Posts Tagged ‘Education’

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Fancy Plans… Guide to North American Trees

May 28, 2010
[In the interest of buying myself some time, I’m dragging an old post out of the archives and into the harsh glare of nearly a year’s worth of hindsight. This one dates back to 06/25/09 and features the short, punchy stylings of a blogger in his prime. You’ll notice I run a lot longer now…]

In the interest of bettering our fellow bloggers, we provide this handy guide to the trees of North America. While this can generally be a tedious and forgettable subject, we hope that, when all is read and done, you’ll walk away with at least one more fact to add to your collection of useless knowledge. Prepare to be taught at!

The over-dramatic Weeping Willow prepares to hurl itself into the river, quoting "Hamlet" all the while...

The over-dramatic Weeping Willow prepares to hurl itself into the river, quoting "Hamlet" all the while...

Weeping Willow
Easily the most “emo” of all North American trees, the weeping willow spends its lifetime sullenly hunched over, bitterly complaining about anything and everything.* It can often be found sulking morosely in the darker corners of your yard.

  • *Wind – Fine. I’m waving. Crawl out of my ass. Jesus.
  • Calm – A breeze would be nice.
  • Rain – This is how I feel inside. All the time.
  • Not Raining – Nobody understands me. Not even the weather.
  • Snow – Why can’t we live somewhere warmer?
  • Heat – This fucking figures.

Natural Enemies: Sunny, temperate days; the laughter of children

Given local wind patterns, your neighbors may be surprised by a few maples of their own, long after you've skipped town...

Depending on wind patterns, your neighbors may be surprised by a few maples of their own, long after you've skipped town...

Maple
Widely acknowledged as Canada’s only export, the maple is known for its appearance on national flags and its ruthlessly efficient seed distribution system, which is regarded by many top scientists as a “miracle.”

DaVinci’s early model for a flying machine (known today as the “autogyro”) was based on the corkscrewing flight pattern of the maple seed. The U.S. military took this to its logical conclusion in Vietnam, using their autogyros to scatter “leaflets” over the irritated population, who grumbled and told their kids to get outside and rake the yard. (“Watch out for the punji pits and anti-personnel mines. I don’t want to have to clean up two messes today.”)

Natural enemies: Rakes; currency exchange rates

Yeah. I've been working out. I also own a Big & Tall franchise...

Yeah. I've been working out. I also own a Big & Tall franchise...

Oak
A hulking metaphor of a tree, the oak tree is prized for its bold statement that even the smallest of us can grow up to do great things, like win the heavyweight championship of the world, or take out a neighbor’s water lines.

While it tends to do better in wide open areas, it can usually be found in groupings of smaller trees, rubbing its towering new look in the faces of its former classmates, who teased it mercilessly during its formative years.

Natural enemies: Squirrels; small claims court

The rarely seen, but easily activated, aspen G-spot...

The rarely seen, but easily activated, aspen G-spot...

Aspen
The most sensitive of all North American trees, the aspen is known for it “quaking” and “shivering” at the slightest breeze, while gusts in the 30-40 mph range will cause it to break down in full-blown tears. Recent scientific studies have theorized that the tree may actually be the most easily aroused of all plants, its quaking due to an incredibly easily achieved orgasm.

Either way, aspen owners should keep their distance, as it becomes emotionally attached at the slightest provocation, leading to late night surprise visits and drunk-dialing.

Natural enemies: Woodpeckers; frat boys

A promotional still from "Biker Boyz," featuring the semi-rare R-type redwood in the background...

A promotional still from "Biker Boyz," featuring the semi-rare R-type redwood in the background...

California Redwood
Although native to California, the redwood has begun to creep up the coastline into Oregon and Washington, prompting locals to bitch endlessly about these intruders. These diatribes, usually delivered from atop a bicycle or light-rail car, are usually disregarded by tourists and redwoods alike.

The looming threat of California’s bankruptcy should only increase the redwood exodus, providing the Pacific Northwest with novelty tree “tunnels” and yet another goddamn reason for tourists to visit. There is some speculation (as yet unproven) that the trees are only looking for cheaper real estate/heroin.

Natural enemies: Oregonians; tainted needles

Most Pleasant View Obstruction - Bed & Breakfast Monthly, July 2002

Most Pleasant View Obstruction - Bed & Breakfast Monthly, July 2002

Cedar
The Swiss Army knife of trees, the cedar has been used to create everything from moderately priced furniture to bedding for pet rodents. Due to its versatility and distinctive smell, the noble cedar has excelled in many areas during the last several years (listed below).

  • Intramural volleyball team captain
  • District co-champion, debate team
  • Co-signer on Aaron Nussbaum’s auto loan
  • President of the Sierra Club (1984, 1996)
  • Personal assistant to Blythe Danner, Phillip Michael Thomas
  • Toothpick of the year (1997)
  • U.S. Goodwill Ambassador to Luxembourg
  • Recipient – Don Mills Clean Living Award (2009)
  • Best Smile – Paloma County High School (Junior Year)

Natural Enemies: Cheerleader cliques; asthmatics

Close-up view of the many small parts of the common pine, which is very easily disassembled...

Close-up view of the many small parts of the common pine, which is very easily disassembled...

Pine
Perhaps best known for its involvement in the George Brett pine tar scandal (as well as its role as an “enabler” in several lesser incidents), the pine has cleaned up its reputation to become a well-known Christmas icon, on par with Santa Claus and his son, Jesus Christ.

Also well-known to homeowners and other Christmas celebrants as “nature’s litterbug,” the pine cannot help but shed needles and cones every-fucking-where constantly. Years of domestication have failed to housebreak the tree, as its shedding reaches a peak when kept indoors. “Evergreen,” my ass.

Natural enemies: Umpires; Jehovah’s Witnesses

"... at which point your grandmother, on your mother's side, fornicated with an angel..."

"... at which point your grandmother, on your mother's side, fornicated with an angel..."

Family
Ranging in size from a full-blown leviathan (Utah) to barely more than a misshapen stump with a few rare branches (Arkansas, West Virginia), this decidedly North American institution is prized for its collection of interminable slideshows and long, boring stories.

While it continues to grow all year round, it reaches its peak during the summer reunion months.

Natural enemies: Attractive cousins; Planned Parenthood

-CLT

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The Presidents of Harvard University Vol. 2 – The Next Hundred Years (Very Approximately)

October 20, 2009
America's most prestigious university always reminds its students to sound difficult words out.

America's most prestigious university always reminds its students to sound difficult words out.

In case you’re playing catch-up, you can check out the beginning of this glorious (and fact-free) page in history here in The First Hundred Years.

If you’ve been playing along since the beginning, please mark spot “N-45.” This is your bonus free space.

Without further preamble, Fancy Plans presents Vol. 2 in the remarkable history of Harvard’s presidents, taking you on an aplomb-laden journey through the “Pyrite Age” of Crimson history.

9. Edward Holyoke 1737-1769*
Holyoke brought in a new wave of old school corporal punishment during his unprecedented 33-year deathgrip on the top spot. Underclassmen began to fear for their lives as hazing was not only encouraged, but made mandatory. Many requested transfers to schools with less stringent hazing techniques, like Rutgers and UC-Santa Barbara.

Holyoke’s downfall and eventual lynching was the result of his insistence on bare-bottom paddling, which put Harvard in the sights of another crippling class action lawsuit. The court found in favor of the red-bottomed underclassmen (as it often does) and sentenced Holyoke to “death by angry locals.” “Affectionately” known as “Ed Banger.”
*Official cause of death listed as “waiting to inhale.”

10. Samuel Locke 1770-1773
Four years was all it took for Samuel Locke to leave nary a mark on this hallowed institution, having enacted no major (or minor) reforms, rule changes, raids on Yale or catastrophic scandals. Often attributed hazily with coining the phrases “Don’t rock the boat” and “No, thanks. I’ll just sit quietly here in the back until the board meeting is over, if that’s ok with everybody.” Affectionately known as “Current Occupant.”

11. Samuel Langdon 1774-1780
Langdon is recognized as the first Harvard president to fully take advantage of a dangerously underage Congress, having lobbied his way into its heart and parts beyond shortly after its formation in September of 1774. Once firmly ensconced in the legislative body of the U.S., Langdon took care to have himself and his university “grandfathered” in (but not in a sexual way, of course) before most of the Constitution and Bill of Rights was enacted or amended.

He secured several large donations from various congressional bills and was often seen trumpeting his success by dangling his funding in front of various Yalies and yelling, “That’s right, pretty boys! Who’s well-endowed now?” Known affectionately as “Shaft.”

12. Joseph Willard 1781-1804*
Willard spent 14 fruitless years trying to match the successes of his predecessor, Samuel “Shaft” Langdon, the strain of which caused him to shorten his life drastically through a series of suicide attempts. This fruitless strain was further compounded by Langdon not having the decency to die in office like so many presidents before him. 

Langdon would often show up late in the evening, drunk on his own success and a combination of grain alcohol and horehound extract. These late night visits often ended with Langdon passing out in the elderberry bushes and Willard hitting a non-vital organ with his musket loader. Affectionately known as “Not Well-Endowed at All, Are We JW? Hahahahahaha!!! *vomit*”
*Died in office in an office supply mishap involving a malfunctioning moveable press prototype and perfectly functioning muzzle loader.

13. Samuel Webber 1806-1810*
Although Webber was responsible for several additions to both the student housing and professorial quarters (most notably, a much larger billiards room for the president’s office to complement the 6-lane bowling alley), he is now mainly known for not being “that guy” many people are thinking of, including:

  • the dictionary guy (Webster)
  • the grill guy (Weber)
  • that little guy (Webster)
  • that weird scout rank (Webelos)
  • that composer guy (Andrew Lloyd)
  • that previous president (Willard)

Affectionately known as “Samuel Webster.”
*Died in office due to an obituary misprint in the local paper, which Webber spent several years fighting, often in a “still living” capacity.

14. John Thornton Kirkland 1810-1828
J.T., as he was affectionately known, led the Harvard Crimson to several sports titles, including  battlechess, coxswaining, motocross, skullboning, contract bridge, narwhal hunting, Yale frosh-knifing, strip badminton and quarters. His willingness to take a “hands on” approach to coaching led to unparalleled success and several parental lawsuits. “Coach Knight” (as he was affectionately known) gave the once pasty face of Harvard Athletics the black eye it needed to “toughen up” and “take it one game at a time.”

As the new-look athletics department drew heavy coverage from the local papers, “The Ragin’ Cajun'” (affectionately a.k.a.) insisted on handling every post-game interview and is credited with the invention of the non-sensical character string which is used to denote horrendous, paint-peeling obscenities. Here’s one of its earliest usages:

Captain Kirk, as he is affectionately known, responded to this journalist’s query of “Dost thou think your coxswaining crew is yearning for the rough caress of the playoffs?” with a string of profanities, the likes of which I will try to reproduce here:

JK: Did you watch the same %^&$ race I did?? Did you?? You need to have your %^&#@ing head examined and your #@#%ing eyes as well, you piece of pen-scratching $#$%! Ask something else! Any of you %^##suckers have something even partially %^^#$ing relevant to ask? Anyone! Jesus !$@#.

Affectionately known as “Thornton ‘Van’ Wilder.”

15. Josiah Quincy 1829-1845
Quincy became known for his outlandish behavior as head of Harvard, insisting on hours-long meals every evening consisting of several courses and accompanied by his hand-picked musicians, who would often wander off somewhere deep into the E chord for 20-30 minutes at a time. Though many were impressed with the breadth of his culinary tastes and the skilfulness of the musicians, others were “turned off” by the lack of restraint and endless jamming exhibited.

Quincy would often track down those who “lacked proper taste” and lecture them endlessly on the inspiration that results when big ideas meet virtuoso musicians. This was also accompanied by his talented and meandering musicians, whose improvisations often were hailed as “breathtaking” and “grandly masturbatorial.”

Sadly, Quincy’s theatrical ideas failed to carry on once he left Harvard and he gradually became a balding lead singer/drummer in a terrible soft-rocking pop ensemble that outlived its usefulness by several years. Affectionately known as either “King Crimson” or “The Broadway Lamb.”
*If only he had died in office…

-CLT

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Obama Delivers Stunning Message to Nation’s Youth: “Work Hard, Stay in School”

September 8, 2009
Obama horrifies the kids with his reading of "James and the $62 trillion in unfunded Social Security Benefits"

Obama horrifies the kids with his reading of "James and the $6.2 trillion in unfunded Social Security Benefits"

Obama delivered his “controversial” speech today to presumably hundreds of schoolchildren. What did he have hidden in there? Here’s a few choice words of wisdom from the man himself:

[P]ay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

Alright. Let’s see what else he has:

If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Solid. No quitting. What else?

Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book.

Fuck me, that’s brilliant.

Thanks for the pep talk, Pres. Perhaps now would be a good time to remind everyone that “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” and “Knowing is Half the Battle.”

So let me sum this up. “Work hard, stay in school, take responsibility for your actions.” Wow. Way to get all up in everyone’s face. Way to challenge today’s students with a string of platitudes they’ve already had laid out for them by parents, teachers, inspirational posters and “educational” inserts on Saturday morning television.

Of all the chickenshit speeches that have been delivered, this one ranks near the top. Hell, George H.W. Bush delivered this same set of lukewarm sentiments nearly 20 years ago. You’re the new face of politics. Get your balls back from whomever is massaging them this week and make some statements. At least Reagan had the guts to lay out the cold hard facts for the kids:

Reagan called taxes “such a penalty on people that there’s no incentive for them to prosper … because they have to give so much to the government.”

He manages two whole sentences dealing with fixing what’s wrong with public schools. Nothing in there about lousy teachers and corrupt administrators chewing up $25,000 per year per child in Washington D.C.

And what about those public schools? They’re not good enough for Obama’s kids. Public school wasn’t good enough for him. But the voucher program which would allow other kids the same opportunities that he and his family have has been denied. And for what? To keep the NEA happy. To keep them supplied with students whose future they are actively ruining.

Just as Obama proved he was hip pocket material for the United Auto Workers, he has made long strides to claim his place as the pocket pool shark for the National Education Association. At least he can tell the parents that the NEA sees all students as the same: a big $ sign.

And it has been proven over and over again that the NEA protects and retains bad teachers. Take a look at the teacher’s union struggles in New York City. It is impossible to fire a teacher, no matter how incompetent or lazy.

These fifteen teachers, along with about six hundred others, in six larger Rubber Rooms in the city’s five boroughs, have been accused of misconduct, such as hitting or molesting a student, or, in some cases, of incompetence, in a system that rarely calls anyone incompetent.

Meanwhile, the 757 – paid from $42,500 to $93,400 a year – bring in lounge chairs to recline, talk on their cellphones and watch movies on portable DVD players, according to interviews with more than 50 employees.

Until this kind of taxpayer-funded bullshit ends, nothing will get better. They need to get tougher on the don’t-give-a-shit students as well. Expel them. Let their parents deal with them. Stop providing free day care for undeserving students and parents.

This is all moot. This won’t change. No one has yet and no one in the near future looks willing to deal with it.

But here’s what upsets me the most. The whole “personal responsibility” angle.

How dare any politician, Republican or Democrat, black or white, male or female even presume to instruct others about taking personal responsibility. The arrogance and hypocrisy evident in this action is breathtaking.

Where’s the personal responsibility of these “employed-for-life” teachers?

Where’s the personal responsibility of these union members and corporate leaders who ran the Big Three automakers into the ground and were rewarded with taxpayer money?

Where’s the personal responsibility of this nation’s banks whose inept management and bad decisions allowed them to fuck their shareholders but still hand out taxpayer-funded bonuses?

What about the personal responsibility of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mortgage system that demanded banks lend out subprime loans after erasing any sort of personal responsibility on the part of the purchaser, real estate agent, etc.?

Politicians have no personal responsibility. They allow special interest groups to rewrite the law books in their own image. They lie down for lobbyists, allowing their patrons to run a crooked game in the name of “fair trade.” Politicians create law after law for their constituents that they have no intention of following themselves.

And it’s not just at the top levels. This sort of above-the-law arrogance runs all the way down:

A Westport lawmaker who voted to hike the state sales and alcohol taxes was spotted brazenly piling booze in his car – adorned with his State House license plate – in the parking lot of a tax-free New Hampshire liquor store, the Herald has learned.

The real speech to the nation’s children should prepare them for the nation they are being handed.

Let Obama talk. Let he and his fellow politicians (left and right) lead by example. Let them show your children that if you want to be a politician you’d better start brushing up on your hypocrisy and start naming your price. You’d better be able to look your fellow man right in the eye as you’re fucking him. (Yoga classes, perhaps.)

Keep the status quo. Play ball. Scratch backs. Do what’s best for you. Do just enough for your constituents that you stay elected. Switch sides if you have to. Hold yourself to a strict double standard. Kiss ass. Name names. Sell out. Sell others out. Cheat, lie, steal, compromise, waffle, fold, demure, obfuscate, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

Never, ever forget that you are better than the people you represent. Think for them. Decide their fates. Nanny them to death.

But when the time comes, be sure to look them in the eye, deep concern in your voice, and assure them that they have made a wise choice. You are the voice of change.

-CLT