Thursday, May 31, 2012

The difference a half-century makes


This headline in 2012 would be fraught with possibilities of meaning.

Likely, you'd be looking for the words "contraceptives," "sexually transmitted diseases" and "risky behaviors" somewhere in the rest of the advertisement.


But this particular ad, from a June 1962 edition of
Broadcasting magazine, just wanted to make the point that young American women had pretty atrocious eating habits. The suggestion was that adults needed to encourage teen girls to eat a healthy diet, exercise . . . and drink their milk.

Whew!

The sponsor? The American Dairy Association.

Living in the past has its merits -- one of them being not contemplating our present.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When metaphor presents itself


When metaphor presents itself in the Gret Stet uh Loosiana, sometimes it takes a Brooklynite to line it up in the viewfinder and press the shutter release.

In other words, "Oh, frabjous joy! There's a new post on Colleen Kane's Abandoned Baton Rouge blog!"

In fact, Kane -- who more than a year ago moved back to New York after a couple of years in Baton Rouge -- made a special trip back for this post, a follow-up on the decrepit and abandoned Bellemont Motor Hotel, among the more prominent of my hometown's faded glories. You see, nature had slowly been reclaiming the Bellemont for years, but now humans have decided to give the mold, vines and trees a hand with a formal demolition.


THIS TIME, she actually got to go inside the ruins. As if shooting through the windows in previous years weren't depressing enough.

When, however, you can get a shot of a convention and visitors bureau brochure holder saying "Baton Rouge. The Flavour of Louisiana" amid the filth, the trash and the ruins . . . well, you gotta do what you gotta do. My homeland, unfortunately, is a lot better at tearing stuff up than it is at building stuff up.

All I wish is that Abandoned Baton Rouge could take the pictures of whole swaths of Baton Rouge that reside in my mind's eye and contrast them with pictures of those same areas today.

That's what I wish.

Caveat eBaytor


I've been spending time looking at cool old electronics on eBay rather than send myself into a depressive spiral thinking about -- and blogging about -- the state of the world today.

Obama or Romney.
Romney or Obama. If I had a handgun, the barrel probably would be in my mouth right now. Since that wouldn't be such a good thing, I've been looking at (and buying) cool old electronics on eBay instead.

Being, however, that any damn fool can buy or sell on eBay -- or anywhere else, I must add -- sooner or later, you're going to come across a bill of goods worthy of a Washington pol. Or even a Louisiana one.

At the top of this post, I present to you a "VITAGE- MID CENTURY AMBASSADOR TV & AM/FM TUNER. WORKS EXCELENT, RARE FIND ---5IN. TV SCREEN. SET IS PRE 60s."

(Sic), (sic), a thousand times (sic).


IF THAT TV is any older than the late 1970s, I'll eat a vacuum tube. Personally, I'm pretty sure it's no older than the 1980s.

If just looking at the thing isn't clue enough -- How many teeny-tiny television/alarm clock/ AM-FM radio combos running on "D" cells were there in, say, 1958? None, that's how many -- the very modern standardized label is a dead giveaway.

Word to the wise: U.S. addresses didn't include ZIP codes until 1963. Neither did labels of "PRE 60s" television sets.

Oh, by the way. . . .


$180.00????????
At 20 percent off???


$18 . . . maybe. If it works well.

Caveat emptor, y'all. Now more than ever.

Friday, May 25, 2012

3 Chords & the Truth: Sum-sum-summertime!


It's summer! Summertime is here.

And that's the overriding theme for this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth -- summer and the songs we sing about it.

This Memorial Day weekend being the unofficial start of the season is reason enough to celebrate those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, and that's exactly what we do on the Big Show this week.

Ah, those days of soda and pretzels and beer.


OF COURSE, "lazy" is the operative word here. Three paragraphs into this post, I start to rip off Nat King Cole.

OK. That's it.

You have an idea about this summery edition of the Big Show. It's summer. I'm lazy . . . and I'm going to go have a beer.

Call it good.

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Quote of the day

Getting back to Louisiana . . . did I mention that the whole state is corrupt? Fabulously so. It's the state that's given us, um, colorful politicians like Edwin Edwards and Rep. William "$90,000-in-the-freezer" Jefferson. There was massive malfeasance or ineptitude at the heart of both the Katrina disaster (botched evacuations, levees) and the more recent Deepwater Horizon spill from which the Gulf Coast is still struggling to recover. This is a state that has a higher concentration of chemical and oil plants than anywhere in the world, and a state government that does a poor job regulating it. Even their pro football team turned out to be corrupt, for God's sake.

Why would they possibly need journalists?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Men in suits do what Katrina couldn't


You'll likely never notice the moment you were saved from the abyss -- or were cast into it.

For a couple of cities and their daily newspapers, that moment came in 1962. And a half century later, the
Omaha World-Herald is still standing, still locally owned and the flagship of a chain of dailies and weeklies across Nebraska and -- now -- across the country.

The other newspaper,
The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, has not been so fortunate. In 1962, what had been locally owned since its founding in 1837 (cover price, one picayune) became part of Newhouse Newspapers, a division of S.I. Newhouse's Advance Publications. And now the New York-based corporation has decided New Orleans doesn't need a daily newspaper anymore. Or the Alabama cities of Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile, either.

Instead, the
Picayune, for one, will publish only three times a week -- Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Speculation is that at least 50 people in the newsroom will lose their jobs. That's what it means when spin like this comes down from on high:

Amoss acknowledged that for those who rely upon the newspaper as an integral part of their lives, the transition to three days a week would be difficult. But as emphasis in coverage moved online, he vowed that the essential journalism of The Times-Picayune would endure.

"We will continue our 175-year commitment to covering the communities we serve," Amoss said. "We will deliver our journalism in print, through NOLA.com and on our mobile platforms 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we invite our readers to become a part of the conversation."

Mathews said details of the new digitally focused company are still being worked out, but the transition will be difficult. While many employees will have the opportunity to grow with the new organization, Mathews said, the need to
reallocate resources to accelerate the digital growth of NOLA Media Group will result in a reduction in the size of the workforce.
"ESSENTIAL journalism" does not endure when you fire dozens of the people who produce it. And you cannot "reallocate resources" that you have just discarded like yesterday's newspaper.

"Yesterday's newspaper." That pretty much describes
The Times-Picayune now.

Instead, what New Orleans will get come autumn is less news on a crappy website. What the city will receive three times a week in print is less news reported by fewer local journalists.

Corporate may or may not try to put a little lipstick on that particular pig, but if Advance follows the path it trailblazed in Ann Arbor, Mich., it will end up just cutting the pretense and butchering the pig. Like Ann Arbor, that would leave New Orleans as a no-newspaper town.

With a crappy website.


I WAS born in south Louisiana, grew up there, too -- in Baton Rouge. I grew up reading the State-Times and later worked there for a while.

But when I was in junior high and high school, most days I would hop on my bicycle (or into my old man's '67 Mercury) in the evening, go down to Villa Oaks grocery store and pick up an afternoon
State-Times . . . and a New Orleans States-Item . . . and the old gray lady of the bayou morning, The Times-Picayune. From them, I learned about the world.

And from them, I learned what little I know about writing. It was an ink-stained apprenticeship of a fashion.

I had been married for the better part of a decade and had lived in Omaha for three years already when the
State-Times died 21 years ago, and it broke my heart. I had always considered it the better (and livelier) of Baton Rouge's newspapers -- for whatever that is worth -- and I know the city is diminished by the loss of its voice, and by the loss of the internecine journalistic free-for-all with its sister publication, the Morning Advocate . . . now just The Advocate.

As I contemplate a struggling, rebuilding New Orleans without the Picayune -- having only a crappy website and whatever the hell the "print edition" is going to be -- I find myself thinking there but for the grace of Peter Kiewit goes Omaha. That's Peter Kiewit's picture above.

In October 1962, as America endured the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban Missile Crisis, newspaper titan S.I. Newhouse offered $40.1 million for the World Publishing Co., then-owner of the Omaha World-Herald. The board of directors liked the money, and the deal was almost done.

Kiewit, president of Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc., the family construction business, didn't like anything about what he had read in the
Wall Street Journal. The World-Herald deal, as opposed to the Cuba thing.
During an Oct. 12, 1962, layover at the Denver airport, Kiewit learned from a story in the Wall Street Journal that his hometown newspaper was about to be sold to New York publisher Samuel I. Newhouse.

World-Herald directors were willing to sell the paper to prevent the stock, largely held by heirs of founder Gilbert Hitchcock, from being diffused.

Four days later, Kiewit called a friend, banker W. Dale Clark, who also was chairman of the newspaper board, and asked to see the newspaper's balance sheet. Clark told Kiewit that the board had a buyer and was satisfied with the offer.

The newspaper's directors weren't interested in other offers, Clark told Kiewit, who later said he realized Clark felt a moral obligation to Newhouse.

But Kiewit persevered. Unknown to him at the time, Kiewit had a strong ally in his wish to keep The World-Herald in local hands. Martha Hitchcock, widow of founder Gilbert Hitchcock, felt strongly that ownership should remain in Omaha.

Kiewit spent nine days gathering the financial information he wanted. He was impressed with what he found.

Kiewit called Clark again on Oct. 26, saying he had the necessary information.

"Fine," Kiewit later quoted Clark as saying. "You had better come down and see me.''

Two days later, Kiewit and company colleague Homer Scott met World-Herald directors in an all-day Sunday meeting.

Monday night, Kiewit worked out an offer of $40.4 million. Newhouse's bid was $40.1 million.

Tuesday morning, Kiewit was the owner.
HAD KIEWIT hated the idea of his hometown paper being run from a New York office any less, the name of the World-Herald's anniversary website -- 125 Years and Counting -- might sound rather mordantly ironic about now.

Kiewit, who died in 1979, understood what few in business or the public understand today: Newspapers are not just another business. Newspapers are in the business of earning more dollars and cents than they spend, yes . . . but they also are in the business of community. And the business of democracy. And the business of education. And the business of accountability.

When a newspaper -- whether it appears in printed form every day or not -- is diminished, as Advance Publications proposes to diminish the Times-Picayune and its other Southern papers, it's never just the newspaper's light that grows dimmer. There will be vitally important stories in New Orleans that won't get told now.

There will be vital information that New Orleanians won't get, and good decisions won't be made because of that. Corruption will become even easier in the Crescent City, because there will be dozens fewer journalists keeping vigil over the public's funny business.

And a city that loves its traditions will be at a loss over the radical wreckovation of a big one in town.

I guess New Orleans just hasn't suffered enough, what with all the crime, killing, poverty, ignorance, corruption . . . and Katrina.

FINALLY, let's not even get into the foolhardiness of Advance putting all the Picayune's eggs -- this in the age of foundering Facebook IPOs and a soft online-advertising market -- in a highly uncertain digital basket.

Obviously, there are good ways to make money in the digital universe. There are ways for newspapers to profit online. I just don't trust the Picayune's corporate masters to look for them . . . or to look much beyond the shaky Internet-advertising model.

What could go wrong?

In New Orleans? Pretty much everything. And today, as a newspaper's employees and its city stare into the abyss, it's becoming clear who gets to pay S.I. Newhouse's bill from May 1962 that just came due.

Here in Omaha, I think it would be appropriate if the employees of the Omaha World-Herald -- and the citizens of the city it calls home -- spring for a giant spray of flowers for Peter Kiewit's grave, God bless him.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Don't trust any entrepreneur under 30


It all started when Wall Street created an "unlike" button for Facebook. And it may not end well.

At all.

Damn you, Mark Zuckerberg.
Punk.

However, the valuation of Facebook may be moot. Because tech finance expert, Michael Wolff, presents a different doomsday scenario about Faceook in the MIT Technology Review - one where Facebook literally brings down the internet advertising model.

It all starts with the incredible growth necessary to keep Facebook stock price up, just as Aswath Damodoran assumes it must.

Woolf says that this will destabilize the ad market online, with negative results. He suggests . . .

“In its Herculean efforts to maintain its overall growth, Facebook will continue to lower its per-user revenues, which, given its vast inventory, will force the rest of the ad-driven Web to lower its costs. The low-level panic the owners of every mass-traffic website feel about the ever-downward movement of the cost of a thousand ad impressions (or CPM) is turning to dread, as some big sites observed as much as a 25 percent decrease in the last quarter, following Facebook’s own attempt to book more revenue.

You see where this is going. As Facebook gluts an already glutted market, the fallacy of the Web as a profitable ad medium can no longer be overlooked. The crash will come. And Facebook—that putative transformer of worlds, which is, in reality, only an ad-driven site—will fall with everybody else.”

Miracles of technology


It's 1972, and through the miracle of modern technology, you can play tennis . . . on your television set!

Will wonders never cease in Space Age America? Surely, the world of Star Trek cannot be far away.

Someday soon, I'll bet we'll even have "communicators" and computers you can talk to!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Heavy metal


Don't bother me.

It sounds like my childhood in here.

It sounds like heavy metal.

Now, by heavy metal, I do not mean Megadeth. I'm talking a sheet-metal chassis filled with vacuum tubes and wires that connect them to resistors and capacitors and all manner of normal-size things that won't fit on a computer chip.



I'm talking an honest-to-God tube-type, hi-fi tuner . . . circa 1960, when FM was mono, not stereo, but you could buy this little box,
see? And when stereo did come to town, this "multiplexer"
(below) would set you up.


HI. I'm the Mighty Favog, and I'm a geekaholic. Hi, Favog!

Right now, I'm listening to the new/old Voice of Music tuner. No one will mistake it for state of the art. But the sound it produces could be mistaken for a certain Magnavox console, circa 1962. The one that lived in my childhood home.

It sounds quirky, but really warm. It also gets warm, thanks to the vacuum tubes, which fill the studio with a nostalgic aroma.

The old VM also is unforgiving. It hates rock stations that turn the processing up to 11. It really hates them. I can almost hear it saying,
"Back in my day. . . ."


BACK IN
its day, FM was for "good music." And like a good tuner of its time, the VM loves classical and jazz, enveloping the orchestration in an affectionate hug, then playfully tousling the music's long hair.

Which is a pun you might "get" if you're as old as I . . . and my Voice of Music tuner.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thou shalt not take Obama's name in vain


I had a couple of teachers this stupid, ignorant and hostile when I was in school.

And I can't get the IQ points back that those fools cost me.

Some school systems tolerate this kind of willful incompetence and bullying. Those would be bad school systems, best avoided.

The problems with this moronic gasbag of a social-studies teacher at North Rowan High School in North Carolina -- as evidenced by the video -- begin long before she suggests the government of the United States
hass veys of dealink vith doss vhat "slander" der Gott-Kaiser Barack Obama. That the woman still is employed (suspended with pay) by the Rowan Salisbury School System more than a week after her "discussion period" is all one needs to know about the Rowan Salisbury School System.

This "teacher" doesn't need firing so much as she needs defenestrating.

No, I didn't learn that word from those crappy teachers I had, just like I suspect no kid in the the presidential-respect commissar's class learned a damn thing about social studies this year.

Monsters.com


I have pretty much drifted through my adult life, doing a little of this and some of that, but still not knowing my true vocation.

No more. Praise the Lord, I saw the light.

I
now know what I was meant to do in life, and I owe this big change in my aimless existence to a couple of big, big dogs by the names of Sadie Sue and Boo Radley.

We have been foster pet-parenting the old girl and her big little brother for the past couple of months while their real parents' house has been torn asunder and put back together in a radically different order. I think the technical term for this is "remodeling," and the aim of this major surgery -- involving sledgehammers, flooring, cabinetry, lots and lots of drywall, lots and lots of tile, lots and lots of construction workers, stainless-steel appliances and a stained-steel I-beam that now holds up the second story -- has been to create the "Kitchen of the Future."

Which, after all this time, labor and -- yes -- money is starting to look a lot like the woo-doo Kitchen of Today.

ANYWAY, I have been reliably informed that big, big dogs and construction workers coming and going is not an optimal combination. So we got the dogs instead of the cool new kitchen.

I know, Molly the (little, little) Dog. It sucks to be you. You will be rewarded with limitless dog treats as you await Mama and me at the Rainbow Bridge when your time on earth is done.

Soooooooo . . . back to my true vocation. These slobbery and hairy weeks at La Casa Favog, as it turns out, have been a time of self-discovery for yours truly. At age 51, to my great surprise, I seem to have an innate talent heretofore unknown to me.

I am a great hair sweeper-upper. An artiste with a broom, as it turns out.

And I just wanted to share this with you. See the top picture? Some of my handiwork from this afternoon. I do this every day, three times a day -- take hairy floors in the living room and kitchen and sweep them clean, creating neat little mountains of fur and then dispatching them out the back door.


I'LL BET
the rabbits and squirrels are scared spitless at the overwhelming scent of danger that now wafts over their previously unremarkable universe.
Tee hee. Just a little devilish lagniappe that comes with my new career, which I discovered on Monsters.com.

After 5½ years of college and decades of drifting between this dead end and that, I now know I can step right into a fulfilling life as a minimum-wage barber-shop floor sweeper.

It's not everybody who, thanks to a couple of monster dogs and a yappy one, stumbles into a perfect career for the new economy. I am a lucky man.

1968: The psychedelic Bee Gees


From 1968 and West German television . . . the Bee Gees no one remembers today -- the psychedelic brothers Gibb.

Here now is the title track from their "Idea" LP.
Enjoy.

Robin Gibb, 1949-2012


The thing about the Bee Gees was this: Even if you were young and opinionated in the late 1970s -- a foot soldier in the "Disco Sucks" army, even -- you had to acknowledge just how damned good the brothers were.

Because you remembered this song, among others the brothers Gibb -- Robin, Barry and Maurice -- had recorded. You had loved those pop-music classics first heard through a little earphone and eight transistors, classics that lived in the grooves of the soundtrack album of your life. Soon enough, you would realize that the brothers' disco-era incarnation was part of that soundtrack, too.

And you were OK with that. Quality endures, even though the earthly body does not. Not Maurice's. And now, not Robin's.

May he rest in peace, along with all the stilled voices of my youth.

Friday, May 18, 2012

3 Chords & the Truth: It's minty fresh!



Your mileage may vary, but do you want to know what I think the neatest thing about radio is?

It's when it does something completely unexpected. When it takes well-known things and does something totally off the wall with them.

Good luck finding that on the AM or FM dial today.

That's why 3 Chords & the Truth is here. The Big Show exists to take music, mix it, match it, mess with it and see what happens.

What happens is usually pretty good, if I -- your Mighty Favog and host of the whole thing -- do say so myself.

See, it's kind of like mint. Most everybody likes mint, and around here it will take over your back yard if you let it . . . which I am prone to do, being that I really like fresh mint.


I LIKE TO steep some in a pot of English breakfast tea. I like to throw a couple of sprigs in the bottom of a pot of coffee for a minty brew.

But did you ever eat the stuff as greens? It's mighty good on a sandwich. Adds a lot of zip and zest to something pretty ordinary -- try it sometime.

3 Chords & the Truth is the musical, Internet version of piling mint on your salami sandwich. Most people probably wouldn't have thought to do that, but it's pretty damned good once you do. And if you ask me, this week's program is a standout example of that.

Once upon a time, American radio was all about putting mint on your sandwich . . . or in your salad. Certainly about steeping some in your pot of tea.

Today, radio is just about dead, and it's places like this -- the Big Show on your podcasting dial -- that are taking ordinary things and aiming for the unusual . . . and extraordinary.

I don't mean to particularly blow my own horn, though. It is what it is; we do what we do. It's just a necessity, given Corporate America's pillaging of an industry and a culture. And it's kind of exciting, actually. I hope you would agree.

NOW IF you will excuse me, I need to eat my sandwich. It's piled high with hard salami and . . . backyard mint.

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

Grace crashes high-school reunion

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


We live in a world that doesn't easily grasp the concept of divine grace.

Likewise, we live in a world that doesn't believe it is fallen -- as in, "No, I'm not OK, and you're not OK, either." We think we're nice people, and that's all that counts.

I'm here to tell you that I'm a pretty big rat bastard and that you may be, too. Or that, at some point, you likely were.

A bunch of teen-age rat bastards circa 1987 just received grace, which led to insight, which led to repentance, which led to more grace . . . which may lead to healing for a woman who was horribly bullied in her California high school and for those who bullied her all those years ago.

God often shows up when and where you least expect Him. That's the reality of this MSNBC story . . . and that's the deeper reality that American mainstream journalism is constitutionally incapable of reporting.

A woman says a Facebook poem she posted about bullying has brought pleas for forgiveness from former classmates who tormented her at a California high school 25 years ago.

Now, some of those classmates want to make amends and have asked Lynda Frederick, 42, of Rochester, N.Y., to attend her 25th high school reunion in Escondido, Calif., on July 27, compliments of the Orange Glen High School Class of 1987.

“I am nervous,” Frederick told msnbc.com on Friday. “I am looking forward to seeing them, even knowing that what has happened has happened. I have forgiven those who have hurt me in the past.”

Frederick said she received phone calls, emails and Facebook messages from former classmates after she posted a poem on the Orange Glen High School Class of 1987 Facebook page.

In her poem, she wrote:
that little girl who came to school with the clothes she wore the day before
instead of asking why.. you picked on her
the little girl who had to walk to school while others rode the bus
instead of asking why.. you picked on her
the little girl who had bruises and was dirty
instead of asking why.. you picked on her
the little girl who was always crying
instead of asking why.. you picked on her
“They’re all apologizing now for how I was treated,” Frederick said. “I had one man call me up and we talked for an hour on the phone. He cried and cried. I kept saying, ‘You can’t fix yesterday, so let’s fix today.’”
GRACE. It's what's for sinners.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pulitzer subito!


At the funeral of Pope John Paul II, from the sea of the faithful in St. Peter's Square, banners and chants arose, all demanding a single thing -- "Santo subito!"

"Sainthood now!"

After seeing the above bit of radical truth-telling in the Rayne (La.) Independent -- even if it was by accident, a bit of exasperated prose, "dummy type" that got left in when it shouldn't have -- I got to thinking what a wonderful thing it would be if Americans could descend en masse on Columbia University to demand "Pulitzer subito!" Because this right here, folks, would be my candidate for the first Pulitzer Prize by public acclamation.

Even if it was a glorious "mistake," much like the most famous of the genre, when The Boston Globe's backshop accidentally left the joke headline "Mush From the Wimp" on an editorial about one of Jimmy Carter's speeches on the economy.

After all, in lying times like these, I'll take a little unvarnished truth any way I can get it.

HAT TIP: Romenesko.



UPDATE: You don't get Pulitzers for great journalism anymore (no matter how unintentional). You don't get them anymore for telling the truth, either -- though some have gotten them for fabricating stories out of whole cloth.

No, that's not how it works. Instead, you get fired.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Payback by the bottle


You know how it's said that all of life is high school? Here in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, even the elections are high school.

Republican congressman Lee Terry and Democratic challenger John Ewing were schoolmates at Omaha's Northwest High. Ewing was a football standout, while Terry played another role for the Huskies.

A
ccording to Ewing, our nerdy member of Congress was "the water boy." Terry prefers the term "equipment manager," says the Omaha World-Herald:
The two high school friends were a grade apart. Ewing started taking digs at Terry a few months ago when he referred to the incumbent congressman as the football team's “water boy,” while Ewing was starting at tight end and defensive end.

Terry on Tuesday acknowledged he had been the school's “equipment manager” and said the race between the two would be, in his words, "interesting."
I'LL BET it will be. Whatever the case, it's pretty obvious that Mr. Touchdown never saw Revenge of the Nerds.

By November, though, I'm pretty sure the county treasurer who wants to be a Big Man of Congress will be feeling the "liquid heat"

House of hi-fi


You may be a geek if you get really excited over winning this in an eBay auction.

I am a geek, because the 1960 Voice of Music tuner (with an add-on FM multiplex adapter for that newfangled "stereo" thing) is mine. Mine! Mine! Mine! Because a radio isn't a real radio without vacuum tubes and Conelrad markers at 640 and 1240 on the AM dial.

There's only one purchase that could make me happier.


This.

But an opening bid of a little short of $1,000 is a lot more than a final purchase price of a little over $70. Champagne taste, etc., and so forth.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Go to L. ('S' and 'U' are getting pink slips)


Louisiana's governor, Huey P. Jindal, believes in robbing Peter's budget to tide Paul over until the magical thinking pays off.

Louisiana's House of Representatives believes in a meat-ax.

Louisiana's college administrators believe they're about to get screwed. Yet again. Really badly.

Etymologists, after considering the Gret Stet, believe they really need a more descriptive word than "clusterf****" to put in their Funk & Wagnalls.


The
Advocate's capitol-beat writers probably believe in a couple of pops before sitting down at the laptop to depress themselves and others:

LSU System Vice President Fred Cerise told the committee that additional cuts to the state’s public hospitals would result in reductions to the programs that train doctors and other health-care professionals.

He said an emergency room training program already is facing possible accreditation problems.

“We’re going to get back a list of things that’s going to be quite dramatic,” Cerise said.

The state’s public universities could lose more than $225 million in state funds next year. Those budget cuts would be on top of the $360 million hit higher education has taken since the decline in revenues to state government began four years ago.

“We will be on the brink of cataclysm,” said Interim LSU System President William Jenkins.

If the cuts stick, LSU will be in line to lose nearly $98 million in state funding next year including a $42 million loss for the main campus in Baton Rouge, according to numbers released by the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Jenkins estimated the LSU system would also have to furlough or lay off more than 1,300 employees.

The Southern System could see two more of its campuses declare exigency next year if changes aren’t made to the HB1, said Kevin Appleton, the system’s vice president of finance and business.

The $42 million in cuts the state’s community and technical colleges are facing — $3 million at Baton Rouge Community College — means the difference between putting medical equipment in their nursing classrooms or not, Louisiana Community and Technical College System President Joe May said.
I BELIEVE that Louisiana should put up state-line road signs that warn "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When the captain heads for the lifeboats. . . .


When the ship's taking on water from 100 million leaks and the captain heads for the lifeboats, one can assume the next port of call will be Davy Jones' Locker.

And when that captain is Chancellor Mike Martin of the good ship Louisiana State University -- and when the governor and any number of legislators are packing icebergs and aren't afraid to use them -- optimism probably is no longer appropriate. Especially when the lifeboat Capt. Martin's about to jump into is bound for the SS Colorado State -- a lateral move at best.

Of course, it could be that Martin figures his political detractors are about to pull the plug on his tenure, and he wants to quit before he gets fired -- still not a good omen for a university that's suffered 100 million one-dollar leaks and is beset by politicians ready to poke a few more holes in the hull.


ACCORDING to The Advocate, which has been chronicling the shipwreck for some time now:

Informal talks between the two parties started in December, before getting more serious in early January when Martin said he made his first of three trips to Fort Collins, Co. [sic]

Martin said he has had only preliminary talks with CSU about the direction of the system and his compensation.

“Up until now, it’s largely been them examining me. Now I can begin to talk more deeply with them,” Martin said. “I’m going to compare the adventure I could have with them with the adventure I’m having right now at LSU.”

Martin’s time at LSU has been marked by nearly $100 million in state budget cuts. He previously said ongoing state budget cuts to LSU and all of higher education over the last three years have played a factor in his possible departure from Baton Rouge.

Martin, 65, said while his original plan was to retire when his LSU contract expires in 2013, he feels as if he as more to offer.

“The last four years I thought I’d hang it up, but I don’t feel that way anymore. There’s still some more tread on the tires.”
GOOD for Martin. I'm glad he still has tread left on the ol' four-plies.

Those about to slip under the whitecaps on Louisiana's sinking flagship university, I'm sure, would be damned happy to have even an inner tube to hang onto right now.

This is the point where one would say something about how Louisianians, and their so-called government, should be ashamed of themselves and their screwed-up priorities. One would if one thought Louisiana susceptible to shame.

It isn't.

It'll be sad when that great ship goes down.

Ach! Der tinks vee can do vitt Facebook


There are lots of conversations you could have about the whole "gay marriage" debate.

There are substantive discussions you could have pitting the secular, civil-libertarian arguments for men marrying men and women marrying women against the sociological, historical and religious reasons against such.

There is a discussion to be had about the constitutional ramifications of enshrining a vision of marriage that no one had until . . . well, the last couple of decades.

There is a lively debate to be had about upsetting something as foundational to civilization as the traditional understanding and purpose of marriage in, historically, the blink of an eye. And you could even kick around the entire "Hey, y'all! Watch THIS!" ambiance of the whole gay-marriage movement and how it has swept the globe.

WE COULD even get into how heterosexuals gravely wounded the institution with no-fault divorce, serial matrimony and the shack-up culture of the sexual revolution. We could have those discussions. Instead, this being America, which kind of looks like Weimar Germany, we can just smear our political opponents with all kinds of agitprop not dissimilar to what You Know Who deployed to great effect.

Because we all know the only reason to oppose gay marriage is bigotry or rank redneck stupidity. And if you know what's good for you, Cletus, you ignorant, hater hillbilly, you'll shut your f***ing bigoted mouth and get with the program.

Becauss vee haff veys, ja?

Right now, those "veys" are limited to being branded with a scarlet "H" -- for "hater." That and being mocked as stupid and backward.

I wonder what the rhetorical heirs of Joseph Goebbels have cooked up for Phase 2.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Excuse me while I puke


This was on Jezebel's page on Facebook.

I am happy to report that I don't read Jezebel, and happier to report that neither does my wife.
But the missus is
Facebook friends with someone who does read Jezebel and thought this hathotic bit of bad-art-meets-Obamadolatry was da bomb.

Frankly, a bomb is the only thing that could improve this.


Yes, as you might guess, the editors of
Jezebel are happy President Obama came out of the closet in favor of an oxymoron, that being "gay marriage." They chose to express their pride in our god-king's change of heart in an amazingly (but predictably) lame and stupid manner.

I mean, really. Riding a unicorn? This looks like something out of a bad Chinese children's book.

FOR THE RECORD, I don't care what gays do or with whom they shack up. I am not the morals squad. I would not be opposed, generally, to gays entering into "civil unions." I would support the state getting completely out of the marriage business, and leaving the civil benefits of domestic partnership to a state-sanctioned civil union and the eternal benefits of marriage to the church, with the state keeping its bleeping nose utterly and completely out of it.

I don't hate gays, and some are my friends, but I have neither the ability nor the inclination to rewrite a couple of millennia of historic Christianity, a millennia and change of historic Islam, a few more of historic Judaism, and an untold swath of civilizational taboo just to offer 5 percent of the population who bear a heavy cross cheap --
and ineffective -- grace.

I guess that's why I'm not in politics.

Unlike Barack Obama, who apparently thinks -- like too many modern American presidents -- that savior of the world is an elective office. What's more disturbing is that many Americans think so, too -- and to varying degrees always have. (See artwork above.)

Or that Jesus is on the White House staff. (See artwork below.)


I THINK I just threw up in my mouth . . .
a lot. I doubt that Jesus is amused, either.

Oy veh.

As dead as the American Dream


If you're from Omaha or hereabouts, remember this?

I found the little orange promotional sticker some years back on a still-sealed Three Dog Night LP at a local antique store.

KOIL once was everywhere in Omaha. It was the Top-40 powerhouse of this stretch of the Midwest.

It was the Mighty 1290.

But that was when a working man could support a family, marriage meant a little more than it does today, Americans had recently been to the moon, our longest war was Vietnam, and we talked about the American Dream sans a weary, cynical smirk.

Time marches on; old things fall away. New things take their place. Not all of them are better . . . or any g**damn good at all.

Today, KOIL is the overlooked 1180, not the Mighty 1290. Today, the automation server switches between this and that syndicated talk-radio program. Today, KOIL are four letters about which no one really gives a s***.

Today, its glories are all past, and its future isn't anything to waste time thinking about.

Yeah, I'm listening to Bruce Springsteen's latest album right now. At least The Boss is still singing our song, though a sad one it is.


Maybe someday we'll have enough of crying, and. . . .

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Snooki in 2033


If you swing by the Pep Boys on Baldwin in Freeport, N.Y., the bikini-clad lady in the hot dog truck will show you her weenies, and that's OK.

But the long arm of the law on Long Island has a big problem if you return the favor to 45-year-old Catherine Scalia . . . and thus she ended up pleading guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor prostitution, which she instead insisted was merely indecent exposure.

Nude conduct, as it were.

Thus we have the remarkable case in which
Lana Lee -- not Ignatius J. Reilly -- ends up hawking Lucky Dogs, but gets into trouble when one transaction ends up being for a Night of Joy. But the saddest thing about the whole thing is not having Burma Jones there to narrate.

Now where's my soiled bedsheet? We need a good banner. How about this?
"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their weenies!"

I shall dub this movement the Crusade for Frankish Dignity.
Hot-dog lovers of Long Island! Listen to the voice of the oppressed:

“I’m a mother of four kids and, yes, I show my cleavage," Scalia said. "I think it’s sexy. If Pamela Anderson can do it, so can I.”