Hey Friends, sorry I've been gone so long. I've been busier than a fundamentalist Christian family at a fossil museum but I hope to get back to the business at hand in the coming days. I'll also be blogging over at General Sense of Outrage. In the meantime, here's some archival stuff I haven't posted here:
The Adderall-addled, fat-gram-countin’, Nicorette-chompin’ troop-supportin' 2007 LEO quiz
In November and December, these items ran in City Strobe:
Pride goeth before produce
Remember those "Kentucky Proud" ads featuring the comical acting stylings of Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith alongside some Kentucky produce? Remember how those ads were entertaining because the two men had about as much in common with family farming as Pop Tarts and Lunchables? And remember how the ads weren't a gross misuse of political power because neither man was agriculture commissioner nor had aspirations to be governor? Well, that's all over.
Last week, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer unveiled the new Kentucky Proud campaign, which stars, um, Richie Farmer. The commish appears with former UK basketball stars John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus, and Sean Woods – a foursome known to UK fans as "The Backstreet Boys." No, wait, they're called the Unforgettables, partly for their unforgettable performance in the weeks leading up to a famous last-second jumper by Duke's Christian Laettner. (What, too soon?)
The mustachioed Farmer, a rising cadet in the Republican party, denies the ads are a promotional tool for his future political ambitions. In fact, the department intentionally delayed the rollout until after Farmer's re-election this year, proving that the ads are a promotional tool for his future political ambitions.
The Kentucky Proud ads (not to be confused with the Kentuckiana Pride Festival, which isn't quite as gay) promote Kentucky-grown products, including produce, fish, meat, and, now, the mustachioed Farmer. Unlike last year's ads, this year's ads offer nothing to entice U of L fans, unless you include the inevitable subliminal memory of Laettner, which might just be fuzzy enough to sell some local melons.
A taxing dilemma
Last month's overwhelming defeat for a proposed library tax left Metro government in a quandary: How to modernize the library system in a city where the majority of citizens hate books? The voters' dramatic reenactment of the movie "Idiocracy" left no doubt that a tax is untenable. And yet, libraries are grossly outdated, overburdened and what Library Director Craig Buthod (pronounced "Eeyore") described as "Oh, bother."
The vote left Metro Council with only one option: to snipe at each other through the media. But that got old. So now the council is pledging to find a way to fund the library's master plan through a complex system that involves using tax money without using the word "tax" -- a plan that's remarkably easier to implement in a society that doesn't read.
Council Republicans Hal Heiner and Ellen Call and Democrats Tina Ward-Pugh and Jim King comprise the bipartisan team that's pledged to come up with a plan. The plan will rely heavily on a clever trick of capitalism known as "bonds," which is a form of revenue-generating magic that doesn't impact taxpayers in much the same way calories don't count when you eat leftover lo mein noodles over the sink at midnight. The foursome promised to have a workable plan by the middle of next month, but cautioned that any bond funding would take a couple of years to jumpstart, a period during which citizens are encouraged to "watch a lot of TV and maybe visit Borders and put the books back on the shelves after reading them."
The outsourcing Gap
Planning to head out to The Summit to hit up Baby Gap for a pair of faux-shearling booties or a tartan aviator hat for the darling newborn in your life? Nah, me neither. But if we were planning such an adventure, it might be worth nothing that Baby Gap has been caught using child slave labor – and we're not talking about Internet rumors that Suri Cruise has inked a million-dollar Baby Gap modeling contract.
Last week, an Observer (UK) journalist described appalling conditions endured by children forced into labor by a Gap vendor in India. The Gap is now in full-blown damage-control mode. The retail giant – 3000 stores and $16 billion annual revenue – has recalled all merchandise from the vendor and pledged to tighten up its supply chain to ensure children aren't involved in the manufacture of its clothing. The incident comes in the midst of a campaign to support U2 star Bono's "Red" products, which fight AIDS in Africa, and other high-profile efforts to improve The Gap's 90's-era image as a company that exploits children.
If you're not convinced of The Gap's good intentions, you could take your fashion dollars to Old Navy or Banana Republic. Er, um, but guess who owns them: The Gap. In fact, next time you buy a hand-made anything for under $50 from outsourcing corporate America, you have to wonder if a third world child's sweat touched it before you did.
These Welp's Louisville columns appeared in LEO:
And, much to my delight, LEO reincarnated "What a Week," my first and fondest column. The column now includes a festive "World-Classness" index -- a meaningless number playing on Possibility City's "World Class" optimism and/or Dumbya's silly terror alert system. Here are the columns that have appeared so far:
+ 5 A group of Kentucky legislators proposed an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that would restore voting rights to approximately 129,000 convicted felons who've paid their debts to society. Kentucky is one of only two states that require people convicted of felonies to formally ask the governor to restore their voting rights after they've served their time. The restriction disproportionately impacts blacks and those convicted of drug offenses, two groups whose voting could influence policies unfavorable to blacks and those convicted of drug offenses.
+ 1 The Trust for America Health gave Kentucky and Indiana high marks on its disaster-preparedness report card. Kentucky scored a perfect 10 and Indiana scored 9 out of 10 on such statewide benchmarks as emergency medical distribution, laboratory capabilities, surveillance systems, and the likelihood that a terrorist has ever heard of your state.
+1 Discount retailer Dollar General donated $515,000 to Louisville-based National Center for Family Literacy to fund various "reading and writing programs" that used to take place in what were once known as "libraries." The company said the programs will increase educational attainment, resulting in a better economy, where, with a little luck, people wouldn't have to shop at Dollar General.
- 5 Early estimates projected that holiday retail sales sucked even more than pre-season predictions. The housing crisis, high energy prices and those really annoying Old Navy ads conspired to keep shoppers out of stores in December. Pessimists considered it another sign of economic malaise, optimists found hope that Americans are curbing their appetite for cheap plastic crap, and retailers are just hoping a lot of people lost their gift cards.
+ 4 Congress approved and President Bush signed into law a new fuel-economy requirement for auto manufacturers, giving hope to a future world with less fossil fuel dependence and fewer Hummer-driving assholes. The bill requires Big Auto to produce vehicles that average 35 MPG by 2020, an increase in renewable fuels, and more efficient lighting, appliances and commercial buildings. A provision that would have killed $13.5 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil to use toward wind, solar and conservation measures failed, reminding us who still calls the shots in America.
+ 2 Your gummint agreed to a half-trillion-dollar spending bill that includes some delectable pork for local projects including bridges, dams, airport runways, and police. Tucked deeply inside the bill is legislation that makes it harder for the criminally insane to buy guns, clearing the path for a future acknowledgement that we're all criminally insane.
+ 1 Wired Magazine reported that scientists have opened a new front in the war on cows. By including garlic in cattle feed, researchers have reduced the methane in cow flatulence – which is responsible for a fifth of all greenhouse emissions – by half, thereby reducing by one the myriad ways cows are trying to kill us.
+ 25 The Fantastic Four (Jesus, Santa, Frosty and the Coca-Cola Polar Bear) came. Packages were unwrapped, the homeless were fed, neuroses were fueled, and hearts were full of joy and cholesterol and high fructose corn syrup and peace.
With a fireplace crackling in the background, retired Marine Lt. Col. Andrew Horne YouTubed his candidacy to unseat Sen Mitch McConnell, whom many consider unbeatable despite having done everything wrong ever. Describing his candidacy, Horne said, "Iraq Iraq Katrina Bush Iraq Bush war war war." Others rumored to be angling to unseat McConnell include businessmen Bruce Lunsford and Charlie Owen, Attorney General Greg Stumbo, and McConnell himself, who plans to eat a live puppy on TV every day until the election.
For the second time, President Bush vetoed expanded health care legislation for children. The bill would have covered about four million children nationally and hundreds of thousands of Kentucky families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance. Instead of voting immediately to override the veto, House Democrats decided to leave the kids dangling for another month and vote near the State of the Union address, when they can really cram the issue down Republican cakeholes.
Declaring, "Frankly, we're mad as hell that we haven't done better" (with which we heartily agree) and "The whole world loves to eat healthy" (which makes us risk injury to others by spitting hot coffee across the room), sleepy-eyed Yum chairman David Novak announced new healthier menus for Yum restaurants, including more grilled and low-fat options and less rat poop.
LEO resurrected What A Week as part of expanded news coverage; fans of short-form sarcasm rejoiced. Can we get a WAW WAW?
For those who like a dose of OFGS without all the sarcasm and F-bombs, here's some other stuff:
My interview with Bellarmine University theology professor Mil Thompson, my interviews with authors Wade Hall and Clyde Crews, and my essay, "It Takes a Lot of Media to Get This Dumb," appeared in the Summer issue of Bellarmine Magazine.
My essay on Marble Hill - "The Planet You Save Might Be Your Own" and my goofball ghost-written detective story "Bobby B – The Plot Thickens" appear in the Winter issue of Bellarmine Magazine.
Happy 2008, y'all. See you soon, and remember: I support our troops more than you do.