Let’s get this straight right off the bat: the word “niggardly” means stingy. Anyone bothering to open a dictionary would know that it has no relation to a racial or ethnic slur, as its etymology dates back to Middle English. None of these facts helped a fourth-grade teacher in North Carolina who received a formal reprimand for using the word. Apparently “parent Akwana Walker, who is black, protested the use of the word, saying it offended her because it sounds similar to a racial slur.” I can’t tell you how much this irks me. It is patently obvious to the least intelligent person that this teacher was not using the word as a racial slur but was only trying to expand her students’ vocabulary. The article recalls a similar incident in Washington, D.C., when an aide to the mayor was fired (and later rehired) for using the term. Read the friggin’ dictionary and give me a break.

Roald DahlRoald Dahl is one of my favorite authors, not only for the many childrens’ books he wrote but also for his short stories that never failed to enrapture me. This MetaFilter discussion has several links of interest and a discussion about this great (and unfortunately, late) author. His official site in particular is a lot of fun.

No reasonable person can argue that Saddam Hussein does not pose a threat to the U.S. and its allies. However, it seems that Vice President Cheney is a unique position of hypocrisy when it comes to Iraq. As head of Halliburton, he not only helped Iraq to rebuild its oil fields after the Persian Gulf War, but also “dealt with several brutal dictatorships, including the despicable government of Burma (Myanmar)…[and] played questionable roles in Algeria, Angola, Bosnia, Croatia, Haiti, Somalia and Indonesia.” Halliburton was also “fined $3.8 million for re-exporting goods to Libya in violation of U.S. sanctions.” To be fair, as the article points out, the only reason that Democrats didn’t jump all over this is because several prominent Democrats were involved in similar deals. The fact that corporate politics has prevented these dealings from coming to light really angers me. To me, the most egregious thing is the present administration’s blatantly two-faced attempt to restore ethics to the corporate world, when in fact both W and Cheney epitomized corporate greed and lack of ethics when they were in the private sector.

Rarely does a government program come along that is truly innovative and highly successful. That is how I would describe the Amber Alert System for the safe recovery of abducted children. Even though the rate of child abductions is on the decline nationwide, this program (now in 26 states) has been credited with the safe return of 27 children. Quick to bet on a sure thing, congress is stepping in to help the effort.

Ultimate Flash Face lets you make your own interactive mug shot/police sketch of a face. You’d be surprised with how much you can play around with it…

ESPN has a great feature on the 20 best sports movies of all time. It’s a pretty good list, with a lot of fun ‘80s flicks making the cut, by the way. There are a lot of different critics’ opinions as well, along with the 10 best actresses, 10 best actors, and 10 best moments in a sports film. And to finish it off, there is a list of top 10 worst sports movies.

Karate Kid

However, I have to agree with Bill Simmons that the exclusion of the Karate Kid trilogy is quite a travesty. He makes a very thorough argument that I can’t do justice, so put on “You’re The Best” and read his commentary.

“Bye Bye Bye!” (sorry, couldn’t resist) It’s apparently official: Lance Bass is not becoming the world’s third “space tourist” because he couldn’t come up with the money for the flight. I’ve thought all along that these “space tourists” were totally inappropriate considering how long fully-qualified astronauts train to get into space to actually make a contribution. Obviously, these “space tourists” are the equivalent of excess baggage; the Russians have already said that a cargo container with extra equipment is being taken in Lance’s place. Yes, I know that they are providing much-needed money to the space program, but I don’t think that justifies them jeopardizing the mission by floating around in the way the entire time when someone else could actually be doing some good up there.

And of course, my big sticking point is this: it’s a freakin’ Boy Band member we’re talking about here! What was that about?! Why not just send up ALF so that we all are convinced to switch to 1-800-COLLECT or whatever he’s pawning these days. Which bothers me to no end, obviously. The song “Ramble On” has quite ironically popped up into my head…