November 20, 2006

Bush's choice to head the Family-Planning Post?

Yup, you guesses it, someone who opposes contraception. At least for white people.

Posted by duver001 at 11:53 AM

November 1, 2006

Abstinence-only education in the news again

You know, the crazy fundie-run education scheme shown to encourage riskier behavior and teen pregnancy...well, it's back, and now it's also for the unmarried up to age 29. Hmmm...what's wrong with this picture? What, the government do something that doesn't work, is utterly ridiculous, and highly big brotherish just because of their ideology? Oh yeah, happens all the time.

Posted by duver001 at 10:53 AM

October 29, 2006

So here's just about the weirdest thing I've seen recently

Dubya's new ranch of 98,000 acres in Paraguay. Okay, here is where it gets weird. Is that his little hiding spot to avoid prosecution for war crimes? Of does the 2.2 mile long runway (look on google earth) mean he's moving full-time into the cocaine exporting racket? Weirder still is the connection with the Moonies and their purchase of land in the same area. Okay, and then the Jenna connection? Too strange for words.

Posted by duver001 at 9:42 PM

October 18, 2006

Banning "tag" games?

Liability suits run amok.

Posted by duver001 at 10:52 AM

October 6, 2006

The religious right worries that their children won't follow them

Some of the discussion in abstracted in this New York Times article. Do note the t-shirts that the girls in the photo are wearing. Electrical outlets. There are corresponding electrical plug shirts for boys...

Anyway, I think this highlights again the oddity of indoctrinating children with theology. Christianity (or Islam or Hinduism or Jainism) is right because your parents happen to be members of that cult? And everyone else is wrong? I think the time will come (and not soon enough) when the concept of "catholic child" or "jewish child" can only have a cultural meaning. Theological indoctrination of the young by authority figures will come to be regarded as no more acceptable than other forms of child abuse.

Posted by duver001 at 11:37 AM

September 30, 2006

Another peculiar Southern institution

Beating children in school as punishment. Note the biblical justifications. And what of beating wives and slaves, also discussed in that particular book?

Posted by duver001 at 10:38 AM

September 21, 2006

What will you say?

Posted by duver001 at 1:37 PM

September 13, 2006

Astronauts playing with nuts and bolts

So many jokes are possible here. Yes, space exploration is a noble goal. Nope, the space station doesn't make much sense.

Posted by duver001 at 10:28 AM

September 11, 2006

New wave college orientation

Suicide prevention, date rape, hate crimes, and getting lost in New York.

Posted by duver001 at 10:16 AM

August 28, 2006

How well does abstinance-based sex education work?

Just look to the 65 pregnant high school students at Timken High in Canton, OH.

Posted by duver001 at 10:33 AM

August 25, 2006

The continuing struggle of science & education against theocrats & ignorance

Lawrence Krauss has a decent, albeit brief editorial in the New York Times after the Kansas School Board skewed back towards reality. I'm not sure in what forum his disagreement over "scientifically inappropriate attempts by some scientists to discredit the religious faith of others" appeared. Will have to take a look. Though I can see tactically why scientists might feel that, I think that it is hypocritical to argue for a reasoned, scientific approach in all matters other than other people's theology. The logical holes are there along with the incoherence of major religions, their ahistoricality, and their pernicious nature in practice (and perhaps in theory). I see little benefit in doing this, but little harm either. Deeply-held beliefs, whether sensible or not, are not likely to be changed by simple logic.

Just the other day, we see an evolving piece of the religious attack on reason and science. Due to a "clerical" (hmmm...that has two meanings...) error, evolutionary biology has disappeared from a federal list of university majors approved for federal student grants. Yup, follow the link and you can still (8/25/06) see the missing line, a blank line, for 26.1303. What a coincidence.

Posted by duver001 at 9:16 AM

July 25, 2006

For some reason these two articles worked well together

Okay, maybe it seems weird, but here goes:

Posted by duver001 at 11:19 PM

July 17, 2006

Metal detector recommendation for kids?

My little ones, aged seven, have gotten fascinated by metal detectors. They saw some people in the park using one. As they consider almost any small found item to be "treasure" I thought that they might enjoy it. Am looking for recommendations on what to get. I know next to nothing about using metal detectors for anything other than looking for landmines...

Posted by duver001 at 11:08 AM

June 28, 2006

Al Gore's presidential moment

Okay, truth be told, he's had several presidential moments and we all know that's a few more than the current occupier of the oval office. Still, what to say about An Inconvenient Truth? I saw the movie over the weekend and came away with a string of opinions and a fear that someone would note that I had driven to the movie theater rather than walked...

  • The science looked accurate. Scientists in the relevent field agree with a few minor caveats. Still, it's an interesting experience to hear a politician get facts straight.
  • The animated bear and frog are just ridiculous.
  • Not a bad powerpoint (or Keynote) presentation. I suspect that the interns/staff has a lot to do with it.
  • Apple advertising! (Thanks Anne for the thought.) If this movie gets the US working towards lowering carbon emissions, someday Apple will use it in an ad.
  • The bear and frog? Drop them in the director's cut.
  • The whole human interest bit with Gore's son, hit by a car, reeked of cheap manipulation. The story of his sister (who died as a smoker of lung cancer while the family farm grew tobacco) was much more effective.
  • There's a decent review of what's happening here from the New Haven Advocate.
  • And the NYT talking about geoengineering "solutions" to ameliorate the global climate change.

Posted by duver001 at 11:06 AM

June 27, 2006

Arts incorporated into day-to-day education

This NYC program caught my eye.

Posted by duver001 at 10:51 AM

June 26, 2006

Who's really screwing America?

A little exerpt from The Nation. I like the non-obvious nature of some of these listings. Dan Brown and Dick Cheney together at last.

Posted by duver001 at 11:30 AM

June 14, 2006

May 22, 2006

Seven year old swins from Alcatraz to SF

Maybe it's not so hard after all...

Posted by duver001 at 12:27 PM

May 2, 2006

Geographical illiteracy


Posted by duver001 at 7:33 PM

May 1, 2006

April 28, 2006

C for Cookie

The Sesame Street characters meet V for Vendetta. What if the government restricts our freedom to cookies?

Posted by duver001 at 11:38 AM

April 24, 2006

Ignorance (of the law) is a valid excuse now?

A woman badly hurt her child shaking it in order to banish "evil spirits" from it.

Posted by duver001 at 11:57 AM

April 19, 2006

Films for kids

They do mean film and not movie. Still, if they play near you...why not give it a try?

Posted by duver001 at 9:53 AM

April 14, 2006

DEA agent shoots himself in foot

...while demonstrating gun safety to kids. Now he's suing the DEA for making him a target of laughter by leaking the video to the web. Just to help the laughter at this idiot continue, you can download the video here. Or watch it online here. Read more about it here in Snopes's urban legend department (NB: It's a true tale, not an urban legend.).

Posted by duver001 at 11:49 AM

April 12, 2006

Leaving more children behind

The $2M for deaf theater programs for kids mysteriously disappeared last year. No one knows you was responsible for cutting it.

Posted by duver001 at 12:40 PM

April 3, 2006

The Taliban college experience in Pensacola

An unaccredited college for the looniest of the loons. Get expelled for "making eye babies!" That is, looking at a member of the opposite sex.

Posted by duver001 at 7:40 PM

March 28, 2006

March 26, 2006

Give it a positive name, but no money, and see what happens

"No child left behind." The narrowing of school curriculums is one nasty consequence of the federal law. I see it in my twins' school, every focus is on the standardized test scores.

Posted by duver001 at 10:23 PM

March 22, 2006

"Stay off of my lawn, darned kids!"

So he shot and killed the kid?

Posted by duver001 at 12:19 PM

Child "bride" in Afghanistan

One of the more painful stories that I have ever read. Married off at age four, beaten, starved, scalded, abused for years. Finally escaped.

Posted by duver001 at 9:53 AM

March 17, 2006

The debt

Well, it now stands at about $27,000 for each person in the country. Or about 65.7% of the GDP. Over $8 trillion. What's going to happen when the Baby Boomers retire? It's rather a mess that those spend and borrow (not tax) Republicans have gotten us into financially.

Posted by duver001 at 3:25 PM

March 1, 2006

February 22, 2006

Class email

A good piece in the NYTs on emails to professors about their class and learning. I've definitely been struggling to deal with the volume of email from a large lecture class.

Posted by duver001 at 12:28 PM

February 9, 2006

No college student left behind?

An exploration of standardized tests for college students.

Posted by duver001 at 11:41 AM

January 26, 2006

Karl sez

"We can forgive Christianity much, not least because it taught us the worship of a child." - Karl Marx

Posted by duver001 at 10:58 AM

January 25, 2006

Video games to fight obesity?

Well, Dance, Dance, Revolution anyway, for West Virginia schools. WV appears to have the highest rate of obesity in the US.

Posted by duver001 at 9:39 AM

January 20, 2006

A bad Christmas gift revisited


Posted by duver001 at 12:05 PM

January 5, 2006

SUVs a go-go

This is a cute little bit from Europe with the first SUV (or any vehicle) to get a zero crash test rating. Chinese SUVs might take a bit to get into the US market I think. Like be sold as Wal-Mart brand trucks with some sort of Congressional Republican "get-away-with-something-stupid" law as cover.

In a plausibily related note, kids fare the same whether or not they are strapped into multi-ton CO2 machines.

And Physics Today has an article on the physics of car crashes.

Posted by duver001 at 1:00 PM

December 26, 2005

Holiday posting

Well, I'm here in Georgia with my family. Yesterday we celebrated Christmas and the first day of Chanukah as well. Beautiful weather here---lots of kite-flying and stomp rockets. The twins have also been working on some craft projects (they got quite a few for the holidays)---sand art, a pottery wheel, a solar system model, and even a clock to build. Which gets me thinking...need to have the gals work on their thank you notes as well.

More later...

Just got in from flying our largest airfoil kite, about 30" across, out on 1500ft of line. Good stuff.

Posted by duver001 at 10:49 AM

December 13, 2005

December 12, 2005

Minnesota school program

Although it appears that only 4% of students take advantage of it, high school students in the state can take free college classes. Interesting program...hadn't known about it before.

Posted by duver001 at 11:53 AM

November 17, 2005

The Beeb on the $100 Negroponte laptop for the 3rd world

Looks like an interesting venture that is only lacking a strong motivation. Sure, it's great for kids to have computer and network access, but we need to make sure that it truly helps their lives. I have been less than totally thrilled with "educational" software in this country.

Posted by duver001 at 10:51 AM

November 10, 2005

The Ambrose collector came through a little late

"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography." -- Ambrose Bierce

In case the reference was vague (aren't I good to my readers?):

"Before I looked into the case of Ambrose Small, I was attracted to it by another seeming coincidence. That there could be any meaning in it seemed so preposterous that, as influenced by much experience, I gave it serious thought. About six years before the disappearance of Ambrose Small, Ambrose Bierce had disappeared. Newspapers all over the world had made much of the mystery of Ambrose Bierce. But what could the disappearance of one Ambrose, in Texas, have to do with the disappearance of another Ambr ose in Canada? Was somebody collecting Ambroses? There was in these questions an appearance of childishness that attracted my respectful attention." -- Charles Fort (Talents, p. 847)

Posted by duver001 at 10:23 AM

November 1, 2005

More Wal-Mart

The Labor Department seems to have allowed Wal-Mart to dictate Labor Department policy in policing, wait for it, Wal-Mart. Sweet, isn't it? Send money to DeLay and the other GOPs, get favorable treatment. Go figure.

Posted by duver001 at 4:09 PM

October 31, 2005

Creationism? Intelligent design?

It's certainly the same thing for the people who push it. And lie about their motivations.

Posted by duver001 at 11:59 AM

October 27, 2005

Computers in school

Scroll down for the top selling educational software. Though there are plenty of other discouraging stories as well.

Posted by duver001 at 4:20 PM

October 24, 2005 childhood in Connecticut

The 25th anniversary of the Preppy Handbook is being celebrated. Weirdly enough I'm wearing an L. L. Bean sweater today. Well, I think it is, as a physicist I don't pay too much attention to the clothes I put on and with my office door open I'd feel weird pulling my sweater off to look at the label.

Posted by duver001 at 2:29 PM

October 21, 2005

David Copperfield immaculate conception

Not one of the standard seven tricks is it?

Posted by duver001 at 9:52 AM

October 17, 2005

Long a favored topic amongst slashdot and plastic readers/writers, computers in school

Here's the current discussion on plastic. For a bunch of computer geeks, it typically runs quite anti-computer use in schools. At least for young kids. From my twins' school experiences, private Montessori preschool (no computers), public urban Montessori kindergarten (computers in the "media center" (formerly known as the library back when the money went towards books) with some pretty insipid software, those some of it was fun, and the gals do know about the apple menu...), public suburban 1st grade (computers in every class for student as well as teacher use), I have yet to see any useful use for them in their classes. On the other hand, teacher email! Wonderful stuff, instant responses, quick emails with funny stories.

Posted by duver001 at 11:22 AM

September 14, 2005

How Curious George escaped the Nazis!

Interesting little article in the Times.

Posted by duver001 at 11:35 AM

September 13, 2005

No links to the eleven kids found locked in cages

In other news, money is pouring into animal rescue organizations to help the pets of New Orleans. And donkey sanctuaries in the UK routinely receive more money than battered women shelters.

Posted by duver001 at 10:02 AM

September 6, 2005

July 25, 2005

Slate (and Nation) fest

I used to be pretty consistent in reading Christopher Hitchens in The Nation and now have to admit to reading a bit of his work in Slate as well. In fact, I have a slew of interesting Slate articles to link to here. Can't say I agree with all of them, but there's some good Bosnia and Zimbabwe articles here.

Posted by duver001 at 12:13 PM

July 19, 2005

Ebonics is back

To make it even better, the program is called Students Accumulating New Knowledge Optimizing Future Accomplishment Initiative. Wow! It's hard to imagine a school administrator making up something like that.

Posted by duver001 at 7:36 PM

July 16, 2005

Recent Twin Photos

Twins underground.

Mara in hat.

Sylvia embracing life.

Posted by duver001 at 4:31 PM

July 6, 2005

Watching TV is still bad for children

No surprise here. Toddlers in this study.

Posted by duver001 at 11:05 AM

June 29, 2005

Voice of Tigger

Paul Winchell has passed away. He was also an inventor of an early artificial heart.

The wonderful things about Tiggers
is Tiggers are wonderful things.

Their tops are made out of rubber,
their bottoms are made out of springs.

They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun! Fun! Fun! Fun! Fun!

But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers,
is I'm the only one!

The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful chaps

They're loaded with vim and vigor
They love to leap in your laps

They're jumpy, bumpy, clumpy, thumpy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun

But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is
I'm the only one

Tiggers are cuddly fellows
Tiggers are awfully sweet

Everyone else is jealous
That's why I repeat

The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things

Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs

They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun

But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is
I'm the only one

IIIIIII'mmmmmm the only one!

Posted by duver001 at 2:57 PM

June 1, 2005

May 26, 2005

Young cynics

Cynicism in kindergarteners!

Posted by duver001 at 11:15 AM

Too wild for Zurich

Here in the Twin Cities, we've had various Peanuts characters on display around St. Paul. Snoppy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and did I miss one?

Anyhow, Zurich was going to do the same with a kinda generic bear (unless the bear is deep symbol for numbered bank accounts) with various paint jobs. But, one of the bears was a bit too much. Best part, the "first class service" label on it.

Did Linus have a year of statues as well? Darn it, my memory is fading.

Posted by duver001 at 12:03 AM

May 17, 2005

Who would have guessed?

Military families suffer from a high rate of child abuse deaths. Violence at work = violence at home? The type of person willing to fight for the empire is also willing to beat their child?

Posted by duver001 at 10:07 PM

May 15, 2005

The new house pet? 1/2 African Serval and 1/2 domestic cat?

I think my little ones would love to have one! The new trendy pet for the superwealthy. Banned in NYC! Beautiful looking cats I think.

Posted by duver001 at 10:46 PM

May 9, 2005

The new SAT

Well, there's now an essay section to the SAT. However, its grading has been figured out! Long essays with fake facts get the best scores. Quantity. Definitely not quality. You have 25 minutes to write 500-600 words to get yourself the top score. Is this how we want people to write? (Okay, I'm writing a blog, so perhaps I'm not the best critic...)

Posted by duver001 at 8:53 AM

May 6, 2005

Ugly kids get less care

At least in one study. In the supermarket. But without socioeconomic effects removed. Obviously such a study gets a lot of press.

Posted by duver001 at 4:55 AM

April 29, 2005

Another aspect of all children left behind?

Pay to tattle!

Posted by duver001 at 1:13 PM

April 26, 2005

School bus accident in Minneapolis

Hmong boy run over by his school bus in North Minneapolis. I'm guessing that there will be more school bus safety talks in the next few days or week.

Posted by duver001 at 8:30 AM

April 10, 2005

Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells

The little ones got a kick out of the indoor water park and the four story indoor play area. Fun stuff for six year olds.

Posted by duver001 at 7:24 PM

March 21, 2005

Overprotected children

A good article in the City Pages last week. It strongly criticizes the overprotective new norm of childcare.

Thinking about this article, I was at the Children's Museum (St. Paul) on Sunday and noted all of the sorts of behavior that were mentioned in the article. I relaxed and let the gals have fun. They really didn't need me stressing over them. Clearly something I knew, but the article stressed it and brought it back to me.

Of course the news is full of the school shooting in outstate...

Posted by duver001 at 4:53 PM

Computer use harms student performance on standardized exams at least

Interesting article. The more computer use that students have, the worse they do on standard international exams.

Posted by duver001 at 4:40 PM

March 8, 2005

Neo-nazi daycare

In Florida. Literally neo-nazi. Brings a new meaning to Hitler Youth.

Posted by duver001 at 1:19 PM

March 1, 2005

A squirrel in winter

My twin girls' (Mara & Sylvia) school is having a story writing contest. The theme for the kindergarten story is supposed to be "A Squirrel in Winter." Their stories are attached.

When Mara finished her story, I reread the assignment sheet to her. Some of the questions it asked were "Where does the squirrel live? What does it eat?" She added the last sentence of the story after that.

Mara the Squirrel was having a nice birthday party when the doorbell rang. It was her sister, Sylvia. Sylvia came inside and sat down for a birthday party. She was the first one to be coming for the birthday party. Then the doorbell rang again, and Squirrel welcomed Momma in, because she was the second one. Then the doorbell rang again. It was Lisa, and Squirrel gave her lots of hugs and kisses because she loved her so much and she missed her. The last person who came in—they heard the doorbell ring, and it surely was Dada. They had a nice birthday party after all.
And Mara the Squirrel lives in Sandpoint and eats nuts.
[Notes: Lisa is a former preschool teacher and much loved. Sandpoint is Sandpoint, ID where their grandmother had a cabin.]

The squirrel lived in a tree and she ate nuts and she buried nuts in the snow. One day, she was out looking for them and she could not find them because the man had taken them away.
The squirrel bumped into a snowman and the squirrel was so scared she ran away. The snowman started to grow. It was a person building the snowman. The person got the squirrel to go back there and help to put it back together. The snowman got built and didn’t get bonked again.
The man had taken the nuts away because he wanted the squirrel to find him. The squirrel found him and brought the nuts home. When the squirrel brought the nuts home, she was so tired she wanted to go to bed but she was hungry too and so she went to bed and she ate the nuts when she got so hungry.
She went to sleep. Then she went outside again. And she saw the snowman was melting. It was melting because the sun was up and it was spring.

Posted by duver001 at 12:49 PM

February 24, 2005

Names of children

A very cool little web toy which plots name popularity as a function of decade this past century in the US. There must be a bunch of stories in there...the fall of anne and annette, the fall and resurrection of Annabel (and various spellings), the rise of elena and z names!

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Posted by duver001 at 12:56 PM

February 9, 2005


Okay, some of these have appeared here before. Some are just funny word lapses, but there are so truly bizarre thoughts buried in here.

"It's very interesting when you think about it, the slaves who left here to go to America, because of their steadfast and their religion and their belief in freedom, helped change America." - Dakar, Senegal, July 8, 2003

"Security is the essential roadblock to achieving the road map to peace." - Washington, D.C., July 25, 2003

"I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves." - Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2003

"See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." - Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 3, 2003

"[W]hether they be Christian, Jew, or Muslim, or Hindu, people have heard the universal call to love a neighbor just like they'd like to be called themselves." - Washington, Oct. 8, 2003

"The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the - the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice." - Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2003

"So thank you for reminding me about the importance of being a good mom and a great volunteer as well." - St. Louis, Jan. 5, 2004

"And if you're interested in the quality of education and you're paying attention to what you hear at Laclede, why don't you volunteer? Why don't you mentor a child how to read?" - St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 5, 2004

"[T]he illiteracy level of our children are appalling." - Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2004

"I was a prisoner too, but for bad reasons." - To Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, on being told that all but one of the Argentine delegates to a summit meeting were imprisoned during the military dictatorship, Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 13, 2004

"More Muslims have died at the hands of killers than - I say more Muslims - a lot of Muslims have died - I don't know the exact count - at Istanbul. Look at these different places around the world where there's been tremendous death and destruction because killers kill." - Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2004

"See, one of the interesting things in the Oval Office - I love to bring people into the Oval Office - right around the corner from here - and say, this is where I office, but I want you to know the office is always bigger than the person." - Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2004

"God loves you, and I love you. And you can count on both of us as a powerful message that people who wonder about their future can hear." - Los Angeles, Calif., March 3, 2004

"Recession means that people's incomes, at the employer level, are going down, basically, relative to costs, people are getting laid off." - Washington, D.C., Feb. 19, 2004

"This is historic times." - New York, N.Y., April 20, 2004

"My job is to, like, think beyond the immediate." - Washington, D.C., April 21, 2004

"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein." - Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004

"I want to thank my friend, Sen. Bill Frist, for joining us today. ... He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. (Laughter.) Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me." - Nashville, Tenn., May 27, 2004

"I mean, if you've ever been a governor of a state, you understand the vast potential of broadband technology, you understand how hard it is to make sure that physics, for example, is taught in every classroom in the state. It's difficult to do. It's, like, cost-prohibitive." - Washington, D.C., June 24, 2004

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." - Washington, D.C., August 5, 2004

"Secondly, the tactics of our-as you know, we don't have relationships with Iran. I mean, that's-ever since the late '70s, we have no contacts with them, and we've totally sanctioned them. In other words, there's no sanctions-you can't-we're out of sanctions." - Annandale, Va., Aug. 9, 2004

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country." - Sept. 6, 2004, Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Posted by duver001 at 12:55 PM

February 7, 2005

I hope my 5 year old twin girls don't get any ideas!

Four year old boy drives mom's car to the video store, and returns home. Hitting a couple of parked cars and a police cruiser along the way. New rule, stick-shifts only if there are little ones in the household.

My girls have really enjoyed the times when they have been able to "drive the car" sitting in my lap...up the dirt driveway in Idaho, or doing donuts in the empty parking lot after the ice storm... And they're going to try cart racing in the Spring.

Posted by duver001 at 12:56 PM

January 28, 2005

Children arrested for a drawing made in school

Believe it or not. Really serious criminals, aged 9 and 10. Look at that scary drawing! I know I won't let the police see Sylvia's vampire drawing...

Posted by duver001 at 12:26 AM

January 25, 2005

January 9, 2005

Old twin picture

Twins at the Minnesota Folk Festival a few years back. Added to be blog by their request.

Posted by duver001 at 12:39 PM

January 6, 2005

The victums of economic and technological progress?

One of the scarier answer's the's question of what do you believe to be true, but can not prove, posed to scientists. All of the text here.

Psychologist; Author, Emotional Intelligence

I believe, but cannot prove, that today's children are unintended victims of economic and technological progress.

To be sure, greater wealth and advanced technology offers all of us better lives in many ways. Yet these unstoppable forces seem to have had some disastrous results in how they have been transforming childhood. Even as children's IQs are on a steady march upward over the last century, the last three decades have
seen a major drop in children's most basic social and emotional skills — the very abilities that would make them effective workers and leaders, parents and
spouses, and members of the community.

Of course there are always individual exceptions — children who grow up to be outstanding human beings. But the Bell Curve for social and emotional abilities seems to be sliding in the wrong direction. The most compelling data comes from a random national sample of more than 3,000 American children ages seven to sixteen — chosen to represent the entire nation — rated by their parents and teachers, adults who know the well. First done in the early 1970s, and then roughly fifteen years later, in the mid-80s, and again in the late 1990s, the results showed a startling decline.

The most precipitous drop occurred between the first and second cohorts: American children were more withdrawn, sulky and unhappy, anxious and depressed, impulsive and unable to concentrate, delinquent and aggressive. Between the early 1970s and the mid-80s, they did more poorly on 42 indicators, better on none. In the late 1990s, scores crept back up a bit, but were nowhere near as high as they had been on the first round, in the early 70s.

That's the data. What I believe, but can't prove, is that this decline is due in large part to economic and technological forces. For one, the ratcheting upward of global competition means that over the last two decades or so each generation of parents has had to work longer to maintain the same standard of living that their own parents had — virtually every family has two working parents today, while 50 years ago the norm was only one. It's not that today's parents love their children any less, but that they have less free time to spend with them than was true in their parents' day.

Increasing mobility means that fewer children live in the same neighborhood as their extended families — and so no longer have surrogate parenting from close
relatives. Day care cn be excellent, particularly for children of privileged families, but too often means less well-to-do children get too little caring attention in their day.

For the middle class, childhood has become overly organized, a tight schedule of dance or piano lessons and soccer games, children shuttled from one adult-run
activity to another. This has eroded the free time in which children can play together on their own, in their own way.

When it comes to learning social and emotional skills, I suspect the lessoning of open time with family, relatives and other children translates into a loss of the very activities that have traditionally allowed the natural transmission of these skills.

Then there's the technological factor. Today's children spend more time than ever in human history alone, staring at a video monitor. That amounts to a natural experiment in childrearing on an unprecedented scale. While this may mean children as adults will be more at ease with their computers, I doubt it does anything but de-skill them when it comes to relating to each other person-to-person.

We know that the prefrontal-limbic neural circuitry crucial for social and emotional abilities is the last part of the human brain to become anatomically mature, not finishing this developmental task until the mid-20s. During that window, children's life abilities become set as neurons come online and are
interconnected for better or for worse. A child's experiences dictate how those connections are made.

A smart strategy for helping every child get the right social and emotional skill-building would be to bring such lessons into the classroom rather than leaving it to chance. My hunch, which I can't prove, is that this offers the best way to keep children from paying of modern life for us all.

From the same source, also on children...

Writer and Developmental Psychologist; Author, The Nurture Assumption

I believe, though I cannot prove it, that three—not two—selection processes were involved in human evolution.

The first two are familiar: natural selection, which selects for fitness, and sexual selection, which selects for sexiness.

The third process selects for beauty, but not sexual beauty—not adult beauty. The ones doing the selecting weren't potential mates: they were parents. Parental selection, I call it.

What gave me the idea was a passage from a book titled Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, by the anthropologist Marjorie Shostak. Nisa was about fifty years old when she recounted to Shostak, in remarkable detail, the story of her life as a member of a hunter-gatherer group.

One of the incidents described by Nisa occurred when she was a child. She had a brother named Kumsa, about four years younger than herself. When Kumsa was around three, and still nursing, their mother realized she was pregnant again. She explained to Nisa that she was planning to "kill"—that is, abandon at birth—the new baby, so that Kumsa could continue to nurse. But when the baby was born, Nisa's mother had a change of heart. "I don't want to kill her," she told Nisa. "This little girl is too beautiful. See how lovely and fair her skin is?"

Standards of beauty differ in some respects among human societies; the !Kung are lighter-skinned than most Africans and perhaps they pride themselves on this feature. But Nisa's story provides a insight into two practices that used to be widespread and that I believe played an important role in human evolution: the abandonment of newborns that arrived at inopportune times (this practice has been documented in many human societies by anthropologists), and the use of aesthetic criteria to tip the scales in doubtful cases.

Coupled with sexual selection, parental selection could have produced certain kinds of evolutionary changes very quickly, even if the heartbreaking decision of whether to rear or abandon a newborn was made in only a small percentage of births. The characteristics that could be affected by parental selection would have to be apparent even in a newborn baby. Two such characteristics are skin color and hairiness.

Parental selection can help to explain how the Europeans, who are descended from Africans, developed white skin over such a short period of time. In Africa, a cultural preference for light skin (such as Nisa's mother expressed) would have been counteracted by other factors that made light skin impractical. But in less sunny Europe, light skin may actually have increased fitness, which means that all three selection processes might have worked together to produce the rapid change in skin color.

Parental selection coupled with sexual selection can also account for our hairlessness. In this case, I very much doubt that fitness played a role; other mammals of similar size—leopards, lions, zebras, gazelle, baboons, chimpanzees, and gorillas—get along fine with fur in Africa, where the change to hairlessness presumably took place. I believe (though I cannot prove it) that the transition to hairlessness took place quickly, over a short evolutionary time period, and involved only Homo sapiens or its immediate precursor.

It was a cultural thing. Our ancestors thought of themselves as "people" and thought of fur-bearing creatures as "animals," just as we do. A baby born too hairy would have been distinctly less appealing to its parents.

If I am right that the transition to hairlessness occurred very late in the sequence of evolutionary changes that led to us, then this can explain two of the mysteries of paleoanthropology: the survival of the Neanderthals in Ice Age Europe, and their disappearance about 30,000 years ago.

I believe, though I cannot prove it, that Neanderthals were covered with a heavy coat of fur, and that Homo erectus, their ancestor, was as hairy as the modern chimpanzee. A naked Neanderthal could never have made it through the Ice Age. Sure, he had fire, but a blazing hearth couldn't keep him from freezing when he was out on a hunt. Nor could a deerskin slung over his shoulders, and there is no evidence that Neanderthals could sew. They lived mostly on game, so they had to go out to hunt often, no matter how rotten the weather. And the game didn't hang around conveniently close to the entrance to their cozy cave.

The Neanderthals disappeared when Homo sapiens, who by then had learned the art of sewing, took over Europe and Asia. This new species, descended from a southern branch of Homo erectus, was unique among primates in being hairless. In their view, anything with fur on it could be classified as "animal"—or, to put it more bluntly, game. Neanderthal disappeared in Europe for the same reason the woolly mammoth disappeared there: the ancestors of the modern Europeans ate them. In Africa today, hungry humans eat the meat of chimpanzees and gorillas.

At present, I admit, there is insufficient evidence either to confirm or disconfirm these suppositions. However, evidence to support my belief in the furriness of Neanderthals may someday be found. Everything we currently know about this species comes from hard stuff like rocks and bones. But softer things, such as fur, can be preserved in glaciers, and the glaciers are melting. Someday a hiker may come across the well-preserved corpse of a furry Neanderthal.

Posted by duver001 at 12:48 PM

December 12, 2004

Ten year old arrested, cuffed, and suspended for having scissors...

Not to mention the almost certainly illegal search that started the whole business. When scissors are outlawed...

Update: Reduced to a two day suspension! No word on the lawsuits yet.

Posted by duver001 at 9:39 PM

December 7, 2004

Computers and education

If there's more than one computer at home, children's performance in math and reading (on average) drop significantly. The study seems to show that the mere availability of computers decreases academic ability. Since computers correlate with wealth and therefore with baseline educational success, those effects were taken out. There's an interesting discussion of this, and related issues, on Slashdot with a lot of emphasis on the negatives of many computers in the classroom (rather than the home). I'd guess that slashdotters in general are well-computered at home...

Posted by duver001 at 3:19 PM

December 3, 2004

What the Bush "sex ed" program is teaching

The false consequences of sex: A congressional report criticizes "abstinence-only" programs, finding that most are giving children inaccurate information.

By Gary Younge

Dec. 3, 2004 | The Bush administration is funding sexual health projects that teach children that HIV can be contracted through sweat and tears, that touching genitals can result in pregnancy and that a 43-day-old fetus is a thinking person.

A congressional analysis of more than a dozen federally funded "abstinence-only programs" unveiled a litany of "false, misleading and distorted information" in teaching materials after reviewing curriculums designed to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

There are more than 100 abstinence programs, involving several million children ages 9 to 18, and running in 25 states since 1999. They are funded by the federal government to the tune of $170 million, twice the amount being spent when George W. Bush first came to power.

The money goes to religious, civic and medical organizations as grants. To qualify, the programs may talk about types of contraception only in terms of their failure rates, not in terms of how to use them or the possible benefits.

The survey was conducted by the staff of Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a long-standing Democratic critic of the Republican administration's approach to sex education. His team concentrated on the 13 programs that are most widely used, and found that only two of them were accurate. "It is absolutely vital that the health education provided to America's youth be scientifically and medically accurate," Waxman said. "The abstinence-only programs reviewed in this report fail to meet this standard."

Other "facts" include that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the U.S. have tested positive for HIV and that condoms fail to prevent transmission of HIV in 31 percent of incidents of heterosexual intercourse. The U.S. government's own figures contradict all of these assertions.

A.C. Green's Game Plan -- a program named after a basketball player who said he would not have sex before marriage -- teaches: "The popular claim that condoms help prevent the spread of STDs is not supported by the data."

Waxman told the Washington Post: "I don't think we ought to lie to our children about science. Something is seriously wrong when federal tax dollars are being used to mislead kids about basic health facts."

But government officials said Waxman's report rehashed old anti-abstinence prejudices for political purposes. Alma Golden, the deputy assistant health and human services secretary for population affairs, said it took statements out of context to present programs in the worst possible light. "These issues have been raised before and discredited," Golden said. "One thing is very clear for our children: Abstaining from sex is the most effective means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, STDs, and preventing pregnancy."

Waxman also criticized some programs for reinforcing sexist stereotypes to children. One -- Why Know -- says: "Women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men's happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments." Another program, Wait Training, says: "Just as a woman needs to feel a man's devotion to her, a man has a primary need to feel a woman's admiration. To admire a man is to regard him with wonder, delight, and approval. A man feels admired when his unique characteristics and talents happily amaze her."

Posted by duver001 at 3:10 PM

No Child Left Behind = Military Recruiting Scheme?

Who'd have guessed? Though the No Child Left Behind has many other purposes, including being a hallmark of the brilliant legal naming scheme now at work. If it sounds good, how could it be bad?

Posted by duver001 at 12:47 AM

November 17, 2004

RFID tags for kids!!!

Okay, I'm getting closer to giving up on the stupidities in this country. People envy our freedom!?! NYT article. "It'll keep children from being kidnapped." As crime rates approach historic lows...

Fortunately, it might take a while to get from Texas to Minnesota...

Posted by duver001 at 12:45 PM

October 24, 2004

Continuing the children's clothes theme with Halloween

Well, the Britney thing continues with Popstar Costumes down to sizes 2 and 4 in some designs. Some of the teen costumes are a bit further over the top, but the sizes are, well, headed into teen territory and that's a little something. With no sense of irony, the Harem costumes also extend down to the preschool harem wannabe. How sweet!

And, in talking about influences on children, and truly weird stories...the lavatory in which Martin Luther spent many hours contemplating the sacred (and presumably the profane) has been unearthed by archeologists. If you can answer the question raised in the article, I'd be happy to hear about it.

Posted by duver001 at 7:02 PM

October 21, 2004

Diatribe against sexualized clothing for children

Teen stripper outfits, preteen stripper outfits, and highly sexualized girls clothing aimed at toddlers and elementary school children. I'm annoyed. Heck, disgusted in fact. Recently I had noticed a couple of repellent outfits (a size 7/8 (that's for seven or eight year olds, but what fit my daughters who are less than 6) skirt with the words "sweet meat" printed on the butt, for example) and been discussing this with D. who has noted many such clothing mistakes. Thongs for children as young as seven. See-through skirts and tops. PVC dresses for preteens.

I am not usually accused of being either a prude or socially conservative (hey, back me up here, would you folks?), and am not opposed to these clothing items on people who understand them. Anyway, I might be worsed to rant again about this at a later date.

Christian Science Monitor, on preteen clothing.

LA Times on "tween" marketing.

Madonna designed clothing for ages 2-16.

Thongs for the 7-14 year old crowd.

Posted by duver001 at 9:06 PM

October 10, 2004

Cutup for M&S aged 5.5

My blowing in how I taken a two. Long the wind, short hair hand. Dare ruffled by the Dada the moonlight? Should school bus Now you you twob ath before going back morning, we'll and shave to little gals, hair Momma's place evaluation our lunches get up jar, the classroom. In the, brush for room 107 teeth and breakfasts. I tickle you in tomorrow? Your love the two of you. hair, dress and eat our legos are there are some more in the Make early, shower and meet the sleep promptly at 7:05. so peacefully my love you Mrs. Campbell have dears. How I nicely packed away and.

Posted by duver001 at 7:21 PM