Archive | December, 2012

The culture has come to this: Divorcing your parents

29 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: When moi posted Not P.C., but it is true, parents and parenting matter, she was writing about folk of average intelligence who were within the normal range of sanity:

Many “progressives” want to put forth the idea that families don’t matter, particularly in low-income communities of color. It is a different story in middle and upper income “progressive” families as they “helicopter parent “their children. There are some awesome single-parent households, but moi is going all “OLD FART” on you and saying that children need two active, engaged,and involved parents to thrive.

There is always some example that will make one want to eat their words and say that maybe this child is better off being an orphan.

Lydia Warren reports the the Daily Mail article, US music student, 21, wins stalking order against pushy PARENTS who monitored her every move ‘to make sure she succeeded:

A music theater student has won a stalking order against her parents who admitted they installed monitoring software on her computer and phone to ensure that she succeeded.

David and Julie Ireland have been ordered to have no contact with their 21-year-old daughter – their only child – before September 23, 2013 and must keep 500 feet away from her at all times.

The unusual case concerns Aubrey Ireland, a musical theater major who regularly fills lead roles at Cincinnati’s prestigious College-Conservatory of Music and has made the Dean’s List every quarter.

Despite this success, her parents often drove 600 miles from their home in Leawood, Kansas, to visit her unannounced and to accuse her of promiscuity, of using drugs and of having mental issues.

They even informed her head of department that she had mental problems and that they were considering going to court to force her to get treatment, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

They admitted they had installed monitoring software on her laptop and cellphone, making their daughter feel ‘like I was a dog with a collar on’, Ms Ireland said.

As the situation escalated last year, she even called police to her apartment, claiming she had been assaulted by her mother, who in turn said Ms Ireland had assaulted her.

The school even hired security guards to keep them out of her shows, the Enquirer reported.

When she cut off all contact, they stopped paying her tuition and demanded she return the $66,000 they had spent. The judge refused and the college gave her a full scholarship for her final year.

See, Aubrey Ireland, College Student, Wins Restraining Order Against Helicopter Parents

Lynette C. Magaña, Judith A. Myers-Walls and Dee Love discuss the different styles of parent and child relationships and the type of parent behavior associated with each relationship type.Their comments about parents are very important. Richard Niolan reviews an article by Bamrind, which was published in the Journal of Early Adolescence.He describes Bamrind’s Model. Each of the parent types are described by Nioland. Whether they are called stage parents, out of control little league dads or over achieving soccer moms, the parents share certain traits and characteristics of an authoritarian parenting style. Nioland describes the authoritarian parenting style:

These parents are highly directive, value obedience and are more controlling, show less warmth and nurturance and more distance and aloofness, and discourage discussion and debate. They are high on demandingness but low on responsiveness, maintaining order, communicating expectations, and monitoring the children carefully. Their children have a multitude of problems, and are less individuated and show lower internalization of pro-social values, ego development, and perform more poorly on cognitive tests and see their parents as more restrictive. They were also more likely to come from divorced families. Boys from single authoritarian homes had more problems than boys from two parent homes.

Does this parenting style describe anyone you know?

Ten Top Mistakes Parents Make

There are no perfect people, no one has a perfect life and everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, children do not come with instruction manuals, which give specific instructions about how to relate to that particular child. Further, for many situations there is no one and only way to resolve a problem. What people can do is learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Craig Playstead has assembled a top ten list of mistakes made by parents and they should be used as a starting point in thinking about your parenting style and your family’s dynamic.

1)            Spoiling kids 

2)            Inadequate discipline

3)            Failing to get involved at school

4)            Praising mediocrity

5)            Not giving kids enough responsibility

6)            Not being a good spouse

7)            Setting unreal expectations

8)            Not teaching kids to fend for themselves

9)            Pushing trends on kids

10)           Not following through

Playstead also has some comments about stage parents.

Let kids be kids. Parents shouldn’t push their trends or adult outlook on life on their kids. Just because it was your life’s dream to marry a rich guy doesn’t mean we need to see your 4-year-old daughter in a “Future Trophy Wife” t-shirt. The same goes for the double ear piercing—that’s what you want, not them. Teaching kids about your passions is great, but let them grow up to be who they are. And yes, this goes for you pathetic stage parents as well. It’s hard enough for kids to figure out who they are in the world without you trying to turn them into what you couldn’t be.

Whatever the dream you feel you didn’t realize, remember that was your dream, it may not be your child’s dream.

Helping Your Child Develop Self-Esteem

The Child Development Institute has a good article about how to help your child develop healthy self esteem. A discussion of values is often difficult, but the question the stage parent, over the top little league father, or out of control soccer mom should ask of themselves is what do you really and truly value? What is more important, your child’s happiness and self esteem or your fulfilling an unfinished part of your life through your child? Joe Jackson, the winner of the most heinous stage parent award saw his dreams fulfilled with the price of the destruction of his children’s lives. Most people with a healthy dose of self esteem and sanity would say this is too high a price. 

Letting Go

Sarah Mahoney wrote a good article at Parents.Com about four ways to let go of your kids and she describes her four steps, which she calls Independence Day. Newsweek also has an article on the fine art of letting go  Remember it is your child’s life and they should be allowed to realize their dreams, not yours.

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Scrubbing your online reputation: Yes, words can hurt

27 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Reputation takes a long time to burnish and nurture. It can be destroyed by a smear or an ill-thought-out act in a nanosecond.

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”

Your reputation is in the hands of others. That’s what the reputation is. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is your character.”
Wayne W. Dyer

In an attempt to control online reputation, many schools are now helping their students clean their online presentation. Why? Because people like to gossip and most of us have been young and stupid or old and ill-advised.

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?”
Sean Covey,
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens

Carolyn Thompson of AP reports in the article, Colleges help students scrub online footprints:

Samantha Grossman wasn’t always thrilled with the impression that emerged when people Googled her name.

“It wasn’t anything too horrible,” she said. “I just have a common name. There would be pictures, college partying pictures, that weren’t of me, things I wouldn’t want associated with me.”

So before she graduated from Syracuse University last spring, the school provided her with a tool that allowed her to put her best Web foot forward. Now when people Google her, they go straight to a positive image — professional photo, cum laude degree and credentials — that she credits with helping her land a digital advertising job in New York.

“I wanted to make sure people would find the actual me and not these other people,” she said.

Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore are among the universities that offer such online tools to their students free of charge, realizing ill-considered Web profiles of drunken frat parties, prank videos and worse can doom graduates to a lifetime of unemployment — even if the pages are somebody else’s with the same name.

It’s a growing trend based on studies showing that most employers Google prospective hires and nearly all of them won’t bother to go past the first page of results. The online tools don’t eliminate the embarrassing material; they just put the graduate’s most flattering, professional profile front and center.

“These students have been comfortable with the intimate details of their lives on display since birth,” said Lisa Severy, president-elect of the National Career Development Association and director of career services at the University of Colorado-Boulder, which does not offer the service.

“The first item on our ‘five things to do before you graduate’ list is ‘clean up your online profile,'” she said. “We call it the grandma test — if you don’t want her to see it, you probably don’t want an employer to, either.”

After initially supplying BrandYourself accounts to graduating seniors, Syracuse University this year struck a deal with the company — begun by a trio of alumni — to offer accounts to all of its undergraduate and graduate students and alumni at no additional charge. About 25,000 people have access to it so far.

“It’s becoming more and more important for students to be aware of and able to manage their online presence, to be able to have strong, positive things come up on the Internet when someone seeks them out,” said Mike Cahill, Syracuse’s career services director.

Online reputation repair companies have been around for at least a couple of years, often charging hundreds or thousands of dollars a year to arrange for good results on search engine result pages. BrandYourself, which normally charges $10 a month for an account, launched two years ago as a less expensive, do-it-yourself alternative after co-founder Pete Kistler ran into a problem with his own name.

“He couldn’t get an internship because he was getting mistaken for a drug dealer with the same name,” said co-founder Patrick Ambron. “He couldn’t even get calls back and found out that was the problem…”

BrandYourself works by analyzing search terms in a user’s online profile to determine, for example, that a LinkedIn account might rank 25th on Google searches of the user’s name. The program then suggests ways to boost that ranking. The software also provides alerts when an unidentified result appears on a user’s first page or if any links rise or fall significantly in rank.

Nati Katz, a public relations strategist, views his presence online as a kind of virtual storefront that he began carefully tending while in graduate school at Syracuse…. 184052483.html;_ylc=X3oDMTNzMjR1dWM5BF9TAzc2NjUxNDkEYWN0A21haWxfY2IEY3QDYQRpbnRsA3VzBGxhbmcDZW4tVVMEcGtnA2I2MDMzYTdkLWJiMDAtMzI5Mi1hNDc0LTNlYTA1ZDhmNzdkNwRzZWMDbWl0X3NoYXJlBHNsawNtYWlsBHRlc3QDTjRVX2NvcmU-;_ylv=3

Back in the day, folks had to worry about their reputation in their local community. With the advent of social media, the community is now global and folks have to worry about their global reputation.

Because a person’s reputation is key to future opportunities of all types, a new business of helping people rid themselves of unwanted online information is developing. Lini S. Kadaba of the Philadelphia Inquirer in the article, Online Reputation Can Make or Break Opportunities which was reprinted in the Seattle Times writes:

For 20 years, the Philadelphia psychotherapist had treated his clients’ anxiety, fear, and depression, and built a healthy practice along the way.

Then in late 2006 he noticed a precipitous drop in new patients. At a suggestion, he Googled himself and made a devastating discovery: The top search hits questioned his credentials because he had earned a distance-learning doctorate from an institution that was later shuttered. Essentially, a popular consumer health blogger had deemed him a quack.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said the licensed therapist, who is 71 now. “I just felt powerless. I didn’t know what to do.”

Enter Reputation Defender. For a few hundred dollars, the California-based company scrubbed clean the therapist’s badly smudged Internet profile. And within weeks, a search of his name delivered hits — bios and even a blog entry — that characterized him as a respected mental-health professional. (It worked so well, he did not want his name used in this article. To do so would revive the negative information that once threatened his livelihood.)

In an age of tell-all status updates, real-time video feeds, and Everyman bloggers with caustic opinions, the cyber-reputations of individuals and businesses — really the only image that counts these days — are constantly in danger of attack, according to Internet profile experts. As a result, in the last three years, the business of online reputation management has flourished. Even parents of college applicants are eager to dispose of those Facebook pictures before admissions officers discover them.

“It’s like anti-virus protection for your life,” said Michael Fertik, who was at the leading edge of the fledgling industry when he launched Reputation Defender in October 2006. Companies such as Reputation Defender and Reputation Hawk promote themselves as the superheroes of the Internet, often with names to match….

In a Microsoft-commissioned survey titled “Online Reputation in a Connected World” and released this year, 70 percent of the 275 U.S. recruiters and human resources professionals surveyed said they had rejected candidates based on information found online. Most went well beyond Google, searching social networks (63 percent), photo and video sharing sites (59 percent), and Twitter and other news-sharing sites (41 percent).

Given that reality and an especially tight job market, some individuals are taking a super-proactive approach — hiring rep managers to scan the Web for information to see what’s out there and, as an insurance policy, add positive content. This year, Syracuse University offered its graduating seniors a six-month membership to, an Internet reputation-management company focused on social media promotion and started by Syracuse students in 2009.

To quote Clint Eastwood in “Heartbreak Ridge,” “Shut your face, hippy.”

How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.”
Steve Maraboli,
Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Gossip is just a tool to distract people who have nothing better to do from feeling jealous of those few of us still remaining with noble hearts.”
Anna Godbersen, Splendor

Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth. ”
Will Rogers

Allow enemies their space to hate; they will destroy themselves in the process.”
Lisa Du

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Why is any bobblehead with a twitter following considered for public office: Ben Affleck will not run for senate

25 Dec

Here is today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART:: Those who worship at the altar of celebrity will probably be disappointed with the news that Ben Affleck will not be running for a senate seat in Massachusetts. Really? Why was he even considered a “legitimate” candidate? defines bobblehead:

World English Dictionary


  a collectable doll with a bobbing oversized head representing a celebrity or a cartoon character

Abby Ohlheiser of Slate reports in Ben Affleck Isn’t Running for Senate:

The actor and director took to Facebook on Monday to refute rumors that he’d run for John Kerry’s seat should the senator, as expected, become the next Secretary of State. Here’s what he said:

“I love Massachusetts and our political process, but I am not running for office. Right now it’s a privilege to spend my time working with Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), supporting our veterans, drawing attention to the great many who go hungry in the U.S. everyday and using filmmaking to entertain and foster discussion about issues like our relationship to Iran. We are about to get a great Secretary of State and there are some phenomenal candidates in Massachusetts for his Senate seat. I look forward to an amazing campaign.”

Although Affleck didn’t start the rumors himself, he didn’t exactly stop them in an interview aired Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Here is is a bit about Mr. Affleck:

Fined $135 for driving in Massachusetts with a suspended license. [1999]

Older brother of actor Casey Affleck.

Friend of and frequent collaborator with actor Matt Damon.

When he was little, he asked his mom for a dog, and she tested him by making him walk an imaginary dog for a week. Ben only lasted for 5 days and didn’t get the dog.

Graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School in 1990.

Dropped out of the University of Vermont after 1 semester.

Dropped out of Occidental College after 1 year, where he had studied Middle Eastern studies.

Chosen as one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in the World [2000]

Ranked #77 in Premiere’s 2002 annual Power 100 List.

Is known for being a very good impressionist. He usually picks one of his costars while filming a movie and studies them. He displays his impressions on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (1992) almost every time he is a guest. While filming The Sum of All Fears (2002), he chose to study co-star Morgan Freeman. When he showed Morgan his impression on set, it was so accurate Freeman told him, “You ever do that again, I’ll kill you”.

Voluntarily entered Promises Rehabilitation Center in Malibu, California for alcohol abuse. [31 July 2001]

Named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” (2002)

Speaks Spanish and French.

He learned to speak Arabic.

He won $356,000 by winning the California State Poker Championships in June 2004 – defeating some of the best poker players in the world in the process.

Is a staunch Democrat and has supported Senator John Kerry‘s 2004 presidential campaign.

Although the job of senator is a federal position, it is instructive to look at the skills that a good legislator should possess.

Alan Rosenthal writes in NCSL’s State Legislatures magazine article Beyond the intuition that says “I know one when I see one,” how do you go about measuring the effectiveness of any given legislature?

Balancing Power

1. Does your legislature effectively share power with the governor?

2. Does your legislature initiate and enact its own legislation and make independent decisions about the state budget?

Representing Constituents

3. Are the legislative districts within your chamber of nearly equal population?

4. Are the numbers of women, African Americans and Hispanics in your legislature reasonably reflective of the population of your state?

5. Do the members of your legislature provide effective constituent service including responses to requests for information, casework, local projects and public expenditures?

6. Do citizens and groups in your state have ready access to information on agendas and proceedings of the legislature?

7. Does your legislature provide effective civic education for the public (of all age levels) about representative democracy, the legislative institution and the lawmaking process?

8. Is your legislature responsive to public demands and needs?

Making Law

9. Does your legislature allow effective participation and input from citizens and organized groups in lawmaking decisions?

10. Is there a reasonable level of internal democracy within your chamber? Is power relatively dispersed and are the parliamentary rights of individual members protected and respected?

11. Do you have effective legislative leaders who have strategic, problem-solving and consensus-building abilities?

12. Is the degree of partisanship in your legislature reasonable? Does the majority party have enough clout to get things done? Are the rights of the minority party protected? Are there reasonable restraints on partisanship so that civility is maintained?

13. Is your legislature deliberative? Does it allow for give and take and the open exchange of ideas at all stages of the formal and informal legislative process?

14. Does your legislature engage in consensus building? Are opposing sides willing to negotiate differences and find compromises to difficult problems?

15. Does your legislature address and solve the most important problems in your state?

Facilitating Factors

16. Does your legislature have the resources (staff, time, facilities, technology) to do its job effectively?

17. Does your legislature have integrity? Do the members of the legislature and the Capitol community in general behave in ethical ways?

18. Do the members of your legislature care about and protect the well-being of the institution?

19. Is there a sense of cWIDTH=29 HEIGHT=36ommunity within your legislature? Is there civility and collegiality?

20. Is there adequate continuity in the membership of your legislature to promote institutional values and pass on knowledge and skills?

As this post is written, one of the concerns is the dysfunction and ability to function which has America perched on the edge of the “Fiscal Cliff” ready to go over. See, Alexandra DukakisIS and David Kerley’s article, Fiscal Cliff Talks Gridlocked, President and Congress Walk Away

CongressLink posts the Barbara Sinclair article, An Effective Congress and Effective Members: What Does it Take?

For Congress to function well, however, committee specialists, coordinator/negotiators and activists must predominate; these are the people who make the legislative process function. What they have in common is their commitment to and adeptness at decision making via bargaining and compromise and their realization that the policy making process is on-going, that one never wins it all. When ideologues disinclined to compromise make up too large a proportion of the membership, the process may well break down. The new Republican House majority in the 104th Congress was unusually heavily weighted to ideologues; the 73 member freshmen class elected in 1994 included a large number of ideologues and it joined a big Republican sophomore class with similar inclinations. These members made possible the passage in the House of a significant body of nonincremental legislation in record time; they also made impossible a comprehensive budget deal with the White House and wrecked their party’s reputation with the public.

If bargaining skills and the ability to work with others in a mixed cooperative/adversarial context are key to getting ahead in Congress and to Congress functioning effectively, where are those skills learned? Though a decreasing number of members are lawyers, it is a profession that fosters those skills. To a large extent, such skills are learned by doing. Most members were active in community groups of various sorts before they ran for office; many held political office, often state legislative office, before running for Congress. Members without much previous political experience usually have the opportunity to learn when they get to the Congress; while new members are not expected to serve an apprenticeship as they once were, usually new House members can and do take some time to acclimatize. The Republican freshmen of 1994, in contrast, believed they had been sent to Washington to break with business as usual and to accomplish something quickly; the large size of the class and the extraordinary character of the Republican victory made its members believe they could change both how the institution functioned and policy over night.

Are the skills needed to get to, remain in and get ahead in Congress the same ones needed to make Congress as an institution function effectively? On balance, the skills that further a member’s rise to influence within Congress are those that enable Congress to function effectively: intelligence, hard work, and skill at and willingness to bargain and compromise…

People are attracted to single issue bobbleheads who are committed to dogma. Dogma adherents do not want to engage in the serious business of governance which requires a different set of skills from those who learned their tactics from the Politburo despite where their beliefs are on the political spectrum.

We must get over the national attraction to bobbleheads with a Twitter following.


100 Ways to Become a Senator                                     

What Makes A Good Politician?                              

Roles and Duties of a Member of Congress: Brief Overview

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Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                      

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Fewer children playing: Will technology make us all robots?

23 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Natural disasters and hurricanes like “Katrina” and “Sandy” demonstrate how dependent modern society is on a power source and how dependent modern society is on it’s technology. Back in the day, when there were no IPods, or IPads people were forced to do old school things like talk to each other and play cards or board games. Helen Robin and her kids have written the great article, 100 Things To Do With Kids During a Power Outage. Among her suggestions are:

1. Read

2. Make up stories

3. Mad Libs

4. Write a book

5. Play dolls

6. Play school

7. Paint our toenails

8. Paint our brother’s toenails ;)

9. Make puppets

10. Have a “Bear Hunt”

11. Play cards

12. Read books outloud

13. Play hide and seek

14. Play Hucklebucklebeanstalk

15. Have a scavenger hunt

16. Hide something sweet and create a “treasure” map for the kids to solve

17. Learn Morse Code

18. Invent your own code

19. Paint family portraits

20. Build a house of cards

21. Learn the state capitals                               

These suggestions are certainly useful in times where the only light comes from candles or flashlights. A study from the United Kingdom suggests that too much technology might not be beneficial for children.

Graeme Patton of the U.K.’s Telegraph writes in the article, Overexposure to technology ‘makes children miserable’:

Young people exposed to modern technology for more than four hours a day are less likely to display high levels of “wellbeing” than those limiting access to less than 60 minutes, it emerged…

Young people’s brains were failing to develop properly after being overexposed to the cyber world at an early age, she claimed.

According to figures quoted by the ONS, almost 85 per cent of children born in 2000/01 have access to a computer and the internet at home. Some 12 per cent have their own computer and the same proportion had a personal mobile phone.

Separate data showed that six per cent of children aged 10-to-15 used online chatrooms or played games consoles for more than four hours on an average school day.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of education at Lesley University and author of “ Taking Back Childhoodand writes about the value of play in the Washington Post.

In Is technology sapping children’s creativity?

Kids need first-hand engagement — they need to manipulate objects physically, engage all their senses, and move and interact with the 3-dimensional world. This is what maximizes their learning and brain development. A lot of the time children spend with screens takes time away from the activities we know they need for optimal growth. We know that children today are playing less than kids played in the past…

The Importance of Play

Play is a remarkably creative process that fosters emotional health, imagination, original thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, and self-regulation. As children actively invent their own scenarios in play, they work their way through the challenges life presents and gain confidence and a sense of mastery. When they play with materials, children are building a foundation for understanding concepts and skills that form the basis for later academic learning.

And it’s not only concepts that children are learning as they play, they are learning how to learn: to take initiative, to ask questions, to create and solve their own problems. Open-ended materials such as blocks, play dough, art and building materials, sand and water encourage children to play creatively and in depth. Neuroscience tells us that as children play this way, connections and pathways in the brain become activated and then solidify.

Technology, Play, and Learning

What children see or interact with on the screen is only a representation of things in the real world. The screen symbols aren’t able to provide as full an experience for kids as the interactions they can have with real world people and things. And while playing games with apps and computers could be considered more active than TV viewing, it is still limited to what happens between the child and a device — it doesn’t involve the whole child’s body, brain, and senses. In addition, the activity itself and how to do it is already prescribed by a programmer. What the child does is play according to someone else’s rules and design. This is profoundly different from a child having an original idea to make or do something….

How Might Time on Screens Affect Relationships?

Quite a few years ago, I began noticing how easy it was for parents to turn to screens in challenging moments with their children. This first hit me when I saw a little girl who was in tears over saying goodbye to her good friend and her mom offered her a TV program to watch. Now today, there are almost endless opportunities to quiet our kids with entertaining games, apps, and screen time. But when we do that, are they missing out on the chance to feel, to argue, to sit in silence, to listen, to be?

Screens can occupy, distract, and entertain children for sure; the appealing game or show really “works” in the short term. But harmful habits set in early on both sides: for the child, learning to look outside of oneself for happiness or distraction in tough times; for parents, learning to rely on screens instead of our own ingenuity to soothe and occupy kids….

What Guidance Can We Find?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity recommend keeping children under the age of two as screen-free as possible and limiting screen time for older children. I think this is a standard we should aim for. And as we try to limit screen time, we can do a lot to foster our children’s play as well. Children need uninterrupted playtime every day. The chance to play with materials that are open-ended will encourage the deepest, most creative and expanded play possible….

.The fact that parents today have the option of so much technology can seem like both a gift and a curse. At certain times and in certain situations, when no other choice seems right, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we have a screen activity available to us. But at other times, we can agonize because our kids are begging for screen time and we want to see them engage in more beneficial activities. Trying to follow the AAP Guidelines is often challenging and takes a lot more effort than the “quick tech fix.” But remembering what we know about how kids learn and grow helps to guide us. And our own ingenuity and inventiveness as parents is the best and sometimes most untapped resource of all.

For many technology is seen as a possible way to increase their child’s IQ.

Alex Halperin writes in the Salon article, Personal tech upends the toy market:

Children have played with dolls for millenia. It was a good run.

Mattel is the maker of Barbie and Hot Wheels, but this year its top selling toy is a plastic cell phone case, according to the Financial Times (subscription required):

Whether a new Kindle Fire, or a hand-me-down iPad, analysts predict 2012 will be the year children as young as three-years-old will unwrap tablets at trendsetting rates. And that has the traditional toy companies scrambling to stay relevant.

The top two guys, Mattel and Hasbro, they are terrified,” said Sean McGowan, managing director of equity research at Needham & Company, an investment banking firm. “They should be terrified, but the official party line is they’re not terrified.”Toymakers have long been aware of creeping digitization of playtime and the annoying acronym KGOY (“Kids getting older younger”) But they may have been slow to realize that personal technology might pose an existential threat to more analog toys. They’re trying to adapt:

This Christmas, [Hasbro] has high hopes for the reinvention of its popular 1990s plush toy, Furby. The new interactive version comes with a free mobile app that kids can use to feed Furby, and translate the things it says in “Furbish” to English. The toy is also built with artificial intelligence, so its behaviour changes depending on how it is treated, whether its tail is pulled or it is tickled.But even if this updated “hamster/owl creature” performs well this year it seems unlikely that toymakers will be able to get away with this kind of retread five years from now. “Everyone I know who has a kid under 10 has a tablet in the house,” a toy investor told the FT. “And that tablet is the babysitter.”

In our technology saturated age, children are developing an entirely different relationship to the physical world. This has implications that extend far beyond Christmas toy  sales figures to obesity and maybe even evolution. We don’t understand what will happen, but at least we have this cute viral video of a child frustrated with her maddeningly low-tech iPad (it’s what you’d call a magazine)….

In the rush to produce baby Einsteins and child prodigies, perhaps we are missing the creativity that play activities by preschoolers produces.


The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Development      

Why Play Is Important For Child Development?

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills                           

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds

  1. Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MSEd,

  2. and the Committee on Communications,

  3. and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health

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Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. Despite the benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for some children. This report addresses a variety of factors that have reduced play, including a hurried lifestyle, changes in family structure, and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play. This report offers guidelines on how pediatricians can advocate for children by helping families, school systems, and communities consider how best to ensure that play is protected as they seek the balance in children’s lives to create the optimal developmental milieu.

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Both sides in the gun debate are acting like morons

19 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: The U.S. Constitution is a bit like the Bible. People want to select passage from both documents which suit their purpose and their intent. People don’t want to deal with the parts that they don’t agree with or that they find disagreeable.

Annotated Constitution

Amendment 2 Table of Contents




A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed

Slate published this interesting 2001article, What Does the Second Amendment Say About  the Right To Own Guns?

State law and state constitutions may change, but the progress of Second Amendment jurisprudence is glacial. As a matter of pure legal precedent, the Justice Department likely has the winning argument in this debate simply because the last time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on this point was in 1939. In United States v. Miller, the court held that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is not applicable in the absence of a reasonable relationship to the “well regulated militia” provision of the Second Amendment. The court stated that:

In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a “shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length” at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.

The Supreme Court has turned down every opportunity to accept a new case and clarify the question of whether Miller established a definitive test requiring some connection between guns and state militias or whether it was announcing a one-time-only rule about Jack Miller and his shotgun. Still, the lower courts have followed the first view, and, in the wake of Miller, virtually every lower court has accepted the state militia/collective rights test as a settled point of law. While a fascinating normative debate over whether or not the right should be an individual one rages in the academy, in think tanks, and around the candy machines at NRA headquarters, the Second Amendment issue is not a close call in the courthouse. Eminent legal scholars, including Sanford Levinson and historians such as Emory’s Michael Bellesiles, have done some staggering scholarly work on the subject of the original intent of the Framers and the prevalence of guns at the time of the founding of the country. [Updated May 8, 2002: Bellesiles’ methodology has recently come under fire by constitutional scholars.] None of it has induced the Supreme Court to step into the fray.

The modern Supreme Court has invalidated federal gun laws, most recently in United States v. Lopez, but not on Second Amendment grounds. Nothing about the decision in Lopez reinforces an individual’s right to bear arms; it merely curbs congressional attempts to regulate guns, which is by no means the same thing.

Why do opinion surveys show that most American citizens believe in the individual rights position? Some legal scholars call this widespread public conviction a “hoax” and “false consciousness.” Some contend that the NRA has done a spectacular job of spinning an individual right out of law review articles, John Wayne movies, and effective propaganda. Others argue that the personal right to a gun is nevertheless a right whose time has come and that it’s just a matter of the courts catching up to public opinion.

There are many proposals for “rational” gun control.

One blogger proposes the following:

A proposal for rational gun control

Although I would personally like to see as many civilian-owned guns eliminated from mainstream society as possible, I realize that this is not a politically realistic goal. Thus, I present my own plans for gun control that I would consider a valid compromise. Perhaps policy discussions can start from these.

1. A national system for registering guns and ammunition. Part of the reason New York City has stiff gun laws and high gun death rates is that anybody can go from New York to a state with less restrictive laws, get a friend who lives in the state to buy the guns for them, and take those guns back to NYC. (Yes, I am aware this is illegal, but it happens.) First, a national system would prevent this by scaring those “friends” into not buying the guns legally and selling them illegally, for if the guns are used in an illegal crime, that person can be held accountable. Second, a national system would be more helpful in tracking crimes after they have happened, to bring the perpetrators to justice.

2. Instant background checks on people attempting to buy guns or ammunition. Brady is still patchwork, and does indeed have its flaws in tracking felons. Felons and ex-cons should not have access to weapons, and many misdemeanors and juvenile crimes should also count against a person’s record.

3. Stiffer sentences for gun crimes. This has been the position of the NRA for quite some time, and it is certainly one with which I agree.

4. Gun education. Many guns are involved in accidents that could easily have been prevented by a little care or forethought. Perhaps gun purchasers should be required to take lessons in gun safety, at the purchaser’s expense. Again, the NRA has long been a proponent of gun education.

5. General education. Study after study has concluded that there is a direct correlation between lack of education and violent crime. Every dollar spent on education now will prevent countless dollars worth of crime damage in the future. Think of all the private and public funds used to pay for gun violence — hospital bills, funerals, insurance bills, the actual cost of buying firearms. Now invest that money in education, and watch the crime rate drop.

6. Hand grip ID tagging. This is technologically probably still in the future, but it would be a good goal to work for. The theory is, each gun is “registered” to one’s person palm prints (the legal purchaser of the gun), and only that person can fire that gun. If another person tries, the gun simply will not fire. Thus, stolen guns become useless, and cannot be used to harm anybody in the course of a crime.

What both proponents of gun control and those who advocate unfettered gun possession along with unlimited possession of ALL types of guns don’t want to acknowledge is that it ultimately goes back to the Constitutional process of a legislature enacting a law and the judiciary reviewing the Constitutionality of the law. Neither side may be happy with the result.


Prof. Eugene Volokh, UCLA Law School*  

I.              Text of the Second Amendment and Related Contemporaneous Provisions
II.              Calls for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms from State Ratification Conventions
III.              “The Right of the People” in Other Bill of Rights Provisions
IV.              Some Other Contemporaneous Constitutional Provisions With a Similar Grammatical Structure
V.              18th- and 19th-Century Commentary
       A.              William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765)
       B.              St. George Tucker, Blackstone’s Commentaries (1803)
       C.              Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833)
       D.              Thomas Cooley, General Principles of Constitutional Law (1880)
VI.              Supreme Court Cases
       A.              United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)
       B.              Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 416-17, 449-51 (1857)
       C.              United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 551 (1876)
       D.              Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 264-66 (1886)
       E.              Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263, 286-87 (1892)
       F.              Miller v. Texas, 153 U.S. 535, 538-39 (1894)
       G.              Dissent in Brown v. Walker, 161 U.S. 591, 635 (1896) (Field, J., dissenting)
       H.              Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 280 (1897)
       I.              Maxwell v. Dow, 176 U.S. 581, 597 (1900)
       J.              Trono v. United States, 199 U.S. 521, 528 (1905)
       K.              Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, 98 (1908)
       L.              United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929)
       M.              Dissent in Adamson v. California, 332 U.S. 46, 78 (1947) (Black, J., dissenting)
       N.              Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763, 784 (1950) (Jackson, J., for the majority)
       O.              Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 378 n.5 (1958) (Frankfurter, J., for the majority)
       P.              Konigsberg v. State Bar, 366 U.S. 36, 49 & n.10 (1961)  (Harlan, J., for the majority)
       Q.              Dissent in Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 149-51 (1972) (Douglas, J., dissenting, joined by Marshall, J.)
       R.              Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55, 65 (1980)
       S.              United States v. Verdugo- Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 265 (1990)
       T.              Casey v. Planned Parenthood, 505 U.S. 833, 848 (1992) (dictum)
       U.              Concurrence in Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 938-939 (1997) (Thomas, J., concurring)
       V.              Dissent in Muscarello v. United States, 524 U.S. 125, 143 (1998) (Ginsburg, J., joined by Rehnquist, C.J., and Scalia and Souter, JJ.)
VII.              Relevant Statutes
       A.              Militia Act of 1792
       B.              The currently effective Militia Act
       C.              The Freedmen’s Bureau Act (1866)
       D.              The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (1986)
VIII.              Other Materials
IX.              State Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms Provisions (Current and Superseded)
       A.               Sorted by state, though including both current and superseded provisions
       B.               Sorted by date, from 1776 to the present


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Cybersecurity: We Still Have A Constitution? Right?

18 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: This change in law may have slipped your notice because the change was not carried out with public discussion or even notice. By the stroke of a pen, the government was given sweeping powers to collect information about Americans.

Kim Zetter reports in the Wired article, Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans:

In a secret government agreement granted without approval or debate from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently gave the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime, according to a news report.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.

Whereas previously the law prohibited the center from storing data compilations on U.S. citizens unless they were suspected of terrorist activity or were relevant to an ongoing terrorism investigation, the new powers give the center the ability to not only collect and store vast databases of information but also to trawl through and analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior in order to uncover activity that could launch an investigation.

The changes granted by Holder would also allow databases containing information about U.S. citizens to be shared with foreign governments for their own analysis….

The NCTC currently maintains the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database, or TIDE, which holds data on more than 500,000 identities suspected of terror activity or terrorism links, including friends and families of suspects, and is the basis for the FBI’s terrorist watchlist.

Under the new rules issued in March, the NCTC can now obtain almost any other government database that it claims is “reasonably believed” to contain “terrorism information.” This could conceivably include collections of financial forms submitted by people seeking federally backed mortgages or even the health records of anyone who sought mental or physical treatment at government-run hospitals, such as Veterans Administration facilities, the paper notes.

The Obama administration’s new rules come after previous surveillance proposals were struck down during the Bush administration, following widespread condemnation.

In 2002, the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program proposed to scrutinize both government and private databases, but public outrage killed the program in essence, though not in spirit. Although Congress de-funded the program in 2003, the NSA continued to collect and sift through immense amounts of data about who Americans spoke with, where they traveled and how they spent their money.

The Federal Privacy Act prohibits government agencies from sharing data for any purpose other than the reason for which the data was initially collected, in order to prevent the creation of dossiers, but agencies can do an end-run around this restriction by posting a notice in the Federal Register, providing justification for the data request. Such notices are rarely seen or contested, however….

But the request to expand the center’s powers led to a heated debate at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, with Mary Ellen Callahan, then-chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security, leading the charge to defend civil liberties. Callahan argued that the new rules represented a “sea change” and that every interaction a citizen would have with the government in the future would be ruled by the underlying question, is that person a terrorist?

Callahan lost her battle, however, and subsequently left her job, though it’s not known if her struggle over the NCTC debate played a role in her decision to leave.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) weighed in with the article, U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens, written by Julia Angwin:

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution says that searches of “persons, houses, papers and effects” shouldn’t be conducted without “probable cause” that a crime has been committed. But that doesn’t cover records the government creates in the normal course of business with citizens.

Congress specifically sought to prevent government agents from rifling through government files indiscriminately when it passed the Federal Privacy Act in 1974. The act prohibits government agencies from sharing data with each other for purposes that aren’t “compatible” with the reason the data were originally collected.

But the Federal Privacy Act allows agencies to exempt themselves from many requirements by placing notices in the Federal Register, the government’s daily publication of proposed rules. In practice, these privacy-act notices are rarely contested by government watchdogs or members of the public. “All you have to do is publish a notice in the Federal Register and you can do whatever you want,” says Robert Gellman, a privacy consultant who advises agencies on how to comply with the Privacy Act.

As a result, the National Counterterrorism Center program’s opponents within the administration—led by Ms. Callahan of Homeland Security—couldn’t argue that the program would violate the law. Instead, they were left to question whether the rules were good policy.

Under the new rules issued in March, the National Counterterrorism Center, known as NCTC, can obtain almost any database the government collects that it says is “reasonably believed” to contain “terrorism information.” The list could potentially include almost any government database, from financial forms submitted by people seeking federally backed mortgages to the health records of people who sought treatment at Veterans Administration hospitals.

Previous government proposals to scrutinize massive amounts of data about innocent people have caused an uproar. In 2002, the Pentagon’s research arm proposed a program called Total Information Awareness that sought to analyze both public and private databases for terror clues. It would have been far broader than the NCTC’s current program, examining many nongovernmental pools of data as well.

“If terrorist organizations are going to plan and execute attacks against the United States, their people must engage in transactions and they will leave signatures,” the program’s promoter, Admiral John Poindexter, said at the time. “We must be able to pick this signal out of the noise.”

Adm. Poindexter’s plans drew fire from across the political spectrum over the privacy implications of sorting through every single document available about U.S. citizens. Conservative columnist William Safire called the plan a “supersnoop’s dream.” Liberal columnist Molly Ivins suggested it could be akin to fascism. Congress eventually defunded the program.

The National Counterterrorism Center’s ideas faced no similar public resistance. For one thing, the debate happened behind closed doors. In addition, unlike the Pentagon, the NCTC was created in 2004 specifically to use data to connect the dots in the fight against terrorism.

Even after eight years in existence, the agency isn’t well known. “We’re still a bit of a startup and still having to prove ourselves,” said director Matthew Olsen in a rare public appearance this summer at the Aspen Institute, a leadership think tank…

The agency’s best-known product is a database called TIDE, which stands for the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment. TIDE contains more than 500,000 identities suspected of terror links. Some names are known or suspected terrorists; others are terrorists’ friends and families; still more are people with some loose affiliation to a terrorist….

Mr. Brennan considered the arguments. And within a few days, the attorney general, Eric Holder, had signed the new guidelines. The Justice Department declined to comment about the debate over the guidelines.

Under the new rules, every federal agency must negotiate terms under which it would hand over databases to NCTC. This year, Ms. Callahan left Homeland Security for private practice, and Ms. Libin left the Justice Department to join a private firm.

Homeland Security is currently working out the details to give the NCTC three data sets—the airline-passenger database known as APIS; another airline-passenger database containing information about non-U.S. citizen visitors to the U.S.; and a database about people seeking refugee asylum. It previously agreed to share databases containing information about foreign-exchange students and visa applications.

Once the terms are set, Homeland Security is likely to post a notice in the Federal Register. The public can submit comments to the Federal Register about proposed changes, although Homeland Security isn’t required to make changes based on the comments.

Three Years of WSJ Privacy Insights

The Wall Street Journal is conducting a long-running investigation into the profound transformation of personal privacy in America.

Selected findings:

US Legal has a concise definition of the “right to privacy.”

According to US Legal in Right to Privacy Law & Legal Definition:

The right to privacy is the right to be let alone, in the absence of some “reasonable” public interest in a person’s activities, like those of celebrities or participants in newsworthy events. Invasion of the right to privacy can be the basis for a lawsuit for damages against the person or entity violating the right.

The right to privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution, but the Supreme Court has interpreted several of the amendments as creating this right. One of the amendments is the Fourth Amendment, which stops the police and other government agents from searching us or our property without “probable cause” to believe that we have committed a crime. Other amendments protect our freedom to make certain decisions about our bodies and our private lives without interference from the government. The due process clause of the 14th amendment generally only protects privacy of family, marriage, motherhood, procreation, and child rearing.

We Still Have A Constitution? Right?


What type of cybersecurity information does the government want?                                                           

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Stupid is as stupid does: Judge’s comments about rape

17 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: One doesn’t know if it is studied ignorance or stupidity that makes some folk say the most interesting things. Moi reports, you decide. Here is the source of moi’s being perplexed. AP is reporting in the article, Calif. judge says victims’ body can prevent rape:

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim “didn’t put up a fight” during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen.”

The California Commission on Judicial Performance voted 10-0 to impose a public admonishment Thursday, saying Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson’s comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics.

“In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight.’ Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary,” wrote Lawrence J. Simi, the commission’s chairman.

Johnson made the comments in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats before committing rape, forced oral copulation, and other crimes.

It is helpful to have a few definitions in order to make the decision regarding whether the judge’s comments were studied ignorance or stupidity. defines stupid as:


adjective, stu·pid·er, stu·pid·est, noun.


1. lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull.

2. characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness; foolish; senseless: a stupid question.

3. tediously dull, especially due to lack of meaning or sense; inane; pointless: a stupid party.

4. annoying or irritating; troublesome: Turn off that stupid radio.

5. in a state of stupor; stupefied: stupid from fatigue.

The Urban Dictionary defines stupid as:


Lack of intelligence. The most common thing known to man, followed far behind by hydrogen atoms.

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”-Albert Einstein

Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution definesstudied ignorance” in the article, Hall’s studied ignorance doesn’t mitigate guilt about former Atlanta Superintendent Hall and the Atlanta cheating scandal:

If that is true — and it probably is — it’s because Hall “most definitely” chose not to know of any widespread cheating.

Hall chose not to look. She chose not to care. She chose to be blind because it suited her own interests to be blind, and her own interests were paramount.

In order to determine whether Judge Johnson’s comments were stupid or studied ignorance, one must discuss rape.

Teen’s Health defines rape:


Rape, sometimes also called sexual assault, can happen to both men and women of any age. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines rape as: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

Rape is forced and unwanted. It’s about power, not sex. A rapist uses actual force or violence — or the threat of it — to take control over another human being. Some rapists use drugs to take away a person’s ability to fight back. Rape is a crime, whether the person committing it is a stranger, a date, an acquaintance, or a family member.

No matter how it happened, rape is frightening and traumatizing. People who have been raped need care, comfort, and a way to heal.

The theory that a woman’s body prevents rape has been around for awhile.

Pam Belluck reported in the New York Times article, Health Experts Dismiss Assertions on Rape:

The idea that during rape, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” to prevent pregnancy, as Mr. Akin said, has surfaced periodically among anti-abortion advocates over the past two decades, usually involving the term “forcible rape” to refer to what Mr. Akin called “legitimate.”

Dr. John C. Willke, a general practitioner with obstetric training and a former president of the National Right to Life Committee, was an early proponent of this view, articulating it in a book originally published in 1985 and again in a 1999 article. He reiterated it in an interview Monday.

This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight,” Dr. Willke said of a woman being raped, adding, “She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.”

Leading experts on reproductive health, however, dismissed this logic….

Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, said, that “to suggest that there’s some biological reason why women couldn’t get pregnant during a rape is absurd….”

Dr. Willke, 87, asserted yesterday that “way under 1 percent” of rape victims become pregnant, not just because of female biology but because about half of rapists “do not deposit sperm in the vagina.” That, Dr. Willke said, is because many rapists have “a preference for rectal intercourse over vaginal”; experience “premature ejaculation, which is a major factor”; or “some of these guys just plain aren’t fertile.”

But several experts said there is no solid data supporting such contentions. A 1996 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, generally considered one of the few peer-reviewed research efforts on this subject, estimated that 5 percent of rapes result in pregnancy.

Yeah, there are all sorts of hormones, including ones that cause your heart to beat fast when you’re frightened,” said Dr. Greene. But he added, “I’m not aware of any data that says that reduces a woman’s risk of getting pregnant.”

As for the contention that a rape victim’s fallopian tubes tighten, Dr. Grimes, formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “That’s nonsense. Everything is working. The tube is very small anyway and sperm are very tiny — they’re excellent swimmers.”

Although, not all judges are lawyers, most are. There are certain skills that lawyers have. lists the skills that most successful lawyers possess:

Lawyers and Their Skills

Reading and Listening

Lawyers must be able to take in a great deal of information, often on topics about which they are unfamiliar. The ability to digest information from lengthy, dense texts is essential. Equally important is the ability to listen to clients and understand their unique issues and concerns.


Lawyers must be able to determine the fundamental elements of problems. They spend much time discerning the nature and significance of the many issues in a particular problem. In every issue, the lawyer must study the relationship between each element in order to arrive at an answer, result, or solution.


Lawyers must have the ability to organize large amounts of material in a meaningful, focused, and cogent manner. The complexities of many issues and the number of laws either directly or tangentially relevant make this kind of organization crucial.


As an advocate, the lawyer’s role is to represent his or her client’s particular point of view and interests as vigorously as possible….


Lawyers also spend a good deal of their time giving clients legal advice….

Writing and Speaking

Whether in the courtroom or the law office, lawyers must be effective communicators. If lawyers could not translate thoughts and opinions into clear and precise English, it would be difficult for the law to serve society. After all, the law is embodied in words, and many of the disputes that give birth to laws begin with language—its meaning, use, and interpretation. Litigation leads to written judicial opinions; congressional enactments are recorded as printed statutes; and even economic transactions must be expressed as formal, written contracts.


One of the lawyer’s primary roles is reconciling divergent interests and opinions. When the parties to a proposed transaction disagree, the lawyer, acting as a facilitator, may be able to help them negotiate to a common ground. Although the client’s interests are a lawyer’s first priority, often those interests are served best after compromise and conciliation have paved the way to an equitable settlement. Because lawyers are trained to see the implications of alternative courses of action, they are often able to break an impasse.

So, in answer to whether Judge Johnson’s comments were stupid or studied ignorance? Moi says a bit of both.

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Very bad things do happen to very good people

15 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Times of trial try the faith of the believer. Christina Ng of Good Morning America reports in the article, Priest’s ‘Horrible’ Job Telling Parents of Children’s Deaths:

A Newtown, Conn., priest had the “horrible” job of informing families this morning that their children had been killed in the elementary school massacre.

There were 20 children among the 27 people brutally killed the day Adam Lanza, 20, invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire on staff and students. Lanza was also found dead in the school.

Medical examiners have completed the grim work of identifying all of the victims at the school and families were informed early this morning that their loved ones had been killed.

“We were gathered until after midnight and we were sent out with teams to go to the homes of the victims,” parish priest Monsignor Robert Weiss told “Good Morning America” today. “We went to their homes early this morning to confirm the death of their children and it was just horrible.”–abc-news-topstories.html

It could have been a priest, it could have been a rabbi, it could have been a minister or the head of a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Sikh temple. It could have been some person of no faith who would see the Sandy Hook massacre as one more reason not to believe. It is at times when one tries to fathom the death of children with reasons known only to the tortured soul of the killer that folks first ask why and then go on to what it is they believe.

REM poses the question for many in their ditty “Losing My Religion”

Oh life, it’s bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep a view
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough….

Some of those who suffer unfathomable lose will indeed lose their religion, while other will find their faith. The answer depends on the question that they ask.

The question is an age old question which is why do bad things happen to good people? Job asked this very question of God. Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote the 1978 book When Bad Things Happen to Good People which attempted to explain why good people suffer.

Kushner outlines the various ways that people try to salvage their view of God and His orderly world. They explain that misfortune occurs because

  1. Someone made a mistake, or failed in the observance of some religious duty.
  2. God has a hidden purpose, or is making use of knowledge we don’t have.
  3. Suffering itself will turn out to be good for us.
  4. God’s purpose is in the grand design of the Universe (which is good and beautiful), not in the life of the individual.
  5. Suffering teaches something, either to us or to those who see us suffer.
  6. Suffering is a test.
  7. Death leads us and our loved ones to a better place.

Kushner rejects all of these explanations.

“All the responses to tragedy which we have considered have at least one thing in common. They all assume that God is the cause of our suffering, and they try to understand why God would want us to suffer. … There may be another approach. Maybe God does not cause our suffering. Maybe it happens for some reason other than the will of God.”

Modern society is loath to deal with the concept of evil, because evil cannot be treated with Prozac, or therapy, or meditation. It is simply easier to hold God responsible and walk away.

Over the next months and years many will be losing their religion and many others will find their faith. Because of the evil that exists in the world, some very bad things happen to some very good people.

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Horrific Connecticut school shooting: Is posting the Ten Commandments at school really the problem?

14 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Today there was another horrific school shooting. AP reports in the article, AP: 27 Dead, Including 18 Children, At Sandy Hook School Shooting In Newtown:

Twenty-seven people, including 18 children, have been killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to the Associated Press.

The report cites an official with knowledge of the situation.that there are at least 20 shooting victims. Many of the shootings took place in a kindergarten classroom, sources said. One entire classroom is unaccounted for, sources said.,0,3969911.story

Here is a partial list of school shootings from the last 20 years:

CNN) — Here is a list of some violent incidents at U.S. schools over the last 20 years:

February 27, 2012 – Chardon High School, Chardon, Ohio. Student Daniel Parmertor, 16, is killed and four others wounded when student T.J. Lane opens fire in the school, authorities say. On February 28, Demetrius Hewlin, 16, dies from his wounds, and Russell King Jr., 17, is declared brain-dead. On March1, T.J. Lane is charged with three counts of aggravated murder, two of attempted aggravated murder and one of felonious assault.

October 2, 2006 – West Nickel Mines School, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Charles Roberts IV, 32, goes to the small Amish school and takes at least 11 girls hostage. Five girls were killed and six others wounded. Roberts then killed himself.

November 8, 2005 – Campbell County Comprehensive High School, Jacksboro, Tennessee. A 15-year-old student opens fire on a principal and two assistant principals, killing one of them and critically wounding another, authorities said.

March 21, 2005 – Red Lake High School, Red Lake, Minnesota. Jeff Weise, 16, kills his grandfather and another adult, four fellow students, a teacher and a security officer. He then killed himself.

March 5, 2001 – Santana High School, Santee, California. Charles “Andy” Williams, 15, kills two classmates, a 14-year old and a 17-year old, and injures 13. Williams is sentenced in 2002 to at least 50 years in prison.

April 20, 1999 — Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado. Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, kill 12 fellow students and one teacher before committing suicide in the school library.

May 21, 1998 – Thurston High School, Springfield, Oregon. After killing his parents the previous day, 15-year old Kip Kinkel returns to Thurston High armed with a rifle. He kills two students in the school cafeteria, a 16- and a 17-year old. He is sentenced to 112 years in prison.

March 24, 1998 – Westside Middle School, Jonesboro, Arkansas. Andrew Golden, 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, ambush fellow students and their teachers, killing five. Johnson is incarcerated in a youth facility and released on his 21st birthday in August 2005. Golden is released on his 21st birthday in May 2007.

December 1, 1997 – Heath High School, West Paducah, Kentucky. Michael Carneal, 14, opens fire on a school prayer group, killing three girls. He is serving life in prison.

February 2, 1996 –– Frontier Junior High School, Moses Lake, Washington. Barry Loukaitis, 14, takes a rifle to school and kills two classmates and a teacher. He was sentenced to life in prison.

May 1, 1992 – Lindhurst High School, Olivehurst, California. Eric Houston, a 20-year old dropout, returns to his old high school and kills a former teacher and three students. Houston is sentenced to death.

February 26, 1992 – Thomas Jefferson High School, Brooklyn, New York. A 15-year old shoots and kills two other students. The shooter, Kahlil Sumpter, was sentenced in 1993 to between 6 2/3 and 20 years in prison. He was released in 1998.

See, Time Line of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings

At the Anti-Defamation site in the article, The Ten Commandments Controversy: A First Amendment Perspective:

In the majority of cases considering official posting of the Ten Commandments, the Court has extended this prohibition. In its 1980 (Stone v. Graham) decision striking down a Kentucky law requiring that a copy of the Ten Commandments be posted in every public school classroom, the Court said:

The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature. The Ten Commandments are undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, and no legislative recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact. The Commandments do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, such as honoring one’s parents, killing or murder, adultery, stealing, false witness, and covetousness. Rather, the first part of the Commandments concerns the religious duties of believers: worshipping the Lord God alone, avoiding idolatry, not using the Lord’s name in vain, and observing the Sabbath Day.

The Court recently issued two decisions concerning official display of the Ten Commandments with differing results. In McCreary v. ACLU of Kentucky, the Court considered county courthouse displays of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky. Similar to the Stone decision, it again recognized that the Ten Commandments is “… an unmistakably religious statement dealing with religious obligations and with morality subject to religious sanction.” The Court ultimately decided that the displays were unconstitutional because their history and context demonstrated a clear religious purpose and intent on the part of county officials.

In Van Orden v. Perry, the Court considered a forty-year-old granite Ten Commandments monument on the Texas capitol grounds – one of seventeen monuments on the broad plaza. Reaching an opposite result, the Court decided that this display is constitutionally permissible. However, Justice Breyer, who cast the deciding vote in the case, characterized the display as “borderline” and found that it served “a mixed but primarily nonreligious purpose.” Significantly, as with the McCreary decision, a majority of the Justices indicated that displays in public schools likely will be unconstitutional. In other situations, a display or posting’s location, history and context will be critical in determining its constitutionality.

There are pros and cons of posting the Ten Commandments or any other statement of values.

The blog TresSugar posted a good summary of the pros and cons of posting the Ten Commandments:


Our government was based on religious principles from the very beginning. The 10 Commandments are the foundation of our moral government.

CON 1.1

Having religious principles does not mean that they wanted to use the government to force religion on the country. The ratification of the constitution by the states was held up because it didn’t have a written list of basic rights that couldn’t be taken away. The very first line in the Bill of Rights reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. After these were assured only then was the constitution ratified.


Since the court outlawed prayer, the nation has been in steady moral decline. Former Secretary of Education William Bennett revealed in his cultural indexes that between 1960 and 1990 there was a steady moral decline. During this period divorce double, teenage pregnancy went up 200%, teen suicide increased 300%, child abuse reached an all-time high, violent crime went up 500% and abortion increased 1000%. There is a strong correlation between the expulsion of prayer from our schools and the decline in morality.

CON 2.1

If you go back the other way in time, do you find higher morals in slavery, or our treatment of Indians, or more recently, Jim Crow laws in the South, or official discrimination against women or children being used as cheap labor?

CON 2.2

The Census Bureau reports that 63 percent of the population claims church membership, a figure that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1960 census.


The BILL OF RIGHTS was designed to protect the minorities basic rights from the majority. In the case of religion “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. It says its against the constitution to prohibit free exercise of religion. Free is a key word here, state supported religion is not “FREE EXERCISE” its “FORCED RELIGION” and that is prohibited.


Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., a cheerleader for the measure, reportedly said that if the Ten Commandments had been posted at Columbine, the shootings would never have taken place.

CON 4.1

The boy who shot six of his fellow students in Barr’s home state of Georgia had attended a church service the night before.


The book of EXODUS has two completely different versions of the 10 Commandments. EXODUS 20 and EXODUS 34. One Commandment that is common to both versions is keeping the Sabbath. In EXODUS 35 Moses tells the people that those who break the Sabbath, even lighting a fire in their homes, should be put to death. Will this Commandment teach our kids about ignoring inconvenient rules?


All that we would like to do is give the kids a foundation for moral behavior. This is not an evil conspiracy, its an attempt to make things better and safer for all kids.


“This is about the government playing favorites and saying Judaism and Christianity are the appropriate religions and everyone else is wrong,” explains Peter Eliasberg, an ACLU attorney. “That’s not moral guidance, it’s dividing the people on the basis of religion.”


The 1st Commandment says “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”. I believe some reasonable people might consider this “establishment of religion”.

In the attempt to eradicate all vestiges of religion from the public square, this society has thrown out a good deal of the values and moral principles which are the glue that holds a society together. Note the time line of school shootings after the 1980 Stone v. Graham case. Values education in schools should be a part of the curriculum.

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower


Teaching Values in School: An Interview with Steve Johnson

Integrating values and ethics into post secondary teaching for leadership development Principles, concepts, and strategies

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Overheard on the #72 bus: ‘I left with my ID and the clothes I was wearing’

12 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: The #72 bus from the U-district to downtown was jammed. People were hanging on every available strap. Moi doesn’t know what drew her attention to the young woman. Maybe, it was the cherubic face that radiated a complex duality of hope and terror. Maybe, it was the fact the cherubic face topped a pudgy body clothed only by a thin burgundy hoodie over jeans. She was talking to a tall guy with a “Real Change” badge. “Real Change” is the newspaper that homeless people sell in Seattle. Moi caught a glimpse of him when he turned slightly to get more comfortable on the crowded bus.. He was tall with a scraggy beard, an earring, and a bearing which indicated too much trouble had come his way over the years. He asked her where her coat was. “I don’t have one,” she said. She continued, “ I left with my ID card and the clothes I was wearing.” She described a home life of abuse, psychological attack and deprivation. She came from a family who constantly walked that tightrope which on one side was having enough to make it at the other fringes of society and on the other side falling into the valley of despair. She escaped a bad foster situation, today. But, escaped to what? They were headed to a social service group to seek help.

Lindsey Getz has written the enlightening article, Aging Out of Foster Care:

In most states, the transition from foster care to the “real world” is abrupt: When a foster youth turns 18, he or she suddenly goes from being part of “the system” to being on his or her own. This transition can be rough.


March/April 2012 Issue

Aging Out of Foster Care
By Lindsey Getz
Social Work Today
Vol. 12 No. 2 P. 12

Today, moi thanked God that she had a coat.

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