Saturday, February 25, 2006

What's a druple?

#1 son: Dad, can I have a few Starbursts and still have chocolate chip cookies for desert?

me: sure, go ahead.

#2 son: A few = 3 right dad?

me: That's right, a few = 3.

#1 son: Actually dad, can I have quadruple?

me: All right.

#1 son: Quad =4.

#2 son: What's a druple?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

American Idol? American Idiots!

My boys have discovered American Idol.

I'd successfully avoided watching that show since it's inception but now I'm being forced to sit through it by my kids. Number 1 son saw one of the early audition episodes, found it utterly and completely (to paraphrase Simon Cowell) hilarious and now expects the whole family to sit down whenever it's on for hours of family fun.

I think the show would be more appropriatley called American Idiots. I have to admit the audition episodes were funny. They were also sad, pathetic and just plain weird. If the contestants on this show represent a cross section of America then we're a bunch of desperate pathetic losers with overinflated, fragile egos. The fact that so many of the truly horrible contestants actually thought they had talent and could sing is truly frightening. These are some of the biggest freaks I've ever seen.

The entertainment value of the audition episodes cannnot be denied however. The truly awful signing, the horrible costumes and Simon Cowell's caustic remarks made it worth watching. The exchange between Simon and the guy who sang like Cher was classic.

"Why would you want to sing like Cher? There already is a Cher."

"I can do something else"

"What would that be"

"I can do Judy Garland"

"Why don't you consider being a female impersonator?"

"I won't do that. I'm not a transvestite"

"Let me get this straight. You want to be Cher. You want to be Judy Garland. But you won't wear women's clothes?"

Then you've got the Brittenum twins. These idiots went on American Idol on national TV even though there were warrants out for their arrest in Georgia and Tennessee. What, they thought no one would notice them on the number 1 show in America? They'd have been less conspicuous on America's Most Wanted!

I also loved the reactions of the ones who were rejected. Some were merely disappointed but others were truly enraged. Cussing out Simon, slamming doors, saying how they were " all that" and "the judges made a big mistake" and "America, you'll be seeing more of me. My career's just getting started". Yeah, their career in the food service or custodial industries.

The saddest part however were the ones who were truly devastated by the rejection. Saying how this was their one big chance and now their life is over. I felt like some of these losers might actually go home and take their own lives. I wonder if that's ever happened? Not something the shows producers would want to promote.

Alas, the audition episodes are over and now we're down to the real competition. 24 contestants of whom only about 6 can actually sing. Cheesy over the top performances of forgetable songs. Even Simon's schtick is starting to wear thin. If I have to hear him say "utterly and completely" (which he does 6 or 7 times an episode) again I'll go utterly and completely mad.

I might have to take it out on the boys. That would be their punishment for subjecting me to this mind rot.

Or, I could just embaress them like this:

F***ing Tourette's syndrome!

As I'm sure many of you know, Tourette syndrome is characterized by uncontrolled swearing. Many people suffer from this disorder and we shouldn't make fun of them.

Really, it's not funny.

But you have to love the difference between the U.S. Tourette web site and the British one.

Ah those irreverent Brits.

Thanks to Sister Flo for this one.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Fox guarding the henhouse

I keep trying to give the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt and they keep letting me down. This time I think they've really lost their minds.

The Committe on Foreign Investment has approved the sale of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company which runs 6 of our country's major ports to Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates. Read about it here.

So let me get this straight. We're going to let an Arab country be in charge of security for 6 major U.S. ports? What are they thinking. Isn't there supposed to be some sort of War on Terror going on? A huge threat to American security? Talk about rolling out the red carpet for terrorists.

What's next? Hiring an Iranian company to dispose of our spent nuclear fuel rods? Hugo Chavez to head our War On Drugs?

I think I'd better get started on that bomb shelter in the backyard.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

blind cycling, bacteria and stupid stoners

I took up cycling about 2 1/2 years ago and really love it.
But not as much as this guy.

Reading this whilst sipping iced tea from McDonald's.


It's true. Chronic pot smoking really does make you stupid.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New Touchscreen Technology

This is really cool.

A new touchscreen, pattented by Apple, that allows you to manipulate images using only your fingers. You can resize the images, change their shapes, move images or zoom in on maps.

Watch the demo at Vic Divecha's Official Tech Blog

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Just File A Lawsuit

Sara Beckman got screwed. In a Reno, Nevada spelling bee she spelled the word "discernible" correctly but the judge says she was wrong and so she was eliminated. That sucks.

But what was her parents response? File a lawsuit. What kind of lesson is that for an eigth-grader. Life is full of disappointments. Life is often unfair. You just have to learn to deal with it. You can't go around filing lawsuits everytime something doesn't go your way.

I blame lawyers for this. They have promoted this attitude that has developed in our country. Everyone is a victim. There is no such thing as an accident. If anything bad happens to you someone must be to blame so sue them. You're entitled to compensation!

I also blame the parents. Sara's mom sounds like one of those parents who lives vicariously through their children's successes to make up for their own failures. The kind of mom who enters her daughter into beauty pagents at age three. The kind of parent who attacks the coach at a little league game cause their kid isn't getting enough playing time.

Sarah will probably get over this fairly quickly. Her mom never will.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

8 Is The Gayest Number

So. Was watching TV with the family the other night. Don't remember which program. One of the characters was talking about things that are gay. He said that 8 is the gayest number. He gave no explanation for why this is so.

My 6 year old son N had one however.

N: I know why 8 is the gayest number.

Cause when you turn it on it's side it looks like a butt!

Monday, February 06, 2006

What The Fuck Is Wrong With These Kids?

David Riehm is a 17 year old high school student from Minnesota. He was recently suspended from his school and briefly involuntarily committed to a mental institution for stories he had written in a creative writing class in school. You can read about the case here. You can also read the actual stories he wrote and his teachers responses here.

In a nutshell, David wrote a story which included wet dreams, a boy getting a plastic cone shoved up his butt, and getting his head crushed by a bus with his head "collapsing in a misty red explosion". His teacher, Ann Mershon found the story a little disturbing and criticized David for his choice of subject matter. David didn't take this very well. He proceeded to write additional stories about his teacher and how much he hated her. He nicknamed her Mrs. Cuntcheson and wrote a story entitled "Bowling For Cuntcheson" in which he dreams about finding a gun and killing his teacher with it. The teacher reported David and he was suspended from school. The next day, officials from the state showed up at his home with a court order and took him away to a psychiatric facility. The parents are now suing the school, the principal, Ann Mershon and the state claiming among other things violation of David's free speech rights and wrongful imprisonment.

I find this case disturbing for reasons other than what you might think. After reading David's stories I can understand why Mrs. Mershon was concerned. "Bowling For Cuntcheson" is a thinly disguised death threat with obvious references to Columbine. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris wrote similar missives before they went on their rampage. You simply can't ignore threats like this because you can't tell if the student will actually act upon them or not. Kids who have gone on killing sprees in the past do not fit neatly into any one profile. These killers come from all socioeconomic levels. Some of them are quite intelligent. In almost every previous case the child did not have a history of any mental illness (at least not one that was diagnosed. Obviously these are pretty disturbed children).

Ostensibly this is a case about free speech. David's supporters say that he is a talented writer who was just expressing his creativity through his stories. David says that he writes about sex and violence because that is a big part of everyday life. To this I say Bullshit! The free speech rights guaranteed by our constitution do not include the right for a minor to make death threats against his teacher. In this country you don't have the right to say anything you want. You don't have the right to threaten someone with death. You don't have the right to publicly say false or malicious things about someone that aren't true (slander) or write about them (libel). You don't have the right to yell Fire! in a crowded theater. Ann Mershon was completely correct in reporting David to school officials and the school system was completely correct in suspending him. However, this is where things get a little out of control.

Do I think David Riehm is a disturbed young man in need of psychiatric help? Absolutely. Do I think the state of Minnesota should have him involuntarily committed to a mental institution? Absolutely not. This is another case of a school system and state authorities following a zero tolerance policy but failing to use common sense. That's the big problem with these policies. They lack flexibility and treat everyone and every situation the same regardless of the circumstances. Girl's getting kicked out of school for having an aspirin in their purse because of a no drugs policy. A boy getting expelled for accidentally bringing a plastic squirt gun to school in his backpack because it's "a weapon". These things actually happen. Why didn't school officials sit down with David and his parents and discuss the situation. Why swoop in and cart him off to the loony bin. Talk about overreaction! Maybe his parents weren't aware of the types of things he was writing about. I can't believe that if they knew they would actually condone this type of behavior.

Most kids at some point in their lives have teachers who they dislike or even hate. They may fantasize about bad things happening to their teachers (mainly so they can get out of tomorrows Math test or the History paper due next week). I don't think these kids actually want their teachers killed however. It's one thing to act out these fantasies in your head. It's quite another to write them out and then give them to the teacher in question. David Riehm must be either extremely arrogant or incredibly stupid or maybe a little bit of both. This is one of the things I find most appalling about the whole case. The level of disrespect he is showing to this teacher is incredible. When I was in school I'd never dream of sending a story like that to my teacher. I don't know anyone who would. Kids today don't seem to have the same level of respect for their elders as previous generations. Discipline in school has become a huge problem which interferes with the learning that's supposed to be going on. Many teachers spend much of the day just trying to keep the kids in line. Kids think nothing of acting out or talking back to their teachers, practically daring them to try and punish them. They know that there's very little the teachers can actually do. If the teachers do try to punish the kids or confront a behavior problem the child cries foul, claims that they're the victim and their parents rush to support them. Not my Jonny. He wouldn't do anything like that. This teacher must have it in for my little angel. This is a big part of the problem. Parents enable this bad behavior either through a lack of discipline or outright denial that the behavior exists. Parents today don't discipline their children. They either don't know how or don't have the guts to do it. Or else they buy into this new age crap where we don't want to tell Jonny he's wrong. It might make him feel bad and lower his self-esteem. We don't want to stifle his creativity. We know that when he says "fuck you, I hate you, I wish you were dead" that's just his way of expressing himself. Many of these kids are disrespectful, uncouth, uncivil little hooligans as a result.

In the case of David Riehm I think it goes a little deeper than that. After reading his stories I think he's quite disturbed. He comes across as a sociopathic personality who is quite manipulative. He tries to place himself as the victim in his story, the poor innocent student being persecuted by an ogre of a teacher who has it in for him. Teacher bad. Me good. To be able to write a story like "Bowling For Cuntcheson" and turn it in to the teacher it's about shows classic sociopathic and narcissitic behavior. Not only does he lack a conscience, he seems completely unafraid of the possible consequences of his actions. Instead of taking it constructively, Mrs. Amershon's initial criticism only serves to enrage him. In his mind, retaliation is the logical response. I'm gonna get that bitch! People like that scare me.

The writing itself is completely juvenile and lacks imagination. I can't believe his supporters think he's a talented writer. His initial story " Poor John Redfield" seems more like the kind of story third grade boys tell at recess to try and shock or impress the other boys or gross out the girls. This is creative writing? I'd consider "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini as an example of creative writing by a teenager.

Parents, it's your responsibility to raise your kids. Teach them right from wrong. Teach them manners. Try to instill in them a set of morals and a conscience. Discipline is important. Punish them if they do wrong. Don't encourage or enable this antisocial behavior.