Monthly Archives: October 2011

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

I’m looking at a neat bar graph showing usage of mobile media by children in various age groups. And another one that shows percentages of children with a TV in their bedroom in various age groups.

Did you know that 10% of 0- to 1-year-olds have “used a smartphone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device to play games, watch videos, or use other apps”? The number jumps to 39% of 2- to 4-year-olds and 52% of 5- to 8-year-olds.

So I’m sure the first thing you ask yourself is this: “How can that be? I’m a grownup and I don’t even know what an app is!” And the second thing you ask is: “Wait a minute – some of these kids can’t even walk or talk yet – they’re using smartphones? How the heck do they do that? Do you have a video of this stuff?”

And when it comes to a television, 30% of 0- to 1-year-olds, 44% of 2- to 4-year-olds and 47% of 5- to 8-year-olds have one in their bedroom.

This also seems incredibly unfair. I didn’t get one until I was 24.

Seriously, is your mind boggled yet?

If not, how about this: “During a ‘typical’ day, 11 percent of those young ones use a cell phone or other mobile devices for ‘media consumption,’ spending an average of 43 minutes with them.” And this: “nine-month-olds spend nearly an hour a day watching television or DVDs.” Or this: “children under age 2 spend twice as much time watching TV and videos (53 minutes) as they do reading books (23 minutes).”

So I’m still trying to figure out who would let a child have a television in their bedroom. Or would park an infant in front of a boob tube. Which is called that for a reason.

Now I know that these kids did not drive their strollers into the nearest Apple store, fill a shopping cart, then plunk down their piggy bank to pay for it.

So whatever happened to being a parent?

It’s the Constitution, stupid!

I’ve already straightened out the world on the subject of the Second Amendment  (which the NRA erroneously but ardently insists is an automatic, unlimited license to carry the approved weapon of their choice). Now it’s time to review Article 4 of the Bill of Rights, also known as the 4th amendment. (The one that theoretically means the cops can’t snatch you off the street and make you disappear – unless, of course, they called you an enemy combatant first.) Why? Because of the number of people who think it’s okay for the government to mandate drug tests for poor people.

Mrs. Higgins is in the teacher’s lounge in tears at the moment. It wasn’t bad enough that the Republicans have been busy trying to shred the Constitution into confetti to celebrate shredding the Constitution, no, they decided that searches are okay if the person being searched is poor. And way too many people agree. This has pushed Mrs. Higgins over the emotional edge. While she is out composing herself, let’s review:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It does not mean: “except for poor people or people we don’t like.”

It does mean that if you’re the government and you’re going to search somebody you better have a reason that’s pretty important. Like, oh, I don’t know, maybe because you have a reasonable basis to think this person committed a crime. Or, as the U.S. Supreme Court describes it: “To be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, a search ordinarily must be based on individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.”

Thankfully, being poor is not yet a crime.

Which is why, when the government decides to impose a blood test or urine test on applicants for public assistance, courts tend to take a dim view of it. Because – and some of you who are not poor people may not like this – it violates the protections contained in the fourth amendment.

The non-poor people may ask, “But what about the hordes of poor people who are  spending our money on illegal substances?” Because after all, everybody who isn’t poor knows that poor people are poor because they spend all their money on Colt 45, cigarettes, lottery tickets, and crack. And that we need to weed out the 99.9% of poor people who don’t really need our money because they’ll just give it to the first drug pushing gang banger they see. It’s much better to giver our money to deserving rich white people instead. Just ask Rick Scott.

You know him, the rich white Florida governor who looks a lot like Mr. Clean would look if he was thinner and a crazed serial killer.

Or that weird albino monk in “The Da Vinci Code.”

Rick Scott decided he was going to test poor people for drugs – at their expense (costing between $24 and $45) – to qualify for government assistance. Yeah – they’d get reimbursed – if they passed, but first they had to find the bucks to pay for the test. Mind you,  we’re talking about people so hard up they are seeking public assistance.

Lots of people apparently think this is a good idea, because otherwise all those poor people would just put our tax dollars in a crack pipe and smoke them. And we all know how much crack that $200 each month would buy.

The test requirement didn’t sit well with Luis Lebron, a U.S. Navy veteran and single father who attends college full-time, cares for his disabled mother, and, after his veterans’ benefits ran out, qualified for welfare. All he had to do was pass a drug test. “Luis knew he’d test negative because he doesn’t use illegal drugs, but that wasn’t the point: he also knew that he shouldn’t have to submit to an invasive search to prove it.”

A federal judge, being a person who had actually read the Constitution, agreed, deciding that “because Rick Scott wanted to” was not one of the “exceptional circumstances” in the “closely guarded category of constitutionally permissible suspicionless searches.”

Rick Scott may have “wanted to” because the company he started – and in which he held a $62 million stake until he put it in his wife’s name in 2005 – could get a contract for the drug testing.

Drug Test? $45. Violating the basic rights of thousands and thousands of people at their expense? And getting paid to do it? Priceless.

Ack-Ack Attack

Hot off the presses is the latest edition (October 24, 2011) of that lefty liberal rag, Newsweek. I pull it from the mailbox. (Disclaimer: it’s not really a box. It’s an open metal basket and the bizzarro squirrels in my neighborhood hide walnuts in it. Fortunately I like squirrels. Braised, boiled, or stewed. Served with a nice glass of shiraz.)

The Ack-Ack begins when I page through the magazine and find an interview with Robert Bork. Remember him? “Failed Supreme Court nominee“? Who “facilitated Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre“? Yup. That Bork. The man who “denounced [the 1964] civil rights bill that would require businesses to serve blacks” but who says (with a straight face) that he is “now perfectly happy with the way things turned out” because the U.S. has successfully transitioned to “a nondiscriminatory society.” I’m sure people of color all across the nation would agree.

(By this time I’m in full Ack-Ack mode.  Going “Ack! Ack!” after every sentence.)

And women of all colors will be thrilled to learn that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment shouldn’t apply to them. “Yeah. Women are a majority of the population now. They aren’t discriminated against anymore.”

It’s so reassuring to know that we’re not being discriminated against when a male manager asks during a job interview if I plan on getting pregnant or if I have children and what will I do when they get sick or requires female employees to follow a schedule like this:  “Mini-skirt Monday,”  “Tube-top Tuesday,” “Wet T-shirt Wednesday,” “No bra Thursday” and “Bikini top Friday.

When Bork was nominated, Senator Edward Kennedy spoke with chilling foresight: “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government.”

Sounds exactly like what the Republicans are doing today.

And this is Mitt Romney’s new top legal adviser. Ack! Ack!

Made For Each Other

A woman “parked her car and … went into the day care center and left her car unlocked [with her purse inside].When she returned with the child and drove home, [you’ll NEVER guess what’s next] she realized her purse was missing. ”


But wait! It gets better …

“The next day, a friend of the woman called her and told her to check her Facebook page because there was a ‘strange man’s picture’ on it. The woman pulled up the website on her computer, saw the picture and called the police.

‘never have we seen a case like this where the potential suspect provided his own picture to us to use in the investigation,'” police said.

Before Man Invented Blow Dryers

Why We Use Curlers to Straighten Our Hair or “The Story of Early Hair Care”:

And on the first day God created shampoo. And he was pleased with his creation for it left the hair clean and free of foul odors but the people wailed and moaned and gnashed their teeth, saying unto him the shampoo left the hair in a tangled mass more densely knotted than the fur on the back of a yak.

And so on the second day God created Tame cream rinse and for a time the people were pleased and lifted their voices in praise. Then a great cry went up as of a thousand voices joined together and demanded aids so that the male hair which could now be combed could be styled to reflect its splendour.

And so on the third day God created Brylcreem so the males could slick their hair back on their heads and into assorted shapes and for a time the people were pleased and lifted their voices in praise. But the people valued wavy female locks above all others and those whose hair hung lifeless and without curls rent their garments asunder. Then a great cry went up as of a thousand voices joined together and demanded aids so that the female hair which could now be combed could be styled in a more desirable fashion.

And so on the fourth day God created Dippity-do and bobby pins, so that the females could curl their hair and arrange it in ever more complicated patterns about their heads, and for a time the people were pleased and lifted their voices in praise. But then a great cry went up as of a thousand voices joined together and demanded why God had cursed those unfortunate females who were blighted with hair which did not fall in an unbroken line, for curls were no longer in style, and the people sought to undo the curse with the sacrifice of many fatted calfs.

And so on the fifth day God created irons and ironing boards, so that the females could remove the waves from their hair and be as one with each other, and for a time the people were pleased and lifted their voices in praise. But then a great cry went up as of a thousand voices joined together and demanded why their God was a cruel God who forced females to apply heated metal plates to their scalps causing much pain and anguish.

And so on the sixth day God created large cardboard tubes labeled as orange juice from concentrate so that the females might remove the waves from their hair by winding their damp locks around the empty tubes where thence the hair would dry and the waves be banished and for a time the people were pleased and lifted their voices in praise.

And on the seventh day, afraid that the people would next demand mousse, he rested.