Archive | February, 2013

Can’t yoga be watered down like Christmas was? Is there a ‘happy holidays’ yoga?

24 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Remember when the forces of secularism pushed the “Happy Holidays” maximum because no one should be offended by the expression of “Merry Christmas.” The forces of tolerance and celebrate diversity did not want YOUR religion forced on ME. So much for that “celebrate diversity” thing. Let’s fast forward to the yoga movement and the attempt to spread love, joy, and flexible limbs into the education setting.

Marty Graham of Reuters reports in the article, Parents sue school for teaching yoga to children:

SAN DIEGO—The parents of two California grade school students have sued to block the teaching of yoga classes they complain promote eastern religions, saying children who exercise their choice to opt out of the popular program face bullying and teasing.

The Encinitas Unified School District, near San Diego, began the program in September to teach Ashtanga yoga as part of the district’s physical education program — and school officials insist the program does not teach any religion.

Lawyers for the parents challenging the yoga program disagreed.

As a First Amendment lawyer, I wouldn’t go after an exercise program. I don’t go after people for stretching,” said lawyer Dean Broyles, who heads the National Center on Law and Policy, which filed the suit on Wednesday in a San Diego court.

But Ashtanga yoga is a religious-based yoga, and if we are separating church and state, we can’t pick and choose religious favourites,” he said.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in a broader national clash over the separation of religion from public education that has seen spirited debate on issues ranging from the permissibility of student-led prayer to whether science instructors can teach alternatives to evolution.

The lawsuit, which does not seek any monetary damages, objects to eight-limbed tree posters they say are derived from Hindu beliefs, the Namaste greeting and several of the yoga poses that they say represent the worship of Hindu deities.

According to the suit, a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation, which supports yoga in schools, allowed the school district to assign 60 minutes of the 100 minutes of physical education required each week to Ashtanga yoga, taught in the schools by Jois-certified teachers.

Broyles said that while children are allowed to opt out of the yoga program, they are not given other exercise options.

The kids who are opting out are getting teased and bullied,” he said. “We have one little girl whose classmates told her her parents are stupid because she opted out. That’s not supposed to happen in our schools….”

See, Promoting Hinduism? Parents Demand Removal Of School Yoga Class

The Free Dictionary summarizes yoga:



The term yoga comes from a Sanskrit word which means yoke or union. Traditionally, yoga is a method joining the individual self with the Divine, Universal Spirit, or Cosmic Consciousness. Physical and mental exercises are designed to help achieve this goal, also called self-transcendence or enlightenment. On the physical level, yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the body. These postures are performed to make the spine supple and healthy and to promote blood flow to all the organs, glands, and tissues, keeping all the bodily systems healthy. On the mental level, yoga uses breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dyana) to quiet, clarify, and discipline the mind. However, experts are quick to point out that yoga is not a religion, but a way of living with health and peace of mind as its aims.                         

The problem for many Christians and particularly Christian parents is NOT that kids don’t need exercise, they do. The problem is the spiritual aspects which emphasize the “Divine.” That is not what Christians believe.  The majority of Christians believe in the Trinity. Guess what, the FIRST AMENDMENT protects those beliefs.

So, what is a “celebrate diversity,” we are soooo tolerant, and hip to boot school district supposed to do when confronted with the “yoga conundrum?” Well, bucky, one waters down the concept as with “happy holidays’ and the new name is ” yocise,” the divine becomes your healthy life. “Yocise” focuses on YOU and fits with the culture’s philosophy of ME and we are no more tolerant with “yocise” than we were with “happy holidays.” “Celebrate diversity.”

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Porn: Iceland knows it when they see it and they want none of it

17 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Thank goodness for the U.S. Consitution which not only defines rights for Americans, but sets limits on government. Peter Lattman writes in the WSJ article, The Origins of Justice Stewart’s “I Know It When I See It”:

The Law Blog unabashedly loves Fred Shapiro, the Yale Law School librarian and the author of the indispensable “The Yale Book of Quotations.” In a column in the Yale alumni magazine earlier this year, he listed some of the most famous quotations by Yale alumni. Among them was the characterization of pornography by Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart (pictured): “I know it when I see it” (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964).

We also love Ray Lamontagne (Yale Law ’64), who sent Shapiro a letter after he read his column:

You might be interested to know that the Potter Stewart quote was actually provided to him by his law clerk, Alan Novak ’55, ’63 LLB. Justice Stewart was a great justice and I do not want to take anything away from him. But he was stuck on how to describe pornography, and Novak said to him, “Mr. Justice, you will know it when you see it.” The justice agreed, and Novak included that remark in the draft of the opinion. Whichever way you might want to attribute the quote, it came from a Yalie.

The government of Iceland “knows it when it sees it” and is taking steps to ban what it considers to be obscene. There is some evidence that sustained exposure to porn desensitizes one to valuing women and could support impulses toward violence against women.

A concise explanation of the issue of porn and violence against women can be found in Robert Jensen’s Pornography and Sexual Violence:

Implications for Policies and Practice

Debates about pornography up until the late 1970s were dominated by moral and legal arguments made in a framework that pitted religious conservatives who support traditional sexual mores against liberal defenders of sexual freedom. The feminist critique of pornography, growing out of the anti-rape and anti-violence movement, rejected that dichotomy and introduced a harm-based, civil-rights approach to the question ( Dworkin, 1988; MacKinnon, 1987). Rooted in the real-world experiences of women sharing stories through a grassroots movement, the feminist critique highlighted pornography’s harms to the women and children:

  1. used in the production of pornography;
  2. who have pornography forced on them;
  3. who are sexually assaulted by men who use pornography; and
  4. living in a culture in which pornography reinforces and sexualizes women’s subordinate status.

From this perspective, instead of focusing exclusively on narrow questions of causation, we can see that pornography’s impacts on the lives of all women and children — and especially those who have experienced violence and sexual violation — can be important. For example, if a woman is raped by a man she is dating who has in the past tried to force her to use pornography with him, the question of whether or not his pornography consumption was a causal factor in the rape may not be the most important issue. Instead, it would be important to examine how pornography was one component of a pattern of abuse in the relationship. This suggests that advocates in domestic and sexual violence work should ask survivors about the role of pornography in the abuse perpetrated against them.

While boys have long found ways to obtain pornography even though it is illegal to sell such material to minors, their access to hard-core pornography in the age of the Internet and VCR/DVD player has become steadily easier. And at the same time that pornography has become more mainstream, the mainstream media have become more pornographic. So, not only are men exposed to more — and more extreme — pornography at younger ages, but so are girls, with effects on their conception of their own sexuality.

It is also important to recognize that pornography is but one aspect of a huge sex industry, which includes not only mass-media sex but phone sex, strip clubs, massage parlors, escort services, street prostitution, and sex tourism. And sexuality — especially women’s sexuality — is used in increasingly more explicit ways to sell products of all kinds in advertising and marketing. This leads to what may be the most crucial question about pornography: What kind of human feeling, empathy, and intimate connections are possible in a world in which bodies are used so routinely in the process of selling and also are for sale virtually everywhere we turn? The implications of that are potentially dramatic, not only in the realm of sexual and domestic violence, but also in those areas of our lives that we want to believe are untouched by the domination/submission dynamic of patriarchy ( Jensen, 1997). Pornography is important not only for the specific effects it has on an individual man’s behavior, but for its role in shaping our conceptions of the body, gender, sexuality, and intimacy.

People who raise critical questions about pornography and the sex industry often are accused of being prudish, anti-sex, or repressive, but just the opposite is true. Such questions are crucial not only to the struggle to end sexual and domestic violence, but also to the task of building a healthy sexual culture. Activists in the anti-violence and anti-pornography movements have been at the forefront of that task.

The government looked at the evidence and decided to act.

The U.K.’s Telegraph reported in the article, Iceland considers pornography ban:

The government is considering introducing internet filters, such as those used to block China off form the worldwide web, in order to stop Icelanders downloading or viewing pornography on the internet.

The unprecedented censorship is justified by fears about damaging effects of the internet on children and women.

Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland’s interior minister, is drafting legislation to stop the access of online pornographic images and videos by young people through computers, games consoles and smartphones.

“We have to be able to discuss a ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime,” he said.

Methods under consideration include blocking access to pornographic website addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography….

The proposed control over online access, that mirrors attempt in dictatorships such as China to restrict the internet, is justified as a defence of vulnerable women and children.

“Iceland is taking a very progressive approach that no other democratic country has tried,” said Professor Gail Dines, an expert on pornography and speaker at a recent conference at Reykjavik University. “It is looking a pornography from a new position – from the perspective of the harm it does to the women who appear in it and as a violation of their civil rights.”

Iceland will use “government action” to control porn.

The U.S. Constitution does not prohibit all action against pornography, but unlimited government action like the actions contemplated by Iceland would be prohibited. The Center for Law and Justice summarizes Constitutional principles in Pornography on the Internet & in the Community:

Pornography and the First Amendment

Since 1973, the Supreme Court held (as a general rule) that the First Amendment protects pornography under the principle of freedom of speech. Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 27 (1973).  This article discusses four major exceptions to this general rule, together with the ACLJ’s position on each.

Adult Obscenity (“hard-core” pornography)

The Supreme Court has declared time and again that “obscenity” is not protected by the Constitution. See, e.g., Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 484-85 (1957), Memoirs v. Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413, 418 (1966).  Before 1973, obscenity and pornography were virtually synonymous. Id. In 1957, the Supreme Court said that the test for obscenity was “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest.” Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 at 489 (1957).

But in 1973, the Supreme Court retreated from previous case law, and limited the government’s regulatory abilities to so-called “hard core” pornography. Miller, 413 U.S. at 27.  In doing so, the Court adopted a new three-part test for obscenity, limiting the regulation of obscenity to “works which depict or describe sexual conduct,” Miller, 413 U.S. at 24 (emphasis supplied).  Before 1973, the definition of “obscenity” allowed government to freely regulate pornography dealing with “sexual matters” (such as nudity), Memoirs, 383 U.S. at 418, and not just “sexual conduct.”

ACLJ’s position.  The ACLJ firmly advocates a change in the definition of “obscenity,” which would allow lawmakers to freely address the threat that pornography poses to their communities.  The Supreme Court adopted its 1973 definition, seemingly because it nobly desired an expansive interpretation of the First Amendment, while cutting out only the forms of pornography that harm society.  See Miller, 413 U.S. at 27-28. However, empirical evidence since then has strongly proven that pornography in general leads to violence and to the degradation of communities.10 As a result, it cannot be doubted that the Supreme Court’s newer, relaxed definition of obscenity has harmed society.

Child Pornography

The ban on child pornography has been upheld by the Supreme Court, which defines child pornography as “sexually explicit visual portrayals that feature children.” United States v. Williams, 553 U.S. 285, 288 (2008).  The Court has further said that proscription of child pornography does not violate the First Amendment, “even [if the] material … does not qualify as obscenity.” Id….

Separating Pornography from Children

Although the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects “non-obscene” pornography, it has allowed governments to make pornography inaccessible to children.  In 1978, the Supreme Court noted that “the government’s interest in the well-being of its youth and in supporting parents’ claim to authority in their own household justified the regulation of otherwise protected expression.” FCC v. Pacifica, 438 U.S. 726, 749-50 (1978) (internal quotations omitted).  Furthermore, the government’s compelling interest in protecting children from pornography holds firm, even if that material is not obscene for adults. Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629, 634-35 (1968); Denver Area Educ. Telecomm. Consortium, Inc. v. FCC, 518 U.S. 727, 755 (1996).  Such restrictions are especially appropriate over the airwaves, because “[p]atently offensive, indecent material presented over the airwaves confronts the citizen, not only in public, but also in the privacy of the home, where the individual’s right to be left alone plainly outweighs the First Amendment rights of an intruder.” Pacifica, 438 U.S. at 748.  The Court also found it significant that radio is “uniquely accessible to children.” Id. at 749.

ACLJ’s position.  Even more so than radio broadcasts, Internet pornography is “uniquely accessible to children” and “confronts the citizen … in the privacy of the home, where the individual’s right to be left alone plainly outweighs the First Amendment rights of an intruder.” Id. at 748-49. As a result, Congress has the clear, Constitutional authority to regulate the Internet to ensure that parents can protect their children from its greatest dangers.  ACLJ further supports a plan requiring pornographic websites to end with a “dot xxx” domain,11 so that pornographic websites can be more easily identified and filtered before they are visited.

Pornography and Local Zoning Laws

The United States Supreme Court has upheld zoning ordinances that keep pornographic businesses from being concentrated in a specific area, or that keep them away from schools, parks, religious institutions, and residential areas. Renton v. Playtime Theaters, 475 U.S. 41, 44 (1986), City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books, Inc., 535 U.S. 425, 430 (2002).  Such ordinances are valid if they meet three criteria.  First, the ordinance must not infringe on pornographic “speech,” but must rather regulate the “time, place, and manner” of the business. Id. at 47. Second, the ordinance must not be aimed at restricting the content of the pornographic “speech,” but rather the secondary, harmful effects that such businesses have on the surrounding community. Id.12   Finally, the ordinance must be “designed to serve a substantial governmental interest,” and they must “not unreasonably limit alternative avenues of communication.” Id. 

ACLJ’s position.  Because of pornography’s unique effects on neighborhoods and local crime, local communities have an important role to play in preventing its harmful effects.  ACLJ urges all municipalities to adopt zoning ordinances that curb the effects of pornographic businesses.


Pornography is more than just a private issue.  Over the past few decades, it has become a cultural crisis, with severe effects on society that are grossly underestimated.  Even if banning pornography altogether might be impracticable, ACLJ believes that lawmakers and communities should not be restrained in their efforts to address this issue.  ACLJ urges lawmakers to take advantage of the various options still available to them in combating the effects of this industry.

The culture seems to be sexualizing children at an ever younger age and it becomes more difficult for parents and guardians to allow children to just remain, well children, for a bit longer. Still, parents and guardians must do their part to make sure children are in safe and secure environments. As the Center for Law and Justice argues, there can be a case made for reasonable restrictions on porn which are Constitutionally permissible. The type of restrictions contemplated in Iceland would be considered “unconstitutional government action” in the U.S.

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Do ‘grown-ups’ have to be reminded to keep their clothes on in public? Apparently so

9 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi had to look twice at this notice from CBS to those attending the GRAMMY show, Breasts, buttocks banned by CBS from Grammys:

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS is asking stars not to bare too much skin at the Grammy Awards on Sunday.

The network requests that “buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered” for the televised award show. The memo sent out Wednesday also warned against “see-through clothing,” exposure of “the genital region” and said that “thong type costumes are problematic.”

Representatives for CBS and the Recording Academy declined to comment on Thursday. Deadline Hollywood first reported the memo.

CBS broadcast the infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that included Janet Jackson‘s “wardrobe malfunction.” The network was initially fined by the Federal Communications Commission, though the fine was later overturned.

See, Was Beyoncé’s racy Super Bowl outfit too much? Parents’ backlash over ‘trampy’ stage costume

One of the hallmarks of a generation or a cohort are attitudes which were formed by the period of time in which the generation or cohort existed. Perhaps, the best capsule to explain the attitude differences between the early days of the women’s movement and the sex is one way to climb the ladder of success ethos of the Sex in the City crowd is in the Dolly Parton movie, 9 to 5 which was released in 1980. It is interesting to read the NOW 1966 Statement of Purpose which states principles such as:

WE BELIEVE that it is as essential for every girl to be educated to her full potential of human ability as it is for every boy — with the knowledge that such education is the key to effective participation in today’s economy and that, for a girl as for a boy, education can only be serious where there is expectation that it will be used in society. We believe that American educators are capable of devising means of imparting such expectations to girl students. Moreover, we consider the decline in the proportion of women receiving higher and professional education to be evidence of discrimination. This discrimination may take the form of quotas against the admission of women to colleges, and professional schools; lack of encouragement by parents, counselors and educators; denial of loans or fellowships; or the traditional or arbitrary procedures in graduate and professional training geared in terms of men, which inadvertently discriminate against women. We believe that the same serious attention must be given to high school dropouts who are girls as to boys.

The naive little idea which NOW was enunciating at the time that was that women should get educated and gain experience so that they would be qualified on their merits for promotion. Women’s ENews has an article about the casting couch syndrome which the movie 9 to 5 highlighted and the early women’s movement fought so hard to overcome. In the article Sexual Harassment  Sandra Kobrin correctly takes the likes of Polanski and Letterman to task.

Marc D. Hauser writes in the Education Week commentary, Don’t Run Away From Teaching Pop Culture:

Check out the music children listen to, and you will hear rap and hip-hop songs about sex, violence, women as objects, and domination. Sometimes the questionable language is explicit and sometimes it’s implicit, veiled in metaphors. Ask children if the content is appropriate or what the song is about, and you will get one of four answers:

“I don’t know. I just like the music.”

“I don’t know, but it’s OK because it doesn’t have any swears in it.”

“I know it has cursing in it so I listen to the ‘clean’ version.”

“I know it’s about sex and violence, but I like the beat.”

When children think that music is inappropriate, most often they believe that the moral infraction lies with the use of profanity. If you clean up the words, you cleanse the moral space and thus are free to listen, they believe. In fact, YouTube is littered with tunes that are designated “clean” because censors have “bleeped out” the swearing in them. But that really isn’t good enough.

There are two problems with editing out profanity and acting as if a song is subsequently appropriate for all listeners. First, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what words have been papered over and then mentally fill them in as the song goes by. Second, I think it is fair to assume that most parents and educators are far more worried about the larger meaning of a song—its message—than we are about a few bad words….

The bottom line is that educators (and parents) can’t run away from these issues, and we certainly can’t keep the material from children unless we believe that a life without radio and the Internet is possible; similar issues arise with books and movies, including many of the topics covered within the Twilight and Hunger Games series….

Although these issues are critical for parents, I’m going to focus here on what educators can, and I believe should, do to address this matter.

“Teachers should actively engage their students in discussions about the controversial material bombarding them.”

First, we must recognize that our students are surrounded by material that is, in many ways, not only age-inappropriate, but in some cases, morally inappropriate. Although what counts as morally inappropriate is certainly debatable, I would hope that most educators might agree on some topics, such as the barrage of rap songs that demean women or seem to promote violence as cool and exciting.

Second, we cannot sit back and let our students passively digest this material. No, instead, teachers should actively engage their students in discussions about the controversial material bombarding them.

More concretely, it should be a priority of all schools to develop classes around the lyrics in present-day music and to fully engage with the fiction that many of our children seek out. Literature classes provide a natural home for these topics; after all, great literature addresses moral challenges. Think Anna Karenina, Adam Bede, David Copperfield. So why not do the same for the song lyrics and for many of the most popular works of fiction on the market now? Or, if high school English teachers are too busy with other tasks, why not create electives centered around the moral issues that modern songs and books raise?

The American Psychological Association has written a report Sexualization of Girls and the Executive Summary contains the following definition:

There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them. Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualization by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.

This society is setting up women and girls to make some personally destructive choices which have nothing to do with a liberating and healthy sexuality. Much of the culture is simply aimed at demeaning and trivializing women. Children of both sexes need to be urged toward education, training, and life experiences which grow them as responsible and caring people. They should be urged to make choices which benefit them and the society in which they live. Unfortunately, there are some who enter the world of whoredom because they are forced. There is a lot of information about human trafficking No one in their right mind would honestly advocate that someone they care about was “in the life” or “on the game.” But if young women are going to voluntarily take the road of whoredom, then you need to sell yourselves for Goldman Sachs type $$$$$$$$$$. That is what Miley, Britney, Janet and the other pop tarts have done. Short of that, you might as well be walking the streets looking for a really nice car that isn’t leased so that you can become the next “Pretty Woman.”

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Legal theft: Education institutions claim copyright ownership of teacher and student work

3 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi read with interest that Prince Georges County was considering taking copyright ownership of student work. Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Washington Post article, Prince George’s considers copyright policy that takes ownership of students’ work:

A proposal by the Prince George’s County Board of Education to copyright work created by staff and students for school could mean that a picture drawn by a first-grader, a lesson plan developed by a teacher or an app created by a teen would belong to the school system, not the individual.

The measure has some worried that by the system claiming ownership to the work of others, creativity could be stifled and there would be little incentive to come up with innovative ways to educate students. Some have questioned the legality of the proposal as it relates to students.

There is something inherently wrong with that,” David Cahn, an education activist who regularly attends county school board meetings, said before the board’s vote to consider the policy. “There are better ways to do this than to take away a person’s rights.”

If the policy is approved, the county would become the only jurisdiction in the Washington region where the school board assumes ownership of work done by the school system’s staff and students.

David Rein, a lawyer and adjunct law professor who teaches intellectual property at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, said he had never heard of a local school board enacting a policy allowing it to hold the copyright for a student’s work.

Universities generally have “sharing agreements” for work created by professors and college students, Rein said. Under those agreements, a university, professor and student typically would benefit from a project, he said.

The way this policy is written, it essentially says if a student writes a paper, goes home and polishes it up and expands it, the school district can knock on the door and say, ‘We want a piece of that,’ ” Rein said. “I can’t imagine that.”

The Free Dictionary defines theft:

A criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that person’s consent.

The term theft is sometimes used synonymously with Larceny. Theft, however, is actually a broader term, encompassing many forms of deceitful taking of property, including swindling, Embezzlement, and False Pretenses. Some states categorize all these offenses under a single statutory crime of theft.

OK, moi gets that BIG INSTITUTIONS have been able to manipulate the rules to benefit them and their flow of $$$$. But, shouldn’t the game be fair???? Also, Prince Georges wants to take control of student creations. Really.

Here is an explanation from the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Sponsored Research:

Who is an author and who is an owner?

Under the copyright law, the creator of the original expression in a work is its author. The author of a copyright is not the same thing as the owner of the copyright, although in many instances the author is also the owner.  See below.

Who is the owner?

Ownership of copyrightable works created at UCLA is determined in accordance with the UC 1992 Policy on Copyright Ownership. See the Who Owns What Chart and the UC Copyright Policy:

In general, copyrights are owned by the people who create the works of expression, with some important exceptions:

  • If a work is created by an employee of UCLA in the course of his or her employment, UCLA owns the copyright.

  • In most cases, the general rule is that faculty own those copyrightable works that they create as scholarly or aesthetic works. There are some exceptions, generally determined by project funding.  

  • In most cases, course work and syllabi that you create are your own, unless “exceptional university resources” or sponsored or departmental funds are used in the creation.

  • If you create the work in the course of sponsored research, or using special departmental funds, or are otherwise relying upon “exceptional university resources,” UCLA likely owns the copyright and you should disclose it to OIP for further evaluation and discussion.

  • Works that are “made for hire” are generally the property of the organization that hired the contractor. Therefore, if you pay an outside vendor to create or assist in creation of a potentially copyrightable work, such as software, photographs, or video/film footage, you should be sure to have an advance, written agreement which specifies that the vendor is doing a “work for hire” and also agrees to assign all rights to the Regents. Feel free to contact OIP at 310-794-0558 for suggested language.                       

UCLA’s policy is typical of large research universities. It is not just universities who are claiming copyright in work product.

Tim Walker writes at the NEA site in the article, Legal Controversy Over Lesson Plans:

Anyway, if everybody sells everything on the Web, the thinking goes, then why can’t teachers peddle their lesson plans – original content created on their own time – over the Internet?

Maybe because there is a good chance that you don’t actually own the copyright to the classroom materials you produce.

Intellectual Property: It’s Complicated

This is a legal issue,” says Cynthia Chmielewski of NEA’s Office of General Counsel. “So if you want to sell your lesson plans online, make sure you actually own them.”

As far as Carol Sanders is concerned, she does.

This is America,” says Sanders, a veteran English teacher in Brooten, Minnesota. “My district does not own me. And I own what I create for the classroom.”

Right on the first two counts, but does Sanders also “own” the teaching materials she produces?

The short answer is . . . it depends.

If your employment contract assigns copyright ownership of materials produced for the classroom to the teacher, then you probably have a green light. Absent any written agreement, however, the Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that materials created by teachers in the scope of their employment are deemed “works for hire” and therefore the school owns them.

Sanders and many of her colleagues, however, believe that if they create materials on their own time, using their own equipment, they surely have the right to do with them as they please.

Under the law,” explains Chmielewski, “this may not make a difference. The issue is whether you created the materials as part of your job duties.”

In 2004, a federal appellate court in New York ruled that “tests, quizzes, homework problems, and other teaching materials” were works made for hire owned by the district and that the “academic tradition” of granting authors ownership of their own scholarly work cannot be applied to materials not explicitly intended for publication.

Way back in the day, 1956, to be exact, C. Wright Mills wrote The Power Elite which talked about the concentration of power in the hands of a few. Mark Toma updated and explained Wright at Economist’s View in 2009.

In The Power Elite” Toma opines:

So what is Mills’s theory, exactly? It is that there is a small subset of the American population that (1) possess a number of social characteristics in common (for example, elite university educations, membership in certain civic organizations); (2) are socially interconnected with each other through marriage, friendship, and business relationship; (3) occupy social positions that give them a durable ability to make a large number of the most momentous decisions for American society; (4) are largely insulated from effective oversight from democratic institutions (press, regulatory system, political constraint). They are an elite; they are a socially interconnected group; they possess durable power; and they are little constrained by open and democratic processes.                               

BIG educational institutions are simply the part of “power elite” and they will operate just like “too big to fail” banks, unions, and untouchable lobbyists and dysfunctional government. Their only interest is their self-preservation.

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Critical thinking skills for kids are crucial: The lure of Superbowl alcohol ads

2 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Aside from the action on the field at the Superbowl, many folks tune into the game because of the half-time show and the over-the-top commercials. Critical thinking skills are lacking in many adults. Chldren not only may lack critical thinking skills, but may make poor choices because of their lack of maturity. Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH writes in the Seattle Children’s Hospital article, Alcohol Ads and Teen Drinking:

A recent article in the journal Pediatrics looked at 4,000 students in 7th grade and asked about alcohol use and alcohol ads on TV. They surveyed the teens through 10th grade. Though the number of teens participating decreased over time, they found some scary results. For both boys and girls, increasing exposure to alcohol ads over time and liking what they saw was associated with more alcohol use from 7th to 10th grade.  They also assessed alcohol related problems, like trouble with school, and found a significant association among boys and ads.

These results show that ads can affect behavior. So what can a parent do?

  1. limit screen time and exposure to mature subject matter. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time to 2 hours a day. This helps decrease exposure, but also encourages teens to do something active with their time.

  2. Use the ads as an opportunity to talk about drug use. Let teens know that what they see in these ads is not reality. Talk about the dangers of alcohol. Short term effects include difficulty in school, possible alcohol poisoning, increased risk taking and long term include health problems like liver and heart disease.

  3. Set limits and talk about consequences before you need them. See our posts on the ‘free phone call‘ and ‘ground rules.’ Talk with your teen about expectations of their behavior and let them help decide on consequences if they break the rules.

  4. Check out our previous post on how to talk to your teen about drugs and alcohol for tips.

  5. If you’re worried your teen has a problem with alcohol or other drugs, talk with your teen’s health care provider.


Exposure to Alcohol Advertisements and Teenage Alcohol-Related Problems

  1. Jerry L. Grenard, PhDa,
  2. Clyde W. Dent, PhDb, and
  3. Alan W. Stacy, PhDa

+ Author Affiliations

  1. aSchool of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California; and
  2. bOffice of Disease Prevention and Epidemiology, Oregon Department of Human Services, Portland, Oregon

OBJECTIVE: This study used prospective data to test the hypothesis that exposure to alcohol advertising contributes to an increase in underage drinking and that an increase in underage drinking then leads to problems associated with drinking alcohol.

METHODS: A total of 3890 students were surveyed once per year across 4 years from the 7th through the 10th grades. Assessments included several measures of exposure to alcohol advertising, alcohol use, problems related to alcohol use, and a range of covariates, such as age, drinking by peers, drinking by close adults, playing sports, general TV watching, acculturation, parents’ jobs, and parents’ education.

RESULTS: Structural equation modeling of alcohol consumption showed that exposure to alcohol ads and/or liking of those ads in seventh grade were predictive of the latent growth factors for alcohol use (past 30 days and past 6 months) after controlling for covariates. In addition, there was a significant total effect for boys and a significant mediated effect for girls of exposure to alcohol ads and liking of those ads in 7th grade through latent growth factors for alcohol use on alcohol-related problems in 10th grade.

CONCLUSIONS: Younger adolescents appear to be susceptible to the persuasive messages contained in alcohol commercials broadcast on TV, which sometimes results in a positive affective reaction to the ads. Alcohol ad exposure and the affective reaction to those ads influence some youth to drink more and experience drinking-related problems later in adolescence.

Published online January 28, 2013 Pediatrics Vol. 131 No. 2 February 1, 2013
pp. e369 -e379
(doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1480)

  1. » Abstract

  2. Full Text

  3. Full Text (PDF)

Moi wrote in Johns Hopkins University study: Advertising affects alcohol use by children:

Moi discussed alcohol use among teens in Seattle Children’s Institute study: Supportive middle school teachers affect a kid’s alcohol use:

Substance abuse is a serious problem for many young people. The Centers for Disease Control provide statistics about underage drinking in the Fact Sheet: Underage Drinking:

Underage Drinking

Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem.1 Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.2 More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.2 On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.3 In 2008, there were approximately 190,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.4

Drinking Levels among Youth

The 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey5 found that among high school students, during the past 30 days

  • 42% drank some amount of alcohol.

  • 24% binge drank.

  • 10% drove after drinking alcohol.

  • 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Other national surveys indicate

  • In 2008 the National Survey on Drug Use and HealthExternal Web Site Icon reported that 28% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 19% reported binge drinking.6

  • In 2009, the Monitoring the Future SurveyExternal Web Site Icon reported that 37% of 8th graders and 72% of 12th graders had tried alcohol, and 15% of 8th graders and 44% of 12th graders drank during the past month.7

Consequences of Underage Drinking

Youth who drink alcohol1, 3, 8 are more likely to experience

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.

  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.

  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.

  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.

  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.

  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.

  • Physical and sexual assault.

  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide.

  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.

  • Memory problems.

  • Abuse of other drugs.

  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.

  • Death from alcohol poisoning.

In general, the risk of youth experiencing these problems is greater for those who binge drink than for those who do not binge drink.8

Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years.9, 10

See, Alcohol Use Among Adolescents and Young  Adults

The issue is whether children in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in the ads. Advertising is about creating a desire for the product, pushing a lifestyle which might make an individual more prone to purchase products to create that lifestyle, and promoting an image which might make an individual more prone to purchase products in pursuit of that image. Many girls and women have unrealistic body image expectations which can lead to eating disorders in the pursuit of a “super model” image. What the glossy magazines don’t tell young women is the dysfunctional lives of many “super models” which may involve both eating disorders and substance abuse. The magazines don’t point out that many “glamor girls” are air-brushed or photo-shopped and that they spend hours on professional make-up and professional hairstyling in addition to having a personal trainer and stylist. Many boys look at the buff bodies of the men in the ads and don’t realize that some use body enhancing drugs. In other words, when presented with any advertising, people must make a determination what to believe. It is easy for children to get derailed because of peer pressure in an all too permissive society. Parents and schools must teach children critical thinking skills and point out often that the picture presented in advertising is often as close to reality as the bedtime fairy tail. Reality does not often involve perfection, there are warts.

See, Admongo

and How to Help a Child With Critical Thinking Skills

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