Girls vs. Boys

Scholastic book fair catalogs are always great for a laugh. (No, really.) In the Fall 2010 catalog, these two books appear side-by-side:

The Girls’ Book of Friendship: How to Be the Best Friend Ever

Learn How To:

✔ Stay Friends for Life
✔ Help a Friend
✔ And More!


The Boys’ Book of Adventure: Are You Ready to Face the Challenge?

Learn How To:

✔ Dive for Treasure
✔ Slay a Werewolf
✔ And More!

Don’t tell me there’s gender equality in kindergarten.

And my favorite part? The pair sits below the heading “New York Times Best-Selling Series!”

I Pledge Allegiance

Politicians love to defend the Pledge of Allegiance almost as much as they like to oppose burning our nation’s flag. The wholesome, patriotic, downright American tradition of reciting a pledge of loyalty in schools every morning is the sort of thing only an America-hating terrorist would ever oppose.

Unless, of course, you believe that America stands for theological freedom, and find the phrase “under God” at odds with certain religious beliefs. Or you believe that America stands for political freedom, and find the entire notion of mandating allegiance from citizens a bit… Red.

I always got hung up on the “under God” bit. I’m on the record of being in favor of liberty and justice for all. Rainbows and puppy dogs aren’t half bad either. But then some clown crammed an “under God” in the middle of the thing (nearly 60 years after the pledge was first coined, mind you), and didn’t even add meaningful content with it. Instead, the extra appositive phrase just makes the whole sentence almost impossible to parse to a child who’s still trying to get the hang of correctly conjugating the word “is” on a regular basis.

But apart from the atrocious grammatical implications, the phrase implies a certain basic religion: that God presides over our country. Thus anyone who believes in more or fewer Gods than just the one is unable to faithfully pledge their allegiance to the entire country, if following the scripted pledge.

While this makes for an interesting academic argument (and occasionally affords politicians some good sound bites), and while I still believe it wholeheartedly, it may overlook some important details.

My daughter, now in kindergarten, was playing quietly in the living room this morning when she spontaneously launched into this recitation:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the bepuplic for which it stands: one nation, under God, in-invisible, with ligerty and jujace for all.

So she’s not developing a sense of God watching over us, or of mandatory loyalty to an ineffable and eternal nation. She’s trying to figure out what a bepublic is and what made it invisible.


We just ordered Sophie’s school pictures online. Using sample pictures with models (letting you choose which model looks most like your child), the Lifetouch website does its best to offer up-sells — added bonuses for an extra charge. Do we want an extra thousand wallet prints, or a selection of multiple poses so we can choose our favorite?

The best option is this, offering to retouch the picture to remove acne:



Even better than the existence of this service is the brilliant marketing: the default choice is “Basic Retouching” showing the handsome young man you surely want printed in your son’s yearbook. Or, if you’re a cheapskate, you can choose to see his face dotted with acne.