The Next Delusion

Seeing Reality and Looking the Other Way

Bad Thoughts about Good People

My Inner Bad Person (IBP) constantly asks for equal air time with the bleeding-heart liberal chemise that I wear for public display. Understand that the tenderhearted liberal is not all that great. He spends more time with charitable thoughts than charitable acts, but at least he is able to keep the IBP at bay most of the time – at least beyond the walls of our duplex and Cassandra’s ears.

In order to avoid the IBP festering too much and becoming a covert malignancy in my already shaky soul, I’m giving him some blog space to air out a few grievances. Hopefully he can then return to his chamomile tea and scones in the dark corners of my psyche.

IBP take it away.

Today I’d like take issue with some people who clearly deserve admiration, sympathy, or at minimum understanding, but for some reason drive me fucking nuts.


Wipe that Smug File off Your Face!

Wipe that Smug Smile off Your Face!


Malala Yousafzai: Sure, you advocated for the educational rights of girls in Pakistan and got shot in the face by the Taliban for your troubles. But do you have to act so self-satisfied about it Malala? The “aw shucks I’m just a humble school girl who likes doing origami and listening to Zayn Malik’s new CD” persona reminds me of a high school valediction from a kid going to Brown on scholarship trying to strike “a just one of the crowd” pose by citing that his most poignant educational moment happened in 7th grade woodshop when he built a raft alongside a hoodlum called Cobra, who he wishes well in his sentencing hearing. Malala, you won a Nobel Prize and had your own day at the United Nations. Get a little Miley Cyrus going, grab your crotch and shout “fuck you, you Taliban pussies” for all the world to hear. Then I’ll be a fan.

Stephen Hawking: Perhaps this stems from my general disdain of English intelligentsia and aristocracy (I never watched Downton Abbey or any Merchant-Ivory films after Howard’s End – and you can’t make me). Or my hatred of theoretical physicists who sit at the academic boondoggle table alongside economists, Freudian psychologists, and social anthropologists. But when you write a book called A Brief History of Time and then have a movie made about you called The Theory of Everything, you’re just asking for your wheelchair to be let go of at the top of Lombard Street. The air of “I can distill all of time into 200 pages because I’m just that smart” and condescendingly writing chapter titles for us dumb folk like “Black Holes Ain’t So Black” just calls for an “I knew Albert Einstein, and you are no Albert Einstein Sir” retort. Plus Cumberbatch deserved that Oscar. Only your superior name recognition over Turing won that one for Redmayne.

The path to enlightenment is easier to traverse if you put down the fucking Cheetos! Click To Tweet

People sill wearing Boston Strong T-Shirts: I live in the Boston area, have attended several Boston Marathons, and on the day of the bombing was about to jump on a plane with my daughters from Florida to Boston not knowing if there might be some broader terrorist activity I needed to be worried about. It was a horrible day, and for those who lost family members or limbs or even witnessed the carnage, it is hard to imagine how they bounced back. But, of course, a statement of support led to a cottage industry and 3 years later, I still see these t-shirts everywhere. I imagine that you are just trying to be supportive and defiant, but Bostonians I’d like to introduce you to other parts of the world where 3 people killed and hundreds injured is a good Monday. We need to get over ourselves Boston.

Ellen DeGeneres: This one is part remember-when-you-were-funny-Jay-Leno after he started his Tonight Show gig and part hero worship that moving to daytime talk shows engenders (see Winfrey, Oprah and all current and former hosts of The View), but Ellen just lost her way after she kissed Laura Dern. A great moment followed by descent into the commonplace. Ellen also teases us with occasional moments of brilliance while hosting the Academy Awards, reminding us what a brilliant stand-up comedienne she once was. And now we’re looking at the pending onslaught of Finding Dory commercials and Happy Meal toys for the net 3 months of our lives. Thanks Ellen. No thanks.

The Buddha: The Buddha takes the irrational hatred mantle for the wise and omnipotent crowd because of his self-consciously pithy sayings that adorn faux distressed wood plaques on the walls of 40% of U.S homes. Also, he would probably look down on my obsessive attachment to my iPhone. Buddha really skated on this whole weight issue too.  How about this Buddha “The path to enlightenment is easier to traverse if you put down the fucking Cheetos!”.

OK  IBP, back to the cellar, I’ll give you a call up again when I’m at the mall on December 24th.

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Throwdown Thursday: Testing Trouble

Throwdown Thursday: Testing Trouble

As we reach the end of the school year, teachers seem to be trying to catch up for a slow spring by covering about twice as much material as they did earlier in the year. Momus and I have two seventh graders between us, and it seems that one or the other of them has a new test every day of the week.

I say “enough”. When is there time for actual learning, when so much class time is taken up with testing? Momus says “how will we know if they’ve learned anything if we don’t assess it?”

Momus: They each have 5 major classes so if they are tested for each once a week then, yeah, that starts to translate to having one every day.  But having a test once a week does not seem absurd. I know the recent ethos is “let’s not stress out our kids too much, and have them do balloon animal feeling activities instead of tests” but our two 7th graders seem to be fitting in plenty of midweek MindQuest and Say Yes to the Dress time on top of their various more productive extracurricular activities, so I’m not too concerned that studying for tests is wearing away at their humanity.

Throwdown Thursday: Testing Trouble

Not again…


Cassandra: My son spent his entire life before this year at a Montessori school. I admit this may have skewed my idea about appropriate testing frequencies. It just seems that the teachers are much more focused on slapping a number on a piece of paper than in making sure that the kids understand the material. Also, I’d like to get through a day without having to drill him on the Spanish date for “St. Patrick’s Day.”

Momus:  Yeah, I think the testing is stressing you out more than it is your son. He’s doing just fine – as is my daughter – but it becomes a burden for the parents. I have the non-custodial parent during the week out-clause, so I admittedly have only rare occasions where any tandem studying falls on me. But, as we learned from our older two children, this is short-lived. When they reach high school we’ll be totally useless as the material, at least in math and science, is beyond us.

Cassandra: The math is already beyond me! (and I do thank you for stepping in there to help him with his seventh grade differential equations).

I have to admit it. I’m ready for summer break. If only to get a vacation from this relentless round of assessments.

Momus: Look at it this way, in your Montessori days you’d go months without knowing where your children stood, and then get to the parent teacher conference and be hit with some unpleasant surprise. Testing keeps you abreast of how he’s doing. I know you are in constant GPA estimation mode. So instead of one intense panic attack you have constant low level anxiety, which I think is a more heart healthy alternative for you.

Cassandra: I am not in constant GPA estimation mode. I think you are confusing me with your daughter, who is determined to smash all seventh grade GPA records. As I repeatedly tell my son, grades don’t matter at this point. Except for math. In this crazy town if you get an 89 on a stupid math test you are barred from Honors Math for the rest of time.

Momus: The standards are a bit skewed I’ll give you that. And my daughter is a bit frightening on a number of levels.

What’s funny is at times I think you actually believe that you believe that “grades don’t matter.”  You do the good parenting thing with your son and tell him that, but they matter to you. It’s clear they matter to you. Not in an extreme Great Santini mates with Joan Crawford way, but the Montessori parenting years did not beat the instinct out of you to see a 77 on a test and think “that’s not very good, we have to figure out how he will do better next time.”

Cassandra: Well, a 77 is not very good. I’m just trying to help him with study skills here. It’s not like I withhold sweets for anything less than an 85 or anything. I’m just thinking about the long term.

Did I mention that I wish they’d cut it with all of the tests already?

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Throwdown Thursday: Too Many Meds?

I am a woman who believes in the power of vitamins. And Momus, as my life partner, enjoys the privilege of receiving a number of vitamins every morning without having to do the work of buying, sorting, or laying them out. He thinks I’m crazy and that we are too young to be taking six pills a day. I say, it’s never to early to make sure that you’re covering all your health bases.

Momus:  Perhaps my hesitation arises from my complete ignorance of what I am taking, even the prescription ones, and that’s on me. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that I’m one sarcastic comment away from a clandestine swap of my blood pressure med for arsenic.  But it just feels like most of these vitamins/pills are not good for you, or at best useless. We’ve already dumped the “fish oil” hustle because you read that it is now considered to have no positive impact on cognitive function: which even a cursory observation of my flat-lined mental abilities during the time I took it is proof enough.

Cassandra: I would be more than glad to walk you through your daily regimen. Half of your pills are prescription because your doctor can’t get you to take care of your own health and so has resorted to medicating your heart attack risk away. As for the others, I work hard to keep up with the science of what’s helpful and what’s not (thus the removal of the fish oil when new studies said that it wasn’t helpful). It’s really not so many!

Throwdown Thursday: Too Many Meds?

A spoonful (or so) of sugar helps the medicine go down.


Momus: The fact that you earned the moniker “Dr. Double Dose” (“why take 2 Ibuprofen when 4 will certainly do the trick!”) oh so many years ago makes me question your threshold for “helpful.”

So when there continues to be new “science” debunking the old “science” do we keep rotating vitamin regimens like a bipolar kaleidoscope?  When do we say “might as well just imagine chocolate chip cookies are heart healthy” because some butter-industry sponsored research discovers a link.  At least we’d get cookies.

Cassandra: Ok, first of all, you know that I was pre-med and actually am able to distinguish between real science and food producer science. Although I know that you would love to go with the chocolate chip cookie diet (thus the blood pressure meds), I’m not falling for that one. The only additional vitamins we’re taking are D (which every doctor in the world says we don’t get enough of living in New England and never leaving our house when the sun is out) and C, which has a huge body of research behind it. And a multi-vitamin, of course. That’s just common sense given your chocolate chip cookie diet.

I'm one sarcastic comment away from a clandestine swap of my blood pressure med for arsenic Click To Tweet

Momus: Even one with keen intellectual insight as yourself can’t possibly know all of the funders and agendas of scientists, which can lead us into some false fish-oil greased alleyways. I know that I run the risk here of being seen as a Jenny McCarthy acolyte  – raiding pediatric offices and tearing immunization needles from their warm, sadistic hands – but I think we have become a fashion medication society and the most well-read among us may be the most susceptible. Strike one for my Buddhist path to enlightenment through illiteracy!

Cassandra: You are such a luddite. I’ve never met a man as intelligent as you are with such a disbelief in all things scientific.

Momus: If I read more I’d know what “luddite” was. I’m suspecting it is not a compliment.   When health science holds its ADD train still for 5 minutes, I’ll climb aboard. Until then I’ll be a healthy, perhaps unhealthy, skeptic.

Cassandra: Next week, ladies and gentlemen, Momus and I argue the validity of Lamarckian evolution.

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Head First into the Pool of Contestants

Ok, ok. You guys (and Momus, and my kids, and my mom) convinced me. I’m going to go for it. Friday I accepted my invitation to audition for Jeopardy. And let the games begin.

Saturday I received the email with the full details (and contestant questionnaire) of my audition. Then the panic attack really commenced. I am outside of my comfort zone in pretty much every realm:


Just Doing It

Maybe it’s not too late…


1) The amount of information I now have to cram (or re-cram) into my head is epic. I spent Saturday memorizing all of the capitals of Europe, Asia, and South America. Africa and Oceania still to come. Miraculously, I still knew most of my state capitals. And I was able to teach myself all of the state flags in just a couple of hours (we’ll see if they stick). But oh, my goodness. I have to brush up on my Shakespeare, learn a few composers (and operas!), and I know way too little about the Bible. Help! I think I’m going to spend the next month reading nothing but The World Book Encyclopedia.

2) Thursday I called my mom and told her the news. She’s an avid Jeopardy fan, so she was very excited. Of course, her first question was “What are you going to wear?” Because that’s how my mom rolls. She also knows that I have about as much chance of dressing myself like a grownup as Momus does of making it through a day without cracking a joke. So I’ve been given marching orders to go out and try on a bunch of tops and take selfies (have I mentioned that I hate a selfie?) so that she can tell me what I should buy. This should be fun. If only I weren’t completely mall phobic, I might be able to pull it off.

I am the least interesting person you have ever met Click To Tweet

3) Sunday my daughter pointed out “you have a lot of grey hair, mom.” So I marched myself to the woman who cuts my hair, who also knows that I am completely incompetent as an adult human being, and asked for her advice. She’s going to give me something called a “partial foil” (sounds like something you do to a baked potato) a week ahead of time. She says that it will cover the grey, but that when I inevitably fail to renew it, I won’t have a big fat line across my head where the dye is growing out. Ok, I guess I can do that. Hopefully I won’t have the kind of freak-out I had the one time that I got a facial.

4) Did I mention that I don’t really wear makeup? Lord, help me.

5) And then there’s the questionnaire. I have to come up with five “brief bits” about myself to supply Alex with interview fodder should I make the show. You know the part of the show where Alex asks the contestants about their porcelain cat collection or the fact that they spent a year crossing Greenland on a dog sled? I got nothing. No, really. I am the least interesting person you have ever met. The most interesting thing about me is probably the fact that I write this blog. And that’s a secret from everyone I know in “real life”. So I can’t even tell them that!

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all…

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