THE CHARACTERS HAVEN'T BEEN NAMED

THE CHARACTERS HAVEN'T BEEN NAMED YET. ALL WE KNOW FOR SURE IS THAT THEY'LL HATE PAKISTANIS.

Your tax dollars at work: With a $500,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development, Sesame Street is coming to India in a big way.

Buried deep in the article is this nugget:

There have been reports that show has also been put to unlikely uses by US interrogators in Iraq. Last year it emerged they had tormented captives with the Sesame Street theme music in an attempt to make them talk. Sesame Workshop's Beatrice Chow, however, called this an "unfounded rumour.
FD agrees; we can't see using the Sesame Street theme song to torture captives. Now the "Elmo's World" theme, that's gotta violate the Geneva Convention.


SOME CREDIT HIS VICTORY TO HIS HIGH-ENERGY TRAINING SNACK. OTHERS SPECULATE HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE ONLY ONE WHO KNEW WINDSURFING WAS AN OLYMPIC SPORT.

Israel has its first Olympic gold medal. We raise a toast to you, Gal Fridman.


ABOVE ALL, DO NOT LET YOUR TEENS ASSOCIATE WITH THESE TWO

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia has released a new survey making a compelling case that a teen whose friends are sexually active is far more likely himself to smoke, drink, or use pot. The survey does offer an antidote for parents: More family dinners. Teens who eat with their family less than twice a week are one-and-a-half more likely to, well, do lots of bad stuff than teens who eat with their parents at least five times a week.


TWO QUESTIONS: SINCE WHEN DO WEATHERMEN MAKE $300,000? AND SINCE WHEN IS IT A FULL-TIME JOB?

Detroit weatherman walks away from a $300,000 annual contract to spend more time at home with his kids when the station refuses to allow him to reduce his hours. The easy joke? "Extended Forecast: Poverty."

But FD will join in what will surely be a long line of folks praising Chris Edwards, because he’s done it right. This Detroit Free Press article foresees a bleak financial future for his family, but he's been his station's chief meteorologist for 13 years and he claims to have saved 40 percent of his earnings over that period. He’s going to tour the area doing science and weather shows for kids. And we think we've heard of TV personalities finding a way back on the air after a hiatus.

In any case, short of an El Nino attack on his house, we expect Edwards to do fine. Based on this Wall Street Journal article in which he was quoted a while back, he has the right attitude about careers and fatherhood.


STUDENTS, OPEN YOUR BOOK TO PAGE 160, THE BEGINNING OF THE CHAPTER ON EMASCUALTION

Chris Edwards' Michigan dads group, dadsempowered.com, is one of many such orgs bemoaning the state of media representations of fathers in society. In that same Journal article, we read:

The [Michigan] conference will encourage dads to prove stereotypes wrong. They'll be shown TV commercials like the humorous spot for a Michigan managed-care organization. It features a bumbling father holding a baby like a football. The unintended message: "Fathers don't care for their kids properly," says Murray Davis of Dads of Michigan. Mr. Edwards resents all the "clueless idiot" dads in children's books and TV shows. He says such portrayals undermine children's perceptions of their own fathers.
FD groks that. We've been reading Diane Ravitch's pupil-popping expose, "The Language Police," which details the shocking extent to which America's textbooks and standardized tests are bowdlerized to avoid making uncomfortable any possible ethnic, gender, or geographic group - even the ones that weren't complaining. It's easy to see how those standards have filtered into prime time TV, where everyone is portrayed positively except for those buffoonish wage-earning dads. (Ray Romano plays a nationally-known sportswriter on "Everybody Loves Raymond," and yet, what, we're supposed to believe he can't open a can of tuna fish or pay a bill? Everyone on the show, excluding his mother but including his kids, is required to call him an idiot at least once per episode, lest anyone watching at home start to get envious of a character who is unquestionably a major professional success.)

In one section of her book, Ravitch details how publishers and interest groups restrict the ways in which the genders can be represented in classrooms. For example, textbook illustrators are typically barred from showing men/fathers/white males in "stereotypical" situations - such as being brave, using tools, or leaving a mom behind at home to go to work. Now, we agree that these are just stereotypes, since FD himself is fearful, can't use tools, and works from home. By limiting themselves to images of men doing household chores, going shopping, and backing away from snakes, publishers are more accurately reflecting FD's own home life, and yet we recognize that it's sheer silliness to ban images representing the majority of American families.

In any case, everyone sending their kids to a school that uses social studies textbooks or literature anthologies needs to read Ravitch's book and then dedicate themselves to providing lessons at home that flesh out what's missing in the classroom.

August 25, 2004 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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