Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday potpourri

Cleaning out the old files...

10 Funniest Windows Error Messages

In Oakland, CA, 2nd graders had sex in class, while the teacher was present, on at least two separate occasions, according to this CBS story. Now, I've gotten used to the idea that kids will screw in class, in front of the teacher, their peers, and the recording eye of cell phones nowadays- judging by this story and this story and this story and this story and this story and this story and this story. But at least those kids were ten or more years old; the kids in Oakland were 7 and 8. Now maybe it's true, as was suggested when I brought the subject up the first time, that kids from the fifth grade on up have always screwed in class, and I just didn't hear about it when I was that age- but I'm finding it hard to believe that of 7 year olds. I tend to blame the coarsening of the popular arts for the sexualization of children these days, but like Tipper Gore and Dan Quayle before me, I get laughed at for suggesting it. I notice, however, that some of the same people who believe raunchy TV and videos have no effect on kids are the same people who think a few words from Sarah Palin will turn adults into mind-numbed robots programmed to kill.

9/11 Museum execs cash in big. "Schoolchildren thought their penny jars and bake-sale proceeds would go toward building a 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero -- not the six-figure salaries of nonprofit execs. But 11 staffers at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum each pulled down more than $170,000 in total compensation in 2009, according to the most recent filings. Four execs took home more than $320,000."Read more here

Did you think it was just a stunt when the newly elected Congress began with a reading of the Constitution? It might have been more needed than you think- according to this study, elected officials tend to know even less about key provisions of the Constitution than the general public!

Ever had a hard time getting out of jury duty? this cat knows how you feel!

The difference between private schools and public schools.

The recent astrology controversy made this blogger realize that Astrology is like Nascar


Chalicechick said...

I'm skeptical of both the "sexualization of the media" and the "Sarah Palin caused the Arizona shooting" concepts. For one thing, as Dick Cavett famously observed, comedy on television is not causing "comedy in the streets."

For another, violence and sex on TV are way up while teen pregnancy and violent crime are way down.

For a third, as sexualized as the media is, the media remains pretty shy about the penis and you just don't see an image of a woman giving oral sex to a man in the popular media that makes it clear enough what is going on for a little kid to pick up on that alone. For the specific case you're citing, I can think of two explanations:

1. Someone found Mom and Dad's porn stash
2. Someone learned that act from an adult who is abusing them.

This case has gotten enough attention that I'm sure social services is going to find out which of those is the correct answer. I hope it is 1.


Joel Monka said...

I'm hoping for #1, too.

Amy said...

Who are these people who actually "think a few words from Sarah Palin will turn adults into mind-numbed robots programmed to kill"? I know many smart people (I'm one) who think that it is highly irresponsible to put a crosshairs over a district, the way Palin did, or to make coy jokes about "helping remove" one's opponent "from office" by "shooting a fully automatic M16", as Jesse Kelly did, but who aren't suggesting that that's all it takes to make someone spray a crowd with gunfire.

Likewise, I don't think the increased explicit sex in the media can bear all of the blame for the 2nd-grade-sex story, but I still think it's a problem.

Joel Monka said...

Amy- "I know many smart people (I'm one) who think that it is highly irresponsible to put a crosshairs over a district, the way Palin did,..." Did you think it was irresponsible in 2004 when the DLC did it? I've run a couple searches, and I cannot find a single pundit, blogger, or political analyst who did. Were there no smart people on the DLC?

CC and Amy both- the argument that there's a cultural influence in the children's behavior goes beyond the kids learning the mechanics of the act. After all, any 2nd grader permitted to watch television knows how to kill someone; but as CC noted, violence is down. But there are multiple levels beyond knowing how in these incidents: 1. the presumption that they, children, should, or should want to do these things. 2. That these things can and should be done in public. 3. That enough children think sex is a public event that partners can be found when one wants to. 4. That having decided that it is a public event, the venue chosen was not a friend's house or garage or yard, or a playground or park, but the classroom. 5. That the kids had no fear of the teacher's reaction. Granted, it turns out they had no reason to fear the teacher's reaction, but what made them believe that before the fact?

It is those attitudes that I think pop culture has affected, and what is meant by the sexualization of the media, and kids- not that knowledge has been disseminated, but that new cultural attitudes and mores have been.

Chalicechick said...

The "sexual abuse" theory has it's own answers to those questions. I'm going to be an optimist and focus on the "porn stash" theory, which presumes a kid discovering the mechanics of a forbidden act without having any of the cultural context we associate with sex.

1. When I was something like five, my Dad got up from the table and I took a big swig of his Bloody Mary. Why? Because it was a grown up drink so it had to be better than kid drinks. If an adult is keeping magazines showing how to play grown-up games hidden away, those games must be fun.

2. They were done in front of a camera and printed in a magazine. Going to the bathroom is private, but I've never seen that in a magazine. Things that are private aren't in magazines, so why would this grown up game be private?

3. Hey Jimbo, want to play a grown up game I found in my Dad's magazine?

4. I'm bored and we're all running around having free time. Jamie and Mike are wrestling. Hey! That reminds me of the game in my Mom's magazine. Hey Jimbo...

5. The teacher doesn't seem to mind Jamie and Mike wrestling. This is a little like wrestling.