The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Wood Carving
Before I get started here, I should point out that I've never been in the BSA. I was ostensibly in the Cub Scouts as a kid, but my activites therein wouldn't qualify for any merit badges unless they had badges for "Watching Cartoons" and "Playing Freeze Tag." So anyway, I think the main thing I missed out on was the whittling. You're supposed to have a knife, and you're supposed to be able to make little racing cars and impromptu rabbit traps and rustic place settings with it. My only major knife experience was with an X-Acto knife, and it required stitches, so I'm probably better off despite my disappointment. A

American Labor
This is just odd. I mean, there's nothing wrong with American Labor per se, but you rarely end up using the words "AFL-CIO" and "Campfire Jamboree" in the same sentence. My feeling is that in order to preserve political balance, there should be a badge in "Union Busting" as well. ("For this badge, scouts must put on a suit with a diamond tie-tack, light an expensive cigar, and say 'Those poor sots don't know how good they got it. Lock the gates.'") C-

I had no idea there was a badge for bugling, but it makes perfect sense, in spite of the fact that it sounds like a British term for an uncomfortable sex act. One part of getting this badge is learning all the bugle calls, including the one for swimming. I don't know why there's a bugle call for swimming and not for other common camp activites like furtive masturbation, but I guess that's why I don't get to write the bugle book. B+

Space Exploration
Talk about pipe dreams. At least a young scout can hold a reasonable hope of carving a wooden duck, playing "Taps," or participating in an auto workers' strike, but the chances of actually putting this knowledge to work are pretty slim, unless you count pointing out inconsistencies in "Apollo 13." On the other hand, if my choices are between building a model rocket for this badge, or comparing double-knit fabric to industrial-grade woven fabric for the "Textiles" badge, I'm all over that plastic nose cone action. B

This is a real gimmee. The requirements basically come down to "Collect something. Talk about it." Most kids -- and most adults, for that matter -- have collections of stuff just by virtue of not tossing it. I, for instance, have a collection of 286 motherboards, and somewhere in my parents' garage I have a collection of He-Man action figures with missing limbs. Stick those mothers in a plexiglass case and it's merit badge city. D

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