In Case You Overshopped for X-Mas

Is floorspace at a premium in your house? Do you have more presents to put under the tree than will fit in a standard under tree space? Then might I recommend this?
Apparently these are available at Home Depot now, so get yours early. I’m guessing you could stack your presents a good four feet high at the base of this thing. And you’ll probably need to in order to keep it upright as I suspect it’s a tad top heavy.

Dumb & Dumber

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute released the findings of its 2008 Civics Literacy Report, and it just makes you so gosh darn proud to be an American. Maybe we are too dumb to vote. 2500 people were surveyed at random, and the average score on the test was 49% Boomer generation folks scored a little better at 54%, and people with advanced degrees scored at 65%. But that’s still only a D. The really scary part was that people who had or currently did hold an elected office scored below the national average at 44%.

Now one point to consider is this is not a cake-walk of a test. You can take it here, but be forewarned that you’ll need your thinking caps. Still, I scored a 91%, and it’s not like I’m a history major. I certainly would expect people elected to government office should be able to score an A on this easy. Yet only 49% of politicians were able to correctly identify the three branches of government. Really? That should be the “gimme” question.

On what may be a related note, the Texas State Board of Education is finally having its debate over Creationism in their science curriculum. I won’t repeat my rant on why the mere existence of this as a debate topic is ample evidence of the incompetence of the Board. My regular readers know that old saw well by now. And it would be simple to argue that Texas is a long way from here, and if necessary could be returned to the Mexicans if they get too out of hand. The trouble is that Texas is so damn big that if they decide to include “teaching the controversy” (the latest code for Creationism) in their curriculum, it will cause book publishers to include it in textbooks. Texas is a big enough book market all by itself to determine content. And many other states will wind up using the books that are produced for Texas. The net is that if Texas folds to the pressure to teach some semblance of Bible science, it may permeate into non-Texas classrooms as well. So what happens in Texas does matter. This is a case where their stupidity won’t be contained to their own borders… kind of like when they let G.W. loose on the nation. Look how well that turned out.

Dramatic to the End

It’s hard for those us us who are something less than clinically deranged to appreciate the sort of determination and will it takes to cut you own head off with a chainsaw. When I first spied this headline I thought it would tell of some sort of freakish accident. Given that I had recently taught my son to use a chainsaw, I thought perhaps this would provide a good case-in-point lesson. After all, his pre-sawing education included lots of overly graphic explanations of how your limbs are very much softer than wood and therefore the use of the tool warranted extreme caution.

The reality that this was a suicide is frankly a little hard to grasp.

Desperate David Phyall, 50, plugged the electric chainsaw into the mains and attached a timer to the socket.

He then wrapped sellotape around the machine’s trigger to secure it in the ‘on’ position and tied the handle of the saw to a table leg to hold it steady.

Mr Phyall rested the saw on his neck and waited for the timer to go off.

The Black and Decker chainsaw sliced through his neck in an instant but kept going for a further 15 minutes.

Just… ewwww. What state of mind leaves you resting calmly on a saw rigged to a timer you know is going to go off? And did he really think he needed 15 minutes of sawing to get through his neck? Apparently the guy was trying to make a statement, and I think it’s fair to bet that no one will soon forget his deed. But damn!

Personally, I could not bring myself to such an end. If for no other reason than the colossal mess it would make.