Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Archive for January 2012

Follower of St. Nucleus Accused of Fissionary Work

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Protonstant activists have leveled charges against Dr. Atom Smasher, a prominent Church theorist, of breaching core issues of dogma. In a statement to the press, the International Nuclearical Research Institute (INRI) accused Dr. Smasher of unauthorized proliferation of the Critical Mass.

Long a proponent of advancing the decay of centralized authority, Smasher now  faces the fallout from a chain reaction of events triggered by his fissionary work, as well as whispers of relationships that went beyond Plutonic. Although Smasher once focused solely on metalliturgy, recent decades have seen his endeavors move toward the impact of the Crucifission, and whether such a cataclysmic events could be pushed beyond the testament phase under the right conditions.

Smasher’s musical pursuits began with the publication of his RequieMC², and soon he was expending much of his energy conducting at a megatonchurch in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He continued composing, as well, but his next piece – a Ce Sium – brought him trouble. A papal chernobull excommunicated him, prompting observations among the nucleargy that Atom had split.

Mutual recriminations followed, and the exchanges deuteriorated Rad-ically into an un-convent-ional cold war of words, with some enclergy going so far as to call Smasher the coolantichrist, that he had forfeited his place in the halfterlife. Eventually Smasher took up with the Presbyturbines, contributing much to their knowledge of the trinitium and the doctrines governing heavy holy water. Newtronfound freedom from the doctrinal Josephty measures normally associated with ecclisiblastical pursuits, and his theology mushroomed into full-blown heresy when he called into question the symbol of the fission as an accurate representation of ancient Hebrewshima Christian symbology.

Smasher, however, praydiates for the explosion to die down, so that both sides can adopt a more neutronal tone. He has remained un-Mary-ed. Hypocenterically, he can see the Church cancering the chernobull, but that won’t happen anytime soon, he acknowledges with a Nagasinking feeling, but he is Geiger to get on with his research.

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January 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm

And the Lord, Said, “Let There Be Lice.” And It Was Icky.

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Not that I speak from experience or anything. Not at all.

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January 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm

In Which We Welcome the Wrath of Abstract Art Aficionados

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Disclaimer: if you know anything about art, please shut up. I mean in general.

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January 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Who Says We Only Use Part of Our Brains?

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January 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

My Middle-School Social Life, Explained

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January 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Woman in Shoe-House Loses Custody of Children

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The house from which the children were removed. Authorities are investigating allegations of neglect and abuse.

MORRISTOWN, NJ (AP) – Child welfare authorities removed eleven children from the custody of their mother Tuesday, reacting to the crowded, unsanitary conditions in the family’s residence, a giant shoe.

The children, ranging in age from less than a year to just shy of eighteen, were visibly dirty upon their removal from the premises, but a state-appointed physician subsequently examined them and found them to be in good health. The mother, whose name is being withheld, has been in police custody since Tuesday, as well, awaiting arraignment on multiple charges of endangering the welfare of children. Other charges are pending, according to a police spokesman. The mother has yet to name an attorney.

State child welfare inspectors first became aware of the family’s squalid home environment last month. A representative of the agency visited the shoe. The representative documented the inadequate hygiene and overcrowding, and warned the mother of the consequences of keeping the home in such a condition.

According to neighbors, the family does not send the children to school, and the other neighborhood children seldom interact with them. “We rarely see any of them,” said Melanie Davis, a nearby mother of three. “We once took our kids over there on Halloween for trick-or-treat, but that family didn’t have anything to give out except some leftover bread and broth from the night before. The mother eventually came to the door and said, ‘I don’t know what to do’.”

John Da Silva, another neighbor, does not recall seeing the father of the family, but with so many young children and a mother who seems never to leave, he knows the man must exist. The father was apparently not at home, however, when the authorities came to take the children.

The fate of the children remains unclear at this stage. Preliminary psychiatric evaluations have raised the possibility that the children were physically abused, but an agency spokesman said that was not certain. He did, however, mention the ten-year-old, a nimble boy who keeps expressing a desire to jump over a candlestick. “That’s just plain weird,” said the spokesman.

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January 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I’m Motivated! Let Me at that Box of Bran Flakes!

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January 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm

And at 7:15, I Plan to Burp Loudly

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January 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm

We Don’t Like to Talk about those Other Commandments

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January 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

And It Probably Causes Leprosy, Too

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January 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

There Might also Be Some Used Vegetables in There, for All We Know

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January 21, 2012 at 11:37 pm

If You Get this, You Might Be Old

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January 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm

It Averages Out to About 3 Proper Baths Per Year

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January 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Please Send Your Hate Mail to Mr. Ahmadinijad Instead

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January 18, 2012 at 9:58 pm

For Some Reason We Don’t Have this Problem When We Serve Chocolate

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January 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Cancerous Tumor Has Malignant Hugo Chavez Surgically Removed

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Chavez. He was safely removed from a colon tumor in June 2011.

HAVANA, CUBA (Reuters) – Venezuelan diplomatic sources have reported that a cancerous tumor has undergone surgery in the Cuban capital to remove a dangerous Hugo Chavez. According to unconfirmed reports, the Venezuelan president’s colon was threatening the tumor. The tumor has been incommunicado since the surgery, fueling speculation that Chavez might still pose a danger to it.

Chavez is not the first world leader to put cancerous colon cells at risk. In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan was excised from a polyp, and later that year had to be removed from cancerous skin cells on his nose. That surgery had to be repeated twice more when a malignant Reagan threatened other such skin cells.

In 1951, surgeons operated on a tumor in the lungs of Britain’s King George VI, hoping to prolong the growth’s life; its host went into remission and died several months later, guaranteeing the tumor permanent safety from His Highness. Similarly, in 1964 doctors successfully removed King Paul of Greece from a stomach tumor.

According to the World Health Organization, cancerous growths are at risk of harm from approximately one third of the human population, the vast majority of which never undergo treatment or surgery, especially in developing countries where the tumors do not have access to adequate medical care.

An intestinal tumor like the one rescued from Chavez (Reuters).

In the case of the Venezuelan President, the latter has obliquely accused the US government of infecting cancers with Latin American heads of state, a charge US officials have been quick to dismiss.

Organizations representing tumors have grown significantly and spread rapidly throughout the world, but have nevertheless come up short in rallying people to their cause. Critics accuse the organizations of devouring the meager available resources they manage to procure, with little to show for their efforts but a bloated network of cells throughout the world engaged in nothing but continued growth.


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January 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Parenting Formulas: You Know, I Was Never Good at Math

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January 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm

As Honest as the Day Is Long (in a Swedish Winter)

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Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook, you honest, forthright model of a human being, you.

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January 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Building Contractor Actually Finishes on Time, under Budget

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Racine, WI (Reuters) – In what housing experts are calling an unprecedented development, a construction and renovations contractor in West Park has completed a project a full two months before the scheduled deadline, and has done so for less money than the client had expected to pay.

In November 2010, Kevin and Stacey McWilliams of 54 Wisconsin Avenue signed a contract with Bianchini Brothers, Incorporated, for the latter to build them a two-story house on the empty lot next door. Company VP Joey Bianchini had agreed to a date of March 15, 2012 for handing over the keys to a completely functional, intact house. Last week the McWilliams family moved into their new home, having received the go-ahead from municipal inspectors the week before.

Additionally, Bianchini had estimated the cost of construction at $198,000, to be paid in installments commensurate with the progress of the construction project. The final $25,000 payment was made on January 2 of this year, after the Mcwilliamses received the OK from the inspectors, but that was a full $15,000 less than the total, bringing the actual cost of the project down to $183,000, a 7.5% reduction.

Kevin McWilliams did not initially understand. “I called Mr. Bianchini to ask him what happened, and it took him twenty minutes to explain to me that I didn’t owe him any more money. Here I was, expecting, like every other client of a building contractor in history, to have to fork over another fifty thousand dollars for a job not so well done, and I get blown away by this,” he recalled. “When I tried to explain it to Stacey, she refused to believe it, and insisted on calling Mr. Bianchini herself.”

Bianchini, for his part, downplayed the unprecedented events, pointing to a development he had never before encountered during his thirty years in the field: the McWilliamses maintained the same plans throughout the project, not once making a change that would cause a reworking of the schedule. “These clients must be from another planet,” he mused in a recent interview. “People who actually know what they want and express their desires clearly, in writing? Who ever heard of such a thing? And whenever they came to check out progress on the site, they called me first to make sure they weren’t interrupting something important. These folks are nice, don’t get me wrong, but they’re just plain unusual.”

Reports of contractors completing their jobs on time and under budget have made news before, but the McWilliams/Bianchini case appears to be the first confirmed one. According to Mildred Barth, Professor of Housing Studies at Texas A&M, at least three times in the last forty years there have been contractors that seemed to finish early and for less. In 1974, a couple in Richmond, VA, thought they had paid for renovations to their second floor, with the total cost $2,500 short of the contractor’s estimate. Further investigation revealed that the contractor had skimped on materials, necessitating repairs that took another six weeks, pushing the project past its deadline.

In another case, in 1998 a Denver school inked a deal for a new science and computer lab. The contractor indeed completed the job at cost and it took him less time than originally estimated, but nevertheless went past the completion date because the school itself had to delay the start date after discovering asbestos that required removal. “That was the one that almost made it, too,” says Barth. “The same contractor was actually in the asbestos removal business, but the school board insisted on a tender as a separate project, and a different company had the winning bid.”

In 2003, banking giant HSBC leased a facility in Midtown Manhattan, and engaged a contractor to convert the premises into a bank branch. The previous tenant had been a clothing store, and the renovations took a month less than estimated. However, the project ended up costing almost 50% more than the original estimate of $104,000, and the bank management felt compelled to foreclose on more mortgages than usual that year.

Caroline Temple, Associate Professor of Urban Studies at Northwestern University, predicts that other contractors might attempt this feat, but that the appeal of the achievement will not last. “At the end of the day, it’s about bilking the client for every last possible cent. That’s always been the name of the game.”

Written by Thag

January 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm

When I’m Famous, You Will Be Allowed to Wash My Dishes

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A belated thanks to Lorna’s Voice, once again:

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January 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm

The Kreativ Blogger Award and Why this Site Did Not Deserve It

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As the observant among you may have noticed, Mightier than the Pen has been favored by the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thus the pinkish thing in the right hand margin. Unless you’re viewing this in Google Reader, in which case it’s only here:

Innit purdy?

Thanks to Lorna at Lorna’s Voice for the recognition, with which we know not what to do. Apparently, the KB award is to be passed on, like an uneaten fruitcake, to other bloggers whose work one admires. And one must not bestow it upon a prior recipient of the honor, lest there be a rupture in the space-time continuum. Or something. We’re fuzzy on that part (as well as other, unshaven, parts), but the point is that the Kreativ Blogger Award was conceived as a sort of virus that cannot infect previous victims, who have achieved a blessed state of immunity.

Alas, I cannot maintain the glorious tradition. I do not follow others’ blogs; I am far too busy, dismissive, arrogant and willfully ignorant. Even the link in my margin (Raising Wings) will take the reader to an oeuvre last updated in July 2011. So derelict have I been in monitoring that site that I only noticed two months ago that it lay dormant all that time. On an unrelated note, the potato salad in the back of the refrigerator has developed opposable thumbs, and seems to be attempting to use them to hitch a ride anywhere else. Not much to do in my refrigerator, obviously. I seldom even keep beer in there. Also, the two-month-old slices of turkey bologna can’t make for good conversation:

Potato Salad: Say, you new here?
Potato Salad:
 Uh, excuse me?
Potato Salad: Oh, I’ll bet you’re a real cut-up at parties.

But thank you, Lorna. It is gratifying to have one’s creative efforts appreciated, even if they have not, inexplicably, translated into lucrative advertising, book contracts or indecent proposals by hordes of groupies.

Written by Thag

January 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm

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Classic Thag, January 2011: The Klutz Timetable

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Originally posted January 26, 2011

OK, honey. Because I seem to have some trouble getting up and ready in the mornings, I sat down and hammered out a timetable for me, especially for those days when you have to get out early to work, and it’s just me on the kids.

I know that we’ve tried this before, and a million little unpredictable things cropped up that got in myway. But this time,  I’ve anticipated many of those little things and allowed for them. I think you’ll find this new schedule eminently realistic.

Proposed Daily Morning Routine

6:00 am: Wake up; vaguely recall that today is not Saturday. Try to remember exactly which day it is.
6:25 am: Wake up.
6:35 am: Wake up, take gander at watch, feel adrenalin rush; grumble, stretch.
6:37 am: Wake up, call to children to get moving, we’re late.
6:38 am:  Try to calm baby, who does not like being roused by yelling.
6:39 am: Check e-mail; trudge to bathroom.
6:40 am: Vacate bathroom in favor of letting wife use facilities. Trudge to children’s room.
6:41-6:45 am: Yelling match.
6:46 am: First threat to send whoever isn’t ready to school without breakfast.
6:47-6:51 am: Check e-mail. Second attempt at bathroom use; insert contact lenses, brush teeth.
6:54 am: Return to children’s room to resume yelling.
6:56 am:  Trudge back to bathroom; third attempt to complete tasks. Shave part of face.
6:59 am: Rush to children’s room to administer first aid and adjudicate first tort claim of day. Second threat to withhold breakfast for whoever isn’t ready. Check e-mail.
7:01 am:  Return to bathroom; finish shaving.
7:06 am: Yell encouragement to fighting children. Check online headlines. Begin dressing.
7:07 am: Return to children’s room; manually insert children into clothes. More yelling.
7:10 am: Herd children downstairs; distribute bowls, spoons, cereal, milk. Prepare sandwiches for two eldest.
7:14 am: Yelling match over choice of sandwich, rate of cereal consumption.
7:15 am: Notify elder children that time to leave house for school bus has arrived.
7:16 am: Manually put coat on second child, sandwiches in backpacks. Inform two eldest that the time to leave is past.
7:17 am: Bodily remove two eldest children from house; ascertain forward progress toward bus pickup location.
7:20 am: Receive call from bus driver inquiring as to whereabouts of boys.
7:21 am: Chase boys down street to bus.
7:23 am: Return to house; realize still only half dressed.
7:24 am:  Pour small heap of dry cereal on high chair tray for toddler.
7:25 am: Help three-year-old wipe.
7:26 am: Facepalm as cereal is scattered to the four winds. Listen to toddler whine about lack of food in front of him.
7:27 am: Abortive attempt to reason with toddler.
7:28 am: Acquiesce to toddler’s insistence that he be fed cornflakes with milk, spoon by spoon.
7:44 am: Remove toddler from high chair; wipe up Lake Milkchigan.
7:48 am: Return to room; finish dressing.
7:54 am: Help three-year-old wipe.
7:55 am: Begin preparing sandwiches for two smaller children.
7:56 am: Break up fighting children.
7:57 am: Continue preparing sandwiches.
7:59 am: Help three-year-old wipe.
8:00 am: Finish preparing sandwiches, cut up produce.
8:01-8:03 am: Debate with three-year-old over choice of sandwich; pack sandwiches and produce.
8:04 am: Realize sandwiches have been packed in wrong bags; switch.
8:05 am: Get children in jackets and hats if necessary.
8:08-8:11 am: Attempt to reattach mittens to jacket sleeves.
8:12 am: Place toddler in stroller; depart.
8:13 am: Put toddler’s mittens back on.
8:14 am: Return home, retrieve children’s bags.
8:15 am: Depart.
8:16 am: Put toddler’s mittens back on.
8:17-8:19 am: Engage in lively debate with three-year-old over practicality of taking the more stair-intensive, more interesting route to nursery school with stroller.
8:20 am: Put toddler’s mittens back on.
8:28 am: Drop three-year-old off at nursery school. Notice that one of her gloves is missing.
8:29-8:37 am: Retrace steps in futile search for lost mitten; take toddler to day care.
8:38 am: Find lost mitten in stroller, along with three-year-old’s bag.
8:48: am: Deliver mitten to three-year-old at nursery school.
8:49 am: Feel lack of breakfast.

Written by Thag

January 10, 2012 at 12:50 am

Don’t Bother Me with Facts; I Have a Theory

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January 8, 2012 at 11:09 pm

It’s Time to Put Grandma in an Assisted Dying Facility

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Let’s not beat around the bush. Grandma isn’t getting any younger, and she’s no longer the independent woman we once knew. It’s time to make her remaining time on Earth easier by putting her in an Assisted Dying facility.

I hate the term “nursing home” just as much as you do, Jared. It’s far too euphemistic a phrase for a place that slowly sucks the will to live out of a person by immersing him or her in an environment characterized primarily by decaying minds and bodies. We should just call a spade a spade – and I do not refer here to the pinochle and bridge games with which Grandma will occupy her afternoons until the endless, grinding routine drives her into depression, malnutrition and death.

We know Grandma has a hard time getting around ever since she broke her hip, and she needs help just to do basic housekeeping. Well, at an assisted dying facility, they have staff dedicated to those tasks just to drive home the point that the residents have outlived any usefulness and might as well croak.

There’s also the matter of her hygiene and medical care. I admire Grandma’s mental acuity as much as the next member of this family, but we must honestly confront the question: can we rely on Grandma to take the right pills at the right times, and watch out for undesirable interaction between medications? And what about foods that make the medication regimen trickier? Would we ever forgive ourselves if she were to make a mistake, or forget she’d already taken that day’s dose, and wrought unspeakable havoc on her already failing metabolism? I doubt any one of us does not see the merit in having someone else watch over her, patronizingly doting on a fiercely independent spirit as if she’s a bumbling preschooler, to the point that Grandma no longer sees life as worth living.

Truth is, Grandma’s been lucky. She hasn’t suffered from incontinence as much as most people her age. So she won’t even have to worry, initially, about needing an attendant to change her and wipe her, what with her restricted mobility and all. But that time will come, and we don’t want our dear Grandma to be left lacking where other seniors have to experience the indignity of surrendering personal hygiene to a condescending, able-bodied assistant who habitually uses locutions such as, “Oh, are we ready to have our diaper changed?”

It’s settled, then. Wanda, you and I should sit Grandma down and try to convince her this is the only realistic option. We have to stress how tough it is on us, having to devote so much time and energy to her care, time we should be using to take care of our own families and needs. She needs to see reason – that we cannot by ourselves make her wish to expedite her exit from this world. We need her cooperation.

That way, instead of squabbling over her estate, we can preemptively spend it on her stay at the assisted dying facility.

Written by Thag

January 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Classic Thag, May 2010: the Journal of Mundane Results

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Originally published May 30, 2010

A recent poll of household nine-year-olds reveals that, contrary to parental expectations, sharing a room with siblings aged five and three provides a primarily positive environment.

Widely publicized statements originating with Robert Homer, the target demographic, had in the past led researchers to believe that younger siblings were considered “annoying” or “in my way all the time”. The new study, conducted in mid-Ocotber, produced its share of surprises, according to Dave Homer, who co-authored the study with his colleague, Debra Homer. “Casual observation of the relevant population indicated a relatively high level of resentment of brother and sister,” writes Homer. “However, direct interviews conducted after school and just before bedtime consistently featured positive, even affectionate dispositions toward the Peter Homer and Maxine Homer population segments.”

As evidence, the study authors point to specific characterizations by Robert Homer of Peter and Maxine as “really funny” and “really cute”, respectively. Further, the researchers state, the target demographic’s willingness to share dessert and snacks with the other relevant population groups has only grown in recent months. They also cite an incident in which the subjects were observed not fighting over the special green chair in the playroom.

“These findings point to exciting new developments in Robert Homer behavioral modes,” said Claire Dugan, Debra Homer’s mother, who was not involved in the research any more than the parents would allow, for fear that her tendency to shower the target population with undivided attention might skew the results. “The maturity that the nine-year-old group has shown in this survey testifies to the skilled parenting in action recently.”

Others criticized the study, saying that it failed to account for a number of important factors. “That woman is far too strict with the subjects,” said Myrna Homer, a grandmother of three and a critic of Homer maternal parenting. “Later bedtimes were in order at least a year ago, and implementing that policy could have forestalled any of the perceived antagonism expressed before the survey. This really should surprise no one.”

The study authors expect to follow up with research into the morning routine of the same demographic. According to Debra Homer, “The number of times the parents must remind the target population to ‘get moving’ on school mornings warrants further study.”

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January 5, 2012 at 9:44 pm