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January 7, 2005

Neato stuff

• I was struck by a recent post on Duvernois Blog entitled The victums of economic and technological progress? (sic) wherein the author of an essay posted on the site argues that today's children are actually being hurt by technological progress in America, especially in the realm of social abilities. The article states, "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."

Ouch, that definitely makes me think about my own kids, who definitely spend more time in front of the computer, TV, and video game monitors than I ever did. In addition, the article states:

[T]he 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The most precipitous drop occurred between the first and second cohorts: American children were more withdrawn, sulky and unhappy, anxious and depressed, impulsive and unable to concentrate, delinquent and aggressive.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.

Fascinating stuff, and truth be told I think the author is right. It makes me want to take all that stuff away from my kids and raise them like Ma and Pa Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie." Unfortunately I don't have any cows or chickens. Of course, read the whole article if you are interested.

• Articles like that make me more and more happy that my son and I are involved with Cub Scouts. We had another wonderful Den meeting last night where the boys made rubber band guns for a "Craftsman" activity badge project. You know, this seemed like a great idea at the time, but it also turned out to be a little dangerous. Take 7 nine-year old boys and put them in a small room with rubber band guns and an unlimited supply of rubber bands, and you've got trouble plain and simple. And it started with the fact that the rubber bands we bought were too small for the guns. So, every time some of the boys tried to load their guns, the clothes pin that was supposed to hold the rubber band would not be able to hold it and rubber bands would shoot in all sorts of directions. Pulled really tight and at short range those buggers can really hurt! So, imagine 7 boys shooting rubber bands every which way and you have a picture of my evening last night. I don't think I've ever heard the words, "Watch where you are pointing that thing!" said so many times in my life.

Then, after we got finished with the guns we built a fire in the backyard, sang some songs, and ate carmel apples. It was freezing outside, but everyone had a great time laughing and telling stories. Truly, what would my son and I do without Cub Scouts? Good people, good friends, and lots of fun.

• After I got I home, my wife and I watched the movie Napoleon Dynamite. napoleon.jpg This was a very quirky movie that I couldn't help but fall in love with. The movie is difficult to explain since nothing really too exciting happens, but the characters of Napoleon, Kip, Deb, Pedro, and Rico are so interesting and weird that I was mesmerized by their mundane lives. I can't imagine how a movie like this gets made. The director/writer walks into a studio office and says, "I've got a great idea. Let's make a movie about some people of questionable intelligence set in the middle of Idaho. The main character will never smile, he'll have a little attitude problem, the audience will think he is a moron, and his favorite thing to say will be 'Sweet!' His friends and family will all be exceptionally quirky, and nothing will really happen throughout the entire movie. And by the way, there will be no profanity, sex, or anything controversial of any kind. What do you think?" What does a studio executive say to this? Well in the case of Napoleon Dynamite, the executive must have said, "Where do I sign up?" And you know what? It really works. The movie was hilarious. I am a better person for having seen that movie.

• Finally, Sid Hartman reported yesterday:

There have been rumors that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor was close to a deal with Vikings owner Red McCombs to buy the NFL team, but Taylor said, "I have not talked to McCombs in more than a month. There is nothing new. I'm still interested in the team."

One of Taylor's concerns is that if he does buy the Vikings, the Legislature might be less inclined to support a new stadium because they wouldn't worry about Taylor moving the team.

That sucks. Hopefully Sid doesn't have a clue what he is talking about, which is highly likely, and Taylor is just trying to lay low. Also, I don't know how the Vikings stadium chances could get any worse, so I don't share Taylor's concern that the legislature might not give him any love. It all comes down to how much up front cash you put on the table, Mr. Taylor. Make it a substantial amount and I would think the legislature would be more amenable to helping you out.

Posted by snackeru at January 7, 2005 8:58 AM | Life


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