Mightier Than The Pen

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Posts Tagged ‘school

American Kids Celebrate End Of School Shooting Year

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AR-15Washington, DC, June 12 – Children across the country are excited for the end of the school shooting term, finally free not to attend the institutions where they are forced to sit in classrooms and are placed at increased risk for being killed or wounded by gunfire.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre at the end of 2012, 74 school shooting incidents have taken place in the United States. The litany of such massacres has had no impact on gun control efforts, leaving parents, teachers and administrators with no choice but to simply wait for the school shooting year to end and hope that yet another recurrence does not hit them in the meantime.

“Summer vacation is always a challenge, but this year we’re a little relieved the school shooting year is basically over,” said Eugene, Oregon-area resident Alex Mully. “Summer camp might be expensive, but even with all the climbing, jumping, hiking, camping, dirt, and wilderness, it’s still seems safer than school.”

Mully is hardly alone in his sentiments. Parents and teachers in high schools from coast to coast have joined Facebook groups and other social media venues dedicated to counting down the number of days left until a school shooting is no longer a possibility, as least until September. The groups have become a mixture of cheering each passing day, sharing techniques for coping with the sense of danger, and recipes for cupcakes and other treats to keep the children’s mind off the possibility that at any time in the next few days, a disturbed or evil person will kill and maim them with weapons and ammunition that the politicians seem powerless or unwilling to limit.

The Department of Education has put out an online publication urging principals and teachers not to be distracted by the impending sense of respite, and that they continue to shoulder educational responsibilities. “Let us not lose our focus on the goal,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in an introductory message. Our goal was and remains the provision of knowledge and skills for understanding and functioning in the world, and we cannot allow ourselves to be thwarted by the prospect of being pumped full of lead from an assault rifle. We must therefore ignore that threat.”

Written by Thag

June 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm

In Science, Math, US Students Now Rank Behind Mold, Cabbage

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Washington, January 22 – Data from standardized tests shows a new low in the academic achievements Among American high school students, placing their computational and analytical abilities just below those of the fungi and plant kingdoms.

As students from East Asia and the Scandinavian countries continue to excel, US students now rank 23,900,345,988,022nd, representing a severe drop since last year’s position as last among the world’s 208 countries with independent educational systems. Just ahead of the United States last year was South Sudan, a brand-new, war-torn African country, and Somalia, which the United Nations deemed a Failed State just a few years ago.

US leadership in education began to drop off in the decades following the Second World War, and has never really recovered. A stable period during the 1970’s saw the students maintain a position in top 20, but subsequent decay of the culture and educational system rendered any improvement impossible.

“We have to see this as a wake-up call,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “I really have no idea where we went wrong,” he added, noting that he was unsure whether that lack of knowledge was a cause or a symptom of the troubling results.

hag

Not Irma Strumpf. Probably.

“The easiest thing to do is blame the children themselves,” said noted educator Irma Strumpf, 102, who teaches Biology at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County in Uniondale, New York. “And that’s probably what we’ll do.” She said the fault certainly could not lie with the teachers, who know how to focus on priorities such as belittling students who fail to complete assignments, and unfavorably comparing younger siblings to older ones.

The rankings contain some anomalies that make them even more puzzling to researchers and educators. While US teenagers show little or no aptitude for basic arithmetic or the scientific method, they demonstrate keen abilities in remembering and processing the details of plentiful celebrity gossip, skills that could easily be adapted for use in academics. And with their proficiency in deciphering text messages with myriad non-standard linguistic expressions, educators expected the students to handle non-numeric mathematical symbols easily, which of course has not happened.

Written by Thag

January 22, 2014 at 8:55 am

Education Dept.: Not Enough Time Wasted At Parent-Teacher Meetings

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140px-US-DeptOfEducation-Seal.svgWashington, DC (AP) – Responding to an alarming increase in the risk of parents actually having time to accomplish things, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan directed all schools receiving federal funding to allot more time for meetings with teachers.

Technology has allowed American parents to increase their efficiency, maintaining productive communication with associates, supervisors, and employees even while engaged in the mundane tasks of parenting a school-age child. Smart phones and other mobile devices help them stay in contact via text messages and other media even while they sit in a classroom as a teacher or principal drones on in cliché-ridden pronouncements about educational goals and parental involvement.

To combat this development, Duncan had his staff prepare a plan to restore the status quo ante from decades past, when parents had no choice but to sit idle, silently cursing themselves and their fates while being assaulted with hackneyed verbiage. The Taking the Initiative to Make Educational Sessions Unbearable in Conferences or with Kids (TIMESUCK) program makes it mandatory for all teachers to bar the use of mobile devices while parents are assembled for meetings with teachers.

Through TIMESUCK, the Department of Education seeks to keep parents in their rightful place: scrambling, frustrated, exhausted, confused, and as powerless as possible. “The mission of each cabinet department is to maximize the ways in which US citizens and residents are made to feel helpless and manipulated,” Duncan told reporters. “The Department of Education is charged with achieving that end through the school system.”

Traditionally, explained Duncan, the chief vehicle for cultivating and nurturing the persecution of parents has been post-secondary tuition fees and a program jointly sponsored with the CIA to maintain  certain level of drug addiction in middle and high schools. Further support for these initiatives comes form the Department of Health, which has consistently managed to ensure that a disturbing percentage of female high school students become pregnant at least once by their junior years.

However, uneven distribution of income and parental involvement in children’s schooling has meant that while the goals of the Department were being met, even exceeded, in inner cities and areas hit with socioeconomic distress, middle- and upper-class school districts still had unacceptably high levels of parental satisfaction and engagement. TIMESUCK, says educational consultant Hugh Sunavobicz, will make great strides in equalizing the frustrations of parents across the socioeconomic spectrum.

“In recent years, parents of means could insulate themselves from the soul-sucking experience of parent-teacher conferences, but this measure levels the playing field. In many ways, it’s a back-door achievement to further the goals of the Democratic Party, which prides itself on equalizing the opportunities that the economically disadvantaged normally do not enjoy.” In this case, noted Sunavobicz, few resources are necessary to implement the initiative, a point that short-circuits some of the anticipated criticism from conservative quarters.

Republican Senator Mark Rubio confirms that analysis. “The Republican Party does not oppose granting people opportunity, but it must be done judiciously and non-profligately. TIMESUCK seems to answer to both requirements, but only time will tell.” He added that the GOP has consistently supported other measures to keep parental optimism in check, such as a series of wasteful foreign wars, a government that blatantly violated human rights and constitutional protections, and election campaigns that leave no room for hope in the future.

Written by Thag

December 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Parent Scientists Isolate Ideal Bedtime

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Either a health risk or a manifest demonstration of  life lived correctly.

Either a health risk or a manifest demonstration of life lived correctly.

Cambridge, MA (AP) – Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced the results of a multi-year effort to define the ideal hour at which children should be put to bed, including confirmation of a long-held assumption that a “golden window” exists during which children who cooperate with parental bedtime directives will enjoy happier, healthier lives.

A team consisting of thirty-five researchers across the country who are also parents of young children examined data regarding a cohort of 70 youths from the ages of six months to eleven years. They found that the best time for children to be tucked into bed was in the range of 6:45 pm and 7:30 pm, and even earlier if Mom or Dad had something special planned just for the two of them. The researchers published their findings in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the article, the benefits of adhering to this bedtime scheme include, but are not limited to: more frequent and more plentiful desserts; fewer occasions for parent-administered discipline; an easier time getting ready for school in the morning; more generous allowance; and a significantly decreased likelihood of getting grounded.

“This study essentially corroborates everything we’ve been saying for a long time,” said Dr. I. Sedso, a Columbia University professor of physics and father of three who was not involved in the research. “Our experience,” she said, referring to the informal studies undertaken by colleagues with small children at home, “bears out that the household functions at peak efficiency when children have dinner at about 5:15, have a bath or shower, change into pajamas, brush teeth, and are ready for maybe a bedtime story and to be tucked in by 7 pm, 7:15 if a lice-combing is necessary,” she said in a telephone interview.

The study is the most recent in a series of MIT efforts to define and quantify various aspects of the parent-child dynamic. A report released in February noted the character-building benefits of taking out the garbage even when one has already removed one’s shoes, and the myriad positive effects on one’s long-term satisfaction inherent in keeping that racket down.

The research is not without its detractors. “We believe studies of this nature are a priori biased,” claims Houston-area ten-year-old Greg Niedermeyer. “They fail to account for the negative social impact that adhering to, for example, an early bedtime, exerts on the life of a typical schoolchild.” Niedermeyer also criticized an earlier study that found only positive outcomes for children who finished their vegetables, noting that only losers ate Brussels sprouts or beets in any form.

Niedermeyer pointed to a conflicting set of studies conducted over the last year by children at various elementary schools in Texas, Vermont, Indiana, and Florida, which found a significant correlation between later bedtimes and freer access to candy. “It’s clear that from a happiness point of view, liberal parental attitudes are key. The studies indicating otherwise suffer from a prejudiced set of assumptions, among them that whatever a parent wants is ipso facto desirable.”

Adult researchers, in turn, have assailed the schoolchildren’s research as agenda-driven, and noted that it was all underwritten by manufacturers of unnecessarily sweet breakfast cereals and of violent video games masquerading as educational tools.

Written by Thag

September 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Report: No More Room On Earth For Children’s Art Projects

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The remains of Etruscan culture, which collapsed under the weight of accumulated school projects in 300 BCE.

The remains of Etruscan culture, which collapsed under the weight of accumulated school projects in 300 BCE.

Fresh Kills Landfill, Staten Island (AP) – Environmental groups and parents came together this week to raise alarm over the worldwide accumulation of projects that children bring home from day care, day camp, preschool and the early years of elementary school.

A new movement calling itself Don’t Employ Take-home Regalia In Teaching Us Stuff (DETRITUS) has issued a warning to local and national governments, admonishing them to do something to prevent children’s art projects from taking up any more valuable space in the nation’s homes, gardens, bedrooms, and storage facilities, which are already filled to capacity.

“Every parent struggles with the notion of disposing of the unwieldy, crude, and poorly conceived pieces of junk that their children bring home from nursery school or kindergarten,” said Polly Styrene, a DETRITUS representative. “But they must always confront the guilt that comes with throwing away anything at all, lest the poor children then get the feeling their parents care nothing for all the work that went into those pieces of crap.”

The accumulation of old projects has reached crisis proportion, DETRITUS warns. “Following a generation and a half of children bringing home seasonal decorative project after seasonal decorative project, parents do not even have the option of handing off any of these so-called objets-d’art to grandparents or other relatives, who spent their own children’s younger years saturating their homes with all that worthless junk, and have no remaining space to display or store the monstrosities.”

The DETRITUS statement outlined several crucial measures that must be implemented immediately if people are to avoid being pushed out of their homes by styrofoam, construction paper, sequins, wooden skewers, cardboard, cotton balls, toothpicks, stickers, glitter, gift wrap, matchsticks, feathers, yarn, plastic bottles, paper fasteners, ribbons, picture frames, popsicle sticks, plastic and paper cups, small jars, egg cartons, pipe cleaners, doilies, tissue paper, corks, socks, buttons, Elmer’s glue, stamps, beads, cellophane, milk cartons, crepe paper, beans, fabric swatches, plastic laminate, pom-poms, lanyard, dried flowers, empty thread spools, drinking straws, aluminum cans, modeling clay, little bells, rhinestones, bottle caps, flags, toilet paper rolls, key rings, signs, puff paint, tinsel, coffee stirrers, plastic containers, rubber bands, washers, dry elbow macaroni, colored sand, corn kernels, shoe boxes, old compact discs, colored pebbles, twist ties, foil, paper bags, disposable plates and bowls, papier maché, string, sealing wax, and other fancy stuff.

First, teachers and day-care workers must be barred under penalty of law from initiating any new projects, starting immediately. That would effectively reduce the creation of new problematic creations to zero. Strict enforcement would be necessary to ensure that no children would be instructed to make, for example, Christmas tree ornaments, Halloween decorations, or Mothers Day cards. Resistance to this measure is expected from teachers and others who work with children, who will be forced to engage in activities with their charges that do not involve permanent additions to this civilization’s archaeological record.

Second, government-supervised efforts must be made to eliminate some of the clutter already congesting America’s households, beginning with projects that no one ever uses whose creators have long since moved out or forgotten them. Local police forces will be tasked with ensuring, by force if necessary, that each household with children in its jurisdiction parts with at least 20 such projects over the course of the next two years. Power plants will be required to begin burning these objects to produce electricity and thus reduce the space the items occupy by an estimated 40,000 tons per month. The requirement to switch to art-project-based fuel will remain in effect until the availability of local art garbage falls to acceptable levels.

Third, In order to soften the sentimental blow, families will be allowed to apply for a team of archivists to document, photograph, and record clips of pieces that meet certain minimum criteria of nostalgic or sentimental value before their worthless crud is destroyed.

“We have to act now, before we are inundated by more crap,” said Styrene. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to a school meeting, where the teacher has made sure each kid made some useless thing to welcome each parent,” she added through gritted teeth.

Written by Thag

September 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Students Protest Inconsistent Value Of X

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find xWashington, DC (AP) – Students across the country have begun to object to the variable value assigned to the character X in their mathematics curricula, and intend to petition the Department of Education to demand a single standard value.

The Disciples’ Union for Mathematical Basics (DUMB) has collected the signatures of over four hundred thousand middle school and high school students since the start of the academic year on a petition to have the federal government mandate that X represent a constant value, a move that would remove serious unnecessary burdens from the shoulders of tomorrow’s leaders.

“We students spend countless hours in class and at home, puzzling out something that could just as easily be assigned a value once and for all,” said DUMB president Blonde Zaff-Morfun, 17, a high school junior and captain of her Memphis, Tennessee, cheerleading squad. “That time could be better spent on pursuits with more lasting impact, such as exploring the proper use contraceptives,” she claimed.

Along with the support of those myriad students, the movement has attracted the unexpected endorsement of teachers. The nation’s third-largest teacher’s organization, the Disciplinary Union of Mathematics and Biology EducatoRs (DUMBER), issued a statement backing the students’ initiative, asserting that its members waste valuable classroom time training their charges how to discover the value of X, only to have X represent a different – sometimes vastly different – number in a following exercise, often on the very next line of the textbook.

“DUMBER educators fully support the DUMB petition to assign one value to X once and for all,” read the statement, in part, “much as it supported the successful effort to ban biological terms longer than ten letters,” referring to a 1995 campaign to simplify the life sciences for junior high and high school students. That campaign won over enough Congressmen and Department of Education program directors to go into effect nearly immediately, putting an end to, for example, the Endoplasmic Reticulum, thenceforth known as Squiggle.

Whether the push by DUMB and DUMBER will attain its goals remains to be seen, as it has encountered opposition from rival movements that would like to see priority given to other educational arenas. The Brawny Union for Lotharios, Lackeys, and Yes-men (BULLY), for instance, sees the elimination of the variable value of X as a threat to its members’ social standing, as proficiency in math and the sciences remains one of the few academic areas in which the differences between BULLY students and others are still apparent in the classroom.

“The progressive dilution of the American middle- and high-school curriculum over the years has effectively eliminated the few diagnostic tools our members have to identify the Poindexters,” read a BULLY press release. “Any further elimination of achievement-based indicators threatens the more physically endowed students’ capacity to make gym class and between-period hallway taunting a living hell for those elements of the student body too pathetic to merit being left alone.”

The statement added that such treatment of academic achievement has been a cherished, valuable part of the American educational heritage, and its post-high-school practitioners have influenced the development of American foreign policy since Eisenhower.

Written by Thag

September 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Shakespeare Baffled By English Teacher’s Analysis of His Work

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361px-Romeoandjuliet1597Stratford-Upon-Avon, England (AP) – The Bard of Avon expressed befuddlement this week at all of the symbolism and interpretation of his work by Long Island eighth-grade schoolteacher Barbara Kass.

For years, Mrs. Kass has been studying various works by the Elizabethan poet and playwright with her middle-school English literature class, often choosing Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth. In her explication of the material, the teacher often points out literary devices, imagery, and occurrences of irony or foreshadowing that Shakespeare himself did not intend. As a result, says the Bard, the effect of the play in question becomes obscured or distorted in the minds of the preadolescent and adolescent students, he asserts.

“By my troth, this wench doth confound and conflate,” observed the greatest writer the English language has ever seen. “Teach she must not, grades seven nor eight.” He cited numerous instances of Kass’s imputation of meaning where none existed, and of completely missing the point.

“Wherefore doth she ignore the intended offense of Rosaline becoming a nun?” he wondered. “Wherefore would she deprive her disciples of the apprehension that the fair Capulet niece conveys to the protagonist that she would sooner remove herself from all men than concede to a coupling with him? Is the intent not clear as a summer’s day?”

“What man or woman of thirteen years would would relish not such a barb?” he continued.

As for Kass’s insistence on reading into Shakespeare’s use of light and dark in contrast to symbolize the love and hate that bring the lovers together and ultimately keep them apart, respectively, the Bard admits nothing of the sort. “What ho! That the brawling be in daytime and he trysts at night, would she read as poesy? Brigandess! Villainess! Impute not what thou imputest, foul teacher-woman! For it be nary more than simple convenience of the plot!”

A similar instance occurred several years ago when Dr. William Lee, a professor of English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, saw Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea as a political allegory of the Jewish struggle for a homeland in the territory of Palestine, foreseeing decades of ultimately Pyrrhic struggle to control the land and the hostile Arabs within and around it. The author, who committed suicide in 1962, made his displeasure known.

The same happened when Herman Melville denounced most of the literary analysis of his Moby Dick, insisting that is was simply a good story of an eccentric sea captain, if somewhat long-winded.

Written by Thag

August 14, 2013 at 4:09 am

University Hopes Sex Scandal A Boon To Recruitment Among Pedophiles

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yuhsbNew York, August 11 (AP) – Still reeling from revelations that the institution covered up and did not adequately address allegations that members of its staff had abused high school students in its care in the 1980’s, the Yeshiva University leadership nevertheless sees a silver lining to the scandal.

The flagship institution of the Modern Orthodox movement in Judaism anticipates that its emerging history of treating pedophile faculty with kid gloves will attract other potential teachers to its high school, teachers in search of an environment that better accommodates their attraction to adolescent males.

“This episode could really work in our favor,” said Dr. Seth Taylor, Principal of General Studies at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, the high school in question. “There are untold numbers of educators out there who could expose our students to everything imaginable, but who are deterred by the potential career and personal fallout from their tendencies.”

“But now that it turns out YU – and the boys’ high school in particular – has been friendly to those who have a more open way of expressing attraction to teenage boys, we fully expect to find quality applicants for teaching positions who would be afraid to apply anywhere else,” he concluded.

Head of School Rabbi Michael Taubes concurs. “MTA has unwittingly placed itself in the vanguard of institutions vying for the experience  – both inside and outside the classroom – that this uncharted demographic can get a better feel than most for the students’ bodies – I mean the student body,” said Taubes, who assumed his current position during the previous school year, referring to the boys’ high school by the initials by which it is popularly known.

In the cases that received recent media attention, several men who attended MTA in the 1980’s charged that the school had ignored their accusations that the principal at the time had engaged in inappropriate physical activities with students, such as wrestling; the principal and another faculty member were quietly advised to resign, and found employment in other Jewish high schools elsewhere in the country. YU declined to inform those institutions of the questionable background to those former employees’ resignations.

In a letter marking his retirement as Chancellor of the university, this year Dr. Norman Lamm, who served as president when the faculty members were accused of the misconduct, acknowledged that he and other administration figures mishandled the cases. In a response to that portion of the letter, current YU president Richard Joel honored Dr. Lamm’s expression of regret, but asserted that in fact the erstwhile scandal would in the end benefit Yeshiva by demonstrating its longtime commitment to protecting faculty who stray.

“Recent events in academia have shown what top-notch educators and leaders can do for our children when left unmolested,” wrote Joel, making reference to the saga of Penn State University athletics figure Jerry Sandusky. “We at Yeshiva fully resolve to pioneer a new avenue in the recruitment of faculty, drawing those teachers to us who would be uncomfortable anywhere else.”

Written by Thag

August 12, 2013 at 6:36 am

Why Yes, I’d Love to Waste an Evening at My Kid’s School

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School performances

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Written by Thag

January 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Guy Doctors Tout ‘Walk It Off’ Injury Treatment

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walk it offAtlanta, GA (AP) – The Centers for Disease Control have released a new study buy guy physicians promoting a minimalist approach to the treatment of wounds, called “Walk It Off.”

The research, which began as an examination of sports-related injuries in May 2010, soon expanded to cover a guy-inspired approach to myriad health care issues. It looked at approximately ten thousand cases of guys in pain, and for each one, determined that urging the patient to walk it off, grin and bear it, suck it up, or similar non-invasive measures, proved most effective.

Conversely, forcing the patient to submit to the emasculating experience of placing one’s welfare in the hands of a “med-school weenie,” as the report called them, invariably results in a loss of manhood from which few recover.

As a result, the CDC will introduce a set of “Play Through Pain” procedures for the treatment of injuries suffered in the course of athletic activity, in the course of manly jobs such as construction, or in the course of standing around watching such activities. The study did no look at the effects of such a course of treatment on women, but it did note an increase in pain reported by patients when a woman touched the affected area, even when, just moments before, the patient admitted no discomfort in response to being whacked in the injured area repeatedly by teammates, coworkers or opponents.

The US military has already expressed interest in a planned follow-up study, as injured soldiers account for a hefty percentage of military medical training and treatment.

channel surfingRepublicans in Congress have welcomed the study, as it may allow them some ammunition in pushing for reduced government coverage of medical expenses under the health care package signed into law during the last legislative session. In the same vein, the Republican National Committee is set to announce tomorrow that it has commissioned a related study to measure the therapeutic effects of channel surfing, the health care savings implications of which are vast.

Little League coaches have hailed the results of the CDC study, saying that it validates what they have long advocated. “Man up, is what we say,” according to Sid Marcus, a Baltimore-area coach of middle school softball and football teams. “You don’t need anything more than maybe an ice pack if it’s really bad, but stop being such a wuss. You think Cal Ripken didn’t feel hurt every once in a while? Lou Gherig? No pain, no gain!”

The CDC also announced that it will study the beneficial effects of administering locker-room wedgies and snapping the underwear waistbands of puny students.

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Written by Thag

January 7, 2013 at 1:24 am

Lice: ‘Indiana Preschool Infested with Children’

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lice combTerre Haute, Indiana (AP) – Lice at the Kiddie Carousel Day Care are complaining that the facility, on South Seventh Street, is infested with human children. Children are a risk factor in the forcible uprooting and premature death of millions of lice every year.

The two-legged, immature humans provide an initially welcoming environment for lice. But often, once the insect population has been lulled into complacency, the surroundings suddenly become hostile. Baths of harsh chemicals often occur just when the lice population has begun to thrive, and sweeps of the child’s scalp area indiscriminately carry off young and old alike when the dreaded Comb passes through.

The International Taskforce on Cootie Hosting, or ITCH, has documented at least seven hundred thousand cases of child infestation in North America this year alone, representing an increase of eight percent over last year, which in turn grew from eight percent the year before. According to government statistics, although the number of human children has remained steady in North America during that time, an increase has been noted in the number of the hazardous human spawn inhabiting sites that lice once found more friendly.

ITCH has documented a general increase in dangerous conditions for lice. Famine and wars in Africa have reduced the number of available hosts in certain areas, although the most recent data point to stagnant growth in the African cephalic environment to begin with, as the hair of the African human tends to be less suitable to habitation by lice. But violent conflict in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have wrought havoc with the consistency of available residences.

The situation is not nearly as dire as it was seven hundred years ago, when the Black Plague swept through Europe and severely reduced the human population. Rival arthropod species seemed poised to assert dominance over the parasitic world, but a steady rebound in the number of humans on the continent, coupled with the displacement of bubonic plague hosts, assured the ascendance of head lice for centuries after.

In fact the lice future has never looked rosier, according to a new report by SUCK, the Society of Users of Chitin Knees. The SUCK report notes an overall global increase in human population, which will provide many more heads for lice to inhabit, and global warming means more of the planet will be hospitable to the insects, which survive longer in warmer environments if they become detached from the scalps of their hosts.

But the lice at Kiddie Carousel are still worried, as the presence of the deadly combs and topical treatments have been detected, according to rampant rumors among the lice.

Can YOU think of a more hostile environment?

Can YOU think of a more hostile environment?

A vocal contingent denies the rumors, calling into question the evidence for the comb and shampoo phenomena, as well as any indication of silicone spray. The skeptics note that all the fear-mongering stifles the productivity and growth of the population, and deem the rumors “pediculous.” Moreover, they argue, any such threat, even if imminent, lies beyond the capability of the lice community to address.

At press time, a louse with dyed, otherworldly-shaped orange hair was seen departing the preschool in a tiny helicopter marked “Trump.”

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Written by Thag

December 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm

This Post Was Not Plagiarized for Your Kid’s Research Project. Yet.

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Research

Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook, then have your sixth-grader copy you.

Written by Thag

December 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm

NRA Says Arming 6-Year-Olds Would Have Prevented Massacre

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NRAFairfax, Virginia (AP) – In response to the fatal shooting of 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said that had the students been allowed to carry a weapon, the murders could have been averted.

“A gun is an easy piece of equipment to use,” said LaPierre at a news conference at NRA headquarters. “A child as young as five can be properly trained to load and aim one. I’m not saying that arming the children would have necessarily prevented all the tragic deaths, but I know the gunman would have thought twice before entering a classroom of two dozen first-graders with upwards of 140 rounds of ammunition at their disposal.”

“And that’s just if you assume each one has a six-shooter,” he continued, referring to the standard revolver. The number of potential deterrent bullets could rise as high as 360, said LaPierre, if each first-grader were provided with a weapon holding a 15-round magazine. He said the NRA would soon be offering firearms purchasing and training programs in school districts throughout the country.

Lanza, depicted as if he were encountering a roomful of first-graders armed to the teeth.

Lanza, depicted as if he were encountering a roomful of first-graders armed to the teeth.

According to the evidence the police have pieced together so far, twenty-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into the school building and went from classroom to classroom, shooting students and faculty before taking his own life. It was as yet unclear how the weapons, which Lanza had taken from his mother after killing her earlier, came into her possession. They were a semiautomatic rifle and two semiautomatic pistols.

The shootings underscored the deep divide in the US between supporters of strict gun control and advocates of expansive Second Amendment rights. It is but the latest in a gruesome series of mass murders by gunfire over the last few years, each one rekindling the debate over what makes American society safer: more guns in the hands of more people, the fact of which might deter would-be attackers, or tougher access across the board to the acquisition of any firearms, which would make criminal shootings less likely.

The NRA has lobbied vigorously for freer access to firearms by the broadest possible section of American society. Aside from deterring crime, they contend, the preservation of Second Amendment liberties safeguards other fundamental rights that the government might, under some circumstances, attempt to deny, as if such an attempt would not be backed by firepower and tactics far that would overwhelm, to the point of ludicrousness, anything even collective US gun owners could muster.

As for statistics demonstrating that a gun owner is more likely to be killed by his own weapon than by anyone else’s, the NRA recommends expanding the pool of gun ownership even further. “We’re all about gun safety,” said NRA President David Keene. “Anyone who accidentally shoots himself probably deserves it, and anyone who does so intentionally, well, that’s one fewer loose cannon to worry about, right?” Arming elementary school children, argues Keene, would enable the youngsters to experience the responsibility at a tender age, responsibility that would bring a maturity currently in short supply.

“Kids love top play cops and robbers, or some variation thereof,” continued Keene. “Allowing them to do so with actual firearms would drive home the point that these things are not toys, and that their use requires a seriousness that can only serve them well – in school, at work, wherever.”

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Written by Thag

December 15, 2012 at 10:19 pm

The Great Kindergarten Contraband Intrigue Caper

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You thought you could trust your little children, didn’t you? I’m here to tell you you’re a fool.

You’re a fool.

With that out of the way, let us examine what happens when one makes unwarranted assumptions about one’s child’s behavior. Especially when those assumptions make one’s life easier. But in fact are so untrue as to make one wonder what the hell one was thinking. If at all.

Here is Figure A, which lays out the typical morning ritual of attempting to prepare a sandwich for our dear daughter to take with her to kindergarten.

The figure does not show the histrionics that accompany each refusal, which no two-dimensional medium can adequately convey. It is left to the reader’s imagination. Considering the reader’s online habits, he or she should have no problem conjuring up vivid images, if you catch my drift. Sicko.

All well and good, or as well and good as could be expected. Until last week, when the complaints suddenly ceased. Thus Figure B:

Notice the complete absence of complaints or histrionics. This being our third child, we should immediately have listened to the powerful alarms sounding in our brains – much in the way the silence emanating from several children can only indicate something catastrophic in the works – but this being before seven o’clock in the morning, our brains much preferred to leave those alarms in abeyance. SO much more civilized at that hour.

In fact, a chance conversation with another parent at drop-off revealed that Figure C more closely represents reality:

Key line from one of the parents whose child had eaten the white bread: “Could you buy whole wheat instead?”

At the very least, we have now settled into the familiar, if less than ideal, status quo ante, with the added bonus of an almost daily whine: why don’t we send our kid with chocolate spread sandwiches?

Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook, where we guarantee you will never encounter an idea as disturbing as a chocolate spread sandwich. Except maybe Vegemite. Or my taste in clothes.

Written by Thag

October 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

We Go Live to Our Reporter, Who Has Just Been Wedgied

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Originally posted December 15, 2010.

Muffin: Good evening and welcome to the Seventh Grade News. I’m Stud Muffin, with Jess Kidding.

First-period math got off to a shaky start today when half the class came in without homework. Mr. Cowell claims the students need to get their act together, while the class complains of unfair burdens. Lisp Nightly reports.

Nightly: That’th right, Thtud. The detailth are not a hundred perthent clear yet, but it appearth that at about nine-o-five thith morning, Mithter Cowell athked the thtudenth to plathe their homework on hith dethk, then thpent about a minute going through them, checking the nameth againtht the attendanth litht. When he got to the end, he thlammed the latht paper down on the pile and yelled at the clath.

What happened nektht ith thtill in dithpute. Thome thtudenth thay Mithter Cowell threatened to put a permanent mark in each one’th record if the lathineth perthithted, but otherth claim the teacher went even further, threatening to have the nektht clath trip cantheled.

Student 1: I dunno, so like, Mr. Cowell took attendance, and like, someone kept making, like, armpit noises, so, y’know, things were already, like, not so calm, and Jenna sneezed, and Mr. Cowell was all like, “OK, everyone, get your homework on the desk right now,” y’know? And so, like, he was like going through all the papers, and like ten of them were like totally missing, and he was like, “If you people keep skipping your homework, I’m gonna have to put it in your record,” which, like, whatever.

Student 2: So I’m sitting there in math class? And Mr. Cowell starts yelling at us? And I didn’t do my homework, cuz Britney, the girl who sits behind me? She had like a bad breakup with Brad? So I spent all of yesterday kinda making her feel better? And suddenly he’s yelling that we’re not gonna go on our next trip? And we have math homework like every single day?

Nightly: Mithter Cowell himthelf wath unavailable for comment, but the thtudenth themthelveth theem divided on the fairnethof their treatment. Thith ith the thecond time thith themethter that the clath hath had the threat of cantheled priviligeth dangled over them, and the way thingth are going, thome doubt they’ll ever go anywhere at all thith year. Back to you, Thtud and Jeth.

Kidding: Thank you, Lisp.

Gregg Mitchell was sent to the principal’s office for the sixth time this year during second-period history for mouthing off to the teacher. Here’s Fulla Vitt, with more on the story.

Vitt: Gregg Mitchell was whispering with Ellis Morton in the adjacent seat when Ms. Anthrope, the history teacher, asked him to quiet down. When Mitchell continued talking a few seconds later, Ms. Anthrope warned him, but he continued talking. That’s when she sent him to Ms. Urry’s office. That’s the third time in the last month that Mitchell has been sent there, and the sixth since the start of the year. Ms. Anthrope was the first teacher to send him to the principal back in October, as well.

Mitchell himself gave us the finger when we asked for an interview, but classmate Keith Antell says that Mitchell is just clowning around.

Antell: I don’t know why everyone’s getting on Gregg’s case. He’s just joking around. So he made a few jokes while Ms. Anthrope was talking. So what? It’s not like he hurts anybody. And he’s funny. Besides, history is boring.

Vitt: A school office official speaking on condition of anonymity informed us that the school psychologist is looking into Mitchell’s situation at home. For the Seventh Grade News, I’m Fulla Vitt.

Muffin: And now we’ll have a look at the weather, with meteorologist Dan Kandertti. Dan?

Kandertti: Looks like a calm second half of the week, but as you can see, the clique of Veronica Miles, Stephanie Durkett and Chloë Dumont are planning a series of embarrassing moments for Kari Wilmer on Thursday. Friday looks mostly clear except for the afternoon, it looks like, when the school will have a talent show, and only the popular kids will feel confident enough to participate. Here’s the five-day on your screens now; you can see the weekend shaping up to be troublesome, with Stephanie Durkett and her eighth-grade boyfriend having a fight on MySpace and spreading nasty rumors about each other. That storm will last into next week.

Kidding: It’s not a busy time for sports right now, but Jack Ovahltraids nevertheless has some news for us.

Ovahltraids: Yup. Jess, the new uniforms for the middle school basketball team are almost ready, and the boys will wear them when they get creamed by Edison Middle School on Sunday. The new uniforms are brown with yellow stripes down the side, and misspelled names on the backs. School officials say they have had to deal with budget cuts, so they purchased used uniforms from the Salvation Army and had volunteers sew the names. Go team!

Muffin: Well, that’s it for this evening. Join us again tomorrow when we give you an inside look at the janitor’s closet, and ask him about cleaning the boys’ locker room. Stay tuned for Midgets on Parade! For everyone here at the Seventh Grade News, I’m Stud Muffin. Good night.

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Written by Thag

October 15, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Instructions: Step 1: Avoid This Assignment

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Written by Thag

September 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Classic Thag, March 2011: Entry-Level Bigotry

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Originally posted March 31, 2011

Hello, everyone. Settle down, please. Today we’re going to talk about pluralism.

Pluralism means wanting or accepting our differences, even if those differences are very big. Timmy, sit down, and leave Marcia alone. Leaving Marcia alone means you accept her being different from you, even though she never takes a bath. We call that part of pluralism “tolerance.”

When we are tolerant, we do not make other people feel bad for being different from us. Gregory here is the only black person in this class, but to call him “son-of-a-whore” because of it would not be tolerant, even if he probably doesn’t know who his father is. Kim and Anna’s parents came from some godforsaken country in Asia, but we do not call them “gook” or “slanty-eyed.” We want to be pluralistic.

Now, the principal wants us to talk about pluralism because some children in the older grades beat up another student because he goes to a Mormon church, not a real church. We all know that beating people up for being different is wrong; we’re only supposed to give them dirty looks and say they will go to Hell when they die. But Principal Martin thinks we need to try even harder than that. So we’re going to talk about pluralism and tolerance.

You might think that we don’t try to be tolerant when someone is clearly wrong, but actually, that’s exactly when it happens. Even though Jews are Hellspawn who killed our Lord, we are not going to spit on Jacob or Beth. We are going to treat them as we treat everyone else. Yes, Timothy, that means they stay in the room when we have our class Christmas party.

Pluralism is one of the reasons our founding fathers made sure there would be freedom of religion, and that’s the way the courts still see it, even though our founding fathers did not face the danger of Muslims trying to impose Shariah law on us and make us their servants. Yes, Jessica, that’s exactly what they believe; just ask your pastor. But if we had a Muslim in our class, there would be no singling him or her out for beaning during dodge ball just for that reason. He would also have to be a nerd. Yes, Timothy, he could also come to the Christmas party.

What’s that, Grace? Well, that is a good question, but not really about pluralism, so I’ll answer it very briefly. Our founding fathers decided we need what’s called a “separation of church and state,” which means that the government will not favor one religious group over another. But of course everyone knows they meant this to be a Christian nation, so having a Christmas party in a public school is no big deal.

But back to pluralism. In addition to talking about pluralism, we’re going to spend some time practicing it. I have here a dress – a very ugly dress. Jacob, you’ll get to wear this dress and stand at the front of the class. The rest of us will practice trying not to laugh or throw things at Jacob.

We’ll do this every morning, right after the pledge of allegiance. Jacob, Beth, Kim, Anna and Gregory will take turns wearing the dress.

Now, if you’ll open your English books to page forty…

Written by Thag

February 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Ask a Disillusioned Santa Claus

with 2 comments

Dear Disillusioned Santa Claus:

My son never does his homework. He’s already ten years old, and nothing we say or do gets him to complete his work for any length of time. We’ve tried rewards, punishments and everything in between, to no avail. What works one day fails the next. What are we to do?

At Wit’s End in Secaucus

Dear Wit’s End:

I assume you’ve already tried warning him that Santa does not look favorably upon children who neglect their school work. However, given his age, he’s about as likely to retain a belief in Santa as he is to know nothing about sex. Oh, you didn’t realize that, did you? Were you under the impression that anyone over the age of eight in this interconnected age is still ignorant of the basics? Oh, dear. It appears Junior is not the only one in Secaucus with some maturing to do.

In any case, I recommend Catholic school. There’s no better way to straighten a kid out and scar him for life at the same time than making the consequences of a missed assignment be spending an afternoon alone with Father Flanagan in his office. You know, the Father Flanagan who gets quietly reassigned to new places every now and then.

Dear Disillusioned Santa Claus:

Are tips mandatory all of a sudden? I had always thought that tips for waiters were contingent on courteous, capable service, but more and more, the providers of these services seem to consider tips an entitlement. Have the standards changed, or are there just more rude people around?

Bewildered in Denver

Dear Bewildered:

I have a suggestion that might change your perspective. Try playing Santa one day at a shopping mall during December. The physical abuse, decibel level and ceaseless Christmas music would be enough to drive a saint to murder – and waiters have to deal with more than that: picky, rude customers; messy children; impatient management; ill-informed kitchen staff; and hourly wages that would make an illegal immigrant cringe, just to name a few. Don’t blame the poor bastards for not achieving satisfactory results.

Instead, cook your own goddamn meals at home, and pack a sandwich. It’s consumption-oriented pigs such as you who have made my once-pleasant vocation an absolute nightmare. Want some anthrax in your stocking this year?

Dear Disillusioned Santa Claus:

Please help my brother and me settle an argument. I maintain that Babe Ruth was the greatest baseball player ever, and he contends that the title should go to Ted Williams. Who is right?

Waiting in Knoxville

Dear Waiting:

I hate questions such as this one. Where’s the angst? The moral quandary? The emotionally fraught dilemma? You give me nothing to work with. All I get is a lame request to settle a bet. What is wrong with you people? Aren’t brothers supposed to have a dysfunctional relationship? Certainly that’s how it was with me and my brother. The creep.

Oh, and the answer is Ruth, hands down. He was fat and still did well. Like a certain saint I know…

Dear Disillusioned Santa Claus:

My wife of eight years is an alcoholic, only she won’t admit it. She has wine with her dinner whenever we go out, and I sometimes see her sniff her perfume before she puts it on. How can I get her, gently, to realize she has a problem?

Concerned in Dallas

Dear Concerned:

This is a joke, right?

Right?

Christ.

(Oh – sorry about that, old buddy – we’ll talk later, over some Scotch)

OK, I’m going to type this slowly so that even you can understand it: yes, your wife has a problem. That problem has been married to her for eight years. You know what to do.

Confidential to Nervous in Philly: I don’t completely understand what kind of photos and videos you mean – what kind of home movies could possibly be so damaging that you would fear the rest of the family might see them? Please forward them to me so I can more fully grasp what you’re getting at.

Written by Thag

February 20, 2012 at 8:37 pm

The Ten Commandments of Grade-School Performances

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1. Thou shalt schedule the event for a school night, late.

2. Thou shalt notify the parents of the event no more than three days before the announced time.

3. Thou shalt mandate homemade costumes that only skilled craftspeople can produce in the time allotted.

4. Thou shalt begin no less than thirty minutes late.

5. Thou shalt precede each number with a meandering, irrelevant exposition.

6. Thou shalt pump up the volume of the musical accompaniment such that it drowns out the children’s voices.

7. Thou shalt schedule the performance of the younger children for the latest time slot.

8. Thou shalt pretend the kid with no ability whatsoever deserves accolades for his “performance”.

9. Thou shalt not make adequate provision for care and supervision of the smaller children when they are not performing, especially as the hour gets late and their behavior deteriorates.

10. Thou shalt offer for sale a recording of the festivities as if anyone in their right minds would want to spend actual money on such a massacre of all that is aesthetically acceptable.

Written by Thag

February 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm

They Actually Train the Kids to Sing the Wrong Notes

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Written by Thag

February 4, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Raise Your Hand if You Want Your Daughter to Dress Like a Hussy

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Written by Thag

December 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Thag’s Ancient History (April 2010): That Wasn’t Supposed to Be Funny?

with 2 comments

Originally posted April 20, 2010

There seems to be some uncertainty out there among the twelve or so readers of this blog as to the nature of certain posts. The one about my escapades involving a roll of raffle tickets in particular seemed ambiguous in that regard, as emerged from a discussion today with the person most responsible for my starting this blog.

Said interlocutor found that post laugh-out-loud funny, whereas I, the author of the post, happened to view the thing as the only one, so far, completely devoid of intention to induce laughter. Clearly, I do not understand humor.

I resolve, therefore, to establish some basic rules for determining whether a given post is funny. The presence in a post of one or more of the following indicates that the author has employed humor, and you must react appropriately:

1. The word “weasel”. Use of “weasel” in a post unmistakably indicates humor, or at least an attempt thereat.

2. ALL CAPS. CAN YOU THINK OF A SINGLE INSTANCE IN WHICH ON-SCREEN SHOUTING IS IN ANY WAY NOT LAUGHABLE?

3. Intentional mispeling. Self explantory.

4. References to the 1980′s sitcom Small Wonder.

5. Like a frog caught in an eggbeater, the use of jarringly inappropriate similes.

6. Bone-crushing exaggeration.

7. Gibberish. Who in their right mind rejunkel narb?

8. Uncomfortably intimate references to someone’s bathroom habits, such as the way you reuse dental floss.

9. More than one occurrence of the phrase, “rotting llama carcass” (I actually introduced that phrase to the internet back on January 18, 2006, but do I get credit? Noooo; Google doesn’t even find it, but I managed to dredge it up).

10. Use of the word “Noooo.”

There are other indicators, of course, and perhaps we shall devote another post to them. Just as soon as I get this rotting llama carcass out of the way.

Written by Thag

December 7, 2011 at 12:50 am

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I’m Declaring a Major in Peer Pressure

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Written by Thag

December 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Dear Parents: Please Send Your Child to School with an Ax Today

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Dear parents:

On Thursday, December 15, the fifth grade will visit the Bestiality Museum in Weehawken. This exciting opportunity to enhance the children’s classroom learning will give them hands-on experience in applying what they have learned to the problems of today – and in the presence of some of the most important contemporary personalities in bestiality.

As you know, this year’s integrative curriculum includes a focus on evolutionary biology, through multiple lenses. Our previous trip, in early November, took the children on a riveting journey through the myriad ways in which creatures engage in reproductive activity. Because the feedback from that outing to the Short Hills BDSM Museum proved so hearteningly plentiful, for this month’s trip we selected another venue guaranteed to offer impressionable young minds a broadening experience, while at the same time making the subject relevant to everyday life. Our success in accomplishing the latter is evident from the parental involvement and interest in these trips.

Speaking of parental involvement, we still need two parental chaperones to accompany the students. Eleanor Jacobs, Stuart’s mother, generously offered her time for the last two trips, and we must also thank her for using her inside connections at the BDSM Museum to get the school a steep discount. This time, however, Mrs. Jacobs has a prior engagement, and we need another parent to step into her boots. We need a second volunteer, as well, as this year’s fifth grade class has seventy students. Interested parents, please contact school secretary Geraldine Ferraro.

The January and February trips still require some finalization, but we intend to take the students to the chemical weapons testing facility in Woodbridge and a mortuary, either in Jersey City or Newark. If you can let us know this far in advance whether you can serve as chaperone on one of those outings, please do so.

We welcome your continued feedback. Nothing says you care about your children’s education as much as when you let us know what you think.

Sincerely,

Jeff Dahmer
Principal, Mahwah Central Grammar School

Written by Thag

November 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Tutorial: Avoiding Homework

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Written by Thag

November 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm