Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Relevant News Flash (7:6)

  • Is there anything more terrible than feeling like you can't protect your kids? The reality for many families facing the harsh lessons and vagaries of fortune surrounding the housing crisis today is the repercussions it has for their kids. It remains to be seen what effect the instability, being felt on such a large scale, will have on the current generation.
  • A bright light can exist when privileged childhood meets awareness of strife and struggle: mobilization to action, and a willingness to dig in and innovate. In a place where so many groundbreaking advances are emerging, perhaps it's not surprising that even the kids of Silicon Valley display a talent to harness the intersection of financial means and creative innovation to address the conditions of those most in need.
  • With youthful enthusiasm can come youthful indiscretion. At least when I was a teenager, my most embarrassing moments, both those I considered so then, and those I consider so now, don't sit on a search engine somewhere for all time. In the era of online social networking, how exactly are the politicians of tomorrow going to handle the "did you inhale" challenges, when evidence could very well be located on YouTube? The editors of IvyGate, Maureen O'Connor and Jacob Savage, suggest in the LA Times that an easing of the standards and judgements is on the horizon.
  • Speaking of signs of the times, Sesame Street online was in need of a serious high tech overhaul, and the new site is set to soon launch to continue to engage a new generation of youngster whose address is less street and more cyber.
  • We are cautioned (again) to consider and minimize the effects of ambient media for our youngest ones. Forget about the obvious no-no of plopping JR. in front of the TV, just leaving on the TV in the background while they play has been found in a study to be harmful to the development of young children, no matter the imagined quality of program being viewed.
  • Many parents imagined that infant formulas enhanced with Omega 3 oils must have better nutritional quality, but the Cornucopia Institute recently released findings to the medical community that seriously calls these beliefs into question, suggesting that rather they may expose children to significant health risks due to methods of production, involving chemical agents, and poor safety oversight. Most worrying is a side effect to some infants that causes serious diarrhea, to the point that neonatal nurses have referred to the mixtures as "the diarrhea formula." That can't be good!
  • For the expecting mamas, it seems increasingly like one should spend the entire pregnancy in a hermetically sealed bubble! Stress is incredibly debilitating to the body, but starkly reveals itself in pregnancy, yet maternity leave is drawing closer and closer to due dates. Also, if you have a nut craving in pregnancy, it looks to be vigilant to scale it back, as an increased risk of asthma in mother's who ingest nuts daily has been found by Dutch researchers. But don't invest in that bubble just yet, as moderation seems to be the key to navigating these perilous waters.
  • News from the book world: lawsuits and late night anticipation! The lawsuit alleging that Jessica Seinfeld snatched another author's idea, right down to the art and design of the book continues and expands. What is the latest sensation that will make your older kids (hopefully older...keep reading to find out why) drag you to the bookstore for a book release party? The latest book from Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight Series" is nearly here. The plot of the books focuses on a teenager who has a romantic relationship with a devastatingly handsome vampire hero, who refuses to consummate the relationship out of...um... gentlemanly respect. Undead and unattainable? Ladies step right up, we have ourselves a recipe for a blockbuster series.
  • One of the more disturbing stories to emerge this week chronicles the increase of seriously questionable tactics to control the growing numbers of children in our classrooms with developmental and psychiatric disorders, including physical restraints and isolation. Yes we are talking about schools, and not detention facilities. The issue is complicated to say the least. School personnel are struggling to maintain safety and control in their classrooms, amidst a growing percentage of their students who have these challenges, and special needs families are struggling to keep their kids in the mainstream, and protected from such tactics, which have in some cases caused death. No easy answers are found, and it definitely leaves you uneasy.
  • In other education news, those following the legal challenge to homeschooling in California's court system will be interested in the recent development that the original action has been dismissed, but the separate appeal proceedings are still in progress.
  • Start those little gardeners early! A lifetime of botanical enjoyment awaits them, along with a way to deal with the slings and arrows of teenager turmoil.
  • Safety news you can use: An alarming number of kids who have serious life threatening allergies do not consistently carry an epi pen a study found, seriously putting them at risk. Older kids seem to worry about fashion, and the ability of a younger child to properly use it is inconsistent. In an era of budget cuts, which may find the school nurse unavailable, it is critical to find ways to make sure that these kids have the vital means close at hand to save their lives. Also, it is amazing how many kids have been struck by lightning recently, and a few simple tips to avoid can help the next time you find yourself in some dangerous weather.
  • International reporting: Find out how a public health doctor in the third world decided to borrow some clever marketing ploys from three of the biggest consumer goods companies to "manipulate" the population of Ghana to wash their hands with soap to prevent the spread of disease. Also, wherever you stand on the subject of vaccinations, I think one can agree that the practice of testing and refining vaccines on vulnerable third world populations, as has been recently reported in Argentina, is of grave concern and ought to be investigated. And finally, having read the excellent book, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, published a few years ago, I recall the moment I had the realization while reading that we were headed for trouble with bio fuels, and unfortunately it appears that it has come to fruition, and a energy alternative once heralded as revolutionary is being lampooned as a "big con."

Whew...we're caught up!

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