Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My name is Suh. How do you do?
Now you're gonna die. . . .


The National Football League has its standards to uphold. It's not lawless, you know.

Commissioner Roger Goodell had to sit Detroit's Ndamukong Suh for two games just on account of the flying body parts.

By the way, the Taiwanese are deeply, deeply weird people. Entertaining, granted, but deeply, deeply strange.

You know what? I cannot wait for the guy who taught the Motor City Mauler everything he knows about being out of control -- that's
FOXSports.com writer Jen Floyd Engel's reasonable-enough assessment of Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini, at least -- to do something worthy of the Taiwanese-animator treatment himself.

I'm just sick that way.

Hank on 78


Take a 1952 Hank Williams 78 rpm record. Place it on a 1955 Webcor record changer. Watch and listen as magic occurs.

As you can hear, 78s could sound quite good. As a matter of fact, I have some that sound a lot better than this.

Before I go back to recording more of these old records onto the computer hard drive, though, I'll leave you with this bit of eerie trivia:


THIS RECORD -- "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" -- was the last Hank Williams single released before the country legend died, hitting the stores in November 1952 and debuting on the Billboard country chart at No. 9 on Dec. 20.

Williams died in the back seat of his Cadillac early New Year's morning 1953, somewhere between Bristol, Va., and Oak Hill, W.Va. Three weeks later, "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" hit No. 1 on Billboard the issue of Jan. 24.

Fifty-nine years later, the needle still drops onto the MGM 78. While the platter spins, Hank lives again, because it's always 1952 somewhere.

Right now, it's right here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pigs fly. Europe over. End nigh.


Germany is the only country in Europe that can act to save the eurozone and the wider European Union from “a crisis of apocalyptic proportions”, the Polish foreign minister warned on Monday in a passionate call for more drastic action to prevent the collapse of the European monetary union.

The extraordinary appeal by Radoslaw Sikorski, delivered in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in the German capital, came as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development called on European leaders to provide “credible and large enough firepower” to halt the sell-off in the eurozone sovereign debt market, or risk a severe recession.

The OECD’s comments came as the organisation slashed its half-yearly forecasts for growth in the world’s richest countries, warning that economic activity in Europe would grind to a near-halt.

Yet their calls were met by a stubborn insistence in Berlin that only EU treaty change to forge a “stability union” in the eurozone would revive confidence in the markets.

In a startling comment for a senior Polish minister, Mr Sikorski declared that the biggest threat to his nation’s security was not terrorism, or German tanks, or even Russian missiles, but “the collapse of the eurozone”.

“I demand of Germany that, for your own sake and for ours, you help it survive and prosper,” he said. “You know full well that nobody else can do it. I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity. You have become Europe’s indispensable nation.


-- The Financial Times,
Nov. 28, 2011

The dawn of hi-fi . . . at 78 rpm


In many cases, high fidelity spun into 1950s homes, and into popular culture, at 78 rpm.


And so did the king of rock 'n' roll.

I've been putting some more of the records of my youth onto the computer hard drive -- bringing my analog musical formation into the digital present, I guess. This is another of those, Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up" (above), on a glorious 10-inch shellac platter.

I couldn't tell you how many times I played this record -- this very 78 that's four years older than I am -- as a kid. The rough estimate: lots.


IN 1957, "All Shook Up" was magic. As it was when I first got a hold of it around 1964 or 1965. As it is today.

That goes as well for another of my little stash of Elvis on 78 . . . "Too Much." That's it at left, sitting on a 1955 Webcor record changer here at Anachronism "R" Us.

And you know what? After half a century and change, these records still sound pretty much like new. And I have many compact discs that sound a lot worse. A lot worse, because these old 78s sound great.

RCA Victor's "'New Orthophonic' High Fidelity" was, indeed, all that. All that and a pair of blue suede shoes.

I'm itchin' like a bear on a fuzzy tree to play this stuff on the Big Show, I ga-ron-tee.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weaponizing the law for fun and profit


Do you want to know what can happen when America has the best government Big Money can buy (and you can't)?

This. And it's about to happen.

Of course, not being communist China, the U.S. government will not throw a monkey wrench into the Internet because it does not like the politics of any particular website. That would be illiberal.

But if some website might be the slightest threat to big contributors making maximum money, well, that's another thing. That's capitalism, and if you say some things are more important than money . . .
we know where you live.

WHAT AM I talking about? This, as explained in Forbes by Larry Downes:
When Congress introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act on October 26th, its sponsors hardly expected a tidal wave of opposition from Silicon Valley. After all, SOPA was billed as a corrected version of the Senate’s Protect IP Act, passed out of committee earlier this year.

SOPA and Protect IP are the latest proposals for combating so-called “rogue” websites–criminal enterprises operating outside the U.S. that traffic in counterfeit goods and unlicensed entertainment. Many pretend to be legitimate outlets for movies, music, prescription drugs, and luxury goods, often selling dangerous or defective products to U.S. consumers.

Unfortunately, SOPA, also known colorfully as the E-PARASITE Act, was no corrective. SOPA is a sweeping new law, effecting a radical change to how governments and private parties could police Internet content and business innovation in the name of protecting copyrights and trademarks.
While SOPA did correct a few technical errors in Protect IP, it also introduced new definitions, new standards of liability for third parties, a deeply flawed system of private enforcement, and a provision that makes a felony of posting YouTube videos with copyrighted music—even playing in the background. The House version was nearly twice as long as its Senate counterpart.

(snip)

No one but the criminals, of course, would defend the brazen rip-off of copyright and trademark holders. Unfortunately, legislation touted as targeting only the “worst of the worst” has morphed into something far broader. If passed in their current forms, Protect IP and even more so SOPA would effect a dramatic redesign of the Internet, making it a much smaller and decidedly less innovative place for entrepreneurs and consumers. Neither bill should become law.

For example, SOPA would allow the U.S. government to condemn “foreign infringing sites” by forcing Internet service providers to misdirect requests from consumers attempting to access them. Leading Internet engineers rightly note this provision won’t actually stop users from finding infringing content. It will, however, wreak havoc on crucial international efforts to make the global domain name system more secure, as former National Security Agency general counsel Stewart Baker recently pointed out.

But that’s nothing compared to the most unsettling provision of both bills, which creates a new private right of action for rightsholders to force ad networks and payment processors to shut down websites “dedicated to the theft of U.S. property.” While that sounds simple enough, SOPA’s version of this “market based mechanism” is over 30 pages long. Read carefully, it gives copyright and trademark owners sweeping new powers to cut off websites—foreign and domestic—whose business models they dislike.

For example, based on nothing more than a good faith belief that infringement is taking place on even “a portion of” a website and a failure by the operator to confirm “a high probability of the use of the site” to commit infringement, SOPA allows private parties can order payment processors and ad networks to cut all ties to the site simply by sending a letter.
WHAT WE HAVE today is a nation of perpetual conflict where brute force is the only possible resolution when disputes arise -- be it in the ghetto where gangbangers settle beefs with bullets, on American streets and college campuses where police shut down peaceful protests with billy clubs and pepper spray . . . or in Congress where moneyed interests pay lawmakers to weaponize the U.S. Code on their behalf.

What could go wrong?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

WWFD (What would Freud do?)


Dear Sigmund,

I hope you will forgive me for going all Jung on you here, but I think these Black Friday ads for the Target discount chain somehow are an expression of one facet of Western civilization's collective unconscious, which, I am happy to report to you, seems to be linked somehow to your observation of our death drive -- our Thanatos syndrome, as it were.

I say these are an expression of our collective unconscious -- again, apologies for the Jungian theorizing -- because they seemingly are presented quite unwittingly by Madison Avenue as an inducement to self-annihilation. Ironically, they urge us into mortal consumerist combat with one another by exposing to us our unified (violent?) subconscious (a super Id, perhaps?) under the guise of humor. Look at what I mean here.



THE ACTRESS in these television commercials urges us on toward consumerist combat -- literal combat, given the statistical probability based upon years of observational data -- thus bringing us closer psychically and physically to the obliteration we unconsciously crave, in the service of wholly materialist objectives which at best serve only as a temporary distraction to our collective sense of alienation and despair.

I sense this may somehow be related to the Oedipus complex, though I am unsure of this.


FINALLY, as the Target advertisements urge us on toward unfulfilling aggression and, re: Durkheim, anomie, the TV spots simultaneously transcend the primary function and become pure metaphor for what we are as a society and what the consumerist imperative demands even more intently of us.

What I am wondering, Sigmund, is this: Do you suppose it may be that Thanatos, as it were, is one and the same as Jung's collective unconscious? Has it always been thus, or is this a new evolutionary stage that inevitably leads to extinction -- one quite random and pointless as the dinosaurs' by asteroid impact?

Can this be true, Sigmund? Alternatively, could the apparent self-destructive goal of evolution be a means of making room for the emergence of yet-higher life forms?


Yours in inquiry,

M. Favog

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year


OK, America. Find the crazy people in these videos shot on Black Friday at various Wal-Marts across the country.


Who in these videos presents the real threat to public order?


Which videos show dangerous and disorderly mobs requiring robust police action in defense of life and property?


Who does get forcibly stopped by police in these videos?

Well played, America. We've made our country. Now we have to live in it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Listen and win!


Ladies and gentlemen, I present our last best hope for financial security amid our present economic desolation and tribulation.

Unfortunately, that cash train left the station in 1978. Our Lady of Listen and Win on the Big 910, pray for us.

As God is my witness. . . .


I was going to post this earlier today, but some crazy SOB was throwing live turkeys out of a helicopter while I was in line for Black Friday at Target.

So, accept my apologies, excuse my concussion -- one of the things hit me -- and . . . "Happy . . . Thanks . . . giving . . . from . . . W . . . K . . . R . . . P!"

And from Revolution 21, too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The house on Geronimo Street


In my mind's eye, I still see the tidy little house on Geronimo Street in north Baton Rouge -- the front yard planted thick with flower beds, and the flower beds planted thick with "elephant ears," and a birdbath sitting in the middle of it all.

I can see the little living room, decorated in early Catholic. The little dining room, used more as a pantry and usually dark, with the refrigerator straight ahead as you walk in the door. Inside the fridge, Chek colas from Winn-Dixie (correctly pronounced WinnandDixie). Inside the freezer, 3 Musketeers bars for the young'uns to have with their Chek colas.

Back in the living room of 3439 Geronimo, there are a couple of 1950's couches, a big cabinet-style gas space heater, a Silvertone color TV with a rounded screen, and a white upholstered rocking chair where my elderly grandma watches her "stories."

It's about 1971, give or take.

North Baton Rouge was solidly working class, intractably on the "wrong side of the tracks," and the home of "those people," as my kinfolk and their confreres were known by the middle-class swells on the right side of the tracks. Four decades ago, it always seemed to me that the "wrong side of the tracks" was a pretty comfortable place to be -- tidy, homey, down to earth and comfortable like an old shoe.



ON SCENIC HIGHWAY
-- which wasn't, really -- you had the Esso refinery (which everybody still called Humble Oil or Standard Oil), any number of chemical plants, and the Ethyl refinery, too. These gave north Baton Rouge its daily bread . . . and a lungful of complex-hydrocarbon je ne sais quoi.

When I was really little, I used to say "it smells like Grandma." Not that Grandma smelled like complex-hydrocarbons with subtle tetraethyl-lead overtones, of course -- it's just that every time over the tracks and down Winbourne to Grandmother's house we went, that was the snoutful I got.

Grandmother's house actually was Aunt Sybil's and Uncle Jimmy's. Aunt Sybil worked at WinnandDixie, and Uncle Jimmy worked in sheet metal, but their real vocation was as family caretakers and our unofficial keepers of the Catholic faith. This chapped my fallen-away mother's ass . . . but that was her problem, not theirs.

Aunt Sybil reminded all us kids that "you got to humble yourself" before, during and after you offer it up. Uncle Jimmy, meantime, sang in the St. Anthony choir as he kept calm and carried on amid the daily blitz of the incendiary Gallic horde he married into.

They put their godchildren through Catholic school when parents could not, then they sowed the seeds of faith in my life when parents would not. The center of all this was the little house at 3439 Geronimo St., where Grandma said her prayers and watched her stories while Jesus and the apostles oversaw it all from the Last Supper painting hanging on the wall.

WHEN I was a kid, we were over there at least once a week. Daddy would bring Grandma a six-pack of Jax beer, much coffee would be drunk, everybody would watch some TV, and I'd end up falling asleep on the sofa.

A whole slew of cousins pretty much grew up in that little house, into which you could fit an amazing number of laughing, drinking, smoking and chattering relatives every Christmas Eve for the making of the gumbo. In my family, the night before Christmas was never as quiet as a mouse and always
was fairly well soaked in chicken gumbo.

To this day -- at least for me and mine -- Christmas just isn't Christmas unless, first, you make a roux. All you need is flour, oil, a hot stove and the memory of a time, a place, and loved ones long gone.

Grandma died in 1973, when I was 12. That was about the same time that north Baton Rouge started to die, too. It was for the usual reasons.

Aunt Sybil and Uncle Jimmy hung on there as long as they could amid the flight of the white working class -- which was fueled by the siren song of suburbia and fear of The Other -- and the subsequent arrival of the black underclass. Long before the decade was out, they moved east to the new working-class enclave, and the little house on Geronimo was relegated to blessed memory. I think the last straw was when someone crapped on their sidewalk.

The racial Unwelcome Wagon, ironically, is an equal-opportunity despoiler.


SOON ENOUGH, Geronimo Street -- the whole "wrong side of the tracks" expanse of north Baton Rouge -- hardly could be described as tidy, homey, down to earth or comfortable like an old shoe. To be brutally honest, it now was the 'hood, with all that entailed. It seemed as if folks like me and mine were about as welcome in our old stomping grounds as they and theirs were in white-flight land.

Baton Rouge is nothing if not a tale of two cities -- segregated suburban sprawl and "Oh, sweet Jesus!"

And the powers that be in my hometown are more than happy to let Oh, Sweet Jesusland go to the devil. Which it has. Because no one cares.

Above you see what's left of the little house at 3439 Geronimo -- it has become a metaphor for the dysfunction of a city and its sins of omission.

A nasty metaphor has replaced the flower beds, the house and a way of life. Fortunately, metaphor is no match for blessed memory and the love that once lived at 3439 Geronimo St.

For that, I give thanks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's like Tabasco, right? Everybody likes Tabasco


When fascists get their own cable network, hilarity is sure to follow.

And what's funnier than Bill O'Reilly and some Fox News Channel legal analyst looking for ways to justify spraying peaceful protesters -- college kids who were just sitting there -- point-blank in the face with pepper spray, sending two to the hospital?

OK, I lied. It's not funny at all. It makes me want to throw up for one important reason . . . or rather one frightening thought that occurred to me. What if Bill O'Reilly had been a prominent national TV commentator in 1963?


What if O'Reilly had been on television every night convincing just enough Americans that they couldn't believe their eyes, not when it came to what they just plainly saw on the TV news. That the horrors being inflicted on blacks in the segregated South weren't nearly so bad as they appeared.

Move along. No injustice to see here. No need to do anything about it.

Can you hear him in your mind's ear, telling a nightly audience of about 4.5 million that it was just water coming out of the fire hoses blasting young civil-rights protesters in Birmingham, Ala.?

C'mon, everybody drinks water. You need water to live, right? It's the stuff of life -- listen, your body is, what, 80 percent water anyway.

And the police dogs being turned loose on those black kids? Who doesn't love dogs? C'mon, it's
Fido, for God's sake! If you make nice with the doggie, he'll be nice to you.

Besides, "I don't think we have the right to Monday-morning quarterback the police." Especially a longtime public servant like Bull Conner.

Right, Bill?

Monday, November 21, 2011

The loyalest dog ever

Scout the Dog
(1995-2011)

I post this through my tears.

Questions for a nation past its sell-by date


University of California, Berkeley
Nov. 9, 2011

Earlier that day a colleague had written to say that the campus police had moved in to take down the Occupy tents and that students had been “beaten viciously.” I didn’t believe it. In broad daylight? And without provocation? So when we heard that the police had returned, my wife, Brenda Hillman, and I hurried to the campus. I wanted to see what was going to happen and how the police behaved, and how the students behaved. If there was trouble, we wanted to be there to do what we could to protect the students.

Once the cordon formed, the deputy sheriffs pointed their truncheons toward the crowd. It looked like the oldest of military maneuvers, a phalanx out of the Trojan War, but with billy clubs instead of spears. The students were wearing scarves for the first time that year, their cheeks rosy with the first bite of real cold after the long Californian Indian summer. The billy clubs were about the size of a boy’s Little League baseball bat. My wife was speaking to the young deputies about the importance of nonviolence and explaining why they should be at home reading to their children, when one of the deputies reached out, shoved my wife in the chest and knocked her down. . . .

My wife bounced nimbly to her feet. I tripped and almost fell over her trying to help her up, and at that moment the deputies in the cordon surged forward and, using their clubs as battering rams, began to hammer at the bodies of the line of students. It was stunning to see. They swung hard into their chests and bellies. Particularly shocking to me — it must be a generational reaction — was that they assaulted both the young men and the young women with the same indiscriminate force. If the students turned away, they pounded their ribs. If they turned further away to escape, they hit them on their spines.


None of the police officers invited us to disperse or gave any warning. We couldn’t have dispersed if we’d wanted to because the crowd behind us was pushing forward to see what was going on. The descriptor for what I tried to do is “remonstrate.” I screamed at the deputy who had knocked down my wife, “You just knocked down my wife, for Christ’s sake!” A couple of students had pushed forward in the excitement and the deputies grabbed them, pulled them to the ground and cudgeled them, raising the clubs above their heads and swinging. The line surged. I got whacked hard in the ribs twice and once across the forearm. Some of the deputies used their truncheons as bars and seemed to be trying to use minimum force to get people to move. And then, suddenly, they stopped, on some signal, and reformed their line. Apparently a group of deputies had beaten their way to the Occupy tents and taken them down. They stood, again immobile, clubs held across their chests, eyes carefully meeting no one’s eyes, faces impassive. I imagined that their adrenaline was surging as much as mine.

My ribs didn’t hurt very badly until the next day and then it hurt to laugh, so I skipped the gym for a couple of mornings, and I was a little disappointed that the bruises weren’t slightly more dramatic. It argued either for a kind of restraint or a kind of low cunning in the training of the police. They had hit me hard enough so that I was sore for days, but not hard enough to leave much of a mark. I wasn’t so badly off. One of my colleagues, also a poet, Geoffrey O’Brien, had a broken rib. Another colleague, Celeste Langan, a Wordsworth scholar, got dragged across the grass by her hair when she presented herself for arrest.


-- Robert Haas,
UC poetry professor,
former poet laureate
of the United States

From a New York Times essay published Sunday


'Paternoville,' Penn State
September 2009



Some ad hoc tent encampments on public property are more equal than other ad hoc tent encampments on public property in these United States.

If you're, say, a student at the Pennsylvania State University and you're one of, say, 700 students and their tents crammed into a lot outside Beaver Stadium, and you're there because you want choice seats in the student section for this week's home game, that's a good thing.

That's a beloved tradition.

Media types will write whimsical stories about those wacky campers in State College braving the rain and the cold in a tent --
and doing it all week -- for the sake of college football. The school's football coach will drop by to pose for pictures with his worshiping flock. ESPN personalities will drop by to press the flesh. The 60-something university president will go slumming amid the teen and 20-something campers for kicks and giggles.

You'll get your own university website, a "mayor," a plaque and a write-up in the alumni magazine.

You are what America's all about.
You are Paternoville.


PERHAPS you just fancy Apple products. If the gadget's name starts with an "i," you have to have it. Now. Before anyone else does. So help you Jobs.

There's a way to achieve that. You camp out to stake your place in line. Scores of you camp out for the love of "i." Hundreds of you, even.

It's all good. Apple is happy to let you do it in exchange for your iMoney.

Media types will write whimsical stories about those wacky campers in
(fill in the blank) braving the rain and the cold in a tent or a lawn chair -- and doing it all week -- for the sake of the brand new iWhatever. The store's manager will drop by with coffee for his worshiping flock. Noted tech bloggers will drop by to press the flesh or -- hell -- join you in your campout. The 60-something mayor will go slumming amid the 20- and 30-something campers for kicks and giggles.

You are an American patriot. You are buying s***.


BUT IF YOU'RE a student at the University of California-Davis or Cal-Berkeley, and you're one of, say, 100 students and their tents crammed into the quad, and you're there because you're alarmed at how tuition is skyrocketing, how a college education is becoming more and more unattainable for those of modest means and how American society is becoming more and more unequal, you are a dangerous thug and an anarchist. Your tent encampment is a threat to public health, public safety and public access to public property.

That's an unacceptable situation.

Media types will write serious stories about brewing unrest. Pundits will warn of the sheer unsustainability of your unruly protest --
random tents and shelters mired there in the rain and the cold -- for the sake of an amorphous agenda you cannot articulate.

Riot police will drop by to beat the s*** out of the "criminals," fog the dirty hippies in the face with pepper spray and tear down the troublemakers' tents.
Fox News Channel personalities will make fun of the liberal wackos on the air. The 60-something mayor will denounce the "mob" of 20- and 30-something "occupiers" for political advantage.

You'll get thrown in jail, receive a court date, and your wrists will have nasty bruises from the handcuffs for quite some time.

You are what's wrong with America.
Get a g**damn job, you filthy commie freak.


* * *

PAY NO ATTENTION to that question behind the headlines and official concerns for public health and safety.

Ask not why you're no threat to public health and civic order if you squat on public property for superfluous reasons. Or why doing so in a peaceful political protest is a transgression requiring raids by riot police employing chemical agents, truncheons and excessive force.

Ask not what kind of a country celebrates the unserious as its riot police beat professors, pupils and poets driven to civil disobedience as a last resort for asking serious questions and demanding serious answers.

Ask not these things. Your betters have decided you don't need to know the answer.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bull Conner lives



Plus ça change . . .




. . . plus c'est la même chose . . .



. . . et plus c'est la même chose
.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: When stereo danced


I miss the days when stereo used to dance.

I miss the days when we would get excited over something as simple as "stereo" gettin' jiggy wit it. I miss the days when we didn't say "gettin' jiggy wit it."

I miss the days when we didn't take this stuff for granted. When dancing stereo was fresh, new and exciting.
Down Up. Down. Up. Down. Up.

STEREO!

This week's 3 Chords & the Truth is completely down with the jiggy stereo. Or is that sTeReO.

I miss the days of glorious analog and 29-cent gas -- the days when we were so easily amused. I miss the days when $3.98 could buy you, if not love, left and right channels of WOW!

I miss "WOW!" too. Wow and dancing stereo went hand in hand with our lost sense of wonder. When progress was a given, because we were Americans, by God!

Mostly, I miss the sense of wonder. If you get anything out of this week's edition of the Big Show, I hope it's an inkling of wonder. A smidgen of glory.

Actually, we have a whole set of "glory" this week on 3 Chords & the Truth. A whole set of cheatin', cryin' and drankin', too . . . call it "fair and balanced" DJing.

MAINLY, though, it's about the WOW! and the dancing "stereo" on old record albums pulled from the closet -- and from the warm glow of our memories of a time of wonder. Maybe it's not too late to recapture how that felt.

All you need is $3.98 and a time machine. Of course, just downloading this week's show would be easier . . . and cheaper.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Here's to the state of Mississippi


Some things never change . . . or change exceedingly slowly.

In other words, "Here's to the state of Mississippi!"

And a recent poll of the state of Mississippi by Public Policy Polling reveals that the song by the late Phil Ochs, released in 1965, still hits way too close to the mark:

-Earlier this year we found that only 40% of Republican voters in Mississippi thought inter racial marriage should be legal but we asked it again on this poll and found 52% support for it with GOP voters- still a surprisingly low number but progress. Overall 60% of voters in the state support inter racial marriage to 23% who think it should be illegal.

-We've been asking about secession in a series of states recently: only 10% of Mississippi voters would like to leave the union. That's a lower level of support than the 14% we've found on Texas and Hawaii polls lately for their states striking out on their own.

-And finally we found that in a hypothetical match up between Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, Lincoln would win out 55-28. That's largely because of Lincoln's overwhelming support from Democrats, 76-10. He only narrowly edges Davis with Republicans, 45-36, and the match up is actually a tie with independents at 44%. This question was a suggestion someone left on our blog.
MAYBE there was a reason the unofficial Confederate national anthem was "God Save the South." It just wasn't the reason folks had in mind at the time.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Because we hate that damn heretical reporting


Yes. Yes, I do.


That's good to know. I can use all the friends I can get.


Because that @#$%&*! Southern Baptist reporting is about
to drive me up the wall. And the ATHEIST reporting?
Poo yi yi, cher! It gon' give me some vapors, yeah!

And dem communiss lib'rul Catholic reporters! Dey
keep trying to put da bishop in jail for tryin' to hep'
dat nice priest who likes dem chirren porn too much.

What we need's a paper dat rips heretics
like them, not real Catholics like us.


I gon' do that, dahlin'! What's you telemaphone numbers,
baby? 1-800-MO-POPEY? Ooh, I can remembers that!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's next? The beer issue?


Despite having been one once, I find that college kids have come to annoy me.

For one thing, they keep reinventing the wheel, then wonder how humanity ever got along before their brilliance burst forth from the primordial muck. Take my old college newspaper, for example --
though you might wish to wear latex gloves when you do. Just in case.

Today's Daily Reveille at LSU is "The Sex Issue." Basically, this is just an excuse for the paper's male staffers to get their big heads and little heads on the same page . . . and get paid for it. Likewise, it's a way for female editors to think, talk and write about sex without some male-chauvinist hypocrite calling them sluts.

How's that for edgy, kids? And I didn't have to say "penis" once . . .
well, crap.

Mostly, though, the stunningly unoriginal sex issue just rehashes stuff most college kids already know, instead of seeking out stuff they don't.
Like today's news, for example. Whoever fancied himself worldly, and just a little naughty, after writing a kick-ass story on university budget cuts?

Nobody, that's who.



STILL . . . a sex issue? Really? That might have been edgy in 1975 -- or even 1981. But now? Yeah, what a news flash: "F***ing is fun. Everybody does it. But you might get the clap. Film at 11."

Let's see what's in this thing. Maybe there are some penetrating articles -- Get it? Penetrating? Wink wink, nudge nudge -- in there about the emotional toll of the hook-up culture, or how to successfully transition from "playa" to marriage and parenthood. Maybe there's something in there about being a married student . . . or navigating the college scene as a single parent.

Maybe it's even edgier than I thought, and there's an article in there about. . . . An article in there about -- Can you say this in the newspaper? On the Internets? What the hell, I'm going for it . . . an article on chastity.

There. I said it. I am so cutting f***in' edge. I da man.

ANYWAY, on to Page 2 of the Reveille's special report on poontang. There, one finds a roundup of famous sex scandals, but not even the best ones. How flaccid of them.

Moving right along:

* Page 3 -- Apparently, the university ranks in the top 50 in sexual health. "LSU is getting it up in the rankings," says the article's lede.

Wow. Just wow. "Getting it up" . . .
get it? Make sure you put that one in the clips you send to prospective employers, kid.

* Page 4 -- Did you know the social acceptance of sex toys is on the rise? And that some foods are aphrodisiacs?

Money quote: "My mom wouldn't let us eat kiwis because they make you horny."
Dadgum, I thought that was baloney what did that.

* Page 5 -- Sexy campus sports figures, with photos. In a shocking development, there are two female gymnasts in the pictorial. Also . . . people think differently about sex in other cultures -- whoa!

Money quote:
"I don't like this concept of dating here. Back home, we just have sex and see what happens from there." Yeah, she's from France.

* Page 6 -- Louisiana law bans sex offenders from social-networking websites. Interracial marriage is more common nowadays.

* Page 7 -- "The Daily Reveille's top 10 songs for getting it on." Also, there's a story about how the Centers for Disease Control recommends that males get the HPV vaccine. By the entertainment writer.

Maybe the male HPV shot is just in case you stumble across one of the top "getting it on" songs and then gotta do what you gotta do.

* Pages 8 and 9 -- The measure of a man. Yes, that concerns what you think it does. Also, the editor wants to "talk about sex, baby." And then . . . just see the picture at right.

Meanwhile, someone's contemplating the sexiest ways to die, and he cites real-life tales of death by diddling among the rich and famous. Or infamous, as the case may be. The phrase "boner pill" was written. It's one of the least distasteful things in the piece.
Eww.

Speaking of "boner pills," there's a cartoon about a dead man, with one woman, as she gazes upon the sheet-covered corpse, telling another "Your husband sure died a happy man!" And, by God, won't someone just mandate the HPV vaccine for everybody?

* Page 11 -- Did you know a college student can get free or cheap condoms around campus? No word on how to get free or cheap "boner pills." Damn.
AND THAT pretty much does it for the not-so-original, yet "stimulating" sex edition of my old college paper. I don't know why we didn't think of that 30 years ago.

Well, truth be told, we probably did. We also probably thought that we might have better things to cover than the obvious and better journalistic hills to die on than Mount Nookie.

There was one curious thing on the back page of the sex Reveille, though. KLSU, the campus FM station, took out a half-page ad for its Thanksgiving turducken giveaway. I would have though they'd go for the obvious sex-edition tie-in and give away a carton of cigarettes.

For when you're done reading. Or something.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

He didn't see that one coming


Noted trends forecaster Gerald Celente, a favorite of Russia Today and American conspiracy theorists, thought he was being prudent by investing in gold futures.

After getting waylaid by a trend called Jon Corzine and MF Global, Celente tells the RT anchorette exactly what he thinks the "MF" now stands for. I wonder what that is in Russian.

Hang on. . . .

мать ублюдок. Thanks, Google.



HERE'S a trends forecast that I think Celente might sign off on -- and, I think, already has. Occupy Wall Street is just the first wave, the rash bunch of weirdos, freakazoids, hippies, eccentrics, commies, anarchists . . . and a few normal people.

They're being dealt with by the state security forces -- something the Russia Today producers might know a little bit about.

But if and when the next big economic shock hits -- maybe a financial tsunami of sovereign defaults rolling across the Atlantic from the Eurozone -- people just might be back in the streets. And it won't be the hippies and freaks and weirdos and other unserious folk.

Goodnight America, wherever you've gone.

I don't understand. Not anymore.


The trouble with us Catholics is that we're willing to sell our souls to Eros' pervy cousin so we can keep buying the party line -- so we can keep believing in a God we kind of understand who speaks to us through weaselly little men we can't trust.

I realize it wasn't overly auspicious when Jesus picked a fly-off-the-handle dullard as the first pope, a guy who would go on to deny Him three times when the chips were down. Of course, I also realize that, with Peter, at least there was room for growth.

He turned out pretty OK in the end.


That more of Peter's successor popes and bishops haven't exhibited equal growth potential have contributed to an ongoing crisis of authority in the church. "Do as I say, not as I do" is a better ethos, I suppose, than "do what thou wilt," but it only takes one so far -- especially when one believes, as Catholics are taught, that salvation runs through the church.
13
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
14
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16
Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
17
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
18
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
19
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
OF COURSE, in 1517, it became a little hard to take when yet another crooked Borgia pope wielded the keys to the kingdom with a capitalistic flair including not only the sale of indulgences, but also the keys to the kingdom itself. It had to be rather like acceding to the belief that salvation ran through the Corleone family.

When the Reformation blew up in the church's face, things got so bad that Catholics actually had to clean up their own soiled sanctuary. It was too late, of course, but better late than never in the eyes of the God we kind of understand, one supposes.

In our own time, the God we kind of understand tells us that salvation runs not through the Corleone family (yay!) but instead through the National Man-Boy Love Association (crap!).

Of course, that's not what the God we kind of understand actually says through His district managers -- indeed, they will swear up and down that everything's on the up-and-up -- but we're well familiar with the whole "do as I say" deal. Besides, every day we have hammered into our weary brains the sights and sounds of the dirty deeds done by those weaselly little men we can't trust.

JUDGING by appearances, the God we kind of understand is fine with that. Well, at least the prosecutor in Clay County, Mo., must be. The Kansas City Star reports he just gave the weaselly little bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph a "get out of jail cheap" card:
Bishop Robert Finn today avoided facing a criminal misdemeanor indictment in his handling of a priest facing child pornography charges by agreeing to enter into a diversion program with the Clay County prosecutor.

Authorities have pledged not to prosecute Finn, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, if he lives up to the terms of a five-year diversion agreement.

Clay County Prosecutor Daniel L. White also said that a grand jury indicted the Rev. Shawn F. Ratigan on three counts of possessing child pornography. The new indictment supersedes a state criminal complaint that charged Ratigan on May 19. Ratigan, 46, also faces a 13-count federal indictment of possessing, producing and attempting to produce child pornography. He remains in federal custody.

The Clay County indictment alleges that Ratigan possessed three images of child pornography on a computer on May 13. White said each of those counts is a Class C felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.

Finn’s agreement with Clay County requires him to meet face-to-face each month with White for the next five years to discuss any allegations of child sex abuse levied against clergy or diocesan staff within the diocese’s Clay County facilities. Finn also is to describe what steps the diocese has taken to address the allegations. White would then decide whether to encourage police to investigate any allegations.

Finn also agreed to visit all Clay County parishes to outline new programs the diocese is implementing to protect children. In those meetings, Finn will be accompanied by the diocesan ombudsman and its newly appointed director of child and youth protection.

ON THE other hand, Finn's treatment at the hands of the Clay County prosecutor is far harsher than anything he faces from the long arm of the Lord. The one we understand, because He's been explained so thoroughly to us these days by weaselly little men.

No, so far as I know, what Finn faces from his Catholic Church superiors would be . . . nothing.

I hope I'm wrong, but somehow I doubt that.

That would be close to the extent of what I know about anything anymore -- particularly my church. I do know this: I am sick of being repeatedly sickened by the institution that's supposed to help me get to heaven.

I also know this: I no longer believe in the God we kind of understand. The God who reminds one, more than anything, of the Mighty Oz. Pay no attention to that pederast-protecting bishop behind the curtain.

What I want to believe in is the God we don't understand at all.

Flannery O'Connor once wrote that a god we understood would be less than ourselves. Minimalist bishops -- those whitewashed sepulchers who helped get us into this mess -- understand that one quite well. To hell with it, and them.

I want that other one. I want the God who flummoxes me, yet gives me life.

I want my church to want Him, too. And I want "shepherds" like Robert Finn to get the hell out of His way.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's all hell and agony at the Daily B-Word

Today, The New York Times gives us a delicious account of the latest bloodletting -- this one high-level -- at the off-off-Broadway production that is Newsweek / The Daily Beast, starring Tina Brown and a cast of . . . dozens?

If this were sometime back in the day, and if we had the luxury of this production being some sort of experimental cinema, surely there would be some small ad in the back of The Village Voice going something like
"YOU'LL LAUGH! YOU'LL CRY! TINA BROWN IS SOMETHING ELSE. -- Vincent Canby, The New York Times."

Of course, the unabridged, unedited version of what the famed film critic wrote would have gone more like:

"You'll laugh! You'll laugh at your foolish notion that this piece of drivel was worth $2.95 of your hard-earned money. You'll cry! That's because there are no refunds at the box office. But this can be said with confidence: Tina Brown is something else. You just don't want to know what it is."
FOR THIS production -- sadly a real-life one -- there will be no Vincent Canby review. He died in 2000, leaving the dirty work of recounting the awful fate of a once-proud weekly and its beleaguered staff to a new-generation Times scribe, Jeremy W. Peters:

Ms. Brown cast the moves, which coincided with a meeting of the Newsweek-Daily Beast board on Monday, as a restructuring. Mr. Miller will run the operational side of the newsroom while Ms. Rosenthal will help steer the news report. Ms. Brown also recently hired an outside consultant, Lisa Benenson, to help with the restructuring of the magazine.

“I see Newsweek constantly evolving and improving,” Ms. Brown said in an interview on Monday. Describing what effect she hoped the changes would have, she added, “I think it will make it much more nimble.”

Monday’s departures were just the latest moves for a company that has experienced substantial upheaval in the last year. As Newsweek was put up for sale by The Washington Post Company and bought by the audio magnate Sidney Harman, its senior editing team was replaced and its business management turned over. Then in April, Mr. Harman died after a bout with leukemia and his wife, former Representative Jane Harman of California, assumed her husband’s responsibilities on the board.

Staff members at Newsweek and The Daily Beast said the environment there had become difficult in recent weeks. People who work there, who did not want to publicly criticize their bosses, say morale in the newsroom has sunk as Ms. Brown has had more frequent outbursts in front of her employees. “It’s all hell, it’s agony,” she has been overheard telling staff members about the quality of their work, according to one of them.
NOW WE KNOW why the 99 percent drinks.

It's because the 1 percent is bat-s*** crazy . . . and in charge.

Flush with 'victory' in Iraq


I said, war, huh
Good God, y'all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing. . . .
-- Edwin Starr,
1970

Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote War for Motown in 1969, and it became a No. 1 smash in 1970 for the label's Edwin Starr.

Commercial and artistic success, however, is not the guarantor of absolute truth.

And as the United States' recent experience tells us, sometimes war is good for something. Sometimes you get a stainless-steel sh*tter out of the deal.

There's a certain logic to that, and in this Reuters report from the soon-to-be abandoned Camp Irony Victory Base.

The U.S. military is vacating Saddam Hussein's ornate palaces at its war headquarters in Baghdad and will turn the property over to Iraq next month, but Saddam's prison toilet is leaving with the Americans.

The stainless steel commode and a reinforced steel door have been removed from the cell where the dictator spent two years before his 2006 execution and is destined for a military police museum in the United States.

"We're not taking anything that the Iraqis had. We are only taking stuff that we put in, we utilized, and when we didn't need it any more, we took it home," Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Brooks, a U.S. military historian, said on a tour of the site on Monday.

The villa where American troops built a maximum-security jail for Saddam and his henchman Chemical Ali sits on a U.S. complex near Baghdad's airport known as Victory Base, which is scheduled to be handed over to Iraq's government in December as U.S. forces withdraw completely by year's end.

Surrounded by 42 km (27 miles) of blast walls and razor wire, Victory, the largest of the 505 bases the U.S. military once operated in Iraq, housed over 40,000 soldiers and up to 25,000 workers. Only 4,000 troops remain there.

I KEEP wondering how to sum this all up -- "this" being America's whole disaster of a new millennium. How can we distill, say, the Iraq experience into something concise enough to fit on a T-shirt?

I think I got something:

We came to Iraq,
got 4,483 troops killed
and 33,183 wounded,
spent a trillion bucks . . .
and all we got was this lousy toilet
THAT'S what I call a legacy.

Did I mention that, as it turns out, the MP museum at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., doesn't even want the crapper? Gee, I guess Whitfield and Strong were right after all. My apologies to them.