Thursday, October 7


• Credit Where Credit Is Due: Bob Somerby, all this week, on education. There is sense being made in our educational "debate"; it's just not being made in our politics, or our newspapers, or on our teevees. And we repeat: Somerby has a blog. Kathleen Parker has a Pulitzer and a teevee show.

The only thing I can add is this: it's our debate on Education, supposedly driven by Our Utter Failure, and the goddam thing is stupid on the face of it. Say it again: if people really were this stupid we'd have hundreds of deaths from shaving accidents every morning, and half again as many babies dried off in microwaves. Not to mention that all these people would've died broke, because they gave all their money to the Sham-Wow! guy and the first company to break the Hundred Blades on a Razor barrier, once thought impossible.

• Partial Credit Where Partial Credit Is Due: Mitch Daniels fires David Lott Hardy, Esquire, his chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, in the aftermath of the revelation that Scott Storms, the Commission's erstwhile general council and chief administrative judge, was taking to Duke Energy about a job (one he eventually took) while he was overseeing cases involving Duke. Hardy knew about it and did not require Storms to recuse himself. For its part Duke has put Storms and its Indiana president Mike Reed (former IURC executive director) on paid administrative leave, apparently because it only became aware it had hired two IURC officials it had negotiated with while they worked for the state when the news hit the papers.

Why partial credit? Because Daniels has refused to vacate the Duke-related decisions Storms was involved in, instead ordering them to be reviewed, and his office announced the firing was a result of a "verbal report"--verbs being considered an inferior part of speech, I guess--and not a full internal review. On the plus side, Daniels does seem to have remembered the Governor's Personal Grand High Inquisitor the Republican-controlled legislature created for him in Aught Five, and which immediately set about looking for criminality in previous Democratic administrations. [So far, as I recall, anyway, they've found a lottery clerk who swiped some scratch-offs, and learned that the late Frank O'Bannon once got a haircut on company time. Meanwhile the billion-dollar Family and Social Services Administration fiasco, the Incredible Shrinking Major Moves Fund, and the thousands in unreturned Tim Durham contributions ("That money has already been spent") have been ruled, I believe the legal term is, none of your fucking business. You didn't think I'm letting that malignant toad off easy, did you?]

• Remedial Reading: I was at some pains at The Aptly Named World O' Crap to explain how it is the Big Gay Cupcake Scandal did not, in fact, involve cupcakes; curiouser things have followed. Briefly: woman calls a shop named Just Cookies to order some quantity of rainbow-iced cookies for Coming Out Day. Woman says that when Voice on the Phone (in fact, the owner) learned of the destination of said cookies, and Just Who might be licking his icing, he informed her of his moral objections, told her he had two daughters he was trying to Raise Right, and hung up on her. Complaints ensue.

Now if you happened to be a male of my approximate height watching Channel 8 "News" that evening, or the next, or whenever it is they latched onto the thing, you heard one of those Tales from the Teleprompter which have any number of elements resembling actual ("verbal") language, in which nouns were, and verbs did, but which had no connection to the way things behave in real life. And this was because the folks at 8 had decided to bend matters to the standard script, or else they've forgotten how to tell a story from beginning to end, probably from long disuse, the verbal equivalent of bedsores. Or maybe Honor has broken out among Public Christians. At any rate, they seemed bound and determined to convey that The Gays were Filing a Complaint because That's What All These Special Interests Do, even though it was a clear case of misunderstanding. Which is where the cupcakes came in: at one point we were informed that the store doesn't even sell cupcakes! And it doesn't do Special Orders, at least not often.

Oh, golly, there's that damn prickling in my thumbs again. So, first, you only have the idea that Special Interests and Sodomites get to file official complaints about every slight they encounter in life if you're a fat and satisfied semi-burgher living in the suburbs who never experiences anything like it. It seemed almost certain there was something more to the story; it seemed even more certain that the Wholly Logical Reasons why the order couldn't be filled ("Who orders cupcakes from Just Cookies? They were looking to cause trouble!") came direct from the shop owners post facto and might not have revealed the entire landscape of the event. It took me a couple days to discover the What in what had happened.

Seems a woman from the Social Justice Education Office at IUPUI had called to order rainbow cookies. And when the owner found out who they were for he explained to her that filling the order would prevent his young progeny from growing up as morally superior as he is, and hung up on her. The cupcakes are what they wound up ordering from another, less moral, bakery.

The shop rents space from the city-owned City Market; Mayor Gomer got involved, mostly because in 2012, or never, the city will be hosting Super Bowl XLVI: The Super Bowl That Might Not Happen, and its quarter-million LGBT spectators and participants.

Tony Dungy was unavailable for comment.

And the desperate weirdness continued when, last week, William Phillips, a Greenfield Police officer, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run motorist while on a bicycle training run. The accident occurred after midnight on US 40; the natural assumption was that the driver was drunk.

That turns out not to've been the case, apparently, but even before that was known the thing had taken on almost mythic proportions. At one point on Day Two I heard that police were looking for the driver who'd "killed the beloved father and husband". Ummm, tasty. Could I please have another trowel full?

Then came word, through the county prosecutor or the Greenfield PD--not exactly disinterested observers--that an attorney had contacted them, saying his client was ready to turn herself in. Much, if not all, Hell broke loose.

Apparently one, if not the major point the attorney was trying to negotiate was the avoidance of a media circus, something which should also be in the interest of law enforcement. Well, it didn't quite work. Tuesday evening, when it was widely expected that the woman was to show up for questioning, Channel 8 had a chopper overhead, and gave us five minutes of "a vehicle a man and woman had exited a half-hour ago. Of course, we don't know whether this is the woman, but…" Really. Why, to see inside we'd need some sort of infrared scanning device. So, let's turn it on.

Lemme just note here that as a long-time bicyclist I want nothing whatsoever to do with the roads anywhere from Gathering Dusk to Dawn's Mid-morning Light, and as little as possible to do with them otherwise. I ride a mostly-empty parking lot in bright sunshine and I'm still obsessive about knowing what's going on with every car on the lot and everyone on the street nearby. And I've almost been hit twice now. They say the officers were wearing safety clothing and were well-lit. But it's still and always the case that if you get into an altercation with a motorized vehicle, or even another bike, you're going to wind up the loser no matter who's at fault.

Some of the coverage--by Day Three the casual viewer might have imagined Phillips had died in a gun battle with Osama bin Laden, or that Hero was his middle name--seemed suspiciously designed to remove any questions about what he and other officers were doing training in such dangerous--and rather unrealistic--circumstances; Hendricks county does have motorized police vehicles with lights and sirens and two-way wrist radios, just like the civilized world, and these, presumably, are what they send out when someone needs to cover 12 or 15 miles in the dark. It worked. And some of the tone seemed designed to compensate for last-month's revelations about the drunken Indianapolis metro policeman who killed a stopped motorcyclist, and badly injured two others, while on duty. And the pent-up opprobrium for the driver abated only slightly when she turned out to be, not a Sterno bum with no license and a jacket the size of the phone book, but a middle-aged nurse who was driving her three children home from her parents house, who says she was distracted by the autistic one acting up. No record, unless you count the fifteen-year-old parking violation Channel 8 dug up.

And somebody had a poll the other day, asking if lawyers should be able to negotiate with police for their clients. 'Bout 80% against, as you might've guessed, unless you guessed 100. Seems like the News ought to be prohibited from encouraging public stupidity when it so obviously has a vested interest in perpetrating it.


Gary said...

Tony Dungy was unavailable for comment.

Apparently, you can sprain your diaphragm from laughing too hard.

Mara said...

"It seemed almost certain there was something more to the story."

You are an inspiration. I only wish that someone, somewhere these days waited to find out just a little more information before they shared their opinion.

I'd like to say something funny but I'm just worn down from it all.

Anonymous said...

I avoid local news like the plague but the saintly wife does not and after to listening to Fox 59's Angela Gannote drove me crazy with her paeans to the officer's courage and character.

I'm pretty sure Officer Phillips was a fine person, but, dear lord, quit profaning his memory with maudlin, fake sentimentality