Archives for category: Humor

Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center and professor of education at the University of Colorado in Boulder, writes here about the “testing pods” created by enthusiastic parents. Welner recently published a book of satirical essays called Potential Grizzlies.

Parents Rush to Form “Testing Pods”

Throughout the nation, anxious parents are worried that the pandemic will prevent their children from being sufficiently subjected this spring to the usual battery of state assessments. Some of these parents are taking the initiative and forming “testing pods” with neighbors and friends.

The pods typically include a testing proctor hired by the parents, who is tasked with ensuring that the students sit still, don’t interact with one another, and quietly focus on the days-long succession of test questions.

The nation’s children themselves have been fretfully yearning to experience testing again, after last spring’s cancellation of the incomparable experience. “These miserable children!  I know the testing-pod option isn’t available to all parents,” said Mindy McLean. “But we can’t ignore our own kids’ needs. Last spring was so traumatic for Billy when they heartlessly pulled the testing away.”

This spring, the challenges remain enormous, and there’s almost no possibility that the test results will be useful for measurement or accountability purposes. But the U.S. Department of Education has nonetheless told states that blanket waivers to the ESSA testing requirement are out of the question. 

The situation has left apprehensive parents like McLean in a state of limbo. “Do I trust that the state will come through, or do I take the initiative? Maybe I’m overreacting, but what if I trust the state and they end up cancelling again?”

The testing pod formed by McLean has already begun meeting,in order to begin the enriched-learning experience of weeks of test-prep. The children fill their days with practice tests, readpassages narrowly as test prompts, and dream of the time when they can once again relish the genuine testing event.

Reflecting on her family’s privileged position, McLean told us that she has no regrets. “Gandhi once said, ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow.’ That’s what I tell Billy, and that’s why he can’t be deprived of these tests once again.”

In case you were misled, April Fools’ Day!

Alexandra Petri and Jessica M. Goldstein of the Washington Post watched Oprah’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markie and they came to a sudden realization: Princesses need unions!

Alexandra Petri is a Post Opinions columnist. Jessica M. Goldstein is a contributing writer to The Washington Post Magazine and Arts & Style. 

We represent the most beloved, best-known princesses in all the lands. From the outside, our lives look glamorous and happily-ever-after. But like Meghan Markle, we have found our experiences on the job to be challenging, degrading and even painful. During Meghan’s interview with Oprah, the duchess pointed out that, when she was an actress on “Suits,” she “had a union.” But in the royal family, she had no such support. This was a wake-up call, because we, too, have been suffering. We, too, need a union.

These are our stories.

Belle: I didn’t even want to be a princess. I did want to escape my poor, provincial town, and I sang about that every single morning. But the princess thing was definitely something that happened to me, as in, I was imprisoned. My living conditions were incredibly unsanitary. I tried to leave and was immediately attacked by wolves. I had no privacy whatsoever, even while drinking tea: My teapot turned out to be a co-worker (also uncompensated) and my teacup was her son (!). The members of my former community turned on me with actual pitchforks, and I was not offered any protection except by a wardrobe.

Ariel: My boss, who is also my father, refused to allow me to travel freely. I found someone who was willing to help me, but she coerced me into signing a contract without any legal representation present. Oprah asked Meghan: “Were you silent, or were you silenced?” I can say I was absolutely silenced by this undersea witch who stole my voice and put it in a seashell, which, not to be naive, I just didn’t even know that was something she could do.

Princess Peach: I am never not in a castle. Even when I’m not in one castle, it is because I am in another castle. Sometimes I am allowed to drive, but always on a closed course. I didn’t realize how not-okay any of this was until I learned that Meghan was obliged to give her passport to her in-laws and saw Oprah’s shocked response.

Princess Leia: I was asked to dress up in a demeaning outfit at work. More troublingly, I was never given my complete genealogy, which led to discomfort in my personal life. My mother, a queen, died in childbirth, even though we live in a world where everyone has spaceships. When asked for the cause of death, the robot attending physician said she was “too sad.” This might have been tolerable a long time ago; it is not tolerable now. I demand better maternity care for space royalty.

Fiona: At work, I was forced to listen to songs by Smash Mouth.

Cinderella: I’ve never been compensated for my labor ever in my life, and my entire life is labor. I’ve endured a litany of abuses by my manager (wicked stepmother) and her deputies (ugly stepsisters). Some particularly chilling examples: I’ve been forced to live and eat in a mouse-infested attic; denied access to basic hygiene (had to allow birds to style my hair); made to work overtime and holidays, including balls.

Aurora: I was injured in my workplace by a faulty piece of spinning equipment (where was OSHA?), which necessitated decades of bedrest. I received no paid sick leave, and I was obliged to submit to an experimental medical kiss-wakening treatment to which I had not consented in advance.

Snow White: I am doing the work of literally seven men for zero pay. I was poisoned on the job by a jealous competitor. Every time I walk to work, men whistle at me.

Jasmine: I am glad I didn’t know this then, but a tiger is actually not a safe companion for a child, and every time I look at old photos of myself, I wince with terror.

Mia Thermopolis: Unlike Meghan, I did receive guidance on how to behave as a princess. But the keratin treatment I was obligated to undergo permanently destroyed my natural curls, which did not need to be straightened in order to be beautiful. What they needed was proper curl care, including a microfiber towel, a sulfate-free shampoo and a moisturizing deep conditioner, none of which was provided to me.

Rapunzel: I second the concerns on the subject of hair cruelty.

Tiana: I have worked in the restaurant industry and the princess industry, and the restaurant industry was healthier. I do not say this lightly. Like Meghan, I was grateful for the time I had spent outside the princess bubble that allowed me to understand that none of the things I was experiencing within it were normal. Also, I was transformed into a frog.

Kate Middleton: I don’t think we need a union.

Will Ferrell was the star of a Super Bowl ad about Norway, complaining that Norway had more electric vehicles than the United States. It was funny, of course, especially when he gathered his friends and headed for Norway to complain, but ended up in Sweden.

Sunniva Whittaker, rector of the University of Agder in Norway, says, “The Americans are coming, and Will Ferrell does not look happy.” She says she wants to maintain good relations with the Americans, so she stars in a hilarious ad in response to Will Ferrell, “apologizing” for having so many electric vehicles, then scurrying to hide the fact that university tuition is free, healthcare is free, and other important things in life are also paid for by the government. This is what the Republicans have warned us about: Socialism! Free education for all! Free healthcare for all! Social security for all! A year of paid maternity leave! Beware!

Gary Rubinstein may be one of your favorite bloggers. He is certainly one of mine! He is also an administrator of my blog. I literally don’t know how to put PDF files into a post or how to add graphics; I reach out to Gary and he helps me. I first met Gary about a decade ago when I started researching “miracle” schools. I discovered that Gary uses his powerful analytical skills to debunk miracle claims. Since then, we have become good friends, and I admire him about as much as anyone I know. He is a truth-teller, a man of impeccable integrity.

I just learned that Gary has written and published a book of his essays, not his blog posts. They are available on amazon for only 99 cents. I don’t think there is a better bargain anywhere on the Internet. I also learned by reading this post that Gary has done stand-up comedy!

If there were a category on my blog for “Integrity,” that’s where I would place Gary.

He wrote in this post:

About 8 years ago I published a Kindle e-book of essays I had collected over the years. This included essays about my family and about my neuroses and also some older writings from when I wrote a humor column in college. I even included my college application essay. So I put it out there and after a few weeks it had been downloaded a bunch of times. Unfortunately some of those downloads were by my family. And some of those family members are more sensitive than I had anticipated. So I had to un-publish the book. It was sad for me to do this since this was the net result, even though it was only about 150 pages, of a lifetime of the thing that I think I was born to do.

The past four years with Trump in office has been rough for many people. For me, it caused me a lot of stress and I spent hours every day watching MSNBC as a way, I felt, to keep my sanity. So when Biden won I felt a great cloud lifted and decided I was going to enjoy my life and my hobbies more without needing to spend so much time obsessing about Trump. And I took another look at my e-book. And I decided it wasn’t so bad. I changed a few sentences to hopefully make some of my family members less embarrassed and I put it out there again. I’m 51 years old now and I’m really proud of my essays so I’m re-publishing. I’ll deal with the fall out if there is any.

A fitting ending to four years of the worst president in American history.

It felt as though it would never be over. Our long national nightmare has come to an end (to repeat a

But it did! Proving that all bad things must finally come to an end.

Now we await the trials and prosecutions. First, the Senate. Then the trials in New York City and New York State. Maybe one in Atlanta for election tampering.

Justice and accountability must be served.

My hunch: when the insider accounts are published, we will learn that he had no interest in governing or policy. He just liked the trappings of power. He liked winning. He liked being saluted. We will learn why he was obsequious to Putin. His tax returns will become public.


Now go watch the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. They have a big task ahead cleaning up the mess that Trump left behind. Our nation will once again have a chance of living up to its lofty ideals, abandoned for four horrible years.

Congratulations to the new President and Vice-President!

The Bidens will bring two dogs, Champ and Major, with them to the White House. And they plan to get a cat as well.

Both of the Biden dogs are German Shepherds. Major, the younger one, was adopted from a shelter in Delaware.

Major, in particular, has a “wags to riches” tail.

He’ll soon be the first dog to go from a shelter to the White House. That shelter, the Delaware Humane Association, plans to “indogurate” Major on Sunday in a virtual ceremony. (People and pets alike are invited to attend.)

Though Major is digging up new ground as the first shelter pup in the White House, he follows in the pawprints of Yuki, another rescue to reside with the first family. 

“He is the friendliest, and the smartest, and the most constant in his attentions of all the dogs that I’ve known,” said Yuki’s owner (and President) Lyndon B. Johnson. 

Johnson was fond of singing with the white terrier mix. His daughter picked up Yuki at a gas station in Johnson City, Texas, according to the Presidential Pet Museum.

President Trump is the first president in more than a century not to have a dog. William McKinley had only cats and birds, including a parrot named Washington Post.

Just goes to show: Never trust a man or woman who doesn’t like dogs.

A Trump supporter attacked Biden for “wasting taxpayer dollars” on the Delaware Humane Society’s “Indoguration” fundraiser. But it is not paid for with public funds!



The brilliant satirist and performer Randy Rainbow explains the political events of the moment.

A hilarious spoof using a famous song from Fiddler on the Roof.

Fred Smith, assessment expert (retired from the New York City Board of Education) and part-time poet, published this poem today in the New York Daily News.

The night before New Year’s: A Message from Your President!

By FRED SMITH 

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS – DEC 31, 2020

  ‘Tis the eve of the new year and in his White House

Sits a lame duck-tailed bad man with unsmiling spouse.

“This may be my last chance before my thoughts drift

To give all those who miffed me one parting gift. 

Whether I liked them or hated, they can’t escape blame,

They’re bound to be “Fired” in my blazing endgame:

To my faithless AG and once true legal goon,

I leave Barr to flame out in a hot air balloon.


As to Mitch, the traitor, who acknowledged Joe’s win,

Here’s a carton of face masks to smother his chin;

And for Rudolph, the red-faced, sputt’ring buffoon, 

Nothing’s better to drown in than a pool-sized spittoon.


The prize for Pompeo requires some thinking,

Backtracking on hacking without even blinking;

As for Doctor Birx, as well as for Fauci,

A pox on both jerks for making me grouchy. 

To my dearest friends, Pelosi and Schumer,

A set of false teeth and an unbenign tumor;

Bah, to Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett;

I’ll defrock the three for not being my parrots. 

To NBC cable’s O’Donnell and Maddow,

Go choke on your words, and sleep in the shadow;

Which goes for CNN cronies, Tapper and Blitzer,

Have Cheez Doodles washed down with a Clorox-laced spritzer. 

The Judiciary Committee and Adam Schiff

Will ride a one-way train, heading straight off a cliff;

For Masha, Colonel Vindman and Fiona Hill,

You uttered the truth; here’s a poisonous pill. 

This thing ‘bout the virus and how many have died?

QAnon swears that every one of them lied;

That proves there are 300,000 folks hidin’;

No goodies for the “dead” who voted for Biden. 

Of course, can’t forget those phony Obamas,

Who I’d exile to starve on an isle full of llamas;

And I have to keep waiting until one week hence

To decide what determines the fate of Mike Pence. 

At last, I’ll heap ashes upon mini-Mnuchin,

Whose stimulus deal was smaller than a capuchin;

When I told my pet monkey to get a bill signed,

This blind four-year flunky failed to read my mind. 

Allegiance to me must remain undiminished;

One step out of line and you know you are finished,

‘Cept for Putin, who says I lost the election;

For some weird reason I can’t spurn his defection. 

Yet still, there are more who have sorely peeved me,

Who think I’m a fool and those who have grieved me:

And that would include all the world’s foreign leaders

Who laughed at my power, those dumb bottom feeders. 

I’ll give them all coal to stuff in their crotches;

And spoiled milk to SNL which nobody watches.

There’s a surprise in store for Stephen Colbert;

It’s something set for ticking under his chair. 

Forget about pardons and exoneration,

I truly deserve an extended vacation

Where I won’t have to pretend to read even one book;

And I’ll have full time for golfing and being a crook.


 Now it’s almost midnight on this dark New Year’s Eve,

And a terrible time to be taking my leave.

But I swear I’ll keep tweeting my message of cheer

To do more for America this coming year.” 

Smith, who worked for the New York City Department of Education, writes occasional poems.

I’m used to hearing people say, “It’s all about the Benjamins,” referring to someone who has sold their principles for money. A Benjamin refers to $100 bills, which have the face of Benjamin Franklin.

So we refer to politicians who support positions we don’t like as having taken money to align with the lobbyists or the donor with a lot of Benjamins. Of course, these days we have documentary evidence drawn from campaign finance records.

But what do you call a bill worth $1,000? Does it even exist?

It did, but not any more. I asked my friend teacher-blogger Arthur Goldstein the question, and he found this article.

The $1,000 bill had the face of Grover Cleveland. I assume it was discontinued in 1969 because of the ubiquity of checks and credit cards. There just wasn’t much need or demand for the $1,000 bill. Meanwhile, my ATM spits out Benjamins.

So, next time a politician sells out, say, “It’s all about the Grovers.”

Unfortunately, no one will know what you are talking about.

Did you ever stop to think about the origins of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? 

Probably not.

But it’s a true story with a happy ending.

It starts like this:

Rudolph came to life in 1939 when the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company asked one of their copywriters, 34-year-old Robert L. May, to come up with a Christmas story they could give away in booklet form to shoppers as a promotional gimmick — the Montgomery Ward stores had been buying and distributing coloring books to customers at Christmastime every year, and May’s department head saw creating a giveaway booklet of their own as a way to save money. Robert May, who had a penchant for writing children’s stories and limericks, was tapped to create the booklet.

May, drawing in part on the tale of The Ugly Duckling and his own background (he was often taunted as a child for being shy, small, and slight), settled on the idea of an underdog ostracized by the reindeer community because of his physical abnormality: a glowing red nose. Looking for an alliterative name, May considered and rejected Rollo (too cheerful and carefree a name for the story of a misfit) and Reginald (too British) before deciding on Rudolph. He then proceeded to write Rudolph’s story in verse as a series of rhyming couplets, testing it out on his 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, as he went along. Although Barbara was thrilled with Rudolph’s story, May’s boss was worried that a story featuring a red nose — an image associated with drinking and drunkards — was unsuitable for a Christmas tale. May responded by taking Denver Gillen, a friend from Montgomery Ward’s art department, to the Lincoln Park Zoo to sketch some deer. Gillen’s illustrations of a red-nosed reindeer overcame the hesitancy of May’s superiors, and the Rudolph story was approved. Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet in 1939, and although wartime paper shortages curtailed printing for the next several years, a total of 6 million copies had been distributed by the end of 1946.

The post-war demand for licensing the Rudolph character was tremendous, but since May had created the story on a “work made for hire” basis as an employee of Montgomery Ward, that company held the copyright to Rudolph, and May received no royalties for his creation. Deeply in debt from the medical bills resulting from his wife’s terminal illness (she died about the time May created Rudolph), May persuaded Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, Sewell Avery, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, and with the rights to his creation in hand, May’s financial security was assured. (Unlike Santa Claus and other familiar Christmas figures of the time, the Rudolph character was a protected trademark that required licensing and the payment of royalties for commercial use.)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was reprinted commercially beginning in 1947 and shown in theaters as a nine-minute cartoon the following year, but the Rudolph phenomenon really took off when May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and melody for a Rudolph song. Marks’ musical version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (turned down by many in the music industry who didn’t want to meddle with the established Santa legend) was recorded by cowboy crooner Gene Autry in 1949, sold two million copies that year, and went on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time (second only to “White Christmas”). A stop-action television special about Rudolph produced by Rankin/Bass and narrated by Burl Ives was first aired in 1964 and remains a popular perennial holiday favorite in the U.S.

May quit his copywriting job in 1951 and spent seven years managing the Rudolph franchise his creation had spawned before returning to Montgomery Ward, where he worked until his retirement in 1971. May died in 1976, comfortable in the life his reindeer creation had provided for him.

The story of Rudolph is primarily known to us through the lyrics of Johnny Marks’ song (which provides only the barest outlines of Rudolph’s story) and the 1964 television special. The story Robert May wrote is substantially different from both of them in a number of ways.

Rudolph was neither one of Santa’s reindeer nor the offspring of one of Santa’s reindeer, and he did not live at the North Pole. Rudolph dwelled in an “ordinary” reindeer village elsewhere, and although he was taunted and laughed at for having a shiny red nose, he was not regarded by his parents as a shameful embarrassment; Rudolph was brought up in a loving household and was a responsible reindeer with a good self-image and sense of worth. Moreover, Rudolph also did not rise to fame when Santa picked him out from a reindeer herd because of his shiny nose; instead, Santa discovered the red-nosed reindeer quite by accident, when he noticed the glow emanating from Rudolph’s room while he was delivering presents to Rudolph’s house. Worried that the thickening fog that night (already the cause of several accidents and delays) would keep him from completing his Christmas Eve rounds, Santa tapped Rudolph to lead his team, which the young reindeer agreed to do, after first stopping to complete one last task: leaving behind a note for his mother and father.

As Ronald Lankford noted in his cultural history of American Christmas songs, Rudolph’s story was a classic reflection of American values during the 1940s and beyond:

Much like the modern Santa Claus song, Rudolph’s story is for children; more specifically, it is a children’s story about overcoming adversity and earning, by personal effort, respect in the adult world. As a young deer (child) with a handicap that turns out to be an unrecognized asset, Rudolph comes to the rescue of an adult (Santa) at the last minute (on Christmas Eve). When Rudolph saves the day, he gains respect from both his peers (the reindeer who refused to include him in games) and the adult world. The story of Rudolph, then, is the fantasy story made to order for American children: each child has the need to express and receive approval for his or her individuality and/or special qualities. Rudolph’s story embodies the American Dream for the child, written large because of the cultural significance of Christmas.