Friday, May 28, 2010

The 'God, I'm Wonderful Wall' as an Impression Management Tool

Impression management is defined as the process through which people try to manipulate which impressions other people form of them. It can be deliberate or unconscious. In essence, this is the idea that each person is his or her own public relations representative.

I think that it was Tom Clancy in one of his books (I'm too lazy to verify this) who ventured the concept of the 'God, I'm Wonderful Wall.' This is a wall in which a person displays diplomas, citations, plaques, trophies, and pictures of himself interacting with celebrities. Some may do it for their own benefit: in effect, a shrine to oneself in one's private space. (Sort of like my picture of myself in my prom dress in which I saw myself as looking absolutely sexy and smashing, even if no one else did.) This serves a similar function as does a scrapbook or diary: to provide a vehicle for mementoes.

However, there are others who have such walls so that they may foster an enhanced self-image to others. These are the ones I mean. Now I'm not taking exception to displays of diplomas for professional reasons or as required by law. It's reassuring that the physician that I'm consulting graduated from the LSU School of Medicine, and not from Podunk Institute of Chiropractic and Cannery. No, I'm talking about the less ambitious Ozymandiases who wish for us to look on their mighty works, and despair. But who is likely to go in for this self-conscious manipulation? Unquestionably, people who are aspirants? But is this a Guy Thing; or can women do it too? A little research needs to be done on this in the form of paying attention to pattern of office décor.

And does any cheating go on? You know what I mean. Guys going out and purchasing trophies or plaques for display. It's no secret that some people parlay mail-order diplomas into jobs or promotions. And might not people take it a step further? Why not have photos of oneself photoshopped with celebrities. And, hey, choose which group you wish to influence. Having one's picture with a Governor or Senator or even a President immediately shouts, "I am one important dude to reckon with."

But there's an obvious female counterpart: that old-fashioned emphasis that some place on the breasts. Décollété, with or without titty rouge, does have the effect of managing an impression of oneself in others. And a little cheating is rampant too: look at haw much breast enlargement surgery is done each year!

A little story. I was visiting a friend of mine in his frat house, and he was giving me the tour. In one of the rooms a member had pinned on his display board a pair of girl's panties; and, being curious, I asked about it.

"Dee Doh, why does Bucky have girl's panties on his board? Does he play dress up?"

"No, he just does that to convince us that's he's getting some!"

So, with regard to various forms of impression management, it's important to recognize that people have various motives for doing so, and that one should perhaps be pleasantly skeptical, but not overly censorious about this form of behavior.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Is a Shot?

The term "shot" in bartending is widely bandied around, but occasionally with misunderstandings as to what it entails. For example, when a gruff cowboy walks into the bar (often with dramatic background music) and demands that the barkeep pour him a shot, he gets a full juice-sized glass of ethanol! Having formerly worked as a bartender, I would like to introduce you to some of the lore.

First, let's consider the "jigger." In the USA, the standard jigger is 1.5 oz.

The small jigger, sometimes called the "pony," is 1.0 oz. A typical jigger set may include two cups: one being the standard jigger and the other being the pony jigger. There is, however, some barware with 2 oz./1 oz. cups.

Some places may use a 3/4 ounce jigger, righteously referred to as a "gyp jigger." These are usually used to short the customer in terms of the whiskey included in the drink and thus to obtain more pours per bottle. Unfortunately, Dante overlooked possible afterlife accomodations for these heathens!

Therefore, a "shot" of alcohol is an indefinite quantity, and may be alternatively 1.5, 1.0, or some other quantity, depending on the context. This can sometimes result in Clintonian linguistic wrestling, except in Utah, where the shot is defined specifically as 1.5 oz. (a jigger).

Bartenders' guides usually give directions for making mixed drinks in ounces. If the directions use the words jigger or pony instead, then change the proportions accordingly. I recommend that when tending you should always follow the preferences of the customer, who is always right and should be pleased. After all, the ultimate goal of mixing is the drinker's pleasure. If the individual is not specific, then the best course is to use the bartender guide as a default.

Then, there is the so-called "double shot." According to sources that I have encountered, a double shot is equivalent to 2.5 oz. alcohol. Yeah, I know. It's a little more than two ponies, but not quite two jiggers. Consider that fact as you enjoy the oldie song, "Double Shot of My Baby's Love."

A virtuous Catholic girl will always confine any shot that she provides to the 3/4 or 1 oz. sizes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quotations of Chairperson eViL pOp TaRt

I like dogs and cats; and any guy who doesn't is suspect, in my book.

There are real limits to self-suggestion; otherwise, we would look forward to weekends so we could clean our ovens.

In vino veritas applies only when there's so little veritas to go around.

Leadership does not come ex officio.

Graduation speeches, sermons, and bikinis should be brief.

Some gene pools are in dire need of chlorine.

A stupid idea endorsed by a committee is still a stupid idea.

Living life is like going on a blind date without makeup.

The only saving grace of stupid opinions is that the questioner usually does not recognize their stupidity.

Irony is good and cleansing in small doses, but corrosive in large ones.

Beware of men bearing accordions.

One of the dirty little secrets of adult life is how little thought, planning, and execution are given to important decisions made by governing bodies.

Being rushed into a decision is a recipe for making a bad one.

When you think that people can't get any dumber, someone will come along to surprise you.

Unfortunately, there's a tendency to regard many individual differences as psychiatric problems: being shy, feckless, or even a pain in the behind should not necessarily warrant psychiatric intervention.

Idealists can be as scary as fanatics.

There should be no requirement that a person have an opinion, much less an opinion on everything.

It is a real consolation that neither the Papacy nor the Presidency is conferred by heredity.

Very few people have the discipline to edit sufficiently what they have written.

Keeping one's mouth shut is usually an effective way of avoiding trouble.

I'd be more afraid of blockheads than mad scientists.

If you wish to improve critical thinking, require more science.

It's fatuous to think that you can judge people by appearance: in real life you can't distinguish a sex offender from a game show host.

When you consider that an editorial writer graduated from J-school and probably has a bad haircut, it's hard to take editorials seriously.

Most people are comfortable in their prejudices; and regard their vices as virtues.

If you read only dreck, then you will tend to write only dreck.

Getting an education is not like receiving a suppository while unconscious: you have to do a lot of hard work in the process.

Prayer may help; but I would also use fuses for electrical circuits.

To understand things is to take them lightly.

Call girls and academic consultants have many similar characteristics; except that call girls are generally better dressed and are more honest.

Religion, toilets, and cell phones should all be used quietly and privately.

To use the opinions of actors and actresses as guides to which politics to support is sort of the equivalent to using engineers as fashion arbitrers.

The education of a young person is incomplete unless he or she can make a perfect cup of coffee, a few classical mixed drinks, and to lie convincingly.

Unfortunately, people in charge of television programming often have IQ scores that remind me of bra sizes.

Committee meetings that last more than an hour and a half testify that the chair was unprepared for the meeting, or unable to control its course.

When all else fails, read the instruction manual.

If an idea still sounds good when you are sober, it's probably a good idea.

Smile at the Dean: he'll either think that you think he's cute or you're up to something. Either alternative is good.

Wearing a bra is a homage given to convention.

Learning a foreign language and a foreign culture is time well-spent.

Temperance should be practiced in moderation.

One possible type of male that should be emulated by more women is the strong, silent type.

Avoid helpful aunts who want to set you up with "a son of a friend of theirs'.

Getting up early in the morning is a necessity or a habit; it is not a virtue.

In your relationships with your pets remember that it's you that gets to give them the worm pills, not the other way around.

No one really looks good in a sombrero.

It's a bad election when you leave the voting booth with a sense of having done something shameful without the pleasure that comes from many actual shameful activities.

It's easier to understand life if one reflects that the world is run by men who wear ugly ties.

A lie is a lie; no matter how sincerely it is presented.

A crappy present is still a crappy present, even if it is put in a flamboyantly-wrapped package.

Idiots fail to distinguish between feeling righteous and being right.

If we ever have philosopher-kings nowadays, they more likely to have engineering than liberal arts degrees.

I haven't quite found out how does one apply for a position as a trophy wife.

I miss New Orleans.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Hello Kitty Ninja Angels Strike

"BOLD AS BRASS!" -- The head nun scolds, using an expression that is calculated to intimidate us into returning to the paths of righteousness, not to mention the two weeks of detention for our excursion to the race track. We looked (hopefully) hangdog enough that she would soon tire of her tirade. Ahhh, we were used to brass: that being about as much as our boy friends could afford to give us as items of jewelery. (My wrist developed a long-term brownish-green line from a wrist band I wore for over two years.)

Anyway, we got through the scolding from the Principal and the subsequent 'parental counseling' and the detention with a sufficient degree of injury that made us feel that we needed to do one more thing just to prove that the adults did not have our number just yet. But what?
One of us, more imaginative and miscevious, developed an idea. We were going to do a raid on a nearby Catholic boys' high school; something that would surely be a dramatic and unequivocal act of defiance! (And prove to boys that we can be as daring!) Specifically, we were going to switch something for their school flag.

The boys at that school had to do some R.O.T.C. thing going, and they wore uniforms. Every morning some of them raised their the school flag and the U.S. flag with ceremony. It was all impressive, had the work-bound commuters been able to appreciate what was being done instead of driving like maniacs in the turbulent New Orleans traffic. Our plan was to take their school flag; and put something else in its place to emphasize that they were hit. But, in order to be effective, we would have to be late for our own school. How to go about it? We thought about it a bit.

First, we would have to affect the switch just after classes began, when all of their teachers and students were inside. Also, we considered what what we should do and what to wear. Obviously, wearing some attention-getting clothing like ninja costumes would call attention to ourselves. So, we decided to do it slowly and deliberately, dressed in our own school uniforms. We assumed that the casual passersby would either not notice us or figure that we were conducting a legitimate flag-raising. (As a general rule, if you act like you belong doing something, people seldom ask questions.) Finally, what to do with the flag afterwards? We were not into stealing per se: what value does a school flag have, anyway? So we decided to lower the flag, run up a substitute, and hide the flag openly in the Meeting Hall of the boys' school.

Sooo . . . . at approximately 9 A.M. we ceremoniously lowered the school flag. Then came the risky part. We entered the boys' school, and quickly ran to the Meeting Hall where we draped their school flag over the podium. Nobody was about; and we accomplished our mission with full success. We got to our school and our tardiness was unnoticed by the teacher, who desultorily took roll at the end of first period.

What did we run up in its stead? Well, it was a "Hello Kitty" lingerie set, 34A pink and white! And it was proudly displayed on their flagpole all day until after school. Many of the boys missed it even then; being more intent on going home. However, the members of the football team all confirmed that a bra and panty set was hanging from the flagpole and it did not have the school colors on it! They reported being obviously pleased with the substitution and the resultant annoyance it caused their faculty. Imagine the least important one having to retreive lingerie from a flagpole! Adults take things so personally.

The school flag was discovered two days later, so I heard, in the Assembly Hall. We sent them a picture of us in our school uniforms displaying their school flag and the 'Hello Kitty' set, but with all of us wearing 'Hello Kitty' masks As far as I know, nothing was said to the nuns. We correctly figured that the boy school faculty would be too proud to admit anything like that to the nuns.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Spring Attraction for a Resort Town

Father Tom Donnelly was a priest who always managed to annoy his bishop; not because he did anything awful, but simply because he got the diocese bad publicity from his Bingo Night at St. Leo's being raided by the State Police. Fr. Tom was an unconventional cleric that just didn't fit into the bishop's idea of what a good shepherd of souls should be, so he was assigned to the diocese's equivalent of Siberia, Gulf Coast-style: St. Daphne's in Oleander Beach, a sleepy, not too prosperous Gulf Coast resort town away from the sight of his Excellency. Since his pastoral duties were few, and he had a lot of energy, he joined the local Kiwanis and hung out with the men and women of this business club. Naturally, being men and women of commerce, of the most impeccable but not very successful sort (given the local economy), the topic often drifted into how to increase Oleander Beach's presence in the world of tourism. Alas, it had no big draw destinations, the fishing was mediocre, it lacked even small amenities such as Hooters' or Hard Rock Cafes, and nothing that in any way could have been parlyed into a tourist mecca or even a stopover. It was a sad situation, and the Good Father wanted to help.

The locals tried the usual: the fishing tournaments, advertisements for the college Spring Break trade; seeing it as a benefit rather than a burden (unlike Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach), Minature Golf Tournaments, even tried Seniors Special Romance Getaways. But to no avail. The motels, sno-cone stands, and minature golf courses went underused. There was only one time there was a seeming upswing in motel accomodations; it turned out that the rooms were occupied by drug smugglers and ATF agents, and the town got another negative story in the news.

But Father Donnelly, Bless his heart, did not give up. He thought, "Why not have a religious reason for tourism? After all, some parishes have a Blessing of the Pets or a Blessing of the Shrimp Boats or some other form of lite piety to attract people. Fr. Tom liked ceremony; but he was smart enough to keep them short. People on holiday get impatient with sermons or ceremonies lasting over a half hour. Now what could increase tourism?" He thought that he would pray for guidance; and have a few pints afterward.

Several weeks later, His Excellency Bishop James Clancy sat down to breakfast. It was a simple breakfast of sweet rolls and coffee served on the good Diocesean china, as befitting a bishop during the holy time of Lent. He turned open the Tallahassee News, as chanced upon a story:

"St. Daphne's in Oleander Beach to have a Blessing of the Bikinis at the Main Pavilion on the Beach This Saturday."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When Parents Turn Scary

No, I am not referring to some of those awkward moments in child-parent relations, such as when you walk sans your bra in at 3:30 A.M. and your curfew was 12 Midnight, or those dismal report cards, or those occasional calls from the teacher complaining of various misdemeanors, or falling asleep during mass. No, there are some siutations more primal and dire than that; moments when even the most willful girl (or boy) feels like giving thanks for the parents they were provided, and not worse. Nor am I going into child abuse or child sexual exploitation examples: these are infamous, disgusting, and numerous other terms insufficient to categorize them.

What I have specifically in mind in the frenzy that some otherwise normal, functioning adults develop when it comes to youth sports. Now I'm used to excesses in fan behavior, being a Tigers and a Saints fan. These hyperparents yell at the officials or umpires, lose their tempers if their child makes a mistake, ridicule other children, and just royally act like asses . Not all parents: most are put together well and see things in some sort of perspective. However, there are some parents who try either to re-live their sports glories in their own offspring or have them achieve what they could not. Some may even see it as a vehicle for social advancement!

It's a mixed blessing of Title IX that little girls are now subject to this assinery as well. Yesterday a mother just lost it when her little Ashley let a softball grounder roll past her while she was blowing a bubble with her gum. Was the child upset? Don't fear -- Momma guaranteed that she would be!

Folks, it's just a game.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Flagrante Delicto

There are those uncomfortable moments we all have; moments in which we wish would end. Like the time I tried to wing "How Great Thou Art" on the organ in church without using the sheet music, only to find that I forgot some of it. Or, getting caught red-handed, like when my aunt and my mother's friend caught me carrying a package from that affront to probity: Victoria's Secret. They seemed to repeatedly glance down at it with disapproving expressions. (Oh why do they color the bags that gaudy shade of pink? Why couldn't they give you a plain brown bag to carry it in?).

Schools provide those moments, as trying to sneak past the eagle eye of the school secretary without checking in tardy or having that forbidden Coke during lunch. (Coke and other sodas was contraband at our school!) And many of us found ways to avoid wearing those hideous gym outfits.

The latest? No it was not something like being caught coming out of some No-Tel Motel. It was a far seriously worse offense, in today's moral environment! [Prepare to be shocked, Gentle Reader.] There a friend and I were caught flagrante delicto in a Chili's, each with large Margaritas colored in ways that do not exist in the natural state, and each having our own Awesome Blossom deep-fried onion with dip. I knew I was in for lectures from the Diet Gestapo on the amount of cholesterol! Honestly, we do it only once a year! And it's every bit worth the guilt. Honestly, I will do extra laps to work off the calories . . . .

Why do people do this? It's that lingering Puritanism of our culture that is expansionistic in finding new opportunities to restrict joy. And it has a touch of envy as well. Supposedly, Californians envy others for their trophy boy or girl friends or wheels or even shoes; around here envy is concentrated on what someone else is eating. Think of that next time you have that lemon ice box pie!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pole Dancing

The art of pole dancing has unfortunately been stigmatized by associations with "gentlemen's clubs" and strip tease performers, but it has become more mainstream in some places. Needing a lift and some fitness activity after a day's work, not being enmeshed in a 'relationship' (my last real one ended effectively just pre-Katrina), and being bored with evenings to fill yet adverturesome, I thought I'd try this out. Pole dancing had been touted as having become mainstream; and since the classes were for women only I felt that I could deal with the situation.

The classes were held in a dance studio, not in one of those 'clubs' (thank God). The pervasiveness of sordidness would have been too much, even during the day. The instructor was a woman of my age, I estimated: very energetic and enthusiastic. Just as well: I need encouragement in exercises. The class was composed of about 15 or 16 women mainly in their 20's or 30's; most of them were fairly fit and all were outgoing. "Tough," tattooed women were not in evidence; most were squarely middle-class, holding jobs or attending college. One of the more vivacious ones was a minister's wife, who had husbandly encouragement. Now that's a liberal attitude! There were two nurses. It was a slumber party-like atmosphere: camraderie, easy-going exchanges, laid-back attitude. I sensed a frisson of unease on the group's part, though; maybe it stemmed from the fact that many people felt (or wished) that they were about to do something naughty. Which, in a way, we were. After all, most people think 'stripper' when they think of pole dancing and wondered if, somehow, they had crossed some invisible line!

The students were dressed in a variety of forms: brief shorts and halters, variations on swimsuit outfits, boy shorts and tees, and even short skirts. We had been instructed to have bare arms and legs to better grasp the pole. We first started up with warm-up exercises that emphasized graceful and sensuous movement, followed by pole work: mounting the pole, swinging, ascending, descending vertically, parallel, and upside-down, and so forth.

In talking with the participants they cited a variety of reasons for taking pole dancing: to "get exercise," to "become more sensual," to "entertain my husband or boy friend," "because I wanted to escape from the bonds of conventionality," "on a lark," or "my husband dared me." Funny thing: many seemed to enjoy the sense of discovering another side of themselves: the secret stripper or dancer within us.

The lessons produced their share of slips and mistakes. Once I lost my grip and fell about four feet on my bottom hard! Ouch! I was able to invert myself, and grasp the pole with my legs, but only with the third session.

Was it fun? Definitely. Was it physical exercise? Yes, definitely, especially for the arms, legs, and shoulders. Did it increase my self-esteem? I think so, although that was not the original intent. Somehow, just developing a skill, however strange it might seem to others, makes one feel quite good about oneself.

The instructor told us about there being an Amateur Night at a nearby club; but warned us about the audience. Now that is another level of adventure that I cannot talk about at work or in school if I were to try it! Anyway, several of us went on a field trip to understand finer points of technique. In fact, the professionals showed very little gymnastic technique.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Economics of Swimwear

It's that time of year, and I'm going through the same old ritual, selecting the swimsuit de saison, a quest properly embarked only with sufficient preparation and fasting to be worthy of this annual rite. And, like the timid soul that I am, begin the venture like any self-respecting woman of the Oughts would do: by internet search. This lowers the level of anxiety to acceptable, and one does not have to go through the rack in the store under the gaze of the typical sarcastic teen girl employee who is fitter than me. Really, going into Victoria's Secret can be an occasion for a little Dutch courage beforehand! Anyway, while surfing, I found a darling Prada silk bikini bottom, and I clicked on details in hopes of finding the matching top.
Alas, no halter. No home for my ta-tas. And the bottom by itself goes for a mere $450! However, I could protect my modesty by purchasing a silk twill top. That would set me back $1350, a steep price for respectability on a North Carolinan beach. I definitely don't think I could swim with the Hamptons crowd! I'm more in the $20 separates category. Last year's swimsuit can go another season.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Text Messaging and Dating

Yesterday I saw a teen couple seated at a table next to mine in a coffee house, both diligently pressing their cell phones. I took it at first as a mere sign of the times; both rendered temporarily busy on a social activity by the host of other obligations that homo sapiens have either assumed or had heaped upon them. It seemed sad that their intimate moment should be summarily so interrupted.

However, a chance comment by one clarified the matter: they were on a date, and were communicating with each other by text messaging! They had merely slipped into old habits by talking!

Clearly, male-female encounters have progressed in the Oughts. Suddenly, though in my 20's, I feel a little old.

But, what logical implications should follow with this? Does the boy and the girl have to be in the same setting for them to date by text messaging? What if this starts occurring when they're at home? Should they dress up for their at-home text messaging date? Can you wear bunny slippers on a text messaging date? Should my mother be scandalized if I wore a shorty nightgown? I would insist, of course that the guy would wear a clean shirt, no offensive slogans, and not wear a hat.

And how would the good night kiss be managed? By text message? And, finally, how many text message dates should you have with a guy before you permit this kiss? After all, us Catholic girls don't want to be seen as "easy."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

High Diction or Tauro-Scatology in Academe

It's a dark and dirty secret that in academe you can either sound more impressive or disguise a poverty of thought by using a high, elevated diction, as opposed to neutral or informal diction. High diction often is polysyllabic in word choice, refrains from slang or colloquialisms, and uses a refined, elegant vocabulary. This is the choice of language used by national- or state-level politicians (other than those deliberately cultuvating an image of being one of the people), lawyers, college administrators and professors, clerics, and corporate CEOs or public relations specialists. These forays into high diction can sometimes provide word choices that are almost reflexive in nature, like occupational buzzwords.

The idea is to sound lofty; all the better to defend one's personal or corporate practices. After all, often the thrust of everyday discourse is not to advance epistemology, but to snowball others into adopting a particular view.

In informal or low diction, that is called working a con. Obviously, no proper-functioning academic with administrative ambitions would say it that way; no, they would call it public relations or even winning hearts and minds.

In my opinion, the incessant use of academic buzz words is, to be unkind, a con as well. In that way, they can justify ethically questionable practices (such as underpaying graduate assistants and teaching adjuncts by saying that the wages are in response to market levels), gild the lily on changes being made (crafting a new policy or developing a new paradigm), or establishing a faux moral standing (sometimes universities, when embracing diversity, may be better described as feeling up diversity.)

Another special sin of the academics is in the abstruse generation of very forbidding-sounding titles for your paper or thesis. Nothing causes a Ph. D. more shame or anxiety than encountering something in her or his subject area that she or he knows nothing about! Especially the lazy (some profs are lazy), or the dinosaurs among the full professors. Therefore, if you have written a lightweight paper or a real puff piece, then by all means give it a purposely complex title. This will guarantee that no one will read it; yet you will get credit for having produced a publication.

Not that I ever do that in real life!

However, I set about on an exercise to write as obscure and opaque a title for an article as possible. Here's my effort:

"Deconstruction of the postmodern systemic paradigms in the mutuality of interersonal dynamics."

Do you have any idea regarding what this might be about?

Good. I don't either.

For the same reasons, giving a lofty title for a mental or physical disorder makes one sound, well, so professional.

Calling a condition 'traumatic encephalopathy of pugulists sounds' more impressive than calling it 'being punchdrunk.'

Friday, May 7, 2010

On Wearing the American Flag

Some are born to nonconformity, some achieve nonconformity, and some have nonconformity thrust upon them.

Malvolio didn't say that, but only because it didn't serve Bill Shakespeare's dialogue in the play.

I reflect on the sheer unexpectedness of this role. Obviously, some of us go out of our way to be different: by dressing differently, acting differently, releasing on-line our own sex videos, and doing other things that, as long as not too many other people also do it, makes them "different." And, yes, some of us are naturally different because they don't really have a clue as to how they are seen. The typical dork falls into this category. Now these are typically nice boys; but they don't understand how other people see their unusual dress or their strange interests. (In a word, this simply reflects that many people are intolerant judgmental bastards.) And there are some brave souls who are well aware of the intolerant consensus; but choose to defy it. These are truly what makes this country great.

But then there's the ones that have nonconformity fall in their laps. Case in point: five boys at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California were suspended for wearing American flags on their clothing! To fill in the context, it was Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day. But last I've queried, California is still part of the United States.

My thought, on reading the story, was "They're being punished because they were pulling some old fuddy-dud's chain. Don't piss the principal off!"

By, upon further reflection, I thought, "Hey, this IS the You Ess of Ay! Wearing our flag is protected speech!" And I reflected vile oaths on that principal.

But then it dawned on me: Ol' Principal punished himself. He disobeyed the Eleventh Commandment of Administrators: Thou Shalt Not Look Ridiculous.

He did. As a matter of fact, he looked like a real dick.

As if to reinforce my epiphany, I read this news item:

"The five boys and their families met with a Morgan Hill Unified School District official Wednesday night. The district and the school do not see eye-to-eye on the incident and released the following statement:

The district does not concur with the Live Oak High School administration's interpretation of either board or district policy related to these actions."

The boys will not be suspended and were allowed to return to school Thursday. We spotted one of them when he got to campus -- and, yes, he was sporting an American flag T-shirt.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Where Can I Get a Cuteometer?

In looking around, all in the interests of scientific measurement and furthering good taste on the internet, I encounted oblique references from time to time to an instrument called a "cuteometer." I immediately saw this as a potentially useful device for assessing stimulus materials that might be useful in evolutionary psychology research, as well as a practical device for avoiding excessive syrupiness in producing and selecting illustrations, choosing words judiciously, and in general avoiding excessive sentiment. After all, in a multi-aged and pluralistic internet, we have to be equally careful not to be pornish, vulgar in language, too graphic in violence, and maybe we ought to throw in constraint against being too creepily sentimental. After all, diabetic Americans have rights too! Maybe this dialectic should include some give and take, like in date movie choosing: "Let's see, we did the Clint Eastwood movie last week, so this week we do Pride and Prejudice.

This would be good for assessing illustrations. Take anime girls, for instance. Some are edgy, some are sweet lolis, and hopefully you will avoid hentai entirely. Or LOL cats. Kitties and puppies and bunnies are cute; but in most cases small humans are acceptably cute. Kewpie dolls and teddy bears cross the line: refrain from this secret vice! Holly Hobby is definitely! And let us be spared the "Love is . . . . " illustrations unless we first all turn into tween girls.

And for words, it depends. A woman referring to her "girls" is acceptable if she is referring to her daughters below age 18; but not if she is referring to the contents of her brassiere. Folks, they're breast! Or, boobs, if you insist! The same applies to "the little girls' room." That room should be called that only if it is expressed dedicated to very young females. Also, calling said necessary facility a "powder room" is inexact (who would put on powder in a gas station powder room?) but barely under this imaginary line. Anyway, where can I get a Cuteometer? Google Shopping and Yahoo Shopping do not help.

I would like to apply for a National Science Foundation grant to develop such a device.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cowgirl Melinda

Melinda, our cowgirl heroine, clearly had the blues. She tried a restorative whiskey at a saloon, but it was watered stock and left her with a headache and no reason for that excuse.

She rode her pinto into an unfamiliar town while it was foggy, and found things were awry. Rudeness prevailed. The wait staff in restaurants were snotty, even without the required French accents.

The politicians, as usual told lies. But not becoming ones. A National election was in the near future. It's an 'Anything Goes' atmosphere; without the saving grace of Cole Porter's wit.

Letters to a newspaper attributed all sorts of enormities and unattractivenss to women attending an Institute of Technology. And they play deplorable football also.

Religious figures, as usual, made mountains out of mole hills. But compounded the problem by using material from sanitary landfills to help the augmentation process.

Piercings were offered for sale in amazing locations. Melinda was content to wear her clip-on earrings that matched her spurs.

Poor Melinda, she had wished to chill out in town for a few days, but changed her plans. There were too many people who had used the locoweed (lobelia) to excess.

Upon leaving our heroine finally got an insight when she saw the sign:

PRETTY PASS, COLO (pop. 414)

So, later on, she was not surprised when someone said to her a discouraging word.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ban Whack-a-Mole

While a shining minority of enlightened people have chosen the path away from harming sensate creatures, and assumed the beneficial Earth- and-animal friendly practice of vegetarianism, the great masses of humanity continue their habit of eating the flesh of dead animals. Not only that, but they also practice the murder of untold fellow Creatures of God, eating their flesh or wearing them as a coat, shoes, or even lingerie!

It's very clear that they have a habit that is very resistant to change, precisely because it had its origins early in life. For example, mothers feed their infants pureed baby food, some of which consists of the flesh of chicken or beef or lamb. Later, they are introduced to weiners, commonly called 'hot dogs' although this is true only of some brands. It is later that they experience the cholesterol bomb, or English Breakfast, of bacon and eggs. And there's that unspeakable exemplar of excess: the 16- or 24- ounce steak dinner. (There's even one place in Amarillo that features 72-ounce steaks, which the diner can eat free if eaten entirely.)

But this even goes into children's play activity. Thoughtful mothers rightly forbid war toys or toy guns, and eschew the sexism inherent in the Barbies and Bratz, but the arcades are not free of the insensitive blight also.

There's the Whack-a-Mole game. What justification do we as a society have for tolerating this blood-thristy and hostile game? No wonder we have a youth problem. The roots of urban gang warfare comes from permissiveness towards Whack-a-Mole. Just as those youngsters learned to gleefully whack the moles, they come later on to whack their agemates in turn. And, what is worse, children are rewarded for examplary academic efforts by pizza parlors by giving them free tokens so that they might indulge in this barbarous pursuit.

We need our 50 legislatures to ban Whack-a-Mole!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Prophetess Makes an Appearance

It happened. It hit me during the night: I got a calling from the Lord to be a prophet, er, prophetess. Anyway, is that what I am? Oh well, no matter, the main thing is to give everyone the Big Word. It's a grave responsibility, and so I start out like with any serious enterprise: by getting new clothes and my hair done. I approach a group of people about to board a streetcar, and launch into my spiel:

"Okay, listen up, peeps. I wanna lay some words on you from the Uberjefe: you know, the Almighty Himself. He's not been too happy with the likes of you, and is within a gnat's hair of hitting the Smite button. But, being a fair guy, he sent me to give you all another chance."

One smart-ass answers, "Well, who are you? You don't look much like a prophet. You have an exposed navel and a Shakira 'do. And you look much too young for the job. And, you're not tall enough. Charleton Heston is more the style."

So I reply, "Well, you dudes have not been listening to the old traditional models that God has been sending .... do you have anything against grumpy old bearded guys wearing bedsheets? And what's this sexist and ageist stuff about needing an old guy? Anyway, Marketing Research up in Heaven (brief cloud opening admitting sunlight!) determined that some new packaging is needed, so I'm your girl. Listen up.

"First off, you need to get cool about the Big Ten, as they will be called from now on. They're not the Ten Suggestions, or the Ten Pretty Good Ideas. The Lord put some serious thought into them, and wants them all obeyed, pronto. None of this pussyfooting around by doing only the ones that are easy for you, capische?

"Second off, stop this racist crap. Get this: the Boss made you all. (And I don't mean Bruce Stringsteen.) And he likes you all, whatever color, sex, country, or sexual preference you might have. Hmm, maybe he's not too keen on Dallas Cowboy fans . . . . Anyway, be easy on people that aren't like you.

"Okay . . . . how shall I put this third thing? You guys need to take care of your planet. The Earth isn't one super-duper frat house that you can trash to your heart's content, and live in the squalor. You need to be thinking about the future.

"Fourth, you need to be more caring about yourself. Don't do those strange drugs, don't do stupid things. Eat and drink moderately. Sleep regularly, and exercise. Wear sunscreen. Eat your damned vegetables. And, yes, have some real fun. Fun's okay. Acting like a beast is not."

I was really on a roll. It's obvious that I attracted a crowd of interested people, so I asked for audience participation: "Any questions?"

One responded, "Yeah, Girlie. Who's going to win the fourth race at the Fair Grounds?"

I answer, "Put your money on "Bucky's Little Pony. He should do it by a nose." This was to establish credibility. Next question?"

"What's your measurements?"

Just then one of New Orleans's finest shooed the crowd away and told me I was making a disturbance. Being partial to Law and Order, as good prophetesses must be), I obeyed.

I didn't get a chance to give my message scolding the money-thieving corporate executives or criticize the using of cell phones in cocktail lounges and restaurants.