Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Monday, January 06, 2014

It's an Election Year: Popularity Counts

As the mid-year election cycle begins here in 2014, it's important to note that polls are designed to measure the pulse of the country. Of course, there is always a degree of error when any pollster, let alone the folks at Gallup, try to measure the mood, but many times the numbers dob't lie. In an end-of-the-year message, Harry Reid opined that Congress was less popular than "cockroaches." Well, the Gallup polls of late did not included cockroaches, metamorphosized or not, but we were presented with some relatively startling numbers when comparing Congress to other well-known professionals.
Just to give an idea of the respondents and their outlook, 45% of them said their tax rate was "just about right." Sixty percent indicated that they would save rather than spend, and a majority admitted to eating vegetables at least four times in the last week...salt of the earth-type folks. That gives you an idea of who the respondents in the latest poll were.
Those polled were asked how they rated the ethics of Congress when compared with other  professionals with regard to "high or very high ethics."
Now, the numbers:
Nurses received the highest percentage when 80% indicated that nurses had high or very high ethical standards.
Grade school teachers were rated at 70% for their ethics.
Then, the bottom falls out...

Television reporters were seen as ethical by 22% of those polled.
Lawyers rated 20% approval for their principled behavior.

Car salesmen were accorded a mere 9% rating for ethics.
Congressional approval finally weighed in at 8% favorability for their ethics, and
Lobbyists came, unsurprisingly, in last, garnering a mere 6% of those responding indicating high or very high ethics.

It's going to be a long election cycle.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Is Attractiveness Really That Important?

A recently-released report by researchers Rachel Gordon and Robert Crosnoe suggests that  being attractive was not only a benefit in the social world but in the educational world as well. They posit that physically attractive youngsters are seen as more intelligent, have better personalities, and have greater potential for future success...according to their teachers! Yes! The very people who are entrusted to guide them through all the hormone-driven formative years are thought to generally based their assessments on physical attractiveness! Wow! While I certainly hope this is not the norm, I can understand how such an impression might form. Youngsters who are used to being told about their positive appearance are far more likely to be confident than those who are routinely ignored...or worse: described in unflattering terms at home, on the playground, and, possibly, in the classroom.
It is definitely true that our society places a high priority on attractiveness and adhering to "norms."
When I try to discuss with my students what it's like to be any sort of minority, I must admit that it's hard since I've always been male, white, tall, and reasonably smart (mostly smart-assed, some would say with very little irony). Yet, I see students every day who struggle to fit...or cover up inadequacies with outlandish behavior and/or clothing/hair body art styles.
I do not have any sort of answer...I know that as a physical educator, I tried to teach specifically toward the less-gifted performers...with the realization that they needed me to accept and encourage them while the gifted athletic types didn't need me at all. Somehow, we all made it together.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Keys to Potential Happiness

Danish people have been rated as the happiest folks on the planet. With regard to Europe, they have been ranked as the happiest for something like 40 years. Danes attribute this feel-good state to something they call "hygge." Interestingly enough, it fails to translate into contains a mental component as well as a social one and generally figures to be important to one's well-being as well as in his or her behavior towards others. It can be a simple as the feeling one can get curling up with a good book, but it also has ramifications for group activities. Suffice it to say, it's hard to explain, and we Americans certainly don't get it since it's not as simple as stopping to smell the roses...though there is a flower component to happiness, according to those who would instruct us in that art. According to the "experts," there are eight things all happy people do.
1, Happy people go to parks to see nature at its finest.
2. Happy people live in Scandinavia or a northern climate.
3. happy people engage in hygge.
4. Happy people have satisfying jobs...or they quit unsatisfying ones.
5. Happy people DO smell the flowers...the floral scent is supposed to lead to happy thoughts.
6. Happy people get dirty...apparently, there's a component in dirt that is good.
7. Happy people exercise.
8. Happy people don't "try" to be happy.

There you have it. If I ever learn that hygge thing, I could be on my way! The rest are within my grasp.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"I Dare You Stupit"

Perhaps encouraged by the Marilyn Monroe movie about people liking things hot, I don't think this latest discovery will come as a pleasant surprise to more than a few people. We're talking hot peppers here. The folks at Wing Zone routinely try to convince me that they have a secret stash of ghost peppers, purportedly the hottest pepper on earth...and they will allow me to have it on my wings if I'm man enough.
Well, I have news for them: the ghost pepper days are over. There's a new sheriff of hot in town, and the ghost pepper had better get ready to dance.
So, let's talk hot here. Heat in food is measured in something called Scoville units. The typical jalapeno pepper is rated at about 8,000 units while the ghost pepper is somewhere around 1,400,000. Pepper spray has a rating of just about 2 million units. In 2012, the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute rated the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper at 1.2 million Scoville units and claimed it to be the hottest. Now comes the real hottie: the Carolina Reaper.
This fiery pepper heats up to 2.2 million Scoville units, making it easily the hottest pepper around...but don't take my word for it. This product is commercially available from the Pucker Butt Pepper Company in South Carolina in sauces and other products such as I Dare You Stupit. there is a web site.
Go on...I dare you.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Whatever" Wins Again!

Yes, it IS difficult to believe that researchers spend time, energy, and money to discover such inanities, but they do, and the folks at Marist College are at it again.
It seems that pollsters there ask folks to name the most annoying word/phrase they hear regularly, and for the fifth year in a row (who knew?), the word "whatever" has topped their annual "Most Annoying" list. Seriously, these researchers phoned 1,173 random people (NOT on the "do not call" list probably) in the continental United States between December 3 and December 5 to get their opinion. That's an average of 400 or so calls a day when students should have probably been preparing for finals...but I digress.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents chose the aforementioned "whatever" as the most annoying, while "like" (my favorite) finished a distant second with 22% of the negative ballots cast; "you know" finished a relatively distant third with a mere 18%, and it was followed by insignificant totals for "just sayin'" and "obviously."
Really? I am sort of, like, you know, disappointed in the results.
I would have thought "Miley Cyrus" was the most annoying phrase of the year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Only Have Eyes For You

Generally, I'm the last to find out about interesting things: Tebowing, planking, and Dufnering were internet hits long before I noticed them. This time, though, I think I may be on the cutting edge. A report from theBBC yesterday detailed an interesting "art" project by a couple of guys in's called "eyebombing." Simply put, one merely walks around in public spaces attaching googly eyes to objects that might resemble a human face. The creators touted it as an eco-friendly way to brighten people's day since the eyes can only be placed in public spaces where there is a lot of traffic. Objects that already ARE human or animals with eyes are not suitable.
Since the stick-on eyes are easily removable, there is no graffiti-like aspect to this fun activity. The eyes cause no permanent damage so the practice is not destructive at all.
It becomes increasingly interesting since I've begun to notice my surroundings a lot more than I ever did before as I look for places to place the eyes.
One caution: if you want to do this, be sure to get the self-stick version of the eyes. Most craft and hobby stores have ones that require glue...this would not be a good idea since a) it would be too permanent, and b) one could hardly affix the eyes surreptitiously.
Have some fun!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Perspective Is Eveything

It is the end of the semester; finals are finished, books are forgotten (and the knowledge "gained"), and it's time for the real assessment to begin. The real questions surround how students arrived at the final marks, and who is responsible.
In my job as an academic tutor/mentor to some sketchy academic minds, successful outcomes are measured beginning with "didn't fail," and move upward through various steps to "graduated from DPU" meaning a student-athlete no longer has required meetings several times weekly with me to review academic progress. It is a major goal of all of these students, and one that I push them relentlessly toward. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, and they would have to stand on their least until a suitable replacement could be it's important that they learn quickly how to navigate the educational life.
At any rate, many of the grades came out today, and the boss of my boss sent me a congratulatory email indicating that the extent of my genius seemed to be limitless. My response was that successful students get the credit for having done the work, but unsuccessful students can blame the tutor for poor preparation. This scenario is not unlike the coaching profession: when things go well, you will never hear a coach say that he or she was responsible for the win (even Nick Saban); however, when failure occurs, the coach almost always takes the blame.
So it is in my profession.
Now...if the administration wanted to reward me with, say, cash, I'd be willing to take the credit.
But we know that's not going to happen.
Congratulations, graduates!