Saturday, April 30, 2005

Hillbilly Rex

I wonder if I'm the first one to describe the poor thing so.

One of my many book projects that will probably never get finished is about dropping various species of dinosaurs together and having them duke it out. This guy is a good addition.
Ivory-Bills Live

I know after the zombie-post that this will see unlikely but apparently the Ivory-billed woodpecker isn't extinct. Still holding out hope for the Tasmanian tiger.
Exam Over

I must have made the world's easiest drama exam. Everyone finished it within one hour. I still have four MIA students so I'll stick around but I'm thinking about making this test a little tougher.

UPDATE: Oops, somebody just showed up an hour late. Let's see how long he takes.
Basis of Zombie-lore?

Strange news from Asia.

UPDATE: I probably didn't need to include this but the story is a joke. . . or is it? Yes, I apologize--it's a joke.
Yet Another Exciting Adventure of
Evil Dad and Devilboy

Evil Dad: Listen, Devilboy, I need you to behave for just 15 minutes. Please, please, please, be good. This is the most important interview of my life.
Devilboy (stares blankly)
ED: Don't fuss! If your babysitter hadn't mysteriously vanished, I could have left you with her.
DB: Burrp.
ED: Just stay put. Here's some firecrackers and hamsters to play with. If you're good, I'll kidnap a cheerleader when we get home.
Satrina (opens door): The Lord of Darkness will see you now.
ED: (to Devilboy) This shouldn't take long. (enters Satan's chambers)
Satan: Have a seat. (shuffles papers) I see you have reference letters from Vruuigh the Undying, Charles Manson, and Rupert Murdoch.
ED: Charles, Vruuigh, and Rupert speak quite highly of you, sir.
Satan: Yeah, Rupie-boy damn well better. And I see you helped write the lyrics to Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." The Seventh Circle informs me it was responsible for 32% of all suicides in 1998.
ED: I can't take full credit. Celine is truly a master of torture.
Satan: (chuckles) I taught her well, and--
Satrina: Sir, I'm sorry to interrupt, but--
Satan: Hey, I'm talking here. (to ED) So why are you leaving your position with Cyruthulu?
ED: I have nothing but positive things to say about Cyruthulu but lately I've been having problems with conjuring her in conjunction with my plans to desolate the earth.
Satan: That's odd. Normally she's quite accommodating.
ED: Normally, yes. There've been. . . issues.
Satrina: Sir!
Satan: Not now! (to ED) So what would you say is your greatest weakness?
ED: I do such a good job at everything I do that co-workers develop debilitating inferiority complexes.
Satan: Good, and, if you could be any type of animal, what kind would you be?
ED: A Tyrannosaurus! No, wait--a giant spider!
Satrina: Sir, you really need to hear this.
Satan: What!
Satrina: A deranged child is out there, raising, well, you know. Seven of the Circles are already demolished.
Satan: Even the Circle of Virtuous Pagans?
Satrina: Especially the Circle of Virtuous Pagans. He gnawed off Socrates' leg.
ED: I told him to stop doing that!
Satrina: And he knocked Sisyphus's rock over the hill. His torment is ended.
Sisyphus (off-stage): Hot diggity, I'm heading to Elysium Fields!
Satan: Aww man, and he was from Classical Greek mythology. That rock thingy gave this crap-hole a much needed air of sophistication!
Satrina: And Hitler's Sphincter-Sprinkler is in pieces.
Hitler: Mein Gott, the relief!
Satan: Don't tell me--Stalin?
Satrina: Stalin, Pol Pot, Nixon: the whole place is in shambles. And you know those fish hooks of frozen blood and acid beetles you had put aside for Kissinger?
Satan: Crap! That took months to set up!
ED: (Grabs Devilboy as he is about to chew off Satan's tail) Heh-heh, just think of commanding all this devastation in the final battle.
Satan: You jackass! A few more hours of him and Hell will be a second Limbo! Get out! And take that, that, that monster with you! You're banned for eternity!
(Infernal gates slam shut)
ED: Just great! That's Hell and Kings Island! I can't take you anywhere!
DB: Burrpp. (parts of babysitter spray out to Second Circle)
Tristan: Ewww!

Some time in the unforeseen future, join us again Evil fans for another exciting adventure of Evil Dad and Devilboy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Crossing my Fingers

I'm at Anderson again and will try to visit A Prayer for Dawn.

I might have to pick this up tomorrow.
Is P&G Run By Satanists?

My dad worked there for 30-some years so I can't pass this up. Straight Dope on P&G.

My sister in Tennessee gets fliers under her windshield wipers that spout off about the Yankee devils. Amway reps swear they're not responsible so I wouldn't dream of suspecting them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

School Ramble

This started as a response to Covington a few posts below but looked like it went beyond HaloScan's limits:

I know this will never happen but the city has to raise taxes. Some of the schools are literally crumbling. I've heard the conservative argument that "Two plus two still equals four if the roof is leaking" but then again "The Bengals can still suck in a new stadium as well as a new one."

Peter Bronson has written a number of idiotic columns (and I swore there were enough blogs laying into Bronson) claiming that students are responsible for the damages. Unless the kids are climbing down heating vents to wreck the furnace or shrinking to subatomic size to warp support beams, he's out of his mind.

CPS Students do seem to commit more vandalism than what I've seen in Forest Hills (or they just take longer to clean it up) but that's not where the real costs come from. In the last few years, they seem to have made improvements by closing a few schools and building new ones but I don't have much confidence. One of the new schools is being built either on or very close to a floodplain (along Kellogg Avenue) and close enough to a sewage processing plant that you can smell it. I drive around that area fairly often and I can't believe that was the best place they could find to build the school.

I don't know how much faith you can put in Andrew Greenley but from what he's written, many small schools tend to work better than one big one. Of course, that would be too expensive and ruin too many sports programs.

Another problem is dealing with non-average students, either below or above. The special education programs in CPS are at least as good or better than Forest Hills and Walnut Hills and SCPA are still decent (not as good as they were but still better than many school systems in the suburbs).

From what I saw especially at Sands Montessori, classes are just lumped together with no regard to students' skill levels. Even where there's honor and AP classes, the range is so wide that the aboves are bored out of their minds and the belows are lost. Again the conversative line is "Two plus two equals four if you're in a big or small class," but smaller classes with students of similar levels would make a huge difference.

Sands was a magnet school and when it was finally moved from the West End to the old Eastern Hills School. Local West End students attended along with the rest of the district who were lucky enough to be picked by the registration lottery. When I worked on the school excercise video, every one of the local kids I worked with was sweet and a pleasure to be around. Still many of them were very far behind the rest of the students and many had severe discipline problems outside of special projects. It seemed every attempt to do something with "problem" students was blocked (partially by Rev. Lynch), sometimes because of race, sometimes just general.

Some school districts have a school where the "last strike" kids are sent. The Clark Academy used to do this for CPS but it was closed/restructured. I think that was one of the worst things to happen to CPS in a long time.

They also had a policy of allowing teachers with the most seniority to pick the school they taught. This meant the older teachers went to the easiest schools (why so many teachers at Walnut were old) and the young, inexperienced ones were sent to Taft. They were supposed to change this a while back but when my cousin went to teach at Clifton Elementary, as lowest on the totem pole, he got the "crack baby class." As a substitute, I got screwed by the Teachers Union but this is the only real area where the union caused a trouble (despite the Bronson line).

Another thing--once I volunteered at Vine Street Elementary with two other guys from college. One of them had red hair which for some reason made all the kids think we were from the Reds. It was like being Krusty the Clown for a day. The teachers were amazed--they told us that normally the kids just fought all recess; that was the best day they had in years.

Again, I don't know what to do (force the Reds really to show up?) but if CPS had more people to work with the kids and plan more special activities, behavior would improve dramatically. Despite what Bronson says, there are simple solutions to many of CPS's problems but they wouldn't come cheap. If Cincinnati really wanted to, CPS could be a top-notch district in a short time but I can't see residents raising taxes. Most districts are this short-sighted and greedy but in Cincinnati, they point out all the schools problems (most of which are caused by lack of funds) and justify cutting the budget even more.

"Throwing money at a problem only works if a sports team is involved."
Big Boy Graveyard

Sad, funny, and spooky all at once.
I was in a Good Mood

Last night, after class at Anderson High School, I was going to check the class roster but tried to stop by The computer died. I'm not sure if it was the porn-blocker or a special boobie trap, but I was through computing for the night. Apparently AHS computers run on Windows 95 (or at least the one I had did). The school is incredibly well maintained so I wonder if a "we-can't-buy-a-new-one-til-the-old-one-breaks" mentality is holding them back (or if slower systems make surfing for porn too inefficient).

Today at Stephanie's blog over a posting about modern families, I realized that my wife still hasn't used the steam cleaner (she took months to learn how to turn on the new vacuum). To my knowledge, she has only cleaned her cat's litter box once since she was pregnant with our now five-year old daughter. On two different occasions, I tried to force her to clean it by not doing it myself. Both times I gave up. She complained about the smell but refused to do it herself. Okay, I know that most women do more housework than men--how'd I get so lucky?

Then someone brought up schools at the Cincinnati blog. Any school district that still uses Windows 95 isn't perfect but it's nothing compared to Cincinnati Public. Coming home from a day helping out at CPS, leaves you feeling as if you didn't do nearly enough and that even if you could, you still wouldn't make a dent in the problems. At Forest Hills, you come home thinking "that was nice but they could have got along without me." If Cincinnati ever decides that schools are as important as a stadium, maybe things will get better but I'm not holding my breath.

Otherwise, D-boy is just breaking things as usual. I'll stabilize soon.
Yet Another Exciting Adventure of
Evil Dad and Devilboy

Evil Dad: Ugh, Devilboy woke up sixteen times last night. I haven't had a wink of sleep since last Thanksgiving. If I'm ever going to get that portal to the Dark Dimensions open today, I'm going to need a jolt of caffeine. (opens refrigerator--a wave of putrid ooze sprays out)
Devilboy (waking up): Hah-ha!
ED: Sweet Momma Cyruthulu! Did you turn off the fridge again, you little punk? The milk's gone bad, the cheese is green, and lime jello dripped all over this severed head of a Peruvian sorcerer!
PS: Tu madre es una puta!
ED: Stuff it, you! (Begins shoving mess in trash bag) This did it, Devilboy! You're really in trouble now!
Voice: Not so fast, partner.
ED: Wha-- (gasps) Dee Snider of Twisted Sister?
DS: That's right, and I'm here to tell you that yelling at children doesn't solve anything. All that does is cause them to whirl about violently, change into me, and sing "I Wanna Rock" or "We're Not Gonna Take It."
ED: What about "Stay Hungry"?
DS: Don't go there.
ED: Well, I can't take it anymore. Devilboy breaks everything I own. He's spread death and destruction to all corners of the earth and now he's spoiled my cheese. I think a time-out is in order.
DS: Don't make me sing my 1986 cover of "Leader of the Pack."
ED: I'll be quiet.
DS: Good, now instead of getting mad, try to relate to your child. Don't get irate--communicate.
ED: But what about the refrigerator?
DS: Buy some new stuff. It's not like there's a food shortage.
ED: Actually millions of people starve to death every year.
DS: In Ohio?
ED: You're right! Devilboy, let's go to the store. I'll even buy you a cookie!
DS: That's more like it. I'll give you a lift. (opens door) Hey, what the hell happened to my Mercedes? And I had six kilos in the trunk!
ED: Well, it's not like Columbia is going anywhere.
DS: I'll kill you, Devilboy! You're a disgrace! You make me sick! And is that a pledge-pin on your uniform?
ED (pulls lever, dropping Snider to a pool of waiting crocodiles): That's about enough out of you (to Devilboy) Did that bad man scare you, Devilboy? Let's get you two cookies!
DB (chewing on license plate): Brecchhhhhh! (vomits half a kilo into crocodile pit)

Join us next week for another exciting adventure of Evil Dad and Devilboy when we'll hear the Peruvian sorcerer say, "Doesn't anybody recycle anymore?" [in Spanish]

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Oh Dear God

Latest trend via Snopes.
Not As Bad

Boy, the Museum of Hoaxes will post some sick stuff.
Library List

Here's something fairly boring (I swear I'll get some Devilboy stuff soon) but if you're interested in what's on the library card:

Kids’ Books

Safari babies. McCurry, Kristen.
Baby pets. Miller, Margaret,
Dog's birthday : a touch and feel book Dodd, Emma,
What shall I grow? Gibson, Ray
The mixed-up chameleon Carle, Eric.
Daring Dog and Captain Cat Adoff, Arnold
The little green dragon steps out Baumgart, Klaus.
Zany zoo Matthews, Derek.
Maisy takes a bath Cousins, Lucy.
It could have been worse Benjamin, A. H.
You bad dog! Baker, Leslie A.
No, David! Shannon, David,
Ready or not, Dawdle Duckling Buzzeo, Toni.
Teen Titans : a kid's game Johns, Geoff,
Big bratty book of Bart Simpson
Spider-girl DeFalco, Tom
Lunchtime for a purple snake Ziefert, Harriet.
Franklin says I love you Bourgeois, Paulette

Kids’ Videos
Inspector Gadget 2
Popeye's voyage: the quest for Pappy
What's new Scooby-Doo?. Space ape at the cape
What's new Scooby-Doo? Safari, so goodi! (Sad to say, the latest version of Scooby Doo is by far the best ever. Gen Xers weep at the thought.)
Blue's clues. Arts and crafts
Pokémon advanced. Volume eight, Jump for joy
Pokémon advanced. Volume eight, Jump for joy (Good God, we checked this piece of crap out twice?)

Kids’ CDs
Early childhood classics : old favorites with a new twist Palmer, Hap,
Rocket ship beach Zanes, Dan.
Blue's big musical movie
Spirit, stallion of the Cimarron: music from the original motion picture Adams, Bryan
Big rock rooster Daddy A Go Go

My Books
The age of the gods, a study in the origins of culture in prehistoric Europe and the ancient East Dawson, Christopher,
One more time : the best of Mike Royko
From absurd to Zeitgeist : the compact guide to literary terms Morner, Kathleen.
Brief definitions of all essential literary terms Elkhadem, Saad.
The magic of M.C. Escher Escher, M. C. (Maurits Cornelis),
1,001 facts about dinosaurs Clark, Neil.
National Geographic prehistoric mammals Turner, Alan,
Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel : a biography Morgan, Judith.
Unsolved mysteries of American history : an eye-opening journey through 500 years of discoveries, disappearances, and baffling events Aron, Paul
Everything you didn't need to know about the USA Farrington, Karen.

I mentioned something about indulgences a while back. Here's the Church's explanation. Here's Chick's.

I think a good number of people consider themselves Catholic just to piss off the Chicks of the world.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Another Exciting Adventure of
Evil Dad and Devilboy

Evil Dad: Devilboy, I'm not accusing you of anything but all I know is that when I went to answer the phone, there were seven undefiled virgins on Cyruthulu's altar. When I got back, all I found were bloodstains and a couple bones.
Devilboy (runs into altar, knocks everything over)
ED: Now I'm not against eating an undefiled virgin once in a while but seven all at once? Haven't you seen the new food pyramid?
DB (begins punching holes in drywall with a shattered femur)
ED: It's not that I'm "anti-fun" (holding up fingers for quotation marks) but kidnaping and murder are capital crimes in this state.
DB: Bzzzzzzz.
ED: No, lethal injection.
(Doorbell rings)
ED (opens door): Hello.
Cop: Excuse me but are you responsible for these seven, hog-tied, naked virgins on your lawn? Neighbors report a demonic child tossing them out a window.
ED (sobbing): It's true, it's true. I'm an evil, sadistic worshiper of the Old Ones who seeks to end civilization as we know it.
Cop: I don't need your life story, pal. But this is Hamilton County. Get those naked chicks out of public view!
ED: Of course, officer (piles them on remains of altar). I'm terribly sorry if I offended anyone.
Cop: I would fracture your skull but you're white and live in the suburbs.
ED: Yes, officer. Thank you, officer (shuts door) Well, thank goodness that cleared itself up. Hey, where's my Ukrainian A-bomb? DEVILBOY!

Join us next week for another exciting adventure of Evil Dad and Devilboy when we'll hear one of the virgins say, "I can't say I'm thankful for abstinence-only education right about now."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Adventures of Evil Dad and Devilboy II

On Nathan's suggestion, I'll try to continue the series with many injuries based on real life. For those of you just joining us, Devilboy is a freakishly large two-year old who is often mistaken for four or five (usually thinking he's his five-year old sister's twin--Moderatelybehavedgirl). No one is sure if he has a real disorder (he has behavior like autism but doesn't have the physical traits like adnormal head size), is just unusually hyper, or is really part devil.

He's been kicked out of his daycare because he moves so quickly and erratically that he can hurt other children by accident. Physical pain means little to Devilboy and the word "No!" only makes him put his hands over his ears and moan strange noises (very similar to Rainman).

But enough of this, on with :

We begin in the lair of Evil Dad, ready to sacrifice three victims in an arcane ceremony designed to reviving the Old Gods

Evil Dad (in a sinister voice): You three have the honor of becoming Cyruthulu's first earthly snacks. Isn't that right, Devilboy?
Devilboy (grabs smoking urn and pours it on Evil Dad's foot)
ED (in a higher voice): No, no, no! We need that for torture and stuff!
(Devilboy loses interest and begins running amok)
ED: Be careful! Do you know how hard it is to get yak urine out of satin?
(DB finds cell phone and dials randomly)
Phone: Hello, 9-1-1. [Note: he has done this twice in real life]
ED: Uh, sorry sir, looks like my pet monkey got out of his cage again.
Phone: You again? Idiot!
ED: Okay, back to the ritual. Let the blood-letting begin--hey, wait, where'd the other two guys go?
Victim 3: Devilboy chewed through our ropes just before he dropped your watch in the toilet.
ED: Uh, well then, why'd you stay?
V3: I wanted to see what he'd do with that anvil.
ED: What anvi-- (SSSPPLLAATTT)

Join us once again for another exciting adventure of EVIL DAD AND DEVILBOY!
Devilboy Update

After yesterday's post, I thought I should include this. While I was playing with him last night, he suddenly jerked his toy motorcycle and caught its handle bars in my eye socket. Unlike the time at the library when he got his fingernails stuck in the inner membranes of the socket, I got it out clean but it knocked my contact over four feet (some of it might have been from my head spasming).

Maybe he's more aware of things than I thought.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Really Bad MO

I only make light of this situation because it is so preposterous. Anyone with children can tell you that any brat capable of being trained like this would slit your throat at the soonest available minute and be off with your car and liquor cabinet.

This is how I would envision things if I tried to use Devilboy in such a scheme:

Evil Version of Me: Okay, go up to that woman and give her this piece of paper.
Devilboy (stares blankly and scratches himself)
EVM: Listen! Take this paper and give it to someone you want to see hurt.
DB (Takes paper and gives it back to me)
EVM (Shoves paper in his hand): No! Give-this-paper-to-that-woman!
DB (Looks at paper and eats it)
EVM: Stop! You're ruining my dreams of successful serial murder! Take, uh, just memorize this address.
DB (sees raccoon; chases and kills it)
Innocent Victim: Excuse me but is that your child dancing in a spray of raccoon guts?
EVM: Why, no. But would you mind pressing this doorbell?
IV: Which doorbell?

Okay, so it's not Tennessee Williams but it should show you that this isn't something to worry about.
Top Ten Ways for the Vatican to Raise Money

It's no secret that decreases in donations by American Catholics have hurt the Church financially. Now with a new pope who promises to maintain the line on birth control, male-only clergy, and hard-line divorce, here's how the Holy See can adapt:

10. Wiretap Kennedy confessionals.

9. Meat cleaver + microwave = ancient relics.

8. Forget the Gregorian calendar. Upgrade to Gatesian.

7. Add your face to Sistine Cathedral? $15,000 even.

6. Let's just say the Whore of Babylon might not be so figurative.

5. Statues! Statues! Statues! Gettem while they're hot!

4. Say hello to Cardinal Hasselhoff (the new guy's German).

3. Reveal secret gospel, the one with vampires and martians.

2. Open storage locker #433329-8, release Satan.

and the number one way to raise cash--

1. $59.99 down and Saturday sins don't count.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Albino Animals

If I didn't have kids, I would never go into the children's section of the library. (In fact, without kids, I'd probably have enough money that I'd just buy books and not go to the library at all.) On the flip side, without kids I would never have run into a number of decent books, including Kelly Milner Halls' Albino Animals. Although written for children, it still has many facts about albinos and animals in general that I appreciated far more than my five-year old.

--Not only do albinos stand out to predators and prey, many die from sunburns and skin cancer. Snowflake, a male albino gorilla brought to captivity in 1966, died of skin cancer in 2003 despite efforts to limit his time in direct sunlight (skin cancer is virtually unknown in normal gorillas). Their eyes are vulnerable to UV radiation and often go blind. Even the genes that cause albinism are also linked to Chediak-higashi Syndrome, a disorder that causes fevers and illness. Albino plants lack green chlorophyll so starve to death shortly after sprouting. There was no mention of flesh-eating plants so I wonder how an albino Venus-flytrap would make out.

--In Utah, when fishermen complained that game officials weren't stocking lakes with enough fish, officials began including albino fish to the fishing spots. Albinos were easy to see in the water even if they weren't biting so complaints immediately dropped.

--Despite the claims in the bad movie Albino Alligator,
real albino alligators are not sickly or weak if kept in the right environment. Albino alligators and other reptiles are at special risk from sunburns and skin cancer because they bask in the sun so often but an albino raised in a warm, dark place would be no weaker than a regular reptile. John Brueggen of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm says, "Head to head against normal alligators their size, I'd say the match would be about even."

One reason you don't see many albino alligators is that commercial alligator farms hatch almost only male babies. Alligator eggs develop as females if heated to 85 degrees and male if heated to about 90. Since males grow faster, earning the breeders more money, all 30 of Florida's albino alligators are male.

-- Axolotls, Mexican salamanders that keep gills their entire lives, are all used in laboratory experiments. If their eyes are cut out, their power of regeneration is so great, that if the eyes are simply put back in the socket, the optic nerve will reattach, and sight will return in a few weeks. If we could only reproduce this ability, we could cure many paraplegics and other with nerve damage.

--The Brotherhood of Mutant Orcas--In 1970 near Vancouver Island, a pod of killer whales was discovered with each member showing some sort of deformity or unusual trait. The most famous, named Chimo, was albino but others had deformed facial features and malformed jaws. It's unclear if this occurred by chance or if they left original pods to band together. Chimo was captured and maintained in captivity but died within two years of Chediak-higashi Syndrome.

--Although Cincinnati is home to many of the world's white tigers, up until 2003, only two true albino tigers have ever been reported and even they were unconfirmed. In the Mahendra Chaudhury Zoo in 2003, a tiger that keepers claimed was albino was born. I wanted to find more information about them but my googling skills aren't coming up with anything. Here's something at least.

--In humans there are two main types of albinism: Oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) and Ocular albinism (OC). OCA are completely albino; OC have normally colored skin and hair but red eyes. About 18,000 albino people live in the U.S. More on albino humans here and here

I stopped by Kroger earlier today. The older of the two quitters (the one who could tell time) was back working. I knew they were hard up for deli workers but it still surprised me. I wonder how many customers could I poison before I was fired.

All politics aside, the papal elections could come back to haunt the Vatican. The Vatican's budget is worse than the U.S. (in terms of GNP) but they seem happy to keep operating in the red. I've heard some conservatives already treating this as a victory but everything I've heard about Ratzinger makes Bush look like Jesse Jackson. If he has pro-American values, of any party, I'm not aware of them. I do feel for the Poles, losing a Polish pope and getting a German. ("Well, at least he isn't Russian.")

My brother-in-law's trial is scheduled for tomorrow. With my sister-in-law keeping up her wall of silence, I'll probably have to call the courthouse to find what happened. The last I heard, my niece is still living away from home--probably the best thing possible.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Openings at Kroger

I picked the wrong day to work this week.

Yesterday one of the older employees (older in age; started working at the store in November) got angry at two of the twenty-something workers and walked off. Management is still trying to lure her back--leaving your shift after telling a manager that you quit is considered a "maybe."

A few hours later, a 19-year old cursed out one of the managers to his face. She's done this repeatedly--even calling customers "assholes" while taking their orders--but never got in serious trouble before. This time the manager dared to talk back which set her in a frenzy.

She went upstairs to the main management offices and told them all to "fuck off," "fuck Krogers," and "suck my balls." (This last point seems to indicate that she doesn't have the firmest grasp of mammalian anatomy.) I have heard conflicting reports but apparently she knocked a display over and stormed out.

This is the same worker who can't tell time on analog clocks (she defended herself by saying that she can read digital clocks with no problems). She also had a crack dealer confront her in the store about money she owed (police were called and she got the rest of the day off).

Today was murder--everybody in Anderson bought at least three pounds of lunchmeat and we were short two people. I doubt if she's the type to come back with a shotgun but I'm glad I'm not scheduled until next Sunday.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Vatican Suspense

Still going.

I doubt if it will happen but I'd love to see a black pope. Clinton County already has anti-Catholic yard signs as it is. With a black pope, they'd probably all head down to their bunkers.
Passing for Clothed

Hoax Museum has a series of pictures of a woman wearing nothing but shoes and body paint. I remember this sort of scenario from a Heinlein novel. I can accept a man or woman walking about with clothes painted waist up but I'm skeptical of waist down. I'd feel awfully sorry for a man who could get away with it.

For the first time, I assigned The Importance of Being Earnest for a class and everyone seemed to enjoy it more than anything else all semester.

It wasn't until I talked a little about Wilde's life that it really struck me how tragic it was. Sure, everyone knows the Reading Gaol but every little thing he did was painful. Tried to marry only to lose the girl to Bram Stoker (that had to hurt); tried to cure syphilis with mercury, only to have it turn his teeth black and leave the syphilis unchecked; the whole "The author is Wilde but his poetry is tame" reviews; touring America and mocked by morons (I never knew that Wilde toured into the Old West--he described the miners and cowboys as "polished and refined compared with the people I met in larger cities back East.")

It also struck me that for the drama section, lifespans decreased with time. Sophocles lived from 496 B.C. to 406, Shakespeare from 1564 to 1616, but poor Oscar only lived to 46. That might be an argument to include Death of a Salesman.
The Horrors

Snopes reminds movie-goers that Amityville was a hoax, and not even a good one at that. One of the sources I've read claimed that it was a scam to get out the mortgage. I'd like to see a breakdown to where the royalty money went.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Beating the Dead Horse

I wouldn't think about this so much if I could just see where the pro-"Redskin" is coming from. I can understand issues based on law, science, law, history, religion or morality, but this has nothing going for it (if you disagree, please explain why).

Many names have no real meaning behind them. The words "perro" and "dog" both mean the same thing and only are used by a convention of language--we have to call them something.

Other names reflect a degree of reality by using sounds ("buzz" reflects the sound a bee makes) or existing images from other words ("catfish"--a fish with whiskers of like a cat). "Anderson High School" is a high school located in Anderson Township. That maintains a sense of logic. Of course, if anyone showed a decent reason, you could argue that the name "Anderson" itself should be changed but I'm not aware of any suggestions to do so. (If Bill Gates offered every resident one million dollars, I'd have no problem with "Gates Township.)

Some names have a sense of poetry behind them-- "The Reading Redskins" would at least have alliteration going for them. "Anderson Redskins" doesn't anything but a basic functional purpose--we have to call them something.

Would anyone care if FDR replaced Hamilton or Wilson replaced Jackson on our money? Would anyone care if the F-16 replaced the bald eagle? The flag is changed everything we add a new state. If someday we have so many states, would people object to replacing the stars entirely? If the flag, something infinitely more important than any sports mascot, can survive multiple changes over the years, couldn't Anderson High School?
Pride vs. Self-Esteem

Conservatives often attack the concept of "Self-Esteem," claiming that telling everyone "you're special" makes the word "special" meaningless.

For the most part, I think they're right. No one should feel bad about themselves for no reason--teaching self-esteem in terms of race, sex, and related issues is great but telling every kid that "you're the absolute bees' knees!" just creates delusion. I wish I could videotape some of the students who admit, "I'm not a very good writer and this isn't my best paper but I think I deserve better than a 'B.'"

What I don't think conservatives recognize is that the word "pride" functions the same way. Saying "I'm proud to be American" makes sense and might even spur the speaker into positive actions. What I've heard a lot lately is "I'm proud of the name 'Redskin.'"

None of the people I've heard this from are Indians (at least that I know of). One of Anderson's school colors is orange. Are people proud of orange? If a dye shortage caused orange uniforms to be more expensive would they object to changing to red?

Saying "I have good self-esteem about being black/Catholic/blind/female/Martian/etc." makes sense. Saying "I have good self-esteem about being the greatest person who ever lived" doesn't (unless you can back it up).

Saying "I'm proud to be an American" makes sense. "I'm proud of my high school sports mascot" does not (unless he dove into a river to save a drowning baby).

I've been told that I just don't understand but instead of trying to make me understand, the person I'm talking to either gets mad or refuses to comment. Could someone at least try to explain?

We caught the last hamster last night but not before the dog tried to eat it. Everyone seemed fine this morning.

Had to have my daughter's tooth pulled before health and dental insurance kick in (for the moment I'm in the 14% or so without any health insurance). Total costs were cheaper than paying for COBRA benefits.

We got plenty back on federal taxes but owe about $250 for state. I've waited to mail it out until today.

Another sleepless night. D-boy didn't pass out until about 6:00 but slept so long I decided to risk going on-line. Normally his favorite game is "yank the modem out of the wall."
Penn and Teller's Bullshit!

I finished up the second season of Bullshit! a while back. It's funny and provides a skeptical POV that needs a voice but sometimes I wished they'd tighten their focus.

One of the episodes looked into the historic and scientific accuracy of the Bible. Penn began by claiming that there are two conflicting stories of creation in the Bible, something fundamentalists argue is completely wrong.

Surprisingly, the fundies are right--there's not two conflicting creation stories in the Bible: there's three.

Psalm 74 tells the story of how Jehova killed the Leviathan (New Internation Version translation) or dragon (most others) and used its body to make the world. Greek, Sumerian, Babylonian, Norse, and even Central American myths have similar stories but for some reason, backers of Intelligent Design keep silent on the scientific and historic infallibility of God using a dragon's head to make the world.

They also left out that the Bible claims the value of pi is 3.0 exactly (I Kings 7:23 and 2 Chronicles 4:2). If the Bible is scientifically accurate, shouldn't fundamentalists demand cars made with tires conforming to this measure of pi?

Penn spent a while on the issue of if Jesus even existed. Robert Silverberg once suggested (not to seriously) that Socrates was just a character made up by Plato. As unlikely as that may be, I think it's more probable than Jesus being simply a story. The show admitted that two ancient historians wrote about Jesus (I'm aware of at least three others) without even hinting that he wasn't an existing person. Yes, it's possible that Jesus wasn't real (just as it's possible that Socrates or George Washington were simply constructs) but even if I did believe that, I wouldn't spend time on it during an hour long program when I could get to topics that could be proven one way or the other.

That episode offended my wife but not nearly as much as their look at exercise and fitness. Earlier this morning UPS dropped off an $80 box of vitamin/energizer pills. P&T pretty much showed these to be worthless but I don't expect my wife to stop buying them.

Another episode that was good but could have been stronger was their look at "Death Inc." (the business of funeral homes and undertakers). They exposed many of the scams used to sell people expensive caskets (including pillows in caskets used for cremations) and talked to a Catholic priest who is battling the funeral home industry (as Penn put it, "How pissed does a priest have to be to team up with us?") However, they spent a lot of time focused on trivial issues like a couple of self-proclaimed vampires, one of which sucked the other's blood. (What are the grammar rules for vampires? Should it be "one of which" or "one of whom"? I'm betting nobody cares.)

Other than The Sopranos and Simpsons, this is the only show I think is worth watching but I they'd get a little edgier. I know that's a lot to ask--most of the country is shocked to hear Jesus probably didn't have blue eyes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Can Someone Who Speaks German Be All Bad?
(Simpsons reference for the unwashed)

Remember the German cannibal who interviewed and selected a willing victim/partner?

I would have gone home already but I'm obsessed with this case (I haven't watched or read anything about Jackson's).
Redskin Editorial

Earlier I mentioned that the Anderson classroom where I teach has this taped to the door.

Although I would favor changing the name, I think Galvin is just provoking opponents with this. Wouldn't a "what's-the-big-deal" argument work better than "we'll-bury-you"?

Again, maybe it's because my high school called their teams "The Eagles" but why does anyone care about the name? I could see the point in something unusual like the Bearcats (although I wouldn't give a rat's ass if they changed that either). If people from Norway complained about NKU's name of "The Norsemen," what would be the big deal about changing it? The argument goes that schools seek to honor the people they name themselves after--why honor someone who doesn't appreciate it?

I'm a tiny bit Powhatan and a lot Irish. I don't feel the least bit offended by Redskins but, if some people do, why not change it to Celtics? (Is there anyone who really is offended by Fighting Irish?)

My thoughts are that it's the people on the team that counts, not the name or the mascot.
Was Walt a Nazi?

I'm sure this won't interest anyone else but I've spent thousands on Disney video and line extensions.

I guess after driving a Ford, it isn't such a big deal.
Hamsters and Devil-Spawn

The day you knew was coming has arrived: Devilboy knocked over one of the hamster cages and nearly shattered another. After moving all the furniture in the room, I found one (it had crawled to the bathroom and was hiding behind the toilet) but the other is still at large.

I'm checking E-bay for kid-sized straight jackets.
School Board

Wes suggested that I run for Forest Hills School Board. I have no money to spend on a campaign but it could be fun. Although my mom lives in Cincinnati, so I might not get even a single vote.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Losing It

Devilboy has not been sleeping well so I've been getting up with him two or three times a night, sometimes hours on a stretch. Life without daycare is wearing me out even with fewer classes. Thankfully there aren't nearly as many students in the Anderson High School classes as in a standard Clermont College class.

It just came to me today that I've been changing diapers for five years, two months, and eleven days without break. I've washed my hands so many times that I no longer have fingerprints.
Race in Myth

A while back I read Myths and Legends of the Congo by Jan Knappert. African myths have strange narrative pacing and structures compared to Europe and Asia (most American myths probably would seem just as different but most of them were substantially influenced by Europeans before written down).

One of the strangest things about the myths of the Congo was their take on racial issues. Many myths address race, from Noah's sons to the chariot of the sun burning Africans black, but all the ones I've seen (European, Mid-Eastern, and Asian) make subtle or not-so-subtle claims that "other races are tolerable but we're the best." The Congo is very different.

The first racial story comes from the Alur tribe who believed that one of their ancestors was traveling one day and found the Son of God dead near the road (many African mythologies are midway between monotheistic and polytheistic with one GOD and many minor gods). The Alur walked on without doing anything. Next the ancestor of white men came by. He stopped buried the body and covered it with sweet-smelling leaves. When it came time for God to give men weapons, he gave black men bow and arrows but gave guns to the whites, granting them an unbeatable advantage in war.

It would make sense if an American tribe had a similar myth, but I've never heard of anything like this. Most religions hold tough to the "We're the Chosen Few," not "God likes you best."

Another racial myth comes from the Nkundo tribe who live in the middle of the Congo basin (sometimes unflatteringly described as the "armpit" of the Congo River). They call their land Ngimôkili ("Middle Land" or "Middle Earth"). Many of their legends concern Lianja (somewhat equivalent of King Arthur) and Bongenge (somewhat equivalent of Merlin).

Yendembe, one of Lianja's unmarried daughters, was obviously pregnant but swore she was a virgin. Bongenge soothed the situation by divining that the father was a god and Yendembe would give birth to twins. These twins were freaks with white skin who at the ages of 15 chose to live apart from the rest of humanity. Away by themselves, they invented pens to write with, learned to forge iron, and even built an iron boat. Lianja and his people were astounded but the king kept on friendly terms with his grandchildren and regarded them as family.

Compared to the story of Noah's son Ham or the racial myths told by the Nation of Islam, the Nkundo's story is inspirational. Considering the state of nations along the Congo, I wonder if such goodwill is still flowing, but it is nice to see a religion based on a degree of brotherhood and tolerance (of course, they were brutalized by cultures with religions built on less noble themes).
Source of All Our Evils

Everyone has heard that violent video games, gangster rap, and pornography are the roots of all crime. Before the electronic era, morons were reduced to blaming comic books and jazz. Of course, to Professor Henry Hill it was pool. But the award for the most idiotic reason to blame for juvenile delinquency and crime in general has to go to Mrs. Sarah Trimmer.

Trimmer lived from 1741 to 1810 and crusaded against fairy tales. She especially hated Cinderella which she claimed encouraged "envy, jealousy, a dislike for mothers-in-law and half-sisters, vanity, [and] a love of dress." I'd bet she would be a huge fan of Tomb Raider.
Best and Worst Presidents

A few days ago I picked up Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. Leaders From the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent from the library.

The rankings are based on five categories: Leadership Qualities, Accomplishments and Crisis Management, Political Skill, Appointments, and Character and Integrity.

Overall, the top ten picks were Lincoln, FDR, Washington, Jefferson, T.Roosevelt, Wilson, Truman, Jackson, Eisenhower, and Madison.

The bottom ten were (starting with the worst) Harding, Buchanan, A.Johnson, Grant, Pierce, Fillmore, W.Harrison, Tyler, Coolidge, and Nixon. Even though Nixon comes in 32nd place, he's given the 41st spot for Character and Integrity.

Clinton is ranked 23rd (38th in character), G.H.W.Bush as 22nd (24th in character), Reagan 26th (39th in character), and Carter 19th (5th in character).

James Knox Polk is ranked 11th overall and 20th in character. For the president who shoulders most of the blame for the Mexican War, I would have thought he'd be much lower. Personally I would rank the war with Mexico as the single worst act America has ever committed (but thanks to Germany, North Korea, and Argentina we still wind up smelling like roses) so I'd place Polk much lower than 20th.

Millard Fillmore who signed onto the Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Law ranked 36th overall and 31st for character. How this could be better than hard-drinking and making bad choices in friends (Grant with 32nd) or being an ineffective fop (Buchanan 36th), I'll never know.

Jackson ranked 8th with character. I think I'd weigh the Trail of Tears a wee bit more harshly.

I did enjoy the book and it provided good information about several of the mediocre presidents, Chester A. Arthur particularly, but I did wonder about the character category.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Thought Police

I mentioned this a while back but never followed up.

According to Robert Silverberg in "Fantasies about Fiction," Jan Richman, a writing instructor teaching at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco asked her class to read a story with a strongly unsympathetic character to get a better handle on how to develop unlikeable but compelling characters of their own.

One of the students wrote a violent story involving child molesters and murder which wasn't exactly a masterpiece but some readers said showed promise. Richman brought the story to her supervisor who suggested that the student read The Lovely Bones to get a better idea of how to present such material.

Even after UC's "no genre fiction/sensitive relationship stories only" approach to writing, it bothers me that this couldn't have been worked out between student and teacher. However it didn't end.

The university brought Richman before an "administrative committee" and asked to provide character references. Then they sent the story to the SFPD who bounced it around before sending Homicide Inspector Holly Pera to check up on the student. She later stated that "We have no evidence that it was anything other than a story," but the school expelled the writer anyway.

After the semester, Richman, apparently an adjunct without a contract, was out of work. More on the story.

From a Cincinnati POV, it's nice to see San Francisco as the censor champ but you have to wonder about the effect this could have on college creative writing classes. There's no need to encouragement them to crank out stuff even more bland.
I Nominate Covington with Nathan Singer as Vice-Pope

Technically the only three requirements to be pope are:

1. You are Catholic (and unless you've been excommunicated, as long as you were baptized Catholic, you're okay).

2. You have/had male reproductive organs. (I'm not familiar with the Vatican's views on sex changes. Could a male to female transgendered person still be pope? Or could a female to male? I suppose if you lost your organs in an accident, you'd still qualify but what if you did it intentionally?)

3. You are alive (possible exceptions from the state of Florida).

If you meet these requirements, click here.
People Who Should Be Sterilized

You like the new Star Wars movies. Strike one.

You stand in line for the new movies months in advance. Strike two.

You stand in line for the new movie months in advance in front of a theater not slated to show the new movie. Strike three.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Anderson High School

I taught the first classes of ENG 102 at Anderson High School this week. I was expecting a computer at every desk but it wasn't quite as fancy. From what I could see, classrooms have at least two computers. One of the rooms is set up to teach digital photography but the janitor was nearby when I discovered it and I couldn't sneak in to check it out.

The classroom I use has articles and a cartoon taped on the walls protesting the school's sports' name of "Redskins." Several posters in the halls referred to different teams as the "Gymskins" so it seems that the reluctance to change the name comes from the school board and alumni, not the students or staff.

The sports fields and equipment was more impressive than the academic material (but they might be more easily concealed). There was a media center that looked extensive from the outside but the opportunity to snoop didn't provide itself.

Unless we move, Anderson will be the high school my kids attend. Other than "Redskins," everything looks okay.
Latest Fashion and the Easter Bunny

Via the Museum of Hoaxes, when piercings aren't enough.

Also I talked about evaluating nonfiction for evidence of a bias in ENG 102 and a student thought this was biased against Christians. It's against the Easter bunny but he's not quite official in any denomination I know of.

D-boy had a screaming jag last night, only settling down at the stroke of 6:00. His sister needed to go to the dentist because she split one of her teeth at daycare (she needs either a root canal and a stainless steel cap or an extraction). I brought D-boy, now operating at hyper-maximum mode to campus for a make-up test for two students. One showed up about five minutes late but was holding a baby so I'm sympathetic. The other still isn't here and this is the second time he's stood me up.

And he needs this class to graduate. Cue sinister music.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Editors of Maxim Die in Mysterious Accident

"We're from the government and we're here to help you."
Straight Dope on Mormons

Straight Dope answers the question "if the Mormon's claims hold water."

The tee-totalling thing is the real deal-killer for me but before we worry about if Smith translated or just wrote the Book of Mormon, shouldn't we go after the people who have beliefs that openly defy reality like creationists?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Nathan Alert

Did Homeland Security finally "liberate" Nathan? "Prayer for Dawn" [I'd link but unable] is down and I'm leaping to conclusions for lack of anything else to do.
Silver Hammer

Snopes on story that the Pope must be struck by a silver hammer to be declared officially dead. Is this where the Beetles got that song?
Bad Scene, Good Movie

The Onion's list of 15 worst scenes in good movies and best in bad.

I disagree with their first choice. The explanation scene is Psycho is more painful to watch than anything else in the movie but it's intentional. Instead of dimissing the madness, it dismisses the explanation, any explanation for such actions. (Also it satirizes the "this-is-why-the-bad-guy-did-it" dialogue found in every thriller from D.W. Griffith to Silence of the Lambs.
Irish Taliban

Remember the reports that Irish women were forced into convents if they were deemed likely to have sex without express written consent of their clergyman? It's worse than you heard via Straight Dope.

Although they didn't send anyone to Gitmo so Americans can't throw stones.