Archive for April, 2006

Dick DeVos Did It All — It Says So on TV!

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, April 17, 2006

This week’s comic has to do with the upcoming governor’s race in Michigan. The Republican nominee, Grand Rapids’ own Dick DeVos, has been running TV ads like crazy to try to get some name recognition in the rest of the state. But the problem with TV ads, especially early in a campaign, is that you can’t actually say anything exact or true or exactly true. There’s too much of a chance that it will be used against you later. So we’re conditioned to expect a frothy “there should be more jobs” and “those jobs should pay money” and “I smile a lot, except when I’m serious” and “I’m serious, we need more jobs that pay money” and “But look at me smile. God love me.”And that’s pretty much what we’re getting from Mr. DeVos. But then he slipped one in called “Grand Turnaround.” You can see it online. Go to:
and click “Grand Turnaround”.

This was much more of a late-in-the-campaign ad where you take a kernel of truth and then make wildly exaggerated claims and imply strongly that the sun shines out your butthole.

What I did was take the ad and rework it to stay within the bounds of that kernel of truth. The funny thing is that I think my version works much better. So if anybody from the DeVos campaign wants to throw a little money my way, I’d love to do some script writing. And I would promise not to use the word “butthole.”


Where the Education System Fails

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, April 10, 2006

Right. So if a child (yours or otherwise) ever comes to you to ask for help with math homework, what’s your first question? “Can’t your Mother/Father help you instead?” No. C’mon now. You can do this. “Why the hell do you need to know that stuff?” Definitely not! It’s what you’re thinking; it’s what they’re thinking. But saying it out loud is not helpful. “Can you wait until my show is over?” Okay, I see that I’m going to have to tell you.

The correct answer is “How did they teach you to solve the problem?”. I’m fairly good at math and, consequently, I’m usually the parent that helps with math homework. Early on, I was Mr. Smartypants and would grab a fresh sheet of paper and show my kids examples of how I would solve the problem. And I would get the right answer. But when I’d turned to give my kids my best “aren’t you lucky to have me?” smile, they’d just groan. “That’s not how taught us how to do that.” Little ingrates. Stupid teachers. Damnable uh,… other people who, um…. Soon I learned to take a minute to look at their text book first. Math isn’t always about getting the right answer; it’s often about showing you understand how to get the right answer.

See? Like most things, life — *real* life — is more complicated than you hope (and, therefore, think). Take, for example, writing comprehensive laws for primary education. Michigan just passed a law that significantly increases standard requirements for earning a high school diploma. This is generally a good thing and certainly well-intentioned. But it will take much, much more than simply passing the law to make it successful. I’ll be interested to see the state government’s reaction when they find out they aren’t Mr. Smartypants.


Republican Family Values

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, April 3, 2006


America’s Economic Problems in a Nutshell

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, March 27, 2006


The Problem with Kids Today…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, March 2006