(I’m going to take a day to let the more serious editorial commentary catch up.)
I find it most encouraging that Wallace the Brave is of a generation that wears helmets without thinking too hard about it.
Helmets came up with the re-emergence of skateboards, so my kids caught some of it, but they had to be nagged and reminded.
As it happens, the only broken bone my boys had came when the elder rode his bike over a ramp that was just as well made as this one, but didn’t have that critical blue push-pin holding it all together.
He’s the one who became an emergency responder and later a trauma nurse, and I thought maybe his kids wouldn’t be allowed to do anything, but his professional experience has made him practical rather than terrified: He acknowledges it would be wonderful if all car drivers wore NASCAR style restraint systems, and helmets, but they won’t and it’s necessary to balance caution with compliance.
He’s raised his kids on more or less the same theory. Push-pins are optional, because everyone should experiment and try things and learn, but helmets are not.
This pun in Rubes cracked me up, because it falls into the “Dare to Be Dumb” school of humor, and the more I look at it, the more I find to like, starting with the ridiculous cowboy, the flummoxed expressions on the kids’ faces and the utter lack of anything approaching horror in the entire cartoon.
Most kids today have probably never seen a seesaw, which is too bad because about 20% of the time they were used for nice, cooperative play.
The rest of the time, they were used by big kids to keep little kids stuck in the air, or by pranksters who would bail out on the bottom, bringing the kid on the top crashing down.
This taught kids some important lessons about weight ratios and leverage, and about what little shits their supposed friends were. (Which you can also learn at the border, but we’re not covering that topic today.)
Meanwhile, Stephen Collins seems to take a dim view of on-line parental forums that focus on poo and on celebrity-written children’s books that are poo, and much of social media and best-sellers in general.
Another situation where I’d like to disagree but can’t.
Not when this arrogant twaddle — posted in a bookstore for god’s sake — is what passes for wit.
If I owned that bookstore, we’d have a “help wanted” sign up quickly, and perhaps a long talk with whoever had made the hire in the first place.
But, then, if I owned a bookstore, everyone would be required to agree upon the definition of “Literature.”
It sure as hell wouldn’t look like this.
Mr. Fitz is starting a new year, in which he will try to teach his students to enjoy literature while his superiors try to get him to achieve high test scores instead.
Comics, of course, exaggerate in the name of humor and commentary, and my younger son has found a place where he can teach instead of focusing on test prep.
But there are places where test prep remains the goal, and, even where it doesn’t, mechanistic teaching can lead kids to think “Romeo and Juliet” is as stale as the above indicates.
Though if there is a fault in teaching-for-meaning, it’s this: One of the things I have to repeat with my young critics is that a book review does not have to include finding a moral in the book.
Not every book has a moral.
Only the ones you’re assigned in school.
And then there’s this:
Michael de Adder notes an issue I’ve been pondering in smaller scale.
Living alone means half-used ingredients and lots of leftovers, so I’ve had had to rethink food storage, while the stuff itself, as de Adder notes, comes in plenty of plastic, not all of it recyclable.
I understand stores in Britain have looked into this and at least some of them have places at the checkout where you can strip your produce of plastic, much as stores now let you shuck your corn right there.
One-use plastic shopping bags seem the tip of an iceberg, and it’s not the plastic itself nearly so much as the lifestyle it is part of.
Somebody posted a picture on Twitter showing plastic stir-sticks individually wrapped, and that’s pretty much where we’re at.
I’m also hearing complaints about paper straws, which might mean that nobody remembers how to make them the way they made them in the Good Old Days, or it means that the Plastic Straw Makers Lobby is spreading self-serving bullshit.
If the former, someone should look into it. Our straws sometimes split if we handled them too roughly, but they didn’t get soggy and fall apart.
If its industry propaganda, shut up. Paper straws are fine and, by the way, you can also eat ice cream out of waxed cardboard cartons using flat wooden spoons. All compostible, all renewable.
And you can drink milk from returnable glass bottles with cardboard tops.
It takes some re-tooling on the manufacturers’ end, and maybe glass and paper were more practical when our food was produced and packaged regionally instead of at international hubs.
But that’s the sort of change in public attitude which might challenge climate change.
It’s damn sure plain we can’t sit back and wait for the manufacturers to do it, any more than we waited for the tobacco people to protect us from cancer.
We’re not the only ones pondering this.
One of my kid reporters has been visiting family in Nairobi and is writing a story on Kenya’s ban on one-use plastic shopping bags.
And I included a piece for the kids in this week’s issue about how Ethiopians planted 3.5 million trees in a single day as a promotion for the national effort to reforest much of their nation.
The whole world is not only watching, they’re playing along, and sometimes playing the game better.