educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Video games and boys’ literacy

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So, to me, these two dudes – and I wanna stress that they are dudes — in my house seem to be at the video games a lot. I thought this would never happen to me.  I thought I would steer them to loftier pursuits. But there they, at FIFA and Mindcraft. I have this awful feeling their brains are leaking intellect because of video games. I particularly worry about the brightness of their literacy lights. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Networks change schedules for Johnny Manziel

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Unlike a friend of mine, I am not one of those people that has ten televisions and the ability to watch all of the NFL games at once. That’s not to say I don’t wish that I were, but it is not my reality. On Sundays, if the Eagles are not playing at 1:00, I look at FOX and CBS to see which games they are carrying and I pick one to check out. Most often, I end up watching FOX, as they are usually carrying NFC games, and I am partial to that conference. This past Sunday, I was totally confused when I put on FOX and saw a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals, two AFC teams. I had never seen that before, so it made me curious. It turns out that the reason was a predictable one: Johnny Manziel.

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Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmoney

Top ten least popular mall stores

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10. Big, Tall & Gay

9. Banana Dictatorship

8. Holly of Fredericksburg

7. Organ Donation Shack

6. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Kale

5. Turban Outfitters

4. Abercrombie & Bitch

3. Bed, Bath & Beyoncé

2. Chick-fil-A-Hole

1. Old Merchant Marines


Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The death of a college football program

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Students and fans of the University of Alabama-Birmingham were dealt a tremendous blow this week when the school decided to shut down its football program. No one is more directly affected than the players and coaches, who will see the work they have done to build this program flushed away with barely a thank you. Although there was not a lot of history in this program, as it only started in 1991, the team just finished its most successful season in a decade and things were looking up. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingenvironment & nature

Top ten answers to the question, “How cold is it?”

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10. It’s so cold, this morning, the early bird catching the worm had gloves on.

9. It’s so cold, the optician was giving away free ice scrapers with every new pair of eyeglasses.

8. It’s so cold, hitchhikers are holding up pictures of thumbs.

7. It’s so cold, cab drivers are flipping people off with their mittens.

6. It’s so cold, people were contracting Ebola just for the fever.

5. It’s so cold, I chipped a tooth on some broth.

4. It’s so cold, if I had a stick up my butt, it’d be a popsicle.

3. It’s so cold, my aunt slipped on some ice and accidently keyed someone’s Mercedes…with her nipple!

2. It’s so cold, the Blue Man Group turned Caucasian-colored!

1. It’s so cold, Starbucks was serving coffee on a stick.

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

art & entertainmentends & odd

7 unanswerable questions Bill Cosby made me contemplate

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How much does Cosby biographer Mark Whitaker suck? I can understand not wanting to dwell on the allegations of abuse so much it became the focus of Cosby: His Life and Times…but wasn’t there some room for them in its 500-plus pages? (It includes a 19-page chapter called “The Art of Jell-O.”) Why do I feel like if Whitaker wrote a book about Ted Bundy it would focus on Ted’s academic performance at law school? [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads Deep Shelter by Oliver Harris

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Let me start off by saying: I loved this book. Nick Belsey is a sorry excuse for a cop, probably a worse boyfriend, but he is smart and determined and he just does not quit.

Deep Shelter by Oliver Harris is a terrific story, full of twists and turns, with a lot of great characters. Belsey is trying to find a suspect that disappeared down a rabbit hole. Instead, he finds a tunnel that leads into an old wartime bunker underneath London. It has offices and dorms and workspaces, it’s fully stocked with food and medical supplies — he even finds cases of champagne. They were new went they went down into the tunnels, but they are vintage now. So, of course, Belsey does what any good cop would do: he calls his dealer and his fence and makes plans to sell the drugs and the booze. Then he invites his new girlfriend, someone he arrested a while back, on a romantic trip to the tunnels.

Belsey took the candle and walked into the dorm. Bunk cages danced in the wavering light. No sign of her. He waited for his date to jump out. That would be classic. She didn’t.

“Are you OK?” he called, and his voice sounded like the voice of someone on their own.

Incredibly creepy. And it gets even creepier when he starts getting text messages and emails, taunting him. He knows that if he reports her disappearance, he’ll be the prime suspect, so he doesn’t report it. Instead, he investigates on his own. The investigation leads into an incredibly twisted story of wartime preparations, top-secret cover-ups and a city beneath the city.

If you like complicated storylines, you’ll love this. There is so much going on, so much backstory, so many interesting twists and turns that I could not put this down. I like Belsey – he’s a crooked cop, but he’s trying to do the right thing. He’s got quite an assortment of equally bent contacts, and they make for an interesting crew. The book makes me want to go back to London — I’ve been to a few of the locations mentioned in the book, like St. Pancras Station, but not many — and look for the landmarks in the book and dream of a secret city beneath my feet.

My copy of Deep Shelter is an Advance Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

deep shelter

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Refs don’t know the rules at the Iron Bowl

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One of the favorite pastimes of sports fans is complaining about officiating. I like nothing better than yelling at the television in anguish as a referee makes brutal call after brutal call. Well, let me qualify that. I like well-officiated games the best, and I really hate when one of my teams gets screwed by a terrible call, so I shouldn’t really say that I like all the yelling. However, watching sports would not be the same for me if I didn’t get worked up and indignant a time or two while doing so. If I am watching a game in which I have no real rooting interest, especially, it really does add to my enjoyment, although it may not do the same for the people around me at the time. On Saturday night, Alabama played Auburn in a game that is known as the Iron Bowl. There were several bad calls and confusing situations in this one, but the worst one involved a “simultaneous catch” in the second half.

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educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

From the mouths of babes?: Colorado students refuse to be tested

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Part 10 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.

The Denver Post reported recently that thousands of high school students in Colorado refused to take standardized state tests. Activism? Test fatigue? Obstinancy? Whatever the case, I like that we’re hearing the student voice, which is often absent in the many conversations about testing. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrecipes & food

Top ten signs you ate too much on Thanksgiving

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10. You pricked your finger for a blood-sugar test, and cranberry sauce came out

9. You’ve pounded on so much poundage, in one of the shots of earth in the film Interstellar, you are clearly visible

8. It took two EMT guys and the Jaws of Life to get you out of your Barcalounger

7. They took a picture of you after the meal, and it’s still printing

6. Both Ben and Jerry have friended you on Facebook

5. You had so many smashed potatoes, you set off another famine in Ireland

4. You’ve gotten several inquiries from representatives of the Butterball Hall of Fame

3. You ate all the leftovers…before dessert

2. After the meal, you had to loosen the band on your wristwatch

1. When people see you from the rear, for some reason they keep calling you “Kim”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: College football recruiting is ugly, at least when Dan Mullen is involved

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As much as I love college football, 2014 has not been a banner year for the sport. Sure, the actual game is still good, although my beloved Nittany Lions are struggling through a year that was always likely to be the worst part of the sanctions. Everything surrounding the game, though, is going to hell. The NCAA is coming apart at the seams, much to my delight, with lawsuits out the wazoo promising dramatic change for all of college athletics in the future. Beyond that, the way recruiting is handled, especially within certain conferences, continues to shed a very bad light on what is supposed to be an amateur sport played for the love of the game. The latest example of this comes to us courtesy of Mississippi State University and its head coach, Dan Mullen. This week, he pulled the scholarship offer from a kid who was about to graduate in two weeks and enroll early at MSU. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten things the Pilgrims would say if they were alive today

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10. “This turkey tastes really odd. What breed of turkey, exactly, is a ‘Tofu’?”

9. “And if I wanted to spend the day with my Indian brethren, why would I want to visit a gaming emporium?”

8. “Well, I think thine clothing looketh equally as bizarre!”

7. “And you can get advice on cooking your bird from yonder handheld talking machine?!”

6. “Big deal! So your ancestors came over on the Mayflower!”

5. “Let me get this straight: You commemorated the colony of Plymouth by naming a horseless carriage after it?”

4. “Jebediah, look! Their leader appears to be a Native American!”

3. “There is no need to struggle! Why do you not just share the wishbone?!”

2. “Celebrating Thanksgiving by having extra early Christmas sales! – Why did we not think of that?!”

1. “Hey! Let us out of these boxes! ’Tis dark in here, and dirt keeps comingeth through yon ceiling!”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

How much do you write a day?

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You probably are out there writing like a maniac every day of your life. A good friend of mine, on the Website 11trees, recently posted a smart blog entry describing how much he wrote in one day, what he viewed as just an average day for a “knowledge worker.” In this one-day writing diary, he calculates that he comes in at 2,500 words, a number he uses to make this point: “We write more words every day than many college or high school students write in an entire term.[Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Jerk fan steals ball from woman

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How did the world become so filled with idiots? Why is rudeness and an oversized sense of entitlement so pervasive today? These are things that occupy my mind on a regular basis, as I encounter them every day. I am sure there are sociologists with solid theories about it, so if you know or are one, feel free to share. I have been thinking about this subject in the last few days because of a silly little incident that occurred at the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham scored a touchdown and tossed the ball up to a couple of women in Bengals shirts who had run down to the railing as the play happened. A man, Tony Williams, sitting right there in a Saints shirt, jumped up and grabbed the ball away from one of the women and kept it.

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animalsThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that ye shall bring thy pets in out of the cold

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I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree No. K-9: It has come to the Emperor’s attention that some of his more worthless subjects are leaving their pets out in the cold during the most bitter of winter nights. Previously, the Emperor thought this only happened at the homes of crack addicts and of those who were helpless and who were abandoned, themselves. But he has been informed that this happens on a larger scale than he thought; that regular, able-bodied folk are either absent-mindedly or intentionally  leaving their animal pals out in the frigid winds. It will stop, today. Ye will bring your pets in out of the cold.

The Punishment: Those who do not comply will be placed on the Imperial Space Shuttles (we have lots and lots of them and money is no object). These shuttles will be auto-piloted at the sun. At the end of the trip, the offenders will more than receive the warmth they denied their helpless, dependent little fur-friends. Normally, the Emperor doesn’t defend his actions, but he would like to point out a peripheral benefit of this: We will be relieving the world’s population of a large number of people with shriveled souls. Anyone who could be so cruel to such innocent, loving creatures is no more than a pimple on the face of the Earth. The loss of such scum will be felt, surely; it will be felt not unlike the satisfaction after defecation.

Now, go forth and obey.

(The Emperor sends a hat-tip to Sara Wuillermin, who is, henceforth, promoted to the rank of “Imperial Spy, Class A.”)

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten excuses of 26-year-old Doug Adams, who was accused of masturbating on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles

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10. He was flying on Virgin Airlines, and he was one

9. The in-flight chicken was finger-lickin’ good, and one thing led to another

8. He was flying first class, and everybody knows they’re a bunch of wankers

7. His entertainment system wasn’t working, so he had to provide his own

6. His date for the Mile High Club missed the plane

5. Different strokes for different folks

4. None of the flight attendants was providing service, so he decided to take matters into his own hands

3. He couldn’t get the song California Here I Come out of his head

2. He was afraid of flying, and just wanted to get off

1. He misunderstood the pilot’s instructions about “an upright and locked position”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: NASCAR has really messed up this Chase

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I think most sports fans will agree that playoff time is the best part of any sport’s season. The tension and excitement are both amped up when it’s “win or go home” time. NASCAR has taken note of this in recent years, changing its late season format to what it calls the “Chase for the Sprint Cup,” a ten race segment to end the season during which points are reset and only the top drivers from the first 26 races have a chance at the championship. That has been a pretty succesful change, but the modifications made before the 2014 season have made a mess of things, in my opinion. [Read more →]

animalsBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Now that the NRA has managed to shoot down a bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives which would have made it illegal to offer “a dog or cat for the purpose of human consumption,” top ten new menu items in Pennsylvania restaurants

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10. Whippet cream

9. Collieflower

8. Puppyseed oil

7. Catwurst

6. Kennel cake

5. Springer rolls

4. Greyhound Poupon

3. Chicken poodle soup

2. Macaroni and Burmese

1. Spitz crackers

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

books & writing

Lisa reads The Abduction by Jonathan Holt

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I was thrilled to receive a copy of The Abduction by Jonathan Holt, the second book in the Carnivia trilogy. It wasn’t long ago that I reviewed The Abomination, which I thought was a terrific mystery, so I was eager to see where the story went next.

The Abduction focuses again on the unlikely trio of detectives: Venetian police captain Kat Tapo, Second Lieutenant Holly Boland, and reclusive genius Daniele Barbo. Tapo has filed a sexual harassment suite against her former lover, Colonel Aldo Piola – and good for her, because the resolution of their affair was really unfair for her. There is tension between Tapo and Boland, as well as an entirely different sort of tension between Boland and Barbo. These characters are so very different and it is really interesting to see the way they interact.

The novel starts with an erotic swingers event at an upscale nightclub, which is a great way to begin a story! A young woman is abducted – a teenager who should definitely not have been at this party. Her name is Mia and she is the daughter of a US Army officer. There is no ransom demand, but there is a video – a very strange video – and eventually, the kidnappers’ plans become clear. It’s a chilling plan and since the kidnappers are online, it is going viral all over the globe.

And then, just like the storyline in The Abomination, the story veers off into entirely new territory. There are interesting tendrils – a secret society, hacked email, disturbing documents found in the Vatican archives. This is what I love the most about this series! No matter where the story starts, it take you places you had no idea were even on the map. It’s such a refreshing change from plodding procedurals and predictable detective stories and I have been recommending this one to everyone. I am really looking forward to reading the third book in the trilogy – but I am not looking forward to the end of their stories!

My copy of  The Abduction is an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.



bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Marathon runner fails doping test

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A lot of Bad Sports stories amuse me. Some disgust me, while others make me shake my head in amazement, but it is the funny ones that really motivate me to write. Occasionally, though, there is a story that truly makes me sad. Not sad in the way that I’d be when someone on one of my teams does something stupid and gets suspended for it, but sad in a real way. One of those happened this week. Rita Jeptoo, the winner of the last two Chicago Marathons as well as this year’s Boston Marathon, failed a doping test back in September. The news just came out this week, just as she was about to collect the World Marathon Majors title on Sunday.

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