Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Posts Tagged ‘children

Nation Holds Breath As Teen Deliberates Liking Friend’s Selfie

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selfiesUrbana, IL, April 28 – The United States remains on tenterhooks as Samantha Johnson, 14, determines whether or not to click “Like” on the self-portrait of her friend Paula McMaster, also 14.

McMaster, a classmate of Johnson’s at Urbana High School, uploaded a picture she took of herself in the bathroom mirror this morning, just before leaving for school. Seven minutes later, Johnson saw the image in her Facebook feed, and these next few seconds will prove crucial in the developing relationship between the two freshmen.

The stakes in the decision have grown high over the last few days, explains professor of psychology Ben Shwarmer. “The two young ladies move in different cliques at school, and as such are not close friends. Each one considers the other likable enough, but the fact that their parents are pushing them to become close has made each of them wary of doing just that.” Then, three days ago, McMaster and Johnson were the only people their age at a community event to which their parents had dragged them, and the commiseration that they shared sparked a potential new friendship nevertheless.

The two teens exchanged phone numbers and friend requests on Facebook, but had little online interaction in the intervening days, as McMaster’s charger was unavailable. Once she found it and charged her device overnight, she photographed herself several times and chose the image she found most satisfactory to post to her wall. The next several minutes were the first time both of the teens were on line for any significant duration at the same time since they friended each other.

Experts are divided on what will happen. “There’s probably still some residual awkwardness from all the parental associations, and we’re likely to see Ms. Johnson ignore the image entirely,” says Yenta Gross, who writes about social media use for several teen publications. “Shes shown some admirable restraint in the past, such as the time three weeks ago when she tactfully pretended that a friend’s drunken, lewd rant never appeared in her feed.”

Educator Jack Kass disagrees. “Kids are stupid,” he insists. “That’s an ugly picture, it’s obvious the girl is fishing for compliments, and Samantha has a low tolerance for such things.”

“In fact, I think I’m going to post a mocking comment right no – crap. I can’t comment if I’m not a friend. OK, teenage creepy alter ego here I come…”

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Written by Thag

April 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Woman Uses iPhone To Take Picture Of Someone Other Than Self

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original selfieUrbana, IL, February 14 – In a daring violation of social convention, local woman Stephanie Brill used her smartphone to photograph someone else, a bold departure from behavioral norms.

The 19-year-old freshman at the University of Illinois had several friends pose facing her, at which point she stood several feet in front of them and snapped the picture. The friends remained in their pose for almost half a minute afterwards, expecting Brill to return to the group and extend her arm to photograph herself with them, as any normal person would do, but she stowed her iPhone in its case. “I took the picture,” she told them. “You can stop posing now.”

Confused, her friends challenged Brill, who produced the phone again and showed them the image already stored on it. This only served to puzzle the group further, who had understandably never encountered a photograph of humans that was not a selfie.

“She showed us this selfie, but it…is selfie even the right word? What do you call a selfie of other people?” wondered Briana Dowland, 20. “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.”

“I like it,” said Brittany Marcus, 19. “It’s edgy. People will look at it and be, like, ‘Was the phone floating in mid-air?’ It’s very Magritte-like.”

The group discussed the non-selfie with several acquaintances, who were divided on the propriety of such photography. “I think it’s a violation of protocol,” offered Derek Mills, 20. “People just don’t expect that, and while there’s nothing wrong with the image, it’s just impolite to deviate like that from what everyone expects.”

“So why should we blindly adhere to ‘what everyone expects’?” challenged Alex Giles. “Aren’t we here at college to explore new horizons and challenge ourselves and the world? I say more power to her.” He was hesitant to say whether he, personally, would participate in a non-selfie selfie.

“I wouldn’t even know where to stand in front of the bathroom mirror,” he said.

Written by Thag

February 14, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Education Dept.: Not Enough Time Wasted At Parent-Teacher Meetings

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140px-US-DeptOfEducation-Seal.svgWashington, DC (AP) – Responding to an alarming increase in the risk of parents actually having time to accomplish things, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan directed all schools receiving federal funding to allot more time for meetings with teachers.

Technology has allowed American parents to increase their efficiency, maintaining productive communication with associates, supervisors, and employees even while engaged in the mundane tasks of parenting a school-age child. Smart phones and other mobile devices help them stay in contact via text messages and other media even while they sit in a classroom as a teacher or principal drones on in cliché-ridden pronouncements about educational goals and parental involvement.

To combat this development, Duncan had his staff prepare a plan to restore the status quo ante from decades past, when parents had no choice but to sit idle, silently cursing themselves and their fates while being assaulted with hackneyed verbiage. The Taking the Initiative to Make Educational Sessions Unbearable in Conferences or with Kids (TIMESUCK) program makes it mandatory for all teachers to bar the use of mobile devices while parents are assembled for meetings with teachers.

Through TIMESUCK, the Department of Education seeks to keep parents in their rightful place: scrambling, frustrated, exhausted, confused, and as powerless as possible. “The mission of each cabinet department is to maximize the ways in which US citizens and residents are made to feel helpless and manipulated,” Duncan told reporters. “The Department of Education is charged with achieving that end through the school system.”

Traditionally, explained Duncan, the chief vehicle for cultivating and nurturing the persecution of parents has been post-secondary tuition fees and a program jointly sponsored with the CIA to maintain  certain level of drug addiction in middle and high schools. Further support for these initiatives comes form the Department of Health, which has consistently managed to ensure that a disturbing percentage of female high school students become pregnant at least once by their junior years.

However, uneven distribution of income and parental involvement in children’s schooling has meant that while the goals of the Department were being met, even exceeded, in inner cities and areas hit with socioeconomic distress, middle- and upper-class school districts still had unacceptably high levels of parental satisfaction and engagement. TIMESUCK, says educational consultant Hugh Sunavobicz, will make great strides in equalizing the frustrations of parents across the socioeconomic spectrum.

“In recent years, parents of means could insulate themselves from the soul-sucking experience of parent-teacher conferences, but this measure levels the playing field. In many ways, it’s a back-door achievement to further the goals of the Democratic Party, which prides itself on equalizing the opportunities that the economically disadvantaged normally do not enjoy.” In this case, noted Sunavobicz, few resources are necessary to implement the initiative, a point that short-circuits some of the anticipated criticism from conservative quarters.

Republican Senator Mark Rubio confirms that analysis. “The Republican Party does not oppose granting people opportunity, but it must be done judiciously and non-profligately. TIMESUCK seems to answer to both requirements, but only time will tell.” He added that the GOP has consistently supported other measures to keep parental optimism in check, such as a series of wasteful foreign wars, a government that blatantly violated human rights and constitutional protections, and election campaigns that leave no room for hope in the future.

Written by Thag

December 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Sesame Street Donates Big Bird To Feed African Children

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Big BirdNew York (AP) – Against the backdrop of civil wars and the constant threat of famine, the producers of the hit children’s TV show Sesame Street have decided to provide dozens of deprived African children with the protein-rich meat of that largest regular Sesame Street character, Big Bird.

The plan calls for Big Bird to be sent next month by boat to either Nigeria or Burkina-Faso, where he will be slaughtered and butchered. Refrigerated trucks would spread across the region to at least ten remote villages most adversely affected by privation, with the goal of reaching a minimum of one hundred children by the end of January.

Persistent unrest and unchecked disease have disrupted life for millions of Africans. Revolutions, ongoing ethnic conflicts, diamond wars, separatist rebellions, climatic upheaval, and rampant AIDS have made the continent one of the world’s most unpleasant regions, especially south of the Sahara. International aid efforts to distribute food and basic necessities are often stymied by political barriers and local warlords who seek to control access to resources as a means of exercising and consolidating power. Sesame Street Workshop intends to ship Big Bird meat to one of two West African ports, and from there to be distributed to hungry children in the Sub-Saharan region.

Sesame Workshop CEO H. Melvin Ming announced the donation this morning at the company’s headquarters at Lincoln Plaza in Manhattan, telling reporters that the effort will exploit the company’s connections in various African countries, connections forged over decades through international distribution, syndication, and licensing of the TV show for production and broadcast in more than 140 countries.

“The vision of Sesame Street from the very beginning has been one that brings together people from all over the world to help improve the quality of children’s lives,” said Ming. “But we fail at an essential level if we aim only at children’s hearts and minds, when those hearts and minds can only function if attention has first been given to their stomachs.” He added that the company had considered donating Mr. Snuffleupagus, Big Bird’s sometime companion, who would have provided even more meat, but that idea was dismissed because that would drive the species, whatever it is, to extinction.

In parallel with the shipment, slaughter, and distribution of Big Bird meat, Sesame Workshop will embark on a promotional effort to both raise awareness of the specific project and of the importance of self-sacrifice for the greater good. Big Bird will be memorialized on the show with a “plaque” that will appear in the opening and closing credits. A farewell episode will be broadcast at the end of December, in which the other characters will have a chance to say their goodbyes to Big Bird, and select letters from viewers will be read aloud on the air. The show will broadcast scenes from Big Bird’s grand final journey in subsequent episodes, leveraging the event to show children how slaughterhouses work.

Ming expects some of the show’s international partners to buy into the publicity, and several such “co-producers” have already signaled their readiness to carry the message of devotion to a greater good. The Iraq and Gaza Strip Sesame Street affiliates have announced that they will use the Big Bird self-sacrifice narrative to serve in recruitment of suicide bombers.

Written by Thag

December 11, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Benjamin Moore Introduces Booger-Color Paints

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booger paintMontvale, New Jersey (AP) – Seeking to tap into parental frustration over their children’s apparent addiction to spreading the contents of their noses on every available surface, the paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore & Company has begun marketing a line of paints to match the colors and textures of dried human nasal mucus.

The Pick-A-Paint series includes twenty-five different shades and five textures. With the selection, Benjamin Moore hopes to capitalize on the Sisyphean enterprise of keeping the walls of a house clean while children under the age of 14 inhabit it. Instead of actually trying to wipe – or, more likely, scrape – boogers off the wall, parents will now be able to paint entire walls or rooms the color of mucus and subsequently ignore the camouflaged boogers.

“Everyone can breathe more easily with Pick-A-Paint,” reads the company’s press release announcing the product launch. “Parents will love the convenience of never having to see these unpleasant sights on the walls. Children will never have to worry about waiting the excruciating twelve seconds it might take to get to the nearest available tissue to free up their nasal passages. And we at Benjamin Moore will be thrilled to know we’ve contributed to humanity by eliminating a major source of tension between parents and children.”

Company executive Dryden Crustee disclosed in an interview that Benjamin Moore expects certain selections from the new series to fare better than others. “There’s obvious demand for brownish-ocher-green with dark flecks,” he said, explaining that numerous focus groups of parents had ranked as “most disturbing” the discovery of blackish booger remnants festooning the walls above their children’s beds. “But we also found that some parents would appreciate the occasional shiny streak, to help mask the smears that inevitably result from some methods of booger disposal.”

Also available will be chunky streaks of red to mimic the occasional bloody boogers that parents often find, and paints that flake ever so slightly to replicate the texture and experience that wet mucus provides after it dries.

Benjamin Moore intends to roll out distribution of the new paints in January, initially along the eastern seaboard and gradually moving westward through 2014 and 2015. The parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, expects the stock price of Benjamin Moore to increase following the release of the products, betting that the appeal of Pick-A-Paint will stick.

Written by Thag

November 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Parent Scientists Isolate Ideal Bedtime

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Either a health risk or a manifest demonstration of  life lived correctly.

Either a health risk or a manifest demonstration of life lived correctly.

Cambridge, MA (AP) – Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced the results of a multi-year effort to define the ideal hour at which children should be put to bed, including confirmation of a long-held assumption that a “golden window” exists during which children who cooperate with parental bedtime directives will enjoy happier, healthier lives.

A team consisting of thirty-five researchers across the country who are also parents of young children examined data regarding a cohort of 70 youths from the ages of six months to eleven years. They found that the best time for children to be tucked into bed was in the range of 6:45 pm and 7:30 pm, and even earlier if Mom or Dad had something special planned just for the two of them. The researchers published their findings in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the article, the benefits of adhering to this bedtime scheme include, but are not limited to: more frequent and more plentiful desserts; fewer occasions for parent-administered discipline; an easier time getting ready for school in the morning; more generous allowance; and a significantly decreased likelihood of getting grounded.

“This study essentially corroborates everything we’ve been saying for a long time,” said Dr. I. Sedso, a Columbia University professor of physics and father of three who was not involved in the research. “Our experience,” she said, referring to the informal studies undertaken by colleagues with small children at home, “bears out that the household functions at peak efficiency when children have dinner at about 5:15, have a bath or shower, change into pajamas, brush teeth, and are ready for maybe a bedtime story and to be tucked in by 7 pm, 7:15 if a lice-combing is necessary,” she said in a telephone interview.

The study is the most recent in a series of MIT efforts to define and quantify various aspects of the parent-child dynamic. A report released in February noted the character-building benefits of taking out the garbage even when one has already removed one’s shoes, and the myriad positive effects on one’s long-term satisfaction inherent in keeping that racket down.

The research is not without its detractors. “We believe studies of this nature are a priori biased,” claims Houston-area ten-year-old Greg Niedermeyer. “They fail to account for the negative social impact that adhering to, for example, an early bedtime, exerts on the life of a typical schoolchild.” Niedermeyer also criticized an earlier study that found only positive outcomes for children who finished their vegetables, noting that only losers ate Brussels sprouts or beets in any form.

Niedermeyer pointed to a conflicting set of studies conducted over the last year by children at various elementary schools in Texas, Vermont, Indiana, and Florida, which found a significant correlation between later bedtimes and freer access to candy. “It’s clear that from a happiness point of view, liberal parental attitudes are key. The studies indicating otherwise suffer from a prejudiced set of assumptions, among them that whatever a parent wants is ipso facto desirable.”

Adult researchers, in turn, have assailed the schoolchildren’s research as agenda-driven, and noted that it was all underwritten by manufacturers of unnecessarily sweet breakfast cereals and of violent video games masquerading as educational tools.

Written by Thag

September 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Bizarre, Warped Man Looking Forward To Family Reunion

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Gary and MelissaWoodmere, NY (AP) – A local man who experts say must have a chemical imbalance of some sort has grown increasingly excited during recent weeks as a planned get-together with cousins, parents, and siblings approaches.

Gary Innes, 37, of North Woodmere, has inexplicably shown greater and greater eagerness since the reunion was finalized in July, and exhibits no signs of awareness that such a positive orientation toward one’s relatives is widely considered weird. According to several neighbors, Innes has repeatedly mentioned how happy he was to be able to see his older brother again, seemingly oblivious to the fact that older brothers, as a rule, are not supposed to be viewed in a positive light.

Similarly, his iterative mentions of getting together with his parents has sent waves of revulsion through this bedroom community, where, as in any normal place, parents are seen at best as a necessary evil, and at worst – and most commonly – as a neverending source of awkwardness and shame.

“He seems so normal, so harmless,” said a neighbor who requested anonymity to forestall any further strain in what will soon be a stilted, overly formal relationship, at least from her end. “What sort of traumatic, depraved childhood did this man have that he sees absolutely nothing wrong with feeling close to siblings and parents?” she wondered.

Indeed, says Stephen Strohmayer, a fellow member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in nearby Hewlett, the attachment and affection that Mr. Innes feels for family extends even to the unthinkable: he apparently has warm regard, even admiration, for his in-laws. “I just can’t wrap my head around it,” said Strohmayer, who has appealed to others within the parish to come together to find a way to set Innes straight.

Lucille Bergen, another church member, even attempted to offer support for Melissa, Gary’s wife, gently probing to see whether Melissa felt perplexed or confused by Gary’s easy relationship with her parents. “She looked at me like I was the one from Mars, not her,” recalled Bergen. “I’m afraid he’s got her brainwashed or something, and she doesn’t even want to live in reality anymore. She seems to think it’s preferable to live in a world where family members love one another,” concluded Bergen in disbelief.

Eyewitness accounts indicate the extent to which Gary’s freakish world view has affected Melissa. Reports from other relatives indicate that at Christmas dinner last year, Melissa was seen smiling easily and embracing Gary’s parents, and alcohol was not served. The most serious, severe disagreement of the evening involved a spirited, good-natured discussion of favorite TV shows from the 1980’s, in which Melissa touted the virtues of MacGyver and the Inneses stood by their choice of Cheers. Not a single arch comment about the former’s child-rearing choices, sartorial habits, cooking, or lifestyle choices was recorded.

“I know it must be eating her up inside, to have this grotesque, supportive dynamic with her in-laws,” says the neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous. “It must be a Stockholm Syndrome kind of thing, where she’s adopted Gary’s espousal of outlandish family ideas as a sort of defense mechanism so she doesn’t have to deal with the manifest wrongness of it all.”

Written by Thag

September 16, 2013 at 9:40 pm