Category Archives: Public Service Announcement

The 5 Worst People You’ll Ever Meet

See what I did there?

Come on. I’d never publish a post about the five worst people you’ll ever meet. I’m no meanyhead. But if I were a paid-by-the-page-view advertiser, I’d say anything to get you to come to my site, so I could possibly swipe your email address, your location, and especially your shopping habits and what advertisements you click on. That way, I could spam you to buy whatever I’m selling, and even sell your email address to other potential spammers.

Still, I tricked you. You clicked on the title because you were interested in what I had to say about who I think you should stay away from. If I were you, I’d feel a bit annoyed. I understand; I’ve been there. While I won’t do it, I’d be curious to see my stats if I shared only today’s title (with no accompanying text) on social media. I bet my hit count would be through the roof.

The title of this post is an example of something particularly insidious, making its rounds on the internet for several years now in a relentless, perpetual grab for your eyeballs (and, ultimately, your money — because if you think there is any other reason why these heartwarming/heartbreaking stories are published, you’re under-informed). It’s called clickbait, and it’s doing its part to eat away at our already-shaky trust relationship with online journalism. So what is clickbait? You likely already know, even if you don’t know you know. Clickbait is any link that manipulates, plays on the emotions, or is deliberately vague in order to arouse curiosity, with the purpose of duping you into clicking on it.

Ever see headlines like these? (Taken from a cursory cruise down my Facebook feed, ten minutes ago)

It’s Reba McEntire.


Employees played a synchronized version of “Jingle Bells” by waving boxes in front of their product scanners (so they made the beeping noise). One guy beat-boxed into the mic.


This brave man took photos of his wife’s final journey. However, the last three pictures, while sad, are not “devastating,” in my opinion. They show his wife’s bed, a view of a rainy highway, and her headstone. The truly heartbreaking photos are the ones before the last three.


It’s a physics phenomenon having to do with vortices created by the plate displacing water. I mean, science is cool and all, but it wasn’t “I couldn’t believe my eyes!” Good Lord.


You get the idea. And the titles get wackier and more groan-worthy by the day, so it becomes a case of crying wolf: you become so desensitized to the sensational headlines, “real” news titles don’t faze.

My personal favorite among the groaners: “She Collapses After Every Single Race. When I Learned The Truth, It Broke Me.” It broke you? Seriously? Cripes. (The story behind the headline: “She” is a track athlete with multiple sclerosis. Her legs give out after every race, and sometimes she loses feeling. While it is most certainly a testament to this young lady’s incredible bravery in the face of a debilitating disease, did it break you in half to find out the reason why she collapses? I was rather uplifted — even inspired — by her courage, actually. But I resented the dupe all the same.)

Marketing groups are a savvy bunch. They know the power of human inquisitiveness; in fact, it’s a major construct of advertising. Get them to want to know more. It’s classic, and it works, and they know it. So, as is the American way, they ride it into the ground in order to suck every last nickel out of it before it slithers off into the graveyard of used-up ad techniques that worked until the customer base got wise to it.

And shame on Huffington Post — they’re one of the worst offenders (and there are many perps). Just today, I saw this headline: Seven Brothers Give Bride the Wedding Gift to End All Wedding Gifts. Out of pure disgust at walking open-eyed into another trap, I clicked on it. It was one of the sloppiest “choreographed” dude dances I have ever seen, and it’s ten interminable minutes long. This was the “wedding gift to end all wedding gifts”? Honestly — don’t take my word for it; judge for yourself.

I dunno. Maybe all this trickery doesn’t bother you. As you can no doubt tell, it bugs the heck out of me. In fact, I reached a point where I actually considered functioning as a spoiler on Facebook, commenting under each clickbait link exactly what the mystery was. Turns out, some cool people beat me to the punch.

On Twitter: HuffPo Spoilers

On Facebook: Clickbait Spoilers

Now this doesn’t mean that honest stories can’t have interesting titles. They can and do. The difference is that in a legitimate human interest link, there is some information given. No mystery. Two examples:

1. Clickbait — “A nine-year-old girl sells lemonade  in her front yard to raise money for cancer research. What happens on her second day defies explanation.”
2. Honest — “A nine-year-old girl sells lemonade in her front yard to raise money for cancer research. Neighborhood bands together and donates $2,000.”

While the second headline might make you want to click over to read more, you at least have the “punchline” already. No tricks, no gimmicks.

All right. It’s done. Fortunately for you, all you’ve lost today is several minutes of your time, as this is a blog about nothing, :-) and I have nothing to sell.  The bottom line, though, is that if enough of us ignore clickbait, it’ll eventually go away.

Bill of (Civil) Rights & other mistakes

Whooooaaa, camel. Notsafast.

Whooooaaa, camel. Notsafast.

Wait wait wait.

Yesterday, I heard a teenager say, My religion is my civil right! That’s true, yes? Well, no. Not exactly. I did some cursory research on how much the youth of America — indeed, all Americans — know about the paperwork that forms the raison d’état for our republic. The findings are depressing, long-standing and embarrassing (although to be fair, 1,000 people in a survey doesn’t strike me as a truly representative slice of America).

A good number of my middle and high school students cannot name the Vice President of the United States. Still more can’t tell me the three branches of government, or who was President before Barack Obama. Of course, this isn’t due to bad parenting or lack of intelligence or teachers abandoning good instruction. Rather, it’s a pervasive, nationwide complacency — apathy in epidemic proportions — with regard to government. This nonchalance has taken our youth hostage over the last three or so decades, and hasn’t let up in the slightest. I worry.

Therefore, with love for all and malice towards none, I give you something to share with the next person you find who either 1) misquotes the Constitution, its Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence, or 2) mixes up the difference between a civil liberty and a civil right. Actually, it’s good for all of us as a refresher; I know it was for me.

The following is a translation of what happened in 1789, when Congress realized there’d better be some “oh, and by the ways” in the document in order to minimize abuses of power, and to ensure that each US citizen had a clear list of basic legal rights.

(RtB Edition)

  1. You can believe in whatever god you want, say basically anything you want, write whatever opinion you want, tell your government you’re mad at them anytime you want, and gather peacefully wherever you want (the five basic freedoms of religion, speech, the press, redress, and peaceful assembly).
  2. You have the right to own guns.
  3. If the Army wants to hole up in your house when there’s no war happening on US soil, you have the right to say no.
  4. Your home and your stuff can’t be searched or taken without good legal reason (search and seizure; probable cause).
  5. You can’t be tried twice for the same crime (double jeopardy), and if you’re accused of a capital crime, a Grand Jury of your peers will convene first, to see if there’s enough evidence against you to go to trial.
  6. If you do go to trial, it needs to happen as fast as possible, in the district where the crime was committed. You also have the right to acquire a lawyer, and to confront your accuser(s).
  7. You have the right to impanel a jury in a civil case (a case in which a plaintiff sues a defendant, usually for damages), as long as the amount in dispute exceeds $20.
  8. Outrageous bail amounts — like, say, $20 million — are forbidden. So is torture in prison (cruel and unusual punishment).
  9. The above is not a complete, final list of your rights.
  10. If numbers 1-8 fail to cover a certain issue, then the individual States get to make the call.

And that is the Bill of Rights:  a fancy name for the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. Now, about these pesky definitions…

I guess it’s nit-picking, in a way. Guilty as charged, and it’s really not that huge of a deal, since the lines between the words have come to be quite blurred. But the above 10 items, while listed as rights, are in fact your civil liberties, or “freedoms.” Civil rights deal with the equal dispatch of those civil liberties within the framework of the law. offers this analogy:


[A]s an employee, you do not have the legal right to a promotion, mainly because getting a promotion is not a guaranteed “civil liberty.” But, as a female employee, you do have the legal right to be free from discrimination in being considered for that promotion. By choosing not to promote a female worker solely because of the employee’s gender, the employer has committed a civil rights violation and has engaged in unlawful employment discrimination based on sex or gender.


Then there’s the complex issue of granting civil rights under the law to people who really aren’t nice folks, according to “civilized society.” You know who I’m talking about: the pornographers, the flag burners, the America haters, murderers and rapists, etc. Like it or not, they have civil rights, too, even though their activities are abhorrent to a large section of our culture.

I for one am glad these laws exist. I would like to think that if I were ever upbraided legally for something I did or said according to my First Amendment beliefs, I would be relieved to have the law on my side.

The most cloudy and dangerous of all “rights” issues is when one liberty clashes with another, and further interpretation and arbitration are required. Enter the Supreme Court of the United States, whose job it is to come to a decision on the most sensitive and legally explosive cases of Constitutional law. The Pentagon Papers case comes to mind, when the freedom of government to keep military secrets clashed with the freedom of the press to report the secrets to the people. What a mess.

Speaking of mess, I’d better get up and get to cleaning around here. Busy week ahead before the busy week after that. Almost down to go-time!

Why? This is why.

Why am I so angry about the government’s all-out assault on public education? This is why. It will take you an hour to read this article (I was up at 3 this morning, so I had time); therefore, I’m going to hit the main parts for you, and if you want to read further, you can. Believe me: should you ever need to have the “money trail” point driven home, this is the one to read.

I’ll begin with the bottom line: What happened (and is still unfolding) in Newark, New Jersey can also happen in Newark, Ohio, Newark, Illinois or Newark, Maryland. Education “reform” is the new pandemic sickness, and it’s coming to a town near you — unless we all do something about it.

Until we acknowledge and address the problem of what kids deal with at home (domestic violence, drug-addicted or otherwise incapacitated parents, homelessness, and most importantly, poverty), we will never solve the problems that plague them at school. Yet, teachers are now being held accountable for higher test scores, even though myriad issues in students’ personal lives are completely outside their control. Worse, if they can’t make the magic happen in three years, they’re out of a job.

It’s like firing the TV meteorologist because of a continued drought — and makes about as much sense. From the article:


Decades of research have shown that experiences at home and in neighborhoods have far more influence on children’s academic achievement than classroom instruction.


But let’s not allow pesky facts to get in the way. There’s money to be made, friend. Just ask the mighty triumvirate of the Newark parade of fools: Chris Christie, Cory Booker and Mark Zuckerberg (for the record — a Republican, a Democrat, and an Independent, respectively), who got together a couple of years ago and asked, “How can we purport to save the Newark schools, while making our friends rich and ourselves richer, so we can look like Christ on a pony and ride all the way to glory in Washington?” (OK, that was me quoting me. But you get the drift.) Young Zuck, ever the radical idealist, pledged $100 million to “fix” the financially ailing, violence-plagued Newark district. And of course, “fixing” the system meant spending millions upon millions in places other than the classrooms:


More than twenty million dollars of Zuckerberg’s gift and matching donations went to consulting firms with various specialties: public relations, human resources, communications, data analysis, teacher evaluation. [There were] other programs in the tight-knit reform movement, and a number of them had contracts with several school systems financed by Race to the Top grants and venture philanthropy. The going rate for individual consultants in Newark was a thousand dollars a day.

Booker has maintained a public silence about the Newark schools since being sworn in as a senator. Christie has been trying to salvage his Presidential prospects. Almost all of Zuckerberg’s hundred million dollars has been spent.

[Christie’s people have not] acknowledged how much of the philanthropy went to consultants who came from the inner circle of the education-reform movement.


Said one concerned administrator, “Everybody’s getting paid, but Raheem still can’t read.” And my favorite Christie quote, famously uttered after parents and community members protested the vast expenditure of time and money, and the fact that school children were not seeing any hope of benefit: “I don’t care about the community criticism. We run the school district in Newark, not them.”


It doesn’t matter what or who you blame; the fact remains that the entire school “reform” movement — lock and stock — is based on the insatiable thirst for profit, using public school students (and their parents and teachers) as unwitting chumps in the scheme. I call out Bill Gates, the Walton (Wal-Mart) family, ALEC, Pearson, Battelle, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, whackadoodle Michelle Rhee, Teach for America, the Rand Corporation, Eli Broad, the entire US Dept. of Education, and every single politician who stands to profit from the systematic dismantling of neighborhood schools through the fist-down-the-throat tactics of Common Core State Standards and its high-stakes testing component. You’ve all been bought and sold, and now your sights are set on American kids.

You’re the wolf posing as the sheep. So I hereby declare you excommunicate and anathema. I cast you into the outer darkness. I judge you damned with the devil and his fallen angels and all the reprobate, to eternal fire and everlasting pain.

I totally stole that from one of my favorite movies.  :-) But again, you get me. This isn’t about a 21-year veteran public school teacher trying to save her cushy pension (Ha! Just typing that made me laugh.). It’s about someone whose grandchildren are now approaching school age, and will be subject to this and so much more (I haven’t even started to rant about data collection). It’s about my friends who teach core subjects, wondering how the Value Added Model is going to affect them, when they’re being judged by the test scores of students they haven’t even met yet, using a formula that no one understands.

All we can do is vote out people who sleep with the corporations that fund this vulgar enterprise. In Ohio, that’s John Kasich. He has to go. I don’t care what party affiliation you espouse; if someone in power is prostituting the children of your state to the first entity that dangles a possible Washington office key, it’s time to go. I don’t care what he says — I’m convinced everything that comes out of his mouth with regard to public education is a lie. Voters just have to wake up and realize it.


I guess we all have our pet causes, and this one is mine. And it’s impossible to encapsulate it in one rambling, incoherent treatise on a Wednesday morning when I have a concert tomorrow and craziness for the next 14 days. But I hope it somewhat clarifies why I get so jacked up when I read of yet another school district capitulating to the BS that the corporate-controlled Department of Education is spewing today. I would feel rage for any victim, but I have to admit: it’s worse when the victims are kids, and elementary principals are calling Pearson on testing day, asking what to do with test booklets on which freaked-out fourth graders have vomited. It’s worse when kindergarten teachers are forced to retool their lessons because they have to think about their six-year-olds as “preparing for college.”

It’s worse when one of those six-year-olds is my grandson, Jake.

So this, in part, is why I’m mad today. Today, and every day. Fortunately, I can put the mad in a drawer for however long I need it to stay there. If I didn’t, I’d be a raving banshee all the time, instead of just…well…now. :-D


Addendum: Immediately after I pressed “Publish” on this post, I read that Newark had just elected a pro-public-schools mayor, defeating an opponent who’d been bankrolled by the education “reformers” of Wall Street to the tune of $3M. One for the good guys.

Know all men by these presents…

…that I intend to do whatever is necessary to rid America of the reprehensible, appalling, disgusting, vile behavior that has gripped the waning consciousness of greedy, malicious, classless people who have managed to once again turn the US into a worldwide laughing stock (as if we needed any help in that category).

Of course, I’m talking about Black Friday. Behold:

And it’s getting worse every year.

Had enough of pigs at the trough yet?

And as I was just discussing on Facebook — how many people will have to die before the government realizes that people can’t be trusted to control their own behavior, so it behooves the feds to step in and control it for them? RtB fiend Steve reminded me of the “festival seating” disaster in Cincinnati in 1979. It resulted in a 24-year ban on open seating for concerts in that city. They lifted the ban in favor of increased security and crowd-control measures. But they did something after someone died.

Not a single detail about Black Friday changed after this incident in 2008 (in fact, the only change was that stores opened for the filthy behavior on Thanksgiving Day, instead of the day after). Why not? I’ll let you guess.

Ladies and gentlemen, Decency has left the building.

Things that are not true

Here in America, we’re hot and heavy about not being anyone’s fool. NO one’s taking America down the garden path, lemmetellya. I mean it. We’ll blast ya. T’ smithereenies.

Then, why, why, why are so many of us duped by a simple Internet meme? I haven’t a clue. So, for the good of the nation at-large, and for my own sanity and general confusion about the subject, here are…

Things That Are Not True

  1. There are no Fukushima giant killer hornets murdering people in Nebraska.
  2. Bill Cosby did not give the “I’m 83 and I’m Tired” speech. Rather, it was written as a 2009 blog post by a retired Marine named Robert Hall.  You can also confirm the misquote at Bill Cosby’s own site.
  3. President Obama did not claim that November is National Muslim Month.
  4. “Obamacare” features forced home inspections. Um, no.

I have about 60 more, but alas, out of time and out of here. If there is such a thing as a “happy Monday,” I want you to have it. That’s an order. :-)