Friday, April 29, 2011

Before Mocking The Brits, America Should Consider Its Taste For The Palins, Trumps And Kardashians

Although the temptation to mock British vacuity (newly titled Baron Carrickfergus in carriage, left) is understandable today, Americans should exercise the caution they have ignored in elevating the Kardashians, the Trumps and the Palins to national points of fascination. Cue: The guest list for the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, a spirited race to the bottom of our culture.

For an event honoring award-winning journalists, ABC News ignored most of its newsgatherers and invited professional model Erin Andrews; People magazine responded by inviting semi-professional imbecile Bristol Palin (left in picture at right, celebrating her high school pregnancy with tequila), daughter of consummate professional imbecile Sarah Palin.

Bloomberg invited Brooke Burke, host of Andrews and Bristol Palin on "Dancing With The Stars." USA Today's table will feature estranged C-listers Courtney Cox and David Arquette (left); CNN's, celebrity trainwreck Paula Abdul; The Hill's, nondescript basketballer John Wall; The New Yorker's, B-list actors Jon Hamm and Zach Galifianakis.

The Fox News table will be inhabited by "family values" leader Newt Gingrich and prospective Mrs. Gingriches Kate Hudson, Bridget Moynahan, Alyssa Milano, Patricia Arquette (sister, not ex-wife, of David Arquette) and Amber Riley.

The Washington Post's guests will include Donald Trump (left in picture at right, apparently ignoring whose head should be shaved), serial shedder of creditors and trophy wives, which means a Palin and a Trump are among those to be addressed by President Obama at this year's national commemoration of journalistic achievement; no word yet concerning any of the Kardashians.

Infytune: Idiot's Delight, Bruce Springsteen and Joe Grushecky

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Perfect Accompaniment To A Royal Wedding

As Prince William and his long-time shack-up prepare to ride grandly -- on the backs of their countrymen -- into matrimony (least likely yet most needed gift: a moral compass), it is reported that the event will assemble the greatest concentration of monarchs and royalty within memory.

The perfect thing to bring to the wedding is therefore obvious. Something precisely fitting, and practical, with French flair suitable to the occasion: A guillotine.

Infytune: Street Fighting Man, The Rolling Stones

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Reading: Addition Edition

Guantanamo: (Cowards + bullies) x immorality = this + this.

History: Church + state = this.

Abortion: Dogma + politics = this.

Solanum lycopersicum: Nature + nurture = this.

Solar system: Nature + aperture = this.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Reading: Late Night Edition

Hot stuff: From radiatore to radiation, Wolke's the man.

The Sporting Life: Examining the not-so-modern circus.

Eyewitnesses: In a new light.

Storytelling: The next John McPhee?

Wall Street: Worthy of your interest.

Infytune: Holiday Song, The Pixies
Infytune: Here Comes Your Man, The Pixies

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Unsolicited Advice Series: Prospective Arrestees

When a police officer advises you -- consequent to your drunken and disorderly conduct at the premises of a business that has asked you to leave -- that you can leave the easy way or the hard way, avoid any response that contains the phrase, 'the hard way, brother.' (Unless you wish to display your impressive imperviousness to a Taser strike for a nationwide audience, at the cost of being beaten into submission with sticks.)

The next time you are being arrested for unseemly participation in a prominent display of inebriated boorishness at a public event, refrain from yelling 'I work for KDKA and I'm going to fry your asses.' (Unless you wish to depart employment in the broadcasting field for a position in the fry-cook industry.)

Infytune: You Shook Me All Night Long, AC/DC
Infytune: You Shook Me All Night Long, Celine Dion (see-it-to-believe-it version)
Infytune: You Shook Me All Night Long, Shania Twain (black leather and feathery windblown hair version)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Masters Tournament Is Enough To Make Us Root For Tiger Woods (Well, Just This Once)

It is roughly as easy to root for Tiger Woods these days as it is to take Ben Roethlisberger's wedding (or Ben's nod to religious values in explaining the chaste nature of his current relationship) seriously.

But American golf, still too much the game of inherited privilege (especially at the tournament level), has erred in making its crown jewel the Masters tournament, whose setting and record reeks of racism, sexism, corporate excess and other obnoxious forms of unearned elitism.

So we're finding ourselves pulling for Tiger Woods this afternoon.

UPDATE: A couple of objections to assertedly unfair treatment of the Masters prompted some research, which ended with an encounter with this statement from Masters co-founder (and Augusta National Chairman In Memoriam) Clifford Roberts: "As long as I'm alive, golfers will be white and caddies will be black." Roberts committed suicide two years after Lee Elder, who had achieved automatic eligibility for the Masters field by winning a PGA tournament, became the first black to compete in a Masters tournament. While Roberts was alive, no black competed in the Masters tournament by invitation.

UPPERDATE: Why rely exclusively on historical research when current events are so vivid that one need not be Einstein to get the message?

Infytune: Substitute, The Who (introduced by Eric Burdon)

Sunday Reading: Royal Wedding Edition

History: Repeating itself.

Commencement: Done right.

Policy: If the tax debate ever reaches the reasonable analysis stage, remember this.

Policy: Until superstition gives way to reason, there's this.

Current Events: Informed by history.

Infytune: Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues, Bob Dylan (lyric)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cong. Mike Doyle: A Sensible, Stand-Up Guy

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle's recent visit to Einstein's Desk indicates he is a stand-up guy invalidates reasonable concerns that sensible opponents of abortion were extinct.

After a staff member erred by describing Cong. Doyle (left; photograph by David DeAngelo) as a supporter of two irresponsible and inhumane anti-abortion bills that advance the creeping legislative rot among anti-abortion zealots, Cong. Doyle (1) acknowledged the mistake and (2) provided a lucid explanation for his opposition to H.Rs. 3 and 354. Both points indicate that Cong. Doyle not only is human but also is good at it.

Infytune: Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why Appeasing The Anti-Abortion Zealots Not Only Is Nutty And Wrong, But Would Never End

If, as reported, Republicans are conditioning federal appropriations on anti-abortion zealotry, it seems appropriate to consider the predictable trajectory of continuing to indulge the zealots.

The fight is not over abortion. Abortion is lawful. The fight is not over federal funding of abortion. The strident minority of Americans who believe most of their countrymen are cold-blooded murderers were appeased on that point long ago. The current fight is over a bill of attainder with respect to those who provide services to women who seek an abortion.

Anti-abortion advocates will never stop. Reasonable people differ on many issues concerning abortion, but the dead-enders believe they are on a mission from God (think: Jake and Elwood). If we were to permit attachment of a bill of attainder to Planned Parenthood, the anti-abortion movement, emboldened anew, could be expected to seek to attach similar financial collars to physicians who perform abortions (or refer patients for abortions, or discuss abortions, or think about abortions). Perhaps those physicians could be barred from participation in Medicare or Medicaid, or barred from using facilities that have received a single federal dollar.

After the crusade against physicians, the predictable step would be to step on women. Women who have chosen an abortion could be barred from federal employment. Women who have chosen an abortion could be declared ineligible to participate in federal programs involving student aid, small business loans or passports.

After that, it gets tougher to identify the proper moral path. Maybe the children of women who have had an abortion could be denied school lunches?

At some point, the recurring need to identify abortion offenders would generate a costly administrative nightmare. A solution: Tattooing a scarlet "A" on appropriate foreheads.

That, or we could just stop indulging the nuts.

Infytune: Every Sperm Is Sacred, Monty Python's Flying Circus

Thursday, April 7, 2011

PNC Park 10th Anniversary: Empty Storefronts, No Improvement In Payroll, Attendance Or Record (Or, As URA Would Put It: Home Run!)

The Pirates declared a sellout today, but there were substantial patches of empty seats. It wasn't a Pitt football situation (the only way the announced attendance could match number of filled seats would involve a substantial fraction of the fans wearing empty seat costumes). As the season deterioriates, many purchased seats will be empty. But who buys Opening Day tickets and doesn't use them?

The number of empty storefronts -- including the restaurant space directly across the street from the stadium -- within a block of PNC Park is striking. Memory suggests that several of the currently vacant restaurant spaces contained operating restaurants before PNC Park's arrival. The only reason to disband the Urban Redevelopment Authority tomorrow would be inability to get it done today.

From a baseball perspective, nine figures of public subsidy to build the ballyard has produced no increase in attendance, no increase in payroll, and no improvement in the Pirates' record. The only reason Tom Murphy, Kevin McClatchy or Bob Nutting should be admitted to the facility would be Dunk Tank Night (ideally, with frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads).

Today's Pirates crowd was an old crowd, including remarkably few children, even for a school day. Although the Pirates draw from a region whose demographics are older than those of most of Florida, and the Pirates defy anyone older than 14 or so to support the club, we sense more at work in generating such an elderly crowd. If it were possible to short baseball, we'd open a margin account.

Infytune: The Boys of Summer, Don Henley

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mayor Ravenstahl Gets Better

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has contributed a video to the "It Gets Better" project, designed to encourage children -- and bullies' victims in particular -- to persevere.

Well done, Mr. Mayor. Participation and execution.

Infytune: I'm One, Pete Townshend

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Installment Of Rich Lord's 'Cookie Jar Chronicles' Examines Montour School District

After today's installment of Rich Lord's continuing series concerning the confluence of influential political and elected officials, taxpayers' money, and familiar vendors (today's victims: Montour Area School District taxpayers), is there any doubt that:
(1) southwestern Pennsylvania offers enough material to support journalistic production of another installment each week, at least until the inevitable Rush Limbaugh-Newt Gingrich tandem marriage ceremony occurs,

(2) future episodes would feature vendors such as Burns & Scalo (short-term landlord to the stars), Ford Business Machines and a few politically active law firms in recurring roles, and

(3) Democratic Party officials who influence public hiring and contracts should negotiate a group discount on public relations advice, or at least mass-produce a cue card that reads: "Thank you for calling, Mr. [Lord] [Potter], but instead of saying stupid things that are vaguely self-incriminating, I refer you to the law firm of [Dodaro, Matta & Cambest] [Goehring Rutter & Boehm] for any comment."
Lest Republicans consider gloating, we remind them that journalists could tire of smacking around Democrats and revisit the List-Makers (or perhaps visit the North Allegheny or Upper St. Clair school districts).

Infytune: It's The Same Old Song, Four Tops

Sunday Reading: Unusual Edition

The Supreme Court: Cruel and unusual wins, 5-4.

Judge Manning's Courtroom: Unusually bad judgment.

The Struggle For Justice: Unusual strength, stilled.

The Executive Suite: Unusually intense hypocrisy and greed.

Afghanistan: Unusually persistent and widespread bloodstains.

(Soon-To-Be-Even-Further) North Catholic: Unusual funding source for a private school in Butler County.

Infytune: It's Not Unusual, Tom Jones

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Someone Should Have Told The New Sailor In Town That The S.S. Luke Docks Mainly At The South Side

You can tell a sailor is new in town when he wishes to see the mayor . . . and goes to the mayor's office during business hours.

Infytune: It's My Life, The Animals
Infytune: The Ballad Of Gilligan's Isle, The Eligibles

It Might Be Safer For Citizens If InsolvenCity Stopped Calling These Losers Firefighters

If any progress concerning InsolvenCity's pension disaster is to occur during the next few days, it will occur without help from Joe King. The leader of the firefighters' union has another Nobel Peace Prize nomination to polish.

Anyone know whether this particular firefighter has enough juice to get his charges adjudicated by renowned justice-dispenser Ronald Costa?

Infytune: Jailhouse Rock, Queen

Pirates Enjoy A Great Opening Day In Chicago

It was great to see the Pirates ride a Neil Walker grand slam to a come-from-behind Opening Day victory in Chicago yesterday.

From our perspective, disdain for the Pirates has never included animosity toward the players. To the contrary, the players have earned respect. Despite knowing they are part of the worst organization in major league baseball, despite understanding that they are outmanned every time they climb the steps onto the field, the players have hustled, tried to win and avoided clubhouse meltdowns.

It is not the players' fault that, in the aggregate, they lack the talent of other clubs. A number of Pirates players have been talented, but the circumstances in Pittsburgh placed those players in unfair situations, asking them to accept unrealistic roles. Fred Sanchez, for example, a fine hitter, was predictably inadequate when pressed into the third position in Pittsburgh's weak batting order, but became a productive part of a World Series-winning lineup in San Francisco.

For one cold afternoon in Chicago, players destined for on-field misfortune throughout this season were able to enjoy baseball and camaraderie, and to be winners. That's one fine day at the ballpark.

Infytune: For Once In My Life, Stevie Wonder

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pitt Law Attracts National Attention (The Hard Way)

We customarily would be reluctant to hit someone when they're down recovering from being run over by a lunacy-guided SUV (left; Pitt News photo by Luc Felak), but the recent demonstration that Pitt has abandoned its once-admirable efforts to educate local strivers of modest means (choosing instead the profitable path of catering to rich kids who couldn't swing Penn or Swarthmore) generates an exception: Enjoy the Above The Law blog's report concerning recent events at Pitt's law school.

(Thanks to a Pitt law student for the pointer, and for this observation: 'Two weeks ago, they told us we should go out and try to find work putting flyers on windshields. I guess now they're bringing the windshields to us.').

UPDATE: A reader mentioned an improbability associated with a Tribune-Review headline -- "Woman drives SUV into Pitt law library" -- this morning; because that headline is unchanged at the dinner hour, we note that the library reportedly occupies the upper reaches of the building, and that striking the building at the third floor would have constituted a Knievel-like achievement.

Infytune: Crawling From The Wreckage, Rockpile
Infytune: Crawling From The Wreckage, Dave Edmunds (better sound)
Infytune: 10 Law School Commandments, Talented Pitt Law Student

Roddey and GOP Chair Apparently Disagreed On Propriety Of Council Republicans' At-Large Selection

One prominent Grant Street Republican has expressed surprise concerning Allegheny County Republican Party chair Jim Roddey's public slash at county council's Republicans -- especially Vince Gastgeb -- concerning the selection of Ed Kress to succeed Chuck McCullough as the Republicans' short-term, at-large member of council.

Roddey (left and right, at left) berated Gastgeb (and Jan Rea and Matt Drozd, although not by name) for exhibiting favoritism while Kress is competing with Heather Heidelbaugh for the Republican nomination for the relevant council position. Roddey called the selection of Kress "a purely political move."

'I not only understand Jim's concern, I wholeheartedly agree with his position in the Trib,' the Republican source said. 'What I don't understand, and the reason I'm surprised, is that Jim was pushing for Heidelbaugh right up to the point at which Kress was announced as the pick.'

Infytune: Games People Play, The Spinners
Infytune: Rubberband Man, The Spinners