Tag Archives: Contests

DEADLINE EXTENDED! – History’s Worst Dad Contest

Maybe it was the rush to get things ready for summer vacation. Or perhaps it was the painful memories of your own good-for-nothing sperm donors.

Either way, I won’t chalk up our paltry total of entries (ZERO, to be exact) to lack of interest…so HERE WE GO AGAIN!

The deadline for entering your candidate for History’s worst Dad will be extended to Friday, July 8. Here is the original post with rules and submission guidelines.

Please pass this on to anyone who wants to submit. I can’t wait to see them!

Please! Anybody?!

PS: If you don’t, Mr. D will drown his sorrows in strong spirits that will make him verbose, boastful and violent. No one wants that.

 

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New Contest: Who was History’s Worst Dad?

Father’s Day is usually about the greatness of our fathers.

Now the Neighborhood is asking your help in finding history’s most deplorable dads.

Our second contest will feature the deadbeat dads, absent fathers and downright rotten scoundrel sperm donors of the past few millennia. We will accept suggestions from our readers: the top entries will be featured in a finalist post, along with an online poll.

The winner of the online poll will receive a guest post on the Neighborhood…as well as a prize to be determined ;)

Who will win? There’s so many to choose from: Philip of Macedon disowning his son and heir Alexander. Ivan the Terrible strangling his own son in a fit of madness. Benjamin Frankin cutting off his own Loyalist offspring. Or even Josef Stalin treating his own children no better than his millions of subjects in misery.

E-mail your entry to the Neighborhood as soon as possible. Include your name, e-mail, website/blog (optional) the name of the “Bad Dad” and a short description of why he should be History’s Worst Dad.

Entries must be in by Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Finalists and the online poll will be announced soon after.

Pass the word, have fun, and get those entries in!

 

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Pol Pot is “History’s Greatest A**hole!”

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Congratulations to Yonatan Lupu for his entry of Cambodian crazyman Pol Pot as “History’s Greatest Asshole.” Even in a crowded field of philandering autocrats, plundering kleptocrats, a “people’s” plutocrat, and an anger-obsessed Democrat, the freaky guerrilla leader who hated everybody beats out all. 

Thanks to everyone who voted, and here’s hoping for a new contest sometime soon.

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This Day in History 11/9: The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Thefalloftheberlinwall1989The announcement of our winner of “History’s Greatest A**hole” contest will have to wait, as Mr. D needs to wax nostalgic about today’s anniversary.

Twenty years ago today, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall, the most visible and hated symbol of the Cold War, came tumbling down as the East German government flung open its borders.  The opening of the Wall was the beginning of the end for Communism in Eastern Europe, as (mostly) peaceful revolutions swept across the continent, bringing down regime after regime until the great bear itself, the Soviet Union, dissolved in 1991.

Today, most kids have never even heard of the word Communism or anything like a Cold War.  Yet try to be a child seeing these events unfold.  For my generation, those that witnessed the end of an era, we couldn’t even believe it was happening.

For most of our lives, we thought that the great conflict between East and West, the Cold War, the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union had reached a meandering stalemate that could last forever.  If the rivalry did heat up, it was usually every four years during the Olympic Games. 

 I was a precocious kid, and even at that age a rabid anti-Communist.  Most of my friends used words like “Commie” and “Russkie” pretty casually, but I knew the evil they contained.  When Katerina Witt of East Germany won the gold medal in figure skating in 1988, I left the room.  I screamed at my parents that I refused to listen to an anthem from a Communist dictatorship.    No one booed louder when Nickolai Volkoff sang the Soviet national anthem before wrestling for the WWF (now WWE). 

Christ, I made Alex P. Keaton look like Nancy Pelosi.

Yet even I, the great red-baiter that I was, had the inevitable shrug most had when confronting the Soviet menace.  They were there, and they we there to stay.  As long as they don’t move from where they are, and no sneaky stuff with Typhoon submarines, then I guess we can coexist.  It was even a buzzword of the Brezhnev-era Kremlin: “peaceful coexistence.” 

Then I heard about what was happening in Poland.  Yes, I was a wierd kid: the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa fascinated me. 

I mean, here was a situation that, to a true lover of Marx and Lenin, made absolutely no sense: a “worker’s republic” refusing to let a group of shipyard workers from Gdansk organize into a labor union.  A labor union is the crux of all Communist ideology, and it was turned on its head as Solidarity formed to combat unfair conditions laid down by Warsaw’s Soviet satellite regime.  The authorities fought back brutally, enforcing martial law from 1981-1982.  Yet the movement survived, and it worked to undermine, and eventually destroy, the Polish dictatorship.

The Polish revolution worked because of a gap in the Soviet clinch on power.  By the 1980s, the Soviets were in economic freefall, and badly needed Western capital and technology just to keep up.  Thus, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev began a program of gradual liberalization of the economy (perestroika) followed by a loosening of the authoritarian political landscape (glasnost).  On top of this, Moscow basically allowed its satellites to do what they wanted.  There would be no repeat of the crackdowns of years past–this time the Red Army will not interfere.

The result was a flood of anger and resentment.  Reform movements were going on all over Eastern Europe, mostly among grassroots groups looking for bread-and-butter changes: better housing, higher wages, better working conditions, etc.  The people’s republics simply grew so stagnant that they were completely divorced from the reality of the people, and rebels like Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa were considered heroes.

Yet we never thought that wall would ever come down.  And it did, thanks to massive demonstrations, public media attention, and an East German government willing to say “enough is enough”, and replace the autocratic Erich Honecker with the more pliant Egon Krenz, who summarily threw open the borders to allow East Germans free access to the west.  That hated wall, that son-of-a-bitch wall finally came down.

As with most things, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism seemed inevitable now.  Today, we are still dealing with the aftereffects of the Revolutions of 1989, both good and bad.  But for kids like me, who never thought it was going to happen, the Berlin Wall was a moment we could never forget.  Like the clamoring hordes in Boston in the 1770′s, no one was silencing the will of the people anymore.

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Finally, Someone Who Agrees! Susan Engel on Teacher Education in NY Times

POLLING IN “HISTORY’S GREATEST A**HOLE!” CONTINUES UNTIL SATURDAY!  VOTE TODAY!  POLL IS ON THE RIGHT ->

AB35108A while back, while I was contemplating life across a lake in the Maine woods, I penned a screed lamenting the lack of respect teachers get in America.  I pointed out that part of the problem is that teacher education in this country is of a generally poor quality.  It sucks, plain and simple.

Two people have since piped up on the issue.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed this very issue a few weeks back with remarks made at (surprise, surprise) Teachers College at Columbia.  Furthermore, Susan Engel, Director of the Teaching program at Williams College, recently wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times that builds on Secretary Duncan’s remarks towards an action plan for the system.

Engel writes about how teacher education has little respect, because of its lack of selectivity and rigor.  Thus, according to Engel, “…the strongest students are often in colleges that have no interest in education, while the most inspiring professors aren’t working with students who want to teach. This means that comparatively weaker students in less intellectually rigorous programs are the ones preparing to become teachers.”

Her plan involves a number of points, namely to increase student selectivity while making programs tuition free.  This prevents the “diploma mill” mentality of so many university administrators when looking at education. 

Furthermore, teachers would be trained in subject areas and in a clinical mentoring model similar to medical school.  The best way to learn how to teach is to do it–I know, and it’s quite a learning experience.  Engel also stresses the need for intense mentoring, monitoring and feedback on practices.  This is a quantum leap from the squishy “reflection papers” that often read like D papers at a Comparative Lit class at Vasser. 

Teachers and administrators, take a hard look at what Engel is proposing.  It is probably difficult, if not impossible, to implement such a program wholesale.  Yet Engel’s argument is definitely a step in the right direction.

 

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Reminder for Our Poll – “History’s Greatest A**hole”

90275679I’ve been pretty swamped here, with kids gearing up for the state tests, assessments that I still have to design with rubrics to match, workshops I have to present, trips I need to plan, etc.  I need a breather to get some creativity back.

Just a quick reminder that our Poll for “History’s Greatest A**hole” is up and running, thanks to the good folks at PollDaddy.  Please vote as soon as you can: the polling ends next Saturday, November 7.  The poll is designed to not accept multiple votes from the same IP address, so it’s strictly one vote per person.

Next post should be a good one for next week: a look at the minor “incursions” or “police actions” in American history.

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“History’s Greatest A**hole!” – The Finalists!

Thanks to everyone who sent their submissions!  Based on the quality of the candidates, and space/time issues for a proper poll, here are the five finalists (for sake of fairness, the contestants’ names have been left out):

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1. Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Assholes like to make history-making dick moves, and few moved their member with such ferocity as Henry Tudor, or King Henry VIII of England.  Apart from going through six wives–and countless chambermaids–to secure that elusive male heir, he decided to make himself head of a church, which helped lead to centuries of religious violence.  As we all know, all assholes think they’re God, and fat Harry was no exception. Even his portraits are symbols of douchebaggery.  By Henry’s death in 1547, Hans Holbein the Younger needed double-wide canvasses just to do His Lardness some justice. 

Fidel_Castro_-_MATS_Terminal_Washington_1959

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Fidel Castro (1926-       )

If Fidel wins this contest, I’m blaming Miami and Union City, NJ with stuffing the ballots (just kidding).  Fidel Castro is certainly worthy of this list.  His 1959 revolution in Cuba created the first Communist regime in the Western Hemisphere.  Thousands have been killed, tortured and imprisoned for defying him and his brand of Communism.  His programs have driven the country into ruin, while aid continues to enter the country just to make the US look bad.  He makes lefties swoon and right-wingers squirm, and is personally responsible for Miami and Union City, NJ.  Yet the real reason he’s on here?  According to legend (and we can’t really substantiate this) Castro made ice cream cones illegal.  Now that’s an asshole!

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3. Pol Pot (1928-1998)

Here’s a wacko that deserves a well-placed kick in the nuts.  Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge guerrillas to power in Cambodia in 1975.  For four long years, Pol Pot systematically reduced his country to the Stone Age, literally.  He changed time so that everything started at “Year Zero”, forcing cities to be evacuated for slave labor in the countryside.  Almost 2.5 million people, or 21% of the population, died on his watch from starvation, torture and execution.  The guy hated everybody: foreigners, intellectuals, the disabled, even hated people wearing glasses.  It took the Vietnamese, of all people, to end this nightmare with an invasion in 1979, forcing Pol Pot into the hills as his country still recovers from the lunacy.  They say he was poisoned–let’s hope its by Pearle Vision.

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4. Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)

It is now common knowledge among academics that the father of Jacksonian Democracy was also a bit of a scumbag.  As President of the United States from 1829-1837, he was a steadfast supporter of slavery, killed the Second Bank of the United States as a gesture to create an “agricultural republic” (or “plantation republic”, for those with less taste in bullshit) and supported the forced removal of almost 45,000 Native Americans from the eastern US, resulting in almost 4,000 deaths along the way–in defiance of the Supreme Court.  If this wasn’t bad enough, consider his temper: he fought 13 duels, killed a man in one, had bullets lodged all over his body, and even had to be restrained from killing an assassin who botched an attempt on his life.  No wonder he graces the “yuppie food stamp.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Mobutu Sese Seko (1930-1997)

Only a truly global asshole would change his name.  Joseph-Desire Mobutu took over the Congo in a bloodless military coup in 1965.  He then proceeded to create a totalitarian regime unequalled in Africa.  His personality cult silenced all opposition.  Mobutu personally embezzled $5 billion dollars from his country, forcing it into the economic shitter–which was hard considering it was the mineral breadbasket of Africa.  He renames the country Zaire, and forced the whole country to adopt African names and dress on pain of imprisonment or death.  Finally, in a real classy move, he changes his name to Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (“The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake.”).

I will create the poll in a separate post, along with the dates of the poll.  May the worst asshole win!

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