Thou Shalt Laugh: Remembering George Carlin

I’ve always admired satirist Paul Krassner’s credo: “Irreverence is my only sacred cow.” As many top comedians have demonstrated, with the right attitude and approach, almost anything can be a source for humor. No one proved that with more finesse then the late George Carlin, who passed away yesterday at 71.

As a kid, long before I dreamed that I would major in the study of humor in college, I loved Carlin’s remarkable combination of ballsy irreverence and intellectual rigor. I sometimes wondered what would have happened if Carlin can become a professor rather than a comedian. Not doubt, he would have waited until after he had tenure to publish his treatise on the “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television.”

In tribute to this great funny man (and apparently really nice guy, from what I’ve read in his obits), here is one of my favorite routines, in which Carlin takes on “The Ten Commandments.”

paper airplane and crumbs

The Changing Role of Dads

In honor of Father’s Day, I devoted my monthly parenting column for Sesame Workshop’s Web site to the topic of how fatherhood has changed in recent decades. As always, I kept things light and anecdotal, telling tales about being a dad to my kids Finian (age 7) and Olivia (age 3). If you’d like to read my latest two Sesame columns (in pdf form), click the links below. In the second one, I share my thoughts on how little actions as parents sometimes have long-lasting consequences.

The Changing Role of Dads (PDF)

Small Choices, Large Consequences (PDF)

paper airplane and crumbs

Science Fun in First Grade

For the past year, I’ve had a blast volunteering in my son Finian’s First Grade class. Knowing my interest in science and background in education, his teacher gave me free-reign to bring in various hands-on experiments every few weeks. My criteria for selecting experiments for the class was simple: If it made me giddy, it was in. If it felt “too educational,” I nixed it. Since this was a volunteer situation, I wasn’t too worried about what supported the curriculum–but rather focused on phenomena that inspired wonder, and encouraged children to ask questions and make predictions.

If you’re a parent looking for some fun activities to do this summer with your kids, (or if you’re a big kid at heart to loves to explore and get a little messy), here are some of the experiments that the First Graders loved the most. A big thanks goes out to the good folks at Steve Spangler Science, a terrific company with many wonderful resources for young scientists. (Spangler’s claim to fame is that he popularized the Mentos-Diet Coke experiment a few years ago.) His web site also has lots of free video clips and lesson plans.

Give these experiments a whirl, and let me know what happens:

Making Square Bubbles
Link 1, Link 2

Stacks of Color (a cool lesson in density)

Balloon Blow-Up
Link 1, Link 2

Fun with Flexagons
Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

paper airplane and crumbs