“I know why I’m so smart,” Professor Plum preened as he entered the mail room. “It’s the culture of BPI.”

He won’t win any medals for humility, but he did read the mail. (More)

Professor Plum then left with Ms. Scarlet to rejoin the resident faculty in the wine cellar mail room, where they’ll continue drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”).

In the staff poker game, the Professor of Astrology Janitor weighed the role of culture on his pair of Nines. Chef had opened the pot with a call, and the Professor of Astrology Janitor raised. The Squirrel folded, and Chef put in a pot-sized reraise. The Professor of Astrology Janitor knew that pattern meant she had either Aces or Kings, and his Nines shrank into decimal points. He tossed them in the muck and began his plaintive mewling. Chef went to the kitchen to make Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Omelets, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….


Dear Ms. Crissie,

A recent report by Pearson Education found no silver bullet, but there was one key take-away I found intriguing: Culture Matters More Than Income. According to the report, “On the surface, money and education seem to create a virtuous circle, with rich countries – and individuals – buying good educations for their children who, in turn, benefit economically. A closer look, though, indicates that both higher income levels and better cognitive test scores are the result of educational strategies adopted, sometimes years earlier, independently of the income levels existing at the time. More important than money, say most experts, is the level of support of education within the surrounding culture.”

I’ve been making this point for decades. It’s gratifying to find empirical verification for my anecdotal experience. Unfortunately, most of those spending billions trying to improve the dreadful state of American education, especially inner city education, point to teachers as the ultimate arbiter of academic achievement. I always found this obsession with teacher quality to be wrongheaded. After all, if there is not robust cultural or community support behind the values of advanced education, then there’s only so much that even the best teacher can do with a given student. Especially when that student returns to a home or neighborhood where education is not a priority. That’s why I support real world penalties like a No Pass No Drive law that would bar high school dropouts from getting a drivers license.

James in NY

Dear James,

We applaud your commitment to education, however we found flaws in your reading of this report. For example, the report writers admit that culture is unquantifiable, and they offer no empirical evidence for its impact on education. Mere opinions are not “empirical verification,” even when they echo your “anecdotal experience.” And the report’s suggestion that government should pay teachers on the same scale as engineers and other professionals, to raise their social status and validate a culture of education, is very different from your proposal to punish students who drop out of school. That said, again, we applaud your commitment to education and your comment in another story that, to build a culture that values education, we must give teachers more of the three Rs: respect, recognition, and resources.


Dear Ms. Crissie,

We love First Person Shooter games, but things were getting a little repetitious for us. The thrill of playing was losing its mojo. We have found it again and it’s better than ever! We made a FPS controller that is like nothing you have ever experienced before. Our vision is to bridge the gap between motion control and Hardcore First Person Shooters. For the first time, the player will feel more immersed in game-play and have more control over the game than ever before. Unlike motion control of the past, we do the work for you, complete with realistic recoil and tapping the magazine to reload. We want the Delta Six to provide as realistic an experience as possible. However, working with such a realistic looking body does present its own issues, especially with current events. When the final product is produced, the gun will have a bright orange tip and will also be optionally available in bright white. We understand the orange detracts from the realism, however the benefits far outweigh the alternative. Once you start playing, the orange tip will be far from your mind. We promise!

David in FL

Dear David,

We note that you made your base Kickstarter funding goal, even if you fell just short of the $200,000 “Blow It Up” mark to add the grenade launcher enhancement to your assault rifle video game controller. At least the rampage of a man that police described as “ready for battle” and who left four dead in Santa Monica, California did not interfere with your sales, even if such “recent events” convinced you to change the color on the tip of your assault rifle video game controller. We trust the victims’ families in Santa Monica, Newtown, Klackemas, Oak Creek, Aurora, and other mass shootings across the U.S. will appreciate the extra “mojo.”


Dear Ms. Crissie,

What I need is a spatula controller for my BPI Chef Warrior game. Other than that it’s amazing: high-def, 3-D, and it requires no game box or video monitor. (Kitchen not included.) How do I unlock the Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Omelet adventure?

Virtually Hungry in Blogistan

Dear Virtually Hungry,

Chef says you can unlock that adventure by pushing the A button twice, then the B button once, then toggling Up-Down six times on the joystick, then pushing A and B at the same time and holding them for three seconds.

If that doesn’t work, she suggests you whisk 8 eggs in a bowl with ¼ cup of heavy cream, then pour the eggs into a buttered skillet over medium-low heat. Once the eggs begin to set, sprinkle on ⅓ cup of smoked salmon torn into large pieces, 1 cup of cream cheese in small spoonfuls, and 4 finely chopped green onions. Season with salt and pepper, then fold the omelet over and slice into 4 servings. Bon appétit!



James in NY; No Pass No Drive Law; culture is unquantifiable; the three Rs: respect, recognition, and resources.

David in FL; ready for battle; other mass shootings.


Happy Sunday!