Showing posts from April, 2011

Are You Insulting Your Pet?

Are You Insulting Your Pet?I insult my dog on a fairly regular basis. Did you see that? I just did it again.

According to Oxford professor Andrew Linzey, the editor of the Journal of Animal Ethics, it's insulting to our pets to use terms like "mine" and "my," because it denotes that they're property.

We also shouldn't call them pets, because the term is insulting.

(I'll give you a minute to soak that one in. Take your time.)

Professor Linzey edited and launched the first ever Journal of Animal Ethics, a new academic journal published by Oxford University and the University of Illinois. Having solved all other problems in the world related to animal testing, animal fighting, bull fighting, and PETA's euthanizing shelter animals, they can now turn their attention to whether we should call our pets "our pets."

"Despite its prevalence, 'pets' is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers," Li…

The Curse of the Summer Haircut

The Curse of the Summer HaircutI traumatized my son today. I cut his hair.

My son isn't Samson. He didn't lose his strength when I did it, although I'm sure there were a couple of times he was looking for some pillars he could push to knock the house down and take me with it.

My son is 8, and is from Haiti, but he has fairly loose curly hair. He is also not as diligent about combing and picking out his hair as a father might hope, but as you would expect from an 8 year old boy. So whenever I do it, there are a lot of tangles, which get a death grip on the pick and pull no matter what I do, and the whole thing ends in sobbing and recriminations. My son gets pretty upset too.

So after a grueling 10 minutes of trying to pick it out, I decided to cut his hair.

My son always gets worried when I announce it's haircut time. That's because for a couple years, I was the one who would always saddle him with his Summer Haircut.

The Summer Haircut is the buzz cut many parents invar…

Look Everyone, I'm a Distraction!

Look Everyone, I'm a Distraction!One of the dumbest things I ever heard when I was a kid was the phrase "distract the other students from their education." I tended to hear it frequently, since I was the distraction, but I heard it in relation to other things too, especially in high school.

We couldn't wear t-shirts with bad words, or insinuations of bad words, because it would distract the other students from their education. We couldn't chew gum because of "the distractions." And we couldn't carry — not play with, just carry — a toy, because it would distract our classmates who apparently had the attention span of a hyperactive chipmunk.

Anytime a teacher or administrator said "distract the other students, I always heard "we don't want you to do this, because we don't want you to have fun or enjoy school. Ever." Just when I found something that brought the slightest sparkle of relief into my day, I could pretty much count on a…

Interview with Stuart McLean of The Vinyl Cafe [VIDEO]

I had a chance to meet Stuart McLean, host of The Vinyl Cafe from the CBC. The show is played Saturday afternoon on WFYI, the Indianapolis NPR station.

Jess Milton, the show's producer, arranged for me to have a chance to talk to Stuart about an hour before the show. She also provided me with two passes, so I took my wife, Toni, and she helped me with the video (she did the camera work).

We talked about Stuart's life before The Vinyl Cafe, what he would have been doing if he hadn't started the show (probably in public service or even running for public office), how he writes his Dave and Morley stories, whether he creates a story arc, and what his writing process is.

I also gave a copy of my book, Branding Yourself, to Jess in the hopes that 1) they'll start using social media, and 2) they'll need a consultant to come to the CBC to train them on using social media to promote the show.

The Vinyl Cafe was last here in October 2008 — 2.5 years ago — and they're hopin…

Karl the Curmudgeon Hates "End of School"

Karl the Curmudgeon Hates "End of School"

"I think parents are putting too much effort into their kids' school," said Karl the Curmudgeon, plonking his beer onto the bar.

Are you serious? I said, mouth agape, plonking my own beer. The quality of education in this country is deteriorating, fewer parents are involved with their children's schooling, but you think they're putting in too much effort? What they need is more parental involvement, not less.

"No, not like that," said Karl. "I mean the parents are putting their own lives, as well as their kids' lives, on hold based on some fairly minor stuff."

We were sitting in the Kranky Kroner, a Danish bar, watching the Danish soccer league semi-finals. I drained the last of my Tuborg, and signaled for Sven to bring me another.

No more for him, I said. He's babbling.

"Kid, I'm fine. Sven, give me another please." He finished the last of his beer and continued. "What I…

Stop Looking At Me!

Stop Looking At Me!(Editor's note: Erik was right in the middle of writing this week's column when he was floored by a migraine, so we are reprinting a column from 2003.)

Say what you will about them, the Chicago Cubs have always been a perennial baseball favorite. Maybe it's because they haven't won the World Series since 1908. Maybe it's because whenever anyone says "tradition," they point to the Cubs. Maybe it's because everyone loves an underdog, and the Cubs are about as underdoggy as you're going to get.

Let's face it, a winning season for the Cubs is about as elusive as an Academy Award for Ashton Kutcher ("Dude, Where's My Career?!"). But that's why everyone loves them. They're the Average Joe, the little guy, the team everyone loves to love, whether out of pity or because they want to say "I knew them when. . ."

So what's going on with them?

The Chicago Cubs are suing 13 business owners whose rooftops o…