Posts Tagged ‘education’
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Terre Haute, Indiana (AP) – Lice at the Kiddie Carousel Day Care are complaining that the facility, on South Seventh Street, is infested with human children. Children are a risk factor in the forcible uprooting and premature death of millions of lice every year.
The two-legged, immature humans provide an initially welcoming environment for lice. But often, once the insect population has been lulled into complacency, the surroundings suddenly become hostile. Baths of harsh chemicals often occur just when the lice population has begun to thrive, and sweeps of the child’s scalp area indiscriminately carry off young and old alike when the dreaded Comb passes through.
The International Taskforce on Cootie Hosting, or ITCH, has documented at least seven hundred thousand cases of child infestation in North America this year alone, representing an increase of eight percent over last year, which in turn grew from eight percent the year before. According to government statistics, although the number of human children has remained steady in North America during that time, an increase has been noted in the number of the hazardous human spawn inhabiting sites that lice once found more friendly.
ITCH has documented a general increase in dangerous conditions for lice. Famine and wars in Africa have reduced the number of available hosts in certain areas, although the most recent data point to stagnant growth in the African cephalic environment to begin with, as the hair of the African human tends to be less suitable to habitation by lice. But violent conflict in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have wrought havoc with the consistency of available residences.
The situation is not nearly as dire as it was seven hundred years ago, when the Black Plague swept through Europe and severely reduced the human population. Rival arthropod species seemed poised to assert dominance over the parasitic world, but a steady rebound in the number of humans on the continent, coupled with the displacement of bubonic plague hosts, assured the ascendance of head lice for centuries after.
In fact the lice future has never looked rosier, according to a new report by SUCK, the Society of Users of Chitin Knees. The SUCK report notes an overall global increase in human population, which will provide many more heads for lice to inhabit, and global warming means more of the planet will be hospitable to the insects, which survive longer in warmer environments if they become detached from the scalps of their hosts.
But the lice at Kiddie Carousel are still worried, as the presence of the deadly combs and topical treatments have been detected, according to rampant rumors among the lice.
A vocal contingent denies the rumors, calling into question the evidence for the comb and shampoo phenomena, as well as any indication of silicone spray. The skeptics note that all the fear-mongering stifles the productivity and growth of the population, and deem the rumors “pediculous.” Moreover, they argue, any such threat, even if imminent, lies beyond the capability of the lice community to address.
At press time, a louse with dyed, otherworldly-shaped orange hair was seen departing the preschool in a tiny helicopter marked “Trump.”
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Norfolk, Virginia (AP) – Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has denounced the legendary teller of nursery rhymes Mother Goose for encouraging violence and mistreatment of animals in her doggerel.
“Treating blackbirds as food is bad enough – but Mother Goose would have us sadistically putting the captive birds in a hot oven and baking them into a pie,” said Newkirk. “How out-of-touch with ethical behavior can you be?”
PETA released a litany of cruel acts against animals in Mother Goose’s rhyming verse and called for a boycott of her nursery rhymes until Mother Goose could demonstrate she had reformed.
The PETA report grades all of Mother Goose’s rhymes, assigning them a score on a scale of 1-4, with 1 representing an “acceptable” attitude toward animals, 2 meaning “borderline” and 3 meaning “poor” and 4 meaning “reprehensible.”
“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” was rated borderline, as the report indicates, because it takes for granted that the little sheep’s wool is meant to serve human needs, when, as PETA contends, any human appropriation of animal products violates the animals’ inherent rights. However, the rhyme does not cross the problematic line into “poor” because the lyrics can be construed as trying to elicit the black sheep’s consent to part with its wool, which bespeaks an attitude much more in keeping with proper ethics, the report says.
“Humpty Dumpty” presents a more disturbing situation, in which “all the king’s horses” are clearly being exploited by “all the king’s men” to reach Humpty Dumpty in time to put him back together. But the rhyme was rated 3 and not 4 because, as the report explains, the verse can be construed as meaning that the horses voluntarily participate in attempting to reassemble Dumpty, but with society’s current set of assumptions that is not an obvious reading.
“Pop Goes the Weasel” has a misleading title that might lead to the assumption that a rodent is being mistreated, but in fact the poem received a score of 1, since, as many scholars suggest, the “weasel” in question is cockney rhyming slang for a non-animal object being pawned by a pauper. In the report PETA expressed dislike for the reference to an animal, but the offense was not egregious enough to warrant a demotion to 2.
In an unusual twist, “Hey Diddle Diddle,” despite its myriad references to animals, scored 1 in the report, as the animals in the poem clearly behave the way they do in the absence of human interference, and the rhyme implies that when unfettered by exploitative, abusive captivity, cats can train themselves to play violin, cows can develop aerospace technology, dogs develop a philosophical sense of wonder and inanimate objects mature to the point of recognizing that fundamental physical differences are no barrier to emotional intimacy.
However, the flagrant and brutal treatment that occurs in a number of other rhymes prompted PETA to question Mother Goose’s moral compass. “To Market, To Market” encourages the purchase, slaughter and consumption of swine; “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” endorses the enslavement of animals and, worse yet, implies that the creatures prefer it that way; “Itsy Bitsy Spider” finds nothing cruel about watching an arachnid get repeatedly washed away.
Even some selections without overt mistreatment were rated as unacceptable by the PETA report. The three men in a tub include a butcher, a cruel profession so beyond the pale that its mere mention earned the poem a rating of 4. And in “Hickory Dickory Dock,” the implied use of a human-constructed implement, a clock, to scare away mice was deemed a poor choice.
Newkirk also demanded that Mother Goose clarify at once why the apocryphal, eighteenth-century folk figure uses the name of a blameless bird. She concluded, “Anyone who doubts the speciesism rampant in Mother Goose’s works just has to take a gander at them.”
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Fairfax, Virginia (AP) – In response to the fatal shooting of 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said that had the students been allowed to carry a weapon, the murders could have been averted.
“A gun is an easy piece of equipment to use,” said LaPierre at a news conference at NRA headquarters. “A child as young as five can be properly trained to load and aim one. I’m not saying that arming the children would have necessarily prevented all the tragic deaths, but I know the gunman would have thought twice before entering a classroom of two dozen first-graders with upwards of 140 rounds of ammunition at their disposal.”
“And that’s just if you assume each one has a six-shooter,” he continued, referring to the standard revolver. The number of potential deterrent bullets could rise as high as 360, said LaPierre, if each first-grader were provided with a weapon holding a 15-round magazine. He said the NRA would soon be offering firearms purchasing and training programs in school districts throughout the country.
According to the evidence the police have pieced together so far, twenty-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into the school building and went from classroom to classroom, shooting students and faculty before taking his own life. It was as yet unclear how the weapons, which Lanza had taken from his mother after killing her earlier, came into her possession. They were a semiautomatic rifle and two semiautomatic pistols.
The shootings underscored the deep divide in the US between supporters of strict gun control and advocates of expansive Second Amendment rights. It is but the latest in a gruesome series of mass murders by gunfire over the last few years, each one rekindling the debate over what makes American society safer: more guns in the hands of more people, the fact of which might deter would-be attackers, or tougher access across the board to the acquisition of any firearms, which would make criminal shootings less likely.
The NRA has lobbied vigorously for freer access to firearms by the broadest possible section of American society. Aside from deterring crime, they contend, the preservation of Second Amendment liberties safeguards other fundamental rights that the government might, under some circumstances, attempt to deny, as if such an attempt would not be backed by firepower and tactics far that would overwhelm, to the point of ludicrousness, anything even collective US gun owners could muster.
As for statistics demonstrating that a gun owner is more likely to be killed by his own weapon than by anyone else’s, the NRA recommends expanding the pool of gun ownership even further. “We’re all about gun safety,” said NRA President David Keene. “Anyone who accidentally shoots himself probably deserves it, and anyone who does so intentionally, well, that’s one fewer loose cannon to worry about, right?” Arming elementary school children, argues Keene, would enable the youngsters to experience the responsibility at a tender age, responsibility that would bring a maturity currently in short supply.
“Kids love top play cops and robbers, or some variation thereof,” continued Keene. “Allowing them to do so with actual firearms would drive home the point that these things are not toys, and that their use requires a seriousness that can only serve them well – in school, at work, wherever.”
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Chicago, IL (Reuters) – Concerned about the effects that exposure to violence, sex and gore can have on the impressionable minds of children, the Union Methodist Church has published a “family friendly” edition of the Bible. The new version has selected only those portions of scripture that its editorial team deemed non-threatening to youngsters, and it numbers a dozen pages.
“We are responding to the concerns of parents everywhere that they have less and less say in the ideas and images to which their children have access,” said Alicia Censor, the head of the editorial team. “Yet few of us ever considered that every Sunday we were undermining our own sensibilities by exposing our children to page after page of horrible ideas.”
So a group of church members volunteered to put together an abridged version that would offer parents and educators tighter control over what their children read and hear. Under the guidance of Pastor Rob Eublind, the team spent the better part of six months sifting through the Bible and retaining only those passages that do not mention nudity, sexuality, bloodshed, vivisection, corruption, or questionable behavior of any sort.
They therefore omitted the entire second chapter of Genesis, for example, in which the first man and woman lived unclothed, and the series of “begats” connecting Adam to Noah, and then Noah to Abraham, in order to avoid the question of how all that begetting took place. Cain’s murder of Abel was also removed, because of the killing itself; the mention of Cain “knowing” his wife; and several verses later, the mention of Lemech and his two wives, which could prompt uncomfortable questions regarding the sanctity of the monogamous family unit.
In some cases the team expunged entire books, such as Leviticus, which extensively details the slaughter and dismemberment of animals. They also gave the Song of Solomon the editorial ax, with its constant use of erotic metaphor.
Congregations and relieved parents have already placed orders for hundreds of thousands of copies, and RePress, the publisher, will have to produce a second run, as they only anticipated needing about twenty thousand. Fortunately, the new Bible is small, and shipment is inexpensive.
Eublind expressed satisfaction at the outcome, and pride in his congregation. “Sometimes the situation is so dire that even the leadership is paralyzed – but then along comes someone who stands up and takes action. It’s just like Phineas, who, in the wilderness – wait you aren’t going to let any children read this, are you?”
Parents in the community are similarly thrilled. “I’ve been all worried about how to teach my daughters about Abraham in Egypt, Lot in Sodom, and about Joseph in Potiphar’s house,” said Stephen Prude, 33, a father of three. “But thanks to this new Bible I know I can just skip those parts. Perhaps that’s the approach we should agitate for about all that sex education in the schools,” he wondered.
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Originally posted February 9, 2011.
Dear parents of my six-year-old’s classmates:
Thank you for including my son in your child’s after-school birthday party. Aside from the obvious generosity involved in putting together such an event, the party provides a number of social and educational services that only became clear to me after the fact. I would like to share with you my appreciation of each one, first and foremost the junk food.
My wife and I attempt to restrict our children’s intake of sugary, greasy or only marginally nutritious snacks. We try to instill in them a like for green vegetables, for fruits, and for a variety of protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken and meat. This contrasts sharply with your philosophy, as demonstrated by your complete reliance, for the occasion, upon candy, potato chips, pretzels, buttered popcorn, cake, cookies and more candy.
I had anticipated, perhaps ignorantly, that a party for two dozen or so first-graders at dinnertime might include something vaguely resembling dinner. Granted, preparing dinner for two dozen first-graders can prove quite a daunting task; I did not expect anyone to take upon himself such an endeavor. However, I note the existence of at least four pizza parlors within a six-block radius of your home, all of which offer free delivery. Pizza is not the optimal dinner every single day, but its just-above-marginal nutritional value nevertheless renders it superior to candy, cake, cookies, and greasy snacks. I rather doubt these pizza places would have survived this long without the patronage of local families such as yours; I thus find your sudden reluctance to engage their services original, to say the least.
I do recall that in my youth, birthday parties in my area tended to feature pizza from a particular place followed by ice cream from a different particular place. They usually happened at the same skating venue. Now, I do understand that you prefer to conduct your party at home, and that skating venue is both six thousand miles away and probably defunct. Nevertheless, the experience of my youth conditioned me to expect some sort of party activity to accompany, or at least alternate with, the food. In your case, this activity seemed to consist of watching TV shows or movies of questionable merit, with occasional individual forays into the kitchen to ingest more candy, cookies, cake and greasy snacks. I applaud your bold disregard for stodgy, “mainstream” pediatric guidance.
This innovative, hands-off approach to kid partying offers the obvious advantage of leaving the parents free to engage in other activities; clearly, you seized this opportunity to pour even more effort in to party-related pursuits, such as opening and serving more snack foods. I stand in awe of your efficient ways.
My son had an advantage over most of the other children, in that he arrived a good bit before the other guests, and benefited from more individual adult attention. He informs me that this attention consisted of sitting him in front of the TV and serving him a sandwich with chocolate spread. Thus, in addition to the junk food he would receive a little later with the rest of the pack, my son also got to consume one additional portion of yet another permutation of grease, sugar and empty calories. Thank you for singling him out for such special treatment.
His early arrival time, as well, contained a lesson for us. While I had always been under the impression that the time listed on an invitation represents the time the event will start, you disabused me of that notion – when my son arrived, the preparations were nowhere near complete, which highlights yet another benefit of your robust sit-them-in-front-of-the-TV policy. I note that most of the other parents displayed keen awareness of this etiquette quirk, as they did not begin bringing their children until about twenty minutes later, judging by my son’s description.
The cumulative effect of your child’s birthday party, I must say, brought out a side of my child’s personality that I rarely, if ever, get to see: when his body, vocal cords and mouth work faster than his brain, as a result of significantly increased blood sugar. He was so excited about the party, he could not focus on getting in pajamas for a full twenty minutes after getting home, and then did not fall asleep until well after his usual bedtime despite continual encouragement. Thank you for enabling me to experience this phenomenon once again. I really do not get to do that frequently enough.
This has been an edifying, educational experience. Words cannot convey how I anticipate the effect of your child-rearing on my son for years to come.
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Washington, DC (Reuters) – The Department of Education announced today that it has issued new rules regarding the hiring of teachers, mainly the requirement that each school with more than seventy pupils must have at least four weirdos on its teaching staff.
The move comes in response to census data indicating that children in some areas of the country are exposed to vastly different levels of weirdness from their teachers, and the numbers are critically low in such straight-laced portions of the country as Iowa, Idaho and Kansas. The new rules also address the difficulty of children being exposed only to weird teachers, which occurs primarily in California, though that has not had an appreciable effect on the state’s weirdness quotient in the last two decades.
Educators and education officials alike have long noted the importance of zany, absent-minded or just plain creepy teachers in children’s development, especially between the ages of ten and sixteen. Repeated studies have shown that exposure to comical faculty attire, unkempt hair, unsettling mannerisms, cutesy lingo and inexplicable ignorance of pop culture mainstays are a critical component of a healthy outlook and ability to learn. In China, where weirdness is currently outlawed, standardized tests consistently demonstrate the youths’ difficulty in understanding the centrality of such crucial issues as reality TV, the popularity of The Big Lebowski and why it is simply not cool to actually complete one’s schoolwork properly.
Weirdness has also been shown to play a role in electoral decisions, notably whether a voter will actually decide to submit an absentee ballot if necessary. Approximately 95% of absentee ballots are submitted by weirdos, many of whom are passionate about local politics and run for positions such as village alderman and the local school district board.
“America didn’t get where it is today by ignoring the importance of people like Doc Brown in Back to the Future,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “In fact a large number of the greatest minds in history were those of eccentric – no, we’ll say it plainly – weirdos.” He cited pioneering geologist Charles Lyell, who adopted excruciating positions in his chair when engaged in deep thought, and Isaac Newton, who had no romantic relationships in his life, as prominent examples.
“There’s quite a correlation between genius and social awkwardness,” said Abby Slightlyoff, a lecturer on cultural anthropology at the University of North Carolina, as she hunched over, twisted her body to the left and twisted some of her hair between her fingers as she spoke. “Anthropologists have known for years that the pervasive influence of weirdos during childhood makes it all the more likely that a person will grow up with at least a modicum of obliviousness to social conventions.”
The new regulations specifically exempt home-schooling families from any specific requirement, noting that home schooling is inherently weird enough to guarantee at least six times the minimum recommended weirdness.
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