Sunday, June 24, 2012

Queen for a Day

Between 1945 and 1964, a game show called Queen for a Day was broadcast, first on radio and then on television. It has been called a forerunner of modern-day reality shows, and also "one of the most ghastly shows ever produced."

Contestants were unfortunate women who revealed their tales of woe in order to elicit sympathy from the audience.  Whichever woman received the most applause from the all-female audience won the title of "Queen for a Day" as well as a selection of prizes.

I never saw this show, as it was canceled before I was born and most episodes destroyed (as was the standard practice of the day).  As a child, I heard some pop culture references to it, and I asked my grandmother about it.  I thought it sounded appalling and never thought anything like it would be revived.

Thanks to the Internet, particularly YouTube and Indiegogo, our society has revived Queen for a Day without perhaps meaning to.  The case of the elderly bus monitor who was cruelly taunted by middle school bullies, then rewarded with a vacation fund that quickly grew into a retirement fund, was spontaneous.  However, the publicity that has surrounded it will no doubt inspire others to try to use those websites to engage the public's sympathy and raise funds for their own causes. YouTube might as well start a Queen for a Day channel.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Requiem for a Lioness

Fifteen years ago, two unrelated juvenile lions were brought from South Africa (where they were born in captivity) to Madison's Henry Vilas Park Zoo in hopes that they would breed and help perpetuate the species.

The pair were named Henry and Vilas, and they were so prolific that they remained together for a decade and a half, during which time they produced eight cubs. The most high-profile birth was a litter of five cubs born in 2004. They were the zoo's star attraction during the summer of 2005.

Vilas stopped eating earlier this week, and zookkeepers discovered cancer that had spread throughout her body. She died on Wednesday. She is survived by her longtime companion, Henry, her last offspring, a male cub named Leo Pold, born last year and still residing at Vilas Zoo, and several grown cubs residing at other zoos.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why I'm Voting to Recall Walker

These are my main reasons for voting to recall Governor Walker:

 1. He is destroying Wisconsin's economy. The claims of a surplus are bogus. He has pulled a significant amount of money away from Wisconsin consumers and given it to out-of-state corporate interests. That is why Wisconsin's job market is now doing worse than the rest of the nation. The kool-aid drinkers who believe in supply side economics (rightly called "voodoo economics" by George H.W. Bush back in 1980) refuse to believe this. The media's practice for the last three decades of treating all debates as mere policy disagreements with both sides having equal validity has raised a generation of Americans who are completely ignorant of how our economy actually works. Supply-side economics is bullshit. Demand-side economics is reality.

 2. He pulled an enormous bait-and-switch by campaigning on economic issues and instead pushing through union-busting, voter-suppression, incumbent-protection, and right-wing social engineering. Anyone who trusts a word he says is a fool.

3. He is every bit as corrupt as Chuck Chvala and Scott Jensen and the rest of the caucus criminals, as evidenced by the charges (and first batch of convictions) among his Milwaukee County aides. Judging by his administration's stonewalling of open records requests, Walker will use his criminal defense fund to delay justice as long as possible, much like Scooter Jensen did.

 4. He doesn't give a damn if Wisconsinites have safe water to drink. I challenge Walker appointee Cathy Stepp to drink a nice tall glass of Jefferson County well water from the neighborhood near Herr Environmental. There are a great many other reasons, but those are the big ones for me.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Freedom of Choice

Far too many people in our society do not want to be bothered to pay attention to issues and vote. Many of the anti-recall arguments I have heard boil down to "I don't want to be bothered with this more than once every four years." I cherish my right to decide things for myself and my opportunity to cast my vote. I prefer freedom of choice to freedom from choice. It's ironic that so many of the "let's get rid of the recall statute" people keep using words like "freedom" and "patriotism" -- I don't think those words mean what they think they do. Now, since it's a beautiful Saturday morning, I want chocolate donuts for breakfast.