Tarheeltalker

Scary Things

Tomorrow is Halloween and that means different things depending probably on your age as much as anything else. For the little people, it means legally sanctioned plundering. All the candy and goodies and McDonald’s coupons you can persuade people to give you. Fyi, don’t you hate it when people  who are old enough to know better come to your door with no costume  and a pillowcase, asking for a handout?

Then there are us old curmudgeonly types who just wish the holiday no longer existed and we did not have to be with the incessant door knocking and door bell ringing, even though we did it ourselves once upon  a time. Halloween etiquette says you must give out treats if you turn on your porch light. That one was shared by DiNozzo on NCIS  just recently.

Of course, there are adult Halloween parties and haunted houses to attend. No, the Capitol building is not one of them. Costumes at these parties seem to run the gamut from ridiculously expensive to just ridiculous.

I would be remiss if I failed to toss a memorial bone in the direction of our sainted golden retriever, Rameses. This kindly soul, who loved all and thought  that all loved him was quite excited by the constant parade of visitors to the house, just to see him, of  course. I remember one year in which he slipped out the door and proceeded to accompany a group of trick or treaters on their rounds for a while. Apparently sensory overload brought him back home.

Scary movies, pass;try to avoid them. MSNBC OR CNN is usually enough for me. That brings me to this and I really hate to admit it. When channel surfing earlier today, I came across Chris Matthews and heard him speak of Afghanistan. What I heard sounded something like us. Either defeat the Taliban or get out. Wow, something that sounded rather close to what I think. Did it really occur or was it  a Halloween mirage?

Don’t know for sure. Gotta go and write that letter quickly to the Great Pumpkin. Wait for me Linus.

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October 30, 2009 Posted by | Children, Culture | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Did You Eat Breakfast Today?

The breaking of the fast, aka breakfast, has long been my favorite meal. Give me my coffee and  an egg mcmuffin or dounts  or  just regular muffins or any one of an almost endless number of  choices, always including coffee of course, and I am content. Alas, it has not always been so. As an elementary school student, my sisters had quite  a difficult chore persuading me to eat before school. Probably because I had yet to discover coffee.

Were I an elementary school student in Philadelphia today, I would be in trouble according to an article by Philadelphia Inquirer writer Alfred Lubrano. It seems that the City of Brotherly Love will now hold its school principals accountable for their students eating breakfast. Currently, only  33% of the school district’s 165,000 students eat breakfast, although it is free regardless of family income. The numbers vary widely from school to school , with some scoring 98% success rates and others as low as  18%.

Listen to those who are happy and those who are not. Kathy Fisher, PCCY  family economic security associate, Michael Masch, school system chief financial officer, Jim Weill, President of  the Washington based Food Research and Action Center,attorney Jonathan Stein with Community Legal Services ( he says it’s an exciting thing) Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, Wayne Grasela, sr vice-president of food services for the district, These folks are all on board. Principals were not quoted in the article. But, can you imagine your job status being affected by whether or not a sufficient number of children eat breakfast?

Ah, but what about  those who ate at home? The target numbers, which will vary from school to school, already have made reasonable allowances for that. Wonder how number crunchers arrived at that?

So, for the systema as a  whole, the goal in 2 years is to go from 33% to  43%. Not much of a goal it doesn’t  seem. But, remember, this is all for the children. Studies show that a child who eats breakfast learns at a better rate. I bet I would work at a better rate if my employer provided me breakfast. Guess I shouldn’t hold ny breath waiting for that to happen though.

Two final comments and these are good ones. The Pennsylvania Department of Education ruled earlier this year that  if students eat breakfast in class with a teacher present, it counts as instructional time. Learning about food groups and caloric content, I guess. Finally, from the  afore-mentioned Mr Weill, “School breakfast is so important that it makes sense to hold people in the system accountable.”

The nanny state wins anther one!

October 8, 2009 Posted by | Children, Culture | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t Tax My Mello Yello

Where else could this come from but San Francisco? yes, the good ole left coast, where I actually have  a couple of friends. The mayor of Frisco, Mr Gavin Newsom wants to go after the soda. ( He does not have a slogan; maybe soak the sodas or sink the sodas would do) He says that it is for health reasons, reducing obesity, cutting health costs etc. The mayor even called soft drinks the new tobacco. Bet he will have trouble with that second hand part though.Lots of interesting things about this. Keep one thing in particular in mind. Ideas, particularly those rooted in government, that appear offbeat, often begin in California. If they work, i.e. raise revenue, they often migrate eastward.  That may well be Mayor Newsom’s main goal with any health benefits that ensue, just gravy(pardon the pun but I could have said icing on the cake).

Individual containers of soft drinks cannot be taxed sans voter approval, so the  approach is to tax retailers, Safeway, Kroger , etc. Do you think his Board of Supervisors will approve? Pretty good odds on that  one. No word    yet on  the amount of the tax or how it would be spent. Check out this quote  from Newsom. ” We know we’ll be sued…But I really believe this is important to do.” His idea gained traction from a UCLA study linking  soda and obesity in California. The study’s lead author is Susan Babey. She pointed out that teens are unaware of  the dietary and health risks associated with consuming “liquid sugar”.

A few numbers before we go. The UCLA study said  that adults who drink one soft drink per day are a whopping 27% more likely to be obese.( Question, how do we know that soft drinks are the sole  or even main reason for that number?) Second number states that 41% of children and 62% of teens (presumably in California) drink at least one soft drink daily. Big, big question. How do they know that? And a major emphasis on that word, know.  Gotta hurry and stock up on Mello Yello while I can and figure out a safe hiding place. Or would it just be easier to once again thank the             government from saving me from yet another evil foisted upon me by the evils of  advertising? Tough question.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | Children, Culture, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Wish I Were in Public School Again

At the ripe old age of 58, I realize that is unlikely to happen. Besides, as I have previously posted I didn’t like it all that much the first time. But now, it would be different. For , you see, something is going to happen on September 8, 2009 that has never happened in the history of American public education.

President Barack Obama is going to make a live  address to all public school students on the above referenced day. Wonder what he will say ? Will there be any advance notice of the topic?  What could be the purpose of such  a speech? For example, what benefit are children in the early grades(K–2) going to get from it ? Is it a type of indoctrination as I have seen from some who are concerned? Or is that an overreaction? Hard to say without  knowing somthing about his speech. I really am a bit disturbed about it  in some ways and would in all likelihood feel the same regardless of which President was speaking. For example, when a President makes a prime time address whichis somewhat commonplace, there is an option or two available. Watch something else or turn off the television come to mind. In the public school  setting, there is the prototypical captive audience.  Plus, teachers will presumbly have beenpreparing their students in advance for the address. Who is the President, what do you know about him, etc.

Also, bear in mind that teachers or at least their unions skew heavily Democrat  and this could be  a  factoras well. So, should parents who have doubts keep their children at home, go with them if possible or what? What about home schooled children or children in private schools? Are they automatically excluded? Just seems to be lots of unanswered questions. I suppose I am just thinking out loud, so to speak, since  my children are long gone from public school. I do have  a 4th grade grandson and I will surely be interested to hear his take on the speech.

Oh, one more thing, if a child is kept home that day by their parents, will they  be excused or not? So many questions and so few answers. Michele Malkin has a great post on the topic today, entitled “No Junior Lobbyist Left Behind.” She has  some good references of other  examples of children being “used”  politically.

September 2, 2009 Posted by | Children, education, Media | , , , | 27 Comments

I Wish I Understood This

I read an article about Lemon Grove Middle School just the other day. The school is located in the town of the same name and is  located about ten miles from San Diego.The school has approximately 750- 800 students in grades 6-8. So far, so good , I understand all that. What principal Mr. Ambler  Moss recently did just kinda boggled my mind. He enrolled 34 native Spanish speakers in the school’s Advanced Placement Spanish Class. I have tried all day to come up with  a valid comparison to this  and kept coming up empty. The story gets even  better when you  hear his analysis. By the way, the students achieved high marks ( good grades),  what a shocker there.

Our principal says ” This gives them confidence. We’re  turning a historical disadvantage into an economic and intellectual  asset.” What did he say? I’m really not sure but it certainly sounded  good, did it not? Economic asset? Intellectual asset? Or, did the high scores they achieved make the school’s scores look better? Bottom line, what did these students learn? I bet it was not  Spanish which they doubtless already knew rather well. I have a sister who is a long tenured kindergarten teacher. Perhaps, when she reads this , she can explain it a bit better.

Just remember,this is our education tax dollars at work. Dollars that are going to dramatically increase( we already spend more per student than anywhere else in the world) and for what? I am a product of the public school system when it was quite simpler and cheaper  than it is today. I think there there was probably far less federal involvement as well. Ask yourself, is our educational system better today than say 25, 30 or 35  years ago? Why or why not?

Hint, $ and more $ are not the answer.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Children, Culture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beware of the Yuck

I recently read about a London based organization called the National Children’s Fund ; of course it is government sponsored .These folks have issued a 366 page report about racist behavior in babies and children. Babies ,they say, must be included because they can recognize different people in their lives, duh . And why is that a problem; dont know . But one should also be aware of children who”react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying yuck ” So, be careful what you say when there is a food put before you- eat it quietly or develop a quick case of the i am fulls . The list of potential foods that could be offensive could be grits , sweet tea or barbecue among others. Just dont say I didnt warn you.

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Children | , | 1 Comment