Three Reasons Why New Year's Resolutions Don't Work

From Eileen Bailey,
Your Guide to ADD / ADHD.

New Year's Resolutions, for many, these words bring up memories of previous failed attempts at setting and reaching goals. Setting resolutions to start the year off can be a wonderful thing. It shows your desire to improve yourself, your life and the lives of those closest to you. But reaching goals requires planning and follow through, two areas where adults with ADHD often struggle. Understanding the reasons why most New Year's Resolutions fail can help you work through your goals and increase your chances for success.

Reason 1

Goals are over-ambitious.

What type of goals do you normally set? Do you want to lose 50 pounds this year, organize your whole home, or learn a new sport? Maybe your expectations are not realistic.

Try to break down your goals into manageable chunks. For example, maybe instead of organizing your entire home, you want to set a more achievable goal of organizing one room in your home. You can set one goal per month, rather than setting a large goal for the entire year.

Or possibly you can reword your goals, instead of attempting to "lose 50 pounds" this year, reword your goals to "I will start eating healthy during the upcoming year." This way you can start to incorporate changes in your diet, such as switching to low-fat milk or eating more salads with your meals. Changing your habits in this way will allow more lasting change in your life.

Remember, the smaller the chunk, the easier the goal is to attain. Each time you achieve a goal you will be able to set one more small goal, creating a year long quest for improvement, one step at a time.

Reason 2

You are setting goals based on what you think you should want, not what you really want.

Recently, I visited a friend that had a calendar with a column for each of her children. On many days, she had written what each member of the family needed to do. This prevented rushing out the door because she remembered dance class at the last minute, and there was no staying up late to finish a school project because even that was broken down into steps on her calendar. I ended up thinking I should do the same thing in my house.

Although I attempted to follow in my friend's footsteps, I did not accomplish it. Why? When I first visited my friend, I was not thinking about how disorganized my life was. Although I can't say we all remember everything that needs to be done, we seem to manage okay. My goal was to be "as organized as my friend", even though my own system seemed to work alright for my family.

Setting goals because they work for someone else does not make them appropriate for you. Whenever you try to measure up to someone else's way of life, you are creating goals that are not reasonable. Instead, take a look at your own life and decide what area you would like to work on, just for you. Choose this area as a place to start your self-improvement.

Reason 3

Goals are not specific and do not have a plan of action.

Goals, without a specific plan on achieving the goal, are simply wishes. "I wish I was more organized" will not prompt you into action. "I plan on becoming more organized this year. First, I will create a calendar to easily show all the important dates. Once I complete that, I will organize my desk at home, throwing away any papers I no longer need."

The second goal not only prompts someone into action, it provides for a specific sequence of events to occur in order for the goal to be reached. Setting up a specific goal and listing all the steps that are required to reach that goal will help you take one step at a time toward your new self. You need only to concentrate and work on the first step until that is completed, then you can move to the second step.

By writing your goal and the process on paper, you change from wish to goal.

9 Reasons To Become an Evil Super Villain

Ten Reasons Not to Hit Your Kids

9 Reasons To Become an Evil Super Villain


1. You will have more friends

Peter Parker was a social outcast. Norman Osborne was the popular kid. Reed Richards was a dorky scientist. Victor Von doom was a rich socialite. Anyone else sensing a pattern here? Everyone wants to get a little piece of the evil. It is like Starburst.

2. You get to laugh maniacally

Good guys don’t get to do this. No one has ever heard Superman or Batman laughing like a maniac and no one ever will. Trust me, this is something everyone wants to do. It is strangely liberating. While you may pass chances to do this every once in a while during your civilian life, you will never get the quantity of opportunities that come with a career in villainy.

3. All of a sudden, you will have the budget for all kinds of toys

Super bad guys are never broke. Not only are they never broke but they always have more resources than the hero could ever hope for. Apparently the villain racket pays very well. It also seems to be recession-proof. I hear the tax breaks are good too.

4. Hot chicks dig evil guys

You never see an evil villain with a busted ass woman. Sure, they may be dirty, rotten, and out to steal your empire, but you can always kill them if they get out of hand. Studies show that breasts of women who hang out with evil guys are an average of two cups bigger than the nice dudes chicks. Studies don’t ever lie.

5. You will be safe from everyday accidents

Evil villains are never killed in car accidents. It just doesn’t happen. You won’t slip in the shower, get smashed by a falling piano, or die of food poisoning. The only way you can be killed is in an explosion created by the hero by exposing the one flaw in your plan that no one could ever possibly foresee. Even then…

6. You don’t have to worry about anyone killing you

Evil Villains simply can not be killed. People may think you are dead but you will secretly be lounging in an easy chair on your secret desert island hideout planning your next caper. The only way you can be taken out is by another villain eviler than yourself who will subsequently take over your identity and continue upon your path of world domination.

7. You can kill anyone you want

You won’t go to jail. For some strange reason, cops never come to bust Evil villains at their homes even when the evidence is overwhelming. You could kill Superman on a live video feed in front of the entire planet and not one cop would try to arrest you. They can’t even arrest you for the stash of plutonium you have in your shed. It is in the charter when you join the union.

8. You get to dress how you want

You never have to wear a suit and tie again. You can even dress in the most outrageous outfits while demanding the world bow to your demands and no one will even make the slightest of snide comment. This could have something to do with the fact that you can kill anyone you want and can’t be killed back. Remember, no one ever made fun of Magnetos helmet…

9. No matter how weak you are, you will be more than a match for any hero facing you

“But zero, Batman would kick my ass in two shakes of a stripper’s ass…” None of that matters. The sheer newness of your evil plot will confuse the hell out of any good guy. As long as you aren’t doing something that has been done to death (ie goblin themed villains) you should have no problem getting your plans off the ground.

3 reasons most budgets don’t work and how to fix t...

Five reasons NOT to use Linux

Five reasons NOT to use Linux

Five reasons NOT to use Linux

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

I love Linux. I use it on my servers, I use it on my desktops, and I use it on my entertainment center, where it powers my HDTV TiVo and my D-Link DSM-320 media player, which turns my network into a media library with terabytes of storage. Heck, I even run Linux on my Linksys WRT54G Wi-Fi access points, which hook the whole shebang together.

But, Linux isn't for everyone. Seriously. Here are my top five reasons why you shouldn't move to Linux . . .

Reason number one: Linux is too complicated

Even with the KDE and GNOME graphical windowing interfaces, it's possible -- not likely, but possible -- that you'll need to use a command line now and again, or edit a configuration file.

Compare that with Windows where, it's possible -- not likely, but possible -- that you'll need to use a command line now and again, or edit the Windows registry, where, as they like to tell you, one wrong move could destroy your system forever.

Reason number two: Linux is a pain to set up

It's true. After all, with modern Linuxes like Xandros Desktop or SimplyMEPIS, you need to put in a CD or DVD, press the enter button, give your computer a name, and enter a password for the administrator account.

Gosh, that's hard.

On the other hand, with Windows, all you have to do is put in a CD or DVD, do all the above, and then immediately download all the available patches. After all, Symantec has found that an unpatched Windows PC connected to the Internet will last only a few hours before being compromised.

Unpatched Linux systems? Oh, they last months, but what's the fun of that?

Reason number three: Linux doesn't have enough applications

Really now. I mean, most Linux systems only come with secure Web browsers, like Firefox; e-mail clients, like Evolution; IM clients, like GAIM; office suites, like 2.0; Web page editors, like Nvu; and on, and on, and...

Microsoft, on the other hand, gives you Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, the most popular Web browser and e-mail client around -- even though they do have a few little, teeny-weeny problems. Of course, Windows also has an IM-client, Windows Messenger, which, come to think of it, has also had some problems.

And, Microsoft also has Microsoft Office, which -- oh wait, you don't get that with the operating system, do you? You also don't get a Web page editor either, do you?

Well, still, with Windows you get so many more choices of software, don't you? Like Lotus 1-2... oh really? I didn't know that. Or, WordPerfect... oh, pretty much dead too.

Still, so long as you want to run Microsoft programs at Microsoft prices, Windows is the operating system for you!

Reason number 4: Linux isn't secureIf

Microsoft says so, it has to be true! So what, if you can scarcely go a week without reading about yet another major Windows security problem in our sister publication,'s security section! Who would you rather believe -- Microsoft, or your own eyes?

Reason number 5: Linux is more expensive

Are you calling Microsoft a liar? Those nasty Linux companies, like Red Hat or Novell/SUSE charge you a fee for support. Others, like Linspire sell you the product. How dare they, when you can download free, fully-functional versions of almost all the Linux distributions.

Your computer, on the other hand, almost certainly came with Windows pre-installed! For free!

Oh wait, it's not free? Windows' actually makes up a large percentage of your PC's price?

Hmmm. Well, still, it's already on there, and it has everything you need.

Right? Of course, right!

Except, of course, you might still want to buy an anti-viral program (Norton Anti-Virus: $40), anti-spyware software (McAfee Anti-Spyware: $25); and a full-featured firewall (Zone Alarm Pro: $35). But, hey, who needs those when you have a secure operating system like Windows!

And so...

When you really think about it, you can see why there are lots of reasons not to use Linux.

There just aren't any good ones.
50 Reasons why LORD OF THE RINGS Sucks

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3 reasons most budgets don’t work and how to fix them

3 reasons most budgets don’t work and how to fix them (a.k.a. How to create a budget that works)

Let’s face it, budgeting can be a pain. Most people get too discouraged trying to get a budget to work. They spend hours trying to figure out how much to budget in each category and may even track every penny spent during the month only to find out that reality didn’t match what was budgeted. In these instances budgeting just seems like a futile theoretical exercise. There’s no follow up or reconciliation to tie one month’s budget to the next. Add to this the emotional issues that budgeting can trigger and your chances of maintaining a budget dive bomb. Many people who get to this point just give up and quit.

Why most budgets don’t work

There are three major problems with a common budget:

They don’t reflect reality.
They don’t connect from one month to the next.
They don’t track the surplus money left over after all the categories are filled.

1. Most budgets don’t reflect reality

Budgeting is an exercise in being wrong. Every time you sit down and write out all your categories and how much you think you’re going to spend, you’ll be wrong. Being wrong month after month quickly can get discouraging and many people give up. What’s the point in trying to predict how much you’ll spend each month if you know you’ll be wrong.

So you overspent. Ok, at least you know you overspent and that could be helpful in planning next month but where did that overspent money come from? How are you going to reconcile the difference?

Unfortunately there’s no way around being wrong. There’s really no solution besides developing obsessive tendancies and even then…good luck. You must first accept that you’ll be wrong…every month. My wife and I have never been right even though we’ve had an established budget for years. Accept it.

Now I’m NOT saying you won’t start getting really close. In fact, in many categories you will be right. But so far I’ve never been 100% right. Don’t get discouraged if you’re just starting out because for the first few months you’ll be REALLY wrong. It took us about 3-4 months until we started getting into our budget groove.

One way to get your budget closer to reality is to allocate every dollar of your income. If you have money left over after addressing your needs, allocate it. I don’t care where; put it in a “fun” category or direct it towards meeting a financial goal. Don’t just say “oh, I have leftover money. I must be doing really good at budgeting.” If you don’t allocate everything you will end up wasting that which is left over and your budget will be broken from month to month.

Another way to close the reality gap is to be realistic about what your needs are. Things like shelter, clothing, and food are not optional. Many people have unrealistic expectations about what they will spend on these categories. I’m certainly an advocate of being thrifty and looking for good deals but you can only take it so far. If you refuse to face how much you really need to spend in these categories to survive without eating ramen every night, your budget will not be an effective tool.

Yet another way of helping your budget reflect reality is to make sure you have a way of dealing with the difference between your budget and actual spending. And that leads us into our second problem.

2. Most budgets don’t connect one month to the next

Quicken is a great example of why this problem exists. Quicken’s budgeting feature seems great. It allows you to easily enter budget amounts and will even pre-populate projected amounts for you. At the end of the month you can run a nice neat report telling you how much you over or under-spent. There’s just one problem. There are no tools for helping you deal with the difference (if there are, please let me know about them). You just enter in the next month’s budget amounts using the exact same process and projections as the month before. This makes for a nice, neat, pretty budget sheet but not a very useful one.

Many people think a budget is a static document. You fill out one template reflecting all your categories and how much you should spend each month and use the exact same sheet from month to month. That’s not a budget. It’s a dead document. A real budget is a living document or series of documents. It changes from month to month and should be a reflection of reality, not a theoretical exercise.

The fact is, your expenses change from month to month. Car registrations sneak up on you. Unexpected birthdays pop up. Unexpected expenses happen. And you can’t always just take your yearly expenses and divide by 12. If your car registration is coming up in 3 months and you haven’t saved anything for it, dividing by 12 will only leave you with a quarter of what you need to pay it. The unique expenses for every month need to be dealt with individually, not just from a nice clean Quicken projection.

For a budget to work, you must link one month’s budget to the next.

Is there too much money left over? Great. Where does it go? Should we pay off debt, save for retirement, save for a vacation, or just blow it and buy that new toy? I’m not against throwing caution to the wind as long as it’s done conciously and not by default.

Is there too little money to cover all our spending? Where did it come from? Will we be spending less on groceries, lowering our savings contribution, or going into more debt?

3. Most budgets don’t track the surplus money left over after all the categories are filled

For a budget to work, you must allocate ALL of your income to categories. As Dave Ramsey puts it, you must “spend your whole month on paper” before you spend it in real life. Other analogies that come to mind are Stephen Covey’s concept of the spiritual creation before the physical creation and David Allen’s idea of writing down EVERYTHING that is on your mind so you can get it out of your head and on paper.

Stephen Covey Comparison

Let’s look at the Covey analogy. Covey says that you should “begin with the end in mind.” One way of doing so is to create what you’re trying to achieve spiritually first, and then physically. A builder doesn’t build without a blue print. You should have a good idea of where you want to go either on paper or in your mind before you set out. Doing so makes your efforts more effective.

When it comes to finances, by writing ALL YOUR PLANNED SPENDING down on paper first (spiritual creation), your chances of actually following your plan significantly increase (physical creation). You’ll also be much more likely to achieve your larger financial goals (physical creation).

David Allen GTD Comparison

Now let’s consider David Allen’s idea of capturing everything on paper. He teaches that you should get anything and everything down on paper that occupies your mind. Doing so frees up “mental RAM” and allows you to spend your time more effectively rather than eating up endless mental cycles on the same issues, questions, and to-dos.

Similarly, by writing down how you are going to spend every dollar, you free yourself from mental worry and guilt and allow yourself to think about much more enjoyable things. Combine this with using cash for those categories that tend to be out of control and you can literally eliminate financial worry and anxiety. Every dollar you spend will be focused and controlled with very little effort.

No matter how you want to look at it, you need to allocate EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR ON PAPER for a budget to be of maximum effect. Why? Doing so forces you to really think about where you want your money to go and insures you use each dollar to it’s fullest. You’ll probably notice that when you don’t allocate every dollar, your left over dollars usually end up spending themselves. You end up with nothing to show for it, not even the concious realization that you had fun wasting that money.

Spend frivolously and feel good about it

By saying that you need to allocate every single dollar, I’m not saying you can’t have fun with your money or spend frivolously. Go ahead and conciously decide to have fun or even waste the leftover money. Allocate it as “fun” money to be spent however you want, whenever you want. By doing so you may enjoy spending that money even more. You’ll be able to do so with confidence and no guilt that you should be spending it elsewhere.

Decide before you’re in the heat of the moment

Like using cash, allocating all your funds allows you to make more concious decisions about where your money should go. Instead of waiting until you’re standing at the register, you can decide where your money will go while your looking at the big picture. Your decisions will be more rational and less emotional. You will also be able to direct your money towards meeting your larger, longer term goals. Instead of pittling money away, save for that new car or piece of furniture. Or for real financial peace, pay off debt.

Harness the power of focus

Allocating every dollar allows you to harness the power of focus. Take your plumbing, for example. Water by itself isn’t very useful in a puddle or lake. But give water the contraints and focus of a pipe and all of a sudden it can be used for your toilet or sink. Focus water through a hose and you can water your lawn or put out a fire. The constraint actually makes the water more powerful and useful. Similarly constraining your money by allocating every dollar makes your money more useful and powerful. Your ability to save and reach your goals will be increased.

See if you can identify with this personal example. Before we got our financial acts together, every time we recieved a bonus, raise, gift, or other unexpected income the money would just seem to slip through the cracks. Most people tend to expand their lifestyle to meet their income. In contrast, imagine if you were able to focus and direct every extra dollar. Every time you got a bonus, heck, every time you saved $5 on your phone bill, you would be able to easily redirect that money to another purpose. Your power and ability to aggressively meet your financial goals would increase dramatically. Without an effective budget, what is the point of trying to save a few dollars when they disappear anyway. But with an effective budget every dollar counts and is directed exactly where you want it.

Another benefit of allocating every dollar is that your budget will reflect reality more closely. If you have money left over after allocating your needs, that extra money almost always WILL be spent one way or another. If your budget doesn’t reflect that, it doesn’t reflect reality enough to be effective. To eliminate financial stress and a sense of being out of control once and for all you MUST KNOW where your money is being spent. You must TELL IT WHERE TO GO rather than letting it decide.

Using a Zero-Based Budget

A critical tool to help solve these basic budget blunders is the zero-based budget. Now if you’re expecting something flashy, you’ll be disappointed. A zero-based budget simply means that you allocate every dollar of your income so that your income minus your expenses equals “zero.” It’s as simple as that. No special forms or fancy software are necessary. Using a zero-based budget forces you to allocate every dollar and will help your budget more closely reflect reality.

Always track and DEAL WITH the difference between “budgeted” and “actual”
Make sure you follow up at the end of every month and write down what the difference is in each category between what you budgeted and what you actually spent. You then need to deal with that difference. Don’t just look at it and say “oh, there’s a difference. Good to know.” You must either reallocate the money on paper or carry the difference over to your next month’s budget.

For example, if you spent $5 more on your phone bill than you thought (a common occurance since the phone bill tends to be quite variable), you must spend $5 less in another category. One option is to see if you spent $5 less than you thought in another category that month. If so, simply adjust your allocations on paper. If there is no unspent money in your categories then you need to carry that $5 over to the next month and allocate $5 less in a category for your next month’s budget.

Implement a “grease” category
To deal with small instances of overspending, I always budget a “grease” (a.k.a. “blow,” “cushion,” “RealityBites”) category of about $100 that gives me a cushion in dealing with such instances. Since you know you’re going to be wrong (see above) you might as well plan for it. This account acts like the “grease” that keeps the financial gears turning. It picks up my slack. And if I have extra “grease” money left over at the end of the month, it directly gets realocated for something else the next month (often something fun as a little reward).

Putting it all together
I realize that I’ve skipped over many specifics. Implementing some of these concepts may seem a bit confusing at first. If so, no worries. I’ll be addressing specifics in future posts. For now, let me summarize the steps you can take today:

1. Implement a zero-based budget. Stay tuned for examples and templates.
2. Allocate every dollar of income to a category. When you subtract your budgeted expenses from your income, it should equal $0.
3. Be sure to budget a “grease” category to deal with minor inaccuracies.
4. Be realistic about how much you are going to spend on necessities. Most people under-allocate in the categories of food, clothing, and transportation.
5. Know that your spending won’t exactly match what you budgeted. If you are just starting, you may be WAY off. That’s ok. Do a little, learn a lot. It WILL get better. If you’re married, be easy on your spouse.
6. Calculate the difference between “budgeted” and “actual” spending and either adjust the current month’s allocations or deal with the difference in next month’s budget. I realize there are some BIG procedural holes and questions here that I’m skimming over for now. Stay tuned.

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2 Reasons Not To Rank Schools

2 Reasons Not To Rank Schools

From Robert Kennedy

It's Not About Ranks! It's About Fit!

Ranking Private Schools Is Impossible

One of the questions I am asked most frequently goes something like this: "I'm moving to (name your city) next summer. Can you recommend the top schools in that area?" My standard reply suggests that the writer engage an educational consultant to assess the writer's specific requirements and make appropriate recommendations. I also send along a link to that state or city, as the case may be, so that the writer can get some idea of the diversity of private schools in that area.
I don't think that I am copping out by not ranking private schools. Instead I firmly believe that you can't rank them. Here's why.

Reason #1: Rankings Are Much Less Important Than The Fit

Why are there no rankings on this site? Frankly, because it is an impossible task. Believe me, I have given it much thought, but always come back to my own personal experience twenty years ago when we were looking for schools for our two daughters. It came down to one thing: the right fit. Rankings are but one clue to whether a school is right for your child. Let me explain.

My Experience With Choosing A School

Our eldest daughter was very competitive. She was also very strong, even gifted, academically. The other daughter shrank from competition. She also was gifted academically but found some subjects more difficult than others. Both read voraciously. We managed to get eldest daughter into a competitive school which met her needs. But it was a process somewhat akin to Russian roulette. We were lucky in that the school turned out to be a good fit. Having learned our lesson with daughter number one, we engaged the late Hugh Silk to recommend schools for daughter number two. He came up with several choices, any one of which was a pretty good fit. And Hugh did it efficiently and with a minimum amount of worry and stress for us.

Get Professional Advice

That's why I shall continue to recommend hiring an educational consultant. If you have a legal problem, you hire an attorney. If you have a health issue, you go to a doctor. If you need advice on schools, go to an educational consultant. These professionals know their stuff. They interview you and your child and make appropriate recommendations based on that knowledge and their own wide knowledge of the schools which might be a good fit.

Reason #2: Each Private School Is Unique

Back to ranking. To mean anything, ranking has to compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges. The whole point of private education is that each school has its own distinctive personality. It also has its own take on the educational process. The nearest I have been able to come to ranking schools is to categorize them according to their particular specialty - girls' schools, boys' schools, arts schools, sports schools, Jewish schools, Catholic schools, and so on. But those are not rankings, they are merely groupings. When I start delving into the category to try to compare schools within that category, it's an impossible task. They are all quite different. What folks really are asking is for somebody to compare intangibles. I maintain that it simply cannot be done.

It's easy enough to rank schools by tangible characteristics such as the size of their endowment, the size of their campus, the size of their student body and so on. I suppose you could even rank them according to where their graduates go upon graduation. But again, it's a terribly subjective sort of analysis.

I suppose the best analogy is buying a home. A 3500 square foot home will shelter you adequately no matter where it is located. But we all know that the watchword in real estate is always 'location, location, location'. With schools, the watchword has to be 'fit, fit, fit'.

It's All About 'Fit'
Once you concern yourself with 'fit', you understand why rankings are relatively unimportant in the school choice process.

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50 Reasons why LORD OF THE RINGS Sucks

50 Reasons why
as they say in America, "sucks"

  1. Fellowship of the Rings and Two Towers were shoved down our throats.

    I've heard some students are even forced to read some novelization of the movie in their literature classes. Ridiculous. Does Hollywood run our classrooms now?

  2. Greed.

    Hollywood can't make a movie these days without crapping out a sequel the next year to squeeze more money out of the sheep. Guess what; there's ANOTHER LOTR movie coming this Christmas. Gee, I wonder what will bring Rocky out of retirement this time?

  3. Quality Control at New Line.

    Millions of copies of the LOTR DVDs have thick black bars at the bottom and top of the screen throughout the film. Didn't anyone catch this? You know what happens at the end, in the extreme foreground and extreme upper sky? Neither do I. Bush league, guys.

  4. They switched Darrens on us!

    Look closely in Fellowship and you'll notice the human member of their party is played by two different actors at different points of the movie (it takes a sharp eye to notice, but one of them has red hair, one black).

  5. Quality Control at New Line, II.

    In the massive Mt. Doom battle scene at the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring, a DVD pause reveals at least half a dozen of the 50,000 Orc Warrior extras are wearing modern tennis shoes.

  6. Speaking of Orcs...

    The Orcs were obviously stolen from PC game maker Blizzard and its Warcraft series. Too bad Blizzard is apparently too scared to sue New Line over it.

  7. Racism.

    Percentage of protagonists in Fellowship who are white: 100. Meanwhile the black antagonists and their black crow spies and their black glass seeing ball inhabit their black towers and perform black magic. Gosh, I wonder if there's some symbolism there?

  8. Gold: The Stretchy Element.

    The ring, which is seen to be at least two inches in diameter at the beginning to fit the polish sausage-sized finger of Sauron, suddenly fits Frodo's child-sized finger later. I guess this movie takes place in a world where rings magically change sizes on their own.

  9. Violence.

    Give me one reason that story couldn't have been told without all the fighting.

  10. Horse sense.

    Why didn't they take horses on their quest? Or even better, why didn't Gandalf's giant flying bird friend haul them into Mordor? Watch out, Frodo! All of your methods of transportation have been swallowed by the Dark Lord of the Plot Hole!

  11. Retracted.*

    See below.

  12. Return of the Living Dead.

    In FOTR, if you watch closely during the Inn scene, Frodo and his crew are shown getting stabbed by the Ring Wraiths. Then, five seconds later, they are fine again. Note to the director: try proofreading your movie before you release it to the public.

  13. Did someone say plot hole?

    Liv Tyler's character is seen easily defeating nine strong supernatural beings, even though she is clearly a woman.

  14. The Battle Droid Syndrome.

    The mutated muscular soldiers of Mordor turned out to be hilariously ineffective fighters, a dozen of them held off by a single dying human. Apparently they made the beasts by crossing Orcs, Goblins and the French.

  15. Sloppy CGI.

    Gandalf's smoke boat at Bilbo's party is pretty impressive, but smoke cannot be made to travel horizontally, thus revealing it to be nothing but a cheap special effect.

  16. The Asbestos Wizard.

    We all saw Gandalf fall into the molten core of Middle Earth after his battle with the firebeast thing in part 1. Well, I guess the Gandalf action figure must have sold well, because in the slap-together sequel Two Towers, Gandalf is back. Perhaps it was voodoo, a la the corpse in Weekend at Bernie's II (look closely and you'll notice LOTR steals several elements from the WAB films).

  17. Invisible Implausibility.

    Every time Frodo or Bilbo went invisible with the ring they should have also gone BLIND. Your eyes cannot function unless light is reflected off the cornea. If light passes through it (as must be the case with invisibility) sight is no longer possible. Also, rings do not turn you invisible.

  18. The Asbestos Wizard, II.

    The giant fire beast thing at the end of part 1 was breathing a firey breath hot enough to send heat-distortion waves through the air. The sheer temperature of the air should have burned off Gandalf's beard and eyebrows. None of my reading on evolutionary biology reveals a single reason why a particular race of humans would develop unflammable facial hair as this would provide practically no advantage in either survival or mating.

  19. I'll have to rent that one.

    The rushed-through story the screenwriter threw in as the first ten minutes of Fellowship of the Ring looked a lot more interesting than the movie we were forced to watch. Why didn't somebody make a movie off that instead?

  20. Magic Mechanics.

    Experts on the occult say in order for a wizard to floorspin a fully-grown man like Gandalf, he'd need three magical staffs, not two.

  21. Finders, keepers.

    So Bilbo, who we are supposed to identify with as a protagonist, finds a piece of someone else's jewelry and just keeps it for himself? That's funny, because I would expect a good man to submit it to the local Lost and Found so it could be claimed by its owner. It makes me wonder if he bought that hillside house or if he was just squatting.

  22. Go-Go Gadget Arrow Sprouter.

    Legolas shoots arrow after arrow at his enemies, and yet the number of arrows in his quiver never decreases. I guess elves have glands on their back that secrete arrows.

  23. Watch out! He's going to explode!

    The heroes are shown eating again and again, and yet no one ever goes to the bathroom throughout their entire quest.

  24. Meesa gonna make theesa movie suckah!

    The character of Gollum in The Two Towers was entirely computer animated (a cheap effort to cash in on Jar Jar Binks Mania) but was just a dim shadow of George Lucas' effort. Thank you, Peter Jackson. Thank you right to Hell.

  25. Propaganda.

    The Elves, clearly the most advanced and wise species, are also clearly gay.

  26. Speaking of Elves...

    Elves are beautiful and wise and tall? Great warriors? Makers of fine lightweight weapons? Our modern knowledge of elves has observed only an ability to make cookies and toys. All the elves in the film are portrayed as living in a warm paradise (Rivendell) but our own information tells us the aforementioned group of toymaking elves work and thrive in the arctic. Hey, Mr. Jackson: Research is half of writing.

  27. Homage or theft?

    The "happy village of little people" idea was stolen from Willow.

  28. Homage or theft II?

    The wise old wizard character was stolen from Harry Potter.

  29. Homage or theft III?

    The "travelling on our quest through a corn field" scene was stolen from Shrek.

  30. Homage or theft IV?

    The character of the rebellious-but-helpful Ranger was stolen from Val Kilmer in Willow.

  31. Homage or theft V?

    The concept of the violent dwarf was based on Al Pacino.

  32. Homage or theft VI?

    The "old man looking through the door hatch at the approaching little people" scene was stolen from A Clockwork Orange.

  33. Homage or theft VII?

    The cantina scene with a noisy bar filled with a mix of otherworldly species was stolen from Cecile B. DeMille's One Night in an Alien Bar.

  34. Homage or theft VIII?

    The incident with the flock of evil magical spying crows serving the All-Seeing Eye was based on an actual incident.

  35. Homage or theft IX?

    The character of the Giant Evil Flaming All-Seeing Eye was based on former President Jimmy Carter.

  36. Homage or theft X?

    The character of Elrond was based on Agent Smith from The Matrix.

  37. Weighty issues.

    AKA "Plot Hole No. 273." Even with all that walking and light eating, the character of Sam only got fatter.

  38. Realism, schmealism.

    Liv Tyler's immortal elf volunteers to give up her eternal life for a single romance with a human man. Could any man really be that well endowed? I find it unlikely.

  39. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

    The most advanced civilization is that of the elves, which are long-haired, new-age types? Sorry, Mr. Jackson, but modern science has proven that in any modern civilization, hippies would be extinct.

  40. Too many notes.

    No movie should be over two hours long. Did we need that whole thing in the mine in part 1? What about that almost-infinite battle scene in part 2? Didn't it seem like they were just adding pointless scenes in the middle to pad it? It's like they decided beforehand they wanted three hours for each film and used filler to flesh them out.

  41. Too many notes, II.

    I just want to re-emphasize the above point. There is no reason entertainment can't be concise.

  42. Too many notes, III.

    Too many characters to keep track of. The dwarf was clearly only there as a token dwarf character to sell tickets to lucrative movie-going dwarf demographic. Lose him.

  43. Rationalization for violence.

    Why, in part 1, is the black octopus creature painted as the bad guy when it attacks, when one of the fellowship had clearly been throwing rocks at it?

  44. The Shoeless Land.

    The Hobbits both 1) refuse to wear shoes and 2) run a livestock-based farming economy. Wouldn't they constantly be stepping in crap? Why doesn't the movie address this issue?

  45. Casting.

    Why couldn't Frodo have been played by Christopher Walken?

  46. Casting, II.

    Why couldn't Gandalf have been played by Bruce Campbell?

  47. Casting, III.

    Why couldn't Bilbo have been played by Vin Diesel?

  48. Casting, IV.

    Why couldn't Strider have been played by a monkey?

  49. The Score.

    The background music wasn't nearly funky enough for me.

  50. What's that smell?

    As bad as the Lucasfilm leaks were with his last film, the filmmakers of Return of the King already have the novelization out in paperback. I've seen it at Barnes & Noble already. As if we needed any less of a reason to go see it.

-Dr. Albert Oxford, PhD

London Film Institute


11. Damn you, gravity!

The giant firebeast thing is defeated by Gandalf when he destroys the bridge, sending the creature plunging to its death... despite the fact that it has wings.

This was retracted when a reader pointed out that the wings, like the rest of the beast, were made of shadow and fire and thus would be useless for flight. Thanks for the tip!

Top 10 Reasons to Work at Google

Ten Reasons Not to Hit Your Kids

Top 20 Reasons Why Chocolate Is Better Than Sex

1. You can GET chocolate.

2. “If you love me you’ll swallow that” has real meaning with chocolate.

3. Chocolate satisfies even when it has gone soft.

4. You can safely have chocolate while you are driving.

5. You can make chocolate last as long as you want it to.

6. You can have chocolate in front of your mother.

7. If you bite the nuts too hard the chocolate won’t mind.

8. Two people of the same sex can have chocolate without being called nasty names.

9. The word “commitment” doesn’t scare off chocolate.

10. You can have chocolate on top of your workbench/desk during working hours without upsetting your work mates.

11. You can ask a stranger for chocolate without getting your face slapped.

12. You don’t get hairs in your mouth with chocolate.

13. With chocolate there’s no need to fake it.

14. Chocolate doesn’t make you pregnant.

15. You can have chocolate at any time of the month.

16. Good chocolate is easy to find.

17. You can have as many kinds of chocolate as you can handle.

18. You are never to young or to old for chocolate.

19. When you have chocolate it does not keep your neighbors awake.

20. With chocolate size doesn’t matter; it’s always good.

Top 10 Scientific Reasons why Chocolate is the World’s Most Perfect Food

Top 10 Reasons To Date a ... anyone!

A Good Reason To Donate Blood.

A good reason to donate blood: One patient's story

A group of employees dedicated to helping MGH patients by regularly donating blood recently had the opportunity to hear firsthand how their donations can affect just one life. At the annual Employee Blood Donor Appreciation Luncheon held Oct. 5 in the Thier Conference Room, Pamela Ressler (below) recounted how her beloved 14-year-old son, Nick, was able to live a quality life for six months during his battle with cancer in 2001 because of the many blood products he received while being treated at the MGH.

The eighth grader from Concord, Mass., fought a rare form of cancer with the help of his MGH caregivers who gave him chemotherapy and radiation therapy. As a result of the treatments, Nick had many blood transfusions. His mother, who has been a nurse for more than 25 years, knew how important it was for Nick to get the blood that he needed during his illness, so she worked with the MGH Blood Donor Center and a family friend to recruit people from the Concord community to donate at blood drives especially for Nick. The MGH bloodmobile was deployed twice to Concord during those six months to retrieve much-needed blood from willing volunteers who wanted to help Nick and his family.

Pamela Ressler was accustomed to blood products being used by patients, but was curious to know how much Nick used during his illness. Staff from the MGH Blood Donor Center calculated that it took 300 blood donors to provide these crucial blood products for Nick's use.

A third blood drive was scheduled for April of 2001, but Nick's battle with the cancer that attacked his fragile body was lost April 9, two weeks before the blood drive. After careful consideration, the Ressler family decided to continue with the blood drive in honor of the "other Nicks who might need blood." The Concord community came out in full force to donate in Nick's memory — a tradition that continues today with his many friends, family members and neighbors who still host the Nick Ressler annual blood drive every April.

"I want to thank you all for regularly donating blood to the MGH," said Ressler. "You help patients like my Nick, who was president of his class, played lacrosse, got straight A's and was a musician. He was too young to die but was able to live a full life for those six months because of people like you."

Ressler's story touched all the blood donors at the luncheon who appreciated hearing how their time in a donation chair, squeezing a stress ball results in such a precious gift that can help even one person. Maria Hood, of MGH Employee Education and Leadership Development and a longtime donor, wondered if her past donations of B positive blood might have gone to Nick who also was B positive. "It feels good to know that my donations can directly help someone in need," she said. "I may not have all the time I would like to do volunteer work, but spending 30 minutes at the Blood Donor Center every eight weeks is my way to help someone else."

10 Reasons To Donate Blood

Top 10 Reasons People Don't Give Blood

10 Reasons Why You Should Smile More Often

10 Reasons Why You Should Smile More Often

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.
It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

There may be more to the song “Put on a Happy Face” than just a catchy tune - putting on a happy face is actually good for you, and those around you.

Research has shown health benefits of laughter ranging from strengthening the immune system to reducing food cravings to increasing one’s threshold for pain. There’s even an emerging therapeutic field known as humor therapy to help people heal more quickly, among other things. Humor also has several important stress relieving benefits.

Ever seen one of those poor souls who is perpetually miserable? Everything about them screams how lousy everything in their life is. We all know people like this. Gosh, if they ever smiled you’d expect their face to crack.

But it actually takes a lot less muscles to smile than to frown or scowl, so apart from creating misery for themselves they are also doing more work to achieve that result. So here are ten reasons why you should smile more often:

1. Manage Your Hormones:

Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, adrenaline, dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.

2. Nice Internal Workout:

A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.

3. Physical Release:

Have you ever felt like you “have to laugh or I’ll cry”? Have you experienced the cleansed feeling after a good laugh? Laughter provides a physical and emotional release.

4. Positive Frame Of Mind:

Laughter brings the focus away from anger, guilt, stress and negative emotions in a than other mere distractions. It will make you happy and put you in a positive frame of mind.

5. Change Your Perspective:

Sudies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a ‘threat’ or a ‘challenge’. Humor can give us a more lighthearted perspective and help us view events as ‘challenges’, thereby making them less threatening and more positive.

6. Social Benefits Of Laughter:

Laughter connects us with others. Also, laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more, and realize these benefits as well. By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels, and perhaps improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them, reducing your stress level even more!

What’s even better is that the more you smile, the more others will too. Says psychologist Dr. David Lewis, “Seeing a smile creates what is termed as a ‘halo’ effect, helping us to remember other happy events more vividly, feel more optimistic, more positive and more motivated.”

7. Fight Illness Better:

People who are optimistic (and these are the people who are out there smiling!) have stronger immune systems and are actually able to fight off illness better than pessimists.

“The research is very clear,” says Christopher Peterson, Ph.D, a University of Michigan professor who’s been studying optimism’s link to health for over two decades, “This is not some social science generalization. There is a link between optimistic attitudes and good health. It has been measured in a variety of ways. Overall, we have found that optimistic people are healthier. Their biological makeup is different. They have a more robust immune system.”

8. Live Longer:

According to a study published in the November 2004 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, elderly optimistic people, those who expected good things to happen (rather than bad things), were less likely to die than pessimists.

In fact, among the 65- to 85-year-old study participants, those who were most optimistic were 55 percent less likely to die from all causes than the most pessimistic people. What’s more, after researchers adjusted the results for age, smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity and other measures of health, the optimists were 71 percent less likely to die than the pessimists!

9. It Feels Like Eating 2,000 Chocolate Bars

That’s right - according to The British Dental Health Foundation, a smile gives the same level of stimulation as eating 2,000 chocolate bars. The results were found after researchers measured brain and heart activity in volunteers as they were shown pictures of smiling people and given money and chocolate.

Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, pointed out, “We have long been drawing attention to the fact that smiling increases happiness both in yourself and those around you, so it is good to receive the backing of this scientific research … A healthy smile can improve your confidence, help you make friends and help you to succeed in your career … “

10. It Costs Absolutely Nothing

The ancient Chinese were a wise lot - wise in the ways of the world; and they had a proverb that you and I ought to cut out and paste inside our hats. It goes like this:

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”

Your smile is a messenger of your good will. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl or turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds. Especially when that someone is under pressure from his bosses, his customers, his teachers or parents or children, a smile can help him realize that all is not hopeless - that there is joy in the world.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead … Smile! …and again!

8 Reasons Eminem's Popularity is a Disaster for Women

8 Reasons Eminem's Popularity is a Disaster for Women

By Jackson Katz
Copyright 2002

"I loved (8 Mile)…probably one of the best movies I've seen in years. And I'm a farm boy from Upstate New York with a weakness for James Taylor…Was Eminem whitewashed, made to be more likable than his reputation as a homophobe, misogynist, an all-around unlikable performer who spews his offensive lyrics across the airwaves? Probably. (emphasis added) But it's a movie of hope…" -- Craig Wilson, USA Today

"Put Anthrax on a Tampax and slap you till you can't stand." -- Eminem, "Superman"

Love him or loathe him, Eminem is unquestionably an impressive cultural player. He is a multitalented artist: a wildly inventive rap lyricist, a charismatic performer, and now an effective actor (essentially playing a heroicized version of himself).

What is in question is the nature of Eminem's art and image, and its significance. One thing is certain: he has been embraced by the cultural mainstream in a way that is unprecedented for a rapper. Obviously this has much (everything?) to do with his whiteness, and critiques of Eminem have typically centered on the racial politics of his initial rise to notoriety and now to the heights of pop cultural fame. But there are other analyses that have only begun to dim the luster of this 21st century legend-in-the-making. For example, one disturbing way to understand Eminem's popularity is that he has achieved success not in spite of his virulent misogyny and homophobic utterances – as many critics allege -- but in part because of them. As Richard Goldstein argued in a brilliant piece in the Village Voice, many of Eminem's male (and some female) fans take "guilty pleasure" in identifying with the aggressor. In that sense Eminem's success tells us something about ourselves – something that many progressive, feminist, egalitarian and nonviolent people in this era of white male backlash and militarism find quite disheartening.

Eminem has been the target of protest from gay and lesbian activists who object to his lyrical endorsement of violence against them. Other gays have embraced him in spite of this (most notably, and controversially, Elton John). But Eminem's homophobia is not simply a matter of specific lyrics. Rather, it is central to his constructed tough- white-guy image. For all of his vaunted "honesty" and presumed vulnerability, the misanthropically cartoonish "Slim Shady" persona that Marshall Mathers hides behind requires (at least publicly) a purging of anything that can be associated with femininity. Hence you hear from Eminem (and Dr. Dre) a steady stream of "bitch-slapping" misogyny peppered with anti-gay invective, all in the service of establishing their "hardness." The irony, of course, is that this hypermasculine posturing – so dismissive of women -- produces homoerotic tensions in the inner sanctum of hip hop maleness, which then requires Eminem and Dre (and other gangsta rappers) to verbally demonstrate their heterosexuality by attacking gays. It's an embarrassingly predictable process.

Unfortunately, the Hollywood mythmakers Brian Grazer, Scott Silver, and Curtis Hanson (the producer, screenwriter, and director, respectively, of 8 Mile) have so distorted the Eminem story in pursuit of box office glory that it will be quite a while before some of his more innocent fans – including many women -- get a better handle on who and what the artist represents. The cultural "meanings" of Eminem are sure to be the subject of debate for years to come. There is no honest way to predict definitively what course this debate will take.

But so far, the national conversation about Eminem has taken place on the terms of fawning critics, flaks for the record and film industries, and lay prophets of the cultural Zeitgeist, all of whom have been incessantly, and shamelessly, hyping the "hip-hop Elvis" for the past couple of years. Give them credit. They've succeeded wildly -- Eminem is now a full-blown cultural phenomenon and global merchandising cash cow. The open secret, however, is that in order for this to have happened, many people have had to go into denial or be unselfconsciously revisionist -- especially when it comes to Eminem's retrograde and abusive gender and sexual politics.

It's time to expand the terms of debate. It's time to offer some counterbalance to the mythologizing distortions from the PR department of Eminem, Inc. If Eminem is an artist whose work contains multiple layers of meaning, it's time to examine more deeply some of those layers. In particular, it's time to consider with eyes wide open some of the potentially horrific effects of this art in a world already filled with misogynous and violent men.

Toward that end, and in the Lose Yourself spirit of taking that one shot right now, rather than from historical distance, what follows are 8 arguments offered up as proof that Eminem's mega-popularity is not only troubling, but is in fact a disaster for all women (and those that care about them):

1. Eminem's lyrics help desensitize boys and men to the pain and suffering of girls and women.

Eminem's fans argue that his raps about mistreating, raping, torturing, and murdering women are not meant to be taken literally. "Just because we listen to the music doesn't mean we're gonna go out and harass, rape and murder women. We know it's just a song." But thoughtful critics of Eminem do not make the argument that the danger of his lyrics (and the lyrics of other artists, including African American rap artists) lies in the possibility that some unstable young man will go out and imitate in real life what the artist is rapping about. While possible, this is highly unlikely.

Rather, one of the most damaging aspects of Eminem's violent misogyny and homophobia is how normal and matter-of-fact this violence comes to seem. Rapping and joking about sex crimes have the effect of desensitizing people to the real pain and trauma suffered by victims and their loved ones. The process of desensitization to violence through repeated exposure in the media has been studied for decades. Among the effects: young men who have watched/listened to excessive amounts of fictionalized portrayals of men's violence against women in mainstream media and pornography have been shown to be more callous toward victims, less likely to believe their accounts of victimization, more willing to believe they were "asking for it," and less likely to intervene in instances of "real-life" violence.

Let us not forget that the culture in which Eminem has become a huge star is in the midst of an ongoing crisis of men's violence against women. In the U.S., rates of rape, sexual assault, battering, teen relationship violence and stalking have been shockingly high for decades, far exceeding rates in comparable western societies. Sadly, millions of American girls and women have been assaulted by American boys and men. Thousands of gays each year are bashed and harassed by young men. For these victims, this is not an academic debate about the differences between literalist and satirical art. It hits closer to home.

2. Girls are encouraged to be attracted to boys and men who don't respect women.

What began as a tentative dance has become a passionate embrace. After initially airing "misgivings" about featuring the woman-hating rapper, magazines with predominantly young female readership, like Cosmogirl and Teen People, now regularly feature "Em" on their covers, posed as a sex symbol, as an object of heterosexual female desire. This is not simply the latest example of the star-making machinery of mass media constructing the "bad boy" as dangerously desirable to women. This sends a powerful message to girls that goes something like this: he doesn't really hate and disrespect you. In fact, he loves you. He's just misunderstood. It's the hip hop version of Beauty and the Beast. You know, underneath that gruff exterior, between the lines of those nasty lyrics, lies a tender heart that has been hurt, a good man who just needs more love and understanding.

This is a myth that battered women have been fed for centuries! That his violence is her responsibility, that if only she loved him more, his abuse would stop. This is one of the most damaging myths about batterers, and one of the most alarming features of Eminem's popularity with girls. Remember, Eminem is the same "lovable" rapper who wrote a chillingly realistic song ("Kim") about murdering his wife (whose real name is Kim), and putting her body in the trunk of his car, interspersed with loving references to their daughter Hallie (their real-life daughter is named Hallie). This is the same "cute" guy who angrily raps about catching diseases from "ho's." ("Drips") This is the same "adorable" man who constantly unleashes torrents of verbal aggression against women, even though he is so sensitive to the potential wounding power of words that he famously refuses to use the "n-word." Why is it not okay for a white rapper to diss "niggers," but it is okay for a man to express contempt for "bitches" and "ho's.

His credulous female fans counter: he doesn't really hate women. How could he? He loves his daughter! For battered women's advocates, this is one of the most frustrating aspects of Eminem's popularity. His defenders – including women – will utter some of the most discredited myths about abusive men as if they have special insight! Newsflash to female Eminem fans: "He loves his daughter" is one of the most predictable excuses that batterers give in pleading for another chance. The fact is, most batterers are not one-dimensional ogres. Abusive men often love the very women they're abusing. And let us not forget that when Eminem verbally abuses his wife/ex-wife through his lyrics, he is verbally abusing his daughter's mother – and by extension his daughter.

3. His popularity with girls sends a dangerous message to boys and men.

Boys and young men have long expressed frustration with the fact that girls and young women say they're attracted to nice guys, but that the most popular girls often end up with the disdainful tough guys who treat them like dirt. We all know that heterosexual young guys are forever struggling to figure out what girls want. What are they supposed to conclude when 53% of the 8 Mile audience on opening weekend was female?

What are men to make of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd when she writes, uncritically, that a "gaggle" of her female Baby Boomer friends are "surreptitiously smitten" with a 30-year-old rapper whose lyrics literally drip with contempt for women? (If you're in denial or simply refuse to believe that his lyrics are degrading to women, do your homework – download his lyrics.) That girls want to be treated with dignity and respect? Or that the quickest route to popularity with them is to be verbally and emotionally cruel, that "bad boy" posturing is a winning strategy to impress naïve (and self-loathing) girls? Surely most of Eminem's female fans would not want to be sending that message to their male peers – but they are.

Boys who have listened carefully to Eminem's actual lyrics -- not just the hit songs or the sanitized movie soundtrack -- know that most self-respecting girls who are conscious about the depths of our culture's sexism are repulsed by Eminem's misogyny and depressed by his popularity. Sadly, many of these girls have been silent, fearing they'll be branded as "uncool" because they "don't get" the artist who is supposedly the voice of their generation.

There are women who like Eminem because (they say) he's complex and not easily knowable; they would argue that it is reductionist to characterize his art as sexist. But the burden is on them to demonstrate how -- in a culture where so many men sexually harass, rape, and batter women -- it is possible to reconcile a concern for women's physical, sexual, and emotional well-being with admiration for a male artist whose lyrics consistently portray women in a contemptuous and sexually degrading manner.

Girls and women, even those who have been coopted into Eminem-worship, want to be treated with respect. They certainly don't want to be physically or sexually assaulted by men. They don't want to be sexually degraded by dismissive and arrogant men. But they can't have it both ways. They can't proclaim their attraction to a man who's gotten rich verbally trashing and metaphorically raping women and yet expect that young men will treat them with dignity.

4. The racial storyline around Eminem perpetuates the racist myth that "hip" white guys are those who most closely emulate the sexist beliefs and hypermasculine posturing of some Black males.

Eminem is popular with white audiences in large measure because the African American gangsta rap icon Dr. Dre and other hardcore Black rappers with "street credibility" have conferred on him the mantle of legitimacy. Dre is Eminem's mentor and producer, signaling to Black audiences as well that unlike Vanilla Ice – a useful object of derision from a decade ago -- this white boy is for real. What's missing from this story is that Dr. Dre himself is one of the most misogynous and homophobic figures in the history of rap music. He has produced and performed some of this era's most degrading songs about women. (e.g. "Bitches Ain't Shit")

In other words, Eminem and Dre are modeling a perverse sort of interracial solidarity that comes at the expense of women. It's an old and sordid story: sexism provides men a way to ally across race and class lines. African American people who are happy to see Eminem earning rap even greater legitimacy in white America might want to consider that this era's white artist most identified as a bridge to Black culture has built that bridge on the denigration and undermining of Black women -- and all women.

5. Eminem's personal trajectory – either the so-called "true" story, or the explicitly fictionalized version in 8 Mile – perpetuates damaging mythology about abusive men.

Eminem's fans like to ascribe to him the sympathetic and classic role of underprivileged underdog. But Marshall Mathers, if he ever was an underdog, has long since crossed over into the role of bully. Unlike most bullies this side of right-wing talk radio, however, he has a very large microphone (and now a screen presence).

You can gain important insight into one key aspect of the Eminem persona by studying both the behavior of men who batter and people's responses to them. The man who is being lionized as one of this era's emblematic artists shares many character traits with men who batter. One glaring similarity is the folklore that Mathers has actively constructed about his famously difficult childhood. Narcissistic batterers frequently paint themselves as the true victims. It's them we're supposed to feel sorry for – not their victims (or the victims/targets of their lyrical aggression.).

It is well-known that many of Eminem's fans, male and female, reference his abusive family life to explain and rationalize his rage. But it is not as well-known that batterer intervention counselors hear this excuse every single day from men who are in court-mandated programs for beating their girlfriends and wives. "I had a tough childhood. I have a right to be angry," or "She was the real aggressor. She pushed my buttons and I just reacted." The counselors' typical answer: "It is not right or ok that you were abused as a child. You deserve our empathy and support. But you have no right to pass on your pain to other people."

6. Eminem's success has unleashed a torrent of mother-blaming.

One element of Eminem's story of which all his fans are aware is that he and his mother don't get along. Many people psychoanalyze him from a distance and argue that his problems with women stem from his stormy relationship with his mother. This may or may not be true, but it is an excuse that abusive men often make for their behavior. As Lundy Bancroft observes in his book Why Does He Do That: inside the minds of angry and controlling men, battered women themselves sometimes like this explanation, since it makes sense out of the man's behavior and gives the woman someone safe to be angry at – since getting angry at him always seems to blow up in her face.

It is hard to say what percentage of the Eminem faithful relate to his oft-articulated rage at his mother. But consider this anecdotal evidence. I attended an Eminem concert in southern California during the "Anger Management" tour a couple of years ago. At one point, Eminem ripped off a string of angry expletives about his mother, (something like "F-you, bitch!") after which a sizable cross-section of the 18,000 person crowd joined in a violent chant repeating the verbal aggression against Ms. Mathers (and no doubt other mothers by extension.)

Why is this aspect of the Eminem phenomenon such a cause for concern? No one begrudges Eminem, or anyone else, the right to have issues – including in some cases being very angry with their mothers. But it is not a great stretch to see that Eminem's anger can easily be generalized to all women – tens of millions of whom are mothers -- and used as yet another rationale for some men's deeply held misogyny.

Considering Eminem's (and his mother's) roots on the economic margins of "white trash" Detroit, class is also a critical factor here. Poor women – especially poor women of color -- are easy scapegoats for many societal problems. Eminem's fans presumably know little about the context within which Debbie Mathers (who is white) tried to raise her kids. Might we have some compassion for her as we are asked to for him? Why was she constantly struggling financially? How did educational inequities and lack of employment opportunities affect her life, her family experiences, her education level, her dreams, her ability to be a good parent? As a woman, how did sexism shape her choices? What was her personal history, including her history with men? Was she ever abused? We know a lot of women with substance abuse problems develop them as a form of self-medication against the effects of trauma. What is the connection between Ms. Mathers' alleged (by her son) substance abuse and any history of victimization she might have?

Further, if Eminem's father deserted him and the family when Marshall was young, why is so much of Eminem's verbal aggression aimed at his mother and at women? If you buy the argument that Eminem's misogyny comes from his issues with his mother, then considering his father's behavior, why doesn't he have a huge problem with men? (Hint: the answer has to do with SEXISM.) It's easy to blame struggling single mothers for their shortcomings; right-wing politicians have been doing this for decades. A more thoughtful approach would seek to understand their plight, and while such an understanding would provide no excuse for abusive behavior (if that is what Eminem actually experienced), it would give it much-needed context. Unfortunately, this context is notably absent from much political discourse – and from 8 Mile.

7. Eminem has elevated to an art form the practice of verbally bullying and degrading people (especially women and gays) and then claiming "I was just kidding around."

In fact, many of Eminem's fans will claim that his Slim Shady persona – or any of his nasty anti-woman lyrics – are just an act. On a more sophisticated level, Eminem's defenders – including a number of prominent music critics -- like to argue that his ironic wit and dark sense of humor are lost on many of his detractors, who supposedly "don't get it." This is what his predominantly young fans are constantly being told: that some people don't like the likable"Em" because they don't get him, the personae he's created, his outrageously transgressive humor. In comparison, his fans are said to be much more hip, since they're in on the joke.

One way that non-fans can respond to this is by saying "We get it, alright. We understand that lyrics are usually not meant to be taken literally. And we think we have a good sense of humor. We just don't think it's funny for men to be joking aggressively about murdering and raping women, and assaulting gays and lesbians. Just like we don't think that it's funny for white people to be making racist jokes at the expense of people of color. This sort of 'hate humor' is not just harmless fun – no matter how clever the lyrics.

Millions of American girls and women are assaulted by men each year. According to the U.S. surgeon general, battering is the leading cause of injury to women. In recent years there has been growing recognition of the alarming prevalence of abuse in teen relationships; one recent national study found 20 % of teenage girls experience some form of physical or sexual abuse from men or boys. Gay-bashing is a serious problem all over the country. Music lyrics and other art forms can either in some way illuminate these problems, or they can cynically exploit them. Eminem is arguably a major force in the latter category. Sorry if we don't find that funny."

8. Eminem's rebel image obscures the fact that sexism and men's violence against women perpetuates established male power – it is not rebellious.

Eminem has been skillfully marketed as a "rebel" to whom many young people – especially white boys -- can relate. But what exactly is he rebelling against? Powerful women who oppress weak and vulnerable men? Omnipotent gays and lesbians who make life a living hell for straight people? Eminem's misogyny and homophobia, far from being "rebellious," are actually extremely traditional and conservative. As a straight white man in hip hop culture, Marshall Mathers would actually be much more of a rebel if he rapped about supporting women's equality and embracing gay and lesbian civil rights. Instead, he is only a rebel in a very narrow sense of that word. Since he offends a lot of parents, kids can "rebel" against their parents' wishes by listening to him, buying his cd's, etc. The irony is that by buying into Eminem's clever "bad boy" act, they are just being obedient, predictable consumers. ("If you want to express your rebellious side, we have just the right product for you! The Marshall Mathers LP! Come get your Slim Shady!) It's rebellion as a purchasable commodity.

But if you focus on the contents of his lyrics, the "rebellion" is empty. Context is everything. If you're a "rebel," it matters who you are and what you're rebelling against. The KKK are rebels, too. They boast about it all the time. They fly the Confederate (rebel) flag. But most cultural commentators wouldn't nod approvingly to the KKK as models of adolescent rebellion for American youth because the content of what they're advocating is so repugnant. (And Eminem would be dropped from MTV playlists and lose his record contract immediately if he turned his lyrical aggression away from women and gays and started trashing people of color, or Jews, or Catholics, etc...) Isn't it plausible that when "responsible" critics, journalists and other entertainers embrace Eminem as a "rebel," it provides a glimpse into their own repressed anger at women, their own unacknowledged anxieties about homosexuality?

Isn't it also plausible that after Eminem has posed for dozens of magazine layouts dutifully wearing the swoosh logo of the Nike corporation, he finds amusing how easily people buy the outlandish idea of him as a rebel?

Jackson Katz is the creator of the award-winning educational video "Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity." His new video, "Wrestling With Manhood" with Sut Jhally, examines the gender and sexual politics of professional wrestling. For more information, go to

© 2002 Jackson Katz. Forward freely. Reprint with author's permission.

Eminem Discography.

5 Reasons Why Video Downloading Services Won't Catch On

5 Reasons Why Video Downloading Services Won't Catch On

I've been offered a sweet gig to write one article a month for Since the articles will be e-commerce releated, I figured I'd publish them here too (yes, they've given me permission to do so). Anyway, here goes:

With the recent announcement of Amazon's Unbox movie downloading service and Apple's announcement that iTunes will now be selling movie downloads, many people seem to think that the future of purchasing movies lies online. And why not – it's a logical jump. We went from radio to television, CDs to DVDs, so why not go from MP3's to MPEG's? When something works with music, the video counterpart usually follows with the same success. But in this case there are several fundamental flaws that both Amazon and Apple failed to address with their services that will make it difficult for video downloads to follow the success of music ones.

1. Download time and file size

While it only takes a minute or two to download a 5MB audio file, 2GB video file can take several hours to download. It may feel like you are getting your music instantly, but it sure doesn't feel like your getting your videos instantly. If it's quicker to drive to your local Best Buy, pick up a physical copy and burn it to your hard drive, why would you bother downloading it?

Also, how many people do you know with 200 GB of empty space on their hard drives? I don't know about you, but I've got over 100 DVDs in my movie collection and that would take up a ton of space. Yes, hard drives are getting cheaper, but most computers still don't come equipped with the kind of space required to hold a library of movies.

Even more importantly, one of the key components of the digital music revolution is the ability to keep your entire library on your iPod/MP3 player. Right now, even with Apple's new 80GB iPod, that's still not possible for the hardcore movie fan. While few music collections will ever exceed even 30GB, it's not inconceivable to think that you would need a 300GB iPod to house your entire movie collection. Having digital copies of all of your movies won't truly be necessary until your iPod can legitimately become your personal entertainment device with all of your music, photos, and movies (in high enough quality and with enough battery time so that you can directly play your movies from the device on to a TV).

2. Cost

Most movies on Amazon will go for $7.99 to $14.99, and movies can also be rented for $3.99. New releases on iTunes will sell for $12.99 on a pre-order basis and $14 thereafter. Older titles will sell for $9.99.

Ignoring for a second that you can download illegally ripped versions of any movie, what would compel a user to pay $15 for a restricted file that has less-than-DVD-quality? If you want a digital version, it's still much more cost effective (and potentially takes less time) to purchase a physical copy and rip it to your computer. Most new titles are available at your local Best Buy or Circuit City for around $15. Many old movies can be found in the $9.99 bins, or as a part of 2-for-$15 or 3-for-$20 sales. If you don't want to leave your house, you can get free shipping from Amazon on any purchase over $25.

With a physical copy you can rip it to any computer you want, as many times as you want, in any quality that you want, and then do whatever you chose with the DVD (like resell it). Until it is considerably cheaper to download a movie (probably somewhere around $5), it makes no sense for the average consumer to make downloading a part of their routine.

When it comes to renting movies, Amazon's Unbox will undoubtedly fall short as well. For the same price as renting a movie from Blockbuster, you have to wait an hour or two to download a movie that you can only watch for 24 hours and can't rip to your computer or burn to a DVD. If you don't want to leave your house, most digital cable providers sell movies On-Demand for the same $3.99 price that require no download, can be started instantly, can be viewed on your television without connecting your PC to it, and can be watched for the same 24 hour time frame.

3. Restricted file access

People want the ability to do whatever they want with a file. And if they pay for the movie, why shouldn't they be able to copy it to each of the three computers in their house, their iPod, and burn a DVD to play on their TV? Unfortunately, Amazon and Apple haven't figured this out and continue to place unrealistic file restrictions on their downloads.

Lets think about music again for a second – some people complain about Apple's restrictions on music files, but when you think about it, you can do almost anything you want with those files – and that's why it still ultimately works. You can burn them to a CD (which then can be copied or ripped), you can store them on your iPod, and you can listen to them on your computer. Compare that to what movie downloading services are offering.

According to a recent article in the E-Commerce times about Unbox, “The downloads can be transferred onto DVDs for storage, and the DVDs can be used to play the movie on the computer which downloaded the movie, but they cannot be played on a regular DVD player.” They also give you a second file that can be viewed on Windows Media compatible digital players, but that's a far cry from the freedom that consumers desire.

Using readily available free software, it's pretty simple for the average consumer to rip a DVD to their computer in their desired format, and then to copy it to their iPod if they want. When it's so easy for consumers to get what they want with a physical copy, it still makes no sense for them to pay a similar price for a second-class product.

4. The way we watch vs. the way we listen

How do you listen to your music? Most people listen while they're driving (on a CD or their iPod), while they're on their computer (using a CD or files on the hard drive), when they're traveling (on a portable CD player or their iPod), or around the house (on a stereo playing a CD or hooked up to an iPod). All of those things are easily accomplished when you download an audio file from iTunes.

Compare that with how you watch movies. Most people watch movies on their TV (using a DVD). That's it. But what do downloading services let you do? Anything but that. You can watch it on your iPod when you're traveling, you can watch it on your PC, or you can watch it on your TV in inferior quality by hooking up your PC to your TV. While all of those things are nice, they don't address the main need of the consumer – to be able to throw a DVD in their DVD player and sit back and watch.

Mark Cuban explains in a recent blog entry: “watching video on a computer or on a PDA/iPod is a 2nd class experience. It works amazingly well as a time killer on a bus, plane, lunchroom. It works good enough in a dorm room or your apartment bedroom, but its not going to replace watching on a real TV. It will always be a niche market in every manner.”

5. There's already a better option

The previous four reasons all lead up to the obvious conclusion – there's already a better option! When it comes to CDs, your options are to buy them in the store, order physical copies online (or through the mail), or download them. The price is essentially the same, but you don't have to worry about delivery when downloading (i.e. driving to the store or paying for shipping), and you get the product within minutes.

But no matter what way you get it, you end up with the same thing in the end. If you buy a CD at Best Buy, you can rip it and have a digital version. If you download it on iTunes, you can burn it and have a physical copy. You don't lose out by downloading. It's obvious that when it comes to movies, you lose out considerably when it comes to download time, file quality, and file restrictions.

As a movie buff, you have three options that are far superior to downloading from Amazon or Apple. Hardcore movie fans tend to go the Netflix/Blockbuster Online route where they can rent somewhere around 3 movies at a time for around $20/month. When they get the movies, they copy them to DVD. Now they have their own copy that they can watch, rip, and copy anytime they want.

The slightly more legal approach is to simply purchase the DVDs you want. For essentially the same cost of downloading, you get your own physical copy that you can, again, do whatever you want with. Down the road you can always sell the DVD and make some of your money back.

Those of you that like to rent movies can go the On-Demand route that most digital cable providers now offer. For the same $3.99 cost of renting a movie on Amazon or going to your local Blockbuster, you can watch it immediately on your TV and have it billed to your cable bill. The downside to this is that you can only access it for 24 hours and usually can't make a physical copy (if you really wanted to you could make a physical copy if you have a TV Tuner card on your computer that can record TV).

Rich Greenfield of Palicapital summed it up best in an article posted on Mark Cuban's blog:

“At a premium price point we also question who is the target market? Illegal movie downloaders are unlikely to be attracted at these prices and physical DVD purchases are unlikely to be interested in dealing with primarily PC-based nature of the downloadable files (with heavy movie renters far better off with Netflix or Blockbuster than Amazon Unbox).”

Ultimately that leads me to one of two conclusions – either film studios are really dumb and don't understand their consumers, or tthey really don't want to take the necessary steps for movie downloading to succeed. I'd say it's more the latter than the former, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was the other way around.