What the hell is going on in Kansas?

Kansas state representative Gail Finney has proposed a bill that defines acceptable forms of corporal punishment in both schools and home as “up to ten forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child and any such reasonable physical force on the child as may be necessary to hold, restrain or control the child in the course of maintaining authority over the child, acknowledging that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result.”

If this bill passes, teachers and parents in Kansas will be able to hold children down and hit them to the point of bruising. 

What the hell is going on in Kansas?

Last week it was a bill seeking to impose Jim Crow-like laws on same-sex couples (which overwhelmingly passed in the House and thankfully died in the Senate), and now this.

If this were Dorothy’s Kansas, I suspect that she might be tapping her ruby red slippers and saying, “Anyplace is better than home. Anyplace is better than home. Anyplace is better than home.”


Helicopter parenting has gone national

I feel so lucky that my wife and I were teachers for so many years before becoming parents.

As a teacher, I have come to understand the value of allowing a child to struggle. I’ve learned the value of clear limits and high expectations. I know the perils of false promises and idle threats.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to witness and, in some cases, befriend outstanding parental role models over the years. These mothers and fathers have taught me parenting lessons that I use every day with my children.

I’ve also born witness to the results of less-than-ideal parenting: Inconsistent, uninvolved and overly-involved mothers and fathers who love their children dearly but make decisions that are oftentimes not in the best interest of their children.

Of all the less-than-ideal parents, I tend to think that the overly involved, helicopter parents are the most detrimental to their children. In the process of incapacitating their sons and daughters with their constant involvement, they also strip the self-confidence and dignity from the kids.


And now helicopter parenting has gone national, at least in Thailand, where government psychiatrists are warning about the effects of unappreciated selfies on a young people.

Before you start to wonder if I’ve been fooled by The Onion or some other satirical news website, let me assure you that this story is real.

I checked twice because I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t being fooled.   

From a piece in TIME entitled Selfies Threaten Thai Development:

On Sunday, government psychiatrist Dr. Panpimol Wipulakorn warned that young Thais who post pictures of themselves on social media but don’t receive enough positive feedback are encountering emotional problems, which in turn is creating a dearth of well-balanced citizens and could eventually spell trouble ahead for the Southeast Asian nation.

“If they feel they don’t get enough Likes for their selfie as expected, they decide to post another, but still do not receive a good response,” she said in a statement, according to the Bangkok Post. “This could affect their thoughts. They can lose self-confidence and have a negative attitude toward themselves, such as feeling dissatisfied with themselves or their body.”

She added: “This could affect the development of the country in the future as the number of new-generation leaders will fall short. It will hinder the country’s creativity and innovation.”

Idaho acknowledges that the death penalty kills innocent people.

I am opposed to the death penalty for many reasons, but chief among them is the possibility that innocent people are mistakenly put to death.

As a person who was arrested and tried for a crime he did not commit, I understand the possibility of the criminal justice system making an error all too well.


To date, 143 people in America have been sentenced to death, only to be released later on when new evidence exonerated them of their crimes. These men and women spent an average of 10 years on death row before being granted their freedom.

Death penalty proponents don’t seem to care about these statistics. Perhaps they think that the chances of being mistakenly convicted of a crime are so low that they don’t need to worry about it.

Sure, it happened to 143 people so far (that we know if), but not me.

They also argue that the system is working. Though innocent men and women have been sentenced to death, no innocent person has been executed.

This is probably not true.

The Death Penalty Information Center has published a list of 10 inmates "executed but possibly innocent". At least 39 executions are claimed to have been carried out in the U.S. in the face of evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt.

The idea that no innocent person has been executed in this country, based upon the exonerations that have taken place so far, is naïve at best.

All this leads me to a recent discovery:

Under Idaho law, three crimes are punishable by death:

  • First degree murder with aggravating factors
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Perjury causing execution of an innocent person

Doesn’t that third crime all but acknowledge that the possibility of executing an innocent person exists?

How can the death penalty continue to exist in a place where the state admits to the possibility of killing an innocent citizen?

Compelling? Truthy? Horribly narrow minded and sexist? I’m not sure.

From a piece in TIME entitled It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be by Camille Paglia (author and professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) comes these two paragraphs which I found incredibly intriguing and thought provoking. 


I’m not saying I fully agree with what Paglia asserts here, but I’m not saying that I disagree, either.

I’m not sure. It has the air of truthiness to it, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel quite right.

It also makes use of two unnecessary exclamation points, which doesn’t help her argument at all.

I would love to hear what you think about the paragraphs and perhaps about the entire piece.


After the next inevitable apocalypse, men will be desperately needed again! Oh, sure, there will be the odd gun-toting Amazonian survivalist gal, who can rustle game out of the bush and feed her flock, but most women and children will be expecting men to scrounge for food and water and to defend the home turf. Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.

Every day along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, one can watch the passage of vast oil tankers and towering cargo ships arriving from all over the world. These stately colossi are loaded, steered and off-loaded by men. The modern economy, with its vast production and distribution network, is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role — but women were not its author. Surely, modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!

Why do people cheat? Why do children misbehave? The reason is oftentimes simple.

A new study entitled “The Cheater’s High: The Unexpected Affective Benefits of Unethical Behavior” has shown that as long as you didn’t think your cheating hurt anyone, cheating often makes people feel great. Researchers attribute the exhilaration that people feel to pride and admiration in their own cleverness.

Apparently, this is not good.

“The fact that people feel happier after cheating is disturbing, because there is emotional reinforcement of the behavior, meaning they could be more likely to do it again,” said Nicole E. Ruedy, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Washington’s Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking.

None of these findings come as a surprise to me. Nor should they.

Of course cheating feels great. Conquering the system, subverting authority, sticking it to the man, profiting from your wits and taking advantage of loopholes have always been reasons for celebration.

As long as no one is being harmed, I would feel great, too. 

One of the advantages that I have as a teacher is that I wasn’t a well behaved student throughout much of my childhood and teenage years. This offers me a perspective that the average teacher, who tended to love school and was exceedingly compliant, does not to possess.

I often find myself in a conversation with a colleague who says something like, “I just don’t understand why he would run down the hallway like that.”

My response is always something along these lines:

“Don’t you understand? Running down the hallways is fun. Fooling around with your friends instead of summarizing an magazine article or solving a division problem is fun. Interrupting the teacher to make the class laugh is fun. This is why many students misbehave. They are simply making the choice that will lead to the most immediate enjoyment.”


This isn’t only true for children. As an adult, I still think that running down the hallway is fun. I still think that fooling around with my friends is better than writing the required report or attending the latest professional development workshop. I may be more compliant and feel a greater sense of responsibility now that I am an adult, but there is also a part of me that desperately wants to do whatever the hell he wants, regardless of what the rules or expectations are.  

This makes sense. It’s certainly not a novel concept. Most rules are in place because the alternative is more appealing. If driving fast wasn’t so much fun, we wouldn’t have speed limits. If simply taking whatever you wanted from the store shelves without the exchange of effort wasn’t an ideal way to live, we wouldn’t have laws against theft.

There would be no need. 

I often tell these teachers that if given the chance, I would love to sprint down the hallway, throw rocks through windows, toss televisions out of eight story windows and slam sledgehammers into drywall because destroying things is fun, too.

Still. Even at my age, these things are appealing.

We misbehave because it is often the choice that leads to the most immediate excitement and happiness, oftentimes at the expense of our future selves.

Misbehaving is fun. It’s often costly and detrimental to your long term goals, but try making a ten year old understand that.  

Or even a forty year old.

image image

Escaping poverty, homelessness and hopelessness was incredibly hard for me. Now 80% of Americans must do the same.

There was a time in my life when I was homeless. I lived in my car and was unemployed. While this was primarily the result of being arrested and tired for a crime I did not commit, I was also living without a safety net.

No family. No savings. No education beyond high school.

Had a family of Jehovah Witnesses not taken me in when I was in trouble, I would’ve spent a much longer period of time without a roof over my head, and it would’ve taken me even longer to find a job.

After being out of work for almost three months, I finally landed jobs as a teller at South Shore Bank in Stoughton, Massachusetts and at McDonald’s as the closing manager for a franchise in Brockton.

Ironically, both South Shore Bank and McDonald’s would later testify against me at my trial while I was still employed by both companies.

For a period of about two years, I was impoverished, surviving only thanks to the kindness of friends. Even before that, I had been living below the poverty level for most of my life.

I mention this because recent data indicates that four out of five US adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives.

That number seems exceedingly high to me, but it may be reflective of the place I live and the people I know. In my circle of friends and associates, my story of homelessness, unemployment and poverty seems like an unusual one. I know very few people who were ever in a position even close to my own, and yet according to the data, 80% of Americans experience this kind of hardship at some point in their lives.


The only reason I am not still not living near the poverty line or worse is because I managed to get myself to college at the age of 24.

This was not easy.

I began my college career with three years at Manchester Community College, followed by three years at Trinity College and St. Joseph’s University concurrently, where I earned an Bachelor’s in English and a teaching certificate. In order to support myself and a family at the time, I  managed a McDonald’s restaurant in Hartford, CT fulltime, worked in Trinity’s writing center part-time and launched my DJ business.

I was also active in student government, wrote for the school newspaper and was President of the Honor Society.

I still don’t know how I managed to do all this. Even though I am the one who managed to slog through those six years, I can’t imagine how I found the time and energy to accomplish all that I did. I suspect that the memory of the months spent living in my car, unsure about where my next meal would come from, constantly afraid that I would be robbed or worse when I went to sleep in the backseat, played an important role.

I often think that the poverty I experienced when I was young, both as a child and as a young man, has helped shape the man I have become. If given the chance, I wouldn’t change a thing.

My hardship has made me who I am.

But what was good for me is not good for all. If the data is correct, four out of five Americans experience circumstances similar to my own. While I’d like to think that they could also pull themselves up by the bootstraps, this simply isn’t the case.

Some are single mothers with childcare demands. Some live in places where education is not nearly as assessable. Some are battling health concerns and disabilities. Some are less equipped for college success. Some are not fortunate enough to find a family willing to take them in at their most desperate moment. 

The economy is also very different today than it was in the mid-late 1990s. Jobs are harder to come by. The talent pool is more competitive. Low-skilled jobs are disappearing rapidly.

In a way, I’ve always felt relieved that it was me who had to live those difficult years, because I always knew that I could find a way to make things work.

Better me than someone else.

But to think that 80% of Americans will be forced to do the same is terrifying to me. My hope is that they have safety nets that I did not possess. Maybe they have access to social services that I did not. Perhaps they will be luckier than I was. 

Still, 80% is an enormous number. A terrifying number. Knowing how difficult it is to escape poverty, I fear for these people.

Harry Dicks is almost worse.

Late last summer, a judge in the town of Newport, Tennessee ordered that a 7-month old boy’s name be changed from Messiah to Martin, saying that “it’s a title that has only been earned by one person … Jesus Christ.”

This decision was eventually overturned and the judge was reprimanded for her obvious religious bias.

The baby naming laws of individual states vary widely.

In California, baby names cannot contain umlauts or accents. In South Dakota, if a mother is unmarried at the time of conception, her surname goes on the birth certificate (unless a man signs an affidavit saying he’s the father). Roman numerals are allowed for suffixes in Texas, but not Arabic ones, so a boy could be Rick Perry III but not Rick Perry 3. In Massachusetts, the total number of characters in first, middle and last names cannot exceed 40. New Hampshire, meanwhile, prohibits all punctuation marks except for apostrophes and dashes.

None of these laws helped Adolf Hitler Campbell, the boy who made headlines when a New Jersey bakery refused to decorate a cake ordered by his father.

Adolf Hitler Campbell is probably the worst name that I can imagine.

Right behind it, however, are my father and uncles.

My father is Leslie Jean Dicks. He goes by Les Dicks.

My father says that his mother must have hated him at birth.

My great uncle is Harry Dicks, and my uncle is Harold Dicks, but he also goes by Harry Dicks.

The last name is admittedly not the easiest, but you would be hard pressed to find two more unfortunate first names to attach to it.

The Today Show has cornered the market on young, white, blond, female kidnapping victims. You should stop watching.

The Today Show did a segment yesterday entitled Hannah’s Story.

As soon as I heard the promo for the segment at the opening of the show, I knew that the kidnapping victim would be young, white and probably blond.

Not surprising, I was right.


My wife heard me shout at the television in protest, and she argued that this was a national news story worthy of coverage. Even though I had yet to hear about Hannah and her presumably tragic kidnapping through my usual news sources, I believed her.

I’m sure that the mainstream media outlets covered this story closely, and perhaps justifiably so. I’m sure that The Today Show garnered millions of viewers for the segment.  

But I also don’t care. I refused to listen to a single word of Hannah’s Story.

This may come as a surprise to you, especially if you get your news primarily through sources like The Today Show and network news in general, but people are kidnapped in America every day, and some of them are not young.

Some of them are not female.

Some of them are not white.

Some of them are not blond.

Even though you can probably name half a dozen young, white, probably blond girls who have been kidnapped and murdered over the last decade,  there are African-American, Latino and Asian girls kidnapped and murdered all the time. Boys, too. And older people. Unattractive people, even. It happens every day. And in even greater numbers than young, white, blond girls.

But can you name even one?

Can you name a single African-American kidnapping victim from any point in American history?

For every Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, Natalee Holloway, Taylor Behl, Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard (names that even I know despite my purposeful refusal to pay attention to these stories), can you name even one non-white kidnapping victim?

Or one male kidnapping victim?

Or a kidnapping victim over the age of 30?

I don’t know how other mainstream news sources cover kidnappings, but The Today Show has been specializing in young, white, oftentimes blond kidnapping victims for years, and they suck.

It’s a disgrace. I refuse to watch. You should, too.

God must be so angry about this.

Teenage pregnancy rates have dropped to the lowest levels ever recorded in the 73 years that the government started collecting data.

The reason for this dramatic decrease?

Not a decrease in teenage sexual activity. Those levels have remained stable for the past two decades.

Not abortions. Those rates have been flat for the past 15 years.

The decrease in teen pregnancy is the result of increased contraception use.

Speaking to NBC News, Dr. John Santelli, a professor of population and family health at Columbia University, attributed the change to a greater emphasis on getting effective contraception to teens, especially long-acting methods like the IUD.

Just think:

No rise in teenage sexual activity. No rise in abortions. Yet historically low levels of teenage pregnancy.

It’s practically a miracle.

Except it’s not. It’s just contraception, which has resulted in fewer unwanted pregnancies (and the resulting economic devastation) without any other significant changes in teenage behavior.

But if you’d listen to some, the idea that teenagers have better access to contraception and are using contraception in greater numbers signals the end of days. The four horsemen of the apocalypse. The crumbling of the very bedrock of our society.

God must be so angry about this. 


I’m not as concerned about the link between contraception use and God’s wrath. but then again, I am not a right-wing, religious ultra-conservative who believes that abstinence (and the inevitable pregnancies) is the only acceptable form of contraception, and that any other use of contraception prior to marriage (or even thereafter) will send you straight to hell.

And don’t fool yourself. There are a lot of these people out there.

For them, the news that teenage contraception use has increased (and teen pregnancy has dramatically decreased) without an increase in abortion or even sexual activity must be devastating.

I love news that makes crazy people crazy.

I will judge you. You should judge me.

I would not support Anthony Weiner for dog catcher in a town without dogs.

However, I have no problem with his decision to involve himself in this heated exchange with a voter at a Brooklyn deli on Wednesday. In addition to questioning Weiner’s character, the voter makes a racially charged statement about his wife, which makes the mayoral candidate’s decision to turn and engage the voter understandable and justified in my mind. 

It’s what Weiner says annoys the hell out of me.

Weiner’s response to the man’s comments is to question the his right to judge him in the first place?

“You're my judge? You're my judge? What rabbi taught you that? What rabbi taught you that you're my judge?”

“You have no right to judge me.”

“That’s not for you to judge? You’re perfect? You’re going to judge me? You’re a superior man to me? Where do you get the morality to judge me? You have shown no signs of being superior to me and you are not my God so you have no authority to judge me.”

The assertion that a person has no right to judge another is illogical, idiotic and naïve. The idea that one must be superior to another or perfect in order to judge another is even more stupid.

The idea that a voter is not permitted to judge a candidate who is running for political office is the most stupid of all.

But even is Weiner was not a public or political figure, the idea that one person has no right to judge another is simply ridiculous. It’s an assertion often made by people guilty of the transgression to which they are being judged and by idiots.

Human beings judge one another constantly. It’s our way of determining who we can trust, who we can depend upon, who we should befriend, who we should avoid and who can rely upon when in need. It’s the way we form our tribes. It’s why certain people are invited into our circles of association while others are not.  

Judging people is the reason that most of us don’t stop and chat with  prostitutes on street corners. It’s the reason we tend to gravitate toward effective and genial people at work while avoid others. It’s the reason we nudge our children away from the kids on the playground who seem unruly, disrespectful or unsupervised. It’s the reason we rightfully question the intelligence of a person displaying a Confederate flag from the rear window of their pickup truck. It’s the reason our friends tend to share many of our same values and beliefs.

We judge people all the time, and we do not need to believe that we are superior to a person in order to do so.

I see a muscle-bound behemoth in designer clothing and an expensive  watch park his Humvee on the curb at the gym even though there is an empty parking spot at the end of the lot, and I know that he and I are probably not friendship material.

Could my judgment be wrong? Possibly. But there is nothing wrong with making an initial assumption. There is nothing wrong with casting judgment upon another person based upon his or her words and deeds.

To imply otherwise is asinine.

It is not unreasonable for me to think that Anthony Weiner and would not be friendship material based upon his marital transgressions. It is not unreasonable for me to question his moral fortitude and decision-making skills based upon his recent actions. It’s not wrong of me to doubt his ability to lead based upon his history with Twitter and his penis.

I am judging you, Anthony Weiner, and I have no qualms about you judging me. It’s what we do as human beings. It’s expected. It’s recommended.

The guy who confronted you in the deli was a jerk (I’m judging him, too), but hiding behind the idea that people have no right to judge you, especially while you are running for mayor, is almost as stupid as sending photographs of your penis to strange women via Twitter.

I still want my $25,000 back, damn it.

George Zimmerman has asked that the state of Florida to reimburse him for up to $300,000 for expenses he incurred while successfully defending himself in court after shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has a good chance at recouping these losses. Florida law requires the state to cover some legal costs for defendants who are acquitted.

For anyone who was appalled by the verdict, the idea that George Zimmerman will now be collecting taxpayer funds in order to reimburse his expenses will not go over well.

As appalling as I found the Zimmerman verdict to be, I was not upset by this news. Rather, I was thrilled to hear that the state of Florida has a law like this in place.

When I was 21 years old, I was arrested and tried for a crime I did not commit. I was refused legal counsel from the state despite the fact that I would be unemployed and homeless just three weeks after my arraignment. I lost two years of my life working 18 hours a day in order to pay for my $25,000 in legal fees (more than $45,000 in today’s money) for something that I did not do.

When it was ultimately determined that I was not guilty, I was sent on my way without so much as an apology.

Like many people, I was outraged at the idea that George Zimmerman might be collecting taxpayer money, but I am not upset that a law like this is in place. When a defendant is truly innocent of any crime, it is only right that the state reimburse his or her expenses, especially if the state has refused to provide legal counsel in the first place.

Twenty years after my trial, I remain shocked that this was not the case. The state of Massachusetts disrupted by life for more than two years and imposed an enormous cost upon me, and there was no means for me to gain restitution for their error.

While it sickens me to think that George Zimmerman will likely be collecting money from the state to cover part of his legal defenses, these laws need to exist. There are defendants like myself who did nothing wrong, whose actions did not result in the loss of human life, who suffer financially for years as a result of a horror on the part of police officers and prosecutors.

I wrote about this issue and my personal situation in greater detail two years ago. I said it then, and I’ll say it again now:

I want my $25,000 back, damn it.

Cardboard cutout cruelty

From the TIME piece entitled Fake Transit Cop Spooks Bike Thieves

Unable to pay more officers to patrol its transit stops, the Boston area’s debt-laden transit authority has resorted instead to cardboard replicas of police officers to help deter crime.

Since it installed two, life-sized cutouts of 10-year veteran Officer David Silen earlier this summer, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has curbed bike thefts at one station by 67% compared to last year, according to WHDH.


It reminded me of an incident that occurred in 2004 when Elysha and I were living in an apartment together.

Our school had a parade float that students decorated and rode on each year. Part of the decorations were life-sized cardboard cutouts of students, including actual photographs of students’ faces. These cardboard cutouts were stored on the school’s stage when not being used on the float, and every time I walked through the empty auditorium on the way to pick up my students at the gym, I would turn left, spot one of these cutouts on the stage, and jump right out of my skin.

They scared the hell out of me, and I wasn’t the only one who reacted this way. There’s something creepy about the frozen image of a two-dimensional child with a realistic looking face and a cartoon body, arms raised to the sky.

Cute for a parade float. Terrifying in real life.   

Seeing the opportunity for a prank, my principal, Plato, convinced Elysha to bring one of these cardboard cutouts home with her on a Friday afternoon and hide it somewhere in the apartment to scare the hell out of me. I was working at a wedding that night, so she would have as much time as needed to find the perfect hiding place. But regardless of where she placed the cutout, she found that it frightened her just as badly as it had frightened me back in the auditorium, even when she knew that it was there.

The thing was scary. Plain and simple.

Guilt began to sink in as the night progressed, as well as legitimate fear over what might happen if I found this cutout in a darkened closet or looming over my bed. She eventually came to the conclusion that the prank was too cruel and and decided to back out. Instead of positioning the cutout in a place where I would see it, she would hide it and admit to the prank in the morning. But as she searched for a hiding place in the apartment, it occurred to her that every place she hid the thing might also be a place where I could unknowingly stumble upon it.

In fact, the better her hiding place, the more terrifying the cutout would be in the unlikely event that it was found.

Why she didn’t just return the damn thing to her car is beyond me.

Finally, she decided to place the cutout in plain sight, where she reasoned that it had no chance of frightening me. Our back door, which was also the door that we entered the apartment, as made of paned glass, so she placed the cutout in front of the door, facing outside, and she left the lights on so I would see it while coming up the walk. With plenty of forewarning, she reasoned, the cutout wouldn’t have a chance to frighten me.

I arrived home around 1:00 AM and unloaded my car. Because I had gone directly from work to the wedding, my arms were full as I started up the walk. I was carrying a large plastic box, full of tools, wiring, batteries, CDs and spare parts for my sound system. On top of the box was a smaller case of CDs that I had brought home to restock. On top of that was a gym bag full of the clothing that I’d been wearing at school that day. On top of that was the garment bag that had held my tuxedo. The pile was so large that it blocked my vision, so instead of looking forward, I was navigating the brick walkway to the house by staring down at the bricks.

Once I arrived at the door, I fumbled with my keys, attempting to balance the precarious load while thrusting one hand forward to unlock the door. I actually managed to unlock the door and push it open before I was finally able to look up.

Staring me in the eye were the eyes of the cardboard cutout.

I screamed. An honest-to-goodness scream of terror. The scream of a little girl who has seen the boogieman and knows that death is upon her. I jumped. My hands flew into the air like small birds, launching the plastic box, the CD case, my gym bag and my garment bag into the air. The lid of the box flew off midflight. A horde of batteries, wiring, screws, screwdrivers, paper and CDs rained down upon me.

Elysha couldn’t have frightened me better if she had tried.

Dress codes almost always suck.

Last week, a group of seventeen boys marched up and down Cardiff, Wales’s Whitchurch High School’s hallways chanting, “We want to wear shorts."

They did so while wearing skirts.

In the midst of a heat wave in the United Kingdom, 15-year-old Tyrone Evelyn and his friends took drastic measures to feel more comfortable in school. Whitchurch High School’s dress-code strictly enforces that male students wear pants, regardless of the weather, and shorts are firmly not allowed -- the school's dress code reads, "Trousers are compulsory for boys and optional for girls. These must be full length and plain black."


This is not the first time that boys have worn skirts in order to express opposition to an overly restrictive school dress code, and every time it happens, I find myself with newfound hope for the world.

Dress codes suck. They almost always suck.

Even worse, they are often illogical, uncomfortable and discriminatory, especially when applied differently to men and women.

Girls can wear skirts but boys can’t wear shorts?

Boys are required to wear a tie but girls are not?

Men are required to wear a sports jacket to dinner but women are not?

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Dress codes are often imposed by authorities who believe that physical appearance will change the way individuals think or behave. They are almost always imposed as an artificial means of promoting conformity or authority in a population.

It’s nonsense.

Dress codes are akin to the idea that the use of titles like mister or doctor in schools or the workplace establishes a certain level of respect for authority figures. It’s an idea typically supported by employers, managers, administrators and teachers who have difficulty earning respect through authentic means and believe that titles and dress codes will assist them in this endeavor.

They don’t. 

If I ever need the title mister or need to force my male students to wear long pants in order to earn their respect, send me out to pasture.

The idea that something as complex as respect could be earned, even a little bit, through a title or an article of clothing is ludicrous, and yet people continue to buy into it all the time.    

I love those skirt-clad boys. They are my latest band of superheroes. They began their protest more than a week ago, and as of today, it continues.

Good for them. I hope they don’t stop wearing skirts until the rule is changed or until they are handed their diploma while wearing a skirt.

Who do you respect me?

The boy wearing the prescribed trousers and adhering to the school’s dress code or the boy protesting the nonsensical dress code by wearing a skirt? 

Men are having butt enhancement surgery in order to increase the size of their backsides. I am hesitant to refer to them as men.

The New York Times reports that there are men who are having butt enhancement surgery in an effort to increase the size of their derriere.

This is not fiction. It’s an actually a thing. 

Apparently these men are dissatisfied with the size of their buttocks and want a larger and more shapely backside.


Here’s the thing:

In my entire life, I have never known a single man who would ever consider this kind of plastic surgery. If I was required to name the man who I know or have known who is most likely to have butt enhancement surgery, as unlikely as that may be, I would still be unable to answer the question.

I’m probably say my friend, Tom, just to be mean.

Honestly, what kind of man does this?

According to the New York Times, a man like John Vickers.

Not long ago, Jeff Vickers, who owns a construction company, had surgery to address something that had, fittingly, been the butt of jokes.

“I’d wear jogging pants to work and the guys used to joke that, ‘You could drop a plumb bob from the back of your head and the string wouldn’t hit anything before it hit the ground,’ ” he said, referring to the weight on a string used for surveying.

A couple things.

1. Does Jeff Vickers really believe that having butt enhancement surgery (and publicizing it in the New York Times) is going to bring an end to the jokes?

Which is worse?

Having a flat butt or having fat injected from your stomach into your butt in an effort to change its shape?

I am fairly certain that Mr. Vickers has only increased the amount of teasing he receives from his employees.

I kind of want to visit his construction site next week to crack some jokes myself. The possibilities for humor are almost limitless.

2. What kind of construction workers spend their days making jokes about the size of their boss’s ass? Are there really men in the world (and construction workers, no less) who are taking notice of the size of their coworkers’ butts and commenting on them?

Again, in the course of my entire life, I don’t think I have ever met such a man. 

Nor do I want to.

Only cowards take covert photographs of people in order to mock them on social media

Best story of the day:

An iPad-wielding Australian man has been banned from his local gym after he covertly captured photos of patrons working out and posted them to Facebook to mock them.

The unidentified jerk from Queensland, the second-largest state in Australia, was kicked out after 4chan and Reddit users posted screen grabs of the man’s Facebook activity.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this story.

As critical and curmudgeonly as I may be at times, I have always believed that there are few things more cowardly and disgusting than taking covert photographs of people and posting them to social media in order to mock them.

Yet I see cowards engage in this behavior all the time.