rybak and Susan Grace perform Creston, Beach, Rzewski, Bowles, Bolcom, & Hovhaness; 8pm

Alice Rybak

Serendipity Martini BarTeam trivia; 8:30pm

Max’s PlaceBluegrass, New Old Calvary; 9pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibit, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%” by John D. Shearer; through July 30th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibit, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts by Qiao Xiaoguang; through August 12th — Exhibit, wildlife artist William Zimmerman; through September 9th — Exhibit, David Hockney, new acquisitions; through October 21st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryKinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st, 11am

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“There is a distinct difference between having an open mind and having a hole in your head from which your brain leaks out.” — James Randi

CELESTIAL BEAUTY

Just a reminder, the transit of Venus will be visible in these parts in the hours just prior to sunset Tuesday evening.

The phenomenon has only been seen by human eyes seven times.

Wear #14 welder’s glasses or get a pair of those neat eclipse glasses that look a bit like movie theater 3-D glasses. The transit also is visible through one of those pinhole projection boxes the geeky kids in seventh grade always knew how to make when there was a partial solar eclipse.

Eclipse Cheaters

Which leads me to my fave beat-the-dead-horse question: Why believe in magic and monsters when real life itself is so spectacular?

WE HAVE A MOVIE

Man, you blew it if you were unable to catch the Italian movie “We Have a Pope.”

I just caught the Ryder Film Series offering last night at the SoFA small theater and it was a delight.

A cardinal named Melville is elected Pope and just as he’s about to greet the crowd in St. Peter’s he suffers what can only be described as a nervous breakdown, brought on primarily by his long simmering lack of self-confidence.

The Moment Before The Breakdown

The assembled Cardinals, who by canonical law cannot leave the Vatican until the new Pope greets the crowd, panic and eventually bring in a shrink in an effort to get the new boss to the balcony window.

By and by, the new Pope escapes the Vatican and a certain madness ensues.

The beauty of a lot of non-Hollywood movies is they don’t have Hollywood endings. That’s all I’ll say about that.

The movie will run on cable’s Independent Film Channel and if Peter LoPilato can ever get it back here in Bloomington, don’t blow your chance to see it again.

GO! — NOW!

UNINTENDED PR CONSEQUENCES

WHaP reminds me of all the foofaraw over Martin Scorsese‘s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” based on the eponymous book by Nikos Kazantzakis.

Released in 1988, TLToC dealt with the fever dreams of Christ as he hung on the cross, baking in the sun, driven mad by pain. He imagines an alternative existence wherein he settles into a simple life, marrying Mary Magdalene and not carrying the burden of all humankind’s sins.

The Man Wants Out; The Deity Has A Responsibility

It’s one of the most pious, spiritual, and reverent movies ever made.

I mean, the whole idea of Christ’s death, as I understand it, was that he was tempted to avoid his fate, but his faith and obedience to his “father in heaven” overcame his human need. And therein, I always thought, lay the foundation for Christianity.

But when TLToC played at the Biograph Theater in Chicago, Catholics and other defenders of the one and only big daddy-o in the sky picketed and shouted and otherwise drew more attention to the film than it ever would have garnered otherwise.

Go figure.

CANDID

BuzzFeed the other day ran a list of the most powerful photos ever taken.

Which got me to thinking which pix I’d pick. Ergo, here they are (in no particular order):

The French guy crying as the Nazis march through Paris

Vietnam: The naked girl running, the self-immolating monk, the Saigon police chief executing the guy in the street

The JFK assassination: LBJ takes the oath, Ruby shoots Oswald, JFK Jr. salutes

Earthrise from Apollo 8

The Chinese student and the tanks

Martin Luther King lay dying

World War II: Marines reenact the flag raising at Iwo Jima, the sailor kisses the nurse on V-J Day

The National Geographic Afghani girl

Che

Protest: John Carlos and Tommie Smith give the Black Power salute, Kent State, the flowers in the gun barrels

(All photos copyrighted.)

There. How about you? Tell us what’s on your list via the comments.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true.” — J. Robert Oppenheimer

FOR THE BIRDS

Steve the Dog and I enjoyed the last of the really pleasant dusks of the season at Lake Monroe Thursday.

We go to Cutright and Paynetown three or four nights of the week to watch the sunset. Well, I watch the sunset — Steve is too busy sniffing every surface he can put his snoot near.

I got a special treat Thursday when two magnificent Great Blue Herons took flight together across the water from the direction of the Paynetown ramp all the way toward Mellencamp’s manse.

The birds were so close to the surface of the water that the tips of their wings occasionally plinked up a bit of water as they flapped.

Starting Friday, though, the lake area became a madhouse, meaning similar solitary sightings will become far rarer for the next three months or so. The campgrounds were overflowing, the trailer lots were packed, the shores were lined with fisherbeings casting their lines — I think I saw one woman reel in the man who was fishing next to her.

Of course, it’s the Memorial Day weekend but the summer season seems to be getting off to a chaotic start, what with a couple of knuckleheads wrasslin’ and horsin’ around until one of them drowned.

On a more pleasant note at an apparently less perilous lake, some people have seen one or more Brown Pelicans at Patoka Lake, about 50 miles south of us. Here’s a photo taken May 12 by Amy and Noah Kearns:

A week later, a fellow named Jim Sullivan snapped some glorious shots of the bird:

Who knows? Perhaps the pelican or one of his kin will make the trek up to Lake Monroe this summer. I hope so — toward that end, Steve the Dog and I will continue to run down to Cutright and Paynetown despite all the wrasslin’ and all the people trying to snag each other with their fishing hooks. He’ll sniff, I’ll keep my eyes open.

BEAUTY

Just in case you’re one of those Luddites who believe everything created by science and industry is the handiwork of the devil, I submit this:

The Golden Gate Bridge opened 75 years ago today.

It is not only a triumph of humankind’s engineering prowess but of our capacity to create art.

ALL THE LUCK

How about that Dario Franchitti? If I’m him, I play the lottery. He won the Indy 500 yesterday, he’s one of the most successful IndyCar drivers in the world, he’s a charming and charismatic personality whom the TV talk shows love to have on, he’s loaded, and he’s married to the scrumptious and very cool Ashley Judd.

Hi Honey, I’m Home!

Some guys, huh?

ME TOO

Not that I’m lacking in the luck department. Here’s the latest on The Loved One. We purchased our first riding mower the other week.

We let it sit in the garage for a while, mainly because we were afraid to touch it. But by and by the lawn started looking rather rainforest-y so T-Lo gave the word, Let’s crank it up.

Sure, honey, I said, at which point I turned on my other side and fell back into a delicious snooze. Next thing I knew, I heard T-Lo pushing the contraption out of the garage to the driveway where she could fill its tank and try to turn the engine over.

Our New Hot Rod

I hauled myself up off the sofa and went to help, which is code for watching her do the work. She eventually dragged me into the process, though, and between the two of us we had the thing running within a half hour.

Okay, I said, it works. Let’s put it away now.

T-Lo had other ideas, though. She began mowing the front lawn with a demonic look on her face. Within minutes, she was handling the thing the way Dario Franchitti wheels his IndyCar around the Brickyard.

You sure you don’t want me to do it? I yelled over the roar of the engine. She gave me a look that implied I’d get myself bloodied if I tried to get her off it.

Now our lawn is the envy of the neighborhood. BTW: I was fast asleep again before T-Lo was finished.

HONOR

Memorial Day. All the radio and TV stations as well as the newspapers and websites are chock full of stories about how wonderful we are because men have been willing to die for our holy land.

When I was a kid, I drank that brand of Kool-Aid. It was easier to believe it all then. The fellows who fought in what Studs Terkel dubbed the Good War, were still around, many of them in the latter parts of their prime. My own daddy-o was drafted in 1945 and was just about to get an all-expenses paid trip to the South Pacific when the Army Air Corps dropped the Fat Man on Hiroshima. He was lucky.

A Hundred Thousand Died So I Could Be Conceived

Memorial Day was a celebration of brave humans who sacrificed their lives so Fascists and Nazis and Imperialists wouldn’t take over the Earth.

Since then, though, it is these Great United States, Inc. that has become the empire. Thankfully, we’re not Fascists or Nazis despite what some overwrought drama junkies care to believe. Still, we often bully our way from one end of the globe to the other.

Korea, Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan — we’ve been racking up the advantage miles for some 70 years now.

Nam

Some of our little adventures have been noble. Well, noble-ish. Trying to stop the warlords of Somalia from slicing up the people there, or helping put an end to the Qaddafi crime syndicate were quasi-admirable decisions. Throwing the Taliban out of Afghanistan was good. Curbing Serb and Croat bloodlust in Bosnia had to be done.

But ousting the democratically elected president of Iran for the benefit of British Petroleum? Bucking up the corrupt petit-tyrants of Vietnam? Those were the acts of the world’s biggest bully.

American men and women lost their lives in many of those follies, too. They died because we weren’t so wonderful.

The truth is every nation demands its people die for it. Wehrmacht soldiers were just as willing to offer up limb or future for the cause as some farm kid in Iowa.

If we really wanted to honor people like Miles Craig or Ron Kovic, we’d demand our elected leaders knock off the bully-boy games.

Ron Kovic At 1972 Anti-War Rally

The truth is, though, we don’t give a shit about Miles Craig or Ron Kovic. We’re more concerned with drinking the Kool-Aid.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee of the refuge of the grave and denied it.

“For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

“We ask it in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.

“Amen.” — Mark Twain, from his short story, “The War Prayer

FAIR IN WAR

David Jones, the recently retired director of Indiana University’s Center on Southeast Asia, shook his head  and muttered, “My god.”

He was thumbing through this morning’s paper in Soma Coffee and had come upon yet another story about that Army sergeant who apparently went out and systematically killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan.

House Of Death

This latest bit that made Jones splutter was the suggestion that the as-yet unnamed sergeant was drunk when he committed the alleged deed.

Jones railed about what he perceives to be an attempt to excuse the soldier. He also expressed a fear that the incident may lead to a web of deceit or even unlock secrets about greater atrocities.

At which point, I mused that, rather than look for individual bad guys to string up, thereby making ourselves feel better about this nasty business of war, we ought to look upon the killings as a natural result of war.

War, I said, pushes all its participants to the edge of civility and even sanity. The most fragile of those participants, I concluded, often snap.

My Lai

Were Jones an orator of my school, he would have said bullshit. Unfortunately, the vocabulary imposed upon him by academia precludes him from employing such piercing and effective terms.

Still, my hypothesis was, in Jones’s estimation, full of crap.

“Then we should have opened up the doors to all the jails that held those who participated in the Holocaust,” Jones said.

How can I argue with his point?

OUR BASTARDS ARE MORE BRUTAL THAN YOUR BASTARDS

Studs Terkel called it “The Good War.” World War II often is seen as a battle of good versus evil.

Really, all wars are carried out so that “good” will prevail. Leaders of nations are opportunistic and duplicitous, sure, but none has ever been so brazen as to try to convince his people they should sacrifice their lives because theirs is Lucifer’s mission.

But even the defeated Germans and Japanese today acknowledge that the beating they took in the 1940s was deserved.

The United States won its war with Japan for a variety of reasons. The outcome of the war, essentially, was sealed only six months after Pearl Harbor when the US Navy decimated the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway. Had Japanese leadership not been so bloodthirsty and ambitious, that nation would have sat down with the US to negotiate a peace soon after.

Midway

But Japan didn’t. The war would rage on for another three years. Millions of lives were lost because the Japanese bosses couldn’t bear to accept reality.

It was feared that the only way to end the war would be to invade the Japanese mainland. That meant we needed a fighting force even more bloodthirsty than the Japanese had.

No one was more bloodthirsty than Curtis LeMay.

LeMay

As a rising star in the Army Air Corps, LeMay earned a reputation as a demanding, innovative, brilliant, cutthroat strategist and leader. Robert McNamara described him in a report as “the finest combat commander of any service I came across in war. But he was extraordinarily belligerent, many thought brutal.”

LeMay was transferred from the European to the Pacific theater in 1944. He rose to become the commander of air operations against the Japanese mainland. In his new role, he instituted the practice of massive nighttime, low-altitude, incendiary bombing raids on Japanese cities.

Under this plan, American bombers attacked 64 Japanese metropolitan areas. Most Japanese housing was constructed of highly flammable wood and paper. The bombing raids, carried out from March through August, 1945, destroyed 40 percent of the structures in those cities.

That’s the equivalent of an enemy destroying almost half the land area of every US city ranked by population from New York to Anchorage, Alaska. One raid took place on March 10th over Tokyo. The ensuing firestorm killed 100,000 civilians and destroyed 250,000 buildings. Estimates of the number of civilians killed in all the raids range from a quarter to a half a million. Some five million Japanese were made homeless.

The Day After

Another aspect of LeMay’s strategy was called Operation Starvation, aimed at disrupting Japan’s food distribution channels. Its name alone says all you need to know about it.

LeMay himself was quoted as saying he would have been tried as a war criminal had the US lost the war.

Then the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two attacks served as exclamation points for America’s argument that Japan should surrender unconditionally. The war ended six days after Nagasaki.

Punctuation

The Good War.

Again, even the Japanese today agree that the good guys won.

Curtis LeMay, therefore, was one of the good guys.

War.

 

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