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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

"I'll Rochambo You For It!"

With apologies to Eric Cartman and Ben Stiller, there's no way we should NOT have seen this coming. Dodgeball has made a comeback of sorts in spite of dire warnings issued by physical education organizations nationwide. Forums "for" and "against" including it in the curriculum have been rampant lately. Many decry it as a violent sport which is dangerous to physical health and well-being of participants. Others say it is a poor choice because it eliminates children from play and leaves them standing on the sidelines. Proponents say that it increases coordination in both throwing and dodging (skills which are used every day in my neighborhood!). In my school, we never play the game in class but offer it as an intramural activity on Fridays just when the hormone levels are peaking. Head shots are discouraged, and everybody rushes to be on Doug's team because he has got a SERIOUS cannon for an arm. Howls of laughter (from spectators)and agony (from participants and their girlfriends)emanate when hits occur in tender "spots." No way I'd play. Students queue early to get into the action, though. "If you don't want to get hit, stay away" seems to be the motto. Volunteers only! This applies to spectators as well, by the way. A supervisor is always on hand to make certain that things stay sane.
So, who should be surprised by what happened in Liberty, Missouri the other day? The Crescent Lake Christian Academy students were involved in a dodgeball game (as part of a class, I presume), and a 27-yr.old youth minister got conked on the noggin with a ball. The first shot rifled by his 16-yr. old "attacker" missed, but the second caught him right between the lookers and dislocated a pair of glasses from his face. Now, I've been hit in the face many times while wearing glasses, and it is in no way a peak experience unless one is a pain freak. I seriously believe the inventor of contact lenses must have experienced the same beak-busting trauma.
Still, a youth minister at a Christian academy could hardly be expected to stand up and deliver a blow to the "groin" of a student, but this is exactly what transpired! This occurred after the student had apologized for hitting the guy IN A GAME OF DODGEBALL! D'Oh! Hello! What were you expecting? Was it the shame of getting drilled by a kid, or the pain of getting whacked on the coconut with eyeglasses digging into the nose? At any rate, the young man suffered whiplash and post-concussion syndrome (sounds like a lawyer's diagnosis, doesn't it?) while the youth minister suffered "administrative leave" from his position. All because of dodgeball.
Who wants to go first? I'll rochambo you for it!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

26,000 Reasons to Dislike Duke

I just discovered a major reason why so many people in the office pool for the NCAA tournament think of Duke University in the same way they think of The Evil Empire (NY Yankees). It's not because they have a highly-respected coach who, even though he shills for Chevy, manages to get the most out of his players year in and year out. It's not because Coach K's book was a great look into a motivator's mind. It's not even due to the antics of the Cameron Crazies or any member of J.J. Redick's family (all of whom have felt the wrath of spectators around the ACC). No, as usual, such vitriol can only be supplied with dollar signs attached. Any student who attends Duke University has enough money to buy a small country in Asia. For example, last year, EVERY incoming freshman(freshperson?) was gifted with a free iPod...the same thing I spent a couple of hundred dollars for. I suppose a laptop was considered gauche because every kid had owned one since prep school. Anyway, the tuition at Duke, according to U.S. News & World Report, stands at $32,900 with room and board accounting for another $5k. That's for ONE year. And Duke is not even a great party school. The University of Wisconsin at Madison IS a great party school, and it's cheap, too, at least in comparison to Duke. For a measly $6,200 in tuition and another 6.5k in room and board, a person can attend. An out-of-state student will be expected to pony up $21,000 for tuition, and plenty do. I suspect the cost of all the black clothing and Uggs is extra, though. Ever hear of the Duke marching band? Me, either. UW has a fabulous one. Duke, Schmuke, I say...Bucky all the way. That is to say nothing of Emporia State University, a great school in its own right.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Narrow Minds Rethinking Education

The latest buzzword is, apparently, "narrowing the curriculum." I realize it's not one word but three. Bear with me for the sake of argument. The latest experts are attempting to do the same thing to education: break it down to an absolute essential at the expense of curriculum. In this case, "narrowing the curriculum" means that reading and math are the focus of a curriculum and the rest, yes, even science, are left to fight over the remaining time. This is a direct result of the testing from No Child Left Behind. Schools nationwide have begun to discover that reading and math are the critical points. These subjects are critical because it is these which are being tested by the federal government in order to decide which schools are failing and not deserving of federal money. Schools have begun to reduce time for every other subject in order to focus on these two items. "If you can't make a layup, you don't shoot free throws, you shoot layups" is an analogy used to justify this procedure. The Center on Education Policy reports that 71% of the 15,000 school districts nationwide report adding time for reading and math instruction while taking time away from science, social studies and art. At Martin Luther King Jr. High in Sacramento, California, the lowest performing students spend five periods a day on reading, math and physical education with one period left to the other subjects! It would be like learning to play the piano but only being allowed to practice "Chopsticks" all day, every day. Of course, it's not about what kids like or's about federal money which might be withheld if schools don't meet the testing criteria.
The state of Florida has also embarked on some new age thinking. They are allowing students to select majors in high school and focus on those areas. It is designed to keep kids in school by not burdening them with too much of what they don't like and giving them a lot of what they do like. Imagine the rush to sign up for those analytical writing courses! Ostensibly, this allows them to meld into a career with less difficulty, but I'm not sure a 14-yr. old is capable of that kind of decision. Maybe.
There must be a full moon out. Wacky ideas abound.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Temptation in the 21st Century

Does the forbidden actually become more desirable? Hard to say. That's the basis for the recent statement by Andrei Kirilenko's wife Masha when she told him that he could, uh, stray from his marriage once a year. (Trust me, EVERYBODY is talking about this around the water cooler this week!) In case you have no idea who the principles in the story are, he's a professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz, and she is his wife who understands the temptations of superstars on the road and the lengths to which floozies will go to get a piece (figuratively) of a major entertainment figure. "Baseball Annies" they're called in the world of baseball. "Truckstop Judys" in the world of long-haul truckers; simply "Groupies" in the rock and roll venues. (As far as I know, there are no such people gathered 'round for members of the teaching profession.)
I know that car theft is forbidden, but that doesn't make me want to do it. Come to think of it, however, diet restrictions DO make me want to get around them for secret pleasures; diet restrictions are hardly the equal to Kirilenko's problem, though.
Maybe this just proves how unreal the lives of the rich and famous are in comparison to our own. I know for a fact that my sweetie would not think this is such a good idea...I know because I asked her as part of an unscientific poll. Her response was, uh, unprintable. Of course, then she asked MY opinion which was totally unfair, I thought. What is acceptable for stars is decidedly unacceptable for mere mortals on any level.
At any rate, I wonder if all of this has occurred as a result of his playing home games in Utah? For the record, he says he doesn't plan to investigate the possibility. Who says sports heroes have no morals?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Dr. Phil: Crimestopper

I believe in self-help. I'm not sure listening to on-air people like Oprah and Dr. Phil qualifies as "self" help, but that's probably too fine a distinction to make any difference. Given the number of shows like those on daytime TV, there are a LOT of people who feel the need to help themselves by listening to advice from total strangers. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is to salute Dr. Phil for his crimestoppers imitation...see, he recently aided in an inadvertant way to capture a wanted criminal.
Charles "Ed" Hicks was wanted in several places by several people though without a scorecard it's hard to tell exactly how many and where. You see, Ed is a bigamist, and there are several wives and would-be wives out there who would like a word with him. I suspect that now that he's incarcerated, the glass between him and visitors might be for HIS protection!
It all started in California back in 1965; Ed's marriage marauding took him to a wide array of locales including Texas, Utah (why am I not surprised by that one?) and Fairfax, Virginia that investigators were able to discover. At last count, he had married seven women, divorced five and had proposed to his latest paramour when the doo doo hit the fan. The Dr. Phil show on bigamy featured a picture of Ed, and an alert crimestopper saw the guy that was dating her sister appear on the screen. The rest is predictable. Ed got arrested, jumped bail, and got arrested again. I'll tell you what, if I had angry women looking for me, jail would be the first place I'd want to be!
Ed is looking at between two and ten years' worth of jail time. Is there a chance that all these women will forget about him in that time? Not likely. It's probably equally unlikely that Ed will change his ways as a result of getting caught red-faced and red-handed. Of course, if he gets the full ten years' sentence, Ed will be 72 when he gets out.
There's somebody for everyone, and I think Ed was just being a hog about the whole thing. Hurray for Dr. Phil even though I can help meyself, thank you.