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Dangerous Things For Kids!

(from The Art of Manliness, in part)

Even though the modern world isn’t any more dangerous than it was thirty or forty years ago, it feels like a more perilous place. Or, more accurately, we inhabit the world today in a way that’s much more risk averse; for a variety of very interesting and nuanced reasons, our tolerance for risk, especially concerning our children’s safety, has steadily declined.  So we remove jungle gyms from playgrounds, ban football at recess, prohibit knives (even the butter variety) at school, and would rather have our kids playing with an iPad than rummaging through the garage or roaming around the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, as we discussed in-depth earlier this year, when you control for one set of risks, another simply arises in its place. In this case, in trying to prevent some bruises and broken bones, we also inhibit our children’s development of autonomy, competence, confidence, and resilience. In pulling them back from firsthand experiences, from handling tangible materials and demonstrating concrete efficacy, we ensconce them in a life of abstraction rather than action. By insisting on doing everything ourselves, because we can do things better and more safely, we deprive kids of the chance to make and test observations, to experiment and tinker, to fail and bounce back. In treating everything like a major risk, we prevent kids from learning how to judge the truly dangerous, from the simply unfamiliar.

Fortunately, we can restore the positive traits that have been smothered by overprotective parenting, by restoring some of the “dangerous” activities that have lately gone missing from childhood. The suggestions below on this score were taken both from 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), as well as memories from my own more “free range” childhood. If you grew up a few decades back, these activities may seem “obvious” to you, but they’re less a part of kids’ lives today, and hopefully these reminders can help spark their revival.  While each contains a element of danger and chance of injury, these risks can be thoroughly mitigated and managed by you, the parent: Permit or disallow activities based on your child’s individual age, maturity level, and abilities. Take necessary precautions (which are common sense and which I’m not going to entirely spell out for you; you’re a grown-up, not a moron). Teach and demonstrate correct principles, and supervise some practice runs. Once you’ve created this scaffolding of safety, however, try to step back and give your child some independence. Step in only when a real danger exists, or when your adult strength/dexterity/know-how is absolutely necessary. And don’t be afraid to let your kids fail. That’s how they learn and become more resilient.

In return for letting your children grapple with a little bit of healthy risk, the activities below teach motor skills, develop confidence, and get kids acquainted with the use of tools and some of the basic principles of science. Outside any educational justification, however, they’re just plain fun — something we’ve forgotten can be a worthy childhood pursuit in and of itself!

23 Dangerous Things You Should Let You Kids Do

Unlike many of you out there, I grew up in a city.  And, my Dad was largely absent.  I was given boundaries, though.  Don’t cross these streets; Don’t play with these kids;  Let us know where you are;   Be home for dinner @ 6 o’clock.

Other than that, I was pretty much left to my own devices.  Playing in old abandoned houses and construction sites, climbing into open manholes and irrigation conduits.  Picking through discarded trash for treasures.  Making rocket fuel and fireworks.  Dissecting unexploded fireworks.  Dirt clod fights.  Rubber band guns with projectiles!

I wasn’t foolhardy, but I wasn’t a namby-pamby either!

I remember when my Dad’s .22 rifle went missing.  He accused me of taking it, but was most upset I hadn’t asked! (I didn’t take it – it was stolen and later recovered by the PD)

From what I’ve observed, most kids (and most adults) don’t play outside or explore anymore.  Instead, they are inside getting carpal tunnel…

(And not in the traditional way!  😛 )

Toss your kid outside, without their electronics.  And tell ’em not to return until dinner-time.

They might learn something!

Refinding Music And Tech

I’ve always been behind the times in both music and technology to deliver said music.  Especially since I got married in my late twenties and had a family and a job, with all the requisite trials and tribulations therein.

I had (and still have) vinyl, went to cassettes, then CDs.  I bought an MP3 player in the early 2000s.  But never had the money to fill it.

Life.  It’s both a cereal and a board game.  And my listening to music got somehow waylaid.  😦

But, I’m here alone in my rented room, doing my morning routine with the blog.  And something was missing.

I tried Pandora for a while, but it never hooked me.

J. told me recently about Spotify.  So, I thought I’d give it a try.  On both my PC and my new cell phone!  (NOW with earbuds that actually fit!)

Maybe I’ve missed ‘my’ music too much, but now I’m immersed in it via Spotify.  Free, with a few commercials every so often.  Or, one can pay.

Of course, I’ve no funds.

So, FREE it is!

Currently, I’ve been vacillating between Dave Brubeck, Gordon Lightfoot, and the Person of Interest soundtrack.

Yeah, I’m eclectic!

😛

(FTC – Spotify gave me nothing save the free music they give everyone!  go away!)

 

Yep. ANOTHER Robert

(Bet you thought I forgot!)

Long time readers of this blog may remember my Life is replete with folks named Robert, Bob, David, Dave and similar variants.

Why?  I’ve no idea.

I was thinking this morning about someone who may have been the first.

No, not the physician, Indian artist or mediator (as far as I know).

Yep.  His name was(is) Robert Davidson(!)

…and a meme began!

He pretty much raised himself.  His parents were older (and somewhat self-involved).  I’ve no idea what his mother did.  She seemed to be absent a lot.  His father was a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel.  He spent most of his time (when I saw him) drinking liquor in their living room (where we weren’t allowed) and listening to his music.  His older brothers led their own lives, and seemed to be tangentially involved with raising him, trading off duties as it were.

He had a younger sister with mental and physical issues.  She followed us around like a puppy.  The last I heard, she was living more-or-less on her own in assisted living.

But Robert had innate talents.  Auto mechanics, electronics.  And he was the first of our age on the block to do cool stuff.

Build custom bicycles, grow his hair long, get busted for shoplifting (and escape store custody!), smoke dope. (The first time he showed me a ‘baggie’, I thought great, I’m going to prison!) Joy-riding in his parent’s car, before he was licensed.  He spent a Summer stealing VW Bug engines, and never got caught!  (or so I was told…)

And the one that really ticked me off:  Became intimate with a girl.  This ticked me off because he was two years younger than I!

The last I heard, Robert got into computers and was working for the community colleges in this capacity.  With another of my friends (from the magic club) named DAVID!

See, it never ends.  😛

And, with all the Internet tools now available, I’ve been unable to reconnect with him.  Too common a name, I guess.  David is in the wind, as well.

FACEBOOK – Now Even Creepier!

(from Peter – Bayou Renaissance Man)

Facebook becomes the corporate face of ‘creepy’

If Facebook were actively trying to define itself as ‘creepy’, it couldn’t do much better than this.  Two reports over the past few weeks have caused me to wonder at the sanity of anyone who still uses the service.First, it seems Facebook actively marketed to advertisers its ability to ‘target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability’.  Wired reports:

Data mining is such a prosaic part of our online lives that it’s hard to sustain consumer interest in it, much less outrage. The modern condition means constantly clicking against our better judgement. We go to bed anxious about the surveillance apparatus lurking just beneath our social media feeds, then wake up to mindlessly scroll, Like, Heart, Wow, and Fave another day.

But earlier this month, The Australian uncovered something that felt like a breach in the social contract: a leaked confidential document prepared by Facebook that revealed the company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.”

The 23-page document had been prepared for a potential advertiser and highlighted Facebook’s ability to micro-target ads down to “moments when young people need a confidence boost.” According to The Australian’s report, Facebook had been monitoring posts, photos, interactions, and internet activity in real time to track these emotional lows. (Facebook confirmed the existence of the report, but declined to respond to questions from WIRED about which types of posts were used to discern emotion.)

There’s more at the link.

Not content with that, it seems Facebook is trying to patent ‘creepy technology which spies on people and automatically analyses their facial expressions’.  The Sun reports:

The social network applied for a patent to capture pictures of a user through their smartphone.

The creepy designs, which date back to 2015, were discovered by software company CBI Insight, which has been analysing Mark Zuckerberg’s “emotion technology”.

. . .

Researchers at CBI Insights warned that the plans could put a lot of people off using the service.

“On the one hand, they want to identify which content is most engaging and respond to audience’s reactions, on the other emotion-detection is technically difficult, not to mention a PR and ethical minefield,” it wrote in a blogpost.

Again, more at the link.

So Facebook now wants to use the camera on your smartphone to watch you while you use the device.  Why would anyone in their right mind allow a social media network this kind of intimate access to their thoughts, feelings and emotions?  Is there no value attached to privacy any more?

From my moral perspective (which is admittedly that of an older generation), this seems not only an invasion of privacy, but actively evil – trying to use your own emotions to manipulate you, and/or sell data about you to advertisers and others (for example, political parties analyzing voter emotions and behavior) who will use it to manipulate you.

News reports like this make me devoutly grateful that I have no Facebook presence at all!  If you do, in heaven’s name, why do you want to expose yourself to this???

Peter

I joined FB long before I began blogging, or even reading other’s blogs.  I liked the Internet, and it just seemed to be the social thing to do.  (I was doing the IRC and bulletin boards before THAT!)
Yeah, I’m old.  😛
But, considering Pandora’s Box has already been opened, do I want to make it even easier for the alphabet soup of government, or private corporations or citizens?  Is it even worth the effort, now that the cat’s escaped the bag?
Maybe.  I am considering leaving FB.  Most folks who care I blog know Guffaw is my nom-de-Internet, and can do research to determine my FB moniker and extrapolate real info and data from there.
As if that’s worth anything…

Eons Ago, In a Gun Store…

More specifically, Don’s Sport Shop, in Scottsdale…

Dave the mechanic and I were ‘window shopping’ (both being young and relatively poor, there was no way either of us could afford to purchase a firearm).

And we were checking out all the related gear, as well (hunting, fishing, camping), just because.

And there is was, a Jimmy Stewart Game Caller!

We spent subsequent hours (days, weeks, years) sharing with each other our impressions of Jimmy calling in game:

“A quack!, a quack! here duck, here duck!”

(Sadly, neither one of us could do even a passable imitation of Mr. Stewart – not that it mattered.)   😛

We re-visited Don’s two or three times a year, for many following years, always recharging our memories and chuckles regarding Jimmy’s Game Caller.

During one subsequent visit, we spotted it again on the shelf, and determined that the product was actually named the JOHNNY Stewart game caller!  As it had been printed in a script font – and we were young and not paying much attention, anyway – we hadn’t noticed the difference!

This failed to stop us from continuing our poor imitations of Jimmy for a number of years.

Boys just gotta have fun!

(FTC – neither Don’s, nor Jimmy Stewart (sorry Johnny Stewart!) gave us anything.  Go away.  I remember buying ammunition in later years, but I drove by the other day and it was named Don’s something else.  And Don’s Sport Shop doesn’t have a site on Google!  Tempus Fugit.)

California Bans Students From Traveling To ‘Anti-LGBT’ States

(from Free North Carolina)

 The inmates are in charge of the asylum.

California has created a travel ban of its own, which prohibits its own public university students from traveling to “anti-LGBT” states.

The law that went into effect Jan. 1 prohibits state-funded travel to states that are not LGBT-friendly, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

The law prevents students of the University of California and California State University from traveling to four states outlined by California attorney general Xavier Becerra, including Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Not LGBT friendly?  As defined by the California AG?

I’m not certain what that means, exactly.  Rejected ‘gender non-specific’ bathroom legislation?  Didn’t give extra rights to persons who are gender confused?

How is banning a student from travel (through the use of State funds) going to teach them anything about freedom?  (It does teach them about the abuse of State Power.)  And, how many students does this affect, exactly?  Sports teams?  Band members?  Debate clubs?

I think the California Attorney General is tilting at windmills, in the name of political correctness.

Toy Gun Memories

As it states in the ‘about’ part of the blog, I’m a child of the 50’s.  Television, movies, play, were all about The Lone Ranger, Space Command, Warner Bros. cartoons, Forbidden Planet, The Untouchables, and all other manner of sanitized violence.

And my green, wooden toy box reflected that.

It was filled with cars, trucks, robots, construction equipment, tools, and yes, toy guns.  Including a multitude of cap guns and rifles-that-made-noise, play bullets and all manner of boy’s toys.  Not a doll in sight.

Sadly, when my Dad married my step-mother, the toy box was moved to the exterior of the house.  Wouldn’t want Guffaw’s toys to clutter the house, now would we?  😦

And, as I advanced in grade school, I played with them less.  This meant my Mattel™ Fanner Fifty (with left-handed holster!), Detective Special (both re-loadable with Matty Mattel bullets and ignited with Greenie Stickum Caps), the construction gear, cars, tools, and everything else were subjected to the elements.

And eventually discarded.  😦

(My friend Leigh’s parents did film me in full cowboy regalia once, reenacting some scene from a forgotten cowboy TV show, running, jumping, rolling into prone, drawing and shooting one of my cap guns.  Of course, the 8mm home movie is probably long lost.)  😦

This was when children played outside!

But, boys are nothing but ingenious!  🙂

My friends and I began constructing rubber-band guns, using scraps of wood we ‘found’ at housing construction sites.  (Hey, we had to have guns!)

a less-refined version of this

a less-refined version of this

Affix a spring closepin to one end, stretch a rubber band (or a series of them for greater distance) and viola’!  A toy gun with which we could play cowboy, or soldier, or spy, or whatever.

Of course, we were never happy with the limited distance or inaccuracy.  (Sound familiar?)

As we got into the 5th and 6th Grade, we clamored for more.

So we attached the rubber bands to the wood (ala a slingshot) and began looking for projectiles to shoot!  Obviously, after a few misadventures with pebbles and bent bobbie-pins, we made the universal decision to not shoot one another.

For safety sake.

Of course, escalation lead to model rockets, amateur rockets, BB guns, and eventually real guns.  Always something to shoot.

And, we still don’t shoot each other.

This isn’t South Chicago…

 

On Pedophilia

(Here’s a hint, I’m against it!)

And so is Peter.  Vehemently, as he writes below:

Pedophilia does “no lasting harm”??? Yeah, right!

Richard Dawkins, well known for his militant atheism, has really put his foot in it this time.

In a recent interview with the Times magazine, Richard Dawkins attempted to defend what he called “mild pedophilia,” which, he says, he personally experienced as a young child and does not believe causes “lasting harm.”

Dawkins went on to say that one of his former school masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts,” and that to condemn this “mild touching up” as sexual abuse today would somehow be unfair.

. . .

Child welfare experts responded to Dawkins’ remarks with outrage — and concern over their effect on survivors of abuse.

There’s more at the link.

All I can say is, as a pastor and clinical counselor, I’ve had a great deal of experience trying to help the victims of pedophiles. Many went on to become pedophiles themselves – a cycle that carries on down the centuries, if you go back far enough.  Others have had their confidence in themselves destroyed, their ability to love and be love corroded, and their lives ruined.

I’m a strong believer in the rule of law.  I’ve worked inside the criminal justice system to help promote the rule of law.  Nevertheless, if there’s any one sin or crime that cries out to Almighty God for vengeance, it’s pedophilia.  In the words of Jesus himself:

But who so shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

You can debate, if you wish, whether those words were meant to include pedophilia, or merely other types of offence.  Personally, I have little doubt.  No, scratch that – I have no doubt.  If a pedophile were caught in flagrante delicto, I would have few or no moral qualms if the parents of the child concerned executed him on the spot.  I think there’d be little or no sin in that;  in fact, I could make a strong case for it being the justice of an outraged God.

Pedophiles can’t be cured.  Time after time that’s been tried, and failed miserably.  They can only be prevented from committing their crimes, either by incarcerating them where they can’t get at children, or by executing them.  Harsh?  Yes, it is harsh.  Having seen too many children’s innocence destroyed by pedophiles, my feelings towards the latter are very harsh indeed!  Right now, I’m not feeling particularly charitable towards Mr. Dawkins, either . . .

Peter

As I got older, one of the things I never expected to experience was to meet and befriend a number of people – women and men – who had been sexually abused as children.  ALL became profoundly damaged adults.  Some even became abusers.  Such is the nature of pedophilia.
If I had encountered a pedophile in the act, I too, would have no problem dispatching the miscreant.
“Some people just need killing.”
attributed to Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and a number of historical folks

Ringling Brothers Circus Is Closing Down ‘The Greatest Show On Earth,’ After A 146-Year Run.

elephamts

Tempus fugit.

I was never a huge circus guy as a kid, probably because I wasn’t a very good athlete – although the acrobats did impress me.  Of course, being feet from large wild animals was thrilling!  (except for the smell!)  And being a ‘semi-professional’ magician (starting in the Fourth Grade) I was drawn to performers like clowns – even considering crossing the makeup line and becoming a clown magician myself!  I’d read of Harry Houdini, and how he got his start in traveling carnivals performing feats of strength and ‘oddities’, like being able to pick up needles with his eyelashes while hanging inverted!  (How one does this for an audience – who knows?)

But what really got my attention were the oddities, the Sideshow.  The beginnings of the traveling circus.  People and animals with disabilities or birth defects – Siamese twins, women with beards, two headed snakes – that sort of thing.  Obviously, middle-America in the early 1800’s needed some kind of diversion, right?

And this is precisely why the circuses are ending.  If one wants to see an elephant, there are thousands on You Tube.  The same for magic, people with birth defects and feats of strength.  No longer must one wait in line for tickets, endure the crowds, animal smells and over-priced popcorn to see such things.  The circus can come to you!  And there are TV, movies, shows – all stream-able to your TV, computer or cell phone.

Jeff Cooper sometimes spoke of seeing the elephant.  In the olden days, a farm youth (as most were prior to 1920) had little or no exposure to life outside that which was on the farm.  Birth, death, butchering, harvesting, hunting, planting – all hard physical labor.  But little else.

When a boy ‘came of age’, his father would shove a few dollars in his pocket, point him to town, and tell him to go ‘see the elephant’.  The circus was coming to town!  The boy would dutifully go, see the elephant, the sideshow, perhaps have some liquor and engage in games of chance.  If he had any money left, he might find a woman of ill-repute with whom to ‘spend some time’.

It was all about a rite-of-passage.  Learning something about the outside world.

But, in today’s instantaneous electronically-connected world, there is no rite-of-passage.  Boys (and girls) learn about sex from the Internet.  Not exactly seeing the elephant.

No wonder instant gratification is the motto for the Millennials.

And we as a society are lesser for it.

Go see the elephant before the circus closes forever!  Reportedly, they will stop using elephants by 2018.  of course, the circus will end before that…

Find a woman?

😛

 

 

 

Radio! Radio!

I was never a big radiophile growing up.  Probably because the focus was AM radio, and I preferred classical and jazz to rock-and-roll. (My older sister worshipped Elvis, however.)

I did remember my Dad telling me about his youth, having a crystal radio with which he could listen to AM channels in the evening, especially ‘on the skip’.  He would then write the radio station and they would confirm what he heard by mailing him a QSL card!  (Much as Amateur radio operators do today).qsl
I even have a collector’s book (somewhere) of my Dad’s QSL cards, like from Pittsburgh and Chicago. (He lived in Providence, Rhode Island!)

So, in high school, instead of listening to the Monkees, the Beatles and Herman’s Hermits, I ‘borrowed’ my Dad’s AM tube radio.  I connected the foot-long antenna to my window screen, shoved a robe under the bottom of the door (to prevent radio light leakage) and listened to late-night AM radio ‘on-the-skip’, like KSL (Salt Lake City) and WFAA (Dallas)!  I remember even hearing some Chicago stations! (I was in the Phoenix area.)

This worked well for a long time – at least until an errant robe sleeve found it’s way into the hallway, and my radio privileges were taken away!  😦

I never wrote away for a QSL card, though.

Now, of course, one may turn one’s cellular telephone into a virtual AM/FM radio, with huge range.

It was a more primitive time.

As with dial telephone land lines, and pre-Internet, the youth will never understand.

 

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…