Neurotic Nurturings with Food

29 09 2006

September 28, 2006
Memo to Nanny: No Juice Boxes
By Jodi Kantor

“The issue is a trying one even for those gifted in the delicate art of
parent-nanny diplomacy. The conflicts are partly a result of the
educational and economic divide that leaves many nannies less
knowledgeable (or neurotic, take your pick) about nutrition than their
employers. But it is also partly a struggle over the emotional issues
involved in leaving a child in another person’s care. . .

plate of so-called junk food

Check out Snook link list for lots more (like this for instance) on how we get neurotic about kids and food —


29 09 2006

Definitely not for little children. Something tells me we’ll be hearing a whole lot about this one soon — JJ

Playground Rules: No Hitting, No Sex

“Little Children,” Todd Field’s superb film adaptation of the novel by Tom Perrotta, begins in a clean and leafy suburban playground, where toddlers cavort under the watchful, benevolent gazes of their pretty young mothers.

This may strike you as a rare tableau of innocence in a hectic world, unless, that is, you have spent time in such a place. For the playground really is a scene of primordial brutality, in which a few agreed-upon rules — play nice, share your toys, no hitting — barely suppress the essential savagery of the human species.

I’m not talking about the kids; they’re perfectly sweet. “Little Children,” its title notwithstanding, is a rigorous study of adult behavior . . .
. . .the chorus of viciously competitive moms, who reappear now and then throughout the movie to pass judgment and enforce social norms, amounts to a caricature, tinged with snobbery and misogyny. . . .

Set in a Massachusetts suburb and filmed mainly on studio sets, “Little Children,” which will be shown this weekend at the New York Film Festival before opening in New York and Los Angeles next Friday, balances tenderness with satire. It takes seriously the complaints of people whose lives are, by any objective historical measure, almost impossibly privileged (though they would no doubt describe themselves as middle class) . . . Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Show: Different Strokes for Different Folks?

29 09 2006

Senate Chamber Desks

The prolific Diane Flynn Keith sends out a daily home-learning link to subscribers, this one a refreshing change to what passes for government and political news, especially in Congressional election years. See more about this in a minute . . .

But first, did you catch the Daily Show last night??

I squirmed through an unfunny, peephole-sex-would-be-classier episode of the often smart and satiric show last night — with my kids, my bad! — and was ready to call the cable censors myself.

“Daily Show” viewers are 78 percent more likely than the average adult to have four or more years of college education, while O’Reilly’s audience is only 24 percent more likely to have that much schooling. . .

(Are they kidding? No kidding, nothing “kidding” nor informative about the Sept 28 episode, which isn’t for kids or their moms, imo. But don’t go look now, dummy! It’s flat and smarmy and sad. The biggest joke of the day was when the interview with a real elected political figure, actually in the news for writing a lies-sex-and-government scandal book, segued so seamlessly from pathetic-guy masturbation in libraries as tv journalism -also apparently based on real news rather than fake?)

I’ll get over it, likely watch again next week — I have so much college education myself that it’s probably compulsory for me like it or not . . . But I know thinking moms and kids who’d prefer something like Diane’s recommended site of the day, for THEIR daily dose of fun political news and info at home.

History of Signed Senate Desks

One difficulty in verifying the desks’ 19th century assignees is the fact that for many years Senate doorkeepers closely guarded such privileged information. Isaac Bassett, who worked in the Senate Chamber from 1831 to 1895, feared that souvenir hunters might damage the historic furniture if it was widely known which pieces were used by such famous senators as Read the rest of this entry »

Should Educators Encourage Student Activism Online?

28 09 2006

PBS Teacher Source blog is linked here now:
Should Educators Encourage Online Student Political Activism?
by Andy Carvin

Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak at a forum hosted by George Washington University on the impact of online social networks in politics.

It was the last place I expected to be talking about teachers and media literacy, but somehow the conversation ended up steering in that direction. . .

SEED Mag’s Business Math Homework

28 09 2006

A billionaire ex-mathematician believes he has a simple formula for improving math education and making America more competitive.
by Joshua Roebke
September 19, 2006

Math for America started over a game of poker. . . .When he looked around the room, it struck him that the assembled brainpower and capital could be used for greater good. Chatting with a few other former mathemticians, Simons put forth an idea to improve the state of math education in America. It was a notion he’d unsuccessfully tried to publish as a New York Times editorial a few years before:
. . .Even the best curriculum in the world, the reasoning goes, isn’t going to inspire students if unqualified individuals are teaching them. . .

Read the rest of this entry »

A Mesmerizing Thought . . .

28 09 2006

I’m having fun here at because your chosen categories subscribe you to cool posts by “tag” that you’d never find or even know about, otherwise. Just saw this for instance from The Monochromatic Knight:

I’m not really interested in advocating mesmerism since it’s mostly nonsense but it did have a very curious affect on society leading up to the French Revolution.. .
In the end it wasn’t mesmerism which played a role in the French revolution as much as it was the idea of the French establishment acting against the interest of its people.
According to a recent poll, over a third of US citizens believe the government was involved with the attacks on 9/11.
Just a thought…

“Nothing is True and Everything is Permitted”

mesmerizing illustration

Gloria Steinem — Unschooler?

28 09 2006

An unschooling Mom sent this along — Gloria Steinem’s “This I Believe” article — it sounds an awful lot like unschooling to me.  🙂

All Things Considered, August 22, 2005 

Is it nature or is it nurture, heredity or society? In that great debate of our time, conservatives lean toward the former and liberals toward the latter.

I believe both are asking the wrong question. I believe it’s nature and nurture, and this is why.

I didn’t go to school until I was 12 or so. My parents thought that traveling in a house trailer was as enlightening as sitting in a classroom, so I escaped being taught some of the typical lessons of my generation: for instance, that this country was “discovered” when the first white man set foot on it, that boys and girls were practically different species, that Europe deserved more textbook space than Africa and Asia combined.

Instead, I grew up seeing with my own eyes, following my curiosity, falling in love with books, and growing up mostly around grown-ups — which, except for the books, was the way kids were raised for most of human history.

. . .

But Don’t You Worry Your Pretty Little Head

28 09 2006

This is the county just north of me. But I shouldn’t worry, the superintendent assures me. There’s no separation problem here. . .

St. Lucie churches, schools may work together to boost FCAT


September 28, 2006

FORT PIERCE — The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test likely won’t be included in Sunday school lessons, but if the St. Lucie County education chief gets his way, a group of local churches will be joining the school district to boost student achievement.Schools Superintendent Michael Lannon plans to present the idea next month at a luncheon of religious leaders, seeking to build a relationship with them on everything from mentoring students to providing FCAT assistance.\

. . .

What Banned Books Are You Reading This Week?

28 09 2006

Silver anniversary image
Happy Silver Anniversary to BANNED BOOKS WEEK, you’ve lasted half my life!
Hope you’ll be around for the rest of my life, or we’re doomed.

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas,” The One Un-American Act.” Nieman Reports, vol. 7, no. 1 (Jan. 1953): p. 20.

Eryn Haley-Brothers, who graduated from Fayetteville High last year, got a firsthand lesson in civic action when she organized students to oppose any restrictions on library books.

“The scary thing was that not many teenagers knew what was going on,” said the 18-year-old, who had read more than half the books on (book-challenging parent) Ms. Taylor’s list.

Push by Sapphire, a novel available in the school library about a young girl who suffers through poverty and incest, “was the saddest book I ever read,” Ms. Haley-Brothers said. “I could understand why someone with a conservative eye would want to ban it, but if you really look at the core of the book, it’s about poverty in America and how it affects everyone.”

Defining Fat and Happy as Family Values

28 09 2006

“The feeding and misfeeding of children has become a tense, awkward point of debate between parents and baby sitters. . .” (see “Memo to Nanny: No Juice Boxes” by Jodi Kantor, September 28.)

Can federal accountability laws for it all be far behind?
Sounds a lot like the growling ascetics who say School must be
about hard work, discipline and denial, breaking one’s will and ability to self-govern.

Fortunately the school-is-to-food analogy works in reverse too – many parents and teachers enjoy both learning and eating with kids absent force-feeding in either classroom or lunchroom:

“The empty plate club,” referring
to kids who successfully clean their plates,
sounds so sad.

“Full plate” sounds much more nurturing.

MLF Kennedy portrait

“Through her artful essays on food and life, which she first began writing in France in the 1930s, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher transformed the mundane activity of eating into a passion. A unique blend of thoughtful instruction, sense-awakening recipes, and reflections on life’s values, Fisher’s writing is everywhere informed by her conviction that our basic human needs for love, shelter, and food are indivisibly connected.”

For further reading and thinking:
The Anti-Pleasure Principle: The “food police” and the pseudoscience of
self-denial by Jacob Sullum. Reason magazine, July 2003.

Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating
by Peter Farb and George J. Armelagos. HoughtonMifflin, 279 pp., 1980.

“Original Thought” (That Isn’t)

28 09 2006

Middle class kids can be more easily trained to regurgitate pre-fabricated answers faster than children who have not had the advantage of high-literacy households, but they get just as bored and almost as angry . . .

Kids would stay awake and quit being disciplinary bothers, if their billions of neurons and synapses had something to do.

And please don’t write and accuse me of supporting fuzzy thinking that has no right answers, because if right answers and scholarly thinking are mutually exclusive, we have a huge problem on our hands.
Right answers matter a great deal, but without good thinking, they are useless. . .”

This thought isn’t new or original, from me or its author. It’s a classic.

Why Political Talk is So Hard

27 09 2006

It’s designed that way! And it’s not really meant as information;you can’t tell the issues without a glossary to the buzzwords. We don’t want to be informed by the news media anymore, just have our fixed views “validated.”
Or so says linguist GeoffNunberg on NPR today —

Political Glossary for the Midterm Elections

Listen to this story

Talk of the Nation, September 27, 2006 · Defeaticrat, culture of corruption, and security mom are all part of the election-year war of words. Guests explain the strategy behind the slogans.


Geoffrey Nunberg author most recently of the book, “Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show:;
inguist at the School of Information at Berkeley

Frank Luntz, Republican pollster