Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


Why I didn't watch the State of the Union Address

Well, it's stupid. It's cheerleading. And my question is: does either side even listen to it? You can predict exactly what the Republicans are going to say - "he showed inspired leadership" - and what the Democrats are going to say - "he needs to address problems better." Really, who cares? Both sides are so entrenched that it doesn't even matter anymore. The time for rational discourse among politicians has passed. Sad.

31 January 1943

The German Sixth Army surrenders at Stalingrad.

This might be the day that was the beginning of the end of Nazi supremacy. Hitler was determined to take Stalingrad, so much so that he ignored intelligence reports that the Russians were building up troops to make a stand there. When the Germans failed to take it prior to winter setting in, Hitler abandoned the army to its fate. Through the winter the Germans were trapped deep inside Russia, and the siege took a heavy toll. Finally, Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrendered, and 91,000 soldiers were taken prisoner. Only 5,000 survived the POW camps and were released after the war. This campaign, among others, inspired Wallace Shawn's classic line: "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!" Too bad Hitler never saw The Princess Bride!


Bryce Canyon is the star of this week's pictures!

25 August is the birthday of the National Park Service. How, pray tell, do I know this? Because on 25 August 1993, my lovely soon-to-be bride rolled up to Bryce Canyon National Park and discovered that entry to the park was free! in celebration of the birthday. Bryce Canyon is a very nifty little park, famous for its weird geology, which takes the form of rock spires called "hoodoos." We zipped around the park (it's pretty small) and then, because entry was free! at every National Park, drove lickety-split over to Zion National Park, and saw that the same day! But that's a Picture Day yet to come ...

Here are the hoodoos. Look on them in amazement!
 Posted by Picasa

This is a particularly famous hoodoo called Thor's Hammer. Behold!
 Posted by Picasa

We took a hike down into the canyon, and saw some pretty keen stuff. This is a path between two tall rock walls.
 Posted by Picasa

Down in the canyon we saw a natural rock bridge. Geology is cooooool!
 Posted by Picasa

I just liked this tower of rock with the bright blue sky behind it. The clouds kept coming in a obscuring the sky, so some of the pictures have complete cloud coverage and others, like this, show a brilliant sunny sky.
 Posted by Picasa

This is a nice shot of the hoodoos, including Thor's Hammer.
 Posted by Picasa

Finally, we have a nice overview of the park. It's a beautiful area. Nice place for some condos!
 Posted by Picasa

Southern Utah is way out of the way, but if you can get there, I highly recommend checking out Bryce Canyon and Zion, which we'll see next week. Yes, it's time for a road trip!

30 January 1889

Rudolf von Hapsburg kills his seventeen-year-old mistress, then himself.

At age 31, Rudolf was the heir to the Austria-Hungary Empire of the Hapsburgs, a figure beloved throughout his father Franz Joseph's realm. He was more liberal than most royalty, and took special interest in his father's non-Austrian subjects, who were often disaffected and angry. He was in a loveless marriage and his father gave him no role in the government. When his father found out about his liaison with Baroness Maria von Vetsera, he rebuked the prince and told him both he and the Pope were against an annulment or divorce. The only way out, Rudolf believed, was murder-suicide, an action that sent shockwaves through Europe and led to a huge cover-up by the royal family. Rudolf's successor as heir, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated 25 years later in Sarajevo, providing the spark for World War I.

I maintain that Rudolf's death was one of the most significant events in European history in the past 150 years or so. "What if?" is a dangerous game to play, and Franz Joseph did manage to live a ridiculously long time (Rudolf would have been almost 60 when he inherited the throne), but there is every indication that Rudolf would have fought hard for the rights of minorities in the Empire, and Serbia may not have been so eager to get rid of him as they were of his father and cousin Franz Ferdinand. Without the assassination at Sarajevo, World War I may have happened, but not in the same way, and who knows if Rudolf would have been able to keep his polyglot realm together. Rudolf's death is a tragic story, and a fascinating one. Read more about it in Frederic Morton's brilliant book A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889.


High in carbs, high in cholesterol, high in calories, high in protein - it must be the manly links, packed with red meat goodness!

The football season is over. Therefore the links are back on Sunday, where I think we'll all agree they belong. So join me in a fun little tour around this virtual community we all like to call the World Wide Web.


That's a category you won't see here too often! Anyway, Gordon just got a new job. Go congratulate him. Gordon likes to pretend he doesn't read this blog, but he's very nice about linking to my posts. Good job, Gordon! Good luck with the new position!

Meanwhile, Nik is moving to New Zealand. I'm consumed with envy. Consumed! Whenever I think Nik has abandoned me for a more glamorous blog, he leaves excellent one-word comments that sum up awesome movies perfectly. Have fun in NZ, Nik. Keep us updated!


You know that I'll be taking classes at the Suharto Financial Institute. If I'm ever going to be a good dictator, I should learn from the best! I found this at Crash Landing.

A hard, uncompromising look at Skittles: the strippers of candy.

Subdivided we stand continues to award-winning series: I read Leviticus so you don't have to. More parts of the series can be found here.

When the company diversity day goes horribly wrong.

Five good things to figure out while you're still young. And, as a bonus: Five reasons the terrorists hate us, apart from, you know, the whole freedom thing.

I keep telling you to go read Andy's blog, if only for the Tuesday Top Ten. This week: Top Ten rejected Olympic sports. I bet you thought they were all already included!

When a Latigo Flint post begins, "The nice thing about falling is that no one cares if you swear," you know it's going to be good! The Swedes are just an added bonus.

The horror that is ... the Burger King!

The GayProf tells us the real meaning of letters of recommendation.

Roger links to the 50 worst funeral eulogies. Good stuff.

Quit Complaining About Your Job! I was going to steal one of the pictures, but it would lose its visceral impact if you see it here. Just click on the link and gaze in amazement. You'll know which one I'm talking about. This is from Mister Snitch.

Jeffrey Rowland and his love for/obsession with Parker Posey. I hear you, brother.

Superblog!! praises alcohol. Don't we all at one point or another?


Preparing your family for company - harder than it sounds!

Mr. Nice Guy discovers ... subtly sexual children's songs. Won't someone think of the children?!?

Stuntmother gives us yet more wisdom from children.


The 24 rules of the 24-verse. Very funny, and oh so true. This is from Respectful Insolence.

Woody! brings us both actual 24 transcripts and things Jack Bauer would never say.


Here's a post lamenting the 2006 mid-term elections because the Republicans will lose. Let's hope! This is interesting because it's coming from a pretty hard core Republican.

Mah Two Cents brings us a very disturbing little nugget about the next elections and wars that might be in the offing. It's in, of all places, one of Roger Ebert's dispatches from the Sundance Film Festival. Read the article and see if you can find it - it's kind of frightening.

This is charming: Halliburton exposes its workers in Iraq to contaminated water and ignores the problem when they find out about it. This is from Balloon Juice.

Bush is an American Hitler. This guy is really angry.

Surprisingly enough, the government is allowing the energy companies to screw the taxpayers again. How nice. This time it's natural gas companies. I found this on Donklephant.

Is Spielberg's Munich being Swift-boated?

The real reason The West Wing was cancelled. It's all a vast conspiracy!

Bring back internment camps - this time for people who question our president's policies! Excellent. Because the Japanese and American Indians aren't bitter at all from their experiences. This is from Strike the Root.

I's sure you all know that the Canadians, who think the United States is doing so well, elected a George Bush-liking guy for their new prime minister. Chris McLaren gives us various fun quotes from the new leaders of Canada. They seem like level-headed individuals!

It turns out the White House did know about the threat of Hurricane Katrina. How nice.

Matthew talks about "shock probation." If you guessed that it's something done in Texas, well, no points for you, because it's kind of obvious once you read about it.

Shakespeare's Sister gives us another reason why health insurance providers are evil. I'd like to summarize it, but it would make me angry. Just go read it.

The vice-president of Venezuela says that John McCain can go to hell. We need more politicians like that guy! I found this at Me4President.

Thomas links to an article about all the money spent on blocking gay marriage. He makes a good point: don't churches have better things to do with their money, like feeding the poor?

Did you know the Patriot Act has created what is basically a Gestapo? Isn't that swell? This is from Strike the Root.

Avedon Carol wants the Democrats to attack the Republicans on national security, and she makes her points to prove it.

Dave wonders what ever happened to the Social Security crisis?

Stop the presses! I actually agree with George Bush about something! And I'm not kidding! Bush is reluctant to bail out automobile industry. I can't believe I agree with that. I'm so depressed.

The Iraqi constitution protects against monitoring of phone calls. Excellent that they care more about it than we do. This is from Andrew Sullivan.

Ann Coulter jokes about poisoning Justice Stevens. I'll type that again: Ann Coulter is making jokes about killing a Supreme Court Justice. If you don't think the media in the country leans to the right, imagine Michael Moore saying that about Bush, or, I don't know, Harry Belafonte calling Bush a terrorist. Can you imagine the shitstorm? But Ann gets a free pass. I first saw this at Ace of Spades, a very right-wing blog but who makes some good points about offensive jokes. More thoughts about Coulter are at Orcinus.

The Washington state legislature passed a gay rights bill. Good for you, Washington! I don't see the world ending. Maybe I missed it.

Reasons why the Democrats should filibuster Samuel Alito that have nothing to do with Alito himself.


Man, all those lousy fundamentalists trying to get their beliefs into the public schools really burn my britches. Except this time, they're Hindu fundamentalists in California. This post has many links to the big story.

Just so we don't think religious crazies are all Republican, Democratic senators in Georgia and Alabama are trying to introduce the Bible into public schools.

Following up on the whole "crisis with boys in school" thing that is reaching a boiling point, from Education Wonks comes this story, about the city of Philadelphia denying a charter for an all-boys' school. They say it's because they don't want to discriminate against girls. I don't think you'll be surprised when I say that Philadelphia already has two all-girls' charter schools.

And you knew it was coming: A law suit by a high school student (helped by his attorney father) that alleges a bias against boys exists in his school. I found this at Mister Snitch. Unsurprisingly, Shakespeare's Sister has some excellent thoughts.


Kevin breaks down the covers of Fables.

Chris Sims thinks he has read the greatest comic book ever. It might be, because it stars this guy:
 Posted by Picasa

Sleestak points out Mary Jane Watson-Parker's sordid past. It's shocking!

Swamp Thing shows everyone how much he loves the environment.


Here's a fun story: Eight people get arrested (and later released) for wearing no pants on the New York subway. Turns out it was some kind of weird theater group stunt. But still - another reason why New Yorkers are strange.

A dead man rides the New York subway for hours. Nice that someone noticed. I found this at See You At The Yard, Meat.


Roger has this interesting story about how Craigslist is destroying the newspapers.

Meanwhile, this has to be the best Craigslist post ever.


This is a weird blog: a list of drugs the guy takes every day. I found this at Goin' Ape.

I know you're just dying to find a blog that is devoted exclusively to photographs of Marilyn Monroe:
 Posted by PicasaWell, here it is!

Jon shows us a blog totally devoted to bacon. You read that right!


You know you want this shirt:
 Posted by PicasaBuy it here. I found the link at Sarcasmo's Corner.

Toner Mishap brings us the marketing geniuses at Bling H20:
 Posted by PicasaUsing sex to sell ... water. Now that's brilliant!

Do you want an ugly portrait? Who doesn't! Go here for a fine selection.

I'm sure you're all aware that Bolivia just got a new president. Come on, people, keep up! Ashley shows us the new Bolivian president's hip sweater and, of course, links to where you can get your own!

Bitter Cinema links to Kino Art - your one-stop shop for movie poster!


Scott Adams shows how one of his "Dilbert" cartoons got edited. Pretty stupidly, actually.

Go Fug Yourself brings us:
 Posted by PicasaBai Ling at the Sundance Film Festival. Oh, the horror.

According to this, 23 January is the saddest day of the year. According to Stephen Colbert, 24 January was. Whatever. Both days in Mesa: in the 60s with plenty of sunshine. Not terribly depressing.

As a public service, San Nakji shows us what it will look like when the sun explodes.

Foma brings us the story of the 41-year-old hooker with a PhD. It's a strange tale, to say the least. And because one can't go through life web-less these days, here's her web site. Needless to say, it's not safe for work.

This is interesting: Apparently you can't quote the pope without paying a fee. How very Christian of him. This is from Laura's blog.

Some Watery Tart gives us the picture of the day:
 Posted by PicasaShe explains it all, I promise!

Interesting post about the Arab phallus. No, I'm not kidding. I got this from Jim Henley's blog.

This is bizarre. I really don't want to ruin it for you. Nothing disgusting, I promise. I found it at Mister Snitch.

Technically, this post is about Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern, for you non-comic-book-buying people), but I really like it because of this:
 Posted by PicasaA pillow shaped like Racquel Welch. Where can I get one of those?

Because the Internet is full of geeks (me included), we get a list of the top ten sexiest female robots. Rosie the Robot is on it, so beware!

MySpace is weird. This is also not safe at all for work. I got this at YesButNoButYes.

Haven't we all discovered a $295,000 lump of ambergris in Australia, right? And because we didn't know what ambergris is beyond the fact that it's whale vomit, we moved on. If you want to catch up on ambergris, go here.

Goin' Ape brings us this bizarre story: A woman goes into the hospital to give birth, gets her arms and legs amputated, and the hospital won't give her a good reason why. Insane.

Big news from the world of biology: Scientists discover the world's smallest fish!
 Posted by PicasaCheck out the little fella!

This is pretty shocking: Sex calms your nerves before public speaking. Never doubt the Farrelly Brothers! This comes from Ace of Spades.

A New Jersey male has triumphed: he can wear a skirt to high school!

Can you find the penguin?

Monitor Duty points us to this site comparing Spinal Tap to other, actual metal bands. It's funny, but then he disses Def Leppard. How dare he!

This post is bizarre. Just wacky. Be warned - it's the site of a New York escort, so it's a bit risqué. And while you're there, you can check out the advertisements for some other escorts. That's a good way to waste your time!

Dave talks about the number 23. Would I kid you?

Two Zimbabweans wear loin cloths in public, get fined. We need more people in this country wearing loin cloths to the mall.


It's been all over the Internet, but you still may have missed it. As the link says, if you watch it, you may die from an overdose of awesome. But take the chance - the David Hasselhoff video for "Hooked On A Feeling"! It's quite literally indescribable. Like I said, everyone is linking to it, but I saw it first at Red. Hot. Mamma.

I can't top that, so we'll end it there. I hope you have fun trawling the underbelly of cyberspace! Pictures tomorrow - Bryce Canyon, people! Gorgeous stuff.

29 January 1536

Anne Boleyn miscarries a baby boy.

Boleyn caught her husband Henry VIII doin' the nasty with Jane Seymour, and this caused her to miscarry her fetus, which turned out to be male. Not a good thing, as Henry was already getting sick of his second wife, especially because she had so far failed to deliver an heir (Elizabeth, born in 1533, didn't count). History may have been changed if Anne hadn't miscarried, because who knows if the kid would have been more healthy than Edward VI, Jane Seymour's child. Whatever else, the miscarry sealed Anne's fate - three months after the death of the child, Henry had her executed.


Short movie post

Right now Red Dawn is on Encore. Red Dawn is awesome.

That is all.

28 January 814

Charlemagne dies.

Carolus Magnus, Charles the Great, died on this date at the age of 71. Charlemagne was the founder of the Carolingian Empire and a line of emperors that ruled a good deal of France and Germany until 987. Charlemagne is the most formidable figure in early medieval Europe, and he has every right to be. He became king in 768 of a territory encompassing northern France and parts of Germany, and over the next 30 years he extended his rule into southern France and parts of northern Spain, central and southern Germany, Italy, and into Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Both Germany and France consider him the founder of their countries. In several Slavic languages and Turkish, the word for "king" derives from his German name, Karl (král in Czech and król in Polish, for instance). He was crowned Emperor in Rome on Christmas Day 800. He promoted learning and strong government throughout his domain, in an age when personal rule meant everything. Interesting guy, Charlemagne. We're still learning about him. When I was a lad I saw his palace at Aachen. I don't remember it. Can I go back to Europe now?

I missed a few days, and that's a shame, because they were good ones. On 26 January 1885, Charles "Chinese" Gordon, who by all accounts was an unpleasant human being and an incompetent military leader, was killed in Khartoum by the forces of the Mahdi, two days before a British relief column reached him. Because of his spectacular failure in the Sudan, he is remembered as a hero. Meanwhile, on 27 January 98, Marcus Ulpius Traianus, whom we know as Trajan, became Roman Emperor on the death of Nerva, thereby inaugurating Rome's Golden Century - from his accession to the death of Marcus Aurelius in AD 180. Trajan has a good rep partly because he didn't actively persecute Christians, so later Christian writers were nice to him - Dante actually put him in Paradise.


Edumacation in these here States of America

A couple of things, one short, one extremely long. Read at your peril!

First, our governor, Janet Napolitano, on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have helped children learn English. She did it despite a federal judge ruling in December that Arizona doesn't do enough to help English-language learners and imposing a fine if the legislature doesn't get it worked out. So why would Napolitano veto it?

It doesn't allot enough money, in her view. Plus it allowed tuition-tax credits for private schools, which she claimed would drain resources from public schools. The plan allocated only $14 million for English learning. Napolitano wants to start at spending $45 million a year, eventually raising the ceiling to $185 million. The Republican legislature thinks this is too much money. How will we raise money to invade Iran if we're teaching all our children to speak English?

Good for Napolitano, I say. If Arizona gets fined, so be it. I marvel at people who decry illegal immigrants (and their children) and claim they don't want to "integrate" into our fine American society and then refuse to spend any money to teach them English. Idiots. Anyway, read more about the battle at the link. It's pretty interesting.

Then, on Wednesday, she vetoed a second plan. Let the fines begin!

The other education nugget this week (this is the long part of the post, by the way) is Newsweek magazine's cover story: The Trouble With Boys.

Yes, it's an article about why boys are performing poorly in school. For years, we've heard how girls are performing poorly in school. Now, it's the boys' turn! I was simply going to link to the article and the various commentaries on it, but since I was a teacher once, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I thought I'd take a stab at addressing some of the points raised in the article and some of the reactions to it across the tiny section of the blogosphere that I encountered.

First, the article. It's very interesting - I encourage you to read it. If you don't feel like it, however, that's okay, because I am here to summarize for you!

A few random quotes:

In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes.

This is very interesting. I don't know if I have mentioned this on this blog or my other one, but Mia is the only girl in her pre-school special education class. In her class are six other boys, and I think the other class has five boys in it. One of the boys has autism. One of the boys is Hispanic and therefore needs to learn English. I have not deduced why the rest of them are in the class (and I'm not about to ask, either). Mia and the boy with autism appear to be the only ones with serious handicaps. Are the rest, perhaps, being judged on a "girls'" standard and are therefore deemed somehow insufficient? I don't know.

Could the problem be biological? Some people seem to think so:

New studies show that prenatal exposure to male sex hormones directly affects the way children play. Girls whose mothers have high levels of testosterone during pregnancy are more likely to prefer playing with trucks to playing with dolls. There are also clues that hormones influence the way we learn all through life. In a Dutch study published in 1994, doctors found that when males were given female hormones, their spatial skills dropped but their verbal skills improved.

Primatologists have long observed that juvenile male chimps battle each other not just for food and females, but to establish and maintain their place in the hierarchy of the tribe. Primates face off against each other rather than appear weak. That same evolutionary imperative, psychologists say, can make it hard for boys to thrive in middle school - and difficult for boys who are failing to accept the help they need. The transition to middle school is rarely easy, but like the juvenile primates they are, middle-school boys will do almost anything to avoid admitting that they're overwhelmed. "Boys measure everything they do or say by a single yardstick: does this make me look weak?" says Thompson. "And if it does, he isn't going to do it."

The prefrontal cortex is a knobby region of the brain directly behind the forehead that scientists believe helps humans organize complex thoughts, control their impulses and understand the consequences of their own behavior. In the last five years, Dr. Jay Giedd, an expert in brain development at the National Institutes of Health, has used brain scans to show that in girls, it reaches its maximum thickness by the age of 11 and, for the next decade or more, continues to mature. In boys, this process is delayed by 18 months.

Teenage girls can process information faster, too. In a study about to be published in the journal Intelligence, researchers at Vanderbilt University administered timed tests - picking similar objects and matching groups of numbers - to 8,000 boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 18. In kindergarten, boys and girls processed information at about the same speeds. In early adolescence, girls finished faster and got more right. By 18, boys and girls were processing with the same speed and accuracy.

Some boys are every bit as organized and assertive as the highest-achieving girls. All kids can be scarred by violence, alcohol or drugs in the family. But if your brain hasn't reached maturity yet, says Yurgelun-Todd, "it's not going to be able to do its job optimally."

Shakespeare's Sister has something to say about this:

"Might we consider what it is about our culture that reinforces an association between accepting help and weakness among boys and men?" See, even though we're primates, we're not chimps. And one of the things that separates us from chimps is the capacity for cultural adjustment. If males are biologically determined to "measure everything they do or say by a single yardstick" which determines the appearance of weakness, the best way to address the associated educational issue isn't necessarily to bend an existing structure to accommodate an urge that isn't a strength in other areas of life, either, but addressing the failings of our culture at large to disassociate need from weakness.

Undoubtedly, there are those who would accuse me of further attempts to "feminize" the culture, but a boy who learns that seeking help is not a sign of weakness is more likely to become a man who seeks medical treatment at the first sign of trouble - one of many reasons why redefining "weakness" could benefit men.

Now, I certainly believe some of this is biological. It's been proven that girls mature faster than boys and that girls learn more quickly. I don't think it's the biggest cause of the problem - biology can only take us so far, and I agree with SS - we're not chimpanzees, and we can learn other ways. I wonder about her assessment that the "competitive" urge "isn't a strength in other areas of life" - that seems to be what she's saying. I could be wrong, but that's what it seems like. One of the biggest problems in today's school (and, by extension, a lot of society) is that we aren't more competitive. I'm not saying we should be at each other tooth and nail, but when I taught, the kids simply didn't care about doing their best, even to best their fellow students. When I was in school, we were fiercely competitive - even the girls, but mostly the boys - and it wasn't unhealthy, but more friendly - we wanted to do better in all facets of schooling than our peers. Maybe we were weird, but it seems today that the kids don't care about winning. We have turned the world into a place where it's bad to win (I'm skirting the edge of The Incredibles, I know) because we don't want anyone to feel bad. These kids aren't prepared for a world that doesn't give a shit whether they win or not. I don't know if it's a "guy" thing or not, but it annoys me when people say that competition is a bad thing. Taken to the extreme it's a bad thing, but that's true with everything.

The other thing is that it seems that it's fine for girls to do stuff traditionally reserved for boys (sports being the biggest example) but not okay for boys to do things traditionally reserved for girls. This is a problem with the culture, I agree. Now that I'm a grown-up (okay, now that I'm older) I would love to learn how to knit. I don't have the time, but it would be a cool thing to know. When I was a boy, however, I had no interest in it whatsoever. I don't know if I thought I would get picked on for wanting to knit, it's just that it wasn't the thing to do. I made a pillow once in Home Ec., but I just never had any inclination to pursue it. If we're going to push girls to be more like boys, we can also push the other way. Our society still, by and large, fears gays, so that won't happen for a while. "My boy ain't gonna learn how to sew! That's how the queers get ya!"

Of course, there's the question of what to do in the classroom? It vexes us all.

The problem won't be solved overnight. In the last two decades, the education system has become obsessed with a quantifiable and narrowly defined kind of academic success, these experts say, and that myopic view is harming boys. Boys are biologically, developmentally and psychologically different from girls - and teachers need to learn how to bring out the best in every one. "Very well-meaning people," says Dr. Bruce Perry, a Houston neurologist who advocates for troubled kids, "have created a biologically disrespectful model of education."

In elementary-school classrooms - where teachers increasingly put an emphasis on language and a premium on sitting quietly and speaking in turn - the mismatch between boys and school can become painfully obvious. "Girl behavior becomes the gold standard," says "Raising Cain" coauthor Thompson. "Boys are treated like defective girls."

So King asked her teachers to buy copies of Gurian's book "The Minds of Boys," on boy-friendly classrooms, and in the fall of 2004 she launched a bold experiment. Whenever possible, teachers replaced lecture time with fast-moving lessons that all kids could enjoy. Three weeks ago, instead of discussing the book "The View From Saturday," teacher Pam Unrau divided her third graders into small groups, and one student in each group pretended to be a character from the book. Classes are noisier, Unrau says, but the boys are closing the gap. Last spring, Douglass girls scored an average of 106 on state writing tests, while boys got a respectable 101.

Across the nation, educators are reviving an old idea: separate the girls from the boys - and at Roncalli Middle School, in Pueblo, Colo., administrators say, it's helping kids of both genders. This past fall, with the blessing of parents, school guidance counselor Mike Horton assigned a random group of 50 sixth graders to single-sex classes in core subjects. These days, when sixth-grade science teacher Pat Farrell assigns an earth-science lab on measuring crystals, the girls collect their materials - a Bunsen burner, a beaker of phenyl salicylate and a spoon. Then they read the directions and follow the sequence from beginning to end. The first things boys do is ask, "Can we eat this?" They're less organized, Farrell notes, but sometimes, "they're willing to go beyond what the lab asks them to do." With this in mind, he hands out written instructions to both classes but now goes over them step by step for the boys. Although it's too soon to declare victory, there are some positive signs: the shyest boys are participating more. This fall, the all-girl class did best in math, English and science, followed by the all-boy class and then coed classes.

I found this quote funny: "In elementary-school classrooms - where teachers increasingly put an emphasis on language and a premium on sitting quietly and speaking in turn ..." Increasingly? That sounds pretty old school to me. I know when I was in elementary school, we didn't have a lot of that, but back in the day, when boys were the only ones being educated, they had to do that. I'll get back to the structure of the classroom in a bit.

There's something else I noticed in one of the story's first paragraphs, and something they address later on:

His mother, Susie Malcom, a math teacher who is divorced, says it's been wrenching to watch Danny stumble. [Emphasis mine.]

One of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school rests on a single question: does he have a man in his life to look up to? Too often, the answer is no. High rates of divorce and single motherhood have created a generation of fatherless boys. In every kind of neighborhood, rich or poor, an increasing number of boys - now a startling 40 percent - are being raised without their biological dads.

In the past, boys had many opportunities to learn from older men. They might have been paired with a tutor, apprenticed to a master or put to work in the family store. High schools offered boys a rich array of roles in which to exercise leadership skills - class officer, yearbook editor or a place on the debate team. These days, with the exception of sports, more girls than boys are involved in those activities.

David Banks, principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men, one of four all-boy public high schools in the New York City system, wants each of his 180 students not only to graduate from high school but to enroll in college. And he's leaving nothing to chance. Almost every Eagle Academy boy has a male mentor - a lawyer, a police officer or an entrepreneur from the school's South Bronx neighborhood. The impact of the mentoring program, says Banks, has been "beyond profound." Tenth grader Rafael Mendez is unequivocal: his mentor "is the best thing that ever happened to me."

I'm very glad they brought this up. To me, this is one of the most precise reasons why boys are doing poorly in school. Lack of male role models is hurting children more than we want to admit. When I taught, the kids (and boys, especially) who had two parents were much more well adjusted than those who didn't. I'm not talking specifics here - the two best students I have had were from turbulent homes - but in general, it holds true. Boys need and want male role models, and they don't get it anywhere. They are raised by women. They are usually taught by women, especially in the lower grades. They are surrounded by women. You might think this would make them more sensitive to the needs of women, but it doesn't. The women raising them have often been abandoned by men, so these boys hear nothing but bad things about men. They want a male role model, so you know where they turn: sports and popular culture. Kobe Bryant - he's a fine role model. He cheats on his wife and maybe rapes someone, but because he can score 81 in a game we all love him. 50 Cent. I don't know much about the fabulous Curtis Jackson, but what I do know isn't good. Charles Barkley was right when he said he's not a role model, but the sad fact is that these boys have nowhere else to turn. I love the program mentioned above about the male mentor, because it gives these kids a positive role model and someone who can intervene in their lives personally. Single mothers are doing the best they can, but they can't do it all. This is a much larger issue in society that simply does not get addressed enough.

As usual with "our children," some people want to make this political:

Some scholars, notably Christina Hoff Sommers, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, charge that misguided feminism is what's been hurting boys. In the 1990s, she says, girls were making strong, steady progress toward parity in schools, but feminist educators portrayed them as disadvantaged and lavished them with support and attention. Boys, meanwhile, whose rates of achievement had begun to falter, were ignored and their problems allowed to fester.

In the last 10 years, thanks in part to activist parents concerned about their children's success, school performance has been measured in two simple ways: how many students are enrolled in accelerated courses and whether test scores stay high. Standardized assessments have become commonplace for kids as young as 6. Curricula have become more rigid. Instead of allowing teachers to instruct kids in the manner and pace that suit each class, some states now tell teachers what, when and how to teach. At the same time, student-teacher ratios have risen, physical education and sports programs have been cut and recess is a distant memory. These new pressures are undermining the strengths and underscoring the limitations of what psychologists call the "boy brain" - the kinetic, disorganized, maddening and sometimes brilliant behaviors that scientists now believe are not learned but hard-wired.

Shakespeare's Sister weighs in with this:

All of us were expected to sit quietly in class, raise our hands, follow the rules, etc. - exactly like school was (minus, perhaps, knuckles getting rapped with rulers) back when girls were largely denied access to public schooling. Now, suddenly when boys are falling behind, we're being told that the very structure which was developed when public education was predominantly boys-only is hurting boys, coupled with the claim that feminists are somehow to blame for it.

And that appears to be the biggest problem with most of the stories being written about gender and education lately - the notion that the nebulous concept of "feminization" is responsible for some boys struggling is being treated as conventional wisdom, while any other explanations are relegated to side notes, if they're even addressed at all. The suggestion that girls' successes be used as a model is routinely absent from articles such as this one, perhaps because nothing more radical than a cultural imperative to encourage women's education, and an expectation that girls step up to the plate, can be pointed to as evidence of girls' educational surge.

And, mind you, though it's much more convenient for these articles (and many of the studies upon which they're based) to turn this into a boys vs. girls issue, like all gender issues, it's hardly that straightforward. Not all boys are struggling, and not all girls are succeeding. But an acknowledgement that children of both sexes respond well to one type of educational structure or another wouldn't allow for a parade of experts to be introduced to reassure us in fancy words that "Boys will be boys."

NCLB punishes schools whose pupils' scores don't improve. When funding is predicated on test scores, is it any wonder that schools are teaching how to pass tests, rather than teaching learning as a lifelong process? If this structure is leaving boys behind, it isn't because of a feminist agenda, that's for bloody sure. Instead, those concerned about boys' education would do well to turn their eyes and their pointed fingers of blame in the direction of Washington, D.C. - and the manliest of the manly brush-clearin' cowboys from whose private-schooled brain this idea sprung.

She says it much better than I could. "Feminists" are causing this? If you want to say that "feminists" are pushing for girls to improve, well, I suppose that's true, but it's like saying that gay people should all join PETA - what the hell do they care about animal rights? They have problems of their own. "Feminists" were, and are, trying to improve the lot of females. That's kind of the point. If anyone can prove that these evil feminists are actively blocking improvement for boys, that's a different story. I doubt if anyone can, though. As for how kids learn, well, I'll get to that, too.

Finally, some points about what kids are studying. It's "girl" books:

Last semester, when his English teacher assigned two girls' favorites - "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "The Secret Life of Bees" Nikolas got a D.

I found the Newsweek story at Education Wonks, which had some thoughts about that last point:

I remember when I was a KidWonk, boy students enjoyed reading adventure stories such as Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, and Ernest Hemingway's short stories. In addition, tales of real-life American heroes such as those recorded in Richard Tregaskis' Guadalcanal Diary were very popular with all of us. Many literature text and other classroom reading materials featured these kinds of works.

At our junior high here in California's "Imperial" Valley, students no longer read any kind of novel. Short stories and passages from novels are used instead, and these are selected with an eye toward political sensitivity rather than as exemplars of classic writing or high student interest.

Students are no longer reading works (such as those listed above) that have much "boy appeal." What's in vogue are those stories that demonstrate how problems and conflict should be addressed through consensus-building, accommodation, and acceptance of the inevitable.

The classic hero (which appeals to so many boys) has, for the most part, disappeared from public school reading lists. The heroic struggle has gone out of fashion.

One of the results of this unfortunate change is that many boys have lost all interest in what is being read in class. Most teachers would agree that this makes the teaching of our male students even more challenging. And that's not good for anyone, students or teachers.

I have to agree with this, for the most part. We don't read novels anymore, we read excerpts. I also agree that the "heroic ideal" has somewhat disappeared from schools. I don't know why. Kids love that sort of thing - girls and boys both. In middle school, which is where boys really start to fall behind, we shouldn't be reading such nuanced stuff as Memoirs of a Geisha. I don't even want my daughters reading it. I have no problem with "consensus-building, accommodation, and acceptance of the inevitable" - in a more mature setting. Sometimes (most of the time, actually) kids like to read about ass-kicking. And there's nothing wrong with that. I was reading somewhere that Disney is going to have problems making one of the Narnia books into a movie (that was a Disney movie, right? It doesn't really matter). Can you guess which one? If you said The Horse And His Boy, go to the head of the class. Why? Because of the portrayal of the Calormenes, who are obviously Arab and are pretty much awful. Political correctness being what it is, everyone's a bit squeamish about it. Let me tell you: I read that sucker when I was young, and that didn't even enter my head. It was an adventure story, and there were good guys and bad guys. Maybe I wasn't as sophisticated as today's youth, but I really doubt most kids will turn into Arab-hating crazies just because they read the book. I doubt most of them will make the connection, unless an adult points it out to them. That's one of the most annoying things about kids today - the fact that they're not allowed to experience something innocently. Someone is always there to "explain" it to them. I'm not saying middle school kids should read The Horse And His Boy all the time. But they should read more stuff with good guys and bad guys - no matter who the bad guys are - and lots of shooting. Video game sales have soared recently and according the FBI, kids are less violent these days. So games aren't warping their minds. Would wild literature? I know that when I taught Watchmen in my class, a lot of the kids started off hating it (even though it's a freakin' comic book) but by the end, a lot of boys enjoyed it. Why? Murder, attempted rape, shootings, fights - you name it, Watchmen has it. A lot of girls didn't actually like it - and if she's reading, one of my students can tell you that. But tough shit. It was good for them - like Brussels sprouts!

Lastly, Mr. Shakespeare has his say:

One of the more curious hypotheses that I've read is that the current expectation in the classroom, which requires children to follow a rigid code of behavior including sitting down and shutting up, is not conducive to the education of boys, given their rambunctious and unfocused natures.

However, this assertion is counterintuitive. Back in the day when unruly young lads like William Shakespeare and Lord Byron attended school (and their sisters sat at home sewing), classrooms were run like the Gulag. Not only was a student expected to be quiet, submissive, and still, but the penalties for breaking the expected code of conduct were far more severe. Students who didn't abide by these expectations could expect to be whipped until they did what they were told. This, in combination with the far more rigorous academic demands, provided an atmosphere that was authoritarian beyond the wildest nightmare of today's boys, and far less accommodating of rambunctiousness and lack of focus.

An educational structure designed by men for boys, which managed to produce generations of well-educated and literate men, demanded more discipline, not less. Although I'm not suggesting that we hearken back to the days of caning and suppression of individualism, I'm not convinced that a freeform environment where boys get to roll around on the floor all day is the best solution to their problems.

If boys are indeed inherently more undisciplined than their female counterparts, then perhaps the answer is to provide them with more structure and create a less forgiving environment that demands the very best from them. In the end, it's more important that boys learn how to use their wild imaginations creatively and productively, something which requires focus, which itself is dependent on discipline. Channeling their imaginations into productive endeavors is not the same as stifling creativity.

I couldn't agree more. Kids need structure more than anything. I mentioned above that I would get back to the disappearance of certain aspects of the school day. Well, this is where it becomes relevant. We have become so obsessed by test scores that we have pared school down to the bone. Boys can be disciplined and pay attention, but nobody - not even girls - can pay attention for as long as schools demand these days. We don't want to pay for extra teachers and long days, so we cut funding. So the schools have to cut programs. What's the first to go? Certainly not the hard core classes - we need English, history, science, and math. So let's get rid of recess. Let's get rid of P.E. Let's get rid of music programs. We won't get rid of the big sports programs, because football brings in too much money, but who the hell needs the smaller programs? And because football brings in so much money, we better put even more pressure on these kids. When I was in school, we often sat quietly for an hour and did our work - because we knew we would have recess soon. Or we knew at the end of the day we would have choir (which was a class and we had to learn stuff, but it was still "fun"). We knew we would have wood shop where we could chop away at stuff and get out all our aggressions, or even Home Economics where we would make cookies, for crying out loud. All of that is the first to go when the penny-pinching begins. Kids, especially boys, need an outlet. Take that away from them and they begin acting up in the only classes they have. If they had that outlet, we could be more rigid and disciplinary in the "real" classes and all would be a little better. But structure remains important. Kids are coming from chaos, as parents split up and get remarried and bring stepkids into the house and move around the country, and schools need to provide structure for them. At my last school, we experienced the weirdest phenomenon every May. The kids had spent the previous nine months making our lives miserable with their insubordination. We tried and tried to get them to stay in class and show up to school and discipline when they stepped out of line. You would have sworn they hated it. At the end of the school year, we couldn't get rid of them. They wanted to stay. We asked them what they were doing over the summer, and they answered, "Nothing - just hanging out." We provided them with more stability than their lives otherwise had, which is pretty sad. But it was something.

This is a ridiculously complex topic that deserves serious discussion among school boards and parents. Knee-jerk reactions and politicizing the issue don't do anyone any good. It's a shame, because this really is "about the chthanren," much more than stupid Internet searches are. But, as usual, because it's a complex topic that might demand some sacrifices, people don't want to consider it. "Dancing With Celebrities" is on, after all!

Thoughts? Parents, teachers, human beings? We all have a stake in it.

Sorry for the length of the post. Frivolity returns soon!


Yeah, I know

I've been busy and I'm writing a monster post that will change the world as we know it! Okay, maybe not, but still. For all my loyal readers, in lieu of something really meaty, I offer you two Jesus-related links:

Jesus swimming. Exactly what it says.

Jesus: The Musical. If you watch this you'll probably go straight to hell, but it's still funny. Roxy sent me this link because she knows my twisted sense of humor.

Finally, if you think we're not already living in hell, we have this: Mötley Crüe got a Hollywood star. That has to be a sign of the Apocalypse.

25 January 1947

Al Capone dies in Florida.

Four days after his 48th birthday, ravaged by syphilis, Al Capone dies in Palm Island, Florida, where he had lived for eight years after eight and a half years in prison. For tax evasion, of all things. He was actually only convicted on 5 of 23 counts. He spent most of his term in Alcatraz, because when he was in Atlanta he ran the prison like his own little kingdom. He was released in November 1939.

Capone, of course, is most famous, perhaps, for the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929, at which he consolidated his hold over Chicago's underworld. And of course, he beat that guy with a baseball bat. That may have been Robert DeNiro, though.


Ruling by fiat!

"My Sharona" is 4 minutes 50 seconds long. Not-very-decent, creepy, poppy odes to statutory rape should not exceed 3 minutes. That is my decree.

24 January 1712

Frederick the Great of Prussia is born.

Busy day, 24 January. If I'm still doing this next year I'll have to discuss the beginning of the California gold rush, the death of Winston Churchill, the marriage of Edward III, the death of Caligula, or the birth of Hadrian. But today: Frederick the Great!

Frederick II began Prussia's ascension to greatness in Europe, and it was largely because of his emphasis on military might. When he became king in 1740, the Prussian army stood at 83,000. Forty-six years later, it was at 190,000 - in a country with only 2.5 million. When he ascended to the throne, he immediately invaded Silesia (probably because it was part of Maria Theresa's Austrian Empire, and how dare a woman rule!), beginning the War of Austrian Succession and eventually securing the territory for Prussia. The Seven Years War (or, as we heathens call it, the French and Indian War) almost toppled him, but he was able to recover and Prussia emerged from the war as the premier military power in Europe. He also took a chunk of Poland in 1772.

Frederick was an "enlightened despot" of the 18th-century mold (see also: Catherine II of Russia and Louis XIV of France). He was a musician, knew Bach personally, wrote bad poetry, collected art, and was probably gay. He authored several books and patronized Voltaire. He was still autocratic, however, even though he was tolerant. He once said, "My people and I have come to a satisfactory understanding. They say what they like and I do what I like." Now that's a dictator!


What have we learned - Championship Games

Well, we learned that a couple of teams were wildly overrated. I was pretty stunned that both games were blowouts. Other than that, we didn't learn much.

Pittsburgh at Denver. Let's see - the Steelers came out throwing against Indianapolis, and it worked pretty well for them. So what might they do against Denver? Yet the Broncos looked puzzled early on, when the game was decided. They couldn't cover the receivers and weren't putting any pressure on Roethlisberger. What's up, Denver? I can't really blame Plummer - I'm amazed Jake 2.0 lasted as long as it did, and Denver never ran the ball. How about running the ball, Denver?

Carolina at Seattle. I'm happy that the Seahawks won because I've been a fan for years, and I thought the Panthers were overrated anyway. Classy move by Steve Smith, whining because he wasn't getting the ball. Hey, Steve - how about getting open? If they had thrown him the ball more, Delhomme would have had twice as many interceptions, and Smith would be whining about how bad his quarterback is. Guess what, loser teams in the NFL? Get a freakin' offensive line! Shaun Alexander, a good back, had gaping holes to run through. I could have run through them! Trade the #1 pick, Houston, and get some offensive linemen!

I think the Seahawks are going to win. Yes, I like them. But they're a better team, and nobody thinks they can win. That's a good combination. Also, the Seahawks won't fall for that "throw first, run second" philosophy of the Nu-Skool Steelers. I think the Seahawks will get up early and Pittsburgh will not be able to come back. Even if Pittsburgh gets an early lead, something tells me Seattle won't panic like the Colts and Broncos did and abandon the run. But that's just me.

Finally, Golic said that Troy Polamalu is the best safety in the NFL. I'm not saying he's not, but I find it humorous that "experts" keep touting guys as the "best in the league" at something. Polamalu is the "best" simply because his team is playing in the Super Bowl. How long will he last as the "best"? I'm just wondering. Isn't there someone on the Browns or Texans who is very good but happens to play on a stinky team?

23 January 1295¹

Benedetto Caetani elected pope, gains fame when he's placed in Hell by Dante.

Caetani, as Boniface VIII, was a bad pope. He pissed off Philip the Fair, the king of France, who claimed authority over the selection of French bishops and Church revenue in France. Boniface also made a worse enemy - a writer. Never piss off someone who can write stuff down about you! Dante Alighieri was a member of Florence's ruling faction and strongly opposed to papal political pretensions. Boniface got him exiled from Florence, but Dante got the final revenge by placing him in the eighth circle of Hell in The Inferno. Take that, Boniface!

Boniface died in 1303 with one notable achievement on his résumé: he canonized Louis IX of France, the first and only French king to be made a saint. And if he hadn't done that, people in the Midwest would have named their city something completely different.

¹ Yes, I know I skipped yesterday. Sorry. Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901, and the Allies landed at Anzio in 1944. Happy now?

What's up with that?

According to our fine local news, we have not had rain in 96 days. Ninety-six days! We set the record on Thursday, yippee!

However, the weeds on the side of the house have grown like the Incredible Hulk and have multiplied like Jamie Madrox in the past few months. What the hell?

Stupid weeds. Now I have outdoor work to do.


Picture Day takes us down into Deseret!¹

I'm aware that I'm really not that popular to be posting three times in one day, but I don't care! I'm an out-of-control blogger!

Today's selection of photographs is from our sojourn in Utah, the stronghold of Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints. Salt Lake City is a cool city - the streets are extra wide so that wagons could turn around, and it's a pleasant place to hang out. Of course, it's the center of Mormonism, so that's what we checked out!

We got a nice tour of the Temple complex from a bubbly young lady from, interestingly enough, Portland, and she showed us around and told us about the history of Mormonism. I refuse to pick on Mormons, because they're as weird (or as normal, depending on your point of view) as other Christian sects and other religious folk, but I do have some advice for you if you go to Salt Lake City: don't ask them what happened to the golden tablets - the answer is a little too convenient.

Moving on, I'm not entirely sure what this is a picture of, but it's part of the main Temple complex. It's not Brigham Young's house, I can tell you that much.

Posted by Picasa

The next picture is the organ they use with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It's gigantic!²

Posted by Picasa

The next two pictures are the main Temple of the Mormons. Non-Mormons forbidden! A co-worker of Krys' once went inside the Temple in Portland when it first opened, because it hadn't been consecrated yet. So she got to see what was inside. We, however, were unclean! The golden guy on the top is the angel Moroni, by the way.

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

Those are all the pictures of Mormon landmarks, unfortunately. We toured some other places and checked out Brigham Young's house, but it just wasn't photogenic. I have standards, you know!

We decided to take a short trip out to the Great Salt Lake, because if we ever told anyone we were in Utah and we didn't see the lake, they would look at us as if we were crazy (and who wants that?). So these pictures are of us at the lake. Keep in mind two things as you look at these: I cannot float in normal water, and the depth right where we are is approximately two feet. Salt is awesome.

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

It was bizarre being out at the lake - there was no one there for a long time, and we wandered around a 1920s-style building that was, apparently, the hip-happening place to be back in, well, the 1920s. We wondered if we were about to be featured in some sort of weird Mormon slasher flick - "The Killer Was Polygynous!" or something like that. Finally some people showed up and we all took a dip. The lake itself was horrible - it stunk and there were black flies all around. But like I said, when one goes to Salt Lake City, one must visit the lake, mustn't one?

Next week: Bryce Canyon! Oh, so many photographs of Bryce Canyon!

¹ Fine. Here.
² There was an easy joke there and I didn't make it. I'm so mature.

And they wonder why women's tennis is more popular than men's ...

Today in the Australian Open, Daniela Hantuchova played Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon Champion. Yowsa!
DanielaDaniela 2
MariaMaria 2
Yes, this is a shameless ploy to post pictures of these two attractive tennis players. However, I do like women's tennis more than men's tennis - men seem to rush the net more and blast serves for aces, making points very short and rallies rare. Frankly, this makes the game a bit more boring. Yes, I like serve-and-volleyers as much as the next guy, and there's nothing like a good five-set match between, say, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, but women seem to play the baseline a bit more and work the whole court, and it's a more interesting game. That's how I see it, anyway. Now if only the major tournaments would change their policy and allow the women to play best-of-five instead of best-of-three. Now that would be cool.

Sharapova won, 6-4, 6-4. I dig Sharapova, so I'm happy. Maybe she'll actually win a Grand Slam tournament again.

Krys's strange pathology

Krys very often leaves the closet door in our bedroom open. Whenever I mention it, she says she "forgot." I have a different theory:

I believe my wife thinks that if she leaves the closet door open, then the monsters won't be able to get into the closet. Kind of like an airlock - one door has to be closed for the other to open. What do you think? Does my theory hold water?


Chicken-fried links!

Enjoy the high-carbohydrate goodness! I will probably skip next week because I'll be busy on Saturday. We'll see.

Crisis on Infinite Earths - the comic books links!

Yes, I'm shamelessly posting pictures of a scantily-clad woman! This comic book store in Florida is - shocking! - using sex to promote their store!
Sexy ChickSexy Chick 2
This comes from Heidi's blog. The biggest problem I have with this is - how is this going to get new customers into the store? Won't they think it just confirms the stereotype?

Chris reviews the freakishly weird Power Man & Iron Fist #75. When he writes "YOU ARE NOW FREAKING OUT," he's not kidding.

For all you comic book nerds devouring Infinite Crisis, go read Alexander Luthor's blog from the pocket universe. Funny stuff.

Dorian gives us something to help us on the road of life:
 Posted by Picasa

Ex Machina - the political links!

Did you know that Indonesia starved to death about 180,000 East Timorese? Yeah, me neither. Who cares about Indonesia, right? It's on the other side of the world! I found this story at 2 Blowhards.

Interesting thoughts about assisted suicide and what has happened in the Netherlands because of it. This in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision saying Oregon's law permitting assisted suicide was okay.

The 20 Meanest Cities In America! According to their laws against homelessness. Phoenix is #17!* I'm so proud! This is from Blog For Arizona.
* By the way, the pound sign is called an octothorp. How cool is that?

Interesting post about "evil" feminists. I found it at Echidne of the Snakes.

Remember the "vampyre" who is running for governor of Minnesota? Sure you do! Here's an interview with him! Best question: Do you think your campaign will force Democrats and Republicans to finally address the issue of impaling criminals? I found this at Pharyngula.

Major Bummer - the fun links!

I have mentioned Overheard In New York before, but for some reason lost the link. Then I found it again. It's hilarious. Here's a sample:
Guy: Wait, you had anal sex?
Girl: Yeah. It really hurt.
Guy: Well, what did you expect? Why did you do it?
Girl: You have to try everything once, just as my mother told me.
Guy: I don't think you're meant to include anal.

Andy gives us Ten Pick-Up Lines That Never Work. I want to get divorced just to try them!

Speaking of pick-up lines, The Network Geek gives us the Top Eleven Geek Pick-Up Lines!

Doctor Doom makes New Year's Resolutions.

Click here. Trust me. Just do it! I simply can't describe it, but I'll give you a hint: I pity the fool who doesn't click the link! I found this at The Chronicles of Rhodester, where he discusses My Space and the fun comments people leave at the sites of hot women. So I happened to browse through some of them (totally by accident) and I have my suspicions that these women are being totally honest with their admirers. Check these two people out: this one and this one. Hmmm ...

God Hates Everything. Literally.

Latigo Flint reveals the secret of the girl in the shed. Tragic, so very tragic.

What If ...? - hittin' the "next blog" button!

Not The Country Club, a typically evil left-wing blog. Damned Commies! It includes this very interesting post about the president of Iran and his remarks about the Holocaust.

Bombs And Shields. Not sure what this is all about - it looks like a litany of crimes. Seriously. If anyone can tell me the theme, I'd be happy to know.

Exwitch Speaks. Somebody in Auckland, NZ, with atrocious spelling and punctuation skills.

Special K's Place. "A Picture Taking, Poker Playing, Redneck Computer Geek Tries to Say Something Interesting." He likes Hummers (the motored vehicle - get your minds out of the gutter!).

New England Sports Hub. Nothing against New England sports, but I ran from this site. Fast.

The Weird - all the miscellaneous links!

I found Teen Angst Central somewhere. I love blogs by teenagers! Here's a sample: No fourteen-year-old should know how to deep throat. Too true, too true. Most of the entries are short and wacky. Go read.

A man's unborn twin embryo was removed from his back. Eeeewww! This is from Ace of Spades.

This is a LONG article about why squatting when you eliminate fecal matter is better than sitting (do you like my genteel verbiage?). Man, it's bizarre. Just so you know I wasn't looking for this, I found the link at The Anti-Corporate Patriot.

Chris Tamarri extols the virtues of Paul's Boutique. What a freakin' brilliant album.

In the course of her working day, my lovely wife found this real estate tax law site. Why should you care? The guy is awesome. This is from the main page:
Why do YOU invest in real estate? I mean, it can be rough ... deadbeat tenants with a talent for innovative destruction, Commie-pinko Legal Aid attorneys who think greedy landlords shouldn't even be allowed to own buildings, the joys of dealing with incompetent and dishonest contractors (Was that redundant?).
Damned "Commie-pinko Legal Aid attorneys"!

Tim O'Neil breaks down R. Kelly's masterpiece Trapped In The Closet.

You have been warned if you read this: The key word is "squirter."

Orson Scott Card defends intelligent design. And, helpfully, PZ Myers rips it apart.

Who wants to buy a castle? This is from Sarcasmo's Corner.

Check out various prom photos. Always fun. This is from Styrofoamkitty.

How MTV will save America. He's not joking - it's very interesting.

Perfectly timed photos:
 Posted by PicasaFound at Various and Sundry.

Seattle has a Giant Shoe Museum. So says Welcome to Blog.

Go here and click on the link. It's not for children, very weird, and more than a little disturbing.

Heather points out this most excellent item:
 Posted by Picasa

I'm not sure how I can top that, so I'll say have fun wandering around the World Wide Web. Tomorrow: Mormon landmarks!