Happy Holidaze

This clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live pretty much says it all.

Here’s all I’ll add to the discussion regarding 4/20: while it’s kind of a bummer that April 20th is both Hitler’s birthday as well as the anniversary of the Columbine massacre, I suppose the fact that stoners around the world are peacefully sequestering themselves in smokey rooms listening to The Wall or The Chronic or watching Dazed and Confused or Half-Baked mitigates what would otherwise be a pretty shitty day.

Poor Penmanship? What’s YOUR Fuckin Excuse?

 A Pittsburgh-area girl born without hands has won a penmanship award — and $1,000 — from a company that publishes language arts and reading textbooks.

But the more important question probably is, “How well can she type on a keyboard or touch-screen?” She probably kicks ass at it. It’s a shame that great penmanship like ours is wasted in this increasingly digitized world.

This story, and this little Annie Clark, are pretty amazing and adorable. I highly recommend checking the video.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Could this kid be any cuter?

Is the Romney Campaign High?

My favorite political story of the week is the one where Sam Stein, from the Huffington Post, is on a conference call with the Romney Camp and other journalists, and asks the following question: “Does Governor Romney support the Lilly Ledbetter Act?

Regarding support for the Ledbetter Act – the law that allows a woman to sue over gender-based pay discrimination –  one would think that a response in the affirmative would be immediately forthcoming from a campaign that’s been having some trouble with the ladies.

Instead, there was a loooong pause on the phone, then the unnamed Romeny aide finally answered, “Sam, we’ll have to get back to you on that.”

What the what? How do you not have an answer to that question?

This is a riot because it once again reveals the Romney Campaign as the clueless, spineless, lightweights that they truly are. Dude should’ve just said, “Umm, Sam, we are still triangulating our position on that issue between the Tea Party, Independents, and our corporate overlords.” Anything would be better than, “Sam, we’ll have to get back to you on that.”

I also find this endlessly funny because it reminds me of that part in Ghostbusters where Gozer the Gozerian asks Ray, “Are you a God?” Ray hesitates, says no, Gozer blasts the Ghostbusters with some lightning bolts, and then Winston yells at Ray to remind him, “Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a God, you say YES!” That’s some good advice.


Now THAT’S a Golf Shot…

Holy shit! Martin Kaymer makes an amazing golf shot here, by skipping the ball across the pond on 16; love the fan reaction. Also noteworthy: Augusta National has got to be the whitest, most 1% place on the planet this week.

Happy Birthday, To Arguably the Greatest American Who Ever Lived

Today would be Benjamin Franklin’s 306th birthday, if he were a vampire. I really wish he was.

If there is one person from history that I could bring back to our modern times and hang out with for a few years while I bring them up to speed on everything that has gone down since their death, I would easily choose Ben Franklin.

Think about it: could there be a more perfect historical figure to pull from the grave, re-animate, and then plop down in the middle of New York City? Ben was a writer, a printer, a publisher, an inventor, a scientist, a politician, a statesman, an historian, a comedian, and one of the first world-wide celebrities. Also, it hasn’t been all that long since he was around, relatively speaking, and that, combined with his keen and forward thinking mind, would probably help prevent his head from exploding.

[Ben, Deb! Get on up out of there and join us!]

I would give anything to discuss the 222 years of American and world history since Franklin’s death. Imagine the insight he could provide on current politics, foreign and domestic. How cool would it be to share all the awesome technology that has evolved from the scientific breakthroughs achieved by Franklin and his contemporaries? Imagine Ben Franklin, the first American media mogul, listening to radio for the first time; imagine his reaction to television; the fucking INTERNET, for crying out loud!

His wit, intellectual curiosity, brilliance, understanding of human nature, and mastery of mass media would be so well suited to examine and critique this fascinating place I call Bat Country. Of course Ben would piss himself with laughter over the fact that his face graces our $100 bill. Franklin, a world-renowned admirer of women, both for their bodies and minds, would thoroughly enjoy how great a part women play in our modern society, and how freaking hot and sexy they have gotten in 222 years. Ben Franklin would surely get a good kick out of it all, and would provide such tremendous insight on these modern times, before ultimately improving everything (if we can manage to pull him away from internet porn.)

If Ben Franklin were alive today, I imagine that he’d be combination of Steve Jobs, Howard Stern, Ted Turner, Roger Ailes, Hugh Hefner, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens, and Kurt Vonnegut.

In my mind’s eye, the vision of Ben Franklin walking up the Ben Franklin Parkway, from City Hall, as he approaches the famous steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum with an iPad under his arm, always puts a goofy grin on my face. And I start giggling when I think of him pulling out his iPad in order to see what this Rocky fellow is all about.

So Happy Birthday to you, the original Big Ben, wherever you are. Oh how I wish you were here.

On A Truly Beautiful Mind …

 My wife and I are pretty damn smart people, if I do say so myself, and many of our friends, family, and classmates from high school and Lehigh University are as gifted, if not more so; this is not in dispute. We are all relatively successful, both socially and professionally. We all scored in the 99th percentile on all the standardized tests – which means that we are smarter than 99% of the rest of the population. Our IQs are way up there, easily in the 130-140 range.

The reason I reference this – besides taking the opportunity to show off how smart I am – is because I just read the most incredible article in RollingStone about this kid, named Santiago, who is so fucking smart, that it makes me, my wife, and all of our smart friends and family look like a bunch of clever Border Collies sniffing each other’s buttholes.

At 13, or around the age most young boys are just figuring out how to get themselves stuck to the bed sheets, Santiago is a full-time student at a top engineering college. This little dude makes iPad apps before breakfast.

This is one of the most fascinating articles I have ever read, and also one of the most infuriating, for reasons I’ll get into later. I think that this is an especially important read for you parents out there, many of whom could very well be raising a little genius like Santiago.

[update] OK. Let’s get into this article, because it is mind-blowing, but first, a few words about RollingStone magazine, where I discovered it.

I am reluctant to just post the full-on text because it is not available for free on the RS site. First of all, you all should go out and get a subscription to RollingStone right this instant. For a relatively small investment, you get some of the best investigative journalism, reviews, previews, and interviews. Just think about the major policy-shaking, news-making stories RollingStone has produced in just the last few years alone: Gen. McChrystal mouthing off, drunk on Bud-Lime; The Afghanistan Kill TeamTaibbi just eviscerating Wall Street and politicians. What more can you ask for? Also, I would like to give major kudos to Jeff Tietz, the writer of this piece, for some beautiful prose. So I’m just gonna post the excerpts that  I am in the process of pulling. With a little google finger grease, I’m sure you, my faithful, bright reader, can dig it up.

[update; 1-5-2012; 11:00 AM]

This first few pulls from the article will serve to exhibit how advanced this boy’s mind is, and how, without the proper nurturing and cultivation, its magnificent power can be alienating and terrifying, and insatiably craving.

Before Santiago became a full-time college student, when he was still 11, no academic environment had ever fully challenged him, and he has craved intellectual stimulation like a narcotic since infancy. It is hard for him to talk about the previous two years, when a feeble curriculum and doctrinaire teaching at a gifted school so stultified him that he spent most of his time, as he later wrote in a journal he had been assigned to keep, “just hanging on, trying not to go crazy like someone with hysteria or schizophrenia.” A few times a month, memories of fifth and sixth grade turn into nightmares from which he wakes screaming.
I once asked Santiago to compare the happiness he feels now with the happiness he felt then, on a scale of one to 10. “Now would be a 1 million,” he said, “and then would be a zero. Or I guess it would be a negative number, because there was no happiness.”
IQ distribution charts often end at 145, because 99.9 percent of all measured IQs fall below it. Somewhere past that point lies Santiago. Yago and Vanessa choose not to reveal his score, reasonably fearing that the number will forever attach itself to him, but when he was 11, he took an achievement test called the Woodcock-Johnson III, which assigns a grade level to intellectual ability. His score was typical of students entering their third year of graduate school.
“Exceptionally gifted” is the commonly used phrase for kids this smart. In education circles, the term “genius,” with its estranging connotations of the superheroic, has been phased out. The only way to educate exceptionally gifted kids is to ignore the boundaries between grades. They need to be identified early and “radically accelerated”: advanced through subject material as fast as their ability demands. Otherwise, they arrive in first grade reading Les Misérables and are handed Minnie and Moo Go Dancing. Researchers have identified the line marking 145 as a kind of educational slip fault: For children who score above that level, school becomes the illusion of school. There is nothing for them to learn.
Exceptionally gifted children are unable to make sense of standard educational environments. They won’t yet know – and may not know for many years – that formal education is supposed to offer more than pointless tasks. Their parents and teachers, invested in normalcy, may not appreciate the rarity of their abilities. So the children try hard to act like everyone else, and fail badly. Often within weeks, their self-esteem declines, and their desire to learn erodes. They suffer from migraines, depression, chronic sleeplessness, anxiety. Parents describe kids “burying an important part” of themselves, “switching off altogether,” “jumping out of their skin,” becoming unrecognizably “negative” and “bitterly unhappy” and turning unceasingly “quiet and sad.” Students looking back on age-bound instruction use words like “suffocated” and “heartbreaking.” One student reported trying to “train myself out of learning.” Some researchers worry that intellectual motivation, after prolonged decimation in normal classrooms, becomes irrecoverable. An eight-year-old poet described her school experience: Frustration “gnaws at my mind/Chewing at all particles of thought. . . . It sucks me downward into a churning whirlpool of anger/I am confused, my thoughts feel like dice in a cup.”!”

Again, this article, titled Santiago’s Brain, was written, wonderfully, by Jeff Tietz, and it can be found in RollingStone magazine, Issue 1145, December 8th, 2011.

Developmentally, Santiago was typical of exceptionally gifted kids: At 13 months, he pointed to a light switch and said, “That’s the light”; he seemed to grasp that, all around him, invisible energy was being carted along and converted into visible energy. By 18 months, he had memorized the alphabet and knew the colors in Spanish and English, including magenta and turquoise. At two, he could count to 20 in three languages, and do simple addition and subtraction on his fingers. His parents enrolled him in a Montessori school; he learned English in about a month. By four, he understood fractions – illustrated by his parents with sliced pancakes – up to one-sixteenth. When he was seven, he wrote an ode to a type of glass insulator called a Hemingray: “Hemingray one Hemingray two/Oh how much I love You/You shine like a diamond in the sun light… Blue, green purple, and white/Your extreme beauty can’t ever hide from the sun light/Oh how lonesome you can be with out a post for electricity…/What a pity to stay alone with out a purpose to be used!”

Santiago also had a quality shared by many exceptionally gifted kids: a compulsive drive to learn. One prominent researcher used Dante’s phrase “a mind in love” to describe the intensity of the feeling; it was a “burning desire” whose gratification would yield an “almost sensual ecstasy.” Another researcher wrote that, for the gifted, love of learning is “not a matter of degree, but a different quality of experiencing: vivid, absorbing, penetrating, encompassing, complex, commanding – a way of being quiveringly alive.” Santiago’s parents called it an “addiction,” and like many parents of exceptionally gifted kids they were more worried about withdrawal than satisfaction: Santiago grew glum and antsy when knowledge was withheld.
He wanted to know about everything: earth, sun, moon; trees, vines, grasses; frogs, lizards, snakes. Sometimes Santiago would choose Winnie-the-Pooh tales for his bedtime reading, but far more often he requested books on natural history. Books became a primary potty-training incentive: As long as there was a stack next to the toilet, he would keep sitting. By the time Santiago was four, he was picking out titles for himself in bookstores.
Around this time, Santiago became preoccupied with rocks and minerals. He learned about the states of matter and volcanic activity and sedimentary pressure; at five, he made three-dimensional sketches for Santa Claus of the gems he wanted for Christmas; he made an instructional color guide to gemstones that went from grandly broad – “Opals of the World,” “Pearls of the World” – to sharply specific: “hexagonal dipyramid,” “orthorhombic system,” “alluvial diamond”; he transformed the family laundry room into a crystalmaking lab, regretting that he could not grow them in outer space, where, as he wrote in a paper when he was six, “the atoms do not get pulled down by gravity so they can arrange themselves easier and faster.” His pockets were always full of rocks.

Traditional schooling can scandalize children as smart as Santiago. One exceptionally gifted girl I talked to came home in despair after her first few weeks of preschool. “Mom!” she said. “They treat them like puppies! Untrained puppies!” She then drew a bulldozer-like machine bearing down on a tiny school. A girl rode atop the machine. “That machine,” she said, “is gonna crush that school!”
Fortunately, the kindergarten Santiago attended was loosely structured: When he wanted to study mineralogy, he usually could. The following summer, free to plan his own days, he made the first of his “great leaps,” as his father calls them. He learned basic principles of structural engineering. He learned how the Big Bang produced galaxies and the solar system, and how black holes change the behavior of stars. “We never noticed that Santiago didn’t understand a concept,” Vanessa says. “Whatever the subject was, he never failed to understand what we were telling him. It has never happened.”
Then came first grade. For six hours a day, Santiago did exactly what everyone else did. One of his early assignments was a “Math Minute” worksheet: rows of arithmetic problems like “3+1” and “5+7.” At home he was constructing 36-piece origami forms and working his way through Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
On the playground, Santiago tried to tell his classmates about rocks. He might hold up a rock and explain that it was metamorphic. He might mention that the Colorado state mineral was rubylike, and that rubies belonged to the same family as sapphires. He remembers trying to show other students the quartz in playground gravel. The responses he got were along the lines of, “You’re a stupid liar, they are not!” Often he got no reaction at all.
By the end of his first week, he had sunk into a quickly darkening listlessness. “It got . . . bad,” Vanessa says. In class, Santiago sat still and silent; he spent much of his time on the playground alone, contemplating rocks. At home, he was volatile and sometimes mean. Trivial frustrations sent him into hysterics; he sobbed spontaneously; he aimlessly defied rules. Once, when he refused to stay in his room after bedtime, his father locked him in. The sound of Santiago’s body hitting the door startled everyone. “We wondered: Where is the sweet, gentle boy that we know we have?” Yago says. They asked him what was wrong over and over. “I want to be normal,” he said. But he was normal, they said. “No, I’m not,” he said. “I want to be like the rest of the kids.” He wouldn’t talk after that.
Santiago’s moods were cyclic. After a full week of school, he was so agitated he was barely controllable, but over the weekend his parents would take him to museums and bookstores and libraries, and the hard edge of his mood would dull. He went back to working on his own projects, and by Sunday evening, he was relatively calm. Then the cycle would begin again.
His parents had no explanation. “We realized he was miserable before we realized he was gifted,” Vanessa says.

Starting to get the picture, right? This kid makes Einstein look like a moron, and that can be a literal nightmare, were it not for his incredibly attentive parents and some some major luck-of-the-draw. There is more on the way about Santiago, so come back and visit Bat Country.

Merry Christmas, from Bat Country

(These gifs were discovered here, at the awesome http://www.Uproxx.com.)

From us Freaks here at Bat Country, to you Freaks reading this: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays; you know, all that good stuff.

With each passing year, I find myself growing more and more annoyed with the Holidays, but then I watch National Lampoon’s: Christmas Vacation, and I am reminded that the Christmas season is like a good leg-humping from Snots: don’t wear short pants, and if the season does lay into you with the nonsense, it’s best to not fight, and just let it finish having its way with your leg.

But seriously though: through all the horribly annoying commercials (I’m looking at you Zales and Lexus, you fucking monsters), and all the horribly annoying traffic and long lines (have you tried to pick up a package at a UPS warehouse? Don’t!), and all the awful, awful music, if you end up in a warm house with food and gifts, and you are surrounded by people you love, then savor that flavor my friends, for you are so very fortunate.

Yeah, I pretty much can’t stand Christmas, that is until I take that moment, alone, either on the 24th or the 25th, and reflect on how much I love my family and friends, and how lucky we all are to have what we have, and to have each other. That moment of reflection is what this holiday business is all about, and I my sincere hope is that everyone out there can experience the same thing, if not this season, then some time soon.

So best wishes, to all of you, for a safe and happy holiday season.

Some AZ Peeps More Affected by WORD “Haboob,” Than Sand Storm Itself

Oh Arizona! how I love thee so: it just wouldn’t be Bat Country without ya. You really gotta hand it to the Grand Canyon State, because they are not content with just being the lead runner in the race for America’s most batshit crazy hysterical state; they want to win by a country mile. This latest New York Times story just proves that the nuttiest state in the Union is looking to lap the field.

Recently, a few wicked sand-storms popped up in the Phoenix area, and were referred to in the media by the proper name “haboob.” Well, apparently a few Arizonans were so upset by the use of an Arabic word to describe their precious, culturally-significant “sand-storms,” that they just had to express their outrage in xenophobic rants to the Arizona Republic, here and here; and, as usual, the comment section to these are so enlightening.

Here is a great quote, from the NY Times piece on this nonsense in the first link:

Not everyone was put out by the use of the term. David Wilson of Goodyear, Ariz., said those who wanted to avoid Arabic terms should steer clear of algebra, zero, pajamas and khaki, as well. “Let’s not become so ‘xenophobic’ that we forget to remember that we are citizens of the world, nor fail to recognize the contributions of all cultures to the richness of our language,” he wrote.

This quote should put to bed any doubt that anyone offended by the use of the word “haboob” is a pathetic ignoramus. It must be so exhausting for these morons to go through life getting all bent out of shape of stuff like this. I almost feel sorry for them…almost.

“Don’t Cut Off My Penis! I NEED that!”

Talk about living in Bat Country!

So by now you have probably heard about the woman who cut off her husband’s penis; and as if that wasn’t enough, she threw into the garbage disposal, and, well, disposed of it. Yikes! She said he deserved it; which begs the question I am eagerly awaiting answer to: what the fuck did this dude deserve all that?!

What with its status as the first major Trial of the Century/Millennium and all, Casey Anthony’s sensational trial and bombshell acquittal hearkened back to the O.J. days. So now it only makes sense to say, “Step aside, Lorena Bobbitt: For now we have a new penis-chopper, for the new millenium, and her name is Catherine Kieu Becker.”

And this all means that we have officially reached the apex of the 90’s revival.