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Friday, June 22, 2012

Annoyance in Babysitting

Administrators who have far too much time on their hands have recently decreed that a good neighbor is not a fit caretaker for the neighborhood children. Lisa Snyder of Irving Township, Michigan, recently received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services ordering her to stop watching her neighbors’ children. If she didn’t she would be violating a law aimed at unlicensed day-care centers.
There is a law on the books of Michigan that says no one shall watch other people’s children for over four weeks in a calendar year. My question is, whoever made this law, why didn’t they include a clause to exempt people who aren’t receiving payment for this care? A woman watching her neighbor’s kids is not trying to make money from it, she’s trying to help her neighbors and probably is receiving the same kind of help from her neighbors when she needs it.

I’m not too much of a fan of government involvement in personal matters anyway. Licensed or unlicensed, who cares. If the kids are safe that’s all that matters. Government doesn’t need to worry itself with things like this. People need to worry about this kind of stuff. If they trust someone to watch their kids, whether they have a license or not they should be allowed to do it. The last thing anyone needs is mommy-daddy government breathing down our necks.

I realize though that there are people who don’t feel the same way as I do, so for those people licensing works and I won’t criticize their choice too much. But exceptions should be made for people like Mrs. Snyder. Being a good neighbor should never be a crime.

Discussion: What do you think she should do? Should she keep going and be careful who knows what she's doing or cease and desist?


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Neanderthal Art

It seems the Neanderthals are getting more and more interesting. According to a new method of carbon dating there are cave paintings which predate any previous determination archaeologists may have had before. More and more evidence is lending itself to the idea that Neanderthals were not “dumb” and may in fact have been more culturally advanced than the interloping Homo sapiens that came up from Africa and the Near East.

Depictions of Horses with hand prints as well as circular designs cover the wall where the new carbon dating process was done. This process uses uranium testing to determine the age of the calcite over the painting instead of the paint itself. This helps scientists ensure that the integrity of the paint remains intact. The ages of the paintings have been shown to be as early as 45,000 years ago and Homo sapiens didn’t make it up into what we call Europe until about 40,000 years ago.

The hand prints on the markings are hypothesized to be signatures of a sort and the scientists involved are excited to remove once and for all the stereotype of Neanderthals being less intelligent than Homo sapiens. More and more evidence is gathered about the Neanderthal way of life, such as the possible existence of musical instruments or adornments for cultural significance in societies. It is likely that Homo sapiens adopted the idea of adornments and art from the Neanderthals according to these new findings.

Discussion: What are your thoughts on Neanderthals and their relation to early Homo sapiens?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Commencement Speaker Tells Class "You Are Not Special"

My high hopes were justified when I heard of a high school commencement speech that, “tells it like it is” and “really speaks the truth about life.” With the lines, “You are not special” my first thought was “You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.”
You know, the Fight Club commencement speech. While this was essentially what the speaker, David McCullough Jr., said, he did not say it with such disregard for order and government as Tyler Durden. I am okay with that. We do not always need Tyler Durden to tell us that we have to live a life worth remembering for it to mean anything. McCullough hits the nail on the head in the speech decrying the overuse of trophies and accolades to make everyone feel better instead of teaching students to feel better on their own without validation from others.
This was quite possibly one of the best speeches I have heard, period. McCullough peppered the speech with humor and sarcasm towards social media. He touched both young and old with his words. The speech was pretty short (12 minutes in all) and McCullough made his points fast and efficiently. He shows proof of why the students are not special (37,000 valedictorians, 37,000 class presidents, over 2 million pairs of Uggs) and reminds the students that even if they are one in a million, in a world population of 6.8 billion that still means there are 7,000 copies of each person.
In an interview later, McCullough even admits he’s guilty of some of the things he spoke out against. In the end McCullough reminds everyone that even though no one is special, everyone has their own spark of Zeus and if we do what we do for no other reason than we love to do it, we truly live a special life.

Discussion: What do you think of the speech? Do you support what he said? Why or Why not?

Frances Cobain as Fiddle Tim

When I heard Frances Cobain was featured at an art show, I was both excited and skeptical. Certainly, she is the daughter of my favorite musician of all time. This gives her genetic predisposition towards art, but it does not make her an artist. This happened when she was 17 (she turned 18 on August 18 of 2010). How many 17 year olds get featured in art galleries, EVER let alone when they have famous relatives? Granted, having Courtney Love as a mother and the name of a long dead rocker gives her clout. To her credit, she chose the pseudonym Fiddle Tim to present under so as to avoid the inevitable criticism.

I am not an artist in the drawing sense, so I am not sure how much my opinion means, but I will say I have seen much better work from artists who were 17 when I was. This does not mean Cobain does not have any talent. It just means others have been better. I think she is just starting out, trying to find a name for herself. It seems she is just starting to carve her place in the art world. Having a show at such a young age is a good way to do that.

Of the eight pieces that were showcased (if there were more I cannot find them), I have to say I liked the title piece the best. The details were very well drawn. You can find the pieces on the first reference I provide.

Over all the art seemed very much like internet animations I have seen, with misshapen and grotesque images. However, my punk rock aesthetic thinks they are possibly a bit too polished to call punk. If she is not going for punk she could have fooled me by showcasing a punk anti-hero. But who am I to judge?

Anyway, I think she should keep up with her art and continue improving and hopefully she will have something that the ‘real’ art critics will accept as something new and different and worthwhile.

Discussion: Have you seen the art? What do you think? Does she have a future in Creativity?


Pentagon Cyber Warriors

Like the script of a horrendously bad (or groundbreaking) science fiction movie, the Pentagon is developing cyber weapons to wage war against government attackers in cyber space.

There is little doubt that there are terrors that can affect the country just as definitively as a nuclear bomb could. Hackers sponsored by enemy governments can slip through defenses and attempt to disable our defenses in battle, or worse yet, cripple us financially (not that we aren’t doing that enough on our own).

I would hate to say that we are on the defensive end of these technologies, but it seems that way from the article. We are going to have to start enlisting the help of our super hackers, and I KNOW we have them in America. As much as I am frustrated with the United States lately, I do appreciate that we have some of the best technological capabilities in the world. Japan might make the products, but we innovate their usage. It’s time that the government realizes this and stops penalizing the hackers for being creative and enlists them to guard our cyberspace.

I am quite certain our hackers could develop some offensive capabilities for the government and quite possibly could locate and disable the attackers that are threatening us. I’m severely against warfare in general, but I am in favor of having the capability to defend ourselves and land decisive blows when necessary.

I would do something similar to what the government did in the 70’s when relating to Psychic Spies, find the hackers we have on our shores, and use them for their expertise. The difference with hackers is that they would need to know that if they were doing any of the attacking punishment would be taken. I am definitely not in favor of giving a free pass to be god of the internet and the finances just because they are helping. I am sure there are ways to make this unnecessary that do not involve threatening the hacker’s family or friends.

Discussion: Will you write your local congressman and ask them to support finding our cyberspace warriors? Why or Why not?